"Fluke" is a soon-to-be-written story by Bobby Moon. I'll probably enter it in the story contest. I actually know what it's gonna be about now!!
"Fluke" follows a teenage girl named Nell through a week of adventure. After being paid to carry a mysterious package to Port Royal, Nell discovers a legendary crystal and two secret societies that she never knew existed. Along the way, Nell meets a cast of interesting characters and her world is turned upside down.
I quickly peered out the cabin door, my blonde braid whipping around my neck. I could already see the armada approaching the island, with the crows on their ships' sails. This was it. It was time for our final stand. I knew that our chances were slim. Danger and I alone wouldn't be able to defeat the frigates full of thugs. I momentarily stared at the crystal hanging around my neck and hoped for a miracle. I turned to Danger, who had beads of sweat dripping down his face.
"Danger, you have to hurry. We have company."
A few days earlier...
I stared out into the crowd of fighting men. I hardly knew what they were squabbling about today, and neither did they. I quickly ducked behind the tavern's counter as the shots began to ring out. Sadly, this is what I had dealt with almost everyday at King's Arm. However, the job was necessary to survive since my father had died. Hey, the pay was decent, and the bartenders rarely caught a stray bullet.
The fight started getting increasingly violent. Men were having bottles smashed over their heads, and it seemed that the building would all be destroyed if the madness wasn't stopped. Suddenly, a loud shot was fired from behind the bar. I turned to see Amelia, the owner, with a scowl on her face. The entire tavern began to quiet.
"If you want to kill each other, that's fine by me!" yelled Amelia. "Just do it outside of my bar!"
Some of the most rowdy sailors decided to listen to the furious woman and slowly trickled out the door. Then, Amelia turned to me.
"Nell, we're running low on the rum supply. The rum runners are due to bring some more into port today. Would you mind taking these coins and picking up a few barrels at the docks?"
Eager to leave the tavern, I replied, "Not at all!"
Amelia placed the ten gold pieces in my palm and I hopped over the counter. I almost ran through the slim gap between mobs of drunken men. I burst through the front door and felt the warm sun touch my face. The breezy sea air made me smile, unlike the stuffy air of the tavern. Glancing back at the decaying building, I for some reason felt as if I wouldn't be returning.
I strolled out toward the docks, through my mob of sailors. Then I saw the rum runners' galleon sailing toward the island. I knew there would be many other people waiting for its cargo, so I started briskly jogging toward the end of the dock. Turning back, I saw that I was at the head of a stampede. I increased my speed to avoid getting trampled, to no avail. A tall, husky man nailed me with his shoulder, sending me tumbling into the water. I struggled to swim to the surface with my heavy clothing, but eventually made it. Spitting the seawater from my mouth, I glanced up the huge swarm of pirates and merchants surrounding the galleon. Kicking myself to shore, I decided to return home to get new dry clothes. Fighting through the mob would be even less enjoyable while saturated.
I trudged past the shipwright, toward the small shack I called home. I turned the rusty key in the lock and kicked door to open it. The single room was always covered with a layer of dirt and dust, just as the island itself. I rustled through my small trunk and changed into dry garments before departing again. I didn't bother locking the door on the way out. I owned nothing worth stealing. Not eager to face the drunken crowd again, I decided to take the long route back to the rum runner's galleon. I headed toward the center of town, dreading my arrival at the docks. Suddenly, a young man about my age appeared, darting though the streets. While looking back over his shoulder, he plowed right into me.
I got back up and questioned, "What is it with people knocking me down today!?"
The young man looked nervous, but not because of me. His body language was clam and collected, but his deep brown eyes betrayed him.
"How would you like to make 5,000 gold by tomorrow?" he asked.
That amount was more than I made in a week at the tavern. The money could really help me, and if the job only took a day...
"How?" I wondered aloud. "What's the catch?"
"No catch. You just have to deliver a package to a butcher named Ned on Port Royal. You will receive your money then."
