Treasure of the Caves: Part Eight
The tunnels had led farther than they had thought. Apparently
the cave was under a hollow mountain which towered above the island, but it wasn't
Krawk Island. Most of it was covered by forests, the landscape was rough and wild
but still not untamed - there was a small village near the coast, quite far away.
"Scurvy Island," Tsuki commented, looking around.
"Now we need to hijack a ship again," Shad said,
trying to hide the note of excitement in his voice.
"I'd rather eat fungus than become a kitchen
boy on Scarblade's ship," Saura declared.
"Dunno, the fiercer the pirate is, the richer
he is and the more he can pay," the Lupe guessed. "Let's go down then. The secret
of the treasure is solved and we have another adventure waiting. Whoo!"
"What adventure?" Kat asked, glancing at the
jungle before them. "We're going home. I don't know where you're planning to
"Home is far away and I can bet my collar that
the way back won't be easy," Shad announced. "Besides, this is Scurvy Island.
Not much is known about it, I bet there are some horrible monsters roaming these
"I don't think they have anything worse than
Meepits," Ice commented, starting down the hill. Her siblings followed her and
a while later they were all struggling through thick bushes.
"We'll get lost that way, with no road signs
whatsoever in these bushes," Saura snarled.
Shad was frantically sniffing the ground. "Food!"
he exclaimed. "I smell food! The village is that way. Come on!"
"We have a portable road sign, see?" Kat told
her stepbrother with a grin. Saura's eyebrow twitched, then he shrugged and
hurried up as Shad was now trotting in front of the rest.
It didn't take them more than half an hour to
reach the foot of the hill and the village was indeed nearby. It was nothing
like the ones on Krawk Island though. This one was dirty and somehow grim. The
residents seemed just as dirty and grim, scowling at the five pets as they came
down the narrow street.
"We need a ship," Kat said under her breath.
"I don't feel like staying overnight, you know."
"It's been a while since we ate and slept," Saura
muttered. "But I agree, this is not a village you'd love to visit every day.
Tsuki, are you planning to go and scare a pirate captain again?"
"On this island?" Tsuki's eyes narrowed. "Don't
even joke like that. Our bones would never be found, y'know. But I can do something
for us; just let's get to the harbour."
The harbour wasn't as crowded as the one on Krawk
Island but there were a few ships, mostly gloomy and obviously seen better days.
The sky was still blue and sunny but the pets felt as if stormy clouds were
hanging above their heads.
"You're not planning to find the Revenge, are
you?" Kat asked her stepbrother who shook his head with a smile.
"Found it already, it's over there," he pointed
aside. "But I don't think he's got business on Mystery Island. No, we need a
trade ship. Let me do some lurking; you stay out of trouble, got it?"
Tsuki returned in about half an hour and found
his family on the pier throwing small stones into the water. "Let's move out,"
he said quietly, "we don't have that much time. And keep it down!"
The Shoyru led them to a small vessel near the
end of the pier and after sneaking around for a few moments slipped aboard with
his siblings following him quietly as shadows. Nobody saw them on the deck and
Tsuki quickly found his way to the hold which was loaded with flour and wheat
at the moment.
"If we sit here quietly enough and the weather
is in our favor, we should get out of here in about three days without any trouble,"
he said, curling up in the corner.
Shad stared at him. "We need to sit here quietly
for three days?"
"Now you're asking for the impossible," Saura
remarked with a grin that turned into a yawn as he leaned his back against a
pile of wheat. "Wake me up when we get there…"
The others tried to make themselves comfortable
as well and since they were all awfully tired, they soon fell asleep one after
another. Even Shad curled up after some complaining and the hold fell silent.
Only Tsuki was awake and keeping watch, listening to everything that was going
on upstairs. The hold was warm and dimly lit, flour dust glittered in the thin
rays of sunlight emerging from the trapdoor near the other end of the room and
everything was peaceful.
