chapter 9

things get sticky

Kate knew exactly where they were leading her, and she knew exactly what it meant, but that didn't stop her heart from pounding as she rounded the corner from the great hall into the student den.

She spotted Baron Avicenna standing by the enormous fireplace, arms crossed, and with an expression so serious she thought she would turn to stone before it.

She was aware of the flour and bits of fairy cake batter stuck to her dress and face. Her hair and clothes carried leaves and dirt from crawling around in the bushes. She felt her cheeks starting to heat up like a furnace.

"I'm sunk," she thought, “this may really impact my christmas present quota...”

"Kate," the headmaster said, but not unkindly, “we've conducted a divination and it suggests that there is something important in your locker. We'd like to look inside, please.”

"Y-yes, headmaster." Kate knew she should say something more, anything to help her case, but she was suffering complete brain freeze. Now she knew what a deer caught in the headlights felt like.

She walked over to her locker and touched her hand to the smooth handle on the door. The worn wooden locker opened with a slight pop. Kate hesitated and then pulled the door open. There, for all the world to see was a large golden sceptre, its encrusted ruby glistening like an evil eye.

As Avicenna reached for it a green smoke filled the locker.  An indistinct face appeared looking directly at Kate.

"Fool, you were discovered, but it was always a possibility." The face started to laugh but suddenly transformed into a powerful arm which lunged for Avicenna's throat.

The grip on Avicenna was vice like. Both Snowmaine and Kate, being the nearest were desperately trying to open the grip but it was useless. One of the elves, Kate didn’t know her name, shouted stand back and with a practiced strike cut the arm through with her sword. The severed hand and forearm started to spasm and slowly released it’s death grip.

Avicenna choked and coughed for some time, drinking often from his flask.  

"Well," Avicenna finally said, examining her closely, “it seems we have the sceptre and our thief, or is it assasin? Now we need to find out why, and more importantly, how she stole it. It simply should not be possible for a simple human student to steal from the Fae.”

Kate saw his lips move, but all she heard was "sunk, sunk, expelled, sunk, thief, sceptre, assassin, stole, sunk, sunk, sunk."

Tears started rolling down her cheeks. Argh, she didn't need to cry. Her mother's voice rang in her head to her:

"Kate, if you have a problem and you need to think but can't, make that your problem -- find space to think."

"Professor, I'd like to sit down." It was the first words she'd said since leaving the kitchens, and it took all of them by surprise.

"Sit down?" growled the Fae jester, seeming to froth at the mouth. “Is that it? Would you like some tea and cake as well?”

Avicenna continued watching her, and she really didn't like it. "It's alright, let the girl sit down. This will be a long night."

Kate slumped against the wall, mind and heart racing each other. They were going to ask her parents in, perhaps first thing in the morning. She had that long before her mother was discovered.

Hesrial would be of no help--she had been gone finding whirly white while Kate was exploring the secret passages, she couldn't vouch for Kate.

She could tell them what she saw, would that work? What did she have to lose? Trying to lie would probably make things worse.

"Baron Avicenna," she said quietly but firmly, “I didn't steal your sceptre, but I do have information. Will you let me show it to you?”

The Fae, like most people, are intrigued by mystery, and the Baron was no different. He studied Kate closely for nearly a minute while the accompanying elves and wizards all babbled about throwing the little thief in the dungeon. "Actually, being thrown in the dungeons with Brahms would be a good result" she thought and felt slightly cheered.

Kate held his gaze with an open face, willing that he see her resolve if not her innocence. He said nothing, but finally raised an eyebrow and with a gentle wave of his hand, motioned her to lead.

As she climbed to her feet he whispered, "Lead on, little doeling, lets us see what secrets you hold." Something about that troubled Kate but she was so relieved to be moving she put it out of her head.

Kate led the assembly, including the Baron and Snowmaine, towards the courtyard. She tried to speak, but her mouth was so dry it was like talking through sand. She stopped briefly at one of the many fountains and took a long drink.

"I was playing with Hesrial in the garden," Kate began,

"You know my daughter?"

"We met after the fireworks. She's really very lovely."

"Was she with you the whole time?" The Baron motioned to one of the many wisps that illuminated the hall and whispered to it. The wisp flashed brilliantly and vanished.

"Hesrial left suddenly to do something--she can be quite impulsive. I was left alone in the garden, the one set up for your feast." Kate knew she was in trouble here, and hoped somehow Hesrial and her would get to talk before they questioned the Fae girl.

"I was looking around the garden--well, looking for hiding places to be honest. I wanted to beat Hesrial in a game of cache-cache, when I found a secret passage into the servant quarters below your chambers."

At this, one of the wizards, exclaimed, "There she's admitting it. She used it to break in and steal the sceptre." The Baron silenced him with a look, then motioned for Kate to proceed.

"Actually, your Grace, it's best if I show you. Sorry, it's not too clean, as you can see." She motioned to the muddy marks on her knees.

Kate continued towards the gardens, it seemed a lifetime ago that she played there with Hersrial. She walked in a numb trance which was only broken when the Baron suddenly asked, "Tell me Kate, where do you come from? Who are your parents?"

