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Week 381
You are on Week 382
Week 383

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Three Hundred Eighty Two Ends Friday, August 29

Garin opened his eyes and saw... blue. Well, that was normal enough. Most mornings he awoke on the deck of the Black Pawkeet to see the blue sky stretching out above him, from horizon to horizon, where it reached down to touch the waves. But there was something else... something wrong. Garin sat up slowly, feeling his muscles cramp as they tried to stretch. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to clear the grit of sleep from them, and that's when he realised what was wrong -- the sound. Or, rather, the lack of sound.

On the Black Pawkeet, the air was always full with the sound of sails snapping in the wind, waves slapping against the ship, and his crew shouting to one another as they worked. Today, however, there was... nothing. His eyes flew open and darted from side to side.

He was surrounded by waves, but they weren't the wet, salty blue ones he was used to. No, these waves were golden, and not the useful kind of gold either. Garin plunged one hand into the sand beside him and let it run through his fingers, staring at it incredulously.

"How did I get here?" he muttered to himself. The last thing he remembered, they'd been rounding one of the icy isles to the south of Krawk Island, ready to head back to warmer waters. Well, Garin had found something warmer, but there definitely wasn't any water.

The Usul struggled to his feet and stumbled up one of the towering sand dunes. This had to be the Lost Desert; maybe he could find help somewhere. Glittering Selkets burrowed into the sand as he passed them, but of his ship and his crew, there was no sign. That was a bit of a comfort, at least. After all, seeing his beloved ship in splinters on the sand would've been too much for him to bear, leaving him useless to his crew. But where were they? And how would he ever get back to them...?

Author: Like a ship out of water
Date: Aug 25th
Dry, dusty air twisted about him in a swirling dance as Garin looked all around him for some sign of life besides the Selkets. There was nothing, as a few droplets of sweat formed upon his brow, dotting his fur like the gems of a watery crown. The truth was, he was very disoriented. He knew all about the seas and, in any emergency, he remained as steadfast and sturdy as the Black Pawkeet herself. Yet, this wasn't the seas and his knowledge of the desert was only second hand. He wasn't in control here, and that thought caused a tiny icy fear to trickle down his spine despite the heat that pressed down upon him like a living beast.

"It's just a bunch of sand," he said aloud to calm himself as he gathered his wits and stared into the faultless blue expanse of the sky. He was relieved to see the sun's position. He still had at least two hours before noon -- two hours before the heat of the desert sun would be all but unbearable. That at least gave him some time. For now, he would have to find help or at least some shelter until the evening shade would make traversing this waterless ocean a little more bearable.

Squinting his eyes, he turned slowly as he looked for anything in the distance that would be a sign of civilisation or shelter. For the longest time, he saw nothing. Finally, at the most distant point of the horizon, he saw what appeared to be something moving. From this distance, it was impossible to see what it was, or if it had truly been anything other than wishful thinking, but it was still better than just standing around here.

Quickly, he started in that direction, the sand pulling at his feet as if it was trying to drag him under. A few times, he almost tripped as the sand seemed to shift beneath him. "These waves move even more than the ocean," he said, laughing without any real humour.

Yet, a part of him knew that there was something moving underneath the sand...

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Aug 25th
He tried to take no notice of it. He was used to blocking out distractions when he had a goal in mind. When there was something of great value to steal, he would focus his entire being on stealing it, on traveling toward it, on overcoming every obstacle that blocked the path clearly mapped out in his mind.

Now everything was the same, except for the setting. He had a goal to reach, and he would reach it, regardless of all danger. He had always managed to survive. He would continue to survive.

Yes, that was it, Garin told himself, holding his body upright as he walked on the shifting sand. Just another adventure, with its thrills, surprises, and challenges.

The horizon drifted ever closer, closer, but remained just out of reach. It was the same taunting horizon as the one on the ocean. Several times Garin and his crew had struggled for amazingly long days to reach a shore that had seemed so close. But he was used to things like this. He would reach that strange movement on the horizon, whatever it took, and he would find a way to survive.

