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.)

Fort and Light

Fort - Fort and Light Adventure

A new adventure awaits you! Let’s jump right in and see where it takes us.

Fort and Night

“Hello, -ello, -ello, -llo, -llo.”

You stop mid-step. The shout fades until only silence surrounds you but you’re sure someone just hollered from within the old fort.

With a slow turn, you look back at the barracks of the war monument. The park ranger is shutting the gate and you’re one of the last people to leave as the sun sinks behind the concrete walls of the fortress on the river. You spent the last several hours exploring the dripping tunnels of the place, enjoying the history described on the small placards placed throughout the monument, but now that dusk is quickly laying its fingers across the place, you don’t really want to hang out.

“Hello, -ello, -ello, -llo, -llo.”

This time you’re sure it’s a man’s voice, echoing out of the fort. When you glance back toward the gate, the ranger’s swinging it closed. It’s not a big deal. You’re parked on the other side and there’s a footpath for visitors to bypass the gate on foot, but with the clank of the metal latch sliding home, it becomes chillingly clear that you’re the last one in the park and the ranger didn’t hear the voice.

“Hello?” you call into the fort.

Unlike with the echo, your voice doesn’t seem to travel far into the structure.

“Shine the light, -ight, -ight, ght.” Comes the clear reply.

Intrigued, you retrace your steps to the closest, heavy metal door into the barracks. It’s cracked open, so you duck your head through to peek inside. Beyond is pitch black, so maybe the man is talking about needing light to get out. Maybe your phone light with work. You switch on the built-in light on your cell phone, and squeeze between the heavy door and the wall to enter the damp room beyond.

You stumble. Not because your foot catches something but because the world around shifts with a stomach jarring blur. After blinking half a dozen times, your vision clears and you give a surprised gurgle in your throat.

The light in your hand is no longer a phone but a heavy, old-fashioned flashlight. Instead of a pitch-black barracks room, you’re surrounded by metal-framed beds covered with thin mattresses, and along the ceiling hang lights with metal cages around them.

“Shine the light, -ight, -ight, ght.”

This time your ear tunes into the source of that echoing voice. On the far wall is a small, hollow tube. From it comes the voice like in the child’s game played with tin cans and a string except it actually seems to project the voice into the room.

With five strides, you stand before that hollow tube. “What?” you ask into it.

“There’s a boat on the river. Get up top and shine the light, -ight, -ight, -ght,” comes the reply.

To the left of the tube is a dark hallway. You know from your earlier exploration that at the end of that hallway is a ladder up to the observation deck that gives a clear view of the river beyond the fort.

Curious, you head down the hall, passing a man who’s lighting the stove in the small kitchen on the left just before you head up the ladder. It’s kind of a relief when your head emerges into the cool night air at the top. Unlike with your earlier exploration, however, the fort is alive with activity on the observation deck.

Seeing you, a man shouts, “what orders?”

“Um, light?” you say.

Instantly, the man translates this into, “BOAT!” His shout sends the hive of activity into chaos as men scamper to respond.

“Get up here!” he hollers. “Get that thing lit.”

It’s only because he points that you know what he’s talking about. To the left on a high platform sits a lighthouse with a massive, unlit lantern inside. When ignited, the mirrors around it allow a person to shine a solid beam of light across the river.

Responding to the command in his voice, you scamper off the last rung of the ladder and toward the light tower. About halfway there, you realize you’ve only your small lighter in your pocket to work with.

On instinct, you reach into your pocket and find, just like your cell phone-turned-flashlight, the light in your pocket is now a rattling box of matches.

The lit wood stove in the kitchen below flashes through your mind. You could run below for a brand from the stove or you could try the matches in your pocket.

As the choice looms before you, movement out on the river catches your eye.

“It’s a Jolly Roger,” says one man closer to the observation deck railing. He cups a hand around his ear and, as you listen, you hear the sharp snap of a flag being caught by the wind.

Do you light the lantern with…

A. A brand from the kitchen?

Or

B. Your matches?

Leave your vote in the comments below. We’ll return next Thursday to see if you get the light tower lit before the pirates pass the fort.

Thanks for joining this adventure!

