Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 99,729,623 Issue: 198 | 8th day of Swimming, Y7
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For The Life of a Pirate: Part Four

by nut862


"I’m sorry,” Darla stammered. “I hope you’ll forgive me. I didn’t mean any harm. I only want to go to the waterways near Krawk Island.”

    “A fine thing, when this ship is sailing to Mystery Island!” The crewmember shook his head. “The captain is going to be mighty upset about this. Another mouth to feed, and we only have barely enough food for us!”

    “I don’t need food. I’ve gone hungry before,” Darla said boldly. “I only want to see the waterways. How close are we to them?”

    “Two hours’ sail, in this wind,” the crewmember replied. He grimaced. “A sightseer on a cargo ship, of all things! What’s so appealing to you about those waterways? They’re full of pirates, and dangerous besides. We’re only going through them because it’ll add nine days’ sail to go around, and our boss won’t allow that. He won’t allow even a day’s sail to turn around and drop off stowaways where they belong.” He looked at Darla pointedly. “We have a treatment for stowaways, and that is that they must pay for their board by working around the ship.” He thought for a moment, obviously trying to figure out what they could do with a small female Cybunny on board the cargo ship. “I know what, missy. You can help the cook peel potatoes. We always need help with that.”

    Darla was quickly transported to the ship’s kitchen, where the cook, a fat Moehog, was delighted to have help and immediately put her to work on a huge barrel of potatoes. Darla peeled and peeled, grateful that her punishment had been no worse. She counted the minutes as she waited for two hours to pass.

    At last, Darla felt the seas grow rougher under the ship. They were entering the waterways. They were in the waterways! Darla sprang up and started running towards the deck.

    “Where are you going?” the cook called after her. “You stay here and peel until this whole barrel is done! You’re a stowaway, remember?”

    Darla returned to her work and peeled potatoes rapidly. She felt desperate. She had to get up on the deck somehow. She didn’t want to leave the waterways without at least seeing the Golden Plunder. She knew it had to be here, if the newspaper article was correct.

    Every minute felt like an hour to Darla. When an hour did finally pass, Darla felt as if she had been peeling potatoes forever. They must be almost out of the waterways by now. She had no way of knowing. The potatoes in the barrel seemed endless. How was she going to find Ron now?

    Running feet pounded on the deck, and shouts came from above, but Darla couldn’t hear what they were saying. She went on peeling potatoes blindly, trying to figure out a way to escape from the kitchen, and finding none. Her dull knife cut into the potatoes more and more sloppily, but Darla didn’t notice. She forgot about everything around her…that is, until a rough voice from behind ordered her, “Drop your knife and follow us! Don’t make any sudden movements, you’ve got a dagger trained on your back!”

    Fear seized Darla, but she did as she was told and put down her peeling knife. She didn’t dare look behind her, but she could see that in front of her, a Pirate Bori had taken the cook captive. Pirates! Darla’s heart thudded with fright.

    “What do you think of her?” the rough voice asked of the Pirate Bori.

    “She looks like th’ pet o’ some rich owner,” the Pirate Bori replied, nodding at Darla. “She’ll be worth a sizeable ransom. Take her!”

    “Okay, come on,” the rough voice told Darla, forcing her to move out of the kitchen. “Don’t try to run away, or that’ll be the end of you!”

    Darla had never been so scared. She couldn’t even think. She just did as the voice commanded her. Soon, she was standing on the deck with the rest of the captured crew. Pirates threatened each one with weapons as more pirates carried out gold and supplies from the hold. The ship was stopped, and alongside it was a huge pirate vessel with the name The Golden Plunder painted on its side. Darla’s heart skipped a beat.

    One of the crewmembers of the cargo ship stealthily withdrew a knife from under his vest. The pirate who was guarding him didn’t pay attention. The crewmember raised the knife…

    Suddenly, a sword clanked against the metal knife, stopping it cold. The sword’s owner, an orange Krawk, bared his crooked teeth at the crewmember, who grimaced and shoved the knife towards the Krawk instead.

