Old Man Magic: Feldon of the Third Path

Nick Wolf • May 23, 2024

Feldon of the Third Path by Chase Stone

She Will Come Back to Me (Every Weekend by Court Order)

So yesterday I took off my lawncare New Balances and put on my going-out-on-the-town New Balances too early.

I'd just powered down my Husqvarna Z254 (you want your turns like you want your kidney stones count: zero) and was rushing to make my commitment to meet the boys at Applebee's. We have a standing engagement, me and the boys: meet at Applebee's every Thursday at 7 p.m. for daiquiri night. They call it the "Dac Shack." I don't drink daiquiris. I'm a Miller Light guy. 

But I still go because in this world, you have to keep your friends on your side. Everyone knows that, after high school, it becomes biologically impossible to make new ones. After high school, everyone's a threat. That's why you're stuck with the boys, even though their favorite bar is the Applebee's on Fourth Street by the municipal airport. Never trust a man whose favorite bar is Applebee's, that's what my mom used to say.

I patted the seat of the Husqvarna as I dismounted. Good machine, does good work. I closed up the shed, locked up: there've been some unsavory elements spotted around the neighborhood lately. Cops said something along the lines of, "Just because they're teenagers doesn't mean they're up to no good." They know just as well as I do that all it takes is the temptation of an unattended Husq to turn an honors student into a criminal opportunist. 

After I switched my shoes, I was walking to my Ram 1500 and spotted something glinting in the dirt alongside my driveway. Therein lies two problems. The first problem is there shouldn't be naked dirt in the lawn adjacent to my driveway. My lawn is expertly manicured. But there, clear as a new day's dawn, was a beige, grassless blemish cracked from the heat of the sun, approximately the size of a Steve Miller Band LP. I don't know how I would have missed this when only moments before I was feeling the breeze at a blistering 6.5 m.p.h. as I sheared every blade with the 54-inch deck of my Husq. No blade of grass is safe from uniformity. I've won awards for my lawn, or I would, should the township heed my letters requesting the formation of a lawn contest committee.

The second problem is the fact that there was something metallic visible through the sun-baked crags in the dirt patch. This is an impossibility. I've scoured every inch of my third-acre rhombus of poaceae (that's St. Augustine grass for my friends in the States, and buffalo turf for my acquaintances in Australia) with a metal detector, and there's nothing in the six inches closest to the surface other than fertile topsoil and a palpable love for the craft. 

So what have I discovered?

Old Man Digging Around in the Dirt

Feldon of the Third Path, by Chase Stone

Feldon of the Third Path

I knelt. 

That was no flippant decision. Gravity rides everything, and my spine is no stranger to being the point of conflict between the wavering push of my slowly degenerating musculature and relentless pull toward an earthbound tomb. Call it curiosity, call it spite. But I knelt, and when I knelt my face was closer to that patch and the glinting mystery barely contained within. I could see its outline, its circular silhouette. It was roughly the size of a a half-dozen golf balls in a heap, specifically six TaylorMade Distance Plus golf balls, the top-most recommended golf ball of 2023 for male players over 65 years old seeking to increase their drive without sacrificing aerial control. 


Altar of Dementia
Anvil of Bogardan
Caged Sun
Fire Diamond
Gauntlet of Power
Hedron Archive
Idol of Oblivion
Lithoform Engine
Memory Jar
Mind Stone
Null Brooch
Ruby Medallion
Sol Ring
Swiftfoot Boots
Thran Dynamo

I knelt, and the knees of my khakis greedily lapped up the stains from my perfect lawn. The boys'll razz me about that one at the Dac Shack. "Oh, look at this guy with the grassy knees, what's next, high cholesterol? Get a grip!" Soon enough, the conversation will shift to whatever topic on which the most recent episode of our favorite political commentary podcast was deliberating during the drive over. But the damage will be done. 


Blood Moon
Goblin Bombardment
Sneak Attack

Truth is, the boys were all I had. But we were a uniform unit, like my lawn. And maybe I was becoming the barren patch. We shared interests, fears, sports teams, and preferences in Husqvarnas. Diversity in thought is terrifying, so the boys were all I had. It's as if there were a vermilion pall cast from a celestial sphere that erased our differences and made us crimson copies of one another. Or, maybe it was the podcasts doing that. It's really hard to tell. 

The object wasn't circular at all, but more similar to a spade. The difference was very slight and still obfuscated by the dirt, but one wouldn't have noticed at all had one not committed oneself to taking a knee. I silently congratulated myself for the dedication in the face of the impending struggle to return myself upright. The other option, of course, is to continue my descent into the lush pillowy grass, close my eyes, and die on my lawn like a real man. But that option is always there. It's there today, and it'll be there tomorrow too.


