A Pirate's Tale: Dark Lullaby - Part Three
Adimaris gazed sadly up at the Intrepid. She shouldn't have swum away like that before - she shouldn't have said those horrible things. She knew Leglus. He may have been a pirate, but he'd never knowingly risk anyone's life, and besides, he was her only hope for finding the oyster.
Feeling more than a little guilty, she raised her hands toward the starry sky and sent forward a stream of her magic bubbles. She watched in amusement as a few of the pirates aboard the fearsome ship swatted the bubbles away in confusion. She let herself sink just below the surface as some of them looked down into the water for the source of the mysterious bubbles, chuckling to herself slightly.
Something was making his face itchy, and whatever it was was annoyingly persistent. Leglus had just managed to really fall asleep, and groaned angrily while trying to swat the blasted thing away. Whatever it was kept coming back.
"Arrrghhh!" he groaned in his most piratey voice, and he shot forward and opened his eyes. Floating just a few centimeters in front of his nose was a perfect blue bubble. Anger quickly vanishing, he took a breath of relief. "Adi."
"Well, it's about time," the Maraquan Gelert teased as she saw a pirate Xweetok emerge on the deck of the ship.
The Xweetok took a quick look around, and then seemed to jump a little. "Dezeronto!" she thought she heard him say. She couldn't hear what the pirate Uni - apparently Dezeronto - was saying, but Leglus answered with, "I was just thinking I could use a swim, that's all."
"At this hour?" replied a cold, deep voice. Adimaris barely suppressed a shudder as the Uni chuckled darkly. "Well, alright. Don't stray too far though, Swabby."
As the intimidating Uni disappeared somewhere to the starboard end of the ship, she watched Leglus sneak toward the side and then, in one swift motion, dive off. The splash that followed made a small wave, and then his head emerged.
"Adi?" he whispered, looking around in the dark.
"Over here," she replied, and waved a little for his benefit. He must have seen her, because his dark shape began swimming her way.
"Adi!" he said when he reached her, "Adi, I am so sorry, I-"
"Shh," she interrupted, putting a finger on her lips to hush him, "I know. I am too."
"No," he said, shivering slightly in the frigid water, "No, you were right. I was stupid and selfish. And I'm going to make it right."
Adimaris smiled, and then muttered a few strange words. The waters around them grew slightly warmer as she finished her spell.
"Thanks," Leglus said, visibly relaxing in the warmer water. "Now... mind telling me what that blasted oyster thing actually is?"
Adimaris sighed. "I told you, it's a magical artifact - an ancient one. Caylis told me about it once, though I assumed it was a myth. It belonged to an evil water faerie."
"One of the Drenched?" Leglus asked.
She shook her head, "No, not according to Caylis, anyway, one much worse than them."
She watched Leglus shiver again, though she knew it had nothing to do with the water.
"Anyway," the Maraquan Gelert continued, "Apparently the Darkest Faerie made it for her, hundreds of years ago. That black and purple stuff you said came out of it - that's dark magic. A spell, actually, that will drag whoever it hits into a deep sleep."
"So this water faerie used it to put her enemies to sleep?" the pirate Xweetok asked her, "I could see how that would be useful... but where is she now?"
Adimaris shrugged her scaly shoulders. "No one knows. She disappeared when the oyster did. She was already very old when she had it, so even though faeries live for an extremely long time, there's really no telling if she's still alive... but she might be."
Leglus nodded. "So what do we do?"
"You stay aboard your pirate ship like a good boy," she ordered, "And I'm going to try to track the trail of dark magic the oyster leaves behind. If I need you, I'll know where to find you. Who did you sell the oyster to?"
"A brown Lenny," Leglus answered, "He never gave me his name, but I've seen him at the Cove before. He might still be on Krawk Island."
"Alright, then I'll start there," she said. "Don't get into any trouble while I'm gone."
The pirate Xweetok only winked at her. "No promises, darling."
She rolled her eyes at him, and then turned to swim away.
"Adi," she heard Leglus say, and she turned her head to look back at him. He was chewing on his lip a little, obviously considering his words carefully. "Well, good luck."
She smiled at him. "Thanks, Leglus."
As she dove back under the water and swam back toward Krawk Island, she couldn't help but think that Leglus really hadn't said what he'd wanted to.
"Swabby! Swabby! You just gon' sit there all day?"
Leglus jumped so high from his seat on the deck that he was almost surprised he didn't fall straight into the ocean. Blast Dezeronto and his blasted gravelly voice.
"No, sir," he replied to the pirate Uni, once he'd collected himself. "I've just finished the decks, sir, and I was... resting."
Dezeronto raised an eyebrow at the pirate Xweetok - the eyebrow above his glass eye, and then surveyed the deck with his remaining eye. It was rather disconcerting, since the fearsome first mate's glass eye obviously didn't move from Leglus.
"Hmmf," Dezeronto uttered, "Impressive work, Swabby."
