His body ached as he tried to pull himself up. It had been foolish to go that far without help, and now he was alone in the darkness.
The desire push forward had come from a boyish wish to explore, but now things were serious. When his surroundings finally came into focus, he knew he had to call the police.
It might not have been a glamorous job, but Alexander loved construction – particularly restoration.
He enjoyed taking something old and crumbling and then making it beautiful again. This current project, however, was more than a challenge. He had hit a confusing snag. Little did he know it was going to lead to something shocking.
He looked over the hotel blueprints of the 19th-century Russian mansion once again.
Something was off. The dimensions didn’t add up. Then again, the building had been through so many changes over the years, it was impossible to know what really lay within its wooden bones. Still, something in his gut told him he should check.
He wove through the throngs of workers and piles of building supplies until he got to the fourth floor.
Plaster dust filled his nose and the smell of solvent made it tingle. Part of one wall had already been exposed and there was just enough room to craw though. He took a deep breath and went in. What would he find?
There was years of dust and other debris – leftovers from being a canteen, apartment, hotel, and an office building.
However, when Alexander reached the spot in question, he let out a frustrated grunt. A dead-end? It couldn’t be. This place had years of amazing history. His curiosity couldn’t end with nothing to show for it. Then he had an idea.
He tapped his knuckles against the floor. The sound ended in a faint echo. He knocked louder.
Whatever was below him was much deeper than expected. He was about to wriggle back when CRACK! The floor gave way and gravity pulled him down. He let out a scream and braced for a painful landing.
Dust billowed and filled his lungs as he took a deep, panicked breath. Ink-black silhouettes scrambled away with scratches and squeaks.
The world stopped spinning and he could finally see again. He was in a new room. And it wasn’t anywhere on the blueprints. What he saw next would stay with him forever.
In the dim light from above, Alexander could see odd piles; the irregular dips and mounds of … pillows? Old blankets?
At least that’s what he hoped they were. Animal nests? Something worse? He reached out a calloused hand into the gloom, praying there was nothing sinister in front of him.
His fingers made contact. A faint rustle mixed with a tiny crackle. The surface gave way slightly.
Alexander dared to wrap his hand around it. Something rough and itchy tickled his palm. Tiny steams dust fell of like dry waterfalls. Faint black markings covered the surface. It was heavy. Much heavier than expected.
It was a package – an old one wrapped in newspaper and twine. The paper had aged but he could still make out a date.
Whatever this was had been wrapped up in 1917. “Russian revolution,” he muttered. He looked around … there were hundreds of them. Alexander felt giddy as he tore back the paper.
Inside sparkled silver from the light above. A glimmer of red and green peeked out. It was a silver case encrusted with gems – an ornate jewelry box.
It was something only the very rich and powerful could afford back then. A new, more shocking, realization popped into his head. It was one word … tsar.
Alexander sat there, dumbfounded. The family had had first own the mansion was named Naryshkin.
There was Nataliya, wife of Tsar Alexis and mother of Peter the Great. One was even a companion to Alexander I – the worker’s namesake. It was a hidden trove of royal treasures. What else was in there?
He ripped open more. There was jewelry, silverware, medals, pearl and porcelain handled flatware, enamel, and more. He was surrounded by a fortune.
The family must have hidden this away before fleeing Russia. Alexander quickly climbed out and shared the news. That’s when chaos ensued and everyone lost their minds.
Police showed up and ran after the workers who had tried to grab what they could and smuggle it out for themselves.
Specialists stormed in to authentic the find. Over the next few weeks, countless people showed up and claimed they were the rightful descendants and owners. What happened to the discovery?
There was no true family left that could claim it. Instead, everything went to a museum so the world could enjoy it.
In the middle of it all was Alexander. He had been part of one of the biggest treasure finds in the history of St. Petersburg. He still loves visiting the museum to this day… relieving the thrilling memories.