We’re back to a new adventure where the reader gets to vote on how the story continues!
A while ago I ran an adventure by the name of Fixing Genius. The general consensus afterward was that it wasn’t long enough. So…here’s a sequel adventure.
If you missed Fixing Genius you can either click on it under categories or here’s the cliff notes version.
Fixing Genius: You’re a repair person for the crazy Scholars of the Mansion. You go to fix something for them only to find out they’re magicians and they’ve charged their prized telescope with their ‘sticky static,’ a magic much like electricity. Then they rigged it to be shocked by lightening. You try to ground the scope but in the process it explodes and you’re saved by their teleporting mice. You wake to find you now have the sticky static and the mice follow you home.
Now on to the new adventure=) Enjoy.
Mystery of the Magic
There’s a twittering and scrapping. You crack one eye open to find yourself nose to nose with a mouse.
“Gah! Marcus.” You sit up and pause as someone bangs on the door.
Marcus scampers away to hide under your bed.
It’s the middle of the night. Maybe the Scholars need something fixed. You shake your head. That can’t be. Ever since the top floor of their mansion blew up in an experiment gone wrong they’ve avoided the entire town of Mandril, including its repair people.
Groaning, you toss back the covers and throw your robe over your shoulders before opening the door.
“Town’s on fire,” shouts the girl standing there.
You exchange your robe for your heavier cloak and grab two buckets before rushing out the door.
Sure enough, there’s smoke coming from the north side of town but luckily it’s not the ‘town’, it’s a barn. Joining the water line, you add your buckets to the chain and start passing full buckets for empty ones.
Water sloshes as you pass left. Empty buckets get thrown right. Back and forth. Back and forth.
Dawn’s peeking over the horizon by the time the fire’s completely out. Exhausted, you turn toward home as your buckets hit your legs. You’re arms are too sore to lift them clear of your stride, so you just let them hang and hit your knees.
Your skin pricks along the back of your neck.
Since the incident at the mansion, you’ve kept your latent magic a secret, only messing with it late at night as you figure out how to use it, but one thing your know for sure, your skin tingles, goes cold, flushes hot, or pricks when your magic reacts to something.
When you tried to heat water, it boiled in a flash and would have scalded you except the magic went cold along your hands and kept your skin from burning. Like it had a mind of its own and was out to protect you.
The prickling sensation grows.
You pause and stretch your shoulders a bit, looking around, but nothing seems out of place. Until your eyes come to rest on the ashes of the barn.
Most of it’s a gray smudge but where the back corner used to exist looks reddish. You blink. Trick of the eyes?
Only one way to find out. You turn around and make your way back to that corner.
It’s not a trick of the eyes. The ash is a dull red. You crouch down and rub a bit with your fingers. Your sticky static zaps between your thumb and forefinger.
Startled, you glance around to make sure no one’s watching.
A twig cracks behind you. Turning, you see a flash of brown as someone runs away into the trees. You’re about to follow when Mr. Owen, the unfortunate owner of the barn, comes up beside you. He’s looking into the forest too.
“Darned kids,” he says, “always playing around my barn. And now it’s gone.”
“You think this was a kid?”
“Most likely,” he says, running a hand through his gray hair.
“What do you think could’ve done this?” you point to the red ash.
Mr. Owen frowns and kneels like you did to rub some of the stuff between his fingers.
“Ow!” He starts backward and stares at his hand where it’s singed. “What in tarnation!?”
You look at your own hand to make sure but you’re not burned like him. You magic must have protected you. He looks at you but you only shrug.
“Just noticed it looked funny,” you explain.
“Well, do me a favor and figure this out, will you? Can’t rebuild if the ash just burns the barn down again.”
“Sure,” you say, it’s not like you have much else to do since the Scholars haven’t called in a while. “Can I take some of this? See if I can figure out what it is?”
“Take all of it if you can figure out how,” he glares at the offending ash and then stalks away. You kneel down and, making sure no one’s watching, you scoop a bunch of the ash into one of your buckets.
Then you head home, contemplating your next move. You could try to figure out what’s in the ash with your magic but it could be tricky until dark. You don’t want anyone to see you messing with magic.
You could try to figure out who ran away into the woods. There’s a good chance they know something but by now, it could be hard to find them.
Or you could ask witnesses about the fire and see if you can get anything that way but the towns people don’t exactly like magic, so they might hesitate if they saw something unusual.
So do you…
A. Focus on the Ash?
B. Follow the person in the woods?
C. Ask the witnesses?
Mystery of the Magic Option A: Focus on the Ash
Most of the town has returned to their homes and the person who ran into the forest is gone. You look at your bucket full of red ash and decide to start there.
When you get to your cabin, you shut the door and pull the curtains closed, figuring no one will think twice because they’ll assume you’re sleeping after helping put out the fire.
Finding a white handkerchief, you sit down in front of the cold hearth and pour a bit of the ash onto the cloth. Then you carefully spread it out with a stick.
It’s definitely ash even though it’s red but there seem to be bits of larger debris too. You separate one of these larger pieces and poke at it with the stick, then you reach to pick it up. Static zaps from you and you pull back.
The piece of debris turns a little more red.
You know that color. The telescope in the mansion glowed that color when charged. This has to be Massidion, the same material as the scope. It’s the only material your know of that can hold magic…
You sit back on your heels in thought. The chances of a random piece of Massidion sitting in Mr. Owen’s barn are remote. Plus, Massidion wouldn’t pull static from you unless it was already charged.
