"We're not gonna find anything down here, Garin. Lets go back." Jacques grumbled, ducking under a large stalactite that hung down from the cave ceiling.
"Just a few more minutes, mates, I promise!" Garin said, ahead of the group.
"That's what you said an hour ago…"
Garin had convinced his crew that searching a small set of caves on one side of Mystery Island would be a good idea, though Jacques was a bit uneasy about being inside the caves. There were many stories about the caves being unstable and prone to collapses…
"Garin, we really should be headed back, there's nothing here!" he said and Garin looked at him, then sighed in annoyance.
"Alright, alright, you win!" he said, then turned back.
"Thank you!" Jacques said in exasperation and turned as well. Talak sighed and slid down from a rock to follow, but as he stepped down, he heard a few stones moving. He yelped and ducked, thinking it was a cave in, causing Jacques and Garin to stop and look at him in confusion.
"Talak what are you doing??" Jacques asked.
"I-I heard cracking!" Talak whispered loudly, fearing a loud noise would bring down the whole cave. Jacques and Garin listened, but heard nothing… for a moment.
Jacques ears perked as the sound of more stone moving hit his ears from a small, darker portion of the cave. He grabbed the hilt of his cutlass and jerked his head at Garin, who caught on and drew his dagger. He silently moved over towards the darkness, and as his eyes adjusted, spotted a figure lying under a pile of small, loose stones. Garin paused and surveyed what he saw.
The figure wasn't a Neopian, but a humanoid form, and from the look of the loose rock and stone around it, it must have been caught in a cave in. Garin sighed sadly, at first seeing no movement… but a groan from the figure changed his mind.
"Jacques, Talak! Over here, quick!" he said, sheathing his dagger and starting to dig the human loose. His two comrades joined him and helped.
It was a human boy, about thirteen or so, unconscious, but alive. The boy was wearing a white shirt, black vest, boots, trousers, and a red sash around his waist that acted as a belt, with a red bandana over his head, though strands of dirty-blonde hair could be seen. The boy was also wearing an empty sword sheath, and in his hand, something was clutched desperately. Garin reached down to the boy's hand and lifted it, to see what he was holding… and found a strand of rope fastened tight around it, with one end broken. It became instantly apparent that this boy had recently escaped from someone, and must have run in here for cover when a small cave in knocked him out.
"He doesn't look too badly hurt…" Jacques said, moving behind the boy and picking up his shoulders to drag him into the light to get a better look. The boy's hand went limp as he was moved, and something fell from his grip. Garin cocked his head and picked up the object…
Suddenly the boy jerked awake with a yell of terror, springing away from Jacques and pressing himself against the wall of the cave. Jacques gasped in shock and stumbled a bit from the sudden change in balance, but he raised his hands slowly as Garin stood.
"Easy!" Jacques said. "Easy now, are you hurt? What's your name?"
The boy squeaked… then passed out against the cave wall. Jacques blinked and went back to the boy's side, Talak joining him to give him a hand.
"Who is this kid??" Talak asked quietly.
"We'll ask him when we wakes up." Garin said. "Lets get him out of here and into the fresh air!" His friends nodded, then carefully carried the boy out of the cave.
They took the boy back to the Black Pawkeet and checked him for wounds, though it looked as if the boy had gotten lucky and wasn't too badly hurt. His face was dirty, and other than a few scratches, he looked like he was going to be okay. But what puzzled Garin was the strange object that had fallen from the boy's hand, and why he had been so desperate to cling to it.
He had taken a good look at it outside the cave. It was a round, bronze medallion, which looked older than King Kelpbeard, but had been recently polished to look like new. On one side of it was a classic, pirate skull and crossbones, but where the eye sockets would be, were instead two large rubies. The other side merely had small ridging around the edges, and strange markings that Garin had never seen before. He stood at the helm, flipping the medallion in his hand like one would a coin, still puzzled at this piece's importance.
"Garin!" Jacques called from below deck. "I think our guest is waking up!"
Garin jumped over the railing from the helm and went below deck, finding Jacques standing near the hammock where the boy lay. The boy groaned and his eyes peeled open, nearly stuck together from exhaustion.
"Where…" he started to ask, then his gaze fell upon Garin and Jacques and his eyes widened, almost in fear.
