The Search for the Golden Dice: Part Two
The door flew open at once. Standing on the threshold was
an old pirate Lupe, holding a rapier, which he was pointing at Dublin. Dublin
"Aiibis?" he said cautiously
The Lupe lowered his blade.
"Dublin! What'rr yar doing here m'boy?" Aiibis
gruffly patted Dublin's shoulder and stepped aside so he could enter the house.
"Well," said Dublin when he and Aiibis were
seated at the kitchen table, each with a mug of some nasty-smelling liquid that
Dublin wouldn't touch, "This afternoon, I set out for my writing class-"
"-and when I got there..."
Dublin told the entire story. Aiibis's expression
got stonier and stonier and when Dublin had finished, he set down his mug. With
obvious effort, he smiled.
"Well, boy! You've 'ad quite a day to be sure!
But why did yar come here?"
"You're the only pirate I know, and if I am
going to fulfill my mission, I need to find this Captain Darkblood. I figured
that you might know something of him."
Aiibis sat in silence for a while, brooding
over his drink. Dublin could tell that some part of his story had disturbed
the Lupe, but since Aiibis's face was half in shadow, Dublin could not see his
"That be one difficult mission, m'boy." Aiibis
looked keenly at Dublin as though evaluating him. "To find a pirate is tricky
enough, but to find and kill one..." He sighed. "That be nearly impossible!"
He leaned back with a satisfied look on his
face, as if he had just proved a point beyond argument.
Dublin was starting to feel afraid. To vow to
avenge his teacher had seemed a simple thing to do at the time, but now it was
revealed to be fraught with difficulty. He did not want to become a killer!
Again, Dublin lapsed into silence. Drifting through the open window were the
sounds of young pets playing. They sounded so carefree. He had to remind himself
that he was only 10 months old.
Several times, the thought crossed his mind
to just abandon the venture. It was not as if it was his fault that his teacher
was dead... but still, a vow was a vow. And besides, he had to stop these murderers;
what if it was his mother or little sister that they killed next? But it seemed
like they had killed Gourd (or now Deadscale) for a reason. This thought got
the whole letter business buzzing in his throbbing head again. He was almost
glad when Aiibis brought him out of his revere by remarking:
"But if you're determined, I can help you find
Dublin looked up. He was not sure that he was
determined, but he decided it was too late to turn back.
Aiibis looked a bit exasperated. "Aye, boy.
Didn't think that pirates would know their own kind, eh?"
"No, I knew you'd know." Dublin was embarrassed.
"So where is he?"
Aiibis regarded Dublin with a stern eye. "If
I told yar now, m'boy, you'd go galavantin' off this hour. Can't let yar do
that until you've had a decent sleep. Been up all night, yar 'av. If yar mother
He stopped and appraised Dublin suspiciously.
"Er, yar mother knows where ya are a'course?"
"Of course!" Dublin even managed a nervous laugh.
"Well good. Yar go sleep now and I'll wake yar
at midnight so we can start."
"'We'?" Dublin asked blankly.
"Now yar didn't in all truths think I was a'goin'
a let yar off by yerself now! Nonsense! You'd never find the way. I'm a'comin'
sure as there's water in the ocean! And you can sleep on this here couch." He
gestured to a faded blue couch in one corner with a blanket draped over the
back. Dublin gave him a grateful look and collapsed onto it. Flying was hard
He awoke to someone shaking him roughly. Dublin
nearly yelled in pain. His whole body was aching as though he was a dishrag
someone had wrung out. He moaned weakly and tried to pull the covers over his
head but a rough paw pulled them down.
"Now, now," said a gruff voice. "We don' have
no time fer that."
Very slowly and carefully, Dublin sat up. His
headache was worse and his limbs were heavy with pain and fatigue. Even his
"I can't travel like this!" he exclaimed to
Aiibis in a slightly panicked voice. "I'll barely last an hour!"
"Don' worry yerself m'boy. Wer'e not flyin'."
It took a few minutes for Dublin to register
"Then how are we going? No other way will be
"Speed isn't the key to this, m'boy."
Dublin was confused.
"But I thought-"
"The key," interrupted Aiibis, "is understanding
your enemy. The best way to do that is to act like your enemy. How would Darkblood
"Sea." Dublin's reply was automatic. He was
surprised at his own words.
