Xaraak: Part Two
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
Orlando miserably stirred his bowl.
"Come on," Kenji advised. "Just eat and be done
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
Terek nodded toward a stool. "Siddown, Jaxin.
"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
"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?"
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
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...