"I accept!" I answered impulsively.
"Great!" The young man presented a small black pouch from his pocket and placed it in my palm. The "package" was not what I had expected at all.
"Nice doing business with you," I commented, but he was already gone.
I slid the pouch into my coat pocket and continued walking toward the docks. The entire jaunt, my mind wandered to the mysterious package in my possession and the nervous young man. I was so tempted to sneak a peek at the item. The young man and the butcher would never know... But I figured that part of the 5,000 gold was payment for privacy. I resisted until I reached the beach and saw the drunken mob still gathered around the galleon. A quick look would spare me a few minutes of the chaos.
After moving to a quiet corner of the beach, I reached into my jacket and took out the black pouch. I untied the ties that held it closed and wrapped my fingers around the object inside. It was something cold and jagged, unfamiliar to me. I pulled the item by a leather cord that was attached and held it up to the sun. I stared curiously at the blue crystal in front of my eyes. Why was it so important that this piece of jewelry was delivered to Port Royal? Suddenly, I heard a commotion from across the sand. A sinister group of thugs were all peering at me and pointing. "THERE!" I heard one tall man exclaim. He appeared to be their leader.
My instincts quickly kicked in and I ran for it! Why hadn't I been suspicious when the young man gave me the offer? The crystal was probably stolen from the thugs, and now they were going to kill me to get it back! But I still needed the gold... If I could escape the thugs, maybe I could still sail to Port Royal and everything would be fine? A fisherman or merchant would surely take me away from here. I just had to lose the gang first. Luckily, I was younger and faster than my opponents. I tried my best to hide, sprinting through the crowds of Tortugans. I quickly jumped into the edge of the swamp. I watched between blades of tall grass as the thugs crept by. I held my breathe. I was close enough to the men to see the small crow tattoo they all had on the left side of their necks. They began to turn back, convinced they had lost me. Wanting to escape as quickly as possible, I jumped out of the grass, accidentally stepping on a fallen branch. The gang whipped around just in time to see me running through the archway, into the center of town.
I was running out of energy fast. I either had to try and fight them off with my single blade or find a good hiding spot. I chose the latter; My chances were better. I ducked through the streets until I ended up in Wildwoods. I leaned against the back of a large spruce tree and waited silently for several minutes before coming out. Seeing no one, I let out a sigh of relief. A second after, a large hand clamped itself over my mouth and I was dragged deeper into the forest. I was done; The thugs had caught up to me.
I tried to fight, but my captor was stronger. He plucked the pouch from my coat pocket and pulled me into a small building; It looked like a small hut. It was a peculiar place to bring a gang's prisoner. The thug sat me down in a chair and bound my hands behind it. Then, he walked in front me so I could finally see his face. It was the young man who had given me the crystal! But why had he captured me if he was the person who sent me?
"How did you find us here?"
I was unsure of the "us" he was referring to, but knew that I'd better talk if I wanted to live.
"I didn't find you! I came to hide here from the thugs that were chasing me for YOUR crystal!" I spat.
"So you opened it?! That's why they were pursuing you! You couldn't have controlled your curiosity?!"
Suddenly, another man appeared from behind me. He was an interesting looking man with dark leathery skin and a snake tattoo running up his left arm. His straw hat hid the majority of his face in a shadow.
"Untie her hands, Danger. She is clearly not an agent of the Makenti."
Danger, so that was the young man's name.
"The Makenti? Those are the crow-necked men?" I inquired.
"Very observant. Yes, those people you saw belong to a secret society called the Makenti..."
"Bartholomew!" Danger interjected. "You shouldn't involve her in this!"
"She already is involved, Danger. The Makenti won't just leave her alone now that they've seen her with the crystal. She'll have to come with you," the old man replied.
"Wait, I'm not going anywhere until you give me some answers!" I demanded. "Who are you people, and why do the Makenti want that jewelry so badly?"
