Crossed Paths and Blades: Part One
Hannah placed the mug on the table for the Pirate Zafara and walked off, back behind the counter of the Golden Dubloon tavern. Poor Hannah didn’t feel like working today. She had just come back from another raid in the Pirate Caves last night, and her arms ached. She had practically swung her way across a large crevice with a sack of gold coins on her shoulders, and barely got away with it. She then stashed them safely with Armin in her house on the beach. She smiled, because when she left Terror Mountain to come back here, Armin insisted in coming along. He said he wanted to see the Pirate Caves and have more adventures with Hannah, and there was no way she could refuse him.
“Alright, Rosetta, I think I’m going to call it quits for a while,” Hannah said to the Pink Aisha, who nodded, and then Hannah made her way out the back door of the tavern and down the beach to her little cottage. As she walked, she barely spotted a dark object on the horizon. She turned her head, and shrugged it off. It was only a ship...
Garin took a long, deep breath of the salty air as Krawk Island came into view. He looked at Jacques as he came to stand beside him. Jacques sighed as he looked toward the island.
“Finally, land!” he said. “And land means supplies. We’re so low on food and water I didn’t think we’d last much longer.”
“I know what you mean,” Garin said. He stretched his arms up above his head with a grunt. “We’ll start to restock as soon as we get ashore, and then we’ll give the crew a rest.”
“Aye, aye sir,” Jacques said. Garin nodded at Jacques, and then looked back to Krawk Island. He sighed. Soon, he and his crew would be resting, and then, when they got their strength back, they’d be well on their way to adventure and treasure again.
But little did Garin know... that adventure was already waiting for him.
Hannah opened the door to her cottage to find Armin rummaging in the cupboards, possibly for food. Hannah smiled and shook her head as she stepped inside and shut the door. Armin jumped and shoved a biscuit into his mouth, hoping she wouldn’t notice. Hannah noticed all right, but she just pretended not to notice and walked over to Armin as he quickly forced the biscuit down his throat. He cleared his throat and looked at Hannah.
“Uh... hey, Hannah!” he said, trying to hide the nervousness in his voice. Hannah just smiled at him.
“Hello, Armin,” she said. “Anything interesting while I was gone?”
“No. It’s never interesting without you around,” Armin replied. Hannah chuckled. She knew he was exaggerating, because on his first ‘trip’ through the Pirate Caves with her they both got into a hair-raising situation, and he didn’t want to be alone in the dark for a whole week.
“Oh, and I hid the gold like you told me to. It’s in that secret door in the fireplace,” said Armin.
“Good work, we can use those coins later on. But in the meantime, Armin, you won’t believe what I found out!”
“What? Tell me!” Armin leapt onto a chair next to Hannah and leaned in close, listening intently. Hannah smiled and removed a small piece of old cloth from her vest pocket.
“Some Bruce dropped this when he left the Golden Dubloon,” said Hannah. “And when I picked it up, I saw this.” Hannah opened the piece of cloth to reveal a set of numbers written in black ink. Armin cocked his head. Hannah rolled her eyes and pointed at one of the numbers.
“These are codes used by smugglers that sometimes use the Pirate Caves, and this one says, ‘Half map, Captain Frigget’s loot, secret cave, Krawk Island’,” Hannah said. Armin looked up at her.
“What in the name of Terror Mountain does that mean?” he asked.
“From what I can tell, Captain Frigget’s treasure is somewhere in the Pirate Caves,” Hannah said as she rolled up the cloth again. Armin raised an eyebrow, and Hannah could tell he still was clueless. She sighed and looked at him.
“Captain Frigget was a pirate from a long time ago, and he stashed his entire horde of treasure somewhere on Krawk Island, but no one knew where because he disappeared a few years later. Shortly before he vanished, though, he made a map of the treasure’s location,” Hannah explained.
“So why does that message say, ‘half map’?” Armin asked. Hannah shrugged.
“Maybe the map is in two pieces, I don’t know. But even so, tonight I’ll stop by the Golden Dubloon and snag some extra supplies, and then tomorrow we’re gonna scout the caves, and find Captain Frigget’s loot. With, or without, a map.”
Garin glanced at the shred of cloth in his hand, and then around the nighttime streets of Krawk Island. He knew that somewhere on this island, Captain Frigget’s treasure was waiting for him to find it. In his hand he clutched half of the map that Frigget himself had made to reveal the treasure’s location, and where the other half was... he had no idea. But what he did know was that the treasure was hidden in a cave somewhere, and therein lay the problem.
