Black Dawn Castle stood majestically in the afternoon sun, its aging walls rising high and proud, and the water in the surrounding moat sparkling. The castle was a picturesque scene with nothing but a small town nearby.
Alex Areborn, one of the guides was leading two burly, middle aged men around on a tour.
"And here we have the servant's quarters," he said, leading them into one of several small rooms. "Back in the Tudor era each of these rooms would have been shared by many people. The servant's would've slept on straw filled mattresses, with whatever they could find to cover them."
Alex looked at the two men expecting comments, but they looked bored.
Alex cleared his throat. "So we've seen the poorer side of the castle and the military area's, that only leaves the royal side." he began to lead them over to the north wall where an area had been built for the king.
"Of course this wouldn't have been the king's home, but it wasn't uncommon for the Tudor monarchs to pay visits, and when they did they demanded proper accommodation; that included a luxury bedroom, a feasting hall, and lots of gold."
At the word gold, the men's eyes lit up.
"Gold?" one of them said.
Alex nodded, and led them into the king's bedroom where there was a large bed, polished floors, and lots of golden ornaments.
"Now of course this is a reconstruction, but it's believed that this is how it would have looked in Tudor times."
"It's amazing!" One of the men exclaimed.
"Yeah, I bet Anne would really like this," said the other.
"I bet you're first wife would like it better."
"Don't talk to me about 'er. She was a right bitch. Why do ya' think I divorced 'er. Now Rebecca, she would have liked this."
Alex frowned. "How many wives have you had!?" he asked before he could stop himself.
"He's 'ad six," replied the other man. "He's at it like a rabbit."
The first man looked down at the ground. "Yeah but I do miss Rebecca. She was shot by a poacher."
Alex's mouth fell open. "A poacher," he said in disbelief.
Both men nodded, and then Alex continued on with the tour.
Once the tour was over, Alex entered the staff room, and sat down across from his good friend Kevin Stummer.
"I just met two of the strangest people," he declared.
Kevin didn't look up from the aged parchment on the table. "Really, how so?"
"One of them had six wives. The first he divorced, the third died, and the latest one survived. I don't want to know what happened to the second and fifth."
Kevin creased his brow. "Why's that?"
Alex faltered. "Because they might have been beheaded, you know like Henry the eighth."
Kevin shrugged. "I don't see the connection."
"I was joking," Alex said irritated. Kevin could be quite dim for a smart person. "What's that anyway," he enquired, looking down at the parchment on the table.
Kevin lit up, and pushed his round reading glasses up his nose. "I found this under a loose stone in the servant's quarters. It's a letter."
"What does it say?"
Kevin began to read.
"To my Dearest Emily
Why have you left me? I gave you my heart, and you tore it out. I will do anything to get you back. I have hidden treasure in the castle; it is yours for the taking because only you will know the answers to the clues. The first is this. Look in the floor of the place we first made love.
"It's a treasure hunt!" Kevin said with delight, "And what's more, we know where the first clue leads."
"Yes, don't you know the story? It's quite famous."
"It is?" Alex questioned.
"Yes, Sir William wrote about it in his diary. You see he used to be one of the lords who ran this castle, and he fell in love with Emily, a servant. However, he wanted to keep it a secret because he was embarrassed. This secrecy led to Emily falling out of love with him. In his diary he gives a detailed account of their relationship, so we know that they first made love in the stables late at night. We should go and take a look."
Alex had to admit, it sounded fun, so together they went over to the stables.
When they arrived they searched the floor. Their job was made easier because there was no longer any straw, and they quickly found the next clue under a loose stone.
"Well done my love. You have discovered the second clue, now onto the third for I want only you to discover the treasure. Go to the place you love most in the world. The place you say is beautiful."
Kevin laughed. "I know where that is too. According to his diary she loved a particular spot by the moat where the town couldn't be seen. This one will probably take a little more time, but it seems perfectly possible."
Alex smiled. He was enjoying this treasure hunt; it was bringing back memories of his childhood when his mother would hide clues leading to chocolate.
They walked across the courtyard, and passed the security guards who were talking to a concerned looking woman in an expensive fur coat.
"Right," said Kevin, scratching his short ginger hair. "You search the outside of the moat, and I'll search the inside."
They began their search, making sure they couldn't see the town, but there was still a lot of ground to cover. It was beginning to look hopeless, when Kevin noticed a smooth rock that looked comfortable to lean against. The view from there was spectacular, just hills and green fields for miles. He called Alex over, and together they tipped over the rock. Words had been carved into the bottom.
"My dearest Emily, this is your final clue. Find this and you will be rich. You will be able to love me again, and our love won't have to be a secret. Go to the courtyard at midnight and stand near the south east corner."
"We can hardly do that," Alex informed.
"Why not?" Kevin asked.
"Because no one's allowed in the castle at night."
"But there's treasure involved," Kevin argued. "We have to go."
"The treasure probably isn't there anymore," Alex pointed out.
"Why? All the clues have been in the right places. Emily obviously didn't follow them. She might not have even found Sir William's first note. Come on Alex. I know a secret way into the castle so we won't get caught."
Alex shook his head firmly. "No, I'm not going into the castle at night. You'll have to do it on your own."
Kevin looked disappointed. "Okay, but you'll be missing out."
Alex gritted his teeth. He was tempted to go with Kevin, but he was always unwilling to break rules. Even if there was hidden treasure he would have to give a quarter of his share to charity to not feel guilty.
Together they began to walk back into the castle, but were stopped by the guards.
"What were you doin' out there?" asked Mat, the taller of the two.
"Nothing," Kevin replied innocently.
"We saw you." Mat replied. "You were searching for something."
