Word Magic Option Bc2: Stall

Mountain Trail - Word Magic

It’s time to find out how this adventure ends!

If you missed the last three weeks, you can read the posts here and here and here.

Or here’s a quick recap:

You’re the King’s Word Keeper. This means you read every book there is and remember it for the King, but this also means you’re mute so you can’t use the magic that comes with reading the books. However, there’s an old librarian who has figured out that simply being around books gives her magic as well. You’re trying to find evidence of her magic when you come across books in her library that start disappearing. This is a sure sign she had word magic, but that it’s also unstable. You’ve decided to take a huge book called Titan Toes to show to the King as evidence.

Titan Toes Book - Word MagicAs soon as you take Titan Toes off the shelf, you’re sucked into another world in which you’re a giant. As you’re looking around, you come across two giant boys who are escaping their crazy matriarch. You join them for the night and, through starting the fire, you realize you’re in a world created by word magic. You have to get out before the old librarian’s magic fades, so readers voted to escape with the boys and hope that by doing so, you’ll leave the boundaries of the book world you’re in.

However, when you head for the pass, you’re stopped at the top by the matriarch and two of her warriors. Just beyond her, you see the world of Titan Toes starting to fade. The matriarch starts raving about the “prints” you’re leaving in her land. The boys debate rushing past but readers voted to stall and see if the world fades on its own, leaving you back in the library.

Let’s see if this works =)

Word Magic Option Bc2: Stall

You shake your head to tell the boys to stay put. Then, turning back toward the matriarch, you hold out your hands with a questioning raise of your brows as though to ask her, “Print?”

You lift a foot to check beneath your shoe but there’s barely an impression on the dusting of dirt coating the rocky ground. Being theatrical, you glance back the way you came like you’re checking the trail behind. Then you shrug.

“Those prints!” She points her knobby staff at what might be your knees. The end of the staff twirls in the air like she’s following a wisp of smoke. Everyone glances at your knees but as you stare, you realize why she’s whirling the staff around. She’s not pointing at your knees but at your hands where inky words swirl beneath the skin.

The boys, having seen the oddity the night before, don’t react when you hold up your hands with your fingers splayed, but the two warriors jump back as though you might shoot fire.

“No!” The matriarch shakes her staff, admonishing, but her voice warbles at the end. “No prints here!”

Snowy Footprint -Smuggling Hertzmer and Word Magic AdventureThe way her voice breaks seems familiar. As you eye her, trying to place why she sounds memorable, the pass hazes and her appearance shifts. For a moment, it’s like you’re looking at a child hiding inside the giant’s body. But then the matriarch is standing there again with her staff pointed at you in warning.

Acting on impulse, you splay your fingers out and imagine the pass carpeted in snow. You grin as ink swirls out of your hands to hang as a gray mist across the ground. It stills and then flushes white and everyone finds themselves ankle deep in snow.

“AYEEE!” the matriarch screeches. The middle of her cry turns into a croak as the world hazes again and the child image reappears. Her staff shortens into a cane and the small person inside the giant solidifies into the crone from the library.

Ink pools out of the end of her staff, melting your snow where it touches it, but this is too much for the crone’s word magic and the pass behind her turns into the library. She glances over her shoulder and then turns her own grin your way.

Cackling, she turns and jumps into the library. Her small body hazes and the library turns misty as well.

Library - Word MagicYou get three steps before the Titan Toes world disappears completely. Shelves and books and that old library smell surrounds you but there’s no relief. Everything looks insubstantial. Your fingers pass through the shelf to the right with faint resistance that reminds you of trailing your fingers through water.

“No! You stay in other world!”

You spin around just as a book the crone threw passes through your body.

She screeches and runs.

Giving chase, you experiment by going through the shelves. It’s disorienting but moments later you catch up and throw your arms around her. She goes still, shudders like you dumped a pitcher of cold water on her, and then keeps going.

As you run after, your brain’s racing as well. You come to the conclusion you’re stuck halfway between Titan Toes and the real world. If your guess is right, you’re basically a ghost, but you also probably still have use of your word magic.

Just as the crone reaches the door, you image the door opens into the library instead of out of it.

