Storm at Sea: Part One
The darkness was absolute on Krawk Island. The thin, weak sliver of a moon only served to make the shadows deeper in the maze of streets by the docks. The people brave, insane, or oblivious enough to be out at this time of night looked uneasily around them, believing that they saw things in the shadows. They knew only too well what could be out there.
Not all of these stirrings in the night were imaginary. Two figures ran through the darkness. They were some of the very, very few who were unafraid – they had grown up on these shadowy streets. They were brown Kyrii, a boy and a girl, each about fifteen. They were tall, thin, and so alike they couldn’t be anything but twins.
The girl whispered, “I see the ship, Jaykob. The Queen of the Seas.”
Her twin replied, “I can’t see any of the others, Mayrie – I bet we’re the first ones here.”
They stole across the street and hid in the shadows, dark fur and black clothes hiding them from any of the passersby.
Except one. A big, black patch of darkness split from the masses across the street and ran to them. The twins looked up at the giant shadow Lupe. Jaykob asked, “Zane, where’s Calder?”
Calder was a starry Eyrie, eighteen like Zane and almost as big. The Lupe replied, “I saw him. We decided to split up. Two people our size don’t exactly blend in and we don’t need any curious law enforcement on our trails tonight.”
“After all, we are technically breaking several different laws here.”
They turned to look at the new speaker, startled. She was a beautiful electric Ixi with long black hair and big violet eyes. Zane grumbled, “Must you come out of nowhere like that, Viv?”
Vivian replied, slightly scornful, “No need to get jealous because, as a sorceress, I can use invisibility spells and you have to resort to skulking around and hoping no one sees you.”
“Oh, I’m not jealous – not with all the reading you have to do. It’s not normal for a sixteen-year-old girl to spend so much time with her nose in a book.”
Mayrie looked out across the way. “Here comes Calder!”
The Eyrie acknowledged them all with a grunt – he didn’t talk much. Jaykob commented, “Now all we need is Alec.”
Vivian asked, “Can we please, please, please leave the little twerp behind?”
Jaykob said sternly, “No. We promised him, and I don’t break promises.”
“Guys? Are you over there?”
Jaykob waved, and Alec stepped into the dim light of the moonlit street. Vivian rolled her eyes, and Mayrie winced.
Alec appeared to be a little Grundo, but he was covered head to toe in a truly bizarre array of clothes. He wore a paper bag with eye holes cut out over his head, two dingy socks on his ears, a purple turtleneck, overalls with several patches, scuffed boots that looked far too big, and mismatched gloves – one rainbow striped and the other a rather nauseous shade of green.
Zane darted out and pulled him into the shadows. He hissed, “Are you an idiot? I’m surprised you don’t have a parade following you, looking like that!”
The Grundo whined, “I lost my bodysuit! It’s not my fault I’m a glowing Grundo!”
Vivian muttered, “It is your fault you’re short on brains.”
Jaykob shot her a glare, and she shut her mouth. Jaykob was the leader of their little band, and he always defended Alec. At thirteen, the Grundo was the youngest of the group, and his tendency to completely mess everything up hadn’t endeared him to the rest. Even the Kyrii boy had to admit that his makeshift covering was an eyesore next to the all-black clothing of his companions. Jaykob said, to take their minds of the younger boy, “You all know the plan. Climb onto the ship, tie up the sentries, leave them on the dock, and sail off before Captain Ryans comes back. Be quick and quiet – the law isn’t on our side.”
Zane commented, “At least Ryans is on the bad side of every officer on the island – no one’s going to be too quick to come and help him.”
Calder flew their rope up and tied it to the rail. He carried Alec while the rest climbed, since no one wanted to see how well the klutz did with heights.
The two sentries were asleep. They were most likely angry at having been left on the ship while the rest had fun on the island. It was almost too easy to bind them and leave them on the dock – they didn’t even wake up. They next threw a load of personal possessions beside them. The six teens may have been committing an act of piracy, but they weren’t going to steal a poor sailor’s few meager belongings just because he was unlucky enough to have a captain like Ryans. Then they began the preparations to sail, aware that they had only a few hours before people would be waking up, and that the invisibility that Vivian had put over the heap on the dock to avoid the attention of passersby couldn’t last forever.
When they were almost done, Alec, who had been put on lookout, screamed, completely panicked, “IT’S RYANS!”
