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The Search for the Golden Dice: Part Three


by corr2000

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Down and down they plunged. Just when Dublin was sure that the ship would be swallowed by the ocean, the prow turned upward and they were climbing. Soon they were on the crest of the wave and plunging down once more.

      Aiibis's yells of "GET BELOW!!!" brought Dublin to his senses. Not daring to take flight (for the wind was very strong) he inched his way down the mast. When he reached the deck, he made a wild dash for the captain's cabin and managed to grab the door handle before the next wave broke over the ship. Sopping wet and spluttering, Dublin wrenched the door open, and with a look at Aiibis who was still bravely trying to keep the ship on course, he tumbled inside, pushing the door shut against the wind. However, it was worse inside. The wind had muffled all of the other noises: the groaning of the wood, the creaking of the ropes and the rolling of the thunder. Now these noises overwhelmed Dublin's ears and he wished to be on deck again.

      "Still," he reasoned with himself, "at least here I'm not in danger for my life!"

      He then thought of Aiibis and hoped that he was okay.

      "He's a pirate," he told himself. "He'll be fine."

      Dublin sat there for what seemed like days. He slept occasionally, but when he did his dreams were troubled by the cries of tortured creatures and the thundering voices of evil gods. During his waking hours, he alternately worried about Aiibis and looked for food. The only food that they had brought was in his pack, which had most probably been washed overboard in the first minutes of the storm. Digging through a cupboard in a corner of the cabin, he found a flask of the same nasty liquid that Aiibis loved, a tin of stale biscuits, a moldy apple and, luckily, a jug of fresh water. He saved his rations carefully, but the worst part of the storm was not the hunger or thirst, but being shut up and not knowing if Aiibis was still alive. He lost track of time, sleeping when he was tired and eating when his hunger got too strong. Finally, (what he later learned was three days later) he awoke to sunlight streaming through the window. He staggered out of the cabin, blinded by the light. There at the tiller, was Aiibis, looking very careworn, but still alive. Dublin rushed up and hugged him and the surprised Lupe patted him on the back.

      Aiibis explained that the storm had blown them way off course and the smudge on the horizon was not Krawk Island but the dreaded western banks, where the Haunted Woods were. According to him, they were completely out of water and food and so they had to stop and replenish supplies. Also, the ship was in a dreadful state so repairs were needed.

      Aiibis was not happy about this.

      "Not only do we not have one single dubloon," he said, biting his lip, "but this ship ain' mine and tricky questions could be asked."

      Nevertheless, they had no choice. They planned to run the ship aground a short distance from any civilization, and live in it, going into the Woods every day to look for work. When they had enough Neopoints, they would repair the ship and set out for the smugglers' cove.

      Their first impressions were not encouraging. The Woods themselves were bad enough, but the residents seemed to be just as harsh and inhospitable. When Aiibis and Dublin walked through the town, pets looked out of their dark houses and glared. A few even hissed.

      They split up, agreeing that it would be faster in their search for jobs. They were to meet at the ship at sunset.

      Dublin took off along the main road, feeling uncomfortable with all those unfriendly eyes on him. He was used to friendly, cheerful islanders, not these pale specters who looked as if they'd never seen the light of day. Indeed, very little sunlight penetrated the dark canopies of the trees, high above. The only food he had seen growing there were mushrooms, dry shriveled things that looked poisonous. A constant feeling of fear seemed to emanate from the whole place. Dublin gulped.

      The first place Dublin looked for a job was the fairground, but the whole place creeped him out too much. He even tried walking up to people on the street and asking them if they needed any services, but people either ignored him, or gave him such horrible looks that he backed away.

      Finally, he tried the Marketplace. He wandered through the maze of dark shops until he came to one that actually looked friendly. A large white sign with pink curly letters proclaimed that this was "Mimi's Bakery." A tantalizing aroma drifted out of the open window. Dublin's mouth watered. He hadn't eaten proper food for days. Better yet, another friendly pink sign on the door said "Help Wanted." He pushed open the door and walked into a small cozy room. Everything was pink, but Dublin was too hungry to care. He walked up to the counter and rang a small silver bell that said, "Ring for Help." As the bell's high notes reverberated around the room, Dublin looked around. On the right wall was a bookcase, towering up to the ceiling. On every shelf were about five jars that had tags like "Blue Sprinkles" or "Red Icing." In this shop, everything was labeled. On the left was a place to sit. Two squishy pink armchairs and a little tea table stood in the corner. Dublin heard footsteps and looked around. A kindly looking pink Elephante came hurrying out of the kitchen. A dishcloth was draped over one of her arms and she was carrying a tray of oven-warm muffins. Dublin's eyes misted over at the sight of the muffins. Then he remembered why he was there.

