The Vine of Destiny: Book 1, The Apprentice Pirates: Part Five
A young Acara stood at the kitchen counter of her small home, skillfully chopping vegetables to use in making breakfast. It was very early in the morning, and her father was not up yet, but he would be soon.
As she continued her work, her sharp ears picked up the sound of footsteps approaching her house. A confused look crossed her face and she listened more carefully. It was unusual for anyone in the village besides her to be up at this hour, but it couldn’t simply be a group of young’uns looking to play a prank on her. The footsteps belonged to adult men, judging from the sound.
Feeling unusually anxious, she approached the kitchen door with her knife in hand. There was no reason for her to be so nervous. There was nobody in her small village that would try to hurt her, but… she couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling in her stomach.
Suddenly, the door was kicked in, causing the girl to scream in shock. A group of Neopians she had never seen before swarmed into the kitchen. She could tell with one look that they were pirates, and she fearfully backed against the counter, holding the knife in front of her in a defensive manner.
One of them, a Pirate Krawk, saw this and laughed at her. “Put that down, lass. I can tell ye don’t know how to use it. Only person who will get hurt is yerself.”
Despite her trembling, the girl did not lower the knife, silently praying that the sharp object would somehow prevent the pirates from touching her.
At that moment, an older male Acara came into the room from another part of the house, a cutlass in his hand, “Rosa!” He cried in alarm when he saw the situation.
The girl looked over at her father, “Papa!” She cried fearfully. She screamed as the Krawk took advantage of her distraction and grabbed her by the wrist, pulling her against him while wrenching the knife from her hands and holding it to her throat.
“No! Rosa!” her father cried, but he froze as he saw the pirate’s grip on his daughter tighten.
“Don’t move, old man.” The Krawk warned, “Or yer pretty daughter loses her life.”
Rosa whimpered fearfully and shut her eyes, instinctively trying to lean away from the blade. Her father remained still, carefully watching the pirate that held his beloved child.
“Drop yer weapon.” Another pirate, a Draik told the older Acara, and he begrudgingly did so.
The third pirate, a one-eyed Aisha, sneered and looked at the Krawk, “We’ll take care of this one. Take the girl back to the ship.”
“No!” Rosa and her father both cried. The young girl began to sob as she was dragged from her home, but made no attempt to resist as there was still a knife being held to her neck.
“Rosa!” her father cried as he watched his child being taken away by the Krawk.
“Papa!” Rosa cried and she sobbed again, “Please, let me go!” She begged.
The Krawk responded by twisting her arm, earning a shriek of pain from the young girl. “Keep yer mouth shut.” He warned.
Rosa sobbed as she was taken to the western beach. There, she was thrown face-first into the sand as a pair of pirates tied her hands behind her back. She tried to struggle and begged for release, but her cries were cut off as they gagged her with a dirty rag and threw a sack over her head. The only thing she could do was continue to sob as she was thrown roughly into a longboat.~~~
“Land ho!” Bill called from the crow’s nest early one morning. Garin yawned and stretched as he sat up. He swiftly got out of bed and splashed some water on his face to wake himself up. His pet Pawkeet, Blackie, let out an annoyed squawk at being woken so early.
“I hear ya, Blackie.” Garin remarked, “But it’s probably the island we’ve been looking for, so we gotta be alert.” The blond Usul grabbed his dagger and vest and headed out on deck. “Where away?” He asked.
“12 points off the starboard bow!” Bill replied. Garin took out a spyglass and looked in the direction the Buzz had indicated.
“Aye, I see it.” The captain confirmed, before frowning.
“What is it, Garin?” Jacques asked, recognizing the grave look on Garin’s face.
“Take a look.” His friend replied, handing Jacques the telescope. Jacques peered through the spyglass and saw what Garin had.
“Smoke.” He remarked grimly, “The village has been attacked.”
“As expected.” Caylis said with an equally grim and slightly sad expression. Isca placed a hand on her sister’s shoulder, as if trying to assure her that it wasn’t her fault.
“Captain!” Bill called from above again, and Garin looked up.
“What is it, Bill?”
“There’s a group of Maraquan soldiers swimming toward us!” The Buzz reported, and Garin nodded.
“They may be able to tell us the situation. Jacques, go wake everyone else and have them come up on deck.”
Jacques nodded to Garin and left to do as he said. Meanwhile, Garin turned and leaned over the railing to greet the soldiers as they swam up to the side of the ship.