She runs out the door, and cringes with her arms around her face as she passes through your insubstantial body and back into the library.

She screeches to a halt, banging her cane on the floor before she looks back at where you stand.

You grin again and wiggle your fingers at her.

“What do you want?” she asks.

***

You come to an understanding with the crone that keeps her from hoarding the books in the library and keeps her from creating word worlds that any unsuspecting reader might stumble into. So long as she doesn’t harm anyone, you agree to leave her alone.

In the meantime, you try to figure out how to make yourself substantial again but so far haven’t had much luck.

The End

Congratulations! You survived this adventure…kind of. Thank you for joining the fun.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Word Magic Option Bc: Escape with the Boys

Word Magic Adventure

Welcome back for the third installment of the Word Magic adventure! There’s one more vote before this story ends.

If you missed the last two weeks, you can read the posts here and here.

Or here’s a quick recap:You’re the King’s Word Keeper. This means you read every book there is and remember it for the King, but this also means you’re mute so you can’t use the magic that comes with reading the books. However, there’s an old librarian who has figured out that simply being around books gives her magic as well. You’re trying to find evidence of her magic when you come across books in her library that start disappearing. This is a sure sign she had word magic, but that it’s also unstable. You’ve decided to take a huge book called Titan Toes to show to the King as evidence.

As soon as you take Titan Toes off the shelf,  you’re sucked into another world in which you’re a giant. As you’re looking around, you come across two giant boys who are escaping their crazy matriarch. You join them for the night and, through starting the fire, you realize you’re in a world created by word magic. You have to get out before the old librarian’s magic fades, so readers voted to escape with the boys and hope that by doing so, you’ll leave the boundaries of the book world you’re in.

Now, let’s see how the escape goes!

Word Magic Option Bc: Escape with the Boys

Miles and Ben stare at you, waiting for your answer like twin owls with wide eyes. You nod your agreement to go with them over the mountain pass and they whoop in excitement.

“We’ll leave first light,” Ben says as he hands you a piece of jerky from his pack.

You spend the night listening to them tell stories, and find yourself being shaken awake the next morning.

“Time to go,” Ben says. “Sorry there’s no breakfast. Miles ate your share.”

“Hey now,” Miles protests, “you didn’t tell me there were only three apples. We planned for the two of us. Why would there only be three?”

As they bicker, you follow them from the cave into the gray of predawn. In the valley below, the forest lays dark in the low light. You turn away from that sight and scramble up the scree slope, trying to be quiet in the early morning hush, but no matter how you try, the rocks scrape and rattle against each other with each step.

Miles and Ben cringe and grumble, good naturedly ribbing each other for the noise, but their voices cut off suddenly when the scree slope evens out into a small mountain saddle that must be the pass they mentioned.

Mountain Pass - Word MagicThe first of the sun’s rays highlights a disheartening sight. Between you and the far side of the pass stand three people. Unlike the boys, these are full grown giants with their shadows casting long figures across the ground.

The two men carry thick spears and off their backs hang shields the size of wagons. In sharp contrast, the middle-aged woman between them only reaches their shoulders. But she carries a long staff of her own with a large knob on the top.

“The matriarch,” Ben whispers. A shiver shakes him.

“Lost boys,” says the matriarch in a soprano that carries on the morning air. “I see no sheep here for you to tend.”

“We were looking for a stray,” Miles says.

Both warriors snort.

“Hush!” the matriarch demands. “I see a stranger leaving muddy prints in my land. Prints on the ground, prints in the sky. Prints everywhere!”

You look at your feet but the mountain pass probably hasn’t seen rain in days. There’s snow on the peaks above, but the meltwater trickles down the mountains to the forest and doesn’t touch the pass. You look up to meet her eyes, and the mountain pass behind her hazes like it’s covered with fog. You glance at it and then back to her but in that glimpse, you see the lines of shelves through the haze of rocks and sky.

“What’s the stranger doing?” the matriarch asks. “What’s the stranger doing here leaving a mark where it doesn’t belong?”

