White Weewoos don't exist. *shifty eyes* Circulation: 197,101,763 Issue: 963 | 1st day of Swimming, Y24
Home | Archives Articles | Editorial | Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series

Castle Planners Journal: The Buried Medallion

by ferretboy85


Gaius the Bori climbed up the tall pile of dirt that he had created, and wiped some of the mud off his claws. Up a couple of feet higher on the dirt pile, he could get a slightly better view of the floor plan he had made so far. The end-of-Fall chilly air was starting to come in, so he had to dig the foundation for the next building, before the frost kicked in. To make the job harder, he had to dig the trench deep enough to be below the frost, a few feet down.

      Gaius squinted at the trench layout he had already created, but wasn’t sure. “Wolcott! Can you grab my plans?” Gaius called.

      The orange Bori had recently gotten a new young assistant, the same one that had helped him map the gaps between the walls after a child got lost in them. It technically wasn't an official position, so Gaius had to pay him out of his own pocket to hang around and help out with things, but it was worth it. Gaius mostly had him fetching things, but occasionally Wolcott would get a rare opportunity: doing drawings and plans. For now, he was stuck with practising technical drawing by preparing graph paper.

      A couple of minutes later, a small green Ogrin appeared holding a rolled-up sheet of parchment covered in Gaius’s drawings. “I have them right here Mr. Gaius.” the Ogrin announced. The tubes of paper were nearly as tall as the kid was, and nearly as thick too.

      “Thank you, Wolcott. Lay them out here. I don't want to touch them while I am covered in filth.” Gaius said, dusting his orange fur and a formerly white shirt off before leaning over the now unrolled plans.

      “Hmmm.” Gaius studied the plans, with Wolcott mimicking his staring. Gaius checked back and forth between the hole in the ground and the plans. “See anything off?” Gaius finally broke the silence of his study.

      Wolcott, who had not been truly paying attention, started actually checking for differences between the shape in the picture, and the trench. After a few glances back and forth, he finally spotted something.

      “Oh! Right here!” Wolcott hopped into the trench in his excitement and pointed at a small cutout that was missing.

      “Aaah!” Gaius made a worried noise. “No, don't hop in the trench! You’ll get dirty. How are you going to put the plans away with dirty paws?” Gaius had a small moment of panic before resigning himself to children being children, and liking the dirt too much.

      “Oops.” Wolcott gave him a sheepish look. His excitement to help out had been his undoing once again.

      “But yes. You’re right. Good job! Looks like I’m missing the cutout for the buttress. Without that, the walls of this lodge could buckle and fall.” Gaius used the moment to teach Wolcott about construction. He crouched down and held down a paw to help lift little Wolcott out of the hole. He plucked him out with a gentle heave.

      “Go wash your paws.” Gaius told him. Wolcott scampered off to do as he was told, and Gaius jumped back into the pit. Gaius wasn't very tall, but the pit was as deep as his waist. He pulled his trusty trowel out from his tool belt, and started measuring out proportions from the plans using a system of rope and sticks. He marked out the location of the buttress’s foundation, and drew a line in the soil with the blade of the trowel. He started picking away at the stiff and brittle clay-filled soil with a shovel.

      He worked in silence, completely fixated on his task, even once Wolcott returned to observe from the sidelines. The orange Bori picked away precisely at the dirt a little at a time making sure to keep the trench walls precise and vertical, filling up buckets with the spoil as he went. Once a bucket was filled, he would throw the entire contents into the pile outside the hole with a mighty heave.

      Eventually, he had the approximate shape of the trench walls, but to keep everything precise, he switched back to his trowel for precision. As he plunged his trowel in for another scoop of dirt, it scraped against something hard. He assumed it was just a stray rock, and paid it no mind. As he moved deeper to get around it, it was becoming obvious that it was clearly a very large rock.

