Better than Scones
Rose and Alexa skipped into the toy shop paw-in-paw, tugging their favorite plushies with them, Alexa with her Jacques Plushie and Rose with her Garin Plushie. The friends were devoted fans of the Black Pawkeet and all of its adventures.
Every day, early in the morning, Alexa would burst into the Salty Stahkee and pull the Usul from her work. The two would head down to Ye Old Trinket Shoppe and gazed for hours at the replica of the Black Pawkeet. They had wished to buy it all their lives, but neither could ever scrounge up enough money.
Of course, Rose eventually had to return to the Salty Stahkee, having to do odds and ends jobs her cruel owner came up for her.
“Alexa,” the Usul said, looking up at the clock on the wall, “I gotta go... Ben’s expecting me home early...”
“A home isn’t much of a home if it don’t love you...” her Kyrii friend grumbled, leaning up against the front counter.
“I have to go...” Rose said. “I know you don’t like Ben, but he’s the only family I’ve got. It’s not my fault he doesn’t take kindly to street pets.”
Alexa snorted irritably.
“Yeah,” she snapped, “and it’s not my fault I don’t take kindly to owners who mistreat their pets! You should live with me.”
“That’s just it, Alexa,” she pointed out. “You don’t live anywhere. I’m sorry, but I have to go...”
Alexa watched sadly as her best friend walked out the door, the bell announcing her departure.
“I just hate ta see you be so unhappy...” She shrugged hopelessly, turning back to the counter.
She peered over the desk to the back shelf. The Black Pawkeet stood proudly on its little stand, calling her by name. Alexa squeezed Jacques.
“Still 200 NP,” the shopkeeper said, pointing to the price tag.
“I know...” Alexa headed toward the door.
After leaving Ye Old Trinket Shoppe, she ran for the Salty Stahkee.
The briney breeze signature to Krawk Island’s ports reminded her of her father’s smell when he left for sea that day... that day he never came back. No matter, she always had her Jacques Plushie, and he was family enough.
Alexa splashed through a puddle, sending a flock of kateils flying, squawking in alarm.
When she reached the market, she slowed down, taking her time in looking at the different stalls and their goods.
“Jewels beyond your wildest dreams!”
“Cinnamon and Sugar Scones! Get yur fresh Cinnamon and Sugar Scones, tew for only 100 Neopoints!”
The smell of the hot scones made Alexa’s mouth water. If she and Rose pooled their money, they might be able to afford the tempting pastries.
She took off running, not being able to wait to tell Rose about the tasty offer.
In fact, she ran so fast she nearly collided with two sailors at a booth down the way who were arguing over the price of supplies.
“Sorry, sirs!” the eight-year-old Kyrii cried over her shoulder, still sprinting as fast as she could, “Sorry!”
Alexa burst into the Salty Stahkee, jogging to the counter where Rose was washing a pile of dirty dishes.
“Rose! The vender in the Goodies Stall is selling Cinnamon and Sugar Scones: two for only 100 NP! How much money d’ya got?”
Rose dropped the dish towel. She dug into her dress pocket and pulled out the small burlap sack she kept her allowance in.
“10... 15... 25... uh-”
“ROSE!” a gruff voice shouted from the back room.
Oh, no. The friends shared a horrified expression.
Alexa ducked underneath the counter sill, praying the human wouldn’t notice her. She crawled carefully towards the door.
“Rose--what do you think you’re doing?!” the gruff voice was closer now.
“Uh-um... Ben--I mean, sir, I didn’t--I mean, I was just...”
“Stop your mumbling! You were going to go down to the market with that dirty, mangy little brat you call a friend, weren’t you?!”
Alexa grimaced. She despised Ben with a passion. Why, if she had the strength-
She peeked around the corner. Two large boots were peeking back.
With a muffled yelp, she slunk back to the other side of the counter. There was no escape this time...
“See this?!” the voice screamed. Ben was probably waving Rose’s Garin Plushie around by now. “If you want this,-get it!”
The two big boots walked over to the door and threw the toy into the alley. Garin landed in a mud puddle. Alexa choked, squeezing Jacques tighter.
“But don’t show yer sorry face ‘round this inn ever again, you homeless slime!” Ben seized Rose roughly by her collar and threw her into alley after her beloved plushie.