Bartholomew looked insulted but continued anyway. "We are members of a rival society called the Hougest. The Hougest have been at war with the Makenti for centuries over this." He untied the strings on the pouch and held out the blue crystal."
"What's so special about it?"
"It's said to be magic. Legends tell us that it was enchanted by a voodoo priestess. The enchantment is said to give the wearer of the crystal extraordinary powers over time," explained Danger.
"It's said to? So you don't know for sure?"
"The proof is in the name. The crystal is formally called Exousía, which translates to "power," said Bartholomew.
"A fancy name doesn't prove anything." I stood up. "If you'll excuse me, I'm leaving. Five thousand gold isn't worth this."
Danger stepped in front of the only door. "We can't let you leave. Now, you're a member of the Hougest almost as much as we are. If you leave, the Makenti will kill you looking for Excousía."
"What do you propose I do then?"
"You have to accompany me to Port Royal and make the delivery. Once the Makenti leave Tortuga, it will be safe for you to come back."
"Fine, I accept."
"Great, I'll send word to Ned that a Hougest member and friend are coming," said Bartholomew. He the disappeared to get his messenger hawk as Danger and I set out on our journey.
When Danger and I reached the shore, the sun was beginning to sink below the horizon. Hordes of pirates appeared to be heading toward the Faithful Bride for a happy hour. I ducked my head to avoid being recognized by anyone. "So, how are we getting to Port Royal?" I questioned.
"An old friend of the Hougest named Skip Callefury. He's a fisherman and a good man. He doesn't say much, so he doesn't ask questions," answered Danger. When we arrived at the docks he raised his arm and pointed out a brig. "That's his boat there."
"A decent vessel," I commented.
We approached the docks and hopped onto the brig. "Skip!" Danger called. "Skip, where are you old buddy?!" A middle-aged man appeared from the captain's cabin. I first noticed the small serpent tattoo twisting above his left eyebrow. This design must have been the symbol of the Hougest. Skip was wearing a crooked admiral's hat on his head and a dirty yellow jacket.
"Danger!" exclaimed Skip. "It's been a while."
"Indeed it has," said Danger. "Would you mind taking myself and my... friend to Port Royal. Official Hougest business."
Skip gestured backwards, officially inviting us aboard. Skip jumped to the captain's wheel and we set off. As we pulled away from port, I looked back at my home. Dusk began to fall as Tortuga was getting farther away. It was becoming dark on the brig's deck, and Danger went inside the cabin to get matches for the ship's torches. While waiting, I walked toward the bow and laid down, looking up at the sky. The stars were just beginning to appear above me. When the deck was illuminated by a dim light, I knew that Danger must have returned.
He tossed a quilt at me and then laid down as well. "The cabin isn't big enough to accommodate us, so we have to crash out here tonight," Danger said.
"That's alright. Sleeping under the stars is peaceful," I answered.
"Do you camp out often?" he asked.
"I used to, with my father. But he died last year in a robbery. A bunch of thugs. I never met my mother. My father never talked about her."
Danger's expression went dark. "I'm sorry." We both were quiet for a moment, with only the crackle of the torches and ocean waves making a sound.
"So how'd you end up in the Hougest?" I asked, breaking the silence.
"My parents were members many years ago. They swore to protect Exousía and Reginald Scurvyfellow, the Hougest's leader, until they were murdered by Blaze Daggerhawk. He is the lieutenant of the Makenti, under Herold Dreadfoote. Ever since then, Exousía has been bouncing between us and the Makenti, as we continuously steal it from each other."
"Danger...I'm so sorry..." There was more silence until Danger spoke again.
"We better get some rest. We'll be in Port Royal by morning."
I pulled the quilt up to my chin as a cool breeze blew through my hair. "Danger?"
"What?" he asked.
"Good night Nell," he answered.
