The Golden Earring
Linae awoke to the sound of lapping waves and seagulls. Her head still ached from the night before; what a celebration that had been.
She and the rest of the crew from the Cyodrake’s gaze had spent the night partying in celebration of the fact they had finally reached Krawk Island. Even though they had hoped to reach Mystery Island by this time, and had lost a crewmate in the process, the relief of being docked and on dry land was an intense feeling.
She swung her legs out of the hammock and pulled back the curtain on her porthole. It was beginning to become light outside and Shumi, Captain Tuan’s first mate, was already swabbing the decks. He was whistling a tune she didn’t recognise and didn’t care to find out about, so she leant back, holding her head.
It didn’t take her long to realise her hammock wasn’t against a wall, and she fell, with a rather large crash, onto the floor.
None of the crew noticed, or at least if they had, they didn’t come running to her rescue. They were probably suffering the consequences of the night before as well.
Instead of trying to go back to sleep she clambered from the floor and shuffled to the small, simplistic bathroom on the boat. She locked the door behind her and washed her face using the freezing salt water that poured through the only tap.
She pulled open the mirror and swept her short hair back, and realised something was wrong.
A great banging and scraping in the room next to his woke Captain Tuan. He slid out of his hammock and pushed the door to Linae’s room open, quite brutishly.
“Linae, what on earth are you doing at this time of the morni-”
He cut himself short. Linae was hanging upside down from a shelf near to the ceiling of her room, rifling through a box full of paper.
She leapt down from her perch and saluted the captain, as orders decreed.
“I’m so sorry, Captain, but look!” She swept her hair back and showed him, explicitly, her ear.
“What? It’s an ear, it’s a normal ear, I don’t understand...”
She made a small noise. Men, she thought.
“My earring, it’s gone! My great uncle gave me that earring. Cap’n Blood...”
Tuan gasped and became frantic.
“Bloodhook!? That earring must be worth millions... Shumi!” he shouted out of the porthole in Linae’s room. “Shumi, get here now. I need to speak to you urgently.”
It was clear that Tuan had the authority on the ship. Shumi dropped his mop and bucket and fled, at full speed, from the deck and into the room. He, as Linae had only minutes before, saluted Tuan and stood in silence awaiting instruction.
“Shumi, Linae has lost her earring, this is a major problem and it must be found ASAP!!”
Shumi stood, confused at the order from Tuan. It seemed such a petite thing to get worked up about. He let his mind wander for a few seconds before reverting back to his task. Suddenly, he had an idea.
“What about Buried Treasure? We were there, yesterday, relaxing and drinking grog. Maybe it fell off and ended up on the beach! We’ve got a metal detector somewhere...”
He wandered away, seemingly aimlessly but glancing all around in search of the detector. Linae and Tuan looked at each other briefly and then set about throwing on tattered robes and cloth shoes and heading onto the island once again.
In a flurry of blowing robes, and running feet, the Krawk was thrown from his seat on the Buried Treasure beach.
“Excuse me!” he bellowed over the chattering voices of the trio that had just arrived so abruptly.
“Yeah, what?” Linae screamed back, the wind blowing her hair in all directions.
“You can’t just come running onto my beach like that! State the reason for your presence!”
Captain Tuan reached for his sword, and whipped it out in front of the Krawk. Linae and Shumi stood back as he mumbled threats to the Krawk under his breath, leaving the Krawk stunned and scared. He backed away slowly, until he was as distant from the captain as they were and then ran as fast as he could in the other direction.
Tuan laughed heartily at the cowardice of the Krawk.
“Okay then, back to work!”
Armed with three shovels and a metal detector they began to scour the beach...
Four hours later, Shumi slumped against a fence post near to the grassy verge at the back of the beach. He joined a distressed Linae and a defeated Tuan who were drinking sour grog from a small flask and nibbling on Ptolymelons.
“It... must... be here...” he murmured weakly, laying the metal detector down beside him.
Linae spoke between catching her breath. The fur on her face was sodden from tears. “It’s not, it’s gone forever and my uncle will curse us with bad luck!” She put her face in her hands and shook.
“We’ve had our fair share of that already!” said Tuan, taking a long, drawn out swig of the grog and then screwing his face up in disgust.
“Maybe it’s in your hammock?”
“I’ve checked there.”
Shumi went back into thought. “The bathroom...”
Again he thought for a minute... “The kitchen...”
“The games room.”
“Checked, checked and CHECKED ONCE MORE, SHUMI! It’s gone, ok?”
Shumi looked offended and turned away from the mourning couple. Linae felt regretful that she had hurt his feelings, but she was greatly distressed over the loss of the earring.
What on earth would her great uncle say, or do, if he could see her now?
Of course, no one really knew if he was dead or alive, but that’s a whole different story.
Linae felt the pressure of Tuan’s arm release from hers and she looked around to see why he had moved. She was faced with the image of his legs, so she looked upwards to see him looking around feverishly.
“I heard footsteps...”
