To Be a Pirate: Part Nine
Trying her best to look inconspicuous, Usi swam cautiously
into the shadow of the Revenge. Raucous laughter rang from the decks, where the
pirates were apparently celebrating their victory. The yellow Usul swam up until
she was level with the ship, peering over the sides. She swallowed.
Many Maraquans, with a queer, blank look in
their eyes, were swimming robotically around the ship, catering to the pirates.
"You, there!" one of them roared. A Maraquan
Acara turned her emotionless gaze on the one who had spoken. "Fetch me a drink,
and make it quick."
The Acara turned and moved down below. Usi wondered
how Scarblade was controlling everybody, and if she could stop him. Swimming
noiselessly onto the ship, behind the backs of the distracted pirates, Usi opened
the door and slipped below deck.
Luckily, there was no one on the stairs at the
moment. Usi passed the loud kitchens, into which the Acara was disappearing.
She made her way to a large, furnished room. The captain's quarters.
Scarblade was seated on a large wooden chair,
staring at a Maraquan who was scrubbing the floor. Not just any Maraquan- King
"Hurry up with that, you seadog," Scarblade laughed
mockingly. "When you're done, you can get me some food and drink, your Majesty!"
King Kelpbeard stared vacantly at the floor,
scrubbing methodically with a towel. Usi scowled. They were underwater; it wasn't
like they needed to wash the floor.
She was facing the side of Scarblade's chair.
He hadn't noticed her. Swimming as close to the floor as she could, Usi managed
to sneak behind the chair.
"And, of course," Scarblade was saying, "I'll
be sure to make myself comfortable on your throne later today."
Usi noticed his wicked-looking sword lying on
a table, near him. She looked about, wondering what to do. Then she noticed
the huge, cracked ruby ring on Scarblade's paw. The sinister jewel glowed with
the same red light that gleamed from his eyes.
Instinctively, she reached forward and touched
it. Despite the cool temperature of the water, the ring was hot to the touch.
Usi gingerly slid it away from the pirate captain. The ring was large and came
off easily. Distracted, Scarblade didn't notice a thing.
As if she had been planning on it all along,
Usi raised the ring up and smashed it into the floor. With an audible crash,
it broke into several pieces.
"What!" Scarblade snarled, casting about for
the source of the noise. He stopped dead, noticing the absence of the ring and
staring at King Kelpbeard.
The blank look left his eyes, only to be replaced
with a puzzled expression. Scarblade swung off his chair, spotting Usi instantly.
With an indistinct roar, Scarblade grabbed her.
"Pirates of the Revenge! Below, now!" he bellowed. There was a clatter from
above as the pirates rushed to obey. As the first ones were coming into the
room, Scarblade was already shouting instructions. "Grab him and stuff him in
the dungeons. There's been a change of plans. Move!"
The pirates shoved a dazed king out the door.
"Let me go and give me a sword, you sea scum!" yelled Usi, struggling. Scarblade
kept a tight grip on her. "Shurrup, you," he spat. "I'm going to make you wish
you was never born, lad. But for the moment, don't talk-or else."
Scarblade sprinted up on deck. The freed Maraquans
had already left the ship. Shouts of anger echoed through the city.
Amidst the liberated Maraquans, Garin and the
others were trying to take charge.
"Prepare to fight! The Revenge has invaded!"
he yelled. "Who here knows where the weapons are kept?"
A Maraquan Draik threaded his way to them. "I
might have known you would be involved in this," he said, nodded at Isca, Caylis,
Garin, and his crew. "I'm the swordmaster. I will distribute weapons to every
able-bodied Maraquan here. Where is the king?"
The familiar shout echoed through the city.
Garin automatically turned toward the Revenge. It was Scarblade, standing tall
with his sword against Usi's throat.
"That's better!" he shouted. "I have your fat
king in my dungeons. If you want him and this one here alive, then you'll agree
to let my crew and I take over the city. If you don't, my hostages are history,
and we will fight and destroy you anyway!"
"What do we do?" muttered Garin. "If I know
Scarblade, he's not going to let either of them go. They're-"
He broke off. Usi had just managed to bite Scarblade
sharply on the paw. With a furious shout, Scarblade released her.
