Mitroitis is a Copyrighted Publication
The flags of the Fiery Dragon rustled in the night wind. The sails were folded down onto their booms. The anchored ship bobbed up and down on the restless waters of the Aegean sea. It’s tall masts swayed along with the boats rhythms of the restless sea water. The ship was anchored a mile off the coast of Zakros, a beach area at the far east end of Crete. The crew had been scoping the coast out all day until night fall. Baribus’ crypt laid in the sandy hills of Zakros, and from what they could see through their telescopes they’d have a lot of brush to trek through to get to the area that was located on the map Oratti had supplied them with. The Fiery Dragon was anchored far off from the coast so that they could take rowboats into the bay and stealthy row across the waters in the dark of night.
Zakros was a quiet city on the very east end of the island, hardly any homes were there and they would use that to their advantage to creep along the beach, up the sandy hills and into the brush. They would trek about two miles inland until they came upon the very peak of the hill. They wouldn’t be able to use any lanterns or torches on their way up the hilly terrain as not to be noticed. But lanterns and torches would be a must once they got to the peak. At the peak would be the forgotten ruins of the Erechtheion Temple. It would most likely be covered in overgrown vegetation, and would be hard to find in the darkness of night.
Everything went as planned. As soon as it was dark enough Aydin and eight of his crewmen took two rowboats and pushed off from the Fiery Dragon and set off across the choppy waters of the Aegean sea. They dragged the boats onto the beach and hid them in the brush a few feet onto land. So far they only had the glow of the full moon to light their way. They trekked the two miles up the hill and as soon as they came to the peak, the hilly land leveled off, and a single palm tree marked the spot just as the map had indicated. As soon as they reached that point they lit torches and lanterns. It would be the only way to fully see the temple. The walked past the palm tree until they could see the top of an outline of a stone structure against the night sky. As they walked towards the structure, it wasn’t long til they no longer felt sand beneath their feet but solid rock of the walkways around the temple. As they got even closer they noticed there was a short flight of steps that led up to the temple. After that they could only see all the overgrowth around the stone ruin, just as they suspected there would be.
They all stood in still in silence for a movement before anyone would be the first to lead up the steps. Aydin slowly walked past his men toward the stairs and held his lantern up as if to get a better view of the stone ruin. Abdul, the sailing master spoke first, “What now Captain?”
Aydin replied, “Well, the side of the temple that faces east would be the front, which means we’re standing at the front now. According to the map, the north side of the temple is where there is a door to the stairs that lead down to the crypt beneath the temple.” Aydin started up the steps as his men followed one by one. At the top of the stairs that led to the front entrance was a walkway that surrounded the entire temple. He followed the walkway around to the north side.
As they walked along the north side he turned to his men, “Well, the door must be here somewhere. We’ll have to hack away these overgrown vines to find it.” The men immediately started to hack away at the plant life that spiraled up the temple columns and walls, with their swords and knives.
Suddenly Panos yelled out to Aydin, “Captain, I’ve found it!” Aydin quickly walked over to him, the rest of the men clamored around them, and held up torches to get a better veiw of the door. Again everyone stood in silence, the same as they did when they first came upon the temple. Panos broke the silence and spoke again, “A stone door with no handle. How will we open it?”
Aydin replied, “There’s a hidden lever according to the map.” He reached into sash and pulled out the scrolled map and unrolled it. As he gazed upon the map he spoke again, “There’s an arrow on the map next to the door that points downwards. There must be a panel somewhere that triggers the to door.” One of his crewmen that was holding a spear immediately started to stab the ground around the door with the blunt end of the spear. Suddenly there was a shift in part of the walkway near the door that sank down, as soon as it sank there was a loud cracking sound, a cloud of dust and sand shot out from the bottom and sides of the door. It had suddenly sprung open. All of the men jumped away from the door in a panic.
