Pirates, the Sight, and the Sea: Part Five
“Hold your arm out more, boy. That sword’s not going to do any damage if you refuse to hold it no more than an inch away from your body! Is it that hard to get this through your skull?”
Tresor looked up at Faer coolly. The captain was leaning against the ship’s railing, his cadet blue jacket flared near the collar, his arms crossed over his chest, and an eyebrow raised as if daring the Lupe to talk back. But Tresor didn’t fall for the bait. Instead, the brown Lupe obediently extended his arm just a bit so that the cutlass hilt wasn’t so close to his stomach.
“Is this better, Captain?” Captain... It felt so weird to call the Neopet that had almost thrown him overboard “Captain,” but he resisted the urge to throw a bit of sarcasm into his voice.
“It’ll do,” the Gnorbu appraised, the red beads tangled in his black beard shining like blood rubies. Most of the pirates had been surprised when the captain had ventured out of his cluttered cabin that morning to teach his “prodigy” himself, but apparently Faer didn’t trust anyone else on his crew to train the boy. Seeing as it was Tresor’s first day out of the ship hold and the fact that he was just a tad bit moody after being locked in there for almost two weeks, Roselia made sure to inform him that the captain’s presence above deck was a rare occurrence that shouldn’t be taken lightly. She also had warned him to keep his mouth shut.
Speaking of Roselia... Tresor turned his head and spotted the Usul on the other side of the ship, scrubbing large blackened cannons with an old rag, her face contorted as she diligently worked. However, despite her efforts, she couldn’t seem to get much done. Maybe it was because the rag she used was completely coated in grime, but Tresor figured that the real reason was the fact that she was being flocked by pirates who seemed to be taunting her with kissy faces.
“Are you deaf boy? I said WIDEN YOUR STANCE!”
Tresor snapped his head around to find Captain Faer no more than five inches away from him, the Gnorbu’s eyes steely and his breath stale. Caught off guard, the cutlass slipped from his grip and clattered to the ground. Terrified, Tresor hastily bent down to retrieve it, one hand clamping his hat to make sure it didn’t fall off as he leaned over, and immediately returned to the proper stance. However, by the time he was back on his feet, Captain Faer hadn’t stopped glaring at him, and his terrifying eyes were grey and cold.
A moment of awkward silence passed between the two until Faer said icily, “I’m starting to rethink this whole idea of you being useful.”
Tresor bit his tongue to stop himself from saying something back, and attempted to look away from the captain, but the grey stare refused to let him go. Thankfully, he was freed by a shout from the port side.
“That’s it! Faer, this is madness!”
It was Roselia. The red Usul threw down her rag in frustration, pushed her way past the throng of taunting pirates surrounding her, and stormed her way across the deck until she stood face-to-face with Faer. Tresor had to admire her courage. The Usul was his own age, but the way she carried herself aboard the Thunder Savage was of someone much older.
Faer eyed her as if she was a piece of filth stuck on the bottom of his boot. “What is it, girl? Worried you’ll get a bit of dirt on your pretty little face?”
Roselia scowled, her hands on her hips. “As if, Faer. It’s your rancid crew I’m talking about! How do you expect me to get anything done if they won’t stop bothering me?”
The Gnorbu raised an eyebrow, an amused smile tugging on the corners of his lips. “Hmmm... How can that be? The Great and All-Powerful Roselia getting annoyed by us lowly pirate scum?”
“Silence!” the captain hissed, his eyes dark. “You’re interrupting my lesson and wasting my time. Now get me a pint of grog from the galley and finish cleaning those cannons before you find yourself locked in the brig until the Month of Gathering.”
Roselia set out her jaw, her teeth clenched. “As you wish, Captain.” She spat out the last word, her eyes sharp, and then turned on her heels, stomping her way across the deck until she disappeared into the ship’s lower level.
Tresor gripped the cutlass hilt tightly. Now that he was once more alone with the captain, he prepared himself for the inevitable anger that he knew was about to descend upon him. But Captain Faer seemed to be lost in thought, his eyes gazing absentmindedly in the direction Roselia had stormed off in.
“She’s no good, lad.”
The sudden declaration startled Tresor, as was the sorrowful tone of voice in which it had been spoken in. “What?”
The Gnorbu didn’t face him, his eyes lingering on the horizon, but repeated, “She’s no good, boy. Neopets like that are...” He trailed off, either unable to find the right word or not bold enough to say, but continued all the same. “Believe me, lad, there’s something wrong with that entire gender. You may not see it now, but females are roses through and through: pretty to the eye, but nothing but thorns in the end. And it’d be good if you learned that sooner than later. Mark my words, boy, despite what you think now, it’s much better to be alone.”
Tresor raised an eyebrow at the sudden change in character, wondering what had brought on Faer’s impromptu speech, but before he could dwell on it, the Gnorbu had turned back to him, his eyes refocused and his voice gruff.
“All right, boy. Now widen your stance. The way you’re standing, a stray breeze could knock you over...”
Tresor scowled, an eyebrow raised, and took the pile. “Man, Roselia. Are you sure you aren’t cheating?”
