Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 184,867,923 Issue: 477 | 14th day of Sleeping, Y13
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The Greatest Treasure: Part Three


by masaryk_the_mad

--------

Also by bluerang1

“I took the liberty of renting a row boat for us to use today, while all of you were still asleep,” Kat called to her friends, who were just crawling out of their tent, as she pulled the boat along the bank.

     The day before, Kat, Croy, Kitthie and Cheikz had heard of the tale of a shipwreck long ago and its rumoured sunken treasure. Kat had suggested that they go diving for the treasure, and that’s just what they were about to do.

     “Gee, thanks,” Kitthie mumbled. “I’m still not sure about this, though.”

     “Lighten up, Kitthie!” Cheikz exclaimed, exasperated. “Remember what Croy said? Like how much would be sunken there? You wouldn’t want to miss out on a share of the loot now, would you?” Cheikz asked.

     “No, no I wouldn’t,” Kitthie replied, her mood shifting.

     The gang packed up the diving equipment Kat had rented for them. They all wore their swimsuits underneath their clothes. The friends settled into a breakfast of wild forest fruit that Croy had learned about in school, while further discussing their expedition at hand. They talked about how much treasure would be found, thinking about the pets on the ship and how much they would have had. Each pet expressed what they would do with their share of the treasure. When they were all set, they went aboard the small rented rowboat, and set off on their journey across the lake.

     Cheikz asked, “So, we’re headed for the dark part of the lake right?” to Kat and Croy who were rowing one oar of the boat each.

     “Yep, that’s where the wind blew us, and where the ship wrecked,” replied Kat, who also laughed at her little pun.

     “Cool! I can’t wait to go diving there,” Cheikz said, pumped up.

     “That’s another thing, Cheikz. We need someone to stay on board while the rest of us go diving, and you’re younger than us, and we feel that it won’t be safe for you to come down there with us,” Croy solemnly explained.

     Cheikz’s face dropped. “What? No fair! I’m a good swimmer, and besides, Kitthie doesn’t want to go into the lake, so she should stay on board.”

     “Kitthie what?” asked Kitthie, who snapped out of worrying about diving down in the lake.

     “Kitthie should stay and man the boat while the rest of us go down diving for the treasure,” Cheikz explained.

     “Yes!” Kitthie exclaimed. “Oh yes! Wait, I still get a share of the treasure, right?”

     Kat shook her head and said, “Yeah, sure,” while laughing on the inside.

     “Okay, fine. Kitthie stays on board while Cheikz, Kat and I go diving for the treasure,” confirmed Croy. She then added, “Cheikz, be careful down there.”

     “Oh, I will!” Cheikz reassured her.

     They were nearing their destination; the lake’s colour was turning from a crystal clear blue to an eerie dark green, due to the reflection of the dark trees around it on that end. They stopped rowing the boat at what they thought was the middle of the shipwreck area. Croy and Kat threw down the anchor. Then, Kat, Croy and Cheikz switched to their bathing suits, put their diving tanks and masks on, then jumped into the lake. Kat had decided to forgo the the use of a diving tank, because she wanted to practice holding her breath underwater.

     “Good luck, you guys!” Kitthie called to her comrades, leaning over the side of the boat. “And be careful.”

     “We will!” Kat called back.

     “Don’t row off while we’re down there,” Cheikz warned.

     “Yeah, like I’m strong enough to row this boat anywhere all by myself,” Kitthie said sarcastically.

     They all laughed and with that, Kat, Croy and Cheikz started diving in.

     Kat took the lead underwater, naturally, as she was the best swimmer amongst them. The pets gawked at the various aquatic petpets and plants they saw. Croy gestured to Cheikz not to get tangled up the plants. He didn’t seem to understand what she meant, and made goofy gestures back at his sister. Croy just shook her head and kept swimming.

     As they went deeper and deeper into the lake, Kat was beginning to think that Kitthie was right. They weren’t seeing a trace of anything, wood, metals, clothes, gold; they saw none of those things. However, Kat was positive she saw something from when they were on the glass boat tour, when the gust had blown them into this part. Then it hit her!

     They were going the wrong way. Kat saw the glint of gold before the boat was blown into the dark end, meaning that they were meant to go the other way, away from this end. How the treasure got there, she didn’t know. It was probably pushed by lake currents over all those years, or the tour guide’s account was inaccurate. Kat made bursts of bubbles in the lake as she gestured to Croy and Cheikz to turn around. She then swam off quickly toward where she thought she had remembered seeing the treasure, certain that her friends would follow.

     Cheikz saw Kat swim away. He turned to follow. Suddenly, he found he was having trouble breathing. He adjusted his mouthpiece and blew into it. Nothing. He tried again. Still nothing. The lack of air was getting to Cheikz. He wasn’t sure what was going on.

     Croy had understood what Kat meant by her gestures, so she turned around to follow after her friend. Cheikz was so busy trying to get a breath in that he didn't notice Croy. He crashed into her, knocking his breathing apparatus out of his mouth. Cheikz was flailing about wildly, gasping and splashing about. He was beginning to turn blue. Croy immediately grabbed him and began swimming back up to the boat.