Zane growled, “Now you’ve done it!”
Ryans yelled, “What’re you doing on my ship?”
The Queen started to move away from the dock. Jaykob called to his crew, “More sail! Our cover’s blown anyway – we need to move fast!”
Vivian waved cheekily, and had to skip back quickly to avoid being hit by the grappling hook that Ryans threw. It caught the rail with a thud. Mayrie told her friend, “You take care of him – I have to help Calder!”
Alec squeaked at the sorceress, “Cut the rope!”
She gave him an icy look. “Wait just a minute.”
“But – he’s climbing the rope!”
“Alec, I have everything under control.”
“He’s almost halfway up!”
“Alec, be quiet! I know what I’m doing!”
Captain Ryans was only three meters or so away from the rail when Vivian drew her dagger, cut the rope, and grabbed the iron hook with a single fluid motion. Ryans hit the water with a loud splash. The red Grarrl looked quite ridiculous as he swam to the docks, where a crowd was being attracted by the commotion. No one seemed to be particularly sympathetic to the sodden ex-captain as he stood there and screamed, “COME BACK WITH MY SHIP! PIRATES!”
The adventurers all waved to the people as they headed from the port and out to the open sea.
There are many small islands in the Neopian seas, too insignificant to be noted on any map, most of them not even inhabited. This one was deserted for the simple reason that it was home to an active volcano. It had no name on any major map, but the people who sailed around it called it Pirate’s Horn.
Clouds gathered over the island, swirling down into the ruins of an abandoned city that may have once been grand, but had long been destroyed by the Horn’s wrath. The clouds were being called there by a magical force.
The force of the Dark Faeries.
One in particular sat on a tall pillar, and the clouds swirled into her cupped hands. There, they were starting to take the shape of a large grey pearl. Others stood around her, directing the clouds to her.
A new Dark Faerie flew over. She was clearly nervous about approaching the Dark Faerie at work, but she still cleared her threat and asked, “Lady Vengeance?”
The Faerie with the pearl looked up. She was clearly ancient. There was something about her long hair, her skin, her eyes – various shades of purple, like all of her kind – that spoke of her extreme age. She replied coolly, “Yes, Kazza?”
“I have received word from Faerieland. As far as Xani can tell, no one knows of the storm-spell, or of our presence here.”
Lady Vengeance looked very self-satisfied. If she were an Angelpuss, she would have purred. “I told you that Pirate’s Horn would be the perfect fortress. Any marks of the storm-spell will be attributed to the volcano. In twenty-four hours, the spell will be complete. A huge storm will cover Neopia, and it will rage until Fyora gives me Faerieland!”
Vengeance laughed a cruel laugh, one with no joy in it, only menace. The other Faeries joined in, delighting in the chaos that would come when their storm broke over the world.
The Queen of the Seas sailed through the calm waters of the open ocean. The crew had decided to set sail for Mystery Island. Vivian was below decks, studying Ryans’s old charts, and trying to figure out how long it would take to get there. She murmured, “So, with a favorable wind like this one...”
Alec ran in. “Vivian, have you seen my mask?”
Alec had found some brown yarn and was knitting himself a head cover to replace the one he’d lost. Vivian thought it looked ridiculous. She replied testily, “If we’re lucky, it’s fallen overboard.”
“EVERYONE ON DECK!” Jaykob’s voice held a degree of terror unusual for the Kyrii. The little crew was already accustomed to coming when their captain called, so Vivian and Alec ran up the stairs.
And stopped dead in their tracks.
The six friends looked out at the massive black cloudbank on the horizon. The wind was taking them right toward it. Mayrie shook, her eyes wide with fear. She was terrified of thunderstorms, and this wasn’t just any storm. This was a ship-killer. Those thunderheads looked malevolent, as if they’d like to see every craft on the sea sent to the ocean floor. Jaykob said, trying to sound braver than he felt, “Lower the sails, tie down everything loose, and find a place to hold on. Do it quick – the waves are getting choppy. We don’t have much time.”
They grimly went about their preparations. Jaykob looked out at the threatening clouds, and hoped fervently that his crew and their ship could survive the coming storm.
To be continued...
Author's Note: My first submission! Please neomail me with comments! Thanks, darkside_of_the_moon, for helping me out!