Jace Option Aa2: Wait

Welcome to the end of the adventure. The discussions this week on people’s choices have been awesome! Thanks for participating. =)

Jace Option Aa2: Wait until Jace is alone with his dad

The argument above echoes over the cliff without any indication of slackening. You meet Jace’s gaze and give him the ‘shhh’ sign again while you consider your options. He giggles and slaps a hand over his mouth.

To the left there’s a tree line that meets the sloping edge of the cliff but it’s a good distance away. Jace would have to be either nonchalant about getting there or sneaky like a spy. He’s neither so you decide to wait until only Jace’s father is left.

You wedge yourself a bit tighter into the crack to wait out the argument. Eventually, Jace get’s bored of staring at you and he disappears. You hope he doesn’t say anything.

The arguing stops and you hear heavy footsteps leaving. Perhaps the slavers have gone but you wait a little longer until you hear Jace’s father call to him before you move to finish climbing the cliff.

By the time you haul yourself over the edge, you catch the sight of Jace and his father following a path into the tree line on the left. Although you’re huffing for breath and covered in sweat, you push to your feet and take off after them.

They’re much taller than you, though, and their strides take them down the path at a rate that has you almost running to keep them in sight.

Then you brake to a rapid stop. It’s the offshoot of the river that the slavers must have used to get Jace to the cliff. On it sits a row-in-sunset-1553775sleek boat with several more men sitting inside. They give Jace a hand as he climbs aboard and deferentially step back to allow his dad to climb in on his own.

“To the compound,” his dad says and the men start rowing.

Your stomach rolls like you want to throw up. There are too many men for you to get Jace back on your own.

You walk down to the very edge of the river and watch them rowing away. Something catches your eye, another boat. A tiny rowboat left on the riverbank farther up.

You might not be able to save Jace by yourself, but you might be able to follow them to see where they take him.

You climb aboard the tiny vessel and put your back into rowing. It’s tough work to keep the sleeker boat in sight but, determined, you keep going until the sun’s gone and it’s the lights of the ‘compound’ that tell you you’ve made it to their destination.

The compound’s a house a top a hill with a wall surrounding it. On the wall walk sentries.

Definitely too much for you to save Jace alone. You watch them take Jace inside the gates and then slip away to head home.

***

A part of you always regrets not getting Jace back alone but the logical side of you admits you wouldn’t have succeeded. As it is, the village spends several months figuring out weaknesses in the compound before they’re able to sneak inside and steal Jace back.

Turns out, Jace’s dad wanted to pass along the family business of drug running. Since Jace was his only son, his dad spent hours with him trying to instill the details of the business even though Jace, who loved simple things, wasn’t interested and didn’t really understand the gravity.

What’s harder on you is it takes Jace another year to trust you again. Something about letting him go to spend time with his dad just didn’t sit right with him. You consider explaining to him that it wasn’t your idea but, in the end, it’s just easier to let him relearn to trust you.

The End

Blessings,

Jennifer

Jace Option Aa: Climb the Cliffs

We’re headed up the cliffs to reach Jace. Let’s see how good a climber you are =)

Jace Option Aa: Climb the Cliffs

Jace is in your sights again and the thought of losing sight of him just about makes you sick. Heading back up the river to go around would be the safer way to go, less likely to be seen, but by the time you reach the top of the cliffs, the men and Jace may be gone. That’s not acceptable.

You head into the thick forest at the base of the cliffs, moving as fast as you can so Jace is out of your sight for only a few moments. The sun’s already warming the air and sweat glistens your skin within seconds.

Beneath the foliage, you realize how small you are in comparison to the towering trunks and mossy hides of the trees. They vibrate with life and dozens of shades of green that mix together to form the scope of tree, brush, moss and flower.

Insects buzz in your ears.

cliff-face-1471259Then, you’re at the base of the cliffs. You’d hoped to still be able to see the men above but rocks fill your vision. Faint sound carries to you, voices. They’re still up there.

You rub your palms against your pants to dry them and reach for your first hold.

Even on the rock, away from the foliage, the humidity in the air slickens your skin. The rock turns slick as ice in your grip and your right foot slides off the tiny nub you were standing on.

