Captain Karen: Part Two
After the deck had been swabbed to a pristine shine and a late dinner eaten, everyone settled into their cabins for the night. The girls all gathered in Jasmine and Kiana's cabin and chattered so loudly, Seamus couldn't help but wonder what he was missing out on. There were sounds of happy giggling and excited squeals. Soon enough, there was the sound of a violin come screeching to life.
It was Karen. Among her bags, Seamus had noticed a beaten up violin case. She played well and she played loud. The sound of some of Krawk isle’s sea shanties drifted through the walls with Jasmine singing them proudly. It made Seamus want to join in the fun. Jasmine's melodically river-like voice fitted the graceful sweeping notes from Karen's violin. Soon all the girls were singing and laughing and having a jolly good time. He, on the other hand, was stuck doing the assignments his dear new friend had drawn up for him. Karen had made it easy as possible for his letter learning.
Brushing a stray lock of hair from his face, he read the words and pronounced each as Karen had written out. She had started with monosyllabic words first. She had then slowly started slipping disyllabic words in here and there. She certainly made it easier than the academy on Krawk Island. The pink Elephante teacher wasn't a very patient person, and would often just sigh and roll his eyes. The more Karen and the girls sang, the more he wanted to sing. He hadn't realized he was singing until his door burst open and all three of them came bursting in. He hadn't even heard them stop!
"What a lovely voice!" Kiana cooed.
"I...um," Seamus stuttered as he blushed scarlet. "Thanks!"
Seamus eyed the violin Karen was still holding and noticed it was rather new in comparison to the case he had seen earlier.
"When did ye learn the violin, Kap?" Seamus asked genuinely curious.
"My mom had me in lessons since age three," Karen sniffed. "I tried everything to get out of practice, but my mom wouldn't have any of it!"
"Well, it's a good thing you learned!" Jasmine said, "You play wonderfully! My mom had me in piano lessons at the same age!"
The girls all stood in Seamus's room chatting and Karen plucking at the violin strings with lively fingers, itching for another tune. They had forgotten to close the door behind them. The noise and commotion had drawn some rather unwanted attention from the devious wocky brothers, who had gone to tattle on them to Captain Thadius. It wasn't long before he came thundering into the room with the brothers behind him. He looked sternly at them at first, before seeing the violin in Karen's hands and smirking. He remembered a young lady who used to dislike her music lessons and preferred to run around the docks instead. That was nearly twenty years ago.
"What's goin' on in here?" Captain Thadius said trying to sound stern instead of bemused.
"We were singing," Kiana offered, "And we may have gotten too loud. We're sorry!"
"Don't be apologizin' missy," Thadius said gently, "Ye lot were only having fun, and distractin’ poor McFinnigan from his letters."
Thadius smiled at the flustered green Kacheek. He was still sitting on his bed with his notebook in his lap, staring at the scene before him. He then turned to Karen with that smile. How lively she was! In truth, Thadius had heard her violin and the girls singing from up on the deck. He had been quite content with listening to the caterwauling violin. The wocky brother’s attempt at making mischief had failed. He only had come down to investigate the reason behind the intrusion upon Seamus.
"Ye remind me of a lass," Captain Thadius said to Karen, "When she was a wee one, she told me pirate queens don't play violins. She was right insistent on it!"
Karen looked at him a bit confused, she had said that exact same line to someone when she was five years old. She just couldn't remember who. It had been someone visiting her father who had complimented her on her lesson that day. She saw Thadius grin at her and leave Seamus's room. Seamus had gone back to his lesson and the girls had gone to their rooms, not wanting to interrupt Seamus further.
* * *
Karen flopped onto her bed. She had the strange feeling that she somehow had met Thadius before, but she couldn't place him in any recent memory. He was old and grizzled, and she didn't remember any old pirates. It was a mystery that she hoped she could solve on her adventure. It made everything much more exciting! Curling up for the night, she took out a book. Karen had been an avid reader her whole life, her father had made sure of it. He'd spend hours reading to her during the day or before bed. The family house in the Haunted woods had a large library, where Karen and her father would spend entire afternoons during the summer. They would make a fort out of the furniture and read every adventure book they owned. Even her mother would join them when she wasn’t busy organizing charity events and fundraisers with Granny Hopbobbin. Karen’s parents had never been shy about charity. They loved helping out Granny Hopbobbin every chance they could. They always donated books, because books are the best and most loyal friends a kid could get.
Before she left home, she made sure to pack a few of her own books from her bedroom library. She even packed several her Uncle Tad had sent to her. She hadn't seen him since she was ten years old, so she treasured the things he sent her every year. Uncle Taddy always found the best books. Karen had decided she would look for her Uncle on her quest to be a pirate queen. Her twenty-fifth birthday would come in a few weeks, how wonderful would it be to see her uncle Tad again on her birthday. She hoped that she could find clues to her enigmatic uncle’s whereabouts. She read a few chapters before falling asleep to the ships gentle rocking, and dreaming herself into each of the chapters.
* * *
It was a bright and sunny morning, when they pulled into Mystery Island’s harbour. The captain and Kiana had gotten up early to gather together the Neopoints and a list of supplies they'd need, and things to trade at the trading post. Once the Mourning Star had been safely docked, the captain and crew departed the ship to look around until meet up at three in the afternoon.
