6 months has passed since Galcain was defeated. Aika has some unfinished business to finish. She suceeds, but what has happen to her?
The Wave Line immediately took off and set course at the west. After a while, the stone reef was seen. Vyse turned a port and hoped that the hull would take the reef. It did. He then steered starboard and soon Maramba was seen in the distance.
"There it is!" Vyse said. "Hope that guy told the truth."
"And that the merchant made it." Fina added. "Now with the Black Pirates and all."
Vyse nodded. Now when the Valuan Empire had been blown to bits (but slowly being rebuilt) and Nasr struggled to rebuild their capital the Black Pirates had increased both in number and activity. It was safer to do some pirating to put it short. Still, groups of Blue Rogues rose, inspired by Vyse's heroic deeds last year. However, Baltor was still at large. He had tried to engage Vyse a couple of times but a few hits from Delphinus had made him running away with his tail between his legs, wowing to return once again. Hopefully he was now at the north ocean, where the Black Pirates had their stronghold.
Where is she now? Places and times change all of a sudden. Only fear and pain remains as the common factor. Now she is at Crescent Isle. At first she feel a relief. Home at last. Then she sees to her despair that she is tied in chains around her hands and legs. The chains are connected to the lone tree next to the living quarters. She tries to wrench free, but the grip is too strong.
"Well, well. What have we here."
She turns her head and sees Vyse and Fina walking slowly towards her. There's something wrong, though. Their faces. It's the same but different. Sadistically, grim smiles crosses their faces. Their eyes are filled with bloodlust.
"Thanks to you, Ramirez almost destroyed us. Hadn't it been for Gilder, Ramirez would have had our heads on a plate. And what did you do? You turned against us, you failed us! Why?!"
She tries to speak, but finds that she can't talk. Tear weltering up in her eyes. She looks in despair at the ones who for some moments ago, or eternities ago, were her best friends.
"Aika! At least you can answer!"
Fina's voice is so demanding, so cruel. She looks so different from that gentle girl she knew before.
"Maybe she can't. Or perhaps she doesn't want to. How about some... alternative persuasion?"
Fina giggles and Vyse suddenly holds a black whip. He whips it a few times in the air to try it out.
"You still have one chance, what do you say?"
Before she can even begin the first whiplash hits her bare back. She wants to scream, but she can't. The pain, oh the pain, feels worse than anything she has experienced. She writhes in pain, but the chains hold her in place. Then a second time, and a third. Vyse whips her in rage now. After a while, he tires. She gets some time to relax but not for long.
"Oh, that looks so fun, Vyse!"
"Oh, yes, Fina.. Nothing's better than to whip up a cowardly deserting scarecrow like her."
"May I try?"
"Sure. Just hold far out on the handle and give it all you got."
"Look how she twists! I could do this all day long!"
"And you will!"
Her back is bleeding heavily. She wish she could pass out, but the immense pain is keeping her awake.
The Wave Line moved gently in to the docking area. As soon as the ship was rigged, Vyse and Fina made their way up the stairs to the Guild Office. It was the usual sight. One seller of ships equipment and one member of the Sailors Guild. They both looked up when the two air pirates entered.
"Oh, are you...."
"It's Vyse The Legend!"
They stared at the couple with admiration in their eyes. Vyse sighed. This was the drawback of saving the world and everybody in it. Too many people stared their eyes out of their sockets just at a the glimpse of him. Maybe he and his group had saved the world but he still was the regular Vyse. He stepped forward to the Guild member.
"Do you know if a certain merchant has come to this town? He deals with very exotic wares."
The man nodded.
"Yes he has, although you are pretty late."
"What!?" Vyse exclaimed.
"He went away for some week ago."
Vyse exchanged a glance with Fina. She nodded.
"Well, I guess we're off then. Do you know were he was headed this time?"
"Oho! Well, actually, he arrives to this town from time to time." the guild member said and looked through some notes. "Ah, yes! He is coming back very soon."
Vyse and Fina breathed out in relief. Now they were close!
"How soon?" Vyse asked.
"Tomorrow morning, but it varies. If you're going to stay at the inn, I'll let you know when he arrives."
"Thanks but we'll stay at our ship." Vyse said.
Then the legend and the silvite left the little building and went back to the /Wave Line/. It was unwise to spend money on an inn when they had sleeping quarters at the ship and, most importantly, they wanted to be ready to go at a moments notice if they got the antidote.
Meanwhile at Sailor's Island, things didn't look bright for Vigoro. He had been taken to a clinic to get his wounds looked after. He could have sworn that the doctor had laughed at him under his breath. For just some months ago, no one would have dared laughed at the great admiral Vigoro. Oh, if the Valuan Empire still existed in it's full glory, instead of the joke that was ruled by Enrique and Moegi. Right now, he had to find a way to get back to Nasrad where his ship was still docked. All because of that red-head! Not only was he stabbed, but he had fallen from a mountain and broken his nose! He carefully touched it and found that it still ached. Not only that, it was also aslant. His (according to him) gorgeous face was ruined. He walked to the dock to see if he could get a ride to Nasrad or at least Maramba...
