Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 197,723,333 Issue: 999 | 12th day of Sleeping, Y26
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In the Wake of Wreckage


by sir_serene

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What reason have ye for locking me in the brig?” I shouted through the corroded iron bars. “Can’t ye see that I be innocent?” It should have been painfully obvious to these sailors that I was the victim. And yet, when they found me drifting among the wreckage out at sea, they had quickly tossed me into that dreadful cage. “Tell yer captain that I would request an audience so that I may set the record straight and clear my name.”

     When they finally returned, they dragged me out of the cell by chains that bound my wrists. My foot dragged behind as we made our way through the ship. “Slow down will ye! Can’t ye see that I be injured?” My cries of pain went ignored. I was wrenched into the brisk night air, onto the deck above. “I said slow down!” I cried once more as they dragged me across the deck. As we neared, the door to the ship's upper cabin burst open. With one swift push I was forced through it and thrust onto the floor. The door slammed behind me and I was left alone with the captain of the ship, a seemingly salty, if not fashionable Blue Acara. She wore a brilliant red coat and a matching hat with a large, ebony plume sticking out of it.

     “I hear ye’ve been clamorin’ down below about supposed mistreatment,” she said. “Has my gracious hospitality not proven to be enough for yer liking?”

     “Aye, I have. And ye ought to already know why!”

     “Enlighten me then Shoyru,” she walked around her large oak desk and took a seat behind large stacks of doubloons. “Tell me what reasons me and my men have to trust some ragged seafarer that we found drifting alone in these waters. Waters, as I’m sure ye’ve heard, that have been infested with pirates, as of late.”

     I watched her shuffle a smaller stack of doubloons, but refused to meet her stare. Though, I could feel it nonetheless. “As I said before Captain Callistra, when I first boarded yer ship, I am not a member of any pirate crew. I was merely sailing with goods aboard my vessel to Krawk Island, where I’d hoped to find favorable trade. Sometime, mid-morning, I heard the thunderous roar of cannons. The work of these pirates ye speak of. As they raided the ship, they tied me up and tossed me into the captain’s quarters. They told me I wasn't worth wasting any more time on. One of them laughed and jeered at me through the locked door while their mates pillaged the ship. As they disembarked the ship, I heard more cannon fire followed by the distinctive sound of iron flying through the air, followed by crunching.” I finally looked up to meet her judgmental gaze. She studied me as I continued, “Water rushed up from the boards below and if it were not for sheer luck or by the grace of some guardian faerie, I would have been trapped aboard as that ship became a watery grave. I drifted aboard a makeshift raft of what had once been the door until I saw yer sails on the horizon. I foolishly counted myself lucky a second time, when yer ship happened upon me, but ye’ve treated me no better than those filthy pirates.”

     The stacks of doubloons toppled over as her fist met her desk. Wild eyes glared at me as a few of the coins rattled to the floor. “Ye will learn to watch yer tone, Shoyru,” she yelled as she brandished a dagger. “That accursed tongue of yers maybe sharp, but my steel is sharper still.”

     We sat in silence for a while. Only the sounds of the creaking ship and crashing waves filled her quarters as the light of her lantern glistened menacingly off the blade. Eventually, she spoke. Her voice was calm once more, and almost laughing she asked, “Ye see the problem with yer story don’t yet?”

          “Pardon?”

     “The problem. With yer story.” She said slowly, trying to help me understand. “Once ye were clear of the ship, why did ye continue to drift among the wreckage? Certainly a young Shadow Shoyru, such as yerself could have taken to the skies to reach Krawk Island from here.”

     Was that why they had locked me away in the brig? Such a flimsy excuse for treating me so poorly. I shook my head in disappointment. I could have easily given them an answer if only they’d asked sooner. “I never figured ye to be so paranoid, Captain Callistra. Ye surely noticed as yer crew dragged me around yer ship- I’m injured. Escaping the ropes those blasted pirates bound me in was no easy task. As the water lapped at my ankles, I threw my body against any surface I could find, trying to escape their knots. A crude solution to be sure, but effective. Fortunately, it left me just enough time to break the door down before the ship was swallowed by the sea. Unfortunately it barely left me fit enough to walk, let alone fly away.”

     With the tip of her dagger on her desk, Callistra spun the weapon by the pommel. She seemed to be weighing my words. Surely they would prove enough to sway her and I would soon be released. I was certain she would be unable to find fault in them.

     “I’m inclined to believe yer tale, but tell me one more thing then,” she requested. “Do ye know which crew of pirates sank ye? Did ye happen to see the name of their ship?”

     “Aye, it was the crew of the Knotty List.”

     Callistra stabbed her desk as she burst into laughter. Wiping a tear from her eye she said, “Ye were sunk by Captain Laonis and his band of buffoons? Who knew that brainless Gelert actually had it in him?”

     My nostrils flared as I listened to her cackle.

     “I’m sorry, have I touched a nerve? Have my insults of Captain Laonis and his crew somehow offended ye?”

     “Well, ye did more than just insult them, didn’t ye? Ye insulted me too. For letting them get the jump on me and attempt to bury me at sea.”

     “I suppose that’s true.”

     “No, I have no love in my heart for those cowardice pirates,” I said truthfully. “Nothing would please me more than finding out the Drenched had dragged them and their ship to the bottom of the sea.”

     Callistra looked at me thoughtfully and said, “Well, at least we’ve finally found some common ground.” She pulled a large set of keys out of her pocket and began to undo my restraints. “These waters would be far better off if it were rid of the pirate scourge. That way. merchants such as ourselves could sail in peace.”

