The Thirteenth Candle

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The dying man jerked and then collapsed. His body twitched, and then lay still.

The Lama nodded again to the acolyte, who touched flame to the third stick of incense. "Spirit now released from the suffering body," said the Lama, "pay attention before setting out on your journey; pay attention for I shall detail to you the steps you must take, and the path you must follow..."

The fourth stick of incense was lit, and the smoke trailed upwards, as if it had been drawn in blue-gray chalk, straight as a pillar in the almost airless room...