Family members, back when Destiny spent time with them, had said that whenever she closed her eyes while holding a blade, that Yum-Yum fruit would sprout. Some pirates had said that she carried the air of stormgates in swords, while others still simply gaped. She didn't really care. Destiny closed her eyes and let her spear choose its own course in the frigid air, let it pierce skin. At first, Destiny struggled with this particular attack, hesitant to take life as a younger pirate. However, it didn't phase her anymore, especially not against Fin. Destiny lunged and let her knees creak as she bent her head forward, swiping the blade down and flipping back, dealing one more crushing blow – or so she thought.
When she opened her eyes, Marcus didn't even have a scratch. Instead, she herself felt the ooze of blood and the screams from her nerves in pain.
"Destiny, never use that spear again," she murmured to herself, thinking of the two daggers sheathed in her belt but secured with snaps that would waste more time.
"That's right, puppy. Boys!" Destiny clenched her eyes shut, only hearing the brush of ropes on her dry skin. Soon enough, everything in Destiny's head became lighter, down to her thoughts, which faded to white, and then got covered in a black veil.
For what felt like a few minutes, Destiny was still actively thinking.
Her mind went through the battle scene again. She swore that she could feel her spear scratch Marcus, if not severely wound him. It was a blur on how he would emerge without a scratch, and end in her defeat.
Fin was just too strong.
Delaney held the drawstrings of a pouch in her mouth, holding her skiff's rigging with two hands and using her teeth to squeeze out an adhering salve. She slid down the rigging with her gloves on, and then used her new length of rope to tie the ship down.
"Destiny, I got the fuel! Where are we going?" Delaney yelled towards the docks. Her black-trimmed skiff nearly shimmered in the midday sunlight, its sails billowing and almost dancing in the gentle breeze.
In the back of her mouth, Delaney could just barely taste spices, probably something from a shipment.
"Out of my way, squirt." A frog zoomed past Delaney, almost pushing her into the skyway. "Marcus'd better..." Delaney ignored the frog and trotted towards the Kraken Skulls, a coin in hand for a bottle of Yum.
"Destiny?" Delaney ducked into the Kraken Skulls.
"Good afternoon, Delaney." The barkeep was unphased by Delaney's entrance. "Yum?"
"No, I was wondering if Destiny had come by.." the Kraken Skulls's chatter came to a halt. The door swung a bit, fanning air onto Delaney's hair, sweeping it to the side. A green feather tickled Delaney's cheek as she unsheathed her staff, and opened her mouth.
"No need to get hostile, pirate!" Toddling in was something that Delaney couldn't believe – a Monquistan soldier with a scarakeet on his helmet. It zoomed around Delaney's head and nipped at the feathers in her hair. Delaney swiped at the bird with the back of her hand, but it didn't stop until the soldier whistled. "The cellar. We can talk there."
Delaney didn't like the cellar one bit. She could hear the footsteps of yum-sick pirates on the main level creaking away, and the cellar stank of yum and coffee, two things that didn't go well together. The Monquistan stood on the table to match Delaney's height.
"I met my cap-i-tan last year," he started, as Delaney took a seat and opened a bottle of Yum. "She was a lively spirit, helping the Monquistan opposition. When I joined her crew, I offered to be a catrographer when she sailed – Destiny's sense of navigation was but a gift, and not a skill."
Delaney took another swig of Yum, picturing Destiny and the soldier standing proud. She could tell how Destiny could misplace a landing, after her ladder fell back at the troggy hut. Delaney believed that it was Destiny's Grizzleheimian heritage that helped her track the skies by using the stars and sun, if she did in the first place. Delaney worried that she was more of a fan-girl of Destiny's than a pirate.
"Her landings were more accurate than ever, that is until she saw an Armada private on the shores of the old Monquistan gold mine – she had to intervene. The private had come with support, and Destiny got shot down rather quickly, while the entire time I was storytelling on her ship, The Majestic Rogue. A shame. And now....you know her?"
Delaney nodded wildly.
"I am Juan Costa, dear lady." Delaney shook the monkey's hand and nodded.
"I'm Delaney Finch. Do you know a frog? A small one. He could be important. Destiny had set out on the skyways, but..."
"What was his name?" Juan nearly leaped onto Delaney's shoulders, frantic. He knocked over her Yum and it spilled over the table.
