The Cursed Treasure of Mount Perilion by James Rumpel

Monday, February 1, 2021
The diminutive inhabitants of planet Bordeion try to exact revenge by using an Earthman's greed against him; by James Rumpel.

In an undersized servant quarters, attached to a newly constructed mansion, two diminutive beings spoke to each other in hushed whispers. The muted nature of their conversation was, in all likelihood, unnecessary since the person whose ears they wished to avoid would not have understood their native tongue.

"It seems like a very complicated plan," said Banto, the taller of the two Bordians. He stood a towering, for his race, 4 feet in height.

"It is the only option for revenge that we have," answered his comrade, Doroc. "The Leadership has decreed that we take no aggressive actions towards any off-worlders. They believe our planet will benefit from dealings with these beings from space and should not risk undermining future relationships. But, by my plan, the off-worlder will be inflicting his punishment on himself. We will have nothing to do with it."

Banto considered Doroc's scheme, tapping the three gangly fingers of his right hand against his chin. "We will be contributing to his suffering by misleading him. The Leadership could construe that as hostile actions on our part."

"But that is the glory of this plan. We don't have to lie to him, we just have to leave out a few details. If he doesn't ask, we are not required to tell him about hazardous magnetic fields or the nature of the jewel."

Doroc continued, "Surely, you agree that this human deserves to be punished for what he did to Knito. The Leadership says that the human broke no laws and that Knito chose to play a game of chance of his own free will. We both know, that the off-worlder took advantage of Knito. He deserves to be punished."

Banto's rate of finger tapping increased slightly. "All I have to do is tell the human about the legend. You will take care of everything else?"

"That's it. You will simply have to tell him a true story about our planet's history. You might have to do it three or four times, but you need not do anything beyond that."

"Well, then, I agree to do it," said Banto finally removing his fingers from his chin. "Knito was a good friend, he deserves to be avenged."

"And the human deserves everything he ends up doing to himself."

Grey Chall sat at the head of his blatantly oversized dinner table. He had just finished the third course of his meal. He sipped a glass of an expensive Bordian ale. Three months ago, his interplanetary trade ship had malfunctioned and left him stranded on this backwater planet, waiting for repairs. The Bordians were not very technologically advanced and displayed an abhorrence towards using most technology. Since the repairs would require waiting months for parts to be shipped in, Grey decided to make the most of his time on Bordeion. Through several shrewd, one-sided, trades and some successful gambling runs, Grey was living quite comfortably.

"Doesn't the weather ever change on this planet?" asked Grey. "Every day is exactly the same; sunshine and not a cloud in the sky during the day and misty rain at night. I can't tell one day from the next."

Doroc, his primary servant, flashed the Bordeion equivalent of a smile. "In many days we will have a different season, then we will have rain during the daylight hours and clear skies at night."

"It's ridiculous," said Grey. "Between the identical days and the stupid unreadable calendars and timepieces you have, I never have any idea what time or what day of the week it is."

"That's why I help you keep your appointments, sir."

"You wouldn't need to if you just had normal clocks." Grey enjoyed giving his servants a hard time.

"Our time keeping system is not that complicated. If you would just let me explain it to you, you could catch on in no time." Doroc gestured toward an apparatus protruding from a nearby wall. A series of concentric circles rotated about a center point. They spun horizontally, vertically, and every direction in between, all at different speeds.

"I can get by with my own watch. By the way, where is it?"

Doroc produced a wristband and time keeping device from the pocket of his tunic. "I have it right here. I took the liberty of cleaning it for you."

Grey silently snatched the watch from Doroc's extended hand and placed it on his wrist. "I heard an interesting tale while doing business today. One of the tellers at the bank mentioned a legend about a valuable treasure. I believe he called it the 'Jewel of Aleri'."

"Yes, that is a very well-known tale," answered Doroc. In the few weeks that Grey had employed Doroc, the Bordian had done amazingly well at picking up the human's native language. "The jewel is hidden on the top of Mount Perilion. It has been there for many generations."

