Messenger: Just Another Pirate Tale - Part Five
Strong arms lifted me up out of the water. I was thrown onto something hard, a wooden floor. My flippers were torn off my feet and abandoned to the raging waves. Breathing hard, I flipped onto my back and breathed in the cool air, looking up at the moon. A storm was brewing.
Loud noises, bright lights, tramping boots. I lay there, on the ground, panting. Water ran down my face. I didn’t know if it was blood or tears or just water from the ocean, but I didn’t care. I was oblivious to the world.
Suddenly my line of vision was blocked. I craned my neck, tilting my head upward. A pirate was looking down at me, a pirate Lutari with a dark red coat and long leather pants and shiny black boots. I didn’t care about all that. My eyes were on the scarred cutlass strapped to his side.
We stared at each other for a while. I must have looked ridiculous in my Skeith-skin wetsuit and my huge, overgrown wings, useless and fragile as wet paper. Maybe he would kill me. But why? Because I was swimming? Plenty of non-Maractites swim. Maybe not at nine p.m., but still. I definitely wasn’t Maractite, unless Maraqua was suddenly populated by faerie Wockies in wetsuits.
“Get up,” he said finally. He didn’t offer me his hand or anything, not that I needed it. I got up on my own, standing straight, with my knees unbent, trying to look as tall as possible. Unfortunately you should never try to look as tall as possible on a ship in a storm, because I fell over like a straight piece of wood, which was exactly what I was trying to imitate. The Lutari was silent as I pulled myself back up again and resigned myself to being nearly as tall as possible, which wasn’t very tall. I still had to look up to see him properly.
“What on Neopia are you wearing?” asked Bluecloud.
“It’s a wetsuit,” I snapped. “And it’s very useful; it keeps you warm when you’re swimming.”
I nearly jumped out of my skin. I whirled around and stared Bluecloud right in the eyes. She looked back at me, cocking her head. “You scared me half to Kreludor,” I snarled.
“What? You aren’t glad to see me?”
I sighed and embraced my friend. “Of course, silly. I am glad to see you. Very glad.”
“Okay,” said Bluecloud, copying my sigh and pulling out of the hug. She looked up at the pirate. “Hey you, where’s Pecan?” She began to edge toward the kitchens of the ship expectantly. “In the kitchens, right?”
“Yes,” he said, in a slow, quiet, deep voice. Bluecloud nodded and dashed off. I glared at the captain. “Did you capture Bluecloud, too? Huh? Well?”
The Lutari snorted. “I believe you should take the too out of your sentence there, Wocky. You, like Bluecloud, were rescued, not captured.”
“Rescued?” I spat, glaring at him. The Lutari sighed and calmly drew his sword. He didn’t point it at me or try to threaten me with it, but placed the blade on his right palm, gripping the wooden hilt firmly with his left. He nodded slowly, tapping the sword against his palm. “Rescued,” he repeated. I swallowed. It had the same effect as threatening, but in a much politer way.
“Hmm,” I said. “So you rescued Bluecloud when she fell off the dock?”
“Why didn’t you rescue me?”
He looked surprised. “You fell off of the dock with Bluecloud?”
“Don’t look so surprised,” I snarled. “Didn’t you see me? And anyways, what were you doing by the docks?”
The pirate gestured around at the ship. “My ship--The Waverider--we were readying to leave port. I was strolling about the docks, saying my farewells to Krawk Island, when I came across an Acara and a Gallion floundering in the water. The Acara, Bluecloud, was unconscious by the time I reached her, so I carried her to my ship. By the time she awoke, we were far out at sea.”
“Why didn’t you turn around? Did you see Dole?”
“To answer your first question,” he said slowly, “we were on a set course. My navigator informed me that turning back would not be a good idea.”
The Lutari sighed. “Maraqua’s heart has darkened. I hear, even from the deck, the sounds of Maractite spears being sharpened on stones, fires being stoked to forge helmets. My time on the sea has become smaller and smaller, due to the immense danger. Many, many ships have been taken by Maraqua. It is best to spend the least amount of time possible in open water.”
“And my second question? Dole?” I cocked my head.
“Dole, the pirate Draik.” It wasn’t a question, but rather a statement. “I take it you know him?” I asked. The pirate captain nodded. “Of course I know him. Dole is popular among the pirates, a leader, a warrior. His heart is turning against Maraqua, more quickly than some. If there were to be a war, and I guarantee there will be, unless we do something about it, I can tell you that there is an enormous chance that he would be the general leading them in.”
“But wouldn’t a war be good?” I questioned. “To you, I mean. Pirates like fighting, right?”
In two seconds flat I was shoved against the mast with the pirate’s sword at my throat. The Lutari’s lips were drawn back in a snarl as he pressed the cold metal against my neck. “I do not like fighting,” he snarled, leaning forward so that his nose was only an inch away from mine. His ice-blue eyes flashed like the lightning above us, glaring at me.
