The Vine of Destiny: Book 1, The Apprentice Pirates: Part Three
Meridell came into sight several days later, and the two crews gathered on the deck of the Black Pawkeet as they prepared to pull into port.
“All right everyone, we’ll stay in port a day or two this time to rest and restock.” Garin told his friends, “Get whatever you can, whether we actually need it or not, and keep your eyes peeled for a girl who looks like she might want a fresh start.” He turned his attention to JayJay, Lili, and Yasmine, “You three don’t need to worry about the restocking unless there’s something specific you want. Just focus on expanding your crew.”
JayJay nodded, “Right.”
“I would like to find a place where we can practice though.” Yasmine said to JayJay and Lili. “I’d like to get a feel for your fighting styles so that we’ll work well as a team. Besides, I need to get used to using one of these strange swords you call a cutlass.”
“You said before that you competed in the Battledome. Did you not have a weapon of your own for that?” Lili asked in confusion.
“Sort of. I had a weapon of choice, but it was from the palace armory. It didn’t actually belong to me and I was only allowed to use it when I was training.” Yasmine explained.
“Oh I see.” Lili replied.
“Training wouldn’t be a bad idea. We need to keep our skills sharp, especially if anyone who joins us doesn’t know how to fight.” JayJay said.
“What positions do we still need to fill do you think?” Yasmine asked.
“A navigator would be good.” JayJay replied, “A cook and a surgeon too. But Garin told me that surgeons are hard to come by at sea.”
“They are.” Garin said, turning from his work, “Usually, the cook fills that position if a surgeon isn’t available.”
“Why the cook?” Lili asked.
“Because they know the most about biology and are most skilled with a knife.” Garin replied frankly before turning back to the sails, and the girls all looked a bit nervous.
“I hope we find a cook who likes to read then…” Lili muttered.
“I know a little about treating injuries.” Yasmine told them, “It was something you had to know to survive as a Scarab.”
“That probably puts you ahead of us, then.” JayJay replied, “I learned some basic first-aid at the Academy, but I always had somebody to treat me in Shenkuu.”
“Same here.” Lili added, “In FaerieLand, if you got hurt, you just went to the Healing Springs. Medical knowledge wasn’t necessary.”
“I think a navigator may be our first priority though.” JayJay said, “I’d rather not get lost at sea again.”
“I don’t fancy that either.” Yasmine concurred.
“JayJay.” Garin interrupted, “The wind has shifted. Can you take the wheel and guide us into port?”
“Aye, aye!” JayJay replied before hurrying to the helm.~~~
On the docks of the small Meridellan port town, a young blue Wocky girl with long, curly brown hair sat watching a group of merchants. She looked over at the Black Pawkeet as it pulled into port and saw JayJay, Lili, and Yasmine disembarking, but paid them little mind as one of the merchants walked up to her.
“Here you are, Ali.” The Xweetok said as he handed a bundle to the young woman. How she despised that nickname. “Give my regards to Richardson.”
The girl forced a smile, “Of course.” She curtsied to him before walking off. As she walked through town, she kept her eyes to the ground to avoid the glares some of the townspeople were giving her. How did her life come to this?
Meanwhile, JayJay, Lili, and Yasmine headed into a field outside of town to spar and sharpen each other’s skills.
“The way you fight is weird, Captain.” Yasmine remarked as she faced JayJay.
“That’s because I was trained as a fencer.” JayJay replied, “That was the only combat sport my brother relented as being ‘remotely appropriate for a young lady.’” She then smirked mischievously, “But I actually learned a bunch of other things with the help of Princess Terrana. Like how to scale a cliff.”
“You know Princess Terrana?” Yasmine said in surprise.
“Aye.” JayJay replied, “She was my best friend in Shenkuu. I’d have brought her along with me when I left if, you know, she wasn’t a princess. My brother allowed me to spend time with her because it would have been a major snub to forbid it, and a member of the royal family isn’t exactly someone you wanna snub. Besides, as far as he was concerned, it was politically advantageous if I was friends with the king’s daughters.”
“He seriously used your friendships like that?” Yasmine asked.
“Oh, all the time.” JayJay told her, “That’s why I left.”
“I don’t blame you.” Yasmine said before turning to Lili, “What about you, Lili?”
“Oh I didn’t have any training before the Academy.” Lili replied, “After my parents died, I lived with my aunt. She wanted me to be this perfect little girly-girl, and I couldn't stand it! I wanted to live a life of adventure, not a literal fairytale in FaerieLand. I got out the first chance I got.”