"Why hasn't anyone gone and grabbed it?" asked Grey. His mind could not wrap itself around the concept of a valuable prize not being claimed.

"Oh, there are many reasons not to go to Mount Perilion. It is a very dangerous place," replied Doroc. "Thousands of years ago the mountain was the site of the castle of Aleri, the most powerful being to ever exist. Aleri had great wealth which he generously shared with everyone. All he asked for in return was adoration and privacy."

"That makes no sense at all," interjected Grey. "How could he have both adoration and privacy? And if you gave it privacy, how would it be able to share its wealth with you?"

"As I stated, Aleri was a very powerful being. He knew when he was being worshiped and knew what the worshipper needed. Each time a devoted Bordian made the trek to the base of the mountain they found the thing they needed most."

"That deal sounds way too good to be true," scoffed Grey. He extended an empty dish toward Doroc, feeling a painful twinge in his shoulder. "I must be getting old," he thought to himself. Always one to emphasize his superiority, the Earthman made a point of holding the plate as high as possible, forcing the diminutive Bordian servant to labor to reach it. Doroc remained expressionless as he rose to his tip-toes and grabbed the suspended dinnerware.

As he placed the dish on a nearby tray, Doroc, undauntedly, continued his tale. "In a way, it was too good to be true. As the population grew, more and more Bordians started expecting gifts without feeling the need to pay. Fewer and fewer people worshiped the mighty Aleri in the manner he deserved. Travelers would make the pilgrimage to the base of the mountain only to discover the altar empty. Those who felt jilted became more and more upset. Eventually, a large force decided that they were not going to ask for wealth, they were just going to take it. They attacked the mountain. Things did not end well for that force. As I said earlier, Aleri was very powerful.

"The insurrection angered the great being and Aleri, simply, left. As a final lesson to our people, Aleri placed a great treasure, the jewel, in the mountain. It is there but we are not allowed to have it. The curse that Aleri placed on the treasure says that anyone who attempts to remove it from its alcove is doomed to a lifetime of painful repetition." Here Doroc, being an expert storyteller, paused to let his last words sink in.

The words had very little effect on Grey. "That's silly. It's just a story. If it were true, someone would have found the treasure by now. And what does 'a lifetime of painful repetition' mean? Do they get a job as a file clerk?"

"Some have tried. None has ever succeeded. All who went after the treasure died in the attempt."

Grey threw his hands up as he rose from the table. "Pure superstition," he said as he absentmindedly glanced at the Bordian timepiece. "Now tell me what time it is so I can decide if it's time to go to bed or not."

Grey did not sleep well that night. A persistent throbbing in his lower back made it impossible for him to be comfortable. Secondly, he couldn't help but ponder the treasure on the mountain. He told himself that he didn't believe the tale for a second, but he did believe that most legends have some element of truth.

If there was a valuable jewel, Grey could depart this planet as an extremely wealthy man. Maybe the inhabitants of this planet couldn't or wouldn't take the treasure, but he, with the advanced machinery and equipment from his ship, could probably get to it with ease. The universe owed him. He had grown up poor, forced to join the space force just to get out of the slums on Earth. Since completing in his five years of service, he scratched out a living by trading and smuggling. He deserved more.

Maybe it was time for an adventure. As he lay awake that night, Grey decided he was going to go on a treasure hunt.

The next day, Grey began preparations. He had a hover speeder, from his ship, that would make the journey to the mountain with ease. Bordians did not have mechanical transportation. The trip for them would take weeks; he could get to the mountain in a few days.

There were many storage compartments on his spaceship, some out in the open, others well hidden. Some of the cargo areas contained tools and supplies that would help Grey in his quest. He secured a portable shelter and other camping supplies. He also had many different climbing and digging tools which could prove useful.