The torturous hours dragged on. The impenetrable blue sky leered around him, growing sharper and hotter with every minute. Everything was too bright, too startlingly bright. The blazing yellow sand continued to shift and to trip, but Garin toiled on, his eyes staring straight at that flicker on the horizon, that single hint of hope in this vast, lethal desert.

At last the movement came into clearer focus. Striding harder and faster now, Garin shaded his eyes -- and suddenly his heart dropped within him like a smooth, heavy anchor. It wasn't a village or civilisation after all. It was merely a stirring of sand, a mystical wind that danced and laughed on the edge of the world...

Caught off-guard by the shock, Garin lost his concentration, and his foot slipped. Before he knew it, the dazzling golden ocean was engulfing him, dragging him into its hot, airless embrace.

Choking and blinking, he felt himself spiralling downward into a deep, dark oven. He couldn't see, couldn't hear -- all he could sense was gritty, piercing heat that closed around him and tore at him and flattened out beneath him.

And then, in the stifling dark, he heard a voice...

Author: yoyote
Date: Aug 25th
"You could never escape me."

The voice was barely a hiss, a broken rasp. Hardly audible. And yet, it was hauntingly familiar, and a whirl of out-of-focus memories of clashing swords and screaming armies sent shudders up Garin's spine.

"Who -- are -- you?" the Usul managed to choke out, writhing as his lungs filled with sand.

And yet, as his chest burned, and his lungs screamed, and his throat seemed to rip apart with the agony... he was still breathing. It didn't feel like air, but what else could it be?

Breathing sand? How was that possible?

Somehow, Garin knew it wasn't.

"Revenge," the sand-hiss whispered, the reply seeming slow and distorted.

He'd had little experience with magic. Just while fighting alongside Isca and Caylis, as well as his short but uncomfortable encounter with the Drenched. And his necklace, the enchanted amulet that had allowed him to visit Maraqua. But... magic could do a lot of stuff, right?

It's an illusion, Garin realised. This is all but an illusion. I can feel the pain, the heat, the exhaustion, but it is all a lie.

As soon as the Usul embraced that fact, the magic unravelled, strips of it peeling away in a very peculiar show. It was still dark -- reality was barely brighter than the illusion of the hopeless desert -- but Garin could actually see the illusion unwinding, falling apart. Sense returned, and for a second, all Garin could do was revel in the cold, musty air, after the sensation of burning desert heat.

Cautiously, his sudden hope dwindling like a sinking ship embracing Maraqua's depths, he glanced around, trying to see through the semi-darkness. He was in a cave, a damp, gloomy cave, the walls lined with fungus and mold. It looked like a smuggler's hangout.

Except that there was absolutely no exit. Just rock.

And the voice that spoke to him was no longer masked with distortion.

"You are trapped," Captain Scarblade pronounced, smirking at the Usul as he scrutinised the younger pirate's face. "And if you ever want to see your precious ship again, you're going to help me..."

Author: dianacat777
Date: Aug 26th
Garin took a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves. He knew he couldn't panic. One wrong move and Scarblade would make sure that he would never see the clear, blue sky or his beautiful, sleek ship again.

"My crew?" Garin ventured cautiously, looking around him. It was strange not talking to a physical body, but he wasn't in any position to complain.

"Alive and well," said the captain's disembodied voice. "For now. They don't even know you're gone." He chuckled when Garin flinched. He certainly knew what would hurt the young Usul the most.

Garin paused in thought, and Scarblade let him think about his proposition. There was only one possible answer that Garin could give him at that moment, and he was in no rush.

"What do you need my help for?" Garin asked reluctantly. There were times to fight and times to surrender, and this was not a time to fight. He would get his own revenge against this twisted pirate captain someday. For now, he needed to cooperate for that day to ever come.

"That's what I like to hear," Scarblade hissed with a smirk. Garin chewed on his lip. He was beginning to feel claustrophobic in the cramped, musky cave. He said nothing, though, and tried to look indifferent. Scarblade could see him somehow, he was certain of it. "I'm looking for the one they call Isca."

