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Pebble Road, Chapter 2: Snakes

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Her eyes opened as the morning raised with the song of birds. Blue eyes blinking as she shifted in the lap of the stone giant. A gentle motion of the large hand revealed her to the sky. The two had rested by the pine trees nearby the docks of Palisade.

“Ngh…” she grunted, falling down on the golem’s knee, somewhat unwilling to fully wake up. A nudge was given to the girl, before she sat up. They didn’t exchange mornings, as both knew no better. Instead she murmured, “Do we have to go on?” she spoke as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

Robert standing up was as good as answer as any. Still not fully understanding the purpose of their travel, the girl decided to stand by her guardian as she always had. Her light hands helped her to get on the giant’s hand, before she was placed on his shoulder, and with heavy steps, the two went towards the docks. Loudly she pondered as they walked: “Why does the sun not rise where it falls asleep, like we?”

The golem looked at the girl and placed his fingers on own chin, rubbing it with a rubble like sound. As if trying to find the answer as well. Seems like the both had to give up for the answer, however, as it didn’t take long to pass the first run down building. Smell of fish and loud men filled the area, joined by seagulls and creaking of large wooden ships.

Her jaw slightly dropped, as she had never seen such things up close. “Are we gonna ride one?” she asked. The creature nodded, and slightly rubbing his fingers, he let tried to rub the grease off from the yesterdays meal. “I wanna ride this one! No, this one!” she spoke, before slightly flinching and curling up, once more seeing the stares.

These however were not stares of the kind people in the city. More harsh they were. Men with faces chiselled by the elements of the sea. A large amount of them had eye patches. Some had scars. Heads either bald or poorly kept, ragged clothing only adding to their unwelcoming looks. Badly washed, they made the girls nose slightly frown from the stench. “I don’t like here, Robby.” she whispered, as they passed the docks.

The golem stopped, glancing to the sides. Mornings often were a good time to look for a lift, as many ships took off at morning time due to the peaceful waters and bright sun, to count all the crates that may have been missed.

“Looking for a lift?” an old, mucus filled voice came from behind them. In slight disbelief the golem turned, to see a slightly glamorously dressed man in red.

In other circumstances, Bonnie would have used her new learned speech skill from the city, but this one may be best handled by her friend. “Aww don’t be shy. Small fee, and I can take you to other city. Consequence.”

A slight pause before Golem, lifted it’s hand and rubbed his fingers and shook the head. “No cash I see, but you know?” he came towards them with hands lazily placed in his vest pockets, as the feathered hat slightly fell backwards from his risen chin, revealing black eye, as other was hidden behind an eyepatch. “I am a good man. God has shown me way of helping others.” he gave a grin of golden teeth, “You can pay me whenever. Plus, we do have a place for a ballast.”

Bonnie looked at the golem, completely out of any ideas as to what will be acted at this point. Seems like the pause indeed was taken with indulgence and hesitation. The man walked to the side where girl was sitting, but the golem turned, to face the man. It looked up and folded his hands, “Come on, trading ain’t also cheap.” scratching the poorly kept goatee he said. “But our ship be the safest vessel here. What do you say. I swear to God that my men will be dignified.”

Bonnie looked back at Robert. Promises were an important thing that she had been taught. The golem however, looked over the dock. Rubbing the back of it’s head. “Come on. You know you won’t find such opportunity in any life time. Once they get you working in docks, they will never let you go, you know.”

The deal indeed was incredibly generous. Despite the girl squirming from the man, and hiding in giant’s neck, the golem gave a slow, reluctant nod.

“Good.” a golden grin was made, “You will not regret it. I am sure, you have friends on the other side. Some wizard or something.” The man turned and with his hands behind his backs, he spoke up, a little more harshly, his throat still gurgling with each word, “Come, we be about to set the sail.”

The ship seemed run down somewhat, and smaller than the man’s own try at appearance my have said. On the docks, men already were tying the ropes, and crates were already set in their place. “Hey, deck boys!” the man shouted, as the people laughed from the ship.

“Yes, captain Orrey?” One of them shouted from the side.

