An uneasy meow sounded at the feet of a boy with wild, dark hair. The source of the sudden noise, a large, black cat, seated itself right next to where the boy stood at the bow. The boy looked down with a half annoyed, half curious glance to meet the feline with his own pair of very cat-like eyes; his yellow staring into the blue of the cat that had started pacing around his feet. Every now and then the cat would stop and shake it's fur.

"You feel a storm comin' or something fleabag?" The boy asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow when his only reply was a rather non-indictive yawn.

The previous captain of this ship, an old, sea seasoned pirate known throughout all the seas simply as Raven, had explained to the boy once the importance of a cat on a pirate ship. Cats were sensitive to changes in weather, far more than humans were, and a cat acting strangely on the ship could be forewarning an incoming storm. That's what Raven, the previous captain of the Black Wing pirates, had told him. For the many years Crow had been sailing with that blasted cat and how many times that thing had lead them straight into an oncoming storm, the boy had reasonable doubts.

"What, is that wad of fur predicting smooth seas where we're headed and trying to aim us into a hail storm?" The first-mate asked walking up beside him, a small smirk on his scruffy face.

"Nope," the boy replied, his face a picture of complete and total seriousness "For once, he's actually attempting to save our lives and direct us away from a terrible storm."

The first mate rolled his eyes at the boy, the sarcasm of the remark not lost on him as the black cat sitting at their feet watched them both, as if it could understand the conversation that was taking place.

"You want me to port at the nearest town anyways, Captain?"

Crow nodded quietly, holding onto his trade mark purple hat as a gust of wind suddenly tore off the ocean and through the ship, making the sails shudder in it's wake. His first mate looked up at the darkening, but barely cloudy sky with a shrug before he walked away to tell the navigator to look for a town on his slightly out-of-date map.

The young pirate captain could almost feel the ship changing direction beneath his feet as he leaned forward onto the mast, watching on the dark horizon as stars began to show next to the much more obvious lights of a city or town. They should reach the place before the night was even half way finished. The black cat jumped up on the railing beside Crow and nuzzled into his shoulder, prompting the captain to scratch the cat behind the ear.

Off in the direction they had been going previously, lightning lit the sky up and thunder roared. But by now, the Black Wing's ship was too far off to hear or see it.

"Se-to! Hurry up with Batty's tuna, he's getting impatient!" The whining voice came from somewhere near the front of the store, definitely the voice of a girl, and was easily heard by the person who was in the kitchen in the back.

This person was Seto, who sighed plaintively and stared at the tuna that was originally going to be his dinner that was now going to the spoiled, big eared cat that was sitting with it's owner towards the front of the shop. Why he was in this shop's kitchen sacrificing his dinner to a cat was actually a very interesting and somewhat pitiful story.

The scrawny, maroon haired boy had arrived in the town of Garnet two months prior after the death of his grandfather, whose last wish was that Seto travel east. Honestly, Seto had no idea where in the east he was supposed to go or why he was going that way, but found it was easiest to stay going east by following the shoreline. The sea offered a familiar comfort that reminded him of the water front of his grandfather's house, though following the shore line meant he was going south east pretty often. He may not know his intentions for sending him east, but the old man he had come to know had told him to go east in his last written words. The boy was determined to follow them wherever they may lead.

They ended up leading him to Garnet sometime late in the summer of that year, a shoreline town like he'd gotten used to stopping in during his travels.

They had also led him to a misunderstanding with a farmer who for some odd, unknown reason was under the impression that Seto had something to do with his missing chickens. Despite what Seto had tried (and failed) to tell the man, the mad farmer ended up chasing after him with a hatchet.

Those words also were the reason that, in the midst of the chase, a silver tabby cat with large, bat-like ears had seemingly led him through the maze that was the town of Garnet and led him to a strange looking shop that had a large window in the front and a small wooden sign hanging over the door that simply read "Ren's". Ren, it turned out, was a girl a few years older than himself and the owner of the big eared tabby (appropriately named Batty) as well as a dozen other cats, and the owner of the shop itself.

It was because of that cat crazy girl that Seto had been stuck in Garnet the past two months.

The boy wiped his hands on his too large, turquoise coat and sighed as he grabbed the plate of tuna and walked out to the main sitting room that was the closest to the front of the shop without actually being seen from the shop itself. Ren was sitting there on a large, cream colored couch and was resting her head of silver hair on the back of it. Batty was sitting contented in her lap, but was giving Seto a smug look the moment he walked into the room.