Her mouth tasted bone dry for the second time, her cheeks flushed beet red beneath the Baron's intent gaze. She realized how guilty she looked and that she'd probably never have a career in politics.

"Ah, they're just parents I guess, a bit annoying, sometimes useful. They're both born and bred around here. Dad's a big fan of jazz." Kate knew she had to shut up, but her mouth, now that it had started saying things, was determined to keep going.

Just then, Hesrial came to the rescue. "There you are," she said with a huge smile. “I've been looking for you everywhere.” She wasn't addressing Kate but the Baron. “They said you needed me and I've been running around trying to find you.” Now she addressed the headmaster. “Why send me away? I could have found him faster if I'd just stayed with you.”

Snowmaine cleared his throat. "Hesrial, we've found out something rather serious regarding your playmate. If you don't mind…"

"Oh, you worked it out too, hey," and before Kate could do anything about it, it happened. It was so simple, the way her 6 month lie was revealed at probably the worst possible time. “I knew she was Faekind within 30 minutes, how long did it take you? I mean, the makeup, the power suit, the way she played cache-cache. You'd have to be right thick to miss it.”

For Kate the world stopped. The Baron glanced at Kate and said, "Born and bred around here, hey?" and then to Hesrial, “I think you'd best come with us. The less you talk the better”.

The headmaster stared at Kate, dumbstruck. He kept mumbling @Faekind, [email protected], not looking angry, but perplexed, like someone trying to remember something.

Avicenna said, "Headmaster, it seems we have two mysteries, but we need to focus on the first. Let's not weave them together unless it becomes unavoidable."

He produced a small vial from his pocket and offered it to Kate. It really didn't seem appropriate in so many ways, but it was a friendly gesture and Kate appreciated it. "Humans can't stand Tregal, but I think you may find it refreshing."

Kate took a small sip and it was wonderful. It was the Fae equivalent of camomile tea but with arrowvine root (a mild equivalent to caffeine), which was both refreshing and invigorating. Of course the Fae worked their special magic when they brewed it. It tasted slightly bitter sweet, but one sip calmed her jangling nerves and cleared her head.

"Thanks," she said. “Let's go.” She realised that the Baron had said exactly the right thing.

First she needed to clear her name regarding the theft, then she need to worry about her secret. She couldn't deal with both at the same time. She liked him, and besides, he was her personal hero, even if the reason she was meeting him sucked big time.

Hesrial skipped beside her, chatting animatedly, oblivious to their predicament and probably not too interested besides. Kate realised that Hesrial would take some managing if they were to be friends.

Within another minute they arrived at the garden. "Hesrial and I arrived here and played a little," Kate said, “then Hesrial went to get some Willie White for me, saying it would be a better disguise than makeup.

"While she was gone, I started exploring the garden, I wanted to find a den for us to play in." This wasn't quite true but Kate wasn't about to tell them she could chat with the wind.

She led them to the wall. "I'm sorry, you're awfully tall, but we have to go behind here."

"What!" complained one of the wizards. “Let's give the little thief some Loplies and be done with it.”

Experiment 14 - lie detector

Finally Hesrial realised that something was up. "What thief? Father, why is he calling Kate a thief You'd never give Loplies to a young girl. What's he talking about?"

"My lady," said the headmaster, “I'm afraid someone stole the Baron's scepter, and we found it in Kate's locker.”

"She was with me. I left for just 10 minutes."

"That's all the time it would take."

"She claims she's innocent, and your father is being extremely generous in listening at all. I mean she's obviously an expert liar and all..." He trailed off, unwilling to even look at Kate.

Kate pushed on. "Please Baron, you've followed me here, it's only another few minutes and I'll have told my tale."

The group pushed past the creeper with a lot of cursing from all except the Baron and Hesrial. The former said nothing, the later, "Oh what a great cubby, wow, Kate we've got to come back here, we can play all sorts of make believe and I can bring cakes, and perhaps you could borrow the suit. That looked really good by the way, although perhaps we should dress you like a dryad, although sometimes they can be grumpy but that doesn't matter as long as you only visit in the morning I mean I think they…"

"Hesrial," barked the Baron. You could tell it was something that happened quite often.

Kate pushed past to the top of the stair.

"I found these, it's very dark."

"Alumitar lunar," whispered the Baron and the walls of the stair began to glow with a white light, like they were shining moonlight. It was truly breathtaking and Kate stopped for a moment to stare.

"I couldn't resist," she went on. “I mean, a secret stairway. Come on.” And feeling a little impatient to get this over with, she led the dirty and slightly annoyed group down. At the landing, she stopped.

"Only one at a time can come through here. It's very tight behind but there is a handle of sorts above the small hole you can use to help you through."

"Where does it lead?" Snowmaine said to Kate.

"To one of the servants quarters."

"Then can I suggest we use the front door."

The wizards turned and beat a hasty retreat, but the Baron motioned for Kate to proceed. The Fae are as flexible as cats and the Baron was obviously interested.

