Captain Karen: Part Six
Twenty-four hours until they landed on Roo Island and got shore leave. Three days until Karen’s twenty-fifth birthday. Karen’s decision to make Seamus her replacement had proven to be a good one. It wasn’t long before he was better at replacing the rigging and maintaining the sails than Karen had been during her brief tenure as the ships maintenance guru. She was still unsure how to tell Thadius about her friendship with Melody. She wasn’t even sure she knew how to explain the situation. Karen had already asked permission to have her birthday party celebrated on Roo Island. The captain, to Karen’s surprised didn’t put up any argument like she expected. Instead he seemed to be hiding something. He had smiled at the mention of a birthday party.
Maybe he really likes cake. Karen thought as she excitedly wandered around the deck, inspecting Seamus’s work from this morning. (Karen was a bit jealous of how quickly he could do them.) Karen had been learning how to sail the ship with Jasmine and Thadius that morning. Jasmine had also been teaching Karen how to navigate using stars and map coordinates. Karen had never been very good in math, let alone using math to find a location on a map, so she got pretty confused at first. Seamus and Kiana could do math, if she ever needed to, she could ask them to explain some of these things.
While she was steering the ship, she and Jasmine had engaged in idle chit-chat, like what flavour of cake Karen wanted. Chocolate fudge was the answer. Karen also secretly wanted to meet the Roo Island Yooyuball team. She was a big fan of her beloved Haunties. She even had a crush on the team captain Krell Vitor. She just loved the humorous Rooligans, however. They had bells on their uniforms, what was not to love? Jasmine had expressed this desire too. She was a big fan of Lilo Blumario and had always wanted to meet him. Thadius had heard them chatting and chuckled.
He was a fan of his home team. Dasher Soley, the previous team captain for Krawk Island’s yooyuball team had been wandering the docks the day they had departed. Had the girls known, they’d have probably wanted autographs. They continued chatting happily as the morning progressed. Soon they would be at Roo Island.
* * *
There was nothing to do. Seamus wandered around the hall where the crews quarters were located, trying to find something entertaining to do. Everyone was still busy with their chores. Since he had been promoted and had proved he could finish his tasks quickly, it had left him with no one to talk to. Levi was too busy trying to keep Trillian from accidentally breaking the remaining plates, Kiana was with Ashild and the brothers taking stock in the store room, and trying to keep Ashild from knocking things over. Karen and Jasmine were up with Thadius sailing the ship. He was left alone to wander.
He had wandered pretty far down the hall; he hadn’t noticed that he was at the end of the hall until he had almost walked into the wall. He scratched his head and brushed a bang from his face. He had to remember to borrow a hair tie from one of the girls or Levi. He looked around gloomily, before he noticed that one of the doors was open just a crack. He snuck to the door and peeked in. No one was in there, not a sound to be heard.
“Hmmm,” he hummed as he brushed another ginger lock from his face.
He crept into the room silently and looked around. The porthole that served as a window to the room had been opened recently. There was also a pen on the floor. Seamus picked the pen up and inspected it carefully. He had seen Pippet using this pen during a game of Roodoku. Seamus had given the electric Wocky a hand at solving the puzzle. What was it doing abandoned in an empty room? This called for some investigating. Silently he slipped out of the room and crept over to Pippet’s room. He hadn’t wanted to share a room with Perceval and had requested his own room. Seamus had later found out it was because Perceval snored very loudly. He knew Pip was taking inventory in the store room, so he decided to just return the pen and not say anything.
Twisting the knob carefully, he silently entered Pip’s room. It was immaculately clean. In the corner Swishy slept curled up in the petpet carrier. Captain Thadius had granted Pippet the request to care for the undead petpet. He made his way over to the writing desk where Pippet had a store of pens. Or what could be considered a large collection, Seamus wasn’t sure how to categorize his crew-mate’s odd obsession with pens. As he went to reunite the lost pen to its fellows, he noticed a note hidden under a book. It was strange, for as long as Seamus had known Pippet and Perceval, he had never seen them read.
He had assumed they were as bad at it as he was before he had met Karen. Glancing over his shoulder at the door, he quickly pulled the note out from under the book. It was written in Perceval’s semi-neat printing. It was addressed to their sister. That was why the porthole had been open! The brothers had been secretly sending notes to Merigold back home. Merigold’s faerie snarhook was very good at tracking her little brothers. Pearl had practically been their babysitter while Merigold had been busy helping their father. Seamus felt guilty at reading someone else’s mail, but reasoned with himself that it might thwart another attempt at trying to find where Thadius’s hidden treasure was.
“We think the treasure is,” Seamus read quietly to himself, “Hidden in the very fancy chest in his cabin. Pippy saw it when he went in to ask about shore leave.”
