Chapter 12: The Librarian
With jaws dropped, Arnold and Lucidia enter the library. Colored bits of light dance between cathedral book-shelves. Glowing books lie in mounds; others sit in rows of shelves surrounding a conference desk. They hear a door open near the back of the room and a man appears from behind one of the book shelves.
‘Welcome.’ His empty glasses wobble as he shakes
hand. ‘My name’s Jed!’ Arnold
‘My name’s Arnold and this is Lucidia.’ Arnold nods as Lucidia shakes Jed’s hand.
‘It’s so nice to have visitors!’ Jed’s eyes beam. ‘We have a lot to discuss. Please, join me at my desk.’ He leads them past rows wooden shelves holding glowing books. They arrive at the desk in the middle of the room. Arnold and Lucidia sit as Jed grabs a tea pot and two mugs from his office. The back left of the room is dark and has empty book-shelves. Jed comes back from his office and pours them tea.
‘You must understand, Arnold and Lucidia, the world hasn’t always been like this.’ He sits with wide eyes, speaking as though reading out of a book. ‘Everything changed when a black magic super bomb went off- it wiped out everyone’s memories and cracked the world in two. People have been living out their lives like clockwork clowns in a mirage world ever since.’
‘That’s awful, ‘
‘The ironic thing is that the bomb separated
from the rest of the world, so
everything I know about how to fix it would get erased from my mind if I left.’ Light City
‘Why’s that?’ Lucidia asks.
‘When you come to Light City and when you leave Light City, your memory is erased!’ Jed spoke with passion. ‘There’s only one key that allows you to move between worlds and not forget. It’s called the Eternal Flashlight, and you two must have it or you wouldn’t be here!’
Arnold and Lucidia look at each other with puzzled faces.
‘A witch named Vialba has been safeguarding it. She’s stuck in an ice tent in Circus City, so she can’t take it anywhere!’
‘How do you know all this?’ Lucidia asks with excitement.
‘Books appear out of nowhere and explain these things to me!’
‘Wow, that’s remarkable!’ Lucidia says.
Arnold is still focused on Vialba. ‘I met Vialba,’ he says to Jed, ‘but she didn’t give me anything.’
‘Did she take something from you?’ Jed asks.
thinks of the pocket-watch. Arnold
‘And did she give it back?’
pulls the pocket-watch out from his
satchel. When he opens it up, a bright beam shines out and the other lights fly
towards it and weave in and out of it. Arnold
‘You’re the chosen one, Arnold! You’re the one who needs to carry out the deeds to bring the world back to a balance.’ Jed pulls a folded piece of paper out of his pocket. ‘I’ve been compiling a list of things that need to be fixed,’ he hands
the paper. ‘We should focus on the
first one and then go from there.’ Arnold
1. Sysmiosis sludge
2. Two-way Town
‘What does ‘Sysmiosis sludge’ mean?’ He asks Jed, ignoring the nagging self-doubt in the back of his mind. He takes a deep breath and meets eyes with Lucidia. His stomach flutters as they smile at one another.
Jed speaks as though reading from a book again. ‘The soil in Sysmiosis turned into a glowing poison sludge after the bomb. When ingested, it turns you into a grotesque pig-human. You become addicted to the soil and spread it across the land.’
‘Yuck!’ Lucidia’s face scrunches up.
‘Arnold, you need to brew an antidote and find a small group of humans remaining underground in Sysmiosis.’ Jed points to the office. ‘They’ve been communicating to me through mores’ code. Time’s running out so this needs to be done first’
Jed takes out another piece of paper and hands it to
‘These are the ingredients for the antidote. You’ll need to find Vialba to help
you with this.’ He pauses and frowns slightly. ‘Circus City is the most
dangerous place for you to go, but I’m afraid it’s the only place you’ll find
what you need.’ Arnold
says. ‘I’ll do it. But only if Lucidia
can stay here with you.’ Arnold
‘No, I wanna go with you, Arnold!’ Lucidia says.
‘It may be best if you do stay, Lucidia,’ Jed says, ‘in fact, I can educate you for the next task and we’ll be ready when
back!’ Jed pulls out a pocket watch connected to his pants with a small chain.
‘There’s a train that leaves from the second circle in twenty minutes’, he says.
‘I’ll get you some tickets at the train station. Arnold Light
City will be your only safe haven, , so be as quick as
you can and come back between each task. Arnold
‘Okay,’ he says.
