Better than Scones: Return of the Black Pawkeet - Part One
“Cinnamon and Sugar Scones! Get yer fresh Cinnamon and Sugar Scones! Two fer 100 NP!”
Alexa the Kyrii quickly tucked into her piping hot scone, the action repeated by her friend, a blue Usul named Rose. They sat together on the cobblestone curb of Krawk Island’s Market Square, a long street lined with various shops and adorned by a color splash of booths where hawkers displayed their wares.
Alexa wore a pair of well worn tan pants and a white shirt while Rose sported a more lady-like tan skirt with a brown cloak mostly covering her similar white shirt. They both had some rogue pirate plushies lying haphazardly on their laps: Alexa’s was a Kyrii known as Jacques and Rose’s was the spitting image of Captain Garin. In Neopets’ eyes they were just kids, but if five years on the streets together had taught them anything, it was that nothing is as it seems.
Alexa sighed contently, a small shower of crumbs falling onto her lap, which she promptly dusted off with her free paw. “Cinnamon and Sugar Scones. Nothin’ better in all of Neopia.”
Rose let out an acknowledging grunt. She was staring across the street, passed the mingling Neopians and the vivid booths. He sky blue eyes held that faraway look she got whenever she thought intently about something.
“Something wrong, Rose?”
Rose stared down at her scone a long time before she answered.
“Do you ever get tired of it?”
Alexa blinked in surprise. “Tired of what? The scones?”
The Usul shrugged. “I dunno--the streets.” She looked around herself, as if expecting to see something exciting and new. “I mean, look! These same streets were here yesterday--and the day before that and the day before that! I’m seeing the same faces I’ve always seen. I’m seeing the same buildings that are always there. Krawk Island never changes. It was exactly like this the day Ben moved here with me.”
“Hey--I don’t like it when you bring your old owner up like that, like he was the good guy. You hated Ben. I did, too. And you know what? He hated us. Let’s just not talk about him.”
Rose leapt to her feet, nearly losing Garin in the process. “You don’t get it! I want to do something, Alexa! I’m tired of the same old thing every day! Alexa, you’ve lived on the streets your entire life! Aren’t you bored?”
Alexa laughed, finishing off her scone. “What I’ve learned is that living on the streets is never boring. Life throws you new challenges all the time! For as long as you’ve lived with me I’m surprised you haven’t learned that yet.”
Rose brushed the comment aside. “Speaking of challenges, where’d you hide the Black Pawkeet this morning?”
“Don’t worry, it’s safe. I’ve hid it where no one can find it.”
“Great,” Rose sighed, “now we’ll never see it again.”
The two nearly jumped out of their fur.
Alexa addressed the newcomer. “Oh, uh. Good morning, Missus Scribe. We didn’t see you.”
Scribe was a buttercup yellow Gelert with the biggest misty green eyes that squinted cheerfully when she smiled. She wore a blue Neovian-style gown and stood on her hind legs like a Kyrii when she walked. Her favorite accessories were a pad of paper and a pen, but at the moment her paws were full with shopping bags. She was a very kind Neopian and refused to let the girls call her by Ms. or Missus.
“Good morning, girls. What are you up to?”
Rose shrugged. “Oh, same old, same old.”
“Actually,” the Gelert said, “I’m doing quite well. You see, this morning I was on the brink of a major breakthrough on a novel I’ve been working on when I got a writer’s block and I had to step outside and take my mind off of writing, so I volunteered to run errands for Rachel. Well, I’m practically done now and I’m ready to tackle my book again!”
Scribe could talk at a dizzying rate, and she talked twice as fast when she was excited about a book she was in the process of writing. She was very excited right now.
Alexa, who had been listening up until this point, was suddenly distracted by something going on behind Scribe. While she prattled on, Alexa watched a Pirate Scorchio leaving one of the little alleys with a replica of the Black Pawkeet—the famed vessel of Captain Garin and First Mate Jacques—in his claws.
Alexa let out a moan, interrupting Scribe mid-sentence. “I’m sorry, Miss Scribe, but there is some business I need to take care of right now!” She tore off after the Scorchio, the Jacques plushie under her arm.
Rose watched her go, wondering what the fuss was all about.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Scribe,” she apologized, “I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”
“Please, sweetie, just call me Scribe.”
That’s when Rose saw the Scorchio taking off into the air, holding the miniature boat, and Alexa running frantically after him.
“Agh!” Rose cried. “Ms. Scribe, I just remembered! I have to go with her!”
Rose disappeared into the crowd, leaving Scribe all alone in her bewilderment.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Alexa had lost him. The Pirate Scorchio had been there moments before, his red bandana against the blue sky making him stick out like the bandage on a Kiko’s face—then he disappeared into a cloudbank.
She stood there for a long time, hoping to catch a glimpse of him coming out of the white mist. Nothing.
“That’s it!” she snapped. “I give up!”
She looked down at Jacques. What was she saying? Jacques never gave up when things got rough.
She was at the docks now, Kateils swarmed there. There were more stationary shops here. One of them was an inn called the Salty Stahkee. She hated that place.