“We be giving these two a ride. Set the heavy plank, will ya?” he spoke. A wood scraping sound came from upwards, and a large platform landed on the smaller one, descended with ropes. Landing heavily before them, Bonnie jumped slightly, shaking from all the unknown. “Please, me vessel be your vessel.” he said, and bowed, showing the two way.

Exchanging glances with the girl, not wanting to further annoy the kind offerers, the giant stepped on the plank, as the ship slightly leaned to one side. Slowly the stone giant walked up. “Capt’n Orrey, We closed the crate holes.”

“It be quite right.” the man said, following them, and stood to the side, letting the sailors to prepare the ship. “Since ye be so big and hefty,” he turned to the golem. “You stay by the mast. Don’t want the old lady sink, don’t we? The girl can come inside, however.”

Robert placed his hand on the girls lap, and shook his head, however. And seemed like Bonnie was agreeing with the giant on this one.

The smile on the man’s face slightly vanished, as he spoke, “Well suit yourself. Make sure she doesn’t catch the sniffle.” He said, and walked towards the steering wheel, “May as well see us in action, right boys?” he shouted.

The dock filled with shouts and orders, as sails fell. Looking up, the girl saw the patched red and black work of them. The front, carved like a siren, turned to the side, as the last ropes were pulled in, and with a leaning motion, the ship took off.

The girl was placed on the docks, as her legs shook from how unstable the floor felt at this point. It was almost as if the entire ship was breathing with lungs that sounded like sea itself. Stench of fish slowly taken over by the smell of the sea, as a strong breeze came over them.

“Robert, I’m scared.” she spoke. Many children would be running to the board side, but Bonnie’s eyes were more focusing on the men, in striped shirts and bandanna. Giant crouched before sitting down, letting the ship rumble only slightly, before placing his hand between the girl and the world, “What if a sea monster comes?” she asked Robert, finding comfort in this small world they had created.

“Oh, there be many tales of krakens and sea serpents in the sea.” almost like a surprise the captain, who had come to check up on them said. Looking up, the golem saw, that the steering wheel had been given to a second mate. “Long snakes coming from the depths of the sea, and taking many good men.” despite the snot in his throat, the man spoke with a form of story telling. The slightly theatrical act made the girl ease up, and the wonder of tale somewhat held hold of her, as the giant still kept the pose, eyeing the man as well.

“Big snakes?” surely she knew what snakes were. Nasty slimy creatures, that could even crawl up the trees where early chicks were hiding. Even in water no one seemed safe.

“Oh yes, they be as big as the ship itself. With teeth so big, they don’t bite, they crush!” he waved his hands, and reached to the side, to pick up skin, that held a drink. “Many good men lost to those monsters,” he grinned with a golden smile, and looked at the girl, “But no worries, you be alright with us.”

That was somewhat reassuring. Captain Orrey himself taking time to ensure their safety. “What’s that?” the girl pointed at the gun by Orrey’s side. The ornate creation had leaf like shapes smithed to it’s side.

“This be a gun.” he tapped the item, but did not quite pulling it out to wave it, “Best thing to get at the snake eyes on this ship.” He looked at the girl and took another sip, “You like it?”

“It looks like a flower.” the girl nodded, not seeing how the golem shook his head at her words. Slightly pulling the girl closer to himself. Even if the girl was opening up, the immovable mountain remained as such.

“Ease up, lad.” Orrey smirked, and leaned against the side. “But I never thought about it as a flower.” he took another gulp from the flask.

“Maybe the snakes are tricked by it, to look at the flower, before you poke with it.” The girl guessed. Surely that was the reason of the item.

The captain laughed loudly and genuinely, “That’s a first, lass.” he screwed the cap shut, and eyed the sea, before looking at the cabin, “You stay safe now. Grab on ropes, if things be messy.” he said, and walked towards the door, sliding his finger over his face, but out from their view as they entered.

“He seems nice, Robby.” the girl said, looking up at the golem. The creature however had the pose, that appeared to greatly disagree with her statement.

As time passed, the night was falling upon their heads. The air became colder, but the wind had lessened in the calm sea. The skies turning violet, as the moon opened it’s crooked eye over them. Looking to the side, the girl watched the reflection of stars and lights that flickered like a dust filled void.

Slightly worried about the stories of snakes, she made her way back to the golem, as he allowed her to take a place in his lap.

