Every Friday I will be publishing a portion of my fan fiction sequel to The Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box. This is by no means endorsed by either the author of the novels nor the creators of the films. This is just a requested sequel as I picture it. Enjoy.
A gargoyle stared at him with beady stone eyes as Mariah scuttled nervously underneath its gaze towards the archway that led into St. James Academy for Boys.
It was wrong, really, that his brother had to be sent here. After a lifetime spent with their Oxford professor parents, it was mere child’s play to attend this academy where the answers required to be a golden student were like basic knowledge to both of them. And besides all that, the teachers bore an uncanny resemblance to the gargoyles that guarded the school.
He didn’t say this, of course, as he met with faculty member. Each one of the men and women seemed to have differing opinions of Felix and rather few of them were positive. His eagerness and enthusiasm were off-putting to so many of the teachers used to bored students that they were rather discomfited. And for those who did appreciate his eagerness, they rather loathed the fact that Felix knew most of what they taught. It was the history professor who was the most annoyed when Mariah approached him. The doddering old man was several times shorter than Mariah; his balding head was rather desperately covered up with what appeared to be the ugliest hat he had ever seen.
“Your brother seemed to think he knew all the answers,” the professor said.
He gave Mariah a look, as if he was trying to exchange a knowing smile.
Mariah did not return it.
The man’s grin faltered as he snapped up a pile of books, turning to scrub the chalkboard, then turning back again.
“Young Mr. Mundi, if I can be frank, thought himself wise,” the teacher said, trotting speedily towards the door. “In this city, it is hardly the best course of thought for a boy.”
Mariah did not ask anymore of the history professor after that.
It was not as if there wasn’t a measure of truth to what the gentleman said. In fact, if Mariah was being honest with himself, there was more than a grain of truth in it. His brother, much as he loved him, was forever thinking he knew better than others, even when those who were older might know best.
He mused over these thoughts as he went striding through the courtyard, where several small clumps of boy were busy reading through a textbook, playing with a makeshift ball, or swapping stories that their mothers would surely disapprove of. Some of these youthful faces peeked over to see what the visitor was doing, but for the most part they kept to their own tasks, barely sparing a glance for the visitor. After all, what use did anyone hold unless he possessed sugar, exciting stories, or an early bell for class?
St. James’ stony edifices seemed to entrap him as the day went on. One window became similar to the next and the classrooms, all of which were equally composed of a dark burnished wood that swallowed the light, seemed more like jail cells. He regretted sending Felix to this school a thousand times more, especially when he was forced to listen to the tail end of a particularly boring class. The boys who passed him by did not look very relieved though – no doubt because they had a class immediately following this one. With a grim swallow, Mariah entered to speak with the professor.
He met with several other teachers that day. There was the science teacher, who was fond of punctuating his sentences with rather long words that had absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter at hand and then the art teacher, who seemed particularly attached to his marble busts. He met with a geography teacher and two philosophy professors who seemed to disagree on almost every subject, except upon the one concerning Felix. Then they were both in utter agreement: neither knew where the boy might be.
It was a rather exhausting sort of a day, given that no one gave him any answers that brought him closer to answering the most important question as to where his brother might be.
The closest thing to an answer came as he left the school, glad to be out from under the gargoyles’ eyes. If he were ever to find Felix again, he’d like to apologize for sending him to this school. Of course, he himself was more eager to leave at the moment rather than dwell on the apology he might be fortunate enough to give.
As he left, his shoes scuffing the worn stone beneath his feet, Mariah heard something that caused him to move faster. The school bell ran twice. He was nearly to the main archway, but it would seem his attempts to hurry were in vain, for almost as soon as he’d come ot the arch, a flood of boys promptly filled the corridor. They came seemingly from nowhere, laughing and chattering about something. He could hear chocolate drops being sucked rather noisily to his left and to his right several boys were experimenting with spitballs. He might be stuck against the wall for hours if he didn’t move fast; in the distance, he could already see a second wave of children coming from across the courtyard.
With some difficulty, Mariah began to make his way towards the curb. He might have hailed a cab, save for the line of vehicles already being used to the utmost. If he hoped to leave at all, he would have to walk.
Mariah turned to do so before he heard an irritatingly familiar voice call out his name.
He turned to see Harold Pearson, junior, standing by the iron fence to St. James. He looked as freshly pressed and comfortable as ever, despite the fact that he was standing to the side of a rather rowdy crowd of boys all eager to get as far away from their establishment of learning as possible.
“What are you doing here?” He asked, taking Mariah’s hand in a polite handshake before letting it go just as quickly.
“Looking for my brother,” was the equally short but polite answer.
Harold Pearson nodded, motioning himself to a boy who looked to be of about Felix’s age. Like the young man motioning to him, the boy had blue eyes, a slightly crooked nose, and the puffed up chest of one who thought he was better than most. His black uniform was pressed as neatly as Harold’s and the collar just as whitely starched. It was a family trait, no doubt.
The boy gave him a fleeting glance, as if assessing him. If Mariah were more sure, he’d say there was something calculating about the youth’s gaze, as if he was judging Mariah’s wealth or financial capacities. It was a look eerily similar to the one his father wore quite often.
“Mariah Mundi, my brother, James Pearson.” Harold said.
They shook, briefly.
“I know you,” the boy said rather bluntly. “Your brother is Felix.”
The way he said it made it clear that the younger Pearson knew his brother was missing and possibly even found it amusing.
“Did you meet him?” Mariah asked carefully. He offered up one of his thinnest smiles to date.
The boy just blinked at him with a rather perfectly arched brow. “Just before the incident. Have you read the papers this week?”
It was such an odd question that Mariah found himself flummoxed by it.
The boy blinked. “Just something Felix mentioned. He said the papers were rather an informative pasttime.”
Harold Pearson laughed uneasily, putting a hand on his little brother’s shoulder. “Enough chitchat, then. We’d best be off, James.”
Handshakes were exchanged once more, as well as Harold Pearson’s repeated request that Mariah send his best regards to Sacha. Then the strange pair was off, with not so much as a backwards glance.
Mariah watched their carriage pass by before turning back to look at the crowd of boys, which had thinned out so much that only a few stragglers remained.
He stepped off the curb and crossed to the other side of the street, from which several businesses were still doing a rather brisk business. One, a print shop, smelled strongly of ink as Mariah passed it. He paused to peer at the glass display case full of books before it occurred to him to search here for the day’s newspaper.
It did not take him long to ask the owner and be seated with a stack of about ten newspapers from the last five days. He would be paying for all of them if he wanted to read even one, but so long as it brought him closer to finding his brother, Mariah would pay.
The first three held no news whatsoever, save to confirm that the same missing man ad was in the same spot as it usually was. The more he saw the man’s face, the more it tickled the back of his mind. Since his brother had pointed it out, he could not help but think of every instance in which he’d seen the agent. Still, it wasn’t any news that he hadn’t known. What exactly had the strange James Pearson meant? A better question, what had his brother meant?
It was as he reached the eighth newspaper that he finally saw something to make him give pause. The headline read about a theft of an gentleman’s home in a nearby port town. Mariah’s eyes caught on the town, then drifted to the photograph. Standing before the tea shop in the foreground was a familiar figure. He even wore his top hat. This must be what Felix wanted him to see, for whatever reason. After all, this was the man who’d helped Mariah find his brother the first time. And this was where he was supposed to be.
He practically ran the way back to their brick-front home. He passed by the same house-fronts as he’d always known, pausing when he’d reached the black gate that wrapped around the front of their diminutive yard space.
Sacha was in the parlor when he burst in. Her wide eyes found his as he announced.