“Tuan, we’re on an island; people live and work here, and there are other people around.”
Tuan still looked worried.
“They were running, why would people be running, they’re going to atta-“
A person rounded the corner of the beach and Tuan drew his sword defensively.
The pink Aisha threw her hands in the air, looking decidedly startled by the strange reaction of the captain.
After scanning the young woman, Tuan put his sword back in its sheath and sat back down, but he did not take his eyes of the woman for one second.
Linae decided this was what happened when someone was a pirate for so long. Trusting people was a tough deal. She decided then and there she would never let that happen to her.
“Erm, hello,” the Aisha said nervously. “I recognise you from the bar, the Golden Dubloon? I’m Loretta and I wait tables there. Anyway, I was wondering if any of you had lost...”
Linae jumped to her feet in seconds. “An earring!? A gold earring!? A ring earring!?” She spoke so fast that the Aisha was taken aback.
“Well, yes, have you?”
Linae had to stop herself from hugging the Aisha with joy. “Yes, yes, I have! Oh thank you, can I have it?”
Tuan and Shumi rose to their feet behind Linae looking almost as excited as she did.
“Well, I’m afraid I don’t have it.”
Linae was filled with rage. “What!?” she growled through gritted teeth. She was so close to tearing out the Aisha’s hair.
“A man, at the bar, he...” the Aisha stuttered, afraid.
Linae, Shumi and Tuan took off in the direction of the Golden Dubloon.
“When you get there, ask for Rosetta!” the Aisha shouted after them, but they were already gone.
Linae panted as she swung open the door to the familiar bar.
Tuan and Shumi followed, breathless, as they had found it hard to keep up with the athletic Linae.
Linae took in her surroundings and scanned them for a woman of Loretta’s stature. She had already assumed that Rosetta was her sister, the famous Fontaine sisters if she was not mistaken.
Behind the bar another Aisha was watching her suspiciously.
“Aha!” she inadvertently exclaimed out loud. “Rosetta! Rosetta!” she called, gaining the Aisha’s full attention. Rosetta didn’t stop wiping the glass she was holding with the grimy cloth.
Remind me never to drink here again, she thought to herself. “I’m looking for a man with a golden earring; your sister sent me here.”
Rosetta nodded her head in the direction of a disgruntled pirate in a dark corner of the bar.
“E’s ova thar!” She had a thick, Krawk island accent. Linae didn’t really have time to notice.
Tuan and Shumi tried to follow her, but she pushed them back.
“I need to do this on my own.”
The men didn’t put up a fight; they did not care to argue with women in public.
Linae approached the stranger, who was wearing a long black cloak; his face was hidden from her.
The noise of her footsteps made him turn his head, and when he did, she was stunned.
For sitting in front of her, was a lily-white draik, glowing in the darkness of the bar. He was her great uncle, Cap’n Bloodhook.
“Little Lin!?” he exclaimed, rising to his feet and holding out a hooked hand.
“Uncle?” They both looked as surprised as each other.
She hugged him closely, many questions running through her head; she sat down at the table opposite him.
“Young one, when I found the earring, I assumed you had sold it long ago. I just wanted to find the owner and tell them my story. I wanted cash for it, of course; I haven’t changed much in all these years. What brings you so far from home?”
Linae smiled broadly; this unexpected encounter certainly was amazing.
“I would never have sold it, Uncle; it’s precious to me. I’m so far from home because we are still searching for that ever elusive prize.”
The mystery in her sentence didn’t confuse her uncle; he knew exactly what she was taking about.
“We have yet to find it, Uncle. We have had some bad luck recently. I lost the earring yesterday. I have been searching for it; the Fontaine sisters told me it would be with you, and what a surprise to see you here! Where have you been? We all assumed you had died.”
Captain Bloodhook laughed, almost chuckled to himself.
“I could never die, young one, you have much to learn. I walked the plank for a mistake, yes, that is true. But the crew of the boat neglected to tell you one thing: when they arose in the morning, their spare boat was missing. I sailed endlessly for weeks before I washed up here. I have a thriving jewellery business now, right here on this island. Quite underground, of course.”
He tapped his nose and Linae grinned. He really hadn’t changed, she thought. He handed her the earring and she put it back on.
“Join us, Uncle; we’re setting sail again soon. We could do with another crewmate.”
The captain looked uncomfortable.
“Dear niece, I’d love to, but I can’t leave my home now. Those pirates will still be looking for me, wherever they may have ended up. I’ll be here, waiting for you when you return.”
Linae couldn’t face telling him they would not return. Not for a very long time. She left their conversation there.
“Then, Uncle, I’ll be off, thank you.”
After a short hug, and a long awaited handshake, Linae sauntered back over to Tuan and Shumi.
“Was that... who I think it was?” Tuan gawped.
“I’ll tell you the story later, Captain.”
The captain shook his head and stood up.
“Then let’s set sail. Shumi, set the bearings for our next destination, Mystery Island!”