Last week we announced that Sean McCartney’s SECRETS OF THE MAGICAL MEDALLIONS: THE TREASURE HUNTERS CLUB BOOK 1 is our new Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category: over 250 free titles, over 500 quality 99-centers, and hundreds more that you can read for free through the Kindle Lending Library if you have Amazon Prime!
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by Sean McCartney
And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
CHAPTER ONE–A Magical Medallion
Port Royal Harbor-Jamaica-1712
Maria the gypsy knew her life would end tonight. As she clenched the blue-stoned medallion an unnamed hurricane roared through Port Royal Harbor with an angry fury.
Maria repeatedly told herself she could not fail. Maria knew the danger but she had to protect the life she and others loved no matter the cost.
Rain slammed into the ground turning the streets of the small seaside town into a muddy mess. Gale force winds smashed the small homes surrounding the harbor and uprooted trees for the last three days with no end in sight.
Maria covered her face with a cloth as the rain slapped at her cheeks. She breathed deeply and staggered toward the Port Royal docks to find any vessel to get her away from this town.
The gypsy leaned into the wind as she passed the small hotel whose patrons huddled in the basement to wait out the storm. Candles flickered in a saloon’s windows bright enough for Maria to see three Dorcha men watching her.
The Dorcha, followers of the dark and the enemy of the Leois, stared her down. The Leois were Maria’s people.
Maria peered into driving sheets of rain. She knew evil wanted the medallion but she could not, would not, allow them to have it.
Lightning flashed across the sky and Maria saw the three men moving toward her. Water dripped off their black hats and their boots made deep imprints in the mud as they approached.
Maria turned to run, slipped, and fell face first into the muck. She scrambled to her feet, shaken but undeterred. She must keep going, she told herself.
“Going somewhere?” a cold voice asked her.
Maria didn’t turn around. She looked toward the docks. Several ships in the distance heaved on the rough seas. She needed to get on one of those ships.
Maria finally faced her pursuers and did not speak. Her eyes squinted from the sting of the rain and she peered for a way out. She slipped her mud caked hand into her shawl and wrapped her fingers around the medallion. The Leois gave her this mission because of her determination and her belief in the Leois. She would justify their confidence in her by fighting until the end.
Maria began a silent prayer to the medallion trying to summon its power of light and goodness. The power did not come.
“Give me the medallion,” the leader of the Dorcha said.
Maria shook her head. The Dorcha already had stolen the red-stoned medallion and Maria’s mission was to get the blue-stoned medallion out of Port Royal and away from the Dorcha.
“I said I want that medallion,” the man screamed and swung his open hand at Maria connecting to her cheek. She jerked back, pain exploding in her mouth as she tasted her own blood. He hit her again and this time she fell to the ground, red spit dripping from her mouth.
Maria’s tear-filled eyes looked up as another burst of lightning showed her a menacing smile on the face of Evil. He held his hand out. In the other he revealed the evil medallion; its red stone glowing brightly.
“The magic is on our side,” he said.
Maria breathed deeply and swung her leg with all her strength. It caught Evil’s knee and he buckled to the ground, the medallion falling from his hand. The gypsy jumped to her feet and headed for the docks.
“Get her!” the man yelled to his partners. He winced in pain but straightened up, grabbed the red-stoned medallion and followed.
When Maria reached shore, every vessel was destroyed, leaving the harbor a tangled mass of splintered wood and broken planks. She heard the screams of the sailors unable to make it to shore.
“The medallion, Maria,” a voice came from behind her. A chilling voice that made her skin crawl. “Let’s make this as painless as possible.”
Wrapping her hand around the medallion, Maria glared at the three Dorcha. A feeling of calm came over her. Though the force of the wind made her stumble, she gained strength from the medallion as she bravely stared down the followers of Evil.
Rain pelted sideways as the young woman raised her arms and began reciting a prayer.
Maria asked for freedom from danger. Behind her the sea grew angry as waves crashed into the shore with ferocity and intensity.
“This is nonsense,” the leader said exasperated. “Take her.”
The men went for Maria and grabbed her just as a large wave smashed into them pulling everyone out to sea.
Maria struggled in the water. She desperately grabbed a piece of wood from a shattered ship and hung on. She watched as two of the three men were engulfed in a whirlpool of water.
Waves pounded Maria as she swam toward shore. Two hands grabbed her legs and pulled her under.
