Word Magic Option Bc2: Stall

Mountain Trail - Word Magic

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

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

Or here’s a quick recap:

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

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

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

Let’s see if this works =)

Word Magic Option Bc2: Stall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No! You stay in other world!”

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

She screeches and runs.

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

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

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

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

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

You grin again and wiggle your fingers at her.

“What do you want?” she asks.

***

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

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

The End

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

Blessings,

Jennifer

Word Magic Option Bc: Escape with the Boys

Word Magic Adventure

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

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

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

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

Now, let’s see how the escape goes!

Word Magic Option Bc: Escape with the Boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both warriors snort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bc1: Run?

Or

Bc2: Stall?

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

Blessings,

Jennifer

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

Word Magic Option B: Titan Toes

Titan Toes Book - Word Magic

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

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

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

Let’s see what happens next!

Word Magic Option B: Titan Toes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

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

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

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

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

“Super cool,” Ben says.

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

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

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

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

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

Do you…

Bb. Go to see the Matriarch?

Or

Bc. Escape with the Boys?

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

Blessings,

Jennifer

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

Giant Town

Welcome back for a whole new adventure! Read on and at the end, vote for how you’d like to proceed. Choose with caution, for there be giants out there=)

Giant Town

The entrance is dark. All you can really make out is the faint glint of bronze in the streaks of sunlight that sneak under the edge of the rock overhang.

Your heart beats with excitement. That glint of dark metal tells you you’ve found the entrance to Raylaylin, the fabled city of giants. You’re not worried about the giants. None of the massive creatures have been seen in years and most believe they’re all dead. Hunted to extinction for the reward prices on their heads.

Slipping off the harness you used to repel the cliff face, you consider the rope. You want to leave it so you have an easy way out but at the same time you don’t want anyone up top to find it. You’re not the only one looking for Raylaylin and the others won’t treat you kindly if they discover you.

You consider it a bit longer but don’t come up with a good solution, so you tie the end of the rope off just in case someone cuts it up top. Then you approach the metal glint of bronze.

The doors sit deeply recessed into the cliff face. Perhaps this was a balcony instead of an actual entrance.

As you draw close enough to touch the metal, you can just make out the outline dug into the mountain. The doors are easily twice your height, if not taller. Their width spans several feet beyond the tips of your fingers when you hold both arms out to the full extent of your wing span.

Where the two slabs meet, the metal is jagged but they meet smoothly, so the zigzag line was manufactured, not a lack of skill but a design choice.

Most believe the giants were dim witted. After searching for their fabled city for months, you don’t agree with most. It was by luck you heard of this door while sitting in an inn in an out of the away farming village to the north.

And even that mention was shrouded in an old man’s curse about a klutzy serving woman who dumped soup in his lap.

Otherwise the giants hid their city so carefully you, and many other hunters, were left running in circles trying to find it.

Thankfully, the old man’s curse held a sliver of hope as to the city’s location. It mentioned the Cliffs of Vale overlooking the sea.

It also mentioned the sunset. You’re hoping that last part will help you open the giant slabs of bronze.

Leaning back against one door you wait for the day to pass. Slowly the sun sinks and fills the underside of the overhang with warmth and light.

You stand to view the doors in all their glory.

A shiver runs down your spine. In laid into the doors are two sets of eyes. Very real looking eyes. So real they pivot to take in the sun light. Then they shift as though just noticing you.

“Hmmmm.” Vibrates the walls it’s so deep in sound. “Another attempt to enter?”

You can’t tell where the words come from but the voice is deep enough to thrum in your ribs like a drum.

“Perhaps,” you answer, hoping your uncertainty doesn’t sound in your voice.

“Then answer me this,” says the voice. “Who are you in the full light of day that I should grant you entrance?”

The sun’s warm on your back and your realize your answer must come while the sun still touches the door or you’ve lost your chance.

Who are you, though? You’re a treasure hunter really but will the door open for something so crass?

Some say the giants valued honesty, even to the point of brutality.

However, the giants also valued gifts. For the short time they interacted with humans before they became feared and hunted, they always asked for a gift at the start of every interaction.

