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There Be Pirates

This story has always been one of my favorites. I’m not a huge video-game buff, but I play every so often and usually with my husband. This tale relates the adventures we had on the Sea of Thieves with a couple other players we met. Hope you enjoy! Originally posted February 28th, 2020. Reposted for Fandango’s Friday Flashback #FFF.


My family were once pirates. We sailed the open seas, plundering isolated islands and reaping the glittering rewards. We took orders from the traders, tinkerers, and mystics and dove into ancient shipwrecks for rubies, sapphires, and emeralds to fund our lifestyle. We even found treasure maps, left behind by pirates, long-dead. It was one of these maps which led us to our biggest adventure on those virulent seas.

We’d just left an outpost, having dropped off a small order of exotic silks. Climbing aboard our massive galleon, I took my place on the vessel – just in front, on the bowsprit. It was my job to keep my eyes on the horizon. I went back and forth between the bowsprit and the crows nest; up and down, just like the rolling waves. I took my job very seriously, and I was a damn good lookout…

⚓⚓⚓

“Lower the foresails!” Captain Kiel’s voice rang out, loud and clear. 

“Aye, aye, Captain,” the First Mate responded. He was the captain’s twin. It was just the Kiel brothers and their wives aboard on this particular trip. The women, Reese Rumhoarder and Giselle Greatbook, had never been aboard a galleon before. Its massive size was a bit daunting to the small four-man crew, but their skill and perseverance won out. The group had amassed a hoard of trinkets, gold, and treasure chests throughout their adventures and, though this last trip hadn’t been as lucrative, they were happy enough with their reward.

As their standing with the local trading company increased, the four pirates headed off toward the horizon on their elaborate ship. The red-and-blue stripes emblazoned upon the hull gleamed in the dappled amber rays of sunset light. The spray of the salt-water waves, breaking against the wooden planks, and the creaking of the masts as the sails are angled to catch the wind – the magic of it all was not lost on the crew.

Yet, the serenity of this particular pirating adventure would soon be shattered. With a Northwestern wind filling their sails, the crew made good time for their next destination. Giselle Greatbook climbed to her regular post atop the bowsprit. With an imperceptible flick of her wrist, she produced a stunning amethyst-encrusted spyglass. Raising the device to her eye, she gazed intently through the lens. Reese’s panicked shout alerted her; almost immediately, Giselle dropped the spyglass and spun around. They’d been boarded! All her scanning had been for naught! The enemy had trailed them from the port and had been just behind them, all along. 

Drawing her sword, Giselle quickly ran to join the fight. The intruder’s ship – a two-man sloop – hovered just out of shooting range of the long row of cannons. The one man who’d infiltrated the galleon shot round after round of well-aimed blasts from his Blunderbuss shotgun. Everyone on board was categorically murdered with no mercy, no remorse.

As the crew gathered in the Ferry of the Damned, they realized they had nothing to gain by continuing the cycle begun by the enemy. One by one, they returned to the galleon, laughing and joking with each other as they attempted to evade yet another onslaught of shots by the rogue man and repair the damage he’d done to their ship.

Soon, the relentless pirate-of-death… relented. He laughed a hearty laugh, and a smile could be felt, though not seen. 

“You’re all a real family, aren’t you?!” he queried incredulously.

Captain Kiel smirked. He knew he’d been right in following a more passive and peaceful route of resolution. “Why, yes. Yes, we are a family. We are two brothers and their ladies. We’re just trying to have a nice time together.”

Silence. The other pirate seemed to consider his circumstances. A full crew of four… loyal to one another? It was a rare sight, indeed. He lost no time in trying to harness their magnetic power of hope.

“I have a proposition for you,” he offered with a sly giggle. 

First Mate Kiel spoke up in gruff tones, his attitude clearly indicating his uncertainty, “Yeah? What’s that, bud?”

