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FIRE & ICE

Chapter 1: The Secret In The Attic

The golden sun shone brightly in the clear blue sky, which was bespeckled with puffy white clouds that rolled across the immaculate patch of blue. The light breeze flowed gently through the crisp morning air, & colorful flowers bloomed in the front yard of Sherlock Holmes' house. It was a beautiful spring day in 1899, & the turn of the century was only a year away. Many changes were bound to come to London, but the rodential citizens didn't seem to care—their lives had changed greatly not too long ago, but in a most marvelous way.

By the grace of a mysterious stranger from the future named Anya, Mouse London had been blessed with a wonderful new technology. New inventions were being built by the teenage genius day after day, thus improving the micefolk's lives even more. Some of the strange, but amazing, devices she made were toys, & today, 6-year-old Olivia Flaversham decided to play with some of them on her week-long break from school.

Olivia was indeed an adorable little thing, with tan fur covering her body, a wave of matching fur-hair adorning the top of her head, curvy pink ears, sparkling brown eyes, a little dark red heart-shaped nose, a tiny white bucktooth, a round head, small paws & feet, & a quite small figure. Her dress style was simple, but equally endearing—she had put up her blue dress-coat, blue tam-o'-shanter hat with the black ribbon, matching brim, and the red pom-pom, & baby-blue plaid scarf, in favor of a pair of white panties, a blue jumper dress over a white blouse with short, puffy sleeves, a red hair-bow, & a pair of white, frilly, knee-length bloomers, along with a pair of white socks & a pair of black Mary Jane shoes sheltering her feet. And a lucky thing, too—it was awfully warm in the house she shared with her large family.

But Olivia shrugged it off, as she merrily played with her favorite playthings, from her millions of Rainbow Toys to the wind-up dancing doll she had received for her birthday about a year ago. Suddenly, as she was just about to play with her favorite stuffed bear, the door slammed open, & a mouse entered her massive mega-playroom dramatically, with a pained look on her face.

The mouse was around 17 years old, but she wasn't very tall—in fact, she still looked as though she were still 16. The fuchsia pillbox hat covering her auburn hair & the peace-signed lime-green T-shirt she wore, as well as her blue bell bottoms, counteracted each other symbolically, but they fitted her quite well otherwise. She had a small fuchsia nose between her green eyes, & her slim figure was covered in mahogany fur from her head to her bare feet.

"Eliza," Olivia asked worriedly when she saw the expression on her stepsister's face, "why do you look so sad?"

"There's nothing more to do, Livvy!" Eliza lamented in her Lacey Chabert-type voice, as she slumped down in Olivia's computer chair. "I've done everything I could possibly think of! I've practiced my sketching, I've listened to some of my albums, I've helped Mum with her new book! And I'm still bored!" After taking a glimpse of Olivia holding out her dancing doll, she added flatly, "And, no, Livvy, I don't want to play with toys."

"Funny, Eliza," a 12-year-old mouse in a fuchsia sweater & matching bow in her golden, French-braided hair spoke as she came into the room, "I thought you loved Rainbow Toys to pieces!"

"That may be true, Julie, but toys just aren't going to cut it for me today!" Eliza whined. "I want to do something exciting!"

"Like what?" asked little Olivia in her tiny Scottish accent.

"I don't know, Olivia," Eliza grouched. "That's what I'm trying to figure out!" With a grunt of exasperation, she grumbled, "I just don't get it! How can a girl like me get so bored on a day like this?"

"Probably because we can't go outside," Julie said earnestly. And she was right—Mouses Fiennes was in a most malicious mood this week, & he had chosen to take it out on the innocent micefolk. The Baker Street Family would eventually interfere, but in the meantime, they would remain in the safety of their house around the clock. After all, who knew when Mouses would strike?

"Stupid Mouses!" Eliza complained. "No wonder I can't have any fun! I wish there was a way I could escape from this cruel world...I wish there was a way I could go on an adventure of some sorts without having my plans interfered with by that stupid scoundrel!"

"Perhaps I can be of assistance, my dear McBride," spoke a sharp, yet charming, British accent, as a figure stepped into the door. The mouse had just turned 30 years old, yet he was exceptionally handsome for someone his age. He was also quite youthful-looking, with light tan fur, startling green eyes that twinkled in their sockets, & a prominent brown nose between them, as well as a bucktooth, alert pink ears, & an attractive smile on his lips.

"Really, Basil?" Eliza asked, getting up out of the chair. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well, Eliza, it's quite elementary, really..." Basil Of Baker Street said, the charming grin still on his good-looking face. Handing the girl a mop & bucket, he added, "You can clean up the attic!"

Eliza's face fell, & she appeared to be quite displeased at the order. "You want me to clean the attic?" she whined.

"It's getting frightfully dusty up there!" Basil said, leaving the room. "But look at it this way—you just may find some treasures during your work!"

Cleaning the attic was not Eliza's idea of fun. "There is no way I'm cleaning that disgusting place!"

"I can't believe I'm cleaning this disgusting place," Eliza grumbled a short time later, as she moved the moist mop across the wooden planked floors of the attic. Basil's attic was at the top of his home, just below Sherlock Holmes' bottom floor. It was completely dusty, & you could see little particles of dirt in the air in the sunlight that streamed through the single round window on the wall. Among the cobwebs & filth, ghostly white sheets covered the furniture & many other objects that were scattered about.

"It's not fair!" Eliza whined once more, throwing down her mop & slumping down in a sheet-covered armchair. "Why is it that we have to stay home, while everyone else is outside? Where I must be!" Immediately, an irritated Eliza grabbed a nearby tennis racquet & hurled it across the room, where it knocked over a huge crate that spilled books everywhere as it hit the floor.

Eliza's rage soon turned to interest, & quietly, the teenage diva made her way over to the books. Eliza was careful not to accidentally harm the fragile periodicals as she swept the dust off the covers & gazed at their gold-embossed titles: Crime & Punishment, De Profundis, The Origin Of Species, Essays & Axioms By Socrates Braveheart...

Great, Eliza thought to herself in mock interest. Just what I need—a bunch of books about stuff I don't even care about! But Eliza's opinion soon changed as she saw another book. This one was different from the others; it looked like a deep-fuchsia diary (it had a lock & key), but the title was contradictory to that of a journal: Fire & Ice.

Her curiosity now bubbling like a pot of stew, Eliza went back over to the chair, & sat down. Fumbling with the small key in the lock, Eliza struggled to open the book she had just found, until she finally managed to turn the small golden trinket. The book opened, & Eliza was awed beyond belief at what was inside...

The book was unlike any other she had seen before. Beautiful illustrations covered the pages, & words were few, for the pictures had been drawn in great detail, almost as if they were the story...Eliza carefully flipped through the book, marveling at each image that was inside.

When she got to the middle pages, Eliza found something most unusual. A dark-blue crystal had been pasted onto the second leaflet. The unusual thing about it was that it was heart-shaped, yet it had not been cut. Natural crystals didn't just come like this. Something about it had to be special.

Her curiosity rising once more, Eliza gingerly placed her paw on the crystal, then flinched back, almost as if it had been bitten by a snake. Eliza watched in awe as the crystal disappeared, & the pages opened to reveal a swirling, multicolored vortex, similar to that of a whirlpool.

Eliza was just about to investigate, but before she could do anything, she was surrounded by a gigantic ray of blinding pink light. Eliza felt herself being sucked into the vortex slowly, slowly...then she quickly saw flashes of rainbow waterfalls as she fell further into the whirlpool, before everything went black.

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