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Shango & Tristy:
The Curse of the Colorful Gem
*takes place in a Pokemon-only world.
"Ahoy me hearties, tis be yer captain scribblin' these words... me, scourge of the seas, Sandor Morrigan. Let tis' be me last secret 'fore I leave th' cruel world, 'n a warning to ye all high 'bove the dark seafloor... me greatest treasure is cursed. Tis saucy jewel wit' th' many colors, I speak of. Grand't me riches 'n fame, oh, it did, but at a cost. Bugger ol' Morrigan if he trusts 'nother of those magic trinkets! Now ol' me lays here, on me throne of gold and th' skulls of me brave crew, waitin' fer me death. Wenches! Not that death'd be th'end. Be warned, then, ye scallywags 'n filthy landlubbers - seek me treasure, 'n me'll rise from the dead to gut ye, bow to stern..."
His hammock was tied onto two palm trees, swinging back and forth as the breeze went past. He had his sailor's hat over his eyes and his hands braided on his belly, relaxing after a day's sailing. The sound of the sea's waves was more soothing than he had ever imagined. He sighed in relief, welcoming the comforting heat of the sun, and his friend's as she sat on his chest. She was a sprite of fire, a Victini.
She was looking up to the sky.
"Shango, look," she called out cheerfully, pulling the hair of his cheek to draw his attention.
"Mmm," he replied lazily. The sprite snatched the hat off his eyes, the sunshine blinding him for a moment. He sat on the swinging hammock, dazed.
"Look!" she cried, pointing up. And he did. A flock of Pidoves was soaring in the skies, headed off to the south. "Beautiful, aren't they?"
"Yeah," Shango said, grinning, "and tasty." Being a Zangoose, birds and the like were his favorite meal. Tristana, though, who was much of a kind soul, only ate berries. She looked at him with her mouth gaping open in astonishment.
"I wouldn't ever let you."
"You wouldn't be able to stop me," the Zangoose laughed and grabbed her head to raise her in the air playfully. She tried to punch him, her eyes flaring, but she couldn't reach him. Their eyes locked - the deep, green ones of Shango that were flecked with a gold ring and the blue ones of Tristana that were as clear as the sky. He didn't see fury in her, only love, admiration and a child's complaint. No wonder she's following me everywhere, he thought with a cocksure half smile that he saved only for the ladies.
"Um, Shango," she uttered, concern showing on her face as he held her. "Don't you think we should get back to the ship? The captain will be looking for us by now." She put the sailor's hat back on his head.
"No, he won't," Shango said and jumped off from his hammock onto the sand of the beach. He looked around, his ears falling lazily to the sides at the sound of the waves. I never imagined there was a place of such beauty in the world, he thought. The beach had white sand that shone under the sunlight, the sea's shallow waters were crystal clear and turquoise and the open blue in front of him was soul soothing. The rocks of the reef were black and grey; Shango loved to assault the Clamperls that were hiding there to find pearls.
He would give none to Tristana. It would make for a nice gift, but the gold he could get by trading them was more important, and Tristana realized that. His friend's understanding was more valuable than the treasures he could find underwater.
Kneeling on the sand, he motioned to Tristana, who brought his bag. He unfolded a map in front of him, the map of Carajol Sea, his eyes searching the tiny island on the Novayas they were on. They were treading on pirate territory. Excellent, he thought, not a bit sarcastically, nodding at the map with a smile as if it could understand him.
"What's up?" Tristana asked. "What are we even doing here, Shango?"
"Chiefly, acquiring a ship of my own. I don't intend to remain a privateer for life, you know," he laughed charmingly, folding the map back into his bag. "Then, once I bend the knee to no man, we scour these seas for the Colorful Gem." He turned his eyes from the open blue yonder, back into the jungle forest of the island. The wind made his fur shake as he took off, Tristana flying over to sit on his shoulder.
"Oi, 'er daddy needs a drink," he heard his captain call out to the wench of the tavern.
The pretty, fluffy Cinccino was back with their ales, and the Mankey was already drinking down his tankard. The Tyrogue, Nicholas's mate, did the same; there was no ale for Nicholas himself. He was a Grovyle, fond of fresh fruits of the forest, not ale.
So, fruits he ate, wondering where the forth member of their crew had gone: a Zangoose, who was always being followed by a sprite of fire, a little Pokemon whose species was unknown to everyone.
The Mankey captain had already finished his ale and smashed his tankard on the table. "More, damn you," he yelled in an ale-drinking fury.
"You're no different than pirates," the wench complained, scurrying back into the kitchen to bring more ale to the company of sailors. Nicholas thought that ought to be true; looking at his mates, he realized they were only one black hat away from being pirates. Instead, they were all wearing the sailor's hat of the Navy, with its insignia woven on it: the Floatzel, using Surf. That signified their role on the Novayas clearly: they were privateers, seeking to attack any pirates they came across on the islands.
Nicholas thought it a silly job. The Novayas were pirate territory and they were risking their lives treading on these waters as they were. But, the Navy was paying well, and he'd do anything that payed well.
Glancing outside the window of the tavern, into the night, he saw a whitish figure walk under the street that was brimming with moonlight. Ah, and here's Shango, he thought, watching the muscled, handsome Zangoose as he closed in the tavern, Tristana flying about him. The doors of the tavern flipped open and there he was, quickly headed to their table.
"Avast, Shango," Nicholas announced him, leaning back his chair on the wall, his feet on the table, greeting the Zangoose with a grin.
"Oi, lad," the Mankey captain said without looking at him, his face red from the ale.
"Evening, gents," Shango said with his typical fancy smile and attitude. He'd already grabbed a chair, to place it backwards next to Nicholas and sit on it, leaning forward on the back of the chair. His fiery spirit flew to the Grovyle's hands so he could pet her. "Hi," she said, looking up in his eyes. He patted her head, smiling. "Ahoy, Tristy," he replied, fond of her company as he always were.
"Shango, where were you?" their Tyrogue mate called out, after sipping from his tankard. "Out with a girl again, that it?" He chuckled.
