Note: After an adventure has run its course, I collect the posts together so readers don’t have to jump around the blog to re-read the story. Originally this spanned a month’s time, posting each Thursday and continuing according to how readers voted in the comments. The comments you see at the end now are therefore what readers voted on the first post in this story. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy.
Welcome Adventurous Readers!
It’s time to start a new adventure. I seem to be swinging between serious stories and lighthearted ones. Two adventures ago you were a cat in a garden chasing a gnome, last time you were a starving scavenger trying to find food, and now you’re a mouse in a library. I can’t exactly say what sparked this adventure other than I wanted something fun and I wanted to dig into my Dungeons and Dragon’s Monster Manual. With that statement, you’ve been warned =)
Let’s get started.
You watch the tall man from your spot tucked in between two books on the fourth shelf, right about head level with him. Candlelight flickers and then steadies along the spines of the books as he passes. His head’s bowed over a large, open tome in his hands and his long fingers sprawl across the cover beneath, supporting the book like a small, personal podium.
From the shelves across the room two more sets of eyes watch. He pays the others and you no mind, but unlike most people, he sought you out when he first arrived in the Master’s library.
“You know all the books?” he’d asked, a desperate pinching in his face drawing your interest even before he spoke.
You swallowed, and then nodded since your vocal cords do not support human speech.
“You master said you could find me everything on snakes. Can you do that?”
As soon as the library mice heard mention of the master, they scampered to sit at the man’s feet, eager to help. Even the topic of snakes didn’t deter their eagerness to please.
It’s been five days since that first meeting. You and your crew have pulled so many books you’ve lost count, which says something since you can count to three dozen, unlike the others.
The man, who introduced himself as Mr. Mason, snaps the book closed and a poof of dust makes him sneeze. From the look on his face, you know it didn’t offer whatever answer he’s looking for.
Grumbling with a few sniffles and a second sneeze, Mr. Mason wanders into the shelves to return the book to its home.
Disappointment curls its claws around your heart. Just that morning you painstakingly pulled the book from its shelf and placed it on the desk for Mr. Mason. As the day progressed and he still read from the book, your hope grew that you’d finally found the right one.
He returns and leans his narrow hips on the mahogany desk.
You scamper from your shelf and jump to the desktop.
Hearing your skittering, Mr. Mason holds out his hand, palm up, without looking over. You carefully step onto his hand to let him raise you to his head level.
“Bigger,” he says, “bigger snakes.”
“Bigger?” Amalia titters from a shelf near the ceiling. She’s only voicing what you’re all wondering. The book Mr. Mason read that day was about boas. The day before was pythons. What could be bigger?
You simply nod, unable to ask.
“Thank you.” Mr. Mason pulls a waxed paper packet from his pocket and hands it over.
Its weight pulls you down into a low squat but the smell of sharp cheddar that wafts free of the paper makes you hold the packet like it’s a great treasure.
Mr. Mason sets you back on the desk and heads out for the night, his departure leaving heavy disappointment in his wake.
A black whiskered nose appears over the edge of the desk next to you. “Cheese. Sharp cheddar cheese?” Vincent squeaks. He pulls himself onto the desktop while you unwrap the packet and divvy the cheese into three equal parts.
“Bigger snakes?” Amalia titters again, coming to join you. She’s such a tiny thing that her jump from the shelf barely makes a sound when she lands. She selects a portion of cheese and takes a dainty bite.
“You look like a chipmunk,” Vincent chortles.
She swats him, then points, “You’ve got crumbs in your fur.”
“Perhaps Mr. Mason is not describing his snake well,” you suggest as Vincent tries to look down at his chest.
“Could we follow him to see it ourselves?” Amalia wonders.
“Our only other option,” Vincent shoves a crumb into his mouth, “is to search the monster room.”
You pause with a chunk of cheddar in your paw. The last time you visited the monster room, a book tried to squash you. But then, your group has never left the library, so you’re not sure which is the more dangerous choice, the monster room or leaving the mansion.
Follow Mr. Mason?
Search the Monster Room?
Library Mice – Search the Monster Room
You clutch a one inch sword in your paw as you push open the monster room door and peek inside. The study’s candles flicker, streaming a trail of light through the open door and casting your shadow long into the dark. Your eyes make out nothing beyond it although you know there are piles and piles of books scattered about the floor.
Vincent’s bigger shadow creeps forward to join yours as he whispers, “See anything?”
“No,” you answer, “leave the door open so we have some light. Amalia, stay here and keep the books inside.”
And with that, you and Vincent step into the Monster room.
Something flickers and a moment later three books begin to glow with an eerie blue light.
“Will-o-the-Wisps,” Amalia whispers from the doorway as the tiny books float into the air and hover around your head. “Just don’t look at them.”
“Easier said than done,” Vincent grumbles.
You’ve only taken another step when Amalia lets out a startled cry.
You spin to find her in the clutches of a tall, thin tome. Two long bookmarks stream from the top of the book, wrapping themselves around Amalia’s small frame.
“What’s got her?” Vincent squeaks.
Amalia makes an awkward stab at the tome and you rush forward to help. A book mark lashes out and with a quick swipe, you slice through it. The tome tumbles backward with a high pitched shriek. It doesn’t release Amalia, however, and its remaining book mark squeezes tighter, making her squeak in protest.
