I Don't Know Where It Is: Part II
A week had already passed since she had been taken by the giant Captain Feron Marinus and those of the infamous Red Crew. Peregrine Wenson had been accused of knowing the whereabouts of Triton’s Chalice, a valuable cup that was said to grant its holder control over the waters. But no, she didn’t know and Feron knew it too. She now sailed with the Red Crew, officially part of the crew and Feron’s love.
She knew every pirate of the Red Crew- Pewter, an old, crooked sea-dog, being the first. He was the one who had given her to Feron after he thundered into her village. Just like everything else onboard the Marinus, the crew were not what she had expected. They were actually quite nice to her, especially Cut Throat Donahue and No-Eye Rogers, the crew’s most experienced assassins and thieves. Despite being around these noisy, get-drunk-every-night pirates, she enjoyed being with the crew.
Being on a ship for a week did have its disadvantages though. Peregrine had worn the same dress since Pewter first picked her up. The brown skirt had grown a darker shade of brown and the white bodice was now becoming the previous shade of brown that her skirt had. Her hair was oily and messy and she was beginning to smell like Dead-Leather Jenesen, only more feminine. Feron and the crew weren’t exactly a field of flowers either…they were men who hadn’t bathed in days, maybe WEEKS!
The sun was beginning to set. Peregrine sat back on Feron’s bare, firm chest as he held her in his hand, watching the orange ripples of the ocean. Feron had been sweating, shouting orders at the crew and taking control of the ship as the captain, and Peregrine could smell it,
"Feron?" she looked up at his handsome, still clean-shaven face, "How long until we reach Giant Territory?"
"Not far now, my dear," he chuckled, making his way back to the cabin, "Maybe at dawn. Why? Are you nervous?"
"No, no that’s not it," Peregrine shook her head, "I just, well, it’s been a week- "
Feron sat down on his bed and kissed her cheek, "You still smell lovely, my dear," he always seemed to be able to gauge what she was thinking, "When we check into an inn, I promise that you’ll get that bath of yours,"
"Aww, thank you, Feron!" she hugged his big cheek, then whiffed his skin, "But make me a stronger promise that you’ll have one too,"
Just as Feron had said, they had reached Giant Territory at dawn. Peregrine’s heart pounded as Feron perched her on his shoulder. Her grip on his massive neck was tighter than usual, and sweatier. This was, by far, the farthest she had been away from home. This was new territory! There were new, much larger people; new customs; new dangers,
"I’ll look after you, Peregrine," Feron whispered, "Don’t worry," and he kissed her.
He walked down the ramp, straight and proud with his hands behind his back. The Red Crew followed behind him until he dismissed them,
"I’ll tell you when I’m up for a new adventure, lads," he smirked and they ran off.
The harbour was bustling and loud. Chains clanked and groaned, ropes were stretched to their limits and fish slapped on the grotty wooden planks. Peregrine huddled closer to Feron’s neck at the bigness of everything. Voices at normal volume were as loud as the shouts of a village caller, rope was as wide as barrels, fish were as big as whales- smaller ones the size of dolphins or sharks- and the people…they were enormous. Short or tall, they were huge, even the children. No one, except maybe babies, was smaller than 20 feet in height.
It surprised her even more at how many people ran away as Feron walked through the grubby, wooden street leading to the bazaar. They cleared the path for him, some gasping, some screaming. Murmurs could be heard about what Feron had done in the past:
"I heard he slew a kraken, from our waters, even though he was blinded with its ink and he was wrapped in all 10 of its tentacles!"
"I heard that all the elven and human kings just gave him their kingdoms…and you know how those kings are; they’d fight to the death even against us giants!"
"I heard he took down a whole ogre army with his bare hands…"
Peregrine was impressed, and a little frightened about Feron’s abilities according to those people. She knew he was a great fighter but she didn’t know how feared he was. These people were practically saying he was a monster, or even a demon! He merely gave a low chuckle at their words,
"You didn’t do all those things?" Peregrine asked,
"Of course not!" Feron laughed, "They’re just exaggerating! (Peregrine sighed) That kraken only had 8 tentacles,"
Shop keepers offered tributes to the young captain as he passed by their stalls. Feron took them gracefully and continued making his way toward the inn, wanting to fulfil his promise to Peregrine. Many of the giants noticed Peregrine on his shoulder and were amazed at the presence of a human. Their huge eyes gazed at her tiny figure, eyeing her up and down hungrily. Children ran up, though keeping their distance, and followed Feron with their hands out in front of them, ready to catch her.
He suddenly stopped at a stall, taking Peregrine by surprise and almost making her lose her hold on is neck. The children leaned forward eagerly as she wobbled- she gripped his neck even tighter and turned away to face the front. Peregrine screamed at the enormous female face staring at her. The giantess jumped back in surprise and returned to facing Feron. The stall bore beautiful fabrics and clothes. Silken cloth draped the sides and the front and caught the rays of the early sun,
"The finest fabrics in the area," the woman cooed at Feron, trying to look appealing to him with her bosom, "You cannot find anything finer than this, Captain Marinus,"
"Do you have any dresses that will suit a human?" Feron asked, obviously uninterested, "She needs a new dress,"
The woman’s amazed gaze suddenly turned into a look of bitterness at Peregrine. She sneered back and snuggled closer to Feron’s neck,
"Why yes…" the giantess replied, "Would you like to see the range with the least amount of fabric?"
"She is not a sex slave, wench!" Feron hissed, his eyes growing cold and frightful, "Just give her the most graceful dress you have before I lose my temper!"
"Y-Yes, sir!" the giantess squeaked.
