In a dusty attic there lies the means by which to access another world. A sunken world long unvisited by man. There is a choice to be made between good and evil, a choice that could alter the very existence of mankind, as it did once before. An ancient evil no less potent with the passing of time is ready to be unleashed on the world of men once again and yet there is hope. Hope, that is, if the right choices are made.
Eli didn't care about much. In fact his continued existence depended on not being put in a position to care about the greater outcome of life around him, which had stolen from him what he loved most in life, his family. Now his family consisted of an unlikely pairing of misfits, who make up the crew of his salvage ship, Celestia's Prize. He needs money, if he hopes to keep up with the payments on his ship and the avoidance of the life he once lived on land. His wish is to remain at sea away from the world and the painful memories of his past. Those in desperate need of money are not known for wise decision making so when Eli catches the hint of a Civil War era treasure fleet enroute for England from the beleaguered Southern Confederacy, in a desperate bid to buy the allegiance of the English Crown into joining in on the side of the South, he's more than intrigued by the salvage opportunities to be had. The treasure fleet disappeared, but now, thanks to research and some speculative instincts, he now has the key by which to find it. At least he thinks so, but treasure, so often illusive, weaves a tale of a different nature. A tale of greed and enslavement by one's fellow man and the gateway to a possession that chains the soul and unleashes hell.
I blew the dust off before I unsnapped the clasps of the old trunk case. Anticipation built up inside of me at what I might find within. My hopes of discovery took a nose dive though as the lid of the old trunk came up.
Nothing but musty smelling underwear and piles of rag cloth. The Great Depression era of the nineteen twenties had been bad, but had people living during that timeframe really needed to save their old rags and ragged underwear? Apparently they had thought so.
I let the lid fall back closed and looked around the attic of the old house in disgust.
What a waste of time!
Not to mention risking my life, I thought darkly to myself, as I noticed yet another old dry snakeskin laying on the grimy wooden floor of the attic. So far I hadn’t come across any live ones, which was good, but just seeing the evidence of prior existence had put me under strain all morning as I had worked at discovering the past.
I had jumped at every sound or movement. I wasn’t overly afraid of snakes, but the philosophy of the only good snake is a dead one was a tenant of belief that I had adopted since childhood, when I had awakened from a nap with a snake coiled up in my bed.
That experience had left an impression on me even at an early age and I was eager to be out of the attic, even as I was frustrated with not having found anything of value. This was the last house on the list and it was a flop just as the other eleven had been.
I stood up forgetting the low angled ceiling and cracked my head off of a rafter. In place of a choked back curse, I kicked the old trunk at my feet savagely. I abruptly forgot the pain in my head and my frustration with the day.
The old trunk had barely moved when I had kicked it. The trunk was sturdily built, but not that sturdy. The rags couldn’t be weighing it down that much.
Quickly I knelt down and reopened the lid of the trunk. I had been so excited to find the trunk in the first place, because it had matched the time era perfectly that I was interested in.
I pulled the rags and the even more raggedy underwear out to spill over the sides. I was already relishing the hot shower I would have after I was clear of this place and its musty remains of past paranoia.
The trunk was clear of the rags and I felt along the bottom of the trunk. It had a false bottom and I found the cleverly concealed release mechanism to either side. Excitement built within me as I flipped the levers and released the false bottom of the trunk.
I’d done it!
I’d found the Orlanis Star!
The false bottom clattered to the floor as I stared down into the trunk at what I had revealed.
The star resembled the pedals of a sunflower, but were broken apart into individual pieces laid out on a strip of blue velvet with the center array stone in the middle that looked to be made of pure crystal surrounded by a shiny alloy of metal infused along its edges. The pedals and the outer rim of metal surrounding the crystal were studded with what appeared to be gems of priceless value.
The star was beautiful, but it wasn’t what I had been expecting at all.
I had thought to find a cleverly designed mechanism to help me find where the wealth of the South had been stored offshore during the Civil War awaiting a British convoy, but what I was looking at was a piece of art crafted into a form that hinted at a symbolic use, of which I could only speculate.
The pieces of the star at the bottom of the trunk looked nothing like what I had imagined the American Civil War era device to appear as, instead it seemed like I was looking at something that dated far older than the Civil War. The level of craftsmanship and the gemlike crystals bore no relation to a piece that would have been crafted as a mechanical map to find a treasure offshore without the use of charts. This had to be the Orlanis Star though.
This house was one of the twelve places known of that Captain Roger Jamison, the sole survivor of the mission to enlist Britain’s aid to coming in on the side of the Confederate South, had stayed at during the remaining years of his life. This trunk had to have been his and if it had been his, than this must be the fabled Orlanis Star.
I got a feeling as if someone had walked across my grave as I stared at the curiously designed petals and its center stone of pure crystal at the bottom of the trunk. There had to be more to the story than even I had known, but what it could be I didn’t know.
In 1864 the Confederate South desperate for British aid in their struggle for survival against the North’s advances had enacted a desperate strategy that little was known of. Before and during the Civil War the South had tried to enlist the aid of the British to join in on the war against the North, but the British continually refused because they did not support slavery. There were many though, that wished to aid the South, because England was the main buyer of the South’s cash crop, cotton.
The rumor was that a deal was struck for England to come in on the South’s side, although widely criticized by historians as simply not true. But the fact remains that under great secrecy a large flotilla of ships was congregated together in one of the few port cities remaining to the south. Details of this armada were very sketchy, as in the fact that there were practically none.
The fighting was expected to get worse before it could get better with the help of England so the wealthiest plantation owners and financiers packed their wives and children along with all the wealth meant as a payment to England for joining the war, onto the ships that made up the armada gathered in the harbor. As an added bonus it was rumored that the ships were piled high with the cotton that had been stacking up on the docks for years.
One day the armada was at anchor and then in the midst of a foggy overcast storm system the armada had disappeared from port. It was commonly believed that the Union commanders of the Yankee navy blockading the harbor had been bribed to let the armada pass uncontested, but there was no proof to back that up. From there the armada had simply vanished.
All of the ships had been steam powered, but navigation had still been an issue, which is where the Orlanis Star had come into the legend. It was rumored that the South had made a technological leap forward in terms of maritime navigation.
They had created a device that plotted their course for them so they could steam away through the densest of fogs without the need for chart navigation or for looking at the stars by night for plotting their course. What lay in the bottom of the trunk did not look like such a device, but it had to be.
The rumor was that the armada was to rendezvous halfway to England with a British warship convoy, which would validate the authenticity of the payment in gold and silver, as well as the bales of cotton as meeting with the terms of the alliance agreed upon by both sides.
Nothing was ever heard of the armada again though. The mythical British convoy never met them and the armada never reached England. Some who believed in the legend proposed that the British plundered the wealth and sank the armada. Others suggested that the navigation device referred to as the Orlanis Star had led them astray off course and that they had been lost in a storm.
Twenty years later the wreckage of one of the ships in the armada was found stranded along the northern coast of Africa. There had been only one survivor, Captain Rogers.
Reviewed on Amazon:
"Very well developed sea adventure with characters that grow on you. The main character Eli improves himself as the story progresses. He goes on a treasure hunt, but discovers a better caruse for his adventure. The book had a very good unexpected ending. I would highly recommend this book to everyone who likes a good christian sea adventure. I will be looking for other books by this author."