Three-part Short Story / Written 3/17/05 / Rated PG-13
This is the story (told in three parts) about how Lani first met Cazal. This version is told in Lani's point of view.
Chapter One - The Mysterious Guest
"This is it, Tiri!" said a pretty Polynesian dinosaur as she drew a paintbrush vibrantly across a sign, decorating it with little blue flowers. "Tonight is the first night we open. This is so exciting - this is my dream!"
"Think we'll get a lot of customers?" asked the Rhion cub at her side. "On our first night, even?"
"There's no telling." She said with a grin as she touched up the last flower with a little yellow. "There we go: Opening Special! Bed and breakfast, only $30. Come stay at the Sea Chantey for the perfect island getaway!"
"Oooohhhhhh... nice!" Tiri cooed. "You'll make a good boss-person, Lani!"
"I'm not going to be a boss-person." she laughed. "It's just us, really - I don't have the money to hire any extra help."
"Once we get a lot of people coming, will we hire cooks and stuff?"
"Yep! But until then, I'll be doing all of the cooking and cleaning myself. You've got to work hard when you first start a business!"
The two admired the sign for another minute or two before Lani hung it on the porch. A small deck stood out in front of the petite two-story house. It had a very "lived-in" look; meaning, though nice, it looked very old and worn by the sea. Lani had assured herself saying the place would "fix up nicely". Once they got the money, they'd fix it up and maybe even add more rooms - but that wouldn't happen for a while at least.
She had dreamed of running her own Bed & Breakfast all her life and had been cooking and cleaning for practice ever since she was a little girl. She was set in her ways and nothing would set her back - not even the little shack she had been presented with.
It had the perfect location, right on the shoreline with a little cobblestone pathway leading down to the dock. It would be ideal for travelers, and it would provide a good opportunity for those looking to spend some time by the ocean.
Though the house looked less-than-desirable, Lani had done her best to make the inside of the place pleasing. She had collected several flowers from around the island along with seashells and old fishing nets. It was decorated as though she had brought the entire beach inside with her, blue walls draped with fishing net; small, pink island flowers draped in bundles from the net. She was very proud with herself for being able to do so much with such a low budget. Now she just needed someone to show it to.
The night went on with no contact. Tiri spent most of his time inside reading a book while Lani waited eagerly on the front porch to greet any customers.
The sun set and the moon rose; ships pulled in and out of the harbor, yet no one stopped by.
Face fallen with disappointment, Lani turned off the porch lights and made her way inside. She tried to reassure herself with thoughts of hope for the next day. After all, she had just opened; word about her hadn't spread yet. There was always tomorrow.
The next morning, she woke up and went about the same procedure, she tidied the house, cleaned out some of the flowers with fresh ones and went out to sit on the porch and greet customers. She repeated this the next day and the next until suddenly five days had passed without a word from anyone.
On the fifth day since their opening, she lowered the price to $20 and left to go grocery shopping. She was having trouble all through the town, worried that people were staring at her, gossiping about her failing business and her pathetic home. By the time she finally arrived at the store, she was practically in tears, but managed to hold it in long enough to purchase all of the food she could afford and leave the store with any dignity she had left.
The checker stopped her and tilted is head to one side, "Ain't you the new gal in town? Runnin' that B&B?"
"Yes, that's me!" she said eagerly as she emptied her wallet on the counter.
"Think it's a pretty dangerous business, don't ‘cha think? Mean, no one's gotta need for a place like that around here. Hafta admire your ambition - most people wouldn't dare try fer such a gamble."
She mumbled a thanks and left quickly with her bag of groceries. How dare he talk to her like that. She could make this work, she HAD to! How could people judge the Chantey by its external appearance? Sure it wasn't the prettiest place in town, but it would be... she just needed the money to fix it up.
That night, she stayed up late making small, informative fliers. Maybe all she needed to do was really let people know she existed. If she got her name out to even one person, maybe she could impress them enough to tell their friends.
Tiri helped her hand out the fliers downtown the next day. It was hard for her to keep a grin on her face, but she wouldn't let people see that she was worried at all. She assured Tiri that the fliers would get someone to come for sure, so they returned early that night to wait for customers.