      "Hello!" he said.

      The Elephante started and turned around to look at him. He face cracked into a warm smile.

      "Well, hello there, dear! I didn't hear the bell. Can I help you?"

      "Erm," said Dublin, fidgeting on being addressed "dear" by a stranger, "Yes, you can. I was wondering about... I mean I thought you might... I mean I can... I mean the sign said..."

      "Oh you're here about the position?" She beamed.

      "Yes," said Dublin, relieved.

      "Well, let's see. Can you wash dishes?"

      "Yes," Dublin answered at once. He had washed dishes all too often at home and was an expert.

      "Can you take pastries out of the oven and put them in the display cases without burning yourself?"

      "Yes."

      "Then you've got a job!"

      And that's how it was. Every morning, Dublin would get up at four so he could be at the bakery at five. Mimi was very kind to him, paying him well and letting him eat the leftovers. He started to feel very at home in her kitchen; washing mixing bowls and tending to the pastries, but that could not last. Aiibis had gotten a very well paying job as an assistant at a carpenter's shop (he had been trained in wood when he was a boy) and they soon had enough Neopoints to repair the ship and buy provisions.

      On the last day before the ship would be ready, Dublin went to say good-bye to Mimi. She hugged him with watery eyes and told him how much help he had been. Then, as he was about to leave, she told him to close his eyes and hold out his paws. He did, feeling foolish. She placed something very heavy in Dublin's paws. He opened his eyes and stared at her gift with wide eyes. It was 3000 NP, more than Dublin could ever remember having (things were cheaper in those days).

      "Buy something nice for yourself," she said with a warm smile.

      Dublin thanked her profusely and bounded out of the shop, gleefully thinking of what he should buy. The spooky foods and toys held no interest for him and he was no Battledomer. Then he thought of it. He would do a quest! Ever since he had arrived, he had passed the Brain Tree on his way to work and longed to accept his questions, but he had known he could not spare the Neopoints. Now, however...

      Without hesitating, Dublin bounded up the large slope that led to the Tree. Black grass crunched underneath his feet and dry leaves swirled overhead. Dodging a few shrubs, he found himself standing in front of the Brain Tree. Mustering up his courage, he yelled:

      "I would like to do a quest!"

      Immediately the tree came to life. The trunk shuddered and the branches quivered. Its huge brain pulsed. A great voice boomed out:

      "Very well, young adventurer! I need to know all about the Legend of the Golden Dice for my records. Bring this information to me within 1 hour and 16 minutes and you shall be rewarded!"

      Dublin was surprised. Usually the Tree wanted to know about some dead person who no one had heard of. He wasn't complaining, however; one quest was just as good as another.

      He turned and ran out into the darkness in the direction of the Esophagor. The only way to get the Brain Tree's information was by doing two quests for this monster.

      Two quests later, Dublin stood in front of the Esophagor, and threw the two items he had wanted (Clawmatoe and Slimesicle) into the gaping hole that was the Esophagor's mouth. The Esophagor rumbled in contentment.

      Dublin stepped forward.

      "Err," he said, "I'm on a Brain Tree quest and..."

      "Ohhh, yesss. Herrrrrrre youu go."

      A weathered piece of parchment flew out of the Esophagor's mouth and landed at Dublin's feet. Dublin picked it up and read:

     The Legend of the Golden Dice

     In the year 2 B.F. (Before the Founding) Captain Darkblood, a powerfully influential pirate captain, stole the Golden Dice (heirloom of the House of Kings) from its owner, King Naohr (of the Ancient House), in a midnight raid on his palace. The Protectors chased the thieves in a fast schooner and boarded the pirate vessel. One of the Captain's crew members, Deadscale, showed the Protectors where the dice were hidden and then escaped. The Captain escaped and has not been seen since, but the dice were recovered. When King Naohr died, the dice were buried in his tomb and many enchantments were woven over it by his Casters to keep away thieves. The dice now rest and none but one of the Royal Blood can retrieve them.

      Dublin reread the parchment, all thought of the Brain Tree forgotten. This answered some of the letter's questions, but also raised a whole host of others. What was this about the Desert Royal Line? And King Naohr? He was Dublin's great-grandfather! And what were these Golden Dice anyway? What was so special about them that Captain Darkblood was willing to steal them from the palace itself?

      An owl hooted nearby and Dublin remembered that he was supposed to leave with Aiibis in less than an hour. Questions still buzzing in his mind, he took off, flying toward the harbor.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Search for the Golden Dice: Part One
» The Search for the Golden Dice: Part Two
» The Search for the Golden Dice: Part Four
» The Search for the Golden Dice



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