The Hunt for Ruber’s Mother: Dr. Zauberer’s Castle

We travel, but not outside of time. To travel outside of time wouldn’t be to travel at all.

~ V. Shnodgrate


Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 1.17.01 PM

There’s many ways to travel.

That’s a fact, see.

But only a very few ways to travel to Dr. Zauberer’s castle.

For instance, you could take a balloon (one of the big ones you can ride in) but then you wouldn’t be able to land in the woods where his castle is located.

This is how it must be done: One must travel to Austria (you can take anything to do that), then one has to hike to the castle.

It’s a four-hour jaunt.

It’s not fun.

It shouldn’t be done.

So, the professor and Lucy found themselves at the foot of a mountain and at the edge of some black woods.

“His castle is somewhere up and in,” I said. “I think, personally, that Sandra is just messing with us overall. She probably didn’t want to do this, see.”

“As fond as I am of Sandra,” Lucy replies “She is not best known for her adventuring. It upsets her sensibilities, apparently. It looks like we might be on our own with this one. Pah.”

I nodded. What dadblamery!

And I was just about ready to put the first foot forward, and start the hike in and up when—the sudden—we were joined by none other than Mr. Ratherquite and the Ladies.

Oh, dear.

“Why, P.VJ!” Mr. Ratherquite said. “How good to see you! And…who is this lady!”

Mr. Ratherquite’s two ladies started giggling.

I looked at Lucy. “Well… this…this is…”

“I am Lucy, friend of a friend of the Professor and an investigator, of sorts. I am not so much of a lady, you know.”

Lucy offered her hand by way of greeting, but it was ignored.

One of Mr. Ratherquite’s Ladies—she had blonde hair—said: “What are you doing here, P.VJ? Are you going to Dr. Zauberer’s party, too?”

“Yes,” I answered. “How did you know?”

Of course, I didn’t know there was a party.

She shrugged and laughed.

“Goodness, that laugh could melt butter!” Lucy said under her breath.

“But I’m curious about something,” this professor said. “Certainly, Mr. Ratherquite, you don’t intend to take the four-hour hike to Dr. Zauberer’s castle, do you?”

“Don’t you think we could make it?” the red-haired lady asked, maybe a bit insulted.

“Not in those shoes, I’ll wager,” replied Lucy, eyeing her dainty footwear with a degree of envy.

Mr. Ratherquite laughed and grabbed Lucy’s hand.

Oh dear. This was not good, see.

“You’re very lovely, dear,” he said.

“Not only am I not a ‘dear’,” Lucy huffed, her temper straining at the seams, “but I am also, as you may yet discover, not especially lovely.”

“Ah, I’ll be the one to pass judgement on that, my dear,” Mr. Ratherquite continued, squeezing her hand more forcefully than was wise.

Lucy pulled her hand away sharply and shoved it in her pocket.

“I say that your ladies should keep you on a tighter leash,” she sniffed.

“Woof, woof!” Mr. Ratherquite replied, rather enthusiastically.

The ladies both seemed jealous the sudden.

“Woof, woof?! What does that mean?” this professor asked.

“So, anyway,” Mr. Ratherquite said. “We plan not to walk, P.VJ. However, since we were invited, a carriage will be coming to pick us up.”

Then, just like magic, I heard the sound of hooves.

A carriage was coming, but it was only drawn by one horse. This would be a struggle for the poor beast.

This professor looked at Lucy. “Let’s try to catch a ride on the carriage, don’t you suppose?”

“That’s good thinking, professor,” Lucy replied. “They may very well have tea and cake aboard.”

The carriage pulled up and stopped, and an ugly fellow jumped down. (You know, they ride on the top, usually. Too ugly to be inside.)

“What’s this?!” he cried. “I was told I was only picking up three people! Let me see your invitations.”

And he roughly grabbed Mr. Ratherquite’s, and his Ladies, invitations.

Then he turned to Lucy and me.

“Yours?!” he questioned.

“You know what,” I answered, thinking fast, “I left my on the train.”

“I think I left mine on the… boat,” Lucy said, not thinking quite so fast as the professor.

The coachman crossed his arms. “I can’t take you, then.”

“But if you don’t, my legs might fall off,” I answered.

“And I care because why?” he asked.

“Because we shall take your legs in their place!” Lucy exclaimed. “And then where will you be with your smart remarks? Hmm!”

But the coachman wouldn’t have none of it. He took off without us.

And we trekked the four hours to the castle.

“We’ll get revenge,” I told Lucy. “We’ll find him once we get there!”