      “Ugh. These rocks are always a pain in the butt.” Knowing he was going to have to deal with a big stone that was going to mess with his perfect wall cuts, he discarded perfection entirely. He put his trowel away to start removing the dirt with his bare claws. He started pulling dirt away to reveal the offending rock. But as he unearthed the stone, he noticed something that gave him pause. The stone was cut flat and smooth, with fancy masonry details on the side. This was no boulder, but a piece of the old castle!

      Gaius was immediately captivated by the stone, and started excavating more and more of it. Soon, more stones were exposed in a line. The walls of an old building were starting to emerge from the ground!

      “There's more! And look, this must have been a doorway here! I didn’t know there used to be a building here!” Gaius started mumbling out loud to himself, a habit he started picking up whenever Wolcott was around. Wolcott was naturally very curious and had run to be on the other side of the construction site to be closer to the archaeological excavation.

      “What kinda building is it?” Wolcott asked.

      “No clue. Let’s see how big it is.” Gaius grabbed a spade, and lifted himself out of the trench to start digging up more of the lawn.

      “Won’t Chamberlain Lazlo be mad about you tearin’ up the lawn?” Wolcott was sceptical.

      “No worries, We can just replant the grass. Here, grab a shovel, and let’s expand the hole.” Gaius assured Wolcott it would be fine.

      It took no more than thirty minutes to clear out the grass and to find the extent of the old building. It was small by current standards but was by no means a shed, or shack. Gaius had found a few rusty nails, and pieces of broken pottery, so he decided to dig around the middle of the building to look for clues. As Gaius rooted around in the dirt looking for more finds, a glint of shiny yellow caught his eye. Gaius felt his heart jump as he removed more dirt, and revealed something golden. He paused for a moment.

      “Look!” Gaius pointed Wolcott to his find, and then gently pulled it out of the ground. “It’s pretty! And look, it’s got a few gems in it too.” Gaius dangled an amulet in the sunlight.

      “That looks fancy and important!” Wolcott commented.

      “Quite. It also looks familiar. I think I have seen a design similar before.” Gaius couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He put the amulet carefully in a pouch, and tied it to his waist for safekeeping. “Let's clear out a little more, and then we can take a break in the library for the day.”

      “Hooray!” Wolcott was excited to get to spend a little more time in the library, rather than in the dirt pit.

     Before entering the castle through the secret garden entrance, Gaius made sure to brush off all the dirt out of his fur, and inspected Wolcott to make sure he was already clean. The intrepid young Ogrin was carrying the plans so they could be safely put back. They opened the small door behind the bushes and headed up the completely dark staircase. When they eventually emerged from behind a bookshelf, they nearly startled Lisha to death.

     “Oh!” She backed up from where she had been reshelving books. “I wish you would knock before popping out of the walls like that!” She tried to catch her breath.

     “Sorry Miss Lisha!” Wolcott apologized to both of them as he squeezed past her to deliver the plans.

     “Lisha, I found a thing! I figure you might be interested as well.” Gaius had a look of pride.

     “Another crypt?” Lisha leaned in out of intrigue.

     “No, an old building’s walls, underground. And even better, I found...” Gaius looked around to make sure there were no eavesdroppers. “A golden amulet. I want to figure out what it is before Skarl just chucks it in the treasury with everything else.”

     “Oh! That explains the dirt on it. What was the old building?” Lisha asked.

     “Not sure yet. That’s why we are here! It’s time to find out!” Gaius pulled the amulet from the small bag and showed Lisha. “Does this look familiar to you too?” he asked her.

     Lisha very gingerly cradled the amulet in her hand and observed the pattern of gemstones. An emerald, sapphire, ruby, and topaz, are set around an enamelled ring of blue and red. It was very familiar to her, but despite the answer being on the tip of her tongue, she couldn't remember the exact place she had seen it.

     “Oh! Ah, um... hmm...” She struggled to recall. “Maybe it will come to me as we work.”

     “Yes. I will start at my archive, to check old maps. If you want to pull the previous Castle Planner’s journals from the stacks, we can search through them.”

     “Any idea how old the building is? I don't want to have to pull all of them...” Lisha complained.

