Preceded by Fryte’s Gold. Followed by The Bandits of Goldharbour.
The Treasure of
A Tale of Realmgard
To the good people of the
Department of Classics and Religious Studies,
University of Ottawa
Jonas Darkstone would like to tell you about his brother. Though, really, Dorian Darkstone is the kind of man who needs no introduction.
Everyone in Porthaven knows the stories about Dorian: terror of the high seas, plunderer of booty, puncher of sharks. Between the constant triumphs over mortal danger, the attainment of unrivalled fortune and glory, and the marriage to the beautiful eldest daughter of one of Porthaven’s most successful families, it has always seemed to Jonas that his brother lives a truly charmed life.
Jonas still isn’t quite sure how Dorian, of all people, managed to marry a dignified, kind-hearted woman like Estelle Winfield.
He still clearly remembers the day Dorian and Estelle told him they were getting married.
“We’re getting married,” Estelle had said, showing him the big, shiny ring on her finger.
And then Jonas had stared intently at her for a while before exclaiming “Have you met Dorian?”
And, yet, against all odds, Dorian Darkstone has proven to be a shockingly adequate father to his two daughters. Jonas admires the fact that Dorian gave up his globetrotting piratical career for the sake of his wife and daughters, demonstrating a level of sound judgement and self-sacrifice for which most pirates, and most Darkstones, aren’t usually known.
Despite Dorian’s many bewildering successes as both a pirate and a family man, Jonas is hardly jealous of his brother. He’s accomplished too much in his own life to be jealous of somebody else’s accomplishments, even if his own successes aren’t quite as legendary or as interesting as his brother’s.
Dorian Darkstone’s career involves beating people up and stealing their stuff. Professor Jonas Darkstone’s career makes a meaningful contribution to Porthaven’s cultural legacy and shapes the impressionable young minds of future generations.
And, in his opinion, he wears a much nicer hat than his brother.
Even when Jonas slips up and starts getting jealous of Dorian, it’s hard to stay that way, given that Dorian’s daughters are his own daughter’s best friends in the world.
Which is good, because Annie has always had trouble making friends. Thanks to Kat and Dunstana, she has all the friends she needs. Kat and Dunstana treat Annie less like a cousin, and more like a third sister.
Jonas tries to visit Kat and Dunstana as often as he can, but it’s usually Annie who looks forward to those visits most.
In fact, Annie has spent most of today bouncing restlessly and reminding him that he’s promised to visit them later in the day.
“Come on, Dad!” Annie urges, tugging at his arm to pull him away from his desk. “Kat and ‘Stana are waiting for us!”
Annie pulls Jonas out of his study, around the corner, down the stairs.
“Have fun,” his wife Peregrina calls after them, peering out from the door of her sewing room.
Most people around Porthaven have given up on trying to wrap their mouths around the name Peregrina, so they usually call her Peri, just like Antiqua has become Annie.
Even Jonas has started instinctively to use the nicknames, thanks to hearing everyone else do it.
Annie looks more like her mother than she does like Jonas. But that’s hardly surprising. Pink hair and pointy ears don’t run in the Darkstone side of her family.
They do, however, make it abundantly clear that she’s half Elf. Hair and ears are Elves’ most striking features, which show up in Half-Elf children. Annie has the exact same rosy hair as her mother.
“You should come with us, Mom,” Annie offers. “It’ll be fun!”
“Thank you, dear,” Peri answers. “But I have a lot of work to do. I don’t think I can spare the time.” She glances over her shoulder into her room. “The Countess Dirigible needs a new dress for the weekend.” She frowns to herself. “And she has very peculiar tastes.”
“Okay,” Annie replies. “We’ll tell you all about it.”
“Thank you, dear,” Peri answers, disappearing back into the sewing room.
Both of the Brothers Darkstone married successful career women. Estelle took over her parents’ general goods store, and Peri makes dresses. For the most part, it’s a small, modest operation, but Peri has managed to snag herself a few prominent clients.
“We should get going,” Annie says, reaching down her hat from the hook by the door.
“Good luck with that dress,” Jonas calls to his wife as he follows Annie out the door.
As she gazes over the back of the living room couch and out the window waiting for Annie and Uncle Jonas, Dunstana Darkstone decides that Jonas is probably her favourite uncle.
Actually, upon further consideration, all her uncles are her favourite uncle.
But Uncle Jonas is the only one who owns a grappling hook.
Jonas is not only one of the best uncles in all Realmgard, he’s also one of the best professors of archaeology at the University of Porthaven, and probably anywhere.
The field of archaeology, as Dunstana understands it, involves digging around in ancient ruins, or lost cities, or haunted mines, or other places that haven’t had people in them for hundreds and hundreds of years. That makes Uncle Jonas sort of like a pirate—only not at all like a pirate.
Pirates like Dunstana usually keep any treasure they find so they can sell it and get rich.
Archaeologists put the stuff they find in museums and write big, boring books about it. Being an archaeologist doesn’t make much sense to Dunstana. She’d rather just have the treasure.
She’s talked to her uncle about this.
According to him, archaeologists do what they do so that people can learn something about the past. That’s supposed to be important because of something about Realmgard’s cultural heritage and preserving it for future generations. Dunstana usually stops listening at that point.
She’d still rather have the treasure.
