Petpet Adventures: Windrider - Part Six
They must have been close to the Maraquan Circle, because the onset of the storm was fierce and unexpected. The strong wind buffeted Arkol, who had to dig his claws into the wood to prevent being simply been blown away.
There was also something eerie about fighting so high in the sky that he could not smell the salt of the waves, and the deck rolled and bucked, yet no water flowed over the sides to wash away the arrows and debris littered on the deck. But then rain came in a huge wave, pouring from the ever-darkening skies with enough force to immediately drench his feathers.
He looked over at Braedon, who had sheltered next to him. They Krawk's mouth was hanging open, and he gulped down a mouthful of the rain. He caught Arkol's look.
"I was thirsty!," he said. Then he peered at the other ship. "Oh look, here they come now!"
Arkol looked over and saw that on the deck of the Meridellian ship, the pets were preparing to fight. He was disappointed they weren't stupid enough to be wearing armour for the leap, but then again it would make it easier for the pirates to fight them.
"We'd better get back," he said, just as the first grappling hook came sailing over empty space.
With a startled cry Braedon backed up, and they took shelter by the wheel. The cannons had stopped firing now, which was no surprise taking into account the torrential rain. It was even becoming difficult to see the other ship through the rain, and most of archers had stopped firing. Only an extremely lucky shot would be able to hit the other ship now.
"I don't know why they don't just give up," Arkol muttered. If a storm like this had started at sea, the opponents would have withdrawn to tackle the storm by themselves. Then if the sky cleared and they were still within fighting distance of each other, or even still able to fight, then the battle would resume. But in the sky the dangers of the storm might be comparatively smaller so that the Meridellian's were willing to keep going.
"Hey, look what I found," Braedon said, producing a dagger that had been stabbed into the wood above his head, ready for retrieval. He brandished it fiercely. Then, before Arkol had a chance to pull him back or even begin to call out after him, the Krawk had dashed over to the railing and slashed at the taut rope attached to the closest grappling hook. It fell away.
Further along the pirates had also cut at the offending ropes, abandoning the cannon, and waving their sabres while yelling into the storm. Well, Arkol assumed they were yelling, because he simply couldn't hear a thing. The wind had picked up, if that were even possible, and now thunder rattled the masts. He realised then how close the shop was to the angry clouds, and more importantly, the lightning.
The other ship had apparently understood the significance, because Arkol saw, just barely through the rain, their sales being furled, and the ship pulling away, lowering itself closer to the sea below. Plumbeard appeared out of the darkness, striding over to the wheel and grasping it in one paw, while the other fiddled with the levers below it. Arkol felt his stomach drop as the ship quickly descended, and squinted into the rain. But now he couldn't see the other ship, or the sea. He couldn't even see the far end of the ship.
What he did see was Braedon balance precariously on the rail as the ship jolted. The Krawk quickly plunged his acquired dagger into the polished wood, and gripped tightly.
"Braedon!" Arkol called, taking a step forward, then hesitating as he slid across the deck. He quickly dug his claws into the wood and came to an abrupt halt. "Get back on board!" he cried.
The Krawk looked up, and there was desperation in his eyes. "I can't," he mouthed, his hind paws giving way. He was left clinging to the dagger as the ship plunged sideways. But Arkol could see the dagger beginning to pull out of the wood.
"Hold on!" he cried, starting forward. Which of course the Krawk was doing, except that his handhold was the problem. If this had happened a week ago he might have just left Braedon dangling over the edge, resigned to the fact that he was just one more casualty at sea. But after the Krawk had saved his life in Meridell he did not hesitate.
He leapt onto the rail and dug one claw in, the other reaching out to grasp the Krawk's wrist, just as the dagger came unstuck. Braedon fell.
And Arkol launched himself after him.
It was a stupid move. He stretched out his wings to flap, which would have been difficult normally in the rain, as his feathers were soaked. But coupled with his injured wing, he could barely stay aloft. But he dived down – after all he was never going to make it back to the ship anyway – and clutched Braedon's paw in one claw.
Their descent slowed, but the pain in his wing was excruciating. Braedon looked up at him with wide eyes.
"Just let go!" he yelled over the wind. Even though the Krawk was directly beneath Arkol, he still had difficulty making out the words.
But Arkol couldn't. The rain had cramped up his muscles, and he tried to loosen his grip, but couldn't. They tumbled down to the sea together. Arkol saw the water rising up to meet them, choppy waves rising metres above the ocean, and made one last effort. He managed to slow them down a tiny bit before they hit the water.
He kept his grip on Braedon's wrist as they plunged several metres into the water. Then he felt Braedon move, and the Krawk swam fluidly up to the surface. By some strange luck a piece of wood floated by, and both petpets grabbed on and held tightly as the waves tossed them about. Arkol hoped that it would be a short storm. But the weather was unpredictable in the Maraquan Circle. Sometimes, though, a storm that formed in half an hour could disappear in the same amount of time.
