It didn’t take them long to find the small clearing and the large round stone, and between Jack, Thomas and Tiny they managed to lift it with ease.
“By the Goddess.”
Exclaimed Isabella, as the moved stone revealed a small dug hole with a ladder leading into a tunnel. The excitement started to bubble up in the four of them as the idea of actual hidden treasure grew in their minds and they all quickly made their way down the ladder.
“It looks like you might have found us a genuine treasure map after all Thomas.”
“What? You mean you doubted me?”
The brothers smiled at each other as they made their way deeper into the tunnel. After a few silent minutes of contemplation, a thought crept out of Thomas.
“It might have been my map, but you got us here.”
“What are you talking about now?”
“Without you, none of this would have happened. I mean, sure, I dealt with the men, but you did all of the hard work, the mental heavy lifting, without you, I’d be nowhere.”
“Our ship is either ash in the wind or coal at the bottom of the ocean, we’re being hunted by mutineers on a haunted island. We’re not exactly in a good space here.”
Thomas reached forward and punched his brother in the leg in protest.
“Yes, but you got our expedition started, you get the ship in the first place, you got us off the ship while it burned and you remembered about circles while Isabella was casting her spell. If it were up to me I’m not sure we ever would have left England, let alone made it this far.”
Jack knew what his brother was trying to say and he was touched, but also didn’t really know how to respond, so was relieved when he saw that the tunnel they were in joined onto a much larger cave filled with sunlight.
“Looks like we’ve found the caves we’re after, come along.”
The cave was high enough that they all could stand and without much looking around they realised the term ‘buried treasure’ wasn’t exactly accurate. Piled up in the back of the not very deep cave was what looked like a dragon’s horde. Chests overflowing with gold and jewels, artwork, swords and guns, books and maps. It was more treasure than they could ever have imagined
“My God Jack we’ve done it! We’re RICH!”
Thomas shouted as he jumped up and down in excitement. Grabbing his brothers hands he danced with him through the cave, singing.
“We’re rich we’re rich.”
Taken by the pure enthusiasm, Tiny and Isabella quickly joined in on the dance. But ever the sobering voice of reason Jack was the first to break away from the spell and stepped away from the group.
“The question is, how do we get this, and us, off this island and home?”
The dancing quickly stopped as the seriousness of their situation started to sink in. Tiny and Thomas looked at each other and then to Isabella, who had been living on the island for years and never found a way off. Or perhaps never looked for one. Isabella was looking at Jack who had suddenly grown contemplative and wandered towards the mouth of the cave to look out over the water. In the distance, he could see a small part of their ship sticking out among the waves. The cave fell silent for a few minutes and all eyes moved to Jack, waiting for him to once again come up with a solution. Jack continued to stare out at the water clearing his mind of distraction and running through possible solutions, ways to make a plan, looking at potential outcomes. Then suddenly it hit him and he turned to face the others with a smile on his face and his hand raised in triumph. But before he could announce his plan his body suddenly stiffened and his eyes went blank. He dropped to his knees for a moment then fell on his face. Thomas instantly ran to his brother, rolled him over and shook him.
“No, no Jack, no no no, please don’t let this be happening… JACK! JACK!”
As he shook his brother’s body blood started running from the hole in his head onto Thomas’s legs.
“Jack no, don’t leave me, please don’t leave me.”
Behind them, the mutineers had found the uncovered entrance to the tunnels and followed them in, without a word one of the men had fired a shot, originally intended as a warning, but had stuck Jack between the eyes. Before Thomas could even begin to form thoughts, Tiny wrapped a massive arm around him and leapt out of the cave mouth towards the water, Thomas over his shoulder and Isabella, screaming, under his arm.