Had it not been for the rope attached to the safety harness he wore Vince would have fallen about twelve feet, but the sensors detected a free fall and applied the brakes stopping him about one foot from the stone floor, but he still bumped his head and lacerated his forehead.
He discovered that he was bleeding and went for the small first aid kit he carried in his vest and managed the stop the flow of blood. Flashing the powerful beam of his flashlight around the darkness he discovered that he was in another room, this one was below the dungeon itself.
As he swept the beam around the room, it fell on at least a dozen chests and boxes of various sizes and about two dozen skeletons and pieces of lot more scattered around the room. Now Vince was a rational man that had explored more than a fair share of graveyards and old carnal houses. He knew that they posed no threat, but he still experienced a momentary flash of fear.
He decided more light was needed before he investigated further.He checked the remote control for "Buddy's" winches and was relieved that they still worked despite the fall. He used it to raise himself to the floor above him where he removed the powerful work lights before he lowered himself again.
This room was quite large, it appeared to be a sub-basement. There was no mention of it in the master masons journal. Had it been purposely left out? Why? He banished these questions and began to explore the boxes and chests.
He carefully picked up one of the small wooden boxes and gingerly opened it away from his face, it contained a pair of daggers, their handles and sheaths were encrusted with jewels. Another box revealed a set of gold goblets inlaid with gems while another yielded trays of gold and silver. The smaller boxes produced numerous gold coins.
Vince was convinced he had hit the jackpot and was like a kid on Christmas morning. He again raised himself to the floor above him and removed some nets and extra coil of rope.
He placed some of smaller boxes in the net and then uncoiled the rope and tied the nets to the rope about a foot apart. He raised himself to the surface where he detached the rope from his vest.
Using the manual control on the winch, Vince began to raise his find up through the opening in the floor and stacked them to one side. He then turned his attention to the medium size chests and performed the same routine.
He placed his discoveries carefully moved back up the long hallway back to the throne room. This took some time as he recalled Ben's warning and ensured that his footsteps and "Buddy's" wheel marks fell in the ones he had left earlier. He did not want to trigger some unrecorded trap as Ben had.
The next challenge was getting past the first trap. The heavy sheet of wood had kept the trap from being sprung when "Buddy" first rolled over it was still in place, but there was concern of weight. Laden down with the chests and boxes from his latest find "Buddy" was a lot heavier and was sure to trigger it.
He unloaded "Buddy" and hugged the wall as "Buddy" rolled over the wooden plank, the trap did not spring.
Once safely on the other side, he carried a length of rope back to the prizes he had dropped and secured them to the rope in two-foot distances.
The prizes were pulled over the wooden plank and into the throne room without a problem. He could see out the main entrance doors and into the courtyard, the Sun was beginning to set. He rolled "Buddy" back to the cell door and lowered himself back into the blackness along with the work lights
He switched on the powerful light once his feet touched the dirt floor and made straight for the largest chest there after positing the light to illuminate this large box. It appeared to be made of stone, and the lid had been chained to the bottom, These were old chains and similar to what was used to raise and lower the gates and drawbridge.
Whatever was in there was meant to stay undiscovered. Vince recovered a small torch for the task of cutting through the ancient chains. He concentrated hard and began to sweat. Forgetting the injury on his head he wiped the sweat with the back of his sleeve, blood and sweat intermixed and ran down his cheek.
He never noticed the droplet that leapt off his chin and into the stone coffins bottom. Finally, the chains fell off and with a herculean effort he began to push the lid to one side so he could peer inside. Vince felt the hairs on his arms and back of his neck stand up.
He saw a flash of white and felt a momentary flash of pain before he descended into darkness.