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Pirate Haven


by seegensays

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Krawk Island is the most well-known pirate haven in Neopia. Home to criminals and buccaneers galore, it boasts a thriving pirate population; the biggest area of concentrated pirates in Neopia, in fact. Neopets on the shady side of the law can grab their grog and smuggled wares without fear of being imprisoned. Only on that island are pirates free from persecution.

     Well, that’s what most Neopians believe, anyways. It’s not necessarily true. On the southwest side of Altador, along the shoreline that eclipses its boundaries, there are several obscure islands – most of which rise far above sea level, leaving a large expanse of sheer, hard rock face open to the elements. On one such island, there is an unusually wide space of sandy beach at the foot of one such sheer rock face, and, hidden behind a bush, is the entrance to a series of tunnels. From there, a Neopet only has to squeeze themselves down a short, narrow passage, and then you find yourself at the edge of an enormous cavern, filled with noise and other Neopets. You would have, in fact, found the lesser-known pirate safe haven – the less safe one, actually, being right under King Altador’s nose.

     Although it does not have an official name, the Pirate Pets of Altador – for that’s what they call themselves – refer to it in public as “The Sunny Dubloon,” a parody of the well-known tavern back on Krawk Island. The name stuck a while back, and now it is permanently called as such. TSD for short, it’s like a miniature village, filled with taverns and stalls selling illegally-obtained items. Any questionable merchant could find somebody to sell to there, and it’s even been reported that the Smugglers themselves come once a year on their rounds.

     And who are the Pirate Pets of Altador? They are simply pirates who live in Altador, or in surrounding areas... or even pirates that don’t come from anywhere near, but who journey into the lesser-known pirate village and make it their home, so that they have somewhere nearby to store stolen goods. For that is what draws the pirates to Altador – the fabulous riches contained inside.

     Any Pirate Pet will tell you it’s a good life. Mostly. Oh, sure, there are occasionally times when the Sunny Dubloon has to be completely cleared out and moved, to avoid pesky things such as King Altador’s army and Jerdana’s magic. But with the help of absurdly expensive Altadorian merchandise, the Sunny Dubloon has managed to set up a thriving illegitimate economy equaled (well, surpassed, really) only by that of Krawk Island. A pirate could come into a lot of money very quickly just outside of Altador, and the thrill of sailing the open seas is still there.

     As mentioned above, not many know of its existence. It’s mainly a security thing, considering the Pirate Pets of Altador can’t afford to give King Altador any inkling that such a place exists just outside of his grand city. If you’re a well known pirate with excellent underworld connections, then yes, of course you’d have a ticket in, but otherwise, you’d have to stumble upon it quite by accident.

     Or, you could be a petite blue Zafara named Llyxiana.

     Llyxiana, the aforementioned blue Zafara, swished her spiked tail with indecision. She was standing outside on an obscure island just off the Altadorian coast, in the pouring rain. The shore was just wide enough that the crashing waves did not totally engulf her, but instead they tickled the bottom of her hind paws. It was a real storm that lit up the dark clouds over Altador that night, and each roar of thunder threatened to burst Llyxiana’s eardrums and sent a tremor through her jaw that made her teeth chatter. It was not nice weather by anybody’s standards, and many would wonder why such a frail-looking blue Zafara would be standing outside, on a lonely beach with nothing between her and the vertical cliff in front of her except for a scruffy little bush that was half-brown already, and definitely not enough cover from such a storm.

     Llyxiana crossed her arms over her chest for warmth. Her whole body felt weighed down by the water-soaked, several sizes overlarge coat she was wearing, and her equally water-soaked fur. It was a wonder she could swish her tail at all, really. She shook her head vigorously and wiped some water out of her eyes reflexively, although it didn’t help.

     To go in, or not to go in? Llyxiana was definitely not a pirate by any stretch, she knew, and the pirates inside would know that as well, once she removed her coat. She was not welcome here. She wasn’t even supposed to know that there was a “here.” So really, she should just take her chances with scaling the cliff and finding shelter up above, even though she was totally drained of energy.

     But it was so cold...

     Behind the bush, as Llyxiana knew there would be, was a minute fissure in the rock, about her height. It hardly looked suspicious, but definitely big enough to fit through. The Zafara squished herself inside, her skin scraping a little painfully against the coarse rock, and breathed a silent sigh of relief as the sensation of rain pelting her instantly subsided. She inched along, trying to breathe easily and forget about her chronic claustrophobia. Just a little further, she thought.