The same as every night for the past few nights, no one showed up.
Eventually, Lani started to lose her spark. Panic on finances were finally starting to settle in as she realized her investment wasn't going to pay off. She finally gave up and started spending her daytimes looking for a part-time job.
The flowers in the house went unchanged, the kitchen unclean. Tiri would make the beds every day and help Lani make the meals, but they had given up on the idea of getting customers to stay there.
Every day, Lani would scold herself for being so forward in her idea for a Bed & Breakfast. She should have taken the time and put more work into it... then, maybe, it would have worked out.
She worked as a waitress at a small café for the next month, earning just enough pay to get by. She had been looking into getting a night job as well, just so she would have some money to use on house improvements, but she had barely even been given the chance to look.
She returned late one night from job hunting and was shocked to see someone tall standing at her front door. "Can I help you, sir?" she asked cautiously.
"Do you run this... ‘Bed & Breakfast'?" asked a deep, male voice. His face was hidden by the porch shadows and this made Lani nervous.
"Y...yes." she said, "Yes, I run it."
"I'd like to stay for the night." he said.
"You would!?" she asked incredulously. "Are you sure? I mean, I haven't really had time to keep the place up very nice, I've been working another job and..."
"I'm sure." he interrupted. "If you don't mind, I'd like to go inside."
"Err... right." she said as she turned the key in the lock and allowed him in.
She was shocked when she turned on the light. The tall figure had the head of a horse with a terrible scar across his face. He was wearing a red tail-coat and he had a long saber equipped on his side. He was obviously a pirate... but why would he want to stay here?
Would she be safe with a pirate in the house? Would Tiri be safe? But then again, she really needed the money and she had already told him he could stay...
"I'll need your name, sir." she said guardedly.
"Cazalcido." he said, dark circles under his eyes showing from behind the hair that shielded his face.
"Who's here, Lani?" said Tiri as he jumped down the stairs and landed with a thud on the floor at the bottom. "COOL! A PIRATE!"
"TIRI!" Lani hissed, but the pirate stopped her.
"You like pirates, do you, boy?" he asked with a smirk.
"Oh yeah!" said Tiri with excitement. "I love the stories about all their adventures and their treasures and the bad pirates and stealing!"
Lani stared back and forth between the two of them incredulously, all the while praying that Tiri wouldn't offend the stranger.
"Do you have stories like that, mister!?" Tiri blurted out, "Are you a good pirate or a bad pirate?"
The stranger looked amusedly at the young Rhion for a minute before removing his jacket and hanging it behind the door. "Good or bad is really a matter of opinion." He said vaguely. "But if it's stories you're looking for, I have plenty to tell."
"Please don't, Mr. Cazalcido!" Lani interrupted. "He's only a boy! I really don't want him to hear those kinds of stories."
"Laaaaanniiiiii..." whined Tiri.
"I'll keep them clean." Said the stranger with a polite nod, "And please, call me Cazal."
"Can I hear one about sirens!?" Tiri asked, eyes wide with anticipation, "And sunken treasures, and cannons and curses?"
"All in one story?" said the pirate amusedly. "How about I break them up - I may need to stay here for more than one night."
"YAY!" Tiri cheered. "Come tell me one right now."
"TIRI!" Lani hissed again before Cazal stopped her once more.
"I was a boy once too. You can get started on your cleaning and I'll entertain the child. I'm looking forward to breakfast tomorrow... that is part of the deal, is it not?"
"... it is." she said.
"Splended. I'll have your brother show me to my room, then."
Lani did as she was told. She still wasn't sure about her choice to host a pirate, but then again, he didn't seem too bad. She couldn't refuse an offer - she did really need the money... and he seemed to get along with Tiri.
After she was finished cleaning the kitchen and pulling the dead flowers off the wall, she went upstairs to find the door to Tiri's room partly open. Tiri was lying on his stomach in front of Cazal with his head propped up on his folded arms. The singe candle cast eerie scars across the pirate's face as he used vibrant hand gesticulations describing a battle between him and an Elephant. She could hear the occasional comments from Tiri such as an "Ooooohhhhh!" or "What happened next!?"