In a desperate grab, you push off with your left foot just before it slides off too and reach upward for the small ridge above your head.

Your fingers hit the ridge and sink into the slight bowl rain carved out there. Your fall stops with a sudden jerk and you swing on your right arm. Relief almost makes you dizzy as your grip remains firm and you’re able to pull yourself into the rock where you find two solid spots for your feet.

Your arm throbs from taking your weight so suddenly. You swap hands and let it hang free for a second to rest. Sweat drips from your nose and your breath rasps in and out of your throat but over the harsh sound you still pick out the faint mutter of voices.

You listen but it doesn’t sound like your fall alerted them to your presence. Shaking your hand one last time to make sure you’ve got full feeling in your fingers, you look up and make your goal the crack that’s three feet above you. You make it there and you can sink your body into the crack far enough to rest.

More sweat drips from your face. You scrub your hands one at a time on your pants to dry them and keep moving.

Finally, you reach the crack in the rock and slide into it sideways, using your hips to wedge yourself in place. With both hands free, you shake them to relieve the tension in your forearms. They’re tight enough now that you can barely close your fingers.

As you take a moment to recover, the voices above drift to you. After a moment of listening, you realize you understand what they’re saying.

“…pay or you get nothing,” one deep male voice insists.

“That’s not what we agreed,” another responds. This second one seems angry, more so than the first, which surprises you as it sounds like the first is the slaver and the second the buyer.

“You never mentioned he’d be an idiot the whole way. We get paid for our trouble!”

“You get nothing but my silence. Now give me my boy.” Such command. You shiver despite the heat.

“Hey.” It takes you a moment to realize this last word isn’t part of the conversation. It’s quiet, like someone whispering. You look up to find Jace looking down at you from the top of the cliff. He grins as he lays there on his stomach. “Hey,” he says again.

shhhh-1433634“Shhhh,” you lay a finger to your lips and he grins even wider. It’s a game you’ve played with him many times. Hide and Seek. He loves it but giggles while hiding. You always lay your finger across your lips to remind him he’s got to keep the giggles silent.

He copies your move, letting you know he understands.

“It’s my dad,” he whispers, almost too quiet for you to make out the words.

“See, he’s an idiot!” Shouts the deep voice above. “Hanging over the cliff like he’s going to tumble off. I’ve known life long slaves with more sense.”

“His brain’s none of your business. Now go. I won’t say a word about your business in the area.”

There’s grumbling and then the men break out into an all out shouting match in which you can’t make out what each is saying.

Did Jace’s dad hire the slavers to kidnap his son? It certainly sounds like it. Everyone knows in the village that Jace’s mother keeps a close eye out for his dad because the man’s rather unscrupulous.

Do you…

Aa1: Have Jace Sneak Away?

Or

Aa2: Wait until Jace is alone with his dad?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Jace Option A: Follow Them

Welcome back to the second post in the adventure. So far you’ve taken your friend, Jace, camping and he’s been kidnapped by slavers. Now you’re following them. Let’s see if you can save your friend!

Jace Option A: Follow Them

You can still see the boat meandering away down the river. Your gut clenches with the thought that, if you lose sight of that small vessel, you may never see Jace again.river-at-yarragil-1491745

The river meets the ocean in a wide cove surrounded by cliffs. It’s not useful as a dock, so usually no ships use the cove. However, if you lose sight of the small rowboat, there’s a chance the slaver’s ship will leave the cove before you reach it since they’re traveling by water. Then you’ll have no chance of finding Jace.

You can’t chance that.

You take off down the riverbank but it’s not long before you run into vegetation creeping into the water. It blocks your way as surely as if the slavers had set up a gate.

Heading inland a bit, you try to work your way past the area only to find the trees grow thicker. By now the rowboat’s got to be well beyond your sight but you try to go back in order to check the river for it.

When you do finally make it, sure enough, the river’s empty of any boat. Tears prick at your eyes. Jace’s thrilled smile plays through your mind. Camping should’ve been a fun, safe activity for him but now he’ll never want to go to the woods again. That’s if you can find him and bring him back.

You have to find him. There’s just not another option in your head.

With renewed determination, you head back to the camp, realizing now that in your initial rush, you left your lantern and hatchet behind.

