Franklin wakes up with a jolt. He feels his chest and makes sure all his body parts are still intact. After finding everything in order, he heaves a sigh of relief. The other boys are still sleeping, also looking healthy. He smiles and opens the flap of the tent to leave.
As he goes into the campsite, Franklin covers his eyes as the winter sun beams down and bounces off the freshly fallen snow. He looks around seeing holes and broken roots where trees used to be. Franklin then looks over at Elanor, cooking some wolf meat. "That was a rough night I thought we might die there for a moment," Franklin says rubbing his head.
Elanor turns and smiles at him. "What are you talking about? Did you have a bad dream?" she asks brightly.
"Eh?" Franklin's jaw drops. "I mean the wolves and then you like exploded," he reasons while gesturing to the destruction all around them.
"I'd think I'd remember something like that you must be mistaken," Elanor retorts while still showing her pearly white smile. She then pats on a log next to the fire and says, "Come and have your breakfast."
Franklin's mouth becomes a line as he clams up. He then robotically walks over and sits down. "So how's Laurel?" he finally asks as he takes a bite of wolf meat.
Elanor turns the meat over the fire and replies, "She'll come out fine. Julie and Kendra will get her recovering, and then my master will finish up like your mom."
"That's great I wouldn't want to have confronted Mellisa if she came back hurt," Franklin says dejectedly. Franklin slowly gnaws on the tough wolf meat as another boy leaves the tent.
Louis laughs happily to be alive. He walks over with a skip in his step. "That was a close call, huh?" he announces.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Elanor rejects while looking away from Louis.
Louis looks at Franklin for support. However, Franklin just shrugs at him. "Did it really not happen?" Louis asks in confusion.
Elanor happily instructs, "It seems you had a bad dream hurry up and eat were going to be leaving here after you all wake up,"
Louis nods as he sits down, taking a stick of meat. His eyes then bulge as he responds, "It definitely happened, look at the forest."
"What a vivid dream it must have been," Elanor reiterates.
Louis chokes on his food and then gives in, "Yeah, I've never had such a crazy dream before."
This same scene happens two more times until all the boys are full and ready to head out. With the ground torn up, it was rough going as they would sometimes slide into the holes. Still, it was nice to be in the sun for the first mile. It took them a few more days to reach their destination. Now with Elanor with them the entire time no beast dare cause trouble.
Elanor looks at the image sketched in her Treasure hunting digest and back at the cave in front of them. "This is definitely it!" She exclaims happily throwing her arms in the air.
She then gathers the boys and in a serious tone instructs, "This is a beginners treasure hunt. So there shouldn't be anything too dangerous. I'll inspect your progress from here while you all explore."
The boys huddle together to discuss the expedition. Louis takes charge and orders, "Franklin you should be up front since you have the most battle experience. Roy, You will carry the torch and Douglas you watch our back. I'll support Franklin in the front, alright?"
Roy complains, "Why do I have to hold the torch?"
Louis grabs his shoulders firmly and responds, "Because Douglas's curly hair may catch on fire if he holds the torch." They all look over at Douglas as he nods vigorously causing his hair to spring about erratically.
"Fine," Roy gives in reluctantly why folding his arms in front of his chest.
Franklin clenches his fists while heroically saying, "All the jobs are important. There's no need to fight over them."
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Roy then counters, "You hold the torch then."
Douglas punches Roy in the shoulder and jokes, "Won't you just have to switch out when you get beaten up?"
"Owe," Roy grimaces before lunging at Douglas. "You won't have to worry about your hair catching on fire if I pull it out!" he yells.
Right as the scuffle is about to begin Elanor grabs all four of them by their shirts. Two in each hand she throws them into the cave. "Alright enough messing around get to work," she orders.
"What about the torch?" Franklin asks.
"This?" Elanor asks as she picks up a stick cover in cloth and demonic beast fat. She then throws it into the cave whacking Roy in the head.
"Why me," Roy cries while rubbing his head.
"Hurry up and light it," Louis commands.
"Fine!" Roy bellows as he starts smacking flint onto his sword.
After a few attempts the torch lights illuminating the cave. It's wide enough for the four of them to walk side by side without issue. They take a diamond formation. Franklin upfront, Louis following right behind, Roy in the center and Douglas taking up the rear.
After following the cave for 20 minutes they've yet to find anything of interest. Every so often the walls would glint back at them. But when they examine the location it doesn't look special.
As they reach a turn in the cave, Franklin notices a movement from behind a stalagmite. Light reflects off of the fangs of a demonic cave snake as it strikes at him. Franklin turns his sword at the last instant knocking the beast away.
The snake quickly slithers back into hiding. The shakey shadows from the torch, making it hard to distinguish the movements of the sneaky foe. "Watch out it's a snake!" Franklin calls out.
