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Library: The lure of treasures

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Author: nepos
Date:May 19 2015

Dreyv carefully examined his catch. The rabbit was old, but it'd do. Being a
rather poor hunter, he was glad to able to catch at least that.

For nearly three weeks now, Dreys had been traveling the land, rather
aimlessly, looking for  any misplaced treasures that he may stumble upon. As
he liked to explain to anyone willing to listen, he did not want the riches
for himself, but rather for his family, who was on the verge of losing their
house. Not knowing any useful trade, searching for riches in the wilderness
remained the best option. So far, however, Dreys failed to find any.

"Now, see," he said to his faithful companion, a large rodent of uncertain
type. "We have traveled far, surely some interesting treasure isn't much
further away."

The rat, unsurprisingly, never replied. This did not seem to bother Dreyv any,
he just kept droning about what all he'd be able to do once he finds some nice
treasure.

Once they cooked and ate their dinner, Dreyv settled down to sleep, with the
rat by his side. The night was uneventful, mostly because both passing groups
of bandits deemed him too poor to bother with, and in the morning Dreyv
continued his journey.

The days had mostly looked all the same, with Dreyv inquiring all passing
villagers about treasures, and continuing - or running very fast - after
receiving a negative answer. This time, however, things were to look a bit
different.

Dreyv came upon a fragile looking old woman, sitting on a fallen tree trunk
next to the road. As he approached, she nodded at him in greeting. "New here,
eh laddie? What's bringing you to these parts?"

"I seek treasures. Shiny ones, valuable ones, any treasures will do,: replied
Dreyv, the same way he replied to everyone. And the answer. however, was
rather unexpected, for instead of rolling her eyes and moving in, as all the
others did so far, the old woman's face listead lit up and she proclaimed,
"Ah! Maybe I know about a perfect place for you!"

"Really? Where is it? Where?" Dreyv demanded, suddenly all giddy from
anticipation.

"Not far, laddie, not far as all," laughed the woman. "I see much strength in
you, laddie. I should know, I've been a fortune teller for years, and your
future is looking very interesting indeed."

The crone proceeded to show Dreyv the location of a small village, and a
castle towering over it. "There, laddie, that is what you find all the
treasures," she said, gleefully. "But do be careful, laddie, things there
aren't quite perfect, as I hear," the crone cackled and turned away from him.

Dreyv was beyond himself with excitement and anticipation. Finally he found a
place with riches and treasures! He swiftly set off in the indicated way.

He walked swiftly, and within several hours he stood outside a small village,
with a dark castle towering on a hill above it. It was clear that the village
was deserted - both by the fact that most buildings were in ruins, and also
because various wild animals were busy walking around, or lying around, the
former village. Dreyv stared at the scene and frowned. Something seemed off.

Several minutes of intensive thinking later (he wasn't much of a thinker), he
finally had it. There were many aggressive animals - a lion, several tigers,
even poisonous reptiles - yet neither attacked any other. Dreyv marvelled at
this for a while, but eventually shrugged. "Eh, maybe I'll find out the
explanation in the castle," he said, and turned towards it.

A half an hour's walk later, he found himself standing in front of the castle
gate. "Hrm," he said thoughtfully. "For a deserted castle, this one sure looks
well-preserved."

Finding himself unable to open the main gate, Dreyv set off to examine the
castle walls, hoping to find some hole or another way to enter the castle. And
sure enough, not far from the entrance a couple of loose rocks looked
climbable.

Several nasty falls later, Dreyv has managed to climb atop the wall, and then
down into the castle proper. Winded, he brushed himself off, rested a few
minutes, then started exploring the castle.

"Corridors, walls, and then even more corridors," complained Dreyv aloud to
himself. "Come on now, where are all those treasures?"

"Not far at all, young man," said a deep voice behind him. "Not far at all."

Dreyv jumped with surprise, hit his head against the low ceiling, then quickly
turned around. A wrinkled old man was standing in the corridor, holding a
lantern and staring at him steadily. "Oh, I-" stammered Dreyv, "-I'm sorry to
uh ... invade here like that, I-"

The man held up a hand. "How about we sit down and have a nice dinner and you
explain it all during it, eh? I'm sure you are hungry."

Famished, actually, as Dreyv suddenly realized. In the excitement of this day
he entirely forgot about things as mundane as eating.

The man gestured for him to follow, and before long Dreyv was sitting at a
table with a simple, but filling meal in front of him. For a while he was just
eating wordlessly, savoring the many unknown tastes. Eventually, a thought
started to slow form in his head.

"Say, sir, er.."

"Donnswort, young man."

"Er, okay, sir Donnswort, how did you and this food get into a deserted
castle?"

"Ah, young man, that's a very good question indeed," exclaimed the old man.
"I'm sure you have seen all those animals down in the village?"

"Well, sure, but-"

"Of course you have. Now, those are all ours. We take care of them, and ensure
that they are always well-fed. That's why they are so docile."

For a moment, Dreyv was content that the mystery of the animals was resolved,
but then a thought occurred to him. "We?" he asked.

"Oh! Where are my manners!" exclaimed the old man. "Patricia, come meet our
guest!" he called towards an open door.

"Patricia is my wife, and an amazing cook to boot," he said to Dreyv. "She did
all this food, including the special ingredients." He smiled at him, suddenly
looking slightly sad.

Dreyv turned around at the sound at the door, and upon catching the glimpse of
the woman that stood there, he leaped to his feet and stammered out, "But-
but- haven't we met yesterday?"

And indeed, the woman that stood before him was no one other than the crone
that sent him towards the castle.

The woman looked at him with regret, then said, "Foolish boy you are, you
should have stayed well away from this castle."

"I- what- I-" stammered Dreyv, unable to find words.

"I think you are already feeling somewhat sleepy, eh? Well, don't you worry,
it'll be all painless," continued the woman. "We don't like doing this, but
the animals do meet to eat, and only human meat mixed with the right kind of
magic ensures that they dont' start fighting each other.

The woman shrugged apologetically, then added: "You should have realised that
if there really was a treasure here, I wouldn't be going around telling it to
random strangers, now would I?"

Dreyv wanted to fight, to run, to do anything, but his muscles were refusing
to work. Slowly, he slumped down onto the ground, and blackness overcame him.

"Such a shame, he looked like a nice boy," were the last words he heard.

The animals ate well that day.



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