Reflections

of Master Samuel Gees.
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I’ve had a long full life. Longer than I would like to admit sometimes. You don’t need to know my exact age, let’s just say I’m north of ninety and leave it at that.

    I have lots of stories from my years adventuring. I’ve fought monsters and found treasures. I’ve foiled deadly traps and solved tricky puzzles. I’ve made good friends and unfortunately lost most of them. I enjoy reliving the stories. I hope you will, too.

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    Rocks in the sand

    Posted By on January 23, 2011

    It has been very good having Red Beard around these last few weeks. He comes and visits me often and we sit and talk for hours. Mostly we talk about the “old” days and our triumphs. I say it’s been good because it has gotten my mind working again – it’s helped me remember.

    Last night we talked about an adventure we had together when we were both young – well I was young in any case – and were a little too confident in our own abilities. There were three of us in the party, Roger was with us as well to handle any traps or locks we might find.

    We had traveled for several days out into the desert. I had been doing some research and believed that I had found the location of an outpost from the Garren Empire, some 3000 years ago. We weren’t sure that we would find it, or even if it still existed, and if we did find it there might be nothing of value left, but that is the life of a treasure seeker. We throw the dice and spend the time looking, and sometimes we hit it big.

    We reached an outcropping of rock protruding from the miles of sand around it. The rock stretched 150 feet above the sand and was several acres in size. We started searching for an entrance into the underground complex we knew was there. We searched for half a day with no luck.

    It was strange remembering the mixed feelings that we had. We were disappointed and beginning to doubt that there was any complex. We also began doubting our own skills at being able to find it, if it was there. On the other hand, we were feeling a rising sense of hope that if there was a complex, that no one else might have found it either.

    That night we camped within the rocks. We talked about the day and what we might try the next day. We went to sleep early and were up before dawn. I remember all to clearly that morning. I was searching the rocks for any sign of cracks that might indicate a door, but was continually distracted by the ringing of Red Beard’s war hammer as he pounded on the rocks listening for the thud that would indicate a hollow space.

    I stopped for lunch and brought out my books and papers – maybe I had missed something that would help. I spent most of the afternoon sitting in the shade of a large rock, listening to Red Beard’s hammering, trying to find some clue. That night we were less hopeful and our conversation was subdued.

    Our second full day of searching started much the same as the first. Red Beard started his pounding – I remember thinking that if he didn’t find the entrance soon that he was going to make one of his own. I started my searching again, but was soon frustrated. I decided that I needed to start using my brain. What could I look for beside cracks?

    I could look for a path, but the path would be 3000 years old. Even a path worn into the stone would have long disappeared. I figured the same would be even more true for trash. Perhaps if the original inhabitants had excavated large amounts of rock some of that might be left. With a new sense of purpose I started looking for the remains of the huge pile of rubble that may once have been here.

    It didn’t take long for me to realize that there were no remains. Thinking about it I realized that there probably never was a pile of rubble – the sea of sand was too close not to just throw the ruble there and have it sink into oblivion.

    I sat eating my lunch wondering what else I might try. Red Beard came and joined me – he was tired and frustrated, too. We sat and talked while trying to stay out of the sun. Red Beard wondered if the sand had been lower three thousand years ago and if the entrance we were looking for might be buried.

    We went our separate ways and continued our search all afternoon. Tired and even more frustrated we cooked our dinner and ate in silence. Neither of us felt much like talking and neither of us knew what to do next.

    After we were finished eating, I grabbed a torch and headed back into the rocky crags. I figured that maybe things would look different in torchlight – that maybe I might pick out a crack. I didn’t find any cracks per say, put after an hour of searching I did notice something strange.

    The smoke from my torch was hanging above me like a cloud, caught in a down draft caused by the gentle breeze blowing overhead. While unusual, it wasn’t the cloud that was strange – it was what was happening to the cloud near the cliff above my head. The cloud was gently swirling towards the rock and then disappearing into the cliff.

