Scarblade's Pearl: Part Three
Months passed. With each day, Nira grew stronger, faster, and wiser. She learned all of Scarblade's tricks and formed a few tricks of her own. She dueled everyone on the ship, but soon no one could best her. Only Scarblade was a match for her, and by now they were pretty much even in strength.
Nira walked out of the girls' room and onto the deck early one morning, yawning a bit. Wandering over to the railing, she gazed out at the pale morning sky. Her eyes then slowly drifted to the sparkling clear water below. A chord was struck in her memory, and she realized this was just like that day so many months ago. The second day she'd spent on Scarblade's ship. The day she'd almost exposed her powers. It seemed a lifetime away now.
Looking around behind her, Nira did a quick look-over of the deck. No one was around. She listened carefully. Only soft snoring sounds could be heard coming from the boy's room below deck. Looking back to the water, Nira took a deep breath and let it out.
Don't be such a coward! Nira commanded herself.
No one was around. She could do this! Slowly, hesitantly, Nira reached out one hand so that it hovered above the water. She concentrated on the water just below her hand, finally lifting it into the air. It hovered there beneath her paw, swirling slowly. This was all she could do. It had taken long hours of practice over many weeks just to accomplish what seemed such a simple feat.
“Doin' somethin', Lass?” asked Scarblade in a low voice.
Nira spun around, eyes wide, heart frozen with fear. There was no doubt about it. From the look on his face, she knew he'd seen her. Seen what she'd done. Nira pressed her back against the railing, wishing Scarblade would stop glaring at her like that.
Stupid! I'm so stupid! she thought. How could she think she could get away with it!? Months of hiding had all come to nothing in but a few seconds. Tears began to prick at her eyes as Scarblade slowly came closer, the glare never faltering. When he was but three feet in front of her, he stopped.
“There a reason you've kept this from me, Lass?” he asked, voice filled with malice.
He hates me! He'll throw me out to the streets!
Unable to contain her emotions, Nira collapsed at the captain's feet, letting loose her fearful tears.
“I'm sorry! I didn't want you to hate me, like everyone else! Please, PLEASE don't throw me back onto the streets!” Nira sobbed as she spoke and wept into her hands. She didn't see the glare disappear from Scarblade's face, nor the grin that replaced it. She only noticed when he knelt on one knee and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Hate you?” he asked, chuckling softly. “You thought I'd hate you?”
Scarblade shook his head, allowing himself a bellow of laughter. Nira's tears stopped and she looked at Scarblade with a mixture of confusion and hope.
“Y-you... you don't?” she asked, voice shaking.
Scarblade's grin became a wide, evil smile.
“Nay, Lass. What I just saw you do... do you realize what you could be capable of? If you train them powers, you could control the very seas which we're sailing over!” Scarblade's voice came out confident and powerful, so much so that Nira forgot her fears. She smiled at the captain.
“You really think so?” she asked.
Scarblade's eyes narrowed a bit.
“I know so,” he whispered.
A new training plan was devised after the discovery of Nira's powers. Instead of sword training the whole day, she spent mornings training her water powers and afternoons practicing her swordplay. In the evening she got a short rest, then trained her water powers again until the moon rose to the midnight point. Progress, of course, was very slow. But Scarblade was patient, coming to watch Nira practice every so often. Whenever he did, he would praise her on her improvements. Nira loved his praise. She wanted... hungered for it. It was the only thing that mattered now. So she worked hard as she could, day in and day out, to live up to every task Scarblade set her to. Days turned into weeks, weeks, to months, months to years.
Finally it had been six years since Nira had joined Scarblade's crew. It was now her sixteenth birthday, and she couldn't believe it had been so long. Back when she was younger, the other crew members had shunned and abused her. Now they seemed like family, having accepted her into their gang. The Shoyru grinned, slipping out of her hammock. As usual, she had woken earlier than the others, and so slipped quietly out onto the deck. The morning was calm and chilly, the air frosty in her lungs. Nira was wandering to the rails again when she froze. Someone else, for once, was up before her. He stood with his back to her, leaning on the rail, seeming lost in thought.
