The Expedition of Walter Wesley: Part Three
Sunrise in Brightvale was quite a sight. As streams of light began to chase away the shadows of the night, the green pastures and azure skies never looked so harmonious.
At the port, the many sounds that could be heard were the crashing of the waves, and the movement aboard the vessels: Neopians scurrying this way and that, carrying barrels, tightening ropes, and consulting each other in low tones.
Amongst the regular sailors, holiday makers and adventure seekers, there was a green Lenny followed by a blue Aisha. Vivian stood in her fancy pink gown, carrying her carefully packed luggage. Dr Wesley, in his favourite polka dot suit, clutched his own suitcase and reached for the inside pocket of his jacket.
"Now... where did I put it... it was right here last time I looked at it..." he mumbled to himself as they approached the vessel destined to take them to the Lost Desert.
Vivian rolled her eyes as he checked all his pockets.
"What did I do with it... I am sure this is where I put it..."
The mumbling Lenny scratched his head. He managed to acquire a rare and detailed map of Qasala, indicating the precise location of the Temple of 1000 Tombs. He was convinced he had stored that map safely in the inside pocket of his favourite polka dot jacket. Or maybe it was his favourite striped jacket? Dr Wesley stood immobile, and his puzzled expression caused Vivian's long ears to fall forward, exposing her short temper.
"Oh for Fyora's sake, Walter. What are you looking for now? I always tell you to pack before. Always. But what do you do? You pack last minute and end up forgetting something important. So what could it possibly be now?"
Dr Wesley explained that he couldn't quite remember where he placed his sacred map. Vivian looked so angry that her face was no longer blue. In fact, the colour surpassed the pink hue of her fancy gown, and had deepened to a Devilpuss red.
She roared, "Walter! You can't be serious!" She dropped her heavy luggage and placed her hands on her hips.
"Shhh!" Dr Wesley responded, waving his majestic wings in exasperation. "We won't be completely lost, don't worry. I have many connections in the Lost Desert. I'm sure destiny has something in store for us."
Vivian let out a growling sigh and stormed aboard 'The Bronze Barrel.' Its magnificent white sails rustled gently in the wind. Its timbered decks were polished and inviting, whilst coils of rope were scattered on deck. The Bronze Barrel belonged to an old Kougra who Dr Wesley had come across during his travels.
Now, the two archaeologists made their presence known - Vivian stormed into her cabin, whilst Dr Wesley conversed animatedly with his old friend.
Not before long, the shudder of the anchor could be heard, the turning of the helm could be seen, and the first symptoms of sea sickness could be felt.
The voyage had begun!
Vivian emerged from below deck, took a seat on a wooden bench, and drank her cup of mint tea. At this point, the sun burned high in the sky, the westward wind guided the flapping sails, and Brightvale could no longer be seen on the horizon.
To her left, she noted an able bodied Krawk, who was reading the skies and studying the weather with intensity. He suddenly spit into the sea. Vivian turned away in offence. A dishevelled looking Skeith unexpectedly emerged from the crew's quarters, and as the doors shut behind him he roared,
Vivian's blue paw covered her shocked face. To her right, she noted another Krawk – this time, a younger looking one – who seemed to be mopping the deck. He swabbed on, from left to right, and splashed some mixture onto the hem of Vivian's fancy pink gown.
"Shiver me timbers!" he remarked. "Didn't mean to leave a mark on yer dress, miss."
The large Skeith jerked his head round and bellowed, "Aaaaargh – ye landlubber!! Are ye still three sheets to the wind? Swab those decks now!"
"Aye!" the Krawk shouted back and resumed carrying out his duties.
Vivian's jaw dropped.
At that moment, Dr Wesley emerged from the crew's quarters and walked towards Vivian.
"There you are! I've been discussing –"
Dr Wesley saw the colour of Vivian's face quickly change from blue to a sickly green.
