Sea Cat glowered over her shoulder at the Lupe captain, who sat on the large, throne-like chair at the end of the table. She was in another corner of the room, leaning with her back against a large barrel, arms crossed, and eyes looking for escape. She sighed to herself and clawed at her shirtsleeve with her fingernails. She wasn't a coward, but she couldn't help but fear what would happen if she didn't talk soon. Still, she had to keep stalling long enough for Garin and the others to arrive… but was Scarblade going to wait that long?
Sea Cat's hands gripped her arm tightly as she saw Scarblade stand from his chair. She turned her head away and bit her lip, her heart racing, hoping he wasn't coming towards her. But he was. She winced and slowly looked up as his shadow appeared over her. He was smirking in a mocking way, his sharp, canine-like teeth showing in the small space that had opened up on the right side of his muzzle. She gulped, and perked up her courage enough to scowl at him.
"What do you want?" she asked in a growl. "I told you, I'm not going to talk!"
"Aye lass, I'm not deaf, I heard ye." Scarblade replied with an amused chuckle. "Just wanted to know how long yer goin' to be sitting here like a clam rooted to a rock."
"As long as I want!" Sea Cat hissed. Scarblade chuckled again.
"Come now, lass," he said. "Yer free to walk about, after all it's not like ye can go anywhere…"
Scarblade's crew snickered and chortled in mockery. Sea Cat grit her teeth and stood in a rage, and found she only came up to Scarblade's chest. He was tallest Lupe's she had ever encountered, but that wouldn't stop her from trying her best to brave. She was young, headstrong, but she was cautious enough to know that she would be no match for Scarblade, or any of his crew. They had ten times the skills and strengths than she did.
"Fine then," she hissed at Scarblade, then walked past him. She heard him snicker at her behind her back, and his crew laughed as well. Their laughter stung in her ears, making them feel as if they were red-hot, burning her brain through.
She had heard stories about Scarblade's lair. No one had ever found it and lived to tell the tale, but she wondered if someday she might be able to. Scarblade had kept her alive this long, and not only for bait, he needed what she knew about the Secret, though she only knew very little. She began to think as she wandered the large cavern, hands tucked into her pockets, with Scarblade's one eye watching her like a Crokabek watches a scrap of food.
Her lip curled into a disdainful snarl. She had once purchased an 'I love Captain Scarblade' Shirt. But this vile Lupe was anything BUT lovable! She sighed to herself and rolled her eyes.
"I'm burning that shirt when I get home…" she grumbled.
Her eyes fell on the large mountain of treasure Scarblade and his messmates had gathered in their enterprises on the five seas. She held back a whistle, because she was almost afraid to speak, or make any sound at all, for that matter. She let a sigh slip past her lips and looked the mountain of gold up and down slowly, her eyes falling upon a splash of color that lay amidst the glitter.
It was a Maractite Cord, a long, whip-like weapon made by hand in the Maraquan armory. She had only seen pictures of items made of this material, save Garin's dagger, but never any real Maractite up close. Unable to help herself, she reached forward slowly and picked up the Cord. It was so light, yet it felt so sturdy, and like it could cut through stone like a hot knife through butter…
"Found a curiosity, have you?" Scarblade's voice asked, looming in from behind her. Sea Cat's jaw tightened and she turned around slowly. He had a slight smirk on his face, though his one eye was stern, and laced with warning for her not to try anything. Sea Cat glared at him slightly then looked back down at the whip.
"I guess I have," she replied, gripping the handle and letting part of the cord dangle to the floor. "I would have thought Maractite to be heavy…"
"Deceptive, ain't it?" Scarblade asked, walking around her to stand beside her now. She gave a quiet chuckle.
"Its certainly better crafted than its owner," she said, looking at him and receiving a scowl. She ignored it, though she could feel her heart pounding against her ribs in fear. Scarblade scoffed at her.
"I'll let ye have that victory," he snarled, and she sighed discretely in relief. She let the whip slide out of her hands and to the floor, but kept a firm grip on the handle. She moved her arm so the whip swayed with it, smiling, as the wonder of how it sounded going through the air crept through her mind. Her smile faded as she heard a member of Scarblade's crew chortle at her.
