Garin stopped and leaned against the wall of the cave, sighing as he looked back at the rest of the crew, who were also stopping to rest.
"We've been walking for hours and still no sign of them!" Jacques said quietly, looking at Garin.
"Well we're on the right track at least." Garin said, looking at the tracks in the sand ahead of them.
"I suppose so…" Jacques grumbled, taking a moment to sit down. He looked ahead of them, then squinted his eyes and leaned forward a bit. Garin looked down at him.
"What's up?" he asked. Jacques stood up again and pointed.
"I think I found something," he said, walking over to where he pointed, then bent over and picked something up. He examined it, then ran back over to Garin.
"You're right, we are on the right track!" he said, handing Garin what he found. "This look familiar?"
"It's the ring Sea Cat was wearing!" Garin exclaimed, taking the gold and ruby ring from his Kyrii friend. "She must've left it for us!"
"So she's okay?" Talak asked. Garin sighed.
"I hope so. Scarblade isn't exactly the friendly type," he said. "We'd better keep moving, if she left this behind then we must be close."
"Aye lets go!" Jacques said, and the rest of the crew stood up. Garin nodded and pocketed the ring, before heading off down the tunnel even further. His crew followed, keeping as quiet as possible as they moved onward, the tunnel seeming to get narrower and darker as they did despite the torchlight.
"This place is getting spookier by the moment!" Sam said with a shudder. Jacques nodded.
"I hear what you're saying, little mate," he said. Garin suddenly stopped, causing Jacques to bump into his back lightly.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"We're here." Garin replied. Jacques looked around his friend and at the massive door, then slowly drew out one of his cutlasses.
"Right, so what's the plan?"
"This looks like the only way in… and if Sea Cat is in there, Scarblade will be expecting us to come looking for her." Garin said. "So this could very well be a trap."
"So what do we do?" Jacques asked. Garin sighed and drew his dagger.
"The only thing we can do," he said. "And that's go in."
Jacques nodded as the crew drew their weapons. Garin braced a shoulder against the door, then pushed hard, letting it swing open ahead of him. He raised his dagger, expecting an instant rush, but to his surprise, the cavern was deserted, not a sound nor soul in sight. Garin's ears twitched and turned to listen, but still he heard nothing. He adjusted the grip on his dagger hilt as he and his crew moved further into the cavern, looking around carefully.
"Where are they?" Jacques whispered. Garin shrugged at him, turning around slowly to face a table.
"Dunno… Watch yourselves, this definitely smells like a trap."
Almost on queue Scout the Korbat dropped from the ceiling and tackled Garin to the ground, letting out a screech and signaling for his messmates to come out of hiding and attack Garin's crew. Garin didn't even have time to get up before he was kicked over and pinned to the cave floor, his hands quickly bound behind his back. He grunted as Jacques was shoved onto his stomach beside him for his hands to be bound as well. Jacques grit his teeth and looked at Garin through the corner of his eyes.
"I hate it when you're right," he said through his teeth. Garin couldn't help but crack a tiny smile at his friend's remark, but forced it away when he was pulled to his feet and shoved forward while his crew was driven to another side of the room. Garin looked forward, unable to hold back a glare and a growl as he was made to stop in front of Scarblade's throne-like chair, where the evil pirate sat chortling at him.
"Ah, Garin me bucko," said Scarblade. "So glad you could make it. Its not often me n' the boys get company down here."
"No wonder, the place stinks of wet Lupe." Garin remarked, cracking a slight grin. Scarblade narrowed his eye, but then chuckled and shook his head.
"Even in defeat you've still got that sharp wit of yours," he said. "…It's rather boring."
"To be fair, I did tell you he doesn't give up all to easy…" Sea Cat said as she stepped up out of the crowd. Garin looked at her, a bit bewildered.
"Sea Cat, are you alright?" he asked, none the less.
"Never better," she replied, putting her hands on the new whip on her belt. Scarblade stood and looked down at Garin.
"What do you think of the newest member of my crew, Garin?" he asked. Garin snapped his head from Scarblade back to Sea Cat.
"What!?" he exclaimed. Sea Cat gave a smirk.
"You heard him," she said. Garin glared at her and bared his teeth.
"I don't believe it."
"Seeing is believing, Garin." Scarblade said with a sneer and patted Sea Cat's shoulder, then he scowled and looked at Benny. "Lock them up for now. We'll decide what to do with them later."
"Aye, aye sir!" Benny chortled, and helped to herd Garin and his crew over to a smaller cavern that was lined with small, iron-barred calls.
