A Roo-yal Expedition: Part Three
“Ugh, what is THAT?” Jaraiya said.
The Pirate Poogle clamped his hands over his ears, but the booming sound didn’t cease. In fact, it grew louder.
Julia tossed and turned uncomfortably. She pulled the sheets away from Jaraiya, and used them to cover her ears as well.
“Hey!” Jaraiya said. He reached for the blanket, but the noise stopped. Both pets sighed in relief.
“Good,” Jaraiya said. The Poogle curled up. “Now I can get back to sleep...”
“Oh, no, you don’t,” someone said.
Jaraiya opened one eye to see the Royal Aisha from the night before standing in front of him. She was bearing a plate piled high with pancakes, which Jaraiya reached for. She pulled it away, and Jaraiya lost his balance. He fell onto the floor, pulling the bed covers with him.
“Not until you get up,” the Aisha said. “You’ll be leaving in an hour.”
“What time is it?” Julia said in a soft voice. It was the first time she’d spoken.
“It’s around five o’clock in the morning. You are to leave at dawn.”
“What was that sound?” Jaraiya said.
“That was the trumpet,” Callie answered. “We play it here every morning. But don’t worry – since you’ll be on a ship, you won’t hear it.”
“What a relief,” Jaraiya said sarcastically.
The pancakes looked even larger and more golden by the time Julia and Jaraiya sat down to eat them. Instead of eating in the main dining room, they’d been ushered to a small breakfast nook next to their sleeping area.
“This is nice,” Julia said as she looked around.
The room was in the top of the castle, with a window overlooking the Meridell fields. The sun had not yet risen, but the walls were bathed in a soft golden glow.
“Nice silverware,” Jaraiya said. He picked up a crystal fork and peered at it.
Just as Julia was about to take her last bite, Callie walked in again. The Royal Aisha looked disdainfully at the Acara, who held a fork poised in front of her mouth.
“You’re leaving in a few minutes,” she said. Julia, who hadn’t been concentrating on her food, let a drop of syrup fall onto her fur. Callie looked at it and smirked.
“The ship is arriving soon,” the Aisha said. “If you’d like to see it arrive, you can go look through one of the rooms on the other side of the castle. It’s not hard to miss.”
Julia and Jaraiya fell over each other in their rush to get to the door. They entered a room filled with yellow furniture and peered out the window. Coming closer to shore was a large ship, bedecked with flags and flowers. When the flowers caught the light, they sparkled.
Julia opened the window so that she could poke her head out. She rested her head on her hands, and moved over so that Jaraiya could see.
“What’s that?” he asked. He pointed to a few shapes on the ground below. One of the shapes stood motionless at the back door, and the other paced the edges of the royal garden.
“I think those are guards,” Julia said. “They try to keep the place protected.”
As they watched, the ship pulled into one of the spaces at the dock. A Tyrannian Meerca dropped a heavy anchor overboard, and water splashed onto the sides of the ship.
“It’s already here,” Jaraiya said. “Maybe we should go down.”
Julia gasped when she walked back into the bedroom. “What’s this?” she said. She walked toward the bed, where two long purple outfits were laid out. She fingered the cloth gently. As she was looking at the sleeves, she spied a note.
To Our Brave Explorers, it read. These clothes are meant to be put on and worn on your journey. Meridell wants to present itself as royal and classy.
“Royal and classy,” Julia whispered to herself as she picked up the dress. “Well, I’m not complaining!”
The sun was just beginning to fully rise as the two pets walked out of the castle. Callie led them to the dock, where four other pets were lined up next to each other.
The first, a Pirate Aisha, reached out and shook Jaraiya’s hand.
“I’m Diabbalo,” he said. “Pleased to meet you.”
Jaraiya nodded pleasantly and gave Julia a look as if to say, Who’s this?
“And this is Caleb,” Callie said, jumping in. She pointed to a Red Kacheek, who nodded. “Here you have Allie,” she continued The Spotted Ixi bowed to Julia, and smiled.
