The smell of the docks wafted through the window. It was a salty, dry smell that could only belong to Krawk Island. Seamus McFinnigan sat at his table amidst the noise and crowd. He was reading the comics section of the Neopian times and snickering to himself. A waitress walked up to his table; she looked rather grouchy. The pink Lenny pulled out her notepad and a pen and stared at him. Brushing a lock of hair out of his face, he looked up at the waitress.
“What’ll it be sonny?” She said curtly as she placed a pitcher of water on his table.
“Oh? Hmmmm,” Seamus squeaked, “I’ll be havin’ some o’ that fried egg sandwich, with extra cheese please!”
The waitress nodded. She began scribbling on her notepad furiously. She didn’t bother asking if he wanted anything else; instead she turned and marched off towards the kitchen. Seamus went back to his comics and waited for his food to arrive. He didn’t notice the cloud Xweetok who had sat down across from him. She had Sky blue hair and hard steely blue eyes. She tapped on the table to get his attention.
When it turned out he hadn't heard her tapping on the table, she slapped her hand down rather hard on the surface. Hard enough to make the water in the pitcher splash around and come up over the pitchers edge and onto Seamus's comics.
"EH!" The startled green Kacheek squeaked, "Where'd you come from miss?"
"Never mind," She said, "You're planning on joining Captain Thadius, right? I saw you talking to the dock crew."
Seamus nodded briskly. He was indeed going to be trying his hand at becoming a pirate under Captain Thadius. If that didn't work out, he figured he'd be a good deckhand at the very least. He eyed the mysterious stranger excitedly. She certainly was pretty! He watched her toying with the Neovian stylized locket around her neck.
"Take me on board with you," The Cloud Xweetok said, "My name is Karen, by the way. Karen Avery Pratchet. You can call me Kap for short."
Seamus didn't know how to respond to that. Why would an Heiress to one of the Largest Trading and stock Market business owners in Neopia want to sail away on a pirate ship? It was all a bizarre business unto itself as far as Seamus could sense. She pulled out a pamphlet and slid it across the table to him.
"My name's Seamus," He said politely, "Seamus McFinnigan"
Taking the pamphlet he looked it over before handing it back with a gloomy look on his face. Comics were one thing, pamphlets and books were another.
"I'm sorry Kap," He apologized, "I'm not too good with my letters. It's a sorry thing here on Krawk Isle."
"It's a recruiting leaflet," Karen said, "Take me on board with you and I'll help you learn your letters, as if you came from Brightvale!"
She was insistent and persistent. He liked her spirit. The waitress came back carrying his order and took Karen's. They discussed what they might expect from the grizzled old sea captain. They even discussed the rumor that he kept a super special and priceless treasure locked in his cabin. Rumor had it, that the treasure was so priceless and rare that nothing else like it even existed on Neopia. They ate their breakfast and discussed this, pondering what sort of crazy person would keep something so valuable on him instead of hiding it away, like most pirates would have. After they had finished eating they departed for the docks.
* * *
The dock yard had a large amount of ships coming into and going from the Island. Tourist ships, merchant ships and pirate ships. Seamus and Karen spent a good fifteen minutes tracking down the ship they would be working on. The Mourning Star was an enormous ship with fancy looking sails. Karen couldn't help but think the ships depressing name was familiar to her somehow. An Uncle she had may have mentioned it once when she was younger, she supposed, but she hadn't seen that uncle in many years. They boarded the enormous ship with five more people looking to be part of the adventure.
Captain Thadius, a grizzled and old Shadow Eyrie stood at the wheel of the ship watching the new arrivals. Karen thought he looked grumpy. He glared at everyone, especially her. The look reminded her of an angry parent ready to scold a naughty child. It was a look she'd often gotten from her nanny as a child. He came away from the wheel and made his way to the deck to greet his new crew. His stern gaze washing over all of them in a wave of scepticism and what appeared to be amusement.
