Suns Ablaze - Story One: Part Three
“Now, what do we have here?”
Lafayette’s voice continued to echo down into the shaft, Suman’s handiwork. Molly gripped the box tighter to her chest, her green eyes darting to Rego. Rego blinked up at the rival, his scales rising and falling with heavy anticipation. It had occurred to Rego that the night would prove worthy for other looters to search for the Lutetium Dubloon, the object of Rego’s ambition. But Lafayette had not been seen for some time by anyone on Krawk Island, nor on Mystery Island. His appearance tonight was stunning.
“Woo, I think I see myself some good fun tonight, boys. What do you say, Jones?” Lafayette barked. “Come on up here, friends.”
“Does he even know it’s us?” Suman said.
“Doubt it. Keep steady, stay cool. Molly, hold the box,” Rego murmured, as he started the ascent from the hole.
As Rego came closer to facing this ghost of an Eyrie, he recounted all his previous encounters with him. From their humble beginnings, it hadn’t been all bliss. They had been comrades for a short period, but the relationship crumbled, Lafayette’s demands becoming overwhelming for Rego. Over time, Lafayette had founded his own crew.
“Oh! It cannot be!” Lafayette shouted. “My dearest, oldest pal in the whole universe is here tonight to witness my victory.”
Lafayette stood, looking more dashing than ever – as dashing as one criminal Eyrie could get. He wore a red velvet coat, embossed with two crowns on either shoulder. Four gold buttons lined the left side of the coat, a large buckle undone and swinging with every moment of his waist. His navy blue pants were seamed perfectly. He also wore a lavish gold hat, topped with a blue feather. He looked like a clown to Rego, and his ego was, and always had been, unbearable. His crew stood around him, full of rag-tag bandits and close associates.
Molly and Suman followed behind Rego on the rope, appearing moments apart from each other.
“Two jacks and a queen,” a rough looking red Ixi called from the shadows. Three Krawks were standing around with torches blazing, baring thin lipped smiles, and their scales were dull.
“Oh – is this the all-star team I’ve been hearing about?” Lafayette mocked.
“What do you want?” Rego asked, his voice tight.
“You know gosh darn well what I want, Rego. We didn’t come here to have a tea party and sit around with pretty dresses. But I see you brought a lady.”
Molly clutched the box, her eyes focusing in on Lafayette, the stare daring him. Lafayette looked away and motioned for one of the Krawks to push a box over for him to sit on. As he sat, Lafayette sighed.
“You know, I didn’t think you’d actually think I wouldn’t try for it myself.”
“How could I have thought that? You have been gone for so long,” Rego said, subtly waving his hand to Suman.
“I ain’t been gone. I’ve been here. Ya’ll ain’t looking for me, is all. Everyone knows I’m just too good to pass over on such fun excursions,” Lafayette responded.
Rego didn’t breathe as he stared at his enemy. Nothing would stop him from taking the ornate box and the Dubloon from the Cove tonight. Not a good for nothing Eyrie, not a load of bandits, nothing.
“So, I see you have some loot over there,” Lafayette said, nodding at the box.
“No loot, just a well earned item I intend to keep,” Rego countered.
“Is that so? I wouldn’t be too sure about that. I used to like you, Rego. A lot. You were a good ol’ one that didn’t seek his own fame, like that Jones over there.” Lafayette nodded in the direction of the Ixi. “Tell ‘em what you did to me.”
Silence ensued. The red Ixi looked quite embarrassed.
“Tell ‘em!” Lafayette barked.
“I s-stole,” Jones stammered.
“You bet you did. Caught ‘em just in time. Why do I keep ‘em? Good bait.”
Lafayette let out a blood curdling laugh that caused the Ixi to recede into the shadows.
“Now, we’ll be on our way, Lafayette.”
Rego’s “defiance” only made the Eyrie let out more of his obnoxious laughter. His eyes closed, opened, then bulged. The Krawk closest to him cackled silently, but stopped in one look from the Eyrie’s eyes.
“Excuse me? You are so rude. You haven’t met my closest associate. He’s more interested in this garbage fable of a Dubloon than I am.”
