Captain Karen: Part Three
"Ye like the portrait, lass?” Captain Thadius said solemnly.
He came to stand beside her and fixed his gaze on the portrait. It was a portrait of a young woman and a little girl. A very beautiful pink Cybunny and a small green Aisha looked back at Karen. Both were beautifully dressed in high class Neovian dresses and hair styles from around twenty-five years ago. Roughly around the time Karen had been born.
"Tis my older sister," Captain Thadius said, "And my niece. Her name was Melody. She was the light of my life."
Karen moved closer to the portrait and examined the name plate on the bottom of the frame. It read in Neovian cursive: Louisabelle Jones McYardsen and Melody McYardsen. Karen was baffled by this discovery. It was possibly the biggest discovery she had ever made in her life.
She shook her head and unconsciously grabbed the locket around her neck. This only added to the mystery of her supposed connection to Thadius. Captain Thadius Jones, now that she had a last name to go on.
"Is there a reason why you’re here?" He said suddenly, making Karen jump.
"Yeah, It's about the Popglid brothers," Karen said. "Seamus and I think they might be plotting."
The captain laughed loudly. It hadn't surprised him that anyone else should notice the activities of the not-so-sneaky wockies. He reassured Karen that they hadn't gone unnoticed by him either. They were so obvious, that it was embarrassing. Karen, however, wanted to err on the side of caution. She had read in too many books how obvious things can lead to the biggest troubles, if left alone. Too many villains came from the simplest of ways, really. She tugged at her locket and turned to look at the large portrait one more time. After leaving Mystery Island earlier that afternoon, they had charted a course for Roo Island. It was a long ways off. Karen decided then, while gazing at the portrait, that she wanted to make sure Thadius's mythical treasure, stayed mythical for the journey to Roo Island.
Karen thanked the captain for listening to her concerns and left his cabin. She quickly and quietly went to Seamus's.
* * *
She knocked loudly three times and waited at his door. She heard him get off his bed and clumsily drop his notebook on the floor. He was studying his letters again. Karen was proud of the diligence he was showing.
"Hello?" the Kacheek said as he pulled the door open, "Oh, Kap! Good evening."
Karen entered and quickly began explaining how the captain had noticed the brother’s activities too. The entire crew had noticed the strange behavior, and it had only been a day and a half since they left Krawk Island. Seamus could tell something else was bothering Karen. He wasn't sure how to ask, however. The two chatted for a while. Karen helped Seamus with longer words. The words that had five syllables and didn’t quite sound how they were spelled were the ones Seamus hated the most. Whenever he got frustrated, he tugged at his shoulder length hair and scrunched up his face. She was impressed at how quickly he was picking up on his reading.
Suddenly, there was another knock at the door. Whoever it was didn't wait for Seamus to get up and answer it before twisting the knob and barging in. It was Pippet. The electric blue wocky quickly closed the door, strode across the room and sat on the floor beside the bed where Seamus and Karen were reviewing Seamus's lesson.
"Can we help you?" Karen said with a snotty tone. She had no problem being an utter snob when she was in a mood.
"My brother and I," Pippet began, "Have a proposition for ye lot."
"And what if we're not interested?" Karen retorted sharply, giving Pippet the clear impression that he was interrupting them.
"Percy is chattin' with everyone," Pippet said, "He had me find ye lot, so we could explain. We think the captain has a secret treasure!"
Seamus and Karen exchanged looks and then looked back at Pippet. Pippet again, got the impression he was wasting his time and their time. It was clear to the wocky that the pair of them already knew about the rumor. Karen set down Seamus's notebook and took to sitting straight up on the bed, with her hands neatly in her lap. She was in full business heiress mode now.
"I'm listening," Karen snapped, "Make it quick, before we're caught!"
Seamus could see the angle Karen was playing at; Pippet could not. Pippet began explaining the idea he and his brother had. They had proposed to snoop for the treasure at next landfall. Karen nodded and added her own ideas to this. She had told the other girls about the rumour, and they all had noticed the brother’s activities. Trillian had only been on board a few hours and she had already foiled Perceval once. He had hid a lock picking set in some of the supplies Trillian had been charged with inspecting. She hadn't told Thadius. Instead she had brought it to the attention of Karen and Jasmine who were at a game of koujong. They had stopped their game and had begun to plot a counterattack.
"Can we count on ye lot?" Pippet inquired, watching the pair with a rather silly grin.
"Absolutely," Karen said. "When you and Percy have more details, please do share them with us."
Pippet nodded. He gleefully got up and bound out of the room, slamming the door behind him. Karen turned to Seamus, grinned, and was met with laughter.
"Kap," Seamus began between giggles, "Ye'll make a fine business woman some day! Your daddy must be proud."
"He is," Karen giggled. "He said if the pirate’s life doesn't work out, he's got a good place for me on his board until he retires, and I take it over."