"Can't figure out how it works, eh?" he asked mockingly, before picking up a bottle and trying to pry off the cork. Sea Cat glared as the Elephante attempted to pry the cork from the bottle, then set it down to stretch his hand before trying again.
'CRACK!' went the cord! The Elephante let out a cry of shock as the streaking blue metal flew before him and snagged the cork with its sharp tip, pulling it free from the lip of the green bottle. The whip flew back towards Sea Cat and she caught the cork, which was still had the cord's tip buried deep in it. Scarblade grinned a toothy grin and laughed as his deckhand put the bottle down and stepped back, still in shock. He looked at Sea Cat, who pried the broken cork from its stuck place at the tip of the Maractite Cord.
"An exceptionally fine shot, m'dear!" he said, still grinning. Sea Cat looked up at him.
"What are you talking about? I missed…" she said with a glare. Scarblade raised an eyebrow.
"You've a devious streak in ya," he said.
"Comes with the habitat…" Sea Cat replied, coiling up the whip and tossing away the cork. Scarblade chuckled and to her surprise, put a hand on her shoulder. She glanced nervously at the clawed paw as he guided her over to a chair nearby, close to his throne-like one.
"Well I admit I'll never be underestimating you humans again, that's for certain. I shoulda realized that when ye escaped me the first time." Scarblade said as he sat back down. "So… what's your story?"
"My story?" Sea Cat asked.
"You've got one, haven't ya?" Scarblade asked in reply.
"Why would you be interested?" Sea Cat gave a glower of suspicion. "If this is a ploy to get me to slip information about the Secret-"
"Look at it how you like," the Lupe captain interrupted her. "Like I said before, you're not going anywhere, so why not pass the time at least? Hm?"
"Forget it, I'm not in the habit of making conversation with pirates like you." Sea Cat snapped. Scarblade smirked.
"Yet I'm willing you bet you talked with Garin about all sorts of things eh?" he asked.
"How so?" Scarblade asked, shrugging his shoulders. "He's a pirate, I'm a pirate… you're a pirate."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Sea Cat stood up and turned her back to him.
"Why deny it?" Scarblade asked with a chuckle. "Only a pirate would dream up looking for the Secret, and risk crossing me in order to find it. But what's the point of crossing me in order to achieve your goal?"
Sea Cat turned her head slowly. "What are you getting at?"
"Think about it lass!" Scarblade said, leaning back in his chair. "What would Garin do if he got to the Secret? He's too attached to his precious Black Pawkeet to give it up for a new ship, not to mention he's too proud of his reputation as 'Captain of the Black Pawkeet'!"
"I… I suppose that's true…" Sea Cat bit her lip.
"Now me," Scarblade continued. "I'd make good use of the Secret, instead of letting her sit and collect barnacles. Course, I can't do that without your help." Sea Cat turned around and opened her mouth to speak, but Scarblade lifted his hand to stop her. "I know ye said yer not going to talk, but answer me this; have I once asked you about the Secret since ye've been here?"
"…No." Sea Cat replied.
"And if I wanted to force it out of you I would have by now." Scarblade said. "Look lass, we're both after the same thing, and that's for the Secret to be found. Find it for Garin and he's just going t' let it sit where it is… but find it for me, and I'll restore her to her former glory. That's what you want, isn't it? Well I can give you that, and more."
"M-More? What do you mean more?"
"To be remembered as the one who discovered the Secret's resting place…" Scarblade said, moving one of his hands across the air in front of him. "Fame, fortune, all you could want! I might even let you captain the Secret! O' course, you'd still be takin' your orders from me…"
Sea Cat gaped. "You… you're offering me to join your crew?"
Scarblade grinned. "Aye lass, I am. So what do you say?"
Sea Cat's throat swelled up, her heart pounded and her mind raced. She looked around the cave, finding that all eyes were trained on her, as if hanging on her word. If she were to accept, it would change her life forever, for the better or for the worse. She bit her lip a little. To sail alongside the dreaded Captain Scarblade… it would almost be like sailing with Sherman himself! Sea Cat let out a small sigh, and then grinned.
She knew her answer.
To be continued…