The Search for the Golden Dice: Part Three
Down and down they plunged. Just when Dublin was sure that
the ship would be swallowed by the ocean, the prow turned upward and they were
climbing. Soon they were on the crest of the wave and plunging down once more.
Aiibis's yells of "GET BELOW!!!" brought Dublin
to his senses. Not daring to take flight (for the wind was very strong) he inched
his way down the mast. When he reached the deck, he made a wild dash for the
captain's cabin and managed to grab the door handle before the next wave broke
over the ship. Sopping wet and spluttering, Dublin wrenched the door open, and
with a look at Aiibis who was still bravely trying to keep the ship on course,
he tumbled inside, pushing the door shut against the wind. However, it was worse
inside. The wind had muffled all of the other noises: the groaning of the wood,
the creaking of the ropes and the rolling of the thunder. Now these noises overwhelmed
Dublin's ears and he wished to be on deck again.
"Still," he reasoned with himself, "at least
here I'm not in danger for my life!"
He then thought of Aiibis and hoped that he
"He's a pirate," he told himself. "He'll be
Dublin sat there for what seemed like days.
He slept occasionally, but when he did his dreams were troubled by the cries
of tortured creatures and the thundering voices of evil gods. During his waking
hours, he alternately worried about Aiibis and looked for food. The only food
that they had brought was in his pack, which had most probably been washed overboard
in the first minutes of the storm. Digging through a cupboard in a corner of
the cabin, he found a flask of the same nasty liquid that Aiibis loved, a tin
of stale biscuits, a moldy apple and, luckily, a jug of fresh water. He saved
his rations carefully, but the worst part of the storm was not the hunger or
thirst, but being shut up and not knowing if Aiibis was still alive. He lost
track of time, sleeping when he was tired and eating when his hunger got too
strong. Finally, (what he later learned was three days later) he awoke to sunlight
streaming through the window. He staggered out of the cabin, blinded by the
light. There at the tiller, was Aiibis, looking very careworn, but still alive.
Dublin rushed up and hugged him and the surprised Lupe patted him on the back.
Aiibis explained that the storm had blown them
way off course and the smudge on the horizon was not Krawk Island but the dreaded
western banks, where the Haunted Woods were. According to him, they were completely
out of water and food and so they had to stop and replenish supplies. Also,
the ship was in a dreadful state so repairs were needed.
Aiibis was not happy about this.
"Not only do we not have one single dubloon,"
he said, biting his lip, "but this ship ain' mine and tricky questions could
Nevertheless, they had no choice. They planned
to run the ship aground a short distance from any civilization, and live in
it, going into the Woods every day to look for work. When they had enough Neopoints,
they would repair the ship and set out for the smugglers' cove.
Their first impressions were not encouraging.
The Woods themselves were bad enough, but the residents seemed to be just as
harsh and inhospitable. When Aiibis and Dublin walked through the town, pets
looked out of their dark houses and glared. A few even hissed.
They split up, agreeing that it would be faster
in their search for jobs. They were to meet at the ship at sunset.
Dublin took off along the main road, feeling
uncomfortable with all those unfriendly eyes on him. He was used to friendly,
cheerful islanders, not these pale specters who looked as if they'd never seen
the light of day. Indeed, very little sunlight penetrated the dark canopies
of the trees, high above. The only food he had seen growing there were mushrooms,
dry shriveled things that looked poisonous. A constant feeling of fear seemed
to emanate from the whole place. Dublin gulped.
The first place Dublin looked for a job was
the fairground, but the whole place creeped him out too much. He even tried
walking up to people on the street and asking them if they needed any services,
but people either ignored him, or gave him such horrible looks that he backed
Finally, he tried the Marketplace. He wandered
through the maze of dark shops until he came to one that actually looked friendly.
A large white sign with pink curly letters proclaimed that this was "Mimi's
Bakery." A tantalizing aroma drifted out of the open window. Dublin's mouth
watered. He hadn't eaten proper food for days. Better yet, another friendly
pink sign on the door said "Help Wanted." He pushed open the door and walked
into a small cozy room. Everything was pink, but Dublin was too hungry to care.
He walked up to the counter and rang a small silver bell that said, "Ring for
Help." As the bell's high notes reverberated around the room, Dublin looked
around. On the right wall was a bookcase, towering up to the ceiling. On every
shelf were about five jars that had tags like "Blue Sprinkles" or "Red Icing."
In this shop, everything was labeled. On the left was a place to sit. Two squishy
pink armchairs and a little tea table stood in the corner. Dublin heard footsteps
and looked around. A kindly looking pink Elephante came hurrying out of the
kitchen. A dishcloth was draped over one of her arms and she was carrying a
tray of oven-warm muffins. Dublin's eyes misted over at the sight of the muffins.
