Fools and Children: Part Three
GitchiManitou ran a trembling hand across his pallid and clammy brow. The roiling of the ocean pitched the boat back and forth like a pendulum, taking his stomach with it. The ghost Krawk tried to control his panting breath and concentrated on holding down his breakfast, but he was afraid it would be a losing battle; he may have been bred to the sailing arts, but he could never abide the sea. Cavillace looked at her brother with grave concern and stretched her hand out toward him as far as her chains would allow.
“Give me your hand, GM,” instructed the mutant Draik.
GM was too weak to inquire as to the purpose and feebly stretched his own hand just to within his sister’s reach. Cavillace searched GM’s wrist for the proper pressure point and massaged the area until the Krawk started to breathe easier and nodded that he was feeling better.
“We need to get you off this boat,” said Cavillace, looking around the hold yet again for a way out.
GM shrugged and replied, “We need to get both of us off this boat, but we’re at the mercy of our captors.”
“You seem pretty accepting of this.”
“I keep thinking about fate and destiny and what role these pirates have in Fyora’s Quest. We may be exactly where we need to be right now.” The Krawk twisted until he could search for the Golden Compass in his vest pocket, and finding it safely hidden in the garment’s folds, he nodded to himself with satisfaction.
“Or the pirates might be keeping us from our destiny,” said Cavillace. Shaking her shackled hands, she added, “What I do know is that this is not a fate I will accept quietly.”
The ghost Krawk opened his mouth to respond, but snapped it shut as he was abruptly thrown back against the hull behind him; the boat had run ashore, and suddenly, their small square of light was broken by the shadows of the pirates who had come to get them. The two braced themselves for conflict, but were blinded as black hoods were quickly fastened over their heads. Cavillace felt her chains slacken, but before she could react, she lost her balance as she was shoved roughly against her brother. She could feel her leg-irons being attached to GitchiManitou’s and knew that they had been hobbled. She strained against the hood and tried to get close enough to her brother to talk with him, but a strong chemical odour was the last thing she sensed before all went dark.
Cavillace was disoriented as she regained her faculties. All was still black, and in addition to the pain in her limbs where the shackles had been chafing, she could feel every bump in the road over which she was being hauled in a rough wooden cart. With a sudden panic, she began to frantically feel around the cart beside her, and it was with relief that she grasped her brother’s hand and gave it a strong squeeze. GitchiManitou returned the clasp as he, too, came slowly back to awareness. As they jolted along, the faint sound of music reached the mutant Draik’s ears, and as it grew louder, she recognized the funky soul-filled sound of Chomby and the Fungus Balls. With dread, Cavillace realized that they were travelling along the Tyrannian Plateau, and if they were passing the Concert Hall, she then had no doubt they were on a course to the Tyrannian Arena.
GitchiManitou felt his sister’s hand begin to tremble and through the hood came his voice, muffled yet concerned, “What is it, Cav? Where are we?”
“Oh, GM. I have done some terrible things here. You know that I was once used as a Gladiator, an occupation I despised before escaping, but you do not know the shame I feel being in this place. I can not, will not, be used for blood sport ever again.”
The ghost Krawk did understand about shame, but even now he could not bring himself to reveal his secret past to his sister. Instead, he squeezed her hand harder and tried to reassure her, “Then you will not be used as a gladiator ever again.”
The cart came to a precipitant stop and the two crashed with a thump as they were roughly pulled to the ground. Still bound to one another, they jerked back in unison as though slapped by the blinding light that now assaulted their eyes with the removal of their hoods. They blinked hard as their eyes grew accustomed to the sun and got their first proper look at their captors. There was a pirate Meerca with an enormous red pirate’s hat, a shiny hoop earring in his left ear, and a golden hook in place of his missing right hand. Beside him stood a pirate Eyrie who also had a hoop in his left ear, a red and white bandana tied around his head, and a golden medallion hanging around his neck from a red ribbon.
“Well, Monty,” said the Eyrie, “what do ye suppose we can get fer these two scurvy bilge rats at the Arena?”
“Haaard to say, Deadeye,” replied the Meerca, “haaard to say, indeed. The Draik looks like a fighter, but yer never know with a Krawk, though. They arrrre not always the most cooperative fellers.”
GitchiManitou turned to his sister and quietly said, “Trust me.”
The mutant Draik nodded back discreetly.
