A Pirate's Tale: Dark Lullaby - Part Two
It had been three whole days, and Leglus had managed to stay out of trouble with the roguish first mate of the pirate crew, Dezeronto. He was quite proud of himself for that, and so he swabbed the deck of the Intrepid with a smile on his face. The scar below his left eye gave his grin a devilish quality, something that, as a pirate, he enjoyed. Swabbing was fairly easy work for the pirate Xweetok, and he softly whistled an old sailing tune as he worked.
"Aye, Swabby!" a voice yelled from the higher platform of the deck. Leglus turned to see a shadow Scorchio holding a bucket of something suspicious and brown high over his head. The dark Scorchio grinned. "I think you missed a spot!"
Before he had time to react, the heavy bucket of brown sludge was raining down into his thick, black hair and grey fur, not to mention his perfectly clean deck. The entire ship erupted in laughter as Leglus dipped his tail in his water bucket and rang it out, but he did his best to ignore them. Give it time, he kept telling himself, returning to his mopping for the second time, You'll fit it in no time. It's just because you're new.
"Land ho!" a rough voice shouted from high above Leglus' swabbing. "Prepare to dock in the Smugglers' Cove!"
Leglus paused in his work to grin and tap the strange oyster in his pocket. I can't wait to see what this baby'll bring.
As much as Adimaris loved to swim, three days of it was highly overrated. She'd asked every sea-dwelling Neopet she'd come across, and visited Mystery Island and Maraqua, but no one had heard anything about a golden oyster. They all seemed to think she was crazy. She'd searched and searched for Caylis, but had seen no sign of her.
It had taken her a ridiculous amount of time to figure out the best possible place it could have been. After all, who loved gold more than pirates? Some greedy scoundrel had probably picked it up and kept it for themselves, with no knowledge of the power that slumbered inside of it.
The Maraquan Gelert swam upward until her head broke the surface of the smooth, salty water. The sea seemed dirtier near Krawk Island, likely due to the miscreants who anchored there. She flipped her fins slowly as she made her way to the Smugglers' Cove.
The cove was teeming with pirate ships, and she could already see that the sandy bank was full of vendors and buyers. So many Neopets... how in the world could she hope to ask them all? Not to mention they were pirates, so there was no telling how honest they'd be. Nevertheless, she made her way through the murky water of the cove until she caught sight of a familiar pirate Xweetok.
Summer days had been the best. Leglus remembered walking down the white beach and sitting in the sand, building sand castles with his little paws and waiting. Usually, after an hour or so of doing this, a remarkable sand city would be stretched before his feet. At about that time, he'd look up, and see a splash in the ocean. He'd smile and scream, "Adi! Adi! Over here!"
The little Maraquan Gelert would catch sight of him, wave, and swim her way towards the shore. They'd swim and play and build cities of sand until the sun set and the tides came in. And then she'd disappear, like she always did. But Leglus always knew he'd see her again, if only he built a sand castle. It was a ridiculous notion, of course, but he sometimes got the idea that she could sense when he was building one.
The oyster had fetched a hefty price, just as he had suspected, and Leglus waited on the shore of the Smugglers' Cove, digging a mote into the sand with his now much larger paws and being careful to make sure no pirates saw him building his sand castle. Out of habit, he looked out to the sea upon completing his castle, and was pleasantly surprised to see a Maraquan Gelert making her way for him.
He couldn't help it - a huge smile spread across his face and he waved, and just like she always had when they were children, she swam toward him.
"Leglus!" she said, beaming, "I'm so glad you're here!" She extended a purple hand and he helped her onto the shore.
"Well, I'm surprised you're so pleased," Leglus teased. "If I do recall, the last time we met, you chewed me out a bit for my career choice."
Adimaris rolled her bright blue eyes at him. "Piracy is not a career, Leglus." But then she punched him playfully. "Nice sand castle, by the way."
Slightly embarrassed, the pirate Xweetok knocked his fortress of sand over with a swish of his tail. "Yes... well. It always worked before."
Adimaris tilted her head in what he assumed was confusion. "What do you mean?"
"Nothing," he said quickly. Absentmindedly, he tried to tame his mop of black hair with his paw. "So what are you doing here?"
Adimaris' blue eyes drooped, frightened and swimming in tears. "Oh, Leglus," she said, "something terrible has happened."
Leglus felt his heart freeze in his chest. "Are you alright?" he asked quickly. "What happened, Adi?"
"I'm fine," she assured him, placing a comforting paw on his shoulder, "for now, at least. Something's been found, Leglus. A magical artifact that could ruin these seas forever."
It was as if time, for a moment, stood still. Leglus felt dread spread through his body, almost making it impossible for him to speak. It couldn't be... could it?
"I don't suppose," he began hesitantly, "that this... artifact... is an oyster... is it?"
Adimaris gasped and her blue eyes brightened. "Leglus!" she said, relief obvious in her musical voice. "You know something about it?"
The shame that he felt when she looked at him, so relieved, totally trusting, crushed him. Made him want to lie, to take back what he'd said, but he couldn't. "Adi..." he said shakily. "Adi, please forgive me."