He kept the dresses in a little pouch (the size of a room to Peregrine). They were casual but pretty, and all for free! The stall woman had even handed Peregrine an elegant violet dress. Golden ribbon lined the hem of the skirt and the flared, shoulder-length sleeves, contracting beautifully with the violet. A black ivy-like design climbed from the dark bottom of the skirt and stopped upon reaching the mid-section of the dress. It was so beautiful though dark. She clutched it tightly to her chest,
"That was very honourable of you…how you defended me like that, Feron," Peregrine said shyly, "Thank you,"
"Humans are seen as possessions here, my dear," Feron said seriously, "As individuals you are not seen as another being. You humans are prized as toys and tiny slaves…even meals. And I will not have my love be seen as such,"
Her heart melted at his words. She loved him so much and each day she seemed to love him even more that the previous day. With a warm feeling in her cheeks, she snuggled even closer to his neck, ignoring the hungry, lustful stares if the giants around them. Feron would protect her. She knew he would.
They found the tavern: The Severed Leg. It was noted to have the greatest accommodation, offer the finest foods and, of course, serve the best drinks in the whole harbour. Even if there was actually competition, the owners still would have had their clients.
A huge wave of drunkenness, sweat and alcohol swallowed Peregrine whole; she felt as if she was being intoxicated by the smells alone! The scents of Giant Territory were going to be difficult to get used to.
Suddenly, Feron’s great, warm fingers wrapped around her body and plucked her off his shoulder. His grip was tighter than usual but he held her securely. Already she knew that she had to be careful in this tavern. It wasn’t exactly roomy and there were giants everywhere. There were some who were walking around with a smile on their face but were secretly cutting purses. Others eyed Peregrine, their glares more hungry than those outside in the bazaar.
Feron wasn’t so much feared here since the tavern’s clients were just too drunk to notice. Still, Peregrine could see sneaky little urchins eyeing his pouch. She guessed that they were willing to lose their hands just to get some coin. Feron had approached the bar and spoke to the back of a short, stout woman who was cleaning something with a rag in her hands,
"Kazden," Feron smiled, "I need a room,"
The woman turned around, revealing an empty left eye-socket. Peregrine gasped as she stared into the empty black pit next to Kazden’s grey right eye. The woman’s chubby cheeks rose as she smiled brightly up at Feron. From the rag in her hands, she pulled out a glass eye and replaced it into her left socket,
"Ah, Cap’n Marinus!" she had a lovely, heavy brogue, "S’bin a long time since I be seein’ ye, boy!" her glass eye shifted loosely in her socket as she spoke,
"Yeah, it has," Feron replied politely,
"Ye’re usual room ag…oh," Kazden stopped, her good eye looking at Peregrine, "I see ye brought a friend with ye from yer travels…a human…" she said quietly.
Kazden observed Peregrine up and down like many of the other giants but she didn’t have that look in her eye of greed and hunger. She just seemed intrigued; curious upon seeing a human. She shook her head and nodded,
"Oookay!" Kazden smiled, "Your usual room it is! Would ye like me t’send a cup for the young lady to bathe? Ye look very worn, lassie," she said to Peregrine warmly, "Laddie-Feron gives ye any trouble, ye come and holler fer Ol’ Kazzie! I’ll look after ye!"
Peregrine smiled back, relieved at Kaz’s kindness, "Yes, ma’am!"
The rooms were upstairs but Feron’s ‘usual room’ was two floors above the drunken-area of the tavern. The hallway had a lovely orange glow to it; paintings of lake scenes lined the walls; a more aromatic scent was in the air…it was much like Feron’s cabin. He could now hold Peregrine more casually in his hand as he walked down the hall, his boots clacking deeply on the floorboards.
They passed several burgundy-red doors before reaching one at the very end of the hallway. Feron unlocked the door and headed inside. He placed her down on the table before heading back out to grab some food. Peregrine heard the door lock, which made her feel a little safer, though she worried about Feron going back down to the bar.
Just like everything else, the room was enormous. The candlestick next to her was a golden tree with three branches reaching for the sky, and three tongues of flame for leaves. The fruit bowl nearby could probably accommodate a small village as a giant bath tub, and the fruit itself offer them enough food for a year. She was used to seeing a giant’s room but she was still amazed at the bigness of everything.
Suddenly, there was a sharp scratch that led her to face the window. The drapes left a small portion uncovered, letting her see the clouds in the night sky. They were like silver cotton, slowly and gracefully moving until the moonlight no longer lined their shape. It was such a beautiful sight but what was that scratching? It was unnatural. There were no trees tall enough to reach the window…
Feron returned with a plate filled with food in one hand and a cup hanging from his fingers. He kicked the door behind him and locked it before doing anything else. Peregrine laughed at his clown-like balancing act as he made his way to the table, ending his performance by sliding the plate off his hand. Peregrine clapped her hands slowly, mocking him with just the applause,
"Pewter had a nasty fall," Feron scratched her head with a finger, "Looks he slipped and fell back or something,"
"Will he be okay?" she blushed and smiled as he trailed his finger down her cheek (ever since Pewter had lifted off the roof of her house and picked her up, she never really liked the old guy so you can guess how concerned she really was),
"Yeah, he’s fine. The guy who brought him in said that he found him next to the tavern," he nodded towards the window,
"Aw, poor guy. At least he’s okay…" she frowned as she looked to the window, reminded of the scratching, "…hey, um, I’ll have a bath after dinner," she said, turning back to look up at him, "The cup’s for me, right?"
"I was actually hoping you’d join me in the tub," Feron smiled,
"Hmm…I dunnooo," she grinned back, "If you make sure I won’t drown- it’s a pretty big tub,"
"Oh, of course! It would be a lake to you,"
The bathtub was a lake; a warm, steaming lake with bubbles from bath bombs and bath salts. Feron’s body sank down in his relaxed state with one of his powerful arms supporting him on the side of the tub. His other arm lay across his stomach for Peregrine to sit on and so that she could lay back on his abs. They could feel the dirt being washed away by the warm, soapy water splashing on their bodies. They both sighed deeply at the feeling,
"So how long are we going to be staying here?" Peregrine asked with a dreamy drawl,
"We’ll stay here for breakfast…" Feron replied, his voice monotone, "And then we’ll go visit the town of Yentaren. Lovely place and more secure than the harbour,"
"Any reason why there?"
