A Second Chance: Part Eight
Malcolm's feet scuffed the dull floorboards of the brig as he rose and crept carefully to the iron bars of the cage. He glanced down both ways down the shadowy hallway, but not a soul was in sight.
"Do you see anyone?" Abigail whispered.
Malcolm shook his head. "No."
Artfully the Shadow Gelert slithered his arm like a serpent through the narrow shafts of the prison, feeling the cold, dusty brick wall with his paw. He licked his lips as he reached further, stretching his arm painfully.
"Malcolm, what are you doing?" Abigail questioned. She froze when she heard the familiar jingle of keys. A cunning smirk broke Malcolm's face as he tightly grasped the rusty ring of the keys and twirled them on his finger casually. Abigail stared at Malcolm in speechless surprise and delight.
Abigail smiled. "You cease to amaze me, Malcolm."
"They're pirates. They're bound to leave the keys right by the cell door," he said.
Abigail raised an eyebrow as Malcolm chuckled at his own joke and combed through the keys until he landed on a long brass key, beginning to fiddle with the lock on the cage door. However, it was rather difficult and time-consuming, resulting in groping through the tangled jumble of keys in desperation for the right one. Time slowly dragged by, stirring anxiousness from both Abigail and Malcolm. The Gelert growled in aggravation as he again searched after another failed stab at the seemingly impossible lock.
"Hey! What d'ya think yer doin'?!" came the heavy accent of a pirate crew member.
Malcolm's blood stopped cold as Abigail gasped and gazed down the hallway of the brig to see a burly Yurble pirate trudge angrily toward them. "Oh, hurry, Malcolm!" she screamed.
"I'm trying!" he cried nervously and hurriedly selected a key and pushed it into the padlock, turning it to receive a relieving click. His eyes instantly lit up. "Ha! I got it!"
Just as the furious Yurble approached their cell, Malcolm pitched the keys and shoved the rusty cage door wide open, purposely striking the Pirate Yurble as he fell unconscious with a loud thump to the floor. The pirate's impressive, sleek sword clattered to the ground before he even had the slightest chance to attack.
The two paused to stare in disbelief at the Yurble out cold and laughed triumphantly. Malcolm and Abigail gleefully embraced from the excitement when they stopped, sharing an awkward moment as Malcolm gently released her. Malcolm cocked his head shyly and smiled, bending over to grasp the sword and swiftly sheathed it from view behind his black robes.
"Quickly! Someone's bound to have heard the racket!" Malcolm said, grasping Abigail's hand and dashing down the hall. Abigail skipped over the Yurble, diligently following his quickened pace.
The two speedily ran through a series of halls with prison chambers as Abigail shuddered at the sight of old cells with rusty, untouched locks holding the skeletal remains of Gunpowder's unfortunately neglected captives. They climbed up a tiring flight of stairs and ladders, passing by towering loads of cargo and supplies until they finally reached the main deck through a tiny trap door. Malcolm cautiously peered around the peculiarly silent deck as he motioned Abigail out of the trap and onto the deck. Swiftly they scurried behind a pile of barrels to avoid the watch of Gunpowder's patrolling men. Malcolm glanced out at sea and spotted a ship close by to the Salty Gale. His eyes narrowed curiously, recognizing the ship quite well by a white skull of a pawkeet painted on the ebony main sail. His eyes widened when he realized the ship was the Black Pawkeet itself.
Abigail followed Malcolm's long gaze at the Black Pawkeet, arching her eyebrow at the unfamiliar appearance of the ship, but knew its colors represented piracy.
"I think I got a plan," Malcolm whispered with a faint smirk.
Suddenly, Malcolm and Abigail jumped when cannon fire thundered, knocking them off their feet from the shock. The men aboard the Salty Gale shouted and cursed as they scuttled to assemble their cannons and engage in open fire.
Malcolm and Abigail remained hidden among the barrels as the Gelert watched the alarmed pirates fight to make their assault as the Black Pawkeet's remarkable guns continued firing at the unwary crew of the Salty Gale.
"Fire!!" Garin's fierce shout echoed, followed by the strident booming of their cannons. Garin stood at the deck, grasping the railing tightly as he gritted his teeth, studying the Salty Gale intently. His blue eyes gazed at the flying cannon balls, some crashing to its intended target and some landing with a loud, foamy splash into the sea. Jacques quickly ran to his side with two swords on his belt.
"Captain," he said. "Our guns outshine them, but they're a large ship, which means a large crew."
"We've seen worse with Scarblade," added Garin. "We can take 'em. Whoever they are."
Jacques nodded. "Where's Jane?"
"Where she belongs in the cabin below. This is no place for her. Make sure she stays there."
"Aye, sir," Jacques replied.
Abigail grabbed her head with a groan, baffled from the abrupt cannon fire. She winced as her ears throbbed internally from the raw blaring clamor. Malcolm crawled to her side anxiously, "Abigail! Are you alright?!"
"I'm fine!" she shouted back as a loud cannon nearby thundered. "What's the plan?"
"Abigail," Malcolm stated seriously. "We're gonna escape the Salty Gale and get on board the Black Pawkeet!"
"What??!" Abigail shrieked.
"I know, it's crazy, but it's either that or die on this ship! You've got to trust me!" Malcolm answered and tightly grabbed her arm and pulled her to the deck railing. Abigail looked down at the dark green-blue waters lined with white foam crashing on the ship and received a cold shock of terror throughout her body. Malcolm gazed at her sideways as she looked into his solemn eyes, somehow understanding his implication.