“How long you be staying out?” Orrey once more appeared with a small satchel in his hand. “You be no good sick at the end of the travel.” he said, handing the bag to the girl. Slight hesitation, before she picked it up, looking inside it. A skin filled with water, tangerines and dry bread was found within.

“Don’t worry about the taste,” he said, “Dry bread holds longer.” he explained and leaned against his old spot of the board.

“Thank you!” the girl sounded, again. The clarity of her voice, made the captain smirk slightly.

“So what be your names? You may have heard that I be Orrey!”

“I am Bonnabelle, and this is Robert.” she said, pulling out the fruit first. Since it was the more appetizing part of the meal. “Bob, showed me the ropes today!” she exclaimed her adventures on the board when the captain was away.

“Bob, huh?” he did not seem very happy about that, but a swig of his own drink made him breathe it all out. “So tell me, Bon.” he asked, “What be your story?”

She could feel the golem shifting slightly. Seems like the man had an intention of ignoring the mass, that stood still all this time for the sake of the ship. Bonnie hesitated, but decided to return the favour of stories, “We come from forest!”

“Forest, you say?” he rose his eyebrows, and bobbed his head, before coming closer and crouching before them. Bonnabelle could feel the smell of rum in his breath, even when sea wind was passing between them. The cold moon light made the man seem a little scary however, which did made the girl feel slightly uncomfortable.

“Yes.” her voice slightly shook. Not much could come out from her at this point.

Orrey kept the conversation, “So why be a young lass leaving the land?” he looked up at the golem.

“I don’t know.” the girl said, and looked up at Robert as well. The giant eyed the two with it’s featureless face, and placed his finger where it’s lips should be.

“I see.” the pirate slightly grunted and stood up, “Well, you better come inside, Bon,” said Orrey, “less you fall sick.” he spoke up, and without more commentaries, he walked off.

“Night, capt’n!” the second hand shouted from the steering wheel, as the ship slightly danced in the gentle waves by his hand.

“It’s cold Robby.” the girl spoke to the golem, but before she could continue, the creature shook it’s head.

She may have protested against it, but for now, seeing Orrey’s face in dark, made her wonder, what she feared more. The glimmering smile that reeked of rum, or the serpents that he had told about. For this night perhaps she could stay safe by her friend’s side.

Curling up in a small, she closed her eyes, as the creature leaned over her, to protect the girl from the wind. The gentle cradle that was the ship felt so familiar to her. A forgotten feeling that had been felt a long time a go.

As the girl drifted in sleep, while the restless golem turned his head up at the one who was holding the sail. Their eyes met. The man did not show much sympathy towards them. However, soon the human wavered, and turned gaze to the side, leaving Robert to his thoughts.

A strong rumbling sound violently woke up the girl, as she felt wind gushing over her back, waking her right up. Her eyes still fogy, she could feel the sun falling on them, as the captain shouted, “Change of plans!”

“Robbie, what’s–” she rubbed her eye, but a shadow fell over her, as she could see sun shining through the golem’s fingers.

“You hand us the girl, and we will spare you as an anchor!” the man shouted over the deck.

Two steps were taken, as the girl still tried to understand the circumstances. The boat dreadfully leaned to the side, “Don’t be stupid! You hand her, she lives, or we all die!”

“Orrey?” the girl mumbled, opening her eyes, to see the flower like guns pointed at them. Her eyes widened, as she recognized their purpose. Looking around, she saw no snakes, that she was told about. Except the one she called…

“Captain Thorn!” one of the men shouted, “The ship won’t hold much longer!”

“We have tamed bigger beast!” he yelled, “get the rope!”

As the golem moved, guns sounded, as sound of whistling stone and metal filled the air. The girl yelped, as she had been picked up. In the distance, an island. “Don’t do it, you bastard! You’ll kill her!”

“ROBERT!” she yelped, as her feet lost touch with his palm. Her dress waved in the wind, as the massive speed of air hurt against her flesh. Holding to the bag that she had fallen asleep with, the only solid thing she could feel, she saw the water nearing. In the distance of the endless sea, gun sounds followed by a massive splash in the water.

She tried to yell Robert’s name once more, but with the sound of whistling bullets and waves, all went black.

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