When we landed at the dock in the Krawk Island Lagoon,
I started heading for Cap'n Threelegs' Swashbuckling Academy. I figured it was
the most logical place to look for a bodyguard. Which is probably why I should
have known Stonewolf3x wouldn't like the idea.
"Where are you going?" he asked, cocking his
head to the side and looking at me like I was an upside-down Picasso painting.
"Umm... Cap'n Threelegs' Swashbuckling Academy.
I figure it's the most logical place to look for a bodyguard," I replied.
He looked off in the other direction for a fraction
of a second and said, "See ya later!"
He was gone before the dust he kicked up had
settled. I felt really stupid standing there without a pet, but luckily for
me the feeling wasn't a new one. I smiled weakly at the twelve people in a row
who walked up to me and told me the Adoption Center was in Neopia Central, not
Krawk Island and I dashed off to the Swashbuckling Academy before number thirteen
could say anything.
I was greeted at the door by a huge white Eyrie
with a wooden foreleg. He thumped awkwardly up to me, slapped me on the back
and bellowed, "Greetings to ya one and all! Pull up a keg of Neocola and set
I looked around to see who else he was
talking to, but no one else was in the room. Before I could think, he roared,
"Stand there any longer and you'll get barnacles!" and shoved me onto a wooden
keg. Then leaning forward, he glanced over his shoulder quickly and whispered,
"Yer wouldn't fetch me a nice cool smoothie now, would yer?"
I was speechless as I tried to think where on
Krawk Island anyone could get a smoothie. But I didn't have a chance to reply
because he leaned back, closed his eyes and said, "Aye, I could murder a Hot
Dog right now!"
"Better a Hot Dog than me," I said, the words
just popping out of my mouth.
Cap'n Threelegs chuckled and whacked me on the
back again so hard I almost toppled off of the keg. Standing back, he looked
me up and down for a moment.
"YOU wanna be a pirate?" he asked, his brow
wrinkling in doubt.
"Umm... no..." I replied, feeling about as comfortable
as a Chia at a Lupe banquet. "Actually..."
"Ye look a bit green around the gills... I'll
wager ye have never climbed the mast in a storm!" he exclaimed, cutting me off.
His eyes narrowed on me intently. "Are those Dubloons I hear clinkin' in your
pocket? Ye don't happen to have any of those orange Dubloons do yer?"
I had never even heard of an orange Dubloon
and shook my head 'no'. Big mistake.
"If ye be not paying, I'll maroon ya, you swag-bellied
haggard!" he screeched, lunging forward and grabbing me by the scruff of my
neck. I flopped helplessly in his claw like Punchbag Bob.
"I'm not here to take a course!" I gasped. "I'm
here for something else!"
His grip immediately loosened and he stepped
back, looking at me with an almost hurt look in his eyes.
"Me courses can last a while, but arrr, they
are worth it!" Cap'n Threelegs said earnestly. He puffed out his chest and said
with more than a huge glob of pride in his voice, "I be the finest swordsman
in this whole island! I'll whip yer into shape in no time at all! I'll teach
ya all me old tricks!" Then the Eyrie wagged his talon finger at me and added,
"Don't ye go trustin' that scurvy Techo on Mystery Island..."
"It's not that..." I replied, trying to get
a word in edgewise.
But Cap'n Threelegs inched close to my ear and
whispered, "I'll teach yer me secrets!" He pulled back, scanned the room for
an instant and said in a dramatically hushed tone, "Some say there be gold buried
in the ruins of Maraqua..."
"No, you don't understand," I interrupted. "I
need to know..."
"Arrrrrr!" he snorted in disgust. "I'll not
be telling how I lost my leg..."
A Kacheek suddenly entered the room. He was
wearing a red and white striped shirt, earrings in both ears and a patch over
one eye. Cap'n Threelegs whirled around and glared at the Kacheek
"What ya staring at now?" he snapped.
The Kacheek cringed and said, "They be waiting
fer ye, Cap'n!"