Items in hand, you make your way back to the impassable spot in the river and move inland again, swinging the hatchet through the brush to make a trail wide enough for you to pass through. Branches still scrape at your face, arms, and legs though, and it’s not long before small trails of blood trace your skin.

Dawn brightens the treetops by the time you’re able to follow the riverbank again. Sweat drips from your nose and off your hand as you swing the hatchet but thankfully there are a few small rivers meeting up with the main water that help cool you down when you have to cross them.

Exhaustion clouds your eyes as you scan the river for any signs of the rowboat. You’re close to the cove and can hear the ocean. Rushing ahead, you pan your gaze across the cove and your heart sinks.

No rowboat, no ship, no Jace.

Your knees hit the sand but then you hear a scuffing sound and what started out as a sob of disappointment turns into you ducking into the brush behind you. The sound comes again from inland, toward the cliffs along the cove where the trees grow thick.

cliff-face-1471259Then you see it. Men on top of the cliffs. And there, in the middle of them stumbling along, you make out Jace’s blond head.

The only thing that makes sense would be if the men never had a ship but headed up one of the smaller rivers that you crossed on your way to the cove. Who knows all the details, the why or how or what are they doing, but you’ve got Jace in sight again.

Do you…

Aa. Climb the cliffs?

Or

Ab. Head back up the river to go around the cliffs?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Jace

“Look,” Jace points ahead, “trees!” Then he takes off running for said trees with his pack bouncing on his back.Forest

You jog to keep up but, since you’re carrying most of the gear, he keeps his lead on you.

“Jace,” you call, “slow down. You’ve got longer legs than I.”

He turns, still running, and trips over his own feet.

You cringe as he tumbles and his pack slides over his head to tangle awkwardly around his shoulders.

At first you think he’s crying but when you come even with him, you find his convulsions are silent laughter.

“I cart wheeled!” He announces in his slightly slurred speech.

“That you did. It was glorious,” you respond while untangling him. You consider that maybe you should view life more like he does. A ten year old’s enthusiasm in an adult’s body. Life is never dull for Jace. He’s aware enough to live on his own, but as his neighbor, you still check in on him every day. In essence, you’ve become his best friend.

You don’t begrudge helping him cook his meals or clean his house when, without fail, he brings a smile to your face.

You race him to the trees and teach him how to set up the tent by the river that runs just inside the tree line.

His grin about splits his face. It’s been there since you agreed to take him camping the day before.

You gladly agreed when he asked. The area where you live is relatively safe, unlike the larger cities to the west of you, and Jace loves the surrounding forests.

As you settle in for the night, his grin is the last thing you see before falling asleep.

***

Twigs crack close by and you bolt upright, fully awake.

“Hear that, Jace?”

There’s no response.

Jace isn’t beside you. The door’s on your side so you’d wake if he got up, but the flap is still tied closed. A breeze brushes your skin anyway. In the dark, you crawl over Jace’s empty spot to find the far wall of the tent sliced and now flapping free.

“Hey, hey no—“

You recognize the slightly slurred speech.

You shove through the open wall of the tent in time to catch a disturbance on the north side of the camp. Following, you stumble on to the edge of the river and see a small boat with two silhouettes rowing away. A shock of light hair, definitely Jace’s, shines on the side of the boat in the moonlight.

Slavers, you realize with a sick sensation. They’ve been plaguing the coast but you thought this was far enough inland to be safe. Apparently not. They must have used the river to sneak inland.

And now they’ve got Jace. Why didn’t they take you too?

You’ve no idea but now you’ve got to save Jace.

Do you…

A Follow Them?

Or

B. Head to the coast to find their ship?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Poison Inn 2 Option Ab1: Ask

Welcome to the end of the adventure. Let’s see what happens =)

Poison Inn 2 Option Ab1: Ask

As you debate whether to say something, the old woman speaks up and you hold your breath, a bit surprised.

“Can I use the restroom?” she whispers. “My old body doesn’t do well sometimes.”

The room’s silence is so profound you can hear Wallin click bottles together from his bag upstairs.

You realize this is your moment. If you’re going to ask, this is it.

“Um,” you raise a hand to draw Marl’s attention. If you’re wrong, you’ll deal with it, but your gut tells you your suspicions are justified. “Is she wearing a wig?”

