Treasure of the Caves: Part Four
While Tsuki went down the street towards the harbour, Kat
took another path that led her into a small block of wooden houses. She knew that
she had to find something she'd be good at, and in her case that mainly meant
a job taking strength and agility. The fire Uni trotted down the narrow street
and suddenly found herself in the harbour. No wonder on that island though.
The Black Pawkeet was farther away, noisy and
lively, but Kat didn't care about that any more. She looked up at another ship
that had just arrived; apparently it was a cargo vessel and the crew was currently
discharging huge bags, most likely sugar or flour. They loaded the bags onto
a wagon that was standing nearby. A purple Kau was harnessed in front of it
and Kat could see at once that he was exhausted, breathing hard and giving his
best to remain standing up. The Uni's ears moved forth.
"Jack, this is insanity!" a white Kacheek standing
next to the Kau complained. "It's obvious that you're not fit yet! You already
had a hard time pulling the wagon to the harbour but now it's loaded with sugar
and you just won't be able to move it!"
"I don't care," Jack hissed and took a deep breath
again. "I got work to do and nobody else is able to pull that wagon even with
full health so don't try to convince me, okay?"
Kat stepped closer. Now she could see that the
Kau was indeed very muscular and massive, but some illness had made him so weak
that the wagon was too much for him. The Uni's eyes narrowed a bit. She had
always admired Neopets who gave everything they got in every situation and she
was like that too. Now she could see that the Kau, even though too proud to
admit it, needed some help and she could also smell an opportunity.
"Excuse me," she said and the two turned around
to look at her, "I'm looking for a job. Could you perhaps help me a little?
I'm new here and need some money, almost any job would do."
"Well," the Kacheek grinned slightly, "Jack here
is a bit ill so maybe you could take his place for today?"
Jack the Kau glared at him and then gave Kat
a superior glance. "That lassie couldn't even lift up one of those bags, not
to mention a whole wagon full of them…"
"I'm not as weak as you seem to think," Kat replied
with a vague frown and looked up at the wagon. It was pretty colossal. "True,
that thing weighs a lot. But I'd still like to give it a try."
The two friends glanced at each other and then
at the fire Uni.
"If she really wants to break her back here…"
"You could use a break one way or another," the
Kacheek commented. "Let me help you with the harness… luckily we're not in a
About a minute later Kat was in front of the
wagon. The Kacheek who had introduced himself as Tom looked up at her and said:
"Okay, let's see what you got then. Jack and
I will show you the way. If you manage to get this thing moving, that is."
Kat nodded, peering over her shoulder. She remembered
the Techo Master's words. Use your opponent's strength and weight, learn how
to turn disadvantages into advantages. Right now the wagon was her opponent.
The Uni knew that huge heavy things on wheels were almost unstoppable once in
motion. So all she had to do was - she pushed her legs tightly against the ground
and leaned forward against the harness - get this wagon moving - all her muscles
tightened too - and the rest would take care of itself. Kat was a lot stronger
than most people thought. The wagon screeched. The wheels moved a little. Then
they moved again and didn't stop any more. The Uni took a few steps forward
and then found that the load wasn't heavy any more; the wagon now only needed
little energy to keep moving.
"Which way?" she asked over her shoulder. "I
can't stop now or it'll take all my strength again to get it moving."
"Not bad," Jack commented, raising his brow.
Tom leaped onto the load. "Just carry on and I'll tell you when you need to
A short while later Kat had learned a lot about
the two buddies. It turned out that Jack and Tom both worked for a local trading
office; their job was to bring goods that arrived on the ships to the trading
center. Jack pulled the cart and Tom took care of the paperwork. But about a
week ago Jack had caught Neomonia and still wasn't fully recovered. Tom remarked
that he should've spent a least three more days at home - after all, he didn't
need that salary so desperately.
"It's not about the salary," Jack claimed with
a scowl.4 "I just hate sitting at home and having nothing to do."
"Now you can roam the streets and have nothing
to do," Tom grinned. "Listen lassie, if you want to take Jack's place until
he's fit again, I'll just take care of all the papers as soon as we get to the
office. Finding good workers is hard these days."
"I'm only here for one day," Kat replied. That
was also better than nothing so they had a deal and carried on down the street.
Ice had lurked on the streets in the meantime,
not caring much about getting a job but still keeping her eyes open just like
everyone else. She knew that her family would be able to get some dubloons by
the next day and being the oldest of the gang she didn't feel like showing up
with empty hooves. After lurking around in the village she suddenly stopped
in front of a big house and looked at it.
"Not exactly the thing for me but hey, it might
be fun," she decided, trotted up the stairs and entered the wooden hallway.