Suddenly, the barrel of a pistol was pressed against my head. I looked up to see the tall man from the Tortuga beach. He was holding Exousía in his other hand and was cackling. The sound chilled my bones. Panicking, I looked around for Danger. He was in the same place as last night, but surrounded by a pool of blood. Skip was no where to be found. I was a goner... I turned back to the tall Makenti man and stared into his murderous eyes. "Say goodbye," he said in a deep voice, taunting me.
Just as he was about to pull the trigger, I woke with a start. It was only a dream... It was already morning and Port Royal was in sight. I looked to my left, but Danger wasn't there. I stood up, after folding my quilt, and walked the length of the ship. Skip was standing at the wheel, bringing the ship into port. "Where's Danger?" I inquired. Skip didn't speak, but merely pointed toward the cabin's door. "Thanks."
I hopped down the stairs and pushed open the door. The room was small, but I supposed it was all that Skip needed. The cabin's only furniture included a dining table set and a small cot on the floor. The floor was covered in a carpet of old trunks and maps. Danger was sitting down in a dining chair, eating a large fish. He looked up from his breakfast when I entered. "About time you're up," he said. "Skip and I already caught breakfast." I sat down and he passed me a plate of fish from across the table.
"Thanks," I said, and I sunk my teeth into the catch. "So what's the plan for getting the crystal to Ned?" I asked, with my mouth full.
"We'll make contact with Ned first and once we find him, we'll return with Exousía."
"Sounds like a solid plan, but why do we have to take two trips? We could be on and off this island in twenty minutes if we just brought Ned the crystal from the beginning!" I pointed out.
"I know what I'm doing. We have to give him the package at the ideal time! This man is going to be protecting Exousía for us and we're going to complete this mission the right way, that's final." Danger got up and looked out the door. "Get ready, we're here." I returned to the main deck of the brig, and out of the corner of my eye saw Danger slip Exousía under Skip's cot. Danger quickly followed me and stepped on Port Royal's docks.
"Wait!" I exclaimed. "I forgot my jacket in the cabin!"
"Hurry!" Danger yelled back.
I hopped back on the ship and into the cabin. Grabbing my jacket from the back of my chair, I glanced at the small cot. Something in my gut pulled me to the crystal. "If I'm along for the ride, we're gonna do this my way," I muttered to myself. I retrieved Exousía from under the cot and slipped the cord around my neck. I slid the crystal under my jacket to avoid detection and ran to join Danger back on the docks. Skip waved silently as our mission to find the butcher officialy began.
Danger and I swiftly walked through the cobblestone streets of Port Royal. This strange place was so foreign to me. Everyone was so dressed up and formal, I stuck out. I followed closely behind Danger, as he apparently felt comfortable here. He strolled through a tunnel and around a corner into the center of town. We arrived at a small market, where a plump, bearded man stood. We approached cautiously and Danger began nonchalantly browsing through the butcher's goods. I followed suit, glancing at some pork hanging from a rope. "How much for this beef," Danger asked.
"Ten gold," answered the butcher, seeming bored.
Danger was inquiring about meat? Weren't we supposed to be on a super secret mission? I quickly decided that the journey wasn't moving quickly enough, and I made yet another rash decision. I turned to the butcher, "You're Ned, right?"
"Nell...," Danger warned, but I just ignored him.
"Well, yes," answered the chubby man.
"Great, we're messengers of the Hougest. You're set to protect Exousía, correct?"
Ned seemed caught off guard, probably because I was talking about such secret information in blatant public.
"Yes... Why don't we discuss this inside," the butcher said, gesturing toward the Rowdy Rooster.
"Yes, that would be perfect," responded Danger, finally getting a word in.
The three of us strolled into the tavern, which was much quieter than King's Arm. A few shifty-eyed sailors were enjoying drinks quietly at the bar counter. The building was also much darker than my tavern at home, making the atmosphere grim. We sat down at a vacant table and Ned offered the both of us drinks; We both declined.
"So, do you have the crystal in your possession currently?" Ned asked suspiciously.