“How can I?” the Usul complained grumpily. “My eyes are closed!”
They were back down in the brig playing a game of Cheat. Although Tresor had been given a proper room as Thunder-Savage-in-Training, his roommate happened to be Seamus, and he didn’t trust the yellow Blumaroo after he’d almost succeeded in throwing him into the ocean.
The past two weeks, Tresor had taught Roselia more card games than she had ever known existed in Neopia, and they had finally decided to give a round of Cheat a chance, although they played with half a deck and Roselia kept her eyes closed whenever it was Tresor’s turn to avoid having any unfair advantage.
Roselia looked down at her cards and plucked the four of hearts from her hand. “One four.”
“How can you stand it?” Tresor asked conversationally, searching his hand for the appropriate card. “I mean, being trapped on here for five years and never setting foot on land? And having to deal with Faer and the Thunder Savages all the time? Don’t you ever want to get away? One five.”
Roselia snorted. “Of course I do. And believe me, when I was little, I tried every trick and tactic. More than once I tried to hide in a crate that was being unloaded, and another time I just made a run for it. Faer always caught me, though. Two sixes.”
“Cheat.” Tresor leaned against the crate, making sure his hat was still on as Roselia reluctantly picked up the cards with a scowl on her face. “I don’t know if I could stand it, staying on this ship for so long and never getting off. It’s so... contradictory. I mean, the whole reason my dad wanted to be a sailor was so he could see all of Neopia, and staying on a ship all day seems to defeat the purpose.” He smiled fondly at a memory. “He hated to stay still, unless of course he was in the middle of a card game; then he’d have all the patience in the world. My mom would always say, ‘Mesh, one of these days, you’re going to find yourself—’”
“Mesh?” Roselia interrupted suddenly, the name striking a cord. She looked up from her hand immediately, her eyes locked on Tresor.
The Lupe seemed uncomfortable by the sudden attention. “Uh, yeah. That’s my dad’s first name. Mesh. He was from Mystery Island. Kinda strange isn’t--?”
“Is he a Skeith? Green?”
Tresor raised an eyebrow, intrigued. “Yeah, but how do you know that?”
Roselia’s heart pounded in her chest. She couldn’t believe it; it was almost too much of a coincidence. It couldn’t be... Could it? “The ship he was sent to be on, do you remember what it was called?”
“Of course,” Tresor said indignantly, as if Roselia had offended him. “The Silver Torrent.”
Roselia dropped her cards, excitement building. “Tresor! My brother was stationed on the same ship! I... I played my first game of Cheat against your dad!”
Tresor’s russet eyes widened in shock. “No way... I... wait, you mean that...” His mind raced frantically, and he stood up. “Your brother...”
“Yeah, Mithy... You said he was captured by pirates, right?”
“The Crimson Storms,” Roselia said, standing up in turn.
“So we’re both looking for two people who are in the same place?” Tresor asked in disbelief. “This is insane!”
“I know,” Roselia exclaimed, a smile on her face. However, her grin soon faded. “Wait a minute...” she trailed off.
The Lupe looked at her confused. “What?”
Roselia shook her head. “Tresor, look at us. Rejoicing at what? True, your dad and my brother are in the same place, but how does that help us? It’s not like we know where they are.”
However, instead of deflating the Lupe’s mood, Tresor just gave Roselia a strange grin, as if he knew something she didn’t. “And that, Roselia, is where you’re wrong.”
He looked around the deserted moldy hallway, making sure that they were alone, and then carefully he reached up to his cap and removed it from his head. It was old and battered, and once it was in his paws he reached inside the blue fabric folds, pulled out something, and held it out to Roselia. “Here. Be careful, though.”
Roselia tentatively took the object in her own paw, a small pendant on a thin silver chain. However, it was the most delicate, beautiful thing she had ever seen. The pendant was perfectly crafted into the shape of a drop of water as clear as glass. Slight pieces of silver as thin as threads carefully cradled the droplet and allowed it to cling to the fragile chain, and the entire amulet seemed to give off a soft lilac glow.
“What is it?” Roselia asked, her voice hushed so that there was no chance of being overheard. “And where did you find it?”
“It’s a water faerie amulet,” Tresor answered. “After I stole aboard the Miniature Guard, I kinda got lost.” He blushed sheepishly. “It took me three days to actually admit that to myself, and when I did I was totally freaking out. I couldn’t see land anywhere, and the sky was dark and windy, like a storm was about to start. I was trying to turn the ship around to see if I could use the wind to my advantage when I spotted something in the water.”
“A water faerie,” Roselia breathed, amazed.
“Yeah.” Tresor shook his head. “I thought I was dreaming when I first spotted her, or at least hallucinating or something. But she really was there, swimming alongside the ship, completely unaffected by the choppy waves and staring at me. It was... weird. I swear I’d never seen her before, but the way she was looking at me, it was as if she knew who I was, as if we were old friends or something. And when she spoke, somehow she seemed to know I was looking for someone. ‘Keep him in your thoughts and this will show you the way’ is what she said. The next thing I knew, the amulet was in my paw and it had started raining. But before I could thank her or even ask her how the necklace worked, she was gone.”
