He’d heard the stories of the shapeshifters, but no one could actually say they’d seen one. Their existence was embedded in the culture, whispered into malleable minds by fearful grandmothers. Everyone knew the shifters would seduce a man and then kill him; everyone had been warned to stay out of the forest at night. Perhaps that would be common wisdom regardless, but knowing the creatures lurked in the shadows gave the caution an extra dose of urgency.
Yet he’d gone away to school, one of the few who had left and returned, and he had studied science and history. He realized there was no such thing as a woman who could change form into a jungle cat. A more believable legend about the forest however was that it contained a cache of buried treasure from back when pirates abounded. It also made sense that someone didn’t want anyone to find it. Could that be the basis of the “warning” regarding shapeshifters? He thought it was likely.
One night when the moon was full, he went into the forest, fearless because he was armed with education and logic. He had a compass and an old map he’d found in his grandfather’s chest. The map was yellowed and torn, but he followed it best as he could, hacking his way through the bramble until he found the clearing. A pool gleamed silver in the moonlight, with lilies floating on top. He walked to the north side where there waited a huge boulder, as depicted on the map. He began to dig, hour after hour, until dawn’s light yellowed the sky. Then his shovel hit something solid, metal clanging against metal, and he grinned.
As he wiped his sweaty face, a soft hand landed on his shoulder.
“Need some help?” purred a sultry voice.
Written for Eugi’s Weekly Prompt.
Image from Lovethispic.
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