The following morning Tina and Ella were ready to leave no stone unturned to find the magic item. Literally no stone, as Ella was of the not-so-unrealistic opinion that stones are extremely old. Maybe they are magic items.
The girls met with the Invisible Man at the Christmas Market. Or, more accurately, Tina saw what appeared to be a small lantern form an alley entry, floating around. She calmly yanked it from the stubborn air and put it back as if nothing happened.
Luckily, besides her, nobody noticed. Christmas Market on a cold, foggy, winter day is a busy place, where people crossing left and right don’t have time to observe floating objects.
“What were you doing with the lantern?” she asked while still keeping her smile and composure.
“It looked old. I thought maybe it’s the magic item. So, there are 4 really old buildings in your town.” continued the Invisible Man
‘Good morning to you, too,’ Tina followed.
‘Oh, hello! I only have 6 days until I vanish completely. I really don’t have time…”
“So, what did you find out?”
‘Ughh…the lantern is not the magic item. Nothing happens when I hold it.”
“And stones don’t work either. Because we’re not actually searching old items, but magical items in old buildings.” Tina interrupted. “So, we can leave lanterns and other outside objects alone. Ok, people?”
‘Then, we should start with the museum!” Ella proposed.
“Ohhhhhhhhh! Riiiight! You are so right!” Tina went on enthused. “Why didn’t I think about it?”
“Wh…? What? Why? Why not the City Hall? It’s old too?…wha…?
“The museum is actually an old castle.” Ella explained. “Once upon a time a very rich family lived there. During their lives they gathered paintings, old chairs and chests, statues, lamps and old books. So many, in so many chambers that after they passed away, the building was turned into a museum. A lot of people from other places come to visit regularly.”
“Especially for the missing objects.” Tina went on. “It is said to happen occasionally. Paintings or mirrors moving from one chamber to another. It happens very rarely, though. Probably the reason so many people come to visit it daily. They hope to see these small mysteries. But, I think it’s something people taking care of the museum stage. To keep it interesting. I’ve never seen anything missing or misplaced.”
“Me neither. Although I visit it many times over. Maybe it was the Invisible Man…Hmmm? What do you think, Invisible Man?” Ella joked.
“It wasn’t me this time!”
“We’re wasting time. Let’s go the museum. We have plenty work to do.’ Tina, energetically, set them in motion. “And, we’re not allowed to touch anything inside, so we need to figure out how to search without touching. Lucky us to have and Invisible Man.”
The museum was, probably, declared castle due the thickness of the walls and the respectable age of the construction. Otherwise, it resembled more a two floors constructions, surrounded by a semicircle outside wall. A tower watch was the highest peak of the whole ensemble.
“There is a platform in that tower for visitors. It’s a circular, open space and you can see the city from there.” Ella explained to the Invisible Man while leading the way.
“How many rooms did you say it has?”
“42 in total. 21 rooms at each floor, plus the entry room before the tower platform. Plus the saloon. So… I guess, 44.” Tina answered.
“43 rooms…and only 6 days? We’ll never get it done!”
“Don’t worry Invisible Man, a better part of those rooms are small and serve as anti-chambers for the bigger, more important ones. We’ll get it done.” said Tina. Then she, forcefully, pushed the gate entrance open and let everybody pass.
The first chamber was stretching over the 2 floors height. It was extremely spacious and very well-lit. The ceiling was made of yellow glass, covering the whole room and the entrances to 4 set of stairs. 2 smaller ones, only with a few steps leading to the right and left ground floor wing. And, 2 bigger ones with a lot more steps leading to the right and left wing from the first floor. The chamber’s floor was covered in black and white mosaic. The walls were filled with paintings and statues. Vases, armchairs and coffee tables with manuscripts were, strategically, positioned amongst them.
And, in between, hiding from the icing cold of the December day, dozens of people were loudly chatting, pointing hands and deciding which point of attraction to start from.
“I don’t think anything secret should be hidden precisely in the first room of any building, but we need to make sure.” said Ella and stepped to the right of the door, along the wall. Tina and the Invisible Man followed. First thing on the order. An old papyrus with a beautiful quill and ink bottle sealed inside a glass box, over a cupboard.
The Invisible Man jumped the rope barrier and suddenly started to jiggle that furniture. Tina shouted “No!” and rushed to stop the Invisible Man. She hastily jumped the cord. But, she tripped and ended up hugging the whole furniture with both hands. Face down, pressed against the glass, she shouted through her teeth:
“What are you doing? People are watching!”
Ella noticed that people were indeed watching. Well, actually staring. Ella saw what they saw: a piece of furniture shaken down by a little girl, who, angrily, talked to a cabinet to stop.
“Who is she talking to? Little girl, who are you talking to?”
“Is she ok?” they were asking Ella.
“She’s fine.” Ella said with a forced smile, trying to hide the worry of other people becoming aware of the Invisible Man under a mask of embarrassment. “She really, really like papyruses. Any old writings, actually. She talks to them. Asks them how they are and how are they doing! She says she’s getting inspired to become a writer in doing so!” Ella hoped they were going to believe the far-fetched explanation. She herself was under the impression that she was listening to a stranger uttering words with her own mouth. Oh! the preposterous of the explanation. But, really good timing. People were starting to smile and look at Tina with a protective and amused understanding for the “kids plays” into becoming adults. Hiuh!
Tina was holding the cabinet with the back of her hands, fighting the Invisible Man’s jiggle. She wished she could yell at the Invisible Man to leave it alone, until it’s safe, but she did not want to see Ella inventing another “darling” reasoning for her erratic behavior. When the Invisible man let go, she set herself straight and stepped back over the cord, while keeping a sharp eye to the stillness of the glass.
“You really need to learn that you are invisible! And people panic if they see objects moving by themselves in closed spaces!” she whispered the Invisible Man after the crowd scattered.
“Listen! We’ll find it. And allow you to touch everything, but you need to do it without getting us thrown outside for bad bahaviour!” said Ella.
“Or the reputation of half-sanity, objects-talking-to, girls!” Tina concluded with a pout.
“Igh. Sorry! Agaaaain! I was overly-excited. Or overly-panicked. Or, maybe, both. Not sure.” Ella sensed the worry from his voice and changed the topic to a less-panicky endeavor.
“Let’s move to the paintings.”
The happening was, ultimately, useful, as it allowed the girls to devise a plan to cover the pieces that required moving or opening of stuff having no business moving. Ella was spotting the visitors. When she was sure none was watching (which, after the glass-cabinet episode was no small thing!) she made a little whistle. Tina, then, jumped in front of the object and stayed there until the Invisible Man announced, in a soft voice, that he was done. This little plan worked for the whole room without other incidents and they could safely move to other rooms.
The rest of the searching process was efficient and uneventful. Until they reached the watch tower.