    I managed to climb up high enough to see that there were a series of small holes in the wall. I watched in fascination as the smoke from my torch swirled and disappeared. I placed a hand over one of the holes and could feel the air rushing past my fingers.

    I ran back to camp and pulled Red Beard back to the spot. He smiled when I demonstrated my disappearing smoke trick. He proceeded to pound his hammer across every foot of the cliff face, but found nothing that sounded hollow.

    After an hour we gave up and walked back to camp – a little more hopeful, but no less frustrated. I don’t think either of us slept well that night and we were both up at dawn to resume our searching. Red Beard performed a more detailed investigation of the holes. He told me that they were at least ten feet deep, maybe much deeper. When I asked if we could dig a tunnel and follow them he said, “Yes, if we had the right tools, which we don’t.”

    We widened our search, but to no avail. About noon I remembered how I had first found the holes – smoke – and then it hit me. If the smoke was going in, it was probably coming out somewhere else. If we could see it go in we might be able to see it come out. I found Red Beard and Roger. Together we built a smoky fire. We waited until the smoke was being sucked in the holes then ran around the rocks looking for any sign of the smoke coming out.

    We went back to camp that evening down hearted. I had been sure my plan was going to work. We didn’t know what else to try. We still had a couple of week’s worth of food and water left, but we were feeling like, “what’s the point.”

    That evening and night were the hardest we had had. We didn’t talk and finally each of us went to sleep. The morning was different. I woke to the smell of game roasting on the fire. I pulled myself out of my bag and found Red Beard whistling by the fire slowly turning a rabbit on a spit.

    “I realized that I was getting frustrated and that it was keeping me from thinking, so I did a little hunting,” Red Beard said as I approached. “It’ll be done in a few minutes. Coffee is ready now – pour yourself a cup.”

    I did. The coffee smelled wonderful and tasted even better – and it felt so wonderfully warm as I drank it. The rabbit was even tastier. Roger came walking into camp rubbing his stomach. “That smells wonderful! I could smell it a hundred yards away.”

    “Say that again,” I said.

    “I could smell it a hundred yards away.”

    “Roger, you’ve got it,” I said excitedly. “We couldn’t see the smoke coming out, but maybe we could smell something.”

    We ate our breakfast and talked excitedly about what we might be able to use as our scent. Roger suggested some of our waste – both Red Beard and I thought that was a bad Idea. I suggested the rabbit, but we decided that it wasn’t strong enough.

    Finally Red Beard admitted that he had a bottle of perfume in his pack. After a bit of teasing from Roger and me, which is surely why he didn’t say anything about it earlier, Red Beard went and got it. We each took a whiff of it and agreed that it was unique enough that we would be able to pick it up.

    Red Beard put several drops in each of the holes and we ran down wind of the rocks. It took almost an hour before we started picking up the scent on the wind. It took another hour of walking around, losing the scent and then picking it up again, as we were walking up into the rocks.

    Just as the sun was going down we found ourselves with our noses pressed against the rock breathing in that not all to familiar dwarven scent. We ended up finding a dozen places along a twenty-foot stretch of rock where faint breezes could be felt and the scent could be detected.

    Having a definite location to search, it only took half the morning to find the mechanism that opened the stone door. As we all looked down into the darkness of the tunnel, Roger and I both made sure to comment that this was surely the prettiest smelling rune we had ever found.

    Remembering this adventure with Red Beard reminded me of how easy it was to get focused on one plan of attack and to forget all the other possibilities. I tried to use my eyes and Red Beard tried to use his ears, but it was our noses that were up to the task.

    Good News

    Posted By on September 2, 2010

    I received more good news today. Red Beard has decided to stay in Maple Grove for awhile. He said that he had such a great time talking with me the other day that he wanted to do it more often. He suggested once a week, around dinner time. I laughed and told him twice a week – for dinner.