She sat outside the room and listened to the pirate's tales well into the night. There was something about the way he told them that was mesmerizing... he told them with such detail, such emotion. Before she knew it, she had drifted off to sleep outside of Tiri's door.
She was awakened by a gentle shake to the shoulder as she slowly opened her eyes to see the pirate crouched next to her, half-dressed.
"Eeeeh!" she shrieked as she backed into the wall and hit her head.
"I thought you'd like to sleep in your own bed tonight." he said, naturally.
"You're not wearing a shirt!" she scolded in a harsh whisper as she tried to cover her eyes.
"Well, do you expect me to sleep in full-coat?" he asked. "Go to bed, Lani."
She was struck speechless as he stood up and went two doors over to the first guest room. For their first guest, they sure got a strange case. Who was this mysterious pirate...? And why was he so kind to them? Why did he pick their place to stay when he could probably afford to stay anywhere he wanted? What did he want from them?
The questions made her head spin as she made her way back to her own room. She wanted to just forget about them and go to sleep. After all, she had a breakfast to make in the morning.
The next morning, Lani rose early as promised and got breakfast ready. It wasn't as fabulous as she would have hoped as she and Tiri had been low on cooking supplies, but the pirate seemed to like it.
"I need you to run a few errands for me today, Lani." he said as he politely patted his mouth with a cloth napkin. "I'd rather not leave the house... if that's okay with you."
Lani looked at him incredulously. "But... I have to work today! The café's expecting me to come in - I can't just not show up!"
"I'll handle it." he said as he stood up and placed a few gold coins on the table. "I'll pay you well."
Lani's jaw dropped as she eyed the gold greedily. If he was going to pay her that for one day's work... She didn't even make that much in a month working at the café. "Okay..." she said reluctantly, trying not to imagine any of the horrible things he may have done to get that kind of money.
"Splendid. I'll make you a list. Tiri, you can help me too."
Tiri looked overjoyed and pranced out of the room saying something along the lines of, "COOL! I'm working for a pirate!!"
Lani gathered the dishes and cleaned them, all the while wondering what Cazal would have her do for him today. She really hoped it wasn't anything bad - she wanted to keep a good reputation. She was still new in town.
Cazal and Tiri returned shortly. Cazal handed Lani a folded piece of parchment and told her to ask if anything was unclear while Tiri went straight out the front door.
"Wait!" Lani said, "Where's he going?!"
"He'll be helping me out today too." Cazal said simply. "Now, if you'll pick these things up for me and make the arrangements I've listed, please."
Lani eyed the list cautiously. It didn't seem too bad... At least he hadn't ordered her to steal or kill or anything. She gathered her things and accepted the money from him before leaving the house to do what Cazal had asked.
She went to the hobby kiosk and purchased some mending materials, she put an order in with the blacksmith (who, thankfully, didn't ask any questions), and she contacted the contractor about ship repairs. When she was in the area, she decided to stop by the café, just to explain things and ask if she could return to work in a few days once the pirate had left.
She was just walking into the café courtyard when the owner came out to greet her and shook her hand merrily, "Oh Lani!" she said, "Congratulations! Your brother stopped by earlier and told me you had been sponsored! He wouldn't tell me who had sponsored you, but it sounds like you really struck it lucky!"
Lani stood for a minute, too shocked to speak. Sponsored? Is that what Cazal had told Tiri to say? What was that supposed to mean?
"Don't worry about coming back to work, I understand that you have to work harder at your own business now. Maybe you can put a good word in for me with your guests at the Chantey?"
Lani simply nodded in response and turned to leave. She still didn't quite understand what Cazal had meant by that, but she still had one more stop. Her final stop was at the grocery store where she bought so many groceries that she had to have three store employees help her carry them home.
She had the store employees leave the groceries on the porch and she went inside to find Cazal leaning back in a chair with his feet propped on the dining room table. He appeared to be reading and he looked deep in thought. It took him a minute or two to notice her and welcome her back. "Oh, you're back. Did you get everything I asked for?"
Lani brought the supplies in one-by-one and placed them on the table, eyeing Cazal for any change in expression. She thought she might have seen his left eye twitch, but that was the only movement as the rest of his face stayed completely reserved.