"No! No, Malcolm! I can't do it!" Abigail cried.
"Yes, you can! You have to! It's not that far of a swim, Abigail!"
"This is crazy! I can't swim!" Abigail screamed. "We're gonna escape pirates and climb aboard another pirate ship?!"
Suddenly Malcolm grabbed her jaw and pulled her close to his face and stared boldly at her. "Abigail, we're not gonna die on Gunpowder's accursed ship. I know you; I know you can't swim, but you've got to trust me, please!"
Tears had formed in the corners of her eyes as she thought deeply on their horrifying situation, gazing across the wide expansion of water to where the Black Pawkeet sat on the sea, continuing to fire their cannons fiercely. She looked back at Malcolm and rapidly nodded her head. "I trust you," she whispered.
Malcolm, wasting not a moment's time, climbed atop the railing in the midst of the raging cannon fire with his hand wrapped tightly around a terrified Abigail, who stood on the edge of her greatest fear. "This is it," he shouted. "I won't let you drown, Abigail, I promise. We'll survive together."
And with those reassuring words spoken from his mouth, he and Abigail jumped overboard as she inhaled a deep breath, freefalling downward and splashing into the sea.
Jacques shoved open the cabin door urgently to check on the young blue Aisha, but he was shocked to gaze into a silent, lifeless, and empty room.
"Jane?" he called uselessly. "Jane?"
His golden brown eyes scanned the cabin, but Jane was gone, which made his stomach drop in dread. He groaned aloud but cursed under his breath. "Garin's not gonna like this..."
Jane held her breath tightly as her lungs began to throb inside her chest. Her back was flat against the side of a large cabinet where Jacques had failed to look, and she prayed he would not come across the room to discover her hiding place. Jane shut her eyes, her heart racing.
Jacques still stood in the cabin, gazing around in suspicion, sensing Jane's presence, knowing that she must have been hiding. He arched an eyebrow when an idea clicked in his mind. Slowly and quietly, the Kyrii stepped backwards, his boots sounding on the floorboards of the cabin. When he reached the door, he opened it and then released it loudly as if he had exited to the outside.
However, Jane could not be deceived easily. She knew that pirates were untrustworthy and full of clever wiles. Yet, neither Garin nor Jacques posed a threat to her. They weren't like other pirates. Jane began to creep out from behind the cabinet when a hand wrapped around her wrist. Her blood turned cold as she tried to scream, but another hand covered her mouth and stifled her voice. Jane fought against the powerful grip, but whoever held her captive was much too strong.
"Easy, easy, I mean no harm," came a familiar, soothing voice softly. Jane whirled around to meet eyes with Jacques. She frowned angrily and continued to struggle. With a violent twist of her head, she managed to pull Jacques' hand off of her mouth.
"Let me go," Jane demanded.
"I'm afraid I can't. It will endanger your safety. I need to take you below. It's the captain's orders," Jacques replied simply.
"I don't need protecting! I can fend for myself!" Jane protested angrily. "Let me go!"
Jacques fought against Jane's fitful bodily protests and tried making his way to the door when a cannonball fired into the cabin. Jane screamed as they both hit the deck and Jacques sheltered her from airborne debris. Jane coughed lightly from the dust when she heard an agonized groan from Jacques. She looked up and gasped to see that a heavy barrel had rolled onto his leg. Immediately she crawled over to him, somehow managing to push the barrel away, and examined his leg, when Jacques cried out in terrible pain. Jane was appalled to see his bone protruding the flesh.
"Your leg is broken," she said. "You are in no condition for battle."
"The pirates are heading our way," Jacques hissed and grimaced. "I have to fight for crew and for Garin."
Jane paused and looked down, contemplating over how she could sense the strong friendship between the Usul and Kyrii. She never realized such a friendship could exist between pirates, but they were very different, and yet the same. She looked up when Jacques grabbed her by her shirt as he gazed straight into her eyes. He gritted his teeth and forced himself to speak.
"Listen, Jane, before I ask of you, you must promise me you'll be brave, alright?"
Jane nodded, "I will."
"Okay," said Jacques. "I need you to find Gwen, the doctor, and bring her here, you got it?"
"How will I find her?" Jane asked with a little apprehension.
"Don't worry, you will," Jacques replied. He stopped and pulled an object from his belt. It was a short but sharp dagger. "Here, take this with you. Now go!"
Jane stumbled to her feet and ran for the door, looking back at Jacques lying defenseless and vulnerable on the deck floor. Her eyes filled with fear. Jacques motioned for her. "I'll be fine! Don't worry, Jane! Just get Gwen!"
Guilty and weighed down with the burden of leaving the Kyrii alone with a severely broken leg, Jane burst out of the cabin and out into the battlefield, gripping Jacques' dagger tightly. Terrified, she breathed heavily and watched the Black Pawkeet's crewmen dash around the deck as a large and ominous pirate ship approached theirs. Shouts from the enemy pirates echoed as the ship pulled alongside the Black Pawkeet and the attackers leapt aboard with knives, guns, and swords. At the helm she spotted Captain Garin combating his first opponent fiercely with amazing skill, brandishing his sword with expertise. Quickly Jane began her desperate search for the doctor...
To be continued...