Xaraak: Part Three
Mournful calls of sea birds and the haunting laughter of
the golden tinted sea greeted Orlando as he awoke. Dressing quickly, he roused
Kenji and the two of them hurried to meet Terek out on deck. The sun was only
just rising, and the sky was grey and foreboding. Shrill winds lashed Kenji and
Orlando with stinging, ice cold seaspray as they squinted their way over to the
bow where a heavily cloaked Terek was conversing with Aelix.
"A fine day for a jolly ole fight, me ole matey.
Yon Eyrie had better watch his worthless back while Aelix Blackmirror is on
his tail..." She trailed off as she noticed the two boys coming towards them,
bent slightly sideways as they were buffeted by the gale. "... and here comes
the picnic brigade! Ye two look sorrier than a pair of baby Kacheeks wots lost
their mommy. Git over 'ere!"
Kyrii and Wocky increased their pace to keep
up with Aelix's banter from where she was perched on the bowsprit. Terek handed
each of them a cloak. "Both of yew can fight, aye?"
"Then good, cause yew two are going to come
with us when we confront Kulgar and Arkana today. Orlando, yore coming with
me an' Aelix here. Kenji, yore gonna keep wid Sayra and Ronako."
Kenji grinned dreamily. "Sayra can fight? Wow..."
Orlando rolled his eyes. "Kenji."
"I never knew that she was..."
"I wouldn't have thought that she could..."
"Kenji. You need to pay attention or else the
attack will fail and we will die."
Kenji reddened. "Oh right. Sorry, Orlando."
Terek barked, "Pay attention, yew two. I'm figgerin'
that they're gonna stop at the Golden Dubloon once they lands. We'll all wear
these cloaks during the attack, so's that Kulgar won't recognize us. I'll lead
the first bunch, and we'll find ourselves a nice corner to wait in. Jaxin, Garthun,
and Pekel will come in next, and the two big guys'll start getting Kulgar's
mateys riled up, and then... wham!" He slammed a clenched fist into his open
palm for effect. "Kenji, Sayra, and Ronako git at them from the rear."
"Captain," Kenji began, a note of worry in his
voice. "What about Kulgar and Arkana?"
With a derisive snort, Terek flicked water from
his beard. "Aelix knows what to do. Don't yew, ole pal?"
Aelix cackled gleefully, her normally yellow
eyes an unholy red. "The Usul's mine, Kyrii."
Orlando voiced more concern. "What Usul? Nobody
said anything about an Usul."
"Oh, aye," Terek responded nonchalantly. "Name's
Irik, he's the one who poisoned... Aelix, you had better continue th' story,
I can't remember the half of it."
Although Orlando thought it impossible, the
Draik's eyes gleamed redder, the color of flames and blood, which lent her the
appearance of some war-goddess. "I had a husband, once," she began, in a dry,
harsh voice. "Had an egg, too. But that Irik... he poisoned Kethkar, tried to
get me, but I was too fast for 'im. I had to fly, see? If I'd have stayed behind,
'e woulda cracked me like he did the egg."
Orlando shook his head slowly. "That's terrible."
Terek broke the uncomfortable silence. "Aye,
terrible. But now is the day we take vengeance!"
Throwing her head back, Aelix released a short
burst of flame. Shutting her jaws with a menacing snap, she watched a soft tendril
of smoke whisper away. "Haharr, I still remembers how to torch things. It'll
be Kulgar's ship a'burning tonight!"
Grinning widely, the four shook paws.
Within the hour, the distant, hazy bulk of Krawk
Island bade itself visible on the far edge of the horizon. Fortunately, the
foul weather had largely cleared up; the fog was dispersing and patches of blue
peered through the sodden clouds.
"Lookit that sky!" Kenji pointed upwards.
Sayra, leaning against the rail beside him,
was skeptical. "It's gray. I can see that."
The green Wocky decided to try again. "No, but
it has some nice blue parts-like your eyes."
With a short laugh, Sayra turned towards Kenji
so that he could see her properly. "Kenji, you furhead, I have brown eyes."
Appearing extremely flustered, the male Wocky
suddenly announced, "Ooh, er, I have to go set things up with Ronako. The, uh,
Sayra shouted after him, "Oh, and take care
of yourself today, you hear? Because if you get yourself killed, I'm not taking
your spot for cleaning duty!"
Silence pervaded every nook and cranny of the
Wavehunter where it rode at anchor beside the sullen, foreboding bulk of Kulgar's
ship, the Xaraak. Even the normally argumentative Garthun and Pekel were quiet.