"Isca?" Garin's eyebrows shot up in surprise.

"Indeed. And her sister Caylis."

"And you need me for this?" Garin asked shakily. The Maraquan war against Captain Scarblade and his crew filled his mind, as clear as it had been the day it had occurred.

This can't be happening, the Usul thought.

"Of course. They trust you, yes?"

Garin clenched and unclenched his fists. His eyes wandered around the cavern. There had to be a way out. There had to be.

"There's no way to escape," Scarblade assured him as if he'd read Garin's mind. "So pay attention."

"I won't do it, Scarblade," Garin cried. "Isca, she--" He stopped, remembering where he was, and kicked out at the wall in front of him in frustration, stubbing his toes.

"You're in a delicate position, young Garin," Scarblade said coldly. "Either choice you make, my revenge will be fulfilled. It's up to you to decide how."

Garin stood, shaking with anger. He was being asked to betray his friend or never see the ship or the crew he dedicated his entire life to. There was one choice, however, that offered more hope of escape.

"Fine," Garin said, defeated. "I'll find Isca and Caylis, but remember this Scarblade: this isn't over."

The cave walls began to shimmer and wave. Bright sunlight illuminated, and Garin had to shield his eyes. He felt a breeze blow through his hair and smelled the familiar scents of the ocean. Garin opened his eyes tentatively.

Something cold touched his throat, and a shiny surface reflected the sun into eyes so that he had to shut them again.

"But it is, Garin," Scarblade whispered in his ear. "It is..."

Author: xsoulweaverx
Date: Aug 26th
Garin stared at the face of Scarblade as his ghostly form started to fade.

"Have a nice swim," the Lupe said, then disappeared.

Garin noticed that he couldn't feel any solid ground beneath him. He looked down to see he was several feet above the ocean, floating in mid-air. Gravity kicked in and he plummeted down into the icy waters.

He surfaced and spit out the salty seawater, gasping for air. It was such a change from the dry, sandy shores of the Lost Desert. At least here, he was in his element. Now all he needed was his ship and crew to be complete.

He treaded water for a few minutes, trying to see where he had landed. In the south, he could barely make out Techo Mountain on Mystery Island, so he must have been close to Maraqua. Luckily, tucked underneath his shirt was the seaweed necklace Isca had given him. He always wore it just in case he ever fell overboard during a storm and needed to swim to safety.

As he plunged into the waters and swam toward Maraqua, the meeting with Scarblade kept playing over and over in his head.

"Either choice you make, my revenge will be fulfilled. It's up to you to decide how."

What did he mean by that? Revenge on whom? King Kelpbeard? Garin himself? All of Maraqua? He knew this was a bad idea, but what could he do? While he loved the Black Pawkeet, he could always get another ship. The crew was irreplaceable, especially a good friend like Jacques.

As he swam, Garin took a moment to gaze at his surroundings. He had almost forgotten how beautiful the ocean was beneath the waves. The sparkling sea glass, the chirping Primellas swimming through the coral, the large shadow looming over him...

Garin gasped and looked up into the eyes of a large sea beast. Its gaping jaw was inches from his face.

Garin yelped in surprised and reached for his weapon, which he quickly remembered he didn't have. Even if he did have his sword, it wasn't made out of Maractite, so it would've been useless underwater. There was only one thing for the Usul to do and that was swim. Very fast.

He swam as hard as his body would allow him. Even though the necklace kept him from drowning, it didn't give him all the abilities of a Maraquan Neopet. He soon found himself cornered against a rock with the teeth of the beast inches from his face. The beast opened his jaws.

SLUUUUURP!

Garin almost suffocated on the thick saliva. Wiping the slime out of his eyes, he saw that it wasn't a sea monster (per se), but a very large Gulper. One he remembered all too well.

"Goregas?"

The Gulper let out a strange bark-like sound and nuzzled against the small Usul, almost crushing him.