Alexa headed to one of the stores. This one was different from the rest. It was built on a little jetty and that had a small sloop tied to it. A sign was hung above the door. “Little Nippers” was painted with red letters.
She headed in, nearly tripping over a Swabby as it swish-swished by.
A blue, wrinkled paw caught her before she fell.
“Ho, there! Watch yerself--these scallywags don’t!”
After righting herself, Alexa got a better grip on Jacques, watching warily as the Swabby left to clean over by the Octorna pens. As it passed by the cages, a Palmplat let out a loud screech and buried its head under its feet, trying to hide from its enormous leafy tale. A Deaver looked over at the newcomer curiously, tilting its head from side to side. A Piraket flew off its perch and landed on the shoulder of the Neopet that had helped her.
He was an old, blue Kyrii with a crutch under his left arm and a peg leg. He smiled down at Alexa.
“Land ho!” the Piraket called.
“That’s not land, ye old coot!” the Kyrii scorned. “That’s Alexa. Yew know her!”
“Old coot!” the petpet echoed. “Old coot!”
“Aw--shoo!” the Piraket cried, then it flew off, finding a perfect viewing spot from the top of the Screal tank. The little blue petpets saw him and began to wail loudly. The poor guys must have been hungry. Before long, two Pirakeets over by the counter joined in, then the Snarhook started in with a bass moaning, and the Kateils began shrieking in short bursts and flying everywhere.
“Quiet!” the old Kyrii shouted, “Quiet, the lot of ye! Or Swabby ‘ere won’t be the only ‘un cleanen up aft’r the Octorna!”
The ruckus died down as soon as it started.
“Thank ye.” He nodded his head in satisfaction.
“Quiet!” the Piraket called, “Quiet! Clean up aft’r the Octorna!”
He glared sinisterly at the obnoxious petpet and it snapped its beak shut, burrowing its head underneath its tiny wing.
“Good morning, Salty,” Alexa said. “How’s business?”
Salty hobbled over to the counter, his wooden leg thudding on the wood planks with every other step.
“Now,” he said, leaning comfortably against the wood, “if Ah know Alexa, the only time she’d come ‘round here is ef she need’d help.” He looked over at her expectantly. “So, what can Ah do yew fer?”
Alexa walked over to him and sat down on a sleeping Blurtle.
“Salty,” she began, “I really goofed up this time. A Scorchio got his claws on me ‘n’ Rose’s Black Pawkeet.”
“Well,” he said, “I ain’t much ‘elp wid that. Me legs aren’t what they used ta be. I can’t go chasin’ down no thief nowadays.”
“I know, but I was hoping you could help me find him. You know Krawk Island like the back of your paw.”
“And yew do, too.” Salty leaned forward. “Yew shuld know ‘o this feller is.”
“I know, but I don’t. I didn’t recognize him--I haven’t even seen the likes of him before! It was a... Pirate Scorchio. I don’t think any Pirate Scorchios live on Krawk Island--I didn’t even know they came in that color!”
The Swabby had worked its way over to them and was tapping patiently on Salty’s wood leg. He lifted his legs up one at a time while the Swabby mopped under them without even looking down.
“Well,” he said, planting his foot firmly on the ground, “Ef Ah don’t know the likes--and yew don’t know the likes, den the likes don’t live on Krawk Island.”
“Salty, Cap’n Salty!” Rose burst into the door, causing the Kateils to squawk in alarm. “I need to know--have you seen a Pirate Scorchio being chased by Alexa?!”
Alexa buried her head in her arms.
Rose looked from Alexa to Salty in astonishment... then in grim understanding.
“Land ho!” cried the Piraket.
“Well,” Salty said, getting up, “Ah think it’ll be best if’n yew two watch the shop t’day.” He motioned to the Piraket. “C’mon, First Mate.”
“First Mate!” the petpet echoed, taking his perch on Salty’s shoulder. “First Mate, First Mate!”
“Yes, yes, we all know yer name,” Salty scorned, disappearing into the back room.
When Salty came back into the shop, it was nightfall. Alexa and Rose were sitting together on the Blurtle in silence. The Blurtle had woken up and was looking impatiently up at them, probably wondering if they’d get off anytime soon.
“Abandon ship!” First Mate sang out.
“Oh, shush!” Salty snapped.
“He’s right,” Rose said, standing up to the Blurtle’s joy. “Alexa, let’s get going.”
She nodded and stood up.
The little Blurtle scooted off as fast as his legs could carry him.
“Well,” Salty said, helping them with the door, “Good luck to ye.”
“Good luck! Gooood luck!”
Alexa watched the door close from the street.
Rose put her paw on the Kyrii’s shoulder.
“It’s okay, Alexa. I don’t blame you.”
She didn’t say anything, stuffed her hands in her pockets, and slunk off.
Then, a chilling noise echoed over the water. A menacing laugh that crawled up their spines and ingrained itself into their minds. A cackle they almost recognized.
After it died away, the two stood there, looking at each other with wide eyes. The color had drained from their faces and their paws were shaking uncontrollably.
“I-it was probably... the wind,” Rose said, forcing herself to calm down.
“Yeah...” Alexa mumbled, “The wind...”
Despite their reassurance, they sprinted as far away as their legs could carry them.
To be continued...