Treasure Island – The story of how I pursued the cursed treasure

This is one of the articles that was submitted to the contest. It was written by Senior Captain Marten

Treasure Island

The story of how I pursued the cursed treasure.

(Long read warning!)

Introduction

Ahh… nothing better than a moment to take some well deserved rest after a lengthy adventure. This time, thanks to my connections among Liberty Bay citizens, I am able to relax on an island called Meriana. Truly a mesmerising place, as if the air was filled by some exotic magic. You can’t get closer to real life paradise! If I’ll ever retire from adventuring this is where I want to spend my remaining days.

Unfortunately, there’s one thing that has been bothering me since I arrived here. When I was in Liberty Bay’s tavern, finishing my notes on my latest research around Shattered Isles, I managed to overhear a discussion of some very peculiar individuals sitting in the corner. They were talking about the so-called Treasure Island south of Vandura. I heard about it before – apparently many pirates used to hide their treasures there a long time ago. Now it’s probably a wasteland, plundered from all the gold that has ever been buried there. After all, what kind of hideout is it, if even some tavern boozers know about it. As a matter of fact, I think I even set my foot on the island for a second some time ago. Wasn’t this the place from which Captain Waverider took me to that hidden cave near Nargor? Yeah… and even such a well hidden place had most of its treasures gone already. At least I managed to get this beautiful telescope.

But back to their conversation and why it bothers me so much. It wasn’t just a regular rambling of men enjoying their rum, as you usually hear in a pub. There was something odd about how… passionate they were about it. Maybe passion is not a good word to describe it. It’s too beautiful. It sounded more like the testament of a man with a broken heart, who can’t get over the fact of being rejected. That unhealthy obsession. Who knows, maybe there is something to this island. Maybe there is some hidden treasure chest no one ever managed to find. Hehe… imagine the fame it would bring the person who uncovers the secret of the treasure only fools dream about. Heh…

Well. I guess my short break is over. Time to check what the fuss is all about.

The Golden Rays

Let’s visit my friend Waverider.

He seems to get excited when I mention Treasure Island to him:

Captain Waverider: <sigh> I knew someone else would claim all the treasure someday. But at least it will be you and not some greedy and selfish person.

After a short while we arrive at our destination. I step onto the sandy shore. Unlike the last time I take a good look at the place. At least I try to. It’s so bright in there, the suns must be shining directly above me with all their force. While my eyes are getting used to the sight, the whole island, with it’s golden sand, appears to be made of gold itself. That is, until you notice all the rubbish. By gods, not even the most crowded hunting grounds are this messy. Do people not care about the environment in this part of the world? Isn’t there some thaian organisation that takes care of this stuff? Well, even if there is, they probably don’t go around here often. Okay, let’s focus on the reason we came here – the treasure. Let’s do some reconnaissance first.

Seems like the island is even more crowded than I expected. Look at all these fools, totally unprepared and with awful equipment. As for now this island seems just like a tourist attraction for some mainland adventurer-wannabies. Waverider must be making a fortune from transporting all these people, maybe that’s why he has given up on digging here himself – it’s not as profitable!

I don’t even want to talk about the more-than-obvious scammer, John. His maps don’t even make sense and you don’t have to be a pirate to realize this. He probably makes them himself in his spare time. Oh, and obviously he sells fake watches too!

It’s time to show all of these amateurs how it’s done. You can say I’m a veteran when it comes to this stuff, so I obviously came prepared with my trusty shovel and a secret weapon – some old pirate maps I’ve managed to get from a bunch of pirates that tried to ambush me during my visit on Nargor. And guess what, some of them even seem to align with the landmarks of this island. This will be easier than I thought. I wanted to give a confident, cheeky smile to some of the other “treasure hunters” out there, but it seems that they are too busy digging in random places. Doesn’t matter. If this treasure really does exist, I WILL be the first to uncover it. Though I think I should have packed more water, it really is hot in here…

Ghost Of The Navigator

According to my map this should be a good spot. Let’s try… And…

…I found something! It’s not a chest but looks like an entrance to some kind of cave. Nobody said that it will be easy, time to jump in!

Oh for Fafnar’s sake, the stench! Not only this, I think I hear some bones rattling. I expected something unpleasant, but definitely not this. What terrible fate must have these sailors met to be forced to stay undead in this cave.