Colors blur in your peripheral vision. Titan Toes is starting to disappear. You’re so close to that edge and it’s promising that you can see the library beyond. You want to rush for it, but with the warriors and the matriarch in the way, you might not survive long enough to pass through the border.

There’s a chance that if you simply stall until the book disappears, you’ll be deposited back into the library since you weren’t made with word magic.

You shift from one foot to the other and the warriors follow you with their body movements. They even step forward a few steps like you’re making them nervous.

“We could run for it,” Miles whispers. “Surely they can’t stop us all.”

“But they’ll stop someone,” Ben argues. “Unless you can do something like you did with the fire last night?”

They look at you. Even if you use word magic, you still have to run or stall. So do you…

Bc1: Run?

Or

Bc2: Stall?

Thanks for joining the adventure this week! Leave your vote in the comments and we’ll return next Thursday to see how this adventure ends.

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Word Magic Option B: Titan Toes

Titan Toes Book - Word Magic

Welcome back for the second part of the Word Magic adventure.

If you missed last week, you can read the beginning of this adventure here.

Or, here’s a quick recap: You’re the King’s Word Keeper. This means you read every book there is and remember it for the King, but this also means you’re mute so you can’t use the magic that comes with reading the books. However, there’s an old librarian who has figured out that simply being around books gives her magic as well. You’re trying to find evidence of her magic when you come across books in her library that start disappearing. This is a sure sign she had word magic, but that it’s also unstable. You’ve decided to take a huge book called Titan Toes to show to the King as evidence.

Let’s see what happens next!

Word Magic Option B: Titan Toes

Although the book’s size will make it hard to carry, you decide to take Titan Toes because the magic in it might last long enough for you to reach the King before the book disappears. You slide your fingers under the heavy spine and pull it free of the shelf and the books sitting on top of it. As you fully take its weight, a tingling travels through your hands, up your arms, and into the rest of your body.

A silent gasp escapes your lips as the library whirls into a blur of colors and the floor shifts beneath your feet. You throw out a hand to brace yourself but the shelves don’t only look transparent, they feel like mist and you pass right through their wooden frames. And then the shelves, hardwood floor, and dusty smell of the library pages vanish.

You smell warm rocks and pine. Blinking several times, you sit up to adjust to new surroundings. The book is nowhere in sight but, if that wasn’t disturbing enough, you find yourself sitting amidst a jumble of rocks on the dry scree slope of a mountain. In the valley below, a forest swaths the ground in a frosting of green. The world feels…off, but you can’t quite put a word to why.

You stand and head down the slope toward the forest, hoping to figure out where the crazy crone has landed you with her unstable magic. It’s surprisingly easy going but as you draw nearer the pines, a sick feeling churns in your stomach. The forest, now that you’re close enough to see individual trunks, only comes up to your stomach in the same way a field of wheat would tickle your wrists. As you’re staring at this disturbing sight, the tree tops sway and crack against each other and then two dark brown heads appear from the foliage.

“Dang it, Ben,” one giant boy says as he crawls free of the forest, “we’ve been caught.”

“Caught? Who caught us?” Ben looks up from his hands and knees and frowns. “I’ve never seen you before.”

Sitting, the tops of the boy’s heads are below the crown of the trees. As they wait for your answer, you take in their dirt crusted knees and cracked finger nails. They seem rough, but there’s a directness about their expressions. You can’t speak, so you step forward and sit down with them. You shrug with your hands out in front of you to show you’ve got nothing threatening. They eye you with open curiosity but then Ben glances at the sky.

“It’ll be dark soon, Miles,” he says. “Let’s get to the cave and we’ll talk there.”

They lead you back up the scree slope to a cave on the far side. Only once you enter the cave do you see the cold fire pit laid out with unburned wood and two packs leaning against the wall.

“We’re escaping.” Ben motions to the packs. “Our matriarch has gone bonkers. It’s time to live elsewhere.”

“Ben,” Miles calls, “did you pack the flint kit?”

“It’s in the top of my pack,” Ben answers.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

“It’s not here. Did you put it under your clothing?” Miles starts to empty one of the packs with socks and shirts hitting the floor, but as they’re talking, you approach the cold fire. For a moment, one of the logs looked like it had words written across it. You flip the log over, thinking you saw the word fire, and a spark flares from your fingers into the wood.

