The moon shone high above the clouds. C.V crept forward, coming to a stop just where the moonlight was evanescent. He patted the castle wall and bent down.
The figure picked up a small sample of sand from the ground, then extracted a small army knife from his pocket. C.V brushed away the sand from the piece of metal embedded in the ground and traced the outline with the knife.
There was a grating sound as the man lifted the heavy metal from the ground and set it on the sandy floor beside him.
C.V dusted his hands, took a deep breath and lowered himself into the manhole.
“First things first,” he muttered to himself.
He followed standard procedure and dug out a matchstick from his haversack before replacing the metal cover.
C.V felt about the wall, grabbing one of the large torches and lit it, illuminating up the tunnel. He sighed in relief and plodded on, only to come to a dead end a hundred meters away.
He held the torch above his head, shining it on the muddy ceiling above him, his eyes searching for the familiar piece of metal. Upon seeing it, he put the lit torch in the bracket on the wall, and pulled open his bulging bag. He took out a wooden ladder, hooking it onto the nails punched into the wall.
Pulling on it to test its reliability, C.V climbed up the ladder and pushed on the metal cover, dislodging it. He swung his backpack up through the hole, and then jumped lithely up onto the solid ground above.
He covered the manhole and stood up, examining his surroundings. He had gotten past the guardhouse with ease, and stood just before the castle’s main tower.
“Here goes nothing-” He muttered, heaving himself against the castle door, which creaked open. “-And everything,” he burst through the door, scrutinized the room, then mounted the stairs. Once he reached the second level, C.V quickly ducked his head back when he heard voices conversing.
“I don’t see why the king makes us guard the hall every night,” a complaining whine sounded throughout the hall.
“Get used to it. King’s orders are not to be disputed,” a gruff voice reprimanded.
“It’s not like there’s anything in there that’s valuable, apart from the throne. But who would steal the throne?” The first guard snorted, laughing at his own pun. “Well, I suppose people would want to become king.”
“How should I know?” The latter scoffed, answering his question. “I suppose the metals are expensive, but those are molded to the chair- it’s not like there’s anything else. Still, orders are orders.”
C.V listened to all this with rising interest. These two foolish guards would be to the detriment of the king. They had just made his job a whole lot easier.
He fumbled around in his haversack and drew out a relatively small bow, about half the length of his arm. It was for shooting small arrows, coated with a natural substance from plants that had the ability to knock a grown man out for a few hours.
“Hello, boys,” he jumped out of his hideout, startling the two security guards. Before they could react, C.V drew his bow and swiftly shot them both in the chest.
He stepped over the two motionless bodies, shaking his head in mock disgust.
“Don’t worry,” C.V whispered, struggling to keep from laughing. The king’s defenses were feeble. “You’re not dead,” he strode into the hall and swung his head back and forth, unsure of where to start.
“Where would it be hidden…” He muttered to himself, scrutinizing the dark room. He turned on his flashlight and shone it directly on the throne.
“Of course,” he breathed, walking briskly towards it. C.V look at the gold plated and diamond coated chair and felt a sense of irony.
People would give their life to have the throne, and yet they do not know that it hides something greater, he thought.
He ran a hand across the chair, and rapped a knuckle on it.
It was hollow.
The problem is how to open it. C.V mused, crouching down.
He examined the throne and put his hand under the gold rim around the bottom, feeling the smooth surface of it. C.V bent his head down and looked underneath the protrusion, and touched a button that was jutting out.
“Interesting,” he murmured. Without a second thought, he pressed down on it.
There was a jarring sound as the throne flipped back and opened up to a small depression in the wooden floor. An antique wooden chest occupied the hole, seemingly part of the floor. There were elaborate inked designs on the wood, curving around to the middle of the chest, where there was a golden metal slab holding the chest together, complete with a brass combination dial lock. The lock was massive- it was half the size of the box it secured. There were six rotatable brass dials, with the entire alphabet carved on each of them.
“Wow,” C.V let out an involuntary gasp. Six letters, he thought, chuckling under his breath as his thoughts jumped to one solution. “Ironic.”
He bent down and rotated the dials to his chosen six letters, holding his breath as he did so.
“It will work, it will work, it will work…” He muttered feverishly. If it were wrong… C.V racked his brains, struggling to do the math. There would be over three hundred million possibilities.
He closed his eyes, feeling weighed down by the gravity of the moment. His finger pushed the knob at the side of the lock as firmly as he could with his shaky hands, his eyes snapping open.
Adrenalin and excitement pumped in his chest when he heard the faint click of the lock unbolt.
Tentatively, C.V held out one shaking hand, about to open the chest, but stopped an inch away from touching it.
Nearly. His heart pounded in his ears as he remembered to pull his gloves out of his bag and put them on. He didn’t want to leave any incriminating evidence.
C.V reached out and opened the chest slowly and carefully. The heavy mass of wood took him by surprise, and he nearly dropped the cover. He quickly lifted it up, each extra second it took weighing down on him like a ton of bricks.
It was there.
An upheaval of emotion rushed through him as he struggled to clear his mind and figure out what to do next. C.V’s instincts told him to take it and leave.
No. He struggled against himself. When I remove it, it may trigger a trap or some other device or trick. And even if there isn’t… Once the king realizes it’s gone, he would step up security measures. It would give away our position.
Who cares. Once I have it, nothing will matter. C.V stuck his hand in the box, but his hand met what was like a thick glass barrier.
Blast. He slowly withdrew his outstretched hand, grappling with his emotion.
C.V took a deep breath and closed the lid of the chest, rearranging the letters so they were back at AAAAA. He pushed the throne back to its original place and crept out of the hall, stepping over the subconscious security guards.
When he got outside, C.V took an exhilarating gulp of air.
He was finally another step up the ladder. C.V smiled, the moonlight reflecting off his pearly white teeth.
His mission was nearly complete.