The other four woke up a long while later and
saw that it was dark already. Tsuki was nowhere to be seen but that was nothing
"Tsuke?" Kat asked with a yawn.
"Uhuh?" the Shoyru's voice asked back from the
"How long did we sleep?" the Uni wondered, trying
hard to see something in the dark.
"A day and a half," Tsuki answered. "Mystery
Island is near. We still need to pass the western shore to get to the harbour
and then we're home."
"Then we have a day and a half to go." Shad's
yellow eyes gleamed in the dark. "It's near midnight, eh? I think it's safe
to go outside and lurk around for a bit. I don't feel like rotting in boredom
"It should be around four in the morning and
the sun will rise soon," his stepbrother replied. "Be careful out there and
don't get on anyone's way. We're still stowaways here, bear that in mind."
"Mmkay," the Lupe mumbled, climbing up the stairs.
He poked his nose out in the fresh air and sniffed curiously. There were nightwatches,
of course, but a shadow Lupe doesn't call that a problem. He lurked next to
the railing and slid on, avoiding the moonlight. The air and the ocean were
calm, a slight wind whispered in the sails and the sails splashed under the
keel of the ship as it strode on, in spite of the night. Trade ships have schedules
and they can't care about night or day.
Shad's ears twitched and he looked up. Something
was whizzing closer under the pale moon, circling above the waves. It was hard
to tell what it was until it came and sat on the yard. The Lupe squinted. Yes,
it was him. The Black Pteri.
The watchman on top of the mast had noticed him
too and would've rung the bell if he hadn't been so surprised. When Shad pricked
up his ears, he could hear the Pteri's words:
"Beware. The night will be dangerous."
He spread his wings out again, sliding down before
the watchman could say a word. The ominous Pteri whizzed past the railing, then
turned around and under the cover of the night sat on it so that the nightwatches
couldn't see him. But Shad could, mainly because the Pteri had sat right next
"Escape," he said quietly.
"How?" Shad asked. "And why?"
"Escape," the Pteri repeated and flew off. Shad,
deciding that the ship could most likely offer nothing more interesting than
that, trotted back to the hold.
Tsuki frowned with concern when he heard of the
Black Pteri. "I have no idea why he came to warn us; he usually doesn't do that.
But I doubt that he's joking."
"He's an old friend of mine," Ice suddenly said.
The others started and looked at her face that was pretty ominous in the glow
of the ghostly necklace. "I don't remember him much but I've seen him once in
a while and he seems to remember me from old times. I suppose that's why he
warned us. But how are we gonna get away?"
"The sun will rise soon," Saura's sleepy voice
remarked from the dark. "If we plan to get lost, we should do it now." He stood
up, stretched himself and picked his petpet up. "Shall we?"
A few moments later five figures sneaked over
the deck. Saura had hid Ace between his palms so that its flames couldn't be
seen and Ice was keeping her head down but they were still nervous and peering
around constantly while Shad led them to a lifeboat he had noticed before.
"There's no way we can get this thing down without
the guards noticing," Kat remarked. "We need a diversion."
"One diversion at nine o'clock, coming right
up," Shad snarled. "Look. That's what the Pteri warned us from."
They all turned their heads. "Pirates!" Ice
hissed. At the same moment a guard yelled "Pirates!" as well. A dark ship was
sliding closer over the waves. It was huge and hardly made a sound.
"We could stay and fight." Kat hesitated. "If
we win, the ship's crew would most likely allow us to stay."
"Look at the size of that ship!" Shad stared
at his sister. "There's no way we can defeat those! We'd be captured and held
for ransom and if Huntress ever agrees to pay that, she'll personally keelhaul
us afterwards one way or another!"
"Too true," Saura agreed. "Let's go while we
The sound of running feet and shouts were now
everywhere so nobody paid attention to a quiet splash followed by three other
quiet splashes and a loud hiss. Saura quickly threw his steaming and furious
petpet into the boat and climbed in too. The trade ship was between them and
the pirates, giving them some time to escape - but not that much time.