“Too right,” she agreed. “But best make sure those legs are screwed on tight. They look a little wobbly to me.”

So, my legs didn’t fall off, but I can’t be sure: I couldn’t feel them when we reached the castle.

Story written by Professor VJ Duke & Lucy Brazier

Copyright: Where the stars are


100 Responses to “The Hunt for Ruber’s Mother: Dr. Zauberer’s Castle”

  1. 1 bardictale April 29, 2015 at 15:05

    What about jumping out of the balloon? I’ve heard it’s quite the ride. Though I dare say, if you had to walk, at least you don’t feel those poor legs of yours, for then they can’ hurt, no?

    • 2 Professor VJ Duke April 29, 2015 at 19:33

      That’s a good point. But…will I ever feel them again? I’d jump out of the balloon…but you’d have to jump with me!

      • 3 bardictale April 29, 2015 at 20:09

        You should ask them, sir. I assume that they’d know better than either of us.
        But of course! Jumping out of balloons is great fun- I’ll bring a pot of tea and all shall be perfect.
        Just remember to bring a very big sheet^~

      • 4 Professor VJ Duke April 30, 2015 at 12:53

        I’ll have to ask them.

        Fine then! We’ll take the balloon up to 20,000 feet, then jump!

      • 5 bardictale April 30, 2015 at 21:01


      • 6 Professor VJ Duke May 1, 2015 at 18:05

        *gulps* You like that?

      • 7 bardictale May 2, 2015 at 20:37

        Why, of course! Flying is a rather awesome past time, don’t you think?

      • 8 Professor VJ Duke May 3, 2015 at 18:38

        I would think so. But…I’d be scared.

      • 9 bardictale May 3, 2015 at 22:25

        You wouldn’t have time for it, my dear sir. The hight you suggested for the jump gives you about a minute in the air, and you’ll be spending that time admiring the view.

      • 10 Professor VJ Duke May 4, 2015 at 19:56

        Humph-noodles. Now I want to go for a swim, the sudden.

      • 11 bardictale May 4, 2015 at 20:01

        Beware of the snuggleboats. It’s their time of year.

      • 12 Professor VJ Duke May 4, 2015 at 20:05

        What are they?

      • 13 bardictale May 5, 2015 at 07:26

        Vicious things. *shudder*

      • 14 Professor VJ Duke May 5, 2015 at 19:43

        Do they bite?

      • 15 bardictale May 6, 2015 at 16:06

        They have no teeth.
        Imagine being buried under a pile of tribbles, while being hugged by a bear.

      • 16 Professor VJ Duke May 7, 2015 at 18:54

        Goodness. Sounds awful. I think you should kill them all.

      • 17 bardictale May 7, 2015 at 18:58

        That…is rather extreme

      • 18 Professor VJ Duke May 7, 2015 at 19:01

        But…aren’t they bad?

      • 19 bardictale May 7, 2015 at 19:04

        Only if you are caught in the middle of them. Leave them alone and they won’t hurt you.

      • 20 Professor VJ Duke May 10, 2015 at 18:53

        IF you’re sure.

      • 21 bardictale May 11, 2015 at 09:32

        I am!

  2. 22 Nancy Loderick April 28, 2015 at 21:30

    Hey Professor,

    Austria sounds quite exotic. When I first read this post, I read it quickly and thought you went to Australia. I was puzzled since I didn’t think Australia had mountains or castles. I went back and read your post more carefully and saw that it was Austria.

    That will teach me not to speed read!


    • 23 Professor VJ Duke April 29, 2015 at 19:23

      Oh, that’s an easy mistake to make. The names are close…but are you sure Australia doesn’t have a mountain? I’ve always wanted to clumb one in Aus.

  3. 24 Susan P April 23, 2015 at 23:49

    I am convinced that he has been kidnapped and carried off to Zanzibar.

    • 25 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:18

      *Laughing lots* Do you suppose it was the wrong coach?

      • 26 Susan P April 24, 2015 at 21:41

        More likely the wrong mountain.

      • 27 Professor VJ Duke April 26, 2015 at 20:22

        *nods* What a fabulous idea. You’re very creative. Which reminds me…we still need to do a story!

      • 28 Susan P April 26, 2015 at 22:04

        I wasn’t worried about it. I know you and Lucy are burning the midnight hour on that amusing bit you are doing, so when you have a chance to breathe I’ll rev up the silly soup!

      • 29 Professor VJ Duke April 28, 2015 at 20:36

        Well, it’s not taking that much time. I’m actually just practicing lots and lots and lots of guitar. So, any time you want to go ahead, just let me know.

