Secret of the North Beach
"Come on, Streakly!" cried out Slevende as she fluttered over the Mystery Island jungle.
Some Neopians overlook the long, dense jungle surrounding Geraptiku. It's the biggest jungle on Mystery Island. It is filled with secrets. On the other side is a beach. The beach is a smooth, sandy place for a little while, but eventually it begins to be just a whole bunch of big rocks. There is a small cave sitting at the end of the stretch of rocks, and a strip of wet sand leading in front of the cave and onto another, much smaller beach. The jungle closes up around the beach and the cave. This area isn't on the Mystery Island map. Nobody ever goes there.
Slevende and Streakly didn't know why. That summer they had started to go there very often. Every day the speckled Eyrie and the Tyrannian Kougra explored the island. They went through the jungle, and they often ended up on "the deserted beach" as they called it. They splashed in the water, jumped on the rocks, and explored the small cave. The cave was odd. There were various odds and ends all over it. There were little rags and shiny buttons. Once they found a rusty old dagger, and a few times they found dubloon coins. They thought maybe somebody had once lived there. Slevende had a bad feeling that maybe somebody else was visiting the cave, and so did Streakly. They stayed away from it after they discovered the dagger.
"Come on, Streakly!" repeated Slevende.
It was a very hot day, and the regular beach was very crowded. Slevende and Streakly didn't feel like going to the south beach (the Tombola guy always hung around there in a way Slevende and Streakly found a bit creepy) or the east beach (the island market and the trading post cluttered up the beach so much). They decided to head into the shady jungle and go where they felt like going. They could head over to the clear, beautiful pool of water in the jungle near the north beach. So they headed in. They ended up floating in the water on the north beach. They got out of the water after a little while, dried off, and began to skip from rock to rock. Soon they were over on the strip of wet sand leading to the tiny beach and the cave.
"Let's go back," said Slevende warily. "This part gives me the creeps."
"Yeah. . ." said Streakly.
But then they both saw a frightening sight. A big pirate ship was sailing towards them. It was going to stop very near to them. They did the only thing they could do before the pirates saw them. They darted into the cave and hid behind a large boulder. The pirates landed on the shore. They walked into the very cave where the two pets were hiding. They were frightening, really. They were big and burly and crafty-looking. They carried sacks of loot, and fear pierced Slevende's heart. This was a pirate trading place, and she knew it. The deserted beach had been purposely deserted and forgotten. Pirates had driven everyone away.
"Well, th' old place looks pretee much t'e same," said a pirate Bori with a rough Krawk Island accent. "A few things are missing here and thar, but it's a regular pirate meetin' place, so I'm not surprised!"
The pirates settled in, sitting down on boulders and on the ground.
"If thar late, they'll 'ave t'e worst of our loot!" said a pirate Kacheek, shaking his paw.
A pirate Gnorbu sat down on the boulder Slevende and Streakly were behind. He appeared to be the leader.
"D'you sense somethin' not right hereabouts?" he said, with the roughest accent of all who had spoken. "Somebody or somethin' else is sittin' here hidin' from us."
He looked behind the boulder and began to laugh when he saw the two pets.
"Arr, this is a hoot, this is!" he gasped. "Two regular pets sittin' here! In a pirate's hideout! Ah, th' days when we used to see this often are long past, ain't they?"
He then seized Slevende and Streakly by the necks and threw them in the center of the pirates.
"Fine captives those 'uns will make!" chortled a pirate Bruce. "Fine captives! We could make a profit off of those 'uns!"
Just then, another group of pirates, this one just slightly larger than the other, walked in. And standing in front of the rest was a very different kind of Usul. He wasn't painted pirate. He was yellow, but not that silky, bright, girly yellow on regular yellow Usuls. His mane was the same color as the rest of his fur. He was, however, wearing pirate clothes. He was unmistakable.
"Garin," gasped Slevende.
He stepped into the cave, and the rest of the crew followed behind at a distance. He surveyed the other pirates and then he saw Slevende and Streakly. Amusement filled his eyes at the sight of the scared pets.
"Captives, right?" he said.
"O' course, Capt'in Garin," said the Gnorbu. "Are you lookin' to buy 'em?"
"Well, that depends on yer price, Capt'in Morvin," said Garin. "Ten dubloons for 'em?"
"Much more than that!" said the Gnorbu. "I'll settle for twenty."
Slevende and Streakly were pushed over to the other group of pirates. They didn't dare to make a run for it, because there were menacing pirates all around them. Garin pushed over the dubloons and grabbed a coarse rope from a bag. He tied up both the pets tightly and pushed them into the entrance of the cave. They lay there in an uncomfortable position as the pirates discussed prices on items.
"Arr, no, no!" they heard somebody say. "It's worth a lot more than that!"
