Crossed Paths and Blades: Part Two
Jacques leaned back against the mast, closing his eyes and feeling the breeze gently push against his red hair. He smiled and sighed to himself as he looked up at the stars. Seeing them past the yardarm and the rigging ropes seemed so natural to him, it was almost like seeing them from home. But then again... this was his home. Jacques sighed again.
“Hey, Jacques,” said a voice. Jacques turned around and looked at Talak.
“Hey, Talak, something up?” he asked.
“Nah, but I was just wondering if Garin was back yet,” said the Wocky.
“Talak,” Jacques said with a chuckle, “if I know Garin, and I do, we won’t see him till dawn because he’ll be busy getting into trouble... again.”
Talak stifled a laugh. “He is well known for doing that isn’t he?” he said.
“Yep,” Jacques said and laughed.
“Hey I heard that!” Garin’s voice hollered from the side. Talak and Jacques both gave startled yelps and jumped. Garin smirked to himself and climbed over the railing. He walked over to his two shipmates, panting to regain his breath from the running he had done. Jacques cocked his head at his best mate.
“You’re sweating,” he said. “What happened?”
“Well, for starters,” Garin said, “we were wrong when we thought no one else knew about Frigget’s loot, and I found that out with this.”
Garin handed Jacques the piece of cloth he had found at the Golden Dubloon tavern, which had been clenched in his fist the whole time he was running. Jacques looked over the cloth, and then he looked at Garin, his eyes wide with confusion.
“You recognize the handwriting, don’t you?” Garin asked.
“It’s Benny’s, alright,” said Jacques, his voice laced with annoyance. “And Benny can only mean one thing...”
“Scarblade is here,” hissed Garin, clenching his fists in disdain. “And obviously after Frigget’s loot. But if he has the other half of the map, he knows how to get to the caves we’re looking for!”
“But we have the other half that Scarblade obviously needs...” Jacques pondered for a minute. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers. “I’ve got it!”
“Got what?” Talak asked.
“An idea! Scarblade knows the way to the caves, but not to the treasure, so all we have to do, is follow him to the cave and then WE find the treasure using our half of the map once we’re inside!” Jacques said triumphantly. Garin laughed.
“Good thinking! Jacques, you’re a genius!” he said. Jacques shrugged and adjusted his green headband, trying to hide a smirk. Garin looked at Talak.
“Talak, you come with Jacques and me. When we get to the entrance to the caves, head back to the Pawkeet and get the rest of the crew. You remembered to make those two copies of our half of the map, right?”
“Aye, I have them right here.” Talak patted a small pouch hanging off the side of his belt.
“Good,” said Garin. “Alright, Jacques, get that potion of yours ready.” Garin slipped on his seaweed necklace. “We’re going on a treasure hunt.”
Hannah stroked the side of the rock wall. Armin was doing the same next to her, and both were looking for the same thing, the notch that opened the secret door to the Pirate Caves. Hannah jerked her head around as voices from the pirates came slowly closer. She bit her lip. It was bad enough that the entrance was hidden, but what was worse was that it was flat in the middle of Smugglers Cove!
Suddenly Armin’s claw hit a small ridge sticking up from the rock, and a tiny crack in the wall next to them expanded open, revealing a large cave. Armin smiled triumphantly, and then he and Hannah ran inside the caves. The door slid shut behind them, making it extremely dark, but Hannah and Armin both lit lanterns to be able to see. Hannah walked forward first and quickly, followed by Armin. They both knew that there were dangerous things in the caves, and they had to be careful...
“So where do you think this Frigget guy hid his treasure, Hannah?” Armin asked.
“Well... I don’t know for sure, Armin, but I think I have a hunch on where,” Hannah replied.
“Okay, that’s good,” said Armin. “So... where?”
“I remember once when I was in the Pirate Caves for the first time, there was this large underground river, but the water wasn’t fresh like a river, it was salty. So my guess is, the treasure might be down there, IF my hunch is correct,” Hannah replied.
“Well, they usually are so, I think you’re right,” said Armin.
Hannah chuckled and rounded a bend of rocks. She and Armin kept on walking and turned down a fork in the tunnels. Suddenly, Hannah stopped abruptly and grabbed Armin by the shoulder. He jumped, and looked up at her to ask what, but Hannah made a shush noise and placed a finger over her mouth. She and Armin stood stock still, as if waiting for something for happen, but it was absolutely quiet. Armin looked at Hannah.
“What, Hannah?” he asked.
“...I guess it was nothing,” she said. “It’s probably my imagination, but I thought I heard--”
Hannah and Armin were suddenly grabbed and pulled into the shadows. Both of them let out terrified yells, and they struggled, but their captors were a lot bigger than them, and a lot stronger. Armin’s lantern fell from his grasp and shattered on the stone floor, dousing immediately and plunging the cavern into almost darkness. Hannah tried to let out a scream, but a powerful hand covered her mouth and her wrists were bound tight behind her back. Armin was bound as well, and a sack was thrown over each of their heads and they were dragged off helplessly into the caves.
Jacques peered around the tree as the Pirate Krawk Scarblade had left on guard disappeared into the small cave. He grinned and looked at Garin.
“All clear now,” he said.
“Good!” Garin said with a return grin. “Talak, head back to the Black Pawkeet and get the crew, we’ll meet you at the waterfall that’s on the map.”
“Aye, cap’n!” Talak saluted, then slipped off into the brush. Garin looked at Jacques and nodded. They dodged over to the cave and peered inside.
“Dark down there, it will be almost impossible to see,” Jacques whispered.
“We’ll manage.” Garin fingered his Maractite dagger. “Just stay close to each other, and keep as quiet as possible. We don’t know how close Scarblade is.”
