Past midnight, the Magician, realizing what he must do, stealthily slipped out of his cell and bolted up the stone wall that bordered the palace, leapt to the ground on the other side and took one of the guard’s horses, and fled to the port. A small junk had been quickly procured and secretly prepared for his stealthy departure. He had no time to waste as he dismounted and gathered the items the team had packed in pouches strapped onto the saddle. A small cloth bag contained fresh fruits that could be eaten over several days and a makeshift lunch basket held staples that could stretch for a week, maybe two. The rest of the neatly wrapped food had already been loaded onto the vessel by an attendant who had preceded him to the port. In his haste as the Magician jumped onto the dock, his amulet fell out of his pocket. It made a loud thunk on the wood slats but with his mind focused only on escape as he loaded food items onto the small junk, he didn’t notice. The Second Captain who was passed out behind a crate nearby, did hear it though and poked his head out to see the Magician stepping aboard the Chinese junk.

He scrambled up to report what he saw to the Emperor who would surely be interested in this turn of events, but not before grabbing the dropped amulet. He saw an old mare in the distance and as he ran towards it he bumped into a peasant woman, who was making her way to the junk. “Watch whar you’re going,” he snarled in a drunken tone as he disappeared.

The woman was unfazed as she hurried toward the Magician, who was still making his way onto the craft. She reached out her fingers to touch his sleeve and he immediately recognized the hand with jeweled bands around her wrist in the sliver of moonlight. “Lady Feiyan!” he whispered hoarsely.

“I cannot explain much but the Empress before death entrusted me with this secret Treasure Box.  I was instructed to keep it hidden inside the palace walls and deliver it to a man that my soul would recognize as the carrier. I now know that man to be you,” she said as she   transferred the Box into his hands.

“Yes, of course,” said the Magician hesitating momentarily. Some understanding welled up in him and he quickly hid the relic under his robe.

As he turned to board, Lady Feiyan touched his arm and whispered, “The Empress cautioned me strictly to not open the Box under any circumstance so I give you this important warning as well. I don’t know anything more.” She turned and headed back to the palace undetected. On her way through the gates, she passed the raving Captain who was attempting to gain entry to see the Emperor. She was able to slip through the crack in the main gate as the guards were engrossed in the wild man flailing about, reeking of alcohol and making outrageous claims. They took him for a lunatic.

“Let me innnn! I must shpeak to the Emperor,” he slurred. “The Mageeshun is gone! Let me see the Emperor!” howled the drunken Captain in the dark.

The guards were not going to disturb the Emperor based on the words of an unstable Captain and refused to listen to his rant. He continued to squeal for a time but, exhausted, he slumped outside the palace gate and fell dead asleep snoring loudly like a farm hog.

Before dawn the Magician sailed off into the eastern mists. He found a compass and a rough map of the open sea. He would soon find a fishing pole with bait stored inside the junk.

Meanwhile back at the palace, just after daybreak, the Captain groggy but sober approached the guards again, “Check the prison!” he growled. “I tell you, The Magician has escaped.”

But the guards were unmoved by this man, who had gained quite the reputation around town. Fumbling through his pockets, the Captain produced the Magician’s amulet. “You see, I have proof!”

“That looks like the Magician’s amulet!” gasped one of the guards.

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