“You do realize I just had to fix thirteen different holes in this ship, right? Not to mention the fires he kept starting!” Reese Rumhoarder grumbled to the rest of the crew, continuing to run around them all, grabbing wood and pounding away at the broken capstan.

“Well, let’s at least hear him out.” Captain Kiel asserted, stepping forward to get a better look at this newcomer who had griefed them for no reason.

The murderous man stood tall and proud in his snazzy, matching suit and hat. His persona was definitely of one who took great pride in his pirating. He waited until Reese’s hammering stopped before leaning in and whispering, “Have ye heard of Athena’s Chest?”

Giselle Greatbook’s ears perked up. She’d read about Athena’s Chest. Every good pirate worth their sea-salt had come across a portion of the tale at some time or another, but Giselle had devoured the story in its entirety. Gathering her courage, she stepped forward, “Ye seek Athena’s Chest?”

Slightly surprised at the blatant interest of the piratess, the young man replied, “Aye… ye have heard of it, then?”

“Aye, that is… I’m seeking it, as well.” 

The rest of the crew looked to Giselle in shock. She’d never once mentioned her desire to find Athena’s Chest. And for good reason, it was a long and arduous journey, rife with danger around every corner and over every wave. It was not an adventure one embarks upon lightly. But, with six people… she’d not forgotten about the lone mate left aboard the infiltrator’s sloop. With such a group, Athena’s Chest may yet be found!

“So, you’re looking for a crew to help you find it, then? How do we know you’re not going to ditch us after we help?” First Mate Kiel’s sardonic attitude tinged the air with doubt.

With a shrug, the man answered, “I know we just killed you all for no reason, but… I guess you’ll just have to trust our word. You seem like really good people. I don’t want to be the one responsible for splitting a family apart. I think we’d find Athena’s Chest a lot easier with all of us working together, though.” He paused and muttered in a desperate whisper, “I really want to find that chest!”

After a brief discussion amongst the crew, they decided there was no better time for adventure than the present. No voyages had been planned after completing their last one, so it seemed to be perfect timing. It didn’t take long for them to arrive at their answer.

“Aye,” Captain Kiel spoke up, “We will go with ye to find Athena’s Chest… Do not betray us.” His grim words hung in the air – a portentous warning.

“No worries, mate! I’ll man the wheel and captain your ship until we get to where we’re going.”

With a slow nod and nudge from Giselle, the crew agreed. “We can trust them, you guys.” Giselle gave a confident grin, “Have a little faith.”

“Oh, by the way, my name is First Mate Insom. Navigating our humble, little sloop back there is Captain Sigma.” First Mate Insom lifted his grog in a salute, “This will be fun,” he quipped, downing a large swig of his brew.

“Aye,” replied Reese in a sarcastic whisper, “All aboard the Friendship.”


⚓⚓⚓

Though there remained skepticism amongst the crew, First Mate Insom proved to be a fair sailor. Sea-sure and with a particular wit, he led the way to the mysterious island indicated by an old, faded scroll he carried, hidden away within his stylish jacket.

Everyone on board felt the tension. This would be a massive haul. But, what would happen once the Skellies were shattered and the dust of battle settled? Would they continue to be an ally? Or, would they break the alliance and keep the treasure for themselves? Trust is a laughable commodity amongst pirates. Still, there can be found honor in the most unlikely of places. Perhaps, this could be one such instance…

Through a violent thunderstorm they cruised, the crew working as one to operate the sails and navigate the large ship through the looming, darkened waves. Having the little sloop ahead to guide the way helped immensely. Thanks to this smooth operation of the multiple vessels, they were even able to make a hasty escape from a gnarly megalodon. The blue beast taunted them. Charging their ship again and again, it tailed them for miles upon nautical miles. Captain Sigma, noticing the galleon’s plight, directed the meg’s attention to himself. 

Though the sloop was much smaller than the galleon, it was also much faster. Within moments, Captain Sigma had led the megalodon away, circled around a thin string of islands, and casually sailed back to his position in front of the crew’s ship. 

