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|Avast ye lubbers ta hear me tale.|
Arrrgh, Tis the Pirates Life for me.
'Twas a dark and stormy night, the moon was hidin, only the lightning provided illumination. Through the crashing of waves and rolling thunder their ships were silent. 700 or more of the dread pirates came to sack Xanso with stealth and surprise on their side.
The alarm was quickly given and residents of Syrnia flocked to give aid. Among the would-be heroes was an apprentice miner/smith by the name of Kirokithikis. Though vastly outnumbered the folk of Syrnia battled hard, slaying pirates by the score. Even with his limited martial prowess Kirokithikis slew his share of the pirates.
Seeing that they were being slaughtered the pirates turned tail and ran for their boats. Thinking quickly, not one of his stronger points, Kirokithikis stripped the rags off of a dead pirate and put them on and ran after the boats. Just as they were pushing out from shore Kiro reached the last of the longboats to leave. With muscles built up from swinging the pick and hammer, Kiro all but flung the longboat into the sea. As it was freed from the sand's grasp strong hands hauled Kiro aboard.
There was naught but confusion in the longboat, few of the pirates were from the same brigantine. As they headed out to sea an oar was thrust into Kiro's hands. Having never rowed in his life Kiro was clumsy with this new instrument and when questioned he blamed a blow to the head during the failed raid.
Upon reaching the nearest brigantine Kiro and the others scrambled up nets lowered down the sides for this purpose. Seeing his muscular frame, the mate set Kiro the job of helping to haul the longboats aboard. Once there were sufficient hands to sail the ship, the anchor was pulled and sails lowered.
Seeing him stumble around the deck with his landlubber legs, the Mate approached Kiro and asked what was wrong. Kiro again said that he had been hit in the head during the raid, thus he was sent below to the chirurgeon. The chirurgeon examined Kiro and found little amiss and ordered a mug of grog to help Kiro sleep.
After downing the grog Kiro was escorted to a hammock and was assisted into it by a suspicious looking crewman. Kiro blamed the blow to the head and the grog for his needing assistance. Though the crewman looked at him warily he said nothing else to Kiro.
When he awoke Kiro found himself, not upon a ship as expected, but in a cold rat infested holding cell. Upon coming to his senses Kiro realized that the grog must have been drugged and a cold shiver ran down his spine. Kiro stood up, and immediately regretted it as his stomach and head both protested viiolently. Leaning against the wall Kiro retched violently and noisily. As he was wiping his mouth off afterwards he heard a key turn in the lock.
Three burly men, all with many scars aquired brawling, came into the room. Two of them grabbed Kiro by the arms while the third pounded a club into Kiro's stomach. Predictably, Kiro promptly retched again while the pirates laughed and dragged him from the cell. Hanging limply between the massive pirates, Kiro gave them no reason for further violence. He was taken up some stairs and shoved into a room with a desk. Behind the desk sat the most menacing man Kiro had ever seen. Just looking at him, Kiro knew that if he said the wrong thing he was dead. The man behind the desk said nothing, just looked at Kiro for about five minutes then said, "Miner, Smith or Woodcutter?"
Kiro blinked a couple of times then stuttered, "Mmminer and smith sir"
"Maggie, this one's for the mines" called the man behind the desk. The door opened and the same two pirates came in to grab Kiro again.
Holding up his hands in submission, Kiro said, "I can walk on my own" From the doorway the pirate who had struck him earlier chuckled, "I wondered how fast ye'd learn."
Kiro was taken outside and put in a line of ten men, shackles were put around their wrists and attached to a long chain. Thus connected they were led down the road by a man on a shabby mule. Three other well armed men on similar beasts followed the chaingang. After being led through a fishing village and a cooking post the men were led up a steep path towards a cave high up on the side of a mountain.
As the chaingang approached the cave entrance an iron portcullis was raised and they were led inside. Once the last man was inside the portcullis slammed down with an awful clang, ringing of finality. From out of the shadows a short, mis-shapen man scurried to unlock the chaingang.
"Me name is Iordanes" boomed a voice out of the darkness, "an ye are mine 'til I says otherwise. Ye ha been found wantin, an so ye'll labour 'ere 'til yer debt be paid. Once said debt be paid ye be free to range aroun Skull Island. There be nowhere for ye to go so donna thin o escapin. The arder ye work the faster ye debt be paid. There be picks, 'ave at er. Ahh, one other thin, thems that cause trouble don get fed so be nice now hehehe."
Feeling miserable after his long walk, Kiro picked up a pick and set to work. Maybe, just maybe I'll get out of here alive he thought."
Over the next week Kiro found out what true misery was. In a tunnel too short for his tall frame Kiro was chained to the wall with a 10' leash attached to his right ankle. This is where he was to work, sleep and take care of bodily needs. If he wanted a meal he was required to chip out his own body weight in iron ore by mealtime, if he was short he missed that meal. Unable to put his full strength into his swings Kiro was frequently unable to make his allotment thus went hungry. The vile pirate Iordanes had no sympathy for the young man and told him to work from his knees if he had to.
During one of the meal breaks where Kiro, thankfully, was able to make his quota, Kiro saw a couple of the men across the tunnel showing each other stones. As these particular men had been here a while longer than him, Kiro asked about the stones and was informed that any precious or semi-precious stones they found were theirs to keep. After a few days Kiro's chain gang was moved farther into the mine while the one across from him moved towards the exit - closer to paying off their debt he figured. At this new location Kiro noticed that the chain gang across from him was missing a person. Figuring the poor sod had died somehow, Kiro did not speak about it. The man to his right, one Preff by name, was not as able to reign in his curiosity and inquired about the missing person. The woman, for this new chain gang was mixed, beside the open space told them that a big man, about Kiro's size, had been there but had developed a peculiar underhand swing that allowed him the full use of his strength and was thus able to pay off his debt earlier than the others.