    I also told him were to find Annay and told him what she looks like now. The last time they saw each other was when she was twelve years old. She adored him then, so I’m sure they will be good friends now.

    The winter has been getting colder – it sure feels nice having an old friend warm my heart.

    A friend drops by

    Posted By on August 30, 2010

    I had a bit of a surprise today – a very old friend showed up on my door step. I haven’t seen Red Beard in almost ten years – he hasn’t changed a bit. I wonder if he thinks the same?

    I invited him to stay for dinner and we started talking while we waited for Brian to cook it. We started by talking about what we’ve both been doing for the last ten years, but quickly the conversation turned to the many years that we shared together.

    It is amazing to me how a simple reunion can bring back so many memories. We talked about things I haven’t thought about for decades. The other thing that amazes me is how our minds decide to remember the important things. Not necessarily the most exciting things, but the things that had an impact on who we are today.

    For example, one of the things we remembered was a trip we took to a dark and damp swamp. We remembered the treasure we found, but the thing we talked about was the way we both struggled and both helped each other.

    We had been traveling for a week or so when we reached the edge of the jungle. Both being from temperate mountain regions, Red Beard and I were not really ready for the hot, damp, darkness that was before us. Besides the thickness of the underbrush and the enormous size of the leaves on those plants, it was raining. Now of course we had both been in rain before, but this rain was different – it was warm. I don’t really know how to explain it in a way that you might understand. Perhaps if you have ever stood by a hot stove with pots of water on it boiling, or better yet, had a tea pot on the stove too long and then walked into the room.

    The air was so full of water it was hard to breath. We stood there for a long time – with the rain beating down on us – with the ground steaming – wondering if we should trudge forward or turn around and head for dryer ground. In the end we decided to keep going – after all, if the treasure we were seeking was hard to get to, it might mean no one else had beaten us to it.

    As you might know, dwarves are not fond of the water, or should I say, have a healthy fear of it. So of course what do we find in a jungle where it is raining all of the time, lots of water. There were puddles, tracts of mud, ponds, streams, lakes, and rivers. Each one had to be traversed, walked around, jumped over, or swam through. Needless to say, Red Beard was not a happy dwarf.

    But you know what? That’s not the thing Red Beard thinks about when he remembers that adventure. No, Red Beard remembers how well we worked together. He remembers how I carried him across some of the streams and rivers. He remembers how we built a platform to sleep on to keep us out of the water that was on the ground, and to help protect us from all of the creatures that were crawling around down there.

    I remembered the third day when Red Beard found some tracks. I didn’t really care about them, but Red Bread insisted on spending some time studying them.

    “Look, they’re as large as mine, but they’re from a bird or lizard,” said Red Beard. “Look here! I think this is a tail mark, and it looks like there are only one type of prints.”

    I don’t think I really cared and said something like, “So?”

    Red Beard didn’t seem to notice then, and he didn’t bring it up while we were talking about it today. What he does remember was being excited that he identified some tracks.

    “Do you remember,” he almost yelled at me today, “I told you that they were the foot prints of a lizardman, and I was right. Because I saw them and identified then, we were more carful, and we saw the pack of lizardmen before they could see us.”

    Looking back on it, that one point doesn’t seem very important to me, but to Red Beard it was the moment. That was the point were he went from just being a fighter to being a tracker. It was the point where he realized that the training he had been doing was actually making a difference.

    And now, way too many years later, he remembered that event and then was able to pick out dozens of other events, that came after it, that were different because of it.

    Red Beard left my house thankful. Not just because he had just finished a great meal, or had spent time talking with a friend, but because he realized how blessed his life has been and how little things like being able to identify who made a footprint has made him a blessing to others.

    Remembering

    Posted By on August 26, 2010

    Do you ever think about when you were young and life was a struggle just to survive? I don’t very often, but this last week several things got my old brain thinking again. The first was watching my houseboy, Brain, struggling to make a good impression on me. Truth be told, he already impresses me. His father died a few years back and he had to be the man of the house – at eight years old. He did a great job helping his mom and taking care of his little sister. Then two months ago he came to live with me. He has worked hard these last two months and still he tries to work harder. What does he have to show for it? He has a roof over his head, three meals a day, and five silver pieces in a jar for when he leaves me.

