It’s been awhile since we ran an adventure a second time. Seems about time for it. And this adventure was just too fun not to explore again.
So let’s go get lost and see what we find.
You were out for a drive to enjoy the changing leaves in all their glorious reds and golds when you spotted this side road leading up to a ridge.
It occurred to you, the ridge would be the perfect place to get a view of the entire valley, which would be spectacular to see. So you took the turn even though the condition of the road begs for a higher clearance than your car has.
You’ve driven such roads before, though. If you drive carefully, it shouldn’t be a problem…or so you tell yourself. The car shudders around you as the washboards in the road attempt to rattle the frame to pieces.
You give an ‘ahhhhh’ that comes out like someone’s pounding on your back just for the fun of it.
Your car doesn’t agree with the beating. You veer left to avoid a large rut, then cut right because of a boulder. Your car emits a grinding screech as something drags across the under carriage.
You make it a little farther before it starts to stutter. Just to be on the safe side, you stop the car and pull the e-brake.
Then you get out to peek underneath. Something that looks like oil is leaking onto the ground.
“Great,” you mutter as you sit back onto your heels to consider your situation.
Something catches your eye through the trees. A flash of light like sunlight on glass. Glass equals something human like another car or a house. Perhaps someone’s there who can help you out.
You pull out your cell phone to make sure but there’s no signal. You haven’t had a signal for most of the drive. Pocketing the phone, you head up the road on foot.
You round the turn ahead to find a cabin with large picture windows, wooden beams the size of trees holding up a covered porch and rockers occupying the entrance.
A vacation cabin perhaps. Maybe someone’s home although you don’t see a car.
You climb the front steps and knock on the door.
The door swings open. From where you stand, you see glass shattered on the hardwood floor and drapes pulled from their brackets.
“Hello?” you call.
No answer comes back. Apprehension makes your breath tight.
You could leave. The main road’s a ways back, probably a half a day hike to reach it but you’ve got good shoes on and it’s only noon.
Or you could investigate. Someone might be inside hurt…or someone might be inside stealing things.
Kings Scepter Option A: Leave
The place seems still. You figure is there was someone around, they’re long gone now.
Plus, you need to get somewhere so you can call a tow for your car and you don’t feel like going farther inside the cabin to see if there’s a landline. You assume if there is one, it’s probably been cut.
The cabin wasn’t that far up the road, you would think something this destructive would’ve made enough noise for you to notice, but you heard nothing.
Approaching with more caution, you get close enough to peek inside.
There’s a squirrel sitting on the driver’s seat with his front paws up on the steering wheel. He’s making a ‘rrrr vroom vroom’ kind of noise.
Shock keeps you in place long enough for the squirrel to notice you.
“Uh-oh,” he says, “I didn’t do it.”
“Didn’t—“ you clear your throat. Maybe you’ve gone crazy. “Didn’t do it?”
“Nope, nope. Found the car this way. Thought it’dbefuntotestdrive.” He speaks so fast you have to decipher the jumble before you understand.
“Then who did?” you finally ask.
“Oh. Paw prints,” he scrambles onto the windowsill and points at the ground below.
Coming around the hood of the car, you spot paw prints as big as a frisbee.
“What’s that big?”
“Smells like cat. Gotta peanut? I smell peanuts too.”
You do a double take at him. This can’t be happening, surely.
But you can’t deny the condition of your car or the fact that Mr. Squirrel is staring at your pocket, where, sure enough, you have a bag of trail mix with peanuts.
Pulling out the bag, you hand him a hand full.
“Awesome!” he exclaims, cramming his cheeks full.
“Why would a cat break into my car?”
He shrugs while he chews. “That cat,” he points at the prints again. “He’s the Law Keeper. So what’d you do?”
“Yup. What’d you do? Ha?”
“Nothing but break down in the middle of no where,” you grumble.
“Let’s go ask him then. Can I drive?”
“Car’s broken, didn’t you hear?”
“Oh, then I’ll lead. Let’s go.”
He takes off after the direction of the prints but scurries back when you don’t immediately follow.
“Ask him?” you repeat.
“Yeah,” he says, “or head back to the cabin. As I recall it looks bad too. Maybe the culprit’s there.”
At this point you’re not sure you can head to the main road without always wondering what happened here. You are, after all, talking to a squirrel.
So do you…
Aa. Find the Law Keeper?
Ab. Head Back to the Cabin?
King’s Scepter Option Aa: Find the Law Keeper
“Let’s find this Law Keeper,” you say.
Mr. Squirrel takes off again after the prints. You question for a moment what you’re doing because those are some very large prints but then you look at your poor car and remind yourself you’d like some answers.
So you follow Mr. Squirrel as he scurries along the ground and sometimes through the trees. A few times you almost lose him but he keeps a constant chatter going so even when you can’t see him, you know the general direction to follow.
He stops on a branch. “Maybe he doubled back or he could’ve crossed the rocks which means…” he continues chattering but it’s clear he’s lost the trail.
You stare at him, hopeful he’ll figure it out because, if he doesn’t, you’re back to square one.
“He chatters so much, I could’ve eaten him a dozen times without him seeing me coming.”
You jump and your heart nearly leaves your skin.
Beside you stands a mountain lion with paws the size of frisbees. On his chest is emblazoned a pure white patch that resembles a star.
“That would be me.”
“We were looking for you.”