Kiro asked this woman, Trosey, to show him how this stranger had swung the pick. At first Kiro's attempts were clumsy and weak but after a day of practice he found that he was easily pulling out double what he had before. To pay her back Kiro would add some of his ore to Trosey's pile whenever she was not able to make her quota, thus they soon became good friends. Though it seemed to him that Trosey might be willing to do more than just be friends, Kiro made no move to do so as he new that his ladylove waited for him to return to her.
A dozen or so meals later, who knows how many days passed, the two chain gangs were moved again. This time they were taken past a pile of rubble, where their overseer told them a cave-in had buried four full chains alive. Down a side passage they went until they arrived at a slight bulge in the tunnel. It was here that they were again staked to the wall. This area was slight larger than the previous two tunnels thus Kiro was able to put more of his power into each blow. Through this effort Kiro was able pull out half again as much with the swing Trosey had taught him. After their second meal there Kiro noticed something glitter in the ore he chopped from the wall. Bending down and picking it up, he saw that it was a red gem that he quickly put in his pouch. Knowing now that he had an item of value with which to barter, possibly for a way off the island, Kiro redoubled his efforts and attack the ore as one possessed. For the next six or eight meals Kiro had almost triple his quota. Upon hearing this, the evil scum Iodanes came down and suggested that maybe he should increase this groups quota. Though it did not come to pass, just the mention of this made those around him go from friendly to hostile.
It was a couple of meals later when, still maintaining his frantic pace, Kiro's pickaxe broke. The force of his strike caused the wooden shaft to snap in twain sending Kiro face first into the wall. Fortunately for him, there was already enough ore carved out to make his quota for he was too dazed to continue even if he had a whole pick. Still dazed as he sat through the meal, Kiro looked around and saw a shiny pick propped against the wall. When it was time to go back to work Kiro picked up this new pick and was on his back swing when the pick suddenly stopped and he was slammed into the wall for the second time that day.
"What's going on here!" yelled the overseer. "This lubber stole me steel pick 'e did. They's all seen it." cried a big man standing over Kiro. "Is tha so?"asked the overseer, to which all the chain gang nodded their heads. Kiro was hauled to his feet by two burly guards and dragged to the mine entrance. Once there he was chained to a fully laden ore cart, where he promptly passed out.
In the morning when he awoke, for he could see the sun rising to the east, Kiro could see that all the other carts had two or three men/women chained to them. They were given the standard hot gruel for their meal but this time with pieces of meat in it " 'cause ye'll be needin all yer strength ye will. NOW GET UP AND PUT YER BACKS INTO IT!!" Kiro saw the first two strain to move the cart with little success. A whip cracked and struck both men at once. "AH SAID PUT YER BACKS INTO IT!" Thus motivated the men got their cart rolling out of the mine. Seeing what would happen if they didn't get it moving the rest of the prisoners strained as hard as they could and managed to get their carts moving. Kiro strained until every fiber of his legs and back were on fire but the cart would not budge. He tried again and again without success. Even as he heard the crack, he felt the lash all but lift him off his feet. "AH SAID MOVE IT THIEF!" He heard a chuckle off to the side where Iordanes looked over to one of the guards and said "Ye can release the brake now."
So started the long journey to parts unkown.
After days or weeks in the sunless depths of Hawk Mountain mines the bright tropical sun was blindingly painful. Kiro kept his head down and steered the ore cart along a well grooved path. It was a good thing that the path was grooved for Kiro, and the others pulling the carts, would likely have gone off the narrow ridge that lead down from the mine to the forest below. The ridge was long with a gentle slope forcing the laborers to put most of their effort, not in pulling the carts, but in making sure they did not gather too much momentum.
Half an hour into the trip the overseer called a halt, the guards came over and set the brakes on all the carts to give the prisoners a rest. Though they hadna been working long, all the prisoners were dripping with sweat. Not just from the exertion, but also from the pounding heat of the sun. They were used to the constant cool temperature from the mines and this heat was taking its toll. One of the guards came by with a dipper of water for each of the prisoners to quench their thirst. After five minutes or so Kiro was able to look around as his eyes were slowly becoming accustomed to the bright light again. Kiro noted with at wry smile that Trosey was one of the people pulling the cart ahead of him. He wondered what the sleeping arrangements for the prisoners were going to be like. After another five minutes of rest the overseer signaled it was time to start again.
Once they were past the shoulder of Hawk Mountain, the ridge was exposed to the Southerly winds gusting off the sea. This made controlling the carts harder as dust and pebbles filled the grooves that were guiding them. About an hour after their break Trosey slipped on some of the loose pebbles and fell in front of the oncoming ore laden cart. She was able to roll out of its path but was now being dragged along dangerously close to the wheels. The man also chained to that cart, Turk, now had to try to control the cart on his own and was close to being overwhelmed with the sudden workload. Kiro pulled his cart forward to grab ahold of the cart ahead as the guards came up from behind to set the cart's brakes. Kiro braced himself on the back of the cart ahead and used his legs to stop his own cart so he would not be crushed between the two. Trosey, it seemed, came through with just a couple of scrapes and some bruises for her ordeal.