"No," he replied, dusting off his furry shoulder. "The sport's taking a toll on my conscience, mate. Who knows how many bastards I've fathered." They all broke into laughter, except Tristana, who was scowling. It had occurred to Nicholas many times, since he'd met them, that Shango's guardian angel followed him around because she was smitten with him - Shango himself seemed to be a ladies man.
Now looking at the Zangoose, he saw his usually jolly expression tighten. "Well, gents, I've some news for you." His voice lowered, and they all leaned in the table to listen closely. "I caught a glimpse of a ship sailing under the black flag, just east of here."
The black flag meant pirates. "Pirates, eh?" Nicholas said, "we ought to give chase, no?"
"Aye," the Tyrogue said, then asked, "what kind'a ship?"
"A galleon," Shango immediately replied. "A slow ship, should be easy to catch." The Navy had given them a small schooner, designed to outspeed and outmaneuver enemy ships.
"Blimey, le's go blow 'em down," their Mankey captain yelled and finished his tankard of ale. He put his captain's hat on his head and jumped off his chair. He motioned for his crew to follow them; Nicholas got up, holding Tristana close and scratching her head as he had seen Shango doing.
Shango nodded at their captain with a grin, stood from his chair and grabbed the Cinccino wench from the tail as she passed by, pushing her against his lap. He whispered something in her ear, making her giggle, but the look she gave him was apologetic as they left the tavern.
"The tavern's in league with the pirates. They sent word to alarm them," Shango said to Nicholas as they walked through the small town towards the port.
"How'd you know?" the Grovyle questioned, astounded, making Shango chuckle.
"I've seen many wenches looking sad as I go, but not this kind of sad," he replied in an arrogant smile. "She probably thinks us dead meats." Nicholas glanced at him, thinking the Zangoose was far too clever to be a simple privateer.
Last edited by Ray Maverick; June 5th, 2013 at 06:25 AM.
Chapter 1: the Humming Jackdaw
The open blue was all around them, shining under the sunlight, not a shred of land to be seen. Their ship slid over the waves gracefully and quick, with her sails fully engaged; it was a small ship, and as a small ship, it didn't require many crew members to run her. Her name was Avenger, 'destined to avenge those cursed pirates,' as her captain liked to say. But the Shedinja on the masthead lookout hadn't sounded any alarms for pirate ships so far; he was floating idle underneath the white Navy's flag the Avenger flew with.
They were standing on the rails of the main deck of their schooner, looking at the sea. The western wind whipping their faces and fattening their milk white sails.
"Where the bloody twelve seas are your pirates?" the Mankey captain screamed at Shango.
"I don't know, captain," Shango shrugged, hiding his ironic smile by looking out to the sea, his cape flapping as the wind blew. He thought he saw a wild Sharpedo racing with Avenger.
"Might be they are luring us off our waters," an Octillery, another member of the crew, standing next to the Mankey said.
"Might be," the captain agreed.
Shango looked upwards, where that Grovyle Nicholas was sitting on the first sail's ropes, with Tristana flying around him. Her eyes found Shango and she dove to his shoulder, landing a kiss on his furry cheek. "How's it going, hero?" she whispered naughtily, poking his ear. Shango snatched her with a swift move and squeezed her, making her exclaim, half in complaint half in awe. She stared at him defiantly as he pulled at her wings, just to tease her.
He continued to tickle the little Victini as he left the company of his captain to head for the poop deck, where the Tyrogue was holding the wheel.
"Listen," he whispered to Tristana when she landed on the rail, the sound of the wind and his flapping cape muffling their conversation. "See that Shedinja up there?" He pointed at the masthead, where the ghost Pokemon was constantly on the lookout for pirates, the Navy's Floatzel flag flapping above it. "I need him out of commission tonight."
"Oh," she let out, watching him in concern, "umm, why?"
"Because that's the plan."
"Promise me you won't kill anyone..." She looked him into the eye, knowing, biting her lip in worry. He just smiled broadly and patted her head playfully, gesturing his head up in an easy manner to get her going. Watching her fly away, he remained on the poop deck, feeling the wind brush through his dense white fur. He felt the Tyrogue manning the wheel looking at him intently.
He shrugged, a sly smile spread on his face as he examined the sailor with half-shut eyes, thinking of how easily he could kill him. "What do you think about our captain?" he asked deviously, suddenly.
"He's... uh..." he started saying, lowering his voice. Shango had to perk up his ears so he could hear him through the wind. "He's a drunkard. Everyone's wondering how he came to captain a ship..."
Shango simply smiled. "Roads open ahead for you, if you know the right people."
The Tyrogue blinked, tilting his head in question. "You suggestin' the Navy promoted someone not worthy...?"
"I'm suggesting all of the Navy is unworthy," he said in the same tone. "Wouldn't you rather be a pirate?" With that, he took off, without sparing him another look. His sly grin remained, though, as he walked down the stairs and into the schooner's corridor, where the crew's cabins were.
A nap before show time, he thought as he fell onto the feather bed of his cabin. He didn't sleep at all. He kept staring on the wooden ceiling, lit only by two of the sun's rays that entered through his window's lids. Well, this is getting boring, he said to himself and grabbed a red flower from the vase on the bedside table. He brought it to his nose, its aroma tickling his nostrils. It quickly brought memories from the past.
"C is for clever," he said to the empty cabin, poking a petal off the flower.
"L is for lithe," he chuckled, lithe, poking out another petal.
"A is for affectionate." The red flower was waning.
"I is for illustrious." Another petal fell on the wooden floor.
"R is for required," he leaned back on his feather bed to make himself comfortable.
"E is for eager," he chuckled again, a mischievous but nostalgic smile spread on his face. He remained staring at the ceiling, until the sun shone no more. When he noticed, he jumped off his bed and left his cabin.
Night. Silence, only the sound of the waves resonating on the deck. The Mankey captain was looking off to the dark blue yonder, where the clouds concealed the moon underneath, hoping to see the pirates Avenger was after. The wheel of the ship had been left unmanned; the Tyrogue lay down, unconscious, the bump on his head swollen and purple. Ever so light footsteps went unheard by the captain. Shango was standing right behind him with his hands behind his back.
"Captain," he said, making him jump and jerk around.