Blessings,

Jennifer

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

Crystal Pit of Time Option Ab1: Return the Coins to the Clock

Crystal Pit of Time

Pt. 1: You were caught steeling bread. The king sentenced you to seven days in the crystal pits and gave you a tiny coin clock that counts down your sentence. It’s unlikely you’ll survive the pits alone, so when you meet a strange young man who sounds old, you hope he can help you survive, but he tells you to pitch the small clock before following him. Reader’s voted to pitch the clock instead of hiding it. (If you’d like to read the beginning, click here.)

Pt. 2: You pitched the coin clock and a pit worm ate it. Then Andrew, the strange young/old man, took you to a group of people who have managed to survive in the pits. They’re pretty sure the coin clocks are somehow aging those they’re given to and readers have voted to sneak into the library to see if they can figure out what’s happening. (If you’d like to read part two in full, click here.)

Pt 3: When you sneak into the library, you find a book with drawings of the large clock that sits above the king’s throne. However, before you can really read the book, you’re captured and brought before the king, who sentences you to the pits again. As he’s pulling more coin clocks out of the base of the big clock, one of your fellow companions points out that there are small spots in the drawing of the big clock for the coins to be returned to. You’ve no idea what’ll happen but readers voted to try and return the coins. (If you’d like to read part three, click here.)

Here goes your mad dash to reach the big clock!

Crystal Pit of Time Option Ab1. Return the Coins to the Clock

Clock - Crystal Pit of TimeThe tiny clock that the king slid across the floor toward you comes to rest right at your toes. In the silence that follows, the ticking seems to bounce off the marble floor and your eyes settle on the number seven in the small window at the bottom of the round device.

You crouch to pick the thing up and give the other three a sideways glance. For whatever reason, they’re looking at you for direction. Your fingers curl around the copper coin.

“Give me your clocks,” you say at the same moment as you pick up the coin and step away from the nearest guard.

Lily grins. Instead of picking up her clock, she follows the king’s example and slides it across the floor. The other two, who paused at your words, do the same.

“Stop it!” the king commands, but you’re already moving and the other three have moved as well.

You dodge the nearest guard who tries to catch Lily’s clock with his boot. He misses and you scoop up the coin right after his boot comes down with a heavy thud. Seconds later, Lily’s small body slams into the man from the side. For such a small woman, she’s all the guard can handle and you easily retrieve the other two coins while Andrew and Simon distract the guards nearest them.

That leaves you and the king to face each other alone.

A snarl lifts his lips and adds wrinkles to his already aged face.

“This’ll bring you the death sentence,” he growls.

“This was already a death sentence,” you say.

He flinches and give a nervous glance at the large clock over his shoulder, which just strengthens your resolve.

ThroneYou feign to the left and, when he commits to blocking you on the steps before the throne, you dodge right and jump the three steps in a simple leap. Your soft shoes barely make a slap on the marble as you land beside the throne. With a shove, you topple the giant chair onto the king. He gives an angry shriek as he and the chair tumble off the steps. At the bottom, the chair comes to rest on top of him, pinning him to the floor, where he continues to yell with wild anger.

It only takes you two more strides to reach the spinning clock on the wall. As you come to stand under it, you see the small circles that Lily pointed out in the drawing. This close, you can also make out the small indentations that mimic the faces of the tiny coins in your hand.

You fit the first coin into the clock. At first it doesn’t do anything but as you let go, small pinchers slide out of the copper frame to hold the coin in place. The mechanism clicks and the giant clock chimes as though it were three o’clock. The heavy tolling reverberates through the room.

When the tolling ends, you fit the second coin into the next slot. Instantly, the giant clock chimes again and this time it tolls out six notes instead of three.

“Look!” Lily shouts. You glance to see her pointing at the face of the giant clock. It’s no longer spinning without purpose but the hour hand is sitting on the six and the minute hand it straight on the hour.

One of the guards breaks loose from Andrew by kicking his peg leg out from under him. As the large man runs toward you, you quickly set the third coin into place. When you turn back to face the guard, the tolling of the ninth hour makes your ears ring.

From behind the guard, Andrew makes a desperate dash to reach him. He stumbles as the connections of his peg leg break and he hits the floor in a bruising slide. Just before the guard takes the first step of the dais, Andrew’s fingers close around his ankle, tripping him up the steps.

