Gunn's Gold and a Treasure Beyond Reckoning! by Mark Dennis
Chapter 1: Gunn's Puzzle
The crew made it to Bounty Island. They thought that they were almost done! Mark and Max hopped off of their ship. "Intruder!" they heard a voice say, "Stand to, and prepare to make account of yourself!" Max looked straight at the Crustacean who said that. "We're pirates, Squinty," he said, "We're here for Captain Gunn's gold!"
"Gunn's gold? Ha!" Squinty said, "I've spent ten' year an' more diggin' on this barren rock! There's no treasure here! Go on through the gates, and you'll see!" Mark looked over the gate, "We've got to hurry. I want Isabella, Eli, Nathan, Rachel, and Max with me on this one!" Mark said, "Everyone else, stay here, keep an eye on Squinty, and watch for Ratbeard!" The kids moved in.
The six kids came up to the mermaid statue in the center of the island. Isabella looked, and saw a note. "I found the note," she said, "It says 'Welcome to Bounty Island, Pirate! My Treasure awaits within my Tomb. Don't bother digging - the way is blocked. To pass the gate and find my tomb, you'll have to prove you're a true sailor. Your first test: Gunnery, a discipline dear to any pirate's heart. Head to the north beach - there's a rope bridge to a nearby islet. Dig at the left post'."
"Tch," Nathan said, "I wish that we didn't have to do all of these tests, but it'll be worth it in the end. Let's get to the bridge." Max and Mark jumped from the short hill, and made it down safely. Everyone else was sane enough to go down the ramp, and around the hill. Max approached the bridge, "I found another note!" he said, "'The Gunnery test: one of the Kegs on yonder islet still holds good gunpowder, the rest are spoiled. Any pirate who knows a Broadside from a Cowhide can tell the difference. Take the good Keg to my ship, beached on the far side of the island, and load the cannon there'.
"Who can tell if gunpowder is good or not?" Max asked to the others. Mark and Isabella walked past Max across the bridge. "Any Musketeer can easily tell," Mark said, "Let us handle this one!" Up above on the hill, they saw Mike, Scratch, and Bonnie, "We've got a problem," Bonnie yelled to the kids. Eli looked up at them, "What is it?" he said, "Don't tell me Ratbeard-"
"No, thankfully," Mike said, "But Squinty's gone missing. Everyone was napping, we heard a noise, and Squinty was gone! We searched the Island, Mormo and Louis took a raft to check to see if he had a hidden boat. They didn't see anything." Rachel gave a sigh of relief, "That's good," she said, "Let's try and get Gunn's gold, and see if we can get it before Ratbeard!" Mike straightened his jaw, "Also, where's the captain?"
"Over there," Rachel said right as Mark and Isabella came around the pillar on the islet. They had the gunpowder, and it was good. They carried the keg over to the rest of the kids, and they caught it right as it was about to fall. They carried it sideways to the beached ship, dropping it with a loud thunk on the deck.
The kids took the end of the cannon, turning it upright, and looked inside. It was still good, but there was no string for a wick. Mark grabbed a bit of waxed string, and stuck it inside the hole in the top. Nathan reached inside the barrel of the cannon, and found a note. "New instructions," Nathan said, "Let's load the cannon first." Mark, Isabella, and Bonnie firmly placed the gunpowder in the barrel of the cannon, and stuck a cannonball into it. "Now, Nathan," Mark said, "Your turn to read."
Nathan cleared his throat, and started to read; "Important as Gunnery is, there's another skill even more vital: Rigging. A pirate who doesn't know his way around sails and ropes is doomed. Here's your second test: go to the western beach, and find the barnacle-covered rock. There's a rope beneath it. Tie the rope to the Anchor, and run it over both the masts. Hoist the Anchor up and tie the other end of the Rope to the Cannon's Platform. When you are finished, both Anchor and Cannon should be hanging in the air. You know how to tie a strong knot, don't you? Good luck!"
Max nodded at this, "I think Nathan and I can get this one," he said, "Come on, Nathan!" and the two ran for the western beach. They almost ran straight smack into Louis, who was running to tell Mark something. "Captain!" Louis yelled, "We cannot find Squinty, but Mormo and I saw water-moles coming from the lower part of the island! I think there is a cave down there."