     And suddenly she tumbled into a wide, open space filled with noise and so many conflicting smells it made her head spin. The first thing she noticed, however, was the heat that washed over her like a comforting blanket. Llyxiana closed her eyes, deliriously happy that she was not cold anymore – or at least as warm as it was possible to be with a sopping wet coat draped around her. She almost took the coat off, so she could hang it up and let it dry, but stopped herself as her fingers strayed towards the top button. That was the sacrifice she had to make for coming inside.

     Before her was a bustling marketplace. Neopets streamed every which way through the “streets,” sometimes pausing at stalls to examine or buy the merchandise displayed. And they were selling everything from food to clothing, and even some of the expensive, coveted avatars. There were makeshift hut-like structures dotted around the place as well, mostly taverns or inns.

     Most of the pets here were unpainted, Llyxiana noted. Oh, a couple here and there stood out with their vibrant colors and strange appendages – she was particularly amused to spot a mean-looking Faerie Wocky trying to sell various malicious-looking potions – but most were plain and very disheveled, weary travelers with no money for paintbrushes. Llyxiana realized that she wouldn’t stand out, as she had feared – she herself must look very unkempt at this point, and her unadorned coat, with its uninteresting beige color, and her dull blue fur would hardly attract attention. And the fact that her coat was so much bigger than she was wouldn’t be conspicuous either – she could spot a lot of stranger-looking characters around her.

     Swishing her tail again, this time with confidence as opposed to indecision, Llyxiana marched into the nearest lean-to tavern with her head held high. Once inside, she planted herself down at an out-of-the-way table for two and inspected the other occupants.

     Mugs brimming with multicolored grog in their hands, several burly Neopets – a Blumaroo, a Lenny, a Grundo, and two Skeiths – with ridiculously muscled arms (and wings), tattoos rippling down both, were singing a song. Rather off-key, as well, Llyxiana noted with a wince.

     Defenders of Neopia,

     Kings Hagan, Altador, and Skarl,

     Listen to what we must say:

     Us pirates will never be silenced

     Or captured or taken

     Advantage of in any way–

     – At this point, the two Skeiths and the Grundo and the Blumaroo and Lenny broke off into two singing groups. The Blumaroo and Lenny echoed the Skeiths’ and Grundo’s booming voices as they sang the next verse –

     We’re PIRATES, yo ho!

     (Yes pirates, we’re pirates)

     Will we be silenced? NO!

     (No, no!)

     And we will sail the Seas of Neopia

     To wherever we want to go!

     (GO, GO!)

     – The five Neopets joined together for the last chorus –

     Defenders of Neopia,

     Kings Hagan, Altador, and Skarl,

     Listen to what we must say!

     There was a smattering of applause around the room, but mostly nobody noticed they had stopped singing. The atmosphere was incredibly noisy already. Llyxiana put her paws together a couple of times politely, then clapped a paw over her mouth as if she had said something rude, remembering that pirates weren’t polite.

     I really should leave, she thought. Being polite has been grown into me – I can’t help it. And by not being rowdy or conspicuous, I am being conspicuous. Go figure.

     “You’re not really a Pirate Pet of Altador, are you?” said a voice very close by. Llyxiana jumped and paled underneath her messy fur, which had almost completely dried out. A smirking girl Poogle had just slipped into the seat across from her. Llyxiana couldn’t tell what color her new companion was – a lighter blue, perhaps? – but she had a red-and-white spotted handkerchief tied around her head in a very pirate-y fashion. A slightly torn-up black-and-white striped shirt was her only other adornment. Llyxiana, without her extensive knowledge of painted pets, might have said this new Poogle was painted Pirate – but she lacked the finer touches such as the gold earring and the eye patch. A very good pretender, then.

     “Hi, I’m Klaisa,” said the Poogle somewhat breathlessly. Her words tumbled out of her mouth as if she couldn’t wait to set them free, out into the air. “Don’t worry about not being a pirate, though... um...?” Klaisa paused expectantly.

     “Um, Llyxiana,” said the Zafara slowly and carefully. She gauged that revealing her first name wouldn’t be too revealing. It was an unusual one for sure, but hopefully it wouldn’t ring a bell in Klaisa’s mind.

     It didn’t seem to.

     “LICK-sha-anne-ah,” said Klaisa, testing the atypical name out on her tongue with a faraway look in her eye. “Lick-SHAI-na...”

