The dagger key and the l.., p.1
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       The Dagger-Key and The Lost Treasures of Kebadon, p.1
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           Daniel Ferguson
The Dagger-Key and The Lost Treasures of Kebadon
All rights reserved: no part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written permission from the author of the fiction story contained within this book, except for review purposes.

  Any questions: email Daniel Lynn Ferguson, Springfield MO., wetpaintstudioo@gmail.com

  Cover page designs directed by: Daniel Lynn Ferguson

  First Serial Rights

  THE DAGGER-KEY

  AND THE LOST TREASURES OF KEBADON

  By: Daniel L. Ferguson

  CHAPTER 1:

  Once upon a hundred thousand years ago in the Moxcedean galaxy on the planet Zacterron lived the Zacterronians, also known as Zacs. Although they had some characteristics unique to their race, they were humanoid creatures. They existed in a period when oil lamps and candles gave light to the dark of the night—a time of innocence and prosperity, but one with evil ripping through the screen at the backdoor.

  In a moment of silence, lost within a bizarre dream, Kyhawn was sound asleep in his bed. It was a dream paved in darkness yet lit by a lantern of hope, which unknown to him held the answers to an extraordinary adventure that would change his world and everyone he loved.

  Across the road from Kyhawn’s cottage, a mysterious figure with red hair and dark blue skin stood behind the trees, unseen in the misty darkness. He pulled the hood of his cloak over his head, turned to his gray horse behind him, and took something sharp from its saddlebag.

  At that same moment, two barefooted Zacs with silverish-blue skin, dressed in tattered garments stood outside Kyhawn’s window. One of them crouched and cupped his hands to boost the other with dagger in hand up to the windowsill. This second Zac eased his dagger between the sill and the window frame, pried the window open, then climbed into Kyhawn’s bedroom and placed his hand over Kyhawn’s mouth. “Wake up! Your ship has docked,” he whispered, as he tucked his dagger back into its leg sheath.

  “What’s going on?” Kyhawn sat up, brushed his sandy blond hair away from his face, and rubbed his eyes.

  “Keep your voice down. You might wake your mother.”

  Kyhawn combed his hair with his fingers. “What are you doing here anyway, Earron?” He yawned as he tucked his hair behind his ears.

  “The Sealander docked only minutes ago,” his good friend responded. “You said you wanted to see Emaya again about your dream before you left, but you’ll have to forget that. They’re in a carriage on their way here for you now,” Earron said. “Are your bags ready?”

  Kyhawn lit the oil lamp beside his bed. His face with its large dark brown eyes, silverish-blue skin, and handsome narrow features dominated the room. He jumped to his feet. “Yes, I have my bags ready. Almost anyway,” he said hesitantly as he glanced at the window. “I thought I closed that last night.” He covered his tall, slim, twenty-two-year old body with brown trousers and a baggy wheat-colored shirt. “Are you sure it’s the Sealander cruise ship?” Kyhawn slipped on his leather boots.

  Earron crossed his arms and stood impatiently. “Of course I’m sure.”

  Kyhawn put on his coat. “But it wasn’t scheduled to dock for another two days.”

  “You don’t look so well.” Earron with his round face and dark orange eyes seemed perplexed. “Did you have the dream again?”

  Kyhawn dipped his hands into a washbowl next to his bed and nodded. “Can you meet me at the docks? I have something very important to tell you.”

  The short, chunky nineteen-year-old shrugged. “If it’s about your dream, tell me now.”

  Kyhawn patted his face with a towel. “It is about my dream. I don’t understand it any better than the first time I had it. It’s like a madness. I can’t explain it any more than what I already told you the other day.”

  With almost a look of desperation, Kyhawn placed his hands on Earron’s shoulders. “It’s urgent you go and see Emaya.” He hesitated for a moment. “Take Coita if you want,” he finally added as he knelt next to the window and rummaged through an old chest. “Now this is what I was going to tell you at the docks.” He glanced at Earron. “If Emaya says something terrible is going to happen on this cruise, then you have to promise ….”

