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Questguild

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A rare, comfortable silence had nestled upon the mansion in wake of the absence of billionaire Scrooge McDuck and lively Della Duck, who had dragged Donald along with them. Della had been back for quite some time, yet the original trio hadn’t taken the opportunity to go on a classic adventure.     

When this tragedy had been revealed, Louie could not allow such a blatant misfortune to progress. With his excessive encouragement, Della and Scrooge conceded that adventuring was needed, and Donald was left with no choice but to follow. This left Louie in a quiet, peaceful mansion, where he could not be dragged into a dangerous quest tempted by riches, only to find that touching the gold would result in his near death. Nope! Not today.

Instead, Louie could stay curled up in his bed savoring the first sip of every Pep, mindlessly scrolling through his phone. No fleeing in panic or curses for him today. And the absolute cherry on top: his mom promised to bring a souvenir for each of her sons-which meant treasure for Louie at the price of nothing. 

Above him was the gentle flips of book pages and the occasional hum of interest. Huey was in his top bunk, deeply immersed in whichever nerd book he had plucked from the mansion’s library today.

All was at peace.

“Psh,” A voice whispered. 

Louie glanced up from his screen in confusion. Upon slowly surveying the room and seeing nothing, he shrugged and turned his attention back to the phone.

Psh ,” The voice called again, louder and insistent.

Grunting in annoyance, Louie harshly whipped his head up and let out a startled gasp, rolling back on his bed. Dewey stood inches away from Louie’s face, biting back a smile as his eyes glimmered with excitement.

“Dude, what the heck?” Louie complained, pushing himself back up into a sitting position. Huey quietly observed the two brothers from his top bunk, setting down his book.

“Guys, you will never guess what I found!” Dewey announced as he eagerly bounced up and down.

Louie nodded in acceptance. “I guess not. Good talk. Okay bye!”

“What did you find?” Huey asked, leaning over the end of the bed. His eyes were brightened at the prospect of discovery.

Dewey rubbed his hands together with theatrical flair. “I’m glad you asked, dear Hubert. Unfortunately, this is something you’ll have to see with your own eyes.”

Louie looked up exasperatedly at Huey, who was still dangling at the end of his bed. He raised a brow at Huey, who gave a shrug in return and pulled himself up from the edge. Dewey punched the air in victory as Huey climbed down the wooden ladder and joined his brother on the floor. 

“Come on!” Dewey exclaimed, rushing out of the triplet’s room with Huey following closely behind. Louie gave an exaggerated groan, pocketing his phone and dragging himself out of bed.

“I’ll be back for you soon.” Louie promised, stroking his mattress. He rushed after his brothers, joining Huey in trailing behind Dewey’s lead. 

The triplets walked through the twisting halls of the mansion, their footsteps softly echoing throughout the empty halls. Paintings of Scrooge’s many accomplishments and adventures looked down upon them. Statues and artifacts laid scattered across the passageways, each with a story of a harrowing journey locked within them.

Through the windows, sunlight softly lit the corridors with a gentle glow. Armorey and antiquities glittered in the light. Louie had wondered how much these relics were worth and if Scrooge would notice if one or two were missing. However, the more he walked, the more unfamiliar the keepsakes became.

Dewey made an abrupt spot in front of a vent and got down on his knees. He began to undo the screws that were clearly previously loosened.

“What were you doing in a vent?” Huey questioned as Dewey removed the metal gate.

    “Going off the beaten path.” Dewey said, turning on his phone’s flashlight and crawling into the vent. Under his breath, he mumbled, “And Webby is out training with Ms.Beakley today.” 

Huey and Louie exchanged mildly concerned glances before Huey got on his knees and followed suit, leaving Louie standing outside.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Louie grumbled. He crouched down on his knees and uncomfortably shuffled through the vent, following his brothers.

Louie was grateful for the soft protection of his hoodie. The vent was a tight squeeze and the frigid metal bit his knees. Dewey was in the lead with his phone light, but Huey’s body blocked Louie from seeing the irradiated light. In the darkness of the vent, sudden dents in the duct caused him to fumble and graze his legs on the metal.