The overseer decided that they might as well stop here for their noon meal, though it was still a little early. The afternoon proceeded without any excitement and they made it down off the ridge to the forest floor. The shade of the forest was a blissful change from the hammering of the tropical sun. They stopped for the evening at a well marked camp area with two small cabins set back off the roadway. The guards gave Turk an axe and followed him into the woods while the other prisoners were escorted into one of the cabins. Inside, each of the prisoners was chained to one of twelve bunkbeds with just enough room for them to sit up. The sounds of woodcutting echoed in from behind the cabin, competing with the sounds of setting up camp coming from out front. In a obviously well rehersed manner, the prisoners were fed then escorted to the latrine in pairs and brought back and chained to their bunks. One of the men from the first cart, Caparzo, foolishly attempted to escape while at the latrine and was returned to his bunk semiconscious by a grinning guard. The other prisoners could see a purple welt forming under Caparzo's right eye.
The next morning Caparzo was given the honors of covering the latrine ditch while the others had breakfast. The following two days proceeded without event until they finally reached a fork in the road. The left fork they were told leads to Crab's Nest and Bonewood while the right, which they were taking leads to Barnacle Bay and beyond. It was another day of hard pulling until the ore-train reached the fishing village of Barnacle Bay. The village chief, Kordon, had jail cells attached to the back of his house. It was here that the prisoners stayed the night while the guards had a chance to party with the village women. None of the prisoners were able to do much of anything other than pass out from exhaustion once their dinner was eaten.
The next morning they were up with the dawn and herded out to their carts as the fishermen set out from the village docks. They toiled all of that day and at the end of the next they arrived at the village of Toothen set at the junction of a fork in the road. Here the prisoners were housed in a larger jail set aside from the other buildings in the village. This jail had a couple of rickety buildings with metal chimneys surrounding it. Again, it was all the prisoners could do to stay awake until the end of their dinner before falling asleep for the night.
The following morning the prisoners were allowed to sleep late to their surprise. One of the guards came in and unlocked Caparzo's cell and told him to follow. After half an hour Caparzo had not returned when the guard came and got Turk. Somewhat rested and very suspicious, the prisoners were starting to wonder what was going on. When the guard came in next he opened Kiro's cell. "Um, where am I going?" Kiro asked. "Just follow me and you'll find out, you might even like it" replied the guard. So reluctantly, and suspiciously Kiro followed the guard out. He was taken over to a very rickety looking shack with smoke pouring out the chimney. Once inside Kiro saw a huge vat of water steaming on one side of the shack. "Ok, strip and get in the water" said the guard, "it's time you had a bath." As he got into the water a village woman came to gather his clothing. Quickly remembering the red gem he had found, Kiro grabbed at his clothing and took the pouch containing the gem before it was out of his reach. He was given soap and a towel and told he had twenty minutes to get cleaned up. Once cleaned and wrapped in a towel Kiro stood at the side of the shack and watched a villager pull a stopper on the outside of the vat to empty it down a drain. The villager then pulled a pipe down over the vat, turned a wheel on the wall beside the vat and hot water poured into the vat to Kiro's bemusement.
Kiro was given a robe to wear then escorted to another one of the building surrounding the jail where breakfast awaited, along with the men who had gone before him. Turk told Kiro that they were being given the day off as the pirates were celebrating before going on another raid of the main islands. Throughout the morning the prisoners gradually made their way into this holding building except for Trosey who had not arrived by the time the noon meal arrived. After the noon meal Kiro inquired about Trosey but the guard said nothing, just smiled.
As sunset approached Kiro and the others could smell the delicious odors of a feast being cooked. Their, now clean, clothes were returned to them and the men quickly dressed. After they were all dressed the men were lined up against the back wall and told to stand there. A couple of minutes later a beautiful woman with long flowing black hair came in followed by three more guards. "I am LadyRaven" the lovely woman said. "You are here as my guests and are welcome at this feast. Enjoy yourselves, eat, drink, make merry and you will have a grand time. BUT if you cause trouble or attempt to escape we will not bother putting you in jail, but rather kill you outright as being a waste of our time."
The men were led out to the village square where the festivities were already in full swing. There was music from a trio of lute players and the smell of the food had the men salivating even though they had been fed recently. As they were in line for food Turk nudged Kiro and asked, "All us guys is ere, what ya think appened to Trosey?" It was at this point that one of those MOMENTS that happen at all gatherings occured, there was a lull in the conversation and the musicians had just finished a song.
Down the steps from the grandest house in the village came LadyRaven, jet black hair flowing down her crimson gown. She was absolutely regal but paled in comparison to the goddess that followed. Her sky-blue eyes sparkling, Trosey glided down the steps, ringlets of her sun-kissed honey-gold hair cascading down the low-cut front of her baby blue dress. All heads turned towards them as LadyRaven turned to Trosey, "I think we got their attention."
The night was a riot of feasting, drinking and dancing. Kiro, and others, could barely keep their eyes, let alone hands, off of Trosey who flirted with everyone outrageously. After a few drinks Kiro sat himself under a tree and closed his eyes, to dream of his ladylove waiting for him at home.
The morning sun woke Kiro as it climbed up from its ocean bed. Kiro stepped over a number of slumbering villagers and helped himself to some of the remnants of the night's feast. Looking around, Kiro did not see anyone else up and about. He made his way down to the waters edge and spotted a number of small fishing boats hauled up on the beach. He sighed longingly, knowing that he didn't have the skill to sail one on his own, stripped down to his skivvies and went for a refreshing swim.
