A Pirate Called Pudgywinks: Part Three
Lertley had been expecting Amelia to say something like Pudgywinks’d rigged a giant pirate weapon out in the backyard and was shooting it at people. Or that he’d hurt himself flipping on the trampoline. Her answer caught him completely off guard.
“Gone? To where?” Lertley asked.
“I don’t know!!”
“He’s just a little kid, he couldn’t have gotten far!” Lilly said. “Come on, let’s go look for him!”
The search party was mobilized faster than Lertley would have even thought was possible. Amelia and Lertley were to search the Faerieland backwoods behind Estella’s Neohome. Lilly was to stay at home with Tweedles and call them if Pudgywinks came back. There was a short path traveling along through the woods and before he knew what was happening, Lertley was whisked along it by Pudgywinks’ frantic older sister, armed with a bag of seductive smelling cookies in case they had to lure the pirate out of hiding. Before long, the path forked and Amelia stopped short.
“I don’t know,” Lertley admitted. Faerieland had just crashed to the ground a few months before, and left hundreds of Neopets homeless. Point being, no one knew much of the forests beyond Faerieland. Not even the faeries themselves.
“Let’s split up. You go right, and I’ll go left.” Amelia tramped off along the left path, leaving Lertley to make his own way through the woods.
As he walked along, Lertley yelled out Pudgywinks’s name periodically and announced loudly that he had delicious cookies. He even said he had a coconut a time or two, just to see if it made any difference. He walked for what seemed like hours, tramping over rocks and almost twisting his ankle on the sporadically encountered root that would seem to reach up from the ground to snag him. He yelled until his voice was sore and he could barely speak, and the sun began to sink from its place in the heavens, letting the woods fall into darkness. Lertley hoped he’d be able to make it back without getting lost.
He was about to go back, convinced that if he was barely surviving this walk, that Pudgywinks must have given up long ago. Perhaps Amelia had found the little guy. Either way, he couldn’t continue on at this hour. But that was when he saw it.
A piece of paper could be seen rustling in the slight breeze just a few meters away. It was caught under a rock. Lertley picked it up, wondering if it might hold any clues to where he would find Pudgywinks. Low and behold, it was the pirate’s map that the baby Kyrii had gotten mad at him for looking at back at Estella’s house. And it was of the woods. These woods.
Yes! There was the path he’d been traveling on, and there was the fork that had led him away from Amelia. A red dotted line led away from the path, just after a purple Negg bush. Lertley looked to his right and found a purple Negg bush. A straight line led directly north from here to a large clearing, and at the center was a giant gold “X.” Lertley had no doubt that that was where Pudgywinks had headed.
But why? And how? How had Pudgywinks managed to hike all of the way out here and still keep ahead of Lertley? How did he know that there was treasure out here? And how had he gotten this map? Lertley ran his fingers over the authentic looking parchment. It didn’t look like this was just one of Pudgywinks’ little fantasies like the room that looked like a pirate ship and a Petpet that acted like a first mate. This seemed far too real.
Lertley took the map with him and walked towards what he assumed was north. If he was right, in a few minutes he would reach the clearing.
Lertley blundered out of the dark woods and into a small clearing just as the moon was rising in the sky. Stepping out from the trees, he looked around. In the center of the clearing was a giant, gaping hole. It was freshly dug, and as Lertley walked over to it, he discovered it to be remarkably deep. In the center of it, there was a small, box shaped indentation. Like something had been pulled out of the earth...
Lertley ducked just in time as Pudgywinks leapt at him from where he had been hiding in the branches of the nearest tree. He was wielding a muddy shovel.
Pudgywinks dropped to the ground beside the hole and Lertley ran half the circumference of the hole in order to put the hole’s diameter and depth between him and his mad eyed assailant.
“YE BE MIGHTY TRICKY TO HAVE FOLLOWED ME HERE!!” Pudgywinks roared, trying to run around the hole and smack Lertley with his shovel. Lertley was able to keep enough distance between them.
“I came looking for you! I didn’t follow you! We had no idea where you were! Amelia is worried sick!!”
“YE FOUND ME MAP!! YE FOLLOWED ME TO THE TREASURE!!”
“I don’t want any treasure!! I just want to leave without you whacking me with a shovel! Okay?!”
Lertley’s last remark seemed to make Pudgywinks even angrier. He let out a wild yelp and tried to leap across the hole at the speckled Gelert. But with his stubby legs he didn’t make it, and the shovel flew out of Pudgywinks’ hand and towards Lertley as the baby Kyrii tumbled into the hole, his oversized head ricocheting off of the walls of the chasm. Pudgywinks let out a growl which cascaded out of his throat and formed a scream of rage. He tried to clamber back out of the hole, but stopped abruptly when he saw Lertley standing at the top and pointing the shovel at him like it was a sword.
“You, my little friend, are going to explain yourself right now!” Lertley commanded like the captain of a Krawk Island ship.