     Gaius thought for a moment. “I have no clue how old it is! We could be going back a few years, or hundreds!” He was excited at the mystery.

     As Lisha dipped around the corner, Gaius decided to start at the beginning, and pulled a vellum map from 1000 years ago. He carefully laid it out on the table with Wolcott’s help.

     “Wow, how do you keep these maps for so long?” Wolcott asked out of curiosity.

     “Well, you just have to be very careful around them. Don’t sneeze on it.” Gaius warned, as a joke.

     As Gaius flattened the map, Wolcott was called over by Lisha to help carry books.

     “Okay, the original back entrance to the castle was... here” He pointed to a little door on the map with a letter opener, rather than his own paws. Now that he was oriented on the map, he looked closer. “So, my mystery building should be....” Gaius looked in the courtyard, and saw a crossed-out square. . “Why has it been crossed out?” Gaius borrowed a loupe to look a little closer at the map entry. He carefully leaned in. In faded letters, it said “Treaſurey'' underneath the inky X. Above it, it said ‘fyre’

     Wolcott plopped the chest full of books down on the table next to Gaius with enough aplomb to make him nervously jump.

     “We gotta read all this?” Wolcott asked, not feeling confident.

     “Not all of it. I've found a clue! It was destroyed by fire quite early.” Gaius checked the date on the map. “If my family timeline is correct, this goes back to the first Castle Planner in my family: Lovidicus.” Gaius was giddy to get to dig that far back into his own family’s history. He opened the chest of books that Wolcott and Lisha had carried over.

     “How long ago was that?” Lisha did some mental calculations.

     “About 20 generations?” Gaius said carefully removing a series of older and older looking books as he tried getting to the bottom of the chest. Eventually the books looked less like bound tomes, and more like a stack of vellum locked between two planks of wood. Eventually, Gaius arrived at the oldest book at the bottom of the stack.

     “Here it is.” Gaius held it up for the other two to see. The name Lovidicus was written on the front.

     Gaius brought the ancient looking book over to the library reading tables, where it was brighter enough and easier to read. Gaius unlatched the pages of the journal, and he and Lisha began skimming around the pages of old timey text looking for references. Whatever happened to that treasury would have to have to be in there. Soon, Gaius spotted an interesting passage and read it out:

     ‘We haave finally cleared out the robble of the burnte buildung. It ſhall be reused for somethinge elſe. The scaundrals whom raided our walls and burnte mine buildung, curſed be thy naymes. -Lovidicus’

     “Man, I really hate this old writing. Why is the spelling so bad?I thought they had to be super careful when writing.” Gaius asked Lisha, curious if she would know.

     “Honestly, the way you Meridellians spell is strange to me too. Spelling changes over time, but back then, people didn't care about spelling as much because writing was meant to be read outloud.” Lisha explained. Her experience in libraries came in handy, just as Gaius had hoped.

     “So, someone burned the building we found down? Who?” the green Ogrin asked.

     “Let’s go further back in time-” Gaius started flipping the pages, but was interrupted.

     “There you are Gaius....” a yellow Gelert appeared in the library entrance. It was Gaius’s boss, Lazlo, Skarl’s Chamberlain. “Skarl wants to see you. Now. And he said to bring the amulet.”

     Gaius felt a prickly wave of fear course through his body. Was he in trouble? “Oh. O-okay. I will head there n-now.” Gaius got up and left the book in the care of Lisha. She and Wolcott could go over it while he was gone.

     There were no direct secret paths Gaius could take to the throne room, Gaius never had a chance to really look for them around there, so he had to hurry and take the typical path. After descending 3 flights of grand stairs with the bagged amulet in tow, he arrived at the large doorway. The guards gestured for the nervous Bori to enter.

     Gais walked down the carpeted hall lined with pillars. The grumpy Skeith figures carved into the pillars stared at him as he approached the equally grumpy looking King Skarl. Gaius’s mind could think of nothing but the worst possible outcome. The king wanted to see him directly. It wasn’t the usual procedure, and because of the amulet? It was not a coincidence.