At that moment, JayJay noticed a blue Wocky girl watching them from the road nearby.
“Hi there.” The green Pteri said with a friendly smile, “Can we help you with something?”
The girl looked a bit startled and looked at them shyly, “U-Um, well… You guys just said that you ran away from home to find freedom, right? I wish… I could do that…”
“Why can’t you?” Lili asked as she and Yasmine walked over as well.
“I don’t have anywhere to go, nor money to get there.” The Wocky replied.
“Why not come with us then? We’re setting out to sea together.” JayJay told her.
The girl looked at her in surprise, “Really?”
“Of course.” JayJay said with a smile, “I’m JayJay, and this is Lili and Yasmine. What’s your name?”
“I’m Alicia.” The girl replied with a nod.
“Nice to meet you, Alicia.” Yasmine said, “I’m going to be the quartermaster for our crew. Do you have any skills that would be of use at sea?”
“Well, um, I’m a skilled archer and navigator. And I can see much farther than the average Neopian.” Alicia replied.
“Perfect! We were hoping to find a navigator here!” Lili said.
“Let’s head back to the Pawkeet, girls.” JayJay said before noticing the parcel Alicia was carrying, “What’s that, Alicia?”
“A parcel that my employer sent me to retrieve from the docks for him.” Alicia explained, “I suppose I should take it back to his home first.”
“Nah, just bring it with us.” JayJay said, “Unless you’d prefer being a servant to being a pirate.”
“No, not really.” Alicia replied.
“Then bring it along.” JayJay repeated, “If it’s got something valuable, it’ll be our first haul of treasure. If not, well, if your employer wants it, he can pay us to get it back.”
“All right.” Alicia said, and she followed the other girls back to the Pawkeet. As they walked, JayJay noticed the rather unfriendly looks they were receiving from the townspeople, and then realized that their glares were directed at Alicia.
“You’re not exactly popular here, are you? Why is that?” She asked the blue Wocky.
Alicia shifted the parcel in her arms uncomfortably before answering, “When my parents died, I was left with a large debt that they had owed. The man I owed the money to offered me a job as his servant in order to work off the debt. But he is known for being greedy and is not well liked in this town. I could, in theory, get another job, but nobody will take me.”
“Do you still owe him money?” Yasmine asked, but Alicia shook her head.
“No. I paid off the debt about a year ago. I’ve only remained because I needed money to live off of.” The sky-blue girl said.
“That’s completely logical.” Said Lili with a nod, “It’s not fair of them to judge you for who you work for though.”
“Aye, but you don’t need to worry about it anymore.” JayJay said. “You’re with us now. And you’re a pirate. So let people think what they like.”
Alicia looked slightly confused, “Such things don’t bother you?”
JayJay smirked slightly and raised an eyebrow, “Do you really think that anybody thinks well of pirates?”
Alicia saw her point and laughed, “I suppose that’s true.”
At that moment, the four of them arrived at the docks and JayJay pointed towards the Black Pawkeet. “There’s our ride.”
Alicia’s eyes doubled in size at the sight of the ship, “It’s so fierce looking…”
“Aye, kinda sticks out, don’t it?” JayJay remarked, “But Garin and his men aren’t half so mean as their ship looks.”
“It’s not yours?” Alicia asked in confusion.
“Nah. We don’t have our own yet.” JayJay replied as she stepped onto the gangplank, “Ahoy!” She called to let the crew know they were coming aboard.
Talak looked up from the stack of supplies he was checking, “Oh, hey girls. Any luck?”
“Aye. We found ourselves a navigator. And honestly, from what I’ve seen, there’s no one else in this town I’d want in my crew. Talak, meet Alicia.” The Pteri replied.
“Nice to meet you, Miss.” Talak said with a polite nod.
“You as well.” Alicia replied, offering a small curtsy to the other Wocky.
JayJay smiled and looked around, “Where’s everyone else?”
“They’re at the local tavern about a block from here.” Talak replied, “Most of our supplies have already been ordered and will be delivered tomorrow. We’ll probably set sail with the tide the day after.”
“Sounds good.” JayJay said with a nod before looking at the other girls, “Well, shall we join them?”
“You go ahead without me.” Alicia said, “Best if I’m not seen there. I’ll stay here with Mr. Talak.”
JayJay nodded and she, Yasmine, and Lili headed off toward the tavern.
To be continued…