Overboard: Part Four
The journey to Krawk Island was not quick and easy, as Xepen had hoped it to be. She should have known better, but instead of a few short days on the filthy ship, it ended up taking nearly two weeks to sail from the waters near Lutari Island to Krawk Island.
The rest of the crew did not welcome Xepen warmly. Most refused to speak to her, giving her looks and glares as she passed. She never saw Captain Volspir, as she learned he was called, and the only one who ever spoke to her at all was Maya. The food was awful; for a pet used to eating nothing but the most exquisite and expensive dishes in Neopia on a daily basis, it was difficult for her to get used to having nothing but fish and grog every day. She did begin getting along well with Maya, however, and she had also grown friendly towards Xepen.
One afternoon as Xepen was helping clean the deck, as she had been doing most days, Captain Volspir asked to see her in his cabin.
"We're nearing Krawk Island," he said to her as she'd entered the room.
"I need ya to tell me where exactly on the island this little cave is."
Xepen was relieved at first that she would finally be able to go home, then suddenly felt dread as she realized she didn't know where on the island she had been when captured, and didn't know what to tell the captain.
"Oh, um, well... it was off the coast of the island, above a small deserted beach beneath a cliff," Xepen said, hoping it would be enough.
"But where on the island was it located? Was it north, near the Smugglers' Cove? East, close to the Golden Dubloon and Training Academy, or what?" he asked.
Xepen bit her lip, trying to figure out where she may have been. She had walked quite a bit, and hadn't seen anything at all. Afraid to admit her lack of knowledge, she tried to picture a map of Krawk Island in her head to try and figure out an answer.
"Um, I think it was on the west of the island..." Xepen decided, hoping she was right.
Satisfied with this, Captain Volspir allowed her to exit his cabin. She was nervous that she may have led them to the wrong place, but decided not to dwell on it. After all, how many areas on Krawk Island could there be to look? It surely wouldn't take very long to search if she had been wrong.
Krawk Island came into view after an hour, and as they grew closer, Xepen was given a telescope and was to keep a lookout for The Plathydon's cave from the crow's nest. As she scanned the side of the island from the ship, she could clearly see the cave was nowhere nearby. There were cliffs, but they descended directly into the ocean, there was no sand or caves.
"See it yet?" Captain Volspir called up to her.
"No, uh, keeping heading a bit northward," Xepen replied.
Twenty minutes passed, and as Xepen was beginning to think she'd given them the wrong location, she finally spotted an area of sand, and as they got closer, she saw that it continued on. Hopeful, Xepen called down to move in closer to the shore.
The crew did as she said, and finally, Xepen could see a perfectly rounded cave situated in the stone of the cliffs.
"I see it! Pull in!" Xepen shouted to the crew, secretly relieved that luck may finally be on her side.
They did as she said, and when they got close enough, the entire crew got off the ship and approached the cave. The cave was empty of pirates from The Plathydon, and inside they found not only jewels and dubloons, but also scrolls and maps containing information that only Captain Volspir was to see.
That evening, the crew ate together to celebrate their discovery, where Captain Volspir also promised they would bring Xepen back home to Faerieland immediately.
"So you're from Faerieland, huh?" Maya asked with a smirk that night as they prepared to go to sleep.
"Okay, yes, I am," Xepen replied, still shocked that Captain Volspir had told the crew she was only a temporary member.
He had offered to let her stay and join the crew permanently, but Xepen had refused. She needed to get back home to her owner. Karina was probably worried like mad. Xepen had been missing for almost a month; she only hoped her owner could stand waiting a little bit longer. If only she could write a neomail to her, but there was no way to deliver the neomail for her out on the sea.
"I knew it, there's no way you were a real pirate. Though I'll admit you did a better job pretending than I'd expected," she replied.
"Thanks, I guess. It was hard at first, I'm used to such a different life, and I'm surprised I was able to pull this off at all.
"Why did the Captain tell everyone who I really was?" Xepen asked.
"We'd have found out eventually, I guess it makes it easier. They don't care anymore, since you helped us reel in a fortune," she explained.
Maya's eyes locked on the silver chain hanging around Xepen's neck. The sapphire was hidden beneath Xepen's shirt, but the Ixi could clearly tell it was no cheap piece of jewelry.
Xepen caught Maya's gaze, and with a small smile, lifted the jewel so Maya could see it.
"This is the only item I have left of my former life, until I return to it, at least," Xepen said softly.
"It's very rare and valuable, but I still feel compelled to wear it because it's all I have to feel like home isn't so far away," she explained. "It's the last thing my owner Karina gave to me before we... were separated."