"You sure took your time." Ren chided, raising an eyebrow at him as she pointed to the table in-between them currently. Seto set the tuna down on it and almost instantly the large eared tabby was on the table gobbling Seto's dinner down "You're never gonna get out of Batty's debt at this rate, Seto." The girl commented with a frown.

Yes, that was right. The reason Seto had not left the town of Garnet for the past two months was because he was indebted to a cat.

In that time, Seto had learned many things. First and foremost that he dislike being in debt, especially to a selfish cat with an attitude. Second, he learned that the latter mentioned cat acted completely different when his owner was nearby. Thirdly, he discovered that his fate at the hand of the mad chicken farmer might have been preferable to the situation he was in now.

"S-Sorry, it took me a bit to find the tuna…" Seto answered with a small glance at the cat, who was eating the tuna happily. Seto had considering cooking it to spite the creature since the cat hated his cooking. The thought made him feel guilty though. The conditions weren't perfect, but Ren was nice enough and let him stay in the shop while he worked off his debt to her cat. Really, when she wasn't slave driving him doing work for her, the silver haired girl could be quite nice even if she only spoke to him when she needed to. He wouldn't call them friends exactly, but they were something.

The door at the front of the store chimed, alerting it's inhabitants to a customer entering.

Ren hopped up from the couch with a happy smile, dusting off her slightly tattered, purple dress as she walked out of the room, vanishing around the corner of the hall that led into the shop in front. Seto sighed and plopped down onto the couch, watching Batty eat his tuna.

"I was planning on eating that, you know." He mumbled. Batty flicked his tail in response, which the maroon haired boy assumed meant that the cat could care less if he was eating Seto's dinner.

Seto sighed again before standing back up and wandering back to the kitchen. He still had to find something to eat for himself, after all, since tuna was apparently no longer an option. Pulling up his sleeve, the boy prepared to start making himself something to eat when he noticed a bunch of dried fish that Ren had brought home earlier in the day. One of the rules while Seto was living in Ren's shop was that he was not allowed to eat the fish that was bought because it was meant for all the cats. However that did not leave much option wise for things to eat. What Ren didn't know wouldn't hurt her, right?

"Se-to!" He flinched, spinning around at the sound of Ren's voice, only to see she wasn't there. He looked at doorway confused for a second, before shrugging and turning again to reach for one of the dried fish hanging above him.

"SETO!" Seto jumped, looking again towards the doorway. Ren wants something, he thought with a sigh, ignoring his growling stomach as he walked out of the kitchen towards the front of the store, his head hanging slightly when he finally entered.

Ren's shop wasn't exactly extravagant, it didn't sell anything high end cant-find-anywhere-else items nor did it sell things people needed for daily living. It was made up of tables, four of which held her wares, and one in the middle that acted as check out. The shop had a dirt floor and very gray walls, altogether it was very bleak. The only thing attractive about the shop in general was what was on those four tables. Ren owned what could easily be described as an odd trinket shop.

The term odd wasn't used loosely either, and it did fit into the category of cant-find-anywhere-else sort of items, just not the type you would expect. On one table sat assorted pieces of jewelry, ranging from a small silver skull ring to a bright yellow flower pin that had apparently been a gift from a traveler a long time ago.

On another table sat small children's toys, where at the moment a lone chicken doll sat at the front of the table that the girls in town played with in the store sometimes.

The third table held musical instruments, along with small things that just made noise. On one side of the table sat seven colored bells, which Ren was always reluctant to try and sell because of an apparent history. Next to the bells were multiple stringed instruments, ranging from large to small, low to high pitch.

The last table was Seto's favorite, because on top of it many different books laid slowly gathering dust. There weren't very many, it wasn't that books were hard to find, but both Seto and Ren had the tendency to sneak books off the shelf, which only Seto got in trouble for. The books on the shelf right then were pretty simple, one or two bibles and a few tarnished novels. Earlier in the week a storybook had been up there, only to disappear then reappear in the small, hard to notice crevice in Seto's space (he hadn't read it yet, it'd be up again when he finished).

But enough describing the store, back to the present.

"About time you got out here, I called you twice." Ren said, tapping her foot in an impatient manner. In front of her stood a clean cut man in fancy clothes, obviously rich with a lot of money. On the check out table a gold banded diamond ring sat, and it didn't take Seto long to put two and two together.