With a startled grunt, you fall back on your rump and watch the flames take hold.

“Wow!” Miles says. “How’d you do that?”

Curious yourself, you touch one of the yet unlit logs and think ‘fire.’ This time, you see the ink beneath your skin twirl around into the word ‘fire.’ It flows out of your fingertip into the log as a spark of flame and the dry wood whooshes alight.

“Super cool,” Ben says.

A part of you agrees, but there’s another part that knows this is a terrible sign. As far as you can figure, there’s only one way you can actually do magic without speaking, and that’s if you’re in a world created by word magic, which means you’re inside something molded by the crone’s unstable power.

What happens if the book disappears with you inside it? How do you escape it? You’ve only ever heard stories about this that are told to scare people out of attempting to create their own word worlds.

“Hey,” Ben taps your arm and you blink out of your worried stare. “You want to escape with us? We’re headed out of the Titan lands by way of the pass tomorrow.”

Would that get you out of the book? Maybe. If you pass beyond the borders of what the crone created, it might land you back in the library.

Then again, some of the stories talk about a key required to escape a word world, and the most likely location for such a key would be with the giant’s matriarch.

Do you…

Bb. Go to see the Matriarch?

Or

Bc. Escape with the Boys?

Thank you for joining the adventure this week. Leave your vote in the comments below and we’ll return next week to see how this adventure continues =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Word Magic

Contract - Set Up Adventure and Word Magic Adventure

Hello amazing readers! It was not my intention to take January off along with December, but in hind’s sight, I should have known it was going to happen due to continuing editing on Quaking Soul.

Regardless, I’m back for a bit with a brand new Adventure for 2020 that I’m super excited to share! Let’s dig in and see how this one starts.

Word Magic

The Librarian, a cane-yielding old woman, shuffles up and down the shelves cackling to herself. Besides her, there’s no one in the library. (Except you, of course, but she doesn’t know you’re there.) There never is anyone anymore, but every day she wanders the stacks, keeping track of every precious title. At one time the town magistrate told her the books belonged to her. She took that to heart.

Some shelves have chains bolted in front of the spines. This wouldn’t be a problem except they’re ship’s anchor chains that are a couple feet long and a foot wide. The titles can be read through the chain links, but good luck slipping a book through the metal.

StocksOther shelves have glass doors. Again, the titles can be read, but there’s no way to open the glass without breaking it. There’s a story of one man who tried. He was fined for destruction of property and thrown into the stocks for a few days.

Most residents have long since given up using the library, but you’re the King’s Word Keeper, and you’re starting to believe the old crone has darker reasons for her hoarding.

Written words have a magic all their own. You’re a walking testament to that as the ink of letters swirls beneath your skin from your hours reading for the King. He’s charged you with preserving the books, and their magic, by reading them and never forgetting them, but he safeguards that power by making your mute. It ebbs and flows within you, growing with each book, but cannot be used without speaking aloud. In fact, anyone who reads too much ends up unable to speak.

There’s a seldom known workaround if someone’s sly, however. Most people visit a library, read a book that gives them a tidbit of magic, and then they leave, never realizing what truly happened. But if someone spends oodles of time near the books without reading them, she absorbs their power without triggering the King’s safeguard. Librarian positions are for a year only to prevent this from happening. Somehow, the old crone in this out-of-the-way village slipped through the cracks and has held her position for several years now.

You slipped into the library today to see if you could spot any telltale signs of the crone absorbing too much word magic. Usually the first indication is ink that pools in the fingertips. Once it sits there long enough, that ink whirls into letters and words that move across the person’s skin.

CaneYou spot the crone heading toward the back wall holding a leather-bound book no bigger than her hand. She’s cackling up a storm and there’s an actual swing to her step despite her cane. Ahead, she turns into an isle on the right, but when you reach the spot, she’s not in sight. About to continue on, you pause at the sign over one of the shelves. It’s a simple, “Do Not Touch” hanging from a gold chain. It’s not an anchor chain or glass cage, just a sign. Now why would she post such a sign in a library no one visits?