Kate entered the empty room and quickly she led them into the hall of clutter. As they pass through the doorway she recounted what she'd seen, telling of the dark figure with something in front of them who fled up the far stair. Just as she was finishing, the headmaster, wizards and the two Fae appeared coming down the stair.

The baron turned to Kate. "I appreciate what you've shown me, Kate, and you seem honest. I've dealt with those comfortable with lies for years and you are not that sort. Still, you must understand that you've been revealed as Fae, (a mystery perhaps greater than this theft). Only a Fae can touch the sceptre. Any human hands would have created a disturbance."

"I need to deliberate with the headmaster. You must stay in the school while we do. That will take the rest of today at least and I suggest you use that time wisely. Hesrial, stay with Kate and make sure she doesn't get into any more mischief."

Kate was dumbstruck. They were letting her go? No, the Baron was looking at her intently and she realised there was a message here, but she didn't know what it was.

"Move", she thought. “Yes your Grace, thank you,” was all she could think to say. And with that she turned and headed towards the stair, Hesrial trailing her steps like a loyal puppy.

She didn't know where she was going, but the further away the better. She felt eyes burning into the back of her neck even as she left the building.

Experiment 14 - homemade lie detector

advanced experiment

How can we tell if someone is lying?

Well, one thing we know is that many people sweat slightly when they tell a lie. We can use this to build a simple lie detector.

Our bodies have a natural resistance to electricity. When we lie, the slight increase in sweat will decrease our body's resistance to electricity because sweat is a good conductor.

By the way this is why lie detectors need to calibrated for each person. We need to find out how conductive the subject is when telling the truth and then measure the difference when they lie.

I’ve cleaned up the instruction found here: home made lie detector

You can also make this experiment using a breadboard. You should definitely use the breadboard approach if you are new to making circuits since no soldering is required and it’s easy to correct mistakes. Breadboard Lie Detector

Things You'll Need.

things you need

You will need some things below for this project.

  1. circuit board (a breadboard is easier - no soldering required)

  2. 10K resistor

  3. 47K resistor

  4. 470 resistor

  5. 1M resistor x2

  6. 47K VR (variable resistor)

  7. knob for VR

  8. 2N3904 transistor x3

  9. 0.1uf mylar cap

  10. slide switch.

  11. 9V battery snap

  12. LED (one red, one green)

  13. soldering tools.

  14. drill

  15. basic tools,

  16. velcro

  17. aluminum foil

  18. tin

Step 2: Make a Finger Pads

finger pads

Make finger pads by wrapping aluminium foil around the velcro strips.

Don't forget to stick a bare wire between the velcro and the foil!

The aluminium will conduct the electricity from the battery to a finger, around your hand and back to the detector through your other finger.

Step 3: Soldering the Circuit (use a breadboard if you’re a beginner)

This may look a little complicated (actually it’s not once you understand the diagram but that can take a little time) and you will need to ask an adult or teacher with experience of with basic circuits to help. Remember that doing this on a breadboard is easier if not quite as tidy because no soldering is required and you can easily correct mistakes. Check out this guide to reading basic circuit diagrams

circuit 1

circuit 2

circuit 3

Solder the circuit as per the diagram above.

Remember before soldering the circuit, cut the circuit board to the correct size to fit in the tin.

Step 4: Drilling the Tin

drill the tin

Drill the tin to take your VR (variable resistor) control. The hole in the image is very rough. YOu can make a neater hole by resting the tin on wood and drilling into that.

Get an adult to help with this if you’re not comfortable with a drill. If you can, put a block of wood inside the tin then hold it lightly in a vice. The block of wood will stop the tin from being crushed by the vice and give the drill something to cut into on the far side.

Step 5: Put the Floor Sheet

add a floor

We need to put something in the bottom of the time, otherwise the tin will short the board, that is, it will conduct electricity outside the circuit and the board will not work.

Put the floor sheet in a floor of the tin making sure it covers edge to edge then secure is with a glue.

Step 6: Put Everything in the tin.


Put everything in a tin and secure all of them with a glue gun.

Step 7: You’re finished!

finished detector

Your lie detector is ready to go.

First, wrap the finger pads around two separate fingers of the 'suspect'.

Then, slowly, turn the VR (the black knob on the outside) until the 'true' LED is light, and the 'false' LED is dark.

Then, question the suspect. When the false LED lights, the suspect is lying!

Neat hey?

Is this Pseudoscience? I.e. Does it work?

Well - maybe. People are different and some people don’t actually sweat enough when they lie to make this an effective instrument. I wouldn't trust it :)

Indeed modern lie detectors uses a range of "biometric" measurements to try and tell if someone is lying.

Even so, there is considerable debate about the efficacy of lie detectors. Read this excellent wikipedia article which states that many scientists believe that the polygraph (another name for a lie detector) is "pseudoscience", i.e. it’s something that is made to look like science but isn’t.

Pseudo science is really dangerous - and you should be aware of it. Anytime someone tells you something is true, but can’t back it up with solid research, first assume it’s false until you have verified it yourself.

Because there is so much debate relating to polygraphs, we would recommend you never volunteer to take one in a serious situation. It can be argued that a polygraph can be made to say whatever the person giving the test wants it to.

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