The backwards nature of the Bordians meant that there would be no aircraft or flying machine available. Grey would have to scale the mountain. Luckily, he was in the possession of several pairs of adherent climbing gloves. These scientifically enhanced gloves would allow the user to scale a mountain face with ease. The palm of each would adhere to any surface and could safely support much more than the weight of a full-grown man.

One of his ship's secret compartments had a large selection of these special gloves leftover from a failed delivery. As Grey took a pair from their case and made sure the batteries were charged, he noted that there were less than a dozen pairs left in the case. Grey paused. He was certain there should be more. Grey noticed some of his other supplies were dwindling also. Maybe some of the Bordians were to blame.

As it turned out, one pair of gloves was all Grey would need. None of the non-adventurous residents of the planet were willing to join him; no matter how much compensation he offered. He managed to convince Doroc, at considerable expense, to accompany him as far as the base of the mountain, but his servant refused to go beyond that point.

One evening, while Grey was busy preparing for his upcoming excursion to Mount Perilion, Doroc sounded the horn at a small ramshackle home on the outskirts of the city.

A Bordian woman, holding a child in her arms, answered the door. "Oh, Doroc, it is so nice to see you again. Please, come in."

"I cannot stay long, Lomarri. I just came to give you another payment." He handed the woman a small bag of currency. "It's not as much as it should be, but I hope it helps."

Lomarri took the offering with her free hand. "Thank you so much, Doroc. I don't know how you can work for that monster, after what he did to Knito."

"It is difficult, but I have my reasons. And there is some justice in the fact that he is paying me the money which I give to you."

Lomarri's face transformed from serene to one displaying great anger. "That creature is responsible for Knito's death. He cheated him out of all his money. Knito took his own life because of the dishonor that off-worlder inflicted upon him. Every day I pray to Aleri for the punishment of that human."

"I say the same prayers, Lomarri. Trust me, your prayers will be answered. I know they will."

After two cloudless days' travel across barren dessert, the hover speeder approached the base of Mount Perilion.

Grey immediately realized that climbing the mountain was going to be a challenge. As far as he could tell, the entire circumference of the mountain began with a sheer vertical wall, hundreds of feet in height. Even with the aid of the adherent gloves, this was going to be difficult.

"Are you starting to see the folly of your plan, sir?" asked Doroc. "We could turn around now and you will only be out a few days and the cost of supplies."

Grey scoffed at the suggestion. "I am a lot of things," Grey replied. "I am not a quitter. This is going to be worth it. Either I am going to return with a great treasure or I am going to prove your story is nothing but a myth." Grey did not doubt he could succeed at this climb. He was in excellent physical condition. In the course of his travels, he had completed many more difficult challenges, most for a less valuable reward.

They camped at the base that night. Doroc served Grey the last full meal he would have for a while. From now on, Grey was going to have to make do with the rations he could carry in his backpack.

The treasure hunter gave Doroc instructions to remain at the base camp until his return.

The beginning of the climb went smoothly. Grey rhythmically alternated hands as he scaled the rock wall. The thick spikes on his climbing boots allowed him to rest his feet against the rock. The climb was not easy, but he made steady progress.

After nearly two hours, Grey was only a few feet from the conclusion of the first leg of his quest. His arms ached with a dull throb. It was labor just to push the thinning air in and out of his lungs. Exhaustion was perched over him like a vulture, waiting to strike. Grey gave himself a short "you've got this" pep talk and prepared to make his final push.

It was just as he began to allow himself to think about finishing that disaster struck. He had secured his right-hand glove and was about to disengage the left glove when the display panel that was built into his goggles flickered. The battery display for the left glove slid quickly sideways. It dropped from seventy-five percent to zero, changing from a content green color to menacing red. The glove let go of the wall. Grey lost focus and balance. His feet slid from their position on the wall. There was a slight jolt as all of his weight was transferred to his right arm and shoulder. Grey found himself hanging, hundreds of feet above ground, by only the right-hand glove.

