Chapter 3 Mutiny
“Only a very clever and talented craftsman could have fashioned a hatch so strong it can resist all of our efforts,” Budrick declared. Murmurs of agreement traveled through the hold.
“Budrick is right,” Mowbry reiterated. “We came close to causing ourselves casualty through our efforts. We have no idea at this point why they would pluck us off that rock to imprison us here. I watched as those talented in repulsion protected us from ourselves. We should consider our alternatives.”
“Where is Captain Tock?” the Dutchess Landreth asked loudly. “Our master mariner should know what to do.”
“Unfortunately, he is being held in another part of the ship, as are many others. I am not sure that even if we used all of our talent,” he glared pointedly at Mr. Anderson, “we would have any better outcome. If we are patient, perhaps an opportunity will present itself.”
“Will they feed us?” Jen asked.
“Ah, sweet child, now is not the time to be thinking of your own belly.”
“No,” she said defensively, “I was thinking that if they fed us, they would have to open the hatch. An opportunity.”
“She’s correct,” Budrick said. “That would be an opportunity, if they feed us.”
“I’ll give them what for, if they give me a chance!” Bucsprat declared.
“I would like to clear the air,” Mr. Anderson spoke up, while they were all engaged. There was a minor moan of dissention. “A few hours ago, I turned off my light to save power. My daughter and her friends explained to me how it looked. I – we – giants have no talent. We are not like you amazing people who can make your own light, who can heal, and repel, and manipulate matter. We survive by the use of clever devices, but these devices have limitations. They require an energy source – a battery – and I have no means here to recharge the battery. That is why I turned my device off. Not because I’m lazy, but because I’m limited. I am truly sorry if I gave you a wrong impression.”
After the initial discomfort wore off, a small girl – the little girl from Dool, Tula – came up and held his hand for a moment and more. He felt a warmth tingle in his arm, then slowly spread across his chest and up his neck into his cheeks. It was like a sudden fever spreading throughout his body, but it came with a general sense of well-being. “What have you done, child?” he asked of little Tula.
“I felt sorry for you, Sir Dave,” she said simply.
“No more excuses, Sir Dave,” Mowbry address him. “The child has given you a gift, a talent of your own.”
He felt different, but he didn’t understand how. “How do I use it?”
“You will figure it out,” Mowbry assured him.
Maylu stepped forward while everyone was still standing around congratulating little Tula for her generosity, and Mr. Anderson for the gift that he had received. “I just received word from Captain Tock,” she said.
“How?” Jen asked.
“Through the blats.”
“What’s the message?” Mowbry asked.
“On behalf of Captain Yar in support of the New Threan Federation, we are now prisoners. We are to be delivered to the Imperial Court of Tole to Emperor Rokko for his disposition. The rest of the people are being held in the forward cargo hold, except for Princess Nallah who is being held in a cabin.”
“Which cabin?” Gina asked.
“I don’t know,” she answered. “The blats are under the cracks in the floor. We can use them for further communication.”
Mowbry rubbed his chin thoughtfully before he spoke. “Ask them to tell the aft hold to look for opportunities to escape, and try to find out further information on the princess.”
Maylu stepped over to the hull and crouched low, and communicated silently with the creepy little creatures. They could hear their movement under the planks.
Mr. Anderson saw that Mowbry, Budrick and farmer Bucsprat had come together to speak in low voices. Mr. Anderson approached them and hovered nearby to catch random words while the noise level rose as the fairies went back to conversing.
The three friends stopped speaking when they detected his proximity. “Mind if I join you?” Mr. Anderson asked.
“Not at all, Sir Dave,” Mowbry said cordially as if the whole misunderstanding had never happened.
“Are you talking about Rokko?” Mr. Anderson asked.
“Of course,” Mowbry said.
“What else?” Budrick asked.
“A real piece of work, that one,” Bucsprat added.
“Are you as alarmed as I am about the New Threan Federation and the Empire of Tole?” Mr. Anderson asked.