"The Mayor owes me some money. He had used the people’s taxes to fulfil his own desires and didn’t leave any for the people. The dead-line’s in a few days,"
Peregrine sat up straight and looked up at him with a frown, "You’re not going to kill him, are you?"
Feron may have been a pirate, known on and off land, and Peregrine knew what they did and what he was capable of doing…but she just couldn’t stand seeing someone get killed, especially over money and debt,
"My dear," Feron smiled and stroked her cheek, "I have full confidence in the Mayor that he will pay back his debt to me. It has been a year and Yentaren is a pretty wealthy town. You have nothing to worry about, Peregrine. Relax,"
She sighed, "…fine,"
"After this, mind giving me that back rub I love oh so much?"
"In your dreams…" she scoffed, "You’ve had one before and it’s the only one you’ll ever get, giant!"
Feron opened his eyes, only to be greeted by Peregrine’s smiling little face. She tilted her head in her hands cutely and raised her brows. The giant merely sighed sleepily and shut his eyes again. Peregrine laughed and stood up. She had already dressed into one of the new dresses she had been given- a lovely green skirt with a white bodice and small-puff sleeves,
"Get up, c’mon," she poked his squishy eyelid, "Lazy bum,"
"No…agh!" he sat up immediately as something tickled his neck.
He looked down at a grinning Peregrine, swinging back and forth on her heels. He leered back at her and rubbed his neck. She had blown a raspberry on his neck- a loud, wet one. Peregrine was actually surprised that he could actually feel such a tiny, little thing on his powerful neck. She clambered up onto his thigh and folded her arms,
"We going to Yentaren?" she asked,
"Yeah," he replied, "We’ll go after straight after breakfast. Kaz should have my horse ready by now,"
Her eyes widened, "How will you be able to hold on when you’re riding a horse? I’m sure I’ll fall!"
Feron picked her up by her sides and placed her on the bedside table. He thought about it as he slipped on his knee-boots and fixed his pants up a little,
"I guess the only option is your best friend, Mr Pocket," he headed for the wardrobe and took out a red version of his usual coat (it was like any other coat only with no sleeves and always kept open),
"Alright…" Peregrine sighed and noticed an amused smile on his single-scarred face, "You just adore keeping me in your pocket, don’t you?" she leered,
"Don’t be silly," Feron picked her back up and dropped her into his chest pocket, "Yes,"
The stubby tavern woman pulled at the reigns of a beautiful black stallion. Its coat shone, reflecting the rays of the sun and its calmness reflected its tameness and good nature. It was a huge creature though, powerful and lean, even to a giant,
"Ye be careful in Yentaren," Kazden warned, "It’s changed and so’s that Mayor. He might still be scared of ye but he be a sly one. Ye just keep a good eye on yer lassie thar in that town,"
Feron was quiet. It had been a year since the last time he went to Yentaren so he expected it to have changed. Kazten’s warning however, concerning Peregrine’s safety, really made him sweat. He could always rely on her and if she warned you about something, you’d better take it seriously,
"Don’t worry, Kazden," Peregrine poked her head out from Feron’s pocket, "I’ll look after him,"
"Ho, ho, ho, ohhh," Kazden laughed, "I’m probably worryin’ too much. I’m sure ye two’ll be fine,"
The tavern lady chuckled heartily, her cheeks rising so she looked like a pudding. Goodness and warmth just emanated from this woman and with her confidence in them, Feron grew slightly less worried. He mounted the great stallion and took the reigns when a croaky old voice called out,
"Cap’n! Ye be goin’ t’Yentaren, aye?"
Pewter hobbled along as quickly as his legs could carry him, and as his aching back could hold. Kazden ran to him, quickly catching him just as the cane in his hands slipped. Feron frowned, still sitting in the saddle, looking proud and tall,
"Pewter, you should be lying down," he said coolly though there was authority in his voice, "Let Kazten look after you. Besides, I won’t be long; just a few days,"
Pewter’s greying eyes burned with the fire of the young Pewter still inside of him, something Peregrine had never seen before. He seemed to be the one who was dragging Kazten with him until he stood almost right next to Feron,
"Cap’n, I don’t be needin’ bein’ taken care of. Allow me t’go t’the town with ye and Missy Peregrine (it was what he called her). I be sure Ma’am Kazten’ll be busy tendin’ t’her clients. I wish not t’disturb her. Let me go with ye and I’ll be out of your hair when we get there!"
Peregrine sensed something fishy about Pewter. He wasn’t being his tired, old self, but he was insisting he accompanied her and Feron to the town. What was with the energy? Usually he would be rapt into being taken care of since he was always the one who took care of everything,
"…alright," Feron sighed, dismounting from his steed,
"Feron!" Kazten cried, "Ye’re not bein’ serious, are ye?"
The young captain helped his elder crew member up onto the saddle and re-mounted. He sat ahead of Pewter so that the old man could rest. Kazten was in disbelief and Peregrine still felt uneasy,
"See you soon, Kaz!"
It was an hour’s ride from the harbour-town to Yentaren. Pewter still managed to hold on to Feron even as he slept. Peregrine could hear his snores over the thundering hooves of Shadow, the beautiful black steed belonging to Feron. She kept low in his chest pocket, still trying to adjust to the rough, bumpy ride. She bounced up and down in Feron’s pocket, which was fun at first, but then it was just starting to get painful.
"You okay, my dear?" Feron asked, having to raise his voice over Shadow’s hooves,
"YEAH! I’M FINE!!!" Peregrine had to shout even louder, "HOW LONG…UNTIL WE GET THERE?"
"Only half an hour left, my dear!" he laughed, "Hold your breakfast in for a little longer, alright?"
Peregrine sighed and tried to do so. The sun was slowly reaching mid-sky. It wasn’t even noon and the temperature was beginning to rise. She began to feel like a cookie in an oven. Feron’s own warmth wasn’t exactly helping either. She had to put up with this for half an hour as well…
Just as Pewter had said, he was out of his their hair upon reaching the town, hobbling away into a crowd. It was a large town with winding roads, crammed building and busy paths. No one could pass through a single road without being pushed at least ten times. Feron seemed to know his way though, walking down spacious streets with ease- it was either that he knew his way or people cleared the way for him here too.
