I’m sorry it’s been so long between these posts, but the holidays came up and the school year started all over again. On top of all that, I forgot. Oops! But I’m back now with part 3, the first portion of the fan fiction that’s not a prologue.
I hope you enjoy:
A postman approached the door of a rather exquisite house. From within he could hear the quiet sound of an inexperienced piano learner attempting to play a small composition.
The door opened and a rather stout woman frowned down at him. The postman held out a package to her, doffing his hat out of respect.
“Package for a misters Mariah and Felix Mundhi,” he said in a thick accent.
Her lips twisted as she took it from him, closing the door and bobbing into the sitting room. Felix Mundhi, the younger of the two boys, looked up, his thin face peaked with curiosity. He was so much like their dear mother, she sniffed to herself. She passed, approaching the eldest Mundhi. Also like his mother, Mariah had the same dark eyes that could at turns become deathly serious or light with an amused glow. And, like his handsome father before him, he had the same chin and smile. A pity about the Mundhis. Such kind, genteel folk. And professors of Oxford too!
“Package, sir,” she said, holding it out.
He turned, removing his gaze from the paper in his hand.
“Thank you,” he smiled politely, taking the long, thin box.
Felix waited until the housekeeper had left to jump up.
“What is it, Mariah?” He asked.
The older brother shook his head by way of answer. The girl at the piano, Sacha, looked up, a small smile flitting across her face.
“Well, why don’t you open it and find out?” She asked, her tone teasing.
He smiled back, removing a small card tied to the brown paper.
For my trustworthy compatriots, keep this guarded at all costs. Don’t let anyone know of its existence until you hear from me.
The smile on Mariah’s face gave way to a curious expression as the words died on his lips. Sacha looked up from where she’d moved to stand to his right. Felix, at his left, wore the same expression as his brother.
He tore the brown paper with clumsy hands, eager to see what lay beneath. Felix helped, tearing at the bottom and Sacha reaching for the ribbon at the top. Soon they had pulled all of the packaging paper off, revealing a rather strange looking object, a scepter of some kind.
“What is it?” Felix asked.
Sacha looked up at Mariah, whose gaze was fixed on the golden sheen.
He could feel it radiating from the staff, almost palpable, as if he could reach out and grasp it.
He shook his head free, lowering the scepter. “Sorry, I”…
At that moment, there was an urgent knocking on the door. Mrs. Prewitt, her ever present scowl locked on, approached the door. Will stepped into the house.
“Hullo, did I miss anything?” He called cheerfully. His gaze landed on the scepter and the brown paper that had been hastily torn and strewn on the floor. “Ah. I see you got my package then.”
Mariah put the staff on top of the piano, stepping forward to shake hands with his friend. Will’s impish grin was enthusiastic as he looked at Mariah. Charity had had that sort of look the first time they’d met, before he’d dropped to the boy’s feet from a wound. That day had led to an extraordinary turn of events: their parents going missing, Felix’s capture by a power-hungry hotel owner, Sacha and Mariah’s investigation of a mysterious artifact called the Midas Box, and much more.
Will looked chipper as ever as he winked at Mariah’s younger brother.
“Haven’t been routing any more villains, have you, old chap?”
“No, sir,” Felix replied, smiling.
Will, spotting Sacha, removed his hat and moved closer to take her small hand in his.
“A pleasure to see you again, my dear,” he said politely.
She shook his hand back, clearly unaccustomed to gentlemen doffing their hats. Sacha glanced at Mariah, who grinned back. She’d just have to get used to it, if she was going to look the part of a fine lady. And she does, he thought.
“Will you be staying for dinner, sir?” Mrs. Prewitt asked, holding out her hand for his hat.
Charity glanced from one face to the other, gaze finally flicking to the staff. “Yes, I think I shall.”
The three smiled and Felix launched into a description of his most recent ventures. As they approached the dining hall, a small monkey launched itself onto Will’s head, wrapping its tiny paws around his forehead. Felix and Sacha started to laugh, watching Will struggle to pry his tiny hands off.