Vyse felt restless. Now they were at the right town, the right place, but they still had to wait. That was the worst part. To just wait. He sighed and went out on the deck. The red moon was up and stars looked down. He couldn't sleep, so he decided to go for a walk in the town. Making sure his cutlasses was in place at his belt, he jumped of the ship and went for the town gate. He skipped up the stairs, two steps a time. He looked around, the whole town was asleep. Suddenly he saw something that attracted his attention. Three black-dressed men was standing in a far off corner, far to his left, and pinned another man up against the wall. The victim wore a blue long coat and a big orange hat. Vyse tip-toed to a house nearby the group and listened.
"Alright, just give us your stuff and we let you go, or we will cut up your stomach and take your wares anyway. Huh! What do you say!?"
"But I don't have any dew left. It was stolen!"
"Quit lying you idiot!"
"Heheh, we're gonna make a biiig profit from this!" said one of the other men.
"Yeah, I hear that stuff's worth a million on the black market."
Could this really be... but it was too soon.
"Okay, the last chance." said the first man who apparently was the leader. "Give us the dew or die!"
Before the formula merchant could answer, Vyse made his move. He jumped forward and reached for one of his cutlasses. With his weapon in right hand, he grabbed one of the men around the shoulders and pressed the weapon against the brigand's throat.
"No!" Vyse said. "YOU let the merchant go, and your friend will keep his head."
/Let him go, just let him go/, Vyse thought. He didn't want to kill the man, although the brigand stood between him and the antidote.
"Who the hell are you!" the leader shouted while he still held the merchant.
"I'm Vyse The Legend. From your smell I guess you are the one who cleans the dabhu pit. Now let him go!"
"Oho. My my! You do know that the Black Pirates have put a price on your head?"
"Good, I thought they had forgotten about me."
The leader reached for his sword.
"Last time I checked, you were up at 50.000!"
50.000?! Sure he was "The Legendary" but still, 50.000!
"Only that? Was that the price for my head, or just one of my boots?" said Vyse with a huge amount of ridicule. "Now back off! And put away that sword while you're still at it!"
Vyse's hostage looked at his leader with eyes full of fear. The other henchman just stood there, not sure what to do.
"Your head will look good at the bistro, Vyse, especially when I've sliced it in two!"
The leader gave up a scream and darted against Vyse with his sword ready. Vyse pushed his hostage against his adversary, grabbed the merchant and ran for the gate.
"Argh!" screamed the leader while he struggled to get free. "After them!"
His henchmen stood still.
"What are you doing, idiots! Get him!"
Slowly the two men pulled out their weapons, their eyes fixed at the leader who for just a few seconds ago had been willing to throw away their lives just for some money.
"What are you doing? No, get back!!"
Vyse rushed down the stairs with the merchant after him. They didn't stop until they were aboard the /Wave Line/.
"Now." Vyse gasped, "I'd like the antidote to formula .45."
"Just the antidote, not the formula?"
"Yes. My friend accidentally drank the .45. And now we need the cure."
The merchant stuck his hand in his coat-pocket, dug around a bit and then handed over a tiny V-shaped bottle with a leather knot attached to it.
"Just let your friend drink this. The person should wake up fine and dandy. Physical that is."
"Good, and how much will this be?"
"Keep it, you've saved my life."
Vyse grabbed the bottle hard.
"For your own sake, I suggest you get on to your ship and leave, those brigands will probably be back."
Vyse still felt a little aversion against the man who ultimately had provided Aika with the formula. The merchant seemed to se this and he said:
"You know why I was attacked? These wares I have are very dangerous and..."
"And very expensive of course, so that's why they're stealing them."
"No! Before I sell anything I ask the person what they'll do with it. I investigate if they are really telling the truth and if they're fitting, they'll get to buy the formula they desire, antidote provided of course."
"Do you really!?" Fina said who had just joined them. "What about in Nasrad? There's a salesman there who sells formulas only to usury prices."
"Aha! Yes, my ship was attacked by some nasredian ship a while back. That salesman could've been behind it. It all went so quickly, they didn't even take time to steal the antidotes. Oh well, I hope that your friend will be better."
He bowed and then rushed off to his own ship. Vyse and Fina looked at each other.
"Well, I'd say it'll take too long time to scold that slowpoke at the office..."
"So let's set course home." Fina finished.