Xepen didn't want to explain her whole incident to Maya, out of both embarrassment and weariness; it was a long story for her. Maya seemed to understand, and nodded sympathetically.
"You'll see her again soon, though, right?" she asked.
"Yes, I will, thankfully. I miss her so much; I can only imagine how worried she must be about me. She has no idea where I am," Xepen replied.
"That's hard," Maya said quietly, and neither of them said anything for a moment.
"Neither does my owner," she added after a few moments of silence.
Xepen glanced up at her, and Maya grinned sadly.
"You're not the only one here from a wealthy background," Maya murmured, almost more to herself than the Wocky.
Xepen's eyes widened, shocked.
"I wasn't always a pirate; I was raised in a wealthy family, like you, with high social status." Maya's smile had vanished, and she seemed distant as she spoke now.
Xepen was at a loss for words at first, and then it dawned on her how much sense it made. Maya's accent, for one, was not at all like the other pirates'. She spoke strongly, pronouncing every word clearly, and she had a good vocabulary. She didn't use slang nearly as much, and the little accent in her voice was forced.
"Wow. I can't believe I didn't realize it..." Xepen trailed off.
Maya simply sighed and turned away, suddenly deep in thought and no longer amiable.
"But... how did you end up here? I mean, for a pet like you, how did end up on a pirate ship?" Xepen said.
Maya didn't look up; she just stared at the wall, her eyebrows creased, and toyed with her collar.
Xepen assumed that Maya would not be answering her question, so she turned her gaze onto the dirty brown blanket beneath her. Several seconds passed before Maya finally spoke.
"I don't talk about it much, but I ran away," she said; her voice was low.
Xepen sat up to look at the Ixi squarely, but she was still not looking at her. She seemed to be lost in thought, as though Xepen had suddenly reminded her of memories she had not thought of in a long time.
Xepen was tempted to ask why, when she decided against it and instead sat back to go to sleep. Maya would tell her when she was ready; that is, if she ever would trust Xepen enough to tell her. Maya didn't speak again, and neither did Xepen as she drifted off to sleep.
It only felt as though she'd been asleep for a few minutes before Xepen awoke to find someone shaking her violently.
"Xepen, come on, wake up! We have to get out of here NOW!" a voice shouted.
Xepen groaned and blinked a few times. Maya was standing over her.
"Ugh, why, what's going on?" Xepen groaned.
"The ship is on fire, it's going to be destroyed; we have to get out of here this instant!" Before she could process what was happening, Maya grabbed Xepen's arm and dragged her off the cot and onto the floor.
The moment Xepen was on her feet, Maya pulled her out of the room and up a flight of stairs to the deck. As they exited the room, Xepen became more alert as she felt the heat of the roaring flames around her. She wanted to ask questions, but knew that now was not the time, and followed Maya around the large flames and fallen debris.
It was still dark out, and Xepen now realized that she really had not been asleep for very long. The two made it to where the life boats had already been lowered into the water, and most of the crew had already escaped the ship.
There were only a few boats left, and all the pirates were fighting for who would get to escape first. Xepen was terrified now; what if they didn't make it off the ship in time? She could hear parts of the ship collapsing on the inside, and she realized how little time they now had.
"Maya, how did this happen?" Xepen shouted.
"I'm not completely sure; I heard The Plathydon attacked us when they found we'd robbed them of all their loot!" she replied.
Xepen shook her head, still disoriented and tired. When the last of the pirates in front of her had lowered themselves into the water, Xepen and Maya were able to get into a solitary boat on their own and follow the rest of the crew away from the blazing ship. When they were far enough away, Xepen let out a shaky breath, as did Maya.
"I can't believe this. What's going to happen now?" Xepen asked; her eyes were locked on the glowing embers in the distance which was once the ship she had begun to grow familiar with.
"I don't know. We have to wait and see what the captain says." Maya let out a sigh, finally looking away from the burning ship, which was growing smaller as they sailed farther away from it.
"I guess that's all we can do," Xepen replied, closing her eyes.
"It'll be okay, we'll figure something out," Maya stated.
"How do you know?" Xepen asked.
Maya smiled reassuringly.
"Problems always work themselves out in the end," she answered softly.
"But how far away is the end?" Xepen questioned.
Maya didn't answer.
"We should get some sleep," she said instead, glancing at the other crew members surrounding them. "They won't let us drift off, I know."
Wary of the other pirates, but trusting Maya, Xepen let herself drift to sleep, somehow managing to hope that Maya would be right.
To be continued...