"Bloody hell, Shango," he screamed, his eyes widening in fury. "What're you doing up here?" The moon appeared between the clouds, shedding its light onto Avenger. The Navy Officer's badge was shining on the Mankey's chest.
"Enjoying the breeze, sir," he replied, glancing up to the masthead. The Shedinja was supposed to be there, but he wasn't. "We have sailed so far from the Novayas, yet we have not encountered a single pirate ship. You are a poor leader, ill tempered and not fit to sail a ship. It's clear the crew's got no respect for you."
He stared down at him furiously. "What do you--"
He grabbed the Mankey's head, pushing him down onto the deck with force. "I do everyone a favor," Shango said, sinking his claws on the Pokemon's head and ripping it open all the way to his mouth.
Nicholas yawned, waking up groggily after a bad night's sleep on an uncomfortable feather bed that rocked with the ship. The morning sun's rays entered through his window, blinding but welcome. He missed sleeping outside, in nature, and being woken up by the sun and the birds chirping. Now all he heard was Wingulls wailing as they flew above Avenger.
Trees and leaves was where he was used to sleep, but life and need had drawn him out of the forest a long time ago. He had boarded a Navy's ship to be a privateer, to earn fortune to leave his offspring with. The job had proven demanding so far, but he couldn't complain. The Navy was generous regarding payment when it came to attacking pirates. So, he forced himself to get off the bed, put his sailor's hat and grab an oran berry to eat while he fastened the belt with all his daggers, which he hoped to use in killing some of those pirates soon.
He exited his cabin and headed through the corridor to the stairs. Everyone was asleep at this hour, he thought; he was always the first to wake up. But walking past a door, he saw Shango's cabin empty. Smirking, he went quickly went topside.
The sails were red. From the ropes hung a bloody mess of fur. The deck was thick and sticky with blood as if a Mareep had been butchered there. After a moment, Nicholas realized what he was seeing: his murdered captain, his small body ripped right open and trickling with blood.
"Oi," he shouted in confusion and awe. The Tyrogue came running up from the stairs behind him, as if he had sensed danger.
"What's going on," he begun saying, but he was cut off.
"I killed him, like we all agreed." Nicholas jerked up to see Shango on the poop deck, manning the wheel casually, as if nothing was wrong. He was looking down upon them with that sly expression of his. Then, a scream tore the skies, coming from the Shedinja on the masthead.
"Murder on the deck! Mutiny! Mutiny!" He kept screaming, then left the ship to fly to the northwest.
"Hey! Get back here," Nicholas started shouting, waving his arms in despair. The screams had brought the rest of the crew on the deck: the Octillery and the Magnezone that manned their 'fireworks'. They turned at Shango, after getting a look on their captain.
The Zangoose was pointing to the direction the Shedinja had flown off, smiling. "We mutinied. That's what the Shedinja is gonna tell the Navy. Thinking to return me to the Navy for justice, aren't you? Well, that's not gonna work. We're all traitors. No less than pirates, and we'll be hunted down like them." He held his hands up from the wheel, smiling calmly at them. "I don't want anybody getting hurt, now. I just didn't like the way the captain did business. I therefore declare myself captain of this ship, which will be renamed to Humming Jackdaw."
Nicholas was staring at him aghast. Me? A pirate? He had never thought of that before. His thoughts went elsewhere. What reason did the Zangoose have to mutiny? To score himself a ship and a good start at piracy, most like... Nicholas realized Shango had bloody well succeeded in that, and the rest of the crew understood that as well. Except, somebody kept up with the Navy's honor.
The Magnezone levitated in front of Shango and they locked eyes. "I refuse to be part of a pirate crew," he said. Nicholas noticed Shango's unflinching confidence, realizing that Pokemon would do anything to accomplish his task. The man is ruthless, he thought, watching his eyes flash in the sun.
"Then I must dispose of you," Shango said quietly. He brought his claws on his mouth as if to whistle, then his breath became fire - a small trail that remained on his claws, playing with the wind until it faded. Tristana appeared on his shoulder, then; Nicholas could see that her blue eyes were watery, from crying. She can't stand slaughter, he reflected.
The Magnezone didn't seem so eager to defy Shango anymore, now that it had been revealed he knew how to use the flamethrower technique. His flames would melt his steel body down, granting him a disgusting death; not to mention the Zangoose seemed powerful enough to crack the Magnezone in half with his hands.
It was the Octillery's turn to stand up to him. "You lied. There were no pirates! We came all this way just so you could..." he glanced at the body of the Mankey hanging from the sail. Shango spread his arms wide and backed off from the wheel, and everybody approached him. If the crew wanted to confront him for his actions, now was the chance.
Tristana whimpered, crying. "Don't worry lass," Nicholas shouted, "we won't hurt ye, only your friend."
"No!" she shouted desperately, "back off! He'll kill you all, I swear..." Nicholas evaluated the situation. The crew were four, against one. What are the odds? Can he take us all four at the same time?
The Zangoose was smiling calmly, his cape billowing behind him with the wind. "I had hoped it wouldn't come to this. Why shed more blood?"
"What is it you all seek?" he asked passionately. "Is it fame you seek? Glory? Fortune, adventure? Then I'm your man," he rasped, his green eyes flaring youthfully, patting his closed fist on his chest. "You bend the knee to the Navy. You're their trusted dogs, they set you to roam the seas and take on pirates. All the while, the pirates are swimming in gold from the treasures they find and the galleons they loot. Pirates!" he roared. "Crime does pay, my friends. Stay under my command, and I will prove that to you. Each time you will leave this ship, you will have more gold than you can spend."
Nicholas couldn't help but be carried off. Thoughts of him holding legendary treasures crossed his mind, adventure on the high seas, battling their way through the Navy's frigates. He thought of his daughter, the tales she would hear of him and the gold she would have thanks to her father; his chest puffed up proudly. In that instant, he knew Shango was capable of being their captain, and his promises were not hollow. The others craved gold, not the honor of the navy.