The Eyrie thumped me on my back again and roared
jovially, "Swabbing the Decks can earn ya Dubloons!" and hobbled off towards
the waiting Kacheek
I sat for a moment in stunned silence, trying
desperately to understand the conversation I had just had with Cap'n Threelegs.
It finally seemed useless, so I pulled the book, Inside the Mind of a Lupe
out of my back pocket. The page that flipped open read, "The Best Place to Find
a Bodyguard For Your Lupe". This chapter was two words long. It said, "Smugglers
Cove". I rolled my eyes.
"NOW you tell me," I snarled, closing the book
with a snap.
Smugglers Cove was an isolated cave at the bottom of a steep cliff. It was
as dark and gloomy as Jhudora on a bad hair day. I had managed to get a Poogle
wearing a red and white striped shirt, earrings in both ears and a patch over
one eye to take me there in a rowboat. But I had to fork over the only two Dubloon
coin I had on me and my lucky green boots. So I spent the time it took to get
there alternating between wondering if bodyguards took IOU's and wondering if
red and white striped shirts, earrings and eye patches were the latest fashion
When we reached the shore, I climbed out of
the boat. The Poogle immediately cast off, paddling quickly away.
"Hey!" I yelled, "Where are you going?"
"Yer got another two Dubloon coin and another
pair o' boots?" he called back, cackling with glee.
"No, but I have something even better!" I said,
waving my book in the air. "Inside the Mind of a Lupe!"
I could hear his maniacal laughter even after
he had rounded the bend of jutting rocks. I sighed and looked around me. The
place looked deserted. Kind of like the audience at a M*YNCI concert. I suddenly
became aware of voices speaking in the cave behind me. I had heard that smugglers
and pirates had a bad habit of tossing intruders to bad-tempered sea creatures.
So my first instinct was to leap into the jetsam infested waters. I figured
that if I had to be mangled beyond recognition, at least I wouldn't have to
listen to anyone make fun of me first. But somehow one of those voices seemed
I crept as quietly as I could to the mouth of
the cave, considering that I was walking on burning hot gravel-sand in bare
feet and every step I took was accompanied by "Ouch! Ooo! Eek!" The cave was
eerie, clammy and creepy. It was just the sort of place where Korbats would
The voices grew louder as I moved farther into
the cave, and the echo of their words bounced off the walls. The closer I got
to whomever was speaking, the more my ears screamed "You know this voice". But
my brain was too busy working out the fastest escape route, so it totally ignored
my ears until I was practically on top of them and could see who was
speaking. Okay, is anyone here surprised that it was Stonewolf3x? Raise your
hand. No one? Didn't think so. Good suspenseful build-up wasted.
I was actually so stunned and relieved to see
Wolf that I couldn't speak for a moment. I would have jumped out from behind
the rock to greet him, except that I realized he was talking to a Krawk who
had a very sharp curved hook where his right claw should have been. I winced
when I thought about shaking hands with him when I said "hello". Ouch. So I
paused to think about how I should approach the situation and before I knew
it, I was completely wrapped up in their conversation.
"Arrr, so ye be lookin' fer a bodyguard," the
Krawk said in a ridiculously cliché pirate accent.
"Yup," Wolf replied.
"And what in thunder makes ye believe that any
normal treasure-buryin' buccaneer would be caught dead in the company of a land-lubber
The fur on Wolf's neck bristled. I knew what
that meant. It meant you had about six seconds to grovel and beg for mercy before
he hit you so hard it would knock the Virtupets Space Station out of orbit.
"I am a captain," Wolf replied with his own
typical brand of arrogant coolness.
"Aye, and I'm a three-headed Bearog," the Krawk
"No, you are a 'sea urchin' and I have
already graduated from Cap'n Threelegs' Swashbuckling Academy," Wolf shot back.
The Krawk scowled. "Aye and ye be tellin' me
next ye know the answer to this week's Lenny Conundrum."
"If you need proof, the Stoneman hiding behind
the rock over there has it in his back pocket," Wolf said, jerking his nose
in my direction.
"Arrr, so the two-legged creature skulkin' in
the shadows belongs to you, eh?" the Krawk sneered.
