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.)

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

Oasis Disturbance - Moon

Our last adventure had a rather chilly river involved. Let’s warm up in the desert for this next adventure =)

Oasis Disturbance

It’s dry as only a desert can be. Each breath creates a dull ache in the back of your sinuses like the flow of air is actively pulling moisture out of your body. Well, you admit, it is in fact doing just that.

Your goal is the small town of Caspian. As far as you know, it’s the only oasis in the otherwise flat, tan and white of the desert, and it’s the only waypoint in the middle of the Salt Desert.

“We’ll make it,” you tell Opher, your nag of a horse, as each of her steps trudges forward. As long as you can reach Caspian before the sun sets, you should be fine. You’re not prepared for another freezing night out on the salt sands, however. “We’ll make it,” you say again.

Opher doesn’t respond.

Oasis Disturbance - WaterNot more than an hour before the sun disappears below the horizon, you top the crest of what can barely be called a hill, and there sits the dumpy town of Caspian. Right in the middle of the sloped, dried looking shapes of the buildings sparkles the town’s claim to fame, the Caspian Lake, and the only true water for miles.

As though she can smell it, Opher picks up her pace toward the main street.

You pull her up short in front of the Horse’s Shoe, the only tavern in town. In previous visits, the people of Caspian haven’t been openly friendly, but neither were they openly hostile either. As you dismount now, an elderly woman wanders by and gives you such a hairy look that you check to make sure you’re not indecently dressed.

Perhaps she’d just having a rough day, you decide, and wander into the tavern. At this time of day, the main room’s full. Before you opened the doors, the general hubbub of the place carried out into the street, but as you enter and pause in the dark interior, all conversation stops.

The older lady was easy to shrug off but this is a clear sign something’s amiss. You meet the bartender’s stare and hold up your hands to show you mean no trouble.

“Meal and a glass of water?” you ask.

The bartender, a heavy shouldered man with such red hair it could be flame, grunts. “Sure,” he says and nods his chin to the only open stool at the bar.

As you slowly make your way to the spot, conversation picks up again although it stays more hushed than before.

When the flame haired bartender sets a plate of over cooked beef and a hard roll on the bar, you thank him and then ask, “trouble in town?”

“Something like that,” he says as he turns away.

Before he can get too far, you ask, “Any rooms open for the night?”

He eyes you for a long moment before nodding, “Sure. So long as you stay inside the whole night. Want no trouble.”

There’s more going on than one stranger rolling into town and creating possible trouble, but Red doesn’t seem interested in sharing.

“Deal,” you say. Staying inside shouldn’t be a problem. You’ve been traveling for several days and a solid night of sleep sounds good.

Red grunts and walks away.

***

A room turns out to mean a closet with a twin bed and a nightstand with a small bowl of water for washing up. Thankfully, there’s a tiny window to let in fresh air or the place would feel uncomfortably close.

You splash your face to remove some of the desert dust and then flop onto the bed for much needed sleep.

It’s perhaps an hour after midnight when a sound, a solid, deep chested roar like a lion’s but much deeper, wakes you from a dreamless, drool-inducing sleep. Your heart rate hits top speed, rushing blood through your ears and making you wonder if you only imagined the noise. As you listen, the whoosh, whoosh of blood screams in your head.

Then the roar comes again, accompanied by a subtle shudder to the earth. You sit up in bed and hesitate. There’s a faint light shining through your small window but between the haziness created by dust on the pane and the shifting clouds across the moon, you can’t actually see anything outside. You said you’d stay in the room, but nothing you know of makes a roar like that.

Do you…

A. Stay Put?

Or

B. Go Outside?

Leave your vote in the comments and we’ll return next Thursday to see what happens next in this adventure! Thank you for stopping by this week.

Blessings,

Jennifer

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

Fort and Light Option Bb: Escape

River - Fort and Light Adventure

Welcome back to the Fort and Light Adventure!