"Splendid," he said approvingly as he placed another bag of gold on the table as payment. "Thank you, Lani, I really appreciate it."
"Yo...you're welcome." Lani said as she reached for the gold and sincerely hoped he had not stolen it.
The process repeated itself for the next few days: Lani and Tiri running favors for Cazal while he stayed at their home, writing in a journal. Lani hated to be suspicious... especially when he was paying her so well, but she couldn't help but feel uncomfortable with him around. If nothing else, he had to be a bad influence on poor Tiri. Young boys shouldn't hang out with pirates...
After her fourth day of running errands, Lani had figured that she had probably earned enough money for more of the house repairs. She was just counting the last bit of it when Cazal approached her. "Yes?" she asked him as he got her attention.
"I'll be leaving soon, Lani," he said mysteriously, "I was just curious as to whether you'd let me stay here again. Every now and then I really do just like to take some time off and relax. Being a pirate can be very strenuous at times. I just wanted to ask you for permission because I know my presence makes you feel uncomfortable."
Lani blushed slightly and scolded herself for making her discomfort so obvious... she never meant for him to notice. "I... I wouldn't mind." she said quietly. "Just as long as you promise not to make any trouble... and you don't corrupt my brother."
Cazal laughed, "You have nothing to worry about. I'll tell him stories, but I won't corrupt him with my evil piratey ways."
Lani rolled her eyes - now he was just teasing her. "Now, Cazal, you know I love Tiri very much..."
"I do," he said as he bowed politely. "and because I know, I will respect your wishes and take good care of both you and your brother. Have a nice night, Lani."
Lani whispered a 'good-night', but she was sure he didn't hear it. Was it possible that she had come across a pirate with values? Everything he did or said to her was respectful... no one had ever treated her that way before. Would he really protect her and Tiri? Maybe having a pirate on her side wouldn't be such a bad idea after all...
"Oh good, he's asleep." Lani whispered as she peeked into Tiri's bedroom. Cazal would be leaving tomorrow and she was afraid that Tiri might keep him awake too late begging for more pirate stories.
Feeling satisfied and sleepy herself, she blew out her candle and headed back to her own room where she crawled into her comfy bed and fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. She was dreaming wild dreams of her being kidnapped by pirates and forced to run errands for them and do their laundry when she was awakened by a sharp knock on the front door.
She jumped out of bed and crept around to the front door, wondering who might be visiting this late. Cautiously she turned the doorknob and opened the door to be met by the darkest figure she had ever seen. His wide-brimmed hat cast even more shadows over his face in the scanty moonlight, but several gold teeth glistened in his crooked smile. He had a hook for a hand and a patch over his right eye.
Lani gasped, thrown off-guard by the man's frightening appearance, "Er... how can I help you, sir?" she asked bravely.
"Evenin', lass," The man sneered cupping her chin with his good hand. "The name's Scarr - and there's plenty a gal like you could help me with..."
Lani shrieked and stumbled backwards, leaving the front door wide open. It was only then that she realized the pirate, Scarr, was flanked by at least seven others... all of them looking just as menacing.
"Whatsa matter, lass?" Scarr smirked, "Never been with a pirate before?" The other pirates laughed as they all started to slowly move into the small shack.
Lani stood frozen in her spot; there was nothing she could do. Her house was just on the edge of town... would anyone hear her scream? Would she and Tiri be able to escape? Tears of desperation slowly began to roll down each cheek when a gunshot cut the silence and Scarr grabbed at his shoulder, screaming in pain.
"Who the hell shot at me!?" Scarr demanded, before the other pirates pointed to the top of the stairs and backed away slowly.
"CAZAL!" Scarr roared when he saw Cazal standing at the top of the stairs, in full dress with his rifle pointed directly at Scarr.
"Take another step towards her, Scarr, and you'll lose more than a shoulder."
"How'd ye know we'd be here?" Scarr demanded. "Who told you?"
"Pirate sense." Cazal said as he descended the staircase. "And you've never been very good at surprises."
"Well yer outta luck, man." Scarr retorted. "You ain't got your crew here to help you now - all ya got is this pretty thing and a beach house. If you come quietly, we'll spare both of your lives."