"Seto, this is Mr. Abe, and he's here to sell this ring to us." As if the emphasize her point, the silver haired girl picked the ring up and showed it to him. "You wouldn't mind watching the transaction would you?" She gave a small smile to Mr. Abe "As a precaution of course, for us both." The man nodded, and Seto thought the oddest thing about him was that not even that gesture got his nose out of the air. As the two began to talk quality and price, Seto sat on the ground and watched Mr. Abe, who seemed too busy haggling with Ren to notice that Seto wasn't really watching or listening to anything they were doing.

It was about fifteen minutes later that their conversation finally ended and they were settling on a final price when Ren motioned him over again with a wave of her hand. Brushing the dirt off of his pants as he stood, Seto walked over to stand by Ren as she examined the ring closer, and judging by the look on her face she was considering the price the man had set for it.

"Well Seto, is this a fair transaction?" She asked, holding up the ring to the light, but watching his face out of the corner of her eyes. She didn't buy anything without Seto there, because Seto just had a nose for this sort of thing. She didn't know why, but he did. So when he frowned and shook his head, she set the ring down.

"The ring isn't diamond and the band isn't gold, if I had to guess." He explained, seeing Mr. Abe's baffled face. As if to prove his point, he picked the ring up of the table and scratched at the band, causing which when he pulled his nail back and looked at it, it had small streaks of green. "If you got it better examined the band at least would be fools gold." Seto said quietly, handing the ring back the Ren, who smiled at him. The smile turned cold as it was turned towards Mr. Abe, who took a few steps back.

"Thank you Seto, that's all I needed." She said, indicating it was time for him to go.

"Alright, glad I could help." Ren waved him off, keeping her attention on the liar in front of her. And as Seto left the room, he heard a blood chilling voice suggest that Mr. Abe try another price. Seto hurried to the back of the store. Ren was scary when she was mad, and he didn't want to be a witness to anything. Sneaking into the kitchen and finally snagging a small dried fish, he took a bite to quiet his growling stomach as he walked to his designated space farther in the back. He didn't actually have a room in Ren's home, because he was only there until his debt to Batty was fulfilled, so he tended to stay in one of the more unused rooms that Ren ended up loaning him. It really couldn't be considered his, though.

The room itself was pretty small in size and almost empty. To one corner his bag set, unused in two months holding all the things he used for travel (sentimental items, clothes, weapons, first aid, etc.). Spread around the room in random piles were broken things Ren had never managed to sell, which luckily for Seto included a blanket set that was slightly frayed from cats abusing it over time.

In the middle of the room nearby where Seto had set up his makeshift bed of blankets there was a small, round fireplace that Ren had never even bothered using because the cats always got too close and burned themselves or singed their hair. It kept Seto warm at night, to say the least. Off on the south wall of the room there was a small window that faced the ocean, and had a very pretty view of the sea at night.

It may not have been his, but it was nice nonetheless.

Nibbling on his small dinner, Seto sat in front of the fireplace and sparked a fire, letting it slowly warm him up and ease away the chill that Ren's shop always seemed to give him.

"It's so soothing watching the flames." He murmured holding his hands up to the flame so they would warm up quicker. Off in the distance, he heard the church bells tolling, which the maroon haired boy found odd. "It cant be that late already." He said, standing up from his spot on the ground and walking to the window.

And he was right, it wasn't that late yet, not late enough for the bells to be ringing. They were announcing something else, something slowly coming up to the docks of Garnet. It was a ship, which on the sails were sewn two black feathers crossed in an X that matched the small flag flapping in the sea breeze.

The bells weren't tolling the time, they were tolling a warning.

Pirates were about to dock.

On the deck of the Black Wing's ship, every crew member could hear in the upcoming town the bell announcing their arrival.

"About time they showed us some respect." Crow commented, his eyes holding anything if not complete amusement. Next to him, the first mate was smiling as he turned the ship towards one of the loading docs, the tolling bells getting louder as they approached.

"How about it Captain? Give'em a warning shot before we get there?" The first mate nodded his head towards the cannons on the port side of the ship. Crow rolled his eyes.

"Yes, and give them a reason to attack us before we even get there." He said, walking away from the first mate "I'll let them have the benefit of the doubt for now." Again, the first mate rolled his eyes at the lack of violent drive in their captain. He begrudgingly steered the ship into port, docking for the night.

End Chapter