"OOF! H-hey, boy! I missed you too!" he wheezed as he tried to push the large Petpet away.

"Goregas!" called a distant voice. "There you are, you silly boy! How do you expect to play hide-and-seek if you keep leaving your..."

The Aisha paused as she saw what had distracted her friend. With her white hair floating above her shoulders and her blue eyes as bright as a sapphire, she gasped.

"Garin!" cried Isca. "What are you doing here...?"

Author: bitsy_dj
Date: Aug 27th
"I --" Garin opened his mouth to respond and then stopped. What was he going to say? I'm here because I caved in to Captain Scarblade's blackmail? "I'm here because I caved in to Captain Scarblade's blackmail," he said.

Whatever happened to fibbing? the snide voice in the back of his head grumbled.

Isca chewed on her lip. "No kidding, you are," she mumbled.

"Well, I, ah -- that is what happened," Garin said apologetically.

"I know." Isca sighed and lowered her head, looking small and frail in the huge ocean.

"But --"

"Goregas!" she called, turning. "C'mon, boy, we're going." She streaked off into the blue currents.

"Isca, wait --"

The Aisha stopped and sighed. "Look, Garin. I know you don't want me to say this, but --"

"I can explain it all, if you just give me the chance, it's all just a mistake, honest, and --"

"Ugh, will you let me finish?! Okay, we've got to talk. I really hoped that for once, Caylis got it wrong, but --"

"Caylis? She's here too?"

Isca let out a long, impatient breath. "Shut up. Please. I know you want to get your crew back, and I know how Scarblade is threatening you, and I know -- I know everything, basically. But we have to talk." Her eyes were wide and sincere. "Before you run off and -- let's face it -- betray me and my sister, we've got to tell you something. Now come on."

Garin stared, floating in the same patch of ocean. "But I wasn't going to tell Scarblade. I was hoping that maybe you two could help me, or something..."

"Not now," Isca said. "Now come on, already."

The Usul blinked and then, slowly, nodded. He swam toward Isca, following her lead. Over a line of colourful coral, through a waving kelp plant, shooting through an annoyed school of Waterfish. The landscape (seascape?) rushed past them. Garin wished they could have gone slower. So much had changed; it didn't seem like the route to Isca's house anymore... oh.

"We aren't going to your home, are we?" he asked.

Isca shook her head. "Of course not. Too obvious."

"I didn't realise there's someone after us."

"Well, it's not like you were just captured by a notorious pirate captain who wants revenge," Isca snorted. "Okay, here." She stopped and slipped into a tunnel entrance in the rock.

Garin paused for just a moment -- he could just turn around now and have his ship and crew back by dinner -- and swam in after her.

Several seconds later, he emerged in what looked to be an air pocket. He didn't need the necklace's help to breath anymore.

"Nice place," Garin said, looking around. Mould dripped from the walls. The whole place was filled with a stagnant smell, and -- was that a pile of skulls in the corner?

"Oh, it's not ours," Caylis said lightly, sliding out of the shadows, the usual slight frown pulling at her features. "It's theirs." She pointed behind Garin, who turned to face the leering faces of the Drenched...

Author: mithril_mithrandir
Date: Aug 27th
Caught by sudden surprise, Garin stepped backward, slipping on a seaweed-covered rock. He tried to back up, away from the approaching sisters, but he had hit into the damp walls of the underwater cave and there was nowhere else to go.

Garin frantically shot glances at both Isca and Caylis, who rested in the water on either side of him. Garin's heart and mind began to race as he realised that neither Isca nor Caylis were doing anything about the Drenched coming closer and closer to him.

What is going on? Garin thought to himself furiously.

He looked toward Isca and stared deeply into her aqua eyes. Something was not right. Her bright, glowing eyes seemed to fade to grey, and her cheerful smile transformed into a malicious grin.

"I'm sorry, Garin," she said with a sneer."But I'm only following orders."

All breath seemed to have escaped from Garin's lungs, and before he could breathe in, the Drenched grabbed him, and everything went dark.