He hung there for a moment, contemplating what he could possibly do to survive this predicament. The left glove was useless now. Actually, worse than useless, since its bulky design made it impossible to grab any handhold he could reach. He used his mouth to undo the strap, the taste of leather and sweat dancing on his tongue. His teeth also did the service of pulling the dead glove from his hand. Spitting dryly, he released the glove and let it fall. As it plummeted towards the ground, Grey figured it wouldn't be long before he would join it.

Never one to panic, Grey assessed the situation. He had always managed to wiggle out of danger before. He wasn't certain he was going to do so this time. He had brought this on himself with his cocksure attitude and his greed. He took a deep breath. He deserved whatever happened. He would take it like a man.

Even he didn't deserve what happened next. The display blinked again and the right glove battery indicator started to quickly empty. There was no time to think. Pulling up, knives of pain stabbing him in his right shoulder, he simply threw his left hand upward as far as he could. Miraculously, the hand landed in a small crack in the wall. He instinctively grasped onto anything he could get a grip on. Excruciating pain erupted in his palm as the sharp rock split his skin, but he held on.

Grey screamed, partly in pain and partly in fear, as the glove on his right-hand lost adherence. He would not be able to maintain his tenuous grip for long. Somehow ignoring the torturous searing agony in his left hand, he dug the spiked toes of his boots into the cliff. He repeated the earlier action of using his teeth to remove the right glove. The glove dropped, heading to be reunited with its brother in the rocks below.

Looking skyward, Grey thought he saw a reachable handhold a few feet above the spot where his left hand precariously hung. Groaning and straining, Grey thrust his right hand upward. Finding the target, he latched on as best he could. Slightly more stable, he took a deep breath before reaching his left hand towards the next available spot. Blood made his grip on the next handhold dubious.

The thought danced through Grey's mind that all of this pain was going to be for nothing. He wouldn't be able to make it to the top. He should just end this and let himself fall.

Survival instinct won the moment. Grey made one more reach with his right hand and found himself able to fit it into a crevice in the top surface of the rock wall. With Herculean effort he pulled himself up, reaching beyond the top of the cliff. His hand grabbed a half-buried stone near the edge. In another miracle, the stone supported his weight as he pulled himself up. For a few minutes, Grey lay there, perched precariously on the very edge of the cliff. Finally catching his breath, he crawled to a safer position.

His thoughts flowed from question to question. How had the gloves' power failed? There must have been some sort of magnetic field that had drained the batteries. A quick check showed that his watch and every other battery-powered item in his backpack were devoid of power. How was he going to get down from the mountain? As his heart rate slowed and his mind cleared, he realized there was a solution. He had packed a length of extendable rope. He should be able to rappel his way down when the time came.

Despite, or possibly because of the near-death experience, Grey found himself more determined to continue his quest. He would camp here for the night. There was enough daylight to go further, but Grey thought it would be a good idea to rest as much as possible before continuing. Searching the area, he found a nice level place to set up his tent.

Grey replaced his spiked climbing boots with a pair of hiking shoes, placing the boots in his pack. He discovered that he was no longer within the area that drained battery power. His solar power converter allowed him to begin recharging his equipment.

As he prepared to build a fire, Grey came upon small signs that someone had camped here before. A faint circle of scorch marks could be seen on the hard rock surface near the spot where he erected his tent. Grey could not tell how long ago the previous camper had built the fire. Remembering the stolen gloves, a slight bit of concern crept into Grey's thoughts. Maybe he was not going to be the first to reach the treasure.

That evening Grey used his medical kit to repair his injured hand. He applied antiseptic glue to the wound to seal it. He was going to have a slight scar on his left palm when this was all over.

After a meal of camp rations, he settled in for a mostly restful night. A gentle rain tapped a soothing rhythm against the canvas tent. The only interruption to Grey's sleep was the bellow of some wild beast. The cries faded after a short time and were not heard again.

