The Legacy of the Black Pawkeet: Part One
"Land ho! Six points off the starboard bow!” I heard Talak call from the crow’s nest early one morning. I lifted my headband from my eyes, sat up from my hammock and let out a yawn.
“Wow! Quick trip…” And it was. We had only left the last port a few days before. Then again, these waters were mostly uncharted, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that we’d come across an island.
I got out of my hammock, slipped on my vest, and then my dagger sheath. As I splashed a bit of water on my face to wake myself, I heard my Pawkeet, Blackie, let out something of a displeased squawk.
“Aye, I hear ya, Blackie. I don’t like being woke up this early either, but it can’t be helped.” I walked out on deck with a spyglass and looked in the direction Talak had indicated. “Aye, I see it.” I told Talak, but then I noticed something was amiss, “Hm? That’s funny?”
“What is it?” My first mate and best friend Jacques asked as he came to stand at my side. I handed him the spyglass.
“Take a look, I think I see smoke.” I told him.
Jacques lifted the spyglass and looked out toward the island and saw what I’d seen; a dark pillar of smoke rising from the small island and a ship anchored offshore. He squinted in the early morning light, “It’s hard to tell in this light, but I think that town is under attack!” he agreed.
Jacques handed the spyglass back to me and I looked through it, scowling as I recognized the ship that was launching the attack.
“Can you tell whose ship it is, Captain?” I heard Talak ask as he descended from the rigging.
“Bloodhook’s.” I growled in response. “Perfect… Once he sees us, we’ll be the ones on the receiving end of that bombardment!”
“Yeah, but… is it all right to leave that town like that?” Talak asked me, and I hesitated. It had always been my philosophy to protect the weak and helpless. It was something my father had taught me, and it was a policy I ran my crew by. Talak was right, we had never turned our backs on the plight of the innocent before, and we weren’t going to start now.
“…All right. Move in.” I told them, “But make a wide sweep, approach from the side, and do we still have that navy flag stashed below?” I commanded and asked all at once.
“I think so.” Jacques replied, “May have a few stains and moth holes eaten into it, but what for?”
“When a lion sneaks into a den of foxes, he does well to wear a bushy tail.” I explained, “If Bloodhook sees our flag before he sees the name of the ship, he’ll probably retreat.”
“Aye, aye, Captain!” Talak replied with a salute before hurrying below to find the flag.
I handed the spyglass back to Jacques and ran over to the bell that hung outside my cabin, ringing it loudly to wake the crew and alert them to the oncoming battle. As they began to rush out from below deck, I hurried up to the helm.
“Run out the guns!” I ordered, “Fire a warning round on my command!”
“Aye Captain!” Came the replies of my crew as everyone hurried to their individual stations.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Jacques watching as the flag was raised, and then looking back at Bloodhook’s ship through the spyglass. “Hey, looks like they’re taking somebody prisoner!” He called back to me.
“Run out full sail!” I replied. If Bloodhook was taking somebody prisoner, then that somebody would need to be rescued right away, and that meant we would have to catch up.
My crew obeyed my command, increasing the speed of the ship and firing a warning shot from one of the cannons to get Bloodhook’s attention. As I predicted, Bloodhook’s ship began to retreat, but Jacques was watching the deck carefully.
“Bloodhook’s men have taken her into the cabin!” he told me.
“Jacques, take the wheel!” I replied. “The rest of you, keep up full sail and try to get me as close as you can!”
“What are you gonna do?” Jacques asked me as he took my place at the wheel.
“Something crazy I bet.” I heard Jim the Techo mutter to him as I headed toward the bow.
“Aye, you’re probably right.” Talak agreed. Were they aware that I could hear them?! Oh well, the crew was always calling me crazy anyways…
I grabbed a grappling hook and a length of rope and climbed up to the tip of the bowsprit. As luck would have it, Bloodhook had left one of the windows to his cabin open. When the Pawkeet was close enough to his ship, I threw the grappling hook and managed to hook the windowsill with it. I tied the rope to the bowsprit, put my Maractite Dagger in my teeth and carefully made my way across the rope.