“Ahoy!” The Usul called, “What’s it like in the town?”
“Complete devastation.” The commander of the soldiers replied, “There’s not a building left standing and we couldn’t find any survivors.”
“Then we were too late…” Isca said sadly, and Garin looked at her.
“Maybe not entirely.” He told his friend, “There’s still the girl you dreamed about, Isca. If we find the Revenge, we can at least save her.”
“One of my men spotted the Revenge anchored offshore, near a beach around the west side of the island, out of sight from their port. But they may set sail soon.”
“Then we head there immediately.” Garin said, turning to his now gathered crew, along with JayJay and her crewmates. “All right men, we’re going to be approaching the Revenge. Scarblade’s crew is much larger than ours, and it doesn’t help that some of them were once members of this crew. Keep your wits about you and drive as many of them into water as possible. The Maraquan soldiers can deal with them there.”
“Aye, aye!” His men agreed.
“But how are we going to get the jump on them?” Jim asked, “If Scarblade sees us coming, he’ll use the girl as a hostage.”
“Aye, sure enough…” Garin replied thoughtfully before his eyes sparked with an idea, “Fly one of those merchant flags we stole, get the skeleton off of the bow for now and furl the sails so they won’t see our mark. We’ll find a way to get Scarblade’s attention and let him come to us. If he thinks we’re just a merchant ship, he’ll let his guard down.”
“Anders, swim up to the Revenge and try to find Lady Rosa.” The Lieutenant told one of his men, “Take care not to be seen. If our allies are to rescue her, knowing her whereabouts will be of upmost importance.”
“Understood, sir.” The Peophin nodded before diving beneath the waves.
Meanwhile, aboard the Revenge, Rosa was lifted out of the longboat and carried onto the deck by one of Bloodhook’s men, still struggling in vain to get her hands free of her bonds.
“Look what we found, Cap’n!” The pirate remarked as he threw Rosa to the deck and pulled the sack off her head so the captain could see her face.
Rosa looked up at the fearsome Lupe and was unable to suppress a whimper of fear. Standing before her was the most feared pirate in the Five Seas, so feared by her village that they still didn’t speak his name. And she was completely at his mercy.
The mercy of Captain Scarblade.
Scarblade sneered at the obviously terrified teenager. “Good work.” He told his men, “We’ll use her to make an example to the rest of Neopia once we’re back on Scurvy Island. No one defies the will of Captain Scarblade!”
Rosa trembled in terror as Scarblade’s crew cheered, afraid of just what exactly they planned to do to her. Their cheering was suddenly interrupted by the sound of cannon fire.
“What was that?” Scarblade asked, not particularly startled, but nonetheless alert.
The lookout peered over the waters and saw another, much smaller ship, anchored near the docks of the village they’d just plundered. “Tis another ship, Cap’n!” He called down.
“Can ye see its colors?” Scarblade asked.
“Aye…” The lookout replied as he peered through his spyglass, “Looks to be a merchant ship. They probably fired that shot to let the villagers know they’re ‘ere.”
“Well they’re in for a rude awakening.” Scarblade sneered before looking at the rest of his crew. “What do you think, boys? Shall we take another plunder?”
At this suggestion, Scarblade’s crew let forth a rowdy cheer and Scarblade grinned evilly. “Take the girl and the loot from the village into my cabin. We’ll deal with both later.” He ordered.
Rosa let out a muffled cry of alarm as she was pulled to her feet and dragged to Scarblade’s cabin, only to be roughly thrown to the ground once more.
The Peophin had been carefully listening to all of this and quickly swam back to the Pawkeet faster than the Revenge could sail there. “They’ve locked her in the cabin, sir!” He reported faithfully.
The lieutenant nodded, “Garin! Did you catch that?”
“Aye!” Garin called back before looking at his mates, “All right everyone, to your hiding places! Remember: don’t let Scarblade’s crew onto the ship! Knock them into the water if you can!”
“Right!” Everyone said quietly, before they all quickly hid in various spots around the deck.
“The girl is in Scarblade’s cabin.” Garin whispered to JayJay as she knelt behind some barrels near the helm with him, “You and I will need to find a way in there to rescue her.”
“Right.” JayJay said with nod, watching the Revenge carefully as it approached them. She spotted an open window and silently pointed it out to Garin. Garin nodded and turned to where Jacques was hiding with Lili, silently gesturing to the window to tell him that they were going to use it, and Jacques and Lili both nodded to say they understood.
To be continued…