Jacques nodded and moved on into the cave quickly and quietly. He and Garin stayed about an arms length away from each other, carefully listening for movement from each other. Jacques bit his lip. It was so quiet, and that made him nervous.
Garin was nervous too, but he kept his focus on the here and now. But then his mind shot back to the girl Usul back at the tavern. He positively KNEW he had seen her before, or had heard something about her, or something. Who was she? Garin sighed aloud.
“What?” Jacques asked.
“Eh,” Garin murmured quietly. “Just something that happened in town today.”
“Well...” Garin whispered. “It’s strange, but... I saw this girl Usul in a tavern today, and she seemed familiar. I can’t explain it, but... I have no idea, but I’ve seen her somewhere before. I just can’t put my finger on where, and that’s what’s bugging me!”
“That sounds pretty... ‘strange’, alright,” Jacques said, stifling laughter. Garin looked at him.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing,” Jacques replied. He kept moving through the cave, grinning to himself. Suddenly, his foot bumped something and it rattled. Jacques froze and looked down, his eyes adjusting to the dark to make out what it was. Garin looked at it too. He knelt down beside it and touched the lantern carefully.
“That’s funny... It’s still warm,” he whispered. “This thing was lit recently.”
“Yeah, but by whom?” Jacques asked. Garin opened his mouth to respond, but then voices could be heard up ahead in the tunnel. Garin looked at Jacques, who reached for his sword. Garin nodded and they crept closer toward the sounds, and a slowly growing light...
Hannah gasped for air when the sack was pulled off of her head. She squinted through the bright torchlight as Armin’s sack was pulled off of his head. Hannah grimaced when she realized they were surrounded by pirates, and dangerous looking ones too. Hannah looked at Armin, who swallowed hard and glanced nervously at her as a large Cybunny moved behind them. He grabbed them both and thrust them forward onto their faces in the dirt. Hannah looked up... and almost gasped.
The Lupe was sinister, that was for certain, and he was large, with a single red eye, which almost glowed. Hannah swallowed hard and sat up.
“Who are you?” she demanded. “And why have you taken us hostage?”
“Silence!” the Lupe barked. Hannah stiffened in fear. The Lupe saw this and chuckled.
“You’re braver than I thought, miss Hannah,” he said. Hannah glared.
“Well, obviously you know me,” she hissed. “Now who in Fyora’s name are you?!”
The Lupe suddenly drew a cutlass and placed it to Hannah’s throat. She stiffened again, but tried her best not to show fear. Armin, however, let out a whimper, obviously afraid for her, but Hannah just gave him a quick and assuring smile through the corner of her mouth, and he returned it. Hannah looked back at the Lupe and glared at him.
“Hmm,” he said, sheathing his cutlass. “You ARE braver than I thought. Very well, if you insist on knowing...” The Lupe bowed with a cruel, mocking grin on his face.
“I am Captain Scarblade of the Revenge.”
Hannah’s stomach churned and her eyes widened. She had heard of this wicked villain, and none of the stories were pleasant ones. She remembered once a sailor that had washed up on shore near the Golden Dubloon, and the story he told them when he was carried in. His ship had been attacked by the Revenge, and he described a pirate of pure evil and cruelty... and Hannah would never forget that look of terror in that sailor’s eyes.
“W-What do you want from us?” Hannah asked, her voice cracking slightly. Scarblade grinned and knelt in front of her, and Hannah almost jerked back in fear, but her bound hands prevented her. Scarblade leaned close, so close that Hannah could see her reflection in his red eye.
“You are going to lead us to Frigget’s loot, missy,” he said.
“You think I’d be stupid enough to do that?” she asked with a scowl.
Scarblade narrowed his eye at her, but she just glared back, all fear gone for the moment. Scarblade then snickered and stood up, his eye flashing in malevolence. Hannah gulped quietly.
“Well, if that be the way ye feel about it, Hannah...” Scarblade snapped his fingers, and Benny grabbed Armin and started to drag him away from Hannah. Armin let out a cry of urgency, and Hannah leapt up to her feet to respond, but Scarblade grabbed her by her arms and kept her in place, forcing her to watch Armin drug off helplessly. Benny pressed a knifepoint dangerously close to Armin’s throat.
“You were saying something about NOT leading us to Frigget’s loot?” Scarblade hissed in Hannah’s ear.
“Looks like we walked into more than we bargained for, Jacques,” Garin whispered, peering over the rock they hid behind.
“No, ya think?” Jacques asked sarcastically. Garin scowled over his shoulder at Jacques, then looked back to the crowd of pirates.
“Getting around without being spotted isn’t going to be easy...” he muttered to himself. Suddenly, there was a desperate cry from inside the group of pirates, and Jacques jumped, startled. Garin watched as Benny the Blade dragged off a small, cream-colored Bori to the side, and then Garin saw Scarblade grab hold of a struggling...
Garin’s eyes widened and he quickly ducked behind the rock next to Jacques, making him jump again, but this time with almost a yelp. Garin made a shush noise at him, and Jacques looked at Garin in agitation.
“Stop doing that!” he snapped quietly.
“Jacques, it’s her!”
“HER! The Usul I saw in town!” Garin said, pointing over the rock. Jacques blinked and stood up to look over the rock, then looked back at Garin.
“If that’s her, what’s she doing here?” he asked.
“Well, the bound wrists make it kinda obvious, bird-brain!” Garin snapped. Jacques rolled his eyes, and he looked back at the crowd of pirates. He smirked.
“She’s kinda cute, huh?”
“Oh, shut up...” Garin growled, drawing his dagger. Jacques just chuckled, but then he looked at Garin.
“So those two are in trouble and we’re the only ones who can help them,” he said. “What’s your plan, Garin?”
Garin grinned. “How’s your throwing arm?”
To be continued...