Despite the metal feeling steady beneath his knees and hands, Louie felt uneasy as he crawled. The vent emitted a strained, metallic groan every so often under the weight of the three brothers. Dust stirred and flew around the tight space, drying his eyes whenever he placed down a hand or knee. 

“This vent must have been here since the mansion was built. Look at all this dust and rust.” Huey commented, shifting behind Dewey. He refused to crawl with his hands and instead used his elbows to pull himself along. 

Louie pulled a face and paused to uncomfortably rub his hands on his hoodie. He blinked away dust particles, looking down to fruitlessly attempt them to stop getting in his eyes.   

“Stop!” Dewey commanded, raising an arm to signal their halt. 

Peeking around Huey, Louie saw thin lines of light coming from another small metal gate. Dewey belted an exaggerated battle cry and kicked the gate open. However, due to the tight space, his leg was bent at an unusual angle and carried no momentum. The gate sluggishly leaned backwards and unceremoniously clattered on the ground of the adjoined room. Huey and Louie snickered at one another as Dewey stared unabashedly. 

“I’m glad you left the screws out or you would have been kicking that gate for days.” Huey said, shoving Dewey through the gate before he could remark.

The gate was an even tighter fit than the vent, but Huey was able to squeeze through while being pulled on the other side by Dewey. Once Huey had exited, Louie grabbed Dewey’s arm and jostled himself out of the vent.

“Finally!” Louie cried, reaching high and stretching his body. His bones ached from being stuffed in the compact duct and popped under the abrupt tension release. The sudden light was blinding and Louie squeezed his eyes shut as white dots temporarily danced on his eyelids. 

When Louie reopened his eyes, his vision focused on the room. It was exceedingly large, even for the mansion. The ceiling rose at least twenty feet and had a clean line running vertically down the middle. The walls stretched far in every direction. 

The oddest part of the room was its inaccessibility. There were no doors or windows. The only entry and exitway had been the vent door, and the boys had only scarcely made it through. No adult would be able to enter the room. 

Huey vocalized Louie’s concerns as he pointed out, “The only way in seems to be the vent. Why would Uncle Scrooge have a room in his own mansion that he wouldn’t be able to get to?”

“I have a better question,” Louie said. “Why did Dewey drag us to a room full of junk?”

 The room was crowded with arbitrary appliances and gadgets. Piled against the walls machines, artifacts, and sealed bags spilled from their muddled heaps. Huey walked around in curiosity while Louie lazily took sight of the disorder. Dewey stood proudly in the middle of the room, hands on his hips as he looked at his brothers expectantly. 

“What is all this?” Huey pressed eagerly, jumping from one gizmo to the next. He ran his fingers along a golden machine leaning against scraps of metal and broken statues. The machine was a wacky shape with silver knobs and buttons jutting from its panel, outlined with dark jewel shards. Huey’s attention was captured only for seconds before he ran to the next abandoned invention-an expansive blue tube with cloudy liquid bubbling inside. 

“Probably a bunch of old junk that never worked,” Louie shrugged, opening up a gleaming box discarded on the floor. Inside laid a handful of various coins, gems, and miscellaneous-yet-shiny items. “Or treasure Scrooge found that he had to keep hidden,” Louie quietly cheered.

“Yeah, that’s cool and all,” Dewey dismissed. “But, wait until you see this.” 

Dewey led his brothers to the right side of the room. In the center stood a colossal apparatus covered in tapestry the color of hospital gowns. Louie couldn’t make out much from underneath the baggy covering, but it was boxy and stood up high. 

“Gentleman, what is it that you have wanted from basically the day we hatched?” Dewey asked melodramatically, fervently meeting the gaze of Huey and Louie. 

“Endless knowledge!” Huey proclaimed.

“Gold!” Louie exclaimed simultaneously. 

“What?” Dewey stammered. “No-well, yes-but not the answer we’re looking for. Actually, it’s more like what I want, but nevermind. You’ll love it.”

Louie and Huey stared lamely at their brother, unconvinced. Dewey heartily continued, unfazed. “It’s a mystery! And I present to you to the most mysterious mystery of all.”

Enthusiastically ripping off the tapestry, Dewey shook jazz hands at the uncovered machine. “Questguild!”