Aiibis clapped him painfully on the back.
"Yar got a lot to learn, but yar on thar right
The old Lupe grabbed up two large packs from
the kitchen table and, handing one to Dublin and shouldering the other, he strode
out through the door. Dublin followed behind him, putting his paws down gingerly
to avoid further discomfort.
"Aiibis," Dublin asked as they hiked along a
dirt path, "why do you always say 'yar'?"
Aiibis seemed offended and only snapped, "Don'
question a pirate's vocabulary, scamp."
They walked on in silence for a while. Then
"But I will say that it comes now so naturally,
that I don't even notice it. Sorta like them youngins who says 'like.' Ever
met one o' them?"
"My cousin Frieda. It was horrible at the family
Shortly, they came to the harbor. It was the
middle of the night, so very few pets were about, but there was still noise:
the creaking of ropes, the lapping of the waves upon the piers, the fluttering
of sails and flags and an occasional cry from the seagulls. Dublin immediately
felt the knot in his stomach disappear, washed away by the waves and wind. The
familiar briny smell of the sea filled his nostrils and Dublin let out a long
sigh of contentment. He was home.
Aiibis led him to the very end of the pier where
a magnificent ship lay anchored. The Jungle Queen.
"You own this?" Dublin was in awe.
"Well, er, sort of."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Before Aiibis could answer, a shout rang out
across the water.
"Hey! What're ya doin'?"
"Follow me!" Aiibis grabbed a rope hanging down
from the deck and swung up. Dublin followed him with ease.
"No time for questions!" Aiibis hissed when
he saw Dublin open his mouth "Yar know how to sail a ship?"
"Of course! My father's a captain."
"Then go leddown yar sales. Quick, boy. I'll
take the wheel."
Dublin took off and flew around the rigging,
pausing to untie knots.
"I'd forgotten he could do that," the old Lupe
muttered under his breath. Then he ran to cut the ropes connecting The Jungle
Queen to the dock. He heard another shout and someone running toward them on
the dock. With a laugh, Aiibis pushed his foot against the pier and the newly
liberated ship pulled away. The sales swelled with wind and the Queen glided
off into the night.
"Nice work thar, m'boy."
Dublin glowed. "So, where are we going?" he
asked, realizing that he didn't know.
Excitement exploded in the pit of Dublin's stomach.
At last he was going there. At last.
"Er," said Dublin, trying to sound offhand,
"What is the Cove like?"
Aiibis looked at him and chuckled.
"Oh, you never seen a thing like it. Piled high
with gold an' jewels. Better than that Hidden Tower!"
Dublin's eves were huge.
"A' course we'll be darn lucky if we catch 'em;
them smugglers don' hang around there much. Prefer the waves if ya' get mine
"Perfectly," breathed Dublin.
For several more hours they sailed. The sky
grew lighter in the east and the morning star fainter. Orange and red streaks
crisscrossed the dome of the sky, and fluffy white clouds flanked the bright
orb of the sun that was rising steadily higher. This was the second sunrise
in a row that Dublin had seen, and this time he could enjoy it. Perched on the
top of the mast, he oooed and ahhed along with Aiibis (who was remarking how
he hadn't seen "one o' these" for years and now remembered what he was missing)
and enjoying being at sea again.
Thus they sailed for several hours, and the
sun was high in the sky when Dublin first noticed that something was wrong.
The clouds on the horizon, which at dawn had been so white and fluffy, had turned
a dark, threatening grey. This stormhead grew darker and larger and crept up
the sky until it was partially obscuring the sun. The waves around them took
on a dirty, unhealthy tinge as they were frothed and whipped by the wind. Down
below, at the tiller, Aiibis was giving orders.
"Quick! Tie up yar rigging, pull in the sails,
batten down the hatches and then go below; it's gunna be a tough one, m'boy!"
Dublin sprang into action. The dark clouds were
now much closer and emitting ominous booming noises. Suddenly, it was upon them.
Rain poured down in torrents and lightning flashed overhead. As he secured the
last sail, a huge valley opened in the sea. On the deck below, Aiibis clutched
the tiller and yelled something to Dublin, but the wind snatched his voice away.
Dublin gritted his teeth as the ship plunged into the deep.
To be continued...