Seeking Treasure Beyond The Cup: Part Three
Kanrik held open the door to a small, disused hut and let Hannah enter first. Who said chivalry had died? He followed after her, closing the door, and lit a single gas lamp to put between them on a dusty table. He sat across from her and produced some antiqued parchment out of his pocket.
“I believe this is what you were eager for?” Kanrik teased, waving the parchment in front of the Usul’s eyes. “It’s all yours.” He dropped it onto the table, which created a small cloud of dust to rise in front of them.
Hannah picked up the parchment and unfolded it to study the map. “Wow, thank you, Kanrik. This cave looks difficult...”
“I’ve heard that the value of treasure inside is over seven billion Neopoints.”
Hannah gasped in awe. “Whoa! No way, that would get me out of the Golden Dubloon for good!”
“It COULD just be a rumour but judging by the number of potential traps in that place, it must be worth the trouble,” Kanrik informed her knowingly. “That’s why I figured you’d be the best one to approach for this mission.”
The Usul studied the map further in the dim light. “This could take weeks to navigate. I’ll need plenty of supplies.”
“I can organise that for you.”
“Really?” she asked in surprise at the offer. “Normally I just raid the kitchen at the tavern for food and drink supplies.”
“Hey, with a treasure that valuable, I’m happy to call in the entire Thieves Guild if I have to!” he laughed, watching her in amusement.
“Except you wouldn’t trust them to bring you a share of the treasure back, would you?” Hannah smirked, knowing him well.
“Not after that rascal, Hanso, stole from me to get the attention of a certain Kougra guard a while ago. No, for a job this big I want to help personally.”
“So you’ll be joining me in the caves?” she asked in delight.
“Brilliant!” she cheered, pocketing the map. “If you can round up some supplies then we can set off in the morning.”
* * *
Outside of the small hut, Team Krawk Island were eavesdropping on the adventurer and leader of the thieves eagerly.
Dasher turned to his teammates and hissed, “Seven BILLION Neopoints?!”
Garven Hale’s eyes were huge as he speculated what he could buy with his share of the prize. “We have to get involved in this mission.”
Nitri Cassale dreamt of owning her own ship. ’The Yooyu Tormentor’ she would call it... That would be awesome!
“Now we just have t’convince that Hannah gal to let us in on this...” Dasher began excitedly, when he suddenly realised that the tall Gelert was towering over them intimidatingly as they were crouched under the window. “Uh-oh.”
Team Krawk Island stood up, eyeing the Gelert cautiously.
“Uh...” Dasher faltered, rubbing his neck awkwardly. “Are you interested in buyin’ some double-glazin’ fer your windows?”
Kanrik smiled at the ol’ Krawk and folded his arms patiently. “Dasher Soley, right?”
The Krawk lit up brightly at the fact that this Neopian had recognised him instantly. “Aye. My reputation exceeds me.”
“Hannah mentioned that she had met Team Krawk Island earlier. She said you were all craving adventure?”
Garven exchanged looks with his ex-Captain and said, “We are, incidentally.”
“Step inside, we all have much to discuss.”
Hannah looked up as Team Krawk Island entered the hut and smiled. “So you’ve decided to give real danger a try?” she asked cheekily as the players dragged over some boxes to sit on.
Dasher nodded. “Tell us more about what ye’ve got there.”
“It’s called a map.”
Garven burst out laughing at her attitude. Dasher elbowed him sharply.
“It’s a map to great treasure,” she elaborated, smirking.
Dasher glared. “I’m not an idiot.”
“He is an idiot,” Garven joked in turn. “But I digress, how can we get involved with this adventure?”
Hannah loved the fact that she had their undivided attention and pressed on to find out how committed they were to the mission. “Are any of you faint-hearted?”
Team Krawk Island paused because they couldn’t believe the question. Then they started laughing!
Kanrik looked at them cynically. “You’re laughing now but you need nerves of steel to face some of those traps.”
“Nerves of steel? We face huge audiences daily in the most intense sport on the planet! Yeh have t’have nerves of steel,” Garven boasted.
Hawkshanks interjected with a second thought. “Actually, Xana from Team Shenkuu has t’be the most nervous goalie in the tournament and she somehow manages to stop Yooyus from gettin’ in the net...”
“Team Shenkuu don’t count,” Dasher scoffed at the mention of the ninjas. “Their logic is all weird. They have a scaredy goalkeeper, a Forward player who can’t see outta one eye and they use those weird sticks to eat food with –”
“Chopsticks?” Hannah suggested.
“That’s the one!”
“What’s THAT got to do with nerves o’ steel?” Zayle accused, looking at Dasher accusingly.
“Well... They’re weird! Who hires a goalie who’s scared of things and who eats food with sticks?! It’s madness I tell ye!” Dasher replied in typical ol’ Krawk fashion.
Kanrik cleared his throat. “Pirate caves are different from coliseum sports, my friends. Yooyuball is more of a game of strategy and speed than looking death straight in the face...”
“BUT!” Hannah interjected, getting a sudden idea. “Yooyuball is an incredibly fast-paced sport. Team Krawk Island already has skills that can be applied to treasure hunting. Sharp eyesight could save a life, quick reflexes could avoid a trap, good hands could catch falling treasure... Do you see where I’m going with this, Kanrik?”
