The Magical Cave XI: The Land of Knowledge

By now visiting the cave in the hills had become a regular Saturday activity. The children’s parents had been convinced as well that the children were spending time in the hills as part of the school’s nature club activities. It was good for the children however that they did not inquired more deeply into the activities of the nature club during the parents teachers association meetings for they would have discovered that though the nature club did exist, it’s activities were limited to strolls within the school lawns followed by boring lectures by the botany teacher.

That week the children were excited for they were going to be visiting a new land. But the excitement was mixed with anxiety for the children wanted to help Smelly who they had begun to consider as friend by now. They hoped they could find the necessary information in the land of knowledge and be able to use the knowledge to take their friend back to his home. The gnomes were ready by the time they reached and they wasted no time in setting out on their mission. Smelly accompanied them while Bracken was not with them.

As they stepped into the cloud, they were greeted by huge glass buildings towering over the landscape. As they entered one of the buildings, they found the view inside even more breathtaking than the outside. The place looked really plush with granite flooring and posh sofas to accommodate guests. There were Liquid Crystal Display screens all over the walls flashing all kinds of information. A smart looking woman in business suit sat at a desk in the middle of the room. Fierce looking guards stood on either side of her. The children slowly approached her. “We have come to seek some information

She lifted her nose in the air and addressed one of the guards, “Take them to one of the LCD machines and ask them to key in the details.” With that she turned away from them and began to look intently at the computer screen in front of her. The guard led them to one of the terminals and taught them how to enter the information. The screen has an user friendly interface which meant they could easily answer the questions that were being asked; however they were clueless why they were being asked so many questions and what they had to do with their business in hand. But they patiently answered question after question and finally the screen came out with a response. “Please deposit Twenty thousand credits and you shall receive the date and time of your appointment with our Information Officer.

The children looked at each other. They did not have much money. The boys had some 300-400 Rs. each. The girls had nothing. Off late the girls seemed to have developed a propensity for losing money. Later on discussion with the gnomes they had found out that it was the effect of the pay backs from the land of bargains. They would continue to lose their money till all their pay backs were cleared. The children looked at the gnomes. They looked equally clueless.

Then Doc spoke up, “This land eagerly gathers information from all the lands. Maybe we can trade some of the knowledge from our land for some credits.” They went up to the nearest terminal to figure if there was a possibility of submitting knowledge. The machine directed them to another building. With great difficulty they found their way to the mentioned building. Every building looked so like the others. Even the inside looked exactly the same. They were again prompted a barrage of questions and then given bar coded slips and directed to knowledge booths in yet another building.

Again they were back to building hunting. This land was getting to be too tiresome. It seemed liked they had spent 3-4 hours with hardly any progress. Finally they managed to get to the booths and submitted information about their world, the latest news in the world and their personal lives. It took them two hours before they were done and they were again directed to yet another building to collect the credits they had earned. They made their way to this building and finally they obtained the credits. They counted the credits – they had exactly twenty nine thousand and five hundred credits. They heaved a sigh of relief and went back to the first building.

They once again had to feed all the information. Finally they were back to the screen asking for money and this time they were asked for twenty three thousand. Seemed like time increased the value of information! Anyways they had no option but to cough up the dough. When they deposited the amount, the message propped up – “Your appointment with the Information officer is schedule in 288 hours from now at Building 14. Please be there on time.

288 Hours! That was twelve days! Surely the land would have moved off by then. No way could they wait till then. One of the other applicants saw their forlorn faces and came up to help. On hearing about their problem he replied, “Why don’t you try the express service option.” He helped them find the right option on the terminal and soon another message popped up, “Please submit ten million credits for an immediate appointment.

Grumpy got so furious that he gave the machine a violent kick. For once the others kind of empathized with his behavior. They too felt like smashing all those greedy blood sucking machines into pieces. No way could they find this kind of money. As they walked out with their heads hanging down, they heard a voice behind them. “Psst

A thin man with an unshaven face, a battered hat and a greasy old coat was peeking at them from behind a large truck. He motioned them to follow him. They did not like the idea of following this shady looking fellow. But they did not really feel like returning empty handed. They wanted to try every last resort and were curious to see what this strange man wanted with them. Even if his intent was malicious, they outnumbered him by a large number.

