Episode 72

The Pirate and the Apple Thief – part 7

When I left the jail, I didn’t really even think – I just went. Maybe it was common sense to head for the edge of town. Maybe it was my connection with my muse growing again. Or maybe I was just lucky. But whatever it was, it led me straight to where my recently-found friends had gathered. And they were the ones surprised.

“Joey!” Ethere gasped as I stumbled forward out of the bushes. He went still with surprise and stood with arm raised and fingers wrapped around the hilt that was more frequently fastened and forgotten at his belt.

I met his eyes for just a moment, but then looked at Beljack. Or rather, what looked like a ratty and sea-soaked length of rope in his hands. I raised an eyebrow. Beljack smiled sheepishly. “Ethere told us what happened. We were just coming to…uh…rescue you.”

I nudged Ethere lightly. “I told you I’d be fine.”

Kabel had been waiting warily behind his older brother, but now he stepped forward to complete the small circle of four. “What happened?”

“Before or after I ended up in jail?”

“Did they let you go?” Kabel asked.

“Hardly.” I waved a hand and took on a lofty tone. “But do you really think a simple lock could hold me?”

Beljack seemed excited at the prospect. “Really? How did you get out then?”

“Well.” I put my hands on my hips. “As much as I’d like to tell you how I swiped a spoon from a passing guard and used it to dig my way out through the solid rock walls—”

Ethere sighed quite audibly.

I coughed. “—someone let me out.”

The boys chorused together. “Huh?”

“Anticlimactic, I know,” I sniffed.

“Do you know who it was?”

“Hmm?” I thought about it. “Oh, um, maybe? Though it doesn’t really fit…” I trailed off, considering. There was definitely no accident about what had happened. But I still didn’t have a reason why. Maybe I shouldn’t have pretended to be asleep after all.

“It’s too bad,” Beljack said.

“What is?” I looked up at him.

“Just what you said. I mean, I’m glad you’re all right,” he affirmed. “But I thought maybe you had been able to pick the lock or something.”

“Nope. Although learning how to do so is on my bucket list.” I smirked when Beljack gave me a puzzled look, and then added, “Why?”

“It’s just…down by the beach. We kinda found something.”

Before I could ask more, Kabel drew in a quick breath and grabbed hold of the corner of his brother’s tunic. Beljack looked down at him. “What is it?”

Kabel pointed out into the dark of the forest around us. “Out there. Something moved.”

We all four held our breaths. I turned my head slowly, trying to scan the shadows around. Behind me was still a scattering of lights from the town, and my own muse had just enough of a faint glow still about him that we could each make out one another’s face without trouble. From that was cast a faint lavender-white haze over the closest leaves and branches, but a mist was starting to come in off the water and it was just long enough past sunset that anything farther out was in deep shadow.

“Maybe the wind…” Beljack started to say. But then a branch snapped somewhere in the dark.

“Hsst,” I hushed him.

A puff of wind came around my ears and continue on behind me. Overhead, I heard the breeze shift the topmost branches of the trees as it was now starting to make a way back toward the water. I thought I could hear more movement farther back and lower down among the trees, but now as the wind started to pick up, it was hard to distinguish which it was.

Both boys remained still with eyes wide. “Maybe…maybe it was a ghost,” Kabel whispered.

“No such thing…” I murmured back. I looked for a moment longer but finally gave up. Whether there was something else in the dark with us or not, it wasn’t going to come out with our just standing there. “And anyway,” I said, not entirely convincingly, “if it really was a ghost, we probably wouldn’t have heard it at all.” The dark of the night was starting to even get to me a little.

Ethere was the first to turn back around and put his back to the woods. When he did, his line of sight focused past me, just over my shoulder. “Oh, hello.”

I almost jumped out of my skin.

“Jade!” Kabel sounded as shocked as I felt.

My heart racing in my chest, I turned to find her standing not even an arm’s length behind me. “Say something next time,” I groaned. I hadn’t heard her approach at all.

Jade ignored me and looked sharply at Beljack. “You said you found something?”

Even he looked a little unsettled and had to take pause before answering. “Err, yeah.” He pointed in the direction of the beach. “That way.”