As he walked up the beach shaking his head to clear the saltwater from his eyes, LadyRaven stepped out of the shadows of a palm tree. "I wondered if you were going to try to take a boat, it would have been a shame to have to kill you."
"I thought about it milady, but I knew that I have not the skills to operate such a vessel. Iffin you didn't hunt me down and kill me, then surely I would have perished through my own folly. Though I plan to make my way home eventually, I will bide my time until I can do so with less risk."
"Ahh, a wise choice, though telling me may not have been the brightest thing to do. It does show that you keep your word which is vital to your survival here. It is time for you to be off to Ten Cliff."
Though numerous snores could still be heard from passed out revelers, the ore-train guards and overseer had their charges all chained to their carts. Most of the prisoners looked much the worse for wear, some being noisily sick at the side of their carts. The overseer, looked to LadyRaven and almost whispered, "So ye found im did ye, I'da thought ye'd ave to search for an kill im."
"He appears to know his limitations." LadyRaven replied as Kiro was chained to his cart.
The ore-train did not go all that far that day as it seemed that Kiro was the only one who was not suffering from a hangover. It took two more days of heavy labour to pull the ore carts to the mouth of a cave in the side of a conical mountain. As they pulled the carts into the cave the prisoners were assailed by a hot, sulfurous wind coming out of the cave. Down a spiraling path they went, the temperature constantly rising until they came to a large dome lit by an orangy-red glow. Here they were told to stop.
"Arrgh, now that ye've done a bit o work, ye've paid yer debt and yer free ta go anywhere on the island. Ye've seen mosta it, though there be a woodcutter village at Bonewood an a trading post beyon that at Hook's Edge. Iffin ya wan ta stay ere an elp the smiths they'll teach ya what they know."
Sweat trickling down her face, ruddy from the heat, a muscular woman in a smith's leather apron appears from around a corner. "Now lessee what ya has here." Striding forward she looks at the ore in the first cart. "Hmm, not bad, not bad at all. They did tell ye that a third o what ye was haulin was yers didn't they?" When all the response she got was looks of astonishment she chuckled, "Of course they didn't, the buggers. Ok, I be Amwes, or Ami to those who know me. I run the smithy ere. If ye wants ta learn ta smith, I'll show ye all I know, and like I said a third of what ye hauled is yours. If ye don't want ta learn smithin I'll buy yer raw ore so ye has a grubstake here on Skull Island."
Kiro, wanting to further the training that he had at home decided immediately to stay and train under Ami's tutelage. He, along with Turk and Trosey - the only others to stay at Ten Cliff, were shown to their own sleeping chambers as well as set up with a beginner's set of tools. They were taken into a sweltering room that showed the true ingenuity of the pirates, using the heat of lava to smelt the ore. This was the initiates first task, smelting down all the ore that they had brought with them from Hawk Mountain.
Seeing this as a possible means off the island down the road, Kiro threw himself into his work with zeal. He quickly smelted all the ore that he had hauled and was set up at his own anvil. "Repetition is the only real way to learn," Ami was fond of saying. So Kiro pounded out iron gauntlets, sabots, legs and helms by the hundreds. By the time he had used all the iron that he had pulled from Hawk Mountain Kiro's skill with the hammer had increased immensely. Now there was a choice to be made though, keep at smithing by buying ore that others brought in, go back to Hawk Mountain to mine some more ore, or quit the craft altogether and go do something else.
Chapter 4 (finally)
When Kiro sat down and explained his dilemma to Ami she told him that there were pros and cons with each and that it would be up to him to find his own path. She did suggest that he talk to a couple of the veteran smiths that were currently at Ten Cliff. Taking this as good advice, Kiro went around to a number of the smiths there asking their opinions. A couple of the smiths were very abrupt and told him to make up his own mind and went back to work. Most of the others took some time with Kiro and told him what they chose and why. A couple of the smiths, OzarKKraz and Quagmire spent even more time and went out of their way to befriend Kiro. They suggested that he get out and see a bit more of the island and get to know a few more people there as very few of them had only one occupation. In fact Quagmire said he was leaving in a day or so to head back to Skull's Nose and would be glad of the company if Kiro would like to accompany him. Thinking this a great opportunity, Kiro accepted the invitation.
Having decided to go, Kiro realized that he had all the pieces that he had crafted but had no idea where to sell them, how much to sell them for or even if there were a market for them. For that matter he didn't even have a way to transport them as they were far too bulky to carry on his back. Figuring the best person to ask was Ami, Kiro sought her out. Ami said that his was a common problem, easily solved. Again there were a number of options open to him. He could put a price on his items and sell them here or trade some of them for a cart made by local woodworkers to transport the rest. If he was transporting them with him Kiro could set up a store in any of the towns on the island or take them to Hook's Edge where the pirate's quartermaster would buy whatever he wanted to sell to outfit the new recruits currently being trained. Unfortunately the quartermaster would only pay a portion of what the goods were actually worth but it would be instant cash instead of having to wait until someone decided they wished to purchase his wares. Seeing Quagmire loading a cart with his own work, Kiro traded an iron axe and helmet for a very light but surprisingly strong cart and quickly loaded all his belongings into it.
