A Life Less Interesting: Part Two
Oscar sat in the Rusty Dubloon, a Krawk Island tavern, nursing a tankard of grog. As he looked around the tavern, he considered two things. The first was that the tavern master had done a decent job with the decoration. Of course, it was a pirate tavern, so the place was dank and smelt faintly of seaweed and sweat, but the Rusty Dubloon really had dank down to an art. It almost felt as if the entire place was a well placed swamp with benches (if they could be called benches, as they seemed to be quite rotten). The second thing Oscar was considering was that he really didn’t like grog. He’d asked the man behind what, for want of a better word, was the bar for a mineral water. He had been greeted by a blank stare and a tankard of grog. How pirates drank it he would never know, or want to know for that matter.
“So, will ye pay out?” a voice asked from across the table.
Oscar returned to reality from his dreams of mineral water and addressed the pirate Techo sitting opposite.
“I think everything seems in order,” Oscar replied.
He glanced down at the insurance policy on the table. It covered accidental fire, that was true, but in Oscar’s experience there was no such thing as an accident on Krawk Island. He’d lost count of the number of times a tavern owner had burnt down his own tavern to get the money to escape the island to start his own crew of plunderers. They all denied it, but the lack of a police force on the island meant that Neopia Central Insurance, Inc. normally paid out anyway. It stopped the company getting involved in nasty legal battles with pirates who preferred the short arm wielding a cutlass to the long arm of the law.
Oscar looked back up at the pirate Techo. He was sure he had more gold teeth than brain cells, and would have been drumming his fingers on the table if they had not replaced with a hook. Oscar thought he had best conclude the business before he got impatient, launched some grog at his head and started a bar fight. Oscar reached down into his pockets and took out a chequebook and pen. He set them out on the table and began writing.
“What’s ’at?” the pirate asked.
“A chequebook, I’m writing you a cheque for 300,000 Neopoints,” Oscar answered without looking up.
“What do I want a ‘check’ for? I want Neopoints, or Dubloons; sooner Dubloons really,” the pirate questioned.
“I’m not authorised to give you Neopoints... or Dubloons,” Oscar answered.
He tore the cheque out of the book and handed it to the pirate’s good arm.
“If you take this to the National Neopian Bank, they’ll cash it and give you the money,” Oscar explained, taking in the pirate’s look of bewilderment.
“How am I getting to Neopia Central?” the pirate asked, a hint of anger entering his voice.
“You could sail; I thought pirates liked sailing,” Oscar suggested.
He knew instantly it was the wrong answer. The pirate’s grog flew straight at Oscar’s head. It was only through years of experience that Oscar was able to duck in time. Instead, the tankard flew into the back of a nearby pirate’s head. As he turned his scarred face, the tavern went silent for a millisecond, and then erupted into a mass of shouts and screams as every able-bodied man, woman, child and Petpet launched themselves at each other instinctively in a flurry of fists.
As a bulky pirate toppled Oscar’s bench, the Kacheek forced himself under the table and waited. Hopefully the pirates would all knock each other out before they found him, or at least the path to the door would be cleared. He reached his hand up to the table and grabbed the chequebook and pen back. Carefully on the back of the book he etched a line next to a group of others. That made seventeen bar fights he had seen since starting the job. Oscar decided that was far too many for any Neopet.
“That’s it, I quit,” he said loudly to no one in particular.
He was going back to Neopia Central and quitting as soon as he could. He just had to get out of the tavern.
Suddenly, the table was swept away from above Oscar’s head, and in its place the pirate Techo towered over the cowering Kacheek.
“Thought ye could escape, eh?” he sneered, brandishing his hooked hand towards Oscar.
“Listen, I’m sorry about the Neopoints, really I am...” Oscar grovelled.
It was no good. The pirate advanced as Oscar shuffled away on his backside, soon finding his escape blocked by a wall. The pirate’s shadow engulfed Oscar as he let out a yelp of terror. Yet, Oscar was surprised that the end did not come. He chanced opening one eye, and saw the pirate frozen above him with a look of mild amazement on his face. The pirate fell sideways, clattering to the floor and revealing another figure behind him, holding an empty tankard of grog. She was smiling brightly and was apparently oblivious to the maelstrom of fighting that was occurring behind her.
