Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 117,249,079 Issue: 235 | 14th day of Eating, Y8
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The Beginning


by tami9900

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Rain pounded on the roof and thunder and lightning danced outside, hand in hand. Hannah threw the rag down on the counter and swabbed at it. Looking at the dirty counter, she couldn't help but grimace. Gallons of spit had been poured on this poor thing, and Hannah had cleaned it all up. Especially the Blumaroos. Ugh. The tavern-keeper, a cranky old Krawk, lumbered out. He was an old man, and Hannah felt sorry for him. His eyes were blurry, his lips were cracked, and he had a horrific limp in his right claw. All the pressure and stress from working in an old tavern had embittered him. Hannah had asked about his condition once. Once. The one time she did he held a terrible grudge against her for months, piling her up with even more chores. She had been afraid to ask him anything ever since. He limped over to her, scanned her bored expression and inquired, "What's eatin' ye?"

     "Well..." Hannah hesitated. The keeper didn't like her, so she had to be careful with her words, especially with an important question like this. "Well, I was wondering if I could have... a raise."

     An eyebrow went up. That grump always got suspicious about budget questions. "No. For two reasons- one cuz you're a lassie, 'n two cuz' you ain't workin' too hard anyway."

     And he limped into the kitchen and slammed the door in her face. Infuriated, Hannah gazed down at the poor counter. The scratched up, spit-laden, unappreciated counter. She DID work hard, and just because she was a girl didn't mean she couldn't barely keep the tavern afloat. She was like the counter. Meals sat on it, food was ordered over it, yet no one could see its important role it played in the tavern. Same with Hannah. Without her, the tavern would sink and the customers would complain, yet no one treated her with the basic respect everyone deserved. She would work in the Golden Dubloon if she could work in a tavern at all, but what she really craved for was adventure. Traps. Treasure. Beasts. Adventure. The words rung in her head, and cleaning specks of spit and food suddenly didn't matter as she floated off in her day dreams. Jumping, ducking, dueling, hiding, sneaking, and collecting treasure. Golden coins in big chests, waiting to be opened. Mutants and the undead, chasing her and being able to dash away quickly and unharmed. Then to look back at her life in the tavern and to smile triumphantly. Suddenly the door banged open and lightning flashed, illuminating a silhouette standing in the doorway. He strode in, all eyes flicking towards him then going back to whatever they were doing. The Pirate Skeith leaned on the unappreciated counter and grumbled,

     "Excuse me?" Hannah glanced around to the back. The two waiters were yelling at a cook in the kitchen about dropping a plate, so even though it wasn't her job, Hannah decided to take his order. Hiding the rag and pulling out a waiter's notebook and pen she asked politely to the Skeith,

     "May I take your order, sir?" The Skeith suddenly froze and looked her over. His eyes darted from her ragged clothes to her beautiful face, then gazed at his surroundings and then he flew back to her eyes. Her big, bright eyes, which hid that she was sad and trapped. Hannah stood perplexed, stunned at his expression. Then the Skeith grumbled, snapping back to his earlier look. "Like a grog, please," he grunted. Hannah turned, seized a cup, and heard him whisper to himself, "She's quite a pretty lass." She suspected he had said it just loud enough for her to hear him.

     Filling the cup out of a barrel, she handed him the pint and said, "Three dubloons, sir." He handed her the coins, and when she counted them there was five. "Sir, this is two more than needed."

     "Two fer a spunky-lookin' beauty like yourself." He smirked, and she could've sworn that he winked.

     "Thank you," she stuttered, pocketing the change. The Skeith pulled an old-looking book and began reading as he sipped his drink. Hannah went back to cleaning a cup that a very messy Blumaroo had been drinking from. She couldn't help but glance at the book once or twice, the second time the Skeith caught her looking like she was interested in the book. Her eyes flew back to the cup, trying to look like she didn't care about it.

     "Like this beauty, lass? Ar, you can have a look, you's seemin' just the type." He handed the book gently to her. It was old, ripped, wet, and many pages were just barely eligible. She flicked through the stiffened pages, reading about pirates, caves, traps, and best of all, treasure. The Pirate Skeith peered over his cup and Hannah began to hurry, afraid he would snatch it back if she took too long. But he made no gesture to take the book. She finished her read with a page saying something about a gem of magical power, before she handed the book back and smiled her thanks. The book touched something inside her, and though she couldn't guess what it was, it nagged in the back of her brain. It was like a chore that she needed to do, and she wanted to do it, but she couldn't lay her paw on it. The Skeith slid it back into a pouch, and stood from the stool he had been sitting on. Hannah stood to, and escorted him to the exit (which was also the entrance). The rain had settled down a little, but waves still crashed on the shore and wild winds whipped around them.

     Clutching her two dubloons he had given her, she yelled over the winds, "Come back again soon! And thank you for the money!" Her Usul hair flew in every direction, and her ragged dress was thrown against her legs again and again.

     "No use com'n back!" he yelled back at the top of his lungs. "A wild sea-storm's com'n in from the south, I can feel it in my bones! You'd best get cover'd! Oh yeah, and lassie, I got a present fer ye!" He handed her a bulging pouch, and said, "Don't you be openin' this in front of nobody!"

     She held onto the sack and yelled "Bye!" The Skeith grunted, but she couldn't him over the wind. Then he smiled, turned, and disappeared. Shocked, she looked around for him but he was gone. Then the image a phantom ship loomed out at sea, then a mammoth gust of wind blew away her hallucinations. She stumbled back into the tavern, and a thrill of horror flooded through her. The old Krawk that ran the tavern was waiting for her inside, and by the look on his face she had just broken a big rule and she was in so much trouble.