  “I know what you’re going to say.” Earron crossed his arms again. “We talked about this before. Besides, it’s occton fishing season. No one’s going to take off looking for anyone based on some barmy dream.”

  Kyhawn got to his feet and tossed on his bed the leather bag he’d located. “I realize it sounds insane, but please do this for me.”

  “I recognize your dreams have been known to come true, but then I know you better than most Zacs.” Earron placed his hand on the windowsill. “The last time we told Werdna and his brother Nevets about them, they made fun of us. Everyone else at the fishing docks laughed as well.”

  Earron and Kyhawn had been best friends before he left for trade school. Finally Earron said hesitantly, “Okay, we’ll go and see your dream interpreter friend. If she’s well, maybe this time she’ll be able to tell us something.” He dragged his hand over the windowsill, and then turned his head from side to side. His silverish-blue face and dark orange eyes shimmered in the lantern’s light. “But why are you even going if you have such a bad feeling about it?” He flicked the back of his curly black hair over the hood of his coat.

  Kyhawn thought for a moment. He stood over his bed and stuffed his artist’s parchment pads, quills, ink, and lead sticks into his backpack, commonly known as a cabac. Finally he looked at his good friend and said in a loud whisper, “I can’t let my fear of this dream stop me from going on my first assignment.”

  “You’re only going to be taking care of a chest of old books and documents. And all your fellow passengers will be old and rich. Besides, maybe your dreams are only about your fear of crossing the world’s largest ocean, the Zacton Ocean.” Earron lowered his head. “I wish Coita and I was going with you.” He gave Kyhawn a cheerful smile, then took him by the shoulders and embraced him. “Go on in good spirits. I’ll see you in about eight days.”

  “Hopefully you’re right.” Kyhawn pointed. “Hey, remember the door’s this way.”

  “I came in through the window. You know how your mother feels about Coita and me.”

  Kyhawn chuckled. “She did say you two were a bad influence,” he said quickly adding. “Is Coita out there?”

  Earron positioned himself on the windowsill. “Yeah,” he nodded, as he glanced out the window at his good friend Coita.

  Kyhawn stared at Earron as if he might never see him again. “Remember, no one’s to know about the chest. Even you two aren’t supposed to know about it.”

  Earron eased out the window and gestured for Coita to give him a hand. He looked at Kyhawn: “You have our silence,” he said as he eased out the window.

  Across the street the hooded figure remained still as they left, apparently not interested in Earron and Coita. The two hurried passed the cottages and tall trees lining the cobblestone streets of their small fishing town of Omakohak. Minutes later they were on their way up a hill to Emaya’s cottage, but as they stood on her front porch, knocking on the unusual octagon shaped double front door, they soon discovered that on one was there. “We’ll go and see if she’s there later,” Earron said with a worried look as they made their way down the hill onto the cobblestone streets again.

  As they neared the street to the docks where they usually worked, Coita nudged Earron’s shoulder. “Don’t let it bother you. They’re only rubbish, these dreams of his.”

  “They’re not rubbish,” Earron insisted, as they descended the street to the docks.

  Coita shrugged. “Whatever.”

  Earron slung his arm over
Coita’s shoulder. “In the past, his dreams have been known to come true. But it is possible he’s just afraid to cross the ocean. His father did die at sea.”

  “Yeah, I know.”

  Earron patted Coita’s shoulder. “Let’s go to our shack, get a bite to eat, then see if we can get some work,” he said as they picked up their pace. “How’s your foot going today?”

  Coita, who walked with a slight lip because of a birth defect, responded with eagerness ready to go fishing. “My foot feels good.” They rushed by the fishing boats and the Sealander to where they lived, a one-room shack only minutes away. When they got there Earron opened the door, entered, and grabbed a few strips of dried fish hanging over a fishing line that stretched across the room. As the dried fish hung from his mouth, he stuffed the rest of them in his pocket, and grabbed the lucky scarf he’d forgotten and tied it loosely around his neck as he headed back out the door.