The giants here were more elegantly dressed than those in the harbour. They were cleaner and more poised, but a number of these elegantly dressed folk were quite chubby and short for giants. Feron seemed to tower over everyone at his 200-foot stature but Peregrine couldn’t say much- everyone would tower over her no matter what height.
On his shoulder once again, she held on to his neck. The town reminded her of her own village. She saw mothers pulling their children along, teenagers teasing bitter, elderly men, a dog chasing a cat up one of the very few trees, and there was even the aroma of freshly baked bread in the air. She had missed these tiny elements over the course of a week at sea. With a sigh and a smile on her face, she rested her head on Feron’s neck. She could feel him tingle as she tickled his skin.
Yes, the town sure was different to the harbour-town. But there was one thing that was still the same. The giants’ eyes focused on her as Feron passed. Their eyes were wide with greed and desire upon seeing a human. There were more murmurs about her presence than there were about the uncanny abilities of young Marinus.
One turn led to another within the town of Yentaren. Peregrine felt like she was on the mouse being used in a maze-run experiment but Feron explained to her that the winding streets were kind of a defence strategy, meant to confuse the enemies and lead them away from the Mayor’s residence. The Mayor had in possession the very life force of the town- a priceless orb known as Nor’jas (nor-yah),
"Said to dwell within a tree with petals of snow, Nor’jas sustains the farms for food, the trees for wood, wells for water…anything that can be used as a source of income through trade," Feron said, "Yentaren is a trader town so Nor’jas is treasured beyond compare. Without it, well, the town’s just a hole, hence the confusing path to the Mayor’s place,"
"That’s a really long explanation just about these roads,"
"Would it be better if I said that the people who designed the place were high at the time?"
"I think they’d be on the same line of believability,"
"Is that even a word?"
The roads were quiet and Peregrine was sure hat they were somewhere near the border of the town where no one lived. In the distance she heard the sounds of carriage wheels and horseshoes on the cobble stone roads. An occasional window or door opened and then closed but then there was a quietness again,
"Where are we going anyway?" Peregrine asked after a while,
"The Mayor’s place, my dear," Feron replied coolly.
She looked up at him with a furrowed brow. If she could stand with her hands on her hips, she would have, but she already had trouble with staying on Feron’s wide shoulder without having to hold on to his neck. They were lost…she just knew it…
"It’s just been a while since I’ve been here, okay?" he chuckled, "Cut me some slack…now, this turn here should…yes!" he smiled broadly, "Here we are, my dear,"
Peregrine turned back to face the front…and her jaw dropped. Before here did not stand what she thought would. Before her did not stand a magnificent castle, mansion or even a house! Before her stood…a shack. Made of rotten wood and sticks, the dilapidated shack in the aesthetic feel surrounding it into its rotting planks. It was like a dark smudge on a clean white page,
"This…is the Mayor’s place?"
"Quite a sight, isn’t she?" Feron grinned and continued towards the door of the shack, "No, it’s another strategy in case the confusing roads fail," he knocked four times with one second between each great knock, "It’s an illusion created by Nor’jas,"
The wooden door creaked open, revealing a black wall and stairs leading down at the base- nothing more. A sudden rush of cold air blew Peregrine off Feron’s shoulder, her hands slipping from his neck. Feron quickly turned and caught her in one hand before she could even scream. His warmth and his towering fingers surrounded her again, which she loved,
"I’m sorry, my dear," he said, looking relieved, "I forgot about that wind- it’s meant to frighten the invaders in case the illusion is foiled,"
Peregrine sighed, her heart slowly returning to its normal rate, "I’m just glad your reflexes are sharp,"
Feron chuckled and kissed her cheek, "I wouldn’t let you die even if I was as slow as Pewter," he smiled and Peregrine responded with a kiss.
Peregrine held on tightly to the lip of Feron’s pocket as he descended the dark stairs. Her hands were sweaty with anxiety but the soothing beating of Feron’s great heart seemed to calm her. The staircase spiralled down, leading further and further into the darkness. Feron’s boots clacked on each step and his hand ran along the cold, stone wall. It seemed endless until the darkness faded and the passageway was illuminated by a bright light.
Stepping down the final stair, they found themselves in a grand courtyard…outside! The sun shone brightly down on the floor, surrounded by a few clouds. Black marble drew a Celtic weave on the white marble floor, leading up to a single blossoming tree in the middle of the courtyard. A mild wind blew yet was strong enough to blow the petals off the tree’s branches. They reminded her of snow as they gracefully floated down to land on the gleaming marble floor.
Light buzzing, just audible, meant that there were bees nearby. Feron approached the tree and the buzzing grew louder. Peregrine looked up and watched as dozens of bees danced about the white blossoms, a waltz of black and yellow. She gasped as the heavy beating of wings took her by surprise- a bee had strayed from the rest and zipped past right in front of her.
Feron walked around the tree and continued forward, stopping just a few metres (in a giant’s view) in front of a single, polished wood door. It opened suddenly as if expecting him and out walked a man from the other side of the door. He was tall and seemed to be still in shape, looking to be in his forties with peppered hair, few lines beginning to show and attractive frames on the bridge of his nose. He looked very confident in his elaborate coat, breeches and buckled shoes…until he saw Feron,
"A-Ah!" a shaky smile appeared on is face, "Captain Marinus! H-Hello! How…how have you been?"
"Not bad, Mayor," Feron gave a small, polite bow of his head, "You seem well,"
"Oh! Oh, yes, very much so," so he was the Mayor, "What brings you here on this lovely Winter’s day?"