“Well done, Matey!” Captain Kiel was relieved. They’d almost run out of wood on board and repairs were still underway.

“Aye,” came the quiet Captain’s reply. Though he hadn’t spoken much, it was clear Captain Sigma was determined to complete this quest and was more than capable of making sure it happened.

First Mate Insom jumped down from the upper decks, whipping out an Ashen banjo and strumming an age-old pirate tune. The rest of the crew quickly joined in and, for a few moments, there was pure merriment to be found. Reese joined in the festivities with a regal, gilded hurdy-gurdy, and even First Mate Kiel broke out in an awkward jig.

First Mate Insom, still strumming his banjo and laughing at the crew’s antics, announced, “We’ll be arriving at our destination soon, me hearties! Prepare yerselves for the heat of battle and the glory of its just rewards! Argh!”

“Aye, aye!” shouted the crew in unison. Their adrenaline pumping, Giselle Greatbook and Captain Kiel raised the sails, while Reese waited at attention, ready to drop anchor at a moment’s notice. First Mate Kiel climbed to the crow’s nest, shouting directions down to First Mate Insom as he guided the ship alongside a short dock.

“Drop anchor!” called First Mate Kiel from his lookout.

Reese went to work and dropped the anchor with perfect timing. The crew disembarked quickly, and Captain Sigma soon joined them upon the shore. In the twilight, the galleon creaked and groaned as it strained against the tides, though she remained in place, waiting for the pirates’ triumphant return.

“So, how d’ye want to play this, Captain Sigma?” Captain Kiel’s appetite for adventure had been whetted, and he was itching to get on with the hunt.

Captain Sigma stood for a long moment in his quiet way, considering the options. When he spoke, it was to First Mate Insom, “I’ll go with Captain Kiel and Giselle to the North side of the island. Reese and First Mate Kiel should go with you, to the Southeast. Show them the scrolls, and we’ll follow their lead.”

“Aye, aye, Captain. Alright, lads! Follow me, then I’ll follow you. Sound good?”

Reese and First Mate Kiel gathered their supplies and joined the man as he began to lead the way up a torchlit path.

“We’ll follow yer lead, Captain Sigma.” Giselle hopped up and down, ready to dive into unearthing the elusive treasure.

“Aye,” agreed Captain Kiel, “Shall we?”

Without a word, Captain Sigma studied his sapphire compass, spun on his heel, and took off along the edge of the shore. Giselle and Captain Kiel followed close behind, until the former man abruptly stopped. Turning to face the twosome, he produced an ancient scroll, much like the one Giselle had noticed earlier. He held it out so they could see the faded, broken script scrawled across the tattered parchment: 

‘A lover’s grave to the North ye will find

By lantern’s fire, a light must shine…’


⚓⚓⚓

“That’s it?” Giselle stared at the document in disbelief. “A lover’s grave to the North… lantern’s fire… light must shine…” As she continued to mutter the riddle to herself, Captain Sigma and Captain Kiel began to search the immediate area for any sign of a ‘lover’s grave’. Giselle withdrew compass. They were definitely on the Northern side of the island. She wondered if the riddle could be alluding to finding the grave on the journey to the North, rather than at the Northernmost point.

Working off this theory, Giselle followed her compass North a few feet, until she could go no further. As the waves gently lapped at her single bare foot and Kraken peg-leg, she spun around until facing due South. Still not completely sure this was the right tactic, she said nothing to the others, and, at a run, took off through the dense foliage. It was hard to see in the darkness, but she soon reached the Southern shores. Once again, Giselle spun around. She was now facing due North once more and brought her lantern out to light the way. 

With careful and deliberate steps, she walked back in the direction of the two Captains. She heard shouts from the West and knew Reese and First Mates Kiel and Insom must be getting close to their own riddle’s end.

