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=)
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?
Fixing Genius Option A: Offer to Help the Scholars
You’ve suspected before but now you’re absolutely certain. The Scholars are insane. They’re smartish magicians with no small amount of something off in the head.
But if you refuse to help, they’ll probably destroy the mansion and the town of Mandril in the process.
“All right,” you say, “I promise not to tell anyone about what I see here.”
The Scholars start bouncing on their toes and they all grin at you. It’s kinda creepy.
“So what kind of ideas do you have to pull the static from the scope?”
Thankfully your question pulls their attention from grinning at you and they all huddle together to discuss. The mouse takes the opportunity to release its hold on your sock and skitter across the floor to disappear into a small hole in the marble wall.
Thanks for abandoning me!
Like it heard you, it peeks back out, you hear a high pitched twittering and then it disappears again.
“Here’s our thoughts,” Edwin says.
You raise a brow and wait for him to continue.
He glances nervously back at his colleagues but then squares his shoulders.
“Use extra cable to pull the charge from the scope to the ground,” he ticks the first option off on his index finger, “use the mice to disconnect the scope from the cable,” second finger ticked off, “or…”
A crack of lightening makes everyone jump. The vibrant tendrils of electricity collide into a single bright stream connected to the rods on the roof. It races through the cables and into the scope, which turns from its usual mahogany color to a bright ruby red.
You know little about Massidion but what you do know is it explodes if overloaded. Stories involving the substance almost always end with it going boom. Big boom.
“Or?” you prompt Edwin.
“What’s the third option?”
“Oh, break the ceiling and flood the room for the charge to release into the water.” He grins. You could count his teeth if you wanted to.
“Yup. Those are the options we can think of.”
“And what about your sticky static?”
There’s a yelp and you look over to see one of the other Scholars shucking his apron off. The apron turns to ash on the floor and the man looks at the scope like it made him touch it.
“We think when the charge dissipates, the static’ll return to us.”
You don’t point out the problems in such an assumption. If they loose their sticky static, it’s their own fault.
Another snap of lightening draws your attention. The scope rocks on its base from the force of the charge.
“Okay,” you say, “We’re running out of time.”
Do you say…
Aa. You’ll try the cable?
Ab. You’ll have the mice help?
Ac. You’ll break the ceiling?
Fixing Genius Option Aa: Try the Cable
Using the mice will probably get them all killed and although they’re annoying when they wake you in the night, you don’t exactly have a death wish for them.
And breaking the ceiling seems extreme.
So you point at the cable, “lets try more cable.”
Edwin nods vigorously and snaps his fingers at his colleagues.
With a jump, five of them race to the platform and release the lever. The platform whooshes away and you hear a collective “weeeeee” as they disappear.
It’s moments later that you hear another “weeeee” and the five Scholars reappear on the lift huffing for breath. You don’t know how they made it so fast but you haven’t the time to ask as another bolt of lightening sends the scope rocking on its base. You’re not sure you’d get an answer anyway.
The Scholars bring over a gigantic coil of cable.
You sigh, realizing your chances of this working are slim and the likelihood of you getting the stuffing shocked out of you is extremely high.
“Okay,” you say, “lets ground the cable to the ground outside, can we run it out a window?”
The Scholars all look at each other and then at their toes like a class full of students reluctant to be picked.
You suppress the urge to growl.
“I saw a window on the lift ride up,” you say, “if you have to break it, do so, then run the cable out until it hits the ground.”
You toss one end to a short man to your right.
He yelps but catches it and stares at it like it’s a snake.
“Now!” you shout and he jumps toward the lift with two other Scholars following behind.
“Do we have something to insulate the cable with?”
You grab him by the shoulders and shake him. The contact sends an odd cold feeling through your hands but you ignore it. “We don’t have time for you to be evasive. Go get whatever you have that will insulate! Now!”
Edwin hops toward the lift platform and you resist the urge to kick him.
He comes back a bit later with some type of rubbery blanket.
Throwing it over the cable running from the roof, you allow yourself a sigh.
The small Scholar who you charged with grounding the second cable scurries back to you. He hands you the free end and gives you a wide grin.
“Everyone stand back.”
What you have in mind isn’t exactly a clean way to ground the cable, but you don’t have a lot of time, so you’re willing to try it.
All the Scholars back against the wall.
You lay the free end of the cable over the rubber blanket.
One, two, three…
You pull the blanket out from between the cables, rolling the top one into contact with the charged one beneath and duck out of the way.
Your hair stands on end.
Holding your breath, you wait.
Cheering makes you look up. The Scholars have their hands raised into the air and they’re shooting static back and forth from their hands like it’s a ball.
Relief laced with apprehension settles in your stomach. The crazy Scholars have their static back. Glancing at the scope confirms it’s calmed to mahogany from ruby red.
You scrub your face with your hands, allowing your stress to drain but as you rub your face, an odd tingling covers your head. You pull away your hands only to find the hair on your arms standing up and light sparks tracing your finger tips.
The static was supercharged. The extra had to go somewhere.
You stuff your hands in your pockets as Edwin comes to hug you. Awkwardly accepting the embrace, you back away with a slight bow.
“I would not suggest trying that again,” you caution. “Now, thankfully our attempt to diffuse the situation worked. I’ll bid you goodnight.”
“Oh, yes, yes.” Edwin agrees and leads you out.
As you walk away, you look down to find a mouse walking beside you. It follows you home and curls up on the rug in front of your hearth.
Interesting. You’ve now gained sticky static and a pet mouse that can teleport.
Staring at your hands, you shudder. Now you just need to figure out how to handle the static. With a glance at your bed, you grimace. The bed’s in pieces from when the static shot from you to it. Learning to handle the static could take a lot of time. But you’re not willing to go to the Scholars for answers. You’ll just have to figure it out as you go.