Lord Destrain's Gift

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

A noble man is imprisoned by pirates and must discover and use his gift to save himself.

“Arrh, Matey! Ye shall be walking the plank unless ye tell me where me blasted treasure is…” threatened the wretched Blackbeard.

This comment was directed toward Lord Destrian, an archaeologist held captive. Blood was pouring down his face from numerous gashes. His ribs were cracked. He was tied to a pillar. This was surprisingly painful, as nails and bolts were sticking out from various parts of the wood.

“You will not kill me. I alone know the whereabouts of your treasure.” countered the Lord, in raspy voice. “Give me three days, and I will appear before you with my decision,” coughed Lord Destrian.

Blackbeard responded with a haughty laugh. “You disgust me,” he said, as he opened a bottle of champagne  with a satisfying pop. “Nevertheless, the treasure is priceless. I cannot bear to see it slip through my fingers again. After the allotted time is up, and you do not reveal the whereabouts of the treasure, I shall instill trepidation within you, by means which you would not have thought possible.”

Lord Destrian was taken to his cabin. It was small cabin without a window  and it did not allow for much sleep, as pirates used the door for knife throwing. It was constantly watched, by Blackbeard’s best men. Destrian had no means of getting off the ship. His only asset was his intellectual strength. However, a plan was forming in his mind. It had a high chance of failure, but he needed to get off the ship. Then he would improvise.

Minutes after sunset on the 3rd day, Blackbeard called for Lord Destrian. Heart palpitating, Lord Destrian approached the pirate, aware that blood and gore was imminent if his plan failed. “I propose a plan. First, the conditions. If you complete the challenge, I will reveal to you were the treasure is located. If you fail, I will be thrown to the blood-thirsty creatures that lurk these waters. Either way, you win.”

“Continue, insolent man,” grunted Blackbeard.

“I pose a riddle, an enigma.” explained the Lord. He asked, “What walks on four in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening?” This riddle was a classic, first posed by the mystical Sphinx to all travelers who seeked the Right of Way. Whoever failed to give the answer was gruesomely devoured.

Though Blackbeard was sure of the answer, he took 3 days to reveal his answer. Again, Destrian was summoned, and Blackbeard uncorked yet another bottle of liquor, as he said, “The answer is man. Early in life, man crawls on all four. In the middle of life, man walks on two. Towards the end of life, man walks on three legs: two withering legs and a cane.”

“Very well,” came the reply from Lord Destrian. “Your treasure is hidden in the Canyon of the Rising Sun, in the heart of the Median Islands.”

Blackbeard snickered to his comrades. His yellow, rotten teeth glinted in the moonlight. “I knew the rascal would talk. Set course for the Median Islands!” Blackbeard shouted. He neared Lord Destrian, “If perhaps, by mistake, you gave the incorrect location, I know of a well-paying cannibal clan up north; or I myself may tear off your limbs for attempting to outwit my pirates,” whispered Blackbeard, the smell of alcohol clearly distinguishable in his breath, among other foods, like pickles and salted fish.

Lord Destrian was imprisoned in his clammy, compact, cabin, with little food and sleep, until the ship reached its destination. The thought that his plan was working to perfection was his sole beacon of hope. As he entered the deck, the bright sunlight caused him to cover his eyes. The ship threw its anchor and rocked mildly, as the pirates alighted from the stairs onto dry land.

Lord Destrian directed the pirates through the jungle. Two pirates slashed vines ahead, as Lord Destrian muttered to himself, no doubt recalling archaeology textbooks that would “lead” the pirates to the treasure. Suddenly, Lord Destrian stopped. He felt the plush grass and sniffed the humid air. He directed the team sharply left, and soon, they were standing in front of a cave. The group entered the eerie cave and stood before a large boulder. Lord Destrian felt for the walls as an unknown creature scurried past.

“If we are in the wrong place I swear I’ll shred him with my dagger,” muttered a pirate.  

The Lord announced, “In this cave resided an old warlock. There a many signs that this place has known magic. The old warlock, Gandolph, would have preferred his treasure remain a secret. Therefore, payment is required to pass; by which I mean blood, of those who seek his treasure.” Reluctantly, Blackbeard ordered a pirate to hand over a knife to their captive. The pirates guarding him seemed to be more vigilant. He slit a deep cut in Blackbeard’s right cheek. And, doing it as hard as he could without seeming rebellious, he smeared Blackbeard’s cheek upon the rough surface of the sandstone. A queer air filled the cavern. The rock with blood ascended dramatically. Facing the group was a withered old knight.

“I am Forthwind, Guardian of Gandolph’s sacred treasure. Those who seek my ancestor’s treasure must first pass a test. As you may see, I have a selection of cups behind me, ranging from goblets to demitasses. The seeker and the seeker alone must select the cup that shines rightly in their eyes, and fill it with water from the fountain to my left. The one who chooses Gandolph’s cup will be awarded the treasure and glory beyond measure. Be warned! Choose incorrectly, and suffer a terrible fate. Leader, step forward and make your choice.”