Not long later I find my answer:

This poor navigator is probably the reason why the pirates got stuck on this island long time ago. As I put them to rest I look around the cave – definitely no real treasure here, just some bones and old wood. At least it is now confirmed that pirates did in fact used to come here to bury their chests and I just faced the (un)living example of this. Another fact to get from this situation – the treasure won’t probably be just buried in sand – it will be deep beneath the surface in a cave, just like this one.

The Curse

This was rather unpleasant. Let’s hope digging in other spots will be better…

… and of course it was even worse. I found an interconnected cave system filled with Zombies and other kinds of undead. There is something ominous on this island, someone must have noticed it, right? Let’s ask other diggers.

Seems they are not really talkative. Even if I try to chat about anything else they seem to be very irritated and just want to get back at digging. Their behavior really reminds me of the attitude of the men from the tavern. Maybe it’s the heat getting to my head, but their expression seems to change whenever I mention the word ‘treasure’. What’s weirder is that every person on the island acts the exact same way (even the dwarf!), as if possessed by the thought of the hidden riches. As if it was calling them from beneath the sands. They are creepier than the undead I fought earlier. Thank gods I’m not like them.

Even Waverider is not keen on the topic it seems:

Captain Waverider: Uhm, that’s not something a person should talk lightly about. Or think about. Can we change the subject?

There really is something to this place…

That’s the spot!

There’s only one spot on the map that I haven’t tried yet. Here we go! Please don’t be more Zombies…

As I descent I feel a cool breeze. Now this is different! The cave I entered seems much bigger than the previous ones. I hear flowing water and don’t see (and smell) any undead! As I explore the cave I encounter fierce crabs and even some Quaras. Finally, I enter the biggest area yet. Few steps to the north and…

Is that something shining just behind that rock? You can barely see it. Am I dreaming, or is it real? This must be real, I’m sure of it! Just before my eyes, I see chests filled with gold, surrounded by a few mossy stones. After all, the rumors were legit, there really is a treasure in here! But… this is not the end, isn’t it?

This is, in fact, exactly when it begins!

Now that I know where the treasure is I still need to somehow get to it. It doesn’t seem that simple, you can’t reach it just by walking and the fact that you can barely see it doesn’t help. Nothing in the cave leads to that spot. Seems like a lost fight, but I won’t give up so easily! If you can’t get to it directly, there most certainly is another way around! First of all, let’s explore the cave a little more!

What grabs my attention is this natural bridge, just by the entrance:

It crosses over a waterfall and some totally inaccessible body of water beneath. It doesn’t even seem connected to the cave on the lower floors, so where does it lead to? I quickly examine the map of Tibia to notice that the underwater area of Vandura Quara Cave is suspiciously close to where that inaccessible part of the cave would lead to. Maybe it’s worth giving the quaras a visit?

Unfortunately, it seems that the quara cave is an enclosed system and no amount of picking the walls or trying to dig the oceans floor was enough to change it.

I quickly go back to Treasure Island and make sure no one notices which hole I hastily jump into. Can’t risk one of these losers getting their hands on my treasure, luckily they all seemed to be busy with their digging, haha!

Let’s focus on the cave itself. It appears that I am unable to jump into the water with my Helmet of the Deep. What a shame, especially that there must be an underwater way into the cave. How else all these big creatures like Blood Crabs or Titanica would get there? Clearly not through that tiny, sand-buried hole on the surface.

Let’s try getting to the treasure from above then. I tried using a shovel, pick and any other obvious tool on every spot on the floor above, including the tiles directly above the chests. No result. Then I tried tossing gold coins into the water, hoping to find them washed out somewhere below, which could tell me something about how water flows in this area. No result either. While tossing a small fortune into the water I noticed that on both floors there are 9 instances of water flowing from the cave walls each. I marked them on my map with little flag symbols:

Probably just a coincidence, but still worth noting.

What’s annoying is how close the chests in fact are. You can even make a path with gold coins all the way to it:

What’s weird is how every time the floor resets, only the tiles marked with 2gp are cleared. Thrash left on the spots with 3gp stay the same. Unless it was some prankster putting the coins there every time I left the island for longer (my bet would be on John).

But back to trying to get there. If I can’t force my way through rocks from above and I can’t dive into the water, what about simply swimming on the surface of the water in the lower cave? Well, there is one argument against it.

A big shark is patrolling the waters near the treasure. I tried feeding it by throwing fish, dead crabs and other kinds of meat onto him and into the water around to try to lead him away but to no success.

Come on, big guy! Just one bite!

