From Princess to Pirate: Part Six
The hum of voices grew louder as the two approached the stairs that led to the upper deck. Polie was nervous as they crept through the shadows, trying to stay as obscure as possible. Polie could hear the captain’s angry voice trailing down the stairwell.
“What do you mean, she escaped?” he yelled, his voice echoing through the hall. Polie glanced at her mother nervously; there was nowhere else to go. The stairs that he was blocking were the only ones to the surface. Polie and her mother ducked into an empty room, but left the door slightly ajar.
Polie could hear the voice of the yellow Techo guard stammer, “I... I stepped away for a... second. L-left that little Kau... in charge.”
“That little girl? You left our new cook in charge of guard duty?” the captain roared. Polie shivered slightly with fear and her mother put a protective arm around her. She was beginning to think they would never get off this ship.
“She was sneezing all over me! And the door was locked!”
“I don’t care if she dumped a bucket of hot tar on you. You never leave your post with such valuables at stake!” The captain huffed and Polie could hear his feet screeching against the deck. “Search the entire ship. Find that girl and the Queen.”
The two could hear footsteps trudging down the stairs. They waited a few minutes before speaking. Polie had been afraid to breathe in case someone came by and heard her. When they were confident that everyone had dispersed, Polie turned to her mother.
“I should go out first. I can get a quick look. They’re mostly looking for you...”
Her mother shook her head firmly, “No, we must stick together. They might put two and two together.”
Polie sighed, but her mother was right. The worst thing for them to do now would be to split up. “Let’s go home.”
Her mother nodded and gripped her daughter’s hand firmly in her own. They slowly stepped up the stairs and Polie peeked her head through the door. The open deck seemed empty. Polie could smell the fresh salt water as she stepped onto the wooden planks. She looked up at the blue morning sky and smiled.
“Well, well. Here we are.” Polie’s face blanched as she heard the voice of the captain behind her. Slowly, she turned, hiding slightly behind her mother. “After all, there is really only one way off this ship.”
Polie shivered nervously. They were so close, yet the dock was so far. Other pirates skulked out from the shadows to join their boss. Polie saw Gingy joining them. Her lower lip quivered; she just wanted to go home already. Her mother stood proudly and protectively before her young daughter. Despite the Eyrie’s disheveled appearance at being held captive, Polie envied her strength.
“Yes, and the two of us are getting off of it.” Her mother spoke calmly.
“Queen Agathea, now why would I let you go without even negotiating a proper deal first?” the captain asked, stepping forward slowly. The Lupe scared Polie. He was mean when he wanted to be. “Now come back and you may go as soon as we get our reward.”
Polie hugged her mother’s arm, half hiding behind the powerful female. She piped up, her voice quivering slightly, “It’s not like you need any more jewels!”
The captain’s tight smile vanished and he nodded to his friends. Polie’s eyes darted between them and instantly fell on Gingy. He looked just like the rest of them, ready to pounce and take her and her mother back to the storage closets. Polie didn’t want to be locked inside and she knew that if they got a hold of both of them, they would be separated.
“I imagine the fee for both Queen and Princess is a large enough sum to keep us quite comfortable for a long time,” the captain boasted. Polie kept her eyes on Gingy, who gave her a slight nod of his head. Polie stared at him quizzically, before remembering the object he had shown her the night before.
Part of the reason she hadn’t recalled the object was because of her fatigue. She had been so tired that it was hard to remember that Gingy had left something of his in her possession in case she needed it. She knew that Gingy wouldn’t really be able to help them.
Polie and her mother were alone. Her mother started to push Polie backwards towards the front of the ship. It pointed out to sea, rather than into port. The young Kau rummaged through her pockets until she uncovered the object. A whistle.
She brought the plastic red whistle to her lips and blew as hard as she could. She drew a second breath and blew again, waiting the precise number of seconds that Gingy had specified. The captain and the others stared at her oddly as she stuffed the whistle back into her pocket.
The sound of hoof beats became louder and closer. Polie and her mother breathed a sigh of relief as her father’s personal guard came charging onto the deck. They looked at both the pirates and the Queen and her daughter standing backed up against the front of the ship. Polie knew that her mother would have ordered them both to jump ship, but Gingy’s plan had been better.
“Queen Agathea, at last,” the head Uni replied, stepping forward and bowing his head to his Queen. The others in the guard followed suit while the pirates scattered. Most ran off the ship, but some even tried to get their private treasures by leaving. The guard easily captured those that remained behind. A carriage was sent for the two royal females as the Unis attempted to clean up the mess at Crystal Cove.
Agathea kept a strong arm around her daughter. She was proud of the youngling, but she was also ready to reprimand her daughter for an act of obvious disobedience. Though, Agathea knew that it would come much later. Inside the carriage, Agathea asked her daughter what had happened. She knew that sometimes, secrets were hardly secret in the castle.
“I heard Father talking to one of the guard members about it. I had to come help.” Polie explained. She hung her head a bit shamefully; she knew that she had been too inexperienced to partake in such an extravagant adventure. “Anyway, I was able to weasel my way onto the ship. I think that Gingy... I mean Gingernova, knew who I was.”
“Gingernova?” her mother asked skeptically. The name sounded familiar.
Polie swallowed and lowered her voice. “He is part of the First Valiant Command.”
Agathea giggled and put a hand up to her mouth. “The First Valiant Command doesn’t really exist. Your father made that up as a story when you were younger.”
“So, who is Gingernova?”
Her mother leaned back and shook her head. “I’m not sure. The name sounds familiar, but maybe we should ask your father.”
Polie nodded her head reluctantly. She stared out the carriage window as the castle came into view. Her long walk down the pathway to Crystal Cove played back in her mind as she thought about Gingy. Who was he?
* * *
The Queen Agathea and the Princess Poliana were received with open arms as they stepped out of the carriage and approached the castle’s gates. Polie saw her father standing and beaming brightly as they walked forward. Polie ran the last bit of the way and hugged her father’s leg.
“Forgive me for doing such an unwise thing!” she nearly bellowed, the rest of the royal court surrounding them and staring at her un-princess-like behavior. Polie showed no embarrassment for the rest of them, just a blushing of her face to her father.
The Skeith stepped back and knelt down. “Polie, you did a very, very brave thing. The decision may have been unconsidered, but the outcome was courageous.”
Polie smiled broadly. Her father stood and motioned to the rest of the court to join them inside. He had planned a homecoming for both his daughter and Queen. There was food laden on long buffet tables of many different things. Polie took a deep breath and smelled in the assortment of food.
As they sat down, Polie sat to the right of her father. She dug into the nearest omelet’s she could find and gulped down as much milk as possible. She was starving. So much so, that she nearly forgot to ask her father the most important question.
When she had swallowed, she asked her father breathlessly, “Who was Gingernova?”
Her father glanced in Polie’s direction and laughed, “Gingernova the Third? You don’t remember Gingy?”
Polie shook her head, waiting for her father to explain.
“Gingy is Berna’s son. You too used to play together when you were younger. I used to tell you two stories all the time,” her father explained. Polie thought back and remembered a Kougra in her past, but she couldn’t picture his face. It had been many years since Berna had brought Gingy over to the castle.
“Stories about the First Valiant Command?” Polie asked, eyeing her father’s expression.
He chuckled again. “Yes, among others. You knew that was just a story, right?”
Polie nodded her head absently as she bit into an apple. She felt slightly stupid that she had believed Gingy, but in the end, he had helped her save her mother. And for that, she was grateful.