"I’m here for my money, Mayor," Feron’s voice seemed a little more hostile, "I hope you’ll stick to your word…"
"Ah! Yes, of course, Captain," the Mayor laughed nervously, "But…I still have two days left to pay you back. Your money; it’s not completely compiled yet, unfortunately. But give me two days, in the morning and you’ll have it,"
The young captain gave a gentle smile, "I do hope so…"
His voice was a deathly whisper- one that Peregrine was all too familiar with. It sent a terrible shiver down her spine. All of a sudden, a small, hooded figure appeared from behind the Mayor. Peregrine watched the hooded person hobble away, their head looking down and moving as quickly as they could- the movement seemed familiar.
The Mayor personally showed them to their room (actually, he didn’t notice Peregrine in Feron’s breast pocket and so it seemed thay he was only showing Feron to his room). They entered the Quarters Wing, which was left of the door parallel to the tree in the courtyard- the one where the Mayor and the hooded person walked out. Ascending two flights of stairs and a walking down a long corridor led them to their designated room.
The Mayor unlocked the door and turned to face Feron. It was then he noticed the tiny creature in his pocket. His eyes widened and his face became as bright as a light. He clasped his hands together, and he lowered his head down, looking at Peregrine’s little form in front of him,
"My! Is this a human?" he gasped, "She is! And a lovely one at that!"
His warm breath blew on her as he talked, making her irk back at the smell of caviar. She scrunched her nose and gave a snort out,
"Where ever did you find such a lovely creature such as her, Captain?"
"You have enough, Mayor," Feron said in a cautioning tone, "You don’t need anymore,"
There was a respect he held towards humans since getting to know Peregrine better at sea. Feron probably didn’t mind the Mayor having humans for himself previously, but now Peregrine (and probably the Mayor as well) could tell that he completely disapproved,
"If you don’t mind…?" Feron said, lifting the Mayor’s chin up to look up at him again,
"Oh, yes, of course," the Mayor apologised, "By the way, since now you are here, I would like to personally invite you, and your lovely little escort, to my Charity Ball tomorrow night,"
Peregrine’s face shone as much as the Mayor’s,
"C’mon, Feron! Let’s attend! I’ve never been to a ball before!" she caught the Mayor’s attention again,
"We’ll see…" Feron narrowed his eyes toward his debtor.
The clapped his hands with excitement and left them both without a word. Peregrine noticed Feron’s lovely azure eyes turn an icy blue.
That night, Peregrine lay on Feron’s great, bare chest while he lay down on the bed. The window was open, letting in a nice, surprisingly warm (especially for Winter) night breeze. Feron gave a heavy sigh, which blew Peregrine hair down. She tilted her head up, easily sensing that something was troubling her big softie of a captain,
"It’s the Mayor…" he said, not needing her to speak up for him to know she was looking at him, "The way he was looking at you…"
"Are you jealous, Feron?" Peregrine grinned, turning on her stomach and holding her head in her hands,
"My dear," he smiled back, scratching her head with a finger, "Not wanting to brag, but I think you would find me much more appealing than they greying old hound,"
She closed her eyes at the soothing feeling of his finger on her head, "Yeah…I know…but seriously now…what’s the matter?"
"If we go to the ball tomorrow night…I…I’m just worried,"
Peregrine sat up and ran her delicate little fingers up and down his right pectoral, making sure she tickled his skin in an attempt to tease and cheer him up. She felt him shiver and goosebumps form but he was still worried. Seeing him worrying made her twice as concerned- it was so rare that he worried about anything,
"What if I say, that I’ll stay with you for the whole time?"
"Mm…" he was still unsure,
"Alright then…" Peregrine sighed and folded her arms, "Turn over and I’ll give you a back rub,"
"You are more than what I deserve, my love," he seemed much happier.
In the morning, the Mayor led them to the Grand Hall- the room behind the door where he and the figure emerged from the day before. Peregrine was so amazed by its hugeness that she requested if she could actually walk around on the floor. Feron was hesitant, especially with the Mayor nearby,
"C’mon, Feron! It’s been yonks since I’ve actually walked on my own two feet! Besides," she added quietly, "The Mayor seems occupied,"
She was right. The Mayor was discussing the placement of banners, colours and even the size of the candles for the chandelier with the interior designing people. Feron sighed and lowered her down to the floor. Peregrine hopped off his hand, her bare feet immediately picking up the chill of the cold marble floor.
The hall was even bigger than when she was in Feron’s hand. It had to be as big, or maybe even bigger, than the whole countryside back home. The hall could house dozens of large towns and still there would be a considerable distance between them all. Peregrine imagined the whole room filled with giants and giantesses from where she stood. She would be an ant of not for Feron to be there and hold her.
Feron’s feet shuffled so he faced the left of the room. Peregrine looked up at him and almost jumped back in fright. Just his knees reached higher than many trees she had seen. He was a mountain of a man and was probably taller than a mountain. Maybe she was exaggerating with his height but 200-feet looked very big from at his feet.
Gods, she thought. I’m in love with a guy who can step on me and not even notice.
She suddenly found the Mayor speaking to the hooded figure from yesterday. He looked very stern as he spoke to the hooded figure, pointing a finger rapidly everywhere in the small space in front of him as he spoke. The figure merely nodded then eventually bowed in understanding. The Mayor dismissed him with a nod and the figure hobbled away, towards a door to the right side of the hall.
Peregrine frowned suspiciously and now knew how Feron felt last night. She shuffled closer to his boot-clad feet as the Mayor approached them. Feron turned to face him, looking down and making sure Peregrine was still near by. He saw her staring up at the Mayor though he couldn’t see her expression all too well. A soft click made him turn to a door to the right of the Grand Hall, which shut closed.
"The place is almost ready for the ball," the Mayor said, "I’m so excited!"
"Is Nor’jas secure?" Feron asked, folding his arms,
"Of course. As always,"
Peregrine knew that tone in Feron’s voice. He was up to something. And so was the Mayor. Was he planning a counteraction for what the Mayor had planned? What was the Mayor up to? And who was that hooded figure that seemed to hover around him? Her head spun. She would never understand giants. All she knew was that the Mayor- he was probably just like what Kazten said to Feron,
"Ye be careful in Yentaren. It’s changed and so’s that Mayor. He might still be scared of ye but he be a sly one. Ye just keep a good eye on yer lassie thar in that town,"
She kept note of what Kazten said. Whatever the stocky taverner woman said, it had to be true. She hadn’t known her for even five minutes but she knew that she could trust her. Kazten had even said to her that she would look after her. She had to be careful though. Kazten wasn’t there to help her right now.