Beneath the “Do Not Touch” are a dozen odd-sized books.

They’re leather bound with gold inlay. One sits on the shelf sideways because it won’t fit standing up. It’s so tall that in your hand, it’d reach the top of your head if you held it at your waist.

The book placed on top of it must be the one the crone was carrying a moment earlier. It’s standing upright but, despite the loss of the space from the book beneath, it still doesn’t touch the shelf above. If you opened it, it’d be no bigger than your hand.

A third book reaches the depth of the shelf standing up, but is barely an inch tall. It reminds you of the inch by inch cane the librarian uses.

With a glance around to make sure she’s nowhere in sight, you lean closer to read the titles.

The hand sized spine boasts “The Land of Nothings” in tiny letters. Beneath it, the giant book says “Titan Toes“ and the inch by inch book is the “Flat Dimension.”

As you reach out a curious finger to trace this last title, the book grows hazy. It disappears while you’re frowning at it. Even as you stand there, flabbergasted, two more lose definition and disappear. What has the librarian gotten herself into? These books show magic but apparently it’s unstable. You need to take one back to the King so he can determine if the crone is a threat.

Although “Titan Toes” is bigger and harder to carry, its power might last longer so you can show the King.

Then again, it would be a great deal easier to carry “The Land of Nothings.”

Do you pick:

A. The Land of Nothings?

Or

B. Titan Toes?

Thank you for joining in this new adventure. To participate, leave your vote in the comments below for how you’d like to proceed. Next Thursday we’ll return to see how the story continues. This adventure will run with three more posts, so be sure to check back for the next choice you get to make!

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Oasis Disturbance Option Bb2: Chocolate to the Toad King

Toad - Oasis Disturbance Adventure

Welcome back for the last post in the Oasis Disturbance Adventure! If you missed part of the story, here’s a recap. Otherwise, jump down to the story and see how everything ends =)

Week One: You rode into the desert oasis town of Caspian and received a rather cool welcome from the inhabitants. Red, the tavern keeper, agreed to allow you to sleep in one of his rooms if you promised to stay inside all night. You agreed, but midway through the night there’s a deep roaring outside and the ground begins to shake. Readers voted to go outside to investigate. (If you would like to read the start to this adventure, click here.)

Week Two: When you left your room, Red found you at the bottom of the stairs. He drags you to the back door of the tavern and shows you the destruction of his stables, which he blames on you. When you try to check on Opher, your horse, Red refuses to check with you, so you leave the tavern alone. Before you even reach the stables, however, a walking skeleton dinosaur catches you and asks you to rescue the Toad King so all the skeletons can return to normal. He says this will help your horse too. Readers voted to help Calvin, the skeleton dinosaur. (If you’d like to read week two, click here.)

Week Three: Calvin gave you two options for how to rescue the Toad King from the tavern keeper, Red. One was to offer licorice to Red in trade for the Toad King. Two was to offer chocolate to the Toad King and hope he’d pick you as master over Red. As you enter the Tavern to find the Toad King, you find Red pointing a shotgun at you while he holds a glass jar with the Toad inside. Readers voted to offer the King chocolate. (If you’d like to read week three, click here.)

Now, let’s hop in and see what kind of magic the Toad King can conjure. =)

Oasis Disturbance Option Bb2: Chocolate to the Toad King

You question whether or not Red can be reasoned with, so instead of addressing him, you meet the bulgy eyes of the Toad King. His tongue flicks out to hit the glass of the jar. It pings like a moth hitting a window.

Crown - Oasis Disturbance Adventure“Your majesty,” you say. “Would you agree to un-damn the lake for some chocolate crickets?”

“What are you doing?” Red growls. “Battier than a belfry! It’s a toad, for crying in a bucket! He can’t talk.”

However, right on the heels of his statement, the Toad opens his mouth in a wide yawn and asks, “Crickets? Chocolate covered crickets? Oooo, that is tempting.” His croaky voice sounds almost British.

Red gaps at the toad in his glass cage. He lowers the shotgun in order to place the jar on the bar. If you didn’t know better, you’d think he was afraid the toad might explode. Then he backs away a few steps to stare.