I suddenly felt extremely stupid and self-conscious.
Okay, so it was not a new feeling to me, living with a Lupe and all, but I felt
even more stupid and self-conscious than usual. I stepped out from behind the
rock, waved, and forced a smile.
"Hi guys," I said, trying to sound casual. "Wassup?"
Wolf rolled his eyes in exasperation. I walked
over to where he was and stood slightly behind him. I figured if the Krawk tried
anything funny, he'd have to get past a very large Lupe in order to get to me.
Wolf didn't even turn his head to look at me, but kept his eyes narrowed fiercely
on the Krawk
"Show him my diploma," Wolf said.
"Umm... maybe we should hire someone else, Wolf."
I said, hesitating. "This guy doesn't really look like he'd be very happy...
Wolf turned his head an gave me a if-you-don't-shut-up-and-just-do-it-I-will-make-your-life-heck
look. I pulled the neatly folded wad out of my back pocket and opened it up.
"How did you know I had this with me?" I asked,
shoving the parchment towards the Krawk Wolf shook his head and rolled his eyes
"Because you're an almost gummy pack rat," he
The Krawk snatched the paper from my hand and
examined it closely. "Arrr, that be Cap'n Threelegs' seal alright," he drawled.
Then he suddenly snapped to attention. "Arrr, forgive me, Cap'n," he said, handing
me back the diploma a lot more politely than he took it. "Ye don't have the
look of a buccaneer about ya. And there be impostors all over the island claimin'
to be smugglers 'n such, just to impress the lasses at The Golden Dubloon"
"There are more LAND pirates than sea pirates,
you know," Wolf replied in a tone that was almost friendly.
"Arrr," the Krawk chuckled, "The Tax Beast be
one that comes to mind!"
"So when can you start?" Wolf asked.
"Arrr, Cap'n, there be one small matter to settle
first..." he said, scanning us both with his frosty blue eyes. "We haven't discussed
me pay yet."
"Ummm... Wolf, can I talk to you a sec?" I asked
nervously, tapping him on the shoulder.
Wolf shot me an annoyed look, but followed me
to the mouth of the cave. "Is there a problem?" he asked, snorting impatiently.
"Ummm... Wolf..." I said, "I don't want to rain
on your parade, but this bodyguard you want to hire is a PIRATE!"
"So what's your point?" he replied, lifting
"My point is-- a bodyguard is supposed to make
you feel safer-- not make you want to lock up your valuables!"
"Oh, like what is he going to steal from us?"
Wolf sneered. "Our dung fireplace? Or maybe your stone bed. That is, if he can
get twenty friends to help him carry it out."
I really wanted to make a snappy comeback to
that. But two things prevented that. First of all, I didn't have one. Second
of all, I was busy leaping about three feet into the air at the time.
"Arrr," a gravely voice behind behind me said,
"I actually prefer a stealthy raid with me jagged Krawk blade."
I jumped so high at the sound of the Krawk's
voice that I actually sailed over Stonewolf3x and stumbled, tottering on one
foot, on the other side of him. Wolf stared at me in disbelief like I had just
announced I was the Snow Faerie in disguise. The Krawk simply smirked.
"Yer pet part Blumaroo, Cap'n?" he snickered.
"No, but I keep him around because he's pretty
darn funny," Wolf replied.
I regained my composure enough to be irritated
at being called a "pet".
"I may be a hoot, but I'm the one with the bank
account, Sparky!" I snapped. "And exactly how many raids have you been on?"
I demanded, turning my attention to the pirate.
"Dozens," the Krawk said breezily. "Arrr, there's
nothin' like a good raid in the middle of the night," he continued, "followed
by a zesty plunderin' and the slicin' of cold steel through a meaty leg!"
My mouth dropped opened and I shot Wolf an I-told-you-a-pirate-couldn't-be-trusted-so-let's-go-find-a-bodyguard-somewhere-else
"It's me great weakness," the Krawk added, oblivious
to my hard stare. "Arrr, but there's nothin' like a midnight kitchen raid and
the ravagin' of a well-stocked refrigerator. Shiver me timbers, but here's nothin'
that can beat the sound 'n the smell of a sporkle leg sizzlin' in a frying pan!"
