After wandering further, Prim came across a crater many miles across. The edges were smooth, like glass, and curved inwards, down into a steadily increasing darkness, where at the bottom Prim could barely see a hole. The hole was extremely unpleasant to look at. Not a single mote of light touched it. As she took in this unsettling sight, Prim was shocked to see the distant figures of people, crawling up the edge of the crater, and steadily but inevitably sliding into the massive hole, where they were swallowed.

A croaking cough emerged a short distance away from Prim, and she beheld an unbelievably filthy and emaciated old man, who was clothed only in a ragged sheet draped over his head and body. He had a staff, like a shepherd, and it was broken at the tip.

“What is this place?” said Prim, trying to hide her disgust.

The man wet his dry lips, and said, “This is the end of the road. Or one of its ends anyway.” He motioned to the hole.

“The hole?” said Prim.

“If you go into the hole,” said the man, “you will very definitely die. Your entire existence will be permanently obliterated, almost instantly. It is very painful and causes tremendous scarring. The filth from your obliterated corpse will spread into the air like ash and sicken people for years.”

“It’s not the cleanest way to reach the end,” he said, hacking out a dry cough, “but its very easy.” He leered at Prim with a brown-toothed smile, as if expecting her to agree.

Prim left immediately.