That night, some of the mayor’s attendants handed Feron clothing for the ball. He slipped on the white undershirt and wore the rich crimson coat over. He did his cravat and spread the frills of the undershirt out from under the coat sleeves. He looked more like a gentleman now especially with his long hair tied back into a loose ponytail, though he kept his dirty-white coloured pants and his black knee-high boots. Happy with his appearance, judging by the bathroom mirror, he went to check on Peregrine,
"Hey," he shut the door behind him, "You dressed?"
What looked to be a dark violet flower on the bed caught his eye. It spun around on the spot, the golden edges catching the light. Feron approached the flower and knelt down to take a closer look. He met with the face of Peregrine. Her long hair flowed down her shoulders as brown waves of water. A little ringlet hung over the side of her face and she smiled warmly at her giant,
"How do I look?" she asked, her arms spread out,
"You’re beautiful," Feron said softly, taking a hand on his fingertip and gently kissing her fingers, "Would the lady allow the pirate to escort you to tonight’s festivities?"
"The lady accepts the gentleman’s invitation," she corrected him.
Feron lowered his other hand in front of her and helped her onto his palm. He then carefully lifted her up and headed down to the courtyard. The white blossom petals of the centre tree continued to fall, catching the light of the full moon. The whole courtyard seemed to glow with magical energy as the gentle wind spread the petals about the floor. Peregrine felt the magical feeling fade as Feron entered into the Grand Hall, with her in hand.
It was just as she pictured it. The hall was illuminated by a golden light, the yellow marble wall giving it an even warmer look. Giants and giantesses were dressed elaborately for the occasion, sipping their drinks, talking and reminiscing, or dancing elegantly like the blossom petals on the dancing space. The Mayor walked around, making sure, as a host, that everything was perfect for his guests. There were all smiles and laughter until the door opened with Feron holding the curved door handle.
The hall grew silent as all eyes came onto Feron, and then eventually Peregrine. Murmurs echoed about the golden space as Feron walked through the crowd and met the Mayor,
"Ah! I’m glad you decided to come, Captain!" the Mayor laughed, "Oh, and I see you brought your lovely escort,"
"It’s not much of a party anymore, Mayor," Peregrine spoke up, causing gasps to emerge from the crowd, "Haven’t your guests seen a human before? I’m sure they’ve seen yours,"
She was getting so annoyed with the stares and wide eyes from the giants that she had to make a stand. Feron was surprised himself, though it was just like her to be assertive after only a few minutes in one place. He smiled and tenderly stroked her cheek as the Mayor looked down at her with wide eyes,
"Er…please!" the Mayor addressed everyone in the hall, "Please welcome our honoured guests, Captain Feron Marinus and his human,"
His tone changed from charming to loathing towards Peregrine. As the crowd (eventually) clapped in acceptance, Feron narrowed his eyes at the Mayor. The pompous old man still hadn’t changed his attitude towards humans after all; he was just like anyone else. Peregrine noticed the frosty look on his face and began to feel a little frightened. His great fingers were beginning to curl in like a deadly claw…
Feron turned on his heel and walked away from the Mayor. He ignored the interested looks on many ladies’ faces towards him, and one, Peregrine noticed as well, was eyeing him especially. A beautiful woman; tall and angelic…and a giantess. Peregrine grew worried about this woman…
Suddenly, a whole group of giants- and giantesses- circled him and were eyeing the tiny human with fascination. It was the same look that Kazten had when they had fist met and so didn’t bother Peregrine much,
"She is so small and delicate!"
"Captain, may we have a closer look at her?"
Their faces loomed closer and closer, causing Peregrine to back up against Feron’s warm fingers. He pushed them back with his free arm and silenced them with a raised hand,
"I don’t know…and she is her own person. I don’t speak for her," he said so but deep down he didn’t want to leave her with them- she didn’t look like she minded though,
"Of course!" a giantess nodded in understanding, then looked down at Peregrine warmly, "Please, miss, might we ask you some questions about the Human Territory?"
"We are professors in the University of Gorin, a neighbouring town, and we study humans and their way of life," a giant added, "Please, might we be able to hold you?"
Peregrine nodded, sensing no hostility whatsoever with these giants professors, "Sure!"
"Are you sure you’ll be okay?" Feron asked softly,
"Yeah, don’t worry about me," Peregrine laughed, "Go have some punch. You seem a little off colour,"
"But are you…"
She gave a firm nod and stepped on to the open, gloved palm of one of the giantesses. A sudden and familiar feeling of vertigo came into the pit of her stomach as she was raised closer to the professors’ faces. She had been so used to seeing Feron’s face that she grown familiar with seeing the pores of the skin, the bigness of the eyes and even the loudness of the voices. She saw Feron walk over to the punch bowl on a long table as the professors began to bombard her with questions.
She was loving the attention when suddenly the mayor appeared and broke the tight circle of enormous faces looking down at her. She frowned as the professors grew silent and greeted the mayor with small bows of heir heads. The old man smiled,
"I hope you’re enjoying the ball, my dear," he said, pointing somewhere, "Your Captain certainly is,"
Peregrine followed his finger and saw Feron. The one giantess that was eyeing him with the most interest had approached him…and was flirting with him! Peregrine couldn’t see his face since his back was towards her but she could see him handing her a crystal cup filled with the pink punch. The giantess smiled coyly and batted her eyelashes. Feron rubbed the back of his head and shrugged.