Garin and his crew were good bargainers. A huge pile of things soon surrounded Streakly and Slevende. Then Garin and his crew sat down in the cave and began to talk to the pirates. And boy, that took a long time. Several of the pirates had some strange mixes you could pour into water and it would become an odd-smelling drink, and the pirates seemed to love the stuff. They each had a cask of the stuff and they drank deeply from them as they talked, sang pirate songs, and played pirate games. When it all seemed to be wrapping up at about four in the afternoon, the pirates all got up, stretched, and then sat down again. They picked their teeth with daggers and swords and abandoned their drinks. They had a little dueling tournament that lasted a long while, and at about 6:00 it all really ended.
Garin then told his crew to gather the loot. He grabbed one of the ropes holding Slevende in one hand and one of the ropes holding Streakly in the other, and dragged them across the sand. Then he threw them onto the deck of the ship. It was hard, cold wood, and Slevende and Streakly were soon very uncomfortable. The pirates started the ship going, and Slevende was left to stare at Mystery Island growing smaller and smaller as the ship got further out to sea. As soon as they could no longer swim back, Garin cut the ropes they were bound in with a sharp dagger.
"Well, captives, I've got tasks assigned to you," he said. "Here's the deal. Eyrie, can ya cook?"
"First of all, my name's Slevende," said Slevende with an offended air. "And I guess I'm okay at cooking. But not really. My owner was going to teach me to cook this year, but you've come a bit too early, master."
"Well, MY name is Captain Garin, and you are going to address me like that," growled Garin. "Can you clean?"
"Everyone can clean!" snarled Slevende.
"Well, that's not true," said Garin. "Start cleaning. Here's a broom, a rag, a mop, and some water."
Garin held out the objects to her. She began to swab the deck with the mop. Then Garin turned to Streakly.
"You'll be the newest member of the crew," he said.
"Wait, so HE gets to be a member of the crew just because he's a boy?" demanded Slevende.
"Yep," said Garin.
"Well, I think that's the most-" Slevende began. "Well, I guess if I argue I get thrown overboard."
Garin made no reply, and he walked away to do his captain duties. Slevende fiercely mopped with her mop. Soon, Jacques noticed how she was scrubbing and walked over.
"Yer not scrubbin' right!" he said.
"Well, it's not like I'm being paid to do this," said Slevende coolly.
"Ye may not be bein' paid, but ye have to do a better job than that!" he said.
Slevende rolled her eyes.
"Look, I'm sick of this!" she yelled. "Fifteen minutes on this ship and I'm already impatient! You pirates don't scare me! I don't care what you do to me, but I demand to be taken back to my home and you can never go there again!!!"
Jacques looked mildly impressed.
"Nice try," he said. "But you've got spunk. I'll tell you what, we'll make you a member of the crew, okay? Just to make you happy. Now go and watch out the telescope. Tell the captain if ye see anythin'."
There was something different about Garin and Jacques than the other pirates. They didn't have real Krawk Island accents. They had light accents, but not the shockingly heavy ones like the Gnorbu captain back in the cave. Slevende flew up to the telescope and looked out. She saw nothing but water. Something jolted inside her stomach. She was frightened. She hadn't been truly frightened until now, but now she was. She was a member of a pirate crew, sailing somewhere, probably Krawk Island, and she was alone and afraid. Anything could happen. She could end up being killed. She wasn't a trained fighter. What if they went to Krawk Island and she had to fight a pirate? Slevende stared at the ocean through the telescope sadly. Suddenly a voice made her jump.
"You know, I'm not planning on keeping you and your brother as captives," said Garin. "I bought you two so that you wouldn't have to go to that other captain. But I don't keep captives on this ship. I kept you and acted like other pirates do with their captives just in case that other crew had their eye on us--I didn't want to make a bad impression on them. But I've a mind to turn back and take you home now. Unless, of course, you'd like to stay and be a crew member. A real crew member who shares in the loot, of course."
Slevende felt a lurch in her stomach.
"If I stayed," she said slowly, "would you train me to fight?"
"Sure," said Garin.
Slevende suddenly felt a soaring feeling. She was being offered the opportunity of a lifetime. The freedom of being a pirate would be. . .Well, amazing. The opportunity flashed before her eyes. Always on the sea, always free, going wherever whenever. Wouldn't it be amazing? But suddenly Slevende felt guilty. She loved her family. She could NOT abandon them like this. She had to go back, back to her owner, back to her siblings. Besides, Streakly would want to go back.
"I hate to say no. . ." said Slevende. "But I have to. I have a family that I love. My brother and I need to go back."
Garin nodded. The two went back to get Streakly. The ship was already heading for the island. Before Slevende and Streakly went back, Garin said:
"If you're in a tight spot at any point and you need a pirate's help, don't hesitate to ask us for it. Once a crew member, always a crew member."
Slevende smiled. Then she headed back home, where she could be safe and happy. Streakly and Slevende didn't go to the north beach anymore, because they didn't want to risk being captured by a pirate crew that wouldn't release them. But they always remembered their short time on the ship.