Before the three siblings sat a bulky, indigo contraption that resembled a retro arcade machine. Jutting out from the bottom of the machine and rising up was a bench with a cushioned backstand. In red, pixelated letters, the word “QUESTGUILD” was scribbled on top of the machine in capital letters. 

“Woah!” Huey said, approaching the large machine. “What is this?”

“I don’t know!” Dewey exclaimed excitedly. “But I did find something that might help us figure it out.” 

Tucked in the corner of the machine’s connected bench was a wrinkled, azure paper folded into a small square. Dewey reached for the paper and gingerly unfurled it, holding it out for his brothers. 

The shape of the paper mirrored its brutal treatment of the years. Its edges were ripped and the unsaturated material was wrinkled beyond help. An unknown substance stained the sheet with faded glops. Louie pulled a face, slightly recoiling. 

Huey, however, furrowed his brows and leaned forward, analyzing the discolored paper. “Is this its blueprint?”

“Yerp,” Dewey confirmed. “I snuck into the library when Quackfaster left to the bathroom. Which was, by the way, impossible. I was starting to think that woman was a robot!”

A three-quarters view and back view of the machine was scratched on the paper in white, its dimensions narrowly scribbled on the corresponding side. 

The blueprint portrayed a boxy machine with a dark monitor nestled in the inside. Under the monitor stuck out a sleek panel, which could be reached by sitting in the long seat connected to the machine. Three spread out hooks were attached to the end of the panel, but they were bare. Most of the panel was taken up by a large button centered in the middle. Though faded, the similarity between the machine on the blueprint and real machine labelled “QUESTGUILD” was impossible to ignore. 

“This is definitely the blueprint for the machine.” Huey affirmed.

“Yeah, but what does it say?” Louie questioned, leaning over Huey’s shoulder to get a better look. “It’s all faded and smeared. Not to mention almost illegible!”

Huey frowned. “Well, we could increase the contrast by putting it inside a yellow sheet protector and photocopying it.”

Louie raised an eyebrow at his brother. “It’s time to update your harddrive. We could just use Photoshop.”

Dewey sniggered as Louie took his phone out of his pocket, pressing the home button to turn it on. His reflection stared back at him on the black, empty screen. Louie mumbled in confusion, holding down the power button in expectancy, but the screen refused to light up.

“My phone isn’t turning on.” Louie announced, panic creeping up his throat and lacing his words.

“Are you sure it was charged?” Huey checked. “You were on it all morning.”

Louie thought back to when he was swiping on his phone in his bed mere minutes ago. Was it charged? He was fairly sure he had battery left, but couldn’t be sure. An uneasy feeling blossomed in Louie’s chest. He pocketed the phone in his hoodie, continuing to push the power button in a futile attempt to awaken the device. 

With nothing to assist him, Huey squinted at the blueprint, trying to make sense of the smudged scribbles. He pointed to the corner top of the blue sheet, where the lettering was the largest. 

“The title says Duckburg Patent.” Huey recognized.

“Maybe it’s one of Gyro’s failed inventions.” Dewey mused, then gasped. “Oh man, what if all of this junk is just Gyro’s failed stuff.”

“Don’t say that! They might all turn evil and come to life to destroy us.” Louie warned. 

“His inventions are just wildly misunderstood!” Huey defended. Dewey and Louie snickered in nonverbal disbelief. Huey rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to the blueprint with an analytical eye. Silence filled the room as Huey brought the paper inches to his face, and for a disgusted second Louie braced himself for Huey to lick the sheet to examine the ink. It would not be the first time.

But then, Huey’s eyes lit up. Louie relaxed and leaned back as Huey lowered the paper.

“Okay, the writing is almost indecipherable and this blueprint is practically falling apart. But, I think I got it.” Huey said, holding up the blueprint for his brothers to see. “Under where it says Duckburg Patent, it says video game patent. And under that-”

“Whoa, this thing is a video game?” Dewey interrupted in glee. “And they designed a cushioned, comfortable seat to sit in while you play? So cool!”

“That’s not all.” Huey gestured lower below to a label that said Appl No.: 001. “I think this was the first machine of its kind.”

