In the 18th century off the coast of the Virginia Colony, a treasure-laden galleon was beaten back by headwinds and blown out of her course by a tempest into the hands of pirates. After the buccaneers commandeered the tall ship they disappeared without a trace into the forgotten history of the republican experiment. Milton "Pick" Pickens stepped from his rust bucket freighter seaplane into the rolling surf with a field bag slung over his shoulder. The archaeologist speculated that the pirates planned to hide their stolen vessel in a littoral cave sealed with detonated barrels of gunpowder, later to crawl out another passage with their plunder. Tales of this crew were so horrible and black-hearted, Pick formed a theory (during a ritualistic assembly of relatives gathered for Thanksgiving which felt like an escape room game where players try to solve clues to get out in less than an hour) that if the marauders had to hide together too long they may have killed each other inside the stone vault.

Under a glowing gibbous moon, breakers collided against a savagely beautiful cliff in explosions of whitewater reeling off swirls of mist. At a pebbly clearing, Pick found a striated boulder the size of a tank that looked like it had been split by a bolt of lightning. He drove an anchor in the ground to fasten a climbing rope then descended into a pit cave. An opening revealed a natural wonderland of icicle-shaped dripstones inside a massive cavern with a ceiling like that of a great castle and lofty pillars fused together in wild confusion of all conceivable shapes. His frame in silhouette from a single shaft of moonlight shimmering off an underground lake, the man dropped onto the uncanny rock formations below. He believed what he came for would be along soon.

Treasure hunter in cave

While Pick waited he remembered the lake where he fished when he was young. Some years when the conditions were right, algae grew in the water until it formed a shell that floated up to the surface forcing rainbow trout to pop out on top of the algal blooms. Farmers there said the lake "turned." The treasure hunter anticipated this lost lake was also about to turn.

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