The view from the masthead of Humming Jackdaw wasn't changing the past few days. Shango, as he was sitting up there, had seen ships with the black flag of the pirates from afar, but none had confronted them. They, too, were sailing under the black flag. They belonged to the Pirate Union of Carajol now - which held a code of honor, to be bidden by every pirate. No pirate was to hurt a fellow pirate, unless that pirate had wronged the Pirate Union.
Tristana came to the masthead to meet him, her eyes blurry from crying. "You lied," she uttered, "you promised you won't kill anyone..."
He shook his head, his green eyes touched with a hint of sadness. "I made no promise, Tristy. My promise is to find the Colorful Gem. I have a goal here, and I cannot set it aside by granting lives that would keep me from it." The image of the Colorful Gem swum on his mind. Now that he had gotten a ship and a crew of his own, he was able to scour the Carajol sea to find it. If he had to be a pirate on his way to getting the Gem, so be it. He tilted his head on his side and brought his hand to stroke her cheek smoothly. "The Naval Army are killers. The pirates are killers." After a pause, he said, "I am a killer. The wild beast hunting in the forest or under the water is a killer. The world is made of killers." He patted her head, but she pushed his hand and turned away.
"That's not an excuse for being relentless!"
Shango's mouth tightened, cold anger swept past his face for an instant, but then it vanished into an impassive expression. "The perfect killer has no conscience. Only objectives. Have I not told you how important the Colorful Gem is? It's not about you or me, or the captain, it's about the whole world we live in. I have to find it... the sacrifice of a few lives, in return for so many, is a cost I have to pay."
Last edited by Ray Maverick; June 5th, 2013 at 06:26 AM.
I have to say, the picture drew me in.
This is an exciting read. Shango is an interesting character, and I wonder what his goal is that requires the Colorful Gem. It'll also be interesting to see how Shango and Tristy's relationship plays out, and if she can forgive him for what he did to the crew. Plus, Nicholas! He'd be one to keep an eye on, given how he wants to make sure his daughter is well-prepared money-wise for the future, and the Colorful Gem seems to be able to grant riches.
Definitely looking forward to more! And look! You finally got a review. You deserve more of them.
I was going to do a review earlier but then you ninja'd me with the next chapter. And then naturally when I got home Astinus ninja'd me too! =p
I do agree that the image is pretty neat there. How'd you make it?
You've made a nice fit of the Pokemon as pirates setting. Shango in particularly is making for a great pirate, if a particularly ruthless one (or is this just commonplace for pirates...hmm). I think that's my favourite part of this story thus far - the characters and their interactions between each other. Switching between Shango and Nickolas is also a nice technique here. The pirate talk at the very beginning was pretty cool too. =)
Keep it up!
Thank you kindly, friends, for the reviews! :D It's been so hard, writing all this stuff without the opinion of seconds to direct me.
Tristana will forgive Shango, surely. She has seen him kill countless times in the past; they've known each other for a long time, she knows how he rolls. Though I don't know how much of a good pirate he'd make. He doesn't know jackcrap about sailing.
As for the Shedinja, yeah, he was inspired from a pirate parrot.
Regarding the image, I made it in some sort of paint program. None of it is actually mine as it is a fusion of two images (the Feraligatr and the background) found on devianart. Credit for those images goes to Twarda8 & Miggs69.
Aaand I present to you the second chapter. The search for the Gem starts as soon as possible, and there is some action with a theme I included (hoping it cuts it fairly). Enjoy, me hearties.
Chapter 2: Bar Fight
The crew was sitting on a long table inside the hall of the ship, with him on the far end. "I'm looking for something special," he said. The hat of the previous captain was on his head, sinking deep, just above his green eyes. "Something that will make us so rich, we will have enough gold for a thousand lavish lifetimes." As he was saying those words, he realized his desire was not infinite riches; his desire lay elsewhere. Happiness can't be bought, he would often think, but for six silver berries, I'll let a woman make me happy, and he would grin at the thought.
"Legend names it the Colorful Gem," he continued. Their expression shifted as they recognized the name of the treasure. "Have you heard anything of the sort?"
"The legendary crystal that's said to grant wishes?" the Octillery asked, his round yellow eyes shining greedily. "Aye! Sandor Morrigan held it, I know. Most fearsome pirate of Carajol, he was, till he decided to call it quits. Hah! That old fool must've been outta his mind. He commanded an entire pirate fleet, I know, biggest of the Union. Even the Union was afraid of him, his own fellas!
"What became of him?"
"Mates say he wrecked his ship with all his riches on purpose, to die on the bottom of the ocean, clutching 'is favorite treasure. Nobody knows where Sandor's shipwreck is, though."
"Aye, heard o' that tale," the Tyrogue said, leaning back on his chair with his feet on the table. "There's one thing, though. The Colorful Gem ain't truly colorful, rather it changes color."
"Depending on the mood of whoever wields it," the Magnezone added. "The Navy has been searching for it for quite a while, if I recall correctly."
"Ya," the Octillery agreed, "many've tried'na find it, but alas, the ocean is vast, and the dark beneath it makes the search impossible."
Shango leaned forward on his elbow, scratching his chin thoughtfully with his other hand. "Regardless, the Naval Army possesses underwater forces," he concluded, "water types can search the ocean, I bet. The Navy will be on the track of the Gem. We'll find it first. Where to begin, though? Do you know anybody who would give us any leads regarding the Colorful Gem?"
"I know of somebody," Nicholas spoke at last, "but he ain't like to help us. He's old and afraid if he speaks to anybody, the Navy'll have 'is head off."
Shango nodded in understanding, smiling confidently without paying much attention and then asked, "what's his name, and where can we find him?"
The Grovyle seemed reluctant at first, staring at Shango, as if judging him. "Jarvis Murrows. He worked for the Navy, once, but then he turned to piracy. He's travelled all around Carajol and me thinks he knew old Sandor in person, too. We met in a tavern, where he 'as fuming about how he was cheated on a card game by another pirate captain, Tylor Grubas. Years later, he went ahead and got 'imself captured from the Navy while scavengin'. He's a lucky bastard, though, got 'is parole and then settl'd down to die in a hut. Hah," Nicholas rasped, "guess the gallows deter'd him from playin' hero any longer."
"And where's that hut?"
