A Hero's Journey:Part Three
Rupert's whole body began to tense up as he saw the jolly roger flag, the symbol for piracy, approaching on the horizon. He was washed over with a sense of nervousness and fear like he had never felt before and was shaken to his core just at the sight of this ship. It was a large, wooden boat with a tall mast running up the center, holding a giant tope sail. Perched on top of that was a small platform.
A crow's nest, Rupert thought to himself, remembering the term for this platform. It is an area of the boat for the lookout to be able to see long distances, usually with a telescope, to know if there are any ship's in the surrounding waters. Remember this small detail made Rupert realize that he had read many books on pirates, he had read about many heroes defeating these ships. But he was no hero.
The terrified Draik whipped his head around to look to his other passengers to see their reactions, to see if they were giving off any clues as to what needed to happen next. To his surprise, none of them were reacting.
"You okay there bud?" Nate said with an inquisitive tone.
Rupert now realized he had broken out in a cold sweat and was shaking a bit.
"P-p-p-pirates are coming!!" Rupert could barely get the words out with a shaky voice.
"Oh, no, don't worry! That isn't a pirate ship, silly. That is a patrol ship. You see, we are nearing the territory of Krawk Island, where there are many REAL pirates. Due to this, the corporations that rely on the import and export of goods to the island send out these patrol ships. See, look closer at the details of the flag."
Rupert squints his eyes a bit and focuses on the flag. He notices the jolly roger actually features a Krawk skull and cross bones, rather than the typical style of a pirate. It is actually a government ship.
"Thank you," Rupert says as a sense of calmness washes over him and he starts to come off his adrenaline rush. "Sorry..I'm new to this whole thing. I haven't gone many places."
"It's okay, kiddo. Every passenger panics a little bit on their first trip across the sea. And it's pretty reasonable, there are real pirates out here, but for the most part they don't want anything to do with us. We are just travelers and tourists, no cargo worth stealing." Nate smiles softly and looks back out at the horizon.
I'll never be a hero. I can't even tell the difference between a stupid pirate ship and a hero ship. Why am I even doing this? Why did I come so far from home? Rupert began to get dejected, but he had to remind himself of the good. No, this is how I grow. I'm going to make mistakes and that is okay, if I don't fail I won't learn. I knew this wasn't going to be easy, I knew this would really be the hardest thing I've done so far, and I want this. I want to continue. I need to continue. I can do-
His thoughts were interrupted as he heard a loud bang off in the distance. It was as if time was standing still in the moment as he scoured the sea for the source of the sound.
The ship that was once policing the seas started to disappear into the water, and is it disappeared a new ship appeared on the horizon. The good ship was now sinking into the sea, seemingly after taking a powerful blast from this new ship on the horizon. Pirates. Real pirates. Rupert's anxiety resurfaced as quickly as it disappeared, but this time it was confirmed. His worst fears were coming true right in front of his eyes and he didn't know what to do.
"Below deck, quick! Come with me," Nate snatched Rupert's hand and began to drag him along the deck. All the other passengers were scurrying as quickly as they could through the small door that led to the area below the deck.
In the cramped, dark quarters that lie just below the surface of this small transport boat all the passengers were now huddled together. The tension in the air was so thick it could be cut with a knife. It was almost as if time was standing still, the only reminder that it was still passing came from the deep breathing and occasional sob from the people around Rupert. A physical representation of the fear and terror they were all feeling in this moment. Though they couldn't see anything outside of the ship, they could feel the presence of the pirate ship approaching them. They could feel the waves of the water shifting and changing, making way to accommodate the new boat coming closer.
"WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO!?" He heard a voice exclaim in the darkness.
"SHUT UP. BE QUIET!" Another voice rang out.
"Everyone remain calm. It's going to be okay. They probably are just sinking the police ship so they can loot someone else. They don't want anything from us, we don't have any treasure." The familiarity of Nate's voice comforted Rupert. He wondered how this Kougra stayed so calm in this situation.
"Pirates want money, they want gold, we don't have any of that here. Even if they do approach us or come on board, we just have to explain we don't have anything of value. We will show them what we have and hopefully they will leave us alone." Nate continued speaking to the group. His words seemed to have a calming effect. The sobbing stopped, peoples' breathing began to steady. But if you listened closely, if you had become familiar with Nate's voice the way Rupert had from speaking to him above deck, you could tell that it was shaking slightly. The Faerie Kougra was nervous as well. His words trying to convince the passengers, as well as himself.
Suddenly, the doors to the quarters busted open. A few people screamed, grabbing at whoever was closest for protection. But it was just the captain of this ship.
"Everyone, as you may have noticed, there is a pirate ship coming towards us. We received a radio report that they have sunk the nearest police ship and they are sending another ship to come and intervene. We are hoping they can get here in time to intercept. We are also hoping that the pirates decide to leave us alone. For your safety please, put on the life vests found over in this corner and stay as calm as possible. In the event of an attack, we will surrender ourselves to them and let the authorities sort it out and rescue us. While we do have some defense options, we are not equipped to deal with pirates that are so willingly to sink their enemy without negotiation," the Captain spoke with firmness in her voice, like she had practiced this speech a million times. She turned and disappeared back to the bridge to steer the boat.
Okay, okay. Everything is going to be fine. Nothing much to worry about, I'm sure the pirates are going to be reasonable and let us go. I mean, we have nothing to give over anyway, Rupert tried to comfort himself with his thoughts.
"I...I have something I need to tell you all," a voice broke through. "I know why the pirates are here. They want me."
Rupert, shocked, caught eyes with the person speaking. It was a Purple Ixi, her face mostly hidden by a light blue veil.
"I'm traveling to Mystery Island to give a rare gem to the elders who oversee the island. The gem helps them to keep the volcano happy, and is said to keep the island in harmony. It has magical properties and was given to me by the Alien Aishas in Neopia Central, and it is my duty every few years to bring one over so the elders can satisfy the volcano's wishes. I'm worried that the pirates have found out my itinerary and know that I am aboard this ship, this gem is priceless and if they steal it it could send Mystery Island into chaos."
Rupert remembered reading about this gem in one of the books about myths surrounding Mystery Island, he didn't think it actually existed. The story is very similar to what this Ixi was saying, that the gem is an essential sacrifice to the volcano that sits in the middle of Mystery Island, as it keeps the volcano satisfied. It isn't quite clear what it is about these gems that the volcano needs, and scientists can't really explain it, but it has kept an eruption from happening for many years now. The gem is created in secret by the Alien Aishas that run the Vending Machine in Neopia Central, but it was never publicly known just how it gets to Mystery Island.
Everyone sat in silence after hearing the news, just staring blankly at the Ixi. Until the sound of a megaphone broke through...
"STOP. We have you in our line of fire and we are willing to shoot if you do not surrender your treasure."
The pirates were there, and they knew exactly what was on board this little transport ship.
To be continued…