Lani's bottom lip trembled as she looked up at Cazal, she didn't want to die... and he couldn't take on eight pirates on his own. Cazal stood tall at the bottom of the staircase, eyes narrowed dangerously towards the other pirate.
"You seem to have made a mistake in coming here, Scarr." he said calmly. "Yes, all I have right now is the beach house, but you arrived too late."
"Too late?" Scarr sneered. "What do ya mean by that?"
"Correct me if I'm wrong," Cazal mused, "But isn't that the Equestral pulling into shore?"
All eight pirates turned around so fast they nearly fell over and Lani got a look straight out the front door to see two pirate ships just off shore of her home.
"SHIT!" Scarr shouted, "Let's get him now before the rest of them get here to help!" He barked his order as he pointed at Cazal.
"Get out, Lani." Cazal said as he held his aimed pistol in one hand and drew his sword with the other. "Get Tiri and run."
"But my house!" she cried, "You won't ruin my house will you?"
"GET OUT OF HERE!"
Lani didn't dare argue with that as she turned and stumbled her way up the stairs where she found Tiri peeking out of his room looking excited. "Are the pirates going to fight, Lani? Are they gonna fight in our house!?"
"Come on, Tiri!" she groaned as she nudged him to follow her. "We shouldn't stay around here to find out."
The pirates were still yelling back and forth when Lani and Tiri slipped past them and snuck out the back door. They were just leaving the house when they saw more pirates marching up the beach.
"Oooooh..." Lani moaned, "Please keep them away from my house..."
Lani and Tiri managed to sneak far enough away and hide in a boat house where they could still see the house. It looked as though the pirates were, much to Lani's fears, fighting both in and out of the house. Both of the pirate crews had arrived and it seemed as though the beach was crawling with pirates.
"D'ya think Mr. Cazal will be okay?" Tiri asked Lani, ignoring the fact that she was sobbing every few minutes.
Lani had just turned to answer when Tiri gasped and pointed, the front window of the house had just been smashed open and there were large flames drifting outwards.
"NO!" Lani yelled before Tiri told her to keep it down, lest they be found.
She sat back and was forced to watch all of her hard work go up in flames, mournfully crying the entire time. The pirate fight slowed down as one group appeared to have the upper hand. By the time the entire house was engulfed by flames, the triumphant pirate crew walked away dragging the corpses of the defeated.
Lani watched in horrified silence as the pirates dragged the dead back to their ship and burned it - as though they were performing some terrible pirate burial ceremony. She looked back and forth from the burning ship to the dying flames on the charred remains of her beloved home.
Where would she go? She had no money, she had no home - what was she supposed to do? She should have gone with her intuition and never let Cazal stay there. Then none of this would have happened.
She lowered her head and sighed. All of her hard work, all of her struggling through two jobs to make ends meet was gone.
"Lani," Tiri said gently as he nudged her, "Someone's coming..."
She looked up and noticed, through eyes blurry with tears, that someone was struggling up the beach, pulling something very heavy behind him.
"LANI!" the figure called out.
"Mr. Cazal!!" Tiri shouted once he recognized the figure. "Mr. Cazal, we're over here!"
Cazal dragged his heavy object to the dock where they were hiding and approached them cautiously. "Lo siento, Lani." he said sincerely. "I never meant for them to find me at your house - I am very sorry."
Lani glared at him, tears streaming angrily down her cheeks. She couldn't even reply or scold him, she was so upset.
"I know you're angry with me." Cazal said as he kicked open the chest at his feet. "But I told you I'd look out for you."
"WOW!" Tiri shouted when he saw what was in the chest. It was filled to the top with gold and jewels of all kinds - more money than he or Lani had collectively owned in their entire lives.
Lani's jaw dropped as she looked at Cazal in confusion, "Wh... what am I supposed to do?"
"Rebuild it," he said. "I'll be back."
"But..." Lani started only to find she was too late as Cazal had turned to run back towards the lifeboat that was waiting for him on the shore.
"Wow, Lani!" Tiri said as he ran a paw through the gold. "Look at all of this!! Maybe you can even hire someone to help you now!!"
Lani choked back a few tears of disbelief before she grabbed Tiri into a big hug. "You know, maybe I can... But we've got a lot of work to do before then..."