Preparing Neopia for the Meepits Circulation: 99,279,380 Issue: 195 | 17th day of Relaxing, Y7
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For The Life of a Pirate: Part One


by nut862

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Ron was raised in a family where kindness was everything. His owner, Casey, let Ron and his sister do pretty much anything they wanted, as long as they were nice and courteous at all times. His family wasn’t rich, but they had enough NP, and they lived in a nice two-story house in Neopia Central. They lived a comfortable life, but it lacked adventure, and that was what Ron wanted.

    The orange Krawk always felt that he belonged somewhere else, namely, Krawk Island. He didn’t see why he had to stay home and be so nice to everyone when others of his species were sailing the high seas on their pirate ships. Ron wanted to battle through storms and hunt buried treasure like the pirates he read about in the Neopian Times.

    Ron’s favorite pastime was reading, and the Neopian Times was one of his favorite things to read. Every week, when the new issue came, he sat down on his bed and found the stories about pirates (there were always bound to be some) and read them several times over. They were stories of adventure, of intrigue, and of excitement. One story posed the question, “Are you good enough to be a pirate?” Ron wanted with all his heart to yell out, “Yes! I know I’d be good enough! I know it!”

    The problem was that, at the time, he didn’t really know the answer to the question. The stories he read made being a pirate sound like it was a picnic, at least to him. Sure, there was the occasional “Being a pirate is difficult, can you take it?” but that didn’t deter Ron; he was sure he could take anything the seas could dish out. There were also stories that told of how unhappy certain pirates were, or how much they wanted to stop being a pirate, but Ron’s reaction to those characters was somewhere along the lines of, “Bah, what sissies!” He knew HE would never act like that.

    Ron was the youngest in his family. The oldest, a blue Cybunny, was a full two years older than he was. Her name was Darla, and she was the sweetest and kindest pet most people had ever met. Ron had never heard her say even one mean word in his life, not even in private. To him, this made her emotionless and fake. He thought she carried Casey’s rules too far. She would never make a good pirate, he knew.

    Darla didn’t like to read about pirates. She didn’t like seeing the descriptions of their foul deeds, she didn’t like hearing about their greedy, money-lusting ways, and she found even the tamest of their language to be rude and offensive. She didn’t understand why Ron liked them so much, and berated him for reading about them. “With all these other great stories and articles in the Neopian Times, why do you always read about pirates?” she asked. “I don’t think it’s good for you, Ron. I worry about you.”

    Ron never paid attention to Darla. She annoyed him to no end with her cautions and fears. He could always count on her to break him out of a good daydream with some warning about being too fascinated by pirates. For some reason, she always knew when he was thinking about pirates and when he wasn’t, but he didn’t see why it mattered either way. He saw no harm in it.

    Pirates had so much more than he had. They had freedom. They didn’t have to be gentle and pleasant all the time. They had no owners to scold them if they strayed from the path of good. They had excitement, adventure, and, in short, they had it all.

    Today was the day that the new issue of the Neopian Times would arrive, and Ron spent the morning at Neoschool counting the seconds until he could go home and see if it was in his mailbox yet. He reread the pirate stories from last issue in his mind; he had read them so many times over that he had memorized them almost word for word. How Ron wished that he would just be allowed to see Krawk Island one day. He had never so much as been to the place that was legendary to him, due to Casey’s firm ruling that it was an evil, rough island that no nice pet should have anything to do with.

    When school finally let out, Ron fairly ran down the street towards his NeoHome. Lithe and agile though he was, he wasn’t fast on land, though he knew as he looked at his orange scales that he would be an excellent swimmer. Not that he ever got to put that ability to use here in Neopia Central. Ron sighed.

    When he reached his yard, the Krawk opened the mailbox and looked inside eagerly. It was empty. Disappointed, Ron went into the house to wait for the mail to be delivered.

    He didn’t have to. As soon as he stepped inside, Darla looked up from the book that she was reading and pointed to a fresh, rolled-up newspaper laying on the kitchen table. “The new Neopian Times came today,” she said. “I got it for you.”

    “Thanks!” Ron grabbed the newspaper and ran into his room, plopped down on the bed, and picked out all the stories that involved pirates. He read them all straight through, several times, as he always did. When he was done, he wanted more than ever to be a pirate.

    A knock came at his door. Ron called out, “Come in!”