Blasphemous Act
Book Burning
Faithless Looting
Goblin Lore
Seize the Day

I shoved my fingers into the dirt. It was hard and hot and I could just barely feel the edges of the object as I dug around. This wouldn't be a job for these two hands. It was a job for a tool, and as I stood, I stood in stages. Left leg up, left foot flat. That's when I received the first scuff on the nice New Balances. They were white on white, like God intended, but then as I shuffled my weight on the driveway pavement, the pavement showed its appreciation by gifting a three-inch scar along the toe. The boys'll razz me for that one, too. Immaculate New Balances were a sign of affluence, of one's life on rails. 

But my rails have corroded and warped into twisting, diverging spires that reach beyond their destination into the unknown.

Once I was up, I grabbed a shovel. There was a burning question to answer, and the shovel was a firehose. I could get into the details of my shovels, and I could say how a man's life is mostly rehearsal until he collects the adequate number of shovels and a garage in which to store them, or how the previous phrase is a paradox because there is no such thing as an adequate number of shovels. I'll just tell you I opted for a Corona AS90300 all-steel rounded, pointed digging shovel featuring a blade and tip with curved edges for maximum soft soil torque. 


Blood Frenzy
Calibrated Blast
Chaos Warp
Fiery Temper

On the first plunge I was overtaken with a frenzy. Only time can erase a hole, or water, and after that first shovelful of suncaked dirt, I cared very little about the collateral damage to the surrounding grass. The object itself was also no longer important: it was the head of a rusted iron hand trowel, probably a century old. The handle was once wood, but has since returned to dust. Who knows how it got there. Who cares. 

What matters now is the hole. I kept digging, past the pale, sundried surface to the loamy stuff underneath, hiding the scuff on my New Balances with fresh topsoil. The moist, black dirt would surely stain, but I didn't care. I just kept digging. A neighbor stopped to inquire. I shooed her away. I can develop a temper when it comes to that neighbor, and she turned heel in a huff and returned to her Kia. Off to the farmers' market, probably. 

As I dug, I thought about the boys. Did they ever find themselves in this scenario? In every man's life, one of two things are bound to occur: either he's overcome with a radiating drive to dig a hole, or one to build a tower. Which you opt to do speaks about your soul. I chose to dig. Or maybe the digging life chose me. And now, no longer able to reach the bottom from the surface, I jumped down into the hole. 


Avalanche Riders
Bedlam Reveler
Blast-Furnace Hellkite
Bloodfire Colossus
Burnished Hart
Dragon Mage
Etali, Primal Storm
Fire Dragon
Flametongue Kavu
Goblin Engineer
Goblin Welder
Hellkite Tyrant
Ilharg, the Raze-Boar
Kris Mage
Myr Battlesphere
Patchwork Gnomes
Precursor Golem
Ravenous Baboons
Siege-Gang Commander
Solemn Simulacrum
Utvara Hellkite
Viashino Heretic
Wurmcoil Engine
Zealous Conscripts

Deeper and deeper I went. The head of my Corona AS90300 all-steel rounded, pointed digging shovel clanked on buried pipes and severed buried roots. I kept going. The walls were earth, the sky above shrinking like the aperture of a lens. I was late to the Dac Shack, and the boys were probably wondering. But there'd be no daiquiris this day. 

That was yesterday. Today, I've dug so deep. Deeper than any man has dug. The boys appeared last night, hours after I never showed face at Applebee's. They craned their necks out past the edge of my hole, their grip tight on the earth. The daiquiris inhibit balance, and they feared the hole. They were tower boys. I was the outlier. They shouted down, offered a ladder. I rebuffed them with every shovel plunge. As I dug down, I dug out to freedom. 

At least, metaphorically speaking, because I'm sharing with you this story still inside the f***ing hole. And it's starting to rain.


Ancient Tomb
Great Furnace
High Market
Maze of Ith
30 Mountain
Myriad Landscape
Rogue's Passage

We bury our dead to hide them. We bury ourselves for much the same purpose. My white on white New Balances were now black as pitch, and the blisters on my hands have formed over as callouses, which burst again and reformed until my skin was a patchwork of sooty scars. 

I can hear someone up there, fiddling with the lock to my shed. It's the teens, sensing an opportunity to abscond with the Husq. The thing can fly at a crisp 6.5 m.p.h., remember, and it wouldn't be long before they were on the open road. In the wind. 

I no longer feel wind. I feel only the shivering embrace of the earth. My khakis are ruined. That's when I felt the first drops of rain. The forecast called for thunder, and it seems intent to deliver.

Perhaps one day they'll find this shovel, like I did those who dug before me. That trowel caught my eye, its handle disintegrated long ago. But my Corona AS90300 all-steel rounded, pointed digging shovel is all-steel, so they'll find the whole thing. They won't find me, though, because I, like that ancient wooden handle, will only offer evidence of its existence through the intimation of purpose. There must have been a handle, we assume, because no trowel functions without one. And there must have been a man, once, to wield it. 

Check out the link to Archidekt here.