"No," I answered quickly. "We've left it safely in a nearby location."
"Well that fact complicates things...," muttered the butcher.
"How so?" asked Danger.
Ned was suddenly distracted by a group of large men that walked through the door. I barely noticed that the other tavern patrons cowered as well. "I'm sorry about this...," muttered Ned.
"What?" I said. Turning my head, I saw what Ned was talking about. I recognized the man at the head of the intimidating pack; It was the Makenti man that chased me on Tortuga... The Makenti members approached, leaving Danger and I frozen in our seats. Our opponents could overpower the two of us easily. All we could do was cooperate. The apparent leader revealed his pistol anyway to maintain control over us. When his weapon was drawn, all of the sailors quickly vacated the area, leaving us alone.
"My name is Blaze Daggerhawk," the leader said. I saw Danger tense up; This was the man who killed his parents.
"Now," Blaze said sternly. "My friend Ned here has informed me that one of you is an agent of the Hougest, and the other is a civilian friend. I would like to know who is who, or I shall kill you both right now. If you divulge, I shall let the friend go."
Danger and I sat staring at each other, trying to understand what the other was thinking. Even after a few minutes, his deep brown eyes told me nothing. Blaze Daggerhawk couldn't be allowed to murder another member of Danger's family. Due to this reason, I made another rash decision. "It's me," I said. "I'm the agent of the Hougest."
"Excellent," Blaze said with a smirk. "Bind her hands," he commanded his cronies. "And dispose of him," he said, pointing to Danger.
"No!" I interjected. "You said that you would let my friend go!"
"Yes," he said. "Well I lied! Bad guy, remember?"
The cronies bound Danger's hands as well and dragged him out of the tavern. I had no time to be worried for Danger, because Blaze turned on me. "I'm going get right to the point. Where is Exousía? I know it is on the island an you can't hide it forever."
"I'm not going to tell you!" I spat. "Exousía won't get into your possession again!"
"Ah, it appears you need some convincing..." Blaze raised his fist and slugged me right in the left eye. It quickly began to swell shut. It stung intensely, but I knew that I couldn't surrender the crystal. Instead I spat and it landed right between Blaze's eyes. "Alright, no more Mr. Nice Guy." Blaze swung again and his fist nailed me in the mouth. My lip was sliced by my own teeth and began bleeding, but I still remained silent. "It looks as if we'll have to raise the stakes."
One of the cronies presented a large, jagged dagger behind Blaze, and he turned around to grab it. I sat in my chair, beginning to sweat and hoping for a miracle. When my captor turned around again, a look of extreme confusion crossed his face. "Where did she go?!" Apparebtly I was as confused as Blaze, because I hadn't moved an inch. "Spread out and search the entire building. She can't have gotten far!" Blaze barked. My thoughts then wandered to the crystal hidden around my neck. Maybe the legends were true... Maybe Exousía had granted me with the power of invisibility...
I silently jumped out of my chair and ran out the door. The bright midday sun was quite a change compared to the dark tavern, requiring me to squint for the first few seconds. My hands were still tied, literally, so I darted back to the butcher's section of the market. I sliced the ropes on a large knife next to a large piece of meat. Judging by Ned's perplexed look, I was visible once again. Then, my biggest priority was saving Danger.
It turns out that finding Danger wasn't so difficult. The thugs had brought him to a bridge very close to the market. The Makenti members were binding his hands with ropes and were about to gag him with a bandana. I began running and my eyes met Danger's. Before the thugs could silence him, Danger yelled an urgent message. "Run! Keep it safe!" Then, the Makenti threw him off the bridge, into the churning water below. I knew that Exousía was his first priority, but he didn't know that I took it off the ship. I pulled another stunt, launching myself off the bridge and diving into the ocean.
