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Xaraak: Part Two


by oznozboopenheimer

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For Orlando and Kenji, the following days at sea could be described as uneventful. The Kyrii and Wocky found their sea legs and stopped tipping over and knocking against other crew members. Thankfully, Garthun and Pekel were constantly busy, keeping the boys and the two grouchy crewpets apart.

      As Orlando soon found out, going to sea was not all it was cracked up to be. Since he and Kenji were 'newbs' as Pekel put it, they were forced to do all of the unwanted chores, such as swabbing the deck, re-painting the walls in places, and fixing leaks. But more than any of that, Orlando hated the cook. Well... not exactly the cook. It was what she served that vexed him.

      It was not that the cook was that mean, and not even that she prepared poor food. She was a female Lutari, and, as everybody knows, the otter-like pets love spicy things. So, as it turned out, her favorite dish to deliver to gasping, water-gulping pets was the infamous Cornupepper Soup.

      Orlando miserably stirred his bowl.

      "Come on," Kenji advised. "Just eat and be done with it."

      The blue Kyrii rolled his eyes and poured the contents of the bowl into a nearby red Lupe's when he wasn't looking. "The captain said we needed to meet him in his cabin."

      Orlando pushed himself off of the coil of rope where he had been sitting and trotted down the stairs to the below decks. Appreciatively, Kenji eyed the stairs and happily went down, pleased that they were no longer coated with algae.

      Terek opened the door long before they knocked, as was his custom. He gesticulated toward two shabby seats and settled into his own. "You boys are good workers," he began offhandedly.

      "We try our best, sir!" Kenji stated.

      The captain grunted as he leaned down to reach a bottle of something. Neatly taking three wooden beakers out of a hidden cupboard, he topped each one off with a foamy liquid. "Drink up, it ain't alcohol. To tell yew the truth, though, I don't exactly know what it is.

      "Anyhoo." Terek stood and strode to the porthole. "I've decided to make yew two real crewpets," he said triumphantly. Opening the porthole and switching back to his normal method of speech, he shouted, "Jaxin, Sayra, get in here!"

      Within moments, the door banged open and the young Lupe that Orlando had given his soup to tumbled in. "What is it, Cap'n sir?"

      Terek nodded toward a stool. "Siddown, Jaxin. Where's Sayra?"

      "Sayra's right behind me, sir!"

      There was an ominous bumping noise, and the sound of Ronako yelling curses. A red Wocky dashed into the room. "Sorry I took so long--I bumped into Ronako on the stairs and took a spill." Looking around, she hastily located a second stool and sat down.

      Once everything calmed down, Terek pulled a pipe from his coat and sucked on the end, not lighting it. "Jaxin and Sayra, you're going to teach Orlando and Kenji here the ropes. Jaxin... you go with Kenji, and Sayra with Orlando. That's it. Go back to your posts!"

      Ronako limped in, cast an icy glare in Sayra's direction, and reported, "Flag on the horizon, Cap'n!"

      Terek leaped up and bellowed in his face, "Flag? Give me a description, you lard-brained son of a Moehog!"

      After a brief dash above to check, Ronako's voice was tight with anxiety. "It's another pirate vessel, Cap'n. Flying a white flag with two red lines on it. Sailing on a course away from us."

      "Ignore it," the Kyrii captain replied.

      "No!" shouted a voice. It was the Lutari. She charged in. "Captain, that is the ship! Kulgar's! That ship has Aaron on it. We have to follow it, or else my brother will be gone forever. Please, we have to go after it!" She dropped to her knees.

      A long and uncomfortable silence pervaded the room. Terek dropped back into his pirate slang. "Eh, so why should we go after yer little brother?"

      "Because our parents are dead and who knows what Kulgar and that hideous Arkana would do to him!"

      After a brief pace around the room, Terek gave his verdict. It was impossible to consider even for a moment that he was jesting. "No. We will not board their ship."

      The Lutari slumped against the wall.

      "But," Terek seemed to crackle with energy, "we will follow that ship to the ends of the earth, and slay the scum away from the protection of their vile tub. I have a score to settle with Kulgar myself."

      The Lutari smiled, tears shining on her face. "Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you."

      The captain downed his drink and flung his beaker at Jaxin, who luckily managed to catch it. "I want full speed ahead! Jaxin, Sayra, Kenji and you, mister blue guy, get out there double time! I want an idea of where that ugly-beaked Eyrie and his nasty crew are going."

      From somewhere near the mainmast, Garthun could be heard bellowing, "ALL PAWS ON DECK!" at the top of his lungs.