“What?” the Toad King asks. “I never wanted to talk to you, so I didn’t. Plus, you feed me flies. I’ve never seen a chocolate covered cricket in this dusty establishment before.” At this, his tongue flicks out and he turns his bulgy stare toward you. “Let me see a small piece. See if it’s worth the hassle.”

You pull a small cricket from the package in your left pocket and slide it down the bar. It hits the glass of the jar and sits there. The Toad King smashes his face against the glass to get a better look at it.

“Hmmm,” he mutters, “dark coloring, smooth texture, legs included. Seems like a good product. I’ll take your offer, human,” he says.

“Ha,” Red laughs. “You’re my Toad King.”

“Ha,” the Toad King laughs back. “Hop around like a kangaroo for the next three days.”

Kangaroo - Oasis Disturbance AdventureRed stiffens and then, to your surprise, he holds his hands close to his chest and starts hopping for the front door of the tavern. As the door slams shut behind his bouncing gait, the Toad King turns to eye you and you suppress the urge to gulp. What did you just get yourself into?

“Can you do that to everyone?” you ask.

“Only the person who claims me,” the King grins, “and since I’ve accepted your offer, that’s you.”

“What? I just offered crickets, not ownership.”

“You made a deal with me,” he responds, “ownership passes to whoever made the most recent deal. Now, crickets?”

***

As you leave the tavern with the Toad King sitting on your shoulder, you find the yard suspiciously quiet.

“No skeletons?” you ask.

“The curse on the lake is lifted.” The king shrugs as he crunches into his second cricket. “Can we explore somewhere that’s not Caspian?” he asks around the bug in his cheeks.

“Uh, sure, but I think my horse needs time to heal.” You point out the destruction to the stables and the worried neighing inside.

“Oh bother.” The Toad King waves his webbed feet. The rubble of the stables gives a jerk and, between one blink of your eyes and the next, they’re back to normal with a sleepy hush hanging over the predawn.

***

As you travel with the King, who’s name you find out is Martin, you find out there’s good and bad to having him around. He always wants chocolate crickets, so you start carrying ingredients to make them yourself. He likes small tricks and you end up wandering around thinking you’re a dog occasionally. On the upside, Opher never gets tired and every tavern you stay at suddenly gets the urge not to charge you. He’s also very good at eating mosquitoes, so you never have to worry about bug bites.

Everyone does ask about your ‘pet’ toad. You ‘jokingly’ ask them if they’d like to offer him a sweet. As of yet, however, no one’s topped chocolate covered crickets, so he resolutely rides around on your shoulder and, in general, just bothers you.

The End

Hurray! You survived this adventure and helped the town of Caspian. Good luck getting arid of the Toad King 😉

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Oasis Disturbance Option Bb: Help Calvin

T-Rex - Oasis Disturbance Adventure

Welcome to the Oasis Disturbance adventure!

We are in the third week of this adventure, so if you missed week one and two, here’s a quick recap:

Week One: You rode into the desert oasis town of Caspian and received a rather cool welcome from the inhabitants. Red, the tavern keeper, agreed to allow you to sleep in one of his rooms if you promised to stay inside all night. You agreed, but midway through the night there’s a deep roaring outside and the ground begins to shake. Readers voted to go outside to investigate. (If you would like to read the start to this adventure, click here.)

Week Two: When you left your room, Red found you at the bottom of the stairs. He drags you to the back door of the tavern and shows you the destruction of his stables, which he blames on you. When you try to check on Opher, your horse, Red refuses to check with you, so you leave the tavern alone. Before you even reach the stables, however, a walking skeleton dinosaur catches you and asks you to rescue the Toad King so all the skeletons can return to normal. He says this will help your horse too. Readers voted to help Calvin, the skeleton dinosaur. (If you’d like to read week two, click here.)

Now, let’s jump into the next part of this adventure =)

Oasis Disturbance Option Bb: Help Calvin

“How does un-damning the lake help my horse?” you ask Calvin.