After an hour more of tutoring Seamus, Karen decided it was time to let him study in peace. Karen bid Seamus good night and left his room. She had feigned weariness in order to plan something further. Seamus couldn't know. She went back to her room, quietly closing the door. In the wooden chest at the end of her bed, she had stored a beautiful box filled with black and white photos. There were pictures of her home and family. Pictures of happy days spent playing with her best friend in Neovia. They hadn't moved on to Virtuepets coloured cameras, preferring the traditional look. That hadn't stopped Karen from demanding one as a child. She wanted at least some of her memories in colour, and not dreary shades gray. Among these photos, two stuck out to her.
She pulled up one photo; it was a picture of her as a two year old. The Eyrie holding her was young and lively. The photo was black and white, so she couldn't prove it was Thadius. Thadius, himself lacked the long braided topknot of the Eyrie in the photo. This was her Uncle Tad in the photo, or so the inscription on the back said. The second photo was of Karen and her best friend at age five, shortly after they had met. That same best friend who’s portrait hung in Thadius’s cabin. Karen pondered the connection. Truthfully, Karen had seen her uncle so infrequently while growing up. She could hardly ever remember what he looked like. She didn’t have any colour photos of him at all. Not seeing him in close to fifteen years didn’t help her at all in trying to rule him out of this mystery as a whole.
"Could it really be?" She mumbled to herself, "Where do I fit in to this?"
She spread every last photo onto her floor, and examined them all carefully. She took note of her mother's neat handwriting on the back of each, until she got to the modern coloured photographs. When she'd had enough of staring at her past, she presented herself to worry about her future. What if she failed at being a Pirate? She supposed she could go home and live an eventful life in the Haunted woods. All sorts of fun things happened there. She was especially fond of Balthazar’s faerie hunting stories he’d tell at the Neovian printing press every Thursday afternoon. Karen liked faeries, but Balthazar’s life was equally interesting. He gave good advice about goals, too. She cleaned up the photos and crept to her door. Opening it just a crack and peeking out it, she could see a very faint light coming from under Jasmine and Kiana's door.
Quietly, she slipped out her door and down the hall. She had always been good at sneaking. She had given her nanny the slip as a kid many times. Gingerly knocking at the door, she waited for a reply. A knock answered back from the other side of the door, followed by a tapping noise. Karen tapped back in a distinct pattern. It was a secret code among the girls. It was the way they'd avoid answering the door to the Popglid brothers, who would look to cause trouble. Captain Thadius had set a bed time curfew on the ship and Karen was well out past the crew's bed time.
The door opened quietly, Trillian had answered the door. Quietly, Karen crept in and sat down near Kiana.
"Finally," Jasmine said.
"Now that everyone’s here," Kiana chimed, "Let's discuss how we can stop Perceval and Pippet."
The girls settled in for a long discussion. They began by sharing what the brothers had told them each. It was intriguing how Perceval's approach had greatly differed from his younger brother's. Percy had tried to lure them into the idea that the captain had a store of rare and exotic jewels and gems. He'd gone so far as to tell Levi the captain had a store of exotic spices from Shenkuu. Kiana had openly scoffed at that, even Levi had found it unbelievable. Karen had then told about her encounter with Pippet in Seamus's room. Pippet was straight forward and not terribly bright. Perceval also kept Pippet from talking or interacting much. The girls guessed that Pippet might not have very good control of his thoughts and liked to talk. It probably wouldn't take much for those thoughts to come tumbling out of him.
The girls plotted. They were almost a two weeks away from landing at Roo Island; it would give them plenty of time to try and stop the brothers, or at least figure out how.
"We can't tell Seamus," Jasmine said, "He's a terrible liar."
"We can't tell anyone." Karen agreed.
She felt bad she couldn't let Seamus in on the plan. She was really fond of her new friend and knew he could be counted on if they needed him. They couldn't tell Ashild either, he was also a bad liar. He also had a habit of talking a bit too much. It was settled, then. They would try to prevent the brothers from discovering Thadius’s treasure, or what they supposed might be a treasure. It sparked the girls’ interest when Karen had described the Captain's quarters to them. She had kept the large portrait to herself though, not wishing to discuss a mystery she hadn't yet solved for herself. They settled on telling Levi. The Bori was very quiet and always listening. He didn't believe the captain had any sort of secret treasure. It was logically absurd to travel around carrying priceless things with you.
Levi had learned that when the Pant Devil had stolen his favourite cook book when he was walking home from culinary school one day. It was the one his dear old granny had given to him when he was a child. Since then he had always been especially careful with valuable things. Pirates in their profession would adhere to the same logic to prevent other pirates from stealing from them.
Too bad the Popglid brothers didn't buy into Levi's logic.
To be continued…