Scarblade's Pearl: Part Two
After finishing off their drinks, Scarblade and his crew had left the Golden Dubloon, Nira tagging along at the Captain's side. Images had danced in the pirate Shoyru's head as stories she'd heard of the Revenge and it's crew played in her mind. The stories of how Scarblade had destroyed Old Maraqua and how he'd tried and failed to destroy it again were common knowledge throughout Krawk Island. Of course, Nira had never thought she'd come face to face with the Captain, let alone be taken under his wing. Now, the next morning, as she lay on a hammock in the girl's crew room, she couldn't help wondering what her future might be.
“Get up!” someone cried suddenly.
Before Nira even had time to react, something hit the bottom of her hammock, causing her to fly from it and hit the floor with a solid thud. Nira groaned and pushed herself up. When she'd gotten to her feet, she found an angry-looking shadow Kougra standing in front of her.
“Captain wants to see you. Now,” said the Kougra, narrowing her eyes.
She looks so fierce! Nira thought. She quickly nodded her head in answer to the Kougra's words, then dashed up the steps leading to the deck. She blinked when she emerged, temporarily blinded by the sudden light.
“Outta the way!” a voice cried angrily. Nira found herself shoved aside before she could even blink. A rough-looking red Draik moved along with his mop, ignoring the Shoyru he'd shoved aside. Nira felt anger burning inside her, but resisted the urge to call something back. She knew she'd only get herself into trouble with the fowl words she was contemplating.
“Hey, need some help?” asked a voice from behind. Nira turned and found herself looking up at a pirate Ixi. He offered her his hand. Nira uncertainly took it, allowing the Ixi to help her up.
“Thanks,” she said quietly.
“Just stay out of everyone's way. It's a rough crowd here.” The Ixi started walking away, then suddenly looked back.
“Oh, right,” he called. “Name's Kaezer.”
“Nira,” she replied.
Kaezer nodded, then continued on, likely going back to whatever he was doing before. Nira sighed and glanced around. Everyone was milling about so purposefully that she felt out of place. She nearly jumped when a hand was laid on her shoulder.
“Kept me waitin', eh Lass?” Captain Scarblade asked, grinning slightly. Nira looked back at him with a slight grin of her own. She'd told the Captain her name, of course, but he seemed to prefer calling her “Lass”.
“Sorry,” she said in reply, although her tone said she was clearly not sorry.
The captain chuckled.
“I'll let it slide this once since you're new,” he said. “But next time you don't come straight to me, there will be consequences.”
Nira's grin vanished and she gulped, nodding her head. She didn't want to know what kind of consequences a pet like Scarblade could think up. The captain smiled, then began striding across the deck.
“Come,” he said simply.
I'm not some lost puppyblew! Nira growled in her head, but followed the captain anyway. He walked over to a barrel with the hilts of some kind of weapon sticking out. He gripped one of these hilts and easily pulled free a cutlass, sheath, belt, and all. He tossed the weapon to Nira without warning, but the Shoyru still managed to catch it gracefully. The captain smiled approvingly.
“Good reaction time. Always necessary in a pirate,” he commented. Then he nodded his head toward the cutlass in Nira's hands.
“Put it on,” he commanded.
Nira uncertainly put the belt around her waist and adjusted it to fit. Then she looked to Scarblade again. He nodded again.
“Draw,” he said simply.
Nira took hold of the hilt and pulled the cutlass free of its sheath. She then held the weapon in front of her, pointed at the captain. This time, Scarblade shook his head, walking to Nira's side.
“Don't grip the hilt so hard. You've gotta stay loose, ready to strike.”
Nira adjusted her grip on the hilt, making sure she gripped it just enough to keep it from slipping out of her hand. Scarblade smiled.
“Good.” He walked forward a few paces, faced Nira, and drew his own cutlass.
“Now, come at me!”