    The Krawk spun away and began twirling his sword. Darla was amazed. The sword was going in so many directions seemingly all at once. She couldn’t follow the movements, but she saw that a few minutes later, the crewmember was nowhere to be seen. The Krawk barked at the other members of the cargo ship, “That’s a lesson for you all! We’ll take your cargo and leave you alone if you behave nicely, but get near any of my crew and you’ll follow the same path as that member of yours!”

    That voice! Darla couldn’t mistake it for anything else. Even after three years, she still recognized that voice. Even with its newfound harshness, she knew who it belonged to. She wanted to scream his name, but she couldn’t make a sound. Tears welled in her eyes. She’d found her brother at last…but, she now wondered, did she really want to? She had seen what had happened to that crewmember. Ron seemed to have fulfilled his dream of being a pirate to an extent that Darla had never dreamed he was capable of. She would never have thought that he could wield a sword like that, nor would she have believed that he could be so evil as to use it in the way that he had just done.

    Darla was pushed along to the Golden Plunder with all the other pirates. She was thrown into a small cell and locked in, leaving her alone with her thoughts at last.

    Outside her cell, pirates hurried away with the loot from the cargo ship. The captain, Ron, gave orders. “Get this booty stashed away, and we’ll spend it on Krawk Island tonight. We’re sailing back now.”

    “We’ve got a fine hostage for you,” his first mate, Grayscale, told him. “She looks like she belongs t’ some wealthy owner from th’ city. How much should we ransom ‘er for?”

    “Let’s see her,” Ron commanded.

    So Darla was brought before Ron. Grayscale stood nearby, watching the outcome. Ron spoke harshly to her, “Don’t stand there shaking with fear. You’ll go free if your owner loves you enough to pay your ransom. Where do you live?”

    Darla had a hard time containing herself. She was standing right in front of her brother, and he didn’t recognize her! She answered his question loudly.

    Ron was startled. He recognized Casey’s address. “Say that again!” he ordered. “And be sure you’re telling the truth, or we may decide not to ransom you after all.”

    Darla repeated her address.

    Ron snarled, but he looked unnerved. “You’re lying. You don’t live there. Who do you belong to?”

    “You know who I belong to. You belong to her, too,” Darla said boldly. “You might think you’ve run away from her, but you still belong to her. And someday, you’ll have to go home to her. She’s Casey, and she’s worried sick about her only Krawk who left home to be a pirate.”

    Ron looked shocked. He barked at Grayscale, “Get out of here!”

    The Pirate Krawk hurried out of the room. Ron closed the door and glanced at Darla. His big eyes looked haunted. It couldn’t be. She couldn’t be the same Cybunny. What was SHE doing here? Why was she here? Was she really the sister he hadn’t seen in three years, the one he had forgotten about completely?

    Sensing her chance, Darla turned down the collar of her dress, revealing her blue ruff with pink spots, and flipped the veil up off her forehead. “Ron?” she said softly.

    Ron didn’t say anything. He just stared at her in horror. He knew exactly what she wanted to do, and that was make him go back home. He couldn’t. Not now. He had just begun to get famous as a pirate. He had moved up in rank and become the captain of the Golden Plunder. He was getting rich from the passing merchant ships, and now his sister had come back to ruin it all for him? He couldn’t let her do that.

    Ron’s gaze fell on his sword, lying on a shelf. He inched his scaly claw towards it. Darla saw the movement, but she didn’t do anything. To think that her only brother would come to this! “Ron, we want you to come home,” Darla said quietly. “This life as a pirate is horrifying. It’s not going to come to any good end, Ron. You must come home with me.”

    “What! Are you crazy?” Ron spat out the words. “I can’t come home. I have a ship to sail, and a crew to feed. The pirates are my friends now, and they expect me to live up to my reputation.” Ron’s eyes glinted at Darla as he discreetly lifted the sword off the shelf.

    “You don’t want to have that reputation, Ron. It is the worst anyone could ever have. Why are you proud of what you do? It is horrible,” Darla said, keeping her eyes on Ron’s face and not on the sword. “The friendship of a pirate is not worth having. What do you gain from all this cruelty?”

    “I am living out my life’s dream. This is what I always wanted to do, and now I’m finally doing it. I have adventure, excitement, and danger, just as I always wanted it. Do you think I’ll leave now?” Ron tightened his grip on the sword.