When I made to the other side, I pulled myself into the window and looked around the cabin carefully. Fortunately, Bloodhook was up on deck, steering his “new” ship. His cabin was orderly, which didn’t come as a surprise. Bloodhook was a cutthroat, but certainly not a slob. Course it was probably his crew who kept it so neat… I looked around and quickly spotted the girl Jacques had seen.
She was a young Acara, about fifteen or so. Her fur was light red and her hair was a deep cherry color, short, and curly. She was wearing a white blouse, pink skirt, and blue corset, all made of silk. She seemed to be just a nice girl who’d somehow gotten herself in some big trouble.
The girl was sitting on the floor near some bags which probably contained loot from her village, struggling to get free of the ropes that bound her hands behind her back while at the same time, trying to look over her shoulder at me.
I entered the cabin and took my dagger from my teeth as I approached the girl. “Stay still.” I told her, “I’m gonna cut through these ropes!” The girl nodded and remained still as I began to cut the ropes with my dagger.
“Wh-who are you?” She asked.
“Name’s Garin.” I replied, “What’s yours?”
“R-Rosa…” She replied. I could see that her eyes were glassy with tears. She was obviously scared out of her mind.
“Relax, I’m gonna get you out of here.” I told her as I tossed the cut ropes aside. “Now come on!”
Rosa nodded, got to her feet, and followed me back over to the open window. However, before I could tell her how we were going to get back to my ship, the door to the cabin opened and Bloodhook himself walked right in.
“OI!!!” He yelled angrily, clearly none to pleased to see me or to see that I was rescuing his prisoner. I looked at Rosa.
“Climb onto my back and hold on! Quick!” I commanded her. She didn’t hesitate to obey. Holding onto me with her legs was difficult because of her long skirt, but she wrapped her arms tightly around my neck and I began to make my way back across the rope to the Pawkeet with her. Bloodhook followed us by flying out the window, drawing his sword as he did.
“Yer gonna regret this lad!” I heard him bellow from above me. I yelped in surprise as he swung his cutlass and missed my head by mere inches. I heard Rosa scream, but I could still feel her clinging to me, so I knew she was fine. This kind of thing happened to me all the time, so I wasn’t too worried, but it seemed she was hardly used to pirates or adventure. She’d probably been living a quiet life until today.
Rosa’s grip on me tightened and I nearly choked. She was clearly afraid of falling, but it wasn’t going to do her any good to strangle me! But I could still breathe for the moment, so I leaned to the side in order to dodge Bloodhook’s sword. For some odd reason, he made a swipe at my feet. He missed, but hit the rope instead, and it snapped under mine and Rosa’s weight. She screamed as we fell, but I kept a firm grip on the rope and we swung toward the Pawkeet, missing the water beneath us by inches.
I felt the frightened girl bury her face in my mane, whimpering in fright, but I ignored her for now, focusing instead on climbing up the rope while my crew provided me with some cover fire. She continued to hold onto me even after we’d safely made it to the deck.
“Um… you can let go now.” I said with a grunt. She slowly let go and I rubbed my throat and chuckled, “Got a good grip on ya…” She might not have been an adventurer, but she clearly had some muscle in that petite frame of hers.
“What now Captain?” I heard Talak ask.
“Let’s get back to the village.” I told my crew. With Bloodhook’s assault put to an end, there was no reason not to return this poor girl to her home.
“Aye, aye!” They all responded, quickly working to change our course and head to the small island nearby. Rosa sank to her knees, still trembling in fright.
“Papa… He must be worried sick.” She said, though it was clear she was just as worried.
I frowned, kneeling down and patting her back gently, “Easy there, just take some deep breaths.” I told her. She nodded and tried to steady her breathing. Sea Cat, our surgeon, came over and draped a blanket around her to help her get her bearings and I looked out toward the pillar of smoke still rising from her village.
To be continued…