Nira, uncertain, hesitated. That was her first mistake. Scarblade darted forward, his blade moving as it it were an extension of his arm. Nira barely had time to hold up her blade to block his first stroke. When she blocked, the pirate backhanded her in the side of the head, knocking her to the deck. Her blade flew from her grasp, sliding across the deck with a clang. Before she could move, Scarblade's cutlass was pointed at her throat.
“Never hesitate,” Scarblade commanded. “It gives your enemy the upper hand.”
Nira gulped and nodded. Scarblade slowly withdrew the blade and allowed Nira to get back to her feet. He then gestured toward the discarded cutlass.
“Pick it up,” he commanded.
Nira hurried to follow the order. She no longer felt angry at being bossed around. She had been afraid when Scarblade had his cutlass pointed at her, but that fear had quickly faded. More. She needed more. She wanted to learn everything she could. Seeing the excitement in Nira's eyes, Scarblade chuckled.
“That's more like it!” he bellowed. Nira grinned. She liked being praised. When his chuckles died away, Scarblade took a ready stance.
Nira darted forward, without hesitation this time. Scarblade swung at her and Nira blocked. But the pirate was so much bigger and stronger that Nira collapsed under the blow. Scarblade took the advantage, giving Nira a push that sent her off balance and sprawling onto her back. Nira was sitting up, trying to get to her feet again, when the cutlass was pointed at her throat. She looked up, meeting the intense glare the captain was giving her.
“Again!” he commanded.
Nira happily obeyed. For hours and hours she practiced. Time and again Scarblade would corner her, but with each defeat Nira came back fighting better than before. It wasn't until sunset that she finally got a rest. Even then, she wanted to keep training. But Scarblade, terrible as he may be, knew Nira would burn out fast if he let her train as long as she wanted. He liked her enthusiasm, though, and promised she could train again the next day. After hearing this, Nira gobbled down her dinner and went straight to bed. She wanted to go straight to sleep, but thinking of the next day left her too excited to rest. So instead, she thought of Rai, back at the Golden Dubloon, and wondered how he was. With a grin, she realized he'd probably left before she'd even gotten close to Scarblade. He'd never know how things had turned out.
Whatever, thought Nira. I don't need him anyway.
Nira was just drifting off when a thought suddenly hit her. Her heart started to race and cold fear dribbled down her back. Raiqil had been the only one who accepted it. He was the only pet who knew Nira's secret and hadn't rejected her. No one else understood.
What if he finds out?! she wondered, thinking of Scarblade.
No, he could never find out! If he did, he'd probably dump her, just like everyone else did. Images of Scarblade dragging her down the gangplank and throwing her back onto the street played through her mind. She shook them away angrily. That couldn't happen! She couldn't tell him or anyone on the ship. No one could know her secret. No one could know that she could control water.
Nira woke early the next morning. No one else in the room was awake yet. For a moment, she just lay there, pondering if she should try going back to sleep. But then, suddenly, she remembered where she was, and what she would get to do this morning. Excitement coursed through her veins. She couldn't have gone back to sleep if she'd wanted to. Quiet as she could, Nira slipped out of the hammock and headed out on deck. The sun was just barely touching the horizon and the air was chilly. Nira walked across the deck, untouched by the chill. She was too revved up to be cold. Taking in a deep breath of the crisp morning air, she wandered over to the side of the boat, gazing down at the crystal clear water below. In the morning light, the water seemed to glimmer and shine. Nira thought it beautiful.
Maybe just this once... she thought. It's not like anyone's-
Nira's thoughts came to an abrupt halt when she heard heavy footsteps behind her. She turned around to find Scarblade striding over to her.
“Up bright an' early aren't ya, Lass?” he asked, grinning.
Nira couldn't help grinning in return. But inside, her heart raced, realizing how close she'd come to exposing her secret.
“Too excited to stay in bed any longer,” she replied.
Scarblade chuckled and stopped a few paces in front of her.
“Ready?” he asked, pulling his cutlass. Nira smiled and drew her cutlass as well.
“Ready!” she called. Without waiting for a reply, she dashed forward.
To be continued...