Blackbeard came to the cups. His rapacious eyes searched the arsenal. His eyes settled on a tall, elegant goblet, studded with shining emeralds and glimmering rubies. Gold, of course. The engraving on the goblet depicted an old Goblin ceremony, the naming of the first born. Lord Destrian was hoping for Blackbeard to select that cup. He was positive, and had the incontrovertible proof. Clearly, Blackbeard neglected to remember  the Warlock-Goblin war, taking place 180 years before. Gandolph’s entire family was annihilated, expect for him. During his life, Lord Destrian recalled from a textbook, Gandolph’s eyes radiated pure hatred and abomination for the Goblin clan. Therefore, his cup would not have contained any sort of Goblins, even more so a happy ceremony.

Blackbeard took the exquisite cup and ambled toward the marble fountain. All eyes were on Blackbeard as he filled the goblet, except for the knight’s, whose eyes were closed tight with intense meditation. Blackbeard lifted the ornate goblet to his lips, and said, “This one is for me treasure,” and closed his eyes as he gulped down the water.

The knight stood up, and said in a brave tone, “You chose incorrectly. Your greed blinds you. My inclination tells me that this brave one told you a similar thing,” as he pointed toward Lord Destrian. “Your greed has indeed led towards your downfall.” Instantaneously, Blackbeard’s black beard turned a chalk white. His head dried and shriveled, as his yellow teeth sunk into his gums. His hair immediately thinned. His eyes rolled up into the back of his head. His skin turned a deathly gray color, and continued to wither. Soon, Blackbeard the pirate was a mere skeleton, sprawled on the floor as a skeleton could be.

The pirates were dumbfounded. Their leader decomposed within seconds. It was clear they were scared beyond their wits. Nevertheless, they stood their ground. The second-in-command motioned to Lord Destrian with his spear.

“You choose cup, or we kill you,” grunted the pirate, whose sobriquet was The Bloody Sadness, due to his gruesome methods of murder.

Destrian approached the wide selection of cups. He scanned the variety, aware that Gandolph’s  cup would be made of copper, not gold nor silver, for in the Warlock’s Religion, copper was consecrated to them, while gold and silver were frowned upon (this was a commandment that Warlocks weren’t able to interpret, they simply adhered to it). He located three cups made of copper, two rusty chalices and one gleaming goblet. He immediately rejected the first chalice, because upon inspecting it, it was produced by a 6th century potter, alive many years after Gandolph. Lord Destrian eyed his two choices. One meant sure glory. The other, certain death. The goblet was stout and wide, depicting an ancient Greek ceremony, the recognition of the new moon. The chalice was plain copper, not particularly aesthetically pleasing. There was much dirt and rust on the chalice. Lord Destrian did his utmost to recall anything from his studies about Gandolph, but to no avail. Lord Destrian looked at the withered knight, with a perplexed visage. The knight raised his frail, miniature, hand, as if to say, “I cannot help you.” Lord Destrian stared at the raised hand. “Of course!” thought Lord Destrian. “Little hands are the trademark of the Warlock Race! The last warlock above 1.2 meters with large hands was Cedric the Courageous. The circumference of the Goblet could not have fit Gandolph’s tiny hand! Gandolph’s consecrated cup must be the Chalice. Here goes.”

Lord Destrian removed his cup from the selection, and walked over to the polished fountain. He filled it up, and raised the cup to his lips. Lord Destrian quaffed the water. A warm air filled the cavern, and a light shone above Lord Destrian’s head.

The knight nodded. “You have chosen correctly, but alas, I cannot bequeath Gandolph’s treasure upon you.”

A deathly silence descended upon the cavern. Some pirates looked ready to hurl their various projectiles at the knight in indignation.

“The reason for this is because I cannot bestow something which you already have,” explained the knight. “Gandolph’s treasure is the ability observe, perceive, analyze. His treasure is intellect. In that regard; you, brave soul, need no more help.

One pirate, Uric the Tenacious, charged with a double-edged blade, aiming for Lord Destrian’s throat.

The knight sprung to his feet. He was exceptionally agile for a decrepit Warlock. His sword was drawn within seconds, and, seconds later, Uric’s decapitated figure was sprawled across the floor, a widening pool of blood forming beneath it.

The knight pointed his blade at the clan of pirates. This petrified them, so they turned and escaped, never to be heard from again.

“You are worthy of your gift. My great-grandfather can rest in his grave. This is my farewell.” said the knight as he sighed. The knight raised his right hand, and touched Lord Destrian’s forehead. The last thing the Lord remembered before he lost consciousness was the knight’s relaxed faced, as if a cumbersome burden was lifted off his shoulders.

Lord Destrian continued to unearth the world’s secrets, never forgetting his conquest for Gandolph’s treasure. Lord Destrian showed gratitude to god every day for his prominent intellect, knowing that he was alive thanks to it. Blackbeard’s pirates never terrorized a poor fisherman or made a poor merchant walk the plank again. All was well until Captain Bartholomew Silver, nicknamed “The Murderer’s Secret,” began to rule the seas…..

Submitted: November 20, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Jonathan Novak. All rights reserved.

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