Messenger: Just Another Pirate Tale - Part Three
A hand grabbed my foot, and for a moment I thought it was Bluecloud, before I realized that Bluecloud was not there. Neither was Pecan. I whirled wildly around, my mane and wings flapping wildly in the currents, as I was pulled down, down, down, into the dark sea.
My mouth was wide open, but no air came in, only salty, rancid seawater. The cold air numbed my brain, and soon the knife hacking at my lungs stopped. My consciousness was wavering, and my vision was going black around the edges. In a moment I blacked out.
I awoke in a bed, not a hammock or an Eyrie cab seat or anything like that, but an honest-to-goodness bed. There were sheets and pillows and blankets and a mattress, all pure, clean white, freshly washed. Surprisingly, I was not wet; in fact I was very warm and dry. There was cool, clean air all around me, smelling of salt and seaweed and the sea in general. Just above me there was a Hissi, a sea green Hissi with lilac flecks on its back and tail and rosy pink fins. In one of its hands there was a ceramic bowl filled with a chunky greyish liquid, and it was spooning something into my mouth that tasted like gravy. My eyes popped wide open and I sat up, pointing my finger at the Hissi. “Where is Pecan?” I shouted. “Where is Bluecloud? Where is Clark?”
The Hissi ignored me and calmly put the bowl and spoon onto a table about halfway across the room. I gazed up at my surroundings and found myself in a cave, much like the Fish Puddle but emptier. Maraqua? “Are we underwater?” I asked the Hissi.
“We are,” said the Hissi simply. Its voice was smooth and crooning and sounded feminine. A strange accent clouded her voice. “We are fifteen leagues south of Maraqua.”
I pulled my blanket away and hopped out of bed on unsteady legs. “I need to get back to Krawk Island before noon,” I stammered.
A voice sounded from the shadows. “Krawk Island?” it asked. The voice had the same accent as the Hissi’s and sounded gravelly and low. As he spoke I peered into the shadows to see another table at the far end of the cave, with a single chair. A JubJub, Maractite like the Hissi, crouched there. His feet were dark, violent purple, and his hard, shell-like body was bright red. His eyes were slitted and black, as black as the depths of the sea. “Ana, are you out of your mind?” The JubJub rose to his feet and began to pace toward us. A Maractite Battle Hammer gleamed at his belt, and a Finned Maractite Helm sat on his broad head.
The Hissi shook her head. “Tisu, it is but a child.” She placed a protective hand on my shoulder. I noticed that both of the pets were abnormally short. The JubJub came up to my waste and the Hissi, Ana, was an inch or two shorter than me.
“A pirate child,” Tisu growled, glaring at me.
“You must excuse my cousin,” Ana apologized. “Tisu is very against the pirates. Ever since our last war, the Maractites have been stirring against Krawk Island. A resistance is growing.”
“And we will win,” Tisu shot back. He swung his hammer and it rebounded off the wall with a clang. “The pirates must learn that they are not the rulers of the sea, but us, the Maractites. He lovingly stroked his helmet. “My family was once renowned for their armor-making skills. And they will be renown once more. The Maractite weapons will not go unused for long.”
Ana sighed and glanced up at the wall. I followed her gaze to see a family crest painted on the rock. An ornate throwing net was spread out in the middle of the picture, with two crossed spears over it. At the top of the crest a Finned Maractite Helm sat, with a fancy P emblazoned on the side. “This is Tisu’s family crest,” Ana explained to me. “When he was very young, both of his parents, the Portian Armorers, as they were called, perished in the Pirate War, as it is called here. He had no kin, so my family, the Raylayers, adopted him. He is not my true cousin, but he has been in my family ever since we were young children.”
“And now I am forced to take on the Raylayer name and their crest,” Tisu snorted. “But I refuse. Now that I have reached manhood I am a warrior, a Portian.” He struck his hammer against his helmet and stood unfazed. “Our armor is strong,” he continued. “Nothing can crush it.”
