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Whiteout: Part Two


by scarrift

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Whiteout: Misplaced Priorities

A very cold breeze brushed through my fur, jolting me awake and causing me to bolt upright in my bed. I looked around me in a daze as I sat upright among my sheets. I saw the cold grey walls and heard the sound of the howling wind outside and gave a groan before falling backwards onto my pillow, my eyes closed. It was such a nice dream. I dreamt that my friends and I were sitting around a campfire in a forest around Meridell, roasting marshmallows and eating acorns without a care in the world.

     Then a cold wind blew and I was brought back to the harsh reality of my situation. And of my current companions.

     It had been a week since I arrived at Arrazaddan the Draik's tower somewhere in the wilderness of Terror Mountain and, due to the intense snowstorms that still plagued the landscape, I was trapped along with a couple of other guests who didn't seem all too happy to see me.

     First there was Ferrod. Silent and stony-faced, the pirate Kougra possessed a pair of deep grey eyes; intelligent, appraising eyes. It was those very eyes that unnerved me, especially since they'd follow me every time I enter a room with him in it or pass him in the corridors. As brave as I am, I could not muster the courage to talk to the staring Kougra.

     The other two occupants were Dan and Murray the twin pirate Meercas. Both were exactly identical, if not for the fact that Murray wore a silver earring instead of a gold one. Unfortunately, I found that the Meercas were just as cold as Ferrod, perhaps even worse, for even though I could hear them chattering heartily away throughout the tower they would immediately go silent as soon as they noticed I was in the same room, taking turns to glare at me apprehensively.

     Then there was Shin the Techo. Barrel-shouldered with a wide girth that rested squarely above his two legs (none of which were wooden), Shin was gregarious and loud with a sonorous, booming voice whenever he spoke, giving one the impression of a genial soul. Yet the Techo was not one who found conversation easy, especially with a Kacheek whom he clearly did not fully trust.

     And, to no surprise, Alastor Nivo the pirate Nimmo was the least hospitable, seeing as our first meeting was less than friendly. Apart from the mean glares and dark muttering under his breath, Alastor, or 'Captain Nivo' as he preferred me to call him, would more or less ignore my very existence, refusing to look at me even when forced into conversation by Arrazaddan.

     So it was five strikes out of five, sad to say.

     Then I heard a rap on my bedroom door. I slowly sat up and rubbed my eyes, looking at the circular patch of pale sunlight filtering through the Brightvale manufactured stained-glass window onto the door.

     "Time ta get up, Samantha. Breakfast," a familiar voice said from behind the door.

     Well, five strikes out of six.

     "I'll be right with you," I called to Mary, a blue Zafara with weatherworn features and a warm heart, and also my only friend in these cold, stone corridors. Unlike the other pirates, Mary had gladly offered her hand in friendship, readily telling me all about herself.

     I clambered out of the rustic bed and started to dress myself, all the while thinking about the blue Zafara. Mary was a former servant for a fat, stingy coconut JubJub on Mystery Island until she stole away on a ship due for Meridell. The Black Pawkeet attacked the ship and she was about to escape into the dark waters in desperation when a second ship suddenly appeared before her.

     "And there was tis' here Draik, whom I found out ta be Arrazaddan later on, beckoning for me to jump aboard. What choice did I 'ave? I leaped aboard and here I am, the latest deckhand for the Black Quiggle."

     Mary always talked with a slight accent, a product of 'staying around them two Meerca brats' as she refers to it.

     Since she was nice enough to me, and as she was the only one talking to me, I answered all her questions regarding my present predicament. She seemed quite impressed that I had not been turned into an ice sculpture, yet, and even offered me some advice on dealing with life with Arrazaddan.

     I was about to put advice number one into practice.

     I finally adjusted my furry coat and pushed open my door, running as fast as my furry feet could take me down the corridor towards the kitchen. The kitchen was, of course, below ground but that didn't mean stairs were needed to get to it. Slowing down to a jog, I soon reached a wall where a tapestry adorned with a large Lu codestone. I tapped the material of the 'codestone' and stood back, impatiently tapping my left foot. The codestone grew gradually larger, a glowing, shimmering yellow gate eventually appearing before me. Without thinking, I jumped into the watery surface and grimaced at the coldness of the portal.