Roselia looked at Tresor, trying to imagine him all alone aboard on the deck of the Miniature Guard, staring over the railing into the churning sea and drenched in the pouring rain with nothing but the precious necklace in his paw. It seemed unbelievable.
“Then what did you do?”
The Lupe raised an eyebrow. “You mean after I convinced myself I wasn’t insane? Well, I tried to figure out what the necklace did. The faerie had said that it would show me the way, but I couldn’t get it to do anything.” He shrugged. “I spent a few days fiddling around with it and I was still trying to figure it out when I saw the Thunder Savage on the horizon. I tried to steer the ship in the other direction, but when that didn’t work out, I realized I had no choice but to prepare to be boarded. So I slipped the necklace in my hat.”
Roselia’s eyes widened. “Wait a minute; you’ve kept this thing in your hat the entire time? Even when you were up on the deck with Faer for sword-fighting lessons? What if it fell out and shattered or something?”
“Well, I couldn’t exactly wear it!” Tresor said defensively. “And where was I going to hide it? This ship is full of pirates. If Seamus or Hajj or any of the others found this, I’d doubt that they’d be willing to return it.”
“True,” Roselia admitted reluctantly, looking at the fragile charm. It was strange to hold it in her paw, knowing that she was so close, yet still so far away from saving her brother. “So you still don’t know what it does?”
Tresor shook his head. “Being trapped on here hasn’t left me much time to figure things out. When I was stuck in the brig, I was too afraid someone would walk by and see it. And no offence, but I didn’t know you well enough to let you in on it. Sorry.” He ruffled the fur on top of his head out of nervous habit. “But from what the faerie said, I’m guessing that it works like a compass... somehow. Here, can I see it again?”
The Usul nodded and handed the precious amulet over. Tresor took it carefully and held it by the chain, allowing it to swing gently like a beautiful pendulum. “I was thinking that maybe if you hold it like this, it’ll pull you in the right direction, or...” He cupped it in his paws and looked through the clear depths as if searching for something. “... maybe if you look closely, it’ll show you an image of whoever you’re looking for.”
It was as he was staring down at the amulet that Roselia saw a lavender hue radiate from the teardrop, a steady sparkle of radiance that glowed and lit up the moldy brig with its dazzling light.
“Tresor!” she gasped.
“What?” He looked up, panicked. “Is someone coming?”
“No, the pendant! Look at it!”
Tresor looked down, brows furrowed. “What? I didn’t scratch it, did I?”
“It’s glowing purple for Fyora’s sake!”
The Lupe looked up, questioning. “What are you talking about? It looks the same to me.”
Roselia looked at the pendant in his hand, still flaunting splays of magenta, and felt her stomach flip. The old feeling of seeing something no one could else could returned, and she swallowed slowly.
“It must be the Sight,” she finally said. “I... I can see it glowing. When you were holding it and thinking of your dad, it started to shine...”
Tresor looked at her, his russet eyes calculating, and then looked back down at the amulet. “Hold on. I think I may know how this works. Roselia, keep an eye on the amulet for me?”
She nodded and Tresor, making sure that the amulet was still safe in his paws, started walking slowly down the gloomy halls of the ship.
“Where are you going?”
“Just stay there and watch the amulet,” the Lupe called. “Is anything happening?”
Roselia gazed at his retreating figure and kept her eye on the amulet. Sure enough, the amulet’s glow was fading, and it had nothing to do with the fact that he was moving farther and farther away. “The glow’s not as bright now,” she admitted, utterly confused, but as Tresor returned to her, it brightened again. “Wait, now it’s getting light again...”
She was completely baffled, but Tresor had a grin on his face.
“What are you smiling about?” She hated feeling out-of-the-loop.
“Don’t you get it, Roselia? The amulet does act as a compass! I bet that the closer that we are to my dad and your brother, the brighter it glows! This is the key! We can find them now!”
Roselia’s heart raced at the thought of being able to see Mithy again, but she forced herself to calm down. She knew from past experiences that things in life were never that easy. “Maybe not,” she said slowly, thinking about everything carefully. “The amulet was fading when you were walking down the hall towards the ship’s prow. In other words, we’re going the wrong way; we’d need to turn the entire ship around to even be going in the somewhat right direction. And the Crimson Storms... Faer would never give us control of the boat if he knew we were chasing after them.” A chill passed over Roselia as she remembered her first day aboard five years ago. “He said they’re a different sort of pirate and I doubt he’d want anything to do with them.”
“Well, then we’ll have to come up with something,” Tresor said, grimacing, picking his discarded cap off the floor and nesting the amulet inside with surprising tenderness. “I’ve waited too long to see my dad and I’m not about to let one greedy Gnorbu and a crew of filthy pirates to get in my way. We’ll give him a reason to go the direction we want.”
Roselia shook her head, reminiscing on her past years dealing with Faer. “I’m not sure if reason will work,” she admitted slowly; however, the gears in her head were turning, and an idea was starting to form on the fringes of her mind. “But maybe... maybe a bit of trickery will work instead.”
To be continued...