I was so relieved that he was talking about
raiding refrigerators that I totally forgot to be angry that he had eavesdropped
on our conversation.
"I don't mean no disrespect, Cap'n," the Krawk
continued, "but it be gettin' dark soon and Smuggler's Cove is no place to be
after sunset. And we have not discussed me pay yet."
"Pirates come here at NIGHT?" I asked, anxiously
looking out towards the water.
"Arrr!" the Krawk exclaimed. "No self-respectin'
buccaneer would come near this place when those horrible creatures invade the
"Horrible creatures?" I echoed. "What horrible
My mind could not imagine anything more terrifying
than a band of cutlass-waving pirates, except maybe a band of chain-mail-sending
"Tourists!" he replied, shuddering. "Tourists
in them sight-seein' boats! They come out here to gawk and take pictures and
eat a picnic supper on the beach around a big bonfire. Arrr! There ought to
be a law against nosy Neopians spoilin' a perfectly good smugglin' spot fer
decent, hard-workin' pirate folk! Bad fer business, I tell ye!"
It was my turn to laugh. "Pirates are afraid
of tourists?" I snickered.
Right on cue, a small cruise ship came steaming
around the bend, with about fifty pets and owners lined up at the guard rails.
The moment they spotted us in the mouth of the cave, a dozen cameras began clicking
and flashing. I grinned and waved enthusiastically.
"Stop that!" the Krawk screeched in horror.
"Ye only be encouragin' them!" The Krawk then turned to Wolf and said urgently,
"We best be makin' a run fer it Cap'n! I know a way out through a secret passage!"
The pirate took off in the opposite direction
like a pebble launched from Little Timmy's slingshot. Stonewolf3x galloped after
him. I paused for a moment, debating whether a ride back to civilization on
a luxury tour boat was better than crawling around in a fungus-covered cave.
My instinct told me, "heck yeah!" but then I realized that Wolf would then be
left alone to hire the pirate Krawk bodyguard and haggle over what to pay him.
The thought scared me so much I actually managed to catch up to them in record
The Krawk began to lead us through a maze of
tunnels more confusing than the rules to "Invasion of Meridell". Inky blackness
surrounded us, but I realized that there was a definite advantage to Stonewolf3x
now being painted fire. He was like a walking torch. When he held his tail high
and it sent out a beacon of light like a round table lamp.
The rock walls were damp and slimy with Krawk
fungus, which made me a little queasy. I wasn't grossed-out by the fungus though.
I was grossed-out by watching the Krawk tear hunks of it off the wall every
hundred steps and pop some into his mouth. This was followed by the slurping
noises he made when he licked his hook and hummed in satisfaction. I figured
this was a good time to ask him questions in order to keep his mouth busy doing
"Ummm... excuse me, but we haven't been introduced
yet. Do you have a name?" I asked.
"Me name be not important if I not be hired
yet," the Krawk replied, his voice muffled by a wad of fungus.
"Well... what exactly were you think of, pay-wise?"
I asked, hoping that he hadn't noticed that the wallet in my pocket was a flat
as a ghost pancake.
"Arrr, but that be a long, sad tale," the Krawk
sighed, shaking his scaly head.
"What you want to be paid is long and sad?"
I asked, shooting Wolf a bewildered look. Wolf simply shrugged and kept on walking.
The Krawk ignored my question and continued,
"Me Pawkeet were the best friend I ever had. What proper pirate would dare go
about without a Pawkeet on his shoulder, eh? There be many Pawkeets to be sure,
but none like me Pally."
"Don't you mean Polly?" I interrupted.
The Krawk swivelled his head and looked at me like I had just broken out in
"Arrr! Don't be ridiculous! What kind of a name
be that for a Pawkeet?" Before I could embarrass myself by opening my mouth
again, he said, "I called him Pally because he was me pal." A slight smile actually
cracked across the Krawk's face. "I can still hear the way he used to squawk
Pally wants a blueberry beetle cracker! Pally wants a blueberry beetle cracker!"