"I'm not interested in first names," He boomed in a deep and loud voice, "I doubt most of you'll be stayin' at next docking. So I'll only be callin' you by your last names."
He glared at Karen intensely and asked everyone to state their last names and the reason why they were on board his ship. When he was satisfied he commanded his new crew to get the ship ready for departure. He sent Karen and Seamus up the shrouds to secure the rigging and the sails. She was determined to do a good job. She had wanted to be a pirate queen since she was five years old, and now was her chance! Once everything was secure, (Karen had checked everything twice.) Seamus and Karen scooted back down to the deck and chatted with the crew. Thadius himself had retired to his cabin after seeing the ship safely depart the harbor.
* * *
Levi, a speckled Bori was the new galley cook. His reason for joining was to travel all over the world and learn new recipes. He wanted to be the best galley cook in Neopia. His idol was Bonju from Shenkuu. Karen had found him a rather friendly fellow. When she was a pirate queen, she definitely wanted him as her galley cook! Levi was a large fellow, but he was very quiet and patient. He had said that cooking and baking required a lot of patience, and he had been taught that from a young age at his family’s bakery back home.
Jasmine, an eventide Cybunny with a long Star dotted ponytail tied at the top of her head and beautiful sunset coloured eyes, wanted to see the world and escape from overbearing parents who had her life planned out for her. She wanted her freedom. She seemed the least fitting to be on board a pirate ship, but she was determined she wasn't going to quit. She had come aboard the ship with her best friend Kiana running tirelessly behind her. Karen liked both Jasmine and Kiana. They went together like peanut butter and jelly. They would be a perfect addition to her crew, if they could only last under the grizzled old Thadius.
Kiana a purple Vandagyre; was the smallest and shyest member of this new crew. She had grown up in Brightvale and was excellent with numbers and math. Karen thought about asking her to be her treasure master when she became a pirate queen. She would need someone like Kiana! She was also intrigued about how Jasmine had come to meet Kiana. Kiana had said they had known each other for thirteen years.
Perceval and Pippet were an arrogant pair of Wocky brothers. Perceval was a Pirate Wocky and Pippet was an electric. They kept to themselves and didn't even try making friends with the others. They had grown up running around the docks with Seamus, often picking on him with their elder sister Merigold laughing manically from their father’s ship. The green Kacheek had said they had been little more than troublemakers, even as kids. Karen didn't trust the brothers. She and Seamus both agreed to keep a close eye on the pair. They seemed suspicious and might be more interested in the Captain's rumored treasure, rather than in the actual recruitment and voyage.
* * *
Levi had made an excellent meal. The first meal at sea! Karen was pleased. Levi definitely had a spot on her future crew list. She chatted happily with her new friends, when Perceval suddenly interjected.
"Ye lot all seem too proper to be here!" He scoffed, "You'll be gettin' off at the first port we stop at, I'll wager!"
The girls and Seamus ignored him. Even Levi ignored the rude Wocky. It was never a good thing to upset the cook. A famous Navigator learned that lesson once before. The girls and Levi all came from different parts of globe. Karen herself had been born and raised in the Haunted Woods, and was a huge fan of her home team in Yooyuball. Pippet, Perceval and Seamus had been born and raised on Krawk Island, and knew the sea better than the others aboard the ship. The three of them were the calmest on the ship, even at departure. Jasmine whispered something to the group and a bunch of giggling erupted over their table. No one noticed Captain Thadius had come down the stairs to the galley.
"Miss Sterling, I require your navigational skills." He said to Jasmine. The Eventide Cybunny nodded and got up. Everyone followed her and Thadius up to the deck leaving the Wocky brothers alone down in the galley with Levi to clean up.
