The Greatest Show In Neopia!: Part Five
The door opened several seconds after Kadar had begun knocking and the camouflage Ogrin finally found himself face to face with the very pirate he had been searching the rain savaged streets for.
Timothy the yellow Acara scratched his head in befuddlement as he looked at Kadar standing on his doorstep, “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before, mate?”
“I think you know me well enough,” Kadar snarled, his anger at the entire situation finally showing through, “Now tell me where Constantina is you… you pirate.” He spat the last word venomously at the startled Acara and stood there defiantly waiting for Timothy to give him the answers he so eagerly craved.
“Hang on a minute,” admonished the startled Timothy, “What’s all this? Who are you, and who’s Constan-whatsit? Hey, you’re that Ogrin from down at the docks, ain’t ya? Well, what’s the meaning of bangin’ on me door at this time of night and frightenin’ us all half to death?”
Kadar blinked unsteadily in shock, this was not the reaction he’d been hoping for. Timothy was staring at him with an angrily puzzled expression and it was suddenly clear to Kadar that this Acara didn’t have the slightest idea of what he was being accused of.
He’d expected the reaction to be anger, or at least threatening - anything that he could have counted as an admission of guilt - things like that he could have coped with easily, but this confusion was too much, it was too sincere. If this Acara didn’t know where Connie was, then who did?
A weary exhaustion seemed to grip Kadar and barely managing to suppress a sob of pure frustration he pounded his paws into the door frame with utter frustration before falling dejectedly to his knees. A feeling of helplessness washed over him and all he could do was whisper Connie's name despondently as he desperately wished he had some other means of tracking her down.
Timothy was increasingly startled by this turn of events, and the anger at being accused of something by a stranger on his own doorstep drained out of him when he began to see Kadar's plight.
“Hey,” he began carefully, “There ain’t no need for that, is there? Why don’t you come on inside for a bit and tell me what ‘appened?”
He coaxed the frustrated Ogrin into his little home, and after a brief glance up and down the street for onlookers, he closed the door - blocking out any stray ears that might be trying to overhear what was being said inside.
After a herbal cup of green tea and a few minutes of warmth by the log fire, Kadar was feeling a little better and finally managed to recount his tale of Connie's disappearance to the patiently listening Acara.
Timothy hung on every word Kadar said, his eyes never leaving the camouflage Ogrin's face. Occasionally, he would ask a question but he didn’t interrupt the narrative, until with a irritated sigh, Kadar concluded his story.
“She’s only been missin’ a couple of hours then?” Timothy said thoughtfully, “Likely whoever took her can’t have got too far.”
He brightened considerably when he seemed to come to a sudden decision. “Well mate, looks like we’re goin’ to ‘ave to find her then, don’t it? Come with me. You were right when y’called me a pirate, you know, and I have quite a few connections on this ‘ere island. We’re goin’ to go and see the Governor. If anyone can ‘elp find your Connie, it’s ‘im.”*****
“He’s done what?” the incensed Lenny shouted at the Innkeeper who had just found the time to deliver his news from the absent Kadar.
“He said to tell you to keep looking for her and that he’d be back as soon as he could,” the grey Kyrii said levelly, “There’s no need to be getting mad at me, I’m just telling you what he told me to.”
“Yes, yes of course,” Jarvis raised a trembling pale wing to his forehead wearily, “I just cannot believe he’d be so foolish as to go gallivanting off into the night when something like this has just happened. We should all be sticking together.”
The Innkeeper, having delivered his rather unwelcome message, excused himself with his sincerest apologies. He didn’t waste time offering to refund the price of either of the rooms of his unfortunate guests, he had a business to run after all, and it wasn’t his fault if his customers got themselves onto the wrong side of Krawk Islands seedier population.
Dejectedly, Jarvis sat down on Connie's empty bed. He glanced towards the mutant Krawk who was shuffling around by the window on his hands and knees, and sighed deeply, “It’s no good, Sherukh. There’s just no sign of her, I don’t know what else we can do.”