"Make sure that Ace doesn't set the boat on fire,"
Kat warned, floating above the boat.
"You make sure, I row," Saura snapped, grabbing
the oars. "I'm the only one with decent paws in here, thank you." He turned
the boat towards the distance and Kat followed it. Tsuki had flown around the
ship to see how things were going and he returned in a minute, saying that he
had no idea why the pirates needed the flour and wheat but they were bound to
get it as there were three times more of them than the trade ship's crew.
"So, where are we heading?" Ice asked, sniffing
the fresh salty air. The boat slid farther under the clear stars, still unnoticed
by both ships. The shore of Mystery Island loomed on the left.
"I think it's easier to go to the harbour than
to land now and struggle through the jungle," Shad said.
"Say that again!" Saura grunted, rowing like
crazy. "If we had a sail, we'd do faster but apparently nobody thought of bringing
Kat hovered closer. "Pull the oars inside. It's
been a while since I last had some decent training, might as well get started
again." She pulled her legs under her body and remained floating behind the
boat, pushed her knees against it and flapped her wings. Suddenly the boat was
moving a lot faster.
"Neat!" Shad stated. "With that tempo we'll be
home in a few hours."
Tsuki landed in the boat and curled up. "Yeah,
I'm glad you came along."
"I can last here for a few hours," Kat grinned,
"but then you'll take over."
The sun rose and dawn turned into morning but
Kat still flew on, pushing the boat in front of her. The others weren't sleepy
anymore. They sat looking at the shore and the sea, ate their very last food
supplies and gave Kat all the drinking water they had left. Finally, when the
sun was high, Saura glanced at his sister and said:
"Okay Kat, now you're pushing yourself. Don't
play up. Get into the boat, I'll start rowing again."
Tsuki made room for the Uni as she landed heavily
into the boat, trying to curl up as tightly as possible. She was a lot bigger
than the others and the boat was suddenly cramped but nobody complained. Saura
took the oars and the next few hours passed in silence. Kat was asleep; the
others still looked ahead, trying to see the harbour. And finally they saw it.
"What should we do with the boat?" Ice asked,
hopping on the pier. The local sailors looked at them in surprise - one small
boat coming from the open sea isn't something you see every day.
"Let's leave it here; someone will surely need
it," Saura replied, leaving the boat too. "Home isn't far away anymore. We can
make it for lunch."
"You're the cook in our family," Kat reminded
him with a yawn.
"Huntress is still able to make pancakes," Shad
remarked with a wide grin. "Remember those vanilla pancakes with sour cream
"I'm hungry!" Ice stated. "Let's run!"
All five grinned in agreement and dashed off
up the hill, quickly leaving the harbour behind and galloping past many, many
Neohomes that looked much more welcoming than back on the day when they had
left to go adventuring. And there it was, a small wooden house behind a vast
Blackberry garden. The door was opened, as well as the kitchen window and a
sweet scent emerged from it.
"Pancakes!" Shad yelled frantically, panting
as he ran. "Pancakes, here I come!"
Huntress poked her head out of the window. "Really?
Then you should've run past a grocery shop because we're out of flour here.
Nice to see you guys again."
Shad's gallop almost turned into a disappointed
trot but only until Saura, also panting and trying to catch his breath pulled
out a small bag from the backpack Kat was carrying. "That enough?"
They plumped down on the lawn in front of the
kitchen window and Tsuki glared at the Zafara. "You took that from the ship,
"Hey, pirates got the rest one way or another,"
Saura defended himself.
Huntress laughed. "That's one story I want to
hear. Pancakes, you said? Come on in already, you can tell me all about it while
I look for the eggs."
The sun was high, the Blackberry bushes waved
in the wind and the five pets rushed inside, all glad to be home again. Adventures
may be nice but they're even nicer when you know that there's a Neohome you can always come back to.