From Princess to Pirate: Part Three
Polie could hear Tiria whimpering slightly about getting caught. Polie shushed her as the two listened carefully. The footsteps stopped as they hid in the shadows behind the opened door.
“Well?” a voice whispered. It sounded oddly familiar.
“It seems that the room is empty, but there is a painting on the bed...” another replied.
“It must have been my daughter, Polie, sneaking in to leave a gift for her mother. We must have heard the click of the door closing on her way out.”
Polie heard her father’s explanation and kept her ears perked. She was glad they hadn’t been caught.
The other, undistinguishable voice, replied, “Of course, Your Highness. As I was saying, the ship came into the royal port at Crystal Cove and the Queen seems to have left the ship, but was not seen leaving the harbor.”
“Were there any other ships in port?” the King inquired, trying his hardest to hide the worry from his voice. He had to remain calm, no matter what.
The raspy other voice continued, “Three. One is a known smuggling ship. We suspect they may be pirates.”
Tiria gasped and Polie nudged her hard. The two adults didn’t notice the noise and conversed quietly still. Polie tuned the rest of it out. Pirates? Had pirates done something to her mother? Polie chewed on her lower lip and motioned for her cousin. The two tiptoed while the others were occupied and made their way back to Polie’s quarters.
“Pirates.” Polie spoke softly, pacing around her room. “Can you believe it?”
Tiria nodded. “I heard my own father speaking of them just the other day. They seem to be getting around a lot lately.”
Polie chewed on her lip again, thinking hard. Someone had to rescue her mother. “I’m going after her!”
“Are you crazy?” Tiria asked incredulously. She circled around Polie as she began to pack a bag of clothes. She was determined.
“It’ll be like an adventure.”
“What kind of adventure is that? Messing with pirates? Your father...”
“My father keeps me locked up, like you said. I want to help,” Polie replied, cutting her cousin off. Tiria pouted and crossed her wings as she plopped down on the pink covered bed.
“Do you even know your way?”
Polie thought about it and she remembered the path they had taken to the cove long ago when she had gone to Tyrannia with her father. She could see the twisting path in her mind. It was about an hour’s walk from the castle.
She nodded and Tiria sighed dramatically. Polie smiled somewhat. “I’ll be back and with my mother too!”
“I still think you’re too young to be doing this!” her cousin called after her, but Polie was already out the door and nearly down the hall. She walked carefully, her backpack in tow. With all of the concentration featured on the banquet, it was easy for Polie to slip out of the castle and cross the threshold into the cool night breeze.
Torches lit the way to the cove and Polie followed them. Kreludor shone down brightly from above, like a beacon leading her toward Crystal Cove. She hummed quietly to herself as she listened to the sounds of the night. Every once in awhile her head turned back to see the castle of Brightvale becoming smaller and smaller.
The more that Polie walked, the more she began to feel a little tingling in her body. She hadn’t realized how odd it would be to travel alone on her own private adventure. The sound of hoof beats sounded on the path and Polie looked around for some kind of hiding place. She noticed a shrub nearby and hopped into it, shielding herself from view.
She peeked out through the bushes, not wanting anyone to see her. A team of blue Unis galloped past, wearing the insignia of Brightvale. Polie knew her father had sent his own personal guard to find her mother.
Polie decided to follow them.
Stepping out of the brush, she found her dress had caught on something. Polie tugged and heard the sound of the dress ripping. She gasped at the gaping hole on the side.
“Berna is not going to like this one bit.” She frowned, holding the torn cloth up in her hand. The blue Unis were getting further away and Polie realized there was no point in worrying about it now. Quickly, she hurried down the path as fast as her short legs would allow.
Polie did her best to stay hidden. The trees provided some cover as she systematically followed the group of Unis. Finally, they rounded the bend to Crystal Cove, the sparkling waters brightening up the cove in brilliant blues. Polie watched as it illuminated her face in the darkness and the Unis began their investigation.
“I see footprints!” a particularly young Uni shouted. The others gathered around, examining the footprints imprinted in the sandy beach. Polie slipped around them, stepping onto the wooden dock. A few ships bobbed in the water as the Unis gathered around distractedly.
Polie noticed The Hatchway, the ship her mother had taken to Altador. She pursed her lips and looked around, spotting a rickety old ship creaking nearby. A young camouflage Kougra was swabbing the deck under the moonlight. He looked to be about Polie’s age and she tentatively stepped forward, climbing up the stairs to the deck.
“Ho! Who’re you?”
“I’m a Princess!”
“You don’t look like a Princess.” The Kougra exclaimed as he pointed toward her dress. “See, you’re all torn. Looks like you tried to dress up as a Princess...”
Polie scowled and crossed her arms.
“Anyway,” he continued, eyeing Polie and leaning on his mop. “Are you looking for work? We do need a cook. Can you cook?”
“Sure.” Polie offered, though she wasn’t sure she had ever even been near a stove before. There was something about the ship, though. She had a need to explore it.
“Well, let’s go see the captain then. Maybe he’ll reward me for finding you!”