Elanor sits back on a couch she retrieved from her interspatial ring. "Oh, finally, something interesting is happening!" she exclaims. She pulls out some alcohol and peanuts and relaxes while watching the show. She could easily map out the whole cave by extending her senses, but she refrains so she won't spoil the ending.
The boys close up ranks and look about frantically. "Where did it go?" Louis asks Franklin.
"It jumped back behind that Stalagmite. I don't know where it's hiding now so be careful," Franklin informs the group.
Roy shakes his head angrily. "Even if we were outside we might not be able to find the monster," he complains.
Douglas cowers backing into the rest of them. His sword shakes about unsteadily. "Why did it have to be a snake! They always think my hair is some rodent and attack me," Douglas curses.
"Good maybe it'll draw it out," Roy mentions.
Just as Roy predicted the demonic snake jumps out at Douglas. Douglas ducks in fear causing the strike to miss him and move towards Franklin's back. Louis seeing the sneak attack, turns his sword the wide way and swings away at the demonic beast. He gets a clean hit sending the snake flying into the center of the cave.
The demonic snake sways back and forth in a daze. "Quick grab it before it recovers!" Franklin yells.
Douglas just continues to cower unable to heed the command. This causes Roy to scoff, "Fine I'll do it." He then drops the torch and grabs the bag he had to collect treasure. He then jumps out, capturing the snake within.
"Yay!" They cheer. Roy holds the bag up in the air triumphantly as everyone celebrates. Then the bag shakes about violently causing everyone to jump back. Roy frowns since he's left holding the bag.
"Just beat it to death before it can get out!" Louis commands. They then all start smashing the bag with their dull swords. Eventually the bag stops moving as blood leaks out.
They all heave a sigh of relief now that the ordeal is over. They shakily get back into their positions and inch forward. Each rattling stone or echo now makes the boys jump.
Elanor for her part is rolling on her sofa with laughter. "This is great!" she yells with tears in her eyes. She continues to watch the boys progress. Every so often they run into some cave creatures. Still after some bumbling they manage to overcome all the obstacles.
While the boys are hilarious Elanor couldn't help but feel something is off. "Isn't this a treasure spot?" she mumbles to herself. As the boys go deeper into the cave Elanor begins to frown. Then her frown becomes a scowl. By time the boys reach the end of the cave Elanor is thoroughly incensed.
Elanor quickly traverses the cave catching up with the boys. "Congratulations on finishing your first treasure hunt," She says while clapping. Her forced smile, however, makes the boys cringe.
"I don't see any treasure," Franklin concedes.
Elanor glowers while responding, "It's here if you can call this crap a treasure!" She then smashes her fingers into the wall and rips out a chunk. "It's Moon iron," she cringes.
"I've never heard of moon metal!" Douglas exclaims.
All the boys gather around in awe while Elanor can't help but frown. "A mine isn't a treasure though," she grumbles. "I guess it's good for weaklings like you though. You'll finally be able to make new weapons and actual tools," Elanor concludes.
Elanor then produces some high-quality pickaxes and passes them out. "Ok time to gather your treasure. It'll be hard to come back here with protection so collect as much as you can!"
The boys get to work and start mining. To them this was still a pretty good fine. It has some strange name after all.
Elanor sits down in the center of the cave and pulled out a circular contraption with inscriptions written all over it. She presses a few different spots causing it to light up. After a few moments a small see-through woman floats above the circle. She wearing a professional looking suit with the Treasure Digest's logo on it.
"Thank you for contacting Treasure Digest. My name is Dominique. may I ask who is calling?" The floating woman says.
"I'm Elanor Harlyn. I'd like to make a complaint," Elanor replies grumpily.
"No worries Elanor, I see you've had a subscription for 25 years. We appreciate your continued support. What seems to be the problem?" Dominique asks professionally.
"This!," Elanor exclaims while slamming her hand onto the article about the treasure cave.
"I'm sorry I don't understand," Dominique says troubled.
"All that is here is Moon Iron! How is that a treasure? It's clearly just a mine full of garbage. If I weren't escorting these kids and found such garbage I would have destroyed the whole mountain!" Elanor rants at the poor woman.
Dominique's forehead scrunches a bit as she thinks, 'isn't it people like you? who make our jobs hard by destroying low-level treasures.' Still she's a professional and soon gathers herself. "I see the trouble. However for a beginner treasure hunter Moon iron isn't considered that bad. Also your location just isn't that spectacular so finding any treasures to write about is hard. Please understand," Dominique explains with a soothing voice.
"I don't want your excuses. The next printing better be of higher quality," Elanor demands while turning off the connections. "Alright it's time to work off some frustration," Elanor says, rolling up her sleeves. She heaves large chunks of Moon iron and stores them away with her bare hands. The boys can't help but cry since they could only chip small pieces off the wall.