Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)
TITLE: THE PRIZE
By mick dawson
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A Pendaran long ship pulled through the seas. The captain stood alone in the prow looking over their latest find. Led by a cloth map he steered his crew to an isle where it was said that the famed ‘Radgan’ of Pendaric folklore had buried the last of his bounty.
Zorava held the stone up to the sun and delighted with the way the light danced around it as he turned the gem. It was the size of his fist and it felt slightly uncomfortable when he replaced it in the folds of his sash.
He raised his cutlass and scratched at his black stubble with the edge.
The blade itself was not a hand held weapon but a fixture permanently attached to his right stump where his hand should have been.
The corsair eyed his crew but careful not to stare at them too long. They were dark skinned men on the whole. Mostly they came from cannibalistic islands in neighboring waters. Their loyalty was precarious at best. Only through promises of wealth or slaying an unruly crew man was he able to maintain control. They did prove invaluable though in other ways.
The islanders had strength unrivalled by the ‘civilized nations’. Their strength and stamina at the oars was prodigious. It was due to this that he was able to elude naval vessels many times in the past manned by his kinsmen.
The pirates had only days before been at the treasure site on an uninhabited island. Zorava remembered with intrepidation as they desperately clawed at the ground beside a skeleton. It lay face down in the soil as was the custom of Pendaran brigands of the sea. A crewman would be slaughtered next to the bounty. The belief was that the dead man would guard the trove. This time however, no amount of digging revealed any stolen wealth.
‘It had to be here.’ He remembered thinking.
He expected to see something glittering in the sockets but no. Suddenly Zorava swept his cutlass down, shattering the skull. A diamond the size of his fist rolled free.
The Pendaran mariner watched his second in command stroll amongst his oarsmen to rejoin him. Murtak was the obvious choice as his second. No better seamen existed and Murtak was a strict disciplinarian but he was wary of the man. Rarely did he ever turn his back on him.
“We could all live in opulence for a year.” Said the smaller Pendaran.
“I know a fence in Port Munga that will pay us well for it.” Zorava pointed out.
“Or one of us could live like a king.” Murtak added.
Zorava swallowed and went to raise his cutlass. His crew extracted their own weapons incurring an evil smile from Murtak.
“Huk muna us yuno!” shouted one of the islanders pointing east.
Zorava followed his finger and noticed another vessel larger than their own cutting toward them.
“Keep to the oars!” Murtak ordered in their own tongue. “We will never outrun them otherwise! I will deal with Zorava myself!”
He swiped at the head of his captain cleaving nothing but air as he ducked beneath it.
Zorava answered with an upward arc also missing as Murtak lithely stepped aside.
Zorava leapt back behind the mast and swayed from another beheading stroke.
The two fenced around the stout trunk. The deadly ‘ringing’ of steel against steel sounded to an almost mechanical tempo.
Murtak was easily the swifter of the two swordsmen and managed to back his captain a few steps. Without breaking cadence, he kicked the feet out from under Zorava.
The smaller man’s grin broadened. He went to raise his blade for the killer stroke when the ship lurched to one side under the swell.
Murtak swayed then staggered forward when he felt the point of Zorava’s cutlass from the deck.
Fearing reprisal, he wrenched his blade free and dived over the side heading for the approaching ship.
They readily hauled him aboard where he was offered a wineskin. The diamond rolled free of his sash among them.
Their captain picked it up and handed it to a ‘Kundran’.
“We saw what happened.” He said in a thick accent. “Was this what you fought and slew your own crewman over?”
To Zorava’s horror he tossed the gem over the side laughing raucously to be joined by the rest of the crew.
“It is worthless. Merely a diamond used to cut other diamonds.”
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