The Legacy of the Black Pawkeet: Part Three
It started out like any other morning. It was actually still dark out, but I was already up. I had to be. Since Papa preferred to start his work at dawn, I had to have breakfast ready before then. He wasn’t up yet, but I knew he would be once he smelled the omelets I was planning to make.
As I cut some vegetables to add to the omelets, my sharp ears picked up the sound of footsteps approaching my house. Who could that be? None of the other villagers were usually up at this hour. It couldn’t be a group of young’uns trying to play a prank either; these footsteps belonged to adult men.
I bit my lip nervously and headed toward the backdoor, keeping a tight grip on the knife I’d been using. I let out a startled scream as the door was suddenly kicked in and a trio of strangers barged in. I could tell just by looking at them that they were pirates. I backed against the counter, holding the knife in front of me in a defensive manner.
One of the pirates laughed at me. “Put that knife down, girly. I can tell just by yer face that ye don’t know how to use it. Only person ye’ll end up hurting is yerself.” I didn’t move.
“Rosa!” My father’s voice called. I looked over at him desperately as he came into the kitchen with a cutlass.
I screamed as one of the pirates grabbed me, wrenching the knife from my hands and holding it to my throat.
“No sudden moves, or your daughter loses her life.” He warned my father.
My father grit his teeth, glaring at them with intense hatred, but he didn’t dare to move. One of the other pirates whispered to the one holding me, “Take her back to the ship, we’ll take care of this one.”
“No!” I cried, struggling as he took the knife from my throat and began dragging me toward the door.
“Rosa!” I heard my father call after me. The next thing I heard was a cannon shot.
“Rosa! Rosa, wake up!”
I gasped and opened my eyes to see Sea Cat standing over me. I blinked a few times and remembered where I was. On the Black Pawkeet, in Captain Garin’s cabin, away from my village and separated by death from everyone I knew and loved.
“Sea Cat?” I asked.
“It’s all right.” The human woman told me, “You were just having a nightmare.”
I nodded, but the truth was, it was far from all right. My entire world had been destroyed and I was the only one to survive. I held back my tears, not wanting to seem weak. “I’m sorry if I woke you.”
“It’s all right. We all have nightmares sometimes.”
I looked in Sea Cat’s eyes and saw sincerity, so I nodded and lied back down, “I guess I’ll go back to sleep.”
Sea Cat nodded, but she stayed by my side, stroking my hair and humming softly, at least until I was asleep again. Yes, she was a pirate, but she had a kind and gentle side that reminded me of… someone I knew… long ago.
I awoke early the next morning, though later than I usually did. I’d probably overslept out of exhaustion, but I supposed that didn’t matter now. I felt a bit hungry, so I decided to slip down to the galley in search of something to eat.
“Morning Rosa.” I heard a voice as I exited the cabin. I jumped and looked up at the helm to find a red Buzz at the wheel.
“Oh, good morning… um…” I’d forgotten this crewmember’s name.
“I’m Bill.” He told me good-naturedly, and I nodded. “Bit of an early riser, huh?” He asked.
I nodded again, “Usually earlier than this.”
Bill chuckled, “Everyone but me and Jim are asleep, but you’re welcome to help yourself to something in the galley.”
“Thank you.” I quietly slipped below deck and into the galley in search of food. I’d just found some peapods, which would be an excellent addition to an omelet, provided there were some eggs on board, when suddenly—
“Brawk! Swab the deck! Call to arms! Shiver me timbers!”
The sudden sound of the strange voice was followed by several groans, along with “Garin! Shut that fool bird up, will you!” That had been Jacques.
Curious, I walked into the crew’s quarters with the peapods in hand to see Captain Garin’s Pawkeet flying about, still shouting random pirate phrases at the top of his tiny lungs, the crew desperately trying to ignore or catch him, and Captain Garin laughing his head off. It seemed Blackie had given the rest of the crew a very rude wakeup call.
Suddenly the little bird looked at me and let out another squawk, then flew over to me, landing in my hands and picking up one of the peapods with his beak. I blinked in confusion.
“Looks like you’ve discovered the secret to becoming friends with Blackie.” Captain Garin said as he walked over to me.
“Peapods?” I asked in confusion.
He nodded, “Aye, they’re his favorite treat. Give him enough and he’ll be your friend for life.” I smiled, and then looked over my shoulder as Sea Cat entered the room from somewhere else.
“I’ll get started on breakfast.” She said to the Captain.
Captain Garin nodded and looked at the rest of the crew, “All right men, let’s get up on deck and get to work.” Blackie picked up the last of the peapods and flew over to the Captain’s raised arm, then shuffled up to his shoulder.
Seeing as I’d only be in the way on deck, I followed Sea Cat into the galley, along with the ship’s cabin boy, a young’un named Sam. “Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked Sea Cat.
“That’s all right. Sam and I can handle it.” Sea Cat told me, “Why don’t you just have a seat? You look like you’re still a little sore anyway.” It was true. Bloodhook and his men had amused themselves the day before by tormenting me. They’d hit me, pushed me around, and pulled my hair, so I was pretty sore. I sat down as Sea Cat said and watched her prepare breakfast with Sam’s help. It felt strange to be in a kitchen and do nothing though.