      • 30 Susan P April 28, 2015 at 21:50

        Okay, I will. *wishes she could hear the guitar playing*

      • 31 Susan P April 28, 2015 at 23:16

        Ah, yes, the competition. I hope there will be videos or at least, you know, some recorded memories of the competition in musical sort of you know.

      • 32 Professor VJ Duke April 29, 2015 at 19:25

        Yes, that dadblamed thing! But…yes. We’ll be filming two vids on campus. How’s that overall? Plus some pics if you’re interested.

      • 33 Susan P April 29, 2015 at 22:08

        All of the above, please. And pretty please if that is better.

      • 34 Professor VJ Duke April 30, 2015 at 12:59

        Absolutely. How psyched am I that you’re actually interested?!

  4. 35 walt walker April 23, 2015 at 00:06

    I can’t decide how wise Shnodgrate’s comment is or isn’t because it is making my head spin. I’ve always wanted to travel through time though.

    Also, as an appendage, the leg is underrated, I’d say.

    • 36 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:17

      Yes, me too. Where would you go? I think I’d be a knight. Or an Egyptian. Or a Roman Emperor.

      I think you’re right. It holds up the belly after all.

      • 37 walt walker April 24, 2015 at 16:36

        Well, you must have a pretty fancy time machine if you can not only choose your epoch but also tell it you want to be an Emperor. Where can I get one of those? Can it teach you Latin, too?

        The leg also moves to belly to where the food is when it’s hungry.

      • 38 Professor VJ Duke April 26, 2015 at 20:15

        Nah, it can’t impart knowledge. See, you can go to Rome…but you can’t speak like the Romans. I’ll sell you mind for the boomerang.

        *laughing* Now that is a point.

      • 39 walt walker April 26, 2015 at 21:11


      • 40 Professor VJ Duke April 28, 2015 at 20:34

        Sweet! The boomerang…can’t believe it…what a moment.

  5. 41 Audrey Dawn - Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister April 22, 2015 at 21:47

    Shnoddy isn’t playing fair today. What’s your take on his proverb, Duke? Oh, and you shouldn’t be so wimpy. Land the hot air balloon in the forest. Geez. Slide’er in and back her up if you need to adjust. Prove them wrong next time you’re in Austria. Mr. R is such a lady’s man. I’m sure Lucy will be okay as long as she holds your arm at the party. And you can then woof woof Mr. R right back. Strange mating call, I think. Have fun at the party!

    • 42 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:13

      Well…it’s a complicated one. But think on it like this: You can’t go anywhere without time. Remember the equation for distance is this… D=R*T. So…without time…you see a bit?

      *Laughing lots and lots* Okay, I love your approach there. About getting that dadblamed balloon right in there. That’s the job I’d give you, see. And I’d laugh while you wrecked. Mr. R is weird, isn’t he?

      • 43 Audrey Dawn - Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister April 24, 2015 at 21:35

        Okay. Right. So we need time, I think. Tis the only way to get somewhere. Why are we suddenly in math class and how did I get you as my tutor? *seems distracted* I see that you have hazel eyes, Duke.

        *looks important and slouches bitly* I could do it just fine thank you very much!! I’d laugh too and hand over your insurance information to the coppers. He’s weird, but somehow he got himself a redhead and that’s hard to do, so he must do something right! *laughs*

      • 44 Professor VJ Duke April 26, 2015 at 20:20

        *laughing* My eyes? You’re not paying attention, Audith! *wonders about Audith when she was in school* I fear I did get a bit complicated…but you asked!

        My insurance? Nah…we’d run the coppers over! Remember, we’d be in a big balloon. That’s true. Redheads are feisty, huh?

      • 45 Audrey Dawn - Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister April 27, 2015 at 02:23

        *giggle* I can’t help it, Duketh. Start again… *waits* I was a class clown and carried a high GPA with very little effort. *reminds him I recently spoke about school* You did and I’m choosing to try a little harder to understand. *focuses harder*

        Yes, your insurance. Your balloon. ..We? I’m not running them over. *hands you the reins* Yes, redheads are. You know that already.

      • 46 Professor VJ Duke April 28, 2015 at 20:39

        *laughs* I know most of that. But still…just cause you’re smart and it came easy…no fooling around! This professor never fooled around. What a horrid lie, huh?

        I don’t have insurance for it. Maybe Mr. Warrior will get some. *runs them over* I didn’t seem them the sudden.

