The Vine of Destiny: Book 1, The Apprentice Pirates: Part Two
In the following weeks, JayJay and Lili settled in well aboard the Black Pawkeet. Garin and Jacques treated them both as apprentices and members of their crew. They had also used a number of crates from the hold to section off an area of the crew’s quarters for the two girls, in order to give them some privacy. JayJay and Garin continued to bicker often, but it had turned more into friendly banter than actual annoyance.
One evening, JayJay sat on the railing of the Pawkeet, looking out at the setting sun while deep in thought.
“Looks like it’ll be smooth sailing tonight.” Garin said as he walked up behind her, and the Pteri girl looked at him before looking back at the horizon.
“Aye. ‘Red at night, sailor’s delight.’ And the sun sets in the west, so we must be heading north.” She replied.
“That’s right.” Garin replied, “Glad to know you know that now.” JayJay chuckled and continued watching the eventide.
“I wonder if this is what it’s supposed to be like…” She mused.
“Come again?” Garin asked in confusion.
“I wonder if this is what it supposed to be like… having an older brother.” JayJay explained. “Someone who looks out for you and helps you learn to stand on your own two feet.”
Garin chuckled, “I wouldn’t know, since I’m an only child. Jacques is the closest thing to a brother I have, and we’re the same age—and boy, were we idiots when we were kids!”
“You’re not known for being all that wise now.” JayJay teased with a smile, referring to Garin’s title of “Garin the Foolish.”
Garin chuckled, “Got me there.”
“I wish my own brother were like you.” JayJay continued, “Not many people know this, but he’s the one who killed our parents, all so he could get their fortune. Then he practically made me his prisoner.”
“Aye. I’ve known pirates like that too.” Garin replied, “Well, except that last part.”
“He’s no better than scoundrels like Bloodhook and Scarblade.” JayJay muttered.
“I don’t know about that, but I do know this: You and Lili are just about ready to leave the nest.” Garin told her, then chuckled when she gave him a glare, “Sorry. Bad joke.”
“What is there left to do?” JayJay asked.
“Find some more members for your crew.” Garin replied. “Two people trying to manage a full-sized ship is just crazy.”
“And I suppose you’ll want them to be skilled sailors?”
“That part matters less than you think. Aside from me and Jacques, most of the crew didn’t know the first thing about sailing when we started out. They weren’t even that good at fighting, as you know. You and Lili know what you need to know, and you can teach the rest. What you do need though is to recruit people you feel you can trust. So, what kind of folks do you have in mind?”
JayJay looked back at the horizon; by now, the sun had disappeared, “Girls like me. Who don’t have freedom. Who can’t be who they want to be. And only girls. I wanna prove to Neopia that female pirates can make it in this world without being surrounded by men.”
“Fair enough. It’s not a bad place to start actually.” Garin said, “My men were just a bunch of petty thieves struggling to survive when I found them. Pirates ought to be people who want something better than what they’ve got. On the high seas, it's the people with dreams who turn out to be legends. Come on, let’s plot our course.”
JayJay hopped off the railing and followed Garin to his cabin, where the blond Usul pulled out a map of Neopia.
“Now, the first place I would suggest going is Lost Desert.” He said as he laid the map out on his desk, “There’s a small city on its coast that gets a lot of business, due to being the only port. It’s not powerful, but the majority of the king’s servants are women. Sounds like a good place to start, huh?”
“Aye.” JayJay said with a nod.
“Now, our coordinates are here.” Garin told her as he pointed to an area between Faerieland and an unnamed island.
“So we need to sail southeast, keeping this unmarked island in mind.” JayJay replied, pointing to another unnamed island between them and their destination.
“That’s right.” Garin said as he rolled up the map, “So now, let’s go tell Jacques and Lili about the change in course.”
The green Pteri nodded and followed the blond Usul out. “I noticed that you don’t have a designated navigator on this ship.” She remarked.
“Never had the luck of finding a skilled one.” Garin replied, “But it’s all right. Jacques and I do pretty well at splitting the role between us. I read the maps and Jacques determines our coordinates.”
A few days later, the Black Pawkeet was in sight of the port Garin had spoken of. The city itself was actually on a small island off the coast of Lost Desert, but it still had the desert climate. As they prepared to dock, Garin addressed the members of his crew.
“All right, our numbers are too small to take on the whole city, so we’ll slip through quietly and then raid the palace. Talak, you stay here and keep the Pawkeet afloat. We don’t wanna go into the port itself, in case the military tries to beat us back to it. If we run into trouble, Bill and the girls will come back ahead of us, since they can fly. And remember, while we are raiding the palace for riches, we’re also looking for new members of JayJay’s crew.”
As Garin had said, the young group of pirates went ashore and walked casually through the town as if they were mere tourists. The townsfolk ignored them, figuring them to just be another group of travelers who’d pulled into their port. Before long, they were close to the palace, and Garin motioned the others to follow him into an alleyway just outside the grounds.
“All right, getting past the gate will be the hardest, since it’s probably the most heavily guarded, and it’s not like they’re gonna just let us walk right in.” Garin told them.
“So how do we get in?” Lili asked, and Jacques held up a rope with a grappling hook attached.
“Zip wire.” He told her, “We’ll go up on the roof of one of these buildings, hook something over the palace wall, and then ride down. Well, you two can just fly if you prefer. Actually, it’d be great if you did. You could defend the zip wire while the rest of us cross.”