     Kat hadn’t noticed any of this. She saw Croy had turned to follow her, so figured that her friends would be following close behind. She continued swimming forward to search for the sunken treasure.

     ****************

     “Whoa!” Kitthie exclaimed as the splash of water caught her off guard.

     She noticed the bobbing heads of her brother and sister in the lake.

     “Croy! Wha– what’s going on?” Kitthie worriedly asked, reaching her right hand out to pull Croy aboard.

     While gasping for air, Croy said, “Never mind me, take him.” She pushed Cheikz, who was now sputtering, towards Kitthie to pull on board the boat.

     “What happened to him?” Kitthie asked, finishing pulling Cheikz on to the boat.

     “I don’t know. He crashed into me then freaked out. I knew that he shouldn’t have gone down there,” Croy replied. She had now pulled herself aboard and was now trying to comfort her sputtering, choking brother.

     “Oh, sorry,” replied Kitthie who was feeling responsible for Cheikz’s accident. “Where’s Kat?”

     ************************

     Kat was frozen in the lake – she was mesmerised by the sight that was before her. Though she was still some number of metres away from it, Kat saw all she needed to see from where she was. The shipwreck gave her goose bumps. It was almost like she expected, except the way the hull of the ship sat on the lake bottom, which was rather different than she had imagined.

     The ship's bow was pointing upwards as its stern was crushed on the lake’s floor. That’s just what the tour guide said: the ship got blown back and crashed into the rocks, stern first. Kat could see various petpets playing about around it; it was a playground to them. The woodwork of the ship was amazing, at least from what she could see that wasn’t demolished. It looked finely finished, even after all those years underwater. It also looked sturdy. Why did it crash? Kat wondered. Was the force of the wind really all that strong? Kat wanted to find out. Her lungs were starting to hurt now, but she wanted to get a better look at the ship. In a minute, she would swim up to the surface to get some air. She swam forward to get a closer look when something caught her eye.

     It was a fine piece of spirally carved wood wedged in between two rocks. It looked just like the handle of – Kat couldn’t believe her eyes. What would that be doing here? Did someone on board the ships own it? Her lungs were burning from the strain of holding her breath. Her vision was starting to go funny. She just needed one more minute down here. If it was a Maraquan paint brush she saw, she wanted it. She reached for the handle and tugged. The shell encrusted brush came out; some of the handle diagonally chipped. Kat looked in amazement at what were in her hands. She turned to show Croy and Cheikz, but there was no one there.

     Kat was confused. She looked about frantically. Her friends weren’t there. When did they leave her? Why did they leave her? She couldn’t hold her breath any more; she had to get back up. Kat stuffed her prize in the backpack she’d brought with her then swam up to the surface.

     **********************

     “There she is!” Cheikz called hoarsely, pointing toward the red shape several dozen metres away, hoping Croy’s attention would be diverted from telling him off.

     The three siblings watched as their friend swam back toward the boat.

     “Kat, where have you been?” Croy asked as she helped her friend come on the boat.

     “I could ask you two the same question,” Kat said to Croy and Cheikz.

     “We got in a little accident and had to get back up. We thought you might have noticed,” Croy told her, sounding a little cross.

     “Anyway, did you find anything?” Kitthie asked, excitedly.

     “Yes! You wouldn’t believe it!” Kat paused. Should she show them what she had found? What would they think of it? Would they want to sell it and split the profit? Kat didn’t want that, she wanted to use the brush for herself; it was her dream. She wanted her friends to be happy for her to do so. She wasn’t sure what to do.

     “Go on,” Kitthie said.

     “Oh, yeah - you won’t believe what I saw!”

     “Gold! You saw gold!” Kitthie exclaimed.

     “Where is it?” Croy asked with a big grin.

     “In the ship. I couldn't hold my breath any more, so I couldn’t get anything. Sorry,” Kat replied.

     Her friends’ faces dropped.

     “But you definitely saw it?” Kitthie asked, trying to clarify what Kat had said.

     “Of course, I even have proof,” Kat replied. She reached into her bag and brought out the piece of wood that had chipped off the Maraquan paint brush handle. “It’s part of the ship that I managed to pick up,” she lied.

     Croy reached for it. “Wow, look at it. Finely carved, sturdy wood. It’s definitely a Kiko that did this. It's just like the items in their furniture store. Looks like you were right Cheikz,” Croy said, smiling at her brother, who felt uplifted as a result.

     “Wow! So you actually saw the ship? We have to go back tomorrow!” Kitthie announced.

     This was just what Kat wanted. They would go back down there the next day, find the treasure. Kat would pretend that she just found the Maraquan paint brush then and there, and that could be her own piece of the treasure, while the others would get gold or whatever else was down there. It was perfect!

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Greatest Treasure: Part One
» The Greatest Treasure: Part Two
» The Greatest Treasure: Part Four



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