A Pirate's Nightmare
Their taunting laughs rang in my throbbing ears. Though I fought furiously to pry myself from their binding grasp, their long fingernails dug into my flesh as punishment. I frantically tried to escape as I began to panic, but the witches dragged me deeper into the dark, cold ocean. I let out a terrified scream, reaching an arm up to the light coming through the sea, but the light was fading fast. The witches began smothering and tormenting me as I still called out for help... but my nightmare was happening all over again!
Jacques awoke with a startle, bolting upright in his hammock on the Black Pawkeet. He breathed heavily as he looked around the dark cabin, realizing he had yet another horrible nightmare. He placed a paw on his hot, sweating forehead. His mind raced over the thoughts of his recurring nightmares fraught about the most horrendous experience of his life... being a prisoner of the Drenched.
Exhausted but sleepless, the red Kyrii stood from his hammock and quietly weaved past his fellow shipmates, who were all sound asleep. Jacques eyed them in envy, wishing he could sleep peacefully with a night of no nightmares. His ultimate wish was to lose the memory of the Drenched altogether, but the scars ran much too deep. Jacques climbed up the stairs and shoved open the trap door as he hoisted himself onto the main deck. The night air was mild and cool compared to the chilly nip of the previous winter gone by. The breeze provided a little relief while Jacques gazed up at the twinkling stars in the black sky, noting how beautiful and bright it was tonight.
With his eyes planted on the stars, the Kyrii walked to the bow and plopped down on the railing, balancing himself on a barrel. Despite his hunger for adventure on the high seas, the tranquility was soothing. So much had happened since Garin and the crew decided to raid a wedding a few months ago, which caused the events of the Battle of Maraqua and the happenings prior to it, including his imprisonment in the Drenched sisters’ lair. Jacques had never told anyone about the torture he endured while trapped in their cave; he kept all the secrets bottled up inside because of his selflessness. However, the horror was resurfacing and repeating itself each and every night for weeks.
Jacques closed his eyes and massaged his weary head. A heavy sigh escaped from his mouth as it drifted off into the silence of the night.
“What are you doing up at this hour, mate?”
Jacques whipped around from his view of the sea to meet a sleepy-eyed yellow Usul with blonde hair tousled from sleep.
“Garin,” Jacques said nervously. “I didn’t expect you to be out here.”
“Neither did I,” replied Garin. “but I heard you stir. Are you sick or something?”
Jacques shook his head. He shrugged and scratched the back of his head.
“I-I couldn’t sleep.”
“Couldn’t sleep?” Garin yawned. Jacques shook his head again.
Jacques froze upon Garin’s words as he wrapped his arms around his knees and his tail around his body, curling up like a ball. Garin’s face turned serious as he watched his friend curiously, noticing his unusual behavior. He arched a brow above his narrowed eyes. Garin sat down beside Jacques who tried to hide by turning away.
“Mate, I can tell something’s wrong with you. I’ve noticed it for a while now. You haven’t ate, you haven’t slept, and you haven’t been yourself. There’s gotta be a reason behind it,” Garin said. “Now what is it?”
Jacques glanced at Garin. “I’m having nightmares,” he said quietly.
“Okay, that helps,” Garin said approvingly. “About... what?”
“It doesn’t matter! No one should have to know! Stop asking me so many questions!” Jacques suddenly exclaimed, causing Garin’s eyes to widen in surprise. The Usul held up his paws in a calm gesture.
“Alright, easy. I’m sorry,” said the Usul, “but I can’t be much help to you if I don’t know what’s bothering you, Jacques.”
There was a pause of silence. Jacques’s tired, bloodshot eyes looked back at Garin over his shoulders. He had to admit that his best friend was speaking the truth and couldn’t be more right. He slowly turned back around to face Garin, keeping his chin planted on his knee caps.
“Remember when the Drenched took me prisoner during the battle against Scarblade?”
Garin pondered over it for a moment. “Aye.”
“You and Isca rescued me?”
“Yeah.” Garin nodded.
“Well, I’ve never told anyone about... what it was like... to be down there...” said Jacques.
Garin looked at Jacques in deep concern, seeing the pain and horror show on his features. He had never seen Jacques this way before. He had circles under his eyes from lack of sleep and his face seemed haunted and weary. He had never seen so much fear and anxiety in any pirate before, or anyone for that matter. Something was horribly wrong.
“Jacques... what did they do to you?”