At first light the next morning Kiro sought out Turk and Trosey, who were staying at Ten Cliff a while longer and bid them farewell, promising to get together again as soon as possible. With goodbyes said he and Quagmire set out for Toothen, where LadyRaven had thrown that wonderful feast. Finding the cart extremely well balanced and easy to pull, Kiro and Quagmire made it to Toothen a little before mid-day. Wanting to thank her for her previous hospitality Kiro went in search of LadyRaven only to find that she was not there. Having no interest in the drab fare that he had brought with him from the smithy Kiro asked where he could get a good meal. Everyone directed him to Lubigno as being the best cook in town. When he asked if he could afford it people looked at his wagonload of goods and was assured he could. Following the directions given to him, Kiro went to a building across the square from LadyRaven's. He quickly realized that he needn't have asked directions, following his nose would have sufficed. Peering in through the doorway Kiro saw Quagmire waving to him while finishing off a lobster claw. "Recon'd ye'd find yer way 'ere, best grub on the island. Don' fret bout the cost, Lu's a good un, e'll take goods in trade." Hearing this Kiro ordered a lobster of his own, along with an elven cocktail.
After stuffing themselves on the gourmet feast and washing it down with a few drinks Kiro and Quagmire were in no condition to travel farther. Leaning on each other for support, the two of them staggered out the door and to the inn next door. Quagmire said something that Kiro interpreted to mean he never manages to make it past Lu's on his way to Skull's Nose, or coming back either. The innkeeper greeted Quagmire and said, "yer reglar room's ready, seen ya go inna Lu's. Iffin he's wit you I gives im the same deal." To this Quagmire responded with a mighty belch and nod. Leading the way, the innkeeper went up the stairs and opened the first door on the left through which Quagmire stumbled to the bed and collapsed. The innkeeper then helped Kiro stay upright as he opened the door across the hall then assisted him to the bed.
The next morning, bright and early Kiro got up and pounded on Quagmire's door. Through the door Kiro heard a groan followed by what could only have been a boot hitting the door. From the bottom the stairs Kiro heard the innkeeper chuckle then say, "e wonna be up afore midday, iffin ye wan breakfast ye kin join me. Not as fancy as Lu's but I's still a fair 'and with the skillet. By th way, I be Teut, an who be ye?" Kiro introduced himself and thanked Teut for the invitation saying anything would be great this morning, particularly a big mug of water. While making breakfast Teut told Kiro how it was Teut's turn to look after the in and do the cooking while others were away either fishing, mining or chopping wood. Teut was looking forward to heading out on the briney deep and seeing what the nets brought in. Teut explained that the whole island was actually one big community, not a bunch of individual villages. Everyone contributes to overall goal of sending a successful invasion which is just the first step in the real goal of overthrowing the mainlander's masters - the Mods. Having never heard of the Mods before Kiro just nodded and ate meal that was placed before him.
After breakfast was done Kiro an Teut went out back where Kiro and Quagmire's goods were being kept. With a practiced eye Teut went through the Kiro's handiwork and pick out a pair of nice iron hands and a large iron helm to cover both Kiro and Quagmire's bill. Teut then pulled out a breastplate and leggings from Kiro's goods and told him to take these over to Lu to cover last night's dinner. Kiro did as suggested, Lu seemed to be expecting those particular items, then he decided to look around town while waiting for Quagmire to get up.
It seemed to Kiro that there were more cooking pits than the population of the town warranted. Kiro stopped by one the pits where a very muscular man was carefully tending the cooking fire, adding wood when the fires lowered and quickly removing the cooked fish and replacing it with fresh fish. As Kiro stood there, the man tending the fire noticed him and waved him over. "Ye have fish of yer own ta cook, or was ya lookin ta buy?"
"Neither, I was just watching."
"Ahh, yer one a tha new ones are ye. Fresh to tha island, and from tha looks a ye, fresh ta yer freedom too."
"Yes sir I am," replied Kiro.
Flipping over a log and sitting on it, the cook tended his fire and deftly exchanged a cooked fish for a raw one. "Grab yerself a log an sit a spell, me name's Nirvanaishdude."
Kiro did as suggested and spent an hour or so talking to Nirvanaishdude, learning much about the way of the island. He was told that towns were based on a particular industry so that everyone would be able to find things efficiently. Although there were shops in all the towns that sold almost anything, the towns themselves were rather specialized. Nirvanaishdude explained that Toothen was the cooking town; Barnacle Bay, because of its deep waters was the primary fishing site; Crab's Nest to the south the main traveling port; Bonewood to the southwest obviously the woodcutting area and far to the west lies Hook's Edge where the main trading center and college is.
Nirvanaishdude said that he would be here for a day or two before heading out to either the mines or Bonewood, unless of course he decided to do a little fishing, any was he went Kiro was invited to come along. Seeing the stunned look on Kiro's face Nirvanaishdude just laughed and said that he, like most islanders, didn't specialize in a particular task but tended to have three or four tasks that they were particularly good at.
Trying to digest all this new information Kiro thanked Nirvanaishdude and headed back to Teut's to see if Quagmire was mobile yet. As he entered the inn Kiro saw Quagmire sitting having a meal of what appeared to be an equal mix of oatmeal and beer. When Kiro was about to speak Quagmire held up his hand and whispered, "Not a word! Me head is ringing like one of Ami's anvils. When I'm done ere we can leave."
Try not to smile, and failing miserably, Kiro sat down to wait for Quagmire.
When he was done, Quagmire nodded to Teut, got up and went to where their carts were being stored. He quietly adjusted the rigging and started on his way with Kiro following. After an hour or so Quagmire stopped at the side of a lake, stripped to his scivvies and jumped in. When he surfaced Quagmire shook his head and grinned, "Ahh, Thas better. Now I feel almost human again." Quagmire quickly dressed and they were on their way again.