The guard kicks Andrew’s hand away but the brief pause is just enough time for you to fit the fourth and last coin into the clock.

This time, the click makes the whole mechanism shudder on the wall. The guard stops, mouth a gap, as the clock begins to chime the twelve.

Beneath the throne, the king’s shouts change from angry commands to terrified shrieks. He thrashes so hard that the heavy chair wobbles back and forth. That thrashing grows weaker and weaker with each metallic toll until, with the twelfth chime, there’s a puff of dust and the chair settles into stillness.

Everyone stares. As the silence stretches, Lily finally breaks it to approach the throne. She heaves if away from the king to find only a pile of dust and royal robes.

“He’s—,” she swallows, “he’s—.” She just shakes her head.

Hand“Look,” Andrew says in a clear voice. He’s sitting on the bottom step with his shattered peg leg sticking out in front of him. But it’s his hands he’s staring at with wonder. Where before his hands shook with age and the skin pulled tight across sharp bones that showed the nobs of arthritic fingers, he holds out straight fingers that could hold a sword as easily as any of the guards in the room.

***

After a closer look at the book Lily found, it becomes clear that the king was using a form of old magic to pull life from the prisoners he sentenced to the crystal pits. Since the king lived for so long, there is no living heir to take his place. Oddly enough, it’s Simon who steps in as temporary king. He was once the old king’s first councilor but had been sentenced to the pits when he questioned some of the king’s reasons for sentencing local farmers to the pits.

The first thing Simon does is destroy the large clock on the wall. He then forbids life altering magics, and the book itself is removed from the library.

The End

Yay, you survived and stopped the king! Thank you for joining this adventure.

Next week I’ll return with an update on Quaking Soul, my current work-in-progess/publishing project.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Crystal Pit of Time Option Ab: Sneak into the Library

Crystal Pit of Time - Clock

Welcome back to part three of this adventure.

If you missed the first two parts, here’s a quick overview:

You were caught steeling bread. The king sentenced you to seven days in the crystal pits and gave you a tiny coin clock that counts down your sentence. It’s unlikely you’ll survive the pits alone, so when you meet a strange young man who sounds old, you hope he can help you survive, but he tells you to pitch the small clock before following him. Reader’s voted to pitch the clock instead of hiding it. (If you’d like to read the beginning, click here.)

You pitched the coin clock and a pit worm ate it. Then Andrew, the strange young/old man, took you to a group of people who have managed to survive in the pits. They’re pretty sure the coin clocks are somehow aging those they’re given to and readers have voted to sneak into the library to see if they can figure out what’s happening. (If you’d like to read part two in full, click here.)

Now, let’s go a-sneaking =)

Crystal Pit of Time Option Ab: Sneak into the Library

When you voiced your desire to sneak into the library, you did not fully consider how difficult the endeavor would be. It just seemed like a safer way of investigating the coin clocks. But now, as you press tight to the stone behind a long tapestry on the library’s wall, you grumble mentally at the lack of planning.

The pit dwellers led you through a maze of tunnels until they reached the sewers under the city. At one time the two were separated by an earthen wall, but the dwellers had dug through to give them access to just about anywhere in the city. Lily led you all unerringly to another hole that they’d dug into the library basement and then she guided you up into the stacks by way of a back staircase. She admitted to visiting the library often, but she’s never been sure in which area to look for the king’s secret.

It’s the middle of the night, but unlike the throne room, the city library is always open, so the cavernous room is not empty. In the isle beyond the tapestry where you hide, an old man pushes a cart beside the shelves, stopping every few feet to shelve books. He’s in the ancient technology and magics section, so you wait with shallow breaths as he hums softly and shuffles his way down the row.

Beside you, Lily bounces on her toes in one quick up and down, and then goes still again. You realize now why Simon and Andrew did not want to be paired with the woman. No matter how she tries, she cannot stay still for more than a moment or two.

The humming pauses. Then, after a long minute, it starts up again. Lily lets out the breath she held and shoots you another apologetic smile. You give her arm a squeeze in encouragement.