We made our way carefully along the very edge of town – I wasn’t keen to be seen out and on the loose just yet – and down to the far end of the beach, away from the docks and where a few obscure shapes still moved and the ships moored there drifted up and down, pushed against the piers by the evening currents. I caught myself looking over my shoulder a few times – I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something was still back there, somewhere in the night, and perhaps following us.

Once we reached the sand, the brothers ran ahead. “Over here!” Kabel waved the rest of us over.

“It’s a chest.” I looked down at the small wood box that sat at an angle between them.

“And it’s locked,” Beljack said.

“We tried everything to get it open,” Kabel added.

“Everything but breaking it, apparently,” I said.

“We didn’t know who it might belong to,” Beljack said.

I raised an eyebrow at him. “Considerate, that.”

“I have to be. If—” But Beljack stopped himself before saying more, and glanced away.

I shrugged. “Probably just as well. You might have drawn attention.”

“That’s why we didn’t bring it back with us either,” Kabel explained, his eyes wide. “Someone might have seen.”

“And then that someone would have gotten suspicious,” I agreed. “I do think the townspeople seem to be a little on edge.” I crouched down to get a better look at the chest for myself.

Above my head, Ethere bent at the waist and looked on from above me. “It looks new,” he observed.

“Too new,” Jade added. Silently, I agreed.

“Where did you find it?” I asked.

“Just in the sand over there,” Beljack pointed. “It wasn’t even really that buried.”

I shifted my weight and put one knee down into the sand for support. Then I dug my fingers down and around the corners of the small chest in order to lift it up. It was hefty, but not heavy. I shook it. Nothing.

“I can’t tell what’s inside,” I said. I doubted it was apples.

“Maybe a treasure map,” Kabel suggested eagerly.

“Or maybe not,” I said.

“But it’s gotta be something a pirate would want to lock away!” Kabel insisted.

“Why a pirate?” I asked.

“Who else would have a chest like this?” Kabel said in a matter-of-fact tone.

I was still staring at the lock on the front of the chest. It looked familiar. “Who indeed.” Then I set the chest back down into the sand. “There might not be anything at all inside,” I warned him.

“But there might!”

I couldn’t argue Kabel’s logic, and he wasn’t even done. He started pacing in the sand, thinking out loud. “All we need to do is find the key.”

“Unless you have a metal detector, I’m not combing the beach,” I objected.

“A what?” Beljack stepped up to rejoin the conversation again.

“Magic,” I replied.

Ethere spoke, more doubtfully than not, “I suppose I could—”

“No.” I cut him off.

“It’s not that hard,” Kabel said. “Pirates never let their treasure get too far out of sight if they could help it.”

“They always came after any that got lost,” Beljack chimed in, catching some of his brother’s enthusiasm.

“But this chest got here somehow,” Kabel gestured downward.

“And they used to sail all up and down this coast,” Beljack said.

“Right!” Kabel pointed a finger at his older brother and bobbed his chin up and down in an exuberant nod. “So they likely stayed somewhere near here. In like…a fort. Or maybe a cave.”

That had my attention. Never minding that we had already determined that the chest was new. “Actually, maybe we should look for a cave,” I said thoughtfully.

“There are many caves around here,” Jade spoke up suddenly. I had almost forgotten that she was still with us.

I turned to meet her eyes. “Are there any that go inland? Like, for a ways?”

Jade nodded, “I know at least one.”

~ ~ ~

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This entry was posted on Saturday, September 26th, 2015 at 1:12 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Episode 72”

  1. Joel
    12:27 pm on October 4th, 2015

    Hahaha… I like how Joey entertained the thought of making up an epic escape story. But I like how she ended up being honest, maybe with a little urging…
    Also good to see the whole group together again at last!

    Ah man the darkness and creepiness just before Jade revealed herself was tense! Even I started to tense up just getting immersed in how jumpy everyone else was getting in the dark.

    These lines were really cute!:
    “But it’s gotta be something a pirate would want to lock away!” Kabel insisted.
    “Why a pirate?” I asked.
    “Who else would have a chest like this?” Kabel said in a matter-of-fact tone.

    The whole enthusiasm and arguing over the chest was great. And now it seems even the kid’s imagination led to an idea for a clue… Adventure onwards! Curious to see how the cave exploring goes!

  2. Joel
    10:29 am on January 6th, 2016

    *Bangs fist on table like Thor* Another! Bring the next chapter!

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