“A fighter?” laughed the ghost Krawk. “This here old girl doesn’t know a thing about fighting. You know, the last time we were passing by the Arena here on our way to mine for jewels at the volcano, she turned to me and...”
GM was cut short when the pirate Meerca placed his good hand over the ghost Krawk’s mouth and held the golden hook to his throat.
“What was that yer were saying about jewels, Krawk?” asked the Meerca in a menacing tone. He removed his hand to allow GM to respond.
“Well, my sister, Cavillace, here is an expert jewel miner. We’ve been here many times. Last time alone she pulled out her weight in diamonds and rubies from the volcano in the Jungle over yonder.”
GM turned to his sister and gave her a faint wink. She tried to disguise her confusion by smiling confidently at the pirate Meerca, who released GM and approached the pirate Eyrie for a private conference. It was the Eyrie who first broke off and approached Cavillace.
“Well, Draik, it be against me better judgement to not just sell yer right here, but me associate thar be wanting them jewels.”
“Hold on,” said GitchiManitou, raising his hands in protest. “What’s in it for her? I would think that a load of diamonds and rubies should buy her freedom.”
“Our freedom,” added Cavillace quickly.
“Avast!” said the Meerca as he approached. “I say let’s be making a deal. Yer weight in jewels be a fine ransom. And that would be what we’d be wanting. Yes, yer weight in jewels. Each.”
He added the last part with a sneer that chilled the mutant Draik
“Then we have a deal,” said the ghost Krawk. “Let’s get to the volcano!”
GM went to take a step toward the Jungle path and he felt the hood being put over his head again. A shove sent him stumbling into the cart and a thump beside him told him that Cavillace was also along for the ride.
“Cav,” said GitchiManitou, “you can do this. YourFlyness once told me of a Scorchio named Glubgar who mines the volcano. He owes her his life and will no doubt help you with the task. I see it so clearly; this must be Fyora’s bidding.”
“I trust you, GM,” replied the mutant Draik. “I could use some of your faith, though.” The two sat in meditative silence as they jolted along the Jungle path toward the volcano.
Cavillace turned her head to take one last reassuring look over her shoulder at her brother, who was still bound hand and foot, and then entered the adit. Looking around the fiery entrance, she called out, “Glubgar!” into the echoing cavern. Before long, a Tyrannian Scorchio came flying toward her and landed on the ledge beside the mutant Draik, who then proceeded to share the tale of Fyora’s quest.
“No need to press the point,” said Glubgar. “If you represent YourFlyness, then I am at your service. I will guide you through the lava caverns beneath the volcano, but you must be very careful: the opening will narrow at times and then it will open up; molten rocks will rise and fall depending on their geothermic properties; balls of fire will shoot straight toward us; and flaming geysers will erupt from the ground. I must also warn you, do not be too greedy while collecting the jewels. There is nowhere to rest along the way and too much cargo will weigh you down before we reach safety.”
Cavillace nodded and stretched out her large wings, preparing to follow the Scorchio into the flames. She launched and soon met with the dangers of which Glubgar had warned. There were indeed balls of fire and rock to dodge, as well as narrow tunnels with red-hot walls to manoeuvre. There were also the promised diamonds and rubies that the Draik was careful to not overburden herself with. She was satisfied that she had mastered the skills of this challenge when, suddenly, geysers of flame were shooting directly toward her through the tunnel. She attempted to dodge the stream of fire and flew into the path of another that was unavoidable. She squeezed her eyes shut as the heat threatened to overwhelm her. Suddenly, she felt herself being encased in a protective bubble that allowed her to pass unharmed through the flames. She opened her eyes and spun around toward the direction where the bubble had come from, and saw her sister, YourFlyness, lowering her enchanted cannon. A smile passed between them and Cavillace started to float toward the Darigan Buzz when, to her horror, she saw her sister’s wings become singed by the same flaming geyser from which she herself had just been saved. The Buzz began to drop toward the blistering floor of the grotto, but Cavillace reached her before she struck bottom. The Draik pulled her sister into the protective sphere and, wrapping YourFlyness in her soothing embrace, followed Glubgar quickly toward the exit.