    “Yes, I want you to leave!” Darla began pleading. “Your life isn’t meant for you to do harm to others. Are you not ashamed that you value your dreams over the lives of others? Do you not feel sorry for the ones you’ve slain? What if it was you at their mercy instead of the other way around?”

    “Then it would be too bad for me. But I have battled and fought my way to the top, and I’m the best fighter on the sea. I’m not going to be at anyone’s mercy!” Suddenly, Ron swung the sword towards Darla. The blade quivered in the air inches away from her nose. Ron’s eyes glowed fiercely. “No one is going to get in my way now, especially not you! I like my life, and I am not going to leave it!”

    Perspiration dripped off Darla’s fur as she looked down at the cold metal of the sword, but she held firm. “It’s not too late. You can change your ways. Come home, Ron, and we’ll forgive you for all you’ve done.”

    “Why are you talking like that? You sound like a storybook faerie.” Ron jiggled the sword near Darla’s face, and she cringed involuntarily.

    “Listen to me. Stop this horrible piracy! How can you not care about the ones you hurt? Would you do the same to me? Would you do the same to one of your ‘friends’, the pirates? If you wouldn’t put your sword to them, you can’t put it to anybody. It’s…” Darla’s eyes widened suddenly as Ron thrust the sword forward. “NO!” she screamed, closing her eyes and bracing herself for the pain.

    It never came. A few seconds later, Darla dared to open her eyes. Ron was staring at the floor, and the sword was stuck fast in the boards under their feet.

    Ron wouldn’t look at Darla, but he called for another pirate, who brought Darla back to her cell and locked her in. She didn’t know what to think, except that she had succeeded somehow, although she didn’t know why.

    Grayscale hurried up to Ron eagerly. “What’re we goin’ t’ ransom th’ lass for? 100,000 NP?”

    “Get away from me!” Ron yelled at him. “Any pirate who comes near me for the rest of the day answers to my sword immediately! I got something to think about.”

    “Yes, Cap’n!” The Pirate Krawk hurried quickly away.

    Towards evening, the ship neared Krawk Island. Ron dropped anchor in the cove and told the pirates, “Go up into town. I’ll meet you at the Golden Doubloon later. I’ve got something to do here first.”

    The other pirates obeyed, taking the spoils from the earlier raid with them to spend. Ron was left alone on the ship. He made his way towards the cell where his sister had been locked and opened the door. Darla looked up at him uncertainly.

    “Come on,” Ron said to her. “And be quiet, or else.” He spoke harshly, but the angry blaze that had been in his eyes earlier was completely gone now. He looked like the Krawk that she knew from before.

    The Krawk and the Cybunny stole across the deck and Ron lowered themselves down to the water in a rowboat. He took the oars and began stroking out of the cove. Darla stayed silent, but her thoughts were racing. Where was he taking her? What did he want with her? Was he planning to finish the job he had started earlier?

    The moon was almost full, and it beamed down on the waters before them as Ron silently rowed. The little boat moved away from Krawk Island with each sweep of the oars.

    On the shore of the island, Grayscale suddenly turned and looked off in the distance. A lone rowboat, almost out of sight, was lit with moonlight as it swiftly moved away. The Pirate Krawk looked harder. “Say, ain’t that Cap’n?”

    The little boat vanished over the horizon. The Pirate Bori followed Grayscale’s gaze. “I don’t see nothing. What’re ye talkin’ about?”

    “There were a couple guys in a rowboat out there.” Grayscale kept staring off into the distance. “I’m sure one o’ ‘em was Cap’n.”

    “Ye be imaginin’ things,” the Bori snorted. “Hurry up, th’ rest o’ th’ crew’s almost at th’ Golden Doubloon while me an’ ye stand here starin’ at imaginary rowboats with imaginary Cap’ns in ‘em.”

    Grayscale gave the moonlit water one last glance and turned away. It was the last any of the crew of the Golden Plunder would see of their captain. He was rowing away as fast as he could to Neopia Central, leaving his life as a pirate behind forever. He was going home at last.

The End

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Other Episodes

» For The Life of a Pirate: Part One
» For The Life of a Pirate: Part Two
» For The Life of a Pirate: Part Three

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