Of all the adventures I’ve written so far, this was one of the most fun to write. I just had to rerun it to see how readers would choose for a second time.
Welcome to the adventure. I hope you enjoy=)
Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.
The walkway is stone, multicolored but still dull due to the overcast sky. The deep gray clouds threaten rain in torrential amounts but they haven’t opened the floodgates yet.
You lengthen your strides, just waiting to feel the first splatters of water on the back of your neck.
Of course you were summoned at the worst time of year to travel. The Scholars never take such ‘minor’ details into consideration when they need repairs. All they care about is that their precious equipment works, now!
But the Scholars won’t suffer a repairperson to live in their blessed mansion. Oh no, it would taint their studies.
So you and the few others who know anything about the equipment live down the coast about 20 miles away in the town of Mandril.
When the Scholars need repairs, they send a mouse. Any time of day.
You woke about midnight with the tiny messenger sitting on your stomach twittering at you. The mice always come to you when they’re sent at night. They know you’re the only one who doesn’t threaten to kick or cook them.
Marrick, another repairperson, kicks the poor creatures any chance he gets.
And Adrianna grabs them by the tail and holds them over steaming pots just so they know she’s not pleased.
Your irritation at being woken shows but you never take it out on the messenger. No matter how tempting it might be.
Instead, you take your time collecting your tools and donning warm clothes.
Then you meander to the mansion, knowing the Scholars will be in a frenzy because it’s almost been two days since their piece of equipment broke.
The mouse at your feet skitters faster as wet drops splatter the stone.
You agree. Irritating the Scholars isn’t worth getting soaking wet. It’s not like the Scholars will offer you dry clothing.
To your right the ocean swells with white caps just before breaking on the beach. It knows a storm’s in the works.
Luckily the mansion sits on a cliff and rarely do the waves reach its walls.
You hike up the walk as it rises toward the mansion. The ocean below you continues to roar as the wind kicks up.
The mansion rises before you, a great marble structure that stands out starkly white against the drab background. It’s circular with narrow slots for windows. Light shines through some of the slots in an unorganized pattern.
At least some of the Scholars are awake.
Hopefully one of them is inclined to answer the door.
Banging the knocker, a hand holding a gong, you wait and your mouse guide snuggles under your left pant leg out of the rain. His whiskers tickle your ankle and you hold in a shiver, reminding yourself the little creature, or one of its brothers, has helped you in the past.
The door creaks open to show a narrow face with a long nose.
It’s Scholar Edwin. You think. The Scholars don’t usually give out their names but you’ve picked up a few.
Edwin steps back to allow you in. His gangly frame is covered with a chest to toe apron.
Part of the apron’s smoking.
You point to the spot and Edwin goes cross-eyed looking down at his chest.
He licks his fingers and tamps out the smolder.
“Darned scope,” he mutters.
“What needs fixing?” You ask before he disappears.
“Darned scope,” he mutters again and continues walking.
Maybe one of their magnifying glasses? You follow Edwin. He climbs up several flights of stairs and then walks to a platform against the wall.
He steps on and waits for you, giving you a look like your mother’s evil eye when you were young.
Okay, you step onto the platform and feel a tickle on your ankle. It’s the mouse, clinging to the top of your sock and quivering.
Edwin gives you an evil, mischievous grin and throws the lever to his side. You didn’t see it before because it was sunk into the wall behind the Scholar.
The platform whooshes and your stomach sinks out the bottom.
Edwin cackles as you escalate up the wall. Up and up and up with cackling laughter the whole way until—thud—the platform stops in the room just below the mansion’s roof
You know this because the entire ceiling’s glass and the rain’s crashing into it with fury.
Edwin points to a large machine in the center of the room. A round thing with glass at either end, one side huge, the other small enough for an eye.
This isn’t just any scope. This is the Telescope. Pride of the mansion. Made of Massidion, an extremely rare material rumored to hold magical properties. The fact that the scope sits in a Scholarly mansion is a bit of irony. Scholars always scoff at magic, although, now that you think about it, you’ve never heard these Scholars say a word one way or another.
Several Scholars stand around it holding their chins and muttering. One holds out a tentative finger and the contact with the scope zaps him.
He yelps and jumps back, part of him smoldering. Judging from his apron, this wasn’t his first time touching the thing.
In fact, all of the Scholars bear black dots all over their clothes.
The best and brightest—don’t come to the mansion but somehow these men and women still surprise the academic community year after year with their discoveries.
How is beyond you.
As you approach, your get a few “finallys” and “about times” but the Scholars step back.
“What happened?” You ask.
They all look at their toes.
“Can’t fix it if I don’t know,” you push.
It’s Edwin who steps forward.
“Struck by lightening,” he confesses.
The telescope’s covered and grounded. It shouldn’t even be holding a charge, for that matter.
They all point to a large cable running across the floor and up the wall. It leads to several large metal poles on the roof.
They meant to strike it with lightening. They’d rigged it!
“It’s holding a charge. What’d you do to it?” You ask.
They all give you suspicious looks.
You simply wait. They’re always like this when you need more information.
Finally Edwin mutters, “Sticky Static.”
Edwin swallows and then holds out his hands. “The charge comes from us. We all infused the scope with it.”
You eye them all, a bit apprehensive. Of all the times you’ve been to the mansion, you’ve heard nothing like this. The only people who claim to channel charges were Magicians. Were these people Scholars and Magicians?
“Sticky Static,” Edwin says again and points at the scope. “Massidion will hold any sort of magic. We gave it our magic.”
They are Magicians! Or so they claim.
“In heavens name, why?”
“Stronger charge,” Edwin says, his eyes wild. “Couldn’t electrocute ourselves, so we moved the Static to the Massidion. Now we can’t get it back.”
You’re jaw drops. They want more power!
“What do you mean?”
Another Scholar touches the scope and yelps. “It pulls more charge from us!” he exclaims.
“And what do you expect me to do?” you ask.
They glance at each other and then at their toes.
“Get the static out of the scope,” one mutters, you’re not sure which.
“We’ve a few ideas but…” he leans in and whispers, “you can’t tell anyone what you see.”
You feel the mouse, still clinging to your sock, start to shake.
A. Offer to help them?
C. Consult the mouse?
(Please post a comment with your choice. Heads up, after feedback, one vote per comment per day please but comment as much as you like=) This makes counting votes easier. Voting will end at 8pm Mountain Time Wednesday. Thursday I’ll post whichever option gets the most votes and we’ll see where the adventure goes!)