“You didn’t find me. I found you.” Polie protested. She always had to be right.
“Okay, okay. You’re right! How about we split it. 50/50.”
Polie thought about it. She had all the jewels in the world back at the castle in Brightvale, but if she wanted an adventure, she figured she might as well play the part.
“Deal. And, don’t go back on your word, either!” Polie waggled her finger at the Kougra. “I will be the one cooking your food after all.”
He growled at her, “I am an honest business man.”
Polie tried to interject her own opinion, when a door slammed open and a voice grumbled, “What is that racket going on out here?”
Both quieted immediately. Polie tried to raise her voice above a whisper, but she was too intimidated by the tall pirate Lupe. He had a patch over one eye and seemed to growl at her. The Kougra piped up instead.
“Boss, I found a cook!”
“Oh yeah, Gingy? The last time you found a cook, we ate flies in our food for three weeks,” the Captain replied. Polie wondered idly if his name was Boss.
Gingy scowled and crossed his arms, letting the mop in his hands fall hard on the deck. “This one is better, promise!”
“We’ll give her a trial run. Get her some appropriate clothes,” Boss ordered as he turned on his heel and disappeared through the door of his office aboard the ship. Gingy tugged on Polie’s arm and dragged her below.
“You’re in luck, Princess. We’ve got a Queen aboard. Maybe you two can exchange royal stories.” Gingy laughed loudly.
Polie’s ears perked up at the revelation, but she tried to remain calm. The best thing she could do for her mother was to pretend like she didn’t know her. “Is she quite pretty, then?”
Gingy contemplated a moment before answering. He stopped before a door to the kitchen and led Polie in. Once they were inside, he seemed to have figured out his decision. “I guess so. Boss seemed to think she would grant a handsome reward.”
“That’s good,” Polie managed. She felt her insides turn over at the thought.
Gingy grinned. “Here’s the kitchen.” He pointed toward the wall, where aprons were hanging up. “You can wear one of those.”
Polie glanced at the aprons and realized that they sort of looked like her smocks. She smiled and nodded in thanks to Gingy, who leaned on a bar stool against the table. Polie pulled the smock on and tied it around her waist.
“There you go. Now cook!” he replied, grinning toothily.
Polie looked around the kitchen nervously. She had only been around cooking a few times and the best she could do was possibly make a sandwich. There was a cooler of different fish on ice in the corner and she bit her lip as she looked around.
“We already had supper,” a voice called from the corner. It was Boss.
“I wanted to see her cook,” Gingy replied, more subdued in the presence of his Captain.
Polie sighed with relief. She hoped that she wouldn’t have to make them anything the entire time aboard. If she could only get to her mother...
Boss threw a glance at Gingy. “Go have a snack. There are some biscuits in the cupboard.”
The Kougra muttered as he climbed up on a stool to reach the high cupboard. He brought down a green tin and opened it, chomping messily on a hard biscuit. “I hope we get a big reward for the Queen. That way we can eat as much as we want!”
Boss shook his head only slightly, but didn’t bother to reply to Gingy. He looked instead to Polie. “You should get some rest. Think up a good recipe for breakfast. Gingy will show you to an empty bunk.”
“I’m takin’ the tin with me!”
Boss shrugged and turned to leave the kitchen, leaving Polie alone with Gingy again. She didn’t like him very much. He jumped off the stool, the tin of biscuits in one arm, and stormed through the kitchen door. He went below a few stairs as far into the bottom of the ship that he could go.
“So, this Queen, where did you find her?”
“Nabbed her as she was hoppin’ off her ship, we did,” Gingy boasted. “No one even noticed.”
Polie smiled as if she were commending him on this tough feat. “Congratulations. I’d like to see her sometime. Maybe, find out how a real Princess is supposed to act.”
Gingy narrowed his dark brown eyes at Polie. She kept her face as innocent as possible. The Kougra seemed satisfied and shrugged, “She is being kept on the second deck in an empty store compartment. Used to have lots of food in there, we did.”
Polie resisted the urge to roll her eyes as Gingy took another hard chomp of a biscuit.
She made no other comment as they reached the room that Gingy had found for her. She stepped inside the small area, a hammock swinging from the roof. It looked oddly uncomfortable and Polie was very wary of it. She set down her bag again on the floor and sat in it and wobbled.
“You’ll get used to it,” Gingy assured her. “See you in the morning. I’ll be ravishing.”
The Kougra turned and closed the door behind him, leaving a trail of biscuit crumbs as he went. Polie figured the trail would come in handy to help her return back to the deck above. They had taken some twists and turns and she was afraid she would get lost if she tried to leave on her own.
Polie leaned back in the hammock, adjusting herself so that she was as still as possible. The hammock swayed back and forth anyway. She knew she wouldn’t sleep. The Kau was waiting for everyone else to return to his own room and fall into a deep slumber before she sneaked out in a rescue attempt.
When she was satisfied and tired enough herself, Polie twisted out of the hammock, tripping over her own feet and taking out the lamp on the night table.
To be continued...