“Works for me!” JayJay said, “But how will we make them gather all of the servants up?”
Garin grinned, “Why, you and I will take the king hostage of course!”
JayJay looked at him in surprise, “Not that I have a problem with that, but it seems more underhanded than you’re known for, Garin.”
Garin just continued to grin, “Hey, I might be the hero of Maraqua, but I’m still a pirate.”
JayJay giggled and the group headed up onto the rooftops. Once Garin had thrown the grappling hook and managed to hook the roof of the palace, JayJay and Alicia flew across, holding off the guards who came to investigate as Garin and his crew slid across.
From the moment Garin and his men set foot on the palace grounds and drew their weapons, the group was engaged in a battle with the palace guard. Fortunately, the guards were hardly a match for the skilled pirates, and before long, the group of eight had made it to the throne room. Naturally, the battle grew more fierce here, but it came to an abrupt halt when Garin made it to the king and placed his dagger to his throat.
“All right! All of you! Drop your weapons!” He warned. The palace guards hesitated, but the king himself was somewhat cowardly.
“Do as he says!” He told them, and they complied.
“Right then.” Garin said, looking at his crew, “Men, search this place for all the treasure you can carry. And you guards: gather up all of the servants and have them come to the palace courtyard. We’ll be waiting there with your king.” This time the guards obeyed immediately and hurried off to gather the servants.
“You scoundrels will never get away with this.” The king said as he glared at Garin, despite his complete lack of courage moments ago.
“Yeah, like we haven’t heard that one before, old man.” Garin scoffed as he and JayJay headed to the courtyard with the monarch.
Fifteen minutes later, the guards, the servants, Garin’s crew, and Lili had joined the three of them, and Garin nodded to JayJay to address the servants.
“Hello ladies.” JayJay said, “I’m Captain JayJay. My first mate and I are planning to set out to sea soon, so we’re building our crew. Any of you who’d prefer freedom, treasure, and adventure to toiling all day for this guy’s sake are welcome to join us.”
To the Pteri’s surprise, most of the women looked rather reluctant, but then a white Yurble stepped forward.
“I’ll go.” The girl said, “I don’t know much about sailing, but I’m a skilled thief. My name is Yasmine.”
JayJay smiled, “Good to have you aboard Yasmine! Anyone else?” She asked, but nobody else stepped forward, so she shrugged. “Your loss then.”
The group of pirates waited for a few minutes while Yasmine gathered her things. When she came back, she was carrying a sack that appeared to be holding much more than what a servant would own, so Garin and JayJay assumed that she must’ve raided the palace as well.
JayJay and Lili gave a warm welcome to their new crewmate, and then JayJay smiled, “Let’s head out!” She told her friends.
“Right.” Garin said with a nod, dragging the king along with him as he and his mates headed toward the gates. “Open up those gates!” He told the guards, and they hastily complied. “Right then…” Garin said to his friends before pushing the king to the ground, “Run!” And with that word, the group of pirates took off. Despite being loaded down with treasure, they easily out ran the guards who pursued them and made it back to the docks.
“Into the longboat, everyone!” Garin ordered hurriedly, and he, his men, and Yasmine got into the longboat they had left there while JayJay and Lili flew on ahead. They had so much treasure that it could have easily weighed the small boat down, but fortunately, Lili was able to take some along with her, so they were able to stay afloat.
A few hours later, the now group of ten had a lively party to celebrate their successful raid.
“This is a great haul men!” Garin said as he examined that which they had brought with them.
“Aye, and it’s good that we found at least one new crewmember.” JayJay said, patting Yasmine on the back.
Jacques chuckled, “By the way, I’ve been wondering, how does a palace servant develop skills as a thief?”
“Actually, I was a thief first.” Yasmine replied, “I used to be a member of the Desert Scarabs; a group of street urchins in Sahkmet who steal to survive.”
“I think I’ve heard of them.” Lili said, “Queen Nabile of Qasala used to be one of them, didn’t she?”
“Yeah, Nabile and I are old friends.” Yasmine replied, “But like I said, the Desert Scarabs steal to survive. If the opportunity comes along to make an honest living for one of us, we usually take it. That’s what happened with me. Somebody offered me a job, and the next thing I knew, I was a servant in that palace. To be honest, I liked being a Scarab better. Life was harsh, but at least nobody could tell me where to go or what to do.”
“I can understand that.” Sam the Kacheek said with a nod, “Life as a pirate isn’t always easy, but it’s better than living on the streets for sure.”
“Aye, I think you’ll be just fine at sea.” Talak said.
“So what kind of skills do you have, aside from stealing?” JayJay asked, and Yasmine looked thoughtful.
“Hm, well in the palace, I trained to compete in the Battledome. Most of my winnings went to the king, of course, but I was allowed to keep some for myself. And when I was a Scarab, I was pretty used to looking after the others and dividing things amongst us.” She replied.
JayJay smiled, “Sounds like you’re a perfect fit to be our quartermaster then.” Yasmine smiled back and nodded.
“All right then, let’s set our course for Meridell next!” Garin announced.
“Why Meridell?” Lili asked.
“Things are a little behind the times there.” Garin replied, “We might just find somebody who wants to leave that behind. Besides, that’s as far as we can make it with our current supplies.”
“Sounds good to me!” JayJay said.
To be continued...