So what if she couldn’t see his face? Peregrine’s heart sank…
Still looking at Feron with saddened eyes, Peregrine didn’t notice that she now stood in the Mayor’s hand. The professors had left and she was alone with the Mayor. Feron was still conversing with the beautiful giantess, who seemed to throw a glance her way every so often. Peregrine clutched her chest as her heart ached,
"Would you like me to escort you back to your room, my dear?" the Mayor asked.
Peregrine grimaced, biting her bottom lip, and nodded, "…yes…please…"
The Mayor said nothing and headed out into the courtyard. The door shut behind him, leaving him and Peregrine in the silence. The wind grew stronger, blowing more petals from the branches of the centre tree. Peregrine shivered suddenly, but not with cold. She looked up and found herself not in the familiar halls of the Quarters Wing…
"Hey!" she snapped, "Where are you taking me?"
The Mayor merely grinned and chuckled as he clenched her within his fist. She tried to struggle out of his grip but it was all in vain. He was a giant and she was a human- escape was futile. He strode down the dark corridor with only few tiny lamps helping guide his way. They reached a rotting wooden door which he kicked open with one swift move.
There were screams, all audible from fear to anger. Peregrine was able to hear what some shouted,
"GET US OUT OF HERE!!!"
"LET US GO!!!"
The Mayor barked for silence and then threw Peregrine into a birdcage. Her dress tore slightly but she tried to hop to her feet immediately. She opened her mouth to scream at the Mayor but he had already left, slamming the door shut behind him. There were whispers surrounding her and she felt her space closing in,
"Did…did you get caught too?" a sad, little voice asked.
Peregrine spun to see the speaker and found it to be a little human girl. Her big eyes were gleaming with tears, her dress was dirty and torn and her face was sad and frightened. The girl approached her and took Peregrine’s hands into her little ones- they were so cold. Peregrine knelt down and hugged the child, looking like she was going to cry again.
More people approached and surrounded her, looking at her in awe. Peregrine stroked the girl’s red curls as she looked around at the matted people…they were the Mayor’s Collection…
Feron turned away from the giantess in front of him to see the Grand Hall door open and the Mayor exit into the courtyard. He had to get back to Peregrine quickly- and this woman was getting in his way. He thought making her hold his drink to her might have pushed her back a little but no. A sudden rise of giggles and sniggers caused Feron to turn back around,
"WHAT THE…!" he jumped back and hit the table, "PEWTER?!?!"
Yes. In front of him no longer stood the beautiful young giantess, but the old seadog, Pewter…in the young lady’s clothing. He grinned and flashed his rotting, yellow teeth at his Captain and skulled the drink in his hand down. The giggles grew to roars of laughter as Pewter finished the drink off and curtsied Feron.
The young captain was nowhere near as embarrassed as he was boiling with fury. He turned back quickly to the group of professors but they were no longer together, meaning…
He grabbed Pewter’s collar with a swift move and lifted the old man off his feet, silencing the whole crowd. There were gasps of fright and jumps back,
"WHERE IS SHE?!" he roared, "WHERE’S PEREGRINE?!"
The Collection and Peregrine stood as one of a 5-person circle full of tension and anxiety. Everyone was deprived of sleep, their clothes were torn and dirty and they all looked like they were going to collapse on the spot. Peregrine held the little red head girl in her arms, Vivie, and comforted her as much as she could. Vivie had been taken from her village- just like Peregrine- but she was with her mother…who was nowhere to be seen in the cage…
"We have all been taken, miss," a young man spoke, "While we were sleeping, while we were outside, while we were eating…we were all taken from our homes,"
"Master told us that he wanted a collection of humans of his own…" a woman added, "But almost every week or two, one of us is taken…and never returned,"
Vivie sniffed and cried lightly on Peregrine shoulder. Peregrine didn’t need words to know who was the one who had been taken away most recently- the little girl’s warm tears said it all. Gruesome images appeared in her mind of what the Mayor had planned and done to his Collection, which made her hold grow tighter on Vivie,
"Master will be back soon," the woman whispered, looking nervously at the door,
"Why do you call him ‘Master’?"
"If we don’t…" Vivie swallowed, "H-He gets angry…"
Images flashed again and Peregrine shut her eyes tight. Her heart was racing and she hugged Vivie close,
"Oh gods…Feron, please help!"
She prayed and the door opened again. The Mayor grinned, locking the door shut.
Feron dragged Pewter out into the courtyard, holding the old seadog by his ears. Many if the guests had fled, seeing the inferno of rage in his eyes and not taking the risk of making him even madder. Pewter was shaking in his dress, crying out in pain and whimpering. Feron threw him to the floor and loomed over him,
"You’re the one in the robe, aren’t you?" he hissed,
"I-I-I don’t know wh- "
"Don’t act dumb with me, Pewter!" Feron barked, "You have the worst limp in the world, especially with the leg of yours after the fall! You were telling the Mayor everything about Peregrine, knowing that he’d be interested! YOU WORM!"
Pewter cowered back. Captain Feron Marinus- cold and merciless when it came to the danger of a deep, personal love. Though rare, his anger was probably the most fearful and hostile about him, and the crew had to know this more than anyone else, from pirate to land-liver,
"How much did he pay you, Pewter, hm? A million? Two million?" Feron narrowed his eyes, "You would break a friend’s trust for money…"
"N-No!" tears were actually coming down now, "N-No, my dear friend! I’m sorry! I- "
Feron lowered his face down to meet with Pewter’s, and his eyes widened. His rage and impatience were growing…
"Where…is she, Pewter?"
The Mayor approached slowly, holding a candlestick with lit candles. The heels of his buckled shoes clacked on the stone floor but to the humans, they were thundering claps coming closer and closer. He placed the candlestick next to the cage, revealing the table on which the cage stood on. Peregrine and the others backed up against the cold, rusting bars of their prison, keeping away from the giant as if he were a deadly disease. The Mayor lowered down his ageing face and smiled,
"Trust me, my dear," he addressed Peregrine, "You will love being one of my human slaves,"
"Get away from us, you freak!" she hissed,
"That was the kind of attitude that child’s mother had," he smiled, thinking back to the past, "Ah, yes. She was a lovely one…even to taste,"
"YOU MONSTER!" Peregrine shrieked, holding Vivie head close to her chest, "HOW DARE YOU!"