Actually, it’s surprising how in the entire cave we can’t see any sharks apart from this spot, just by the treasure. It’s even weirder if we head to the west.

Iron bars, guarded by another shark, leading to some kind of passage. Hard to tell if the bars also block the passage under the water.

So obviously there is some other passage leading into this cave and some other people were here to block it off. Were these the same people who hid their loot there? Also, were they the ones who introduced sharks into the cave to protect it? If that theory is true, then these pirates were leagues above the ones who simply buried their gold in the sand on the surface.

How valuable the hoards here must be, that they require this level of protection? Now I’m ever more motivated to get it and no shark, crab or undead will stand in my way!

Speaking of undead, maybe one of the tunnels filled with Zombies leads to an answer!

As I climb to the surface in order to find one of the undead holes, I notice that the island is swarmed by tortoises.

Usually it’s only scorpions and scarabs here. Speaking of, it’s kind of weird. All the nearby islands, like the ones from Laguna archipelago, are home to tortoises and frogs and other kinds of adorable animals, yet here they are an unusual view. On Treasure Island it’s only scorpions and scarabs and even more scorpions. As if I were in Ankrahmun. Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen scarabs anywhere else on Shattered Islands, not even on one of the Forbidden ones. Maybe it’s the omnipresent essence of death and curses that lures them all the way here. Some also say that the scarabs are wherever buried secrets are. How fitting.

The longer I am here the more unusual stuff I notice. Lets ignore it for now, we have some more underground tunnels to explore.

Exploring the coffin-filled disgusting catacombs doesn’t bear any fruits. Just as before, interacting with every spot, every stone and every wall changes nothing. Even in a part of the cave which is directly under the blocked passage I can’t find anything. Just some bones, a coffin and a blood splatter.

I swear I am starting to hallucinate – this part of the earth seems different from the others:

If I could dig straight east from there, I would reach the blocked passage. But I can’t come up with anything that would work.

It’s really hard to admit, but I don’t know what else I could do. I am aimlessly wandering around, trying to dig in every spot possible, attempting to get there from below, above, underwater, now crawling through Zombie infested rooms, feeling like a Zombie myself. Now that I think of it, I am starting to look like one of these diggers on the surface, obsessed by the thoughts of the riches. Honestly, it’s probably just a bunch of gold coins, nothing spectacular, left and forgotten by a group of pirates that were a bit overprotective. I mean, who leaves their treasure in such a hard to reach place. They would probably die trying to get it back… I think I am just making excuses. Maybe I am not good enough for this task. Let’s leave the island, at least for now, before I’ll fully get possessed by the treasure.

Let’s get back to Liberty Bay.

Captain Waverider: You give up that easily? Too bad, I’m sure if you had a couple more attempts at digging you’d find a fortune.

Oh, shut up Waverider!

Ancient Knowledge

I left the island empty-handed, but it isn’t the gold and the gems I am now thinking about. There is something sinister about Treasure Island. Sure, there are undead creatures lurking around, but you can say this about almost every place in Tibia. It’s not just that. It’s how every person who sets their foot on the island loses their mind. I still get creeps when thinking about the mindless look on the faces of the people who tried their luck digging there. The indescribable way they can’t stop digging for even a second, totally obsessed over their goals.

I decided to consult someone who knows about this kind of phenomena.

Chondur gave me a lengthy talk about the ancient magic of Shattered Isles, the spirits as well as the power of voodoo. All the mentioned keywords clicked with me and reminded me of the many hours I’ve spent in countless libraries around Tibia.

I think I’m starting to get what this island might be all about. Let me formulate my theory, but first, let’s move to a place where it all started (at least for me)…

Ahh… Liberty Bay tavern… it’s loud and crowded, the chairs are uncomfortable, the air smells like a dead rotworm and some drunk bard is howling in my ear. In other words – perfect conditions for putting my research down on paper. Let’s begin…

The Theory

As many know, the Shattered Isles used to be one big continent. Centuries ago, a disaster struck, destroying the civilization living on this land and turning it into a shape known today. Before the incident, that ancient landmass used to be filled by a very strong flow of magic, unlike any other kind found around the world. The magic was so strong that even right now, after uncountable years, those who are skilled enough are able to sense it when visiting any of the islands. Some of them even try to control and master it, using the art of voodoo.

The Treasure Island, being a part of Shattered Isles, must also be filled with the influence of this ancient flow. As Chondur says, this magic is wild and has its sinister side. I believe that this particular island is the best example of that dark side, preying on the weak willed.

