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The shovel clanked against something hard. A rock, perhaps? Or...

The dirt flew away from Mikhail in wide arcs, the shovel a blur of motion in his excitement. What he struck was no rock. He saw wood, then the glint of gold.

It was the chest, the reason he had spent weeks traveling and endured days of seasickness. All for this moment.

As Mikhail pulled the chest out of the earth, he was surprised by how new it looked. The gold plating lacked even a spot of tarnish. The iron lock was absent of rust. Even the dirt failed to cling to its surface. If he had not known of the chest's origins, he would have believed it had been buried a few hours ago.

He easily picked the lock, then drew his revolver. A quick flick of his wrist revealed the chambers were full of bullets. He snapped the cylinder shut before carefully lifting the lid open.

A white blur leaped out of the chest, followed by the deafening thunder of his shot. Damn, it was quick! Still, he scored a definite kill. He quickly took aim at the dead rabbit that bled into the ground. So far everything he read was true. So next would be--

There was a fierce flapping of wings as the duck miraculously emerged from the rabbit's muzzle. Mikhail ended its struggles with another shot from his pistol. Heart beating thunderously within his chest, he approached the fowl.

In front of the dead bird was an egg; its shell was a perfect white, like the snow that blanketed his homeland in winter. His ears swiveled around, and his eyes squinted as he made a quick circle around him. He was certain that he was being watched--the hackles on his neck were certainly raised enough to prove that--but after minutes of silence and seeing nothing but the trees and the dead rabbit and duck, he finally dismissed it as paranoia. The only living thing was himself.

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