Her heart thumping, Giselle continued onward, scanning every rock, tree, and battered barrel in case it hid the lover’s grave. Nearing the halfway point, she climbed to the top of a steep hill and glanced around. In a flash her eyes were drawn to the darkened recess of a large boulder. Inching closer, she saw it – the cross and skeletal remains of a piratess’ burial site. A wreath of flowers adorned the cross, which had a large heart engraved upon it. It could only be the grave of the ‘lover’. Taking a deep breath, Giselle raised her lantern.

A deep rumble was felt throughout the island, and an ethereal glow emanated from the mound of earth beneath the cross. Gleaming green eyes of the lover’s skull bored into her very soul. Without a moment’s hesitation, Giselle ran off, hurrying to meet with the others who had, undoubtedly, felt the seismic tremors, as well.

She ran up to shouts and cheers of congratulations, and the fear which had begun to take hold in her heart subsided. Everyone was gathered together. Reese had figured out the riddle First Mate Insom had been working on, and Captain Kiel had discovered an unrelated chest full of coin and even an ornate relic. While everyone was happy and celebrating, Captain Sigma announced, “Well done, me hearties! Though, that was just the first part of each riddle. We have more to do, yet, Mateys. Are ye ready to go on?”

The crew’s confidence had been bolstered by their mutual successes. In exuberant unison, they shouted, “Aye!”

Pleased, Captain Sigma smiled, “Aye! Let us get on with it, then. First Mate Insom… you know what to do.”

“Aye, Captain,” replied the man with a nod, “Giselle, you and First Mate Kiel are with me this time. Captain Kiel and Reese, please accompany Captain Sigma.” The crew joined their respective groups, all ready to tackle the challenge which lay ahead. “Alright, lads… move out!”

With a fresh resolve and a hunger for the adventure unfolding before them, the two parties went their separate ways once more. Captain Sigma headed off for the central rock pyre, while First Mate Insom directed the others to the Eastern shores. Once more, a dusty, old scroll was produced and shown to them:

‘Along a sloped and rocky path ye must traverse,

Toward the Eastern shores.

For gold in yer purse,

Strike a chord.’

“Well,” began First Mate Kiel, “these are definitely the Eastern shores. There must be a rocky path around here, somewhere.”


⚓⚓⚓

The hunt was on! Pirates, three searched far and wide along the sandy banks. They soon split off and began to seek out the designated path in different areas. First Mate Insom strolled along the edge of a green field, while First Mate Kiel picked his way through the remnants of an old campsite. Giselle looked to the moon, now high in the sky. It would be daylight in a matter of hours, and fatigue was beginning to set in. Still, she was determined to complete this legendary quest. In the distance she spied two cliffs, proudly jutting out over the beach, and headed toward them. 

As she came closer to the hulking, gray stone edifices, the grasses fell away to reveal a patchy trail, speckled with rocks and boulders. Her heart leapt as she followed the path, one tentative step after another. The incline was slight, but it was there… ‘a sloped rocky path’. Without another thought, she whipped out her Imperial drums and began to beat a rhythm. Just as before, the ground shook and an eerie, green light emanated from the land around her.

A shout was heard from the distance, “Skellies! We got Skellies, lads!”

There Be Skellies!

Giselle dropped her drum and ran. As she hurried onto the scene, First Mate Kiel and Captain Sigma were nearly back-to-back, facing off against a hoard of Skellies. Reese was perched atop a jagged rock, doing her best to fend off even more of the bony, undead creatures. Captain Kiel shouted for Giselle to draw her sword, “Grab yer blade, woman! We need help!”

“Aye, Captain!” came her swift response. Her sharp, gilded saber made short work of the first three Skellies which headed her way. Glancing around, she noticed someone was missing. The clanging of metal meeting metal distracted her. She replaced her sword with a yellow-gold pistol, emblazoned with deep, red roses. With a sure and steady aim, she fired again and again. The bullets zinged through the alabaster-white bones with a sickening crunch.

