The Merchant's Mayhem: Part One
"Someone cast the anchor!"
"Wait a second. Did I hear that right? Cast the anchor? We just left port!"
"Must I repeat myself?"
"Ah... no. I'll get on it."
The commotion was increasing and the words were becoming jumbled as various voices tried to protest and question an arising problem. The Silver Kazeriu had only been sailing for ten minutes, and why it had just suddenly come to an abrupt halt was beyond Captain Marcilli's understanding. In all the years that Marcilli's beautiful merchant ship sailed Neopia's vast seas, it had never ceased for anyone or anything. It was in part attributed to her superior leadership, but she refused to accept herself as the sole driving force behind the ship and gave nearly all of the credit to her talented and dedicated fourteen-man crew. Marcilli's crew was extremely capable of detecting a problem before it arose to be serious and always maintained the Silver Kazeriu in pristine condition. Because of the high level of skill on board, she expected the problem- whatever it was- to be taken care of in minutes and for the ship to take off any moment coming. But the massive Silver Kazeriu stayed dormant on the quiet sea under the vivid yellow and orange Krawk Island sunrise. And Marcilli, who had made herself comfortable in the confines of her snug office, was not pleased with its lack of sailing.
"Whoever it is... they aren't leaving!"
"Aim and fire if that will get us on our way!"
"There will be no need for that, men! We shall deal with this in the most civilized manner possible."
The white Draik that was sitting at her desk stacked high with paperwork slowly rose to face the door where the muffled voices were coming from. The commotion outside was faint, but the remarks being made revealed nothing about what was happening She was tempted to barge outside and search for an explanation pertaining to the Kazeriu's stalling, but she opted to hang back for a few more moments. "What in the world is happening...?" Marcilli muttered to herself and strained to listen for any more sounds of uproar.
"The Kazeriu can easily run over that dingy of a ship!"
"Then what are we waiting for?"
"Conduct no action until I consult with the captain, understood?"
"Crystal clear, Arwman!"
Marcilli smiled to herself, knowing well that she would be dragged into this after all. The Draik lowered herself back into her chair and waited patiently to be approached by a member of her crew. Her small office was at the front of her living quarters that took up half of the second deck, just the right size for a desk, chairs, and hanging lantern. She split her time between her office and outside on the main deck, watching over her crew to make sure everything was running smoothly on her prized Silver Kazeriu. But there was really no need for constant checkups, as Marcilli's crew rarely did anything wrong. The fourteen-man crew was full of strong, capable individuals either looking to start in the merchant business or just faithful workers in it for the sights and sounds of sailing. The Silver Kazeriu being docked in the middle of the sea, however, was not in her definition of things "running smoothly." An explanation of the ship's stalling was needed fast before the captain went out to find the problem for herself.
Thankfully a crew member read Marcilli's mind and arrived to report the surprise mishap to her. There were five rapid taps against the door, and Marcilli beckoned for whoever it was to enter. She was well aware that it could only be one person, as everyone else was timid to call for the captain when she was cooped up in her quarters. As the door swung open, the visitor was revealed to be Arwman, a robust brown Eyrie who was chief officer of the Silver Kazeriu and second-in-command to Marcilli. He was a loyal, straight-to-business crew member that had been working for Marcilli for years and showed no signs of slowing down.
"Arwman, what's happened out there?" asked Marcilli with a hint of annoyance in her voice. She quickly dropped her quill on her desk after realizing that she was tapping the feather against her face, unconsciously waiting to be informed of the unusual event.
"We've got some... company." Arwman's voice lowered as the last word escaped his mouth. A mix of frustration and puzzlement had replaced his usual glower. "We're not too sure how to proceed with this."
"Oh. Well then, take them down if needed or the problem persists," Marcilli replied absentmindedly. In all the years she had been sailing, no ship and its crew had ever come close to fighting hers. She found that a simple warning shot usually scared the meager vessels off.
"No need for that. He's hardly a threat," Arwman insisted.
Hardly a threat? Nothing that was "hardly a threat" would throw the Kazeriu in such a ridiculous dilemma. The captain was baffled, and rightfully so, as Arwman always immediately complied with her orders. "If so, why did we stop for them?" she asked tersely.
"At first he was in our path," the Eyrie scowled. "And then he kept calling out your name."
Well, this was a slight predicament. Apparently the engaging fellow knew Marcilli. Just how well did they know her to interrupt her sailing? "I see," the white Draik mused and slipped past Arwman. Each hasty click in her step along the creaking floorboards signaled that she was ready to deal with the supposed stranger. "It better not be who I think it is."
Unfortunately, it was.
Marcilli stepped out of her living quarters and emerged onto the main deck, eyeing her crew standing shoulder to shoulder over the side of the ship. Their swords that reflected the strong and blinding rays of the sun were drawn to prevent whoever the attacker was from even thinking about trying to board. Immediately, a few veterans that worked for Marcilli recognized whoever was out there and lowered their weapons in aggravation.
"Miss Marcilli, I know this is your ship, and I know you're on board!" came a voice from the ocean's surface.
Marcilli headed to the railing, and two of her crew members stepping back so she could look. The ship that was pulled up next to them was half the size of the Silver Kazeriu and not nearly as impressive. But Marcilli knew the ship, and its captain, all too well.
"Well, if isn't Miss Marcilli!" the mutant Grarrl standing on the diminutive ship deck roared with delight. "After beckoning your name for all eternity, you finally heard me! I'm honored!"