“Kei?!” Nira exclaimed, calling Kaezer by his favored nickname. The Ixi jumped and turned to face her, looking startled.
“O-oh, hi, Nira. Man, you startled me!” he called, putting a hand to his face.
Nira giggled and shook her head, walking to lean on the rail beside Kaezer.
“Sorry, but I wasn't expecting you. I'm usually the first one up,” she replied.
Kaezer rubbed the back of his head.
“Yeah, guess I was up a bit early...” he mumbled.
Nira smiled at him.
“Yeah, just a bit,” she replied cheerily.
Kaezer looked at his feet, making a thoughtful face. Nira was about to ask what was on his mind when he stuck his hand into a pocket, pulled something from it, and swiftly held the item out to Nira. He didn't look as he held it out, but instead kept her eyes closed, grimacing as if he really didn't want to do this.
“Here. Birthday present,” he muttered, sounding a bit cross.
Nira held out her hands and Kaezer dropped the item into her hands. It was a necklace! The chain was gold, with a charm of some kind of blue stone.
“Thank y-” Nira looked up to thank the Ixi, but he'd already moved away. She blinked and looked around, but he'd disappeared. Face scrunched up in confusion, she put the necklace around her neck.
“What'cha got there, Lass?” Scarblade asked from behind. Nira spun to look at him, grinning. She fingered the necklace charm.
“It's a necklace. A birthday present from one of the crew,” she stated happily. Scarblade grinned.
“It looks nice on you, Lass,” he said.
More praise. Nira drank it in hungrily. Scarblade leaned on the rail beside her, putting his hands together.
“I've got a special mission for you, Nira,” he said quietly. Nira's attention pricked and she focused intently on Scarblade.
“The last test to be sure you're ready,” he went on. Nira ignored the word “ready”. She didn't care what she needed to be “ready” for. She only wanted to please Scarblade.
“What is it?” she asked eagerly.
Scarblade waited a few seconds, causing Nira to shift impatiently.
“There is a small town off of the main city of Maraqua,” he said finally. Nira nodded.
“Your mission will be to destroy it,” he finished.
Nira didn't even flinch.
“How?” she asked. Not really out of not knowing, but out of curiosity to see how HE'D want her to do it.
“Don't waste any time. Just create a whirlpool large enough to demolish it. After that, come straight to the surface. Understood?” Scarblade straightened and turned to Nira, waiting for confirmation. Nira grinned.
“I won't let you down, Captain,” she replied.
“You better not,” replied Scarblade with an ominous quiet.
Four hours later, the Revenge was anchored a few meters away from the unsuspecting little Maraquan town. Nira nodded to Scarblade once the anchor was in place, then dove into the sea. She had developed the ability to breathe underwater when honing her powers. It was simple, really. All she did was separate the oxygen from the water whenever she breathed in. It had taken months of practice, but now Nira could do it without even thinking. Using her powers, she manipulated the water around her to create a current that would carry her to the town, which she could see a short distance ahead. The Shoyru stopped when she was maybe twenty meters from it, hovering one hundred meters above them.
With a malicious grin, Nira raised her arms and concentrated on the town. She pictured the water swirling around and around, the innocent town in its center. After a few seconds, the water began swirling as she had pictured. It quickly picked up speed, moving faster and faster. Screams could be heard echoing through the sea, but Nira was deaf to them. Buildings began to be torn apart, bit by bit, until the whole town seemed to be swirling in the terrible cyclone. When she could see no more of the town, Nira let the whirlpool begin to calm. Slowly it slowed down, dropping debris all over, until it finally came to a stop. The ocean was still and silent. The task was done. Nira smiled an evil smile, then turned to head for the surface.
To be continued...