As Lafayette turned his head and made a grandeur motion with his hand, a shadow Pteri stepped out from the hidden depths of the Cove. If there was one thing the crew could remember from the daunting experience and the unfriendly demeanor of the Pteri, it was his red eyes. They hypnotized Molly into extreme fear, something she had never felt. Rego stared at this very unusual character. The Pteri was larger than any he had ever seen, his wings held closely against his body, a black coat thrown over his frame. His eyes shifted from the trio to Lafayette.
“Ladies and gents, Jack Furey.”
The name did not seem familiar to any of the three. It was obvious to them, however, that this Jack Furey was there for a purpose.
“That box,” Jack Furey said, his voice practically a fraction of his size, “is something particularly special. To me.”
“As is it to us,” Rego nodded, shifting his weight and throwing another subtle signal to Suman.
“You don’t understand. It is my inheritance.”
“Buried twenty feet under the Cove? I don’t have time for jokes.”
Rego’s response angered the Pteri, but his features relaxed as quickly as they had flared.
“I suggest you hand it over and go back to that boat of yours. Ono did a great job.”
The identification of Ono registered quickly to Suman who was muttering furiously under his breath.
“What about Ono?” Rego asked.
“Oh, that fool. I paid him well for his services. Friend of yours no longer, so now if you wouldn’t mind handing me the box,” Jack practically whispered.
Lafayette’s look of humor and pity entered his eyes and again rested on Molly’s chest.
“No,” Rego said.
The Pteri hurled himself at Rego, shaking the very walls of the Cove. In a panic, the Ixi and rag-tag Krawks started for Suman but Suman quickly grabbed his lantern and threw it toward them. Lafayette quickly lunged for Molly, but her rapid movement stunted him, as he landed face first to the floor. As Rego struggled with Jack Furey, Suman managed to throw the Ixi down in the shaft and undid the rope, fending off the remaining Krawks.
Molly edged closer to the wall as Lafayette regained his composure. It didn’t take long for him to stumble again, his gaudy outfit making fighting impossible. As the Pteri went to unleash his greatest weapon, his long, black, nails, Rego had a moment of sudden realization.
“Molly, open the box, remove the Dubloon!” Rego shouted, struggling under the Pteri.
Molly ripped open the silver handle and uncovered the paper and threw the Dubloon. A sudden blinding light ripped through the cave, illuminating it.
“Let’s go!” Rego called, headed out, while covering his eyes. Suman and Molly stumbled blindly while Lafayette and Jack Pteri Furey were caught by the surprise light. The trio ran the three hundred and six paces, gaining speed and eventually tumbling out into the turbulent storm and thrashing waters.
Suman quickly gathered the small, unharmed black boat, Molly still clutching the box. The trio entered quickly, leaving no time for preparation to sail. They used their knowledge and dexterity to lead them back to the twin island.
After they had reached the island, they found that Ono had fled, and they took his home as a place to rest while they regained what they had lost during the failed excavation. The trio didn’t talk much about what had occurred during the days that followed.
Rego was walking along the beach outside of Ono’s former home. It was a clear day, no clouds in the sky. The sun was blazing and reflecting gorgeously on the water. Suman and Molly joined him, and the pair sat on the sand.
“That wasn’t the Lutetium Dubloon,” Rego began. “It was a fake.”
“I don’t think it was an anything,” Molly murmured.
“Maybe,” Rego continued. “I think it was placed there as a distraction. It doesn’t make much sense, though. It’s still a missing item. I am convinced it is out there somewhere, if not on Krawk Island.”
“Why did you have me throw it?” Molly asked.
“Remember the poem? It said it all.”
Rego nodded at Suman, who lowered his head, then raised it at the sun. Silence again overcame them. Suman continued to stare at the sun, and then, ran back inside Ono’s home. He returned with the box, and held it at his head, his claw tightly gripping it. He studied the box, then the sun, Rego watching him all the while.
“We were looking at it wrong,” Suman finally declared.
“What do you mean?” Rego asked, skeptical.
“The sun. Its carving was a bit ancient, a little bit too ancient to be the Cove, at any rate.”
“So, where is the scene?” Molly asked, rising to her feet, her wings outstretched.
Suman smiled. “The Lost Desert.”
“Can’t be,” Rego breathed, his mouth widening into a grin.
“The only place dominated by ritual and the sun,” Suman continued.
“Well, friends,” Rego said, “let’s get to work.”