  Coita also grabbed a few strips of dried fish. With his fish in hand, the short, skinny, and narrow-faced seventeen-year-old followed close behind Earron. Coita couldn’t have cared less about Kyhawn’s dreams and wasn’t so sure he liked Earron’s old friend much more. With envy in his eyes, he closed the ragged door to their shack and secured its latch. Then they headed toward the docks in hope of finding employment for the day.

  On the other side of town, Kyhawn sat at the foot of his bed staring at his cabac, which lay on the floor in front of him. He reached for it, opened the flap, and took from it his detective certificate. After staring at it for a moment he then looked around his room as though it were the first time he had ever seen it. He tucked his certificate into his cabac and reached for one of his loosely tied together parchment pads filled with his dream notes. “What am I doing?” he muttered as he closed the flap. Everything I own is in this room. He glanced at his old chest sitting next to his window, which was mostly filled with his schoolbooks and art supplies. He then thought about the trade school in Chamquinil from where he’d graduated a few weeks earlier. His gaze drifted to his military training sword hanging on the wall. His fear of war gave him a chill. He was quite thankful it was only training and not the real thing. However, he shook off the thought, glancing around his room once more. It seems much smaller than it used to.

  He went to his washbowl. Once more he struggled to understand his dreams and get a clearer picture. No matter how I feel, I have to face them. I have to face my dreams. If that means crossing the ocean, then I will. Kyhawn’s thoughts continued to tear at him as if they might divide his soul.

  Moments later his mother called for him.

  Overwhelmed by anxiety and self-doubt, he slammed the table and mumbled bitterly, “Sometimes I think I’ve been cursed.” He felt pressed between dream symbols and reality.

  He picked up his cabac, but when he went to turn out the lanterns, he noticed a piece of parchment beside his bed. What’s this? As he reached for the parchment, he remembered the drawing he’d made when he awakened from a dream earlier that night: a ship going through a window frame. “Dreams, dreams, that’s all they are … dreams.”

  He crushed the drawing and tossed it across the room, but then stared at the drawings pinned to his wall across from his bed. He went over to them and laid his hand on the one of a waterfall. A male Zac was falling into a pool of water beneath where shiny colored stones reflected off the moon’s light. The drawing next to it was of a male Zac without a face. A self portrait of Kyhawn with a lantern in hand stood next to him. The next one over was of an ancient tree, white flowers, and a large wooden box. Above the box gray birds and chains seemed to be dancing.

  The one next to it was a drawing of a pile of sand. He stared at it with his left hand pressed to his chin as though in thought. A shiny object laid on top the pile. “What does this mean?” he questioned out loud. Agitated, he reached into his cabac for a lead stick partly wrapped in leather, and scribbled over the entire drawing. Then with a sense of satisfaction, he pulled the drawing from the wall and ripped it into pieces, as if this would make his dreams disappear.

  The one next to it was of an octagon with a dagger in the center of it. Off the wall it came, and with haste, he ripped it up as well. As the pieces fell on to the floor, he continued until only one drawing remained. Behind a castle, bloodstained water washed ashore and melted into the sand, while a lantern floated above the water and a dagger pierced the bloodstained sand. For some strange reason, he decided to leave this one alone.

  He put out the lanterns, grabbed his luggage, and with his cabac over his shoulder he departed his room and headed down the small hallway to the living room. He found his mother Sailma sitting on the couch facing the fireplace. Beside her sat Lilly, their pet who resembled a three-foot-long caterpillar with long furry legs. While Sailma stroked Lilly’s green furry body, the creature looked up at Sailma with sadness in her large eyes. The creature then tucked six of her eight legs under its body and cuddled up next to Sailma, propping two front paws on Sailma’s lap and licking her hand. Sailma’s other hand held Kyhawn’s father’s fishing coat.