    Darla walked into his room. “Casey says lunch is ready. Have you been reading the paper all this time?”

    “Of course. There are some great pirate stories in this issue.”

    Darla frowned slightly. “Oh, Ron, don’t you ever read anything else besides pirate stories? I really don’t think it’s healthy. There are so many wonderful stories in the Neopian Times, and I don’t think you do the writers credit by skipping most of them just because they don’t involve pirates. Read a different story for a change, Ron, for my sake.”

    Darla left the room, while Ron rolled his eyes behind her. There she goes again, worrying about nothing. Ron lay down on his bed, fingering the warm wool blankets under his scales. Wouldn’t it be fun to sleep in a hammock instead of a boring, unmoving bed, with the salt spray in his face and the wind blowing across the deck? He would love to be a captain of a pirate ship, deciphering old treasure maps to find old pirate loot buried in the ground. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to do it, and the more he thought that now was the time.

    Ron got up from his bed and strode through the house, looking for Casey. He found her in the kitchen, serving lunch while Darla stood nearby.

    “Excuse me, Casey?” Ron began as politely as he could in order to get on his owner’s good side. “May I ask you a favor?”

    “Of course,” Casey said, not looking up. “What would you like?”

    “Will you please take me to Krawk Island?”

    Casey turned around and looked at Ron with shock on her face. Darla was looking at him as well, eyes wide. Casey sputtered, “What? Oh, no, Ron. It’s out of the question! Krawk Island is a terrible place, full of smugglers and gamblers and pirates.” She shook her head. “You don’t want to go there.”

    “But I do,” Ron protested. “I read about it so much in the stories, and it sounds like an interesting place. Will you please take me there, just so I can see what it’s really like?”

    “No.”

    “I’m a Krawk, and I’ve never even seen Krawk Island!” he argued. “What sort of fairness is that? My owner won’t even let me visit my homeland?”

    “Don’t speak to me like that. Krawk Island is dangerous; I’m not going to let you go there for anything.”

    Ron began to lose his temper. “Well, WHY NOT?”

    “Please do NOT shout like that!” Casey looked horrified. “I just told you why not! Do you want to go to this place full of thieves so that you can get robbed, or kidnapped, or something like that?”

    Ron didn’t dare tell her that he wanted to go there so that he could become a pirate. Instead, he yelled, “I WANT TO GO TO KRAWK ISLAND! What kind of owner are you, to not let me?”

    Casey looked stunned. After a moment, she said quietly, “Ron, please go to your room for a while.”

    Ron skulked out of the kitchen, in low spirits. It didn’t look like he’d ever get to be a pirate. Not only that, but now Casey was mad at him, and would probably give him a long talking-to later. He could look forward to a lecture from Darla as well. How did the other Krawks become pirates? They were born on Krawk Island, that’s how. Why did Ron have to be the odd one out?

    Ron flopped onto his bed. The new issue of the Neopian Times lay on his pillow where he had left it. Ron opened it up and flipped listlessly through the pages. Maybe he should take Darla’s advice and read a different sort of story. He started reading the first one he saw that didn’t involve pirates.

    Within seconds, he was transfixed. The story he was reading was about a Usul who runs away from home by climbing out of a window, to pursue her lifelong dreams that her owner hindered. Ron read and read until the story ended, where the Usul ends up living out her dream, while her owner regrets being so strict.

    Ron put the paper down in a sort of trance. All of his dreams of being a pirate from his whole life flashed before his eyes. Sailing a ship. Finding treasure. Having adventure. All the dreams that Casey wouldn’t let him live out. Ron glanced at the high window above his bed. Why hadn’t he ever thought of running away?

    Ron spent the rest of the day in his room, planning his escape carefully. He would climb out of a window after everyone else was in bed, and then make his way as fast as he could to Krawk Island. He counted all the Neopoints he had and stuffed them in a sack to carry with him. He couldn’t wait for night.

    Casey came into Ron’s room to give him a talk, as he had expected. He listened to her drone on, thinking gleefully to himself that this was the last time he would hear her boring speech on kindness and about the danger of Krawk Island. Later, when Darla came in and did the same thing, but in a more sympathetic way, Ron thought the same about her. Never again would she annoy him. He was a pirate from this night on.