The only sound that existed beside the cry of the seabirds was a never-ending
hornet's buzz. The noise of rust and dirt being stripped away from iron. The
calm before the storm.
Seated apart from each other, the three teams
sharpened their weapons on a trio of whirling whetstones.
Bending over at the same time to reach a dagger
that had slipped away, Kenji and Sayra bonked heads. With a little yelp, the
two sat up quickly and glared at each other.
As he passed by, Jaxin grinned cheekily. "Aw,
dey hurted each uvver! Better kiss and make up!"
The red Lupe hid under a massive pile of extra
sailcloth and rope as two pairs of icy, un-amused Wocky eyes turned their infuriated
gaze on him. "Heh... only a joke..." he began lamely. As two differently sized
boots ricocheted off of the rail and floor uncomfortably close to him, he hastily
withdrew with a call of, "... a truthful joke!"
A sturdy kick slid the gangplank into place,
and Pekel bowed mockingly, motioning for the others to go ahead of him. Fortunately,
a certain red Skeith refrained from commenting.
Slipping almost silently through the squeaky
swinging doors of the tavern, Terek motioned hastily towards a deserted table.
After being seated, Orlando cast a clandestine look about.
Sure enough, at the far end of the well-occupied
room was a completely white Eyrie, seated beside what appeared to be a wavering
patch of shadow. Two baleful red eyes blinked once out of the dark mass, and
slowly scanned the area, allowing their pale, menacing stare to rest on Orlando.
The blue Kyrii shivered and looked away. When
he did venture a second glance, the formless shadow was gone.
"E'cuse me," came a small, timid voice.
Terek looked down, startled, to see a very young
Shoyru. The little one scrubbed a dirty paw over her eyes and then held it out.
The sea captain shrugged as his way of stating
that he had no money. The Shoyru girl's eyes narrowed oddly, and her face seemed
for a moment to twist, but in a moment she was normal again. A tear welled up
and dripped down her cheek.
Giving in, Terek dropped a ten Neopoint coin
in her hand, but she threw it aside and flapped up into the air angrily. Once
again her face stretched, and for a moment what appeared to be a spike replaced
her nose, but she sneezed and the illusion vanished.
"I wan' dubloons! None o' dose, dey not worth
anyfing. Gimme real money!"
Aelix grabbed the insolent Shoyru by the horn
and growled, "Mind yer manners, miss!"
With an eerie screech, a beak broke through
the Shoyru's face. Her eyes blazed a mad, ghostly red and she screamed again,
Aelix cursed. "Arkana."
Although Terek was watching Kulgar's every move,
he was still surprised when the albino Eyrie cleared the room in a single, wing-assisted
bound and came to a stop directly in front of him. "So, Terek, we meet again."
Terek stood and circled the Eyrie, sword at
Kulgar spoke in an elegant, clipped voice. "Ah,
and here I am, spouting clichéd phrases once again. You shall not escape this
With a single vicious stab, Terek lunged forwards
in hopes of goring Kulgar while the white Eyrie stood unprepared, but as if
by magic a pale sword found itself in Kulgar's fist and blocked Terek's thrust.
"Still as crude as ever." With an effortless
twist of his wrist, Kulgar scythed the beard from Terek's chin.
Cold fear trailed icy fingers down the big blue
Kyrii's back. It was obvious that Kulgar was simply toying with him. Playing
the way a cat will play with a mouse before slaying it.
While he desperately tried to hold off the superior-skilled
Eyrie, Orlando and the other members of the crew were in hot water as a swarm
of Krawks and Rukis washed over them like tsunami waves. Pekel eventually stuck
his head through the door, and, noticing the ruckus, charged into the middle
of it, flinging Kulgar's creatures left and right. Not far behind him were Garthun
and Ronako's team, which set themselves upon the enemy with fresh vigor.
Orlando, who was matching blades with a well-armed
Ruki, was startled by Aelix's shout of "Watch yer back, matey!"
He dove to the side as Aelix's flailing limbs
bowled over both his opponent and the oddly-garbed Usul that had been advancing
on him with a stiletto. Aelix Blackmirror and Irik tumbled over each other,
weapons slashing. Irik grunted as the Draik took his ear, and countered by stabbing
her. Aelix fell back, tottering unsteadily.
Irik laughed, and that sound of hatred burned
into Aelix's brain. Straining her wings, she careened unsteadily across the
room and cannoned into Irik.
