Hannah, Garin, and the Terribly-Named Treasure: Part Three
“Did you hear me? Why. Are. You. On. My. SHIP?” Garin repeated, fingering the spot on his belt where his Maractite dagger had hung until Earbeard had taken it.
Hannah smirked slightly (an expression which, Garin was slightly unsettled to see, mirrored his own oft-used sneer). “Your ship? I was under the impression that it belongs to someone named Earbeard now.”
Garin turned a delicate shade of purple. “That’s just temporary—as soon as someone wants a snack, we’ll be out of here and on our way to retaking the ship. Don’t change the subject. Why are you here? How are you here?”
“How is not important,” said Hannah, who didn’t want to remind anyone present about the whole firework thing. “All that matters is that I’m here, and when we get out of this room, I intend to find the treasure you’re looking for, with or without your help.”
Jacques gaped at Garin. “You never said you told her about the Booty of Briny Baldric!”
“I didn't, you idiot, but you just did,” said Garin acidly.
“You’re looking for that? But I thought it had a terrible curse on it,” Hannah said, leaning against a nearby barrel. “Do you have an antidote or counterspell or something?”
Jacques, ignoring Garin’s frantic shut-up gestures, raised an eyebrow at her. “You’ve heard of it?”
Hannah shrugged. “I’ve heard a few things about it, but I was never really tempted to go after it. For one thing, I didn’t have a map, and for another, I didn’t much feel like traipsing around looking for a way to fight the curse. I’ve had quite enough of curses to last a lifetime. And... it’s called the Booty of Briny Baldric. Frankly, I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously if I looked for a treasure that sounds like the name of a retired pirate’s antique shop. Anyway, now that your ship has been commandeered by the charming Captain Earbeard, what’s the plan?”
Garin switched the focus of his glare to her. “I have a plan, but it definitely does not include you.”
“Oh, come on,” said a heretofore-silent Lutari. (His name was Kaidan.) “She’s the Hannah, Captain. I’m sure she could be helpful.”
“Yeah,” croaked a Nimmo (named Farrell) supportively. “She’s the only one of us who has a weapon, and it wouldn’t be right to just leave her here.”
“Besides, we’ll need all the help we can get to break the rest of the crew out of the cells down below,” chimed in Larrup, a Meerca.
“Fine,” Garin huffed. “You can come. But as soon as we get to the nearest town, you’re gone, understand?”
Hannah gave an almighty reluctant sigh and nodded, crossing her fingers behind her back.
“Good. So I’ve thought of a pretty foolproof plan that actually doesn’t involve breaking anyone out...”
Unfortunately, like many foolproof plans, Garin’s was doomed from the start.
His plan had seemed quite effective in its simplicity: since the island where the treasure allegedly resided was, conveniently, the next one the Black Pawkeet would reach, Garin had decided that their little group would simply be “marooned” along with the rest of his un-traitorous crew, and then find the treasure (except for Hannah, of course).
However, he hadn’t accounted for Earbeard correctly reading the map and informing him that he wasn’t so stupid as to maroon them on the treasure island; they would instead be left on a scraggly little sandbar about three miles of shallow sea away from any other island. By the time they’d reach any place useful, Earbeard would probably have already found the Booty of Briny Baldric. Earbeard also seemed to have realized that he’d unwisely locked away all his supplies, but decided that the crew could survive on what they had for the next few days rather than risk an escape. In short, the voluntary-marooning plan was out; preemptive action would have to be taken.
While Garin and Jacques tried to come up with another “foolproof” plan, Hannah and her three new friends occupied themselves with another task: carving out an escape hole. The storeroom door was guarded by two extremely bored pirates who’d lost a coin toss, but the adjoining room to the left of the storeroom—which Farrell said held flour and other supplies that didn’t fit in their current room—was unguarded, and the wooden wall between the two was already weakened from the recent collapse of a barrel full of water. Hannah, reluctant to damage her dagger with repeated scraping, instead used it to pry two large iron nails off a box, and she and the three pirates took turns using them to gouge through the softened planks.
It was by no means a perfect solution—they kept scattering splinters around the floor, which made moving anywhere a hazard—but it was better than Jacques’s "barricade the door and let everyone outside starve to death" plan, which was flawed, to say the least. Finally, the other two dug up another nail and, with good graces (Jacques) and much grumbling (Garin), they helped finish carving out the hole. In the other chamber, as Farrell had said, there were several barrels of flour, dried corn, and other supplies. In a stroke of luck, there were also a few weapons which had admittedly seen better days. Garin ended up with a very rusted and chipped cutlass, Jacques took a large sword that was so blunt it could be better used as a club, Larrup received a knife with a broken-off tip, and Kaidan found Fungus Chucks whose handles had gone completely moldy, while Farrell had to make do with the three nails they had used to escape. None were very happy with these, but they would have to do.
The final plan the little group ended up with only vaguely resembled a plan. They were to keep large amounts of flour in their pockets and exit the room in the middle of the night; they would make for the bilge, where the rest of Garin’s crew was being held, and try to break them out. If a sentry or guard approached, they would either knock him out quietly, or, if the alarm were raised, throw flour in his face and run. If this happened, it was pretty much every pet for him (or her) self.