If you missed some of this story, here’s a quick recap: You were about to leave the old military fort you were exploring when you heard a voice inside. Upon checking it out, you found yourself not in an old fort but in a fully manned military operation. The voice you heard told you to get the lighthouse lit because there’s a boat sneaking past on the river. Readers voted to use the matches in your pocket to light the lighthouse. (If you’d like the read the beginning, click here.)

When you got the lighthouse lit up, the shooting started! The pirate ship and the fort exchanged a series of volleys until one of the pirate’s cannon balls hit your lighthouse and knocked you out. When you awoke, you found yourself captured by the pirates and waiting on the beach while they finish their breakfast to find out what they want to do with you. Readers voted to try and escape with your fellow captive by running for the river. (If you’d like to read this part in full, click here.)

Fort and Light Option Bb: Escape

Fort and Light Adventure - ShipOne of the dozen pirates stands up to scrub his breakfast bowl clean, and you know your time to decide on a course of action is running out.

“Let’s go,” you tell the gray bearded man beside you.

He grunts in approval, glances at the group of pirates, and then rolls to his feet to run for the river. Right behind him, you stumble when your numbed feet hit the ground. You hadn’t realized how long you’d been sitting in the same position and your legs are stiff. You pitch headfirst toward the riverbank and, at the last second, tuck your shoulder into a forward roll that brings you awkwardly back onto your feet. Pain radiates up your back and shoulders when the pressure of the ground touches those areas, but your momentum keeps you moving.

“Stop yerselves!”

You ignore the shout as your feet hit the water. Instantly the icy chill sends splinters of shock up your legs and then it steals the breath from your lungs when you dive into the current. With your hands still tied together, you struggle to swim. A hand grabs your arm and you almost lash out, thinking it’s a pirate, until you see the gray hair of your companion.

With deft fingers, he gets the rope off your wrists.

“Follow me,” he says. It might have been a shout but his voice is breathy like your own from the chill of the water.

A quick glance at the shore shows a rowboat of pirates putting into the water. Needing no more incentive, you flip over in the water with your head downstream and swim hard. The cold of the water blessedly numbs the pain in your back but it does nothing for the ache of trying to breathe. It’s not long before you’re gasping.

“Keep going,” your companion hollers.

River - Fort and Light AdventureYou focus solely on the brown of his wet jacket and just keep swimming. By the time he angles for the far shore, you’ve no idea how long you’ve been in the water. It’s with shuddering relief that you crawl onto the sharp stones and flop down to simply breathe. The smell of your wet clothing, a heavy odor of wool, reminds you that everything you left the house with that morning has recently changed. You were wearing jeans when you dressed for the day. Considering the wool still retains some of your body heat, you’re thankful for the change at the moment.

“Ha,” chuckles the bearded man, “hahahaha. Never thought we’d make it beyond the pirate’s boat.”

“Good thing you kept that to yourself,” you admit. “I might not have agreed if you’d shown doubt earlier.”

He grins and winks. “Question now is, how do we warn the town? We damaged some of the rigging with a cannon ball. The pirates might pause long enough to fix it but I doubt it since they know we’re free to warn people downriver. If we float the river again, we might be able to get there before the ship does but it’s a ways in the water. The only other option I can think of is to search for the old signal tower. It’s been out of use for awhile, so I’ve no idea if it’ll light, but if it does, the town and anyone else for miles will know there’s a threat coming.” He hums as though thinking through everything. “I’m not thrilled with either choice,” he admits.

“So let me understand this,” you say. “One way we’re getting back into the freezing river,” as you talk, your teeth chatter, “and the other way we’re hiking through unknown forest in search of a signal tower?”

“Yup. We know the tower’s uphill that-a-way,” he points, “but that’s about all the direction I know.”

Do you…

Bb1: Float the River?

Or

Bb2: Search the Forest?

Good job escaping the pirates! Leave your vote in for this next part in the comments below and we’ll return Thursday to see how this adventure ends.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

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

Fort and Light Option B: Matches

Lighthouse - Fort and Light Adventure

Welcome back for the second part of the Fort and Light Adventure!