He breathed a sigh of relief as the rain began to lessen, and the waves stopped tossing them quite so viciously, so that they had more than a second to take a breath of air before they were plunged below the surface again.
As the waves eased Arkol caught sight of a flash of white through the ocean mist. He nudged Braedon and pointed, as neither of them were quite ready to speak just yet. Arkol spat yet another mouthful of salt water out of his mouth as the beach came nearer. He was starting to regret wishing he could smell and taste the ocean again. His wing stung horribly, but he knew the salt water would help heal it, and ignored the pain. Also, the threat of drowning was a bigger problem.
Finally they were close enough to try and swim towards the beach. Well, Braedon kicked his legs a bit, as Arkol's stick legs weren't any use at all. Arkol felt his claws hit sand just as a ray of sunlight pierced through a cloud above.
"Typical," he said. He turned to Braedon. "Are you okay?" he asked.
The Krawk was shivering violently. "It's s-still raining," he chattered. "L-let's find s-some shelter."
They crawled onto the sand and although all Arkol wanted to do was just lie there pathetically, he dragged himself up and peered around the beach.
"I don't know this cove," he said. "But I think we're on Krawk Island." That was good. If Plumbeard had managed to survive the storm, which Arkol had no doubt about, then they should be able to find Windrider again.
"There!" Braedon said suddenly, pointing to a hole in the cliffs on their left.
They stumbled towards it, and Arkol peered up at the sky again. The sun had vanished, and the clouds were looking ominous again. After several minutes they finally reached what looked like a cave and ducked inside.
Arkol shut his eyes in relief as the rain stopped hitting his back. He could still hear it pattering outside, but the cave was calm and still. He opened his eyes and hissed in pain as Braedon touched his injured wing.
"What are you—" He stopped and stared at the red stain that had appeared.
"I'm going to re-bandage it," Braedon explained, unwinding the red-stained white cloth.
Underneath his injury had opened up again, and Arkol cursed.
"Here, I found some sort of fungus," Braedon said, peeling a piece off the wall. "It might help."
Arkol finally took in the cave for the first time. The walls and floors was dark brown rock, with a strange green fungus growing in patches along the entire cavern. A few metres away water flowed past, disappearing into a tunnel up ahead. The stream originated from two tunnels that faded into darkness. The entrance they were standing in was a rather small chamber, barely able to hold a few pets.
Arkol flinched away. "Stop that," he said. "You have no idea what the fungus is. It could be poisonous."
Braedon paused, looking thoughtful. He sniffed the fungus and shrugged. "It smells all right," he said. "In fact, it actually smells rather nice."
Arkol begged to disagree. He had finally caught a whiff of the rancid smell the fungus was giving off. How could the Krawk possibly think that was good?
"Look, I'll prove that it's safe," Braedon continued, and lifted up the fungus to take a bite.
"What are you doing?" Arkol reached out and knocked it from his paw. "Are you crazy?"
The Krawk was already chewing and making satisfied noises. Then he collapsed.
Arkol rushed forward to help him, but then paused. The Krawk's eyes were closed, but now he was glowing a strange green, the same colour as the fungus. The Pawkeet slowly backed away as before his eyes the Krawk began to grow. His hind paws grew longer, and as Arkol blinked he saw that his forepaws now had an extra toe. The snout lengthened and nostrils flared, and hair began to grow out of his spine, falling down his back in a green cascade.
Finally the Krawk stopped growing and Arkol stared aghast at the pet in front of him. Because now Braedon was no longer a petpet. He looked like one of the Krawk natives of the island. The eyes opened, blinking in confusion, and they were no longer a clear sky blue, but instead light brown. They caught sight of Arkol and the Krawk sat up.
"Oh, you poor thing," he said in Pet. "You've injured yourself." Then he blinked and looked around. "Where am I?"
Arkol only understood a few words, but he already realised what had happened. They were in the Fungus Cave.
"Braedon!" he cried.
The Krawk gave a start and stared him. How could the Pawkeet possibly know his name? Maybe it was his petpet. He picked up Arkol and carefully re-wrapped his wing with the bandage, while Arkol sat dejected in his paws. Braedon obviously didn't remember anything about being a petpet. But then Arkol straightened up and let out a fierce squawk. He would one day. Arkol would make sure of it.
And so it was that Plumbeard's feared Attack Pawkeet left the famed pirate, who assumed he had been lost at sea. Braedon and Arkol made their way to the harbour, where they found their way onto a ship headed to Mystery Island. Arkol found the Krawken's Fear still anchored off the coast of the Island, but decided not to show Braedon, giving up his pirating past. Instead he now spends his time trying to make Braedon remember his life as a petpet.
Maybe one day he will succeed.