Courage, Hatred, and Swords
Where are you? Garin thought as he gazed at the ocean in front of him. For some amount of time, things had been quiet, a little too quiet. Garin knew this was just the calm before the storm, and one thing still tormented his mind and made his spirit restless; Scarblade. The villain had vanished ever since Maraqua, and there was no sign. Garin’s grip on the rail of the Black Pawkeet tightened. He had yet to settle his score with that fiend, but from what he heard of Captain Scarblade, he wasn’t so easily beaten nor easily intimidated. Garin heard footsteps behind him. He smiled, forgetting one minute about his utter contempt.
“Jacques,” he said and turned around. The red Kyrii smiled at him.
“How do you always know it’s me?” he asked.
“You’re the only person who carries two swords on his belt. Only one doesn’t make such a rattle,” Garin said, elbowing Jacques in the side. His best mate laughed.
“Right. Anyway Garin, we’re ready to put into port. Our supplies need restocked badly.”
“Scurvy Island?” Garin asked.
“Aye,” Jacques replied. Garin nodded as a notion that it was okay to go ashore, and Jacques left. Garin fingered the hilt of his Maractite dagger. He knew Scarblade was often seen on Scurvy Island, though not many people mentioned his name. Why were people so scared of him anyhow? He was just a man, only a man. Flesh and blood, nothing else. Garin bared his teeth, but then shook his head to snap himself back into the now. Jacques and some of the crew were going ashore in the long boat; Garin climbed in with them.
“You’re coming with us?” asked Talak, the red Wocky.
“A step ashore might do me some good,” Garin replied. “Now let’s shove off.”
Garin walked into the ‘Rusty Anchor’ tavern, which as usual, was a hive of activity. But Garin knew this was not the best place to whisper secrets because the wrong ears were always listening. He kept a wary eye open for a purple Bruce known as Benny the Blade, Scarblade’s henchman, and bad news. Garin made his way to the counter and ordered a drink from the Yurble behind the counter. A small cluster of pirates sat next to him, talking about something that Garin couldn’t understand very well, or was interested in... until one of them said something.
“I ain’t sure what it is that happened, but they say that ‘you know who’, is in a mighty foul temper,” said a Pirate Acara.
“Who? You mean Scarblade?” Garin asked. The pirates froze and looked at him, a sort of scared look on their faces. “What? I’m not afraid of him. And I never will be.”
“You should be, boy,” the Acara said shakily.
“Why? He’s only mortal,” Garin said with a shrug. “So why should I be afraid of him?” The pirates looked at each other, shocked at Garin’s response. Garin laid a few dubloons on the counter and left. He kicked a rock as he exited the ‘Rusty Anchor’. Scarblade was the only thing his mind had revolved around for the past week or so, and Garin knew that facing him might be the only way to silence the matter once and for all, but at the bottom of his heart, Garin knew that he was afraid.
Garin spotted his mates back at the docks a little later on, and as they were getting ready to head back to the Pawkeet, Sam, the blue Kacheek, uncovered the long boat from where they had hidden it earlier. Sam’s eyes widened.
“Aargh!” he yelped.
“What?!” Garin thrust out his Maractite dagger as a reaction. He looked at the boat. Someone had hacked away at the bottom of the boat and left large holes in the wood. “By Fyora- what else could go wrong today?!?”
“Eh-hem,” Bill the red Buzz piped in. “Wings?”
“Oh. Right. Okay you fly out to the Pawkeet and get another boat,” said Garin. Bill flew off. Garin sat down on the beach and kicked at the sand. Jacques sat down next to him.
“Bad day on your part?” he asked.
“Eh, you could say that,” Garin replied. He looked at his friend. “Why?”
“Well, Garin, you seem a little... you know... cranky.” Jacques fiddled with a piece of driftwood as he spoke.
“Oh.” Garin looked down. “Sorry mate, it’s just... I’ve been thinking about Scarblade. Why people are so scared of him and all. I mean, he’s only mortal.”
“Yeah sometimes I wonder that too,” said Jacques. “But if you think about it, he earned his reputation as a terrifying person. People are afraid of him because of that.” Jacques laid down on the sand, but then shot right back up. “Here comes Bill.” He and Garin got up. Bill rowed over and they climbed in. They got back to the Black Pawkeet and started to take the supplies down into the hold. Bill walked over to Garin.
“Captain, wonder if I might have a word?”
“Sure thing, Bill,” Garin said. Bill gestured for him to follow. Garin followed Bill over to the cabin. He opened the door.
“Garin, I didn’t want to address you about this in front of the crew, but I know you left the cabin door shut when we left, and when I got here it was open!”
“What?” Garin asked.
“I checked around to see if anything was missing, but the only thing I found was... well, look.” Bill pointed at the desk. A rusted knife was driven into the wood, with a note pinned under it. Garin walked over and pulled the note from the knife. It was written in red ink.
‘Beware of what you say, boy. You could get hurt.’
Apparently someone wanted to make a point, Garin knew. And as he read the note it sounded as if Scarblade were speaking the words. He clenched his fists and crumpled the note. Anger burned in his heart like a fire on wood.