Despite the salt water stinging my eyes, I could see Danger struggling with his bonds on the sea floor. I swam deeper and picked Danger up in my arms. He was heavier than I expected and I was quickly running out of air. I pushed off the sand and kicked as fast as I could back to the surface. Danger and I were both gasping by the time we made it. Though, we weren't off the hook yet. I untied Danger quickly and we tried to quickly formulate a new plan. Just then, the thugs on the bridge spotted us on land and began in pursuit. We took off running toward the docks.
"As much as I appreciate the rescue. It doesn't leave us much time to get back to Exousía and get out of here," Danger said, sopping wet and out of breath.
"That's why I brought the crystal along!" I revealed Exousía from underneath my saturated jacket.
"You stole it?! You could have lost it forever, or the Makenti could have seen it!" he exclaimed.
"But I didn't, and they didn't!" I pointed out. "Now how are we getting out of here?"
"Well we don't have time to find Skip again, so..." At that moment, Danger jumped on a small sloop, catching the owner off guard. "Sir, we have to borrow your boat!"
"Danger, this is crazy!" I yelled.
The owner was wearing a bright blue shirt that had the name "Jerry" sewn into it. "I agree with her!" said Jerry, pointing at me. The Makenti thugs were approaching the docks, led by Blaze Daggerhawk himself.
"Incoming!" I yelled. Danger acted quickly and suddenly pushed Jerry over the edge and into the harbor.
"Sorry Jerry!" Danger yelled back, as we set sail.
I turned back and faced the shrinking Port Royal docks. I met eyes with Blaze's cold stare. I knew that we wouldn't be escaping this easily. There was a chase to be had.
Even Danger who was at the helm didn't know where we were going; We were just running. Our newly-acquired sloop had speed on its side, but not much of a hull. This fact made my heart sink when I saw the Makenti frigate in pursuit. Though only five men were aboard, they had more of an army than Danger and I. We sailed for about an hour on silence. Danger's expression was grim when I finally approached him. "Your eye...," he muttered. He was no doubt pointing out my swollen wound, which was now preventing vision.
"It's alright," I said.
"You shouldn't have lied. You shouldn't have taken a beating for me. I should have handled it."
"Shut it, I would do it again given the choice. A black eye is worth saving both of our skins and Exousía."
Our conversation was interrupted by the distant sound of cannon fire. Although they had a larger ship, the Makenti were gaining on us. In a few moments, we would be toast. "We're going to have to make a final stand. Where is up to us. They can take us out anywhere, it just has to be convenient for us," said Danger. I glanced around, but only saw open ocean... Except to our northwest!
"There!" I shouted. "Sail us near that little island and we can swim!"
"That's insane, but the only hope we've got!" Suddenly, cannonballs began impacting our hull. "Quickly, Nell! Take the wheel, I'll fire a few shots back."
"Uhh, I've never even steered a ship..." I panicked.
"Would you prefer shooting?" Danger asked. The cannon looked even more foreign and dangerous if I messed up.
"This wheel thing can't be that hard," I said nervously.
Within minutes we were losing badly. Our hull had caught fire and it was spreading fast. Danger had managed to land a few good shots on the frigate, but nothing to damage it beyond repair. We were quickly becoming in danger of sinking when a chain shot snapped the mast. "We have to get off of this death trap!" announced Danger. "Get ready to jump!" I was terrified, but I knew that we had to abandon ship to survive. Danger jumped off the edge and plummeted; I followed him.
Even while underwater, I heard the explosion. A cannonball must have nailed the extra barrel of gunpowder on the sloop's deck. Danger and I both bobbed up to the surface, investigating the wreckage surrounding us. I began to tire from treading water and grabbed ahold of a large piece of hull that floated by; Danger did the same. We both began kicking toward the small island in the distance, too afraid to look back at our enemies.
Finally, the suspense and curiosity caused me to turn my head and look back. The Makentis' vessel was still in the same position as during the fight. A chill ran down my spine as I met the cold stare of Blaze Daggerhawk. He stood on his deck, silent, simply watching us. After a few moments, Blaze waved his hand to the man standing at the helm and the ship began to slowly turn around. I was astounded when the boat began to move away from us.