     “Gaius Gallius... I presume?” Skarl finally spoke as the Bori approached.

     “Yes, your highness.” Gaius responded before standing at the appointed spot on the floor in front of the steps to the throne.

     “I take it you found it?” Skarl was straight to the point in asking.

     “I found something, yes. I was trying to figure out what it was before reporting the find... to be thorough...” Gaius tried to explain, but he was distracted. Right in front of his eyes was exactly the reason why the amulet had felt so familiar. Around King Skarl’s neck was an exact copy of the golden amulet. Colorful gems and all. He had seen Skarl prominently wearing it all these years.

     “Well, it just so happens that I am the authority on that matter. You should have come to me. Give it here.” Skarl raised his voice slightly, and held out his grabby paws.

     Gaius carefully pulled the still dirt encrusted amulet from the pouch, and as soon as the light hit the gems, Skarl lit up.

     “Quick give it to me now. Hurry it up.” The king was almost ready to hop off his throne to take it from Gaius himself, but Gaius was on his way up the steps. He gently presented it to the large Skeith, who swiped it out of his paw, and quickly inspected it.

     “It’s filthy.” He muttered under his breath, but paid no mind to Gaius, who was carefully backing down the stairs. “The gems are all there...” He continued to mutter to himself. “Yes, it’s definitely got the hallmarks.” He suddenly burst into a mirthful laughter. Gaius smiled awkwardly, not knowing the joke.

     Suddenly the laughter stopped, and King Skarl glared and scowled at Gaius, who froze to attention in fear.

     “Have you any idea what you found?” Skarl’s tone was angry, a complete change for only seconds ago. “To think that you did not bring this directly and immediately to me is almost an act of treason!” He bellowed. Gaius was not used to this tone coming from Skarl, and for him to accuse Gaius of treason? Usually Skarl was hands off, and more focused on letting other people handle things, but to hear such direct thoughts was scaring Gaius.

     “I’m s-sorry. I wanted to know more about it, so that I might impress you when I presented it. I had no intention of keeping it secret!” Gaius stammered.

     “Obviously, if you were planning a conspiracy, you did such a laughably poor job of it. A very responsible citizen saw you, and told me right away, after seeing you pull it from the ground. Do you know what could happen if someone else had this?”

     “No?” Gaius looked at the identical amulet around his neck, and then came to a realization. Skarl’s answer confirmed it.

     “This is part of the Royal Regalia. This amulet is the symbol of my bloodline’s rule over this kingdom! If some riffraff, or worse, my brother , had access to this, they could try and lay claim to my throne!” He explained.

     “Ah. Yes I see the problem. My apologies for not recognizing it sooner.” He gave a small bow, hoping to get back on Skarl’s good side. It seemed to work.

     “How did you find this?” Skarl asked, now more curious than angry.

     “It was buried underground. In the ruins of a building in the courtyard. I'm researching it now.” Gaius breathed a sigh of relief.

     “Ugh. That explains the dirt.” Skarl brushed a clod of dirt off of the fine detailing. Skarl began to explain “Regalia is supposed to be unique, impossible to replicate. That is why I was worried that this had been found. It was lost long ago. My family has passed down stories of it going missing after an attack. Our family has been living in tepid fear that it should fall into the wrong hands. At least now we know it has been safe inside the walls of Meridell Castle this whole time. This replica was made many hundreds of years ago, immediately after that attack, to show that Meridell was still strong, even after we were sacked. This being the true amulet, I suspect it should replace this one.” Skarl held up the replica amulet around his wide neck. “Now get back to work and finish my new building. Don’t hold onto anything else you might find there. I will be watching!”

     “Yes, your majesty.” Gaius nodded, and bowed out, and hurried back out to the hallway. In his rush to leave, he almost missed the vivid blue fur of his friend, Sir Jeran Borodere.