So do you…

A. Tell the truth?

Or

B. Offer a gift?

Giant Town Option B: Offer A Gift

The eyes blink several times as you consider your response. Somehow it feels wrong to have come empty handed but you don’t have much to offer as a ‘gift.’

“I come bearing a gift,” you say, slinging your slim pack around to your front so you can dig inside.

“A gift?” the voice rumbles like it’s laughing deep in its chest though you’re not even sure where the voice originates. “You are not the first to offer a gift at these doors. None have actually come with a gift worthy of entrance and neither have you.”

You pause, stunned that you haven’t been allowed to present anything. You’ve already been judged.

The ground shudders beneath your feet. “Nice try, Treasure Hunter.”

A crack appears between your feet and, as the shaking grows worse, you realize it’s growing wider.

You race for your tethered rope but the ground tilts toward the cliff and before you can grasp the rope in your fingers, you slide backward into the widening gap.

Tumbling head over heels, rocks bite into your skin and the world turns dark. Time becomes meaningless before you hit the bottom with a solid thud that leaves you gasping for air.

If you doubted the giant’s intelligence before, you don’t now. Only an intelligent race could create such a trap to protect their home.

Your breathing slowly comes back and you pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Hurts like you just went through flame but you grit your teeth and only a groan escapes, not the full fledged cry in your throat.

“Hurts something fierce,” says a voice to your left. “Break anything?”

Relief washes over you as you do a quick inventory and find nothing seriously out of place. Then comes the consternation that you’re not alone.

“I’m all right,” you answer.

“Right about now you’re wondering who’s in here with you. Then you’re considering how to get out.” Whoever it is chuckles. It’s a deep sound disturbingly like the door. “Let me save you some time. I’m Alexander and I know of two ways to escape if you’re small enough.”

“Small enough?”

“This place was built for giants,” as Alexander speaks, he moves and his voice, which started on the same level as yourself, lifts into the air until it’s coming from far above you. “It holds giants quite securely but it wasn’t made to contain a human. Only reason it holds a human well is because you’re not tall enough to reach the window or vent.”

“But if there’s a giant and a human—“ you trail off, waiting for Alexander to confirm he’s as big as he sounds.

“Exactly,” Alexander finally says. “Only thing is, the giant’s got to believe the human will free him if he helps.”

You hum acknowledgement as you consider. Then you ask, “why’s the giant in here in the first place?”

A gusty sigh answers. “It was a dispute between friends that got way out of hand.”

“What’s that mean?”

“We knew humans feared us and had started to hunt us. To make sure we weren’t caught unawares, we developed a serum that would shrink us to human size. It was enough for five giants to become spies. The major drawback was we couldn’t reverse the effects. One shrunk, always shrunk. A dispute broke out as to who would take the serum. No one wanted to be small forever. One night after much debate and no sign of a solution, I invited some of my friends over for drinks. We were all trained to interact with humans. I slipped the serum into our drinks. I meant to take it too but when they started to change, I poured most of my drink down my front in shock.

“I’d seen the lab results but watching my friends change-I hadn’t thought about how painful it would be. The little I did ingest changed my ears, nose and several of my toes. That was painful too but not the same.

“To say they were angry would be a gross understatement and I don’t blame them my imprisonment. But they grew suspicious of all the remaining giants and imprisoned them too.”

“How?” you ask, trying to picture five human sized giants imprisoning the others.

“They told the first few that I’d gone insane and they needed help moving me to a safer prison. The next ones were told there’d been an escape attempt and the first group was involved. Then they asked the next group to feed the prisoners because they were afraid to after being shrunk. The stories didn’t have to be anything extravagant. Giants distrust the outside world but we believe each other to a fault.”

If nothing else the story explains why giants haven’t been seen in a long time. Not quite convinced you still ask, “and what would convince you the human will free you?”

“Money.”

“What?”

“You’re a treasure hunter, no?”

You consider lying but then remember the door’s reaction. “Of course.”

“Than I offer you treasure in return for freeing me. You gain the treasure’s location as soon as I’m free.”