How was Garin supposed to find the cave? All this half of the map said was how to get to the treasure as soon as you were IN the caves, not where the cave was. He had heard stories of Krawk Island completely networked with Pirate Caves, so all he had to do was find the entrance. Garin shoved the piece of cloth into his pocket and walked down the street, thinking of possible places.
“Hmm... Smuggler’s Cove might be it. Pirates use that place a lot,” Garin thought to himself. “And it’s been around a long time... ol’ Frigget might’ve known about it then... hmm...”
Garin looked up at a sign that was swinging back and forth in the night wind. Garin squinted through the dark to read the large yellow letters on the sign. It was very dark, but Garin could barely make out the words, ‘Golden Dubloon’.
“Well, where there’s a tavern, there’s guests, and where there’s guests... there’s loot.” Garin chuckled to himself and pushed the door open.
Garin made his way past the customers that were sitting in their chairs and toward the counter, simultaneously looking around for a money purse that may be easy for him to snatch. Suddenly, the hair on the back of Garin’s neck stood up, and as a reaction he reached for his Maractite dagger. He looked around, wondering what had caused this sudden nervous feeling, and scanned the faces around him. But he saw nothing, nothing or no one that seemed familiar. Perhaps a chill had just entered the room from the opening door, or perhaps it was his imagination. Garin shrugged and let his had slip off of his dagger hilt, then he turned back toward the counter.
Garin bumped right into someone as he turned back around. They both let out startled yelps, and the other one dropped something they were carrying.
“Whoops, sorry!” Garin said. He looked up, and found that what he had bumped into was another Usul... a GIRL Usul. She had long brown hair, violet blue eyes, and she looked about Garin’s age. Garin blinked. Where had he seen her before?
“Sorry about that,” he said again, and bent over to pick up what she had dropped, which was a square bundle.
“Thanks,” she said and gratefully took the bundle. She tucked it under her arm and looked at Garin.
“I don’t want to pry or anything, but have we met somewhere before? You seem strangely familiar,” Garin said.
“I don’t think so,” said the girl. “But in case we haven’t, my name is Hannah.”
“Hannah, huh?” Garin asked. “My name’s Garin.”
“Good to meet you.” She curtsied politely and smiled. Garin cocked his head slightly at her, knowing he had seen her before.
“Excuse me, but I really should be going,” Hannah said.
“Oh, of course.” Garin stepped aside to let Hannah pass. She nodded to him as thanks, and then passed him and left the Golden Dubloon. Garin thought for a moment about her, knowing he had seen her somewhere before, but he shrugged it off. And what in Neopia was she carrying? It looked like supplies...
“Now Garin....” he thought to himself. “Don’t go butting into other people’s business. You KNOW that gets you into trouble.” Garin chuckled to himself and took a step toward the counter. Suddenly, he felt something underneath his foot. He took a step back and looked down, and saw a piece of brown, old cloth. Apparently that Hannah had dropped something else. Garin bent over and picked up the piece of cloth and looked at the worn out writing.
Garin’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he realized what that message said, and WHO had written it. He looked around the tavern room, but saw no familiar faces again, then he turned and ran out of the tavern and back down the street toward his ship, his feet practically flying out from underneath him. He had to get back to the Black Pawkeet, and FAST! Before it was too late...
“What do you mean you lost it?!” Scarblade barked, striking Benny on the side of the head with his large hand. Benny cringed under his captain’s red gaze and swallowed hard.
“I... I dunno! I had it one minute, and then it was gone!” he stammered. “I went back to the tavern and looked for it but... but then...”
“Then what?” Scarblade demanded. “Your brain is in your stomach, you worthless bilge rat!”
“It... It was Garin, Captain,” Benny replied. “I had to make meself scarce before he saw me.”
Scarblade’s eye widened back into its original shape than the narrowed slit it had been. He clenched his fists and turned his back to Benny and faced out the window.
“Garin, ye say?”
“Grr... That swab! If he’s here, then he must be after what we’re after! That’s the only reason!” Scarblade snarled and hit over a barrel that stood near him. “I swear I’ll keelhaul that brat someday...”
“Ye think he has the other half of the map?” Benny asked.
“Of course he has it; otherwise, why else would he be here?” Scarblade snapped. He looked out the window again. “We know where the caves are, what we DON’T know is how to navigate through ‘em. Garin obviously doesn’t know how to get to the caves, so he’s of no concern to us. But what our main concern is... finding a navigator.”
“Cap’n?” Benny asked.
Scarblade looked at him over his shoulder.
“We need a guide,” he said. And then he chuckled. “And I know just the one...”
To be continued...