As they came down out of the hills above Skull's Nose Kiro could see that the town was built around the largest structure he'd ever seen. When asked about it, Quagmire told him that it was the stockhouse, where all the islanders contributed towards the next attack on the mainlanders. Its for the training of pirate recruits, outfitting them and building the ships to take them. How much an Islander donated was kept careful track of and if a raid was successful then the loot would be divvied up according to how much everyone donated. Quagmire didn't try to explain it as he didn't understand it all that well. He did point out a couple of other buildings of note, across from the stockhouse in a building about half the size, was the training hall where pirate raiders are trained. And beside that lay, to Quagmire's way of thinking at least, the most important building in town - the saloon.
As they came into town Quagmire was greeted by a number of townsfolk and welcomed back. As he nodded and waved, Quagmire led Kiro to the doors of the vast stockhouse and pulled his cart inside. They pulled their carts in behind a couple of others that were being quickly relieved of their cargo of wood. Out of an office to the right of the doorway came a tall slender woman with a bronze tan, brilliant blue eyes and PURPLE hair. Having never seen anyone with purple hair before, Kiro just gaped. Quagmire laughed at his reaction, "this 'ere's Maggie, I thin she does her 'air like that jus for that effect, I did the same thing when I first sawed 'er." Quagmire introduced Maggie to Kiro then got down to business, telling her exactly what he brought to donate to the cause. When Maggie approached Kiro with her clipboard in hand he was rather reluctant. He explained that he was new here and that if he donated this he would have nothing to live on.
Understanding his situation, Maggie called over a lithe young lady in tight fitting blue leathers. This, she said, was Ziolablue who often acted as a messenger. Maggie told Kiro that, if he agreed, she would send a message to the quartermaster at Hook's Edge telling him what Kiro had brought and Ziolablue would return with cash payment for it - minus a small delivery fee of course. This was agreeable to Kiro so Maggie gave Ziolablue a note and off she sped. Maggie gave Kiro a quick tour of the huge facility, which was mostly empty at the moment as a raid had just been sent two days prior. There were areas designated for masses of lumber, iron ingots, raw ore, raw fish and cooked fish. There were even facilities to smelt the raw ore and cook the raw fish, Maggie explained that some people donated their time in smelting and cooking rather than donating tangible goods.
Quagmire was just finishing unloading his wagon as Kiro's tour was ending. Thanking Maggie for her hospitality, Kiro followed Quagmire as he left. "Ah just 'ave to stop in at the training cenner afore we 'ead to the saloon," said Quagmire. They walked across the square to a large barn-like structure with no windows at ground level, but long narrow ones higher up. As they opened the door Kiro could hear the sounds of combat echoing from within. The back wall of the cavernous room was lined with mirrors where a number of recruits were practicing their stances and moves. Along the one side there was a double line of recruits facing a short stocky man with massive arms that was shouting orders. Nudging Kiro, Quagmire pointed at the trainer and said that he was Amrytje, the lead trainer of the pirate recruits and that he was the person that Quagmire had to talk to about his training rotation.
Kiro followed Quagmire over to Amrytje, who quickly sized up Kiro. "Ya don' move like a fighter, iffin ya wants trainin come see me later," stated Amrytje. Thus dismissed Amrytje turned to Quagmire and filled him in on when his training rotation was and the state of readiness of the various levels of recruits.
Having gotten the information he required Quagmire led the way out of the building and over to the tavern. "Welcome ta the Greenbeard Saloon, my place of employment an second home," stated Quagmire. "Tha lil lady behind the bar be Dixierose" he said pointing to the petite brunette pouring a mug of rum for a patron. "Over at the end o the bar be Akkarin, one of me bouncer co-workers, and the lady by the kitchen door be DestinyUnknown, the other bouncer. We tries ta keep the peace though things occasionally gets a mite rough in ere. Iffin Destiny gives ye a hard time, don' thin nothing of it, she does that to all the guys, she's actually really sweet - a mite sassy, but really sweet. I gots ta put away me kit then I'll be down to introduce ye," Quagmire said as he headed up the stairs beside the door.
Seating himself at a table under the stairs, Kiro studied the patrons of the saloon. Though it was fairly early yet a number of them seemed to be well on their way to passing out from drink. A couple of rowdy guys were giving a serving girl a bit of a hard time, not letting her pass, demanding kisses as toll. Akkarin and DestinyUnknown both picked up stout cudgels that appeared well used and kept an eye on the situation. When one of the rowdies made a grab at the serving girl both bouncers sprang into action, each applying their cudgel to the back of a rowdy's skull. Hearing the dual "thwack" the other patrons stopped talking, looked up then burst out laughing as the two men slid off their stools and crashed to the floor. As the laughter subsided Quagmire came down the stairs and said to Kiro, "Let's give them a hand" and walked towards the unconscious pair. Quagmire told Akkarin that he and Kiro would take these two over to the jail.
Grabbing the rowdy by the collar, Quagmire dragged him out of the saloon with Kiro following suit with the other one. With no regard for the comfort of the unconscious man, Quagmire hauled him up the steps to a building a little ways down the street from the saloon. Once inside Kiro recognized the building as the one in which he woke up in upon arriving on the island. The two men were dumped at the feet of a couple of the guards in the main room. Quagmire crossed the room and knocked on the heavy wooden door. "Enter" called out a deep voice, so Quagmire opened the door and motioned for Kiro to follow. Seated behind the desk sat the same menacing figure that Kiro had seen before though this time he smiled when Quagmire introduced them. "Kiro, this be Wolflord. He be in charge of discipline on the island. Wolflord, this be Kirokithikis, a new member of our little community. 'e's still not sure of what he wants ta do so some of us are showing him around." Wolflord stood up, shook Kiro's hand, "Welcome to the Isle of the free. If ya needs any help let us know and we'll do what we can. The Captain's office is upstairs if ya have the need - but it better be for a good reason as the Captain is very busy." With that, Wolflord sat back down to continue working his way through the stacks of paper on his desk.