Then he remembered why he was there.
"Hello!" he said.
The Elephante started and turned around to look
at him. He face cracked into a warm smile.
"Well, hello there, dear! I didn't hear the
bell. Can I help you?"
"Erm," said Dublin, fidgeting on being addressed
"dear" by a stranger, "Yes, you can. I was wondering about... I mean I thought
you might... I mean I can... I mean the sign said..."
"Oh you're here about the position?" She beamed.
"Yes," said Dublin, relieved.
"Well, let's see. Can you wash dishes?"
"Yes," Dublin answered at once. He had washed
dishes all too often at home and was an expert.
"Can you take pastries out of the oven and put
them in the display cases without burning yourself?"
"Then you've got a job!"
And that's how it was. Every morning, Dublin
would get up at four so he could be at the bakery at five. Mimi was very kind
to him, paying him well and letting him eat the leftovers. He started to feel
very at home in her kitchen; washing mixing bowls and tending to the pastries,
but that could not last. Aiibis had gotten a very well paying job as an assistant
at a carpenter's shop (he had been trained in wood when he was a boy) and they
soon had enough Neopoints to repair the ship and buy provisions.
On the last day before the ship would be ready,
Dublin went to say good-bye to Mimi. She hugged him with watery eyes and told
him how much help he had been. Then, as he was about to leave, she told him
to close his eyes and hold out his paws. He did, feeling foolish. She placed
something very heavy in Dublin's paws. He opened his eyes and stared at her
gift with wide eyes. It was 3000 NP, more than Dublin could ever remember having
(things were cheaper in those days).
"Buy something nice for yourself," she said
with a warm smile.
Dublin thanked her profusely and bounded out
of the shop, gleefully thinking of what he should buy. The spooky foods and
toys held no interest for him and he was no Battledomer. Then he thought of
it. He would do a quest! Ever since he had arrived, he had passed the Brain
Tree on his way to work and longed to accept his questions, but he had known
he could not spare the Neopoints. Now, however...
Without hesitating, Dublin bounded up the large
slope that led to the Tree. Black grass crunched underneath his feet and dry
leaves swirled overhead. Dodging a few shrubs, he found himself standing in
front of the Brain Tree. Mustering up his courage, he yelled:
"I would like to do a quest!"
Immediately the tree came to life. The trunk
shuddered and the branches quivered. Its huge brain pulsed. A great voice boomed
"Very well, young adventurer! I need to know
all about the Legend of the Golden Dice for my records. Bring this information
to me within 1 hour and 16 minutes and you shall be rewarded!"
Dublin was surprised. Usually the Tree wanted
to know about some dead person who no one had heard of. He wasn't complaining,
however; one quest was just as good as another.
He turned and ran out into the darkness in the
direction of the Esophagor. The only way to get the Brain Tree's information
was by doing two quests for this monster.
Two quests later, Dublin stood in front of the
Esophagor, and threw the two items he had wanted (Clawmatoe and Slimesicle)
into the gaping hole that was the Esophagor's mouth. The Esophagor rumbled in
Dublin stepped forward.
"Err," he said, "I'm on a Brain Tree quest and..."
"Ohhh, yesss. Herrrrrrre youu go."
A weathered piece of parchment flew out of the
Esophagor's mouth and landed at Dublin's feet. Dublin picked it up and read:
The Legend of the Golden Dice
In the year 2 B.F. (Before the Founding) Captain
Darkblood, a powerfully influential pirate captain, stole the Golden Dice (heirloom
of the House of Kings) from its owner, King Naohr (of the Ancient House), in
a midnight raid on his palace. The Protectors chased the thieves in a fast schooner
and boarded the pirate vessel. One of the Captain's crew members, Deadscale,
showed the Protectors where the dice were hidden and then escaped. The Captain
escaped and has not been seen since, but the dice were recovered. When King
Naohr died, the dice were buried in his tomb and many enchantments were woven
over it by his Casters to keep away thieves. The dice now rest and none but
one of the Royal Blood can retrieve them.
Dublin reread the parchment, all thought of
the Brain Tree forgotten. This answered some of the letter's questions, but
also raised a whole host of others. What was this about the Desert Royal Line?
And King Naohr? He was Dublin's great-grandfather! And what were these Golden
Dice anyway? What was so special about them that Captain Darkblood was willing
to steal them from the palace itself?
An owl hooted nearby and Dublin remembered that
he was supposed to leave with Aiibis in less than an hour. Questions still buzzing
in his mind, he took off, flying toward the harbor.
To be continued...