Messenger: Just Another Pirate Tale - Part Two
We trudged toward the local inn and pub, the Fish Puddle, but only after spending a sufficient hour hunting for the weewoo. No such luck. It was getting dark, anyway, so we entered the inn. After all, we reasoned, we could always look for him in the morning.
The inn was very small and built out of stone. You could tell just by looking at it that it had once been an abandoned cave because of the many stalactites and stalagmites poking up from the floor or down from the ceiling. The tables were more or less stacks of driftwood piled on the floor and the beds were but hammocks in the back, screened by hanging lichen.
“Yarr!” a voice said from behind us. We whirled around to behold a tall pirate Shoyru with curly black hair pointing an elegant three-edged sword. He twirled it a few times, flipped it in the air, and caught it neatly in his left hand. “Maractites! I saw them coming up the cliff. They are here to attack us and steal our fish!” He spun around, slashed the sword at one of the lichen curtains, severing it, and then whipped back around, his sword at my throat.
“What?” cried Bluecloud, alarmed.
“Be quiet already, Joe,” groaned a pirate Draik sitting at one of the tables a couple of feet away. “These girls have probably never even seen a sword in their life. Now shut up and eat your fish kebab.”
“But they’re Maractites, I tell you!”
“Why would they want to steal our fish?”
“That’s what evil people do. D’oh.”
“...they LIVE with fish. Technically, we’re the ones stealing fish from THEM.”
“I’m not a girl!” said Clark haughtily.
“Sorry,” the Draik apologized, nodding at Clark, “but he always says that to everyone. Don’t be alarmed.”
“Wouldn’t you be alarmed if someone had a sword at your throat?” I asked nervously as the Shoyru grumpily sheathed his sword.
“Not really,” said the Draik, and casually unsheathed a thick, double-edged sword, tossing it in the air, twirling it around a few times, and catching it with his toes. Midnight swallowed and backed away slowly. Star giggled and reached for the sword.
“I take it that you’re not from here,” said the Draik, casually picking his teeth with the sword. If there was one word I could use to describe him, I would choose casual. And smooth. But mostly casual.
“No,” said Clark, nodding. “We’re delivering a Weewoo to someone here in Krawk Island. We just stopped here for the night.”
“We’re Messengers,” Bluecloud piped up.
“Messengers?” The Draik raised his eyebrows. “The last time I checked, petpets weren’t messages.”
“Well, we couldn’t very well call ourselves the Mailmen,” I snapped. Something about me didn’t trust this guy. First of all, he was a pirate. Pirates are sea-thieves, and thieves are usually not to be trusted. Second of all, he had a sword, and he kept waving it around, showing it off. So what, he had a sword. Whoopee. He didn’t have to keep flinging it in the air like that.
“We’d just like a place to stay for the night. Do you know where the innkeeper is?” Midnight asked, glaring at me. Obviously she was impressed by the Draik’s swordsmanship skills.
“There is no innkeeper,” said the Draik, yawning and leaning against one of the cave walls. The flickering torchlight gave his face a ghostly look, half of his face being covered in shadow. Sinister. Sinister but smooth.
“Then who runs this place? Who collects the money?” asked Clark nervously. I rolled my eyes. Being the shopkeeper of the Petpet Supplies Shop, Clark was likely to be worried about trivial things like papers and money.
“No one,” said the Draik, grabbing one of the brass mugs of drink on the table that Inigo was sitting at. “This place is free,” he gargled, downing the drink in one gulp.
“What?” Clark was absolutely shocked. I yawned, scratching Pecan behind one of his ears. He purred and licked my face like a Puppyblew. That was one strange thing about Pecan. Sometimes he acted like a Puppyblew or a Warf, other times like a Kadoatie or an Angelpuss. No, scratch that, more like a DEVILpuss.
“Look around,” said the Draik boredly, gesturing around at the cave. “The tables are made of driftwood. The doors are made of fungus. Most people bring their own hammocks. The torches are easy enough to light. And the food?” He snorted. “There’s your food.” He pointed toward a small phosphorus-filled pool in the corner of the cave. An eerie green light was cast on the numerous pets huddled there with fishing poles and nets. There was an Aisha dipping her mug into the pool and drinking the water. Blandfish and water, that was the food here.
“Just grab a hammock, any hammock,” said the Draik as he melted into the shadows, or rather, stalked off.
