A Short Story
A delicate touch for delicate works, dexterous fingers to help push and align the multitude of facets in the tiny puzzle box being turned into calloused hands. Small inscriptions lined the moving parts of the small puzzle box, glowing faintly from the minerals used to infuse them with a small measure of magic. The child’s toy only needed a single shift rune. It was so simple. And the soft divots were hardly noticeable too — not with the brass polished so smoothly. The delicate puzzle box was pleasant to the touch, with no hard edges or shavings left on the casing that a kid could hurt themselves with.
There was a soft creak from the workshop’s door. A small voice called out to the shop’s occupant, curiosity ladened in their voice. “Big brother? What’re you doing?”
Ramas looked up from the puzzle box he finished and at his little brother. He smirked at seeing the boy’s disheveled hair and muddy shoulders, a ball tucked under his arm. Valins must have snuck out of his studies to go play with his friends. Again. Far be it from Ramas to tattle on his kid brother to father, though. All work, no play and such as the saying goes, right?
“Experimenting.” Ramas said. The boy’s eyes lit up, and he immediately ran into the workshop to peer at the puzzle box Ramas held in his hands. Valins always got so excited when he heard he was trying out new things. His little brother extended his hands out, palms up, polite. Ramas set the brass puzzle box in his brother’s hands. Valins immediately turned the box in his hands, bright inquisitive eyes trying to discern how it worked. “What’s the experiment? What’s it do?”
Always jumping ahead, never looking at the journey before him. Ramas chuckled a little, “I can’t just tell you Valins. Solve the puzzle first.” He said. Valins’s nose scrunched up, annoyed, but he made no objections, instead getting right to work on the puzzle. He twisted and turned the box, finding those hidden groves and divots in the brass easily, pushing in smaller cubes here and there. Within moments, Valins opened the box — revealing a small crystal that was sealed within the box, mounted by a couple of pins on a rotating axis. Of course Valins would be the one to figure out the puzzle so quickly. Twenty seconds… damn kid. Valins, nonplused, looked back up at his older brother. “Now what?” He asked.
“Ah, the trick’s in setting it. Reversing the puzzle will be a pain for most — but that’s where this comes in.” Ramas said. He quickly found the shift rune, still visible with the box opened, and brushed his fingers over it. The opened puzzle box lifted out of a bewildered Valins’s hands, and it started automatically reversing everything Valins had done to open the box. Once the box completely reset itself, it simply fell back into Valins’s outstretched hands.
“Wow…” the boy breathed. “You’re so good at that stuff, Ram. You’ll have to me the script.”
“I will. But you got to remember to study what father gives you.”
Valins flushed a little, averting his eyes. Ramas studied his brother for a moment, then smiled. “We have all the time in the world for that, though. What game were you playing with the others?”
“Filchers and Mudpuppies.” Valins answered. Ah, the new one then. The rules were a little weird, but it was popular with the boys. Ramas grunted and slowly stood from his chair. “Well, tell you what. If you win the next round, I’ll show you the deviations I made for the puzzle box.”
Valins beamed. He shot up from his own chair and bolted for the door, leaving Ramas alone in the workshop for a moment. Ramas took the time to look around the family’s shop, and he couldn’t help but smile some more. Someday. You and me, little brother, we’ll be quite famous. Ramas moved to follow his kid brother outside.
Sign In or Become a Subscriber to Comment.
Penman Ventures Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.