Seems like an odd way to convince him but it does make sense.

“And what are the two ways out?” you ask.

“Ah,” there’s triumph in Alexander’s deep voice. “One is a ventilation shaft next to the ceiling. It’ll take you to the top floor just under the top of the cliff. The hard part is the fans in between. The easy part is the release for the prison doors is in the next room over from the vent room. The second option is a joke of a window. It’s a short vent that leads up into the base of what we call ‘The Pit.” It’s the central meeting area for the giants. Easy part is there’s no fans and the vent’s short. Hard part is, to reach the room to free me, you have to climb the walkway around the pit and there’s not much by way of a hiding place. So pick your poison.”

Do you say…

Bb Vent?

Or

Bc. Window?

Giant Town Option Bb: Vent

Although the window sounds like the easy way out, you’re suspicious of it. It sounds too easy.

“Let’s try the vent,” you tell Alexander.

He hums a surprised “huh” but without further question, you hear him move and his large hand wraps around you. He must be able to see better in the dark because he doesn’t fumble around.

You lift into the air with a swift, nauseating whoosh. Then you hear something crack and the metal grate over the vent clangs against the floor.

“I know you can’t see,” Alexander says as he sets you down,”but you’re in the vent now. Walk directly away from my voice until you reach a wall, then reach up. There’ll be a ledge you can lift yourself onto. The vent continues like that in steps. When you hear the whoosh, you’ll know you’re near a fan. There are three. Good luck.”

Three fans. He didn’t give you any advice about getting past them but then, maybe he doesn’t know anything. Considering the size of the vent, maybe humans helped in their construction.

You hit a wall and reach up, exploring with your fingers until you find the ledge. You’re just tall enough to make this work. Hoisting yourself up, you feel around until you figure out the vent’s direction and then you continue on, listening to your breathing echo in the tight confines and your steps lightly swish against the stone floor.

The whooshing of the first fan starts not long after the next ledge. At first it’s faint but as you continue, it grows to the point that your ears throb with the whoop-whoop of the blades.

The floor sloops against your soles and, after exploring with your hands above you, you realize the vent is no longer square but circular.

Air presses against you like a strong wind. It’s moving but it’s not cool. Instead it’s warm and heavy with moisture.

You feel around the walls but don’t find anything like a lever or switch to shut the fan off. Since you can’t see the blades, you decide to simply try to stop the thing.

Taking your pack off, you pull out an anchor you brought for repelling. Although your rope is outside, you still have the rest of your gear. You get as close to the fan as you dare and place your hand on the floor, feeling the whoosh of air after each blade passes. You count. One, two, three. Then shove the anchor into the path of the next blade. You let go as soon as you feel resistance.

It’s a good thing you do because the blade grinds against the anchor, dragging it for a moment across the tunnel. It screeches, making the throb in your ears tighten to a high pitched ringing. But then silence. The air turns muggy on your skin.

Tentatively exploring, you find the fan has five blades. The bottom one is bent into a bow shape and your anchor feels mangled beyond recognition. You slip through the still blades and leave the anchor behind.

A moment after pulling your feet free, the bowed blade lets out a dying screech and snaps. The next blade hits your anchor and tosses it into the vent wall. You hear the thud and duck just in time to miss its rebound.

The whooshing returns with a slightly different sound. Less air resistance with only four blades.

Your heart’s barely returned to its normal rate by the time you reach the next fan. Due to your close call on the first one, you search the walls a little harder this time and find an odd indentation in the right hand wall. It’s round but doesn’t seem to have a handle or anything. Giving up on it, you turn and lean, preparing yourself for the next anchor placement.

The indentation gives way under your weight. It slides inward. Pushing it harder, you find it slides in and to the side, opening up what you’d guess is an access tunnel circumventing the fan. Relief runs through your veins.

The third fan’s a cinch since it has the same access tunnel. You’re sure the first one had it too, you just didn’t search hard enough to find it.

Exiting the vent into the vent room, you find a square room full of humming machinery. This room must keep air flowing throughout the entire city. You traverse it and peek out the door to find a walkway running to your right and left. To your right is a door and then the walkway ends with a railing. To your left it spirals downward into the city.