‘It’s likely that word has gotten out, and if the wrong people find you, I’m afraid it’ll be too late. The Eternal Flashlight won’t work for anyone else now unless you give it to them willingly, or if you’re killed. I’ll be right back.’
’s face loses colour as Jed walks away.
Lucidia grabs a hold of
’s hand. ‘You’re
brave Arnold ,’
she says. Her voice calms him. Arnold
‘It’s moving so fast,’ Arnold says, ‘I can’t stop now.’ He gives a nervous laugh, feeling like a fraud committing to the challenge.
Jed returns to the table and hands
a silver ball and
a map. Arnold
asks, examining the strange object. Arnold
‘Just keep it as a last resort. When the time comes, you’ll know what to do’ Jed smiles and winks.
Jed gets up from the table. ‘Try to rally as many good wizards and witches as you can. We’ll need all the help we can get!’
Lucidia gets up from the table and the three of them make their way out of the library.
Part 3: HIDE AND SEEK
Chapter 13: Departure
Arnold, Lucidia, and Jed arrive at the
train station right as the train’s
pulling in. A line-up has formed, so Light City
slides in while Jed jogs over to the ticket booth. Arnold
on the cheek. ‘Good luck,’ she says.
They both blush. The line begins to move and Arnold shuffles towards the train. Jed manages
to hand him some tickets right before he’s ushered up the steps. Arnold
!’ Lucidia yells and blows a kiss. Arnold
The door closes behind Arnold and the train begins to roll out of town. A wheel man in a blue suit rolls up to
. His hair is
greasy and his eyes look sinister. Arnold
’s ticket stub. ‘Cabin 10,’ he sneers. Arnold
He passes each cabin door (20, 5, 2, 31, 11, 8…) eventually coming to the end. The back door is marked ‘cabin 10’.
ear to the door, but all he can hear are the train’s wheels rolling over the
old wooden track. He opens the door and a shriek of laughter pierces his ears.
He pushes at the door, but it blows open with a gust of wind that sucks him out
of the train. He spins up into the sky, accelerating through a bizarre tunnel
of lights before falling hard onto a cold steel floor. Arnold
He gazes up from his fall to see that he’s in a cage. Beyond the bars is the grizzly cheetah and four half-wizards. His heart sinks. The wizards screech with laughter at him while the cheetah pounces and bites at the cage. A brief dizzy spell overtakes
as he collapses to
the floor. He hears more laughter as he falls out of consciousness. Arnold
The dampness in the room suffocates him as he gains his consciousness back. It’s dark and cold around him and his fearful body shakes. A thin light shines from under the door to his left, but there are no signs of life.
He feels around for his satchel and pulls out the silver ball and medallion.
The door creaks open suddenly and the half-wizards lunge into the room and shine a spotlight onto him. He sneaks the ball and medallion back into his bag before they see and retreats to the back of the cage with his eyes closed.
‘We have some questions for you, worm,’ the owl-lizard screams.
doesn’t say anything.
‘There’s word around town that someone may have recovered an important device.’ He coughs green slime as he speaks.
Arnold trembles silently.
‘We’ve got all the time in world, maggot!’ They erupt with laughter as the grizzly cheetah hisses and leaps out of the room. The light bulb shatters when the door slams.
Allowing some time to pass, he pulls out the medallion. A bright beam of light shines out when he opens it. He flashes it around the room. He sees books, plants, strange creatures in bottles, tangled roots, and a mirror. He catches his reflection behind the steel bars. He looks pale and thin. A plate beside him holds mashed-potatoes and chopped up lizards. Despite the unappetizing appearing,
’s hunger compels
him to try it. He eats some potatoes with an occasional crunch and spit. Arnold
After a snack, he pulls the silver ball out of his bag and holds it tightly in his hand. He opens his eyes and looks around with the medallion’s light. Nothing has changed.
He sits and waits, shakes the ball, but still nothing. When he looks over at the mirror, he notices that his reflection is gone. He puts the ball down and looks up and he’s visible again. He picks the ball back up and tries to touch the bars, but his hands go right through them.
Taking a deep breath, he grabs his satchel and jumps off the cage and onto the ply-wood floor. Right when he lands, a loud alarm sounds and the walls fly up around him like drapes.
He sees the four half-wizards come out of a door farther back, so he runs to the corner of the room and keeps quiet.
‘Where is he?’ The second wizard screams as the cheetah hisses out fire. Smoke flares out of his nostrils as it leaps over to the cage trying to pick up
’s scent. Arnold
Just as exhaustion sets in, he spots the top of the castle-tent in the distance and makes his way there.