He hops from one foot to the other with a toothy grin. “If horse is hurt in the moonlight, horse becomes like me. Then you end up with a thirsty, dusty skeleton horse. By un-damning the lake, your horse’s injuries remain normal and she’ll heal like any normal flesh and blood. See, easy peasy. It’s all connected.”

You shake your head and Calvin takes this as you disagreeing with him when, in reality, you’re just trying to understand everything.

“Please help. I promise it’ll help your horse. I promise, I promi—”

“Okay!” you say. “What has to be done?”

Toad - Set Up Adventure Story“I finally figured it out!” Calvin says. “He kidnapped the Toad King and now we’re suffering the curse. We need to return the King to the lake.”

“Who kidnapped the Toad King?”

Calvin points one long claw behind you at the back door of the tavern. When you turn to look, you see Red staring with such an expression of fear, anger, and defiance that you take a step back.

“Why don’t you retrieve the King?” you ask Calvin as Red spins away to disappear into the darkened interior of the tavern.

Calvin spits his disgust. How he does this when he has no tongue, you don’t know, but you’re pretty sure he hawks a loogie that kind of looks like a tumbleweed. It blows around in the dust of the tavern yard.

“Once a skeleton, all indoors are denied to you.” He reaches out a careful claw and touches the skin on the back of your hand. “Skin,” he says simply, and then grins his delight.

“I don’t get it,” you admit. “Why would Red want a Toad King?”

This time Calvin palms his face, making the bone of his hand scrap on his brow ridges. “Don’t you know anything?”

You don’t answer that. Why should you know anything about a Toad King, a curse, and walking skeletons?

“Sheesh,” Calvin exclaims. “Anyone who has the Toad King has his luck.”

“Doesn’t seem like good luck to me,” you comment with a gesture at the rubble of the stables.

Dinosaur - Oasis DisturbanceCalvin grins and waves a claw like a teacher would at a smart point made by a student. “There’s always a catch. The Horse’s Shoe is doing great and even the damage Rex did to the front of the tavern tonight will be gone by morning—that’s how I know Red’s the one holding the King—but now Red’s stuck with night terrors every night. While he holds the Toad King, he can’t be harmed by anyone, but as soon as he puts him back, people can take whatever retribution they want for this nightmare.” Calvin shrugs. “He’s in trouble either way.”

Considering there’s a T-rex wandering down the road and you’re talking to a tongue-less skeleton, you can’t really argue with Calvin’s logic.

“What am I looking for?”

***

Calvin’s description of a large toad in a jar can’t be that hard to miss, right? As you walk back into the tavern’s dark kitchen, you’re running over all the possible places the tavern keeper would keep just such a jar.

You needn’t have wasted your brain power, you realize, as you step into the tavern and find Red standing at the far end of the bar with a shotgun aimed your direction. He’s holding the pistol grip because he only has one hand free. Under his left arm is a large jar with a green and yellow, wart-covered toad inside.

“Stop there,” Red says. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“You’ve already got trouble,” you say without thinking and Red growls at you.

Besides his description of the toad, Calvin also gave you a couple suggestions on how to approach this situation. One, he thinks Red has an addiction to licorice candy because he pays exorbitant prices to have it shipped into town. The talking skeleton even came prepared and handed you a small package of the stuff. It’s sticking out of your right back pocket in case you need it. Calvin surmised you might be able to bargain for the Toad King because the skeletons have been destroying every shipment of licorice for the last month.

The other option presented was to appeal to the Toad King himself. Apparently the slimy creature isn’t without some power even when he’s being held in a jar. If he’s motivated enough, he might choose you as master over Red. Again, Calvin suggested sweets but this time he figured chocolate covered crickets might entice the Toad instead of licorice. A small packet of crickets is tucked into your left back pocket.

With the shotgun pointed at you, you don’t have a lot of time to debate your choices.

Do you…

Bb1. Offer Licorice to Red?

Or

Bb2. Offer Chocolate to the Toad King?

Thank you for stopping by this week. Leave your vote in the comments below and we’ll return next week to see how this adventure ends.

