Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 144,089,195 Issue: 303 | 3rd day of Hiding, Y9
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Scarblade's Game


by fuzzy_socks4

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Captain Bilge whistled. “And what’s yer askin’ price for this fine vessel?”

      The seller, a rather tiny Quiggle, rubbed his hands together nervously. The full price was twenty thousand dubloons. Captain Bilge had already hinted that he would only spend ten thousand. And it was well known that whatever Bilge couldn’t buy, he stole.

      “Well, sir, you must know I do not actually own the ship. It belongs to a gentleman very in need of money. Thus I can go no lower then fifteen thousand dubloons.”

      Bilge assessed the ship with his eyes once more, his scaly hands gripping a bag of money. He had to have it. Everything about the ship was made for a pirate. He closed his eyes, and saw himself up at the helm, turning his crew through stormy seas. The Quiggle swore that Bilge smiled at that moment. It was not something the Captain did often.

      It didn’t last for very long. The moment Bilge opened his eyes, he was once again the same steely Krawk that the Quiggle feared so. “Ye run a tough bargain,” Bilge complimented. He tossed a burlap bag over to the seller, who felt the cold coins inside. The ship was sold.

      “Now lad, me mind be wonderin’ who last possessed me new acquisition?” the Krawk asked. His attention was fixed on a sail that had been whipped round by the wind. It showed a skull and two bones crossed, the mark of a pirate.

      But the Quiggle was already gone.

***

      Night fell, and the moon rose in all its brilliance. Bug Eye McGee cursed it. How was he to steal a boat with a huge spotlight hanging overhead? The port’s guards plunged across the dock in sets of twos and threes, amply trained by Cap’n Threelegs himself. It would be worthless to try and slip past them. And so McGee did what he did best: he hid.

      After an hour or so, he saw a shadow slip over the entrance of the port. He didn’t need to see anything more to know who it was. It sent shivers down his spine. “Who goes there?” a guard yelled out, after noticing the mysterious presence. The Neopet did not reply.

      The guard drew closer. Her paw was pressed against her sword. “Again, I ask, who are you?” she tried, hoping that it was just some tourist who had lost their way. The figure laughed coldly. No, definitely not a tourist. She motioned silently to the other guards, and they followed her lead.

      She was close now. Her eyes detected the form of a Lupe. One with green fur, a wooden leg, and a large red pirate’s hat... She covered her mouth to stop from gagging. The other guards watched in shock as she ran across the pier, and dove into the ocean. Smart, McGee thought. He would like to do the same.

      At last, the Lupe showed himself for who he was. It sent the rest of the guard’s reeling in disarray. Most of them managed to squish onto a dingy. The others leapt into the ice-cold water. “Ahoy, me hearties, there be no need for a scuffle here. We'd best save our strength for somethin’ more worthy,” Captain Scarblade rallied. From the depths of the shadows, his crew joined him, laughing eagerly.

***

      Morning sprang upon Krawk Island. It was going to be another busy day. Merchants set up their lots, and tourists engulfed the area. No one even noticed that the guards had disappeared. What they did notice was Captain Bilge, who was being tailed by his loyal crew. They were carrying parcels filled with food and drink, enough to last over a month.

      They shoved through the crowded streets, and stopped when the reached the dock’s entrance. The crew dropped their parcels, which a ship tender immediately picked up. “What ship?” chirped a young Kau. Bilge pointed to his pride and joy. It stuck out among the clusters of lowly wooden ships. Nothing was as large, or as grand.

      “An’ I’ll be comin’ aboard with ye. It feels like ages since I been aboard me ship,” Bilge commanded.

      The Kau nodded, and led him through the swarm of ship tenders and smiling vacationers. They both boarded the ship together, by walking up a long wooden plank. When he reached the top, he felt at home. He could see everything from up there, but heard none of the bothersome noise.

      Except for a sudden loud bang. He spun round. The plank had been dropped, and now there was no way in or out. He searched for the Kau, but found no one. Suddenly, he did not feel so content. And as he searched about, he realized why.

      “This here... this is the Revenge. This be his ship,” Bilge whispered under his breath.

      When he turned, he was stopped short. There they were. A whole entire crew of the worst feared terrors on the sea, and he had no escape. He’d never seen most of them, but he did recognize one. It was the very Quiggle that sold him the ship.

     “Why ye lot go through all this trouble? Yer plunderin’ other pirates now?” Bilge growled. The crew smirked in reply. Then, a shadow moved from within the group, and they all stepped back. Bilge knew who it was, and chuckled.

     He said, “Always be needin’ yer entrance, eh brother?”

     Scarblade looked stone cold. Then his mouth moved slightly upwards. His grin was not to show happiness; it was a sign of dominance. “We may be kin, there is no changin’ that, but I owe ye no loyalty. It was by chance ye bought me ship. I only meant to plunder some dubloons, an’ then set off on me way. But when I found out it was ye, well, I had to stay an’ chat.”

     They both stared at each other, sizing up the competition. Bilge looked meek next to his older brother, but a tint in his eye made him equally as fearsome. Their presences were so commanding, that the crew could hardly look at either. Otherwise, they might have fainted with fright.

     As they both exerted their power, shouts were being drawn from below. Bilge knew the voices well. His crew. They would find a way aboard, and they would be the ones to sail off with the Revenge.

     “Begone, ye scallywags, tend to Bilge’s awaitin’ crew,” Scarblade pronounced, almost as if he’d read his brother’s mind. The crew obeyed without complaint. It seemed as if they were zombies, created to bend to Scarblade’s will.

     At last, the two were alone. Hate filled the air between them. And to make matters worse, Scarblade flung Bilge’s sack of dubloons in between them. It was a challenge. Bilge could not let his brother win it. He had to prove himself once and for all. Besides, that was the last of his savings.

     He leapt to the middle of the floor, and secured the bag. Scarblade didn’t move. Bilge drew himself up under his brother’s furrow. He realized he had nowhere to go. What was he to do now? He sucked in a deep breath as Scarblade removed his sword. It was the finest weapon, to be sure. The steel was as strong as an Elephante’s tusks, and had unbelievable power. Bilge was rather hoping his brother had forgotten about it.

     “Ye are thrice a landlubber for yer ignorance. One day ye will pay for it. Yet today ye earned me respect. In return, me ship is yours for time bein’. I be plannin’ an attack of all ages, an’ I need to finish me last scheme,” Scarblade announced calmly.

     Bilge couldn’t think of an answer. Instead, he snapped, “Ye did all this knowin’ I’d take the ship. Ye set me up.”

     Scarblade beamed. It was something he’d not done since their childhood. Perhaps it was the beginning of some sort of relationship. Together, after all, they could be undeniably powerful. Scarblade whistled, and the noise from below ended. After a few moments, a plank slapped the side of the ship. Both crews crawled to their respective sides. It seemed that each were equally matched.

     “It’s yers for now. And one day, ye’ll repay me. Maybe one day soon,” Scarblade said.

     And like that, he was gone. Bilge gave the commands for his crew to set sail, and they moved slowly into the distance. Soon they were enveloped in open water, without a speck of land in sight. They came across a merchant’s ship, stocked with goods. Bilge told his crew not to attack. He was feeling generous.

The End

 
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