If you head right you can free Alexander. He might be telling you the truth and you’ll be shown the treasure. Or he might just be playing you in order to free himself.

If you head left, maybe you can find the treasure on your own but then you’ll be leaving Alexander to wait for the next treasure hunter to be dropped into his prison.

Do you…

Bb1. Free Alexander?

or

Bb2. Leave him?

Giant Town Option Bb1: Free Alexander

The walkway is lit by the walls themselves. They give off a hot and dry air and it makes you realize the vent was warm and moist because it must pull moisture from the city to keep the lights working. You’re not sure about the mechanics but the light is soft, not like flame but like the walls themselves are glowing with a bluish light that swirls. Makes you think of being surrounded by walls of water instead of stone.

You step outside the door and peer over the side of the walkway railing. Raylaylin appears far below you through the telescope of the walkway that spirals downward around the outside of an open shaft. The mere space involved makes your head spin.

Stepping back, you realize, even if you do go it alone, you’re without a rope and down one anchor. The likelihood of getting into the giant’s treasure room is slim without the rope in particular.

Plus, you kind of like Alexander. He’s been straightforward with you so far. You head to the right to free your giant accomplice. The room beyond the door is dark so, to help you see, you leave the door open but as soon as you cross the threshold, there’s a whoosh and the room lights up like the walls.

Someone shouts from below. It echoes off the walls and reaches your ears as a distorted “iiitttt”.

They’ve spotted you.

You try to lock the door behind you but there’s no lock. Turning to find the lever to free Alexander, you hesitate. There are lots of levers, and no one saw fit to label them.

Reaching a tentative hand toward a black lever, your fingers close around it.

“Sewer drainage system.” Says the voice. That voice that greeted you in deep tones at the door. Thankfully it doesn’t shake the ground here.

You move to the next lever.

“Ceiling air.”

Next lever.

“First cell.”

You don’t know which cell Alexander is in. You pull the lever just as the door behind you opens.

“STOP THIEF!” This is not the city talking.

You pull the next lever and go for a third but a strong hand grabs your wrist and forces you around to face an old man. The same old man who’s curse led you to the city.

Behind him stand several other men who sport an assortment of odd features. Too large ears or a nose that takes up half a face. These must be Alexander’s ‘friends’ who he shrunk.

“You’ll pay for this!” the old man says as he flips the levers back to the up position. “We’ll shrink you to the size of a bug.”

He pulls you toward the door even as you try to resist him. Considerinlg he looks like an old man, he’s quite strong.

The ground shakes and the wall’s light flickers.

“Which levers were pulled?” one of the others asks.

Before the answer comes, the door bursts open and a figure fills the space. A very large figure.

“Maurice,” Alexander greets your captor.

“You deserve your cell,” Maurice responds.

“So do you.” Says a new, rumbling voice. Another giant steps up behind Alexander. Seeing them side by side, you conclude Alexander was telling the truth. Some of his features are shrunk.

“Good idea opening two cells,” Alexander says to you.

You smile like you thought the whole thing through and step away from Maurice as his grasp on your wrist has grown limp.

The five shrunken giants glance at each other and then bolt, trying to get past Alexander and his friend’s legs. They don’t make it far.

***

The first cell housed Alexander alone. However, the second cell held three other giants who assisted Alexander in rounding up their shrunken friends. They agreed to hold a trial for the five after all the giants were released.

As for yourself, Alexander showed you to the treasure room. It fits the giants. It’s huge. And you decide it was fortuitous that you helped Alexander because the giants hid their treasure by having an outer treasure room, convincingly large enough to make a treasure hunter look no further, and then they have their inner treasure room where you could become lost and never be found again.

Alexander and the others made a deal with you. You can come take a bag of treasure once a month on the condition you never reveal the city to anyone. You’re pretty sure you can keep that deal.

The End

Congratulations treasure hunter! You’ve successfully found treasure and made some friends along the way. Thanks for participating this week. I hope to see you next week for a new short story involving one of my favorite creatures. Dragons=)

Blessings,

Jennifer