Garin woke up with a splitting headache. He was lying on a cold, wet stone floor. Everything was dark. Garin could not even see his hand in front of him. He pulled out two small pieces of flint from his back pocket, something he always carried with him. He ran his hand across the floor until he found a piece of broken stone that was relatively long and thin. He wrapped a piece of cloth from his shirt around the stone and using his flint, set his makeshift torch on fire.

The cave dungeon was larger than Garin expected it to be. He could see that there were many winding passages that led away from where he was like branches of an ancient tree. A labyrinth? Garin thought. Maybe this dungeon was designed so that prisoners thought that escape was possible, while in reality, they would be trapped in this maze of passages forever. The thought made Garin feel vulnerable and hopeless. How was he ever going to get out of here and figure out this mystery?

As Garin crouched through a low passage, he could hear soft voices close by. Other prisoners? Garin listened attentively and followed the voices through several passages. Then, through the absolute darkness, he could see a flickering light reflecting off the damp walls. Without a moment to lose, Garin rushed toward the light until he stopped suddenly. Surrounding a little fire was his crew! Jacques and all!

"Garin!" Jacques cried out, running toward his best friend. "We thought we would never see you again!"

"Same here!" Garin replied, patting the backs of all his friends.

Garin joined the circle of his crew, and jumped straight to business.

"What in Neopia is happening?" Garin asked.

Jacques looked at his friend with surprise. "You haven't figured it out?"

Garin shook his head. What was he supposed to know?

"Scarblade is trying to destroy Maraqua again," Jacques began to explain. "Something happened to the Black Pawkeet, and we were separated. The crew and I were taken straight to this nasty prison, while Scarblade forced you to come to Isca and Caylis. The catch is that Scarblade has used some sort of evil magic and now has control over Isca and Caylis. I guess he figured that you trusted them and would follow Isca to the Drenched's lair. Then you would be imprisoned down here while Scarblade does his bidding without you and us to interfere."

Garin was in a state of shock and utter disbelief. But it all made sense. Isca's eyes. Her eyes proved that Scarblade was manipulating her and her sister.

"We have to get out of here," Garin exclaimed. "For all we know, Scarblade is already launching his attack on Maraqua!"

"But how?" Jacques inquired. "This place is a never-ending maze."

There must be a way out, Garin thought.

Then suddenly it came to him...

Author: harmony_star19
Date: Aug 28th
He could use the same method that Isca and Caylis had always used. Intuitive power. Everything so far had been an illusion, playing with the fabric of reality, playing with his mind. If he played by the same insane rules, he and his crew could go to Maraqua's rescue once again. The promise of a new adventure throbbed in his veins.

"All we have to do is ride with the magic," he said. "When I was in the desert illusion, I fell victim to a sandstorm and sailed into a new place. When I was in that cave with Isca and Caylis, I was attacked by the Drenched and came here. Scarblade's magic, no matter how he got it, is just messing with our minds. We'll stay trapped here forever if we confine our minds to this place. We must learn from Caylis -- take control of the nightmares, and ride forward."

Jacques considered this. "It sounds like madness," he agreed. “"But we're in a mad world, so it couldn't hurt. Which way then, Captain?"

Garin smiled. "Not deeper into the maze. Out." And he pointed upward to where the hole in the magic was, where he had fallen through.

Together, with the team spirit and conviction that they had always used to guide the Black Pawkeet, every crew member climbed up the rock, passing makeshift torches from hand to hand, until they came at last to the sea.

*****

The sea. Their home. Where they had always sailed.

"There's Maraqua," said Garin, turning the wheel of the Black Pawkeet, which was finally back under his feet now that they had broken free of Scarblade's network of illusions.

"Aye!" Jacques nodded as he watched the horizon. "And do my eyes trick me, or is that Scarblade's ship?" He raised a telescope to his eye. "It is indeed! Garin, he's been gearing up for that attack while entangling us in that spell! We must hurry -- I hope we're not too late!"

