Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 145,521,815 Issue: 253 | 18th day of Hiding, Y8
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The Search for the Golden Dice: Part One


by corr2000

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"DUBLINNNNNNN!!!!!" A voice pulled Dublin back to reality with sickening speed. Angrily, he lay down his book and looked around. His mother, a royal Aisha, stood behind him, holding an overflowing laundry basket on one hip and a baby Aisha on the other, looking cross.

      "You couldn't help me with these, could you, honey?" Her ears were drooping and she was fanning herself frantically with one hand. Life on a wild island with a poor sea captain as her husband had not suited her, a descendant of the Royal Desert Line.

      "I was reading." Dublin was in a bad mood. He had been ever since his father had left a few weeks ago. His father was currently away on Mystery Island for business. It seemed like he, a blue Eyrie (like Dublin) and captain of the ship The Mogan, was always away. Even when he was home he paid little attention to anyone and stayed shut up in his study. Dublin did not enjoy being stuck at home with his mother and sister, jealously imagining his father skimming the waves with his crew.

      Ever since he was little, Dublin had loved the sea. He would spend hours on the beach, perched on a rock, staring at the waves, completely oblivious to all around him. The end result of this was that he did not have many friends, but Dublin did not care, the sea was friend enough to him. His greatest dream was to become a pirate. Nothing else seemed to compare with a fight to the death, endless riches or riding the waves in the bow of a pirate schooner. His mother, however, had other plans for him.

      "Could you please take your sister? She's getting heavier by the day! And then it's nearly time for writing class; Gourd said that you were showing poor effort in last week's lesson so be sure to impress him this time. You have no idea how lucky you are that he is tutoring you for free and if he stops giving these lessons, it ruins your chance to become..."

      Dublin sighed and tuned out his mother's monologue. She had got it into her head that he would become a scribe and copy all the old master's texts. Dublin could not imagine anything more boring than sitting in a stuffy room and writing, but he still endured his writing class, one hour a week with an old Koi who had retired from the ocean. Still, he only had one mission: to find the cave of the Smugglers. Every day that he could manage it, he would fly around the island, low so he could see any unfamiliar ships or people. He had searched all the caves, and questioned all the traders. Once he had met an old sailor who claimed that he had been captured by the smugglers in his youth, but when Dublin eagerly asked to hear the tale, the Krawk had quickly changed the subject. The islanders were a cheerful bunch, in those days, before the island had become the seedy crook-infested place it is today, and when they saw the young Eyrie soaring overhead, they would remark, "Oh, there's little Dublin, out looking for the Smugglers. It'll be a lucky day when he completes his quest!"

      If he ever found his heroes, Dublin would leave his childhood home and become a pirate, plying the high seas and digging for treasure.

      "Hurry up! For the last time, Dublin, stop daydreaming!" Dublin started and jumped up. His sister, Annika, screeched in the background.

      "And if I catch you searching for those stupid Smugglers again when you should be studying, you'll clean the outhouse for a week!"

      Wincing, Dublin grabbed up his book, and the lunch pail his mother handed him and set off down the path from their bungalow.

      Trotting along the sunlit trail, Dublin felt happy. The path was warm on his feet, birds chirped overhead. Flower-toting villagers with clippers paused their work to say hello. A breeze ruffled his fur. He felt at peace with the world. Shortly, he came to the curtain of vines that led to his tutor's back yard. He pushed them aside... and froze.

      Gourd's house had been decimated. Charred wood lay scattered about the garden. Only a burnt lump was left of the house, and slumped on the ground by his tomato patch, clearly dead, was Dublin's teacher.

      Dublin staggered forward, his brain struggling to process this shock. He crawled over blackened scrolls and rare books, now worthless. Sitting down by his teacher, he bent his head. He sat and recited an ancient desert poem for the afterlife. It had been one of Gourd's favorites. But then he stood up, questions boiling in his mind. Who had done this? Why? If they were common thieves, what would they have wanted with Gourd's things? He was not rich. The only valuables he owned were his books, and the murderers had left those. Murderers. The word scalded him. Stumbling through the wreckage, in the vague direction of the village, his foot hit something hard. Cursing, Dublin looked around to see what it was.