Ana rolled her eyes. “Please. Your precious ancestors may have been great armor makers, but that was long ago. And you? How do you expect to hold up the Portian name if you can’t even make a shield that won’t crumble to bits the second it is touched?”
Tisu glared at her. “You just wait, cousin. When the war comes, your puny Raylayer family will be ashamed for what makes them great: cooking.”
“It is rather good cooking,” I said defensively, remembering the gravy.
“So the little pirate speaks!” Tisu snorted. “I say throw her out into the ocean. Quick, Ana, before she is found.”
Ana wrapped her arms protectively around me. “Don’t be so cruel, Tisu. She wouldn’t last a second, and you know it. We are miles under the surface.” She turned to me and smiled. “What is your name, sweet?” she asked kindly.
“Emma,” I said. “And I am not a pirate,” I snapped, glaring at Tisu. “I was only visiting there with my friends when I was rudely pushed off the dock.”
“That’s how we found you, dear,” Ana soothed. “Thankfully I was able to rush you here before you drowned. I keep forgetting that you land-creatures cannot breathe underwater.”
“Exactly,” said Tisu. “How will it survive out if the cave? What do you plan to do with it? I hope it doesn’t plan to stay here, in my cave.”
“She will not,” Ana snapped. She reached behind the bed and withdrew a large, clear orb. She fastened it on my head and handed me a wetsuit and flippers. “I am taking her to my father’s cave.”
“Good,” snorted Tisu, coughing and lumbering back to the table.
Ana rolled her eyes and began fitting the swim gear to me. The flippers and wetsuit were both made of the same scaly green material. “Skeith skin,” she explained. “Maractite, of course. It is extremely waterproof.” The Skeith skin was extremely heavy and thick and kept me warm. The glass globe on my head had a tiny little bronze gizmo on the top. “What’s this?” I asked, fingering the device. It was smooth and had several holes and screens covering it.
“Ingenious little device,” said Ana, beaming. “It is Maraqua’s latest water gear development. Of course, the Maractites have no need for it, but the land creatures revere it greatly. You see, this little screen here, it sucks in the seawater as you are swimming. The inside of the device is like a still, but instead of separating salt from water it separates oxygen from hydrogen, which, in case you didn’t know, together makes up water. The hydrogen is discarded through the holes in the tube and the oxygen is fed into the orb, which is where you breathe. And, mind you, this is all done in a matter of seconds. Ingenious, is it not?”
I nodded and tucked the orb under my arm for putting on later, when we were out in the open water. It was ingenious. I turned to Ana. “Is it noon yet?”
“Noon?” questioned Ana, cocking her head. “Goodness, no, it is well past noon. It is about eight now.”
“Eight in the morning?” I asked hopefully.
Ana shook her head. “Night,” she corrected.
I sighed. Midnight and Clark must be frantic. How was I to be reunited with them? Perhaps they had found the weewoo. All they knew about where we were was that we had been headed toward the docks, but we could have been waylaid on the way there, and besides, the docks were huge. No one had seen us disappear except for Dole, of course, and perhaps Joe. And of course Dole wouldn’t say anything, and it would be immensely hard to get anything out of Inigo, judging by what Bluecloud and I had been through this morning.
“Ana?” I asked, turning to the pretty Maractite Hissi.
“Yes?” She had been walking toward the cave entrance.
“When you found me, did you see anyone else?”
“There was a grey Acara and a Tyrannian Gallion with me when I fell off the pier.”
Ana shook her head sadly. “I am very sorry, dear, but-”
“Emma. My name is Emma.”
“Yes. Thank you. Emma, when I found you half-drowned near Krawk Island you were alone, and there was no one nearby. I am very sorry.”
“That’s okay. It’s not your fault.” I sighed. Ana gently steered me toward the cave entrance and fitted the glass orb onto my head and assessed my wetsuit and flippers. She nodded, and we stepped out of the entrance, and into the ocean beyond.
To be continued...