Once Upon a Time – Chap. 10.1

I knew there was something peculiar about that jagged stone I found,” mused Uncle Albert, balancing the pendant up and down in his hand. “Looked just like this, same material. The one I had was twice as big though.” The zombie craned his head up and shook the pendant toward everyone. “And you’re saying these scraps of rock all go together to make some sort of magical puzzle?”

A very dangerous one if the whole piece were to find itself in the wrong hands,” said V. “Where is the fragment you found?”

It was stolen. I made the mistake of showing it to Caleb when I first found it. Whereas I saw something that may have interesting scientific properties to study, he saw potential profit.” Uncle Albert handed the pendant back to Sylvia. “He went on and on about how we should find out how much it might sell for, so I decided it would be in my best interest to keep it hidden from him. Then one day, Caleb shows up with some friend I’ve never seen and demands I tell them where it is. When I refused, that lousy apprentice of mine stuck a sword through my heart. Ruined my best shirt.” He half-turned and waved an arm at one of the many crowded work tables lining the walls of the room they were in. “I kept the rock hidden in a wooden box over there. In the time it took for them to find it, whatever this spell is on the land woke me up like your friend Seth. I chased after the two fools and Caleb’s accomplice ran off with the stone paperweight.”

What about this Caleb person,” asked Deigen. “If you know what became of him we may be able to get information about the friend from him.”

Oh, I know what became of him.” Uncle Albert hobbled over to the table closest to him and began tinkering around with one of his inventions. “But you won’t have any luck getting information from him. Caleb was as good a thief as he was at self defense.”

Uncle Albert!” Sylvia flung her arms up. “You ate the dog and a person?”

Seth chuckled. “And you complained about me eating a small pond of fish.”

The queen’s fish,” shot back V. “Which you will find a way to replace.”

If the queen wants more fish, all she apparently has to do is wave her arms in the air.” Seth slid back a foot in unison with Deigen and V as they stepped toward him. “But of course I’ll absolutely find a way to replace them.”

Sylvia-” Uncle Albert paused for a moment, seeming to take in their conversation, “Sylvia, he murdered me for a blasted rock. A rock! And pardon me, but if you kill someone and then trip over your own feet while screaming like a little girl when they’re a zombie,” he shook the screwdriver he held in his hand, “I believe you deserve to be eaten.”

Seth nodded in agreement. “Quite right.”

Speaking of food, Sylvia would you be a dear and hand me two slices of bread from that cutting board over there?” Uncle Albert shot an arm up toward the smallest table near the door. His attention, however, remained entirely on the small metal box he had been fiddling with. “I think I may have things just right for it to work this time.”

For what to work?” Sylvia handed him the requested bread and stared in confusion as he inserted both slices into two slots on top of the box. “And what is that thing?”

This-” Uncle Albert pressed down a lever on the box’s side and clapped his hands together, “-is a very close approximation of one of the things your grandfather used to talk about. Though admittedly all I’ve had to go by is his stories from childhood and a few drawings in a journal he kept.”

Is this the grandfather who supposedly came from another world?” asked Bastiick.

He did come from another world,” snapped Uncle Albert. “I suppose you think I’m mad for believing that?”

Bastiick stood watching Uncle Albert, who remained leaned against the table and staring intently at the metal box with the bread inside. “No. Not at all.”

What exactly does this device do?” asked V curiously, leaning in for a better look. “And how are those wires around the bread glowing?”

Glowing?” echoed Seth. “Sounds like magic.”

It’s not magic, it’s science!” Uncle Albert caught the slices of bread mid-air while everyone else in the room ducked down from the sound of the box spewing them out. “And this, my friends, is toast!”

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