Treasure hunting

 

Chapter 7

 

Treasure hunting

 

The following story she tolde me herself – only a few details have been added by others. I will attempt to present it to you as she did to me. I hope she will forgive me if I remember phrases wrongly or make false assumptions as to the meaning of her wordes.

 

Fiona told me: ‘The Fortuna was captained by the damarian Enrique Velasquez and she sailed under Ryendor flag. As first mate sailed the ryandorian lesser nobleman Jean-Luc de Bergerac' (A very adventurous family in its own worth, I’m tolde. J.W.) 'and cousin some times removed of captain Velasquez. As boatsman sailed Phillip ‘Hawk’ Russell. I contacted the officers with an invitation to join me for lunch at ‘Sailors Rest’ – a cheap, but not sleazy hotel for seafaring folk. That’s where I usually stay, when I’m paying for lodgings myself. I said my goodbyes to Vincènté, took up lodging at the ‘Sailors Rest’ and waited. The captain and the two aforementioned officers took me up on my offer and showed up for lunch at the appointed hour. I introduced myself under false name and false pretences, and took my time getting an impression of the officers. I must say that they met with my liking – Jean-Luc in particular – and I asked for passage to the colonies. A price was set and a deal was made. Little did I know what a ship and what captain I had unknowingly stumbled upon.

 

 

I boarded the Fortuna – a lovely flute – on an early sunlit morning. I liked the feeling of her as soon as I sat foot on her deck. And no less important: the sailors seemed a very hardworking, but content lot. That is always a good sign. Yes, I very much found the Fortuna to my liking. But I must admit I was surprised to discover exactly what fortunue I had stumbled upon here: As co-passengers I found no less than my halfuncle, the dour Theodor Blackwell, who had once throwne Carlos down the staires of Millstone with a curse, and my halfcousin Phoebe Blackwell, the sweet and quite naiive girl I had played with that afternoon so many years ago. You know; after grandpa William had died and left Carlos with instructions to seek out his halfbrother in order to find and share their inheritance – the hidden treasure of years of privateering. Grandpa William had hoped to bring his children together, to unite the family in this common goal. But Theodor refused to accept that he even had a half-brother, and a colored half-brother at that! And he would certainly not accept that grandpa William had ever betrayed the Venduer royal family by stealing gold that were rightfully theirs – in their opinion. Off course we – William, Carlos and I – saw it differently. Theodor could not appreciate the dangers a privateer or pirate endures to collect treasure. And to hand over more than half your earnings, well, that just doesn’t make any sense. Nothing seemed to have changed since that fateful day almost ten years previously. Theodor was still dour, and Phoebe was still sweet and naiive, but by no means stupid, as I was to discover. Phoebe – as it turned out - was engaged to Captain Velasquez, and this offered me a chance that I could not possibly have foreseen.

 

I spend 3 days on the ship subtly asking questions of the crew as to what sort of captain Velasquez was, and I was astonished to find an extremely loyal crew, who almost idolized their captain and officers. They seemed to have had several adventures already, although the captain was quite young – not yet 20 years of age – that had secured the crew’s dedication. The Fortuna seemed to live up to her name, and I found that the Lady Luck was smiling upon me once again!

 

Thus convinced of Velasques’ good nature I approached him, apologized for my lies about my identity and mission, and made him a busines proposal; we would join forces in the hunt for the Blackwell treasure, he on Phoebe’s behalf, and we would share it down the middle. After carefull consideration he agreed to this. Phoebe was introduced to the secret plan and to me, and with joyful glee she agreed to do her bid. It seemed that there was much more to that girl than that which met the eye! What met the eye was this: a smallish kind of goofish girl with an almost elfish pretty face that was marred by the pair of eyeglasses she had to wear not to be completely blind. Her hair had a life of its own – it didn’t stay in place for 5 minutes at a time. She looked a mess most of the time. I must admit that I thought she seemed a little bit mad whenever she was exited about something, and she was that a lot. The captian doted on her, and she was completely lost in him in return. If ever I saw a pair in love, they were it! It seemed that dear Phoebe would have enjoyed to join us on the adventure, but her father had commanded her to stay close by him on shore while captain Velasquez proved his worth and won his own inheritage, which I’m told was considerable' (it is, J.W.), 'before he would let them marry.

 

To my luck Phoebe knew the location of grandpa William’s bankbox – she had previously attempted to open it herself, she tolde me, but had lacked the right key, which I possessed. She also had a key of her own, inherited from William. This consisted with William’s letter to Carlos; that each of his children had a key, and that they would have to work together to find the treasure. Phoebe agreed to visit our aunt Margaret to obtain her key, and that was the end of her part of the adventure. Jean Luc agreed to safeguard Phoebes key.