"What are you doing?!" Garin shouted in despair.
Instead of making a bid for freedom, Usi had turned and was swimming swiftly
back below the deck.
"Usi, come back! That's an order!" Garin yelled.
"Oh Fyora, she's going to try and get to the king!"
That was what Usi was planning. She swam hastily
below the deck, trying not to be spotted. She stopped in the farthest part of
the boat, the dungeons.
There was a key hanging on the wall. She snatched
it, calling in the dark, "King Kelpbeard, where are you?"
"What on earth is going on!" said an angry voice
from the first cell. Usi started to unlock it, explained hurriedly.
"We haven't got much time," she panted, fumbling
with the padlock. "You were hypnotized by the Revenge. Don't stop and try to
fight, we're unarmed and outnumbered. Just swim." Finally, she managed open
the door. The king swam out quickly, Usi following. He was a much faster swimmer
then she, and she could hear the surprised shouts of pirates ahead as he made
it off the ship.
Putting on a burst of speed, Usi swam on deck-
face to face with Scarblade. "You've ruined my plans," he snarled. "Say goodbye,
"I'm not a boy!" she grunted, kicking out as
hard as she could. The blow caught the surprised Scarblade in the knee. Both
of them crashed to the ground. "You're finished!" roared Scarblade, snatching
his sword and bringing it sharply toward Usi.
"I don't think so!"
There was a crash as the sword clattered to
the ground. Garin stood there, holding Usi's sword, having just knocked Scarblade's
"Thought you could use some help," he said.
"You sure do some stupid things, but then, they usually work out."
Suddenly, Scarblade shoved Garin from his position
on the ground. The Usul crashed to the floor.
Not giving Scarblade a chance to do anything,
Usi leapt swiftly to her feet. She snatched her sword, pulled Garin up and the
two of them ran, leaping off the side.
"It's leaving!" cried Usi. The ship, as though
it had suddenly been inflated with air, was moving quickly toward the surface.
Usi and Garin swam back to Maraqua together.
"That was risky, Garin, swimming off to the
ship like that," scolded Isca. Garin merely grinned.
"It worked, didn't it?"
"Nice to see you again, Usi," said Jacques slowly.
Usi blushed and looked away. She spoke to the whole crew.
"I'm sorry I pretended to be a boy. But you
wouldn't have let me join your crew otherwise, am I right?"
"Aye, I suppose," mumbled Garin.
Suddenly King Kelpbeard swam up to Usi. "I apologize,
young lady, for leaving you back there. I must say, I thought you were right
behind me. I can't thank you enough for saving my life. You are indeed welcome
to return anytime!" he turned to the Maraquans. "Usi here saved Maraqua, her,
Garin, Jacques, Isca, and Caylis. I think they deserve some hearty applause!"
The Maraquans all clapped hard. Usi smiled.
"You are all welcome to return," King Kelpbeard
continued. "Caylis, my offer to you still stands. You can come back."
"Please, sister?" pleaded Isca. Caylis still
shook her head, however.
"As I said before, the city life is not for
me. I may visit you once in a while, Isca, but I will not live here."
There was a silence. Usi turned to Garin. "I
know I'm a girl," she began, "but can't I stay in your crew?"
All eyes turned to Garin. "Garin…?" prompted
"I owe you one, Usi," said Garin finally. "Or
two. Yes, you can stay. Just…don't lie any more, all right!"
"Right!" exclaimed Usi. She had never really
thought Garin would let her stay on the crew. Now she wouldn't even have to
pretend. It was the best thing she could have hoped for.
"We took a potion to breathe underwater, King
Kelpbeard," said Garin, turning to the king. "It might be wearing off. I know
where the Black Pawkeet is moored. I think it's time for us to go."
"We'll escort you," said Isca and Caylis together.
Garin nodded agreeably.
"Come on, crew!"
They started swimming to the surface. The sunlight
had returned, and they could see it dancing on the water from below. Usi was
next to Garin, with Isca, Caylis, and Jacques. She smiled. Now the adventures
would truly begin.