     “‘Lick-shee-anna,’” repeated Llyxiana slowly and carefully.

     Klaisa wrinkled her nose. “Ah, well... Very mysterious, though, the way you pronounce it. Very pirate-y, even if you aren’t really a pirate.” The Poogle winked in a way she must have thought was sly. “So, what does bring you here, if not something unlawful?”

     “Er...” Llyxiana wasn’t sure how to reply to that. She didn’t want to say the truth, but she couldn’t think of an adequate lie.

     “It’s okay.” Klaisa waved her hand dismissively. “We don’t care too much about a Neopet’s history here at the Sunny Dubloon.” She smiled as if this was an inside joke. Which it was. “Mine’s not very interesting. My father is this trader, see – a tall green Eyrie missing an eye, maybe you’ve seen him? No? Well, we make rounds all across Neopia selling... erm.... items acquired by... unconventional means, savvy?”

     Llyxiana nodded, intrigued.

     “Well,” Klaisa went on, “Today’s our last night here before we move up to the teensy pirate outpost up by Shenkuu. We won’t be there for long, not many pirates there, so not a very good trading business and such.”

     The Poogle swiveled around suddenly so she was facing the group of Neopets who had been singing earlier. They were now gulping down more grog and laughing, empty mugs littering their table.

     “That wasn’t a very well written or well sung song. Aye?” she asked suddenly. She didn’t wait for Llyxiana, taken by surprise at the abrupt change of subject, to respond, but plowed right on. “I mean, they even forgot some people like King Coltzan, and Fyora, and King Kelpbeard...” Klaisa paused, her implied “but” hanging in the air.

     “Well, it explains us good enough, though,” she continued after a moment. “Us pirates, I mean.” She winked again, smiling. Llyxiana smiled nervously back. “We’re tough, savvy? We don’t take nothing from nobody. And we’ll always be free, you know. Even if King Altador himself were to stomp right in here right now with his whole army behind him, at least some of us would escape and take to the seas. There will always be pirates. And since we actually build up most of Neopia’s economy, anyways, even if we do it in an unlawful-like way, we’re needed. We’re a necessity. Savvy?”

     Llyxiana’s tail swished yet again, and her brow furrowed in deep thought. She was about to answer her new friend when Klaisa suddenly laughed, a strange, bark-like sound.

     “You haven’t had anything to eat or drink, have you, Lickshianna? Come, let’s go get something” – she stood up – “I think they give you discounts after midnight.”

     “Midnight!” Llyxiana stood up so suddenly that her chair fell over. Nobody else noticed in the racket. “Midnight!?” she exclaimed again. “Is it really? I have to go! Now!”

     Klaisa raised an eyebrow quizzically, but Llyxiana was already out of the tavern, bounding quickly through the slightly less dense throng of people on all fours, her still-wet coat slapping noisily against the stone beneath her feet. Not that anyone paid much attention. You met odd folk like that here – it was a pirate outpost, after all.

     ***

     The next morning, Llyxiana was awakened by a beam of light falling over her face. She groaned and rolled over in her bed, pulling the plush duvet over her head.

     “Lixie! Come on now, darling, get up. Most Neopets are out and about at this hour. It’s a beautiful day.”

     Only her aunt would have the nerve to call Llyxiana “Lixie,” her pet name from when she was four or so. It figured – her aunt hadn’t seen her since about then. A lot could change in thirteen years.

     Llyxiana sat up and rubbed her eyes. Perhaps that trip to the Sunny Dubloon, or whatever they called it, had been a dream after all. Thinking about it now, Llyxiana knew she would never have had the guts to sneak into King Altador’s chambers and look at some of his most precious documents. And apparently, in her dream of course, after she had found the unopened letter labeled “Altadorian Pirate Haven Speculations” and opened it, she had taken it and hidden it to prevent it from being found by anyone but herself. That didn’t sound like her.

     Of course, she had been toying with the idea all of yesterday, since King Altador got the letter at breakfast, but now, safe and warm in her bed, she simply could not see herself going through with the idea. What had that fictional Pirate-look-alike Poogle, Klaisa, said? She did not seem like a pirate. And visiting the Altadorian pirate haven seemed very pirate-y.

     “Lixie! I asked you a question. Come on now, shake the sleep out of your head.” Llyxiana obediently shook her head, Zafara ears swinging wildly around.