Kiana and Thadius had gone to the trading post and markets, leaving everyone else to their own imaginations. Levi had gone off to find some new recipes, leaving Jasmine, Seamus and Karen to poke around the tourist information booth. There was no sign of Perceval or Pippet. The group assumed they'd wandered off to the trading post or along a beach somewhere. They were always looking for treasure or talking about finding treasure.
Jasmine was reading a brochure on some of the Islands attractions to Seamus and explaining each to him, when she was suddenly knocked over. The Mutant Grundo that had bowled her over got up quickly and profusely apologized to her.
"I'm so sorry, miss!" He exclaimed in a hurry, "I should watch where I'm going! I'm in a hurry you see."
"It's quite alright," Jasmine returned politely, "My name is Jasmine Sabine Sterling. To whom am I speaking?"
"Oh, I’m…" The enormous Grundo blushed, "My name is Ashild."
Ashild began explaining that he was trying to get to Krawk Island as fast as possible. He had heard about a ship captain in need of a crew and had wanted to volunteer his services. He had been raised on Mystery Island and gone to school in Shenkuu for medicine under its best teachers. He wanted to fill the role of medical officer if the captain would allow it. Each of the friends looked at one another, before Seamus finally spoke up.
"Sorry, friend," Seamus said, "She set sail yesterday."
Ashild looked thunderstruck. He could have sworn the departure was tomorrow! He was rather bad with remembering dates off-handed. He looked down at his feet and as he turned to leave, he tripped over his own enormous feet and tumbled into his luggage. The friends snickered a bit before reaching to help the enormous fellow up.
"I'm Karen," Karen said delightedly, "Karen Avery Pratchet. But Kap will do, please."
"I'm Seamus McFinnigan," Seamus continued. "Ye don't have to look so sad, we can help you out!"
"How are you going to do that?" Ashild inquired, gloomily gathering his luggage up.
"We're crew to the ship you missed," Jasmine piped up; "We can explain to Captain Thadius, that you were late and would like a chance."
At this, Ashild smiled and pulled the friends into a hug. He nearly crushed them with his huge arms. So it was settled, then. They'd seek out Captain Thadius and Kiana in the Trade post and explain Ashild's situation. Hopefully the captain would see this as an opportunity and accept him. He had grumbled irritably when no one with medical knowledge boarded the ship early yesterday morning. They searched through the crowd of people at the trading posts, while keeping Ashild in sight and watching him stumble and trip over things. He was incredibly clumsy, but good-hearted. At last they caught sight of Kiana, but the captain was not with her. They approached their friend and inquired to the captain's whereabouts. He'd apparently gone to the training school to visit the Techo Master for a quick second. They introduced Ashild to Kiana, and soon enough to the Wocky brothers, who took an instant dislike to the Mutant Grundo.
It was nearing three in the afternoon, when the crew headed back to the docks. Captain Thadius wasn't far behind them, accompanied by a Starry Zafara. She was a bouncy, energetic and strong student from the training school. He neared the dock and eyed Ashild quizzically. When he got near he looked the Grundo up and down and turned to Karen.
"Miss Pratchet," Captain Thadius said, "Ye'll do me the honor of introducin' me to your friend here, and I'll introduce mine."
"Yes sir!" Karen said. "This is Ashild Koric. He's a former student of Shenkuu medicine masters, and would like a place on our ship. He was a day late to departure, sir!"
The captain laughed and shook his head. So this was the fellow who had sent him the letter. It was shocking to see that someone so big and so clumsy had written such a perfectly neat and clear letter. He welcomed Ashild warmly, and then scolded him for being late.
"This is Trillian Maylong," Captain Thadius introduced the starry Zafara waiting patiently behind him. "She'll be in charge of our cannons and the armoury. I'm fulfilling a promise I made to her mother, who was my former first-mate."
Trillian bowed at her new shipmates, she was evidently well trained. She would be a valuable addition to any crew, Karen could see. The wheels in Karen's head began to turn, the crew was assembled. It was perfect! Thadius was a lucky captain. Someday she hoped to be just as lucky.
* * *
The galley had an array of pleasant smells coming from it. Levi had returned early to begin prepping for Dinner. When he learned he had two more to account for he began making adjustments. It didn't bother him in the least. The speckled bori was incredibly patient. He had taken an immediate liking to Ashild, but had found Trillian's energy to be far too much. Karen found it entertaining to watch how Trillian could quickly clean up any mess the clumsy Ashild could make, and how fast she could arm the cannons during their evening training. Thadius liked to keep his crew prepared in case they ran into a not-so-friendly pirate ship.
As they sat down to eat, they noticed the wocky brothers sitting at the far end of the table away from everyone. Karen toyed with her locket as she watched them. She leaned over to Seamus who was sitting to her left.
"I think they're plotting." Karen whispered.
"Oh?" Seamus whispered back, "Do ye think they're after whatever Captain got from the trading post?"
Karen nodded. Kiana had mentioned the Captain had picked up something from a vendor who dealt with very rare goods. She hadn't seen the items he acquired, but she knew they were expensive. Karen had made up her mind to bring attention to the suspicious brothers. The Captain hadn't joined them for dinner that evening, so Karen decided to go and see him in his cabin after dinner.
* * *
She knocked on the door loudly. It hadn't taken long for her to get an answer either. The door opened and Captain Thadius stood there. He was tall and imposing. The Shadow Eyrie showed her in. It was a very nice cabin. She surveyed the room and turned to the portraits on the wall. One portrait caught her completely off-guard. It was an aged portrait, but it was all she needed to see. It raised even more questions.
There was no way; just no way they could be related!
To be continued…