A Second Chance: Part Ten
"Malcolm!" Abigail cried.
"Abigail, no!" Malcolm screamed.
Gunpowder at first appeared to not hear Abigail's cry, concentrating on aiming at his target's heart. Abigail dropped down to Malcolm and fell over him, unknowingly putting herself in the line of fire. Hastily Malcolm pushed Abigail to the ground when a shot fired.
Jane, startled by the loud bang, turned to face the helm to see Abigail fall to the deck. Her eyes widened in horror as her jaw dropped. "No... no! Abbie!" she shrieked.
Garin's grip on the helm stairs tightened. At first he could not tell who had taken the bolt, or if Gunpowder's shot missed all together. Sweat trickled down the sides of his face.
As the smoke from the fire cleared, Gunpowder stared down at the deck to discover the outcome of his shot. He was mildly surprised to discover it seemed he had made a double target. Abigail gripped her shoulder tightly. She was bleeding severely and quivering from the shock. She glanced down at her red hand covering her small, wounded shoulder protectively; the bolt had sliced through her flesh. The only question that remained was where did the shot go?
She looked just behind her to see blood soaking Malcolm's chest and black cloak. The Gelert stared at Abigail; the both of them were injured, but he had taken the worst of it.
"Malcolm," she whispered hoarsely, forgetting about herself entirely. "Malcolm!"
He gripped his teeth in pain as he fell into Abigail's arms. His weight placed pressure on her chest, but she tried her hardest to support him.
"Abigail... your shoulder! You're bleeding..." he said weakly.
"I don't care... you're the one who's far more hurt," Abigail replied, forgetting that Gunpowder loomed over them in shock.
"Two bleed with one bolt, and yet not die," Gunpowder hissed in contempt. He then disposed of his useless crossbow and replaced it with a short knife. "I will fix that."
"Not if I have a say in it," came a voice from behind.
Gunpowder George's eyes averted. Garin stood behind him with his maractite sword held in air, the point inches from his throat.
The Pirate Gnorbu chuckled with a snort. "And what's a small Usul like ye gonna do about it yerself? Yer all alone, yer crew subdued."
"Oh, they're just fine," Garin replied casually with a growing smirk. He nodded his head to the Pawkeet's main deck. "It's your crew you should be worried about."
Gunpowder scowled fiercely and whirled around to a shocking scene. Garin's crew stood unbound on the deck with Gunpowder's only surviving crew members pinned to the deck in defeat. Some were bound in rope. Some had even disappeared. Gunpowder's once furious eyes had changed to disgrace and utter alarm, as well as the dreadful feeling of submission.
Garin leaned in close to Gunpowder's ear with gritted teeth and the sword point pricking the burly neck. Powerful words came from his mouth. "Get off my ship."
Gunpowder snarled, swallowing his pride and accepting to surrender. "Retreat, ye dogs! There's nothin' left fer us 'ere!"
With that, the pirate crew of the Salty Gale fled, as quickly and as passionately as they came, leaving an air of calm over the Black Pawkeet. Garin grinned triumphantly at the sight of the enemy ship sail away as fast as the winds could carry them, and as fast as the deteriorated crew could work. For a moment Garin heard Gunpowder's enraged voice echo with his loss of dignity.
A roar of cheers cried out from the young crew as Gwen emerged from the cabin, assisting a limping Jacques on handmade crutches so he could join the victory.
Garin felt a surge of pride and began to rush down the steps to celebrate with his shipmates, but stopped. He looked up, seeing Abigail hover over a pale-faced Shadow Gelert who seemed to be slowly failing and fading, his breaths heavy and labored.
"No, Malcolm, you can't die. You can't die, Malcolm! Please!" Abigail begged as she sobbed.
Suddenly, Garin's ears perked up to hear tiny footsteps coming up to the helm. It was Jane.
"Abigail!" Jane exclaimed in relief. "You're alright! I—''
Jane stopped abruptly to see Abigail's Gelert friend bleeding in her arms. She gasped in shock.
"Gwen! Get up here!" Jane shouted over the huzzahs down on the lower deck. The Acara looked up with sharp awareness, sensing something was wrong in the Aisha's tone. She called on Talak and a few other mates as they followed her.