As the smell of breakfast began to fill the galley, I found myself lost in my thoughts, wondering just what would become of me. How exactly could I make my way now that I was all alone? Captain Garin had said he had a friend who would help me, but just how long could I expect to live under the kindness of a stranger?
My thoughts were interrupted by Sea Cat holding out a small cup with some sort of paste in it to me. I looked up at her in confusion and she explained, “Put this balm on the worst of your bruises. It’ll help them heal faster.” I nodded and took the mixture from her to apply to myself, but she dipped her fingers in it and rubbed some on my cheek, “You should be glad you can’t see how bad this one is, but at the same time, that makes it hard to apply enough.” I would’ve nodded if she wasn’t still applying the balm. Bloodhook had slapped me for raising my voice after he’d told lies about my mother, and given how sore my cheek was, I could imagine how bad it must’ve looked.
I applied the balm to a few of the bruises on my arms as she went back to the stove. “If you want, I can help you apply some under your clothes later.”
Sea Cat finished the food and then she rang a bell to let her crewmates know it was ready. As they began to file down into the galley to eat, she set a plate of food in front of me. I thanked her and began to eat. As I did, I saw Captain Garin walk over to her. He and Jacques accepted plates of food, and then sat down across from me.
“Captain Garin, if you don’t mind my asking, how did you come by this ship?” I asked, “It used to belong to Bloodhook, and I can’t imagine he just gave it up.”
“Oh he didn’t.” Captain Garin said with a smile, “Not without a fight.”
“Aye. That was when we first became pirates.” Jacques added.
“Please, tell me.” I requested, leaning forward and propping my chin on my hands. I was more interested in the story than in food.
Captain Garin smiled, “All right, well, it all started in the village where Jacques and I grew up…”
I listened eagerly as Captain Garin told me all about how his crew came to be, starting with when he and Jacques first met and how’d they’d grown up. I would have gladly listened to their entire lives stories until we reached port.
Indeed, in the time that followed, I listened to Garin and Jacques tell stories of their adventures at every opportunity. I also asked Sea Cat about hers, both those she’d had with her crewmates and those she’d had alone. When nobody had time to talk with me, I spent my time practicing on deck with a bolas. It was the only kind of weapon I knew how to use, although I admit I’ve never actually used it as one. Back home, I used it to pick fruit off of trees.
There was one thing I was determined I would not do though, I would not cry; at least not when anybody could hear. I did cry myself to sleep at night, but never during the day. My constant request for stories and practice with the bolas were all simply ways to distract myself from what had happened.
Yes, my happy life had been destroyed and I was now on my own, but I was determined that somehow, I would survive this and make a new life for myself. I had to. When we last saw my mother, she and my father promised each other they would survive. Now they were both gone, but I would do my best to honor the vow they’d made. So I didn’t want to dwell on what had happened. I couldn’t. Those feelings of despair would hold me back. The best I could do was move on and try not to look back.
There was one thing I could not stop myself from doing however, and that was having nightmares. No matter how I may have wished for otherwise, the terrible nightmares came each night and I fear I woke the crew with my screaming every time. Sea Cat and Blackie became dear friends in those instances.
Sea Cat always came to soothe me, like a mother calming a frightened child. And Blackie had warmed up to me. He’d stay in the cabin with me and try to console me in his own way. He was really very cute, though I’d learned he was also very mischievous and feisty. He loved to annoy the other members of the crew, especially Jacques. They seemed to have a profound dislike for each other.
Although Garin was officially the Captain, he and Jacques clearly saw one another as equals, which explained why they usually shared the cabin. They seemed almost like brothers. They were always joking with each other. I didn’t understand some of their jokes, but Talak told me that they often exchanged inside jokes only they understood.
I was surprised when what had seemed like an argument between them suddenly resulted in them playfully wrestling on the deck. This must’ve happened frequently, because the other members of the crew began making bets on who would win. The end results were split evenly between them, so it seemed that Garin and Jacques were equals in fighting as well.
I had never met anyone like them. They seemed carefree, even a little childish at times, like the boys in my village that I’d grown up with. Yet, at the same time, they had a certain seriousness about them that made them seem more like adults. It was like they could be adults, but they preferred not to.
They always spent time each day sparring on the deck. That was amusing to watch, because their sparring matches usually ended with Captain Garin cutting one or both of Jacques’ swords in half with that strange dagger of his.
He told me that the dagger was made of something called Maractite, a mysterious metal that is very light, but also very strong. As a result, his dagger was sharper than normal weapons, could easily cut through steel, and be wielded easily underwater as well as on land. According to the Captain, Maractite can only be found under the sea, and he’d received the dagger as a gift from the king of New Maraqua for leading his crew in helping to defend New Maraqua from some other pirates.
That was something else that was unique about Garin and Jacques, as well as the rest of the crew; although they were pirates, they had a heroic side and would not turn their backs on people in trouble. They were truly unlike any pirates I had ever met or heard of.
The new crew of the Black Pawkeet had become dear friends that I would miss once we parted ways.
To be continued…