Excerpt from the private journals of Lady Pleydell-Bouverie
The Legend of Atlantis and Sir Robert of Dreighton
As the continent of Atlantis sank around him, King Stullis traveled to the peak called Corallo and placed all of his ancestors' most prized possessions into one chest, securing it inside a cave. Only one craft endured the storm that followed the sinking, its survivors passing on the story, some say myth, of the Treasure of Atlantis.
Thousands of years later, in the sixteenth century, an English captain by the name of Sir Robert of Dreighton was sent to Africa by the King of England to search for treasure left behind centuries before by Roman troops. While excavating beneath the floor of an abandoned temple, Dreighton discovered a map deteriorated by time. Experts did their best to decipher the ancient language found upon it. They believed the map recounted the wars of Atlantis, its eventual demise and the exact location of the legendary treasure.
One of the experts was a Spanish spy and he travelled back to Spain, informing the Spanish king what the British had found. The Spanish king ordered the spy to produce a copy of the map and an admiral by the name of Rogalles was commissioned to find the Treasure before the English.
Many tales were written about Dreighton, his nemesis, the Spanish Admiral Rogalles and their race to claim the Treasure of Atlantis. Although popular in the sixteenth century, all were fiction, and most were written after both men had long given up their quest, empty-handed. Decades later, the race would begin again, but this time, in Langer, England.
Francis Bright was a twelve-year-old boy with hair so light, it appeared white, and eyes so dark, they appeared black. He was small for his age, with narrow shoulders and thin legs.
It was a cool July afternoon in the year 1587, and Francis' platinum hair ruffled in the wind as he pointed to an abandoned lighthouse in the distance. "There's a ghost in there," he said.
He walked along the edge of a cliff with two other boys: Ackley, his lifelong friend, with towering, curly, brown hair and a freckled face, and Harold, a gangly boy with elongated neck, arms and legs who had just moved to Langer a few days before. All three boys wore white, loose fitting shirts with dark breeches and dark shoes.
The cliff overlooked a wide, choppy river and in the distance, a tiny island, on which stood the high, greying lighthouse.
"Oh really," Harold the new boy replied, acting disinterested as he glanced down at Francis. He had come to Langer with his mother as she tended to his sick aunt.
"That story's so old," Ackley piped in. "No one believes it anymore."
"Digby was fishing in his boat," Francis began as he stopped walking. "Staring up at an open window, thinking about who knows what, when out of nowhere, an old man in a nightshirt walked past on the other side." Francis gave his friends a mischievous grin. "The ghost."
"Please," Harold scoffed.
"Digby's stupid," Ackley added. The wind did not so much ruffle his hair then as it just pressed down on the soaring, brown, curly mass.
"I say we go there now," Francis said. "Just to investigate."
"Are you mad?" Ackley replied. "Don't you remember what happened the last time we went out there?"
"What?" Harold asked.
"My father told me that if I ever go back to the island, he'll have my head pickled in a jar. That place is falling apart, Francis. We could fall through a floor or something."
"Ackley," Francis said, his black eyes appraising his friend. "Sometimes I wonder why we even bother being friends. The fact that you have no guts repulses me."
Harold glared down at Francis sideways. "You know, my aunt did mention not to play with you."
"Besides," Francis said, continuing his argument. "Michael used to go there all the time."
Ackley's gaze fell to the ground.
Francis' face reddened.
Harold looked down from one to the other. "What just happened?"
What Harold could not have known was that the name Michael had not been mentioned by anyone in Francis' family for over six months. Hearing Francis say it off the top of his head just now had caught Ackley off guard. Michael had been Francis' older brother, and six months ago, he had been pronounced "missing at sea".