"Mimbletonia is a merchant island," the Magnezone said, "I would not go anywhere near it on a ship sailing under the black flag, captain. Its perimeter is crawling with ships of the Naval Army, who attack anything that doesn't bear their flag or the merchant one."
Shango got up, smiling at his crew. Mentally, he was rubbing his hands. "Best we keep the Navy's flag, then, mates, but change the sails." With that blood on them, they're like raise questions. "Set course for Mimbletonia, lads."
Two days sailing northwest through the Novayas got them to Mimbletonia. The island was the center of all merchant ship lines in Carajol Sea. Every pirate crazy enough to want to score some serious booty would raid the galleys coming and going, but naturally, the Navy had heavy presence on these waters. Shango wouldn't risk anyone to find out about the mutiny so early, so Humming Jackdaw had to hide in a cove of the island, as to not be seen.
Once their ship was safely hidden, Shango opened the chest under his bed, to pull out his black cloak with the hood, along with the steel braces that he kept hidden beneath the cloak, the red sash that he fastened around his waist and belt across his chest, to help keep the cloak in place. And of course, his black leather boots that were especially made for his feet. Inside the garments, his person was entirely concealed. If you looked at him, you wouldn't be able to tell his species. Tristana seemed somewhat happy to see him in the cloak.
"You haven't put that on for a while," she said, looking at him dreamily. He could see she had been crying, but he didn't understand what the big deal was; Tristana had seen him kill many times in the past. She knew precisely who he was, and what he did. She would disapprove every one of his murders. Yet, she remained.
"There was no need," Shango smiled, fastening the red sash around his waist. "In hindsight, stay on the ship while I go fetch that Jarvis. I don't trust my crew just yet. Burn the ship down if they try anything funny."
But there was no cause for such concern. Shango's crew stayed to guard Humming Jackdaw while him and Nicholas set off for the port. It seemed to promise of gold would drive the normal Pokemon as far as it took from morals. Crime did pay, after all.
Shango and Nicholas were walking in the streets of the great port of Mimbletonia, where all the merchant galleys had docked in for the night. The waters around the island were crawling with dangerous pirates who moved underwater, but they only dare come out at night, when the dark offered them the perfect cover. If they attacked at daytime, the galley's defenders would see them and fire their fishing nets to subdue and kill them.
The galleys had to stay in port by night if they didn't want to be attacked. It was night, now, the moon shining on a cloudless sky, the taverns of the town bustling with drunken songs, and the merchant galleys rocking calmly with the waves, wood screeching every now and then. Shango inhaled the sea's breeze and thought that it was a mistake he never lived much too close to the sea.
"Tell me, cap'n," Nicholas said quietly, "why's it that you wear a hood?"
"It provides the stealth I need and I've grown used to it. Knowing your enemy is the first step to mastering them," Shango replied, without specifying who he meant with enemy. "I'd rather remain hidden. Now, Nicholas, lead me to that storyteller lad Jarvis. We ought to have acquired the information we seek before the sun comes up."
He glanced sideways at Nicholas, to see him not satisfied with the answer he'd gotten. Finally, the Grovyle said, "well, last I heard, he hangs around here's."
Nicholas took him to a tavern named 'the Filthy Raticate'. Shango's nostrils twitched at the smell of alcohol. Last time he had drunk alcohol, he had done so to please a very special lady. Since then, he'd vowed to never drink again without her. Walking into the tavern, he smelled the grog's distinctive scent coming from all the tankards, along with the smells of each Pokemon in there. Drunken merchants, that's all, he identified them, his eyes skimming warily through the crowded tavern. No one of note. The place was too fussy for his liking, even though it was mostly merchants and old seafarers that sat there. Nobody really paid them much attention as they swung past the crowded tavern to the bar, but Shango did note the presence of a couple of very interesting ladies. For six pence I'll love them, he sang to himself, his half smile hidden in the darkness of his hood.
"Ahoy, Jarvis," Nicholas greeted an aged male Swanna, sitting by the bar. He looked at him strangely at first, then recognized him. Shango thought they had found him too easily. Adventure always twists. I wonder what will complicate things.
"Nicholas," the Swanna said wearily, "pleased to see you again, it's been a long time." Then, his eyes drifted onto the hooded stranger next to the Grovyle, with a hint of suspicion and worry in them.
"He's my captain," Nicholas said, patting the Swanna reassuringly on the wing, who didn't look much comforted.
They took a seat to the bar next to the Swanna and the bartender came asking. Nicholas looked through the various bottles presented on the bar then ordered a tankard of grog.
"Are you with the Navy?" Jarvis asked Shango warily, who shook his head negatively. That seemed to relieve the Swanna a lot.
"Oh, thank Arceus," he said, "the Navy's been bugging me as of late."
"The Navy will have trouble with us if they bug you now," Shango laughed out loud. He then chewed on a stick he'd grabbed from the bar, while examining Jarvis quietly. He wondered if that person knew valuable information of the Colorful Gem. Either way, he'd best let Nicholas do the talking.
"Why's the Navy buggin' ye?" Nicholas asked him.
"I don't know..." he answered, his head dropping, but he didn't convince Shango. His ears knew to separate lie from truth. He knows why.
"So, what brings you to Mimbletonia?" Jarvis asked Nicholas.
"The promise of gold, friend. What do you know of the Colorful Gem?"
The Swanna looked in distress. "Not so loud!" he whispered worriedly. "Are you mad, lad?!"
He leaned in to Nicholas and Shango perked up his ears inside the hood to hear better. "I have heard tales of its powers. Oh, it's said to grant riches and power and fortune, though it might just be rumors..."
"You and Sandor knew each other, no?"
Jarvis let out a bitter screech that sounded like a laugh. "Aye, he once or twice tried to kill me, if that's what you mean by know."
"Well, d'ye know where Sandor died exactly? They say he died with the Colorful Gem in 'is hands."
"Hell if I know," Jarvis looked at him funnily, "you think I'd be standing here if I knew where it was, lad? Though..." he leaned even closer, speaking in a confidential tone, "friends o' mine keep blabbing of a Navy's mission in the jungle of Heavana, as of late. They've found where the old pirate lived 'fore he became a legend..." he paused, lowering his voice even more, "and that he's left a map that leads to his watery grave, where all his treasures are."