 

Once we arrived in Jamestown I went straight to the bank. The handsome Jean-Luc went with me. With my inherited key I opened the bankbox, and found this: a concisely termed will, a brief note, four diffently shaped and colored bottles with oddly lettered notes on them, and a blank piece of paper… I had expected a treasure map, I must admit, but I should have known better! Riddles and games was ever grandpa William’s favorite thing! I was glad I had brung Jean-Luc, who reads very well, since I’m such a doof at it. The will read something like this: ‘This, my last will and testament, leaves the content of my account in the Commercial Bank of Ravensmeer to my four children or their heirs. This document is made valid by my seal that thus is the symbol of this legacy’. It was signed by grandpa William himself and the attorney of law Sir Greenwill-Cony. Four children! Not three, as I had assumed, but four! The note read: ‘A bottle to each, for each. The bottles contain the solutions to each test, along with your keys and wits. Good wind, Dad’. The note on the red bottle read ‘Enforce Rich Indifference Forever’, on the bottle with dark amber liquid ‘Here Trembles Red Acorns’ Embellishments’, on the clear bottle with the blue-green liquid ‘RescuEd by a Tame Angel’s Wit’, and on the bottle with light amber liquid ‘Rain Illustrates Animosity’. Pure gibberish!

 

I was bewildered! It was obvious that here lay a carefully thought through riddle that would have to be solved before further progress could be made. We brought everything with us back to the Fortuna to ponder on the problem there. We soon agreed upon that the blank piece of paper probably concealed a secret message of some sort. I tried to holding it up close to a candle to make any lemonjuice-scriblings visible, but to no avail. It would not be as easy as that. We decided that maybe the liquid of one of the bottles would probably have to be poured over the piece of paper to reveal the message. But which one? And what did the mystery writings on the paper on the bottles mean? Finally Jean-Luc – the clever lad - realized that read backwards the capital letters on the bottles read: FIRE (Enforce Rich Indifference Forever), EARTH (Here Trembles Red Acorns’ Embellishments), WATER (RescuEd by a Tame Angel’s Wit) and AIR (Rain Illustrates Animosity) – the four elements.

 

Since William in his letter to Carlos had called him a ‘spirit of fire’ we figured that the contents of the FIRE-bottle should be poured over the piece of paper. In case the contents of the bottle were more than mere water we held the piece of paper over a metal dish and poured… The paper burst into flames in my hands and in the second before the paper burned to ashes Jean-Luc read aloud the letters that appeared while the paper burned: ‘Earth. Full moon in Saint Josef Cathedral. Let the water run over my headstone’.

 

We stood bewildered for a few seconds as the meaning of the words settled in us. The first riddle was solved – we had found our next clue: The next place to go to would be the Saint Josef Cathedral in St. JamesPort. What headstone grandpa William was mentioning we would have to discover when we arrived there. Grandpa himself is as you know burried in Jamestown.

 

But there were other matters to be settled first: The will mentioned FOUR heirs, four children, and I knew only of the three: Theodor, Margaret and Carlos. Who was the fourth? I must admit that the thing that bothered me most about this was not that we would have finde this fourth person, but that we might had to split the treasure into more shares. Enrique and Jean-Luc had insisted that the treasure would be split into equal shares to all the heirs, including Margaret, whom I certainly not had reckoned with. I thought it fair enough to share it with Phoebe, whom I thought was a pleasant and spirited girl, since her fiancée provided the ship and manual labour. I made my own secret plans about cheating Margaret’s family of their share, since they certainly didn’t seem to need it. But a fourth of £20.000 + interests were still plenty to buy the ship I wanted and secure my olde age, should I ever reach it (our lot are ever optimistic on that accord). The fourth heir was at this point more of an interesting new riddle to solve than an actual problem.

 

But as you can understand; before we could do anything else we had to find out who the fourth heir was. Four keys were needed and after Phoebe had obtained Margerets key (which she did without any trouble whatsoever – good girl), we were still one key short. So first: to find out who the fourth heir might be we should find and ask the attourney Sir Greenwill-Cony, or maybe ask Mamasita if she had knowledge of who might have been the third woman by whom William had fathered a child.

 

Jean-Luc asked around in Jamestown, and discovered that Sir Greenwill-Cony could be found in either Elizabethtown or Port Royal. Since Port Royal was closer by, and Mamasita was there as well, we decided that Port Royal would be their next destination.