“You know, it’s been blissfully quiet around here the past few days. Ever since you insisted your characters participate in that . . . what was it called? The Gratitude Scavenger Hunt? (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/were-doing-what/) . . . we’ve hardly heard a peep out of them!” My husband sighed contentedly. “They don’t even take meals with us.”
“I know.” I smiled at him. “They really seem to be enjoying it. They even asked if they could have a few more days to work on it.”
“Are they all still working downstairs in the conference room?” Miles furrowed his brow and tilted his head.
He chuckled. “Well, it’s been four days now, and I haven’t heard anyone killing your Arrogant One yet.”
I laughed. “Well, Dragon arranged individual offices off the conference room, so everyone could work in private without interfering with each other or getting on each other’s nerves.”
Miles shook his head. “I still don’t understand how the conference room works. It looks different every time I go in there – a different size, a different shape . . .”
I gave his hand a squeeze as I tugged him out of his chair. “Don’t try to understand it, honey. It’s magic. Let’s just get some dinner.”
“The leftover corn chowder?” His eyes gleamed.
I nodded. “Yup. And some roasted cauliflower and broccoli.”
“Now, that’s magic! Race you to the kitchen!”
* * *
“Everyone has finished collecting or creating their items or images, or preparing their illusions, for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt, Mistress.” Dragon’s maw stretched into a wide, toothy smile and her tail twitched with excitement.
“Very well. Let’s go down and see what everyone has.”
Miles and I followed the bulky reptile down the steps and into the conference room. Everyone’s items were displayed on the huge round table in the middle of the room. My characters milled around, each slowly taking their place next to their individual items.
“How do you wish to do this, Mistress?” Cleric fidgeted with her rope belt and shifted her weight from foot to foot.
“Well, let’s see.” I rubbed my chin while I considered several approaches. “I think the best idea is for me to read off each category from the list, and everyone can take turns presenting their items for that category.”
I looked around at my assembled characters, who nodded their understanding and agreement. I was surprised how nervous they all appeared. Cleric wasn’t the only one shuffling back and forth on her feet, and I thought I saw several characters sweating. I hoped that meant they had taken the activity seriously, perhaps had even learned something from it.
I picked up my list and began. “The first item you were to find was something that makes a beautiful sound. Who wants to start?”
My Gypsy eagerly stepped forward and held up a picture of a bird. “I chose a Meadowlark. Their sweet song is a magnificent sound.” He whistled, perfectly mimicking the slurred, flute-like melody of the Eastern Meadowlark.
My Young Hero stepped forward next. “I think a horse makes a beautiful sound, neighing to a friend, or whinnying to greet the day.” He held aloft a picture taken from a magazine.
My Foreman nodded and raised his picture. “I think the sound a horse makes is beautiful, too, only I selected the thundering sound of their hooves as a herd of steeds gallops across a field.”
Dragon took center stage next, holding aloft a photo. “I think the sound of a loud wind rushing through trees is beautiful. I enchanted this picture to produce that sound.” As she murmured an incantation, the sound of rushing wind filled the room for a few moments.
As the sound died down, Cleric stepped forward, holding a small wind chime she had constructed. “I do not believe this would withstand the force of the wind from Dragon’s enchanted image, but I think when the chimes are tickled by a gentle breeze, the sound they produce is most beautiful.” Cleric gently shook the chimes, making a soft tinkling sound.
Sorceress waited for the melodious chimes to quiet before producing her item, an enchanted image of waves lapping against the shore. “It is the beautiful sound that used to lull me to sleep on my native island.”
“I am afraid I cannot produce the sound effects, but I chose this photo of a rushing waterfall to depict something that makes a beautiful sound.” My Bounty Hunter showed us the photo.
“Well, I be havin’ sound ee-ffects!” My Old Dwarf grinned as he clanged a triangular gong. “I be thinkin’ there be nuttin’ wat be makin’ a sound as bee-you-tee-full as a dinner bell.”
The last of my characters to share his first item, my Arrogant One, stood apart from the group. He was scuffing one foot back and forth in an uncharacteristic display of stage fright. He cleared his throat several times before mumbling his explanation. “The most beautiful sound I have ever heard was produced by an audience clapping and cheering.” He passed his hand over an enchanted image, and the room was filled with thunderous applause, and loud cheers and whistles.
It took quite a few minutes to get my Arrogant One to silence his enchanted image, as he closed his eyes and basked in the conjured applause. But soon I had my characters back to the task at hand.
We moved quickly through the next four categories.
The catagory find something that smells amazing produced few surprises, among them being Dragon’s choice of a lightning storm. “Have you ever really smelled the air after you see a huge bolt of lightning?” Her nostrils quivered, and her tail twitched in delight.
Bounty Hunter’s field full of wildflowers was equally surprising. “What? You think someone in my profession cannot appreciate the delicate fragrance of wildflowers in bloom?”
Catnip was rather predictable as the item Sorceress thought smelled amazing, as was her choice of milk for the next category, find your favorite beverage. Both choices reflected her exotic heritage, and I could almost hear her purring as she made her presentations.
Dragon’s choice of lemonade as her favorite beverage, however, was unexpected. “Not too sweet, though.” She grimaced. “Sugar negates the delightful burn of the acid.”