"Maraqua is in real danger, if Isca and Caylis are also spellbound," said Garin grimly. "But this is what we're good at, eh? Attacking other pirates?"

"We normally pillage cities rather than save them," laughed Jacques. "But this is a rare occasion."

"Full speed ahead!" The ship speared the waves.

On Scarblade's ship, cannons were being loaded, glinting in the sun. As the Black Pawkeet came closer, the other ship spun lazily around, and snapped a gangplank across.

"So," said Captain Scarblade, smiling. "You have come. All in good time, little pirate. Things were just going to get exciting."

He moved aside, and a figure emerged from the dim cabin beyond. Garin and Jacques involuntarily flinched backward. So that was the sorcerer behind all their nightmares...

Author: yoyote
Date: Aug 28th
"Caylis..." Garin heard Jacques whisper sorrowfully, as Captain Scarblade's crew surrounded them, hands on the hilts of their cutlasses, ready to pull them out at any moment. Garin's crew were all poised in a similar fashion.

"I-I don't understand," Garin said, wincing as Caylis's slim figure slipped toward them, her once soft, sapphire eyes hardened and cruel, an aggravating smirk playing on her lips. Her flowing lavender-grey hair was now frizzy and dry, standing on end. Her blue skin was cracked from lack of moisture, and she had big, exhausted bags under her eyes. She looked horrid and barely recognisable as the helpful, misunderstood sorceress they once knew, except for the blue magic that coiled around her hands menacingly.

"What's there to understand, boy?" Scarblade answered with a sharp-toothed grin. "Without these two Aishas, Maraqua will have no forewarning of our attack, so instead of disposing of them, I put them to good use. Caylis's magic and both of their unique dreams." His eyes narrowed and his expression grew dark. "I am going to take my revenge on everyone who foiled my plan last time."

Garin swallowed dryly. Scarblade's crew outnumbered his by dozens more. He had been a fool to think that they could take Scarblade head on, especially since last time they only just defeated him with the help of the Maraquans. Now they were utterly outnumbered and to top it off, Scarblade had Caylis's magic at his disposal.

"I don't understand why you placed me in the middle of the Lost Desert and blackmailed me when you already had Caylis and Isca brainwashed," Garin snapped, trying unsuccessfully to keep the irritated tone out of his voice.

"Ah, but I didn't," Scarblade said, his eyes gleaming.

Garin exchanged looks with Jacques. "Huh? But I met Isca and she--"

"I didn't have them under my control then," he explained. "It was you, Garin, who did all the work for me." Garin flinched as if the pirate captain's comment had been a physical blow. "You can say you were... bugged in a way. When you met Isca, it latched onto her, and she followed my orders by taking you to Caylis, where the bug latched onto her as well. And then I commanded them to dispose of you. And honestly," he chuckled. "I'm not sure whether to be amused or irritated that you escaped, actually."

Garin couldn't breathe. Flashes of the previous events flashed through his mind. The hot, smothering sand, the dank, mossy cave, Isca and Goregas and the Drenched...

"No..." Garin moaned.

"Friends betraying friends," Scarblade mused almost cheerfully. Garin hated him at that moment. "What better revenge could I ask for? Not only did you betray Isca and Caylis, they betrayed you." An excited gleam entered the Lupe's eyes. "And they're about to betray all of New Maraqua." He spat out the name as if just saying it tasted completely wretched. "In about half an hour, Isca will have gathered every inhabitant at the centre of Maraqua, and at that moment, she will call the Chasm Beast." He laughed coldly and his crew laughed along with him. Caylis let out a weak chuckle as well. "Caylis here is holding up a magic barrier to stop anyone from getting out. The Chasm Beast will swim in, and it will ravage New Maraqua and the Maraquans! This time, there is no room for failure."

Garin and his crew all remained silent, some gaping in awe, as Scarblade finished his tale. It was so wild, so unbelievable... and yet so real. It was going to happen. After all the hard work and the victories the Maraquans had, Captain Scarblade would finally be rid of Maraqua once and for all.