“And lastly, Zeal.”
The Tyrannian Meerca didn’t look at either Julia or Jaraiya, but stared into the distance, his spear by his side.
“And this is... our crew?” Julia guessed.
“Correct. Do with them what you wish. Your ride awaits.”
Kyle, the Grarrl whom they’d first met in the forest, led them aboard. He lent a hand to Julia, and she picked up the hem of her dress as she climbed aboard.
“All right,” Julia said. She stood with Jaraiya at her side, and faced the crew once they were all on deck. “Diabbalo, you can steer the ship. Caleb, you can row if we need it, and in the meantime, you are to look after the provisions. Allie, you can watch for land up top. Zeal...”
She paused, and looked at the Tyrannian Meerca. He still refused to meet her eye.
“Zeal, you can watch out for any possible attacks or intruders.”
He seemed to like this responsibility. He tapped his spear on the ground twice.
“Now, everyone, to positions!”
A large crowd of people appeared to watch the ship leave. They all waved the Meridell flag in front of their faces, and Julia could see many parents clutching baby pets. Some of the pets crawled on the ground, peering at different flowers in the garden. Julia and Jaraiya stood at the prow of the ship, waving back. As the ship began to sail, the crowd kept waving and hollering until it was out of sight.
The journey was slow-going at first. Julia became exhausted after the first day, as she had to run around catering to everyone’s needs. Her dress tore on a loose nail; she took it off so that it wouldn’t become even more destroyed.
Even though the food supply was meant to last for two weeks, it had already begun to dwindle. Jaraiya had thrown a basket of food overboard while trying to fix one of the ropes, and Julia suspected that some of the crew members had had extra helpings. She was betting on Zeal...
The Tyrannian Meerca came up to Julia, and she jumped.
“H-hi, Zeal,” she said. “Everything okay?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said. He looked at her briefly, then at the ground. “The riggings are secure, and there are no other ships in sight. We are headed due north.”
He saluted and slipped away. Julia made one lap about the ship, and stopped when she came to a bench at the far end.
“Jaraiya, will you PLEASE actually do some actual work?” she asked her brother. The Pirate Poogle looked up from his journal at his sister.
“Just have to finish writing a couple more sentences,” he said.
“What is that, anyway?” Julia asked. She reached for the notebook, but Jaraiya held on tightly. Julia threw up her hands in exasperation and walked away.
This is our third day at sea. It’s not so bad, I guess. Julia’s being kind of bossy, but what else is new? I wish Ama were here, at least. She’s sometimes more fun to be around. At least she wouldn’t get mad at me for spilling a bucket of food overboard. It wasn’t really my fault, but Julia didn’t believe me.
Oops, better go! I think something’s happened.
The crew was in total chaos by the time Jaraiya reached the front of the boat. Allie’s face was strained as she tried to lift a few large pieces of wood.
“Need help?” Jaraiya asked the Spotted Ixi. She smiled at him. Diabbalo scowled at the two, and rushed to the tiller.
“What’s his problem?” Allie asked between breaths.
“He’s just bitter,” Jaraiya said.
He was about to say something more when the ship tilted to the side. Both pets staggered as they lost control of the wood, and it was flung against the side of the ship.
“Get down!” Jaraiya yelled. Allie obeyed, and dove under a bench. The ship rocked again, and Jaraiya ran to his sister.
“What’s going on?” he shouted above the noise. Julia looked around wildly.
“I don’t know,” she said. She turned to Caleb. “Caleb, do you know anything about this?”
The Red Kacheek nervously consulted his notes. Pieces of paper blew into the air as he turned the pages.
“It’s not in here,” he said. “We weren’t supposed to have a storm until a week from now, and a small one at that.”
Julia whimpered. “We aren’t even ready for a storm!” she said. “We were planning to pick up more food tomorrow. When do you think it will clear?”
Caleb looked up, a defeated expression on his face.
“I have no idea,” he said. “We weren’t aware that anything like this would happen.”
To be continued...