Whiteout: Part Two
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"That we do. The rest of yer, shove off," Captain
Nivo snapped. I heard many footsteps fading away, knowing that only Ferrod and
"So, what do yer think about our problem?" Nivo
asked suddenly. The wood of my barrel creaked as someone, probably Ferrod, leaned
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.