"Forgive..." she muttered. "Leglus, what?"
The pirate Xweetok reached over and took both of her hands in his, and took a deep breath before saying, "Adi... I found it."
Before he knew what was happening, the Maraquan Gelert and jumped forward and hugged him tightly, "Oh, thank goodness!" she exclaimed. "Thank goo-"
"Stop, stop," he said, pushing her away from him. She looked at him, obviously confused once again, and he stood and put his head in his hands. "I wasn't finished," he said. "I... I found it, and I opened it... I didn't know what it did. And this black and purple stuff flew out of it. I - I knew it was dangerous, but I kept it, and..." He moved his hands and saw that Adimaris was looking at him in complete horror. It took everything that he had to continue. "I sold it, Adi," he said, his voice pleading. "I sold it an hour ago and I'm so sorry."
Adimaris' horror stricken face immediately morphed into an expression of rage. "You stupid... pirate!" she screamed, pounding her fists into the ground. "Do you have any idea what you've done?"
"I - I didn't kn -" he tried to say.
"Oh, you didn't know?" she shouted. "You didn't know? You just said you knew it was dangerous, Leglus. And what did you do? You sold it. Were you even thinking about how it could be used? How many lives you've put in danger? You're just like all the rest of them. You greedy, selfish... idiot!"
"Lives?" he asked, trying to ignore the adrenaline pumping through his veins, trying not to feel his pulse racing. "Who? Whose lives are in danger?"
"Everyone's!" she cried. "Everyone who sails or swims or lives in these seas."
Leglus felt his eyes widen. "Adi..." he whispered. "Adi, you have to stay here. If you're in danger... you... you can't go back."
But the Maraquan Gelert was already preparing to dive back into the water. Leglus reached out, tried to grab her before she could, but she had splashed into the waves before he could do anything to stop it.
"Adi, wait!" he begged. "What does it do? Why are you leaving? You said it wasn't safe!"
She never replied, and with a flick of her purple tail, she was gone, with only the soft ripples of the ocean left behind. She'd swam away from him like that before, once, but then, what he'd done had been forgivable. This time, she might not be able to forgive him, he knew that. He doubted he'd ever forgive himself. Stupid.
Trying to fight through his blurred vision, he ran back toward the cove as fast as he could, scanning the tables and faces for that Lenny he'd sold the oyster to. He knocked over more than a few tables in his frenzied state. There was a lot of yelling, throwing of knives, ducking and searching. Searching for a Lenny who was obviously long gone.
Defeated, Leglus ran back to the shore and fell to his knees in front of his ruined sand castle. He thought about building another one, but he knew it wouldn't bring her back this time.
"Adi! Adi!" screamed a little pirate Xweetok in glee as he watched his best friend swim toward him. In honor of this most momentous occasion, he'd built the most incredible sandcastle of all time. Big enough that he could almost get inside it, where he'd hidden something very special - a gift for his friend.
"Leglus!" his best friend shouted back, and propelled herself onto the shore with a little help from her thick purple and green fins. "Wow... what a castle!"
"That's not even the best part!" he said with a wide grin. He grabbed her purple paw and dragged her toward the inside of his monument. "Look!"
Lying peacefully under an archway of sand, softly humming, was a beautiful purple paint brush. "What do you think, Adi?" Leglus asked, practically bouncing in excitement. "It took forever to get it... but look! You can still be purple, and we can play together all the time! You'll never have to go back under the water! Isn't it great?"
But Adi's eyes were filled with fear, and through a trembling voice she asked, "You... you want to change me?"
Completely thrown off by her obvious disappointment in her gift, the little pirate Xweetok could only gape, and then stutter, "You... you don't want to stay on the land with me?"
Adi looked at him sadly, and he picked the paint brush up from the sand. Suddenly her eyes grew wide and she pulled her paw from out of his grasp, shuffling her way as fast as she could back to the sea.
"Adi!" Leglus screamed. "Adi, wait! Adi, I wasn't gonna make you - Adi!"
But she had already disappeared into the waves.
With a sigh and a heavy heart, the pirate Xweetok looked down at the paint brush in his paw. Stupid. Stupid idea.
Back on his hammock on the Intrepid, Leglus was having a difficult time staying asleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw Adimaris swimming away, or saw the crooked smirk of that Lenny as he clenched the golden oyster. The pirate Xweetok sighed and sat up, his hammock swaying with his movement. Underneath the hammock sat a small chest. He reached for it with one paw, and took a key out of his pocket with the other. The chest was light on his lap, and he quietly slipped the key into the lock until he felt it click. Hoping the metal on the chest wouldn't squeak and wake the other pirates, he slowly opened it.
Inside the chest sat the same old purple paint brush, still humming with as much life as it had that day on the beach. He'd kept it all those years, always secretly hoping she'd change her mind, though he'd always really known it would never happen. But if she'd just use it, she'd be out of the water... she'd be safe.
He closed the chest carefully, locked it, and sat it back down underneath his hammock. He knew better than to try to convince her of that again. She loved the sea, and she'd never leave it. He had to find that Lenny. He had to find that oyster.
To be continued...