    The second thing that struck me this week are some new recruits for the city guard. Now this is nothing special, new recruits join the city guard three times a year, but this group of young men – or perhaps boys – seemed even less prepared than usual. To give them credit they all were wearing shoes as the marched by as a patrol – read “mob”. They also all had pants. In both cases, however, some of them had holes. Two of the men didn’t have shirts on, one of the ones that did was actually wearing just a piece of cloth with a hole cut in its middle.

    The last thing was the dinner that Brian made for me two nights ago. For ten years old that boy is getting pretty handy in the kitchen. He out did himself on this meal. He said it was a meal that he would cook for his father. I could tell that he put a lot of care into it. The meal wasn’t anything special, just some salted fish with mustard seeds, mustard greens, mushrooms, and tubers. It was good, but it was peasant’s fair, and that’s what reminded me of my youth – back when peasant’s fair was a special treat.

    So what did these things remind me of you ask? These things reminded me of when I got back to town after my first adventure. Two months of eating trail rations, with what ever we could catch on the way added in for variety. We came back with a little treasure – a very little treasure – which was mostly spent after I paid for a room for the month, bought a new pair of shoes – since two months on the road had done mine in – and had one good meal to celebrate our good fortune.

    A week after getting back to town I was living off of the leftover trail rations and looking for odd jobs. Of course what I really wanted to do was head back out into the wild and find the treasure I knew was waiting there for me. What I had to do was try to find money to pay for my room and to put food in my stomach, and hopefully a little to put away into my adventuring fund.

    I don’t remember what odd jobs I got, but I do remember how I felt – thankful. I was grateful for every sliver piece I earned. I remember thanking God for my food at every meal and for every coin I got to drop into my “fund”. I could have been angry that I was stuck in town doing jobs I didn’t want to do, but it never occurred to me to be angry – that would mean someone else was to blame for my life. I knew who had picked the life I was leading and how could I be angry with myself when I had my whole life ahead of me, waiting for me to reach it.

    For over a year I lived this life of barely surviving, but the barely part was by choice. When the time came to go back out into the wilderness to seek my fortune I was ready. God had blessed me and I had kept my focus on where I was going. I had a song in my heart and kind words on my lips.

    Then I think about a different time in my life – a time when I had abundance. I again was coming back from an adventure, but this time my treasure wasn’t little. In fact it was more than I knew what to do with. I ate out every night and got a huge room that I was almost never in. I bought myself new cloths, not because the old ones were worn out, but because I wanted to impress people. I also remember that I complained about the high prices store owners were charging, and I got angry when the people I thought I needed to see, were busy doing something else. In short, I wasn’t very thankful. I bragged about how I had beat the monsters and found the treasure. I told stories about my bravery and quick mind. I had a great time for six months, but inside I was miserable, I didn’t know what life was about.

    As I said, that phase of my life ended after six months, when the treasure that was so big that I didn’t know what to do with it was gone. Had I saved some so I could go out on another adventure? No. Was I grateful for all the fun I had had? No. I was angry that it was all gone; that people had charged me too much; that God had not guided me. That’s when I figured out that God had been trying to guide me, but I hadn’t wanted to be guided. So I got so start over. I got odd jobs. I ate other people’s scraps. I shared a room with three other guys. I thanked God every time I got to drop another coin into my adventuring fund. A year and a half later, when I was ready to head off again, I was thankful once more.

    So what has all of this remembering done for me? I guess it has made me ask the question, “Which kind of life am I leading? A thankful one or a selfish one?” Luckily I can say that mostly I’m leading a thankful life. There are times that I wish I were younger – that I still had the energy I did when I was fifty. But even when I’m sad that I can’t go adventuring anymore, I’m still thankful that I have my memories and the occasional good dinner – like the pot of chili I smell cooking downstairs.