    When everyone was finally in bed, Ron gave them a grand total of five minutes allowance to fall asleep before he got out of bed and began looking for a suitable window to make his escape. An irritating quirk of Casey’s design of the house forced him to rethink his plans: All of the windows on the ground floor of Ron’s home were strangely high, and upon a careful search of the closets, Ron discovered that they didn’t have a ladder. He thought of stacking chairs, but decided that was too risky; if they fell over, which was completely likely given the number of chairs he would need to reach the windows, it would wake Casey up and he would surely be in big trouble.

    Ron tried several times to jump to his window, and when that didn’t work, he tried to attach a climbing rope to it. He never thought of how much noise he was making with all of his leaps and falls, until Darla came into his room and whispered, “What are you doing, Ron?”

    Ron stopped just as he was going to hurl the noose up to the window in an attempt to hook the latch. The long rope drooped to the floor. Darla marched in with her paws on her hips. Ron couldn’t think of what to say to her. He grinned sheepishly.

    “It’s the middle of the night,” Darla said softly. “I’m trying to sleep. Why are you making so much noise?”

    Ron nearly panicked. “Is Casey awake?”

    “No. I don’t think she can hear you; she’s all the way on the upper floor. But I’m in the room next to yours, and I’m having trouble sleeping.” Darla’s eyes fell on the rope on the floor. “What is that for?”

    “I-I’m…um…trying to learn to swing a lasso,” Ron lied.

    Darla looked at him skeptically, but she only said, “Do it tomorrow morning, please. It’s bedtime. Go to sleep.” She yawned and left the room.

    Ron’s heart took a while to resume normal beating patterns. He couldn’t believe how close he’d come to being caught. Not only that, but he couldn’t believe how gullible his sister was. Did she honestly think that he was trying to learn to swing a lasso? It was such a lame excuse, and it had worked! Ron looked at the rope and then at the window. This method of escape was beginning to seem hopeless. How else could he run away from home?

    Then it hit him: Use the front door. Why hadn’t that occurred to him before? It was so obvious! Ron hurried into the front hallway, his scaly claws clicking softly on the tile. He unlocked the front door and slipped out, shutting the door behind him. He was free.

    Clouds covered the moon. The night was so dark that even shadows were difficult to make out. All was deathly silent. Ron glanced at the house where he had lived all his life, the house that he was now leaving for a life of adventure. He hurried down the sidewalk, unsure of where he was headed. He knew he was going to Krawk Island, but how was he going to get there? He’d never been there before. Ron decided that a boat was his best bet. He stole along to the dock in Neopia Central. The dark water rolled softly beneath him. In the stories, the water promised excitement and adventure, but this water looked like it was warning him not to go.

    There were plenty of boats docked, but no one seemed to be around to sail them. Ron scanned the darkness carefully, looking for some captain that he could ask to sail him to Krawk Island.

    A dark figure moved from under the shadow of a small, rickety rowboat. It was a weather-beaten old Kyrii, looking at Ron with shifty eyes. He spoke in a rasping voice, “What are ye here for, lad? The dock ain’t a place to play.”

    Emboldened by the discovery that he wasn’t the only living thing on that dock, Ron told him, “I want a ride to Krawk Island, please.”

    “Do I look like an express ferry to ye, lad?” the Kyrii asked. “I don’t own a boat here. I’m only staying here while I wait for the police to stop hunting.”

    Ron’s hopes fell. “Oh, you can’t sail a boat, then?”

    “I can sail one, aye. I ain’t got one.” The Kyrii turned to go away.

    “Wait! I’ll pay you well to bring me to Krawk Island in one of these boats,” Ron said, holding out his sack of Neopoints.

    The Kyrii’s eyes gleamed. “Well, I suppose I could bring ye to the island and sail back safely. Give me all the money you have, and I will.”

    Ron was so desperate that he said, “I will. Just take me to Krawk Island.”

    “All right, lad. I’ll borrow this here boat for the job. Get in.” The Kyrii stepped into a small, sleek sailboat.

    Ron stepped in. The boat rocked on the water, making him feel queasy, but he sat down anyway. The Kyrii unfurled the sails, and soon the boat was heading out to sea with Ron in it. Neopia Central faded farther and farther off into the distance until the Krawk couldn’t see it in the mist rising up from the ocean. Soon he would be on the shore of the land he had so long dreamed of, where he would seek out his fortune as a pirate.

To be continued…

 
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