“I wouldn’t get so down-in-the-mouth yet, if I were you,” intoned the perpetually optimistic Krawk smiling widely, “Come and look at what I’ve found.”*****
A brief time later, Kadar found himself on a sandy staircase that was cut deep into the rock beneath Krawk Island. Timothy carried a burning torch before him, which lit the way forward, and together they made their way up to where the Acara had told him there was a secret entrance into Governor McGill’s expansive mansion.
A heavy wooden panel above them was heaved inelegantly off to the side by Timothy, and a rich golden light poured into the secret tunnel where they stood. Timothy put the torch into a brass holder set on the side of the wall, and climbed up into what can only be described as an extravagant hallway of luxury, with its high chandeliers and tasteful marble statues.
“Wait here,” the Acara whispered to Kadar, as he scurried off to a small unassuming doorway that the awed camouflage Ogrin hadn’t even noticed.
Left alone, Kadar was suddenly nervous. Growing up in Mystery Island he wasn’t used to such splendid surroundings and couldn’t have felt more out of place if he’d found himself suddenly deserted on Kreludor. The smooth, white marble surfaces and the pristine floor tiles screamed that he didn’t belong there, and for the first time since he was a young Ogrin he wanted to turn around and run away.
A small sound off to his immediate right alerted the nervous Ogrin that he was no longer alone with his thoughts, and shaking his head slightly to dispel the hypnotic effect of all the grandeur, he turned sharply and came face to face with the Governor of Krawk Island himself.
“Hello, mate,” Gavril McGill smiled, baring his sharp white teeth at Kadar.
Gavril was a proud green Krawk, with his red jacket smartly fitted and bedecked with fancy buttons that sparkled in the reflected light thrown off from the twinkling chandelier. His tricorn pirate hat sat smartly upon his long silver hair and his sinister eyes were of a rich amethyst purple.
Those eyes were currently only a snouts length from Kadar's face, and the poor Ogrin was immediately unnerved by how close the Governor had managed to creep in before he’d noticed him.
Gavril was intimidating, and for a brief second Kadar thought he wouldn’t be able to stop himself mumbling out an apology and running away, back into the relative safely of the hidden tunnel - but then he remembered why he was here. Constantina - and his fear for her gave him the courage he needed.
Taking a deep breath he drew himself up to his full height and greeted Gavril with his most dazzling smile, “Good evening, Governor. I’m told you might be able to help me?”
The Krawk laughed loudly and relaxed his posture somewhat, “Well, you’ve got courage in you, lad, I’ll give you that. There’s not many that come sauntering in here asking me for favours. What was it you were wanting exactly?”
At this point Timothy reappeared from yet another doorway, and talking quickly in his regional accent, he explained Kadar's predicament to the listening Governor, with only the occasion embellishment from the impatient Ogrin who was shuffling his feet in a growing urgency.
Gavril listened with interest to the story and when finished he raised a slightly questioning eyebrow to the Acara who, undetected by the Ogrin, delivered an almost imperceptible shake of his head in return.
“Well, lad,” the Krawk said, finally turning and giving Kadar his full attention, “The one thing I can tell you is that my pirates have had nothing to do with your young Ruki's disappearance, but then there shouldn’t be anything happening on this here Island that I don’t know about, so I can promise you that I’m going to get to the bottom of this.”
Kadar let out an unsteady breath he hadn’t realised he was holding back, and now he was giddy with relief that there would be some form of help in searching for his treasured missing friend. Impulsively he reached forward and shook the Governors strong hand causing the green Krawk to laugh out loud again and thump him on the back cheerfully.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash from the front of the manor and a red Lutari burst into the main hall whipping his head about as he looked around frantically, “There ya are, Guv'nor,” he cried upon spying Gavril, “I’s been seeing things I thinks you should know about!”
Gavril turned to Kadar smiling, “This is Alain, he’s my eyes and ears around these parts. I told you there was nothing happened on this here Island without my knowledge, and he’s the reason why. I reckon he probably has news for us on your missing Ruki friend, Connie.”
