Captain Blackscuttle knew that calling for his new crew mates was pointless, if the Island of Gold had wanted him to have help it would have allowed the last part of his journey to be accompanied. But that did not make things better for the older man. He was still racked with guilt over what had happened to his former crew, he was still haunted by the vision of them dying at his feet and he was still at pains when he thought it was all or wealth, wealth he didn’t even get.
As he stood less than twenty feet from where the Island had led him, staring a large ‘X’ marked in the sand the captain did not know what to do. All pirates knew ‘X’ marked the spot, all pirates knew that where there was an ‘X’ treasure surely laid buried. Treasure was what he’d come for and now not knowing what that treasure was, was holding him back. He’d been provided the tools, odd as they may be for digging up buried treasure, and he’d been provide the path, it stood to reason that what laid buried under the ‘X’ was his for the taking.
Whether it took him only a minute or an hour Captain Blackscuttle could not tell but at one point he did begin to move his feet. It was a slow shuffle, one scuffed step at a time with the rope coiled on his shoulder, the small shovel in his left hand and the pickaxe in his right. Five feet from the ‘X’ he stopped, dropped all but the shovel and starred.
He stared at the ‘X’ for several moments, the cool breeze that pushed passed his face made the nervous sweat that slowly ran down from his forehead feel cold and he instantly had to wipe it away. His knees weren’t trembling but he thought were he too move them they would start, and the little pangs in his stomach seemed to be pushing him on, but with no conviction.
Eventually Captain Blackscuttle started to overcome his mind, overcome his nerves and overcome doubt. His will power pushed its way to the surface, he shook off the nerves and stepped forward. Carefully he stepped around each line that formed the ‘X’ until he was standing in the centre, whether that was required given that he was about to dig a hole he had no idea, but it felt right.
Gripping the small shovel Captain Blackscuttle bent down and placed the tip of the blade onto the sand, bridging one line of the ‘X’ with another. He then took a deep breath and pushed the shovel head into the sand. A clap of thunder burst through the clear skies, where it came from not even an educated man could guess but it mattered not because Captain Blackscuttle was not turning back.
The sand was soft, softer than he expected given what he’d been walking on, but it was still hard work with such a small implement. He started out lifting the shovel full of sand out of the hole he was making and tossing it to his left, but he quickly realised that was not going to do, for if the hole got too big he would end up with a pile of sand that could easily bury him alive. He started to spread out his sand, widen the hole and create less points for a cave in. It increased his workload but he felt better doing it.
The old captain dug, and dug, and dug, sweat poured from his brow, panting breaths escaped his mouth and groans of effort echoes quietly as the hole got deeper and deeper. In less than an hour he was standing in a hole six foot square and eight foot deep.
When he hit something solid with the blade of the shovel for the first time Captain Blackscuttle thought he’d hit solid rock, the clang of the blade echoed back up the hole so loudly. The second time the shovel hit the solid surface he knew it wasn’t rock but something softer. Minutes later the lid of a chest was exposed, then minutes after that the edges and the side of the chest were exposed as well.
Captain Blackscuttle stared at the fully exposed wooden chest. It didn’t immediately appear as elaborate as some of the chests he had seen over his years but it was solid and looked like it had only recently been put in the ground. However the most distinct thing about the chest before him was what it was missing. There was no clasp, no lock, not even a pair of hinges that would allow the lid to open, in fact there was no obvious way to open the chest at all.
As he rubbed his hands across the timber surface trying to re-assure his mind that there had to be some way into the chest to find its treasures, he felt the slightly rough edges of a knot in the timber. Crouching down he looked at the knot closely, then for a second time rubbed his fingers over it, he did it a third time, then a fourth. Then with the fifth rub across its surface, while his mind searched for answers as to what he was actually doing he heard a puff of escaping air.
Captain Blackscuttle pulled back from the chest, it was an instinctive reaction and one that allowed him to see a plume of smoke quickly escaping from three sides of the chest while the lid slowly raised on what must have been internal hinges. More smoke appeared as the lid opened, the captain could see nothing in the chest as the grey plumes gently rose towards his face. The smoke had no smell and as he moved his head towards the chest to see if he could see through it he realised it also did not sting his eyes.
In the seconds the captain’s head was immersed in smoke he thought about what was happening. The island, the battles that seemed impossible to loose, the solo trek guided by nothing other than water, the ‘X’, and the chest that appeared to open when he ran his fingers over a knot in the timbers.
So little made sense. Then the smoke began to clear.
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