"A woman digging in her garden uncovers a sealed, ancient box."
“What is this?” Barb murmurs to herself, as she pulls the rectangular object out of the hole she just made in her garden. The burlap, neatly and snuggly encasing the item, is saturated with dark, mineral enriched soil. As if searching for a price tag, or warning label, Barb turns the object over and over in her hands. Finding a seam, she gently pulls her glove off with her teeth, worming her fingers through the small hole in the burlap, removing perhaps years – decades? – of dirt, in her quest to uncover the mystery, wrapped safely inside.
Turn after turn of the box, the length of burlap increasing with ever flip, becoming more recognizable as such. Barb was beginning to believe it was just a cruel tease, and that the bundle of burlap was just that – a bundle of burlap, and nothing more. The sun was the first to find the gold edge, making it glisten and gleam brightly, catching Barb off guard. She hastily removed the remainder of the coverings, and revealed a box of gold and silver, the size of a shoe box.
Barb gazed at it in wonder, unable to take her eyes off the top, which seemed to vacillate between silver and gold. Upon closer inspection, Barb could see what appeared to be words ebbing and flowing with the change in metals. It was unlike any writing she had ever seen. Desperate to gain entry into the cryptic box, Barb pulled at the top without success. The lid was either stuck, from so many years in its grave, or somehow secured but a secreted latch. Flipping it this way and that in her hands, Barb searched for any clue to break into the fortified keepsake. More words appeared across the bottom of the box, in the same undecipherable scroll.
Carefully rewrapping the ancient artifact in the burlap, Barb regains her feet, and makes her way into the house. She knows of only one person who may be able to tell her what she possesses, and perhaps decipher the strange markings. Her best friend, and current head of the archaeology department at the university, Mark Merriweather.