It was empty and rather quiet but distant voices were echoing in the Ixi's ears.
She looked up and around, shrugged slightly and trotted on, finally stopping
in front of a door that read "HEADMASTER".
"Hi!" she announced, pushing the door open. "D'ya
guys need a substitute teacher for today?"
The headmaster of Krawk Island's Coastal Neoschool,
a grumpy old Tuskaninny looked up and blinked. "What?"
Ice trotted over the carpet and landed in front
of his desk. "I need dubloons, and fast. Surely you have a few teachers missing
every day; most of them have firewood to chop or ships to hijack, I know how
life goes on Krawk Island."
"Only fer today?" the headmaster slowly asked.
He wouldn't have become the headmaster if he hadn't had the reflexes to match
a school of future scallywags. The Tuskaninny dug into his papers. Ice nodded.
"What do ye do then?" the headmaster finally
asked, picking up a few papers.
"What do you got?" Ice asked back.
"Grammar… Neopian geography… and advanced art,"
the headmaster slowly said, examining the papers.
"Geography," the Ixi decided. "Something I at
least know a few things of. How much will I get for it?"
One dubloon per lesson sounded reasonable enough
so a few minutes later Ice slammed the classroom's door open and announced to
the mass of blabbering students:
"And a very good morning to you all, name's Ice,
I'll be your substitute teacher for today, you might want to shut up and open
your books now, the Kacheek with the spiffy earring will tell me what your last
topic was, thank you."
The class stared at her. Ice usually took a while
to get used to.
"Thar was supposed to be no lesson today," the
Kacheek said, slowly turning his head and glancing at the Ixi. "The teacher
be sailin' to Meridell today and until he gets back, we just quietly sit here
in the classroom."
"With Kastraliss hanging around in these waters?
Good luck to him." Ice sat down and faced the Kacheek. Class leaders can be
recognized quickly - gain their respect and you'll get along with the rest.
"So, your last topic was…?"
"Throwing paper balls at the teachers," the Kacheek
replied with an arrogant grin. The class giggled. Ice opened the book.
"Have you guys been to Darigan Citadel?" she
asked then, looking up.
"Geography is boring!" some Uni from the back
row of the class announced. Several voices agreed with her. Something flashed
in Ice's eyes; she seemed a bit absent.
"While sitting in the classroom, yes. But while
lurking around in the Citadel when it's being attacked by Meridell's forces,
some locations of various hideouts and chambers may be good to know. Well, that's
not important. What you're supposed to learn are the economy and nature of Darigan's
lands. There isn't much to know as the lands are still recovering from that
last Battle for Meridell… yes?"
The class had fallen awfully silent. Everyone
was staring at the Ixi and one young Techo had raised his hand.
"Have ye been to the Citadel?" he asked.
"A few times," Ice agreed. "It wasn't much fun
during times of peace, only a fistful of lazy guards lumbering in the hallways
waiting for the next meal." She snorted. "The Battle for Meridell was a nice
change. Everyone was running around and trying to look like they were doing
"Wasn't it dangerous?" the Techo wondered.
Ice shrugged. "It was a war. What do you think?
Pointless wasters of time and money… you can't even visit some old friends without
having to face the danger of being chopped into tiny pieces."
"Whom did ye visit?" most of the class asked
"Barallus," Ice replied. "An old buddy of mine.
I took him some cookies… that stupid war had messed up the whole citadel's life,
meals never came when they were supposed to. The poor guy was starving." Ice's
past was long and colorful; even if her case of amnesia from her pound days
didn't allow her to remember all of her old friends, those friends still remembered
her and occasionally looked her up.
The class was now completely hypnotized. "Do
ye know why he went insane?" someone quickly asked. Ice grinned and nodded.
"Of course, but I'm not telling. He doesn't want
anyone to tell and I'm loyal to my friends. Besides, he's not as insane as most
people think. He has his bright moments once in a while. That's why Darigan
is still keeping him down there… so, does anyone know which plants grow in the
"We want to hear more about Barallus!" voices
arose in the class. "There's so little known about him!"
"Then remember the plant called Flea Grass,"
the Ixi grinned. "Even if Barallus is supposed to be one of the Cellblock challengers,
the guards are sometimes quite picky and then it's useful to have a handful
of Flea Grass to keep them busy. Darigan's lands may be poor and plain but all
lands grow something… does anyone know any other plants?"
At that time Shad, Saura and Ace the Wuzzle were
still walking down the streets, looking at the houses and not caring much about
getting jobs whatsoever. The sun was shining, the streets were filled with people
and Ace attacked all pickpockets who showed up every now and then. The day just
couldn't get any better. Now it could just get worse and Shad wasn't thrilled
at all when remembering what Kat had said about getting jobs.
