The gavel came down.
“SOLD! To the gentleman in the back row.”
Lou slid down low in the seat. His heart drummed erratically in his chest, wild with hope. These were, perhaps, the last remaining possessions of Professor Stone. Not long ago, he’d unearthed the old man’s journal. Full of meticulous sketches, odd notations and esoteric verse, it had been hidden; wedged behind the crumbing stonework of a simple fireplace in the dilapidated house he’d purchased from the man’s estate. It had been sitting vacant for many, many years; its owner’s whereabouts unknown. Gently thumbing through it, Lou noted that the scribbled entries became increasingly bizarre with allusions of treasure, secrecy and paranoia, ending abruptly at a page apparently ripped from the binding. He placed the fragile book on a shelf alongside his own leather-bound tomes. Lou planned to restore the home and it would be nice to keep something to remember the man who’d vanished so long ago. There were interesting theories about what might have happened to him. Most claimed he’d succumbed to his irrational delusions of imminent peril and simply expired. Others suggested his compulsion to escape to a less worrisome life culminated in a sudden departure. Some even thought he was one of the few.
Recently the rumors had started again. A long lost treasure, its whereabouts safeguarded. Stories of miscreants who would stop at nothing to obtain it. Whispers about bits of information entrusted to acquaintances of those who’d discovered it. There was much speculation about the identity of those original few. The mere existence of the treasure had been debated for generations. Lou thought about the journal. Had the old man known of the treasure? Had those unworthy of its possession pursued him? His intent was to restore the small house, but now the journal shifted his focus. Was the old man a descendant of one of those few, or had he simply gone mad? Lou retrieved the small, gold embossed journal and this time he meticulously pored over it. The last remaining page caught his attention: