short story, story promptZila follows clues and an ancient map to try to uncover the location of the most infamous treasure hoard – the Pirate Lord’s Treasure.


“There’s buried treasure on this rock?!” Madelyn asked incredulously. “Impossible. Where would it be hidden? Nowhere on this tiny island is suitable for burying anything. I can’t see a speck of sand.”

“It’s definitely this island,” Zila insisted. “I’ve studied the all the maps and interpreted all the clues. This is definitely the place.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Zila ignored her and turned back to the map she held. It was starting to fall apart with all the folding and unfolding she’d done with it. It was the most precise of the maps they’d collected. If she had deciphered the clues correctly, both they and the map would show her exactly where the infamous Pirate Lord’s treasure was hidden.

“Follow me.” She began climbing over the salt-encrusted rocks, Madelyn and the first mate scrambling after her. After a few moments, she stopped and scanned the horizon. According to the map and the clues, she should be able to see two large rocks protruding from the glittering waves. Sure enough, two rough stone formations were visible in the near distance. She sidled to the left until it looked like they joined together as one to form a lopsided X.

“Perfect,” she murmured.

“Have you found it?” Madelyn demanded, wiping sweat from her brow.

“Not quite.” She turned on her heel and walked towards the sheer rock face that towered behind them. A narrow crack ran vertically through it. “Through here.”

“Seriously?” Madelyn complained. “I’m not a spelunker. I’m a pirate. I don’t do caves.”

Zila put her hands on her hips. “Have you forgotten who hid the treasure? We’re after the Pirate Lord’s treasure. I think the name more or less establishes that he was also a pirate. He must have gone this cave, so I’m sure you can too.”

“Fine, but you’re going first.”

“I’d already taken that for granted.” Zila folded the map and tucked it into her leather belt pouch. Turning on her side, she eased into the dark crack. Carefully, she felt along the jagged wall with her hands and placed her feet only after testing the area first. The downward slope was tricky to navigate. She could hear the grunts and heavy breathing as Madelyn and the first mate followed.

After a minute or so, she felt the walls of the fissure widening. Her footsteps echoed back to her and she could sense the open space around her. She stopped. “Would you care to give us some light, Madelyn, or are you happy to continue fumbling around in the dark?”

Igni,” Madelyn whispered. A small globe of glowing blue light appeared in her palm. She tossed it in the air and it hung above them, illuminating the cave.

Glittering stalactites hung from the ceiling, magnifying the light from the magical orb. The cave itself was large, but didn’t appear to go any further into the rocky island. At the far end of the cave, a heap of sacks lay in a pile, the cloth of the sacks mostly rotted away, leaving gleaming piles of gold and jewellery.

“Why couldn’t he have put it tidily in a chest like a conventional pirate?” Madelyn groaned. “It’s going to take forever to get all that out!”

“I’m assuming you walked through the same narrow tunnel I did to get here,” Zila said dryly. “How do you propose we’d get a massive chest through there when we could barely squeeze through ourselves?”

Madelyn pursed her lips. “I knew I brought you along for a reason.”

“You mean other than finding you the long lost treasure of an infamous pirate? You’re welcome, by the way.”

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