“We already knew about Lord Rokko’s takeover of Tole, but yes,” Mowbry admitted, “I was surprised that he is building an empire.”
“It is very much against our international laws and regulations. Yes, there are a few species on our world that would try that, but our people are prohibited from such conduct.” Budrick was about to launch into a lesson on natural history, but when Mowbry yawned, he decided to keep the lesson short. “Trolls, pixies and the like would try that if they had any sense of organization, but they have never thrived on mutual cooperation, like we have.”
The three girls had drifted over to the huddled men and listened unnoticed until Jen spouted, “Rokko is nothing but a big bully! He needs to be taught a lesson!”
“I heartily agree, Dame Jennifer,” Budrick said passionately.
“We’ll give him what’s coming to him, miss,” Bucspat agreed.
Mowbry shook his head. “This Count Rokko is no common maladjusted man. He has an agenda.”
“Our world has a long history of maladjusted men rising to power to become tyrants and dictators,” Mr. Anderson said.
“At the heart of it, he is like Jen said,” Gina offered, “a bully who needs to be taught a lesson.”
“He needs a time out!” Julie interjected.
Mr. Anderson smiled. “Yes, yes he does.”
Maylu interupted. Mr. Anderson was glad she no longer needed to jump up and down on his shoulder to get his attention. “Message from Captain Tock,” she said. “He overheard Captain Yar tell his crew to put the princess into the cabin next to his own. And to bolt the door, and to stand guard outside the door,” she finished.
“That would be in the far aft of the ship,” Mowbry explained.
“He also suggested that at some point they may feed us. Whoever gets the opportunity first should fight their way to the other hold and free the rest,” Maylu recited.
“Well, we’re on the same page then,” Bucspat agreed.
Between the creaking of the timbers and the noise of general chatter, nobody heard the sound of the hatch being opened. Jen caught a beam of sunlight in her eyes and winced, temporarily blinded by the sudden burst of light.
“Move quickly!” a female voice said.
“Hey! Get away from that hatch!” a male voice shouted from somewhere aft.
“Thank you, Auda!” Jen called.
“Hurry!” Auda hissed.
“Naked lydee, go away!” the male voice shouted again.
The hatch dropped, but did not seal. A chain fell inside across a corner of the hatchway preventing the hatch from locking. The sound of bare wet feet running away, and the sound of booted feet approaching came from the deck above.
“Fight!” Mowbry screamed as a battle cry, and all wands up, the hatch flew open in a blaze of fireworks. Mr. Anderson had his phone out and was shooting video immediately. Next they charged the ladder, climbing to the surface one by one. Mowbry was in the lead, but then he was stricken down as he tried to single-handedly hold his position at the top of the ladder against overwhelming forces.
Three more fairies took his place, not pausing at the top, but leaping out of the open hatch when they reached the top of the ladder and setting up a crossfire from positions of cover on the deck. With multiple targets to distract the pirates, even more fairies managed to get out on deck.
Down in the hold, the healers went to work on poor Mowbry, who seemed to be petrified. Behind the fighting fairies, Mr. Anderson climbed the ladder and held his cell phone above the level of the hatch, capturing the action of the battle on video. He sensed a presence at his feet and craned his head around, looking down. “Jen, stay down.”
“You stay down, Daddy,” Jen said.
“I want to report on this battle when we get home,” he explained.
“You won’t be able to report on anything if you get killed,” Jen objected. “You’re the only Daddy that I have. I need you to stay alive.”
Mr. Anderson looked at the view finder of his phone to examine the deck. The fighting had moved toward the aft of the ship. “I’ll be fine,” he said, climbing out of the hold and onto the deck.
Julie and Gina were on the ladder right behind Jen. They waited a moment as Mr. Anderson moved stealthily toward the aft, before they clambered out of the hold. “We’ll be fine too,” Jen said under her breath.
A bolt of light traveled down the deck in their direction and the three girls dove behind a group of barrels, landing in a heap and knocking off the aim of the fairy who was trying to defend them. His wand lurched skyward and his bolt of light severed the rigging aft, bringing the mainsail down on the defending crew. “Sorry,” Gina said, when she figured out what had just happened.
