The next day began just as any other day on the island had. Soon after dawn, Maturin and Duvall emerged from their place of refuge in the island’s central cave, intending to return to the coast and see what McNeal had accomplished.
What McNeal had accomplished exceeded the fears of the two castaways. In the time since they had left, McNeal had succeeded in positioning at least half his guns, with all their accompanying accruements, in serviceable positions, pointed toward the sea. Not only did he have the firepower to hold off any ship afloat, but McNeal had also had the work of raising the treasure begun. Yet another band of men was hard at work on the damaged hull, working feverishly to re-float the ship.
Duvall took all this in with a look of dismay. “Horner does not stand a chance against a crew working like this. It is no wonder that he fears McNeal.”
“McNeal has but one weakness, and that is that he is totally unprepared for an attack from over land.”
“It is as if he can hear us. Look, he has stopped all work, and has now sent every man on shore. We can see from here that they are well armed.” After a pause, Duvall attempted to reassure himself as well as Maturin. “He is not suspicious. How could he know that Horner always comes on this day? He did not even know where the island was before I let it slip. Damn me.”
A moment later, Duvall jumped with astonishment when he felt a hand upon his shoulder. Turning to see who it was, Maturin and Duvall found themselves looking up into the face of John Horner himself.
“Yes” Horner told them. “I heard everything you said just now. Will you fight with me, to reclaim my treasure?” Horner asked, looking at Maturin. As he spoke, he ran Duvall through with a knife he had just produced without giving him a second glance.
This unprovoked, apparently spontaneous, act shocked Maturin. Looking down at the body, he asked “What did he do to deserve that?”
“He led McNeal to my treasure. I can not spare a man who would do that.”
“He said he acted under your orders! He said it was all part of your plan to trap McNeal here!”
At this, Horner laughed in Maturin’s face. “He said that? That it was under my orders? You have been fooled! He was always a liar. I discovered that for myself and let him go. Perhaps he was expecting some reward for bringing my worst enemy to me and death! Well, he’s received all the reward he was going to get!” Waving to hidden followers, Horner called out “Come armed, men! It’s time to finish this here and now!”
Maturin stared as hundreds of men stepped out from behind their cover, armed to the teeth. “Come on!” Horner called. “McNeal’s waiting for us! It won’t be long now! We’re only waiting for the others to bring the ship around!”
From the reef, McNeal was watching the beach, glass to his eye. He laughed at what he saw. “John Horner, eh? No doubt he’s come for his treasure. Well, I’ve no objections. He can have it. If he can reach it! Turn those guns around!”
Horner watched this new activity with increasing consternation. “Damn his eyes! He’s seen us! We can’t wait any longer! Wait! I see our ship just coming up on him! Every man back under cover! We’ll charge when the battle has begun!”
Maturin was surprised again. “Would it not be better to charge now, before all their guns are in place?”
“Are you giving the orders around here? Funny, I thought I was John Horner!--- Oh, blast it, there they go! Come on, men!” Following Horner and Maturin, most of the crew of Horner’s vessel, which was now in the bay firing at the Centaur and it’s crew, streamed out from the trees, yelling wildly. In the course of the charge, Maturin got slightly ahead of Horner. Without breaking stride, Horner pulled a gun and shot Maturin in the back, crying “I can’t spare you either!”
While Horner pressed his attack, McNeal, who had now stepped behind the shelter of his ship, watched calmly, only occasionally calling out “Keep firing! They can’t hold out against us!” McNeal’s men on shore had managed to fire one devastating broadside into the closely packed ranks of Horner’s men, and had then spiked the guns to render them useless. Now, the battle was joined, and no one could say who wold gain the victory.
After an hour of constant combat, Horner’s ship’s crew had destroyed the batteries firing at them, but had lost the ship, which was settling in the water under their feet. Moments later, it broke up. Not a man survived, as few could swim.
Seeing this, McNeal swam across the bay and joined his men on the shore. The captains of the respective crews were not the most feared men on the ocean for nothing. Both fought far better than any of their men, and so were, after much more fighting, literally the last men standing. Or rather, Horner was the last man standing, as he was walking among the dead, methodically stabbing every man to ensure that none could rise against him. McNeal lay among his men, feigning death, waiting for Horner to come for him.
Finally, Horner did reach McNeal, last of all. As Horner leaned over him and delivered the death blow, McNeal, his face blank, fired a loaded pistol into his rival. Horner fell beside him, and both died moments later.
Richontor, the isle of the forbidden sand, the island of death, had claimed it’s last victims. True to the words of Duvall, the first to die, no man ever returned alive. Years passed, and the bodies of the captains and their crews, along with the unlucky Maturin, were covered by the sand. Horner’s marvelous treasure, which he had accumulated throughout his years of piracy, lay undisturbed at the bottom of the bay. No one ever discovered what had become of John Horner, William McNeal, or their crews. The legend of Richontor, with no one left alive to tell it, died with them.