      • 47 Audrey Dawn - Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister April 29, 2015 at 01:50

        You’re so strict. *strums her fingers, looks at you and draws your face on the desk* Never fooled around…well, it might have been harder for you to accomplish, but I bet you still did! Not for a liar…

        I wouldn’t approve of such a purchase. Plus he isn’t old enough. *laughs* Run!

      • 48 Professor VJ Duke April 29, 2015 at 19:27

        Here’s a guitar. You can strum on that. Well…maybe I cause trouble. But it was your fault overall. I’m not a lier! Never lied as far as I can see.

        Well, I’d buy it for him. Which would make it mine. What a wonder.

      • 49 Audrey Dawn - Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister April 29, 2015 at 21:54

        Thank you. Maybe you do, for sure. *smiles* My fault?! Whatever. Yes, of course.

        All solved then, it seems. I love how that worked itself out.

      • 50 Professor VJ Duke April 30, 2015 at 12:56

        Humph noodles!

        It did seem to sort itself. A wonder, I say.

      • 51 Audrey Dawn - Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister April 30, 2015 at 19:41

        Your fault, for sure.

      • 52 Professor VJ Duke May 1, 2015 at 18:05

        And a bit yours.

      • 53 Audrey Dawn - Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister May 1, 2015 at 20:37


      • 54 Professor VJ Duke May 3, 2015 at 18:35

        *laughs triumphantly*

  6. 55 Lady Dunamis April 22, 2015 at 21:35

    I think Lucy will give Mr. R’s three little piglets a run for their money. She is quite a contender.

    • 56 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:12

      She definitely is. I thought you might be proud of her.

  7. 57 Simply Skeptical April 22, 2015 at 17:04

    Well this is getting exciting and you Prof. & Lucy are determined. The hard part should be behind you (somehow I don’t think so though). Hurry with the next installment. The list for getting even is growing. (snickers)

    • 58 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:11

      It’s an adventure, truly, madam. And interesting one, too. Well…up to the top. And then…blow things up!

  8. 59 desertdweller29 April 22, 2015 at 15:52

    Good to see Lucy putting Mr. R in his place… Go Lucy! If someone called me lovely or dear, I’m afraid I’d have to slug them. But that may be because I like a little mischief… Which I suppose is why I belong in PL!

    • 60 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:09

      *laughs* You’d slug them? Now, that’s a step past a slap. Very proud of you the sudden, you know. But I won’t pay you compliments, see, DD.

  9. 61 Debbie April 22, 2015 at 14:41

    Oh, dear me. It looks like Mr. R. might have had the idea of making Lucy the last addition to his TRIO of ladies! Too bad she didn’t slap him silly, especially since he didn’t vouch for y’all’s right to ride the carriage! A four-hour trek up steep slopes couldn’t put you in a party frame of mind, you know!

    • 62 Professor VJ Duke April 22, 2015 at 14:53

      I know! But it’s cool. See, I’ll arrive all vicious and mean…the party goers will be perfectly scared by me. What’s up with MR. R? I mean, he could’ve asked the coachman to please take us, right? I fear I need to have some revenge now.

      • 63 Debbie April 22, 2015 at 15:35

        Professor, you’re assuming the party will still be going on when you arrive, aren’t you?? Some parties don’t last all that long, you know, and by the time you and Lucy sweat your way up those peaks, you’ll probably need a change of clothes. At least!

        Yes, it would have been nice of Mr. R. to invite you two along on the carriage ride. But that’s not exactly his way, is it? Perhaps you’re just lucky he didn’t drop off the more annoying of his Ladies with you and steal Lucy off to the party!!

      • 64 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:09

        Nah! I won’t worry about changing clothes. I mean, I plan to disrupt this party, see. Mess it up a bit. I think that’s what you’d like me to do. Good point about the time, though…imagine if it’s over!

        *laughs* True! Imagine that hike. I’m sure either of his ladies couldn’t make that hike!

  10. 65 L. Marie April 22, 2015 at 14:02

    Manothunder! Mr. Ratherquite was quite forward! He probably needed his face slapped. Lucy showed remarkable restraint. I hope when the two of you arrive at the part, you’ll see that Mr. Ratherquite gets what’s coming to him. And the ladies should at least pour a cup of punch over his head. Just because.

    • 66 Professor VJ Duke April 22, 2015 at 14:52

      I think you’re right. I was close to hitting him, see. Do you suppose I should have? I mean, he deserved it, the beast!

      • 67 L. Marie April 23, 2015 at 12:59

        You’re a warrior. Warriors act in war-like situations. Mr. Ratherquite’s actions were a declaration of war. Therefore . . .