"Does this mean they surrender?" I asked.
"No," said Danger. "They're just going to get reinforcements. They know that island is the only place we can go. They'll just attack the island and annihilate us... But we'll be ready for them."
It took another twenty minutes to reach the shore of the little island. The beach was littered with large pieces of driftwood, so I decided to name the place as such; Driftwood Island. I could tell that Driftwood Island had been previously inhabited by a small, run-down cabin near the center. Large crabs and wasps were quietly roaming through the jungle, thankfully paying little attention to Danger and I. "Let's check out that cabin. There could be something useful inside," I suggested. Danger just nodded and followed.
The cabin looked even worse up close; The wooden structure was rotting away and vines were climbing up the outside walls. I turned the rusty knob on the door and entered. The cabin contained a single room that would actually be pretty beneficial to Danger and I. Inside was a wooden table set, some mysterious crates, a lantern, and a fireplace for cooking and heat. "This place isn't so bad," I said, trying to stay optimistic.
Danger only said, "I've stayed in worse." I was becoming sick of Danger's mopey attitude every since we'd arrived on Driftwood, so I decided to confront him.
"What's up with you? Ever since we step foot here, you've completely checked out."
"That's because it's completely hopeless! By dawn tomorrow there will be a fleet of Makenti soldiers on their way to destroy us, and there's no way the two of us can stop them!"
"We'll figure something out! Maybe Exousía will help us! The crystal helped me escape from the Makenti before, it could do it again," I responded hopefully.
"Just for you, I'll play along with your optimism, or naïveté. What do you suggest we do?" I looked around the cabin for ideas, and my eyes stopped on the crates.
"First, let's search through those. We could find something useful?" We began recklessly smashing through the wooden boxes. They mostly contained junk, but one in perticular was the jackpot. Inside was an old dagger and five smoke grenades. The contents definitely gave us at least an ounce of hope. We rustled through the rest of the crates too, but our search only revealed a great hole rotting in the back wall of the cabin. We decided to go hunting before the sunset. We used the dagger to score a great amount of crabmeat. Together, we hauled it back to the cabin and lit a cooking fire.
We gobbled our dinner while watching the sun sink over the horizon on the beach. In all of the chaos, I hadn't really noticed how hungry I was. After all, I hadn't eaten anything all day but the fish on Skip's boat in the morning. Danger and I mutually decided to ponder our options to deal with the Makenti under the stars. After a few minutes of silence, Danger broke it. "I still have got nothing."
"Me neither," I responded. A thought then crossed my mind, making me chuckle to myself.
"What's so funny?" Danger questioned.
"Nothing, really," I responded. "It's just so strange how this situation came about. You offered me money to carry a mysterious pouch for you, and it started all of this. I'm still going to get that gold, right?" I asked, jokingly.
"If we both get out of this mess alive, sure!" Danger proclaimed while laughing.
"You know what else is weird? If either of us had done anything differently the other day, we might not even have run into each other. I mean, if I had taken a different route, or hadn't gotten pushed in the water... It's curious really."
"Yeah, it's like this whole few days has just been one giant fluke."
We sat in more silence, hearing only the musterious sounds of the jungle and of our own steady breathing. It was probably getting late, so we decided to turn in for the night. We both were quickly sinking into despair because of our lack of plan. We trudged back into the cabin and laid down to sleep by the warm embers in the fireplace. Just before surrendering to my fatigue, my mind wandered back to our search of the crates. Suddenly, an idea hit me! I quickly discussed it with Danger, and we both agreed to enact it at first light of the next morning.
