Disclaimer: Ren, Ioz, Tula, Niddler, the Wraith, Mer...none of it's mine. *sniffle* The other characters here all belong to me, though (like I'd want 'em *snorts*).
Author's Notes: I'm bad, I really am. I tried to make myself continue Desperate Times...I'm partway into part 6, but just didn't have the motivation to continue a serious story, so I went silly and wrote this. I have no idea if I'm going to continue it or not...but if I do, I'll be sure to make myself continue Desperate Times as well. ^^;
Also, the inspiration for this came from when I was watching my Pirates of Dark Water tapes last week...partly from watching "Sister of the Sword," with Ioz's sister Solia blatantly crushing on Ren, and partly from "The Living Treasure," when none of the Amazon-like warriors responded to Ren's 'good looks and charming smile,' and I wondered who would--and how Tula would react to it. ;o)
Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you. *bows* :o)
The Wraith was sailing on a beautiful, nearly cloudless day. The sun sparkled overhead, with the larger of the twin moons peeking over the horizon, creating a truly ethereal atmosphere, and all four members of the Quest were out on the open deck, enjoying the weather.
"Maybe it's just the weather, but I just have this feeling that we'll strike gold soon," Tula commented, drawing in a deep breath of the crisp sea air and smiling faintly.
"I hope you're right, woman," Ioz commented, frowning. "It's been too long since we found the 10th Treasure."
"I have confidence in her feelings," Ren put in, smiling at them. "We'll find it soon."
Some distance away, a smaller fishing boat was sailing, but the Wraith, with its huge sails, easily caught up to them. Aboard the smaller boat was a family, evidently also taking advantage of the break in the nasty weather to get some fresh air. "Ahoy there!" the father, a tall, wide-shouldered, heavyset man with a beard and a warm glint in his eyes, called out to them. "Enjoyin' the weather as well, I see!"
"That's for sure!" Ren called back with a laugh. "It's not often you see days like this anymore." He left the side of the boat and went to let down the sails a little bit so they were sailing side to side, returning to half-shout, half-talk with the captain of the neighboring vessel when he finished. "Are you out on a fishing trip?"
"Nay--'tis a family outing today, with my wife and our daughters," the man replied. "Who might ye be, young man? I'm normally used ter seein' captains a bit older than ye of vessels as fine as yours."
"Ren, son of Primus and prince of Octopon," he introduced himself. His friends had come over to join in on the chat. "And these are Ioz, Tula, and Niddler."
"A pleasure meetin' ye all," the man replied, bowing low. "Me, I'm Grath." At that, he turned. "Denra! Bring the girls out!" he called. "I want to introduce 'em to this young captain and his friends."
A moment later, a slightly plump woman and a tall girl, both in tunics and trousers, emerged onto the main deck, stepping up next to their husband and father, respectively. "This is Denra, me wife, and Jeeri, me eldest daughter," he introduced. The two smiled and curtsied. "Ladies, this is the son of Primus and his friends."
"The--" Jeeri's eyes had gone wide. "The Son of Primus?" She turned, staring wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the mildly embarrassed prince. "You're the Son of Primus?" she shrieked, and dashed off below decks, with cries of "Girls! You've got to see who's outside!" echoing up.
Ioz snickered and elbowed Ren. "Popular with the ladies, eh, Ren?" he commented, his grin widening as Ren's cheeks grew pink.
Tula snorted, harrumphing quietly enough that only Niddler, who was next to her, could overhear. The monkey-bird started chuckling at her reaction.
By then, the other three daughters had come out, and were all as starry-eyed and gushy as their eldest sister.
"You're Ren! The totally hot prince of Octopon!"
"Oh, I've kept up with your quest, Prince Ren, and have prayed for you every night!"
"I've been trying to convince Daddy to let us go to Octopon just in case we could meet you!"
"Oh, I never thought I'd ever get to meet you! I've been dreaming about this for ages..."
