Kat senses that she’s just witnessed a profound moment.
As usual, that moment is largely neglected by Dunstana — Captain Kid is tugging at her again.
“Hurry up!” she urges. “Someone might steal our gold if we take too long.”
Clearly, she doesn’t have as much appreciation for the significance of meeting and befriending the ghost of one of the most famous pirates who ever lived, or for overcoming the various ordeals which he had set against them. It’s not exactly something that happens every day.
But how does that matter when there is a treasure chest full of gold waiting?
Slowly, Kat pulls herself from the spot to which she has become rooted.
“Yeah,” she says, still not paying particular attention to Dunstana. “Let’s go.”
She glances down one more time at the ivory rose in her hand before putting it in one of the pockets of her Adventuring Belt.
With Dunstana following close behind, Kat makes her way down the stairway leading to the floor, and crosses the treasure room to the backdoor Captain Fryte has opened for them.
The door leads to a staircase that leads to another door that opens out onto the beach.
Kat is happy to be out of the cave, to feel the wind on her skin and to breathe fresh air again.
And it’s stopped raining!
Things just keep getting better.
As she steps out onto the beach, she sees that, just as Captain Fryte promised, the treasure chest is waiting for them.
“Yay!” Dunstana exclaims, pouncing on the chest and wrapping her arms around it like a mother embracing a long-lost child.
She has recovered remarkably well from slogging through a trap-filled cave and being literally thrown into several perilous situations.
She is either the toughest ten-year-old in Realmgard or just that excited by the gold.
It’s probably the gold…
Honestly, Kat is pretty excited about the gold, too.
As a freelance adventurer, money isn’t something Kat sees a lot of, so winning a whole treasure chest is like having two birthdays at once.
She’s just a lot better at keeping her head than Dunstana.
But then, she’s had ten extra years of practice.
She approaches the chest and gives it a tentative push. Weighed down with gold, it barely moves.
They’ll have to work to get it home.
Kat reaches into Dunstana’s backpack and rummages around, producing a length of rope and looping it around the chest, tying it into a secure knot. She pulls tentatively on the rope to make sure the knot won’t come undone.
She turns to Dunstana.
“Come on. You’re gonna need to push.”
Dunstana nods and hurries to take her position at the far end of the chest.
“Ready!” she announces, her three-cornered hat barely visible over the chest’s lid.
Kat grasps the rope and starts pulling. It takes the sisters a minute to get the chest moving, but soon they’re making slow but steady progress down the beach.
It’ll take a while to get their treasure back to Darkstone Manor.
Of course, that’ll lead to questions from Mom and the Admiral.
At which point Kat will insist that, no, she certainly never threw Dunstana across a pit full of spikes or used her to bait a Dragon.
And Kat will go on to explain that at no point in the day was she herself ever almost eaten by the King of All the Rats, or tied up and dangled over a fiery chasm.
Their adventure was, she will say, entirely uneventful and not the least bit dangerous.
And a kind, gentlemanly ghost had given them this lovely treasure chest.
“Hey, Kat?” Dunstana asks, bringing Kat out of her contemplative silence.
“Yeah?” Kat answers.
“Thanks for coming with me. I don’t think I could’ve done this by myself,” Dunstana says.
“Yeah, well, thanks for not letting Captain Fryte drop me down a fiery chasm,” Kat answers.
Looking back on the day’s madness — and there was a lot, even for an adventure with Dunstana — Kat decides that, despite finding herself in several perilous situations, there are probably worse ways she could’ve spent the day. Just loitering around the tavern wouldn’t have netted her a treasure chest.
“You know,” she tells her sister. “Today was actually kind of fun.”
“Yeah,” Dunstana says. “But mostly, I like the treasure.”
“Yeah,” Kat agrees.
“Today was awesome,” Dunstana continues, “but I think tomorrow I just want to go to the toy store. There’s a new Princess Moonflower doll, and I want it.”
Kat smiles. “I think we can probably manage that.”
She doesn’t imagine that a ghost pirate is going to threaten to drop her into the fiery bowels of the earth at the toy store.
But when your sister is Captain Dunstana Darkstone, you can never really be sure.
As she thinks about it, Kat decides having Dunstana for a sister it isn’t such a bad thing, at least not always.
It guarantees her life is very rarely boring.
“But if a Dragon tries to eat us again,” Kat continues, “You’re on your own.”