Hertz's Adventure (ハーツ少年の冒険, haatsu shounen no bouken) is a two-part book series found in Trails in the Sky FC.
Part 1 - Encounter with the Spectacled Genie
Using his finger to push his slipping glasses back up onto the ridge of his nose, Young Hertz continued his journey.
As far as he could see in every direction, the earth had been blanketed with a thick layer of white. The fine powder covering the ground in undulating lumps and clumps was actually made up of pale granules of sand, which were light and fluffy like the freshly driven snow.
'Where's the river supposed to be?' came the raspy voice of a youth named Midas from behind.
Midas, a skinny boy with hair the color of tobacco leaves protruding from the butt of a hand-rolled cigarette, was Hertz's most trusted friend and one who never hesitated to tag along with him on one of his impulsive adventures.
'It's just a little further,' Young Hertz replied without turning his head to look back at his companion.
The two of them had set out for the spindly river which cut directly across the center of the parched white desert and the oasis beside it; a rest stop well-known for being the last place of refuge for those travelers and their camels who were brave enough to cross the scorching dunes.
Young Hertz and Midas had planned to camp there along the riverside that evening before attempting to trek across the remainder of the barren lands the following day.
'So, do you think we'll really be all right?' Midas asked as he unwrapped the silver wrapper of a half-melted candy. 'There's been a rumor going around about a genie appearing in these parts. And believe it or not, but some say that he'll even gobble up whole people!'
'Rumors are just that: rumors,' replied Young Hertz. 'But, I might consider their veracity if we ever did happen to come across a real one,' he added, brushing off the idea with a chuckle.
No sooner had the words left his mouth when a booming voice thundered from somewhere behind them, 'Then how about you start considering that now?'
Upon hearing this, Young Hertz turned quickly around, his eyes searching for the source of the questioning voice.
There standing before him was the figure of a decrepit genie swathed in a robe of incomprehensible black, its back more bowed than the curled spine of a cat's seeking its master's attention, and a pair of old spectacles perched atop the curved shape of its talon-like nose.
Yet, the more Young Hertz looked at the genie, the more unsure he became as to whether he was staring at something resembling a shriveled old man or a ghastly old woman.
Midas froze in terror as he saw the tall, robed personage not far from his side. 'I-I'm not s-s-scared,' he stuttered with a face whiter than the desert sand surrounding them as he noticed Young Hertz's gaze fixated on the genie. 'My candy just got stuck in my throat is all,' he croaked out as he bumbled through a jumble of ridiculous excuses in his head.
A complex smirk of wrinkles curled across the genie's cheeks, giving the illusion that something else was living below its haggard skin.
'Oh my, how cruel it is to have been gobbled up whole! What a piteous fate for that sugared lump of candy in your gullet.'
Not seeming to mind that the spectacles had begun to slip from its nose, the genie continued to shake its head, gripped by some mad delight.
'But fear not, my little drop of sweetness, for I shall avenge you by digesting the very marrow of these boys' bones as I change them into the dust of these arid lands!' The genie narrowed its turbid eyes and trundled toward Midas.
In an instant, the sleeves of its robe were flung back exposing thin, gnarled arms which shook like a pair of long withered branches in the wind. The genie's fingertips extended, sharp as pointed tridents, and sped toward Midas' twitching face, advancing with precision, or at least that's what it seemed like until they passed by the boy's face and stabbed futilely at the empty air.
As if being slightly amazed by the failed attempt, the genie cocked its head in surprise, but soon thereafter, took notice of what had been amiss. In a hurry, it brought both hands up to its ancient face and began to neatly adjust the pair of spectacles which sat crookedly on top of the bent nose.
'I've had poor eyesight since I was a child, too...' said Young Hertz to the creature as it fumbled with the glasses. 'And it looks to me like yours is worse than mine.'
As soon as the genie took in the young boy's words, another, much larger set of furrowed wrinkles appeared on its face. 'How did you know?' it asked suspiciously.
The genie tweaked the position of the spectacles on the bridge of its nose before turning back to Young Hertz and inquired again, 'How did you know my eyes were so bad?'
Young Hertz exchanged incredulous looks with Midas, both taken aback by the genie's apparent obliviousness. However, while this was occurring, another expression had taken over the wizened face.
'So that's it, huh? I see how it is...' the genie went on as it raised a bony, white finger and pointed at the set of glasses Young Hertz was wearing. 'Those are magical spectacles, aren't they!' the creature declared triumphantly.
'Specta...what?' said Young Hertz with a confused look on his face.