Find something that is your favorite color produced few surprises. Cleric’s choice of rose quartz was predictable. “It is the color associated with the deity whom I serve back in my world.”
Equally predictable in that category were my Old Dwarf’s choice of pewter mugs, my Arrogant One’s selection of gold coins, and my Gypsy’s option of a Northern Cardinal or Redbird.
Again, it was Dragon and my Bounty Hunter who surprised me. “And what is wrong with the color of sunflowers?” My Bounty Hunter scoffed.
Dragon smiled a toothy grin, then explained her choice. “The color of the sky right after sunset is most pleasing to me. It also has a very personal meaning.” She glanced at my Young Hero. “When I was younger, I had not yet developed my ability to change colors. Someone back in my world once likened my color to that of the sky at twilight.”
There were no surprises at all in the category find something useful to you.
“Of course, I chose my fireplace.” Dragon looked around, her expression daring anyone to make a remark.
“And I be lost wit-out me battle axe.” My Old Dwarf brandished it, then gave the axe head a quick swipe with a polishing cloth.
My Foreman nodded. “As I would be without a saddle.”
“And I, without my dagger.” My Gypsy flipped it end over end at a target hanging on the wall, scoring a perfect bulls-eye.
My Young Hero claimed a bag of holding as his most useful item, while Cleric needed her healing herbs, Sorceress, her scrying bowl, and my Bounty Hunter, a disguise.
“My staff is my most useful item.” My Arrogant One puffed himself up. “It is a focus for my magic, a walking stick, and a weapon. I can also tie a bundle to it and carry it over my shoulder or tie a string to the end for a fishing pole.”
That brought us to the last category – find something to give someone else to make them smile.
“The best gift I could give someone to produce a smile would be one of my scales.” Dragon held a small iridescent scale in her hand. “It is not only beautiful, but it is almost indestructible, so the recipient could conceivably have it for a lifetime. It grants powerful protection and has magical properties that can be activated by those with the proper knowledge. How could such a wondrous gift fail to make someone smile?”
My Old Dwarf showed us a small wood carving he had made. “I be thinkin’ thet summat I be takin’ tha time an’ effort ta be makin’ wit me very ownest hands be puttin’ a smile on anyone’s face.”
My Foreman nodded. “I envy you your talent, my rotund little friend. All I have to offer to put a smile on someone’s face is a posy.”
Cleric smiled. “Those flowers would certainly make me smile. I also chose flowers, but mine are an arrangement of dried flowers and herbs.”
“I would give someone a charm or a talisman.” My Gypsy displayed his offering.
My Young Hero admired his friend’s item. “My gift would be similar.” He held out a handful of small rocks. “Nature created these heart-shaped stones. They made me smile, and I am sure they would do the same for anyone to whom I would bequeath them.”
“A book has always seemed a much-appreciated gift.” Sorceress held up a tome adorned with flowers.
“As is a bottle of fine wine or spirits.” My Bounty Hunter indicated his item.
My Arrogant One was the last to present his item. All eyes turned to him, and we waited. He scuffed his toe back and forth on the carpet, and he hung his head. “I have never given a gift to anyone. I have nothing to make another smile.”
My other characters seemed unsurprised. “Selfish people rarely know how to make others smile.” Although Dragon meant it to be a whisper, her voice carried through the room, and I saw my Arrogant One’s face turn scarlet.
Surprisingly, it was my husband who came to the annoying elf’s rescue. Miles walked over to the conference table and picked up my Arrogant One’s staff. He turned to the pompous figure and held out the staff. “Take it.”
Cautiously, obviously fearing a trick, the elf reached out and took hold of the staff.
“Now, perform.” My husband turned and rejoined me and the others watching the elf.
“What?” My Arrogant One furrowed his brow and tilted his head.
“You have a great gift to share, with which to put a smile on everyone’s face. Create some illusions, give a performance. That is what you can give someone else to make them smile.” Miles raised an eyebrow at the elf.
Slowly, a smile spread across my Arrogant One’s face as understanding dawned. He drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and held his staff aloft. He treated us all to a truly amazing performance of illusory magic and sleight of hand. When it was over, the elf had no need of an enchanted image to create applause.
Once the hurrahs had died down, I addressed the group. “I hope you all had some fun with this Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. I also hope you learned something from it.”
My characters all nodded and murmured among themselves. Finally, Dragon spoke for the group. “I believe it has become obvious to all of us that complaining is a waste of effort. If we are bored, we can always engage in fruitful and enjoyable activities. We are grateful to you for making us realize this.”
“I think we also learned to just look around us for things for which we can be grateful, like a beautiful sound or smell, a pretty color, a favorite beverage.” My Bounty Hunter nodded toward the conference table holding all the items he and his companions found for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.
“And I am grateful to have learned that everyone has something to give to others, and that giving is as pleasurable as receiving.” My Arrogant One smiled.
“Good lessons, all!” I beamed at my characters. “I hope you all keep your feelings of gratitude going forward.”
“Wale, I be real gratitudinal iffin dinner be ready soon.” My Old Dwarf winked and headed for the stairs.
We hope you all enjoyed the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt as much as my characters did, and I hope you enjoyed the insight into each character, with the choices they made for each category. In case you missed anyone’s presentation, here is the list of characters and the items they chose for each category.
Be sure to join us next week for another adventure! We’ll leave the porch light on for you!