“Best not mention this to anyone in the crew, Bill. We don’t want to get anyone nervous.”
“Aye, aye sir.” Bill nodded and walked out, sensing that Garin wanted to be left alone, which he did. Garin hurled the ball of paper to the ground, then kicked at a chair. If Scarblade wanted to say something to him, then why didn’t he say it to his face instead of sending a note? Garin stared out the window and sighed.
“I wonder if Isca predicted where Scarblade is?” he asked himself randomly. Garin sat down on the floor and leaned against the wall. He unsheathed his Maractite dagger and looked at the blade. The blue metal twinkled in the sunset light. Garin felt his eyes growing heavy. He soon fell asleep.
Garin woke with a start as a large thump sounded outside his cabin. He got up and went to the door. He looked around outside, but saw nothing. It wasn’t too dark to see, but a storm was rolling in. Garin turned around and went up to the helm. He stood at the wheel of the Black Pawkeet and ran his hand along the wood. Suddenly, he felt hot breath on the back of his neck. He slowly reached for his dagger, then whirled around with a yell. He felt a sharp pain in his chest and fell backwards. An evil laugh filled his ears. Garin looked up, and found himself staring onto the malicious red eye of Captain Scarblade.
“You should pay more attention to messages, boy,” Scarblade said. Garin leapt up, ready to fight. Scarblade snapped his fingers and his crew appeared out of nowhere and surrounded Garin. Garin spun around, searching for any of his crew who might have heard something and woken the others, but instead found them being held captive by Scarblade’s men. Garin growled.
“Let them go, Scarblade! This is between you and me!” he shouted angrily.
“Aye. Which is why I can’t have any of your mates interfering.” Scarblade drew a cutlass. Garin snarled and swung at Scarblade, but suddenly found that the old Lupe was much stronger than him and fell to the ground. Scarblade kicked him in the stomach. He laughed.
“This is going to be fun,” he said cruelly. He hit Garin in the ribs with the pommel of his cutlass, then kicked him again. Garin rolled out of the way to dodge another blow, but felt his side aching. He jumped up and clutched his wound, still fighting back. Scarblade was winning, and Garin was hurt badly, but fighting back bravely. The fight seemed to go on for hours, and most of Garin’s cuts stung as the rain started coming down. Scarblade kicked him off of the helm and Garin hit the deck hard. He rolled onto his side. Jacques yelled and tried to struggle free of his bonds, but it was no good. Scarblade laughed evilly.
“Weakling,” he mocked. He knelt at Garin’s side, and put his cutlass to Garin’s chin so he was looking at him. “Though I’m a little surprised at you, Garin. Rumor says that you never back down from a fight. And yet you gave up so easily.”
“Wh-Who says I-I’ve given up?” Garin choked, trying to pull himself from the deck and hide his fear. Scarblade shook his head. He stood up and snapped his fingers. His crew started to board the Revenge and he looked at Garin.
“Let today be a warning to you, boy,” he said. “Never to cross me again.”
Scarblade started to walk off. Hatred boiled in Garin’s blood. He bared his teeth and started to get up.
“N-Not so fast,” he said. Scarblade ignored him, the heavy rain sliding off his deep red coat. “Where’re you goin’? Get back here!” Scarblade again ignored him. Garin growled and his fists tightened. “COWARD!!!” he screamed. Scarblade stopped dead in his tracks.
“Uh oh,” Jacques whispered. Scarblade turned his head at Garin, his red eye burning in rage and hatred.
“What did you just say?” he growled.
“You heard me,” Garin said, narrowing his eyes. Scarblade strode over to him, gripping the hilt of his cutlass.
“I’d be careful of what I say if I were you,” he growled, putting his face close up to Garin’s.
“If you were me, I’d stand and fight,” Garin replied. “Not run away like a coward.”
“Proud and insolent fool!” Scarblade spat angrily.
“Let’s settle this once and for all, Scarblade.”
“With esteemed pleasure, Captain Garin!” Scarblade drew his cutlass. Garin blocked the strike, then pressed his own attack. One of Scarblade’s crew aimed to throw a knife, but Jacques wriggled free of his bonds and rammed that one with his shoulder, then proceeded in freeing the rest of the crew, whose eyes were fixed on Garin and Scarblade. It was a battle like none had ever seen before, a young captain taking on the most terrifying pirate in the seas. Jacques watched with interest, but was ready to come to Garin’s aid if need be. Garin jumped back to dodge another blow, then started to scramble up the ratlines to the rigging, hoping to lead Scarblade to a place where he could easily push him off. Scarblade was right on Garin’s heels, snarling and wanting nothing more but to hear the young Usul captain’s cries for mercy then watch the life leave his eyes. But he would have no such privilege. Garin reached the yardarm and readied himself to fight. He knew this ship like the back of his hand, and he had a plan. Scarblade swung his cutlass at Garin, who jumped back. Garin and Scarblade locked swords, but then, suddenly, Scarblade hit Garin in the face, causing him to fall backwards. And now Garin lay on his back on the yardarm, his Maractite dagger fallen to the deck below, and through the pouring rain, Scarblade put his cutlass to Garin’s throat. Garin glared at Scarblade.