"Malcolm, listen to me. Keep fighting, okay?" Abigail pleaded as she winced from her shoulder.
Malcolm managed a weak smile as he reached up to touch Abigail's cheek. "Abigail... I did what needed done. We... we... found Jane..."
His words only stirred more of Abigail's tears. She wanted to tell him everything, but she could not speak as her throat tightened, preventing her to do nothing else than cry.
Gwen knelt by Abigail and Malcolm, studying their wounds with intent scrutiny.
"What happened?" Jane said with a small whimper.
"It appears that they were both shot, by the small bolt," Gwen responded as she examined Abigail's bloody shoulder soaking her T shirt. "Abigail, that shoulder needs urgent attention."
"What about Malcolm?" Abigail asked. "Please, you must do something!"
Gwen's eyes trailed down to Malcolm, who somehow managed to keep breathing with a bolt in his chest. Her face turned crestfallen, heightening Abigail's grief. The young girl grabbed the Acara's arm. "Please, please I beg you. Please save him!"
Gwen knew that Malcolm's required immediate surgery, else he would die. She looked up at Talak and the crew. "Go fetch my medical bag, boys! Step lively!" Her voice was fierce as they obeyed. She turned to Garin and Talak. "Carry him to the cabin."
Abigail watched as Garin and Talak heaved the black clad Shadow Gelert into their arms and carefully led him down the steps to the cabin. Jane approached her owner's side with developing sadness and sympathy in her eyes. Abigail covered her mouth as fresh tears trailed down her face. She looked down at her blue Aisha, and scooped her up in her arms, cuddling her for comfort.
Since the captain's cabin was in no shape for resting, Abigail and Jane settled in the crew's cabin. Still, no one could escape Malcolm's agonized yells as Gwen performed the surgery. Abigail tensed before his pain-filled cries, and afterwards moaned, wondering if she would hear more screams, or dead silence. Hours past as this; the crew remained quiet as well as respectful on Abigail's behalf, turning to duties whenever their captain called for them. Abigail's shoulder was cared for by shipmates that Gwen had been teaching for several months. She sat with Jane, stroking her long blonde tangled hair. Her shoulder was tightly bandaged.
Eventually, at nightfall, Gwen descended down into the crew's cabin, wiping her paws on a handkerchief meticulously. Abigail's head shot up to see the doctor as hope filled her soul; but, she cringed, remembering how she hadn't heard Malcolm cry for several minutes.
However, a soft, reassuring smile spread over Gwen's face. "He's made it."
Tears of joy flooded Abigail's eyes as Jane looked up at her owner with a smile that filled her soul with sunshine. The crew smiled as well as conversation began to buzz in the room.
"May we go see him, Miss Gwen?" Abigail asked politely, standing up with Jane's paw gripped in her hand.
"You may," Gwen returned with a nod. "He is weakened by the shot. Infection is always a possibility for that great of a wound, but as long as his bandages are cleaned and replaced on a regular basis, he is set for a speedy recovery."
Abigail grinned, hugging Gwen gratefully. "Thank you, thank you so much!"
Led by the Acara doctor to a cabin down the small hall below deck, Abigail found herself staring into the sparkling, smiling eyes of her companion who lay in a cot with his chest wrapped in white bandages.
"Abigail," Malcolm fared to whisper.
"Try not to talk very much, Malcolm," Abigail said as she approached his side. Her smile warmed his heart. "I can never repay you for what you've done for me."
Malcolm chuckled, "I have worried you for the past three hours."
"Because I thought you... I thought..." Abigail's voice faltered.
"I should be thanking you, Abigail," Malcolm said. "I would have died, but you took half the force from the bolt, the doctor tells me. It was slowed when it passed your shoulder."
Abigail placed a hand over Malcolm's paw on the bed. "Malcolm, Captain Garin says we should be landing at Mystery Island by tomorrow afternoon. They sighted the island just before sunset."
"I won't be leaving the ship for some time," Malcolm replied. "Gwen said a minimum of two months; one of strict bed rest and the next month I promised to assist the crew so I can fully recover."
Malcolm could see the obvious sadness in her eyes and added, "I'll be alright here, Abigail. Garin and his crew are not like the pirates you and I have seen. There's something... different about them."