She jumped from her seat and sprinted across the deck before she vomited over her favourite gown. The fact that Vivian suffered from sea-sickness was a fine detail that the doctor had let slip through the net. His full attention was captured by his mission of discovering the library of wisdom in the Temple of 1000 Tombs, and of course, his Mote collection
Dr Wesley gasped, as Vivian slowly turned around to address him. She looked more furious than ever before, "Walter... this is... too much!" she shrieked, holding up a paw.
"Viv... I am so sorry, I completely forgot about the sea-sickness! I was so focused on the preparations of this journey... and the excitement of discovering something worth more than all the neopoints in the National Neopian Bank."
Dr Wesley smiled apologetically, whilst Vivian clicked her tongue and waved her other paw in the air.
"Walter! Look around you! How could you do this! This is a pirate ship! A pirate ship!"
"Oh. That. Yes. Look, do not fret – the captain and I go way back."
Vivian placed her paws on her hips again.
"You said you couldn't make alternative arrangements because of availability."
"Yes and The Bronze Barrel was the only available arrangement." Dr Wesley adopted a stern tone and stood tall with authority. Vivian knew the doctor too well to argue in this instance.
"Walter, this is not good." Vivian frowned and shook her head. "I have a bad feeling about this. A really bad feeling."
In a fraction of a second, the westward wind grew powerful and turbulent, causing the sails to flap violently. In the blink of an eye, the clouds began to gather, as darkness shrouded the travelling vessel. Dr Wesley's feathers stood on end, whilst Vivian turned to look at the sails and shuddered – the temperature was fast declining. An eerie fog increasingly grew, deleting the clear horizon line, and blurring the components of the ship.
A storm was approaching.
Dr Wesley could vaguely see figures running backwards and forwards, and heard sounds of movements from the sails, helm and mast. Rain fell from the sky, pounding heavily onto the planks of the deck. A large, rounded figure made its way through the mist.
"Ahoy!" it bellowed.
The figure became bigger, rounder and clearer as it came closer to the two archaeologists. Dr Wesley wiped an eyebrow and roared over the dashing rain,
"Captain! What of this ghastly weather?"
"Aye, aye! Best for yer to get to my cabin!" The Captain motioned them to leave the main deck, as his crew worked the ship. His blue eye stared with determination, he clutched a cutlass in one hand, and adjusted his eye patch with the other. The Pirate Shoyru flapped his wings and disappeared into the misty fog again.
Vivian and Dr Wesley obeyed as if they were doomed Grundos taking orders from Dr Sloth himself – in an instant second, they found themselves out of the tempest and into the captain's mysterious cabin.
Vivian fell onto a wooden chair, and a green hue surfaced to her face again, as the ship swayed left and right. The chandelier rattled, the candlelight flickered, and the navigation tools flopped off the mahogany desk.
"Walter - I knew something like this would happen! You always have to do things your way! We wouldn't even be in this situation if you allowed me to take control over the organisation of transport!" Vivian shouted with fury, her voice competing with the crashing waves, the roaring rain, and the clapping thunder.
Dr Wesley looked unusually calm and walked carefully towards the windows of the cabin.
"Bleak," he muttered to himself, "very bleak."
"Walter! If we get out of this alive-"
The ship made a sharp turn to the left, causing the desk to slide along the hard, wooden floor.
Dr Wesley spread his green wings to maintain balance, whilst Vivian stood suddenly, paws outstretched.
"Walter! Do something!" Vivian hysterically shrieked, as she made her way through upturned furniture, extinguished candles and increasing darkness.
"Vivian, will you just control yourself." Dr Wesley extended a wing to reach Vivian, who shook like a leaf. It was too dark to deduce more than a shadow or outline, Dr Wesley knew for sure that if he could see the colour of Vivian's face in that instant, no doubt it would be white with fear.
"Listen," he continued with a firm tone, "we've had much worse – it's just a bit of rain. What's the worst that can happen?"
