A week or two passed since the Nevermore had raided the Altadorian party boat. Anchuan was peeling Clawmatoes when he gathered the courage to ask a question that had been buzzing around in his mind for a while. "Worley…" He began, talking to the cyborg Kyrii that served as the Cook. After he'd gotten to know the him, the mutant Kyrii was easily the Wocky's favorite member of the crew.
"Aye, lad?" He answered, using one of the knives he had stowed in his mechanical arm to chop up onions at an alarming rate.
"I've been on this ship for awhile, wouldn't you say?"
"If yer tryin' to get a promotion, An-bo, yeh've gotta talk to Blue."
"Her name is…? Never mind. But no, that's not it."
"Then wot do ye want, boy?"
"The captain doesn't seem to… like her crew much, does she? I mean… the only people she really tolerates are you and the second mate. Come to think of it," he began, moving a bucket of clawmatoe centers away from the cook's Zomutt. "Does she even have a first mate?"
Worley, who had had his back to Anchuan, turned, looking at him with his real eye, "Ye ask too many questions for yer own good, lad."
"Well, does she?"
The Kyrii sighed. "She did. She also don't like this crew, as ye noticed. No, she only likes meself an' Mira, the second mate." Anchuan nodded, knowing she was the only girl on the ship who, besides the captain, had a major rank.
"Well, why not?"
"This en't the Nevermore's original crew, An-bo. They were viciously massacred, all the rest of 'em. Only Mira, the Cap'n, and meself remain of her original crew."
"Massacre? Who did it?"
The Kyrii leaned forward, so that he was closer to Anchuan, before whispering, "A notorious band o' pirates. Yeh've heard of 'em no doubt. An evil bunch. They've got witchcraft on their side, and there en't no one who c'n sink 'em. 'Tis ship called the Duchess Misty's Vengeance."
Anchuan, who had been nodding engrossed by the story, froze, eyes wide. "Not…"
Worley gave one large nod. "Aye! That's them. The evil crew, captained by the devil hisself," he paused, looking around before saying the name softly, as if saying it would bring a curse with it. "Captain Morgath."
"Aye, lad. And that's who we're after."
"Well," said a loud voice behind them, and both cook and Cabin Boy jumped about a foot into the air. "Isn't this a cozy li'l reverie?"
The Wocky's sea-green eyes met with the Eyrie's grass-green ones, and suddenly he looked away to his left. He did not want her so see the pity in his face. He knew it would be less than wanted. Instead he stewed in the silence of the kitchen, thinking about what Worley had said. In that silence a feeling grew inside him, and for a moment the Wocky was a restless boy, eager to throw something at the face of a new adversary - Morgath's face. He returned his gaze to the captain's, and his eyes were hard and determined.
Blue gazed at him through half-hooded eyes, and sighed. "I s'pose…" she said slowly. "Yeh would've found out sooner or later. I'd understand if yeh want to leave."
That confused him. "Leave?"
"I didn't pin yeh to be the kind to take on the Duchess Misty's Vengeance."
"I…" Was she calling him a coward? He could understand that she thought he lacked maturity, but he had nerve enough to face the Duchess Misty. He worked on saying something grand, something awe-inspiring, but words failed him. "I'm not leaving." He managed to say lamely, and again looked down.
"The last part o' the story'd be the escape of me, Mira, an' Worley over there."
Anchuan swallowed, still looking at the floor. "And how did you escape?"
The captain gave him a look, like she wanted very badly to say something, but stayed silent. Finally she inhaled sharply and said, "We jumped, the three of us, and somehow, we made it to shore. Anchuan..." He tilted his face up. "They 'ave dark magic, much worse than Ruse could ever conjure. If we face 'em again…"
"Then we'll measure 'em for their chains. Pirates like that ought to be hung in gibbets and left to rot. I'll bet they have a nice payload, too." And he smiled brightly. "Worried about me, Capitán?"
"Hardly. Worried about yer sanity, more like. Not that I think there's much that head o' yers..."
"And I–" said Worley, moving his massive body and clapping his hands loudly. "...Am worried about these Clawmatoes. Pardon me, Cap'n, but I believe we got some peelin' and choppin' to do."
"Yes… Return to your work. I expect supper in twenty minutes."
"Aye, cap'n." said the Wocky and the Kyrii in one voice. Blue nodded, and stepping swiftly, she left the way she came.
His watery fingers busy once more, Anchuan began mulling over Worley and the captain's story, the restless boy plotting and planning for his enemy's demise.
Zhenavieve stood with her mother inside the Fanciful Fauna, fidgeting and glancing at the stock of Shenkuu petpets every five seconds.
"Excuse me, miss." said the approaching shopkeeper, a spotted Koi in a bright green kimono. A rather peevish manner showing through her customer-appropriate expression. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave. You've been here quite a long time, well, you haven't bought anything."
The human smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry; we'll be here just a moment longer. We're looking for an especially rare petpet for my son."
The Koi looked at Zhenavieve in her frock coat and coarse, short hair. "Hmm." She said loftily, while Zhen held her gaze with some menace. The shopkeeper sniffed, slightly deterred, and said, "Very well. But you must leave soon, or I shall have no choice but to call the guards." She moved back towards the front counter.
"Let her try." scoffed the Darigan Wocky, and she eyed the other neopets with their owners, loitering around. "Damn those Quilins! Why can't we just buy one from the Trading Post?"
"Language, Zhen." Her mother's face was stern. "And I told you, they cost millions. We're going to wait for them to restock."
"We've been waiting for hours…" The Wocky huffed a sigh of impatience.
"Wait!" hissed the human under her breath. "They're restocking again." With a creak the back door of the shop opened, revealing a line of neopets holding various crates of petpets. The two scrutinized each of them, until, when the last crate came through, they spotted it.
And the hounds were released.
It was a stampede of both humans and neopets, all trying to haggle with the shop keeper. Zhenavieve's eyes blazed, and she wasted no time kicking and punching her way forward, shouting all the way. "Back, you buzzards! The Quilin is ours!" With a final open-palmed strike to a Skeith's chest, she forced him back and reached the counter. She turned, teeth bared, and spread her wings as far as they would go to off the other customers. "If any of you dare touch that Quilin, you lose that hand." They looked at her, this fierce, dangerous beast, and all shuffled back from her flashing eyes.
Cheerily, her mother walked to the stricken shopkeeper, took little time in haggling, and walked by the Darigan Wocky with the Quilin cradled in her arms.
"We'll be leaving now, shopkeep." said the human, smiling at the petpet. Zhenavieve folded her wings and tromped after her, disregarding the throng of people staring at them.
"How much was it?" she asked, holding the door open.
Her mother smiled wider. "50k."
Yes, the Fanciful Fauna shopkeeper thought Zhenavieve was a boy. xD