The woman’s hand flies to her hair like the wind just stole her hat but the move’s not fast enough. The knife-yielding woman snatches the gray hair from her head and long, black tresses tumble out from beneath.

Unmasked, the woman bolts for the door. The knife woman snakes a foot out, and catches her, tripping her into a table, which tips and hits the floor with a thud. Between Marl and the knife woman, you don’t catch much of what happens next, you just see it when they lift the woman off the floor and haul her back to the bar.

“Wait now,” One of the axe man steps closer for a better look, “I’ve seen you before. Hey Alex, hand me my bag.” He holds out his hand to his goateed partner. When the bag’s handed over, he rummages inside and pulls out a badly crumpled flier. “That’s it.” He holds the flier up for all to see.

Wantedwanted-poster-1207509-m

Bradley Couple Assassin Team.

20 silvers reward for their capture.

Below the words is drawn a likeness of two people, a man and a woman. The woman’s sketch is rough but her dark hair stands out. It’s uncommon in the area.

It’s then you look around for the old man, wanting to compare him to the drawing as well.

“He’s gone,” you speak up. “The old man’s gone.”

Ms. Bradley sneers while everyone looks around for her husband. Sure enough, he’s nowhere to be seen. Marl grumbles and looks at you.

“Head upstairs. Let Wallin know what’s happened.”

You take the stairs two at a time, both excited and happy to be out of the room. When you explain everything to Wallin, he nods and gestures for you to sit with the serving woman.

“She won’t wake for a while,” he says. “But she’s the baron’s daughter, so I’d prefer not to leave her alone. You probably don’t want to be a part of our questioning the assassin anyway.”

You readily agree, realizing this all has to do with politics and you’d prefer to be left out of it anyway.

You sit with the girl until Wallin returns. Her color’s improved to a light pink tone and he gives you a smile.

“We’ll probably never catch the guy,” he admits, “but you helped us catch half the assassin team and maybe who hired her. The baron owns the inn. So you can stay here for free anytime you like.”

It’s a great deal for you since you make the trip between home and the Capital all the time for your Master.

You’re always curious about Mr. Bradley but Wallin, when you see him, doesn’t ever bring up the subject, and you don’t ask.

The End

You caught half the assassin team! Well done =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

Poison Inn 2 Option Ab: Master’s Assistant

Welcome back for the third post in the Poison Inn Adventure! I hope you had an amazing Fourth of July, if you’re in the US, or, if you’re not, I hope you’re weekend was still amazing and wonderful.

Let’s see what happens next in the Inn.

Poison Inn 2 Option Ab: Master’s Assistant

The room crackles with tension as Marl eyes you, waiting for your response. You can just imagine his reaction if you say Apothecary’s assistant. Even to you that sounds suspicious with the poisoning.

“I’m a Master’s assistant. I was headed to the Capital for supplies when the storm hit.” You hold Marl’s gaze as your say this. It’s all technically true but his eyes narrow, perhaps sensing you’re holding information back.

“What supplies?” he asks.cinnamon-1439426-m

“Spices mostly,” you respond. “Sage, Thyme, the Cinnamon ships should have arrived a few days ago. My Master wan—“

Marl waves for you to stop. You snap your lips shut, relieved because those were the only three well-known spices on your list and you’re a horrible liar. Much more talking and he’d have known for sure you weren’t telling everything.

After a moment longer of eyeing you, Marl moves to question the old couple at the end of the bar.

“Who are you?” he asks them.

“Th—we’re the Nichols,” the man swallows and grasps his wife’s hand so tightly his knuckles look white. “We were headed to visit Maria, our daughter. It’s her birthday, you see, and we were going to surprise her with…” his voice reminds you of the rasp from a harpsichord as he rambles on about surprising his daughter.

You clasp your hands together against the rough bar to stop them from shaking, only catching half of the man’s words as he continues to ramble.

Marl simply watches him, his silence pulling more words than questions would have. You don’t blame the man. You know exactly how that furious stare feels.

The old woman pulls her hand free from her husband to push her glasses back up her nose. Her hand shakes and she pauses for a second before pressing on the bridge.