“I know. Alfred there,” he’s looking at Mr. Squirrel, “has asked to be a deputy for years. I keep telling him when he can be quiet, I’ll consider it but he just can’t do it. So I know he’s looking for me because he keeps saying it as he’s looking.”
“You broke into my car,” you accuse.
The lion turns gold eyes on you. “I did not. I investigated your car because whoever did break into it also stole the King’s Scepter. Your car reeks of him just as the cabin does.”
“Ha! Found him. Knew you had to be around here somewhere.” Alfred scurries down the tree to stand in front of the mountain lion. He bows. “At your service.”
“I’d refuse but I need assistance on this one,” the lion says. “I’ve found the culprit and he’s not alone.”
“Who is it? Who is it?” Alfred jumps from one foot to another.
The mountain lion eyes Alfred. If you didn’t know better you’d think he was considering eating him but you do know better so he’s probably just questioning if Alfred can stay quiet.
You help the poor squirrel out by handing him some peanuts. He crams his cheeks full and is quiet except for the slight crunching of him chewing.
“It’s the pika family,” the lion finally answers.
“Th—“ Alfred tries to exclaim but just sprays bits of peanut. He slaps a paw over his mouth and, if he could blush, he would’ve judging from the way he slumps and looks away.
“Why would they take the scepter and break into my car?” you ask.
“The King’s scepter has many capabilities, one of which is to change a creature’s size. When I spied them, they were attempting to make themselves bigger. At the time they’d managed to change their fur to green but it won’t take them long to figure it out.”
“And my car?”
“They’re mode of escape. If you hadn’t noticed, a few of the family stayed in the undercarriage of your car to fix the leak. I could hear their claws on the mettle when I was there.”
“Their mode of escape? So they’re going to make themselves big and go drive around.”
“They know little beyond our home. They won’t be welcome here, so they assume they’ll find somewhere new to live out there.”
“Great,” you grumble, picturing giant pika’s driving around in your car. “So what do we do?”
“We could lure them out and into a cage with your trail mix. I’d walk right into it if it were me.” Alfred grins, finished with his mouthful of peanuts.
“That’s one option,” the lion admits. “Or we can go in and arrest them. The three of us might be enough to intimidate them into surrendering.”
“Oh, I get to be deputized.” Alfred jumps up and down clapping his paws.
Aa1. Lure them out?
Aa2 Arrest them?
King’s Scepter Option Aa2: Arrest the Pika
You watch Alfred the squirrel while you’re trying to decide which option sounds best. He scrambles up a tree and then races back down to stand at your feet with his palms out, asking silently for more trail mix.
With just enough to fill his tiny palms, he stuffs the treat into his cheeks and races back up the tree. In seconds, he scampers down to stare at you with his palms out again.
It occurs to you any plan involving trail mix could be a bust simply because Alfred will try to eat it all.
“Let’s go in and arrest them,” you say to the Law Keeper.
The lion huffs a heavy breath in what you think might be approval. “Cabin’s this way,” he says and leads you farther into the trees.
You consider briefly calling to Alfred to let him know you’re leaving but then you see him jumping from one tree to the next in pursuit of the Law Keeper.
“Surprise is out best bet,” the Law Keeper says, “you take the front door and I’ll take the back. Just be sure to say ‘In the name of the King’ when you tell them to freeze.”
Before you can ask any questions, the lion’s gone with barely a sound.
You wait for only a moment before pushing into the cabin. The sight before you makes your stomach roll with unease. There are so many pikas the place seems to crawl with them.
“In the name of the King freeze!” Roars the Law Keeper as he barrels in from the back door.
The entire place goes still and all tiny paws rise into the air. The four pikas on the back of the couch drop the scepter as they move to comply.
You jump for it but the golden rod drops past your fingers to hit the floor. Light like the beam of a spot light shoots from it, hitting the Law Keeper and Alfred, who just rushed in to see what was happening. Both creatures drop to the floor, stunned and then, in the after glow of the light, you loose sight of them for a moment. When you regain focus, you blink in shock.
Alfred sits on his haunches staring at his human sized paws. The Law Keeper pushes up to stand and his head barely reaches the squirrel’s elbow.
The pikas scatter, giving off a sound like all of them are laughing. Several leap onto the scepter and start to drag it across the floor.
You clamp down on the end of it before they get too far and pull it back toward you. Angry hisses come from the tiny fur balls but when you tug at it, they all let go, rather suddenly.
The head of the staff hits the wall and it explodes with light again. Your body tingles like you’ve stepped into a too hot bath tub of water. Blinking furiously, you finally regain focus to see Alfred and the Law Keeper are back to their normal sizes…but what’s that smell?
It reminds you of chocolate and cheerios. Your tongue salivates for the tasty treat. You reach into your pocket to eat some trail mix only to find the bag’s empty. When you look up to scold Alfred for eating it all, you see he and the Law Keeper have most of the pikas in hand.
Perhaps it’s not the best time to distract them but you still really want some trail mix.
Scampering out the door, you head out to see if you can find some more. It’s only after you’ve checked your broken car and headed back to the cabin to check the kitchen that you realize you’re running on four paws and the world’s huge.
When you reach the cabin, you take two seconds to peek in an unbroken window.
Huh, you look like Alfred except, well, maybe you look a little less scattered.
Oh well, you still want trail mix, so you head into the kitchen to see what you can find.
Blessings and have a wonderful weekend,