     “Thank ye kindly, Captain,” I said as I rubbed my wrists. “But I doubt I’ll be sailing on my own again anytime soon. After all, ships are getting mighty pricey these days.”

     We both looked around at the doubloons scattered around the room, “Now don’t ye go and get any foolish ideas. We’ll be keeping ye on a very short leash until we reach shore, tomorrow evening.”

     “Fret not Captain. I’ve escaped one watery grave today. I’m not so inclined as to give ye, or anyone, a reason to help me find a second.”

     “Good,” she laughed. “I’d hate to have to throw ye back in the brig so soon after releasing ye.”

     I shared her laugh. “If I could bother ye for just a bit more of yer time. Why did ye call Captain Laonis brainless? Should I feel discouraged that I was nearly done in by the pirates of the Knotty List?”

     “Well, first of all: he named his ship the Knotty List. If he were gonna work some tired pun into his ship’s name he should have at least used something more menacing. I mean, is he trying to scare children that they won’t get presents when the holiday season rolls around?”

     “I just reckoned he chose it because it sounded a bit like Nautilus.”

     “I guess it does, doesn’t it.” Captain Callistra tried to hide the smile that formed in the corner of her mouth. “More importantly, Laonis is an ambitious, but naive feller. He showed up in these waters only a year or so ago, and quickly put together a sizable crew. Too quickly if ye ask me. At least for a crew of that size. Hard to build trust with so many folks that quickly. Especially with the unsavory lot he managed to attract; a ruthless and effective bunch, but untrustworthy and just dumb enough to think they’d get rich quicker if they weren’t splitting their plunder with such a young captain. Mind ye, even with all that, Laonis is more than adept at maneuvering a ship, so there’s no shame in finding yer vessel overtaken by him. And once his crew has boarded yer ship, it’d be hard for any sailor to fend ‘em off.”

     I mulled her words over for a minute and sighed. “I guess I shouldn’t feel too much shame in almost being done in by such a loathsome lot.”

     “No, I don’t believe ye should,” she said. “If that’s all, I’ll see to it that Senza finds ye an open bunk down below.”

     The door behind me sprang open. A burly, striped Eyrie stood in the doorway, gesturing for me to follow him.

     “If it’s all the same to ye, Captain. I’d much prefer to just find a corner of the upper deck to curl up and sleep. Still feeling a bit claustrophobic from being locked up so much today.”

     “Very well,” Callistra said as she gestured for the Eyrie to leave. “And please know, I truly am sorry for any misunderstandings we’ve had.”

          I turned back in the doorway to look at the Acara once more, and said, “That’s quite alright. Even if we had a rocky start, I still need to thank ye for scooping me out of the water when ye did.”

     “How about ye get some rest, and we call ourselves even?”

     “Aye. I think that’ll work. In the spirit of being even, I should mention that I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember if there was a Gelert among the pirates who attacked me. I can’t recall seeing any. Maybe ye were right, and Captain Laonis has already been double-crossed by those dubious sea dogs.”

     "I wouldn’t be surprised,” Callistra said as she scratched her chin. “But it’s also possible Laonis just never left the Knotty List while he crew ransacked yer ship.

     “True, I guess time will tell. Either way, I hope ye have a nice evening,” I said as I closed the door behind me.

     I moved silently around the mostly sleeping ship, searching for a place to finally get some rest. Eventually, I found an unoccupied nook at the stern of the ship. In the moonlight I could see the wake Callistra’s ship left as it sailed through the ocean. I reached into a hidden pocket in my shirt and pulled out a golden Pirate Gelert Earring, as well as an empty Shadow Shoyru Morphing Potion. I traced the outline of the hoop earring reflecting on the conversation I had just had with Callistra. I knew she’d understand. I knew my words would free me. After all, I was the victim in all of this.

     I flung the empty bottle into the sea. I had no more use of it. I’d already been forced to drink the magical concoction so my body would shrink enough to escape the ropes the crew of the Knotty List bound me in. It was true I’d injured myself when I repeatedly slammed my body against the wall, but I hadn’t done that to undo their knots, but rather to dislodge the morphing potion from my pocket.

     I stared at the earring for a bit longer. The earring that had found its home in my ear for the past two years. An earring that was shaped perfectly for the ear of a Gelert, but one that would be no use to a Shoyru trying to acclimate to his new body. It was no longer useful to me outside of as a reminder that I had been betrayed, so I tossed it into the wake being churned up by Callistra’s ship.

     I stared up at the stars in the sky. The way they twinkled reminded me of the way the light from Callistra’s lantern danced off of the doubloons scattered across her floor. They were a promise of all the riches that were out there to be had. I stared up at them and planned.

     Once we made port at Krawk Island, I would buy a new ship. A better ship than the one I had had before. One that I could use to chase down the Knotty List and the crew of mutinous pirates still aboard, so that I might help them learn what resides on the ocean’s floor. As they had tried to do for me, their former captain who had only ever been nothing but kind to them. Alright, maybe I could be a bit harsh at times. But a captain can only endure so much incompetence before he needs to dole out punishment.

     Thinking of punishment, Callistra had been right. I had been punished for trying to build up my crew too quickly. This time I planned to do things right. I needed to find a new crew. One that I could trust…but for the time being I needed to take her up on her offer, and accept the safe passage to Krawk Island. I also needed sleep. I stared longingly towards the stars until I found it.

          The End.

 
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