“It’s over, Garin. You were warned, and now you’ve lost,” Scarblade said grimly. Garin stared for a moment, but then grinned.
“That would be a sucker’s bet,” Scarblade snickered.
“Yeah, you’re the sucker!!” Garin kicked at Scarblade’s legs, knocking them out from beneath him. Scarblade fell and grabbed the yardarm for dear life. Garin kicked Scarblade in the face, causing him to fall, but the only thing Garin didn’t count on was that Scarblade grabbed his ankle and pulled him down with him! Garin grabbed at a rope that hung from the rigging and stopped himself, and unfortunately Scarblade, from falling. They landed on the deck, alive, but groaning in pain. Garin grabbed his Maractite dagger, stood up, and readied himself as Scarblade rose to his feet. Suddenly, there was another drawn blade next to Garin’s, two in fact. It was Jacques, who was glaring at Scarblade, just as unafraid as Garin was. And then, the entire crew of the Black Pawkeet stood at their captain’s side, eyes burning in anger. Scarblade watched, dazed. Jacques looked at Garin.
“You were right, Garin. He’s only mortal.”
Garin looked at his crew, then at Scarblade and grinned. “Looks like I’m not the only one who isn’t afraid of you,” he chuckled. Scarblade stared, never before had this many men stood up to him, showing absolutely no fear and instead showing hatred. And at the bottom of his cold heart, he was afraid. He took a step back.
“Don’t just stand there you bilge rats!” Scarblade shouted at his crew. “Get them!” His crew obeyed and charged Garin’s crew, and very quickly the fight was on. Scarblade swung at Garin, who blocked. Scarblade then, without warning, suddenly found himself pinned to the ground by Garin, with his sword at his throat. Sudden fear drove out Scarblade’s strength, but unless he was the cause of the fear, Garin realized, Scarblade had complete control over the situation. But now, things were different. Garin raised his dagger, but then felt a sudden pain in his arm. Benny the Blade threw a knife and buried its point into Garin’s arm. Garin screamed and fell backwards off of Scarblade, clutching his arm. Scarblade, his strength returned, leapt up and tried to stab Garin, but Garin rolled aside. He grabbed his Maractite dagger and swung at Scarblade... and felt his arm stop.
There was a loud yowl of pain that split the air. Scarblade fell backwards, his hand clutching the top of his left shoulder. Garin stared in shock. He actually WOUNDED him! Scarblade glared at Garin, then shouted orders to his crew, telling them to retreat. The crew of the Revenge jumped aboard their ship, Scarblade followed, but before he left, looked back at Garin, pointed his cutlass at him, and said in the most evil way,
“You will pay!” Then Scarblade departed. Garin shivered, not only because of the cold rain, which was slowly clearing up, but because of what Scarblade said. He knew he meant it. A mighty cheer interrupted Garin’s thoughts. His crew was rejoicing because of their victory. Garin joined them with a loud whoop. Jacques embraced his friend.
“Ha, ha! We did it!” he said excitedly. “Garin, we won! Can you believe it?”
“No! We actually drove him off!” Garin sheathed his Maractite dagger.
“This will definitely be written down in the history books!” said Talak.
“Talak, we’re pirates; we don’t even read books!” Garin joked. Everyone laughed.
Garin paid the shopkeeper the dubloons for the supplies he just bought and walked out of the shop, snatching an apple behind the shopkeeper’s back. He walked down the street crowded with people buying things from booths and stands towards the harbor. Just then, he saw two small boys playing in the street near the docks with wooden swords. One of them was a blue Lutari, and the other was a green Draik. One of them, the Lutari, slipped backwards and fell off of a crate he was standing on. Garin ran over and caught the little fellow before he hit the ground.
“You two ought to be more careful. You could get hurt,” he said.
“Thanks for the help, mister. I promise we’ll...” The Lutari looked at him and gasped. “Wow! You’re Captain Garin, aren’t you?”
“...Yeah. You’ve heard of me?” Garin asked, a little confused.
“Heard of you? Who hasn’t!” the little Draik exclaimed. “You chased off old Scarblade and his crew last night! The whole island is talking about it!” Garin stared at the boys.
“You’re... not afraid to say his name.”
“Not anymore. ‘Cause you beat him!” said the Draik.
“Yeah! I didn’t think anyone could do it, but you did!” said the Lutari. “I hope I’m as brave as you when I grow up!”
Garin chuckled. “I wouldn’t go sticking your necks out. Words can get people in trouble, believe me.” Garin told the boys he had to go, that his crew was waiting for him. Though disappointed, the boys said goodbye and Garin left. He thought about what the boys had said, about not being afraid of Scarblade anymore. Garin looked around at the people surrounding him. There was something about the way they all spoke, something that made the once dreary eyes bright and happy. They were no longer afraid of one mortal man, even though there probably some who still were, but they were not afraid anymore. Garin smiled. They weren’t afraid anymore, because he had done something. They were no longer afraid, because some had shone courage, and proved... that no one is indestructible.