And then something occurred to Garin that almost caused his knees to buckle. "Isca!" he gasped. "Isca will still be down there when the Chasm Beast comes! Y-You can't!"

"Hmm," Scarblade frowned, not seeming in the least worried about the Aisha. "Yes, a most unfortunate casualty. Her dreams were quite useful in her short time with my crew."

"You're no pirate," Garin cried in frustration and anger. "You're a murderer!" He drew his cutlass, but Scarblade was quicker. His own was out in a flash, and before Garin knew it, his sword was sliding across the deck, disappearing between the feet of the mingled crews. Scarblade then grabbed Garin's wrist, pulling him closer, and thrust the gleaming blade under the Usul's throat.

"And you think you're a proper pirate?" Scarblade hissed, his eyes shining red. Every other pirate had their cutlass out, ready to fight. "You're barely more than a child."

"Is...ca..." a voice rasped. It was soft, yet everyone heard it and turned to look at Caylis who spoke for the first time, including Scarblade.

"Foolish girl!" the captain snapped, releasing Garin who stumbled backward, rubbing his throat. He gave a reassuring nod to Jacques who was looking at him with concern. "Keep the barrier up. Isca will be calling the beast soon!"

"Is...ca..." Caylis repeated dumbly, her eyes blank, her ears drooping, and her arms hanging limply by her side; the blue magic that had been surrounding her fists was gone. "My sister? She will... be... trapped there?"

Garin saw his chance. The real Caylis was beginning to shine through. "Yes, Caylis. Yes!" Garin said desperately. If he couldn't drag her out fully now by revealing the truth, Isca -- and the whole of Maraqua -- didn't stand a chance. "If you don't stop this now, you'll never get to see your sist--"

"Silence!" Scarblade commanded, pointing his blade at Garin again. It was all Garin could do to keep from grinning, despite the lethal weapon being pointed at him. Scarblade was panicking. He was on the right track.

"You'll never get to see Isca -- your sister -- ever again!" Garin continued quickly.

"I said 'SILENCE'!" Scarblade roared and lunged at Garin. He put his arms up in defence and closed his eyes, prepared to feel the cold metal on his skin, but instead he heard several loud clangs. He opened his eyes and saw Jacques in front of him, holding off Scarblade. Looking around, he saw the rest of his crew had formed a tight circle and were likewise holding off their opponents. The notorious pirate captain actually looked surprised, but the expression quickly evaporated and was replaced with unleashed fury. He roared, lifting his blade, ready to pummel Jacques.

"ENOUGH!" Caylis cried, and every single cutlass was wrenched out of its owner's hands and lifted into the air, a cyan aura surrounding each one. All at once, Caylis threw them into the ocean a second later. The effort left her trembling. Whatever Scarblade had made her do, it was too much, but her weakness wouldn't, no, couldn't, stop her. She moved as quickly as she could across the Revenge's deck and dove into the water. Garin thought he heard her shout, "Isca!" before the water enveloped her and she swam out of sight.

Everyone had succumbed to a shocked silence as they watched the Aisha disappear. Garin and Scarblade were the first to react simultaneously.

"After her, you wretches!" Scarblade ordered, forgetting about Garin and the Black Pawkeet's crew. "Don't let her escape!"

"Back to the ship, everyone!" Garin shouted.

The two separate crews followed their orders. Some of Scarblade's crew dove into the water after Caylis. It would take too long for them to get the ship fully submerged. By the time that happened, Caylis would be with Isca and the spell would be undone. To Scarblade, everything relied now on Isca. He didn't have enough crew for another attack on Maraqua after the last battle, and who knew how long it would take to rebuild that kind of army?

Garin and his crew rushed back across the gangplank to their own ship and drew away from the Revenge while they were occupied. There was a splash as the gangplank fell into the water after them. It was only then that Scarblade realised his captives were escaping. Everything was falling apart before his eyes, but Garin wasn't his priority. He had to make sure Caylis didn't reach Isca. But how could he do that without sentencing himself to death? If he stopped Caylis, Isca would call the Chasm Beast and he wouldn't be there to enjoy his victory. He couldn't call Isca off either. He had ordered her to call the Chasm Beast no matter what happened, and orders were orders when someone only obeyed them because of a spell. Scarblade clenched his fists and struck out at the side of his ship.