  Kyhawn laid his cabac next to the door alongside his two leather bags. A deep sense of his father filled the air. He knelt beside his mother and placed his hands with hers on the coat. “Mother, I’ll be fine.” He stared at her with understanding. “We need the tiallup. We can barely pay the bills. And the taxes—though we’re blessed with a good king, we’re behind in them.”

  She stared at his father’s handcrafted furniture and old fishing equipment which decorated the small, cluttered living room. “Son, Sheriff Nossgon sent over one of his hideous-looking hairy creatures, those things with tails. They’re out front waiting for you.”

  Kyhawn glanced out the window. “They’re called Ooweds, Mother, and they make loyal servants.”

  “That’s if you’re wealthy enough to afford one.” She laid Lilly on the floor and clutched the fishing coat with both hands. “Also I told you I didn’t want those orphan boys around here.” She went over to him and brushed the hair away from his eyes. “I wish you’d keep company with more … well-to-do Zacs. And fix your hair—it looks a mess.”

  “My hair’s fine.” Kyhawn grabbed his cabac and reached for the doorknob. “Mother, I need to go. As you said, they’re waiting for me.” He glanced at the clock hanging over the fireplace. “It’s not a real detective job, but it’s a start,” he said. Lilly looked up at him and wagged her tail. He crouched down and petted her then gave her a kiss good-bye on her pudgy wide slimy nose.

  Sailma adjusted her glasses. “The winter storms will be here soon, and we’re talking about crossing the ocean,” she cried. “Your father lost his life at sea.” She gripped his father’s leather coat even more tightly. “I know about those strange dreams you’ve been having. Emaya’s told me all about them.”

  Kyhawn took a deep breath. “They’re just dreams. Anyway, I’ve made up my mind. I have to do this, Mother.”

  Sailma wiped the tears from her face and threw the leather coat aside. “You can be stubborn like your father sometimes!” Nonetheless she embraced him. “Kyhawn, son of Joehawn, you know I love you. Be careful and do as you’re told.” They embraced with a kiss.

  This moment soon passed as Kyhawn opened the door and approached the carriage. He nodded at the Oowed on the buckboard then glanced at the two large horses powering the carriage. The carriage door opened, and he placed his luggage on an empty seat, glanced back at his mother, and climbed aboard. Seconds later they headed for the docks.

  Kyhawn looked at the short and stocky Sheriff Nossgon sitting across from him with a quill in one hand and a parchment pad in the other hand. The lines on the sheriff’s silverish-blue face revealed his old age. He was usually in a good mood, but today the look on his face was anything but jolly.

  A Zac named Washburrn was also sitting across from him. As he gazed at Washburrn, Kyhawn’s dreams flashed through his mind’s eye. An uncanny chill embraced his soul as he gave Washburrn a Zacterronian handshake,
wrist to wrist. He wasn’t sure if this Zac would turn out to be friend or foe, but he disguised his nervousness with a friendly smile. “It’s an honor to meet you, sir.”

  Kyhawn glanced at Nossgon, whom he’d known all his life as a family friend. To Kyhawn’s surprise, Nossgon finally smiled. “It looks as though you’ve brought enough baggage to last you three weeks,” the sheriff remarked.

  Washburrn raised an eyebrow. “Good to know my new apprentice comes prepared,” he said as he ran his fingers through his short reddish-blond thinning hair. Tall and slightly overweight, he was a handsome silverish-blue Zac with a confident glow about him. While observing his new apprentice, he scratched his facial whiskers.

  Suddenly out of the darkness and morning mist a small covered buggy came around the corner and headed straight at them. Their horses suddenly stopped and reared up on their hind hooves.

  A dark figure mounted on a gray horse was hiding behind the nearby trees. He flicked back his red hair and angrily fired his musket.

  Kyhawn’s eyes widened with fear. He quickly leaned down with his hands protecting his head.

  The buggy rushed past them.

  Alarmed, Sheriff Nossgon drew his pistol, pushed the curtain aside, and pointed his weapon into the darkness.

  Washburrn jumped out onto the cobblestone street, his pistol cocked. “Hey, you there—stop!”

