Johann perked up. “Hey, did you bring your compass?”
Albert brightened at the question. “Of course, I have my compass. Why?”
“The monks at the brewery have their annual treasure hunt tomorrow. Guys, our age will be competing, and I signed us up. There’ll be a lunch buffet afterward, too,” he added, never one to pass up a good meal. “I bet your compass will give us an edge!”
“Could be,” Albert said thoughtfully. “A treasure hunt, eh? Interesting.”
* * *
A crowd gathered on the east side of the Ammer Lake Holy Mountain. The early morning sun broke over the summit. Five Benedictine Monks passed out papers with instructions to the hunters. The scavenger hunt would begin at nine a.m.
The dark-haired, blue-eyed, thirtyish monk, Dr. Peter Collins, stood on a step stool in his brown monk’s habit. Looking out over the crowd, he cleared his throat, and in a loud, enthusiastic voice shouted, “Good morning everyone! Welcome to our annual scavenger hunt commemorating the feast day of Mary Magdalene. Today you will be seeking replicas of ancient relics in our Monastery, one of which is that of the venerable saint herself.”
Johann surveyed the crowd from the middle of the pack and guessed there were about thirty or so; 15 teams of two boys each, like him and Albert. Albert held the piece of paper they’d been given when they registered.
Johann noticed that the bully, Werner von Wiesel, was at the center of a group of his toadies—boys who sucked up to him because his father, a retired Prussian Army colonel, was considered an “important citizen” of Munich. From Johann’s perspective, Werner was just a spoiled rich kid. But for some reason, he seemed to have it in for Albert. He rarely passed up an opportunity to give Albert a hard time.
As Johann reflected on Werner, the brother continued. “Each team has an instruction sheet with a map of the area. At the bottom of the map, you will see that there is a list of map coordinates and clues that relate to some of the monastery’s the relics.” Then he looked up with a mischievous smirk. “However, to make things interesting, not all coordinates or clues apply to the relics we have placed out for this hunt.”
“How many relics are there, Brother Peter?” Werner wanted to know.
“The monk’s smirk broadened into a grin. “Well, if we told you that, Werner, it would take away some of the fun.” The boys groaned.
“When you find a relic, we want you to write what that relic is next to the clue that hints at it. Do not touch or remove what you find. We want everyone to have a chance to complete the hunt.”
The monk looked down and consulted his notes, then continued his spiel. “When you have located all the relics you can find and noted their locations on your map, bring your entry form to the dining hall. One of our brothers will take it and record the time.”
The abbot looking very serious said, “Since I’m sure you will have built up quite an appetite on your quest, your team will then proceed to the dining room for a hearty lunch.” He smiled and nodded, allowing the resulting cheer to dissipate.
“The winner will be based on the number of relics you find, the accuracy of your notes on the relics you have identified, and the speed with which you found them.”
“What will I be winning this year, Brother Peter?” Werner haughtily called out.
The monk waited for the catcalls and jeering to stop, then said, “We’re not revealing the prize in advance, Werner, so you’ll just have to wait to find out.”
After the predictable grumbling, the monk asked, “Okay, any questions?”
“Enough talking! Let’s get started!” Werner hollered impatiently. The monk held up his hands and frowned at Werner. “Hold your horses, Werner. We want to make sure everyone knows what they need to know.
Werner scowled and glared, looking threateningly around the room. Many of the boys cringed at Werner’s anger, and no one dared ask a question.
The monk waited, then, hearing no questions, nodded, “Okay then. Gentlemen, you may begin!”
Most of the boys rushed off on the hunt. Werner managed to bump into Albert as he rushed by, nearly knocking him over. “Oops, sorry Einstein,” he sneered insincerely as Albert regained his balance.
Though they were as eager as the rest of the boys to start their search, instead of rushing off aimlessly, Albert and Johann trotted over to the green lawn next to the Monastery’s central walkway and sat down. Albert wanted to approach the hunt rationally. He laid the map on the grass and took out his precious compass.
“What are you going to do with the compass, Albert?” Johann wanted to know.
“I’m not sure, but I felt like it might help us focus on the clues and where we want to go,” he replied as Johann settled himself next to him, watching with interest.
Albert opened the top of the gem-encrusted compass and set it on the map as he considered the layout. The morning rays were reflecting on the device’s face. Looking at the map and then the topography of the surroundings, Albert tried to determine where they needed to go. He pointed to the map and said, “The first set of coordinates is 47.58 North 11.118 East, but it’s not clear exactly where that is.”
As Albert spoke the coordinates, a beam of violet light suddenly shot out of the compass extending to a point on the map. Both boys gasped in shock. They could not believe what they saw.
Johann gulped and whispered, “What was that?!”
Albert could only stare as the light disappeared. Then he closed his eyes and rubbed his temples as if he was trying to ease an ache. “I have no idea. It’s scientifically not possible.”
Johann regained his wits and grabbed Albert’s arm. “Yeah, but it happened. If it’s scientifically impossible, then it must be magic!”
Albert shook his head as if to clear the thought from his mind. “I can’t say its magic…” Then Albert brightened. “But whatever it is, it’s given us a destination. Let’s go.” He scooped up the compass and the map and scrambled to his feet.
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