Contest Entry – A Family Treasure Hunt

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There I was, with a feather pen in my hand, again trying to figure out why the heck these maps were so hard to make out. And not just one… but all of them. I had just completed 300 world maps for the local provisioner in Minoc, as the locals there can’t make it to the outhouse without an expertly drawn map to the offering hole. Plus another 30 sea charts for Silor, a friend in Vesper, who is an excellent fisherman, but could not follow a star even if it blinked “EAT AT KAZOLA’S”.

Most people hire me to find treasure. My real name is Sir James. I was named after my father, a knight who fought in the SIN Wars, but all that armor and pounding is not my style of a good time, unless I want to invest in BODs in the smithing field. No, the name I earned was actually a joke, from back in Trinsic where I grew up. We were all outside the city walls… a big group of kids looking for treasure! When it was my turn to find the “Butcher Knife of Parent Dismissal”, I searched for hours, trying my best to find it with no luck. Finally, the kids made a huge X on the ground, and from then on I was known as X-Mark.

I recently received a message from a messenger bird with a note from my brother, Vlad. He lives in Occlo, but he was currently out in the boonies of the land. He wrote that he and his Training Master, Redeye, had fought liches in a haunted cemetery and found a map he could not make out that he figured was my cup of ale. My brother is a warrior, following in my father’ s footsteps, and he lives with Cid, “Mr. Craft-it-all”. I mounted my horse, Thunder, at the Minoc stables and rode to my boat, the Treasure Tub, which was docked near the healers’ in a small inlet off the main water. I loaded Thunder, hooked him to the large iron eyelet on the deck of the Tub, and headed out.

I arrived at my brother’s house late in the evening, after sailing all day and riding Thunder from town. When I arrived, there was Vlad, swinging some big steel staff at local wildlife animals. When he saw me, he dropped a mongbat, whose head looked like dragon dung.

We went inside, where Cid was tailoring some leather trousers so fast it would down-right amaze you. Of course, he paid us no heed, but continued at his work. Vlad reached into one of his metal chests, pulled out a map, and handed it to me. I examined the map and noted the lich language from its etchings and marks on the parchment. After several hours of checking my Sosarian lingual tome, I decoded the map. It revealed the treasure’s location at an island in the southern seas. The map showed a small X just inside the tree line near the shore. I looked up at Vlad, who was spit shining his spiked mace and grinned. “X marks the spot!”

I looked through my backpack, searching through several books containing rune etchings I had made during previous treasure hunts. I finally found the book that matched the island, told Vlad to get his mount, and we prepared to leave.

As we walked outside, I memorized the wording needed to open a gate to the Isle. As I mouthed the words of travel, blue streaks lit the ground and the wind swirled leaves in a circular pattern, forming an oval blue gate seemingly made of water, urging us to enter. I mounted Thunder and motioned for Vlad to follow as we plunged the hooves of our steeds through the waters of time and movement.

We arrived on the shore of the island to see some animals running away from the sight of us appearing out of nowhere. I looked at Vlad. “According to the map, this spot we are on is 25 paces south of the treasure, which is right by those trees up ahead.” Sure enough, as we moved forward, my trained eyes noted that the leaves of the nearby trees still dangled rotting flesh, proof that liches had been here. I found some brush that had blown away just enough to reveal a disturbance in the earth. I pulled out my shovel and got to work. Vlad refused to do such work, thinking it to be beneath his “Holy Armorness”. I worked for a good hour until I heard a “thunk”. “I found the treasure chest!” I said over my shoulder, as I began to pull it from the ground. When I got the chest to the top, I smelled charcoal emanating from the ground. The chest began to glow and the ground began to rumble. I stood, petrified, as I watched the soil explode into the air from the hole and monsters appeared everywhere from the dust of magic.

Immediately, Vlad went into action, pulling forth his mace and shield in one smooth movement. His mace made contact with a Lich Lord who was preparing to launch a magical attack on me. I turned just in time to see an Ogre Lord and Fire Elemental closing in on me. I slid on my trusty ring of invisibility and disappeared, confusing the monsters. While they looked for new prey, I reached into my backpack and slid my hand onto my small harp. I began to play it, softly at first, and then louder, until the Ogre Lord shrieked, holding his head. As he pulled his huge hands away from his eyes, I noticed they were beet red with anger. He jumped onto the Fire Elemental, dowsing the flames which kept it alive even while his own flesh burned away in layers. I looked back at Vlad, who had left his mount and was holding the Lich down with its own staff of magic, choking its last breath from its lungs. Finally, it laid still, not moving. I returned my attention to the Ogre Lord and the now vanished flames of the Fire Elemental. The Ogre looked towards me again, wanting to kill the source of the music that was driving him mad. I mouthed the words of spinning steel and reached forth as bladed spirits flew forth from my hands and slammed into the Ogre Lord until he finally fell over from his several bleeding wounds.

I easily lockpicked the chest, and with sleight of hand, removed the traps set for us. Inside was gleaming treasure and a pile of gold. Vlad’s eyes lit up as he shoved me out of the way and began to loot the chest. He did not notice the dust swirling behind him as he took more and more from the chest. A huge spider formed and crouched behind my brother. I yelled a warning, but by the time he heard and responded with his mace, webs quickly entangled him and his weapon, forming a cocoon. I shrieked in terror as the spider bit through his armor, making a horrible scraping noise. Vlad yelled out in pain, and I saw green lines of poison trickle down his skin.

Anger welled up inside me as words of fire climbed up from the depths of my soul. I flamestriked the dread spider again and again, until its legs curled up beneath it, its smoking flesh dripping onto the ground. I quickly ran to Vlad and sliced the webbing away. I applied bandages to his wounds and spoke the words of healing as I touched his skin. White light went from my fingers into his body and the green lines faded. I gathered up the treasure he had already taken and finished looting the chest, being careful not to trigger any more unwanted evil. I laid Vlad upon his steed, hooked his harness to Thunder, and gated us home.

There, Cid rushed out to help me with Vlad. We laid him in bed so he could rest from his wounds. I showed Cid the treasure. He marveled at the Viking sword we found, saying it was the finest steel he had ever seen. It glowed with power, seeking to vanquish any enemy in its way.

I smiled, knowing it would be worth a good penny. I grabbed the sword and left, heading to the tower of the famed Treasure Hunters of Britannia. When I arrived, I met with Blackheath, head of the guild. I presented the sword and explained how my brother and I had obtained it. It was enough to prove to the guild my skill at treasurehunting. And so I became a member, named Master in my skill. I returned to Minoc afterwards. Seeing yet another stack of orders for world maps, I sighed. “Oh well, I guess I still need practice to become a grandmaster at my skill.”

Last modified: March 27, 2011

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