Juan stared desperately into Delaney's eyes, making her breathing speed. She glanced to the side for a quick evaluation of the cellar, just in case Juan had totally lost his mojo. Really, the cellar seemed too still for the scene to be realistic – not a step was heard above, nor clinks of glasses or small talk among pirates. Juan leaped off, as if noticing the silence.
"She set out onto the skyway, hmm? Do you know what she was after?"
Delaney sat back.
"She mentioned -"
"Cutthroats? No!" Juan leaped off of the table and turned wildly towards Delaney, who was stunned. "Marcus could have gotten her."
Destiny woke days later to something that nearly choked her. Blood.
She didn't want to know it any more. Her sides screamed, legs ached, and her head throbbed up an off-key opera. Slowly recollecting what she could of the events surrounding waking up, Destiny let her nerve and adrenaline build up while she rethought her actions.
"So, this is Gullet," Bonnie Anne had said to her when she had traveled by Destiny's side. "What an interesting smell they've discovered." Destiny's eyes moaned for better lighting, not the artificial stuff in the warehouse. Only now had she known what Bonnie Anne meant by the smell – had she been in such a situation before she disappeared? Where was she, anyways? Destiny rolled over to her side, and even though her limbs were screaming and she was thinking herself away from things, she stood up. Was it truly the way of the blades that lead to pain as such? Through surroundings of enemies, nerve-wracking covert missions, and the occasional civil war, Destiny had never gotten up as roughly as she did now. She couldn't imagine the recovery time, and if she could ever go back to her original status as a no-good grandmaster pirate.
"You might not want to do that."
Destiny yelped as she hit the floor
chin-first. She writhed for a few seconds, gathering splinters in her clothes from the wooden flooring, and her restraint let up long enough for her to flip onto her back and use her adrenaline to scoot away.
Destiny panted wildly and stared up into the goggles of Fin Dorsal.
"I'm back, Devereaux, and we're not playing pawns anymore." Destiny was speechless. She laid her head on the ground and subconsciously felt for her daggers. Fin really was blunt – Destiny unsheathed her blades and held them defensively in front of her chest. Immediately, he leaped away and reached for a club on the back wall of the room, slipping a bit on the blood-pool. Destiny hobbled forward and swiped an X-like formation with her daggers, but they both fell out of her hands, as if one dove for the other. Destiny only then recounted the sound of sparks.
"Nice to see you're up, Destiny." Teetering a few steps back, Joey Karo sheathed his pistols and looked up at Destiny, whose knees wobbled in her effort to stand.
"Joey Karo," Destiny whispered. "Where have I -"
"The falcon, girl!" Destiny stumbled a few more steps back, the breath catching in her throat. She assumed the same position as if she had her daggers, her arms crisscrossed in front of her face. "Not so defiant fighting me, are you?"
"What do you want from me, Karo?"
"My pistols." Karo growled.
"Take my gold." She said.
"NO!!" He boomed. "My pistols can be...enhanced. They can be reworked to be better." Joey's voice had a bit of distortion as his words slunk through the air in a high pitch. It made Destiny shiver.
"I can work with weapons." Destiny whispered. She hadn't worked with guns for a long time.
"You can...you can, among other skills." Karo reached in his pocket and blew before Destiny a feather – a scarakeet feather dyed green.
Destiny let her arms down. "A witchdoctor's aura, a whiff of it, some say, could amplify any weapon to its fullest potential. They also say that the blood of a gifted witchdoctor could have the same power."
Destiny took a moment to scan through the room. It was big enough to be a warehouse – yet, it was free of anything. No Yum bottles to break, no nails to pull out and scratch with. Destiny looked back at Karo.
"How do I get her aura?" Destiny sighed.
"You don't, dearie."
"Don't call me that." Destiny snapped.
"Fine, then. You don't, whelp." Destiny felt a sting in her knee, making her double over. Destiny's mind flashed white, one of her reactions to sparkshooters. It was said that people would have different ones, from yelps to hallucinations – the thought alone made Destiny shudder. It was the grace of the skies that had gifted her lucky, only causing extravagant lightshows for the critical blasts.
"You get the girl, you bring her to me - "
"No! Delaney is my -"
"My pistols or your life, weakling. Your choice." Destiny tried to argue back, but her adrenaline was running dry. She moaned something illegible and her head fell to the floor in exhaustion.
"Put her in a hammock, Fin, better than letting her wither and die."
Karo spat, hopping disappointedly out of the warehouse. Standing over the beaten-up swashbuckler, he made a mental promise he wasn't entirely sure he would keep - that Destiny would rue the day that she poked him again.
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