"All my friends and I are such big fans of you! We talk about you every day..."
And a hushed, "Wow...he's even more handsome in person than on the posters of him I have!"
Tula gagged. "Posters?" she exclaimed.
The girls ignored her.
"Yes, such pretty blue eyes..."
"He looks exactly like what you'd expect a prince to look like!"
"Oh, Prince Ren, would you please come down? I'd love to get your autograph! My friends would just die!"
"Yes! Please come down for some minga-nectar tea! Mommy makes the best minga-nectar tea in the twenty seas!"
"I wonder what I should get you to autograph? I know! My diary!"
The last was said in unison, with gushy grins and puppy-dog eyes and clasped hands and breathless voices.
A moment of rather stunned silence ensued. However, Ioz and Niddler broke it by bursting into laughter, as Grath and Denra simultaneously started scolding their four lovesick daughters, who weren't listening to a word they were saying. Rather, their eyes were fixed on Ren.
Ren was uncomfortable on several levels. Firstly, obviously from the very blatant, crushy-obsessive attention the four girls were bestowing upon him. Secondly, from Ioz and Niddler's evident amusement at Ren's new fan club. Thirdly, from the very deep scowl that was on Tula's face.
"I--uh--er--" Ren managed a sheepish smile. "Just--just one minute, please, okay?"
"Take all the time you need, Prince Ren!" the youngest one piped up, her voice as dreamy as her eyes. Ren gritted his teeth together in a semblance of a civil look and grabbed Ioz and Tula's arms and yanked them to the other side of the ship, Niddler trailing after them, still chortling.
"Okay," Ren managed to get out around his clenched jaw, his face still flaming, "guys--quit it. Now. Okay?"
Ioz and Niddler exchanged a sly look.
"Take all the time you need, Prince Ren!" Niddler mimicked, clasping his hands together and batting his eyes at Ren, exaggerating the girl's coo. That set both of them off again, and only served to deepen Tula's glare.
Ren gave up on those two and tried to calm her temper. "Tula--look, it isn't my fault they're acting like that," he began helplessly, silently planning on doing anything as long as she'd stop giving him that Look. "They--they're just young girls, okay? And I have no idea how they got crushes on me, or how they got posters of me up in their rooms or wherever they have them, or how to get them to stop. So don't take this out on me..." He faltered. "Please?" She lifted her chin, let out a very audible, "Hmph!" and turned her back to him.
This, of course, set Ioz and Niddler into gales of laughter once again. Ren was desperate. "Tula, come on--what can I do to get you to stop glaring at me?" he demanded, his voice, his eyes, his demeanor all pleading.
She glanced over her shoulder at him, still frowning, but now with some speculation in her eyes. However, with that speculation was a strange and not entirely comforting glint. Ren suddenly felt his stomach flip-flop.
Tula turned fully, regarding him silently for a moment, before leaning towards him and whispering something in his ear.
He straightened up abruptly. "You want me to what?" he gasped, then frowned and shook his head obstinately. "Nuh-uh. No way."
"Why not?" she challenged, letting the faintest hint of a smirk cross her lips. "Everybody seems to think it's true..." At that, she jerked a thumb at the audience. "A good portion of the people who watch our show seem to think so."
Ren's eyes were wary now. He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it, thinking otherwise, then re-reconsidered. When he spoke, he did so with the utmost caution. "Tula..." He broke off, then forced himself to keep going. "You--aren't doing this because--you have a crush on me, are you?"
Ioz and Niddler stared at Ren, then stared at Tula (who looked like she'd just been poleaxed), then stared back at Ren (who was now cringing somewhat from the look on Tula's face), and exchanged a stupefied glance, too startled to laugh.
Suddenly, a high-pitched, breathy, singsong cry of, "Oh, son of Priiiimus, are you there?" broke through the suddenly too-quiet air, making them all jump.
Ren winced. "Just--for a little while, okay? It won't kill us."
He hoped, anyway.
To be continued...?