A renewed fever of activity overhead alerted Matticus and Revis to their imminent arrival at Kuzco Groove. Orders were shouted, the crew went scurrying over the boards and up the rigging to safely bring the boat to dock. The gently swaying, that they had finally gotten used to, lessened as ropes were tossed ashore and tied down.
A loud grating sound indicated that the gangway had been pushed out and lowered to the dock. The noises from above seemed to intensify immediately after that, as the crew and the vampire helpers began scrambling to get themselves in order and get off the boat. Matticus looked to Revis, and his Knight motioned for him to remain where he was for a bit longer.
The Jester desperately needed to stretch, his muscles ached from fighting the ebb and flow of the ocean while remaining cramped in his hiding place. While they had been in open water he hadn’t minded, but now that they were docked, had reached their goal, he had nothing left to occupy his mind but the desire to move. His legs screamed at him and he grimaced in response.
The commotion overhead began to die out and Revis started to stir, but then approaching footsteps in the cargo hold forced him to go silent and still again. He cast a warning glance to the Jester but knew Matticus wouldn’t be able to stay hidden much longer.
“Everyone else gets to get off the ship and have fun on the island,” complained one voice. “How did we get stuck searching the ship for the captain’s cat?”
A second voice sighed. “Maybe it had something to do with you saying that it was nice to finally be onboard with some pu….”
Matticus dared a look out to see what had stopped the man midsentence. One of the men, he assumed it was the one who was speaking, had slumped forward, coming to rest on top of a barrel. His companion looked around, trying to find what had attacked him. The Jester didn’t need to look to know that his Knight was responsible. Out of thin air, a blade appeared at the standing man’s throat.
“Take me to your leader,” Revis commanded in a voice that sent shudders down Matticus’ spine.
He wanted to point out how evil his Knight’s voice had just sounded, but he was so happy that he was finally able to get out of the hiding place that he let it drop. Revis allowed Matticus a couple of minutes to stretch before they went to confront the captain. Now that the Jester was able to move normally again, they walked up the stairs.
The deck was clear, as the man had said, except for a man wearing a large hat who was facing away from them. Hearing footsteps behind him, the man turned. Matticus quickly grabbed his arm so he couldn’t draw his sword while Revis shoved his captive overboard.
“Who are you,” the captain demanded, “and what are you doing on my ship?”
“We’re asking the questions here,” Revis countered. “What’s your name, captain?”
Matticus and Revis couldn’t keep their eyes from sliding down to the man’s hands, which were both still attached, callused, and extremely strong from the look of them.
“Seriously?” Matticus asked incredulously.
“What’s wrong with my name?”
Again the Jester and Knight looked down to the man’s hands and then back to his face. They shrugged their shoulders in unison, and Revis returned to his previous dangerous voice, “As I already said, we’re asking the questions here.”
To cement his control over the situation he brandished his sword, pressing the tip firmly into the Captain’s chest, and raised his eyebrows, daring Hook to move or do anything out of line. “What are the vampires looking for on Kuzco Groove?”
Hook opened his mouth to reply, and Revis leaned into him, “I want the truth.”
The sailor closed his mouth, swallowed noisily, and then stammeringly answered, “I’m not sure. They just pay me to haul volunteers back and forth from the mainland.”
Matticus, wanting to keep the line of questions going, and wanting to be off the boat as quickly as possible, asked the next question, “Who hired you?”
“Jaded. She’s in charge of everything around here.” Under his breath Hook added, “Though, I never would have gone to work for her if Ellen had ever given me a chance to prove myself.”
Matticus looked over at Revis, but he just shrugged again. “Who is Ellen?”
With a sigh, Hook answered, “It doesn’t matter. It’s not important to the story.”
Before the Jester could ask what story he was referring to, Revis cut in. “Where can we find Jaded?”
“She’s staying in a fort in the exact middle of the island. That way, if they find whatever it is they’re looking for, she can get to it quickly.”
Revis pulled out a map of the island. “Mark down the location of Jaded’s fort, plus all of the areas that they’re digging.”
As Hook marked the locations at the map, Matticus walked up next to Revis and whispered, “Where did you get that map?”
“Hey,” Hook shouted. “This map is mine!”
Revis smiled. “It’s ours now,” he said as he grabbed it out of Hook’s hand.
Matticus escorted Hook to his cabin and locked him inside of it. By the time he got back to Revis, his Knight had formed a loose plan of how to get to Jaded’s fort. He divulged the details in a few succinct sentences and then asked Matticus if he had any questions.
“Just one… well, I guess two. First, you call that a plan? And, second, you think we are going to come out of this alive?”
Revis glared at his liege, but stayed the angry retort on this tongue. He folded the map carefully and stowed it away in his travel pack. He knew he was due a few hits from the Jester because of the large tally of insults and disrespect he’d shown Matticus over the course of their journey so far, so he took that one as gracefully as he could.
When his flash of anger had subsided, he replied, “We’ll have to see how it turns out. Are you ready?”
Matticus was grinning from ear to ear for finally having successfully started to repay his Knight, and shrugged his shoulders. “I’m as ready for this suicide mission as I’ll ever be. Though, is it wise to leave Captain Hook alive?”
“He isn’t a vampire, I believe his story, and I can’t bring myself to condemn a working man for doing what he must to provide for his family. Besides, we might need him to get us back to the mainland once we are finished here.”
Both men grabbed a pickax and shovel. The plan was to disguise themselves as regular workers. Their main obstacle was their armor. Neither of them was willing to take their armor off to complete their disguise. They were there to fight, after all. So, instead, they threw loose clothing on over top of their armor and hoped it would be good enough to get them to Jaded’s fort.
During their half a day of travel, they found out that the security on the island was nonexistent. By the time they reached the fort, nobody had looked twice at them. Apparently, the vampires thought that nobody would dare attack them. As he watched the sun set, Matticus silently vowed to make them pay for that mistake.
Revis handed Matticus another vial of liquid. “This works just like my ring. It’ll make you invisible. Put your hand on my shoulder before you drink it.”
“Uhhh, why do I have to touch your shoulder?”
With a sigh, Revis replied, “Because once we turn invisible, we won’t be able to see each other and you’ll need to know where I am so we’re not running into each other.”
“Relax. All you’ll be touching is my armor. Just be glad I don’t have to grab your hand to turn you invisible this time.” While Matticus thanked whatever higher power might be listening that they didn’t have to hold hands again, Revis continued, “Let’s go make sure that Jaded has a very bad night.”