Evil searched her for the medallion as Maria fought for her life. Water pressed into Maria’s mouth and her lungs screamed for relief. She finally broke free and pushed herself to the violent surface.
Breaking the water Maria gasped for air.
She pulled the medallion from her pocket and stared at it. Such beauty, she thought. The ocean continued its assault as she tried to stay afloat. Maria repeated a prayer from the Leois and a peaceful calm came over her. The medallion’s inner blue stone glowed as the water around her turned tranquil.
Maria saw Evil swimming toward her like a shark about to attack. She would not resist because she knew her next act was for all of humanity.
She tossed the medallion into the boiling seas just as a wave overtook her and Evil grasped at water.
The medallion skipped off the turbulent sea and sank to the bottom of the harbor.
Evil slogged to shore exhausted. Lying on his back, the rain pelting him, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the red-stoned medallion.
Lifting his weary body he attempted to go into the water to retrieve the other medallion but the sea flared up with animal rage.
Knowing the secrets of good and evil now rested at the bottom of the sea beside Maria, Evil cursed the gypsy and the violent water.
Wind and rain churned the ocean over Maria’s watery grave for seven more days as white sand settled over the blue-stoned medallion.
CHAPTER TWO-A 10¢ Dream
Gunnison River-North Rim of Black Canyon, Colorado
Thirteen-year-old Tommy Reed stood in the shallow part of the river as the water moved slowly around his boots. He used his custom-made sifter to dredge through the mud.
“They are only dimes,” Jackson Miller said as he cleaned water from his glasses.
“That’s true,” Tommy Reed said, “but can you imagine how much they must be worth now?”
“Isn’t this like the old joke about the two dollar bill?” Jackson said, “You know, ‘how much is a two dollar bill worth?’ and the answer is ‘two dollars’?”
“Paper isn’t silver,” Tommy said and smiled at his friend. “You could be by yourself like Chris or at home like Shannon,” he said. “Besides, my Uncle Jack said this is the best place to look for the dimes.”
“Then why isn’t he here?” Jackson asked.
“He’s in Florida with his crew working on a Spanish Galleon.”
“What’s the story behind these dimes anyway? Are you sure they are here?” Jackson asked.
Tommy stepped out of the river, pulled a rag from his leather satchel and dried his hands.
“In 1903 the Denver mint sent six wooden kegs of dimes by wagon trains to Phoenix. There was a bad storm and the wagons never made it. They were lost somewhere between this canyon and Montrose.”
“How do you know?” Jackson asked.
“Treasure hunters found the remains of four wagons around this area and a few dimes in the river.”
“So if the dimes have been found why are we here?”
“They didn’t find them all,” Tommy said smiling. “In fact legend has it that the bulk of the dimes were hidden from treasure hunters somewhere in the canyon.”
“So you think we can find something that’s been lost for over 100 years?” Jackson said.
“Are we the Treasure Hunters Club or what?”
“Most of the time it’s what,” Jackson said laughing.
“Just keep looking,” Tommy said and bounded back into the river.
A mile up the canyon another treasure hunter, a darker more sinister man was looking for the same loot but for different reasons. He watched the teenagers dredge the river by hand.
“Young fools,” he said.
One of the three men working for him approached. “Boss, why are we following a bunch of kids?”
The man didn’t answer he just glared at his minion. He spit on the ground and rubbed it in with his boot.
“Keep on them and don’t ever question me again.”
Chris Henderson stood near some old oak trees and scanned the area near the water’s edge. He noticed a group of small stones stacked like a pyramid against a larger boulder.
Chris stared at the formation and studied it. Looks man-made, he thought and ran toward the rocks.
On a hilltop one of the men saw Chris and pulled his walkie-talkie.
“A kid is running up the river,” he said.
“Follow him,” the leader replied.
The cell phone on Tommy’s belt went off.
“Yes, Chris,” Tommy said. “You’re kidding,” he smiled. “We are on our way.” Tommy closed the phone. “He found it.”
In minutes Tommy and Jackson worked their canoes onto a small beach area near Chris’s.
Running to Chris they stopped as he stood before them holding a handful of dimes.
“Where did you find them?” Tommy asked.
“They were hidden inside a small cave surrounded by rocks. Strange thing was, when I found them, they were all in neatly stacked boxes.” Chris motioned for them to follow, “You’ve got to see this.” The group walked a bit and saw the rocks. “Move those stones and see for yourself,” he said.