At the angle Huey was holding the sheet, Louie noticed something peculiar on the back of the blueprint. Stark red writing contrasted against the faded blue sheet.

“I think it might have been the only machine of its kind,” Louie said. He turned over the blueprint in his brother’s hands. Stamped and bordered in red, dried out ink were the words ‘Abandoned’ in blocky, capital letters.

“How is that possible?” Huey questioned. “You can’t file a patent if it’s abandoned.”

“Whoever thought of this machine knew it was too cool to give up on.” Dewey decided, taking a seat on the cushioned bench connected to the video game. “Speaking of which, does it say who invented it?”

Huey frustratedly took a seat next to Dewey. “I think it says who the inventor and assignee is, but it’s all scribbles. It doesn’t even look like a language!”

    It was a tight squeeze, but Louie situated himself next to his brothers. Huey took off his hat to access the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook and placed it on his lap. Huey gingerly folded up the blueprint and flipped to a page in the JWG that began with the word “quest.” He placed the folded blueprint on the page and reclosed the book.

    “Quest for Questguild.” Huey explained as he resituated his cap. “I’m going to see if I can find anything else out about it later.” 

“But first, let’s play this bad boy!” Dewey declared, then paused. “We are going to play it, “Play a video game that’s the only one of its kind to learn about its function and secrets? Maybe even enough to find its inventor and revive the patent? Uh, of course!” Huey gushed.

Dewey punched the air in excitement. “Yes! You in, Louie?”

The answer didn’t take much thought. His phone was dead and Louie couldn’t say he was anxious to squirm through a freezing vent again so soon. Spending the afternoon playing an one of its kind video game wasn’t the worst way to spend his day off. 

I’m in.”

Dewey’s hands hovered above the control panel. “Okay, so how do we do it on? Do we just…” He trailed off as he scanned the panel. The board was smooth and empty except for the large, red button in the middle. Hesitantly, he pushed the button.

Welcome to Questguild!” A robotic voice enthusiastically greeted. The screen in front of them flashed white and the narrator’s words were mirrored on the display. The word ‘Questguild’ blinked in capital letters.

Huey’s eyes widened. “It turned on!” Despite Huey’s previous excitement to play the game, he looked shocked that the machine had any power left in it. 

To his credit, Louie was just as surprised. The machine was abandoned for who knows how long, and if the patent was anything to go by, Louie wasn’t sure that it would have worked even if it was brand new. 

“Please put on your bracelets,” the mechanical voice directed. “Please put on your bracelets.”

Louie glanced down and recognized a difference between the blueprint and the physical machine. In the drawing the three hooks at the edge of the control panel stood empty. But now, a black woven bracelet dangled from each hook. 

They glanced at each other before removing the bracelets from their hooks. The robotic voice continued to repeat its instructions. The bracelet was small, forcing Louie to ball up his fist and uncomfortably wiggle it down. Once Louie got it on, it rested firmly on his wrist.

“Alright, bracelets are on!” Dewey announced. The machine registered that each player’s bracelet was secure to his wrist and the narrator momentarily quieted.

“Press the red button to start!” The voice chirped. A downward arrow flashed on screen.

Dewey grinned widely and eagerly placed his hand on the large button. “Alright, let’s get this started!”

Smiling, Louie rested his hand alongside his brother’s. “Let’s do this.”

“On my count,” Huey established. He placed his hand in the middle of the button in between Louie and Dewey’s hands. 

Their fingers grazed one another as Huey began counting down from three. The black bracelets aligned with one another, a stark contrast against their white hands. A mild tingling sensation stemmed from Louie’s wrist and climbed up his arm.

Huey reached one, and the triplets pressed down the button. The screen slowly began to flash violently, causing dots to dance before Louie’s eyes. The prickling sensation on his wrist intensified into biting pins and needles.

He felt the piercing stabs crawl up his arm and down his chest. It was quickly spreading. The screen’s luminous flickering grew quicker and brighter. The prickling irritation crawled down his legs and settled in his feet. Louie’s wrist was burning.

Then, as quickly as it began, the feeling evaporated from under Louie’s skin. His wrist cooled as the violent flashing ceased. Louie couldn’t tell if the dots were fading or growing. But, as soon as it ended, the world went black.