“You can’t do that!” Alexa rushed forward, forgetting her hiding spot in her blind fury. “Y-you no-good, despicable, ol’ Scarblade!”
Alexa kicked and spat at the human.
“Yew can join her too!” The boots kicked her out the door.
Alexa skidded on the dusty ground. She sat up, dusting Jacques off with care.
“You’ll regret this,” she snapped.
The door slammed.
Rose sat up, looking down at her muddied, blue dress in dismay. The dress had always complimented her blue fur, but now it seemed to compliment the ground more.
“Sorry, Rose,” Alexa apologized, helping her friend on her feet, “I should have known better than ta go in there...”
“It was bound to happen...” Rose plucked Garin out of the muck, doing her best to spruce him up.
“Hey,” Alexa nudged her friend energetically, “how ‘bout those scones?”
Rose tucked the Plushie under her arm with a grin.
“Excuse me,” Alexa called over the counter, “two scones, please...”
“That’ll be 100 NP,” the Jetsam answered.
Alexa pulled the loose Neopoints out of her brown skirt’s pocket.
“I’ve got 46 Neopoints--how ‘bout you?”
Rose set her newly-cleaned Garin Plushie on the counter.
“Um... 25-50-54! There, that’s all we need, right?”
The merchant watched them greedily.
“Yeah-yeah, that’s all you need...”
Rose pushed her Neopoints into her friend’s pile.
The jetsam snatched Rose’s plushie off the counter top.
“Hey!” Rose cried, throwing herself onto the table, “what do you think you’re doin’?!”
“Where do you think you got this, ya liddle beggar?! Stole it of’n a shelf?!”
“You give that back!”
Alexa ran into the stall. “Don’t ya dare try ta steal that from my friend! Thief!”
She jumped into the scuffle, kicking and biting the shopkeeper.
“Away! Both’a yew!”
He tossed the two out into the road with a sneer.
Alexa looked down--oh no! He had stolen Jacques too!
“Oh! You’re just a big Scarblade!”
Alexa threw a loose stone at the stall. It harmlessly bounced off the counter.
The scuffle had attracted the attention of several bystanders.
“C’mon, Rose... the dumb Jetsam...”
The friends glumly turned away. Their luck seemed to be getting worse and worse.
“What can Ah do’ya fer, gents?”
A blade announced its arrival with a shing.
The friends glanced back at the stall.
The two sailors Alexa had run into earlier that day were confronting the shopkeeper!
“Do you know who they are?!” Rose whispered in her ear.
Alexa didn’t need an explanation; the amazing blue dagger the Usul was playing with said it all!
“Captain Garin!” Rose hissed.
“Don’t forget Jacques!”
The duo grinned at each other.
“Don’t think we didn’t see what just happened here,” Garin growled, “why dontcha try stealin’ somethin’ from someone your own size--like me?”
The tip of Garin’s sword had found its way to the thief’s throat.
“N-no! That’ll be all right, sir! I-I’m f-fine!”
The heroic Usul’s counterpart, Jacques, was leaning calmly against the stall’s support column, resting his paw gently on the hilt of his saber.
“I think you owe these fine ladies something,” he noted, not looking at the shopkeeper, but at the eight-year-olds’ dumbstruck stares.
“Y-yes... of course...” the Jetsam numbly grabbed the plushies from under the counter and passed them to the pirate. “A-and, take this--no thanks r-required.” He pulled a bag of Neopoints out and sat it next to the toys.
“Don’t worry,” Captain Garin snapped, “we won’t.”
Jacques took the plushies and looked them over. The pirate laughed at the resemblance.
“Here,” he said, handing them back to their rightful owners, “take good care of them.”
“And keep out of trouble,” Garin added, dropping the bag at their feet with a wink.
The friends exchanged thrilled expressions. “Yes, sir!”
With that, the two took their new-found treasures and took off down the street.
“You’re sure you want that one?” Ye Old Trinkets Shoppe shopkeeper asked, gesturing to the replica of the Black Pawkeet.
The girls nodded fervently.
“All right... I don’t know how you two got the money, but here you go...” The Ogrin passed a carefully wrapped parcel to the beaming children, “be careful--it’s practically an antique...”
“We will!” they cried in unison.
“Ya know what, Alexa?” Rose asked, her excitement hard to contain.
“What?” the red Kyrii squirmed in anticipation.
“This is better than scones...”
The friends scampered out the door, laughing the entire way.