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Oasis Disturbance Option B: Go Outside

Welcome back for the second part in this adventure =)

If you missed last week, here’s a quick recap: You rode into the desert oasis town of Caspian and received a rather cool welcome from the inhabitants. Red, the tavern keeper, agreed to allow you to sleep in one of his rooms if you promised to stay inside all night. You agreed, but midway through the night there’s a deep roaring outside and the ground begins to shake. Readers voted to go outside to investigate. (If you would like to read the start to this adventure, click here.)

Now, let’s see what happens.

Oasis Disturbance Option B: Go Outside

The subtle shuddering in the floorboards continues, growing in strength until dust floats into the air from the surface and each dry board creaks against its neighbor. Red, the tavern keeper, may have asked you to stay in your room all night but you’ve a sinking premonition that your room might not last till dawn and it might be safer to move your body elsewhere.

Door knob - Oasis DisturbanceWith a firm grip on the doorknob, you turn it carefully and peek into the hallway beyond. Darkness greets you but it’s a sleepy kind of hush, not a creepy kind. Keeping your steps soft, you exit your closet room and make it three steps down the stairs before a grating, grinding crash shakes the walls. Even before the noise stops, you notice light coming from under the door of the room you just left. It’s silvery light, like someone opened a giant window…except there wasn’t a big window in that room to open. Maybe it’s time to get out of town, you decide, and take the last six steps down to the bar two at a time.

Before your feet finish thudding on the landing, someone’s got you by the arm.

“Should’ve told you to leave town!” Red shouts. He spins you toward the back door where you assume the kitchen sits.

“How do I have anything to do with this?” you shout right back, both from his rough handling and from your surprise.

By now, Red’s shoved you through the kitchen and toward the door outside. He lets go of your arm to swing the door open.

“Look at that!” He points through the door but does not step through it.

Beyond the door lies the backyard of the tavern and beyond that sits the stables. Or rather, what used to be the stables. A jumbled heap of timbers and thatch meets your gaze, and now that you know what you’re hearing, you realize some horses must have survived because their worried neighing carries through the tavern yard.

“Opher!” You run to search for her but Red grabs your arm again before you exit the door.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“My horse. Your stables. We’ve got to help them!”

He lets go like you burned him. “And go out there? You’re battier than a belfry.”

For a moment, you simply look into the big man’s dark eyes. Under the bravado, there’s a layer of fear so thick he’s almost drowning in it. No argument will make him leave the questionable safety of the tavern.

“Fine,” you say, and step out the door.

It’s a relatively clear night with only a few scattered clouds to hide the moon occasionally. You’re so focused on the stables that you don’t immediately see the creature running toward you waving its spindly arms. When you do catch sight of it, however, you freeze as your brain stumbles over an explanation.

Dinosaur - Oasis Disturbance“Look at you!” the creature crows. “All that lovely skin and hair and—and—and look at your eyes! You have eyes!”

This would be a very strange statement except the creature doesn’t have eyes—or skin—or hair. It’s just bones and now that it’s standing right in front of you, there’s no denying what’s talking at you.

A dinosaur, or at least it’s the talking bones of one. About the size of a thin, medium sized dog, the teeth and snout look like they could leave quite the wound in all your lovely skin.

But the dinosaur isn’t biting, or even really aggressive. Instead, it grasps your hands in its long claws and sighs,  “You’re perfect. Please help us.”

“Um,” you say.

“Oh right,” the dinosaur drops your hands and takes a step back. “They all say I’m a little much. Calm, Calvin, stay calm and explain.” This last bit seems to be said more to himself than to you.

“Someone stole the toad king,” Calvin says.

“What?”

“I know, right!? Who would do such a thing? But they did and now we need to un-damn the lake or we all stay dusty, thirsty skeletons. Help us?”

“My horse needs my help first.” You point toward the rubble of the stables as you try to edge around Calvin.

He grabs your arm and then flinches back. “Calm, Calvin, calm. Don’t scare the human,” he tells himself, then, “un-damning the lake will help everyone, horses included. What do you say?”

Do you…

Bb. Help Calvin?

Or

Bc. Find Opher?

Let me know in the comments which option gets your vote. Next Thursday we’ll return to see how this adventure continues.

Blessings,

Jennifer