Now the door was ajar but not all the way open. While the rest of the men stood back Aydin and Abdul slowly walked towards the door. The held their torches to the door. Aydin leaned near and peered through the small crack in the doorway. Aydin looked back at the rest of his crew and said, “Get over here and help pry it open wider.” Two men came up with sticks, with one stick at the bottom the other near the top, the both pried at the door. Suddenly the entire stone door broke from its hinges and started to fall away from the door frame. They leaped away from the door as it slowly toppled towards the ground, hitting the walkway, and breaking into five large pieces. Some of the pieces rolled across the walkway and down the temple steps, the men scrambled from the path of the tumbling stones. Now there in the darkness was the open entrance to the two hundred year old crypt. In the nights darkness it looked only like a gaping dark hole. They could see nothing until they walked in with torches to take a closer look.
Abdul spoke, “Well that solves that, no more door, just a doorway that’s free and clear now. All we have to do is enter in. Who goes first?” Once again all the men stood in stoic silence.
Aydin stood in the doorway with his lantern, leaned into the darkness and stretched his arm far in as he could. With the lantern in one hand, he placed his other hand on the dagger that was tucked in his sash. He could only see a narrow stair well with stone walls on either side. The stairs were too long to see all the way to bottom. He’d have to walk down the stairs to see more.
Slowly Aydin walked in and began his decent down the long flight of stairs. His crew walking in after him in a single line. A few stayed outside to keep watch.
When he reached to bottom there was a wall to his left but to the right was what a appeared to be a long hall way with an arched ceiling. The walls and ceilings were brick as were the floors. As Aydin walked towards the far wall on the other side of the hall more of his men crowded into the hallway from the stairs, they all held up torches and peered around. As they all slowly trekked down the long aisle way, Aydin noticed that each archway they passed that were supported by columns were spaced about twelve feet apart, by the time they reached the third archway they could make out what they thought was the end but there was another archway. When they got to the fourth arch against the wall on either side of the the hall, between the columns were coffins. There were two coffins, one on each side of the hall between the columns that supported the arches. “Look captain!” one of the crewmen yelled out as two of them rushed over to one of the coffins and held their torches over it.
The coffin was large, made of green marble and sat upon a platform made of two lion shaped statues. The lid of the coffin was of black wrought iron with a statue of an angel in flight that sat atop. Against the brick wall over the coffin was a brass plaque. On the plaque in very large letters it simply read, “King Baribus”. Below his name were more words that were too small to clearly see, and was covered with dust, and darkened by tarnish that had accumulated over the two centuries and could not be made out to read. Slowly Aydin, Panos and more crew members gathered around the coffin and gazed upon it. Abdul and the other crew men kept walking and ventured further down the hallway.
Panos looked at Aydin and said, “Captain should we open it now?” Aydin replied, “Yes I suppose so”, as he continued to stare in awe at the coffin. Aydin motioned to his other crewmen who had brought in large sacks with tools. The sacks sat on the ground next to them. As soon as Aydin motioned to them, two of the men opened the sacks and took out steel spikes and and hammers. The two quickly began to use the tools to bang and pry at the coffin’s lid. When it was loosened enough it took four men, two on the side and one one each end to slide the heavy wrought iron lid up from the coffin. They rested the lid on the floor and proped it againt the coffin’s side. Slowly all four leaned in with their torches and peered inside.
There laid the mummified corpse of King Baribus. What could only be seen of what was once a man, was flesh that had turned to what look like black leather that had shrunk and clung tightly onto skull and bones. The gold crown could still be easily made out, still had shone upon his skull. The eye could tell his aged burial robe was the finest of fabric. It was of purple velvet, embroidered with gold thread. What could not be mistaken was the gems that were still attached to the faded fabric. The the blue sapphires, green emeralds, white diamonds, red rubies and garnets, still shined in the light of the torches along with the gems in his golden crown.
Garis one of the sailors that helped pry the coffin open spoke first, “Wow, look at the shine on that robe. Well, he won’t be needing these any more.” With that he quickly reached in with his dagger and started to pluck away at the gems. Abdul grabbed his hand to stop him, and yelled “Wait, you can’t desecrate him like that.” Garis snapped back at him, “Desecrate, what do you mean? We were hired to cut away part of his hide for a spell that was burned into his flesh. So what more harm am I doing to pluck a few gems off of his robe?”