"We were just out for a walk," Alex replied, feeling a little intimidated.
"What on both sides of the moat? I don't think so. I'm gonna' let you off for now, but if I find out that you've been lying to me, I might just set Ralf on you."
The shorter of the two guards nodded, and bared his teeth.
Alex shuddered. There were stories about Ralf, stories of blood and destruction.
Alex and Kevin walked swiftly on, feeling the guard's eyes burn into their backs.
Alex looked to the right, and saw the woman with the fur coat again. She looked nervous, twitchy. Alex creased his brow; there was something strange about her.
"We seriously can't come back at night, not with Mat and Ralf watching us."
"Actually we can," Kevin corrected. "Mat and Ralf won't be here at night. They can't work around the clock."
Alex hesitated, and then agreed. His curiosity had gotten the better of him.
At eleven thirty PM, Alex and Kevin met by the moat just out of sight of the main entrance. They had a rubber dingy with them which they used to cross the moat.
"What are we doing here?" Alex hissed.
Kevin pointed at the wall, and Aaron saw a small hole where the wall had worn with age. Carefully Kevin slithered through, and Alex followed. The hole was small and the wall was thick, so it was a bit of a struggle, but eventually they emerged in an obscure part of the courtyard. They crept over to the south east corner, and waited.
For a time nothing happened, but when the clock hit midnight, Kevin pointed at the ground where the shadows had formed into an arrow, pointing into the wall.
Kevin tried to push the wall, but nothing happened, so together they pulled, and a hidden door opened.
Alex gasped. "I can't believe it."
Together they entered, and descended a flight of stone steps. When their surroundings darkened, Kevin took out a torch.
The stairs led down thirty feet, ending in a square room with only a metal chest in the centre.
"This is it," Kevin trembled.
They both stepped forward nervously, but then a voice came from behind them.
"What are you two doin' here."
Alex and Kevin froze. They didn't need to turn around to know who the voice belonged to.
Mat and Ralf the security guards walked passed them and stood face to face.
"Now you can't say you're up to nothing now," he told them. "What is this place, and why are you down here?"
"What are you doing here?" Alex asked. "It's midnight shouldn't you be at home?"
"We're covering for the other guards," Mat informed. "We've been surviving off of Red Bull and coffee for the last two hours. I've never felt so awake, the adverts right you know, I do feel like I've got wings. Do you remember what I said would happen if you deceived me. I said Ralf would attack."
Ralf growled and flexed his muscles, but Mat held out his hand.
"What are you doing down here?" he asked again.
Kevin hesitated, and told them everything; all about Sir William and Emily, all about the notes, and all about the treasure. "We can share it," he suggested. "There will be enough for all of us."
"I suppose we could," Mat agreed. "But why would we share it with you?"
"Because we did all the work," Kevin pointed out. "And because keeping this money isn't entirely legal. I plan on giving my share to the castle, but if you want yours for yourself you'll be breaking the law."
"Good point," Mat admitted. "Fine, we'll share what's in the chest. If you want to be a good boy and give your share to the castle that's fine, but if you want to keep it that's fine too."
Kevin swallowed and walked passed. He placed his hands on the chest, feeling the cold metal, and the flung it open. All that lay inside was a note. He picked it up and read aloud.
"To that whore Emily
How dare you leave me! I loved you and you tore my heart into pieces. Now I have my revenge. I promised you riches. I got your hopes up only to dash them. I hope I never see you again.
The room fell silent.
"That's it?" Mat asked
"It was all revenge?" Alex enquired
Kevin nodded. "Apparently so."
In a trance they walked back to the courtyard. Alex had known that this was too good to be true, but he still felt disappointed.
They began to walk back towards the entrance, but then Alex stopped.
"Look!" he hissed, pointing towards one of the windows.
The others looked, and saw a shadow move passed. Someone was in the castle with them.
Mat grew grim. "Come on," he told them. They hurried into the building, and over to the window. They followed the corridor, and saw the king's bedroom ahead. Two men entered.
"Hey you!" Mat yelled fearlessly.
Both men looked around, and Alex gasped. They were the burly men he'd led on a tour. Mat rushed inside followed by the others, but one of the men drew a gun on him, and he skidded to a halt.
"Up against the wall, all of you!" he ordered.
They all leant against the wall, and watched whilst the other man filled a rucksack with golden ornaments. For a few seconds he seemed happy, and then he stopped and looked at the items more closely.
"These are plastic!" He exclaimed.
Briefly the gunman lost his attention, leaving an opening.
"Ralf, get them!" Mat yelled.
Ralf growled and dashed forward, crashing into the gunman, and sending the gun flying. He then grabbed the other man, and threw him against the wall like a ragdoll. The gunman tried to grab the gun again, but Ralf sank his teeth into his hand making him scream. He then head butted him three times rendering him unconscious.
"Good boy," Mat said patting him on the head, and giving him a boiled sweet as a treat.
Ralf ate it contentedly, and then they took the thieves down to the staff room and called the police.
The next day Alex, Kevin, Mat and Ralf were in the staff room, talking over the events of the night. Once the police had arrived the men had quickly been arrested, and it had been discovered that they had been connected to a number of robberies over the last year.
Suddenly the door opened, and they saw the woman with the fur coat enter. She walked over, and asked. "Are you the people who stopped the thieves?"
"Thank you," she said, shaking their hands. "They robbed my home a few months ago, and yesterday they stole my purse whilst I was looking around the castle. Now, thanks to you I have all my possessions back, so I would like to give each of you ten thousand pounds as thanks."
"Ten thousand pounds!" they exclaimed in unison.
The woman nodded, and they all beamed. It seemed that they had gotten their treasure, after all.