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.
Ledbury. Bring staff.
It was almost too good to be true.
That was the first thought Mariah had when he saw the scrawled handwriting, so shaky it might have been anyone’s. The punctual words could be a hurried order from one of his parents’ closest friends or it could be a trap from the same people who destroyed his father’s study.
And if it was a trap, Mariah certainly would not lead Sacha and Felix into it.
The note was found folded up in the next morning’s newspaper, which Mariah found as he waited for the rest of the household members to come down to breakfast. Today was the new day of school for Felix, who had taken studies with their parents when they were alive. Now he was off to the local school, an institution of find enough standing, though that didn’t alleviate the uneasy sense that Mariah had sending his brother where he might be snatched.
There was still a cab on the corner.
Sacha came down first. Their eyes briefly met and he could still tell that a spirit of fear was clinging to her. Then came Felix in his black uniform with a pleasant enough smile that only barely masked his annoyance. Rishi, who was perched on the boy’s shoulder, looked equally annoyed that he could not scamper around and muss the boy as he usually could. The monkey turned to glare at Mariah in the same moment Felix did.
“There’s too much starch in this collar,” he groaned. “And I don’t see why we have to go to this school anyway.”
“You have to go,” Mariah reminded him. He’d finished his own schooling only months after their return.
“Fine then, I have to go. I don’t see why I have to go,” his brother grumbled. “I don’t see why I can’t just stay here and have you teach me. Even Sacha could teach me!” His brother turned to look at the girl. “Sorry.”
Sacha actually looked a little flattered as they entered the dining room.
Pots of boiling tea, platters of scones, and a dish of potted porridge waited on a white tablecloth. Mariah took a seat, noticing only moments after Felix that the third chair at the table was not pulled out. Unlike Mariah, however, Felix knew how to make it better. Before Sacha even reached to pull out the chair, Felix was there doing it for her, ignoring the barely disguised disapproval on the butler’s face.
For several minutues they ate in silence, supping with the decorum they were supposed to possess. That is, before Sacha spilled a little bit of tea, Mariah knocked over the salt, and a spoonful of Felix’s porridge ruined the cleanliness of the white tablecloth. His brother was possibly the only one who looked pleased at that.
As he opened the newspaper to read the front page, once more graced by the ad for a missing man, the note slipped out. He leaned down to grab the tiny paper.
“So,” His brother started, looking up just in the wrong moment to see Mariah holding the note.
Rishi screeched and reached forward to snatch the note within seconds. Felix took the paper from his pet, reading the hastily written words with eagerness. The paper was cheap material that smelled strongly of ashes and charcoal, but it didn’t seem to affect the wide grin on his face.
“Will sent it?” He burst out, with excitement. “It must be about Mama and Papa!”
At the opposite end of the table, Mariah saw Sacha lift her head. Their eyes met for the briefest of moments and he just slightly shook his head before turning to look at his brother.
“We don’t even know if this is from Will,” Mariah said.
His brother shook his head, mop of fair hair shaking with him.
“It has to be!” He said, pointing to the signature at the bottom of the page. “And besides that, you promised we’d find them.”
“I never said that,” Mariah retorted, feeling guilty. True, he’d been determined to find them a year ago, but…
His brother’s face was flushed slightly pink. “Well, Will did. And if he sent this note, it must mean he’s found something.”
“We don’t even know what’s in Ledbury. It could be a trap!”
“But what if it isn’t!?”
Mariah’s tongue, always so unwilling to work, let loose at the worst moment.
“We’re not going until I’m certain. We have to be sure. It’s just the three of us now. And I say no.”
Mariah was suddenly very consciously aware of how much like his father he sounded. All he needed to do would be to shake his fist and look as imposing as his father did and he might accomplish the same fearsome effect. It was so unlike anything hsi mother might do, he felt ashamed of how Felix’s eyes were narrowed as his own ears turned a rather unbecoming shade of scarlet.
The two brothers stared at each other for a very long time, though Felix’s glare was perhaps much more fierce.
The servants entered the room and calmly went about their business cleaning the table while the two boys still held to their face-off. In the hall, the clock was chiming. Felix needed to get to school. Picking up his stack of books, his little brother stepped out into the hall, a tight look of frustration upon his face. Only Sacha and Mariah remained and even she would not look at him.
Gone was any excitement or talk of school. The carriage ride was a rather tedious affair, quiet and sullen. Felix was determinedly not looking at anyone, but was staring rather moodily out the window, Sacha at his side. As the carriage rounded the corner, Mariah saw her grab Felix’s hand and give it a squeeze. If he was angry, he did not reciprocate, but he also didn’t toss her hand away.
Out the window, one could see the stony edifice of the boys’ school drawing nearer and nearer. It was a truly old building this. Gargoyles peered down from their granite nests, watching the flood of boys, all in the same black uniform, enter through the arched doorway. A pair of men with whiskers ushered each new horde in with equal indifference and the same greeting.
Felix looked as if he had never so dreaded anything in his life.
“I don’t want to go,” he hissed.
Mariah didn’t say anything, save to look at Sacha, who leaned over to whisper something in his brother’s ear. Felix just shrugged half-heartedly.
“Yes, but I was counting on Mariah and my parents to come save me,” he said, turning to look at his brother.
A guilty silence fell rather awkwardly as the younger boy finally opened the door and stepped out. He glanced back uncertainly only once before disappearing into the sea of fair and dark heads alike. The mass of boys in uniform had swallowed him up before Felix could even say something or apologize. Typical of Mariah’s tongue to fail him again.
He would later wish he had called out, that he had said something, anything.
When Sacha was to collect Felix at the end of the day, she returned with a note, his brother’s clutch of books, and news:
Felix was gone.