Chapter 5 (it's only been 4 months since the last chapter )
Upon exiting the jail Kiro looked over at Quagmire and asked how long Ziola would take to get to the quartermaster and back.
"Tha lass is a speedy one an iffin I knows her, she won' be more 'n a day each way." "But ... but," sputtered Kiro, "What am I to do in the meantime? I guess I can sleep in the woods or something." "BY THE GODS," thundered Quagmire, "are ye daft or what? Haven' ya been listnen ta a thin' anyone bin sayin'? We's family on the Island, we takes care o' each other. Les see iffin Dixie ha' any rooms ta let, then ya can go from there." Kiro blushed at Quagmire's admonision and followed him back to Greenbeard's.
"Dixie, ya gots a pallet for this 'ere fool. Twas thinnin o' sleepin in tha woods 'e was," laughed Quagmire. With a slow, thorough inspection that brought a flash of heat to Kiro's cheeks, Dixie winked at Quagmire then responded, "Aye, we has a pallet though I'm guessin it wonna be for only one." "It will be for one only," Kiro firmly stated. "My love awaits my return, which I shall do when I have earned my way back." "Fair enough" chuckled Dixierose, "though ye might change yer mind afore that time comes. I tells ya what, if ye's willin' ta spell off any o' the bouncers who be on, I'll gives ya a pallet and yer meals for 2 gold a day. Plain fare usually be a gold a meal an pallets usually 2 per night. If ye wants cider it'll be two mugs per gold, beer be a gold each an' rum be 5 each. I knows ye have naught on ye so we runs ye a tab, when Ziola returns ye can pay me. Sound fair?" "That be a right generous offer Miss Dixie, an' ye don't have to worry about me getting drunk like some of these folk. I don't drink that much, a mug of beer will last me most of the night. If you can show me where to clean up a bit I'll see if either of the bouncers would like a break."
Quagmire led Kiro through the doors beside the bar, down a short hallway to a steamy room with a number of cubicles. "These 'ere are tha bathin rooms, leftover from the Greenbeard's past, ye can ask Dixie or Maggie about tha, more 'n likely they'd be happy ta tell ye tha tale. I'll get ye some clean clothes ye can borrow 'til ya gets more o' yer own." With that, Quagmire left a somewhat befuddled Kiro standing in front of a cubicle door. Kiro entered the cubicle and was surprised to find the room lavishly furnished with wood panelling, a marble floor, a massive brass tub - easily big enough for 3, and leather clad couches that were obviously designed for more than just sitting or sleeping on. Not wanting to take the time for a full bath, Kiro quickly stripped to the waist, grabbed a wash cloth and soap and set to work removing the road-grime that had accumulated since his last bath.
"An here I were hopin ta catch ya in the bath." Kiro whirled around to see a grinning DestinyUnknown holding out a pile of clothing for him. "Quagmire was going to bring these to ye, but I volunteered to do it for 'im" she purred in a velvety voice as she took a long, lingering look at Kiro's well muscled torso and arms. Feeling a heat spreading from his face to his neck that had nothing to do with the steamy environs, Kiro took the clothing from Destiny and all but pushed her out of the room. As he leaned against the now closed door Kiro heard a throaty laugh followed by, "Oh, this is going to be fun." Sighing Kiro quickly dressed in the borrowed clothing and headed to the common room.
Not trusting himself to be able to refrain from blushing around Destiny, Kiro relieved Akkarin who gave over his cudgel and reminded Kiro not to kill anyone with it, if he could help it. Akkarin then went and got a mug from Dixie and sat at a corner table with a lanky, middle-aged man who's weather-beaten face and raven black hair hid steely grey eyes. Kiro watched the room looking for possible trouble makers, looking at a couple of men and tapping the cudgel in his empty hand when they went to put their hands where they shouldn't be. It was obvious from how fast the men's hands retreated from the server's anatomy that the Greenbeard's bouncers had a reputation for keeping watch on the servers and not letting patrons get, err, frisky with them. Kiro was starting to enjoy himself when Dixie's name being bellowed from the corner table made him jump. In a voice obviously more used to bellowing orders aboard ship, the man with Akkarin called over for another round for the two of them. Akkarin was looking at Kiro with a big grin on his face and nodded when he caught Kiro's eye. About a candlemark after relieving him, Akkarin returned to his post. Not wanting to look more the fool, Kiro handed over the cudgel and headed toward Destiny.
"Blimey, that guy Akkarin was sitting with sure startled me, who is he?" Kiro asked Destiny. Chuckling, Destiny responded, "That's Calgor. He's a nice enough fellow though he doesna suffer fools gladly an he has strong opinions that he will freely inform said fools of - sometimes at great length and volume. But iffin ya want information about the isles he probably knows it. I think his motto might be: there are no foolish questions, just fools asking questions." Kiro stood at his post for another candlemark without incident until Destiny returned and told him to grab a drink and something to eat as he'd have two more rotations before the inn closed for the night.
