"A Pirate-y Holiday: Some Assembly Required" - By D.S. Devereaux and AluraRB

Ahoy! Over the past few weeks, I've been working with community artist AluraRB to put together a holiday surprise for you all. After some discussion, we decided to put together a multi-media story to be published after Christmas. Lots of time and effort went into this (as well as plenty of laughs) and we hope you enjoy this as much as we do! Yarr! (Alura has this on her site, too!)


Some say that the breeze before a thick snow tastes different than all others; Many don't celebrate enough sky exposure to justify such a fact, but any roaming pirate can verify so. There's the sweetness in the preliminary chill; The constant pinching of earlobes and boot-covered toes. The thought whispering in your ears, Snow, snow, snow! A seasoned captain could be capable of knowing the morning light's pigmentation or the stiffer rocking of the frost-laden galleons. Some claimed that skarakeets sounded like bells.

After seven years of claiming so, William Cartwright felt nothing of it, that December.

"It's not even cold," William groaned, folding his arms and walking towards the masts, feet crunching in withdoctor-conjured snow. Patting a tricorne-topped snowman, a swashbuckler sighed, avoiding a scowl. She was built small enough to string lights to anything stiffer than a sail and to sneak into a witchdoctor's hideout to borrow snow.

"I thought it'd be better that way," she said, standing once again next to her comrade-in-decor. He was Devin, a taller and slightly richer pirate. He had bought the tree and its ornaments, and placed it between the masts. William poked at it suspiciously, hunched over and frowning. When he looked back up, Devin was leaning on one of the masts.

"Lighten up a little," he chuckled, propping himself up on his left wrist, "Happy holidays, for goodness' sake." William glared.

The following hours were composed of dragging. The standing Aquilan pine, speckled with lights and glass ornaments, was hauled off first, placed on a sandy island just shiplengths from where William had woken. Next were the lights, the end of the attaching wire tripping on the uneven deck. For the entire time, dragging were the feet of Melissa and Devin as they helped sweep the snow. It continued to fall into hats and hair, as it would for the rest of the day.

"I think that's it!" William exclaimed, putting his hands on his hips and beaming. Melissa shrugged and Devin turned to lean on the rail of the ship. William returned to the wheel, changing windlanes and setting course for the Marleybonian Port Regal.

William had saved food from a previous ship raid, and all three pirates sat in the ship's galley passing Yum in utter silence. William tapped his feet impatiently, his soles on the wood creating an echo growing familiar.

"Can't you guys speak?" William sighed at last, setting his mug down. Devin and Melissa, looking to each other once, shrugged simultaneously and looked in separate directions. William scowled. He stood, looking through the porthole. Port Regal had turned out to be more dangerous than he had expected, with the Armada's advancements. The dogs began getting uptight about pirates and non-local seafarers stopping by. Luckily, as of the week before, William and Melissa had refitted the ship's sails to resemble the Marleybonian flags. They'd be harder to notice, at the very least.

"We'll get there in a few minutes, at the rate we're going," William concluded, clapping his hands together.

There was a crash, but the yells to one another in shock were nullified to William. He flew into the door, sliding out onto the deck. He noticed the fire first on the bow with the smell of burning branches. A wreath! He realized, scowling. Melissa and Devin followed after, pushing past and taking stance in battle positions. After a moment's analysis, the two pirates began pushing obstacles off-deck, smothering fires, and breaking ice.

The fight didn't go for very long. In two short minutes, the ship became overcrowded with dogs, many of which sifted through unmoved crates, checking for clockwork parts while taking spices. William dragged one crate of Yum-Yum fruit towards the galley, hoping to preserve it for an extra coin.

"A no-good Yum smuggler, I see," a dog with an embellished hat, grunting as he walked, approached William. The captain laughed – surely a dog smaller than him couldn't do much harm. In time, however, all three were overwhelmed. Thankfully for the dogs, there was a single extra cell on their own galleon for the three.

Once in the cell, Melissa was the first to spring into action, pushing past – refusing to look William in the eye – and began working on the lock. She's a Swashbuckler, Will reminded himself, She should be good at this. Devin leaned on the bars, looking out towards the passing sky. At this time of year, it was unexceptionally chilly, leaving the pirates to whatever jackets they had been fighting in.

"I..." Melissa sighed, turning heads, "I can't get it open." Almost with that said, the dogs returned to the deck as the galleon landed at Port Regal. William's ship was only a burning speck in the distance.

By the end of the day, the pirates were still in a cell; This time, it was grounded and in the heart of Port Regal. The angry mewlings of cats echoed throughout the halls. Melissa had been lock-picking for hours and hours, refusing to face either of her friends. William leaned on the bars and sighed, resting his head on them. Devin paced, and felt in his pocket for one last possible hope.

William scowled at the stickiness on his hands and cheeks. He smelled of peppermint, all while Devin snickered in the corner.

"Gosh," he laughed, "No wonder you refused before." Melissa didn't say a word. Her fingers were cold and calloused from lock-picking and she stared intently at the bars. Throughout the day, not a hint of progression or success had come from her. William joined Devin's pacing, sat, and paced again, sucking at the candy cane. Occasionally, he would take it out of his mouth, checking to see if the stripes had yet faded. At last, Melissa emerged from her cloud of lockpicking gloom.

"Nothing," she sighed, about to go back to her station, "I heard the dogs bringing in the tinsel." William raised an eyebrow. He removed the candy cane, smiling at it. Devin backed up a step, not used to the sudden rush of cunning on his captain's face in such a time.

"We should say hello," William proposed, handing Melissa the candy cane, "Here, try this." Melissa took the candy cane with suspicion, glaring at William in confusion. She then shrugged, trying the point on the lock. After minutes, the fateful click resounded throughout the cell.

"What do you know," Devin chuckled, "A present denied is a -"

"Come on," William said pointedly, snatching Devin by the sleeve, "I've got another idea, if you'd like. We'll need to steal a ship, though. You guys game?"

Unfortunately, the crew couldn't retrieve the pine, but the lights proved to be useful, as did the snow. 

That afternoon, Marleybonian galleon – One strangely familiar to the three – sailed from Port Regal at top speed.

"Incoming!" William yelled, throwing a bundle from the crow's nest, "Extras." Devin caught the bundle of blinking lights, handing it off to Melissa.

"He realizes that New Year's is...today, right?" he whispered to Melissa, shaking his head.

"He might," she said, "But I don't think that's stopping him. Where d'ya suppose we'll get more snow?"

Keep Traveling, and Happy New Year! -DSD and AluraRB