Aydin spoke up, “He’s right, the act of taking his flesh or even disturbing his crypt is a desecration to begin with. I suppose taking gems off is robe won’t make it any more or less of an abomination.”
Garis replied back with wide eyes, “That’s right Captain, so let me get to it.” Aydin replied, “But wait Garis, before you do that we must do what we came to do first and that is to remove the flesh with the spell on it.” Abdul looked sheepish and turned away from the coffin, right away letting everyone know it wouldn’t be him. Panos looked a Aydin. Garris spoke next, “Well Captain, I don’t see the problem of plucking diamonds and gems from a robe no different than trimming away a bit of flesh from a dead man’s bones.” Aydin replied, “Very well then, get to it, but make sure you do that first before you start plucking away at his gems.” Garis opened the robe to reveal the corpse’s chest and abdomen, right away the started to cut into the flesh with his razor sharp dagger like a surgeon. The flesh easily peeled away from his bones. Panos and Abdul looked away while two other crewmen leaned in closer with their torches to aid in lighting for him. When he was done Garis folded the flesh and tucked into a small canvas sack with a draw string. He placed it inside and closed the sack with the string. “There Captian it’s done.” Garis handed the small sack to Aydin. Aydin took the sack and tucked inside his shirt pocket. “Thank you Garis,” Aydin replied. Garis spoke with a quicken tone, “Now I can finish with the gems Captain?” Aydin nodded in compliance. Garis quickly plucked away with his dagger gathering his loot while the other two crewmen joined in.
Suddenly the other sailors who had ventured down the hallway earlier had returned, they looked excited. One yelled out with glee in his voice, “Captain we found a separate room at the end of the hallway. There are three HUGE treasure chests filled with gold coins, amulets, relics, chalices, and talismans – all that the scoundrel Oratti said there would be!” Upon hearing that the rest of the men that were standing over Baribus’ coffin ran and scurried down the hallway to the room where the treasures were. Aydin and the rest could hear the cheerful yells from the sailors echoing through the crypt from the treasure room.
Panos and Abdul remained with Aydin at Baribus’ coffin. Abdul began to speak, “I guess we’re done here and can start to carte the treasure chests out Captain.” Aydin responded, “No not yet. You two have forgotten that we still have another task. We still have to get the will Oratti wanted.” Panos replied, “And where would that be?” Aydin responded, “It’s not indicated on the map but Oratti said it would most likely be in the coffin with the corpse.” With a sheepish expression Abdul looked away from them. Panos looked at Abdul, rolled his eyes, and responded with a smirk, “Okay, I’ll search the coffin and the corpse.” Aydin replied, “I’ll help you.”
They walked over to the corpse. Panos reached, in opened the robe, and didn’t see anything. Aydin then rolled the corpse on it’s side, while Panos felt underneath. “Wait I feel something here.” Panos pushed his hand further down and pulled out something long and cylinder shaped sheet of parchment paper that was rolled up in scroll form and tied in the middle. Abdul rushed over and picked up a lantern, held it close to Panos and said, “Let’s have a look at it. Open it!” Panos untied the thick piece of string attached to it, unrolled the parchment and saw the words at the top of the letter, he read it out loud. “I King Baribus of sound mind will the Island Crete, my true love’s native home, to Cantania and it’s King Cicero….” he then stopped and looked up at Aydin, “It goes on, but so far it sounds legitimate and it is a will of sorts.” Aydin respond, “Yes I suppose so. Keep it with you Panos until we get back to the ship. We’re done here, so let’s go see what the other’s are doing in the treasure room.”
Aydin gathered his men together, the carted the three treasure chests back down to the shore of Zakros into the boats, rowed back to the Fiery Dragon, where they celebrated and counted their loot. It would be divided up when their mission was completed. Their mission would be completed when they reached Sardinia and met with Oratti for one last time.
To be continued…………………..