The first two steps went like clockwork, and Hannah was just starting to relax a bit when it all went wrong. A Gelert caught sight of them; instead of following the plan and sticking around so he could be knocked out and/or floured into submission, he turned around and ran in the other direction, calling for help.
“I told you that was going to happen!” called Hannah over the ensuing din, as she followed the others at a sprint. “How are we going to break the rest of your crew out now?”
Jacques stopped suddenly; Garin skidded to a halt behind him, and Larrup, Kaidan, Farrell, and Hannah collided. “We can’t. It’s impossible now. But we’ve been in that storeroom for about two days, and Earbeard’s been pushing the ship at nearly twelve knots—according to the map, we’re probably closer to the island than he thinks. I think we need to jump ship, swim for land, and go find that treasure.”
“Are you insane?” said Garin in utter disbelief. “That’s the coward’s way out, and we can’t abandon the rest of the crew! How would we ever get the Black Pawkeet back if we just ran?”
The Kyrii turned around and ran back up the stairs. “Earbeard’ll definitely follow us, so we’ll be able to get back to the ship. And the treasure is supposed to have powerful magic items, right? Taking back the ship will be a piece of cake.”
“You’re not thinking this through!” shouted Kaidan, panting. “What about the rest of the crew?”
Larrup paused and looked back in the direction of the bilge. Much shouting and clanging was coming from the cells, and a Kougra was frantically sprinting up the stairs, spattered with large amounts of garbage. “You know, I actually think they’ll be okay.”
“I guess we’ll do it then,” said Garin doubtfully, hurrying after Jacques. “But the prow’s too narrow for us to go at the same time—we’ll have to go one at a time, with the others guarding our backs.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Jacques. The group had arrived at the outermost tip of the Black Pawkeet, from which they could see a small strip of land about a mile and a half away; the whole ship was in a state of confusion, and they could hear Earbeard bellowing below them, apparently under the impression that they were still hiding under the deck. The Kyrii gestured politely at Hannah. “Ladies first.”
“Wait, you do know how to swim, right?” said Garin at his most condescending. In answer, Hannah shot him a malevolent glare as she balanced on the tip of the prow for a second, then leaped off in a perfect Pteri dive. A quiet splash sounded from below, and she swam out a little from the ship to make room for Garin, who hit the cool, dark water next, nearly as quietly.
Just as Jacques was about to jump, however, their hastily-made plan was thwarted once again by the appearance of several mutineers, who engaged the four in combat while calling for backup.
“Just go!” shouted Jacques from above, as he grappled with a brawny Chomby. “Get to the island before they stop you!”
“We’ll be back!” Hannah yelled, and, as the first arrow landed about ten feet away from her, the two Usuls struck out for shore.
About a half hour later, Garin hauled himself, dripping and gasping, onto the dark, empty beach. Hannah followed him, shivering violently, and collapsed on the sand, coughing. Though it wasn’t freezing, the sea hadn’t exactly been a bathtub, and there was no sun to warm them up. Still, it was a tropical island, and the warm breezes were comforting; after a few minutes, both Usuls had sufficiently recovered enough to wring out their sodden tails, brush the clumped sand out of their fur, scrape the congealed flour out of their pockets, and survey their surroundings. The beach was quite narrow, with rocks and driftwood piled high next to a large cliff on one side; it quickly disappeared into a lush jungle, which was emitting the gentle night noises of hundreds of Petpets.
Hannah pulled a saltwater-encrusted but still edible apple out of her bag, and took a bite out of it, while thumping her head to try and evict the water stuck stubbornly in her ear. “So what do we do now?”
Grimacing slightly, Garin pulled a stringy piece of kelp out of a snarl in his tail. “I should get a move on with the treasure hunt. If I remember correctly, there’s a small village somewhere in the middle of this jungle, so I’ll help you find that before I start my search.”
Hannah’s jaw dropped. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Why would I be?” asked Garin, carefully avoiding her eyes.
“Oh, I don’t know, because I just helped you escape from your own ship?” said Hannah furiously. “Because I’ve heard of the Booty of Briny Baldric? Because I actually have a functional weapon?” She took one last violent bite of the apple, then tossed the core onto the beach. “You know what? Just forget it. Go find the treasure yourself—I’m out of here.” And she stomped angrily away, disappearing quickly into the thick foliage.
Garin stared after her for about ten guilty seconds, then forced it out of his mind and squared his shoulders. He had a treasure to find and a crew to rescue, he reminded himself, and it wouldn’t be long before Earbeard came after him.
Which was why, he determinedly told himself, that it was for the best that Hannah wasn’t coming with him. She’d only have slowed him down. With this in mind, he strode into the jungle. The map had set a huge and ancient petrified tree as its first landmark, and it could be anywhere, so he really had to get a move on.
Hannah, burning with anger and humiliation, had been hiding behind a large patch of shrubbery. Far from wanting to seek out the village and go home, she was now more determined than ever to follow Garin and, if possible, steal the treasure from right under his nose. Waiting until his footsteps had almost faded, she crept out from her hiding place and began to follow his trail.
About ten feet away, a Krawk and a Lupe slipped out from behind a mound of driftwood and tiptoed after the rapidly vanishing Usul. Earbeard’s orders had been clear—the chase was on.
To be continued...