Anxious to slip through the doorway before the unseen voices see you, you dart across the hallway and into the darkened room. Suddenly, there is a blinding light...





You blink in dazzled confusion at the host of smiling faces (and give a baleful look to the pointy-hatted entity who has been cruel enough to draw aside the curtains, letting in the glaring sunlight).

The person closest to you hisses in a stage whisper, "Act surprised!"

Hardly needing the cue, you cough, and say: "My word! What a surprise! Gave me quite a shock!" and other inanities, hoping to bluff your way through this situation until someone can explain what is going on.

The people in the room gather around you for hugs and kisses, each of them fervently congratulating you for something or other and proferring lavish gifts. As you wallow in a sea of bemusement, a silver-haired golden-crowned couple whom you instinctively recognize as the king and queen approach you.

"Happy twenty-fifth birthday, son," the queen says, and embraces you.

"Sorry about clubbing you and leaving you in the Midnight Forest," the king chuckles, ruffling your hair.
(For the first time, you notice the large bump you appear to have on the back of your head.)
"But I wanted to be sure that you were surprised by our little birthday party."

"No problem, dad," you say, smiling pleasantly. "Just wait until you find out what I've got planned for your anniversary."