Rough and calloused, a hairy hand slammed a knife into the wood of the table, piercing through the map.
“There is no way I am going to let any scoundrel get that Eye before me! Avenly will be mine, no matter how many bodies I must bury to get there!” A gruff, nasty voice growled. In the shadows of the cabin of the ship, the captain’s dirty, sweaty face came into view. He had large, golden earrings protruding from his thick earlobes. Hidden in a bedraggled, matted beard, his yellow teeth were bared in rage. His oily hair was pulled back with a bandana, clearly showcasing his black eyepatch below his furrowed eyebrows. A classic pirate captain, including the lunacy.
“Understood, sir,” A deep voice agreed. A less freaky pirate sat at the table, calm considering the barbarian before him. Collapsing onto the bench, the captain rubbed his blackened fingertips on his wrinkled forehead, audibly growling. The gleaming scabbard at the captain’s side made the other pirate nervous.
“Set sail for the caves,” the captain demanded, suddenly slamming his curled fist onto the table.
“We have, sir.”
“Well, get us there faster!!” He bellowed, his wild black eyes burning a whole in everything he glanced at.
“I’ll see what I can do.” The pirate scurried up the stairs, glad for the excuse. Their captain had always been slightly cooky, but ever since the Eye of Horus had been lost, he’d become unbearable. Like many others, the infamous pirate captain was delirious to find the powerful gem.
“Captain Schizo?” A voice called from above deck.
“What?” Schizo moaned.
“Sir, land has been sighted! But we have an...obstacle,” the man explained. “Another pirate ship is a little ways ahead of us, and we suspect that they’re searching for the same thing.”
“What have I told you, Carl?” Captain asked devilishly. Before Carl could answer, Schizo yelled, “There can only be one pirate ship on the sea! Blast those buffoons out of the water! Show no mercy, take no captives!” Schizo cheered viciously, pumping a fist in the air and vaulting himself up the rickety wooden steps. A diabolical chorus of bloodthirsty cheers erupted from the crew, overpowering the sounds of cannons being rolled into positions, arrows being notched, and swords being drawn. These monsters were thirsty for carnage.
“What do you suppose this means?” Rose asked for the millionth time, pointing to another illegible scribble on the ancient Egyptian map.
“I don’t know,” Leo moaned exasperatedly.
“I think that we should just get to the island and search until we find it,” Rose mused.
“That wouldn’t work, Rose,” Leo interjected. “The former king had to have hidden it really well. Besides, that’d take forever!” Rose crossed her arms.
“I don’t see you coming up with any brilliant plans!” She huffed. Leo hated arguing with Rose. She’d been his friend for as long as he could remember. Before he could console her, their friend, Prince Darius of Avenly, slid down the wooden ladder and into the chamber they were in. His eyes were wild. Leo stood quickly, knocking down the chair he’d been sitting in.
“What is it, Darius?” He asked, flinching at the quaver in his voice.
“Pirates,” Darius breathed, his face going pale as he said it. The boys rushed up the ladder as quickly as they could. Rose stayed in her seat, her heart pounding. She wished it weren’t true, but she knew exactly what they were after; the Eye of Horus. The exact item that Rose and Leo were trying to get for the Prince. The treasure that would make the beholder king of the mighty city of Avenly.
She made a silent vow to herself. She would not let a crew of barbaric pirates get their dirty hands on that treasure if it was the last thing she did. Snatching the map, she followed her crewmates to defend themselves.
A thrill ran up Schizo’s spine.
“Fire!” He roared, the moment they were in range of the other ship to chuck a cannonball. He laughed with sheer glee as he spotted tiny figures running about the deck like frightened mice. It’d been a long time since he’d massacred a whole shipload of people who thought they were sailors.
He’d missed this.
The cannonball demolished the side of the ship. Water quickly filled the belowdecks and the ship listed sideways. Schizo jumped up and down and clapped like an excited toddler.
“Archers! Ignite and fire!!” He shrieked. The archers lit their arrows and released them, the arrows whistling through the air. Schizo squealed like a pig when the arrows lit the mast on fire. Suddenly, disappointment filled him. Why weren’t they fighting back? It was no fun to not have a little challenge! The people on the decks were gone, and the ship continued to sink in slow motion.
Then he saw it. Four rowboats sliding across the surface of the water toward shore, two people in each. A small crew, but it was definitely this ship’s crew. Schizo’s blood boiled. They were escaping to steal his treasure.
“After them!” Schizo screamed, pointing a shaky finger at the rowboats that were almost to shore. A couple of his own rowboats were lowered into the water by his men and they sped after the escapees.
Sweating with anger and frustration, Schizo steered his ship toward his bounty, cursing all the way.
“They’re coming!” Rose shrieked in warning. Sweat dripped into Leo’s eyes as he desperately rowed as fast as he could. The shore wasn’t too far off, and they had a huge head start on their pursuers. He figured they would search for the treasure in the cover of the forest.
The thing that worried Leo the most was Darius. He hadn’t wanted the stubborn prince to come in the first place, but he’d insisted. And if the pirates got their hands on him...Leo shuddered.
Ahead of him, Darius leaped out of his rowboat, his leather boots splashing in the water. Suddenly, something whizzed past Leo’s ear. He could’ve sworn it clipped off a lock of his hair.
“Arrows!” He screamed, ducking as low as he could in the boat.
