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Neopedia : Hannah and the Pirate Caves - Part 1

She crept through the tiny tunnel, her hands and skirt covered in wet dirt, moisture from the cave walls dripping into her eyes. Hannah gritted her teeth and kept moving forward. Her mind was focused only on her goal; everything else - the mud, the moisture, the tight claustrophobic caves - were only distractions.

Hannah climbed out of the tunnel, and after a quick look around, she stretched her cramped legs. So far so good, she thought. No sign of...

Just then, she heard voices coming from around the corner of the caves, footfalls moving through the mud.

Pirates!

Hannah ducked back into the tiny cave, her movements quick and sure. The Usul could see them... she could hear their laughter, and the sound of their boots as they walked by the small cavern. She clung to the shadows, hoping they would hide her. Moments later, when the crude, laughing voices were only echoes, she pulled herself back out of the tiny cave. That was close.

Quickly down the way the pirates came. With skirts whooshing around her ankles as she ran, Hannah climbed a crude ladder to another level. Do these caves have no end? she thought.

Down another twisting tunnel, she came upon a sliding ridge, water rushing down its smooth sides. The Usul adventurer peered down to see where it might lead, but the darkness refused to give up its secrets. She then pulled out her map and looked at the hand-written directions. "This is the place," she whispered, returning a skeptical gaze towards the waters that rushed down the incline. Hannah shrugged and grinned, tucking the map back into her belt pouch. "You only live once," she whispered, then jumped.

She slid down the underground waterfall, until hitting a flash of ice cold. As the water rushed up over her head, Hannah held her breath and shut her eyes... however, she'd noticed a glint in the distance. Opening her eyes, she looked and...

There it is!

At the bottom of the lake, a tightly locked casket was chained to the floor, bearing the seal of the Pirates of the Black Dawn. She swam up to catch her breath. Breaking the top of the water, Hannah grabbed a deep breath of air, then dove back down to the bottom of the lake.

The pressure of the water above her hurt her ears and made her head ache, but her hands found her tools and began working on the padlock. It only took a moment - her grandfather had been a good teacher - before the lid popped open, releasing air bubbles and gold coins. It was a strange sight, watching the gold coins fall like raindrops, from the ground back up to the sky. She grabbed a few of them - you can never have too much gold - but the real prize floated up before her face; she gazed for a long moment before taking it into her hands.

The jewel shone emerald green, and was almost as big as her head. Hannah took it with both hands, then kicked against the water to rush up towards the surface. The breath was stale in her lungs and longed for release. When she broke the surface, Hannah took a deep gasp of the cold cavern air... and held the jewel up to her eyes.

In the dim light, it did not shine as she expected, but she knew what the gem would look like once it had been brought into the sunlight. "How many men have lost you?" she asked. "And how many a man has found you, only to lose you again?" she said, then smiled. "Well, I'm not going to lose you." She wrapped the jewel up in silk. "I promise."