"Seriously, I'm sure that the others will get
enough dubloons to buy some food," he grumbled. "Why do we have to work our
tails off too?"
"Don't be such a brat." Saura snorted. "Where's
your sense of adventuring now? Look!" They had reached the harbour and looked
over the bay towards the huge ship that hosted Krawk Island's most famous restaurant.
"So how are you planning to get there?" Shad
asked after a short pause. "Swimming is out of the question as Ace hates water."
The Wuzzle hissed in agreement.
Saura looked around. "Then we need to improvise.
How about that thing over there?"
A few minutes later a small rowing boat left
the pier and turned towards the small islet near the coast of Krawk Island.
"Neopian restaurants are making their lives
way too difficult," Shad complained. "There are thousands of square miles of
Neopian worlds that are crowded like a Drugal's fur on Adopt-A-Mootix day… and
where do they put Neopia's only restaurants? One is at the bottom of the sea
and the other in the middle of the sea. Where's the logic in that?"
"I suppose they want to keep all the landlubbers
out," Saura guessed, rowing towards the Golden Dubloon. Ace sat on his shoulder,
peering suspiciously at the sea. "After all, the Golden Dubloon is meant for
pirates." He steered the boat towards the coast of the small islet, galloped
across it and ran up the ladder to the old ship. Shad followed him grimly and
so they faced the old Lupe who owned the place.
"Ye don't have any dubloons!" he declared. "If
ye can't afford to come here, don't come here!"
"I've always wondered how he knows that," Saura
whispered to his petpet as Shad stepped forward, claiming:
"We didn't come to eat. We're looking for jobs."
The housemaster glanced at the two. "Oh really?
And what do ye do then?"
About an hour later the two were buried under
hard work. Saura was in the kitchen, cooking, baking and stirring as Shad dashed
in and out, carrying empty plates, dirty plates and trays. Ace the Wuzzle sat
on the table and observed them curiously.
"This is unbelievable!" Shad declared, galloping
in for the sixty seventh time and throwing dirty dishes into the sink. "Why
do I have to be the waiter?"
"Because you don't know how to do anything else,"
Saura replied with a grin. "Besides, you're doing great."
"Yeah, it's been months since we last had a waiter
working that fast," a Scorchio remarked from the sink. "The last one was a Hissi.
Don't know why he wanted that job, he couldn't even carry two plates at a time…"
"Too bad you're only here for one day," Loretta
Fontaine, one of the beautiful Aisha sisters, commented, stepping in and taking
a seat to rest a little. "Good workers are hard to find these days. Why are
you in such a hurry anyway?"
"You see, there's this long-lost…" Shad started.
Saura pushed a tray full of steaks into his paws and poked him in the ribs.
"Move it, big brother, time is money and the
customers are waiting. We were planning to visit the Smuggler's Cove," he added
when Shad trotted out, "but it's far away and we need to buy some food in advance."
"There isn't much to see," Loretta remarked.
"The smugglers show up very rarely."
Saura shrugged. "What can I say? My family just
won't listen… two Slithering Squid Surprises coming right up." He got back to
cooking and the others turned around as well. The day was busy and was about
to get even more hectic because most pirates showed up in the restaurant when
the evening came.
"I wonder if we actually get to sleep tonight…"
Shad complained, throwing another load of dirty dishes into the sink. "They
just keep coming!"
"I noticed," Saura agreed, baking and cooking
like crazy. He didn't seem tired at all and Pinanna Paradises, Baby Bloaters
and Tropical Breezes just kept appearing on the waiters' trays. "Did the housemaster
mention anything about accommodation?"
"There are a few," Shad galloped out and returned
in a moment with dirty glasses, "rooms for the temporary," galloped out and
returned in a moment, "workers but he said that using," left the kitchen, entered
the kitchen, "them would cost us half a dubloon each."
"I'll just sleep in the kitchen," Saura replied.
"He can't ask us money for," three Walk The Planks landed on Shad's tray, "working
overtime. Because I'm working while," two Forbidden Plunders faced the same
fate, "I'm in the kitchen, or what?"
"Yeah, and at least the kitchen is warm," Shad
agreed and added after trotting through the restaurant again: "I went to see
the rooms. Tiny and cold. Most workers apparently go home for the night."
"This place never closes its doors," Rosetta
Fontaine said, entering the kitchen. "The second shift arrives at midnight,
then you can take a break but the kitchen won't go empty."
"I don't care, I'd even be able to sleep at Moehawk's
concert right now," Shad groaned. "My paws are killing me!"
"One hour to go," Rosetta comforted him and left.
To be continued...