"I thought there was no such map," Nicholas said, confused. "Old Sandor killed all of his crew before he died, just t'keep the location of his treasure safe, then died with his gold... in't that true? He didn't want nobody touchin' 'is gold, that's for sure, you know how he was. Greedy bastard, lone wolf, trustin' nobody, ye know how he 'as. Why make a map to his gold, then?"
"'Course, I know there wasn't any map. I've... been in his house. I saw no map, but I'm tellin' you, old Sandor did leave something behind," Jarvis insisted, but his expression darkened before he could finish his sentence. His eyes were fixed on the door of the tavern. Three Pokemon entered the tavern, all of which bore the Navy's insignia. The golden Floatzel shone dully in the fire of the torches and candles.
It was a Hitmonlee, a Skuntank and a Gurdurr with a cutlass, and they were walking to them with determined looks. The tavern had suddenly gone silent.
"You, there, quit drinkin' our money away," the Gurdurr brute with the cutlass shouted, pointing it at Jarvis. "You owe us some. You're Jarvis Murrows, aren't you?" There we go, Shango thought with a smirk, money's what they're bugging him for.
"Who's asking?" Shango said, patting the Swanna's head, forcefully keeping him on his seat as he stood up between him and the Pokemon of the navy. The Navy's Pokemon stared at him to see his inviting smile on the lower part of his face that showed beneath the hood.
"Fool must be blind," the Hitmonlee concluded, "don't ya see our badges, mate?"
"No, I don't," Shango said, sounding genuinely confused. They looked down at their chests... Shango smashed a bottle of rum on the Gurdurr's head, making him drop his cutlass and fall. The Skuntank screamed and the tavern broke into chaos, everyone screaming drunkenly and headed for the door. The merchants weren't used to bar fights the pirates usually started.
"I want no bloodshed," the bartender was yelling behind him, gathering the bottles from the bar to hide them.
"Fine. No bloodshed," Shango replied with a slick smile. Nicholas quickly took Jarvis away before anyone was hurt.
The Hitmonlee spun a kick at him but he was faster. Before it hit him, he parried the blow with the brace under his cloak and grabbed his foot mid air, twisting it and making him scream. The Skuntank charged at him from the other side and he flung the subdued Hitmonlee at him. The two rolled over and crashed onto a table, chairs and wood rubble flying everywhere. Shango let out a laugh and slipped into his battle stance, bringing his arms up, readily inviting anyone. He could kill just as fine without his claws, but none of the Pokemon of the Navy seemed to know that; for them, he was just a strange, hooded somebody who moved too fast.
The Gurdurr was recovering from the blow on his head and grabbed his cutlass, trying to get up. Shango tilted his head. "I hate these awkward moments," Shango said as he waited for his opponent to get back on his feet. The Gurdurr seemed to hesitate. He had seen how fast he was. Shango pointed at his cutlass, one black claw protruding from his cloak. "Generally, they're made for swinging, yes?" He laughed charmingly, casually, as if they were playing chess.
The Gurdurr grunted angrily and charged at him, swinging the sword. Shango jumped back, just out of reach, then threw his chair at him. It hit the Gurdurr's feet, he flinched, but he recovered quickly. He swept in for another blow, a low one this time... Shango kicked his sword hand away with his boot, the cutlass falling on the floor in a steel sound. He gripped his other arm and swirled the Pokemon around, kicking the back of his knees to get him to kneel. Using only his hands, he twisted the Gurdurr's neck with a terrible sound of bones cracking and kicked him to the floor, turning to face the Hitmonlee with his hands in the same height as his head, as if measuring his opponent through his claws.
The Hitmonlee glanced at what had become of the Gurdurr, then eyed the hooded Pokemon with a hint of fear in his eyes. The Navy isn't paying them to deal with fighters, Shango reflected as he analyzed the stance of his opponent, who was probably used to fighting drunken pirates. The Skuntank had also gotten up, the tavern starting to smell too foul for anyone's liking. "Come now," Shango said, "there's only one of me."
"Coward! Hiding behind those robes," the Hitmonlee snarled and charged hard at him in a close combat technique. Every one of his hits that wasn't dodged was parried, hitting the steel braces inside Shango's cloak; he let three seconds of the flurry of attacks pass, but seeing the Skuntank readying up his own attack, Shango kicked the Hitmonlee in the gut to double him up. He held him up as a shield against the flames the Skuntank shot; the Pokemon started screaming from pain, but he stopped when Shango dashed his head against the bar, sending him to sleep.
The Skuntank lost no time to retaliate. He released a venomous blast of black poison at him. His claws flashed and the blast was blocked in a detect technique; seeing his attack dissipate in front of him, the Skuntank made to run, but Shango pounced on him, stepping on his leg hard with his boot and smashing the Pokemon's jaw in an uppercut. He then swung in a wide arc, sending the Skuntank flying against a table.
The sounds of the tavern came back to his ears as he let his focus slip from the battle to his surroundings. His eyes travelled from the rubble on the floor of the empty tavern to the Azumarill bartender. His breathing and pulse had quickened, making his chest go up and down, but that didn't stop him from smiling. "Are you gonna make me pay for all this?" he asked him nicely, cleaning off his hands, steel sounds as his claws clashed together. He nodded negatively, even though he didn't seem afraid.
"Shango," he heard somebody call him from outside the tavern, "hurry up, they're comin'." It was Nicholas, he recognized him only by the accent. The Pokemon of Carajol and all its islands had a weird accent, he had concluded when he'd first arrived. No doubt they thought the same of his accent.
Shango grabbed a pearl from the inner pocket of his cloak and tossed it on the floor. "Sorry about that," he said apologetically. He walked out in the cold of the night, where Nicholas and Jarvis were waiting impatiently. "What's the hurry?" Shango asked casually, dusting off his cloak.
"The town guard's coming," Nicholas warned him, "we've gotta get outta here! By the twelve seas," Nicholas cursed, breathing hard, "where'd you learn to fight like this?"
"It is a requirement for my profession and the way I was raised," Shango replied curtly, not paying much attention. "Any more questions?"