You and Vincent pause, not wanting Amalia to get hurt even more. As you watch, two new book marks grow from the severed one.
“A hydra book,” you realize aloud.
“You’re visiting us,” the book says.
Vincent squeaks and Amalia’s eyes go wide. You’ve never had a book speak to you before.
“You must be searching for something. I can help. I know all the monster books,” the hydra goes on, “but first, bring me a couple books on rodents.”
Beside you, Vincent shudders, his black fur twitching. He’ll follow your lead but you’re unsure about trusting the hydra. The only other option you see is simply attacking it. Perhaps it you can pin it to the door with a sword, but you’d have to catch it perfectly so as not to hit Amalia.
Make the Deal?
Attack the Book?
Library Mice – Make the Deal
Vincent huffs under his end of the stack of books you’re carrying from the main library back to the monster room. All of them deal with rodents – mice, rats, squirrels, gophers, hamsters – you grabbed anything you could find for the hydra book, hoping to satisfy whatever its truly wants. The search took you so long that it’s almost morning and instead of candlelight – all the tapers have now burned out – you’re seeing by the dull gray light of morning that shows through the windows.
“That thing better let Amalia go!” Vincent grunts, shifting his hold on the books. This makes your end wobble and you stumble trying to keep the stack together. “Oops,” Vincent says, “sorry.”
“S’okay,” you say. “Almost there.”
You shuffle your way into the monster room to find the three will-o-the-wisp books still floating around and casting odd shadows over the books and walls. Sitting on one large stack is the hydra with a book-mark head wrapped firmly around Amalia’s small frame. The other two heads immediately fixate on you when you enter.
You and Vincent set the rodent books down to one side and back away.
“Now let her go,” you say.
The hydra slides free of its perch, and Amalia squeaks as it takes her with it. “Rodents?” the hydra asks, it two free heads wavering in the air like it can scent what kind of books you brought.
“Of course,” you say.
It ambles closer.
“Hey now—” you start but it’s too late.
The hydra heads flash forward, each grabbing a rodent book. At the same time, the book itself slaps against the floor spine first and opens wide. Each head drops their rodent book into the open hydra and it snaps closed.
Then, before you or Vincent can react to this startling turn of events, the heads flash out again, grab the rest of the stack, and drop them into the hydra’s waiting maw. It snaps closed again, flaps a couple times, and the rodent books are gone.
“Release Amalia!” you shout, pulling your sword.
The hydra burps. “Haha! More books! So hungry. Bring me more books!”
“NO!” Vincent darts forward but has to dart sideways when the hydra spits a chunk of hardback spine at him. As it turns to follow Vincent, a will-o-the-wisp floats past the stack of books the hydra was originally sitting on.
The picture of a long scaly body on the cover of one catches your eye.
“Snakes,” you whisper, realizing the hydra was sitting on one of the very books you want for Mr. Mason.
The hydra’s heads pivot, “hearing” your word. It tracks the direction of your attention and darts for it, letting Amalia go in its haste to steal – and probably eat – the book you want.
Grab the Book before the Hydra?
Stab the Hydra Head reaching for the Book?
Library Mice – Grab the Book before the Hydra
Your legs are moving before you think about the danger. Dust puffs into the air as you barrel into the stack of books and grasp the snake cover in your paws.
A hydra head catches your tail, pulling you off the stack, but you grip the book tight and take it with you, hearing it hiss at the sudden movement.
As you fall, you catch a glimpse of Vincent and Amalia charging the hydra’s back with raised swords.
“Amalia!” you call and, as soon as you hit the floor, you shove the snake book her way.
She pivots mid-stride to catch it. A forked book-mark tongue hisses from the spine but Amalia stabs it and it recedes back into the book.
The hydra changes course. It lets go of your tail just as Vincent drives his sword into the thick cover of its body.
It jerks violently and all three heads dart for him but you grab one of the heads in a paw and pull.
“RUN!” you shout.
They do, Vincent helping Amalia with the snake book while you haul on the hydra head to keep it occupied.
As soon as you see they’re out the door, you bolt for it.
The hydra expects you to rush through and so heads for the opening. You feint like you’re escaping and at the last second, turn to shove the door closed, directly on one of the hydra’s heads.
The room descends into darkness and all you hear is the raged whimpering of the hydra.
You know it’ll be coming after you soon, so you retreat to a stack of books in the dark to make your stand.
Amalia sits on the desk the next morning when Mr. Mason arrives. He frowns at seeing an unfamiliar mouse but reaches for the book she presents. Before he can pick it up, however, she grasps the forked book mark and pulls. The book hisses, and then goes still.
“Ah,” Mr. Mason says. “Warning taken.”
Amalia nods and scampers off the desk to join Vincent.
“Time to go looking?” Vincent asks her.
“We look until we know one way or the other,” she agrees, and they turn toward the monster room, armed with their swords and a couple candles. When the door creaks open, the library’s light spills into the monster room, touching dusty books and the torn remains of a thick tome about hydras.
“That’s promising,” Amalia whispers. A moment later, they see a small paw waving at them from behind a tumbled over stack of books.
Yay, you survived! That was a close one. Thanks for joining the Library Mice adventure. We’ll return next week to start a whole new story =)
(Pre-orders opened this week for my newest adventure book, Discarded Dragons! If you enjoy multi-ending adventure stories, check it out =)