Tommy moved the small stones and saw stacks of cigar style boxes in neat rows.
“I don’t believe this,” Tommy said.
“Why?” Jackson asked.
“The dimes had to be scattered everywhere. This is the work of more than one person.”
“Didn’t you say some treasure hunters found some dimes by the river?” Jackson said.
“Yeah, but why hide them inside a small cave?” Tommy wondered.
Jackson thought for a minute. “Maybe a treasure hunter put them there to keep safe and forgot where he left them.”
“Could be,” Tommy said. “But what kind of a treasure hunter would do something like that?”
“A stupid one,” a voice said.
The boys turned and saw an imposing man with lifeless eyes and a scruffy beard wearing a black, long coat and flanked by three other men.
“Who are you?” Tommy asked.
“A real treasure hunter,” the man said, “not like you and your pathetic group.”
“I don’t think we’re that bad,” Chris said.
The man stared at Chris who smiled briefly then stopped. “I think I will be taking that treasure now.”
“You can’t do that,” Tommy said.
“Who is going to stop me?”
“There are rules to treasure hunting,” Tommy said.
“Which I could care less about,” the treasure hunter said. “I’ll bet you don’t even know how much those dimes are worth.”
“Um, ten cents?” Chris answered.
“Funny,” he said, not laughing. “We are talking a million bucks and change.”
Jackson blurted out, “More like three point two million and change,” he cocked his head and said, “three million, two hundred and sixty seven thousand one hundred and sixty four…to be precise.”
“So you are the smart one?”
Jackson shook his head no. He lied.
“Then shut up. This has taken up entirely too much time,” the man said. He motioned to his men, “Start packing the boxes in the canoes.”
“You’re taking our canoes too?” Tommy said.
“Yes,” he replied coldly. “Want to stop us?”
The crew of men stacked the cigar boxes into two of the three canoes.
Jackson leaned over to Tommy and whispered, “What do you want to do?”
“He is not going to take those dimes,” Tommy said. “As soon as his men are done we break for the boats.”
Jackson nodded to Chris who responded in kind.
“I am sure you have already thought of this, uh, sir, but with the extra weight of the dimes you are going to have a tough time navigating the canoes through the rapids,” Jackson said.
“I thought you were not smart?”
“I’m not. I just think you might have some trouble.”
“We can handle it,” the man said.
One of Slider’s men approached, “All the boxes are loaded sir.”
“See now that wasn’t so,” the man stopped in mid-sentence as the Treasure Hunters Club sped past him, pushed the canoes into the water and started down the river.
“Get them!” the man screamed.
Chris and Tommy paddled fast with Jackson right behind them.
“Tommy,” Chris said between strokes, “no matter how far ahead we get, Jackson is right, we’ll never get past the rapids.”
“Leave that to me,” Tommy said.
Over his shoulder, Tommy saw the men get into the last canoe and push off.
“We’re almost to the rapids,” Chris yelled, “you got a plan?”
Tommy pulled a rope from his backpack. “When we get close to one of those old oak stumps I’m going to throw the rope around it. That should hold us, while those goons drift down river.”
“What about Jackson?”
“I’ve got enough slack for him,” Tommy said. “But I am going to need all of your strength for this one.”
“No problem,” Chris said.
The canoes started to bounce against the force of the water. Foam spilled into the boats.
“Any time now,” Chris yelled. “The current is getting stronger.”
Tommy swung the rope and threw it toward an oak stump. The rope wrapped around the stump and Tommy pulled hard.
“Hang on,” Tommy yelled to Chris and flipped him part of the rope.
When the slack of the rope ran out it tightened around the stump and stopped the canoe causing it to hop on the water. Waves slammed against the boat as water flowed over the side.
“Tommy we’ve lost some of the boxes,” Chris said his face strained.
“Tommy,” Jackson yelled, “throw me the rest of the rope.”
Tommy released his right hand and felt the canoe slip a bit.
“I got it,” Chris said, “just get Jackson.”
Tommy took the slack of the rope and threw it toward Jackson.
The young man grabbed the rope and wrapped it around his forearm and braced himself.
The water took the canoe a few feet and then it stopped. Jackson held the rope tightly, as it tore the skin from his palms. The water’s speed increased and Jackson screamed in pain.
