Chapter 1

Leader Crofton stared at the letter in disbelief, he felt sick with shock. It had been delivered on his doorstep not long ago and he'd already sent some of his men out to see if they could spot the intruder who'd left it. Just glancing at it he'd known it was not a good sign. The seal was in the shape of a dagger and everyone knew what it meant. For it was the sign of the Black Mountains. The Black Mountains was where all the robbers, gangsters and huge collections of criminals lived. There was a deep cave inside the mountains and this was where they stored all their stolen valuables. The last person who went in there never came out and bloodcurdling screams were heard at night. Everybody steered clear of the sinister Black Mountains. Crofton read the letter for the third time that morning.

Dear Crofton,

You are probably aware by now that your precious apprentice Jack is missing. Crofton sighed, it was true for when he'd gone to check on his apprentice the bed had been empty. Jack had gone. This was by our doing. If you do not pay the following sum of a thousand gold pieces I'm afraid that my finger might accidentally slip and he will endure the most terrible fate known to mankind. So, if you want him back in one piece I suggest you hand over the loot before sundown.

Yours truly,


"What should I do?" Wondered the poor leader, "The Black Mountain people do not make empty threats, Especially their leader!" Just then there was a knock at the door. The leader wearily walked over thinking things couldn't get any worse. He opened the door to see Prince Howard. His blonde locks shone in the sun and his saphire blue eyes sparkled.

"Heard there was a problem. Your guards found the culprit yet? Who the devil has taken him? Is there a ransom note?"

Crofton was startled by the young man's curiosity and enthusiasm it gave him a headache and made it almost seem that he was glad that Jack was missing.

"Before I answer your questions let me ask you something. How do you know about all of this?" he asked sitting down at the bed.

"Oh Crofty! I'm a prince, I get around." Crofton motioned for Howard to sit down and he joined the old leader at the bed.

"This was found on my doorstep." explained Crofton handing over the letter. The prince examined it carefully noting the seal before reading the message.

"Scar. I should've known! Don't worry, Crofty I'll get your apprentice back before you can say kidnapped!"

But this was what the leader had been afraid of, Howard may be brave but he never stopped to think.

"Prince Howard wait! Nobody has ever come out of there alive, how will you be any different? Please at least take that clever servant of yours, you know, James."

"Relax old man! I'll be fine. I don't need a servant to help me with everything!" Before Crofton could stop him Howard walked out of the room with his head held up high.