Pudgywinks stared at Lertley like he was going to throttle him, but then looked down and sighed. When he looked up, Lertley almost dropped his weapon in surprise. A single, thread-like tear was making its way down Pudgywinks’ soft cheek.
“Ever since me first owner created me, I’ve wanted to be a pirate,” Pudgywinks said slowly, and in a voice that sounded less like a buccaneer and more like a little boy. “I seen pictures of Krawk Island, and Captain Garin, even Hannah, and I’ve known that’s where I belonged. The rugged, seafaring life was right fer me, so I asked me first owner if she would buy me a pirate paint brush and start training me to be a pirate. She was very rich, with two other neopets as it was, and so I knew she had the money. But me mistress had other plans.”
“She wanted to paint you baby?” Lertley asked, already knowing the answer.
“Aye. Baby. To go with me horrible name. Pudgywinks. Me owner loved the sweet look of them baby Kyrii and so she ignored me pleas and got me the first baby paint brush she could get her hands on. It was the most embarrassing experience ever, after that at her house, with everyone fawning over me and treatin’ me like a pet. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and I ran away.”
“To Krawk Island?”
“Nay. I never even made it that far. I been livin’ in Neopia Central at the time, and I seen a ship dock at a port outside the city bein’ bound fer Krawk Island. I thought I could get passage aboard. But the pirate who commanded the ship thought me a joke. I was devastated. I returned to me owner with a broken heart. But while at the docks I’d overheard the pirate say somethin’ about a treasure buried near the Haunted Woods (at the time, Faerieland was still in the sky) and he said it be enough to pay fer somethin’ very expensive. He had a map with him at the time. I figured, if I could ever find the treasure, I could buy the paint brush to undo me curse meself. So before I left, I got meself aboard the ship and stole the map the pirates had been lookin’ at.
“I knew I had to get meself to the Haunted Woods. But I needed someone to take me and no one would take a baby away from home, however. So, I hatched a cunning plan.”
“This. What ye called earlier ‘The Pirate Act.’”
“So... you acted as annoying as possible and got yourself sent to the pound?”
“And hoped you’d end up somewhere near the treasure?”
“And you did.”
“Aye. When me new owner, Amelia got me and took me to Faerieland I was upset, as I thought that it would mean I would have to get her to give me up. I tried the same act as I did before, but she hung on like a barnacle. I was cute, ye see and that made her happy. She got Tweedles the same day as me, and from the same kennel, so she made up the story that we were brother and sister to gain her popularity from her rich friends.”
“Really? So you guys aren’t really related at all? Except by adoption?”
“Aye. Tweedles didn’t even know what a brother was except that I was hers then. I like her, though. I do think of her as a sister now. Anyway, no matter how much trouble I caused, Estella wouldn’t give me up. It was from her that I got Greenbeard, me first mate. Estella played up me pirate act more than any other owner I’d had. She redid me room and got me me gear. Still I didn’t ask for the paint brush ‘cause I didn’t want her to say no. I figured she would, since she said it was funny that a baby wanted to be a pirate. She hung on and I pored over my map each night wishing for a change in my fortunes. I thought I was doomed...”
“...until Faerieland crashed to the ground right next to the Haunted Woods.”
“AYE!! From then on I’ve been preparing for this day, and when you came to babysit and let us into the yard and left, I knew me chance had come. And now I’ve discovered the treasure! The key to me curse! I can paint meself PIRATE!! And no SPECKLED GELERT SHALL STAND IN MY WAY NOW!!! YAAAA!!!!!”
Pudgywinks launched himself out of the pit and at Lertley with more force than Lertley would have thought the kid had in him. Luckily Lertley had anticipated this move after Pudgywinks's rise in volume, and sidestepped him just in time. Pudgywinks was sprawled on the ground, but was up again in a flash and turned to see Lertley who was holding up his hands, the shovel discarded in...
“Yeah, Pudgywinks. I don’t want to fight you. If you want to be painted Pirate, then I see no reason why you shouldn’t be. It’s wrong to paint a pet a humiliating color, and I want to help you undo the wrong that’s been done to you.”
The words were out of Lertley’s mouth before he knew he said them. After his short monologue, there was a brief silence, during which Lertley complimented himself on some neat phrasing and loaded words that even Lilly would have found incredible. Then Pudgywinks dashed away, behind a bush.
But then the baby Kyrii came back again, lugging a huge chest filled with what looked like thousands of neopoints.
“Then take me to the Auction House in Neopia Central to find a pirate paint brush! We can run away together! Huzzah!”
“I think your owner...”
“Me owner won’t agree!!”
“Pudgywinks,” Lertley began slowly. “You’ve been playing this ‘bad kid’ charade for too long. It’s time to stop, and go make a formal request. Even a pirate needs to learn when to stop fighting and start talking! I can’t just kidnap you and take you to Neopia Central. Then we’d both get in trouble, your neopoints would be given to Estella, and you’d be right back where you started. Come on, Pudgywinks. We need to take you home.”