“Hang on!” Tommy yelled over the fury of the foaming river.
The crew of men got closer and reached out for Jackson’s canoe but the rush of waves pushed them away.
“Paddle back to them,” their leader screamed as his men fought against the rapids.
“We can’t,” one man said. “The water is too…” He never finished the sentence. The canoe capsized, dumping the men into the raging water.
The Treasure Hunters Club watched as the river busted the canoe to pieces. None of the men resurfaced.
“Okay, let’s pull to shore,” Tommy said.
“Tommy!” Jackson yelled, “The rope is not going to hold!”
Tommy looked and saw the last thread of rope snap and Jackson and his canoe drift away.
“Jump,” Tommy said. “I’ll throw you more rope. Just jump!”
“But the dimes?” Jackson said.
“Forget about them,” Tommy yelled. “Jump!”
Jackson closed his eyes and leapt into the raging waters. The current’s angry hands grabbed him just as Tommy’s rope arrived, bouncing off his head.
Jackson blindly grabbed the lasso and wrapped it around his waist. Chris and Tommy pulled him into the boat.
Jackson’s canoe drifted aimlessly into the rapids with the boxes of dimes falling off along the way.
“Well at least we have some of the dimes,” Chris said.
“True,” Tommy said. “Are you all right?”
As Jackson nodded a rush of water tore the back end of the canoe off taking the boxes of dimes with it.
“No!” Tommy shouted and lunged for the last box. But it slipped from his wet hands and he hit the floor with a thud waking himself.
Tommy’s head popped up and he stared at his digital clock.
Great, he thought, two more hours of sleep before school.
The young man lifted himself off the ground and fell back into bed. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep but he couldn’t. He wanted desperately to become a treasure hunter like his famous uncle. To travel the world finding mankind’s greatest treasures and…he lost his thought and shook his head.
Tommy did smile at the idea behind the dream and the many others he’d had since he and his friends formed the Treasure Hunters Club in the sixth grade.
Now two years later his club still hadn’t been on any hunts and Tommy could feel them, as well as himself, getting anxious.
He pulled the covers over his head and reminded himself it was just a dream, but a voice inside kept asking when did it have a chance to become reality?
CHAPTER THREE-Diamond Jack
30 miles off Port Royal Harbor, Jamaica
The research vessel Hanoj moved slowly over the Caribbean excavation site. The ship’s captain did not pay much attention to the calm blue water as he sat transfixed at his computer screen’s magnetic sounding charts.
Diamond Jack Reed did not look forty years old or for that matter much over thirty. A man of strong convictions and the world’s most sought after and famous treasure hunter, Jack’s rugged good looks and his flare for drama belied his age. Treasure hunting made him extremely wealthy. His charismatic charm and zeal wooed collectors and the press.
Jack Reed won his nickname by discovering the greatest diamond mine in the history of the world. Reed led an expedition into the deep jungles of the Congo to find another Hope Diamond, the most famous blue diamond ever.
With his unbelievable luck, Jack stumbled on an entire mine of blue diamonds. Though the Congo government denied excavation access to an American, the publicity Jack received catapulted him into the world of fame and money.
Using his newfound success Diamond Jack assembled a team, his “crew” he called them, and went on the hunt for more treasure.
Reed’s incredible luck continued as he and his crew found a treasure off the coast of Oyster Bay, New York believed to belong to the pirate Captain Kidd. The treasure’s estimated worth was thirty million dollars.
Other treasure hunters cursed Reed’s magic touch and cringed when Diamond Jack Reed and his crew made yet another of the greatest discoveries of the twentieth century. Searching in West Central Mexico, Reed uncovered gold and jewels belonging to the Aztec Empire. Treasure hunters had been looking for these artifacts for centuries but it required a man like Diamond Jack to find them.
With his reputation, Reed could afford to pick and choose his hunts. When he found rare coins that to him did not have much value, he sent them to his nephew, Tommy Reed.
Without a wife and not really wanting one, Jack liked to think of Tommy as his own son. He didn’t get along with Tommy’s dad, but that did not stop Jack from enjoying a good relationship with his nephew.
As he looked at grid charts in the Hanoj control room Diamond Jack Reed knew this current treasure hunt could be his last if he and his crew came through for their wealthy employer. The money generated would make them all rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Then maybe he would settle down and take life easy? Maybe Elizabeth, Jack wondered, could be the person to do that with?