The Magical Cave I: A Cave in the Hills <<<< The Magical Cave X: An Serious Discussion <<   >> The Magical Cave XII: Omnius

The Magical Cave X: A Serious Discussion

Ramya was very fond of her grandparents and usually looked forward to their visit. But when they turned up that weekend, she was anything but excited. For it meant she was grounded that weekend. Navneeta also could not stir out of the house as her parents were very conservative and would not allow her to spend the day with the boys. So it was just the boys who went to visit the gnomes that week.

When they reached the borough, they were greeted by a smell of dampness and decay. A very old and tired looking dog sat in the corner looking at them mournfully out of its shaggy eye brows. For a moment they wondered where this new animal had come from. Then they realized – It was of course their old friend ‘Smelly’. That was the name they had given to the creature from the Land of Odors.  The general mood in the borough was that of gloom and doom.  Even Happy was no longer smiling nor Doc launching into one of his long drawn lectures.

So was Sleepy able to find out when the Land of Odors will be back here again?” asked Vinod hesitantly.

The general mood conveyed what the answer would be. “Yes. It will be here again in twenty five years.

That was too bad. What would they do now? Would Smelly have to stay with them for twenty five years? Vinod could not imagine Smelly living in their world for so many years. He was already so depressed. It would only get worse and he would transmit the mood to the gnomes as well. This was not at all good. They had to do something.

Isn’t there any other way to reach that land?” asked Vinod.

“Well, there are a few ways I can think of. But then there are challenges,” said Doc mournfully.

Anyways let us explore the options. What are the other ways?

Well, there is the Wishing Chair.

Wishing Chair?

Yes – it is a magical chair. If you sit on it and wish to be somewhere, it can take you there in a trice.

Where can we find this wishing chair?

We have no idea. It was last rumored to be in the possession of some children in Britain. But that was ages back. They chair would have left them the moment they grew up and stopped believing in magic.

Stopped believing in magic?” The boys looked puzzled.

Yes. In the earlier times, all the people of the earth were aware of us magical folks and the working of magical artifacts. So they abandoned all enterprise and began to depend entirely on magical artifacts.

The Elder race had nearly perished out of over dependence on magic and the dark race had turned evil due to their greed for use of more and more magic. So the remaining members of the Elder race decided to save you people from being corrupted by my magic. So they cast a subtle spell to hide the magic. But still there was a loophole. Children continued to be able to perceive the magic. It took some years before the spell worked on them.

But won’t the children who have perceived the magic in their childhood retain memories of the same?

That is a very good question! You are right. The Elder race thought of this as well. To remedy that they tinkered with your educational system and ensured that it is designed in such a way to make you forget your experiences.

But what about those who have not gone to school?” Once Vinod got his teeth into an issue, he would not leave any angle unexplored.

 Well – basically the educated people set the norms for the society. They call the memories of the others superstitions and scoff at them. So the illiterate people also try and forget these memories to avoid being called clods and oafs.

So what do we do about Smelly?” Ajay was finding all these theoretical discussions boring. He was the one who lived by the moment.

You are right, Ajay. We should think of something. So what are the other options?

A flying broom!

We do not have one of that at our disposal or any means of procuring one I believe.

We can buy one from the Land of Spells.

Would that land be coming soon?

We did not check. But it is definitely not the land that is currently here.

What is the Land that is there now?” asked Ajay, his curiosity aroused.

It is the Land of Knowledge.

Does not sound like a very useful land for our purpose, eh?

“It isn’t. However you might find it a very fascinating place, Vinod. You can get most of your questions answered there.

Yeah, that sounds interesting. But I guess we need to focus on the problem at hand. Is there any other way of reaching the Land of Odors?

Well – we have heard that this is not the only portal between our lands. This one is known as the portal of the earth. We have four more portals.

Where are those portals?

We have no idea about them. Ever since we came into your world, we have lived in these caves. We do not know any other place on your world?

You do not belong to our world?

No-we are from the land of gems. We came to your world to explore and got marooned here. It is more than seven decades and our land is yet to make its reappearance. We have long given up hopes of ever returning and have more or less established our lives here. Maybe Smelly can do the same thing.

The smell of dampness intensified and a strong feeling of sadness swept through the minds of Vinod and Ajay. Bashful and Dopey broke out into tears. Grumpy spoke up, “No. That won’t do. His world is too different from ours. He would not be able to manage. Also we were seven of us. There aren’t any others of his kind in this world. To remain in this world would be a cruel fate for him.

Then Vinod spoke up, “You said we can find any information we seek in the Land of Knowledge?


Maybe we can find out from there where the other portals are.

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces