A Two-Minute Mystery
I couldn't believe my eyes. Another weird artifact had just popped into existence on the counter of the Enchanted Antique Shop. My resident spirits and I had barely recovered from the last magical incident. This time, it was a locket—ornate, gold, and pulsating softly like a heartbeat. Great, just what I needed, another potentially cursed object.
"Marley, do you sense that?" The brass bell over the door chimed softly as Sadie walked in, her eyebrows furrowing.
"Yeah," I said, eyeing the locket cautiously. "It's like a wave of mischief in the air."
Sadie approached the counter and studied the locket. "Shouldn't be too hard to solve. It's either something inside the locket or some inscription on it."
Being the braver—or more foolish—of us, I decided to open it. Inside was a tiny painting of a jester. "Well, that's cute...but odd."
"That's it!" Sadie's eyes widened. "That's the Laughing Jester! A trickster spirit trapped in paintings. The spirit is supposed to disrupt any spellwork done in its vicinity!"
I glanced at the calendar. Today was the day we had planned to recharge the protective wards around the shop. With the Laughing Jester's influence, that could spell disaster.
"Quick, what's the counterspell?" I asked Sadie.
"Recite 'Seriousness and gravity, hold your jest, keep your levity!' while touching your nose with one hand and the image with the other."
I did, and the locket stopped pulsating. Sadie sighed in relief. "Good thing we caught it in time."
But here's the mystery. How did we know that the Laughing Jester was actually working against us, and it wasn't some random magical disruption?
The clue to solving this two-minute mystery lies in the timing of the Laughing Jester's appearance.
We knew that the Laughing Jester was specifically working against us because it appeared right before we were scheduled to recharge the protective wards around the shop. If the Laughing Jester were just a random magical disruption, it could have appeared at any time. But its arrival was suspiciously timed to interfere with critical magical work—recharging the protective wards—that couldn't afford any disruptions.
Just as Sadie and I were catching our breath, Grandma Clara walked in.
"Congratulations, you two," she said, her eyes twinkling. "You've passed the Council of Guardians' test with flying colors."
Sadie and I exchanged bewildered glances. "I'm sorry I couldn't tell you in advance, but they occasionally test magic practitioners to make sure they're up to snuff. And you've proved yourselves admirably."
I was floored. "But why now? Why this test?"
Grandma Clara glanced at the now-harmless locket. "The Laughing Jester was a perfect test of your problem-solving skills and your capability to handle magical disruptions. You've shown yourselves to be resourceful, quick thinkers. The Council believes you're ready for more responsibilities, maybe even a more significant quest."
Sadie's eyebrows shot up. "Quest? That sounds like an adventure waiting to happen."
Grandma Clara grinned. "Oh, you have no idea."