Garin grunted as he hit the back wall of one of the cells, his hands still bound tight behind him. He growled in anger as the rest of his friends were shoved into different cells before Scarblade's crew finally left the room. Garin looked over his shoulder at his bonds, starting to shift and wriggle his hands free.
"Now what do we do?" Jacques asked him, in a cell just across from where he was.
"Hold on, I've almost got one of my hands free." Garin replied, then yanked his hands forward, slipping free of the rope. "Alright! Now for the door!" he said to himself, then looked at the lock.
If his dagger had not been taken away he would have reached for it, however now that his hands were free the only thing he would need to get free of this cell was anything with a pointed end. Garin reached into his pockets, whilst looking around the cell to see if there was anything useful. Though his pockets turned out to be empty, he found a rusted and broken fork lying in the dirt within his cell. It wasn't perfect, but it would have to do.
"This may take awhile…" he said, walking up to the lock. He bent up the teeth of the fork, then stuck it into the lock, giving a few gently twists to it before trying a bit harder to get it open. Garin grumbled under his breath, thinking that this would never work, when suddenly he heard a loud and resounding 'click' that game from the lock. Garin's ears pricked up, thinking at first the fork has broken, and when he pulled it out, he found that it had indeed broken, but at the same time had opened his lock.
"Yes!" he said with a grin as he stepped from his cell. He looked at the others. "Now all I gotta do is get you all free…"
"Sssh! Someone's coming!" Talak suddenly whispered. Garin's head darted around, before he quickly dove into the shadows to wait, hoping that whoever it was had the keys to the cells.
It was Sea Cat, and Garin felt his ears bristle and burn in anger. As soon as she was clear of the cave entrance, and he was sure that she was alone, Garin jumped at her from behind and knocked her to the ground, face first. She gasped and tried to push him off, but Garin forced her back down, grabbing one of her arms and twisting it behind her back. She grit her teeth to hold in a yelp.
"Ow, that hurts!" she hissed. "Let go!"
"Not a chance, you little traitor!" Garin hissed back. "Come to gloat, huh?"
"No, I came to help!!" Sea Cat said, looking over her shoulder at him.
"Ha! Sure you did!" Garin growled. Sea Cat grit her teeth and pulled her other arm, which had been trapped beneath her, free, revealing Garin's dagger in her hand.
"Does this convince you?!" she asked. Garin blinked, before picking up the dagger and letting go of her arm. Sea Cat winced and rubbed her aching arm as she rolled onto her side.
"Ow…" she murmured. "I figured you be angry at me but I can't say I blame you…"
"You were only pretending to join Scarblade's crew?" Garin asked, looking at his dagger, then at her. She nodded.
"It was all I could think of," she said. "If I hadn't, we'd all have been locked up…"
"But if one of us was on the outside…" Jacques looked at Garin. "We'd still have a chance of getting out…"
"You were buying us time." Garin said as he looked from his friend and back to Sea Cat. She nodded with a shrug as she stood up.
"It was a stupid idea, huh?"
"Oh, very." Garin said, lifting up a pair of fingers and pinched them together. "You came this close to having your head knocked in."
"Aye, and you would have deserved it." Jacques said. Sea Cat blushed and Garin ran up to Jacques' cell.
"Hold on and I'll have you out of there in a second!" he said. Jacques nodded and looked up, gasping suddenly.
"Watch out!!" he exclaimed, but too late. Sea Cat suddenly felt a strong arm loop around her neck in an instant, tight hold, and Garin turned to find Scarblade himself was her attacker.
"Hey! Pick on somebody your own size!" he yelled, charging forward at Scarblade. The evil pirate scoffed and caught Garin's face in a hard punch, knocking him back into the bars of one of the cells. Garin groaned and tried to stand, only to have Scarblade stomp his boot down onto Garin's chest as his crew rushed in.
"Get him up and lock them both in a cell." Scarblade said as he shoved Sea Cat forward into one of his crew. He sneered at her. "Sorry lass, though your act was good, it wasn't good enough."
Sea Cat growled and tried to charge him, but was pulled back as Garin was disarmed again and shoved back into his original cell with her. Garin rubbed his chest as Scarblade chuckled at the two before he walked out.
"If you two know what's good for you," he said over his shoulder. "You'll tell me where to find the Secret before morning. Now, goodnight!"
Garin chuckled. "Sweet dreams, Cyclops…"
"Garin are you okay?" Sea Cat asked.
"Aye, I'm fine." Garin said, standing up and reaching under his vest for something. "In fact, I'm better than fine, I'm downright brilliant! Now all we have to do is wait for them to fall asleep!"
"What do you mean, Garin?" Jacques asked, tilting his head.
Garin grinned and held up his prize; the ring of keys from Scarblade's belt!
To be continued…