     “Wow. Are you okay? I haven’t seen Skarl that riled up since the war. Well, maybe during the triple truffle turkey tripping incident. Chef Langley was fired on the spot.” Jeran joked, as the two started walking down the hall to the library.

     “For a moment, I thought I was going to get accused of stealing the king’s treasure. I would never!” Gaius looked gutted as he vented to Jeran.

     “Yeah. Some squire in the training yard was watching you excavate, and before I knew it, the rumour of a gold amulet spread around before I could do anything about it. I’m sor-” Jeran’s explanation was interrupted by Gaius giving Jeran a very powerful hug. Jeran could hear soft crying as Gaius buried his face in Jeran’s tabard. “I’m glad it worked out. It’s okay.” Jeran finished.

     “I was so scared.” Gaius’s words were muffled, the hug continuing, pulling in tighter. Gaius’s thick Bori claws dug into Jeran’s back, but he endured the jabbing sensation. Jeran could sense this was not just a hug but a confession of feelings, and reciprocated to help comfort his friend. He pulled a green silk handkerchief and presented it to Gaius. Gaius finally broke the embrace, and used the cloth to wipe his tears. “Thanks.” He went to hand it back to the Lupe.

     “Keep it.” Jeran smiled and pushed it back into Gaius’s paw.

     “Thanks... I should... head back to the library. Finish up my research, and then get on with construction. I can't delay the project too much or it will get too cold. Set you at dinner.” Gaius continued down the hall, and noticed two heads peeking around the corner at the top of the stairs. The tall Aisha ears, and the fluffy Ogrin stumps of Lisha and Wolcott were visible as they tried hiding around the corner. Gaius silently climbed the stairs before surprising them both.

     “Oh Gaius, we weren’t eavesdropping... we were just checking up on you.” Wolcott tried to explain. “Are you okay?”

     “Yeah I'm fine. He wiped the last tear with the balled-up handkerchief. “There was just a small misunderstanding. It's cleared up now. At least I know what that amulet was.”

     Lista spotted her brother's handkerchief in Gaius’s paws as he shepherded them along to the library.

     “I see that my brother seems to like you...” Lisha had the look of a little sister who knew too many secrets.

     Gaius stared at the cloth clutched in his claws for a moment as he walked. “Yeah. I think I like him too.”

     Gaius, Lisha, with Wolcott’s help, finished their research. Gaius, with Wolcott’s assistance, cleared part of the rubble out of the way of the new building, and began laying the new foundation. Gaius started writing in his journal after the walls were starting to go up as the Winter hit.

     ‘Lovidicus’s journal, with Skarl’s account, confirms that after a raid in Meridell’s early days, the treasury building was burnt to a crisp. Thankful, not everything was taken, but in the fire, the Regalia Amulet was lost in the rubble. (perhaps it had been buried in the floorboards during the raid to prevent it from being captured?) I found a couple of old silver Neopoints, and I immediately brought them to Skarl for placement in the new Treasury, per his instructions.

     Turns out, after the first Treasury was demolished, the next Treasury was moved inside the castle walls, for better fortification, where it remains to this day. We have updated the maps to show where the old building's walls are so that we avoid surprises the next time we try to dig a foundation. Thank you Wolcott for that contribution. Your drawings seem precise and accurate, just as you have been practising. And thank you Sir Borodere, for being there for me when I needed it.’


Search the Neopian Times

Great stories!


Tyrannian Concert Hall Bands: An Origin Story
the penultimate chapter!

by honorrolle


Some Wacky Ways To Improve The Altador Cup!
"The Altador Cup is in full swing as I’m writing this article, and the players are grinding away at the games! We’re playing Yooyuball, slinging slushies, making tons of noise, and shooting Yooyus past Jelly Chia goalies!"

by indulgences


Logging back into Neopets..#2
Meerca Chase when? collab with pisces_babe_

by hotredfirefaerie


Shipwrecked Shipments
THAT'S where all the aperitifs went!Collab with 4facedangel

by ok886

Submit your stories, articles, and comics using the new submission form.