The next morning, Grey set off to find the treasure with renewed vigor. With the sheer vertical cliff behind him, the trek was much easier. He was still, by definition, climbing a mountain, but now he was simply treading up a very steep incline.

There was a distinct crest to the steep slope he was ascending. It took just over two hours for Grey to finally reach the pinnacle.

Grey froze in awe and anticipation as he spied the view from the peak. There in the distance, at the top of a second, less taxing incline, were the ruins of a castle. Surely, that was the castle Doroc spoke of. The legendary treasure was just a few minutes' walk away. Grey rubbed his hands together, smiled, and started toward the next climb. Soon he realized things were not as easy as he assumed.

He had failed to notice that the path between the rise he was on and the one he needed to climb was interrupted by a gaping ravine. The chasm ran as far as he could see to the right and the left. It was about ten meters across and looked to be more than twice that deep.

Grey began looking for the best place to make his way across the gap. He walked a kilometer in each direction. He was about to conclude that it didn't matter where he tried to cross since the distance was identical everywhere when he noticed something peculiar a short distance away.

Someone had managed to string a rope across the divide. Grey could use that rope to cross. It also meant that someone else had already been here. Was he going to get to the castle only to discover the treasure was already gone? It didn't matter at this point. He was going to continue. He hadn't come this far to turn back.

The days on Bordeion were not very long. The sun had already passed its apex and was starting a rapid descent. The bottom of the ravine was now covered in shadows. Had the shadows not obscured the spaces below, Grey might have noticed motion at the chasm's bottom. He did not.

Grey worked his way across the chasm. He held the rope with his hands and wrapped his knees around it. Hanging upside down, he began to scoot forward, hand-over-hand. Progress was slow, but the rope seemed secure and it was only going to be a matter of time until he reached the other side.

A screeching cry came from the shadows below. Grey turned his head barely in time to see a large birdlike creature emerge from the darkness. It grabbed Grey with one of its three talons, trying to pull him loose. The monstrous bird flapped its wings in an attempt to lift its prey. A second talon clawed at Grey's legs and knocked them from the rope. He kept the rope in his hands for a few more seconds before being pulled free.

The gigantic creature soared into the sky, its captive hanging below. It flew over what Grey could only assume was its nest. From above, Grey could make out bones and other debris. Among the assorted refuse, he noticed a backpack. At least he could assume that whoever brought the rope didn't make it to the treasure.

The flying monstrosity did not land in the nest. The creature took what Grey could only describe as a victory lap. As capture and captive circled, Grey worked to escape. Reaching behind his back with his one free hand, Grey found the zipper on his backpack. After opening the pack as far as possible, he tried to dig whatever he could out of the storage compartment. A box of rations slid free and fell to the ground. A little more maneuvering got the rope to come free and fall.

The sound of the two items hitting the rock below drew the huge bird's attention. It circled again, dropping to investigate what lay on the ground. Grey regretted not bringing a weapon, but his hand grasped the next best thing. Holding tightly, he pulled one of the climbing boots from the bag. The spikes protruding from the sole of the boot were constructed of hard, sharp metal.

The massive bird made its approach to the items on the ground, dropping to a height of five meters. Luckily for Grey, the talon that held him was wrapped around his backpack. Doing his best impersonation of an escape artist, Grey wiggled his right arm out of the straps, dislocating his shoulder in the process. The creature, still intent on its new prey, did not adjust its grip. Another twist and contortion found Grey freeing his left arm. He pulled free of the backpack and fell to the ground, landing painfully on his back.

Grey gasped for breath, a piercing sting running down his spine. He wanted to just lie there and get his breath back, but there wasn't time. Rolling on his side, he grasped the boot, and turned to face his adversary.