As the Black Pawkeet drew away from the Revenge, every single member of the crew paused to listen as a cry full of rage, sorrow, and defeat filled the air.

"Was that--?" Jacques blinked.

"Aye," Garin answered.

"So we've won?" the Kyrii asked incredulously.

"I dunno," Garin replied, chewing on his lip. "Maybe I should check to see if Caylis actually made it. If she didn't, then I'll have to break the spell on Isca." He rummaged through his pocket for the magical seaweed necklace.

"You can't, Garin," Jacques said quickly, eyes wide. "What if--"

"Caylis is faster than any pirate, even in her weakened state. I'm sure she made it. Besides, she had a head start. I just... I just want to check on them."

"Then I'm coming with you."

"Sorry, buddy," Garin apologised. "We can't fit two in this necklace and you ran out of that potion, remember?"

"But--" Jacques grumbled.

"I'll be back soon. Head toward Krawk Island and anchor somewhere along the shore. I'll find you there." He gave Jacques a reassuring pat on the back. "See ya soon and take care of the crew." And then he jumped overboard.

****

"As always, you seem to appear when times are the most confusing for us, young Garin," King Kelpbeard said with a frown. "Out of the blue, Isca tells me that I need to gather everyone in the centre of Maraqua, and then Caylis swims in looking like she'd fought off Scarblade's crew singlehandedly--" Garin chuckled humourlessly at the accuracy of the King's statement "--and tells me that she needs to find Isca immediately, and before I know what's happening, both of the girls are unconscious. The doctors say they both collapsed mainly from exhaustion, but they think the magic Caylis used on Isca when she arrived had some effect on her." His frown deepened, expressing both concern and confusion. "You don't happen to know anything about this do you?"

"Actually, I do, Your Majesty," Garin admitted, still panting slightly from the long swim. "I'd love to tell you all about it, but right now, er, I'd really like to see how Isca and Caylis are. Can I talk to you later, perhaps?"

King Kelpbeard looked the young pirate up and down for a moment and then nodded. "I suppose, though I'm not sure if they're awake yet. Talek!"

"Yes, Your Majesty?" Garin jumped as a Maraquan Draik swam out of nowhere to appear at his king's side.

"Could you escort young Garin here to Isca's quarters?"

Talek look puzzled for a moment when he saw the pirate, but nodded. "Follow me, Garin."

It didn't take long for them to reach Isca's quarters. The Draik opened the door quietly for Garin and stood outside while the Usul entered the dim room. Isca was sitting up in her bed, and her blank stare turned into a wide grin the moment Garin walked through the door.

"Garin!" she whispered so she wouldn't wake her sister, who was resting on a couch nearby. "What are you doing here?"

"How are you, Isca?" Garin smiled back.

"I'm... tired and confused," she said honestly. "I remember playing hide and seek with Goregas and then... and then I think I fell asleep." She shuddered. "I had dreams before... I saw you wandering through an endless sea of sand and... then you were in a cave with no exit." Tears began to stream down her face, and Garin stood awkwardly, unsure of how to react to the tears that melted in with the ocean around them. "And then the dream turned into a nightmare. The Maraquans, th-they were all gathered together and the Ch-Chasm Beast came. I saw New Maraqua in r-ruins."

"Funny," muttered a voice, and Garin turned around to see that Caylis, already beginning to look like herself again, was sitting up on the couch. "I'm usually the one with nightmares, Isca." Her sister nodded glumly wiping away her tears. Then Caylis looked to Garin and this time, a smile danced upon her lips instead of a smirk, brightening up her face. "For the first time, someone woke me from my nightmare just when things got darkest." She lay back down on the couch and closed her eyes. "And then... then I began to dream."

The End

Author: xsoulweaverx
Date: Aug 29th



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