     There was a sigh. Llyxiana blinked a couple of times until she could see properly, and was greeted with the scene she had already been imagining in her head. Her aunt, an Aisha resplendent in her gown embellished with suns and stars, a trademark yellow ribbon in her hand, was holding a golden curtain out to the side of Llyxiana’s open window. Through it, the Zafara could see a stunning view of Altador, the beautifully built, stone and red-roofed houses contrasting against the rich greens of the countryside, all the way out to the sparkling blue sea. The sun was picturesquely framed between two golden clouds.

     “Lixie!” Llyxiana snapped to attention, and Jerdana rolled her eyes. “Honestly, what am I to do with you...” The Protector of Altador coughed. “Llyxiana, can you explain these?” The Aisha dropped the curtain, making the room seem remarkably dimmer even though a light was on, and gestured at the floor.

     Llyxiana stared uncomprehendingly at the pile of clothes on the floor at the foot of her bed – clothes of the wealthy, made of the finest fabrics and in good condition, albeit a bit wrinkled. Clothes that you hid from the pirates, said Llyxiana’s subconscious with a niggling little voice.

     Jerdana coughed again. “They’re wet. Soaking wet. And why on Neopia do you have King Altador’s best coat draped over your doorknob? It’s dripping onto the carpet, honey. Honestly, did you take a bath in them or what?”

     Llyxiana paled underneath her fur. So it hadn’t been a crazy dream? What had possessed her to go through with her less than foolproof plan? And how on Neopia had she been stupid enough to leave evidence in such plain sight?

     “I – I went out for a walk,” said the blue Zafara carefully. That was partly true, anyways.

     Jerdana snorted. “In the rain? There was a storm last night. In fact, a tree got blown into some farmer’s farmhouse, and he seems to be making a great deal of it – King Altador’s been all over the place seeing to the damage–” The Aisha stopped herself and narrowed her eyes. “And you would be foolhardy enough to sneak off in the middle of the night...?!”

     Llyxiana coughed and averted her eyes. “I was looking for an adventure.” Another half-truth.

     “Well, you certainly found it. Huh. I’m going to go tell your mother, Lixie; let’s see what she has to say about it...” Jerdana turned around and stalked off, her brightly colored gown twirling magnificently and her yellow ribbon trailing, almost forgotten, on the floor behind her. Llyxiana thought she heard her Aisha aunt mutter something about that “scatterbrained little sister” never keeping a close enough watch on her. In a moment, Jerdana was both out of sight and out of earshot.

     Llyxiana rubbed her eyes again and yawned widely. Her first instinct was to crawl back under the covers and warm up her fur, but the thought of water stains in the expensive carpet motivated her to collect the sopping articles of clothing and dump them in her hamper.

     The still-sleepy blue Zafara bounded over to her doorway and gently closed her door. There, just as Jerdana had said it would be, was King Altador’s best coat. A large damp spot had already accumulated up against the wall, which was also wet from the coat being pressed against it. Llyxiana sighed – that really hadn’t been a dream, had it?

     She reasoned King Altador might be less angry with her if she returned the coat warm and dry, so she dumped that in the now overflowing hamper as well, wondering what the maid who took out her laundry would think. Immersed in thought, she dressed herself without really looking at what she put on and sat down on the bed.

     What was she to do now? She had visited the Sunny Dubloon, renowned and elusive pirate community, met a pirate, and, most importantly, hidden the letter that had pointed the way. It was now safe and sound underneath a section of carpeting underneath her bureau.

     It had been a wonderful place, really. It would be a shame for King Altador to find it and clear it out. And whoever sent the original letter was at liberty to send it again, she realized. Llyxiana did something then that she knew Jerdana – and her mother – would chide her for; she made a snap decision, and didn’t think it through right away.

     Grabbing King Altador’s still soaking coat from the top of her hamper, Llyxiana slid out of her chambers and started making her way through the building by hidden back ways that she was sure only she knew. She would go back to the Sunny Dubloon, she thought, and warn the Pirate Pets of Altador that King Altador was nearly onto them. They probably already knew that, with such a great network of spies, but it was an excuse to visit again.

     And perhaps Llyxiana would catch Klaisa and her father before they left for Shenkuu. If they had room for another crewmember, well, she was able and ready for the adventure that was soon to follow.

The End

Klaisa's the Pirate Poogle I can't afford. T.T Ah, well. Neomail's always appreciated. =D

 
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