There’s a twittering and you look over to see Marcus. He’s joined by three other mice, who snuggle up to your leg. You never would have thought mice could be good pets but these are different. They’re intelligent and helpful.
But they don’t usually all snuggle unless something’s wrong. You count again. Only four mice. You had five.
“Where’s your brother, Marcus?”
The mouse disappears with a pop and then reappears a second later with a bunch of leaves in its mouth. Then he pops again and the other three mice follow suite.
Leaves? It had to mean the forest. You scoop up the handkerchief and dump all the ash back in the bucket before heading out.
The forest surrounds the town, so it takes you only a few minutes to reach the trees. Once inside them, the four mice appear around your feet.
“Okay, now what?” you ask.
Marcus pulls at your pant leg and scampers away. You follow until you reach an open glade right next to the river. The mouse twitters and sits on his haunches. You kneel beside him as you watch whoever’s next to the river.
It looks like a man but he’s sitting with his back to you, so you can’t immediately see what he’s doing. He jumps up with a shouted, “now, you dumb critter! Now!”
It’s Edwin, one of the Scholars. He kicks an object at his feet and it flies through the air.
The mice whimper.
The object’s a cage and, as it comes to land closer to you, you see the fifth mouse is inside. There’s a round object with him but you’re not sure what it is until Edwin picks the cage up and shouts at the mouse.
“Charge it! Now! or I’ll send you flying through the air again!”
The mouse pops like he’s teleporting away but he only rattles against the bars of the cage. Whatever the cage is made of, he can’t get out.
The object’s got to be another piece of Massidion. But the only reason Edwin would need a mouse to charge it is if his sticky static didn’t return when the mansion exploded.
You look at your hands and watch the sizzle along your fingers that you’re just now getting used to.
Why would he want a mouse to charge the Massidion though? The mouse’s abilities wouldn’t give him back his static.
You see movement out of the corner of your eye. Crouched in the bushes to your right is a kid from Mandril wearing a brown coat. It’s the same brown that you saw this morning.
Why would a kid be here? The kid’s fixated on Edwin and hasn’t seen you.
Aa. Confront Edwin?
Ab. Talk to the kid?
Ac. Try to save the mouse?
Mystery of the Magic Option Aa: Confront Edwin
One thing’s for sure. Edwin stole the mouse from your cabin. It’s been a whole two months since the explosion and the mice don’t leave unless they’re with you, so this mouse didn’t leave on its own.
“Scholar Edwin,” you step into the glade.
Edwin spins and gawks at you.
“You’re a bit far from the mansion,” you say.
“Mansion! Mansion! What Mansion?” He jumps from one foot to the other. “Can no longer see Mansion without–” He cuts off sharply as you lean over to pick up the cage. “No! That’s mine.”
Before he can stop you, you open the cage and the mouse scampers free. You pull out the other object and let it sit in your palm. It’s an uncharged piece of Massidion. The mahogany colored stone sits smooth and cool against your skin.
Edwin freezes, staring at the Massidion like you’ve a snake in your hand. “That’s not mine.”
“Really? Than I’ll just take it back to town and give it to Mr. Owen, who can sell it to help rebuild his barn.”
There’s no surprise on his face. He knows about the barn burning down. Interesting, the Scholars avoid Mandril like it was beneath them.
But he looks horrified at the prospect of loosing the Massidion.
“Tell me what happened at the barn and I’ll give this back,” you say.
He jumps back and forth, staring at you hand. “Wasn’t me,” he whines, “wasn’t me.”
“But you know what happened.”
He nods but continues to jump back and forth.
You just wait. Getting information from the Scholars has always been like this. But when he doesn’t explain after a good few minutes, you close your hand around the stone and turn to walk away.
You look back.
“The static rushed to the least tainted sources.”
What in the world is he saying?
“Kids! It diffused into all the kids!”
“They play in the barn. Barn goes boom!” Edwin jumps on boom and throws his arms wide.
Considering your own hazardous experiments with the static, what he says makes sense. But it doesn’t explain how charged Massidion ended up in the barn too.
“You don’t have any static, do you, Edwin?”
He goes really still, like a cornered animal.
“And you’re trying to get it back?”
Edwin screams and bolts. You let him go.
By charging the Massidion with a mouse and then placing it where the kids would play with it, Edwin might be able to get his static back because the Massidion would pull it from whatever kid touched it. It was a huge might with a lot of chances but it sounds like something the scholars would do.
You turn to go home and find the kid, a young boy, watching you.
“Don’t touch any thing like this,” you hold the Massidion up. “And be super careful with the static.”
The boy nods and runs away.
You hope he and the others will find you later since you didn’t punish him. Revealing the kid’s magic to the town might be a bad idea. The people of Mandril really dislike magic. So you decide to keep that to yourself.
On your way back, you concoct a story for Mr. Owen that involves an experiment by the scholars gone wrong that the kids got ahold of, thus burning down the barn.
Mr. Owens accepts the story without question and seems relieved when you offer to clean up the ash. He’s thrilled when you hand him the Massidion, telling him it’s payment from the Scholars for their experiment.
Then you head home for some much needed sleep. You find five mice curled up on the hearth rug when you arrive.