Elizabeth Haden worked with Jack for over ten years. She began as a starry eyed dreamer when she first met Jack and blossomed into one of the best treasure hunters on the crew.
Jack liked having her around as she brought a woman’s thoughts and ideas to the tasks before them. Though Elizabeth Haden once told Jack Reed he could be no one’s husband, she shared his passion for treasure hunting.
“How does it look?” Elizabeth asked as she came into the boat’s navigation space.
“Hang on,” Jack said. He spoke into a small microphone that was hooked up to a radio. “Have you got one, Shawn?”
“Yes, sir,” Shawn’s voice crackled over the speaker. “Got a hit at forty degrees off the starboard side.”
“Roger that,” Jack said and used a pencil to mark on his grid paper.
Jack stared at his computer screen. Charts and maps lay on top of one another on his desk.
“What?” Jack finally asked Elizabeth.
“The magnetic survey,” Elizabeth said. “Have we been able to narrow our search?”
“Yes,” Reed said. “Shawn’s done a great job and has found a major magnetic anomaly in this section of the water.”
“Is it part of a larger wreck?” Elizabeth asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” Reed said. “What we are looking for is not going to be on a ship; it is going to be on the ocean floor.”
“Jack,” Elizabeth began, “the guys and I think it’s time you told us exactly what are we looking for? You’ve never kept it a secret from us before this hunt.”
Jack paused. “A special medallion.”
“We are looking for a medallion from what time period?”
“Around the eighteenth century.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Elizabeth started to laugh. “Between the ocean currents, hurricanes and everything else that goes on in these waters, you’re telling me we’ve been out here for over a year looking for a needle in a haystack?”
“Have you lost faith, Elizabeth?”
“No,” she stammered, “it’s not that. But come on, Jack, you know how difficult finding such a small piece is going to be.”
“I do,” Reed acknowledged. “But I also know that I have found treasures others said were impossible or did not exist. Shawn’s work on the magnetic survey and the work from the others on the mag vessel are making things easier. Besides, if we do this right the site will make me super rich and I can retire.” He pulled another map over the ones lying on the desk and took out a pen. “You probably can to.”
“Retire when we find this medallion.”
“I’m too young to retire,” she said proudly.
“No one is too young to retire,” Jack said.
“Why is this piece so important?”
“I am not sure. Our employer desperately wants it. I figured by making my fee ridiculous he’d give up, but he said it was no problem and I was on board. Truthfully, I have seen so many different medallions come off these sea floors that I find it hard to differentiate between any of them.”
“So what is special about this one?”
“Supposed to be made of gold and have some sort of blue stone in the middle of it.”
“With over three hundred years of salt water that stone might not be there anymore.”
“I told our guy that, but he didn’t seem to mind.”
“What’s his name? Is he a collector?”
“Manuel de la Ernesto and he might be a collector,” Reed shrugged. “I didn’t ask.”
A young man entered the control room wearing a scuba diving outfit.
“Jack, we are ready to dredge the area.”
Reed nodded. “Good. Make sure the pumps are all right and you and Shawn can go down.”
“Will do,” the man said and was gone.
“Were you able to fix the water fed dredges?” Elizabeth asked forgetting about her and Jack’s discussion.
“Yeah,” Jack said, “took a bit of doing but we managed.”
“So you’re using both pumps?” Elizabeth asked.
“For what we are being paid I would vacuum the floor of the Atlantic Ocean if I had to,” Jack said with a smile.
Elizabeth frowned and looked at Jack strangely. “It isn’t just for the money, is it Jack?”
Reed stopped looking at his charts and turned to his most prized pupil. His blue eyes beamed. “No, it’s always about the chase; solving the puzzle. And if we can make some money in the process then so much the better.”
He hoped his lie got by her. He didn’t like to talk about what he felt and though he could imagine the end of his career, he didn’t want to admit it to anyone.
Elizabeth smiled in relief. “Good,” she said. “I’ll go help the rest of the crew.”
Diamond Jack Reed returned to his charts but in the back of his mind he was thinking about retiring in comfort. The thrill that kept him on the chase for so many years had faded for the hunter and now he had to look harder for inspiration.
As he stared at the maps, maybe, he feared, neither inspiration nor the medallion was out there anymore.