  The buggy disappeared into the morning mist. Washburrn lowered his weapon as he glanced at Kyhawn and Nossgon.

  “That way.” Their Oowed on the buckboard pointed. “I heard noises that way.”

  Washburrn searched the area. “Horse prints,” he said angrily. “Too dark and foggy to say where they lead.” He took out his timepiece and looked at the Oowed. The eyes in the hairless face stared back at him as if waiting for an order. “On to the docks,” Washburrn insisted as he climbed into the carriage with a troubled look.

  The Oowed snapped the reins, and off they went.

  Sheriff Nossgon placed his hand on Kyhawn’s shoulder. “You didn’t get shot, did you?”

  Kyhawn’s face remained in his lap, as if he was waiting for another pellet to whisloe passed them.

  Sheriff Nossgon shook Kyhawn. “Speak—lad.”

  Kyhawn slowly sat up and looked at him. “I’m fine, sir.” He took a deep breath. “Just fine.”

  Washburrn sat quietly with a puzzled expression.

  Sheriff Nossgon slapped his quill against his parchment pad. “I’ll deal with this later. That chest needs to be in Adrolf, and soon.”

  “Why would anyone want to take a potshot at us?” Kyhawn asked uneasily.

  Washburrn slipped his pistol back into its holster. “Good question,” he said as he used his uniform scarf to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

  Sheriff Nossgon banged the topside of the carriage. “Hurry!”

  As they neared the docks, Kyhawn pointed toward something. “A stray horse. A gray stray horse,” he said as it disappeared into the morning mist.

  “Never you mind the horse. It’s probably one of mine,” Sheriff Nossgon told him. “I’ve been keeping them near the docks, behind the Do-Eats Restaurant. While you were gone, I started renting them out.” He paused and gave them a harsh look. “And never you mind what just happened here. We say nothing of this to anyone. Not one word.”

  While Kyhawn stared into the darkness, Washburrn appeared lost in thought, perhaps about the chest they were harboring. “Not a word.” He nodded as he stared at Kyhawn.

  Sheriff Nossgon tapped Kyhawn’s shoulder a second time.

  “You can count on my silence, sir.” Kyhawn lowered his head to show his respect. He then looked at the lights coming from the docks.

  “Kyhawn, Detective Washburrn is an old friend of mine,” Sheriff Nossgon said, obviously trying to change the subject. “You two should get along well.”

  Washburrn looked at Kyhawn. “You seem a bit nervous. Don’t be. Once we get aboard ship, they’ll be plenty of protection.” He scratched his whiskers again. “All we need do is to keep an eye on a specially constructed wooden chest. There’ll be four of us taking care of it, and many others watching over us. Your first assignment should be a simple and hopefully good experience.” However, the way he glanced at Nossgon suggested he was wondering to himself if this indeed were going to be a normal pleasure cruse.

  As they reached the hillside descending the docks, Sheriff Nossgon started to doodle on his parchment pad. “Kyhawn, Detective Washburrn worked for the sheriff of Chamquinil for twenty years. He served him well, I might add, and he’s traveled everywhere. Since his retirement two years ago, he’s been working on the Sealander as head of security.”

  Sheriff Nossgon twitched his nose. “I suspect you two should be boarding.” He grabbed Kyhawn’s wrist. “The high seas can be a dangerous place. You listen to Washburrn. That goes for Captain Joenf as well. When you’re at sea, the captain is the law,” he instructed as Kyhawn and his new mentor departed the carriage.

  Yet as Washburrn and Kyhawn hurried along the pier to board the Sealander, Kyhawn felt Nossgon wasn’t at all concerned about someone shooting at them. Though he was unable to determine what it might be, something was different about the sheriff.

  Washburrn turned to Kyhawn. “Well, I didn’t want to tell you this, but I think you should know—piracy is on the rise.”

  Considering what had happened only minutes earlier, Kyhawn wasn’t shocked by the revelation.

 
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