As she spun, she kept a keen eye on the others, running to each in turn as she saw them being overcome by the hoard. Finally, the earth was still. The Skellies had stopped rising, though a handful of stragglers remained. In an almost lazy fashion, they gave chase and were dealt with in a matter of moments. 

When the last Skelly fell, First Mate Insom appeared, swimming into view from around the backside of a large rock. As he paddled to shore, he called out to the battle-worn crew, “Ahoy, lads! We’ve a treasure to find!”

“Aye, treasure,” came Giselle’s breathless reply. “And, where were you while we were all fighting for our lives?”

With a sheepish chuckle, First Mate Insom produced the scroll. He held it out for all to see. The last line had been revealed. “Well done, Giselle. Seems your drumming was the key. Now, here is our last task.” He took a deep breath to steady his nerves. “It’s time. This is it. The moment we earn the name ‘pirate’. Athena’s Chest is ours for the taking! Aye?!”

The potential for coin, gems, and glittering, golden trinkets immediately consumed everyone’s mind. They all read the last line together, 

“The treasure ye seek is of incredible worth.

Meet Athena in the place with no sky.

Then, the chest ye must unearth.

Turn North. Let fourteen paces be yer guide.”

This riddle was definitely the most complex one thus far. While the others pondered their way through the various possible meanings, Giselle’s mind honed in on one particular phrase, ‘Meet Athena in the place with no sky’.

This one, she knew. On her run during the first riddle, she’d noticed a darkened cave entrance. It had been directly off course, so she’d continued on her way. Now, she was dying to go inside. The island was actually fairly small in comparison to others they’d plundered in recent times. The only place where there was ‘no sky’ was inside that cavern. For once, she spoke up, confident in her answer. 

“You guys,” she began, “I think I know where to go.”

The others, who’d been chatting amongst themselves, turned to face her, “Well, where are we headed then, lad? Erm… lass…” First Mate Insom chuckled over his mistake. “We’ll follow you, Giselle.”

“Aye,” Giselle nodded, turned, and headed Southwest. 


⚓⚓⚓

As she led the way through the ever-thickening brush, Giselle began to get nervous. She’d never been the navigator. The role of look-out was hers for a reason. Yes, she excelled at early warnings, but she was also terrible with directions. Gulping passed the lump in her throat, she continued to march hesitantly onward. 

After ten long minutes, Captain Kiel became wary of Giselle’s ability to lead them to the right area. It became clear to all they were now wandering aimlessly when they crossed the same tree-cluttered hilltop for the third time. “Erm, Giselle?”

Giselle stopped in her tracks. She knew what Captain Kiel was about to say. Before he could pose the question, she relented, “Okay, so I know where it is, but I can’t figure out how to get back to it! How I can get lost on an island this small is beyond me, but there you have it. I’ve failed. Sorry… mateys.”

“No worries, Giselle,” Captain Kiel stepped forward, “We’ll find it. At least we know what we’re looking for.” Slipping a stormy, blue compass from his pocket, Captain Kiel turned this way, then that, finally heading back down the same hillside up which they’d just traipsed.

The rest of the crew had no choice but to follow along, keeping sharp eyes out for any sign of a cave-like shape in the tropical foliage. Reaching sea-level, they rounded the base of the hill and there, looming in front of them, sat the shadowy, inky black entrance to a small, dank cave along the water’s edge.

“Ho, ho! Thar she be, lads!” First Mate Insom’s shout of triumph echoed back to them off the cold, bare walls within the earthy den. 

With varying degrees of excitement and awe, the six-man crew made their way into the lightless hovel. Reese and First Mate Insom drew their lanterns, casting ghostly illuminations upon the craggy walls. The Captains both drew their shovels, and, while First Mate Kiel repeatedly checked his compass, Giselle drew her sword. If ever there was a crew worthy and ready enough to claim the highly sought-after treasure of Athena, this was them.