* * *
Jasmine was a natural with navigation. She had a deep passion for maps. She admitted that she had spent a fair chunk of her life trying to run away and lead her own life. She always got found, however. Neopia Central was not big enough to hide anyone for very long, so she started spending her free time in the bookstore and libraries around town. She got her hands on every cartography book she could find. Her father couldn't have been more proud of her. Mr. Sterling believed everyone should have a hobby and fully supported his daughter in her love of maps, never knowing it would lead her away on her own one day. For her twenty-third birthday this year, her father had gotten her a diamond pendent in the shape of the Northern star, and he had gifted Kiana a matching one in the shape of a comet. The necklaces were the only sentimental things the pair had brought with them on the ship.
If he could see her now! On board an enormous ship, he'd probably scold her something fierce! His little princess was hanging out with hooligans, and getting her clothes filthy in the briny air. He had wanted her to take over the family business after her marriage to her not-so-charming fiancé. Instead she and Kiana had slipped off during the night leaving everything behind, including the engagement ring. Kiana had been staying the summer with Jasmine and her family, as she had done every summer since they were both ten years old. Kiana only went back to Brightvale for the school season and stayed with Jasmine's uncle Benjamin while there.
"All right lass," Captain Thadius said, "We need to go to Mystery Isle. Please plot a course."
With the ease of an expert, Jasmine took out a map and displayed it by the wheel. She worked out the quickest course to Mystery Island. Thadius stood beside her, a look on his face that told everyone he was impressed and pleased at his young navigator's skills. The Captain patted her on the back and silently told himself he had found the greatest Navigator in Neopia's nautical history. He vowed then, that Jasmine would only be held in such a light as a navigator, that her presence upon any ship would be that of a nautical princess. In any terms of direction or distance, her word was law.
Jasmine's little Vandagyre friend was the number cruncher, and had been appointed the ships treasurer and supply trader. Thadius had put Kiana to work with crunching the numbers they'd need for supplies when they got to Mystery Island. Levi, who had come from a well-respected family of pastry chefs, had been set to work making a list of ingredients and supplies for meals and treats. Thadius was familiar with Levi and his family. There surely was no better tea cake than the ones from the Tuila family bakery in the heart of Neopia Central.
That only left Seamus, Karen, and those sneaky wockies to figure out. Seamus was a bright young lad. He had trouble with reading and writing, but Karen had assured Thadius that she was working with Seamus to help improve on those particular trouble spots. Seamus wasn't much of a stranger to the Captain. The lad used to run around the docks from morning to sunset as a child. He was always getting in the way and nosing about trying to convince anyone that would listen that he was the best deckhand there would ever be. He had the chance to prove those claims now. At the age of twenty-two, he could apply for deckhand to any and all ships he stumbled across, that were not family operated.
The wocky brothers were no strangers either. Thadius had known their father. He never much cared for the man; was just as sneaky as his boys were by all rights. Perceval was the ringleader of the two. The brains, some may say, but he wasn’t as clever as Merigold. Their sister was already a respected first-mate on a rival ship. Thadius had kept close watch on these two since he saw them appear at the docks earlier this morning. They had even inquired to the ships name, and why it was so gloomy. He had his reasons for naming her the mourning star. He had declined to answer the pair and instead gruffly told them to get on board or go off in a new direction and bother someone else. The name was a part of him, just as much as the ship was.
* * *
Karen had been watching the ship split the water from the starboard side and was excitedly chatting to Seamus, when she saw Levi coming up from the galley and beckoned him over to join in. The captain watched her with pride. She reminded him so much of his young niece. He had even noticed Karen's habit of toying with the locket around her neck. His beloved niece used to tug at her hair ribbons when she was excited, or pluck at her bracelet. He saw so much potential in the young lady, but he'd never let it show. Not yet. He didn't want to give the girl false hopes. Not in the same way her father had when she was a little child. He wanted her to earn her pride and not just have it because someone told her she could. Thadius enjoyed Karen's energy and willingness to tackle the harder tasks on the ship. She was already an expert at climbing the shrouds and keeping up the rigging.
"Such a lively one she is!" Thadius muttered to himself.
"Just like her Papa."
To be continued…