Miles and I were in the living room with some of my characters, watching the storm outside. Driving rain pounded against the windows and booming thunder shook the house.
“Oh, great! The rain is coming down in buckets!” My Gypsy frowned at the scene unfolding in the yard. He turned away from the French doors to the deck, stomped across the living room, threw himself into a chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. “I am so tired of being stuck inside! First, everyone was sick. Now, it looks like the annual monsoon season we had back in our world! The ducks from the pond are now swimming in the back yard!”
“I know!” My Young Hero wore a frown identical to his friend’s. “We have not been able to exercise our horses or go on an outing in weeks! I am going to forget how to ride if we are not able to get to the horses soon!”
My Foreman snorted. “We just went on a trail ride three weeks ago. (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/an-old-mystery-revisited/) But I agree. I am impatient for the weather to clear, that we may spend another day in the saddle.” He sighed and raked his hand through his hair as he stared at the back yard, now flooding with the overflow from the pond.
Cleric and Sorceress stomped into the room, with Dragon close behind.
Sorceress wrinkled her nose as she looked out the door. “When is this rain going to stop? Cleric and I have need of more botanicals for our spell components!”
Dragon snarled at her companions, and dark smoke spurted from her snout. “Why ask me? I do not control the weather!” She shivered. “It is so damp! I know I am going to get sick again! I need my fire.” She conjured her illusory fireplace and curled up on the floor in front of it.
“Oh, now you will roast us all to death, because you are cold?” Cleric glared at Dragon, who responded by twitching her tail and spewing more clouds of black smoke.
My Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter strode into the room, coming to a dead stop in front of the doors.
“It is still raining!” My Arrogant One placed his hands on his hips and contorted his face into an exaggerated pout. “The shed will be flooded!”
“It would not be flooded if you would fix the leaky roof!” My Bounty Hunter spoke casually, but there was steel under his words.
The elf rounded on his sidekick. “I did! I cannot help it if every time I fix one leak, two more appear! And I do not see you doing anything to help.”
My Old Dwarf wandered into the room, munching on a ham. He shook his head at my Arrogant One. “Eh, ye be needin’ ta be doin’ more ’en jest be magickin’ tha leaks! Ye be needin’ ta be usin’ hammer an’ nails, elfie.”
“Do not call me elfie!” My Arrogant One’s voice, a 200-decible screechy approximation of an operatic soprano, startled several ducks that had been swimming in the back of the flooded yard.
“Okay, that’s enough!” I scowled at my characters. “All I’ve heard all morning is complain, complain, complain!”
“We are sorry, Mistress.” Cleric tried to look contrite. “But we are bored and getting on each other’s nerves.”
I rose from my chair and folded my arms over my chest. I narrowed my eyes as I looked around the room at my characters. “Well, I have an idea how to stop being bored. You are all going on a scavenger hunt.”
“A scavenger hunt, Mistress? What is that?” Cleric’s cornflower blue eyes were filled with curiosity.
My eyes widened. “You never went on a scavenger hunt when you were a youngster?”
Cleric shook her head.
“Have any of you ever been on a scavenger hunt?” I looked around the room. Only three of my characters nodded.
My Gypsy leaned forward. “I remember going on scavenger hunts! My grammy organized them for all the children in the village. They were fun!”
My Young Hero frowned. “My parents used to organize them for my brother and me, and some of our friends. I was never very good at finding the things on the list.”
“When I be jest a young pup, me mam and pap been sendin’ me off on scavenger hunts all’a time. I be real good at ’em.” My Old Dwarf took another bite of ham.
Sorceress frowned. “Mistress, for those among us who were deprived of such a fun activity in our youth, could you please explain in detail this concept of a scavenger hunt?”
I sighed. “Well, in a normal scavenger hunt, the participants are given a list of items they must find and collect within a set amount of time. The winner might be the one who collects every item on the list, or perhaps the first one to collect all the required items.”
My Bounty Hunter grunted. “You said in a normal scavenger hunt, this is how things are done. Are we to infer that this will not be a normal scavenger hunt?”
