“You are the only person who goes hunting dangerous caverns, during the full moon, with a map written in a language you don’t know.” First Mate Kate adjusted the setting of her bulls-eye lantern, but at Captain Felix’s waving hand, she sighed and shuttered the beam. The moon was bright enough that all four of the people currently on the shore could see each other and the map without aid. Which just figured.
“It isn’t a language, Kate,” Felix said. “It is a code. And I do know it. Well, most of it.”
Kate snorted and Val laughed. Mel shook her head at the lot of them.
“I still don’t see why I had to come on this hunt,” Mel said, sitting down on one of the large and less pointy rocks that littered the beach. “I cannot cook our wonderful catch of fresh fish if I am sitting on an albeit gorgeous beach in the full moon light.” She pursed her lips. “Any chance I could meet a mermaid?”
Valiantly, Val kept a straight face, “They don’t like Kate.”
Kate looked at Val. Val had lost his shirt at the gambling table and was doing a bad impression of a stoic barbarian. Kate dropped her voice, “They were trying to drown us.”
“You beat them at a singing contest,” Val pointed out. Aside to a wide eyed Mel he explained, “Our Kate has a gorgeous voice that put the sirens to shame. They avoid us like the plague just to make sure it never happens again.”
Mel’s small oh of a mouth didn’t know which questions to ask first and so she didn’t get to as Felix cried aloud in delight. The other three all exchanged looks and then ran after him.
The cave system was surprisingly open, though the crash of waves was amplified and distorted by the twisting passages and Felix’s loyal crew were not at all certain they would find their way out with ease. Felix himself was absorbed with the map and kept running his fingers along the walls, presumably looking for something. The caves flickered with the moonlight glancing through from crumbled walls or open roofing. Kate occasionally opened the beam of her lantern, sending the buttery yellow beam slicing through the blue caverns like a revealing curtain. When they found it, they all saw it. Chiseled onto the wall was a detailed blazon of an owl in flight. The eyes gleamed dully with tarnished gold, the only embellished detail and when they were hit by lantern light they fairly glowed.
The four adventurers set to, Felix sprang over the doorway and looked around as if scenting the wind, Kate looked for traps, Val drew a machete in case of angry cave inhabitants, and Mel waited while snacking on a lemon cookie. Felix was disappointed in the lack of ghosts, Kate disarmed the trap, Val advanced into the room to watch Felix’s back, and Mel asked, “So what now?”
“Now,” Felix said, motioning her into the room, “I demonstrate why I invested so much time into this adventure.”
Mel humored her captain and entered the room. Kate came in and stood at her shoulder. With a showman’s flair, Felix approached the wall of the cave, and deftly twisted an unassuming knob of rock. The wall swung silently open, letting out the smell of dusty metal. The engineering of the door was exquisite, but they didn’t stop to marvel at the sliding mechanics when a dozen years worth of gold and gemstones glittered in the light of Kate’s lantern.
“Demon’s breath, Felix,” Val breathed. “We’re… we’re filthy rich. Kingly rich.”
“What the hell is this…” Kate took a step into the other chamber, Val and Mel followed her. Felix hung back at the door and his crew didn’t see the way the vivid light went out of his green eyes. “It’s mine,” he said lightly. “Shares from adventures, other than taking care of the ship and finding more maps, I didn’t have much to do with it.”
Val laughed delightedly and picked up an emerald as big as his fist. Val had very large fists.
Kate turned and looked at her Captain. They met eyes for just a moment and she knew and lunged for the door. She wasn’t fast enough. Damn Felix’s luck. The door swung shut as easily and quietly as it opened. Mel and Val blinked in shock.
“Curse it Felix! What’s going on?” Kate slammed her fist into the door.
“Sorry Kate. Sorry Val. Sorry Mel.” Felix’s voice was muffled by the door but still heard in the sudden silence of the sealed cave. “You’ll either escape or the door will open in a few hours. I … I did set a timer.”
“FELIX, there is never a time to pull the one man army gambit, and you know it! Let us out right now!” Kate kept her hand against the door, willing her captain and best friend to see sense.
“Sorry Kate, you can’t keep me out of trouble this time. You’ll all be safer out of it. I promise.” Felix’s footsteps were audible for a few steps. Val motioned Kate and Mel to the side and attempted ramming the door. The door won. The door won the next two matches as well. Val declared the door a nemesis and went to look for something to assist in his next attempt as he didn’t want to ruin his machetes.
Mel gave Kate a cookie and the two women sat down among the gold and jewels.
“Well, that explains why he wanted me to come, we have provisions,” Mel said.
“No chance you can summon your sea serpent to get us out of here?” Kate asked and bit into her cookie.
“About as much as you do with your monkey kicking boots and siren shaming voice. Or Val and his impressive musculature and aversion to shirts.” Mel made sure to save some cookies for Val and amused herself by attempting to juggle some of the gems.
Val sat down and consumed two cookies. “So…” he said. “We’re going to have to rescue his ass big time aren’t we?”
Mel and Kate nodded. “Oh yeah.” “Big time.”
Val nodded back. “S’what I thought. Bout time his damn luck ran out.”
Some enterprising thieves stole a map, an owl, and betrayal from this piece of fiction. I hope they had better luck.