Dunstana sighs heavily. “They’re never gonna get here.”
“They’re three minutes late, Dunstana,” Kat notes from her usual dwelling place in the Kat-shaped groove in the living room’s big plaid couch.
As Dunstana continues her vigil at the window her hopes are raised several times by movement on the street, but it’s only the mailman coming and going along his route.
And then being chased away by several neighbourhood dogs.
Eventually, Dunstana sinks deeply enough into concentration on the task at hand that she is shocked back to reality with a yelp by a knock at the door. In barely more than a heartbeat, she’s got the door open to see the familiar figures of her uncle and cousin standing on the doorstep.
“Hey, Captain Kid,” Jonas says, reaching down to tousle his niece’s hair. “Keeping out of trouble?”
The nickname started with Kat, but is currently spreading through the extended family. Dunstana doesn’t really mind, because this way everyone knows that she’s a genuine pirate captain.
“Not really,” Dunstana admits ruefully. “I shot Kat in the eye with my cork gun.” She immediately brightens up. “She’s fine now, though.”
Jonas stares gravely down at the little pirate. “Why did you shoot your sister, Captain Kid?”
“It was an accident,” Dunstana mumbles. “It bounced.”
“Into my eye,” Kat interjects from the couch.
“Still on the couch? Have you moved once since we left, Kat?” Jonas calls over to his niece.
He can’t really tell where Kat ends and the couch begins. At this point, they really just blend together.
“Yeah,” Kat answers from her groove. “I have to go upstairs to get to my bed.”
Jonas grins slyly. “Putting that Adventuring Licence to good use, I see,” he says.
Kat shrugs and stretches on her couch. “Still waiting on my background check,” she replies, yawning, stretching and settling more comfortably into her couch-groove.
“Hi, ‘Stana!” Annie says, stepping out from behind her father and waving.
“Hi, Annie!” Dunstana answers.
“What’s in there?” Dunstana asks, noticing that her cousin has some kind of tube tucked under her arm.
Dunstana has seen that sort of thing before. People use them to carry around pieces of paper. Any piece of paper that Jonas and Annie need to carry around is probably at least a hundred years old.
“Give us a minute and we’ll show you,” Jonas says.
After Jonas and Annie hang up their coats and hats, they move into the living room. Annie sets down the tube on the living room table, takes off the cap, and reaches inside, pulling out a rolled-up piece of paper and spreading it out on the table.
Dunstana moves beside her cousin to get a better look. Even Kat has had her curiosity sufficiently piqued to cause her to sit up on the couch.
“It looks like a napkin,” Kat notes. “A used napkin.”
“Yeah,” Jonas admits. “That’s because it is.”
“Why are you showing us a napkin?” Kat asks.
“Because this napkin has a treasure map on it,” Jonas answers. He points at the hastily-drawn map on the napkin. “See? That looks like Porthaven. And there’s an X somewhere offshore.”
Jonas flips over the napkin to reveal a message scrawled on the back. Dunstana peers down at it and starts reading, “T., Keep it safe.” She looks quizzically up at her uncle. “Who’s T. and what’s it?”
“Keeping reading,” Jonas says.
Dunstana looks back down at the napkin. “That’s a signature, right? And it says Captain Newgate. Wait, I know him!” she exclaims. “My Big Book of Pirates says that he stole seven-hundred-and-seventy-five pieces of orichalcum from the Royal Dwarven … Metal … lurg? erg?”
Her explanation falters as she stumbles over a word she doesn’t really remember and can’t really pronounce.
She settles for “Metal Guy.”
“The Royal Metallurgist,” Annie says.
“Yeah!” Dunstana agrees. “That guy!” She frowns. “But who’s T.?”
“One of Captain Newgate’s crew, probably,” Jonas answers. “Or at least someone he could trust to keep his treasure safe.”
“How did you get William Newgate’s treasure map?” Kat asks. “That doesn’t seem like something that someone would just give away. Even if it is a napkin.”
“Technically, Peri found it,” Jonas explains. “Somebody donated a box of old clothes to the University’s student theatre for costumes. She found that tucked into one of the pockets of an old coat she was fixing up.”
“Really?” Kat asks.
“Really,” Jonas answers.
“Where does it lead?” Dunstana asks. “Where’s the treasure?”
“Hey, Captain Kid, go get one of the Admiral’s maps,” Kat bids.
Dunstana hurries back to her father’s desk and pulls out one of his several maps of Porthaven and its surroundings and brings it back to the table.
Kat peers at the map from over her sister’s head. “What islands are southeast of Porthaven?”
“It has to be Oake Island,” Annie says. “Most of the other islands are really just sandbars or big rocks sticking out of the water. Oake Island is the only big enough to actually bury the treasure on.”
Kat would ask how Annie knows that, but she knows better by now.
Whenever she’s not out in the field helping her dad, Annie’s always got a book in hand, or several — she reads pretty fast. She never seems to forget anything she’s ever read.
Her family and friends rely on her as their walking, talking encyclopaedia and counting machine.
“Better tell your parents that we’re off to Oake Island,” Jonas says as he studies the map.
“Right,” Dunstana says with a resolute nod, promptly running out of the living room in search of her parents. “Mom! Dad! Uncle Jonas is taking us on an adventure!”
“I, uh, I didn’t mean now,” Jonas mutters.