"The goal of the game was to remove ballast from the depths of the Nyetbezkov. Technically, ballast was the name for any heavy material placed in the hull of a ship in order to make it more balanced. Often ballast was just crushed gravel. But, in this case, the Nyetbezkov's hull was filled with hundred-pound cannon balls. On the day of Fort Krasnik's annual ballast match, the two teams of longshoremen gathered on the beach in front of the Nyetbezkov. Each team climbed up onto the ship via the ropes dangling from either end, crept through the utter darkness inside, located the cannon balls on the lowermost level, and then brought five of them back to the beach. The team to do this first was the winner. Each team was led by someone who was light, flexible, and comfortable navigating in complete darkness. This person was known as the mole rat. Five brawny longshoremen followed closely behind and were linked to the mole rat by rope. The game had many pitfalls. Perhaps the most serious of these was that the floors inside the ship were all rotting away and, if you took a wrong step, you could fall easily to your death."
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