"Clauret..." Marcilli's voice waned. "Isn't this a pleasant surprise..."
Clauret was a physically and mentally old soul. He used to be the merchant trader between Krawk Island and Moltara, but when the journey proved to be too much to handle at his age, he was switched to the short and sweet Krawk Island and Mystery Island route. Clauret would converse with Marcilli every time he caught her at the Krawk Island dock. He was the only one that she bothered talking to who was a non-crew member, because occasionally, he could be quite entertaining.
"Won't you be so kind as to let me on your noble ship?" he asked politely with a flash of a crooked smile.
Marcilli could not get over the fact that her precious ship was not moving because of old Clauret, or that he had the audacity to pull off a ridiculous stunt. "It will cost you!"
"Oh, I've got something to wet your whistle!"
If the Silver Kazeriu did not begin moving in five minutes, Marcilli was going to lose her mind. "Throw the ladder overboard," she ordered to no one in particular.
A glowing Jetsam that went by Sicrax unhooked the rope ladder from the side of the ship and tossed it over the railing. The first rung clattered against the ship just above the water and within Clauret's reach.
"You're killing me, Miss Marcilli!" the Grarrl heartily protested as he reached for the rope ladder and held on tight. After letting out a deep breath, Clauret projected a brash war cry as he leaped off his ship. With a loud crash, Clauret collided head first into the Kazeriu's side wooden planks, much to the enjoyment of Marcilli's crew. Sicrax and a few others smirked to themselves and whispered comments which irked Marcilli greatly. Clauret may have been a bumbling nuisance at times, but he was just trying his best.
"Don't just stand there and laugh, help him!" She glared at her crew before shouting loudly. "Don't even think about letting go, Clauret!"
Sicrax immediately ceased laughing and nodded towards the ladder. He and four other of Marcilli's strongest crew members rushed over to aid the old Grarrl in boarding the ship. "Heave!" Sicrax yelled as they pulled the rope up, raising Clauret to the dock after twenty strong tugs. Arwman had to join the group to roll Clauret onto the dock. With a loud thud, Clauret collapsed in the middle of the skeptical crew.
"Yee-ow! My heart hasn't raced this much since it was 'Half-Off Hogshead Day' at the Golden Dubloon!" Clauret let out a hearty laugh and lifted himself up. "Good to be here!"
"I was hoping your jacket would get lost at sea," Marcilli noted his trusty black trench coat that was no longer adorned with its golden buttons.
"It's my lucky coat!" Clauret protested as he straightened his collar. "If this ever goes missing, I'll know who to blame."
"Indeed you will. Is anyone else on your boat?" asked Marcilli with a quick peek over the railing.
"Just me!" He rubbed his hands together as if he was standing idly by a small fire. His face immediately changed from happiness to doubt. "I sure hope I remembered to cast the anchor."
Though Clauret was a bit forgetful at times, he was much wiser than he appeared. Surely his visit was going to be worthwhile. Before speaking further to Clauret, Marcilli turned to address her crew. "You're all free to disperse for the time being," she ordered, and her crew members began to idly stray away. Hopefully this did not take long. "If you truly do have something to discuss, come to my quarters. Would you like some tea? " Marcilli inquired to Clauret as she rung her hands out behind her back.
"No thanks, I downed a barrel of grog before I got here!"
Good old Clauret always loved a satisfying drink. She gave him a nod, a signal to follow her to the quarters. She walked to her living area at a pace that even Clauret could keep up with without tripping over his cumbersome and disheveled jacket.
"The Silver Kazeriu... a kazeriu is a petpet from Shenkuu, isn't it?" he wheezed as Marcilli opened the door to her office.
Clauret's old age was a factor in him repeating things he had already been explained in detail. "I named my ship that to appeal to the fellow Shenkuuvian merchants. How do you think I was chosen out of a dozen seasoned veterans to work the route between Krawk Island and Shenkuu? Those ninjas thought I was one of them." She motioned for Clauret to sit at her desk, to which he happily complied.
"Smart and savvy. How many years have you been doing this route now?"
"And you're still the lone lass on the Silver Kazeriu?"
Clauret always asked that question. As if it would ever change. "I am. But it's quite all right."
"You talk very properly for a pirate."
The word made her blood boil. "First and foremost, I am a merchant, not one of those pirate thieves."
This made Clauret roll his eyes. She had come clean to the Grarrl once before, and the fact always stuck with him. "You've got pirate in your blood," he gently reminded her.
Marcilli had to bite her tongue to stop from lashing out. "Just because I'm from a family of pirates certainly does not mean that I act like one. I captain a ship and deal with goods, but that's it when it comes to me having anything in common with pirates."
"You were raised on Krawk Island, born to plundering pirate parents," Clauret pointed out. "That's about as pirate-y as it gets."
"I lived there, but I did not participate in the pirate lifestyle by any means. I simply read books until I couldn't read anymore, and that's how I avoided the raider mentality," Marcilli answered briskly. "And please never mention my parents again."
He hastily erased the parents from the conversation. Nothing was worth Marcilli becoming snappy. "Ah, so you were reading all those books and developed a fancy accent. I understand now."
"You don't understand anything."
"I caught you at a bad time," mused Clauret. "So I'll stop with all of the extra nonsense and cut right to the chase. I have a favor to ask of you..."
To be continued...