      As Orlando turned to leave, Terek called, "Wait, you, stay here a minute."

      Orlando obediently returned.

      Terek crossed his arms and stared down at the younger blue Kyrii. As Orlando thought at that moment, it was like looking at a distorting mirror; he was seeing himself reflected back. A much larger him, but like him nonetheless. His musings were interrupted as Terek raised an eyebrow and tossed him a fine, thin rapier. "Defend yourself!" he cried.

      Orlando's sword flew into a corner and clattered against the floorboards. "That's not fair!" he spluttered. "I wasn't ready."

      "Then be ready next time," Terek rebuked. "Pick up your blade."

      The younger pet dashed over and retrieved his sword just as Terek came after him. This time, it was almost a second before Terek disarmed him.

      "Better that time, matey. Ye'll learn quickly. Be here fer a fightin' lesson after every meal. Come on, boy, spit it out. When d'you come here?"

      Orlando rolled his eyes and rattled it off. "After morning mess and after evening supper."

      Terek gave a brief nod as dismissal.

      The boy turned and climbed the stairs up to the deck. Ronako was at the wheel, bringing Wavehunter closer and closer to the enemy ship, which was growing on the horizon.

      Finally, after many hours (all night, in fact) of laboring with his charts, compasses, and the dull-witted aid of a certain purple Grarrl, Ronako burst up from where he had been working next to his bunk by candlelight and stampeded toward the Captain's cabin. "She's bound toward Krawk Island, Kulgar's boat I mean. Probably make landfall in three days!"

      Terek scratched his chin, but did not turn around.

      "Uh... Cap'n? Are ye shipshape?"

      Since there was still no reply, Ronako, shrugging, left his diagrams and charts on Terek's desk and exited quietly, shutting the door behind him.

      The morning meal had just concluded and, true to his word, Orlando arrived at the captain's room right on time for his daily fencing lesson. "Terek... I mean, Cap'n? Is something... wrong?"

      Terek sighed deeply and looked out at the endless sea from his porthole. "It's the world, boy. All of Neopia, from Maraqua to Terror Mountain. And my family is nowhere."

      "You had a wife?" Orlando's voice was overflowing with surprise.

      "Aye. I did. And a child, who would be around your age. My wife was a delicate little thing, who died during childbirth, but my kid survived. Trouble is, the night it was born, Wavehunter was attacked by pirates. I sent two of my best crew along with the baby and told them to take it and raise it up to be strong, whether it be boy or girl. And so here I am, looking for my daughter or son, and wonder where he or she is. What's your name, boy?"

      "Orlando, sir."

      With a heavy squeaky of floorboards, Terek moved away from the window and plopped down heavily in his chair. "A good name. Have you ever heard of the legend of the greatest pirate ship ever to sail the seas?"

      "Yes, Cap'n, the Revenge, under Scarblade."

      Terek snorted derisively. "Naw. I mean a real ship, not some enchanted submarine thingy. Orlando, m'boy, the ship I speak of is the Xaraak, under a snow-white Eyrie named Kulgar. Now, y'see, Kulgar is albino, which means that he has absolutely no color, and his eyes are blood red without pupil or iris. That is why he flies his white and red flag. He has a wife as well; Arkana, the most hideous thing ever to come out of a nightmare. They're the ones who took Aaron prisoner."

      "Aaron is the Lutari's brother, right?"

      "Aye. Oh, an' her name's Tara. She's bent on freeing her brother, and I hate to break it to her that that little 8-year-old is probably dead by now. Rowing on Kulgar's ship can do that do a body." He chuckled humorlessly. "Aah well, draw yer blade. Defend yoreself!"

      With agility that belied his age, Terek whipped out his thick saber and cleared his desk in a bound. The two Kyrii's blades met with a harsh clang that seemed to ring out forever. Dancing away from his larger opponent, Orlando went for Terek's leg, but the saber was already there. Anticipating the captain's next move, the boy leaped over the scything blade and pricked Terek's shoulder through the heavy cloak, causing the big Kyrii to grunt.

      The next moment, they locked swords again; Orlando's thin rapier bending merrily under the heavy saber's push. Allowing himself to fall flat on his back, Orlando rolled away from his adversary and blocked a swipe. The duel continued, and Orlando began to tire under the relentless assault; a small gash traced itself down his forehead. Finally, he simply dropped his sword and knelt in yield, shutting his eyes. When he opened them, he was surprised to see Terek staring at him in a puzzled fashion.

      The two had surrendered at the exact same time.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Xaraak: Part One
» Xaraak: Part Three



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