So we did. There were only three hammocks available. Clark took up a full one because he was the biggest; Midnight and Bluecloud were squeezed into the second largest, leaving the baby and me in the smallest hammock. Pecan yawned daintily and curled up on my chest, his long, leathery tail resting on my face. Star started out sleeping at my feet, but somehow in the morning she ended up on my face. Pecan’s tail was caught between Star’s back and my face, so he let out an indignant squawk, which woke us all up. Midnight screamed and fainted, falling a full three feet to the hard stone floor (her hammock was the highest), and landing with a nasty thump. Bluecloud gasped at the sight of her mother face down on the floor and started yelling, which woke everyone else in the Fish Puddle up. Fortunately, it was well past dawn. Unfortunately, it was well before most of the pirates’ regular wake-up time. We were bundled out of the inn faster than you could say weewoo.
“Speaking of weewoos,” said Clark, yawning at blinking blearily at the early-morning light, “we’d better find that one that your mother wants us to deliver. What was his name? Heather? Weather? Tether?”
“Feathers,” I said wearily, massaging my face.
“Shall we split up, then?” Midnight suggested. “Star and I will head toward the south side of the island, Clark can search the cliffs where we crashed, and the girls can head toward the harbor.”
“Why south?” asked Clark crankily. I could tell that he was not an early-morning riser. “I mean, I understand the cliffs because that’s where we saw him last, and the harbor because that’s the best place to ask around, but not the south.”
“Because that’s where Feathers’ owner lives,” said Midnight soothingly, cuddling Star.
“Okay,” said Clark uncertainly. “Let’s meet here at, say, about noon, have some lunch, and go out searching for him again. Sound good?” We all nodded and split up.
As Pecan, Bluecloud and I strolled toward the harbor, we spotted a familiar face. On one of the empty piers Joe the pirate Shoyru was sitting hunched over, fishing. We headed toward him. I had it in my mind to question him about the suspicious Draik we had met last night in the Fish Puddle.
“Hey, Joe!” I called, trotting across the pier toward him. He whipped around and unsheathed his sword. “Maractites! You’re here to-!” he roared, but Bluecloud cut him off before he could finish. We crouched on the pier about an inch away from him. He glared at us for a moment before sheathing the sword grumpily and waving his fishing pole around a little bit, crooning at the oblivious fish.
“You know that pirate Draik we met in the Fish Puddle last night?” I began, deciding to start slowly. I was met with a blank stare. “The one with the flashy sword moves?” Bluecloud prompted.
“What, Dole?” Joe grunted, reeling in the fishing line and growling at the empty hook. He cast the line back out again and frowned.
“Yes, Dole!” I said excitedly. “Do you-do you know where he is?”
“He told me this mornin’ that he was goin’ on down to Lil’ Nippers,” the Shoyru sighed.
“Really?” I was surprised that this was so easy. “Come on, Bluecloud, let’s go,” I said, tugging on her arm.
“Wait,” the Shoyru warned. “I haven’t finished. He said last night that he was headin’ on down to the Golden Dubloon.”
“Why pay there when he can eat at the Fish Puddle for free?” Bluecloud questioned.
“He’s rich.” Joe once again reeled in the line, sighed at the empty hook, and threw it to the side. He reached into is tack box and withdrew a large net, which he threw into the water, tied the top half to one of the pier posts to secure it, all in a matter of seconds.
“So he goes to the Golden Dubloon quite often?” I asked.
“No. I never said he did.”
“He’s at Little Nippers, then,” I reasoned.
“But you said that he said that he was going to go there.”
“True, he said he was goin’, but that doesn’t mean he’s goin’. He says he’s goin’ to Lil’ Nippers every mornin’, but he’s never yet been.”
Bluecloud sighed. “Do you have any idea where he is, then?”
“Buried Treasure. He always goes there.”
“Great then. Let’s go, Emma.” Bluecloud nudged me.
“Let me finish. He always goes there... on alternate Wednesdays.”
“...and it’s Wednesday! Hooray! So he’s there!”
“He went there last week. Next Wednesday he’ll go there again, but definitely not this Wednesday.”
“Then where is he?!”
“Let me guess, only on alternate Tuesdays, right?”
“Nope. He always goes on the sixth of the month, except for on holidays and weekends. Oh, and not in the Month of Eating.”
“Yep.” Joe leaned back, yawned, and checked his hook. No luck. “But I do know that Dole visits the Dubloon O Matic on every weekday except for Thursdays, Wednesdays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.”
“...so he only goes on Mondays, right?” I asked. Joe nodded. “Every Monday?” I pressed. He nodded again. “Good, thanks,” I said, starting to walk away.
“...except for in the Month of Awakening!” Joe yelled, but we couldn’t hear him through the cold Month of Awakening winds. We were just about to step off the pier when a blade whizzed past our eyes and was neatly caught- by a Draik. With his toes.
“Looking for me, are you?” he breathed, before swiftly sweeping his tail at our legs. A moment later we were falling down, down, down, into the ice-cold sea.
To be continued...