     "Think of a warm place and it won't be that bad" Mary had told me. And I was. What could be hotter than the Volcano?

     It was all over in a second as I emerged at one corner of the large kitchen, the portal shrinking behind me into its normal picture frame. Still, I couldn't help giving an involuntary shudder.

     Looking around, I saw that the kitchen was empty. I glanced at my watch, then to the strange sundial timepiece on the wall. They both indicated 8:00 AM. Strange, normally everyone would be here, especially Dan and Murray. That was rule number three actually: 'leave some food for the Meerca brats'. Shrugging, I set about to prepare my own breakfast. Now, I'm not the selfish type; I'd love to help with the cooking but the pirates were scared of me poisoning their meals. Oh well.

     I had just set myself down on a chair at the table, ready to chomp down on my sandwich, when I remembered that I wanted some of those hot peppers Arrazaddan sometimes used in his spells. So I took my sandwich and headed towards the door leading to the cellar. As I turned the copper doorknob, I heard the sounds of people talking drifting up the wooden stairs. I quietly closed the door shut behind me as I bent down into a crouch and strained my ears to listen.

     "An' wha' do yer suggest we do?" said a squeaky voice, unmistakably that of one of the twins.

     "Hush up Dan. The captain wants ter say somthin'," said another voice, this one of Murray.

     "I do not think that we should rush things along, Capitan," an unfamiliar voice with a strange accent remarked.

     "Quiet down, the lot of yeh. I can't 'ear meself think," the voice of Captain Nivo snapped. Then there was a moment of quiet in which only the sound of some footsteps were heard.

     "Well, captain? We are awaitin' yer instructions, suh," a deep voice interrupted the silence. I had a feeling that this was Shin.

     "Maybe we should just leave her alone. She ain't brought any harm to us," Mary's voice said softly. I heard someone give an impatient sound.

     "And let her have her way? No, we cannot allow that, not when we still have the need of that Draik's services," the unknown said incredulously.

     "I's agreeing with the Kougra, suh," Shin stated. "But I don't think we shouldn't go o'erboard."

     "What do you mean, Techo?"

     "Okay, enough." I heard Captain Nivo say. "Listen up yer lot, this is what we'll do. First, Mary'll cozy up ter the girl and if yer hear anything, anything at all tha' might be harmful to our operation then ya let me know."

     "Yes, captain," said Mary hesitantly.

     "And ya two go about yer business. Just stay outta sight. Same ter ya, Shin."

     "Yes, sir," Dan and Murray chorused. I heard no reply from Shin.

     "What about me, Capitan?" said the voice, whom I now knew belonged to Ferrod.

     "We'll talk 'bout it later. Meeting dismissed."

     The scraping of wood against wood and the heavy footsteps temporarily stunned me. Recovering quickly, I quickly dashed into the kitchen and looked around for a place to hide. Something told me that it wouldn't be kosher for them to find out I was eavesdropping. Spotting a barrel, I ran towards it and jumped in, causing my sandwich to drop in the process. Before I could retrieve it I heard the cellar door open and I immediately crouched lower among the pile of Organic Apples in the depths of the barrel. Then I heard a whisper.

     "Dan, is anyone out there?"

     "Nay, I don' think we was heard."

     "Si, It is doubtful that … wait, who dropped this sandwich?" I stiffened as I heard Ferrod approaching my barrel.

     "Oy, that's me sandwich! I must 'ave dropped it. Give it 'ere." I heard the Kougra let out a growl.

     "Bah, take your silly Pita bread look-alike," said Ferrod, annoyance apparent in his voice. "Capitan, we need to speak, in private."

     "That we do. The rest of yer, shove off," Captain Nivo snapped. I heard many footsteps fading away, knowing that only Ferrod and Nivo remained.

     "So, what do yer think about our problem?" Nivo asked suddenly. The wood of my barrel creaked as someone, probably Ferrod, leaned on it.

     "Mary, she is soft and sympathetic to the girl. It would be unwise to trust her judgement," Ferrod said quietly. Nivo snorted.

     "Well, she's not really one o' us, ain't she? Now, I want ya to look on that girl too and I trust yeh'll tell me anything fishy."

     "And if there is anything … 'fishy'?"

     "Then I'll just 'ave to make that Kacheek disappear. Don't worry, I'll take care o' it."