'Indeed, they must be!' the black robed genie muttered as it cast its eyes heavenward while ignoring Young Hertz's response. And once more, the crone-like figure began to tremble with glee.
<TO BE CONTINUED>
Part 2 - Hertz's Adventure Encounter with the Spectacled Genie
'Those magical spectacles must be capable of seeing the true nature of anyone who stands before them!'
After a fitful bout of shaking from excitement (but this time making sure to check that its own spectacles were aligned), the genie gazed down resolutely at Young Hertz.
'There's no point in having a boy such as yourself hang on to such an invaluable item. In fact, it would be in your best interest to hand them over. Otherwise...' it trailed off. But instead of elaborating on its threat, the genie simply extended its arms once more.
This time, the genie picked up a boulder much larger then any normal person could lift, and Young Hertz and Midas watched as the massive rock disappeared into the fiery depths of its open mouth. Causing the wind to stir as it clamped down its distended jaws with incredible force, the genie gulped down the large rock as if it had been a light snack. And not a moment later, a hollow sound like something thrown into a deep well echoed in the depths of its belly.
'So...have I made myself clear? If you do not hand over those spectacles, it is you who will end up being my next sweet morsel.'
Midas looked at Young Hertz with a frightful gaze. 'D-D-Did you see that humongous mouth of his? He's the real deal, all right... It's just like the rumors say.'
'Yeah, but that still leaves us with another problem...' sighed Young Hertz. 'Without my glasses, I can't continue my travels.'
As Young Hertz stood pondering his dilemma, another large boulder by his feet disappeared into the genie's voracious mouth followed once again by the ominous hollow echo from beneath its sable garb.
'But if he eats us, then we're both done for...' argued Midas as he stood shivering with fright, imagining the candy he had swallowed not minutes before.
'I guess you're right...' concluded Young Hertz, and he stepped closer to the genie. 'All right, good sir, we'll give in to your demands. Being swallowed whole doesn't sound like much fun,' he declared.
'And a wise choice you've made, boy,' replied the genie.
After taking a long look at Young Hertz's face, the genie narrowed its eyes and a plethora of wrinkles crinkled about their corners. Young Hertz said nothing as he unseated the pair of glasses from his nose and obediently placed them at the feet of the genie.
'So these are magical spectacles...' the creature said in a voice quavering with excitement as it squatted down, its face drawing closer to where they lay in the sand. Impatiently, it tossed aside its own spectacles, and after blindly searching by hand for the object of its fascination through the soft, granulated sand, it picked them up and placed them snugly atop its nose.
'These are no less than magical spectacles indeed!' it cried in a tremor of delight as it danced around, causing its robe to flutter about wildly. 'With these I shall have nothing to fear!' And with one last deafening screech it disappeared just as suddenly as it had arrived. The drifting echo of its voice faded and the two boys once again stood alone on a sea of white sand.
Midas scanned the area around them. 'It looks like he's really gone,' he said, his voice weak with relief. Indeed, there was no sign as far as the eye could see of the black-robed figure.
Feeling a pang of sympathy as he looked at the side of Young Hertz's face, who strangely enough seemed to be amused about something, Midas began to rummage through his pocket looking for a piece of candy to offer to his friend as a token of solace over the loss of his trusty eyewear.
Walking up to the other boy, Midas held out the piece of candy, its silver wrapper half undone.
'Don't be disheartened, old friend. It's not like this is the last adventure we'll have.'
'I think...I'm going to be just fine...' replied Young Hertz. His voice was subdued, but the adventurer's eyes twinkled with laughter. Then, as if harking back to some past event, he continued his thoughts aloud. 'Man, that genie must have been blinder than a bat with no eyes,' he said in astonishment.
Midas stared at Young Hertz uncomprehendingly until the other boy turned fully toward him, a grin splitting his face from ear to ear. Then Midas saw it, and a smile of his own spread across his face. For there, resting on top of his friend's nose was something which had grown familiar to him over the years.
'In the end, it seems like the poor fool managed to mistake his own glasses for mine,' Young Hertz went on in a comical tone.
'So the ones you're wearing now are...' Midas asked, though the silver rims of the glasses had already confirmed it.
'Yep. They're the exact ones I put on this morning.' With a happy air Young Hertz took the sugary treat from his friend and popped it into his mouth.
However, this time, as the honeyed-glaze of the candy balls they carried in their mouths melted away, both he and his friend made certain not to swallow them whole.
'You know,' Midas said as they walked along, 'even if there were such a thing as magical spectacles, I don't think they'd amount to anything in his possession, because as you and I both know, he has a habit of 'losing' them when things matter the most.'