Pudgywinks looked down, biting his lip in thought for a moment. Then he looked up.
“You’ll help me take this chest back, Pirate?”
“Sure thing, Captain.”
“PUDGYWINKS!!! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!!” cried Amelia when Lertley and the baby Kyrii stumbled back into Estella’s yard sometime after midnight. Lertley was behind the kid, lugging the giant chest, and looking like he was about to fall over.
“Lertley? What’s that?” Lilly asked, emerging from the house behind Amelia and clutching the sleeping Tweedles.
“I’m going to let the pirate explain that,” Lertley huffed, dropping the chest in the middle of the yard.
Pudgywinks looked at Amelia shyly, with a fearful face that Lertley had never seen. The Cybunny towered over him, her face filled with a mixture of relief and anger.
“Go ahead, Pudgywinks. Make your request. Tell her what you told me.”
With a deep breath, Pudgywinks began, and relayed his story. When he ended, Amelia was staring at him with a look of bewilderment on her face. Lertley held his breath. Pudgywinks shifted around nervously. Tweedles snored against Lilly’s shoulder.
It was Lilly who broke the silence.
“Well, are we going to talk to Estella about this, or what?”
A few weeks later, Lertley and Lilly once again made their way to Estella’s house.
“So, exactly how did he get Estella to agree to this?” Lilly asked.
“Well, from what the kid told me, he just explained how he always wanted to be painted pirate and how his acting annoying had all been a ploy to somehow end up in the Haunted Woods. Oh, and he explained the map and neopoints too...”
“And how many neopoints did he end up having?”
Lertley looked around cautiously for a moment, and then whispered in Lilly’s ear.
“OMG!” Lilly exclaimed. “That’s a lot!”
“Yeah, it was plenty. Since a baby paint brush kind of doesn’t cost as much as a pirate one, Estella was cool with it.
“Wait... she wanted him to spend more money on himself?”
“You know, it’s Estella!”
“Technically, the real reason that she let him get painted was because it would make her look like the supportive owner who let her pet’s dreams come true.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“At least Pudgywinks is happy.”
“Better not call him that anymore.”
“He’s decided to go by ‘The Notoriously Crafty Captain PW of Faerieland’.”
“That’s long. I’m assuming PW stands for Pudgywinks.”
“Yep. I’m just calling him Cap’in PW.”
“Good enough for me. Here we are!”
Lilly skipped off of the street and up to the door of Estella’s house. Before she could open the door, it burst open and Pudgywinks leapt out. Except now he didn’t look like the old Pudgywinks. Instead of being midgetish, orange, and having a gigantic head, he was lean, grey and wore roguish gold earrings and a classic red and white pirate shirt. A red bandana topped off his head.
He blasted past Lilly and Lertley and into Estella’s front garden where he threw back his head and yelled, “YES!! I BE GOIN’ TO CAPIN’ THREELEGS!! I BE LEARNIN’ TO BE A REAL PIRATE!!”
“Really?” Lilly and Lertley said in unison, rushing over to him. “That’s great!”
Amelia appeared in the doorway just then, followed by Tweedles and then a tall, blonde, trendily dressed figure.
“Estella?” Lilly asked, turning around. “Um... it’s nice to finally meet you.”
“You too, dear,” Estella said in a voice that sounded only slightly less fake than Lertley had expected. “Isn’t my dashing pirate gorgeous? I’m taking him to Krawk Island to finally have his dreams come true. Wonderful! I know...”
Estella disappeared and Amelia came out of the house looking embarrassed.
“Sorry about that...”
“No, really, I don’t care,” Lilly said, extending a paw. “It doesn’t matter who your owner is. You’re still you, and you’re still my friend.”
Lilly and Amelia embraced. Lertley turned to The Notoriously Crafty Captain PW of Faerieland.
“So, you’re off?”
“Aye, and it’s all thanks to you, pirate.”
Lertley nodded and held out his hand for Pudgywinks to shake, but the kid (who didn’t look much like a kid anymore) pulled him into a great big bear hug. Everyone stared at them, completely petrified. Lertley reciprocated and then they broke apart and PW tore down the street yelling in pirate. Greenbeard flew out of the house over Amelia’s head and followed the young buccaneer.
“Well, we’re on our way to the delivery to drop off Lilly’s latest story. See ya!” Lertley said, marching back down the street and leaving everyone there, still staring at him in shock. A few moments later, Lilly hurried after her brother.
“Wait!” Amelia called after them. “What’s your story called, Lilly? I thought you’d stopped writing stories and had switched to poems!”
“Oh,” Lilly answered. “I still write stories. And besides I had something very special to write about!”
“What dat?” Tweedles asked, curiously peeking out from between Amelia’s legs, obviously wondering what new craze had taken over her poet of an idol.
“I titled it...” Lilly began, but Lertley cut her off.
“Mind if I take this one?”
“Go ahead and tell them.”
“It’s titled, A Pirate Called Pudgywinks!”