Danger and I awoke later than expected. Judging by the sun, it must have been about nine o'clock in the morning. "Danger, get up!" I yelled,while shaking him. He jumped up, and we quickly began our escape plan. Between the island and the cabin, we had plenty of resources to use, we just needed clever ways to do so. I grabbed a pile of wer, rotting firewood laying next to the cabin and began to burn it in the cabin's fireplace. Meanwhile, Dange took the dagger and began making the hole in the cabin wall larger. It all worked out, that hole would be our escape tunnel. I gathered the smoke grenades and a few matches. Then, I waited, watching Danger work. The tunnel would have to be much larger if we were going to crawl through it.
I reluctantly decided to check on the status of our enemies. I swung my head out of the front door, causing my braid to whip around my neck. They were already in sight; The fleet of Makenti warships were closing in. Even at their medial distance, I could see the black crow design on the sails fluttering in the wind. "Danger, you have to hurry. We have company..." I said gravely.
I hopped back inside the cabin and began barricading the door with the wooden table, shelf, and crates. I knew that it wouldn't hold our enemies for long, but maybe it would be just long enough. Sweat began tripping down both of our faces with the added pressure. Suddenly, Danger stopped sawing with the dagger. "It's done," he announced. But we had no time to celebrate.
I could hear the voices of the soldiers on the island already. They sure traveled quickly. When I could hear them approaching the cabin, I knew the rotten wood had created enough smoke to lead them. They immediately tried to enter through the door, but the barricade held them off. I deep, husky voice called for backup, and more thugs came off the ships. They all threw their weight against the door, eventually breaking through. Just as we saw the face of the first soldier, Danger and I threw our smoke bombs. No one inside could see anything, making this the perfect time for our exit. We climbed through the hole in the wall and ran straight for the fleet of Makenti ships. We climbed up a dangling rope and pulled ourselves onto the deck.
The sight we then saw was not something we had prepared for. Standing above us were two men, Blaze Daggerhawk and Herold Dreadfoote. Herold spoke first. "We know that you have Exousía. Hand it over now, and we might not hurt you."
"You're a liar. That's the same lie you used when you killed my parents!" yelled Danger.
"Hmm, so YOU are the agent of Hougest. Whatcis you name, boy?" Blaze spat.
"My name is Danger Hookgrim, and you murdered my parents."
"I only recall ending an Anette Hookgrim. Her wretched husband escaped before I could finish him off. Surrender the crystal and I will tell you where I last saw him," Blaze proposed.
I saw the look of confliction and confusion in Danger's eyes. After a moment, he drew the rusty dagger from his belt and prepared to fight. "You are and always have been a liar," he declared.
Blaze and Herold both revealed their pistols, prepared to shoot Danger down, when a surprised interrupted them. A large war brig with a serpent flag rammed right into the side of the Makenti's frigate. Before they could reach their cannons, a large wave pulled both Herold and Blaze overboard, courtesy of Exousía.
A man in green, who I now know to be called Reginald Scurvyfellow, helped Danger and I across to the Hougest ship. I immediately when below deck and slept for a few hours, glad that this chaos was finally over.
The celebrations and ceremonies for the safe return of Exousía were all great. The Hougest base island of Padres del Fuego was beautiful, and I took to it well. Though, I soon was tired and longed for my home on Tortuga. It was Danger, of course, who volunteered to sail me on the long journey home.
We were both silent for much of the trip; Neither of us knew what to say. The only noise was the breeze on the sails. We only began to talk when we arrived in front of King's Arm. "So I guess this is it," I said. "It's been real."
"Maybe a little too real," Danger pointed out.
"So back to super-secret Hougest missions for you?"
"No," he said. "I'm taking a break. I'm going to find my father. I don't think Blaze was lying; I believe he's alive."
"If he's out there, you'll find him," I assured him.
We just stood and stated at eachother for a moment, before Danger turned around and walked for the docks. "Danger?" I yelled, and chased after him. We embraced each other in a huge bear hug. "I'm really gonna miss you," I confessed.
"I'll miss you too," he said. "But don't worry, we'll see each other again."