Finally, after another half hour of the stone seeping its chill into your bones, the old man shuffles away. You wait until he disappears into an isle three rows over before stepping from behind the tapestry.

As you enter the isle, Lily takes the left and you the right to peruse the titles, but it doesn’t take long for you to realize you’ve no idea what you’re looking for in the dusty tomes. You draw a line in the dirt on one book just to read the title, “Creating the Wheel.”

“Oh,” Lily whispers her glee as she pulls a book from the shelf. Engraved on the red and brown leather cover is a clock that looks a lot like the King’s.

Foot printLily opens the cover and a puff of dust explodes from the pages. Although she’s engrossed in the words she finds inside, you shift your gaze to the floor, where you see trails in the dust left by the old man’s cart. Beside the twin trails of the wheels, you can make out the scuffle marks from his feet.

A chill hits you.

Two things about those marks are not right. One, they’re the only type of foot prints in the isle. If the old man were actually shelving books from this row, there should be prints left by the customers who checked the books out. You check and can just make out the soft shapes left by your own feet from when you ducked into the row to get out of the rain the day before. Those prints only go a few feet into the ancient technology and magics isle.

The second oddity is even more telling. The prints you left were soft because your shoes don’t have a deep tread on the bottom. The marks left by the old man are spotted like a leopard. Only a military style boot with a deep tread left that sort of mark.

“Lily, we have to go,” you say but it’s too late as the old man steps into the row.

He’s not hunched or slow like he was with his book cart. It’s easy now to see what he is, a guard wearing a librarian’s long robe. Lily groans and hugs the book close. Behind the guard, two more appear with Simon and Andrew in tow.

“They have this section under guard,” you say to Lily.

“That’s right,” the guard says in a hushed voice. Apparently even he can’t bring himself to disturb the quiet of the books. “Let’s go.”

They usher your group out of the library into the quiet streets of the city. At first you expect them to take you to the city cells but you quickly realize you’re headed in the wrong direction.

“The King’s awake?” you ask, surprised as the guards take you into the palace.

The lead guard snorts. “He never sleeps.”

Sure enough, when they shove open the throne room doors, the King is sitting on his throne with his head propped up by a hand. He frowns at the intrusion but then his eyes come to rest on the book Lily is still hugging.

“Thieves,” he says.

“No,” Lily denies. “We—.”

“You’re holding the proof in your hands and you deny it?”

“The library’s open to all,” Lily continues to protest. “We didn’t mean to take one of the books, we just didn’t have a chance to put it back.”

“What you meant to do and what you in fact did are two different things, young lady,” the king says as he eyes you each in turn. When his eyes come to rest on you, they narrow and recognition glints in his gaze. The others have been in the pits long enough that he didn’t recognize them, but he saw you only yesterday. It’s too recent. “Plus,” he says, “the library is open to all citizens. As soon as you become criminals, that right is lost.”

ThroneHe pushes off the armrest of his throne to stand and shuffles up the steps to the giant clock that spins without apparent purpose. He rests his hands on the bottom edge and there’s a faint clicking.

“You each get to start your sentences over,” he says when several small coins fall from the clock into the palm of his weathered hand.

“Hey,” Lily whispers to you while the King’s back is turned. She opens the book and tilts it so you can see. The page she holds contains a drawing of the clock, including the smaller coins falling from its base. What you can’t see on the actual clock because of distance, however, are the small circles around the copper frame. At your quick glance, it looks like the smaller coins should slide into the bigger clock’s outer structure. You can’t be certain of what it will do if you actually place your coins into the larger clock, but as the king turns around and slides a coin across the marble floor toward each of you, you realize you want nothing to do with the tiny, ticking sentence.

You could encourage the others to give you their coins. If you make a fast enough move, you might be able to reach the bigger clock and see what happens if you return those pieces.

Or you could simply crush the tiny clock under your heel and see what happens. It didn’t kill you when the pit worm ate the first one, but now that you think about it, it did affect you. The King’s reaction might tell you something as well.

Do you…

Ab1. Return the Coins to the Clock?

Or

Ab2. Crush the Coin Clock?

Leave your vote in the comments below and next Thursday, we’ll return for the conclusion to this adventure. Thanks for participating =)

Blessings,

Jennifer