“We need to get to the safety of the forest!” Darius shouted. He helped the rest of the crew leap out of the boats. All eight of them ran full-force towards the thick canopy of the trees. It was their best bet. Leo tried not to think about the forest animals that could rip him to shreds. He’d much rather get in a tangle with a wild creature than a barbaric pirate. At least the animal would be humane and kill him quickly.
Rose, Darius, Leo, and the rest of the ship’s crew darted towards the shelter, ducking to make themselves a smaller target. Rose whipped out the map and studied it for the hundredth time once they got into the cover of the trees. Leo was amazed at how she could look at the map and run through a forest of branches and rocks to trip her up.
“In here,” Darius whispered, ushering all the men into a large cavern. He held some bushes out of the way so everyone could enter as quickly as possible. Leo stood and put a hand on the vines so Darius could go through.
“Go ahead,” Leo said. But Darius ushered him forward. The sound of fast-approaching footsteps told them that the pirates had reached land. “Just go,” Darius commanded. It pained Leo to see that Darius thought he was the boss, even if he was a prince. Leo opened his mouth to argue, but a soft hand wrapped around his. Another wrapped around Darius’s hand, and yanked them both into the cave.
“Do you want to kill us all?!” Rose hissed. “Chivalry is not accepted if it gets us all killed!” She scolded. The crew slunk deeper into the cavern, trying to get as far away from the pirates as possible. Leo preferred to have his head attached, thanks.
Dozens of footfalls pounded by like hail in a storm. It seemed as though the rocks themselves held their breath, waiting.
“There ain’t nobody here, Stanley,” A voice uttered.
“Maybe they went up farther,” Another voice offered. Then a wild voice shouted,
“Dagnabbit, just find those scallywags and chop them heads off! Ain't nobody gonna get my Eye!” A choir of ‘yessirs’ rang about, and footsteps indicated that the pirates were leaving.
Leo let out a breath and looked at his comrades, relieved. Rose had an odd look on her face.
“What?” Leo whispered. Rose crawled towards the covered opening and shot her hand through. Leo raised an eyebrow. “What are you doing?” Without responding, Rose withdrew her hand and pulled a piece of parchment along with it.
“I knew it!” She whispered. “I heard a whoosh, like parchment falling, and I figured they’d dropped something,” she breathed, more to herself than anyone else. Leo’s eyes widened as she spoke.
“How in the world did you hear that?” he asked in awe. Rose shrugged. Darius took the sheet from her. After studying it a moment, he said,
“It’s a map!”
“Another one?” Leo asked.
“It’s of this island, but it’s as indecipherable as ours,” he murmured, slumping to the floor. He tossed the parchment on top of their map, looking defeated. “We still have no leads. Are we ever going to find this Eye?” He sulked. Rose shrugged again, then looked to Leo for support, but Leo wasn’t looking. She followed his gaze to the maps. He scrunched his eyebrows, thinking. Silently, he grabbed the two maps and held them one on top of the other. He gasped.
“Guys, look!” The gang circled around him, staring at the map. “When you put both maps together, it shows exactly where the treasure is!” He explained excitedly.
“You’re right!” Rose exclaimed.
“Then what are we waiting for?” Darius asked. Then one of the crewmates spoke up.
“But what about the pirates?” That stopped the trio in their tracks. Somehow, they’d momentarily forgotten about their cruel adversaries. Silence filled the room, choking out any hope. Then Rose reignited the flame.
“Believe it or not, it looks like the Eye is in this very cave!”
That’s when Captain Schizo stepped through the bushes, a merciless grin spreading across his face.
Schizo looked down his crooked nose at the weaklings in front of him. He shot a hand out and snatched the maps.
“Thank you for figuring out the solution to my problems!” Schizo crowed. “Now let’s see...” He muttered. He traced a finger along the map, his grimy fingertips leaving a trail of slime. “Ah-HA!” he shouted triumphantly. “This should be easy peasy now,” he announced gleefully. Leo and Darius exchanged a knowing smile.
“Come, come!” Schizo ushered to the group as he walked down a tunnel. “Come witness my coronation!” He cackled. The sheath at his side was making everyone nervous, so they decided to follow.
After walking down long winding, damp paths, they finally arrived at a large cavern. In the middle was a pedestal decorated with golden filigree. Schizo impersonated a little kid again and practically ran at the pedestal. Not very kingly of him, thought Leo. Rose watched in horror as Schizo laid his hands on the item that would make the cruel pirate captain King of Avenly.
The moment Schizo’s hands touched the Eye, sparks were sent flying. So was Schizo. He slammed into the cavern wall and crumpled in a heap, unmoving. Darius and Leo smiled again as the decoy crumbled to dust. Darius strolled up to the pedestal confidently. He reached his arm down into the pedestal and pulled out the real Eye of Horus. Warm light filled the room, and Darius’s hair ruffled in a dramatic way.
Suddenly, Darius raised the Eye above his head. He smiled and smashed the Eye to smithereens on the rocky cavern floor. The light disappeared instantly. Shocked silence filled the crevices of the room.
“What did you do that for?!” Leo yelled. Darius winced.
“Proving a point,” Darius explained calmly. “Let me ask you this. If that artifact really belonged to the ‘gods’, wouldn’t it still be intact?” Darius paused, letting his question sink in. “My point is, that there are no ‘gods’. Only God. The One and Only Jesus Christ! And I intend to bring Avenly to Him by the Bible and His love, not some dusty artifact.” With that, Darius strut out the exit, head held high.
“Uh...” Leo started. “That was odd. Who’s Jesus Christ?” He asked, turning to Rose. She shrugged, mystified. One of the crew members spoke up.
“Let’s go find out!"