Their trek was short-lived, as the tunnel quickly opened up into a vast cavern. Like a slow sun dawning, their lanterns unveiled the hollow space bit by spectacular bits. The stalagmites and stalactites sparkled and danced in the wavering flamelight, and the group drew a collective breath as they marveled at the natural beauty presented before them.

“Argh, this be where the treasure lives! I’d bet me left hook on it.” Captain Sigma’s excitement began to take hold. 

First Mate Insom motioned to the dangerously sharp tips of the stalactites hanging precariously above their heads. “We’d best be on our toes, lads. There may be treasure here, but there’s death as well.” He was right. As their eyes adjusted fully to the low light, they saw the scattered skulls and bones which littered the ground.

“Time to don your big-boy undies, gentlemen,” Giselle quipped good-naturedly, “Let’s get a move on!” Raising her sword in a preemptive blocking maneuver, she inched along, trudging through the keratin-dusted limbs, ribs, and other various pieces and parts. Through the labyrinth of death, a hazy mist rose. It was nearly morning, and the sun’s heat as it dissipated off the ground created an otherworldly atmosphere. 

They tiptoed silently through the cavern, searching every nook and cranny for any sign of Athena. A beam of amber sunlight suddenly filtered through a small hole in the cave’s ceiling, filling the area. With no need for extreme measures, the crew split up, hoping to locate the treasure before the fleeting ray left them in darkness, once again. The cavern sectioned out into two smaller chambers. 

Captain Kiel, Reese, and First Mate Insom strode confidently into the first room, leaving the second for Captain Sigma, First Mate Kiel, and Giselle to search. Almost immediately, it was evident the rooms were largely empty, save for centuries old armor and empty barrels. 

“Where the bloody hell is it?!” First Mate Insom’s words echoed throughout the space.

“Calm down,” soothed Giselle, “It has to be here. We’ve done everything right, I know we have. There must be something we’re missing…” 

“Wouldn’t be this, would it?” Reese asked, pointing to a small, painted image of a woman holding a staff and accompanied by a small bird, which looked to be an owl.

It was easily missed, as all but the tip of the staff had been obscured by a broken barrel. The group gather around the splintered container, each trying to get a good look at the hieroglyphic-like depiction of the goddess. 

“By thunder, she’s done it, lads!” First Mate Insom’s shout of exaltation resounded throughout the cave.  

“Aye, Matey!” concurred Captain Kiel, “That she has!”

“Well done, Reese!” Giselle whooped and clapped the beaming woman on the back.

“No time to waste, me hearties! Dig!” Captain Sigma’s direction needed no repeating. 

“Aye! What’s our heading, Captain?” Giselle’s quivering voice betrayed her excitement.

Captain Sigma checked his scroll one final time, “North. Fourteen paces.”

Knowing ‘fourteen paces’ was not an exact, scientific unit of measurement, First Mate Insom and Captain Kiel each took a slightly different angle and counted off their steps. They stopped, trading hopeful, confident grins.

“Together?” First Mate Insom asked.

“Aye,” nodded Captain Kiel in agreement, “together.”

Thrusting their spades into the rock-hard ground, a thunking sound was clearly heard from the tip of First Mate Insom’s shovel. They took a collective breath and cheered, as one.

“Athena’s Chest!”

“We did it! I can’t believe we actually did it!”

“Time to get rich!”

First Mate Insom continued to dig enthusiastically. With his third shovelful of dirt, the earth began to tremble.


⚓⚓⚓

“Insom! Behind you!” First Mate Kiel’s shout was just in time. First Mate Insom quickly dropped his shovel and spun around, his Blunderbuss at the ready.

Not a moment too soon, he let a round fly. The crisp cracking and splintering of bone resounded as the bullet met the rib of a Skelly Captain. With a rasping, haunted laugh, the undead figure advanced, barely reacting to the injury.