The red Kyrii took a deep breath and faced Garin. “I’ll tell you.”
And so Garin and Jacques sat on the deck railing of their ship as Jacques confided and told Garin everything about the horror he experienced with the Drenched. The two pirates were vivid storytellers, influenced by Garin’s father many years ago. Garin listened to Jacques’s story intently that covered all the events from the battle to Jacques’s kidnapping and rescue. And yet Garin was appalled by the torture Jacques undergone. In the beginning Jacques tried to escape several times, when he still had his strength, but the punishment for trying became worse; and so, his strength dwindled. Jacques was lucky to be alive because of the sisters’ abuse and severe starvation. The thoughts of Garin, his mates, the sea, and the Black Pawkeet kept him and his hopes alive until his rescue.
Jacques silently rolled down the sleeves of his shirt, concealing the scratches the Drenched had made with their nails he had shown to the captain. Garin’s face was painted in utter shock as he stared at his first mate. He never would’ve dreamed that the Drenched would be capable of such pain and torture.
“I... I’m sorry, Jacques. I had no idea it was like that...”
“But I-I don’t understand, Garin! I’m still haunted by them when I shouldn’t be! I-I’m afraid that one night my nightmare won’t be a nightmare and they’ll really get me again! It’s the past but I’m still afraid! Pirates aren’t supposed to be afraid!” Jacques exclaimed.
The Kyrii gritted his teeth and put a paw to his forehead and he sobbed. Garin looked down for a moment, allowing Jacques to release all the swirling emotions he had locked up inside for so long. Jacques sniffed and wiped away the tears with his sleeve.
“I’m sorry, Garin...” Jacques’s voice cracked. “You shouldn’t have to see me bawl like that, but sometimes I did when I was a prisoner, thinking I wouldn’t live through it.”
“Jacques,” Garin said. “Do you remember when we were kids and you dared me to climb up that cliff?”
Curious but confused on why Garin would suddenly switch the subject, he slowly nodded. “Aye...” Jacques answered.
“Well, I know we were little but we were already determined to become pirates and we did crazy things, like what I did that day,” Garin said with a laugh. “I was climbing higher and higher when I finally reached the top, but I slipped and nearly fell to my death. I grabbed hold of the ledge for dear life. I was truly afraid for the first time because I thought I couldn’t hold on till you’d get back. To be honest, I’m still afraid of it and I sometimes have nightmares about it too.”
“You do?” questioned Jacques.
“Mm-hm,” Garin said, “but I don’t let it control me. Fear is nothing to be ashamed of, mate; neither is crying. Even we pirates get scared. We’re not made of stone.”
Jacques looked up at Garin with a smile spreading on his face.
“Though some of us try to act like it.”
Garin glared and punched Jacques in the shoulder as the Kyrii laughed. “That wasn’t funny.”
“But it was the truth!” Jacques joked with a chuckle.
Garin crossed his arms and rolled his eyes, shaking his head as Jacques chortled. He then saw Jacques’s familiar, amiable grin, and he couldn’t help but smile.
“It’s good to see you’ve got your laugh back.”
“Yeah, it is,” replied Jacques in agreement.
Garin looked out to sea and was surprised to see the night sky fading fast into morning light. The sun was a bright sliver on the vast horizon.
“Well, mate, it’s almost sunup,” he said and stood up.
Jacques turned around to see the first early morning rays shine on the horizon, shocked as well.
“Blimey,” the Kyrii muttered. “Have we talked that long?”
“Looks like we have,” replied Garin. He patted Jacques firmly on his back. “Come on, mate. There’s a lazy crew to wake.”
Jacques laughed and stood up while Garin walked to the trap door. The Kyrii stopped.
“Garin?” Jacques said.
The Usul looked up. “Aye?”
“Thanks,” said Jacques.
Garin smirked. “You’re welcome, my friend.”
Jacques smiled back as Garin disappeared below deck. The captain’s voice was heard in the crew’s cabin as it echoed loudly to the first deck, where Jacques was, causing him to shake his head with a laugh. The Kyrii turned back to the railing and gazed at the sea sparkling in the morning sun. He inhaled the salty air with a content sigh, for he had finally managed to receive his peace again. The memory of the Drenched would never completely go away, but it would fade and the scars would fade too over time. He and Garin were at the precise place they loved and where they belonged. They had the open sea, the Black Pawkeet, and a pirate’s life, but most of all, they had each other.