The gout of brilliant blue-silver fire was the
last thing he ever saw.
Forcing Kulgar back momentarily, Terek took
a swipe and by pure chance managed to clip his nemesis's shoulder. "Kill my
wife; separate me from my child... you deserve a long and painful death."
The Eyrie sniggered. "Your puny son cannot save
Terek's eyes grew wide. "Cease your lies, carrion
"Your son. The boy who sits at a table and watches
his father die!"
Terek momentarily cast his eyes at where Orlando
had been, and at that second Kulgar rushed forward, bringing his blade about
in an arc that should have beheaded the captain.
But the blue Kyrii was not out of tricks. He
tipped his head sideways and escaped with only a grazed cheek.
In fury, Kulgar kicked out, catching Terek heavily
across the knees. He fell clumsily against a table.
At the back of his mind, he knew that it was
the end. His arm was pinned, broken, behind his back, and his sword had been
The white Eyrie turned to face Orlando, who
held his sword out at the ready.
Kulgar gave a short laugh. "You expect to fight
me with that skewer?"
"Aye, you'll see soon enough what a skewer can
As Kulgar soon discovered, the young Kyrii was
not joking. Orlando's slim, nimble blade flickered through the air, ten times
faster than Terek's clumsy saber. In moments, Kulgar was overwhelmed. He had
never fought such a young pet before, and was unaccustomed to the youthful zeal
and energy with which Orlando set upon him. The boy definitely lacked skills,
but his speed was incredible.
Cutlass clashed against rapier as the latter
swished towards Kulgar's wing. From the corner of his eye, he could see that
without Irik's leadership his forces were like a snake without a head. And Arkana
had no tactician's mind; with her in command almost half of Kulgar's pirates
had been defeated without orders to take cover. But he also noticed that the
fight was beginning to take a toll on the crew of the Wavehunter. Smiling grimly,
he took in the scene as his Rukis and Krawks charged en masse, but his smile
vanished almost immediately. A flood of young pets pounded in, cramming the
tavern almost to bursting (the patrons had either fled or joined the fight).
A very young blue Lutari who seemed to be the leader shook a giant oar aloft
in his paws and yelled, "Give 'em a good spankin', mates! Whack away!"
To put it simply, the creatures charged.
Terek, from where he lay injured, smiled as
he realized that Tara had done her work well.
The Xaraak's slaves were free!
With over a score of strong slaves on their
side, the Wavehunter crew easily overcame the remnants of Kulgar's depleted
gang and disarmed them, and Orlando tied Kulgar to a chair.
Cheering, the slaves bundled the Eyrie up in
sailcloth and rolled him down onto the docks. Arkana, who had stayed away from
the fray the entire time, came lunging from the ceiling in her true form, that
of a hideous shadow Eyrie.
With a heroic yell, Kenji threw himself from
the decrepit chandelier he had been hanging from and landed neatly on her back.
The extra weight of the sturdy green Wocky was too much for Arkana's torn wings
to handle. She came crashing down and landed with an impact that shook the room
and caused every single bottle on the shelves to tumble down onto the terrified
bartender, who was hiding behind the counter. Standing in a gallant pose on
her back, Kenji whisked off his outrageous floppy hat and bowed.
As can be expected, Tara was overjoyed that
her brother Aaron was safe, and smothered him with kisses, which he tried hard
to avoid. Arkana was rolled up in canvas as well, and the two unsavory Eyries
were unceremonious pitched off of the docks into the water. Terek, his broken
arm tied up in a splint, paid the distraught bartender for the damages, which
pleased the poor Yurble to no end. Hastily packing his belongings, he fled the
The first decision the crew of the Wavehunter
agreed upon was to remove all remnants of Kulgar's hateful ways from Xaraak.
This completed, the next step was to rename the ship the Venture and pass the
Wavehunter on to Ronako, who was an able captain in his own right. Kenji became
the new owner of the tavern.
The hour finally came to depart, one cold, gray
morning. Swathed in a cloak, Orlando stared off of the stern of the Venture
at the slowly vanishing dot that was his best friend on the docks.
It wasn't that bad, he told himself. He and
Kenji would probably meet again, plus, Garthun and Pekel were no longer on board.
According to Terek, they had enrolled in Cap'n Threelegs' pirate academy.
But he still had a hard aching feeling of loss
as Krawk Island, now smaller than the wayward strands of hair that blew across
his face, vanished on the horizon.