“Sir,” the Lutari began breathlessly, “I’s seen a tourist girl taken into the old dock house, by what appears to be that stowaway we was lookin’ for earlier. I took me to have a look through one of the windows and I could see her sittin’ on a wood chair and talkin’, she looked real upset to me, she did. I came to tell you as soon as I could.”
Kadar's colour flushed quickly back into his cheeks and he approached the panting Lutari fiercely, his concern was growing by the second, and he demanded, “What dock house is this? Where?”
Alain looked at him as if noticing the him for the first time. He wasn‘t the sort to be easily intimidated by anyone, not least this young camouflage Ogrin who looked drenched to the bone and exhausted with it. He said nothing straight away, however, but waited for a nod of confirmation from his Governor before offering his assistance in leading the frantic Kadar to where he needed to go.
“It seems we have a bit of a problem of our own with your kidnapper,” Gavril smiled, but his eyes remained cold. “He was a stowaway on the ship that brought you here and caused quite a bit of trouble when they tried to catch him. I think I’ll accompany you to meet him, if that’s alright?”
Gavril wasn’t really asking permission of the Ogrin. He was going to investigate this no matter what, it was his job as Governor of Krawk Island, but Kadar signalled he was fine with the idea anyway - the more help in trying to rescue Connie from her assailant the better.*****
A short time later, four stealthy figures moved swiftly and silently through the shadows of Krawk Islands twisting streets towards their destination. Kadar found himself surprisingly at ease in the company of these pirates, and Gavril had invited Timothy and Alain to join them, both of which had armed themselves thoroughly from the Governors personal armoury.
Once the old dock house was in sight, the group slowed and Alain made note of the fact that there appeared to be some sort of lamp burning inside the supposedly abandoned building. There were few words spoken amongst the crew, but it was unanimously agreed that the group should be very careful in their approach, as they certainly didn’t want the kidnapper/stowaway to be alerted to their presence and make their escape.
There were several darkened windows on the ground floor of the dock house, but all were covered with a thick, dirty cloth making the inside room impossible to observe. The red Lutari pointed to a low outbuilding than ran along the house and whispered that above it was a single, small pane of glass that had clearly been missed by the inhabitant when he had been covering windows. It was from here that the telltale light was flickering, and the group headed for it like a beacon.
Kadar was the first to take his place at the window, his haste matched by the very nimble Gavril McGill, and together they peered deep into the dock house, neither Neopet knowing what they would see inside.
Constantina perched delicately on a small wooden stool off to the left of the heavy door. She was nodding her gold head up and down as she spoke animatedly to a short cloaked figure standing before her. The figure had its back to the two window spies and they were both craning their necks, trying to see who was hidden beneath the cape.
Kadar allowed himself a tiny moment of pure relief when he saw Connie, and he shared a happy grin with Gavril when he saw that she was completely unharmed, in fact - he noticed, looking closer - she didn’t even appear to be upset. For all intents and purposes it looked as though Connie was simply enjoying a discussion with an old friend.
Gavril was looking intently at the cloaked figure, “Looks about the size of a Meerca to me,” he mumbled, as though to himself, “But not a tail in sight…”
Kadar was pulling his attention back to the mysterious figure, when Connie did something so absurd that instead he watched her in a daze of confusion. The gold Ruki, rather than being angry or upset, threw back her head and laughed mirthfully, the musical sound of it drifting up to the spying group. He was further amazed to see her, of all things, lift a delicate teacup to her mouth and sip gracefully at its contents.
Kadar was so taken aback by this conflicting turn of events, that he didn’t realise the other two pirates had climbed into place behind him. So utterly absorbed was he, that he didn’t see Gavril give them a silent signal, but when he was suddenly wrenched to his feet and his arms pinned behind him, his entire attention was abruptly on the very long, sharp-looking cutlass which Gavril held unwaveringly before him.
“Looks to me as though your Ruki friend is in cahoots with that there stowaway - one tends not to drink tea with an enemy. Now that leaves me wondering about you,” he drew his green face closer to the Ogrins and snarled, “If you'd like to tell me now what’s going on, I’d be very grateful,” he drew a claw along the blade meaningfully, “And I think you’d like me to be very grateful right about now.”
To be continued…