He continued to read the note, taking in every detail. They were determined to get whatever Thadius was hiding, and they were going to do it tomorrow!
“Karen…P-pra,” Seamus stumbled over his new best friend’s last name. “Prat...chet is having her birthday on Roo I…is…Island, we may be able to sneak back on board and look around.”
He had to tell Karen! Perhaps he should warn Thadius first. He didn’t quite know who to tell first. He was sure the captain might be cross with him for snooping, he might also be mad if he found out Seamus had known and said nothing. He slipped the note back under the book where he’d taken it from and slipped out of the room. He had to tell someone, but whom?
* * *
It was bright and early the next morning as they pulled into the Roo Island harbor. The smell of gummy candies filled the air and mixed the sweetness with the sea’s briny smell. There were colours everywhere. Colourful homes, brightly coloured shops, and the brightly coloured merry-go-round Roo Island was famous for. In the distance King Roo’s castle stood, waiting for the sun to reach out and paint it with light has it had just begun doing to the port. The crew of the Mourning Star eagerly awaited permission to leave the ship. Karen and Seamus had already agreed to see the town and ride the Merry-go-round. Seamus had also wanted to sneak off and find something for Karen for her birthday in two day. Kiana and Jasmine were going with Ashild to play a game of Dice-A-Roo. The crew divided leaving only Thadius on the ship.
As Karen and Seamus eagerly made for the Merry-go-round they excitedly chatted about how bright and colourful everything was. Seamus had never been to Roo Island before, all the excitement was making him kind of overwhelmed. Once they had taken a few turns on the merry-go-round, (Seamus regretting the second ride for making him so dizzy) they wandered through town. Seamus slipped off when Karen had her back turned and began his search for a present.
* * *
“There you are young lady!” Her father’s voice had seemingly come from out of nowhere. “We’ve been worried about you for two weeks!”
Jasmine stared at the ground, Kiana and Ashild at both of her sides. Kiana looked terrified, Ashild confused. He didn’t dare ask the girls to introduce them to the angry spotted Poogle that had appeared before them. Markel Sterling watched his daughter with a sad look.
“Why did you run away again?” He asked her. “You have everything you could ever want back home.”
“No I don’t,” Jasmine suddenly said. “I wanted an adventure. I wanted friends and to see the world with them. I don’t want to go home and just be Jasmine anymore. No I won’t go home. I’m a navigator now, people need me.”
Markel looked at his daughter in shock. Jasmine had never been one to tell her parents no. She was always such a good little girl. He hadn’t expected to find his daughter on Roo Island. He had just happened upon her and Kiana and the Grundo on his way to a business meeting. He could argue with Jasmine that her crew could always find another navigator, probably one nowhere near as gifted as her, but there were others out there. He had tossed that argument over in his head for a second, but didn’t use it. Instead he watched the stern look on his daughter’s face melt into sorrow. Her sunset coloured eyes looking at her feet. He had encouraged her love of maps and cartography as a child. When she had proven gifted at it, he had made sure his little princess had every resource available to her to help her become the best. He then thought about it. What is the point in being the best at something, if you can’t go out there and prove it to the rest of the world?
“I am being selfish.” She said.
“You’re being brave,” her father replied. “There are not many people who can do what you did, and come out on top. If you want to stay, then you can. I’ll explain it to your mother.”
Jasmine hugged her father and thanked him. Markel had to remember that his daughter was growing up, and that she needed to learn by herself some times. Her mother would be furious, but he could handle it. He hugged her back and hugged Kiana. He had missed his adopted daughter just as much. Jasmine introduced the still very confused Ashild to her father, and to her great surprise, her father knew Ashild. Markel had been one of the gentlemen responsible for helping Ashild study under the Shenkuu medicine masters many years ago.
As Mr. Sterling left to get to his business meeting, Seamus came down the street with a brightly wrapped little box in his hand. He looked quite pleased with himself as he met up with his friends. Now they just had to find Karen.
* * *
The ship was quiet. Perceval and Pippet had snuck back onto the Mourning Star while everyone was on shore leave. They didn’t know if the captain was on board or not. They hoped he wasn’t. They had seen him walking down the street a half an hour ago, wearing his usual trench coat over his favourite green doublet. He was also wearing his favourite hat. He had to be going somewhere fun. Perhaps he was going to meet with king Roo and play a game of Dice-A-Roo. Or to see what items he could barter in town, Trillian had busted most of the good plates. There had been no other pirates to go toe-to-toe with at sea, so he might be bored and just needed a walk on land.
The brothers crept to the captain’s quarters and gingerly picked at the lock. They had a cousin who knew Hanso the Ixi. He had given great advice once, before he took a more noble turn in life. Pippet absentmindedly wondered where Hanso was now, and what he was doing.