The monster had circled back to retrieve its dropped quarry. It was gliding toward Grey, talons extended. Grey would have one chance. Just as the creature was about to grab him, he hurled boot at the creature's face. He never did see where his improvised weapon hit; he was bracing for impact. The monster screeched in pain and changed course. It screamed again as it turned and began flying back in the direction of its nest, still holding the backpack in its middle claw.

Grey didn't know how soon the creature would return and had no desire to find out. Painfully, he popped his shoulder back into place. Grabbing the rope and box of rations he began running toward the castle ruins. His encounter with the flying creature had brought him across the ravine.

The sky had begun to darken by the time Grey reached what had, apparently, once been the grand entrance to the castle. Grey noted that this castle was nothing like the palaces from his childhood books. The remnants of dozens of huge black and white spires dotted the landscape. The best preserved of these were roughly cone-shaped. Two distinct types of metal, one pure white and the other ebony black, were braided together from a circular base to a single point at the top. The diameter of the base was approximately ten meters and the towers reached a height of nearly twenty-five meters.

The spires seemed to have only served the purpose of providing support for the myriad of walls that joined them. Most of the walls had crumbled into small pieces. Silver-colored bricks laid strewn all around. One set of four walls stood defiantly in the center of the complex. Grey was certain that was where he would find the treasure.

There was a simple, unguarded, entryway. Maybe there had once been a door, but time had worn it away. Grey ducked down and entered the small doorway. Here he remained until dawn, just inside the opening. He ate half of his remaining rations then leaned against the wall to try to sleep. When he did manage to doze off, there was always some sound or movement that snapped him to alertness.

It was not an enjoyable night for Grey Chall. He fought with the question of whether to go on or try to get back down the mountain. This treasure hunt had gone disastrously bad. Was any treasure worth the suffering he had already endured.

In the end, he decided that it was best to go on. Surely, he had endured the worst that the mountain had to offer.

The bright sun of morning did little to improve Grey's mood. It was still dark inside the room, but enough light came through the doorway and assorted cracks to allow him to investigate his surroundings.

Grey was disappointed to find the room almost bare. The only thing in the room was a small empty pedestal against the far wall. His heart dropped. It appeared the treasure was gone. Someone else had beaten Grey to the prize.

Throwing the rope over his good shoulder, Grey dejectedly made his way over to investigate the pedestal. When he was about a half dozen steps from his objective, the floor opened up below him and Grey found himself tumbling down some sort of slide.

Gaining his bearings, Grey was able to slow his descent by sticking out his arms and legs. The slide appeared to be designed for the smaller inhabitants of this planet. While he could reach both sides of the ramp and use friction to slow his fall, a Brodian would not have been able to do so. Flashes of pain still stabbed at his back and shoulder and his hands burnt against the side of the chute, but Grey continued to fight against the pull of gravity. Soon he saw an opening ahead.

The opening led to a distinct drop-off. Grey realized he would not be able to stop in time. At the last possible moment, he noticed some sort of metal bar running across the top of the tunnel. The bar may have once supported some form of curtain. The curtain was now long gone, decayed by time. Grey grabbed for the rod as he slid though the opening. Somehow, he succeeded.

Hanging at the very edge of the slide. Grey thanked any deity that would listen for his human size; a Brodian would not have been able to reach the lifesaving bar. With a sigh of relief and a considerable amount of effort, he pulled himself up. Sitting on the floor of the tunnel. He looked down.

Aleri, the master of this castle, may have been all-powerful, but he wasn't beyond setting traps. Grey looked at the bottom of the pit. Hundreds of sharp metal spears were pointed upward. Intermixed among the sharp weapons were a collection of centuries-old Brodian skulls and bones.

Grey breathed another sigh. He had been only inches away from joining that brotherhood of failed treasure hunters. He began to examine his surroundings more closely. If he didn't find a way to get out of here, he may very well still find himself initiated into the society of failures.

The walls extended upward for over fifty meters. At the top of the shaft was an open hole, allowing sunlight to illuminate the pit. The smooth shaft would be impossible to climb. His climbing gloves were laying at the base of the mountain.