Leglus felt the insides of his ears burn in pride and embarrassment, and hoped that Dezeronto didn't notice. Apparently he worked well under stress, because the deck was truly flawless. Years of grime and what had looked to Leglus suspiciously like blood stains were nowhere to be seen, and the sun reflected off of the wood gloriously. In fact, when he looked down, Leglus could almost see his reflection in it.
"But I didn't come to praise ye for your swabbin'." Dezeronto said a moment later, swiveling his real eye back in Leglus' direction.
"Oh," Leglus replied, casually running his paw over his hair, "No, of course not, sir."
Dezeronto grinned, an expression that somehow made him look even more fierce. "I've gotta job for ye, kid."
It was all the pirate Xweetok could do to keep his jaw from dropping to the deck. "For me, sir? Really?"
Dezeronto continued as if he hadn't heard him, "We're dockin' on an island in half an hour, and ye and I will head to shore. By order of the cap'n."
"W-what will we be doing?" Leglus asked.
The pirate Uni didn't answer, but turned with a clap of his hooves and began to walk away. Suddenly, he turned, "Oh, kid!" the Uni shouted.
Leglus gulped. "Yes, sir?"
"Bring a shovel."
"Wow," Leglus whispered to himself. A real job. And by order of the captain himself! Just as he was thinking this, though, another thought struck him.
"Hey!" he shouted up toward the lookout spot on top of the main mast, at one of the older pirates, a blue Shoyru named Sunny who was always friendly to him, "Did you hear? I'm going on a mission for the captain!"
He heard Sunny's high-pitched chuckle and then watched as the Shoyru glided down toward the deck. "Aye, I heard," he said as his blue feet landed softly in front of Leglus.
"Has... anyone on board ever actually seen the captain, Sunny?" It was something the pirate Xweetok had been wondering since his first day. All of the orders on the ship seemed to come from Dezeronto, and the captain always stayed in his cabin, even when they anchored.
"Only Old Dez, far as I know," Sunny said thoughtfully, "They say he's paranoid. Went out for a stroll on deck one day and them Drenched faeries started singing to him, telling him to jump off the ship."
Leglus' eyes widened, "And he did?"
Sunny nodded gravely, "Aye. So they say, anyway. He somehow managed to escape, but he's never been the same, and no one on this ship's set eye on him since. 'Cept Dez."
As Sunny finished his tale, Leglus watched Dezeronto disappear into the captain's cabin.
Leglus, of course, did all the paddling once he and Dezeronto loaded into the small boat, as Dezeronto had no hands. Thankfully, it wasn't too much of a distance, and they were stepping onto the sand of the island in no time.
"You got your shovel?" the pirate Uni asked him, surveying the area with his good eye.
"Yes, sir," Leglus replied, snatching the shovel from the bottom of the boat and thrusting it over his shoulder as he did so. "How far will we be walking, sir?"
"Not far." Dezeronto galloped out of the boat with a splash and then began to walk slowly toward the clump of trees near the shore, his thick black tail swaying behind him. Leglus followed behind dutifully.
"This island used to be what the Smugglers' Cove is now," Dezeronto told Leglus in his gravelly voice as they made their way into the trees. "Only better. Not nearly as many pirates on these seas anymore. I reckon Scarblade's scared a lot of us off, 'cept the faithful ones."
Leglus wasn't sure how to reply, so he kept silent, trying to focus on the tree roots and not trip and embarrass himself, when Dezeronto finally stopped in a small clearing.
Leglus had to totter on his tiptoes so he wouldn't run into the Uni, and then he stepped around him carefully into the clearing.
"What are ye waiting for, kid?" Dezeronto said. "Dig."
Without a moment's pause, Leglus began shoveling sand. It was actually pretty easy work. His muscled arms were used to mopping, and digging really wasn't much different. He didn't even start breaking a sweat for nearly an hour. After three hours and a huge hole, at least five feet deep and just as wide, his shovel hit something hard and wooden.
"Yeh've found it!" He heard Dezeronto say from up above.
Leglus threw his shovel out of the hole and began digging feverishly with his paws until he unearthed a huge wooden chest. "Youch!" he exclaimed, and nearly dropped it. Something had shocked him when he touched the chest, and it still almost sounded like it was buzzing.
"Excellent work, gentlemen," said an unfamiliar voice. Leglus looked up in surprise, which quickly turned to fear.
Surrounding him and Dezeronto were at least twenty fiendish pirates, and in front of them was the Lenny he'd sold the oyster to at the cove.
"Now..." the Lenny began threateningly, and made a slight motion with one of his wings. From out of the crowd stepped a huge Skeith, holding in his arms a struggling Maraquan Gelert.
"Adi!" Leglus screamed, and though he wanted to leap out of the hole, his legs wouldn't seem to move. He watched in horror as the Skeith raised a dagger to her neck with a grin.
"I found this one tailing me as I left Krawk Island," the Lenny said with a dastardly chuckle. "Now... you have something that I want. Give me the chest."
To be continued...