And now, the final finale. This is the point at which I suddenly remembered I needed to provide the hero with a fiddle, and resolved the problem with what Julie accurately identified as a Mary Shelley-style "I found a suitcase full of books in the road" solution. Hey, maybe that's why Young Nick is quoting Milton.
Part 1 here, Part 2 here.
One last thing: A few people have asked how much of this story I planned out ahead of time. I'm ashamed to admit it's quite a lot. Since I've spent the last six months working mainly on other people's stories, I wanted to take full advantage of this chance to tell one of my own, and so I went with an idea I'd been kicking around for a few months and pondering in earnest for a couple of weeks. However, I refrained from actually putting anything down on paper until the 24 hour clock started running, and about half of the plot and rhyming text was cooked up on the spot.
Speaking of which, the rhyme scheme employed here seems to have been borrowed from the "Vicious Cabaret" sequence of Alan Moore's V For Vendetta, which just goes to show you can't escape your influences.