The earth shuddered again. Behind the menacing Skelly Captain rose three more, all brandishing their signature shell rapiers. The crew drew arms, ready to fight off their attackers. The Skelly Captains advanced, and the crews’ Captains leapt in front of their mates. 

“Not today, you rotten pile of bones!” Captain Kiel’s shout was followed by a series of graceful blows from his rather regal cutlass.

Captain Sigma’s Ebon Flintlock felled the closest foe, and the rest of the crew descended upon the last two in flurry of golden blades and smoking bullets. When the dust was settled, the skulls of the Skelly Captains lay at their feet – a trophy for their troubles.

“We really are the dream team, lads!” exclaimed First Mate Insom, high on the win.

Reese and First Mate Kiel raised their tankards in salute. Captain Sigma and Giselle joined with their own mugs. With hearts full of adventure a smiles on their faces, Captain Kiel and First Mate Insom added their drinks to the mix and the group had a proper cheers. 

They continued to congratulate each other as First Mate Insom resumed his digging duties. Finally, the chest was revealed! Gilded in silver and emblazoned with intricately carved owls on every available surface, it glittered prominently, even in the low light. With due reverence for the honor and glory of the moment, the crew had a moment of serene, unblemished silence.

“Ok, that’s enough of that!” First Mate Insom cried out after soaking it all in, “Who’s ready to make some money?!”

“Yeah! Now we’re talkin’!” Giselle ran to help with the treasure, picking up one of the heavy, golden skull trophies.

“I’ll help with one of those,” Reese said, coming forward. “I wish we could carry more than one at a time, but they’re a lot heavier than they look.”

“It is a burden, but one I think we can bear,” First Mate Kiel gave a cheeky wink as he grabbed the third skull.

“I suppose I’ll carry the chest, then,” Captain Kiel bent down to lift the argent crate. As he rose, there came a clatter from the adjoining chamber. 

Captain Sigma, one hand on the hilt of his sword, turned to face the small room. “I will see what’s going on. You all just get that treasure on the ship while you can!”

“Aye, aye!” replied the crew. One by one, they filed out of the cave with their prizes. Boarding the waiting ship, they carefully deposited each piece before heading back to Captain Sigma.

The Captain was waiting for them at the cave’s entrance. “Have I got a surprise for you all,” he said, spreading his arms wide in invitation to proceed.

Wondering if this might be the moment they were betrayed by the crew of the unassuming sloop, the Kiel family trailed hesitantly back into the cave. They rounded the single bend before reaching the two smaller chambers.

“This one,” said Captain Sigma, moving to the front of the line and leading them into the darkened area.

“I don’t see…” Giselle began warily. She quickly breathed a sigh of relief as First Mate Insom brought up the rear with his lantern brightly lit. She blinked, barely able to comprehend what her eyes were seeing. 

The room, empty and barren just moments before, had been transformed into a literal trove of treasure. The floors, walls, and ceilings were solid gold, gleaming and reflecting the mounds of gold and silver coins, the random assortment of precious trinkets, and the rainbow of highly-polished gems. Just a fraction of the wealth within the small chamber could allow the Kiel family to retire from piracy… if they wanted.

For now, they loaded their ship until it was nearly in danger of sinking. It took many, many trips, and the sun was high in the sky when they were finally ready to set sail. Again, galleon followed sloop. They were in luck, too; the nearest outpost was only two nautical miles away. The skies were devoid of clouds and there was not a ship, megalodon, nor single Kraken tentacle on the horizon.

Before they could really comprehend what was happening, their treasures were sold off and the money began rolling in. Finally, it was time to deliver Athena’s Chest.

All together, the two crews became one to complete this historic voyage. The pirates who’d once been no more than murderous bandits, out for blood, had allowed themselves to be heartened by the wholesome family.

At the very least, they all completed their quest and met new and interesting people.

⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓

***
All aboard the FRIENDship! 

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