The Gelert nodded and turned importantly to the Yooyuballers. “As Altador Cup players, you all have a public profile. What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Garven opted to speak for the team because he was the Captain after all. “Well, on th’ pitch me strengths are consistency, quickness and ‘clutch’ performance. I think me weakness is passin’ the Yooyu—”
“Particularly Darigan ones,” Nitri added pointedly.
“Aye, unfortunately.” He then continued with the other players. “Ol’ Dash ‘ere hasn’t got much speed or stamina because he’s ancient!”
“Hey!” Dasher complained, taking offence. “At least my strengths are scorin’ and leadership. An’ I have experience to boot.”
Garven sniggered and then patted the Quiggle, Ealyn Hawkshanks, on the shoulder. “Hawksie here might be short but he’s a crafty li’l fella. Good at runnin’ plays and passin’ the Yooyu too. Fails at scorin’ though...”
“He’s short but that’s advantageous in the caves,” Hannah added sagely. “My friend, Armin the Small, was extremely helpful in the Ice Caves in Terror Mountain. He’s a Bori like Garven here but smaller...”
She then did a double-take as she unveiled a new fact. “Wait... Garven, were you encased in ice with the rest of the Bori tribe several years ago in the Ice Caves?”
“Uh...” Garven hesitated but answered anyway. “Yeah...”
Hannah and Kanrik exchanged a glance and grinned conspiratorially.
“Haha! We totally saved your life, Garven!” Hannah chuckled knowingly, remembering the moment in the Ice Caves where she reunited the keystone with the Heart of the Mountain gem, freeing the frozen Bori from their prison of ice.
The reason why the Bori were encased in ice was because it was their way of protecting themselves against a demon Moehog called The Bringer of Night. In one massive battle, Hannah, Kanrik and Armin had teamed up with the Bori to take down The Bringer and his army of icy skeletons, the Thieves Guild were run out of town and they took down The Bringer himself. Not too bad for a day’s work!
The pirate Bori rubbed his neck. “That was a long time ago...”
“Yeah, but without us you wouldn’t have been around to join your Yooyuball squad, so you owe us loyalty,” she said cunningly, pressing her hands together professionally. “To join us on this adventure you have to promise that you won’t share the secret treasure location with anyone else. And you must also promise to not betray or double-cross us on this mission because we’ll know about it.”
Dasher scoffed. “Psh, we ain’t gonna tell anyone else abouts this treasure, missy. We want our own shares, thank ye.”
“And as Team Captain,” she continued to the Bori who was looking scandalised, “you have to look after the welfare of your own crew. Kanrik and I will not be held responsible for any injury, sickness or event of death on this adventure. Is that clear?”
Garven was growling slightly in the back of his throat but bit back his pride for the sake of his team. “Alrigh’... Yeh have me promise as Captain. I take full responsibility fer me team.”
“Thank you,” Hannah said gratefully, relaxing in her seat some more. “Now where were we? Oh yes, strengths and weaknesses...”
“Right... Well, Nitri here is good at guardin’, passin’ and tacklin’ but she’s a bit injury-prone.”
“Guarding and tackling?” Kanrik mused, impressed. “Sounds like she’ll be good in a fight.”
Nitri blushed. “Aye, no pirate has beaten me in a brawl yet.”
“Good. That might be good if we encounter the undead or rival pirates,” Hannah said in approval.
Hawkshanks gulped. “The undead?”
“Rival pirates? I thought we were goin’ alone?” Dasher asked sceptically, narrowing his eyes at her.
“Oh we are,” she reassured him confidently. “But usually some unsavoury pirates follow and ambush me. Or if there aren’t any evil buccaneers there, there’s usually some kind of undead denizen in the caves to ward off treasure hunters.”
Kanrik laughed. “I knew they were too wimpy to join us.”
“We’re joinin’ ya,” Dasher said resolutely, banging his fist on the table. “I need the excitement!”
Garven agreed. “Aye, we’ll still be accompanyin’ yeh on the adventure. As fer Zayle, returnin’ to our previous conversation, his strengths are tenacity, guardin’ and passin’.”
Hannah approved and continued discussing their plan of action. “Okay, well you aren’t backing out now, so make yourselves useful. For the pirate caves you will need a few weeks worth of food and drink, some rope, flint and steel in a tinderbox and maybe a dagger or something. Bring nothing else,” she advised them sternly, making a point about it.
She stood up and paced in front of them like a drill sergeant. “We will meet at the Dubloon-O-Matic at sunrise before setting off for the caves. Any questions?”
“Yeah, I have one,” Dasher said casually, standing up to walk around the Usul. “What happens if we’re separated in th’ caves?”
Hannah looked at the team and shook her head. “Trust me, you DON’T want to be separated from the group. If you want to survive you should stick with me and Kanrik. If this is a cave with a flood-release, you could drown if you don’t keep up.”
Kanrik sniggered as he saw the team briefly exchange a nervous look. “Sure you still want to come?”
Dasher considered this for a moment before roaring, “CAN’T WAIT!”
To be continued...