His expression turned suddenly melancholy as he added with a wistful look in
his eyes, "Arrr, those were the good old days..."
The Krawk sniffed loudly and took his spotted
bandana off of his head. He promptly blew is nose in it with a blast like a
trumpet of deafening. I flinched noticeably as he tied it back on his head.
But I also weakened at this point. The sight of a vicious Krawk a vicious PIRATE
Krawk getting weepy about a petpet made me wonder if I had misjudged him.
"Uh... what happened to Pally, if you don't
mind my asking?" I said in my most aww-there-there-it's-alright voice.
The Krawk suddenly whipped out his jagged Krawk
blade and sliced menacingly in the air with it. I would have fallen over in
surprise, except that I slammed into a slime-covered rock wall in my leap backwards.
"ARRR!" he roared with fury. "It be that vile,
bloated Turmaculus that done him in!"
"Eww..." I said, not only because the back of
my shirt was now oozy and sticky, but because of the image I had in my mind
of a Pawkeet being eaten by large mutant stego-looking petpet. Stonewolf3x cut
into the conversation at this point, with an almost bored tone.
"Okay, so what kind of pay are you expecting?"
"Arrr..." the Krawk replied, magically turning
cheerful. "I be thinkin' of another Pawkeet to replace me Pally. Me shoulder
seems too bare without him. And..." He placed his claw aside his mouth and whispered,
as if anyone else was around to hear, "I think the other pirates be makin' fun
of me behind me back for not having a proper pirate petpet anymore."
"Is that all you want?" Wolf asked, cocking
"Arrr, that be plenty Cap'n," the Krawk replied.
"And room 'n board fer as long as I be yer first mate."
"Sounds fine to me," Wolf said, shrugging nonchalantly.
"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Time out!" I exclaimed, tapping
the palm of one hand against the tips of my fingers of the other hand in a "T".
They both looked at me like I had suddenly appeared out of nowhere instead of
being with them the whole time. "How much is this going to cost me?" I asked
"Arrr, I think a Pawkeet be almost a hundred
thousand Neopoints," the pirate replied.
"A HUNDRED THOUSAND NEOPOINTS???" I screeched,
feeling a nice, warm, comfortable, soothing wave of panic washing over me.
Wolf looked at the Krawk, sighed, and said sarcastically,
"Mr. Bank Account likes to pinch Neopoints until they beg for mercy." The Krawk
"Aww, come on, guys!" I whimpered. "Isn't there
some other kind of petpet you'll take instead? Something that isn't a really
expensive Turmaculus gourmet food?" Stonewolf3x shot me a look so evil that
Balthazar would have been proud to shake his paw.
"Arrr... there might be one other..." the Krawk
"Yeah? What?" I asked as hope jumped up and
kissed me on both cheeks.
"A crokabek be considered an acceptable alternative
to a Pawkeet" he replied, and then added with a touch of sourness, "Fer them
buccaneers as can't afford a REAL pirate petpet."
I was about to ask how much a crokabek cost
when my eye caught a glimpse of Wolf curling his lips back to show me his fangs.
So instead I shifted uncomfortably and asked, "Ummm... isn't a crokabek a Meridell
"Aye," the Krawk replied, "But ye don't have
to go there. There be an Aisha shipmate o' mine that be willing to part with
"Where is this friend of yours now?" I asked.
The Krawk scratched his chin with his hook and
pondered for a moment. "Arrr, I should think he be staying where they all stay."
"Where all the pirates stay?" I asked, suddenly
nervous about going to a place where a whole lot of cut-throats hung out.
"Arrr, no!" the Krawk snickered. "Where all
them pampered Aishas go. They like their creature comforts, them Aishas do.
He be at Ye Olde Ship Inn, I'll wager."
"Well then, let's go!" Wolf said, and began
walking briskly towards a faint light at the end of the tunnel.
To be continued...