    Snow

    Posted By on March 28, 2010

    The snow has come again to slow down life. It’s part of God’s plan; we need to take time to rest. Of course, like all of God’s plans, some people choose to fight them.

    I remember many years ago that I was one of those people. It was the middle of winter and the snow lay heavy on the ground. My friends and I figured that since dragons look like lizards, they probably sleep for the winter, too.

    What better time could there be to raid a dragon’s den than when it is fast asleep. Of course we didn’t consider when the best time to travel miles into the mountains would be. We packed up our gear and set out one winter morning.

    We headed up the valley towards Torad’s Anvil. The going was slow and we should have realized the folly of our ways, but we were young and foolish. It took us three weeks to travel to where we left the road. In summer it would have taken four days, but still we went on.

    On the third day of climbing up some unnamed mountain, it snowed. For four days we were trapped in our tents; talk about slowing down life. When the storm finally passed we continued our climbing.

    On day seven we reached the place where the entrance to the dragon’s lair was supposed to be. All we found was a wall of ice. We tried to get through it, but soon gave up. The hike down the mountain and to town was a long and solemn one. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I learned it well. No longer do I took for the easy path, and when winter comes along I throw another log on the fire and slow down.

    Red Beard

    Posted By on September 4, 2009

    boat

    Many years ago I went on a trip to the seaside. It was with my friend Red Beard. Before I start my story I need to tell you a little bit about Red Beard, since this story is really about him. Red Beard is a dwarf. I know what your thinking – short, loves gold, long beard, swings a hammer or axe, hates orcs, can get a little grumpy. Okay, maybe I don’t need to tell you much about him. But seriously, Red Beard is a great guy and has two traits that are important for this story. First, he is a true friend – willing to put other’s needs before his own – there is no one I would rather have covering my back. Second, he hates the water. The only thing he hates more than water is moving water.

    So here’s the story. Red Beard and I headed down to the seaside. It took us about a week to get there hiking through the mountains. I’ll never forget when we reached the last pass and saw the ocean stretching out in front of us to the horizon. It was the first time either of us had ever seen the ocean. I was awe struck. I could not have imagined it being so big – the largest body of water that I had seen before was a small lake. I don’t know how to really describe Red Beard’s reaction. It might have been awe. I would say terror, but from what dwarves tell me nothing terrifies them. In any case, Red Beard stopped walking and just stood their motionless.

    Red Beard recovered, and with a bit of teasing from me, we made our way down out of the foothills to a lovely little seaport. After a few drinks to steady Red Beard’s nerves, I mean to wash the road dust from our throats, we got down to business. We had come to this port because we had heard that there was a little island off the coast where one might find treasure. We talked with a few of the locals and the local stories fit with what we had heard.

    One old lady sat with us for an hour or so and went into great detail about all of the stories. Here are a few the the excerpts that I can remember.

    “The island is called Lapping Death by the locals, but it’s real name is The Arches.”

    “Many adventurers come here every year looking for it’s treasure. The lucky ones leave with their lives. The unlucky ones are still on the island, or in the island.”

    “You can hire a boat to take you to the island, but they won’t step foot on the island, and definitely won’t take you into the sea caves.”

    “The stories say that the island is full of caves, most of which can only be walked into at low tide.”

    After we finished collecting what little information we could, and spending a wonderful night in a real bed at the inn. We headed out in the morning to find a boat for hire, to take us to Lapping Death, we found a young man who was willing to take us for two pieces of gold, and reluctantly Red Beard paid his half.

    The boat was small, much to Red Beard’s discomfort. It had a single sail and a pair of oars. Red Bead climbed into the middle of the boat and hung on for dear life. I could tell by the whiteness of his knuckles. The ride out to Lapping Death was quite pleasant, at least for me. We had found that low tied would be in two hours, which should give us an hour on the island beforehand.

