Vince stood up on shaky legs and shook his head trying to clear it. Had he triggered another booby trap? It wouldn't surprise him. How long was he out? The powerful work lights were very dim and that meant that "Buddy's" battery was low so he switched them off and dug out his flashlight and peered into the stone box.
The box was empty save for a few pieces of jewelry.Was this a joke? All that labor for an empty box?
Vince began to feel weak, tired and hungry. He hoped there was enough power in the main batteries to raise him up. He doubted if he could climb the rope if he had to. The power that remained managed to raise him to the opening in the floor before it died. He used what little strength he had to pull himself up through the floor.
Vince disconnected "Buddy's" drive axle so he was able to pull it back to the throne room. Once there, he pulled out his M.R.E 's and had a hot meal. Afterwards he swapped "Buddy's" depleted battery for one of the fresh ones and then pulled out his sleeping bag.
He activated the small night light as he zipped himself inside it. Before he fell into a sound sleep he swore there was someone watching him. In his dreams, he saw a figure examining all the treasure he had discovered so far. He tried to say something but was almost in a deep sleep so no words came out.
Vince slept for about twelve hours. He woke feeling a little better and brewed coffee. He then stepped outside into the sunlight. The mayor spotted him and rushed to speak to him.
"Thank God you are unhurt," he said shaking Vince's hand.
"Not totally," Vince responded pointing out the wicked scrapes he received from opening the stone box.
"If that's the worse you received, then you are truly blessed. Would you like the para-medics to tend to those?"
"So? Were you successful?" the mayor asked.
Vince took him inside and showed him the spoils of his search, the mayor was speechless as he examined the pile of treasure.
"Is your search over or you going back to find more?" the mayor asked.
"No, I have had enough. I am going to crate these items for shipment home," Vince responded.
The mayor had more questions, but Vince refused to comment anymore. He began the long task of building crates from the wood he had delivered in order to ship his finds home. The small box that contained the jewel encrusted daggers was placed in a sturdy crate and addressed to the Baroness de Winter.
Vince worked until the sunset. He couldn't believe that he was so tired, he skipped dinner and went straight to bed. Once again just as he was falling asleep he was sure there was someone in the room with him. In his dreams, he felt slim cold fingers on his face, he wasn't frightened as he did not feel threatened.
He forced himself awake and through his heavy sleep crusted eyes he swore he saw a figure walk out the main castle door and into the night. A day later, Vince finished packing and called his contact at Sotheby's auction house to inform him of the items he had for sale.
There was just enough time to have his items listed, if he hurried. So he faxed over photographs and descriptions and they were listed in the catalog for the upcoming auction.
It was one week later that the Baroness deWinter was relaxing in her spacious bedroom. The balcony doors were open to allow the warm summer breeze to enter her room. She moved here wheelchair across the room and from a hidden stash she removed a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of Napeolen brandy.
The wheelchair was only used when walking became painful, and that was only after a long day of inspecting her properties. She refused to be pushed like an invalid in the public eye.
As she was enjoying these forbidden pleasures, when she became aware that someone was watching her. On the balcony was a tall and slender woman, she was pale but extremely attractive. Her dress looked very old and was covered in dust.
The Baroness was not frightened, just curious.
"Can I help you?" the Baroness asked in English.
The woman shook her head. The Baroness then asked the same question in French, but received no response. It was only when she asked in German that the woman smiled.
"You must invite me in," she responded.
The Baroness gave her consent and the woman stepped into the room moving slowly and with regal bearing toward her. Once inside the soft lights of her room fully illuminated her pale features and the Baroness realized that she knew this face.
She was starting to rise and curtsy as protocol dictated, but was stopped by the woman.
"Women of our age and station bow to no one," she said.
"I am the Baroness Elspeth deWinter and you must be my ten times great Grandmother."
"I am Queen Marianna deWinter.You are not afraid?"
"I am not afraid of family."
"And you never need fear me my Granddaughter."
"Come, we must get you cleaned up and redressed."
"Can your servants be trusted?"
"Not in the least, I will tend you myself."
The Baroness led the way to her large bathroom.