Climbing out was not an option. There was a possibility that he could make his way back up the steep ramp and return to the empty chamber. That was not a very inviting option. It would be arduous and would not get him any closer to finding the treasure.

It was on the third perusal of his surroundings that Grey noticed a small door, beyond the spears, on the opposite wall. If he could get down there, he could reach that doorway.

Putting the extendable rope around the metal bar, Grey grabbed both ends of the rope and let it lower him into the pit. He used his legs to navigate and avoid the sharp blades. Once on the ground, he released one end of the rope and pulled the other, letting the cord fall at his feet. He was going to need the rope to get back down the mountain. As he slithered between the spears, unceremoniously stepping on the remains of the unsuccessful adventurers, Grey hoped that the door would not only lead to the treasure, but also another avenue out of the castle.

The door opened begrudgingly; stiff hinges fought to remain closed. Once it was open, Grey bent over and entered the room. A huge grin engulfed his face. He was, clearly, in a treasure room. Huge ornate statues of Bordians sat in two parallel lines, one on each side of the room. Metal and glass display cases lined the walls. Large podiums were scattered about the room. Most of these platforms stood empty. Grey was not the first treasure hunter to reach this chamber. A few broken vases remained on the floor, but all the jewels, all the gold, all the real treasures were gone.

As Grey, dejectedly, surveyed the area, his eyes found the one treasure that remained. In an alcove on the far wall, sat a golden jewel. The jewel was slightly larger than a grown man's head and it glowed with a golden purity that Grey had never seen before. Surely, this was Aleri's treasure. The Bordians who had raided this room must have left it out of fear of the curse. Grey smiled again. Their superstition was his gain. Carefully measuring each step, Grey made his way to the brilliant case.

After inspecting the area for traps multiple times, Grey triumphantly reached for the golden prize. The trauma of this adventure drifted from his body. He had come so near death so many times, but it was worth it. He had survived and he was going to be an incredibly wealthy man because of it. Grey touched the treasure.

Instantly a beam of yellow light emerged from the jewel, enveloping Grey. The moment the brilliant ray encircled him, he crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

Moments later a secret panel opened behind one of the display cases and Doroc emerged.

The jewel had done exactly what it always did to those who touched it. Doroc knew what he would have to do next. He would take a little time to try and remove as many of the signs of Grey's presence on the mountain as he could. He would then haul the human's comatose body back to the hover speeder, by way of a secret passage. Once back to the city, Doroc would spend a few days partially healing Grey's wounds. He would reset the timepiece in the dining room, though he was quite certain that Grey would not be able to decipher it. He would wait for Grey to awaken; his memory of recent events having been erased by the jewel. Grey would have no idea that he had searched for and found the treasure. The adventure would begin again.

Banto and Doroc sat in the servant's quarters of Grey Chall's mansion.

"I have to admit," said Doroc, "I rather enjoy watching him slowly kill himself."

"I am surprised he has lasted three journeys," added Banto.

"I don't think he will survive another. He has been incredibly lucky, but his body is starting to fail him. Knito's revenge is nearly complete."

"Tell me more about this treasure on the mountain," inquired Grey while he handed an empty dish to his servant. The simple act made him grimace. His shoulder was incredibly sore. He also noticed a faint scar on his left palm. He couldn't recall how he had gotten it. He quickly dismissed his discomfort and continued to listen to the story. He found Doroc's tale quite captivating.


  1. Kind of a 'groundhog day' story... fitting for early February... I wondered why Grey had those aches and pains earlier. He has to go thru a real life video style game, quite a clever concept.

  2. Ha, didn't see that ending coming at all. Now it makes sense why the supplies were unexpectedly dwindling. Plenty of hints hiding in plain sight but highly unlikely the reader would suspect their importance. Very clever.

  3. Harrison and Ron....thanks for the kind input. I appreciate it very very much.