When they reached the safety of the Jungle, Cavillace emptied her backpack and searched its contents for an appropriate salve. She rubbed it into her sister’s injuries and concentrated on the curative light within herself. In no time, YourFlyness unfurled her wings and took a hesitant hop into the air. She had been healed. As the Darigan Buzz alighted on the ground beside her sister, she marvelled at the treasure that the mutant Draik and Tyrannian Scorchio had amassed. YourFlyness accepted a hug from her old friend, Glubgar, and ran the diamonds and rubies through her hands. Suddenly, she noticed a familiar object among the cache; a stoppered bottle. Excitedly, she proffered the bottle to the Draik.
“Thizzzz,” hummed the Buzz, “izzzz for you to open, sizzzzter.”
Curious, Cavillace uncorked the bottle. She and the others were instantaneously knocked backward by an intense heat and a flash of light. There before them stood a beautiful Faerie with wings of flame.
“I am Fuhnah, the Fire Faerie of Fyora’s Court, and I bless you with the gifts of fire. You have freed me at long last and you deserve a reward. Please take the Sphere of Neopium Rock, the ultimate treasure of the fiery realm, which is mine alone to offer; it has anchored me to this place, and soon it will set us all free. The Element of Fire is now, once again, in balance, and I thank you profusely. The prophecy of the Ancients is fulfilling itself and redemption is looming.”
Cavillace fell to her knees before the Faerie with awe and gratitude, received her blessing, and lifted her head only when an explosion of flames rose and disappeared into the conflagration within the volcano. The Draik stood up and silently repacked her bag, musing on the renewed faith she could feel burning through her being. The others respected this silence and waited quietly for her to speak.
“We are finished here,” said Cavillace. “We have enough treasure for the pirates’ ransom, so let’s go get GitchiManitou.”
“I’ll say my goodbyes here,” said Glubgar. “Wouldn’t those pirates like to get a hook on me? But, please, my lovely Draik, along with my share of the treasure take this image of me with you.”
Cavillace shyly nodded, accepted the Tyrannian Scorchio’s gifts, and joined YF in waving farewell. As they flew back to where the pirates were holding their brother, YourFlyness told her sister of her and Briccriu’s adventure in Faerieland, and how, when they learned of the Quiggle Scout’s betrayal, they had hastened to Tyrannia. From a hidden vantage in the jungle, the Darigan Buzz and pea Chia had watched as Cavillace was sent into the volcano. YourFlyness decided she could be of help, as she had once been of help to Glubgar, and followed their sister into the flames, leaving Briccriu behind to keep an eye on GitchiManitou.
Cavillace and YourFlyness reached their destination, landed behind the captors, and startled the pair as the mutant Draik emptied her pack of its treasure. The jewels spilled messily all over the path; the Sphere of Neopium having been safely hidden amongst YourFlyness’ belongings.
“This be will sufficient, I assume?” asked the Draik.
“Avast!” said Monty. “Thar be more treasure thar than in all the seas of Neopia.”
The pirate Meerca’s eyes had grown so huge and round with avarice that he appeared ready to agree to anything. The pirate Eyrie started toward GitchiManitou to unbind him when a rustling startled everyone. Out from the bushes came a pirate Krawk with their sister, Briccriu, marching ahead of him at the point of his sword.
“Hold fast thar, Deadeye. I have unfinished business with that thar scurvy son of a whirlpool.” Turning to GitchiManitou, the pirate Krawk said, “It’s been a long time. Brother.” Like the pirate Meerca, he sported a golden hook where his right hand had doubtlessly been lost in a nefarious enterprise, a hook he now waved in GM’s direction. “Ye be nothing but a hornswaggling, bottom-feeding...”
“Grimtooth,” GitchiManitou spat like a curse. “You can drop the phoney pirate-speak. I know you better than that.”
The pirate Krawk grunted a mirthless laugh, resheathed his sword in the scabbard around his waist, and used his good hand to shove the pea Chia into a group with the Darigan Buzz and mutant Draik. Turning his back to this frightened assemblage, Grimtooth approached GitchiManitou and made a slow slashing motion across his own throat with the menacing hook.
“Just give me a reason, brother,” hissed the pirate Krawk, “and you will never see your friends again.”
GitchiManitou raised his chin in a defiant pose. He carefully felt for the Golden Compass in his vest pocket and discreetly smiled to himself as he sensed it, warm and humming.
“Monty. Deadeye,” barked Grimtooth, demonstrating his unquestioned authority. “Ready the boat. Looks like we’re returnin’ to Krawk Island sooner than I planned.”
Cavillace was filled with fear, but when she turned toward GitchiManitou, he mouthed a single word to her: Fate.
To be continued...