Prologue

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Buried treasure.

It's quite possible no two words, when placed together, incite the imagination of a person so greatly. Immediately, visions of rugged men, tanned from months at sea, bodies bearing scars that tell of a lifetime of battle, their clothes hanging slightly tattered around them, fill the mind of the believer. They imagine old, locked chests carried between sailors, over sandy beaches and into dense forests where the air is so thick that moisture clings to their every movement. Perhaps, just before burying their booty, the pirates decide to have one last look, cracking open their vault and revealing piles of gold coins, strings of pearls, and bright gemstones that spill over the lip of the case, tumbling into the pit below. And then, the buccaneers hide it all there in the dirt, under the leafy greens of the tropical paradise. A map is drawn, where "x" marks the spot, and then tucked away. Maybe the men will come back for the treasure, maybe they won't. Years later, some poor lad will find the map and go on an adventure rife with danger and suspense, winning the final outcome of a better life with more money than he could ever possibly use or want.

At the same time, no two words paired together have caused more eye rolls and explanations of disbelief. People don't partake of such adventures, and anything remotely like that kind of endeavor rarely happens. Surely, buried treasure does exist, but not on such a large and grand scale.

Or does it?

At one point in my life, I would have called myself a skeptic. Lost gold only brought trials to my mind, family issues, and a hate I didn't quite understand. But now? Hidden fortune tells me a story of danger, death, a love that conquered all time, and the greatest adventure of my life.

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