Chapter 3

It was too early for the pub to be very busy, but there were a few early rising patrons. A yellow lab trotted over to Art and sat patiently in front of her.

"Well I'll be damned!" the bartender exclaimed, "So far that dog's tried to bite anyone that tried to take the note from it's collar." Felix and Art exchanged a concerned questioning look as she bent down and took the note from the dog's collar.

Dear Piratica,

I want to reassure you that your children are safe and doing well. Now, in order to get them back, I need you and your crew to retrieve some treasure for me. You will go to the port in El Tangerina where an ambassador of mine will meet you. Don't worry about where to find him; he will find you.

Art looked over at Felix. Frustration, fear, anger all swirled in his incredible blue eyes.

"I'll be back in a bit. I need some fresh air." She said and walked outside without another word.

"There's no stopping that woman." Felix muttered shaking his head.

"Your children's life could be at stake; can you really blame her, Felix? It seems you've been left with no other option." Ebad replied.

"That's the problem. We have no other option, but I thought I lost my father to the sea, and through him, the rest of my family. I thought I lost Art once, too. I couldn't bare it again and now the twins. The ocean brings no happy memories to me, Ebad. Our only other choice, however, is to inform the authorities." Felix replied running a hand through his white-blonde hair.

"I've only been away a few years. You know as well as I do that will do little good, and judging from these letters we aren't dealing with a dumb thief looking for some money."

Felix only sipped his coffee silently. Twenty minutes later Art marched in, head up, a fire in her eyes, a purpose in her gait.

"I'm going after them," Art said firmly, "you, sir, may stay if you like. If anything, that would be better, as you are a worrying useless thing that has an irritating habit of getting into trouble, and I do not need you in my way." Felix stood staring back at her with equal determination.

"And you, madam, are a stubborn, reckless, uncontrollable creature as well as my wife." He reached over and pulled her closer.

"I almost lost you once; I won't have it happen again." They stared unblinking at each other both hoping the other would back down only to realize minutes later that a decision had been reached. Felix sighed and Art turned to Ebad,

"I know you have –" Art, things were quite fine when I left and I have no intention of leaving you at a time like this. My crew is at your service in addition to anyone else you find. We can leave at once if you want." Art looked at the two men and nodded.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The sound of Mr. Beasts' rowing echoed across the moonless night while the faint shadow of El Tangerina waited in the distance. Goldie Girl sat silently sulking her long black curls a tangle of hair and dirt. Her father's eyes bulged as Golden Goliath stared unblinking at the shore, drinking it in as an alcoholic does rum. Freedom, these endless years, he was back from the dead by a stroke of luck. They made their way to shore in total silence.