“Rishi, heel,” Felix called through his giggles.
The monkey leaped off their guest’s head and onto the boy’s shoulder, still chattering happily. Will, his face still a little pink, looked at the creature with frustration.
“Mother and Father got him from their trip to India,” he grinned.
“Oh, yes, I remember now,” the adventurer shot the monkey a look. “He’s the little fellow who crawled down my trousers.”
The tiny animal screeched excitedly, jumping up and down on Felix’s shoulder. Mariah and Sacha laughed and Will amiably chuckled along, shooting the monkey another dark look as Felix passed on ahead. Mariah noticed that the older man’s gaze swept back over the staff, as if reassuring himself that it was there, that it was safe. Safe from what? Mariah wondered.
Will was cheerful over luncheon, talking vividly about his days in the Caribbean islands. Mariah’s little brother hung on his every word, narrow face flushed with excitement.
“…Well, there we were right in the middle of the tribal camp of cannibals, as it were! Lucky the boys were good shots or I would never have made it out of there alive.”
“Did you really get captured by cannibals?” Felix asked, eyes wide with curiosity.
“Multiple times, if my memory serves me correctly,” Will said, obviously delighted to have an interested listener who enjoyed his dramatics.
Sacha and Mariah exchanged a smile. She’s so much happier, he thought, recalling the first time he’d met her. Then her hair had been pulled back in a tight bun and she had worn a severe look as befitted a girl of her position. Sacha looked very much different now, with her golden-brown hair shiny and loose down her back and an easy twinkle.
“Wouldn’t you agree, Mariah?”
They broke their gaze, turning to look at the other two.
“Sorry?” The older boy glanced at his brother, who gave him a knowing look.
He shot Felix one back before turning back to Will.
“I was just remarking to your brother about how you’ve had your fair share of adventure, wouldn’t you say?” Charity leaned back in his chair, eyes bright.
“Didn’t you have enough fun on our last venture, Felix?” Mariah teased.
They adjourned to the sitting room after dinner. Sacha and Felix sat at the piano, the latter trying to show her a certain piece and the former following along slowly. Will stood next to Mariah, who was watching them with an absentminded smile. Charity turned to him, smile settling into a determined line.
“If I could have a word,” he murmured under his breath.
They stepped to the side and the older man’s amused look vanished.
“Mariah, it’s very important that you get away from here,” he hissed urgently.
The youth stopped, attention acquired. “What?”
Will glanced into the room, where the two were practicing peaceably.
“You’re in grave danger, all of you. You have to get away and take the scepter with you,” he ordered.
“Why is it that every time you show up I find myself on the run and involved with some kind of magical object?” Mariah asked, trying to sound light despite his warning.
Charity smiled wryly. “It is getting a bit dull, isn’t it? Remind me to bring you a monster next time, those are fun.”
A monster? Mariah thought dubiously, unsure whether the explorer was joking.
Looking serious once more, Will accepted his hat from Mrs. Prewitt.
“Remember, you must leave. I can’t contact you, it’s too dangerous. You’ll have to get away on your own, but if you’re low on funds, go to the National Bank and ask for a claim under the bureau. They have separate files for each of their agents.”
Charity turned, smile flashing on again as Felix and Sacha stepped into the room.
“Are you leaving so soon?” Felix asked, face falling in disappointment.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon. In the meantime, look out for one another, won’t you?” He winked at Sacha, sweeping out the door.
The three watched as he walked out onto the cobbled streets, cane swinging in his hand. After a moment, Sacha and Felix stepped away, but Mariah stayed to see where the explorer went. He paused before a strange hansom and a man stepped out to speak to him. He couldn’t help but notice the way his friend’s hand tightened on the handle of his cane. Mariah wondered if something was wrong, but then Will stepped in.
In the sitting room, Sacha and Felix were practicing again, looking up as he reentered the room. Mariah went straight to the scepter resting on the piano, gazing at its glossy sheen.
What about it could cause us so much danger? He wondered.