"Aye," Jarvis interrupted, "what of me? These dogs won't give up, they'll find me, and I don't have a single dime... lost it all to that damned Tylor Grubas. I swear, the lad's never lost a card game! Been tryin'a caught him cheatin', but the bastard's too smart."
"Come with us, mister Jarvis," Shango glanced behind his shoulder, then started walking quickly off to the end of the town, where the street was dark. "You will join my crew, and you will lead us to Sandor's house. I want to know as much as possible of him."
"B-but," he stuttered, "I'm done with ships. Can't go to the open sea again..."
"You'll have to," Shango replied, nonchalant, "I hear you're quite the scavenger, is that true? Then you'd love to see a treasure such as the Colorful Gem up close. I intend to find this gem, no matter what. I offer you this opportunity."
"Aww..." Jarvis Murrows moaned, but in the end, he conceded.
Humming Jackdaw left the cove it was hiding by the first light of dawn, setting course for the island of Heavana. Jarvis had settled with joining the crew, only he had demanded the captain's cabin. Shango gave it up without hesitation - he was never a fun of luxury and riches. He had now made a hammock between the brails of the ship's main mast, where he could feel the wind and the refreshing cold through his fur. That's where he was now, watching the open sea in the horizon from above while enjoying the sensation. It seemed eternal. Such feeling made him feel immortal; as if he had felt it again in a previous life of his, and would feel it again in the next.
Tristana greeted him, waving lightly as she flew within his sight.
"Hey, lass," he greeted her back, inviting her with one of his easy smiles. The sad mood she'd put up ever since Shango's mutiny seemed to have diminished, somewhat. Over the years they had spent together, Shango had gotten to know how she felt and how easily she forgave him.
"Shango, you alright? Nicholas told me you got in a fight..."
He laughed softly. "Nicholas exaggerates. It was hardly a fight." He sat up on the swinging hammock. "I'm alright, see?" He knew how much she worried about him.
"You've changed," she told him, locking her cute eyes on his. His green ones were reflected on her blue ones, creating a darker color Shango had seen many times.
"I have," he agreed, after a moment. "I can't stay the same forever."
"Is it... because of... Claire?"
"You loved her..."
To that, he had no answer. He didn't know it was really possible to have a deeper connection with a lady that interested him, and what he had felt for Claire had left him confused. "Claire is gone," he said abruptly, smirking his eyebrows. "No point in talking about her."
Chapter 3: the Jungle of Heavana
"Land-ho!" the Grovyle shouted and leaped from the masthead on the deck, right next to Shango. The captain was looking off the port side of the ship with his spyglass, his cape billowing behind him with the sea breeze.
"Heavana island, isn't it?" Shango asked his first mate, giving the spyglass to Tristana to play with.
"Aye, cap'n," Nicholas agreed, "but best not land her too close to land."
"Waters are shallow there, cap'n, and full of them betwattlin' reefs. Ye'll end up breakin' her hull."
Shango scanned the horizon. The island in front of him was so long, it seemed like a continent. Looking at it as he was, he spotted something - a small black dot. He grabbed the spyglass from Tristana and looked closely. It was a ship, flying the Navy's flag. "And here are our enemies," Shango announced.
Jarvis whimpered behind him. "Oh, Arceus grace us, this won't end well," he whined. The Swanna hadn't been feeling well the past few days, and the crew blamed his age for it. The saying of the Pokemon of Carajol was, sail the seas as a Pokemon of the land or the sweet waters for too long, and you'd end up hating the open sea. Shango felt it must have been true, although he did enjoy the smell of the sea and the rocking of the ship. He wouldn't have chosen to sail forever, though. He wasn't planning to.
Jarvis, on the other hand, as Nicholas informed him, had spend most of his life on a ship's deck, sailing around Carajol, searching for the legendary treasures the drunken pirates and wenches blabbed about in the taverns. Another trip with a ship would probably be the end of him, but Shango didn't seem to realize.
"Don't fret, they're people of the Naval Army. Armies are made to be killed," Shango told him, fastening the little spyglass on his red sash around his waist. "Well, then, gents. Best we find Sandor's home before they do."
"Shiver me timbers!" Jarvis exclaimed, "you're planning to go into the jungle?"
Shango threw him an isn't-it-obvious look, then patted Nicholas on his shoulder. "You'll be coming with me, too. Nicholas, find a spot suitable for landing and keep her in the ready; all things considered, we might have to confront the Navy."
"Aye, cap'n," Nicholas exclaimed and bolted off to man the wheel.
"You, Blake," Shango shouted at the Tyrogue who was up the mast, "make sure the gunwalls are loaded."
"Uhh, that's Alfred's duty," he said, reluctant to correct his captain.
"Carry on, then."
The Magnezone appeared from the stairs belowdecks. "Anybody called?"
"Load the guns," Shango ordered, "you've some special kind of firepower, haven't you?"
"Aye, captain, by your command!"
"Good," Shango said, looking off his yonder once again. The Navy's frigate was getting bigger and bigger as they approached Heavana. Tristana pulled at his cheek to draw his attention.
"You better get some treasure soon, Shango," she whispered. "They won't stay loyal without gold."
"Don't worry, Tristy," he said, watching the Navy's ship, with the sly smile that indicated he had a plan.
Sounds of Pokemon that didn't belong in this forest reached his ears. With a few leaps, his enemies were within sight - along with a mansion. The house was a rotten palace wood blackened and worn from the centuries, windows broken and walls cracked. Pokemon bearing the Navy's insignia patrolled around it, and more appeared to be searching inside the mansion, looking for this map Sandor supposedly left behind.
He jumped on a tree's long and thick branch which took him right above the passing group. They were five Pokemon, with the one behind being an Absol who wore the Navy's insignia on the black scythe on his head. His presence had gone unnoticed.