"Promise me you'll be safe?" Abigail said. Malcolm tightened her hand in his. He smiled.
Jane gazed at the sun as the light rose steadily over the horizon, reflecting on the sea in a million sparkles. Mystery Island loomed ahead, her home she had left behind for so long. She breathed in the salty gusts as the Black Pawkeet preparing to make berth. The sea itself had been her home, and in such a short time she had become accustomed to the ship. She sighed, feeling the glum sense of returning to normal life.
"Come on, Jane! It's time to go!" Abigail shouted behind her as she began her descent to the wharf. Suddenly, she stumbled as a nearby shipmate grabbed her arm.
"Be careful, miss. You're still used to sea legs," he advised.
Jane reluctantly followed behind her owner when she saw Garin and surprisingly Jacques standing on the wharf.
"Garin! Jacques!" she exclaimed and ran up to hug each of them, making sure she was careful with Jacques, who, usually standing tall, was supported on a crutch.
"We wanted to thank you before you left," Jacques said. "We are in your debt."
"Aye," Garin added.
"But remember that I am in your debt too," Jane pointed out.
Garin lifted a brow and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Well, now that you put it that way—''
Jacques managed to nudge him silent in his side as Garin grunted. "You are always welcome on the Black Pawkeet, Jane, and we consider you a crewmember. If you'd like, you could join us."
Jane's eyes lit up at his proposal and she glanced at Abigail, who was obviously shocked and a little uneasy. The owner and her Neopet exchanged eye contact for several minutes until Jane came to a conclusion that she was oddly content with.
"It would be an honor to sail with you, but I've been away from home long enough," said Jane.
Abigail smiled and sighed in relief. Garin and Jacques chuckled. "Remember, if you need anything, we're not that far away." Jacques winked.
"Wait," Jane said abruptly and a smile crept upon her face. "There is one thing..."
Three months later, Nereid the water faerie swam to the entrance of her grotto to find a sunken message in a bottle in the sand. Curiously she pried the cork from the mouth of the bottle and unraveled the paper and began reading the message inscribed:
I have wonderful news for you! After a long and perilous journey, I have finally made it safely back home to my owner, Abigail. I have met many new friends along the way whom I will never forget. After meeting Yara (and her two Mutant Jetsams, Zolan and Harpo), I was given back my legs and sent back to the surface world. There, I sought refuge on a pirate ship called the Black Pawkeet, where I met Captain Garin, his first mate Jacques, and his crew. It was there I remained below deck without their knowledge for three days enduring the pain of my new legs and they discovered me. You'd be surprised to know that they are not like other pirates! The ship's doctor, Gwen took great care of me. A short time after that however, a bloodthirsty pirate called Captain Gunpowder George attacked the ship. Jacques was injured with a broken leg, and there was when Abigail and I crossed paths! She later told me that a Shadow Gelert named Malcolm helped her to overcome her fear of the sea, and they went out to find me. However, Malcolm had a score to settle with Gunpowder George, and he nearly lost his life, but Gwen saved him. Shortly after that we bid farewell to Garin and his crew, but I hope to someday see them again! Abigail will see her friend again too, who is rehabilitating on the Black Pawkeet. The bond of love between Abigail and me has strengthened during the course of both of our journeys that were destined to meet in the middle. When we first got home though, we talked for hours, and then she grounded me for two months. But Abbie is no longer afraid of the sea! We spend long days taking picnics on the beach and even swimming in the ocean! We're also saving enough neopoints to buy our own sailboat in the future. All of this would have been impossible without you or Yara. I can't explain in words how thankful I am to be reunited with my owner again.
Abigail smiled as she finished reading the letter, looking at Jane who had an empty bottle and a cork in her paws. The Aisha gently rolled up the letter and dropped it through the neck of the bottle, placing the cork in its mouth. As a gentle sea wind blew through their hair, Jane turned to Garin and Jacques, holding out the bottle. Garin smiled and took it.
"Can you make sure this gets to Nereid?"
"You bet," Garin winked.
Bidding a final farewell, Abigail and Jane watched as the Black Pawkeet sailed away. The owner and her Neopet glanced at each other, smiled, and embraced.