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A Memory of Disaster


by thelonetiel

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A dark purple Krawk perches on a rock overlooking Smuggler's Cove, her coloration making her Darigan ancestry obvious, but she's a pirate through and through. Her eyes are alert and clear, scrutinizing every passing ship, but the lines of her face tell a different story. She's weary, the last few weeks having lasted years to her. Everyone in Neopia has watched the story of Krawk Island, how it was torn asunder by violent tentacles. For the residents of Krawk Island, it wasn't a story to watch, it was an ordeal to survive. Very few serious natural disasters occur in the peaceful planet of Neopia, aside from an occasional avalanche in Terror Mountain or dust storm in the Lost Desert, and the pirates of Krawk Island were caught completely off guard.

     Aurikura closes her eyes, remembering the day clearly. She was in the Golden Dubloon, giving Captain Hackett a bit of friendly harassment when she felt a splash of liquid on her leg. She turned, ready to give a scold to Loretta Fontaine who was passing behind her, but paused, seeing the look on her face. Loretta, normally so well composed and deft at balancing the many tankards of grog ordered by the denizens of Krawk Island, looked absolutely bewildered, staring at the still sloshing beverage on her tray.

     “M'aplogies, Miss Auri! Don't know what happened, like th' world shifted un'er me,” said the Aisha, but as soon as she said those words, no explanation was needed. The entire restaurant seemed to tilt, quivering as if ready to leap away from the rest of the island. Many of the pirates in the room hardly took notice, so used they were to the swell of the sea, but the Fontaine sisters lived only in the steady floors of the beached Golden Dubloon and were entirely taken by surprise. Captain Hackett, always an eye (usually the good one) on his faithful employees, noticed their discomposure and took only a moment to assess the situation.

     “E'ery one, GE' OUT!” he howled, brandishing his hook towards the door. He snarled as only a seasoned pirate Lupe can, and yelled again. “Earthquake! Ye' aren't safe indoors, 'r on th' island, e'ery one get to ye boats!”

     Only then did the pirates in the bar seem to remember that they weren't out at sea and the sloshing of their drinks was uncharacteristic in the peaceful restaurant. As the next shudder rattled bottles off the shelves and shook their plates, the pirates took heed of Captain Hackett's warning and rushed out of the restaurant.

     Aurikura, a hardened pirate but with a warm heart still, gave a steady hand to Loretta, who seemed shell-shocked, possibly from spilling her first order in many years, and rushed with her out of the Golden Dubloon. “Loretta m'dear, this way! Me pretty boat is just outside.”

     Outside, the rest of the island was in the beginning stages of chaos. The ground shifted sporadically, unevenly, and there were great squelching sounds coming from the middle of the island. Taking Captain Hackett's advice, Aurikura pulled Loretta toward the docks, jumping onto her little cutter. “Rosetta!” Loretta screamed suddenly, and sure enough, the other Fontaine sister had seen her sister running and followed. Loretta helped her sister aboard as the Krawk untied the boat, a little black vessel with a single mast fitted with several blood red sails and seating for a half a dozen people. Auri scrambled to find the backup oars, and passed one to the Aisha sisters, who fought for a moment over who would paddle. In moments, the trio was headed away from the island, which seemed to crumple and split behind them.

     The sunset that night was beautiful, Aurikura would never forget it. The bay and ocean surrounding the island was full of ships of all shapes and sizes, from little dinghies to luxurious yachts owned by the Krawk Island elite. Everyone had had the same idea; flee to the sea when land became unsteady. The horizon was full of silhouettes, Auri hadn't seen so many different styles of sails since the Year 6 Mystery Island Sailing Expo. Beyond them were giant crags and cliffs, the little islets still floating apart from what used to be Krawk Island. As a backdrop, the sky was brilliantly gold and red, vibrant colors coming from the dust kicked up by the dissolving island. Periodically, giant tentacles would reach in the air, menacing the boats floating away. It seemed surreal, a scene fit for an old monster movie, not modern life.

     The giant squid--or squids, Aurikura couldn't tell the difference between them if there was more than one--seemed to be what was demolishing her home. They were the cause of the earthquakes, and the squelching she had heard earlier was a result of the muddy islets being pulled slowly apart. She leaned against the mast of her boat, watching the Fontaine sisters huddle together under an emergency blanket. They were thankful for Auri's help, but while the Darigan Krawk was a Golden Dubloon regular, she could hardly be counted as their friend. Instead, they watched the horizon, searching for any sign of the Golden Dubloon, sure it had come off its moorings and turned from restaurant to immense pirate ship once again.

     Eventually, their hopes were answered and they were hailed by Captain Hackett, who seemed a little too happy to be back in the role of ship's captain, not just restaurant manager. Loretta and Rosetta were tossed a worn rope ladder and climbed up to join the rest of the Golden Dubloon staff. With blown kisses and waves of thanks, Auri was left alone to float in the debris filled waters where the island use to sit. The usually clear water was cloudy, filled with swirling mud from the upset island. Aurikura was a pirate, practically more at ease on the ocean than on the island, but seeing her beloved homeland split apart only made the Krawk realize the difference between the fickle sea and the land that had always before been a solid foundation for every endeavor she had taken upon herself.

      ***

     The island was reconstructed by that Gavril McGill, a fellow that Aurikura didn't see any reason to trust, though she helped the effort all the same. She wandered the island for the first few days after it had been put back together, but it felt alien to her. She found a knoll that she had spent many hours sitting on, watching the sunset over the ocean, or ships sailing to and from Smuggler's Cove. Now, however, it was on the other side of the island, like a puzzle piece forced into a spot where it almost matched, but didn't quite fit exactly. The entire island felt that way, jammed together, with some areas receiving far more attention than others. It is true, the city seemed happier, bustling to make up trade lost in the disaster. Her favorite parts, though, the caves and beaches, seemed like impatient patchwork and she mourned them.

     At a loss for anything else to do, Aurikura found a new rock above Smuggler's Cove to sit and watch, waiting for the red flag and black rose that was her signal to pick up bounty. She wondered how many lost treasures would be found afloat in the ocean and sold back to their prior owners. Many things, Auri decided, and she might as well take advantage of the disaster in proper Krawk Island fashion. The landscape had changed, but the spirit of the smugglers wouldn't be deterred so easily.

The End

 
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