    The owner of the boat took us quickly out to the island. As it came into view we could see why it was called The Arches. Along its side were a series of sea caves, cut into the rock of the island over time by the relentless pounding of the waves. Some of the caves went all the way through the island. I looked over at the captain and pointed at one of the larger caves. He shook his head and pointed to the tip of the island. “That is where I will drop you off. That is where I will pick you up, if you are to be picked up. I will come and look for you every evening for a week. After that I will assume you are dead.”

    island

    With those final words of encouragement, the captain dropped us off on the island. By “dropped us off” I mean he pulled up against the cliff at the tip of the island and let us climb up to the island. He told us it was much easier at high tide, which is when he would be back. In truth the climb wasn’t very hard, and soon Red Beard and I found ourselves sitting under a small tree wondering what to do next.

    I have to admit that It was a little hard to concentrate on the island. Huge waves were beating against one side of the island, sometimes sending a fine spray of mist over the island. I was impressed by the power of the waves, I think Red Beard would have used a different word.

    We started to explore the island. It wasn’t hard to find evidence of the other explorers that went before us. We found several packs, an old rusty sword, several places where ropes went over the edge of the cliffs. The island was small, and after 45 minutes we had completed our survey and picked the spot where we wanted to start. We picked the cave that was at he thickest part of the island, figuring it would be the most likely to lead to an inner chamber.

    We tied off ropes next to several other sets, which should have told us something, and headed down. The tide was almost out and we found that the cave had only a foot of water coving its floor. Reluctantly Red Bead joined me, complaining about what the salt water would do to his boots. We walked into the cave with waves striking the backs of our legs, threatening to knock us over. As we walked it soon grew dark. I cast a light spell and we continued using its pale blue light.

    We stopped when up ahead on the cave floor we saw white bones. It was hard to estimate how many bones there were, but I could clearly make out three human skulls. Red Beard and I glanced at each other and then noticed that the little bit of light that had been filtering in from behind us had disappeared. Spinning around, all we saw was darkness.

    Watching our rear, we headed back towards the entrance. We proceeded with caution, but didn’t find anything, including the entrance. We reached the end of the cave and found it ended in a wall. Red Beard hit it a few times with his hammer and declared it solid. We spent a few minutes looking for a leaver or some other way to remove the end of the cave, but we found none.

    We headed back into the cave and reached the point where we had seen the bones earlier. The water level had dropped a little and even more bones were now visible. In amongst the bones we could now see pieces of gold and silver. Red Beard cautiously walked forward and then started picking up the coins. I hung back, not trusting the situation. When Red Beard finished picking up the coins, we started walking deeper into the island.

    We walked a bit farther and the cave started to descend into the water. As we walked the water rose on our legs and when it was waist high on Red Beard we could see at the edge of our light that the cave roof touched the water. To say that Red Beard was agitated at this point would be an understatement. We had two choices. We could wait and see what would happen, or we could swim down the submerged cave.

    After a short debate we agreed that he would stay and keep looking for a way to open an exit and I would swim down the cave. I cast a second light spell so Red Beard would have light, and I stripped down. Taking only my dagger, I dove into the water – which was cold – and started to swim. I took a deep breath just before the cave roof touched the water and started to swim down the submerged cave.

    As I swam I began to worry as my breath started to fade. I reached a point where I thought I might be able to swim back, and if I went any farther I couldn’t. I don’t know why, but I decided to swim past that point of no return. Maybe it was that belief that young people have that nothing can hurt them. Maybe it was that I didn’t want to go back and face Red Beard and have to admit that I was wrong.

    I swam on. As my vision was starting to fade I broke surface and took a deep breath. I tried to clear my head and look around.