"Hey, easy now, no one's gonna hurt you." Garin said, raising a friendly hand, which calmed the boy a bit. "What's your name?"
The boy groaned and sat up. "W-Well, everyone calls me Mat…"
"Alright then," Garin said. "How are you feeling, Mat?"
"Sore…" Mat replied, rubbing his arm. Suddenly his eyes went wide, realizing his hands were empty. He gasped and frantically started to search around him, including his pockets. Garin held up his hand and let the medallion dangle from his grip by its chain.
"This what you're looking for?" he asked. Mat looked at him, and his eyes calmed in relief. He reached out for the medallion, but Garin drew back his hand.
"Hey!" Mat said, and Jacques looked at Garin.
"What are you doing? Give it back to him!" he whispered.
"Just wanted to ask something first," the Usul replied, looking at Mat. "What were you doing in those caves in the first place?"
"…E-Exploring…" Mat replied. Garin crossed his arms, then took Mat's wrist and looked at it closely.
"With your hands tied?" he asked, referring to the rope he had seen on that same wrist back at the cave. Mat's face paled a bit and he bit his lip, jerking his hands away.
"You can tell us, kid." Garin continued. "Its not like you're gonna get in trouble with US of all people…"
"He's right…" Jacques said, reaching forward and putting a hand on Mat's shoulder. Mat looked at them both, then sighed and rubbed his face slightly, probably because he didn't want to cry in front of them.
"Alright, so I stole it," he grumbled.
"Not a crime in our book." Garin joked friendly-like, gently nudging Mat in the arm, causing the boy to chuckle.
"It is if you steal from Captain Scarblade." Mat replied, making both Garin and Jacques looked at each other in bewilderment, then back at Mat.
"You what now?" they both asked. Mat shrugged and motioned to the medallion.
"Exactly what I just said."
Garin blinked. "How…?" he started to ask. No one but him had ever dared to steal something from Scarblade himself, since his reputation was so terrifying.
"Well, I pretended to be part of his crew to get aboard his ship, then when the coast was clear, I just grabbed whatever I could…"
Garin blinked, then raised an eyebrow. The look on his face told him, as an expert thief, both bold and secretive, told him that this boy was lying to him again… but for what reason, he didn't know. Sure, the kid had lied about the bonds, out of fear… but there was something more about this medallion that he wasn't telling him.
"Come on, kid…" he said. "Out of anything you could have grabbed, you only picked up a worthless bronze medallion with two rubies worth not more than about fifty dubloons? Why'd you really take it?"
"…Absolutely nothing gets past you, does it?" Mat said with a chuckle. He swung his legs over the side of the hammock. "Well… since you saved me… and since you're never going to let it go… I'll tell you."
Mat held out his hand, and Garin placed the medallion in it. Mat smiled and turned the medallion over, pointing to the strange markings that riddle the smooth surface, then flipped it back over in his hand and showed them the side with the skull.
"There was once this really terrifying pirate, like Scarblade, but back in his day he was the only head honcho, and he captained a ship--"
"I've heard this story before," Garin said, holding up one hand. "This pirate was the Dread Pirate Sherman, and he had something of a… magic ship that was so powerful, that it would send event the Chasm Beast running to hide in the deepest crevice in the sea."
"Its just a story!" Jacques said, putting his hands in his pockets. Mat grinned at the two, then held up the medallion, letting it swing slightly and twist in a circle.
"I beg to differ…" he said. "Notice anything?"
Garin and Jacques both looked at the medallion for a moment, then suddenly they both leaned forward as something about the medallion triggered their memories. Their sudden movement down and forward caused their heads to bump into one another slightly, but they shrugged it off and stared at the medallion. Garin wondered why he didn't notice it before, that the emblem on the medallion was the exact same one that the Dread Pirate Sherman flew as his colors all those years ago! A gold skull with red eyes… Garin looked up at Mat, who had the same smirk on his face.
"The Secret…" Garin breathed. "…She's real?" Mat grinned.
"Real… and waiting…"
To be continued…
Hey all, this is a story that's gonna be appearing in the Neopian Times on Neopets, and I want to know what people will think of it.
Garin and Jacques © Neopets
Mat © Me
Garin and Jacques © Neopets
Mat © Me
I don't know much about Neopets, but this sounds really interesting!
Secrets are the best kind of secrets :3
Secrets are the best kind of secrets :3