It was close to midnight. Vigoro made his way out of the ship. Good for him he managed to find a ship that was going to send supplies to Nasrad. But unfortunately, the ride cost him almost all of his gold. The captain had seen how desperate he was and then of course pushed up the price. He swore. At least he was in Nasrad, and now he would soon be on his own ship. The Draco had been destroyed along with the catastrophe at Dangral Island and now he had to cruise around in a small fisherboat. He had made some improvements so it looked fancy and all, but still it was a fisherboat. As he was about to embark his ship, a voice called out.
"Hey, is that your ship!?"
"Yeah, so!?" Vigoro answered and turned his head.
It was the port's guard. He stood almost two meters tall and was very muscular. His bald head added to the menacing look as well as the big morning-star he carried with him.
"That ship has been standing there for at least three days. You owe us a big rent."
Vigoro swore loudly. Nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to work anymore!
"Alright, now how much do you want, baldy?!" he said remarking to the guard's bald head.
"2500 gold. Five-hundred for the late rent, and two-thousand for insulting civil-servant!"
"You've got to be kidding now, right?"
"Don't waste my time. Now pay!"
If that guard wasn't armed with that large morning-star, Vigoro would gladly have threw himself over the guard and punched him into oblivion.
"Keep the change!" Vigoro said angrily and threw his pouch at the ground.
Without any further words, he climbed on to his boat. He steered away quickly to avoid that he lost his temper and tried to take the guard down but also since he hadn't had nearly enough money to pay even the rent.
"Hey you!" the guard called. "You'd better fix that nose of yours! Only a drunk old hag would go near that thing!"
Vigoro banged his head at the steering wheel. This was his worst day ever! Unfortunately, as he continued to bang, the wheel broke of and clattered to the deck. Now his day was complete!
A few miles away, The Wave Line was crossing the skies. Now they were almost halfway to Crescent Island.
"Good for us that you found him." Fina said when Vyse had finished the story about how he had met the merchant.
"Yeah. It was pretty close, for both him and me." Vyse said and shook his head. "But it doesn't feel right. I was about to kill another man in cold blood. That isn't a Blue Rogue's way of doing this."
Fina laid her hand on his shoulder.
"You had to, for Aika's sake. And you never intended to kill him, right?"
"You... you're right, Fina. Thanks."
Both went quiet.
"Anyhow" Vyse said "their leader said something about a bistro or a restaurant. And since they knew about the price on my head it's possible that they've been in contact with the Black Pirates."
"So that place he talked about was probably Gordo's bistro. It could've been a hangout for the Black Pirates."
"We should tell Enrique about this. After we've been home of course."
"Yes. Those pirates can keep to the north ocean they call home as long as they just stay there."
"At least Baltor should be taken care of. It's probably he who put out that price. I mean, fifty grand!"
Fina looked Vyse in the eyes, smiled and said:
"That seems a little low."
"Low? I say it's... oh." Vyse added when he understood what Fina meant.
He quickly turned his eyes towards the window. He took a deep breath.
"I wouldn't trade anyone of you away either." Vyse said then quickly realised how incredible silly it sounded.
"Reeeally?" Fina said.
"Well, only if I was offered a battle fleet and maybe..."
Then Cupil appeared in his blade form.
"Then again, maybe not." Vyse added and laughed.
Fina soon joined in. Then suddenly, she stopped.
"What is it?" Vyse asked.
"Look out of the window, Blackbeard is after us." she said calmly.
No! No no no! It couldn't end like this! The Wave Line wouldn't stay a chance against the heavily armoured /Blackbeard/.
"Do you think we can outrace him?" Vyse asked.
"Alright, let's lower our altitude, lay low and hope they don't notice us."
"They'll surely do. Those pirates attack everything that floats. And we actually have our flag up."
Vyse groaned. Just typical! Typical? No, fatal!
"How long will we have until they catch up." Vyse asked already building up a plan.
Fina picked up a pair of binocular and studied the ship.
"Judging from their speed, I'd say roughly five minutes."
Blackbeard was superior in firearms, Wave Line wouldn't stand long in a fight, which meant they had to...
"Okay, here's what'll do. We wait until we are in range of them, then I'll steer the ship away from fire."
"Obviously, then next?"
"Then I'll fire of a torpedo and aim for their bridge, on the second after that I want you to fire the biggest PYRULEN you can ever master and aim at our ship."
"I thought we were going to stay in the air."
"We will. After you've set the ship ablaze we'll try to board their ship. Hopefully they will believe that we're been hit and then our torpedo will probably create some minor havoc so that we can steal one of their lifeboats and make an discreet escape. Got it?"
"Aye aye!" Fina said, ready to put Vyse's plan in action.
Vyse turned the ship around.
"We might as well get this over with. Plus, we have to be really close to their ship if we're gonna board it."
Fina went to the door and prepared for the PYRULEN. Cupil floated over the torpedoes "FIRE" button, ready to sink down any moment. Vyse stood at the steering wheel and awaited the right moment to turn. The course was set straight at the front of the enemy-ship. There were no times for mistakes. And then, Blackbeard open fired!