    “Welcome.” A sweet sounding voice cut through the fog in my head. I turned my heard towards the sound of the voice. A soft yellow glow filled my vision instead of the blue of my spell. I swam forward a few feet and tried to make out the form in the light. I closed my eyes and shook my head trying to clear it. I opened them again and still saw the beautiful young woman sitting in the light. Golden locks cascaded over her shoulders and covered her naked form. Her eyes were piercing blue. Her skin appeared to be golden, but I realized that was probably from the golden light she sat in.

    “Welcome,” she said again.

    “Hello. My name is Samuel.”

    “Welcome, Samuel. My name is Gwyneth. What brings you to my home?”

    I wasn’t sure what to say. I figured the truth might not be the best idea – I’m here to take your gold. I was also a bit uncomfortable – treading water, naked, holding only a knife, looking at a beautiful naked woman. I decided to tell her part of the truth. “My friend and I got caught in this cave, and I’m looking for a way out.”

    “Well, you can’t get out for another eleven hours, so why don’t you come join me for some tea.”

    Again I was at a loss for words.

    “Don’t worry, I’ll send you back to your friend before he is in trouble. Come now and join me.”

    I didn’t move, but I was growing tired from treading water.

    “Do you want my help?” she asked, “If so, you had better not make me think that you are a common thief.”

    I began swimming towards her, wondering what I was doing. Soon my feet could reach the cave floor again. I put my feet on the floor and walked forward into the golden light. I was a bit self aware as I came out of the water and I saw her look my body over.

    “Sit here,” she said, pointing at a seat cut into the rock beside her. I did as she said.

    As I sat I looked at her. From this new vantage point I could now see her whole body. What I had taken for a beautiful young woman, was indeed beautiful but was not a woman. Her lower body was that of a fish – she was a mermaid. I had heard of mermaids, but never thought I would meet one.

    “You have questions?” she asked.

    “Well, yes.”

    “Well then, lets talk.” She handed me a cup of tea, served from a tea pot that appeared to be made of coral.

    “Do you live here?”

    “Now Samuel, have you not heard what I’ve said? I told you this is my home.”

    “But, do you live here alone?”

    “Yes, unfortunately.”

    “Why, you’re so beautiful, how could you be alone?”

    “Well, in truth, I’m trapped here. I swam into this cursed trap thirty years ago.”

    “Trap?”

    “Yes, someone made this trap to catch merpeople. Who ever made it must have died years ago, because no one as ever come to claim their prize.”

    “Trap?”

    “Yes the door only opens now when the water level is too low for me to travel out the of the cave.”

    “I see,” I said like an idiot.

    “I will help you out, but for me there is no way out.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Sure of what? That I will help you out, or that there is no way for me out?”

    “That you can’t get out.”

    “The wall is only down when the water is too low and the waves too strong for me to fight against. Believe me I’ve tried.”

    We talked for a long time and then Gwyneth told me it was time to go. The water level had risen a couple of feet. She slipped into the water and beckoned me to follow. I did.

    “I need to show you how to breathe with me. Come under water and then let me breath into your mouth.”

    I wasn’t sure what she meant, but figured that at this point I didn’t have much choice. I took a breath and sunk into the water. I saw her face a few inches in front of mine. She took ahold of my shoulders and placed her lips on mine. I then felt her blowing air into my mouth. I let the air out, and she again blew air into my mouth. We repeated this for several minutes and then she let me go up.

    “Do you see how that works?” she asked.

    “Yes.”

    “Good, because we will have to do that for a couple hours – until the tide starts to go out again.”

    “Oh. I hope my friend can handle this.”

    “It’s time we found out. Come with me and we will swim back to him.”

    Together we swam back down the submerged cave, her breathing for me.

    Red Beard looked startled when our heads broke the surface. He also looked a little panicked, with the water being at mid-chest. I walked up to him, while Gwyneth waited in the deep water.

    “Where have you been!” Red Beard demanded.

    “I’m sorry, I’ve been talking with Gwyneth. She is trapped here too, but she has offered to help us get out.”

    Red Beard glanced around me to look at the form in the water.