You stare hard at her fingers. She’s almost totally silver haired. Her face bares the signs of liver spots, but her hands, they’re long fingered and elegant. Smooth skinned like they’ve never seen the sun.

hands-1383864-mYou scan her appearance again, trying to reconcile the smooth white of her hands with the brownish spots on her chin and forehead. You’re eyes catch on something else.

She’s silver haired but tucked behind her right ear is a lock of black. It’s hard to catch because the white hair overlaps it in several spots and that side of her head hides in her husband’s shadow cast by the lamp behind the bar, but you’re fairly sure the hair isn’t even the same texture.

While you’ve been staring, Marl’s asked a few more questions that you didn’t catch the answers to. He seems satisfied with the old man’s response though and moves down the bar to the chess players.

You don’t even listen to their reasons for being in the Inn this evening. Instead, you continue to watch the old woman. She waits for a bit, fidgeting with her glasses and pulling at her jacket like she’s cold. Then she slides off her stool and steps away from the bar like she’s stretching her old legs.

Something tells you she’s about to bolt. You really want to blurt out a question about her hair. Is she wearing a wig? But if you ask and you’re wrong, Marl’s going to suspect you even more.

Do you…

Ab1: Ask?

Ab2: Keep quiet?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Poison Inn 2 Option A: Take the Knife

Ahhh! Couple hours late on posting. My apologies everyone! Here’s the next post, let’s see what happens =)

Poison Inn Option A: Take the Knife

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

Without a weapon, your stomach knots with anxiety. You slide past the bar and palm the knife into your hand and up your sleeve. No one cries out at your move but your back itches as you head up the stairs, just waiting for someone to point you out.

At the top of the stairs, you pause. You’ve no idea which of the two rooms Wallin took the woman to. Then you hear a muffled step from behind the right hand door.

You knock softly and hear a deep “come” from inside.

The room’s so small you almost stumble into the foot of the bed. The giant Wallin kneels on the left side close to the serving woman’s face.

He sniffs and then glances at you. “Come here,” he beckons toward the right side of the bed.

You hold the bag up so he can see why you’ve bothered him but he simply waves for you to set it down and gestures toward the side of the bed again.

“Smell her breath,” he says and tilts the woman’s head your way.

It’s only then you realize she’s still breathing. It’s shallow, not enough to raise her chest, but enough to be felt on the skin of your face when you lean close. The faint scent of almonds tickles your nose.

“Sweet or sour?” Wallin asks.

“Almond,” you answer.

He scowls. “I know that. Sweet or sour?”

You take another sniff. “Sour.”

Before he can respond, there’s a thumping on the floorboards from below. You jump and Wallin cracks a smile.

“Marl wants you back down there,” he says. Your hand’s on the doorknob when he speaks again. “Leave the knife with me.”

He must have noticed the bulge of the knife beneath your sleeve. Even still, you turn, trying to keep an innocent but confused look on your face but he just shakes his head.

“You’re not the poisoner,” he says. “I would’ve known if you were.” He gestures at the woman on the bed. “You could have tried to mislead me here.”

“I’ve no weapon,” you admit, “and, well—“

“The room’s full of them,” he finishes for you. “I get it, but if Marl finds you with his prize knife, he’ll slit your throat, poisoner or not. Take this,” he holds out a round stone. When you hold out your hand, he drops it onto your palm. It’s satiny smooth and ebony in color.

At your questioning look, he explains. “Marl will know I trust you because of that. Let his club do the rest.”

You nod and hand over the knife you took from the bar.

As you leave, the stone feels cold in your palm. Compared to the knife, it offers scant reassurance but you didn’t want to argue with Wallin.

In the room below, Marl’s got every one sitting at the bar now, lined up like school children. There’s one stool left.

The club’s off the wall and swinging in Marl’s hand, its round head whistling through the air as he twirls it.

You take the last stool and Marl points at you. “Occupation?” he demands.

Considering the situation, saying Apothecary’s assistant could be the worst thing you could do. You could shorten it to simply Master’s assistant but he might dig more and then it’d look like you were hiding something.

Do you say…

Aa. Apothecary’s assistant?

Or

Ab. Master’s assistant?

Blessings,

Jennifer