Behind the Mask


Everyone knew Masha would skin a razor; his reputation was known even to those who never found it necessary to bargain with him. They were the lucky ones and most of them knew it. Some might have thought he did so because he was greedy. The truth was more complicated, though Masha would rather they believed him a mediocre, petty pawnbroker. It allowed him to do his work in a more discrete way.

When he meandered in the city, apparently with no set destination in mind, nobody assailed him with requests or demands. In fact, they gave him a wide berth, even these helpless, homeless kids who could have benefited from the generosity he kept hidden behind the mask he wore most of his time.

Again even these aimless, pointless walks weren’t what they seemed. Masha always knew exactly where he was going. The instant he reached the place, he would cast a few glances behind his back. Nobody could know. He found the secret passage, as he had many times before, and slithered inside. Well he no longer slipped inside: he’d put on weight and his heavy frame didn’t fit as easily as it once did. He struggled to penetrate into the passage for the entrance was narrow. After a few steps, he breathed better.

The place was humid and insects buzzed around him, some even daring to land on his cheek, assailing him in a way humans never did. He really must lose weight: he’d gone soft. And who knew? Some day this place might be found and people would discover that Masha wasn’t what he seemed. Conflict might ensue. He took the final steps and entered his world.

“Welcome back to Lutalica Masha of the Water Tribe.”
A guard waited, as they always did by the doors to the worlds. He bowed in salutation.
“Thank you.”
“The healers were despairing. How much silver have you brought?”
“Enough to heal a dozen I would hope.”
The man sighed. It wasn’t enough: not nearly enough. Not with half the population decaying. But Masha wouldn’t exchange one people’s misery for another’s. That was a bargain he wouldn’t make.


In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Wordle #148
1. Cheek 2. Heavy 3. Insect 4. Skin a Razor- Drive a hard bargain. 5. Instant 6. Greed 7. Helpless 8. Meander 9. Assail 10. Mediocre 11. Passage 12. Lutalica
Use at least 10 of the words to create a story or poem
The words can appear in an alternate form


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