    “She’s a mermaid. She’s been trapped here a long time.”

    “I thought you were dead. I thought I was going to die. Let’s get out of here.”

    “Well,” I said, “It’s going to take a little while longer. We have to wait for the next low tide.”

    Red Beard looked at me with a scowl. What do you mean, low tide?”

    “The wall that locked us in, it only lowers for a little while, just before low tide.”

    “How high is the water going to get?”

    “All the way to the top. That’s why we need Gwyneth’s help.”

    “How is she going to help?”

    “She’s going to breath for us.”

    “She’s going to what? Just kill me now.”

    “Relax Red Beard, it’ll be fine. She already showed me how it works. It takes a bit to get use to, but it’s not hard. She’ll be doing all the work.”

    Red Beard didn’t look at all happy.

    “Go on down into the water and she’ll teach you how.”

    “You want me to go swimming with some fish-woman.”

    “She’s a mermaid, and she…”

    “Did you hit your head on something?”

    “Listen, you’re already wet, you’re going to get wetter. Wouldn’t you rather do this on your own, rather than waiting for the tide to force you?”

    “No!”

    At this pint I realized that it was pointless arguing with Red Beard anymore, so we waited. The water slowly rose and soon Red Beard couldn’t touch the ground any longer. He hung onto the side of the cave, treading water. And we waited some more. Soon I couldn’t stand any longer and joined Red Beard hanging onto the wall. Gwyneth joined us and gave Red Beard a hand, helping him rest his weary legs. She offered a couple times to teach him, but he refused.

    Eventually the water reached the the roof and Red Beard took the last breath of air that was trapped. Red Beard sank into the water, defeated. Gwyneth swam up to him and took ahold of his shoulders. Red Beard struggled, but Gwyneth was in control. She pressed her lips to his and blew air into his mouth. Surprise filled his eyes as she released him. She turned to me and gave me a lung full of air. When she turned back to Red Beard, this time he welcomed her kiss.

    We continued like this for two hours, until the water lowered enough to give us air to breath. As the water continued to lower, Gwyneth retreated back down the cave to the deeper water. We spent the next four hours in awkward silence as the water continued to lower.

    The wall that blocked the end of the cave sink into the floor and light flooded into the cave.

    I turned to Gwyneth. “Thank you.”

    “You’re Welcome,” she called back.

    Red Beard started to fight against the waves, moving towards the exit, but then he stopped. He looked back towards Gwyneth. He then started to walk back towards her. Splashing into the water, till he was neck deep, and then swimming to where she was.

    While treading water he said, “Thank you.”

    “You’re Welcome.” Gwyneth swam the last couple feet to him and gave him a kiss.

    “Come with us,” Red Beard said.

    “I can’t, I’m not strong enough.”

    “I can carry you.”

    “No you can’t.”

    “You want to bet?” Red Beard reached out and grabbed her hand and started pulling her toward the exit.

    When they reached the shallows, where Red Beard could touch the ground and Gwyneth could no longer swim against the waves that were coming down the cave, Red Beard pulled her into his arms and held her. He fought against the waves, struggling to take each step. I saw him falter and ran behind him and pushed on his back. Together we walked down the cave, waves hitting us, but we kept going forward.

    It took us fifteen minuets to reach the entrance, but we made it. Red Beard jumped into the ocean with his charge. Gwyneth quickly changed positions with Red Beard and held him up, swimming back to where he could grab ahold of the cliff.

    Gwyneth thanked us and stayed talking with us until it got dark. She even caught a couple fish and threw them to us for our dinner. We spent the night on the little island, and the next evening the small sailing boat came back for us. The captain was a bit surprised to see us, but seemed generally happy that we had survived.

    The trip back home was long and melancholy. We had found enough treasure to make our trip worthwhile, but it was sad that it was just the lost coins of other adventures who had not come back. Red Beard talked often about Gwyneth on the long walk home. I think, if he could have, he would have stayed with her.