If you missed last week, here’s a quick recap: You were about to leave the old military fort you were exploring when you heard a voice from inside. Upon checking it out, you found yourself not in an old fort but in a fully manned military operation. The voice you heard told you to get the lighthouse lit because there’s a boat trying to sneak past on the river. Readers voted to use the matches in your pocket to try and light the lighthouse. (If you’d like the read the beginning, click here.)

Let’s see what happens.

Fort and Light Option B: Matches

Matches - Fort and Light AdventureThere’s no time to lose. You pull the rattling box of matches from your pocket as you approach the lighthouse. A winding staircase takes you up to the lantern at the top of the structure.

As you open the box of matches, your hands shake and you barely manage not to lose the five pieces inside. The first match head breaks off when you strike it against the box. With a growl, you pull out another one and, with careful fingers, grate the match to life. The tiny flame flares bright in the dusky night. When you hold it to the lantern wick, it sputters for a second before catching the oil soaked material. It gives a soft whoosh.

The multifaceted lenses surrounding you catch the light and a beam shoots out across the river from the lighthouse.

“PAN LEFT,” shouts a now familiar voice.

There’s a wheel next to the lantern for turning it. You give it a twist and the beam of light glides up the river to land on a ship that’s flying a dark colored flag. There’s a brief moment in which you get to stare at that ship, taking in the rows of oars moving it along the river at an alarming speed, and the round barrels of four cannons that line the ship’s side.

The first cannon bucks hard enough to rock the ship. It spouts a grayish cloud and then a boom reverberates through the fort. The lighthouse rattles as your ears go momentarily numb of sound.

Cannon - Fort and Light AdventureJust as your ears start ringing, you hear, “FIRE!” from the familiar voice of the man leading the men on the fort wall.

The stone beneath you shudders and your ears go dead again but in the beam of light on the river, you see the giant splash as the fort’s cannon ball narrowly misses the bow of the ship.

Shouted jeering accompanies the angry fists of the pirates as they yell at the fort but they’re far enough away you can’t really make out their words or their gestures.

“PAN RIGHT.”

You give the wheel a slight turn.

“FIRE.”

This time, both the ship and the fort fire at the same time. You clap your hands over your ears but then something makes you look up. You’ve been in a car accident before. At the time, everything seemed to slow down and even as you remember the accident later, the events happen in slow motion in your memory.

This is exactly like that. There’s a round shape hurtling toward you. The beam from the lighthouse seems to be swallowed by that dark shape as it draws closer. At the last moment, you turn away and launch yourself down the stairs of the lighthouse.

Glass shatters. The ground shakes and sharp chips of stone bite into your back. The lantern, and any other source of light, simply disappears.

***

River - Fort and Light AdventureLight gilds the backs of your eyelids. It shoots pain into your skull, and all you want is to keep your lids closed, but there’s an insistent tugging at your sleeve. When you crack your eyes open, you find your hands tied together.

There’s another tug at your sleeve. With a soft groan, you look right to see the man who was shouting orders earlier. He’s a shorter man but the heavy, gray beard covering his face lends him an air of age.

“Shhh,” he cautions as he points toward the river.

It’s then you realize you’re sitting on the riverbank with your back against the remains of the fort wall. The pirate’s ship bobs on the river, highlighted by the rising sun. Beyond the gray bearded man sits the group of pirates eating their breakfast around a fire they’ve lit on the rocks.

“They’ll finish soon,” the bearded man whispers, “and then they’ll decide what to do with us.”

You try to lean forward to get a better look at the motely crew but sharp pains run through your body, particularly down your back.

“Careful. You don’t want to draw their attention.” He shoots a look at the pirates and, reassured they’re not looking, continues, “We need to warn the town. If we’re to escape, the time’s now.”

“Escape?” you ask.

“River’s probably our best bet. You ready?”

Even sitting on the riverbank, it’s chilly. You cringe to think of getting into the water, but the man’s probably right. If you’re going to get away from the pirates, now is the time to do it. Your back twinges as you shift a little. Can you even swim? You’re not sure the extent of your injuries. The man might have a better chance of getting away without you.

Do you…

Bb. Escape?

Or

Bc. Wait?

Leave your vote in the comments below. Next Thursday, we’ll 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.)