"We'd best hurry then," Mark said, "They could have stolen Gunn's gold already." Max and Nathan returned with the rope. "We need to get this tied," Nathan said, "Max, secure the rope to the anchor. We'll hold it up."
Max ran to the anchor and saw the pulleys above him, hanging off of the sails. He tied the rope to the anchor, and jumped. He latched onto the sails, crawling up the pole, hanging upside-down off of the top. He strung the rope through the pulley. "How do I get down?" he said, "Never mind that, I'll go into the sand." Max hung off of his legs, arms dangling, and swung. He then released his legs from the pole, landing in the sand on the beach. It was a soft landing, but he managed to seriously injure his arm. Max screamed in pain.
"Aaah!" Max screamed, "I think I broke my arm!" Bonnie ran up to him, put her Scaramanga down, and started to help him. She felt his arm, and found where he had broken it. She took two thin pieces of wood, some twine, and her scarf off of her neck. She took the pieces of wood, held them on the sides of the broken arm, and wrapped the twine around the wood in two places. She then lifted his arm in an L-shape, putting his arm in the middle of the unwrapped scarf, and tied the ends of the scarf around the back of Max's neck.
"That ought to do, for now," Bonnie said, "We'll take you to Madame Vadima after we're done here. She'll be able to make a proper splint." Max used his left hand to get up from the ground, "Thanks Bonnie," he said, "Let's just hope it's a clean break."
Nathan took the rope, and brought it around the giant pulley that was by the cannon. "Alright," he said, "Get this held up, and someone get up on the platform." Mike got on the platform, Nathan grabbed the rope, and everyone else pulled on the anchor, including the currently-one-handed Max. Rachel pulled on the wheel, raising the anchor. Mark saw what Rachel was doing, and helped her out. Nathan ran for the cannon's pulley, and strung the rope through it.
Mark and Rachel then let go of the wheel. The anchor fell and the cannon went flying upward. Mike almost lost his balance on the platform as it went up. "Look!" Bonnie said, "There's another note, hidden under the platform!"
"I've got this," Mike said. He knelt down, and reached under the platform he was on. He couldn't quite reach the note. Mike slipped and fell off of the platform, landing flat on his back on the deck of the ship. "I'm glad I'm a zombie," he said, "I didn't feel that at all."
"Watch this," Bonnie said, she grabbed a hook off of a nearby skeleton's arm, and took some rope hanging off of her waist. Bonnie tied the rope to the loop in the hook, swung the end, tossed it, and hit the pole coming out from the second sail. There was now a rope hanging off of the sail. With her gripping boots, Bonnie climbed up the rope, reached out, grabbing the note off of the platform, and safely got back down.
"Here you go, Eli," Bonnie said giving the note to Eli. Eli started to read, "Your final test is at hand, Pirate. Go to the eastern beach, and find the parcel I've hidden in a cask." Rachel looked at the note. "Eli," she said, "I think this is Navigation. You and I will handle this." Rachel and Eli ran for the eastern beach. Everyone else followed, staying up on the hill. Max was unable to run, so he walked. Bonnie stayed behind with him.
Rachel and Eli opened the cask holding the parcel. "Nice spyglass," Rachel said, "Let me read the note." Rachel read it to herself first, and then laughed. "I knew it!" she said, "It is navigation!" She handed the note to Eli who held the spyglass, and read it.
"You've tried your hand at Gunnery and Rigging, now we shall see how well you fare with Navigation. Take the Spyglass back to where you started, and put it in the Mermaid's hand. Then, orient the glass South by Southwest, ten degrees below the horizon. I've had you load the cannon, set the rigging, and orient the spyglass. If you have the skills of a true pirate, my gold will be yours. Good luck!"