     "HANNAH!!! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? GOING OUTSIDE WHILE ON WORK HOURS IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN YOUNG LADY!! WHY, I'VE NEVER..." The whole room went quiet. The Shoyrus, the Aishas, the Peophins, and all the others sat, stunned, at the Usul and the Krawk at the doorway. The tavern-keeper kept ranting, "AND STEALING!!! I'VE NEVER SEEN THAT... THAT...THING YOU ARE HOLDING!!! WHAT I'M GOING TO DO TO YOU I WILL NEVER FIGURE OUT!!" Many of the customers started giggling. That lass was in so much trouble! One Shoyru burst out laughing. Suddenly a little note fluttered from the sack. Holding it sideways had caused it to fall out. The Krawk snatched it before Hannah could and read it. The entire tavern held its breath. A look of horror spread across his face before he stuffed it in his pocket and looked up. All he could muster was, "Go to your room." As Hannah stalked by, she stole the note that was halfway stuffed in his pocket without him noticing.

      * * *

     Hannah flung herself on her bed, swimming in the swirl of emotions she had experienced. So much out of the ordinary had happened today. The Skeith, the storm, the book, the bundle... the bundle! She reached for the sack he had given her. But before she opened it, she read the note the Krawk had read.

     I'm warning you, Gader. The girl did nothing wrong. Send her to her room and keep this note a secret.

     Weird, she thought. The Krawk was meant to have this note? Maybe that Pirate Skeith had magic powers; after all he had disappeared into thin air and he had a phantom ship. She held the note over a candle to burn it up. The Skeith wanted this note a secret. After that, she loosened the drawstring on the present and looked inside. The first thing she pulled out was a brand new green skirt and brown leather vest. Wow! Looking down at the raggedy uniform she had on now, she believed it was the best -and only- present she had received in her life. She slipped off her uniform and pulled the clothes on. They fit perfectly. How'd he know her size? The next thing she pulled out was a note, which she set aside for the moment. The last thing she pulled out was the book. Her eyes grew large. Did he mean for her to have it, or was it accidentally put in the sack? She opened it for the second time. Before she could read any thing, a huge clap of thunder rattled her room. Hannah remembered what the Skeith had said. 'No use comin' back! A wild sea-storm's comin' in from the south, I can feel it in my bones!' Was a sea storm actually headed her way? A hurricane? The tavern was right on the coast, and it was probably true. The storm had been raging for a full day and a half. Setting the storm to the back of her mind, she read the note she had set aside.

     Hannah, turn to page 370 in the book, the last page, and read it. I feel you are ready for this task. Also, a storm is really and truly coming your way, so you are required to follow your heart. Do you want to follow the book, and start an adventure? if you want to survive, you cannot stay here. However I cannot decide for you. Collect what you need tonight and evacuate. I knew you could do it the minute I set eyes on you.

      -anonymous

     Hannah could only sit holding the note. The storm was real? She was ready for what? She burned that note so that no one else could read that one either, then she flipped the book open to pg 370. It read:

     The Mermaid's Tear is a valuable gem beyond prices. But it is more than a huge profit, it is a magical gem of power, recovered by Captain Usulian himself. But soon Usulian was aware he was being followed, so he hid the Gem in an underground cave. No one knows where. He was aware that if the Mermaid's Tear was found by pirates, it would spell certain doom for Neopia. The Captain was then found by pirates, and when he refused to show the location of the jewel, he was killed. The Mermaid's Tear still lies in the caves, now called the Pirate Caves, and though the pirates still patrol the tunnels, any explorer brave and true enough to go down there may rescue the precious gem and save Neopia.

     She closed the book.

     "Whoa," she murmured to herself. After that, Hannah put her candle (blown out of course,) into the large sack, the book, a large supply of food and water, and 10 dubloons she had earned as payment. Last, she packed some flint and steel in a small watertight box. As her Grandfather said, you never know when a fire will come in handy, even out at sea. Then she lifted the sack. It wasn't too heavy. Lightning flashed outside her window, reminding her to run. The storm would come that night. Lastly, she reached for a pen and paper and wrote,

     Gader, there is a storm blowing this way. A fatal storm. Evacuate. If you choose not to, at least take care of the counter in its final hours. I'm leaving. Guess where! -Hannah

     After that, she tiptoed out of her room. The tavern was empty. Gader, the tavern-keeper, was in the back, cleaning everything up. She cracked the kitchen door open, stuck the note on the back of the door, and stepped out of the tavern. Winds lashed around her, and the sky was gathering in a hurricane. She headed to the center of Krawk Island, and stumbled for a good two hours, before finally coming to the entrance to the pirate caves. It was just a tree. She opened the book, read a small paragraph, and spoke the ancient words that would reveal the entrance to the caves.

     "Open, tree,

     I am thee,

     hear my plea,

     oh, come to me."

     The palm wobbled, before sliding over to reveal a small hole. She hesitated. Did she want to do this? She would confront her dream as an adventurer, but was it really as cracked up as it seemed? She couldn't go back. She could come in and out, but she wouldn't be able to stay out, not with all the pirates chasing her. Then she decided, with the winds whipping 'round, standing at the hole, holding her sack of possessions, to be an adventurer. She leapt down into the hole, and the palm closed over her. She was in the Pirate Caves.

     Luckily, Gader, the staff, and the people spending the night in the tavern found her note and had just enough time to flee. And as the Skeith predicted, that night a mammoth sea-storm blew in from the south, destroying the little tavern on the coast.

The End

 
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