      • 68 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:18

        Therefore knock him down–twice!

  11. 69 Susan P April 22, 2015 at 12:54

    It looks like Lucy and the PVJ (which also puts me in mind of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) though I can’t imagine why it does. But I digress. What will the Dynamic Duo do next?

    • 70 Professor VJ Duke April 22, 2015 at 14:52

      *mouth drops* Polyvinyl chloride! Is it dangerous? Maybe that’s why you compare us. Hey, maybe it’s an acid!

      • 71 Susan P April 22, 2015 at 14:58

        It is, as I feel you know, used to make pipes. It might be dangerous if you ingest it.

      • 72 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:04

        Well, I won’t do that. Mostly, that is. What could happen?

      • 73 Susan P April 24, 2015 at 21:38

        You might need to have an operation to get it out.

      • 74 Professor VJ Duke April 26, 2015 at 20:21

        You can’t digest it?

      • 75 Susan P April 26, 2015 at 22:07

        You might melt it, but I can’t speak for the outcome.

      • 76 Professor VJ Duke April 28, 2015 at 20:36

        It just sounds so dangerous overall, we should just not have anything to do with the matter.

      • 77 Susan P April 28, 2015 at 23:11

        That sounds like a good idea. Who knows where it would end?

      • 78 Professor VJ Duke April 29, 2015 at 19:25

        Probably with Pennywise.

      • 79 Susan P April 29, 2015 at 22:12

        Not a good idea. No, really not a good idea. People who hang around him have a bad habit of disappearing.

      • 80 Professor VJ Duke April 30, 2015 at 13:00

        Does he have sharp teeth?

      • 81 Susan P April 30, 2015 at 13:27

        He has an enormous spidery sort of thing.

      • 82 Professor VJ Duke May 1, 2015 at 17:51

        We should cut his ears off.

      • 83 Susan P May 1, 2015 at 23:08

        We should stay far, far away from him.

      • 84 Professor VJ Duke May 3, 2015 at 18:37

        Oh come on! We can take him.

      • 85 Susan P May 3, 2015 at 19:02

        You go first. If you survive, I will think about it.

      • 86 Professor VJ Duke May 4, 2015 at 19:50

        There is strength in numbers!

  12. 87 Alastair Savage April 22, 2015 at 12:22

    You have to be careful about hiking in Austria. It’s all uphill. At least you can pop into to Liechtenstein to buy stamps on the way back.

    • 88 Professor VJ Duke April 22, 2015 at 14:51

      Have you been there, Mr. Savage? And…are there bears in the woods?

      • 89 Alastair Savage April 22, 2015 at 15:13

        I used to live on the Swiss-Austrian border actually in one of my many past lives. I never saw any bears but I believe Romania has lots of them if you’re into ursines!

      • 90 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:08

        I sure am into ursines! What sort of bears? Brown?

      • 91 Alastair Savage April 24, 2015 at 18:03

        That’s right, ursus arctos, the brown bear. You can read all about it in Monster of God by David Quammen, where he goes in search of man eating animals all over the world, and finds them fishing through the bins:

      • 92 Professor VJ Duke April 26, 2015 at 20:17

        Now that is of interest. Mr. Savage, your knowledge is fascinating.

  13. 93 PorterGirl April 22, 2015 at 12:05

    I think Mr R could have done more to ensure we got a lift og the coach, don’t you? How very rude of him. Now then – there had better be some dablame fabulous refreshments at this party – the four hour trek has quite taken it out of me!

    • 94 Professor VJ Duke April 22, 2015 at 14:51

      True! And I didn’t even think on it. He should’ve helped us out. Unless…he was crazy with you! That’s a possibility, see.

      • 95 PorterGirl April 22, 2015 at 15:02

        I was rather rude, I fear. Now I feel like it is all my fault. If only I was nicer. It’s only after the event that I think of these things! Pah.

      • 96 Professor VJ Duke April 24, 2015 at 16:06

        *laughing* You were not! You should’ve slapped him…twice and then thrice.

      • 97 PorterGirl April 24, 2015 at 16:29

        Next time I see the bugger I shall give him a sound spanking, and no mistake!

      • 98 Professor VJ Duke April 26, 2015 at 20:15

        Two spankings! Or three.

      • 99 PorterGirl April 25, 2015 at 14:46

        (FB is saying I don’t have permission to chat to you! So not ignoring you. Will try to sort it out when I get home!)

      • 100 Professor VJ Duke April 26, 2015 at 20:23

        No! The buggers! Hope you figured it out…which I think you may have. Wonder why that’d happen!

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