Vivian's ears fell forward and she hissed, "Walter – if we get out of this alive –"
A sudden stream of electrifying light illuminated the cabin. In that instant, thanks to the strike of lightning, Dr Wesley's frown turned into a smirk. Vivian was as white as a sheet, her ears stooped forward in maximum disapproval, and her protruding vein throbbed more than ever before. Dr Wesley stood in astonishment – he found Vivian's fury almost comical.
From the proximity of the captain's cabin came a high pitched sound which caught the attention of the two Neopets. Vivian froze. Dr Wesley turned away to face the other side of the doomed cabin.
Whilst the storm worsened outside, the sound resonated inside. Dr Wesley glanced at Vivian and raised a finger to his beak - Vivian couldn't scream or shriek even if she wanted to.
He made his way to the door as though he was facing an obstacle course. Vivian carefully followed and seized one of the few candles still giving a glimmer of light.
"Walter – this better not be what I think it is," she whispered, as she caught up with the brave Lenny.
"Shh," he responded, with a frown.
The pinging sound became louder as they surpassed the fallen chairs.
"Walter – that ping sounds like something not good!" Vivian's eyes widened, taking in as much detail as possible despite the dim lighting. With what looked like a dance, they stepped over a couple of overturned trunks.
"Shh!" Dr Wesley repeated, as he outstretched his wing and approached the door.
"Walter! Don't you dare," Vivian jeered, as the strange sound coming from the other side of the door became more frequent, and more persistent.
"Shh!" Dr Wesley turned to face Vivian and whispered with conviction,
"Walter – if you open that door?" Vivian whispered back. "If you open that door, Walter – I will never –"
Another powerful lightning strike cascaded into the captain's cabin, causing the two archaeologists to shield their eyes. The door flung open with a bang.
Vivian screamed louder than a siren. Dr Wesley jumped out of his feathers then sighed as even through the eerie darkness, he immediately recognised that cardigan and those shoes. He easily took the candle from Vivian's petrified paw and the scarce candlelight confirmed his theory.
A blue Wocky, carrying a backpack and holding what seemed like a calculating tool, stood in the door way.
"Wait. I think I just hallucinated," Vivian declared in disbelief.
Dr Wesley shook his head and frowned.
"Cora... what are you doing here? How did you even get here?"
"Doctor, I am totally coming with you the Qasala! I couldn't miss this chance – it's a dream come true for me." Cora spoke with excitement, despite the current conditions which seemed to worsen.
The wind howled against the windows, and the sky turned darker than an abyss.
"No no no. Walter – do not permit this!" Vivian objected and turned around to pick up a chair. Cora looked at Vivian: her fancy pink gown was soaking and creased, her expression was fatigued and stressed, her long Aisha ears unusually propped forward.
"Whoa!" Cora addressed her. "Like, what happened to you?"
"What's it to you?" Vivian viciously snapped, as she sat on the chair.
"Ladies!" Dr Wesley exclaimed. "Let's talk about this when we touch land."
"Walter – If! If we touch land, you mean." Vivian sighed in exasperation and held herself steady onto the chair as the ship swayed to the right again. Dr Wesley nearly dropped the candle. Cora launched head first over an upset barrel.
"Ok, everybody keep calm and follow me!" he exclaimed as he quickly got to his feet, and grabbed Cora's paw. Vivian stood with haste.
"What do you have in mind?" she yelled over the merciless tempest.
"We have to get on to the main deck!"
They made their way outside. The increasing fog impaired their vision; the pirate's voices were overcome by crashing showers, howling winds, and dangerous thunder. The trio made their way through the confusion until gloom enveloped them. Dr Wesley stood by the helm. Vivian identified a length of rope nearby.
Cora's feet failed to sense the slippery floor she was standing on. Her ears ceased to detect the disturbing sounds of this stormy orchestra which governed the ominous journey.
Darkness descended upon them. Cora could neither see, nor hear, nor feel...
To be continued...