He hung from the branch above the Absol, deadly sharp claws brushing past his neck. The Absol fell quietly on the ground, drowning in his own blood, trying to call out for help. His killer leaped from branch to branch, stalking silently above the oblivious group. Machoke, Vigoroth, he thought, reaching for his boots. Seconds later, the two Pokemon flinched, each with a dagger sunken on his back, precisely where their lungs were. Shango leaped at the forth Pokemon, a Watchog, before the others fell; his claws sliced past his long neck as he tumbled to the ground with him, immediately getting up and running up to the fifth Pokemon: a Floatzel, who was turning around. His eyes widened when he saw the shadow pouncing on him with force, knocking him to the ground and cutting his throat open.
Gripping his throat tightly, he held him down as he struggled, eyes searching inside his hood for a last revelation. "Arceus save me," the Floatzel choked, his eyes flipping up.
"Quietly pass from this life to nothingness," Shango told him as he died.
He noticed a handgun that was tied with an iron leash on the Floatzel's wrist; the marine was aiming at his chest, but he hadn't managed to pull the loose trigger. How about that, Shango thought, taking it and fitting it on his wrist beneath his cloak and brace. A hidden flintlock, he mused, then, huh? What's that sound? It's coming from the... ground. He put his head sideways on the ground, listening to the sounds beneath. Most interesting.
Shango walked through the bodies and pricked off his two blades and cleaned the blood off of them, to sheathe them back on his boots. Jumping into a busy, he started moving quietly towards the mansion. His ears picked up the sounds of multiple other Pokemon inside the old house, walking around the rooms and corridors with the floor squeaking beneath them. One of them was standing guard outside, seeming easy prey
Jarvis and Tristana caught up with him just before he went in for the kill. "You were right, mister Jarvis," Shango told him in a low voice, "the Navy are indeed searching for something."
"I told you, didn't I?" said the old Swanna, wearily, examining the mansion. He sighed. "Last time I was here, twas to strike a deal with yours truly, Sandor Morrigan. I proposed we sail together; he'd do the pillaging, and I'd do the treasure hunting. He didn't like the terms, curse him. Bastard almost killed me as I ran for my life."
Shango almost laughed and Tristana flew above their heads, looking at the mansion. Its top floor protruded from the palm trees of the jungle. "They're too many, Shango. How're we ever getting past them?"
He shrugged. "With stealth," Shango replied, then leaped from the bush he was hiding, to approach the Gurdurr guard on the mansion's door from the side, quiet as a tiger.
"No, wait," Tristana tried to stop him, but it was too late. Before the guard could scream, Shango pounced on him, knocking him off the ground and slitting his throat. When he was up from the ground, he glanced inside the mansion, without noticing Tristana's horrendous look.
"I thought you said we were going to use stealth?" Jarvis asked him in a hushed voice.
"Stealth is either not being seen, or not letting there be witnesses," Shango answered, without looking at him. He walked into the mansion confidently, as if the threat of the Navy was extinguished.
"Stay here, mister," Tristana told Jarvis, who had nested on the bushes. "I'll follow him, before his luck runs out and he gets killed." The thought made her shiver, but she tried to hide it; she became invisible and headed to the mansion.
"I'm not like to go anywhere, lass," he said, sounding afraid. "Take care you don't burn the house down. This is a treasure of centuries to behold! Tis a wonder it's still standing."
The main hall looked like it belonged to a royal palace, once, or at least that's what Shango thought. Now the wooden floor had rotten black, half of the steps to the upper floor were destroyed, the furniture lay in rubble and the fallen crystal chandelier was shattered right in the middle of everything. There were multiple doors around the hall, leading further inside the mansion. Some were still standing on their hinges, some were missing. The moment Shango stood on the hall, a shout broke the silence. "He's here!"
The Pokemon of the Navy poured from the doors around him and stepped down the stairs from the second floor, the wood creaking beneath them. Only it was creaking too loudly and it looked as if bending and ready to break. Shango raised his head to greet his assailant with his casual smile. Best run, Tristana spoke to his mind.
"Lookie 'ere, da's the freebooter from Mimbletonia, in't it him?" a Pokemon said.
"Aye, that's 'im," another one rasped, "kill 'im."
Tristy, break the floor.
Just do it.
Tristana became visible by engulfing herself in flames. Diving forcefully on the floor like a bomb torn it with a sharp crack and suddenly everyone was falling. It was a short flight through a cavernous tunnel the size of the mansion's hall. Shango rolled on the rocky ground, grunting. Dazed, he clutched his gut and got up as fast as he could; he had learned to always land softly, so he wasn't much hurt. Sounds of bones breaking all around him in the dark reached his ears, along with moans and calls for sweet mother.
Shango! Tristy cried in his mind, flying around him in distress; she was dispersed into flames, lighting the cave around him, where the Navy's Pokemon were recovering. Are you alright?!
I've been through worse. He grabbed and squeezed her to make her stop illuminating. In the dark, he navigated with his ears perked up. He was hearing a constant, rumbling sound from deeper within the cave, the sound he had heard when he had put his ear on the ground. A tunnel beneath Sandor's house... where could it lead?
Run, Tristana advised him, slipping from his hands into the darkness ahead. Shango started running towards the rumbling sound.
"After him!" He heard his enemies rushing behind him. His eyes adjusted to the darkness as he run and run for minutes.
The darkness dispersed as he approached the source of the constant sound. He detected a breeze, which meant the cave was leading somewhere. Dampness made his fur bristle under his cloak. The sound belonged to a rushing river, he realized, when a light coming from above blinded him for a second. Ahead of him was a bridge, passing between two cliffs, the wild river crushing fifty feet below it. On the top of each cliff, there was jungle.
Shango leaped on the shaky bridge and kept on running, his eyes on the cave on the other side. The wood beneath his feet felt old and creaky, like the mansion before. It didn't seem to be able to take much more weight than his. Stopping midways, he turned to his pursuers, who had just reached the bridge. A Furret was in the front, bearing the Navy's insignia on his furry chest. He looked at Shango with hostility, which he only repaid with a calm smile; under his hood, that was the only thing they could see.
"Try your luck," Shango challenged them.
The Furret took the first step on the bridge, warily. Shango took a step back. He took two more steps... Shango brought his hand on his mouth, leaning forward, unleashing a stream of fire. Cries were covered by the sound of the roaring flames, the Pokemon of the Navy hurrying back into the safety of the cave.