The curse, which the people visiting Treasure Island are afraid of talking about, is exactly that. The evil aspect of an ancient magic, fueled by the greed of its visitors. Both past (pirates hiding their valuable loot) and current (treasure hunters hungry for big profits) visitors. Both addicted to their valuable treasure, whether they are implementing insane methods while hiding it, or digging in full sun, for the whole day, with a fierce obsession and hostility towards anyone trying to stop them.

The magic flow might also be the reason for the group of undead pirates haunting the island, unable to rest due to the hatred for their incompetent navigator. Bounded to this cursed island due to the flow’s influence.

The aforementioned use of voodoo arts is often related to some of the darker aspects of magic. Necromancy is definitely one of those aspects and as observed in dworcs culture or the actions of Goroma cultists, the voodoo masters aren’t afraid of controlling the undead. The undergrounds of Treasure Island are filled with Zombies – creatures that don’t require anybody to control them. They can just “live” on their own, following basic animal instincts. Nowhere on the island can we find any presence of cultists, shamans or other voodoo users of any kind. What if it’s the flow of magic, or the so-called “curse”, that keeps bringing the flesh back to life. Without any higher reason, dead bodies crawl under the sand, unable to resist the ancient forces.

It is the same curse that keeps luring new adventurers to try their luck. And if their will is not strong enough to oppose the wild magic currents, they themselves become like the Zombies sneaking below their feet.

And that’s it. In my opinion, the treasure itself is not the big secret of the infamous Treasure Island – it’s the “curse” that lives deep in the sands of the island and the reason for its existence is older than most of the Tibia itself.

All right, that should do! And now… let’s get back to my well deserved break. Maybe I should spend it somewhere on the mainland, far away from the curses, treasure hunters and ancient magic currents! Okay, let’s get out of here.

Bradford: You’re leaving already?! *hicks*

Yeah… see you Bradford… I guess.

Bradford: Let me tell you about something before you go!

No thank you, I don’t care…

Bradford: But, it’s interesti-

I don’t want to hear it. You’ll probably talk about your new plan to seduce Eleonore or something like that.

Bradford: This time it’s not that! It’s something important! Listen, so yesterday-

Goodbye Bradford!!

Wait, what?! The… treasure…?

Ugh…

You know what…

Maybe, just one more try… I’ll go to the island… dig a little bit.

Maybe, just maybe… this time I’ll find a way… to my treasure… hehe…

The treasure…

my…

treasure…

treasure…

trea… sure…

Ending Thoughts

A bit from a real life point of view.

To complete the story I believe that it’s worth mentioning that the Treasure Island might be an allusion to a few real life phenomena.

First, I think it ridicules the idea of tourist traps which are set up in some important historical places. We have everything – overpriced transport fees (Waverider passage), fake souvenirs (John), the main attraction being the treasure hunt itself, where you can’t actually “win” anything. Finally, the attraction being set up on some ancient burial ground and the ignorance of the participants of its importance (“Let’s not talk about some ghosts and curses and stuff, I’m here to dig” kind of attitude).

Secondly, it touches on the concept of being addicted to the possibility of huge and easy profits. Think of gambling, lottery etc. The diggers are mesmerised by the thoughts of getting the treasure, despite not finding any traces of it. They are very defensive about it, when you point it out, just like you might expect from a person struggling with any kind of addiction.

What the diggers say:

“I haven’t found anything yet, but I’m sure something must be here.”

sound almost like:

“I’ll play just one more time, next time I’ll win for sure.”

Finally, the idea for the island itself (including its name) comes from a book by Robert Stevenson. For example, the full name of the islands’ shopkeeper is John Copper – a reference to John Silver from the books.

The remaining question is – does it all lead to somewhere or is it just for roleplaying? Judging by the fact that Liberty Bay and all its surroundings were designed by Knightmare (as he mentions for example in this interview: https://tibiaevents.com/knightmare) I would lean towards the latter. After all, the point of this cursed treasure is to be unreachable; to endlessly tease it’s pursuers.

But who knows… maybe there really is a way to reach the unreachable. The past few months proved (with Kazordoon-Beregar passage) that even after over a decade, there are still some secrets to be uncovered when it comes to legendary Tibia mysteries.

Let’s have some hope that Treasure Island still keeps a secret like that as well.

Senior Captain Marten

Sources:

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