“O-o-okay,” I stammered, wilting back against the rotting mast, away from the scarred cutlass. The Lutari immediately seemed to calm himself as I spoke, drawing backward and calmly sheathing his cutlass. As I stood there, leaning back against the mast, trying to catch my breath, he yawned and began to polish one of his silver pirate earrings. We stood, alone, resting, as the storm raged on, tossing the boat through the foaming waves.
“Pecaaaaaan! Dooooooon’t!” Bluecloud’s desperate yell cut through the relative silence as she leaped onto the deck, her hands outstretched. She bounded across the rain-splattered wood, yelling like a maniac all the while. Suddenly she tripped over a coil of rope near the edge of the ship and away she flew, catapulting through the air like some strange bird and managing to somehow land on a hammock suspended between two wooden posts. The hammock sagged with her weight, bringing in the two posts down on her.
Whiz! A small hairy, furry thing skimmed through the air, sending tawny feathers everywhere. It promptly collided with the mast and fell, winded and nearly unconscious, into my arms. Coughing, the petpet looked up happily at me and began slobbering all over my face like a Warf, purring all the while like a Kadoatie. I smiled and embraced him. “Pecan,” I whispered. “You’re back.”
The Lutari sighed and strode over to the writhing, tangled mass that was Bluecloud and calmly slashed the net off, pulling the grey Acara out from under the two posts. He sighed again and held her at arm’s length. “Being clumsy is not good on a pirate ship, Bluecloud,” he warned.
“Yeah, yeah,” said Bluecloud, squirming out of his grip. She flounced over to Pecan and me and beamed. “I kept him safe for you, Emma. See?”
I nodded. “Thank you, Bluecloud.”
“Oh, no,” the pirate muttered under his breath. He was staring at the water, his eyes wide.
“What is it now?” I sighed, draping Pecan across my shoulders and trotting across the deck to join the Lutari. “The storm? It’s been raging for hours, right... mister? What is your name?”
“You may call me the Captain,” said the Lutari, drawing his cutlass. He was still staring at the waves.
“What is it?” Bluecloud asked, yawning and plopping down onto the deck.
“Maractites,” the Captain muttered. He tossed me a battered cutlass from a barrel near the mast. “Be ready to fight.”
I nodded. Terrified, I gripped the weapon and held it out at arm’s length in front of me. The shiny steel reflected the moonlight, turning it glittering silver. Several nicks and scratches lined the otherwise unblemished surface. The hilt was nothing but a simple straight stretch of scarred redwood. I swished it a few times through the air, testing its weight. Still, I really hoped that I wouldn’t have to find anyone.
Splash! A grappling hook shot up out of the water and latched firmly onto the boat side. Five others immediately followed. Shouts sounded from below, and the Captain winced as each one rang out in the cold winter air. “There goes our crew,” he muttered. “Bluecloud, be a good Acara and fetch the cook. Is anyone else on board besides the cook, do you know?”
“I think Jerry’s still here,” mused Bluecloud. “And maybe Clarabelle too. But I’m not so sure.”
“Go search the ship for them then.”
“Got it.” Bluecloud sped off, waving her arms wildly. “Cook! Jerry! Clarabelle!”
The Captain sighed. “I never knew klutzes could be so nice.”
“Me neither.” Swallowing, I backed slowly toward the mast, my cutlass raised.
“Behind you!” the Captain yelled, but it was too late. A Maractite boomerang whizzed toward me, knocking me toward the ground. Tisu Raylayer-Portian leaped out of the water, his Portian helmet strapped securely on, his battle hammer raised. He laughed maniacally when he saw me huddled near the mast with the Captain. “So Ana was wrong!” he crowed. “You are a pirate!” With a wild yell, he flung the hammer at me. I swiped quickly at it with the cutlass, but the hammer was too strong. The flimsy metal blade snapped upon impact. The hammer flew on, whizzing overboard and into the furious waves.
“Attack!” Tisu screamed, thumping his feet wildly. Immediately six other Maractites sprang up beside him, armed with daggers, spears, and throwing nets. They charged at us, waving their weapons wildly. The Captain charged grimly into the fray, shielding me from the whirling blades as his cutlass hit one pet after the other. But good swordsman as he was, one pirate could not hold off seven Maractites for long. “Run!” he screeched at me. I whirled around and began running toward the edge of the boat. Where did he expect me to go? Overboard, into a nest of stormy waters and enraged Maractites?
“Attack!” Bluecloud screamed, loping onto the deck, a kitchen knife in one hand, a wooden cooking spoon in the other. Beside her was a pirate Eyrie, presumably the cook, waving a frying pan over his head and shouting angrily. The Maractites turned to them, snarling. Metal and wood clashed against whirling blades and nets as the battle raged on.
Whiz! A spear flew past me, the shaft hitting Pecan off my shoulder. Screeching, he was thrown into the sea, the spearhead imbedded in his left wing, pinning it to his side. A moment later a huge wave rose up out of the ocean, frothing sea-green and foam-white, coming down, as if in slow motion, to crash down on The Waverider. Bluecloud was thrown backward, into me, and together we fell, into the raging sea.
To be continued...