     I stuffed my paw in my mouth to stifle a gasp. I curled up tighter and tried not to shiver. They're going to kill me. Why me? What did I ever do?

     "And the Draik, Capitan?" Ferrod inquired. I heard Nivo clear his throat.

     "Well, that Draik did save me skin once," Nivo said quietly. "And the blighter is very useful to us. We'll keep 'im, fer now, but when he gets too full o' 'imself then he'll need ter disappear too."

     "Ah, you read my mind, Capitan," said Ferrod quickly. The barrel walls relaxed as Ferrod stopped leaning on it. I then heard some soft footsteps. "I shall set about my task, as per your orders." There was a sound of creaking wood followed by the closing of a door. I begged silently for Captain Nivo to leave. The apple barrel was not the least comfortable. Neither was my mind at that moment.

     How did I get into such a mess? Oh, why couldn't I have just stayed home? I've got to get out of here. I know, I'll go ask Arrazaddan! He'll get me -

     "Captain, I wish to speak with you for a moment." I was startled to hear Mary's voice. Then came Nivo's gruff voice.

     "Well, make it snappy. I got work ta do."

     "Captain, I know tha' I'm new and everything but I know enough ta give my own opinions," Mary said slowly. Nivo grunted.

     "Righ', and what do yer think?" Nivo replied, the sarcasm obvious.

     "Captain, please. I know Arrazaddan and you go back a long ways back. And I know tha' you rescued him from tha' desert island instead of leaving him ta starve. Same with me, and I appreciate all you've done, as does Arrazaddan, I reckon."

     "And yer point is?"

     "You're a good man, captain, and I know tha' you don't see him as only a tool. I know deep down you want ta help Arrazaddan," Mary continued softly. "Just like you promised him long ago. I'm sure you didn't forget tha'."

     "Of course I didn't," Nivo replied without conviction. There was a moment of unsettling silence.

     "Of course, I didn't forget," Nivo repeated. "We'll get Arrazaddan's sanity back. Thank yeh for yer advice. Now I got things ter do so could yeh please leave?"

     "Yes, captain," said Mary, relief evident in her tone. "I'll see you later."

     I heard retreating footsteps and the sound of a door opening and closing. Then came the sound of slow footsteps going around the room.

     "I meant ter help tha' Draik, Mary," Captain Nivo suddenly said in a low voice meant only for himself. "But unfortunately I still need to use IM The Draik can manage by himself; he always has. He owes me one, that Draik, and until 'is debt is paid he'll … he'll remain my tool. Well, should get a move on."

     I heard Nivo boots thump on the floor before suddenly stopping. Then there was a slight tinkle and then nothing. I peeped over the top of the barrel to find the kitchen yet again empty. Nivo must have used one of the portals, I reasoned as I clambered out and dropped to the floor. The feeling of dread came over me yet again. They were going to get rid of me if I interfered with their plans, (whatever that meant) one way or another. And I knew too that if Ferrod had his way then my stay here would indeed be cut short. I had to get out of the tower. I had to leave, but how? There was a snowstorm blowing outside. I was trapped.

     As I contemplated plans of fleeing from the frozen wastes, a thought suddenly entered my head. 'He'll need to disappear'. Captain Nivo meant to get Arrazaddan too. 'He'll remain my tool'. I knew now the truth of Arrazaddan and Captain Nivo.

     Arrazaddan was a puppet, a very useful and ragged puppet, whose strings were being pulled by Captain Nivo to further his own objectives. The puppeteer knows the puppet is broken but he won't do anything to fix it, until he's of no use.

     I worried for the puppet, for Arrazaddan, and I would do everything in my ability to help the Draik. Captain Nivo was supposed to be helping his friend. Instead, he's using Arrazaddan to further his own goals, whatever they may be. The Nimmo had misplaced his priorities, I realized sadly, and if he won't do anything about Arrazaddan, I would.

     But first I had to warn Arrazaddan about Captain Nivo's plans. Without wasting anymore time, I rushed to the door that led to the living room. Hopefully Arrazaddan would be in his study and, hopefully, he would listen to me.

To be continued …

Author's note: Will Samantha warn Arrazaddan in time? Will she get out of the tower in one piece? Find out in the next part.

 
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Other Episodes


» Whiteout: Part One
» Whiteout: Part Three



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