The next rotations passed uneventfully. Shortly before he was to be relieved by Destiny, Kiro spotted a familiar mane of purple hair approach and enter the swinging doors. As she entered Maggie caught Kiro's eye and signalled him to join her when he could. When Destiny returned she asked Kiro to stick around in case there was any trouble getting anyone to leave, having nowhere else to go Kiro agreed. Kiro went up to the bar and asked Dixie for two of whatever Maggie usually drank and headed over to her table with the drinks. After making small talk for a few minutes Kiro remembered the cryptic comment Destiny made and told Maggie about it, asking her what she knew about the Greenbeard's history. Maggie sighed, took a swig of her rum and looked to be reliving long forgotten memories.
With slow deliberateness Maggie started, "The Greenbeard wasn't always an inn, let alone The Greenbeard. Shortly after a bunch of free-thinking people decided to follow a rogue mod, Captain Keelhail and settle on Skull Island, The Stuffed Cod-Piece was born. It was the ruin of many a poor soul and god I know I'm one. It was, as you might have guessed, a house of ill-repute. It was run by StormCryer, Muffin, Grumpy and my mother Maggot until I took her place after her death. But there was a twist to this house, it was run by women for women. We had our own boats and would go to the main islands on foggy nights and kidnap men from their beds and bring them back to Skull to work. You might think that would be a pleasure for a man, but no, as for a woman, that is not so. Some of the women were there to be pampered, others were there for less kindly reasons, I remember this one woman, who can only be described as an Amazon."
"A what?" Kiro interjected.
"An Amazon, a warrior woman, as tall or taller than most men and heavily muscled. She was as cruel as she was beautiful. Hair the color of burnished copper with a temper to match the hair. She was nice enough to the women but had no use for the men. If the rumours are true she is now the Queen of the Outlands, she is known as KoolKitty. A warning to ye boy, if ye cross her yer as good as dead."
Shuddering to think what such a woman could do to a neophyte fighter such as himself, Kiro quickly changed the subject. "You said that you took over after your mother died. May I ask what happened, if you don't mind?" Maggie quickly downed the rest of her rum and waved Dixie to send another over. Once the drink arrived, Maggie took a big swig and let out a deep sigh. "It was towards the end of our first year on the island and there was a pirate rebellion. A faction of the pirates took Maggot prisoner and sent a ransom note. Before the ransom could be collected news came that she had mysteriously died. Her body was returned and buried by myself and friends at Crabs Nest. That is why there are often flowers there."
Maggie let out a deep, sorrowful sight of longing and Kiro sat silent, thinking "I'm sorry" is just so inadequate. The awkward silence is shattered by Dixierose calling out, "Closing time, one last call for alcohol so finish your rum or your beer." Akkarin followed up with, "Closing time, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here." With a mischievous grin, Destiny moved behind where Kiro was sitting and sang out "I know who I want to take me home. I know who I want to take me home."
With tears in her eyes, Maggie laughed out, "Subtle Destiny, very subtle."
Edited on 25-03-2008 03:46
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|You know I love it. It's a wonderful story, you are a wonderful writer, and you seem to capture the essence of Skull |
I can't wait to see more.
Really, I want more. I loved it a lot.
Keep it coming
"Arr, bloody d* fine job matey!"
|... nice job ... how long did it take you ? ask a mod to stick it up ! |
|Tis a fine piece of wurk ye got ere. Eel be lookin' foreword to tha next installerment! Dam fine job mate! |
|I hope you have a lot of time thisweekend, so we can read the next chapter soon |
Edited on 14-06-2007 13:52
You will never have me like you want me.
|king of the mines i'm honored, great story........but u didn't portray my charater correctly, and u spelled my name wrong |
The vile pirate Iodanes had no sympathy for the young man and told him to work from his knees if he had to.
the evil scum Iodanes came down and suggested that maybe he should increase this groups quota.
evil scum.....hmmm did i wrong u in some way?
well i don't care just make sure vile scum iordanes is in chap. 4 ok?
Edited on 14-06-2007 19:57
|Very good story, kept me entertained while i mined myself some ores . Did you ever think about writing a book or novel, you have what it takes. |
Edited on 14-06-2007 20:20
|Great story kiro|
I cant wait to see what comes next
|Sorry about that Iordanes, your name was the first one that popped up on pirate chat when I was looking for a villianous type when writing that part. I'll see what I can do in upcoming chapters |
|Hey it's already 38 minutes into monday, where is chapter 4? |
|Sorry, work was hell all weekend, didn't get any writing done. Will try to get it out as fast as I can. Sorry for the delay, besides its still Sunday here on the wet, I mean West Coast.|
Edited on 18-06-2007 08:40
|Treasure Island, anyone? |
|Very nice story Kiro Always funnier to read when you know the characters hehe |
Makes me sorta wanna be a pirate hehe
|Aww thats to bad, hopefully you'll have chapter 4 posted within the next few days. |
|i keg of rum if you have the next chapter by friday |
|Argh, matey, this story pulls at me heartstrings!|
Keep up with the good work
|Hurry up and finish and post chapter 4 |
|Chapter 4 finally posted|
sorry for the delay - someone was being lazy and/or playing LotR Online
|Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, you have captured me perfectly. |
|ARRRR i like it. Skull live forever more |
|i lvoe being petite here since i'm not in rl |
|What a nice chapter... i really liked it good job for the other ones! |
|YAY for chapter 4. I just now noticed you had put it up |
I am so happy to read it. It's thrilling.
|you have too much time on your hands |
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