Everyone watched as Eli and Rachel brought the spyglass to the Mermaid. Rachel read off the instructions, and Eli oriented the spyglass. Everyone saw the beam of light coming from the spyglass, and watched as the light burned the anchor rope, and the anchor fell and broke the upper deck and wheel, while the cannon fell perfectly on it's platform. The flaming rope hit the cannon's wick, setting it off. The cannon fired at the gate below Eli and Rachel. Shrapnel went flying everywhere, and one bit hit Rachel in the eye. She held her eye to keep it from hurting, but there was no way to save it. Rachel lost her eye to a chunk of iron.
"Gah!" she said, "I can't see out of my right eye!" She uncovered her eyeball a bit to let Bonnie see. It was bleeding, badly too. Bonnie took some string, a bit of fabric, and some soft material and put it around Rachel's head, giving a patch to put over Rachel's right eye. "We'll get you to Flotsam after this," Bonnie said, "There's an excellent doctor there. In the meantime, we'd best check if Gunn's gold is still down there."
The crew got to the tomb of Captain Gunn, where they found scattered gold coins, but nothing else. "The treasure," Louis said, "Where is it? Capitain, we are deceived! RATBEARD!" The crew heard crawling, and slowly turned behind them to see Squinty.
"You little whelp!" Squinty shouted, "How dare ye! This tomb was mine to find, MINE! I'll teach ye to cross me! Get 'em me crawlies!" Crab crawlies came charging at the crew. Mark and Bonnie took their rifles, and shot the crabs. Louis took his harpoon, fired it off at the various crawlies. Despite his Crustacean origins, he killed the little crabs. Eli took heavy bombs and threw them at the furthest crawlies, frying them upon impact. "We'll have seafood tonight!" Eli yelled.
Max, despite his one-handedness, was still able to use one knife. He stabbed the injured crawlies, though he let them live. Nathan just sat back and watched due to the fact that his magic would be useless against the crawlies. Rachel, despite having only one working eye, was still able to see the crawlies. She took a mighty swing of her club, and smashed the crawlies into the sand. Squinty's jaw dropped as soon as he looked around the room.
The crawlies were either smashed, bleeding, burning, or dead. Mark walked up to Squinty. "We survived your wrath," Mark said, "Now, do you surrender?" Squinty had only one thing to say. "The treasure, it's gone! Our quarrel was for nothing! I'm leaving! Goodbye!" With that, squinty went up the ladder, jumped off of the edge of the island, and was never seen again.
"The treasure!" Scratch said, "It be gone, Captain. But we are not out of options. Let me work me magic, I'll make Captain Gunn tell us himself." Sarah was coming down the ladder when Scratch said this. "Huh," she said, "I guess the skeleton has his own uses after all." Sarah jumped down to the floor when she wasn't too far from it. The crew walked up to Captain Gunn, who spoke.
"I can talk?" Gunn's skull of a head said, "Unexpected. I would congradulate all of you, pirates, for being the first to find my gold. But, sadly, you aren't. After all the trouble I went to in order to fashion this entire puzzle, a cheating rat comes along, and steals my gold! Ratbeard sent Water-Moles, detestable creatures, to come up through the flooded tunnels under my tomb to steal my treasure! I knew I should've sealed that passage.
"The Water-Moles are going to sacrifice the treasure to their fire god, the volcano, at Waponi Wu. Hurry over there, teach them a lesson, and get my gold back! It'll all be yours for the taking." The band of pirates hurried over to the ladder, and got to the docks. They boarded their ship. "I need to take Max and Rachel over to Flotsam." Bonnie said, "Can you drop me off there?"
"Sadly, I don't think I can." Mark said, "We've got to hurry to Waponi Wu, and get Gunn's treasure before the Water-Moles destroy it all!"
"Then let me take a raft," Bonnie said, "I need some way of getting them to a doctor soon!" Mark tossed Bonnie a bottled raft. Bonnie caught it, unbottled it, and took Rachel and Max to Flotsam. Mark piloted his skiff over to Waponi Wu. The entire crew got off of the ship once landed, starting for the rope ladder. They climbed up the rope ladder, making it up to the village. The crew ran for the volcano, village desolate and abandoned, to finish off Ratbeard once and for all, and get Gunn's gold! They crew ran up the ladder, thinking that this challenge would be easy. But, this would be the hardest challenge they would face so far, and just the beginning of their journey...
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