“Don’t be,” the fairy warrior replied, “That was brilliant. I would not have thought to do that.” He then jumped up and sprinted down the deck.
“We’re brilliant,” Julie giggled, peering around a barrel to check out the action.
“We’re just plain lucky!” Jen sighed. The fighting seemed to be migrating down into the cabins, and somebody had liberated the captives from the aft hold, so they were now joining the fight. The crew of the Scoundrel were quickly being overrun. “Come on!” Jen shouted. “We need to check on Princess Nallah.”
“That girl can take care of herself!” Gina pointed out, reluctant to move from cover.
“Let’s go!” Jen insisted. She stood up and started walking down the deck, a little wobbly due to the rocking of the ship on the seas.
The Carter girls watched her stride boldly toward the battle, glanced at each other dubiously, the stood and started to follow.
As Jen was stepping over some fallen rigging and a broken spar, a hand shot out from under a crumpled sail and grabbed her by the shoulder. Her heart stopped beating as she was frozen with dread. “What are you doing outside of the hold?” Daddy asked sharply.
Her heart started beating again, relieved. “I want to make sure Princess Nallah is okay,” she explained.
“Princess Nallah can take care of herself,” he said, stepping out from under the sailcloth.
“That’s what we told her,” Julie said as the Carter girls arrived.
“Just then, the deck burst asunder in an explosion of light and spinning fireballs. Planking and splinters shot everywhere, and the humans took refuge under the fallen sailcloth. Captain Tock stoop up on the capstan and dusted himself off. Before he could retrieve his wand, Captain Yar was up on deck waving his wand about, and individual pieces of rope from the fallen rigging started to untangle themselves and move like purposeful snakes toward Captain Tock.
The ruddy faced captain looked about for somewhere to go, but before he could make up his mind a rope wrapped around his right wrist, and another grabbed his left. Before he could break free a third rope bound his ankles and a fourth his waist. He was thrashing about, struggled to escape the bonds that held his tight upon the capstan, but not for long. A fifth rope climbed down from above and wrapped tightly around his neck, and his face grew even ruddier.
“Run!” Daddy told Jen, and down below deck she ran. The guards had moved with the fighting, and there was nothing but a simple lock on one of the doors next to the captain’s cabin. She assumed that this must be where Princess Nallah was being held.
“Princess Nallah?” she called through the door.
“Dame Jennifer, is that you?” a voice responded.
“The guards are gone. Can you get out?”
The door rattled, but did not open. “The door seems to still be locked,” she responded.
Down the way in the forecastle, she could still hear the battle, as the crew was desperately trying to defend themselves from the overwhelming forces of Nallah’s army.
Jen looked around for something to smash the lock with, something to break the door with, something to help her quickly. She was surprised then when a blat jumped on her back. She screamed.
“Are you okay?” Princess Nallah called through the locked door.
The blat dropped something and flew away. Jen looked for the object that made the metallic pinging sound as it hit the floor. The blat had brought the key! She opened the lock and said, “Quickly! Tock is being strangled!”
They opened the captain’s cabin door and saw the gaping hole in the deck, and they could see Captain Tock helplessly dying atop the capstan. Nallah brandished her wand and hoisted Captain Yar high into the air, then with a little twirling of the wrist, she was spinning him round and round, as if to fling him very far away. The distraction was enough.
The ropes went limp, and fell off Captain Tock. He also went limp, and fell off the capstan, unconscious. Mr. Anderson ran over to him and checked for a pulse, a breath, any signs of life. Princess Nallah gently set Captain Yar on deck where he was surrounded by the blended army. Princess Nallah and Jen made their way around to the stairs and soon arrived above deck.
“Is he...?” Jen choked.
“No, but he’s going to be sore for awhile,” her father sighed, frustrated there was not more he could do.
“I’ll get the healers to take care of him,” Princess Nallah said.
Budrick lumbered out of the forecastle. “We have the ship,” he reported to Princess Nallah.