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.
The train car stank of stale perfume and spilled liquor, but a seat was a seat and any seat that would take him closer to Felix was one he would gladly share, even if it was shared with twenty-three other passengers.
There was a rather long line of them on the benches that lined this car, most of the passengers having been too poor to purchase a ticket for a compartment. Several mothers and their numerous children clutched each other, eyes closed as the train rattled down the tracks to Ledbury. Just a few passengers down, a reedy man was paging through a large book while holding a canteen in the other. Here lay the source of the strong liquor smell, for almost every turn, the liquid within would brim over and spill onto the man’s coat. He didn’t even have to raise the canteen very far to his lips to drink; the momentum of the train did that for him.
In the middle, squished between two rather elderly couples, were Mariah and Sacha, looking extraordinarily out of place with their new clothes and clean shoes. Above their heads, the rack full of bags rattled noisily, causing the passengers below to flinch every few minutes. It sounded rickety enough to suspect the rack of breaking if jostled too much by the train movements. Mariah wished he had packed even lighter, given the way their cases were teetering over their heads, but there was not very far one could go before one was traveling with nothing at all.
Sacha’s bag was equally small, but like his and all the rest of the bags, it teetered rather precariously, swinging back and forth when the train began a long turn. Out the window, Mariah could see the faint lights of country estates spotting the darkening land. The sky was a burnt cobalt, tinged as it was with black. Already it would be nightfall, marking the fourth day without Felix.
Will would get him back, Mariah thought, with some semblance of confidence. He almost sounded like his brother, though he at least had some prior history to base his hopes off of. Even if the Bureau agent had been completely unable to find his parents, at least his brother could be located.
Or at least, he hoped he could.
As the train continued to shuffle along the track, Mariah cast a look around the car. Most of the passengers were content to sleep or at least attempt to, though he didn’t like the look of a particularly brutish man who was reading the newspaper. He wondered briefly if any of these travelers might have seen Felix or the persons who might have taken his brother. That is, if his brother was taken. He still wondered to himself what could have possibly happened that his brother disappeared like he did.
The compartment door opened rather suddenly with a noisy burst of wind that woke most if not all in the car. A conductor stepped through, pulling the heavy metal door shut behind him. Seeing the travelers staring at him, he grinned somewhat sheepishly.
“We are coming into Ledbury, ladies and gentlemen. Collect your bags if you would. We should be arriving any minute now.”
Any second was a better assessment. The train station, with its raised platform, was already greeting the train engine and rather quickly, the rest of the train as well. The passengers in their compartment were groaning about aching muscles and rubbing their backs as they pulled down bags, collected children, and prepared to depart. Sacha and Mariah’s bags rattled noisily as they came down from the rack, which still felt as if it would give out with any sense of pressure.
As the train ground to a halt with a jolt that sent many of the passengers swaying sideways, Mariah bent to look out the window. The brick platform was dark and the ticket office closed. It would appear Ledbury operated with one-way traffic. Not that it was much a surprise. It was merely a small trading town, far from the college-centered city of Oxford.
“Watch your steps, ladies and gentlemen! Watch your steps!” A conductor was shouting from the brick platform as he ticked something off of a sheet.
No doubt he was glad to see all of the travelers leave so the train could head to its final destination. The train passengers themselves looked especially eager to get off of the steaming vehicle and head wherever it was that they made for.
“Where to?” Sacha asked as Mariah pulled out a watch.
It was only six o clock, an early hour and the perfect time for supper. Already, the pit in his stomach from thinking about Felix had started growling in protest. He wouldn’t be able to worry about his brother much longer if he did not eat something.
“There’s likely an inn nearby,” Mariah said.
He tucked his watch away and picked up the bags before following Sacha down the steps through a brick archway that led out onto a rather ordinary street. Tall buildings of Elizabethean make lined each side of the street. The thatched roofs and white walls stood out stark against the lampposts that illuminated the drizzly night. It might have been beautiful if it weren’t wet. Rain would follow soon; they would need to be inside of a building if they were to avoid it.
Most of these thatched buildings were homes or businesses and a good portion of the street that they walked through now was merely tents and stands set up for a market, bare of all the goods that would likely be laid out in the morning for purchase. For now, the market was bare. In fact, the only sign that there had been any selling and buying going on at this location came from the food that littered the streets. Tomatoes were smashed in the gutter and there were many pieces of heavily trampled lettuce laying about. If Rishi had been here, the monkey would likely have gone scampering off in search of such a feast.
“Look there,” Sacha said, pointing to one of the thatched buildings.
He looked to see an inn, the lights still on.
The short “yard” before the door was accented by colorful flowers and a box of green tendrils, no doubt from some kind of growing vegetable. There was most certainly some sort of thing growing from it, but he never had enough time to make out what; Sacha was already stepping into the inn.
The bottom floor of the establishment was what looked to be a pub, lit gently by hanging lights. A man sitting in the corner was winding a hurdy-gurdy. From it came the tinny music that attempted to sound like a grand organ and always failed. Still, it was keeping the customers amused, at the very least.
They picked their way through the clutster of mostly empty tables to the counter where a small woman was attending to her task of wiping the counter down. She looked up as they approached, offering a rather congenial smile.
“How can I help you young folk?”
Mariah set down the bags so he could reach into his pocket and withdraw a photograph. Behind them, the hurdy-gurdy music continued to wind and wind, tinkling incessantly.
“Have you seen a boy like this?” Mariah asked, holding out the photograph. “He goes by the name of Felix Mundi.”
The woman studied the picture for several minutes, her brow furrowed as she appeared to think deeply. Sacha looked around the room as the door opened and a brisk chill blew through before the door was closed again and the warmth settled back in.
The woman at the counter smacked her lips together as she answered with a shrug. “Never seen ‘im. Sorry.”
Mariah and Sacha exchanged an exasperated glance.
“Anything else I can help you with?”
“Yes, do you have any rooms available?”
The door opened again and this time Sacha’s gaze didn’t tear from the door. She tapped Mariah’s arm as he spoke with the woman. He ignored Sacha’s poking until a deep voice interrupted his conversation.
It suddenly occured to the young man that the pub was extraordinarily silent. It had not been quite this silent before. Where had the hurdy-gurdy player gone? Mariah looked to see the man scuttling toward his corner to take up the box and begin to wind just as a shadow fell over the boy’s shoulder. He looked up to see a man of rather large build looking down at him with a smile that wasn’t particularly pleasant.
“Yes?” He tried to ignore the uneasy feeling in his chest.
“Would you and your lovely companion come with me please?”
Mariah hesitated. Sacha was looking at him, obviously waiting for him to say no, to stand his ground. So it was with some measure of shame, that once again Mariah’s tongue failed him. The entirety of the pub watched as he leaned down to grab bags and glanced at the girl with him. Sacha cast the man a wary eye, but Mariah followed without question.
After all, he wasn’t about to argue with a gun nudged in his back.