“I got it,” Percy said. “Stay here and watch the door.”
Pippet nodded as Percy snuck inside. The room was deserted. Making his way around the room, Perceval found the fancy chest Pip had told him about and gingerly picked the lock on it too. A gentle click told him that the lock was sprung. He opened it up and peered at his spoils. He couldn’t wait to see it!
It wasn’t gold. It wasn’t priceless gems. It was a bunch of junk. A very old Pandaphant plushie that had been sewn up more than once and at least half a dozen scrapbooks with pictures of that Pandaphant toy in each of them in different parts of Neopia. What kind of treasure was this? Where were the gold and jewels, the priceless artefacts?
“I see ye found my treasure,” the voice came from the door. Perceval turned to see Karen, Trillian and captain Thadius entering the room with a very nervous looking Pippet. Percy then realized that Pippet had tattled. Instead of telling Thadius or the girls, Seamus had appealed to Pippet’s decent side. Seamus knew the electric wocky wasn’t as mischievous as his older brother and had managed to talk him into stopping his brother.
“How’d ye get back so fast!?” the startled pirate wocky exclaimed. “I saw you walking into town!”
“You saw Levi dressed as me,” Captain Thadius laughed. “I don’t take kindly to these kinds of sneaky acts. You’ll be stayin’ on Roo Island when we depart.”
“Well, at least explain this to me,” Perceval said, motioning towards the chest of junk.
“Gladly,” The captain said. “The Pandaphant belonged to my niece, Melody. She was supposed to come and travel with me when she grew up and until then I promised to take Pandy with me. Unfortunately though, she never got the chance. Those are my dearest treasures now.”
Karen immediately knew what he was talking about. This opened up a way of explaining herself to Thadius. As the captain escorted the wocky brothers to the port where they would remain until their sister came for them, Karen noticed something odd in the smile Thadius had. It was almost bemused. The rest of the crew would be returning soon, Karen wondered if they knew the mystery behind Thadius’s new sense of humor
* * *
“I was gonna wait until your birthday in a few days,” Seamus stammered shyly, “But I figured you might like it now, I know you miss your locket.”
Karen took the small, brightly wrapped box from Seamus and opened it. Inside was a pretty charm bracelet with some charms on it. The one that stood out most was the pirate ship on it. It glittered in the light. Karen hugged Seamus tightly and thanked him, making the green Kacheek blush. He had a soft spot for Karen; that much was obvious. Karen slipped the charm bracelet on her wrist and admired it.
“I have somethin’ for you, too,” The captain said. “I found this in the hall the morning we captured Swishy.”
He dropped the Neovian locket into Karen’s hands. She looked at him in surprise and shock. He had had her locket the entire time and hadn’t said anything.
“You still haven’t figured it out, have ye?” He asked with a laugh.
Karen shook her head and looked to Seamus for help. He was just as confused as she was. She turned back to her captain and looked at him questioningly.
“I don’t suppose I’ve gotten any younger in fifteen years,” Thadius said. “It’s uncle Taddy, Karen.”
He apologized for not having seen her in so long. When she asked how she was related to him, he said she wasn’t. His title as her uncle was only an honorary one. He had grown up with her father on Krawk Island after his family had moved away from the haunted woods when he was a boy. His elder sister had stayed behind in the family home in the woods. He grew up the best of friends with Karen’s father, and had often brought him to the haunted woods to visit his sister. It had always made Karen wonder how Melody had known her father before she had even introduced them. Melody was five years Karen’s senior. Karen had never realized her father had been born on Krawk Island and chose to stay in the Haunted woods.
“I stopped going back,” Thadius said sadly, “Melody was the light of my life. When she passed, I just stayed on Krawk Island. Then one day, your father comes back for a visit and he brings me the greatest birthday gift of all.”
“What was that?” Karen asked.
“He brought you,” Thadius said hugging Karen. “You were only just a wee baby. You and I share a birthday, as you well know. It was then that I decided to travel again. I’d see you every so often.”
“So you know Melody is…” Karen started.
“A zombie,” Thadius stated. “Yes, I took a peek inside your locket. I’m sorry, but I had to know for sure. Your father writes me every now and then. He told me about Melody years ago, but I was too afraid to return after being gone so long.”
Karen smiled and hugged Thadius. She finally had her uncle back, and not just her uncle, but her best friend’s uncle as well. She had solved two mysteries. Thadius had told her that when he retires she would have command of the ship. He wasn’t going to retire for a few years yet, he still had time to make Karen into the best captain Neopia had ever seen.
But first, he decided he needed to visit an old friend in the haunted woods and catch up.
He had many stories to share with Mr. Pratchet and his niece.