“I think he had that coming,” she said in a scolding tone, and dropped the tankard on the floor next to the pirate.
She was tightly clad in robes, her blue Aisha ears poking through a hood. She was no pirate, Oscar knew this immediately, but he also suspected she was not a tour guide. She extended a hand towards Oscar.
“If you want to get out of here with all your limbs intact, it might be a good idea to follow me,” she said sweetly.
Oscar knew she couldn’t be trusted, but he was on Krawk Island, not even the rocks could be trusted there. He took her hand and she hoisted him up.
“Stay close,” she said to him, and turned to survey the throng of fighters.
Her eyes darted from side to side, judging each member of the battle, assessing their strengths and weaknesses. As she watched, her hand clasped around a previously hidden blade clasped to her belt. She drew it carefully without even looking and held it close to her, ready to strike.
“Duck,” she said simply.
Oscar obliged and narrowly avoided a bottle of some dark brown liquid flying through the air.
“Now!” she yelled, darting forward.
Oscar didn’t have the time to react, but it didn’t matter. With the hand that wasn’t holding the dagger she grabbed Oscar around the collar and dragged him after her, almost lifting him into the air. They picked their way quickly through the scattered tables and chairs, avoiding most of the combatants. Those that were unlucky enough to meet them received a swift kick in their shin that sent them to the floor or in a couple of cases a gash from the dagger in their arm. All of them fell back, and the way to the tavern’s door was made clear. As they reached the door she paused to look back, apparently on the cusp of expelling an amusing one-liner, but a cutlass embedded itself in the wall mere millimetres from Oscar’s head which made him shriek and faint. This distracted the Aisha, so she hauled Oscar over her shoulder and ran out the door, leaving the tavern brawl far behind.
Oscar came to in a small alley, one of the thousands Krawk Island retains as tourist attractions to be mugged in. The Aisha was standing nearby, looking out of the alley at a burning building, which Oscar quickly realised had been the Rusty Dubloon only minutes earlier.
“Oh, that’s going to be a big claim,” Oscar groaned, getting shakily to his feet.
The Aisha turned round.
“It’s about time you woke up; I thought that blade might have done some damage,” she said, crossing her arms.
“Thanks for helping me get out; I would have been finished if it weren’t for you,” Oscar said bashfully.
“Ah, well about that... Truth is, I wanted to speak with you,” she confessed.
“What do you need?” Oscar asked suspiciously.
“You work for an insurance company, don’t you? I overheard you talking to that old pirate,” she told him.
“Yes, I work for Neopia Central Insurance, Inc. But I’m not a salesman; I can’t help you there,” Oscar informed her.
“Oh, I don’t need any insurance. I want to know if the Neopia Central Museum has taken out any extra policies lately,” the Aisha revealed.
“Why do you need to know that?” Oscar asked.
“My reasons are my own. If you tell me, though, I’ll consider it payment for saving your life back there,” she replied secretively.
“Well... they took out an extra three million excess last month. I think they had a new delivery of artefacts,” Oscar told her reluctantly.
His neck was beginning to hurt from where she had dragged him.
“Three million, you say? That sounds about right. Thank you, you were most helpful. In future, I suggest you don’t antagonise pirates; it can lead to bad situations,” she advised Oscar.
She turned to leave.
“I didn’t catch your name,” Oscar ventured.
“That’s because I didn’t throw it. I’m Sarah. Take care,” she replied, before sweeping out of the alleyway and leaving Oscar alone.
“I’m Oscar, not that you care,” Oscar said to himself.
He stood there a while, staring at the Rusty Dubloon as the fire claimed the last of it. Then, suddenly he remembered he was standing in a Krawk Island alleyway and was liable to be mugged. He had to find a ship heading towards Neopia Central; he’d had enough of his silly job.
To be continued...