      A short wooden stake was in front of him. Tied to the top of it was a red bandanna, fluttering in the slight breeze. Nailed beneath it was a note. Heat beating madly, Dublin read it:

      Friends of the Traitor,

     Know that Deadscale has been rewarded for his deeds. His debts are now paid. Do not seek to revenge him, for you shall never find us.

      Captain Darkblood

      Dublin went cold. A pirate. Gourd had been killed by a pirate. His heroes had failed him. The Eyrie sat on the ground and cried. He was not even astounded that Gourd's real name was Deadscale. His mission had died with his teacher.

      But then Dublin sat up. He now had a different mission. To revenge his teacher. These pirates might be fierce, but the fact that they had written, "do not seek revenge" meant that they feared someone doing just that. Hatred flooded Dublin's body. He stood up and spread his wings. With a jump, Dublin became airborne and, flapping his wings, he took off into the gathering dark.

      All night Dublin flew. His wings first ached, then became very sore, and then he could not feel them. The roar of the wind in his ears deafened him at first, but that too he forgot, so desperate was he to reach his goal. For he knew where he was going: Mystery Island, to his godfather, Aiibis. Aiibis was a descendant of the most feared pirate in existence, Captain Scarblade, and if anyone could help him, it would be Aiibis.

      As the first streaks of pink were creeping across the horizon, Dublin saw the island in the distance. By now his numb phase had passed and his muscles felt like they were on fire. His breathing got heavier and some of the thoughtless hatred that had possessed him had gone. Now he began to worry. What if his wings gave out before he could reach the island? He looked down at the tiny waves below and gulped. What was his mother thinking? With a sinking feeling, Dublin realized that she would probably think that the pirates had killed him too. Or that they had taken him prisoner. Then a thought occurred to him that was so horrible, he nearly fell out of the sky; what if his mother thought that he had gone with the pirates out of his own free will? After all, wasn't his mission in life to join the pirates? But his mother knew that he wouldn't join his teacher's murderers... didn't she?

      An hour later, an exhausted Dublin landed clumsily in a clearing. Like Krawk Island (his home), Mystery Island was heavily forested. He had found it impossible to spot Aiibis's house from the air, so he decided to try on foot.

      For the next three hours, Dublin searched. He scoured the trading post, market, shops, harbor (hoping not to run into his father) and even had the courage to approach the volcano but no one could tell him where to find a Lupe named Aiibis (although they all winced when he mentioned that Aiibis was related to Scarblade). Finally, the only person left to ask was the island mystic. Cautiously, Dublin approached the hut and knocked on the door.

      "Come in!" a voice said.

      Dublin walked into the room. The mystic, an old island Kyrii, was sitting on the dirt floor, drawing mysterious signs with a stick. Without looking up, he mumbled, "You will rapidly decide to bury your clothes."

      Dublin nodded and smiled and then cleared his throat. The Kyrii looked around, annoyed.

      "You will rapidly decide to bury your clothes!!" he repeated, raising his eyebrows.

      "I heard you the first time," said Dublin apologetically, "but I have something else to ask you." He waited to see how the Kyrii would take this.

      The mystic closed his eyes for a moment, as though hoping that Dublin would disappear, then opened them and said, "Yes?"

      "Well," said Dublin. "I am not from around here-"

      "I could have guessed that," said the mystic under his breath.

      "-And I am trying to find a relative of mine. You couldn't help me could you?"

      "I could try. What is their name?"

      "Aiibis."

      The mystic seemed taken aback. "Scarblade's great nephew?"

      "That's the one."

      The mystic looked at Dublin with renewed respect.

      "He lives right down the street. Just turn left at the Market Square and right again at the lamppost with the colored streamers on it. Third hut on your right."

      "Thank you." Dublin was relieved. He had begun to think that his godfather was dead or had moved.

      "No problem."

      Dublin walked down the street, turned at the market and lamppost and found himself standing in front of Aiibis's hut. He raised a paw and knocked on the door.

To be continued...

 
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