My family’s grotesque history was not made known to me until that wretched summer after my twenty-second birthday. As was the custom, I received a letter, one identical to the one my cousin, Westley, had shown me in secret two years before.
My letter, sent by the same distant uncle, was accompanied by a worn silver coin, curiously heavy, and tainted with the obnoxious scent of the sea. According to the words therein, I was heir to a substantial fortune. All I had to do was “reclaim my heritage” and my share of the treasure would be released to me from its place of safekeeping. The coin had been sent for two reasons: first, its existence was to be taken as proof of vast riches. Second, it was to provide me with the means to obtain passage to an obscure island in the south pacific.
It did not escape my notice that my cousin had never returned from his own journey and I wondered if my fate would mirror his own. I did not want to go but I was broke and desperate. The promise of free money was too much to bear.