I nodded. “That’s correct. In a normal scavenger hunt, you need to collect the physical items appearing on the list. They could be things like string, a button, a flower, a feather, a leaf. However, the fact we are confined to the house would greatly limit the items I could put on the list. So for this scavenger hunt, you need to be creative. If the item can be found in the house, and it is something small enough to carry, you may collect the actual item. Otherwise, you can collect a picture of the item.”
Dragon thrashed her tail. “And, pray tell, where are we to find pictures of these items?”
I laughed. “I have stacks of old magazines I’ll bring to the conference room. You can look through them. Also, if you are artistic, you can create your own picture of the items. You can get all your art supplies from Miles. He has paper, scissors, color pencils, chalk, charcoal, paint, and ink. I think he even has crayons, glue and paste.”
I looked to Miles for confirmation, and he nodded. “Yes, I have anything you might need. I’ll put it all in the conference room, next to the magazines.”
I smiled. “And, for those of you adept at magic, you may create small illusions of the objects.” I glanced at my Arrogant One. “You are not to create anything that would cause any harm or damage.”
The elf scoffed. “As if any of us would!”
Several of my characters rolled their eyes.
My Young Hero chewed on his bottom lip and furrowed his brow. “How many items will be on this list, and how long will we have to collect or create them?”
I stroked my chin as I considered the question. “There will only be six items on the list, and you will have two days to complete the scavenger hunt.”
“And everyone will be looking for the same items, Mistress?” Cleric fidgeted with her corded belt.
I shook my head. “In a regular scavenger hunt, everyone would be looking for the same things, like a button, a coin, a feather. But this is going to be a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. All of the items on the list are things that make you happy, things for which you should feel grateful.”
I looked around and saw nothing but blank stares. I sighed. “Okay. So, let’s say one of the items on the list is something that makes you laugh. That would be something different for each of you. One person might choose to write out a joke, while another person might choose to copy the words to a silly song or find a funny picture. So, no, you will not be collecting the same items.”
“Will there be a prize for collecting all the items on the list? Or for being the first to complete the scavenger hunt? Or, mayhap, a prize for the most creative representation of an item on the list?” My Gypsy sounded hopeful.
I shrugged. “We’ll see. I think the prize, or benefit, of the hunt is just to stop dwelling on how miserable it is to be stuck inside and remember all the things that make you happy, the things for which you should be grateful.”
“Well, I for one, have no intention of participating in such a juvenile endeavor!” My Arrogant One pompously drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and grasped his cloak in both hands. “I have more important things on which to spend my valuable time.”
“Afraid you would not be able to find the items?” My Bounty Hunter smirked at his companion.
The elf sneered. “I assure you, I would have no problems finding any item on the list.”
“Good.” I narrowed my eyes and stared at him. “Because all of you will be participating.”
“Oh, very well! Just give us the list, then.” My Arrogant One folded his arms in front of him and tapped his foot impatiently. “The sooner we get started, the sooner we can end this nonsense.”
“I’ll have the list for you shortly after lunch. I will make a copy for each person.”
* * *
My characters milled about as I handed out copies of the list for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. They started reading the lists as if they couldn’t understand them.
“Something that makes a beautiful sound?”
“Something that smells amazing?”
“Your favorite beverage?”
My Arrogant One scanned the list I handed him. His eyes widened. “Something to give someone else to make them smile?” He blinked, then thrust the paper back at me. “This is utterly ridiculous and a total waste of my valuable time!”
I put my hand up in my best imitation of a cop stopping traffic, and I narrowed my eyes. “Keep it. You will participate.”
My Old Dwarf grinned as he read the list. “Eh! This be too easy, lass! I be back in a few minutes wit all me items.”
“Remember to put some thought into the items you choose. Don’t pick something just because it’s easy. And don’t pick something you think is the expected item. Like I said before, everyone will choose different items. There are no right or wrong items for this Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. Any questions?” I looked around at my characters. “No? Then go have fun!”
What items do you think each of the characters will collect? Be sure to come back next week and see! We’ll leave the porch light on for you.