The cage door opened and the Mayor reached in and grabbed her in a tight fist. The others leapt on his massive hand, pounding at him, biting and scratching to get him to release the two, but were thrown off like insects with a flick of the Mayor’s wrist. It was hard for her to breathe but still Peregrine held Vivie closely. She flinched and the little girl cried in pain as the giant tightened his grip even more,
"How dare you speak like that to me?" the Mayor barked, the volume of his voice hurting everyone’s ears, "You will address me as ‘Master’ like every other of your inferior human friends! You humans are mere pets and nothing more!"
Peregrine cursed at him and spat, actually hitting his face. The Mayor growled and stood up. He raised his hand into the air and then the door literally exploded open.
Everyone shielded their faces from flying splinters. The flickering tongues of flame of the candles blew out as the cool wind rushed into the dark room but an even brilliant light illuminated the room. Peregrine looked up and met with a sudden feeling of déjà vu; there in the doorway stood Feron…holding a white orb in his hand. Its light slowly dimmed as he stepped into the room. The Mayor looked up with a snarl and then caught sight of the orb,
"How…How did you…?!" he spluttered,
"Nor’jas is said to dwell in a tree with petals of snow," Feron replied, suddenly throwing the unconscious body of Pewter on the floor with his free hand, "It wasn’t secure at all; there’s nothing to stop people from reaching into the trunk of that tree, Mayor,"
"Feron!" Peregrine cried,
"Let them go, Mayor," he raised Nor’jas above his head, "Or say good bye to your town,"
"No! Please! O-Okay, g-give me Nor’jas…" the Mayor was trying to hide it, but he was shaking terribly, "And I’ll give you the humans,"
"Put them down on the table," Feron ordered, lowering his arm down, "And you can come take it,"
The Mayor put Peregrine, with Vivie, down on the table roughly, and approached Feron shakily. His eyes were focused solely on the orb and nothing else. In this pirate’s hand was the lifeblood of the Mayor’s beloved town. One crack on its lovely surface…and Yentaren would be no more. The Mayor reached out slowly, his fingers just about touching the orb when Feron suddenly threw it down to the floor,
Nor’jas smashed into millions of tiny, shimmering pieces. The magical aura faded as the glowing pebble-like pieces dimmed…and then eventually disappeared. The Mayor fell to his knees, holding his head in disbelief as if something was in his brain. Feron left the Mayor in mourning while he headed for the table. He opened the cage door and lowered his hand down. The ground began to shake,
"C’mon, we have to get out of here," he said desperately.
They didn’t move, recognising his face immediately. Peregrine ran up and said,
"He won’t hurt you! Just trust him!"
The young man who spoke after Vivie hopped on, not hesitating upon hearing Peregrine’s quick assurance. The woman from earlier followed afterwards, calling the others as well. The ground shook violently once, making the remaining 2 in the cage hurry into Feron’s huge hand. He pocketed them as he lowered his other hand for Peregrine and Vivie. Peregrine’s spirits were lifted higher than the Heavens as she jumped on,
"Feron, I am so sorry!" she said immediately, setting Vivie down on her own two feet, "I thought that you…that giantess…"
Feron lifted her up and stroked her cheek tenderly, "You know I’d never fall for another woman,"
The ground shook violently again as if to hurry Feron up. He didn’t hesitate and sprinted off, curling his fingers in to help keep Peregrine and her little friend in his hand,
"Look, I’ll explain everything later, alright? Just hang on! You too, little one,"
The whole town was collapsing. Grand houses and main buildings crumbled like bread as the tremors grew to violent quakes. People panicked as they tried to push through each other to get out of the town. Feron found himself caught between a whole sea of people. Peregrine and Vivie were enclosed in his loose fist, being covered by their own and Feron’s sweat,
"It’s okay," Peregrine said, stroking Vivie’s hair, "We’ll get out of here safely,"
"Are you and the giant friends, Miss Peregrine?" the little creature asked,
"Yes," Peregrine nodded, "We…we’re very close…" she blushed, "Er…just hang on to me, okay?"
Feron growled with frustration as he tried to push his ay through the sea. Another building collapsed completely, crushing some unfortunate townspeople. More panic. Suddenly, he remembered and placed 2 fingers in his mouth. Breathing in deeply, he let out an almighty whistle.
There was still panic and screaming as the whistle echoed through the town. Peregrine lifted her head, wondering why he did that. Feron’s fingers closed in slightly with nervousness and then loosened as the ground shook again, but it seemed like a different tremor. Like…galloping.
There was a mighty horse’s whinny and more screaming from the townsfolk. Peregrine smiled and remembered the beautiful black stallion of Feron’s. She wasn’t exactly sure but she was guessing that the horse was ploughing through the crowd. It gave one last whinny and a snort as Feron mounted it, his hand shaking slightly at his movement.
His hand opened and Feron deposited the 2 into his breast pocket, galloping through the streets of Yentaren and away, charging through the sea of people like a bull.
They watched as the bustling town of Yentaren collapsed, becoming nothing but ruins. Feron held 6 humans in total in his hands, 3 in each hand. They cursed the ground the town stood upon and were glad that it had fallen. Feron laughed as he watched them do so,
"Well, what now?" he asked them,
"…we don’t know," a man replied, "It’s been so long, we can’t even remember where we used to live anymore,"
Suddenly there was a sound of disappointed groans nearby. Feron turned and found some familiar faces from the Mayor’s Ball- it was the professors from Gorin. They looked so down, shaking their heads with folded arms. Peregrine looked up at Feron, and he down at her, both with the same look of brightness on their faces,
"How about you help out some friendlier folk from the neighbouring town of Gorin?" Peregrine suggested to them, nodding over to the professors, "They need to know about humans and our ways of life, you up for it?"
"Are…are you sure they’re friendly?" a woman asked worriedly,
"Yep. They held me, and they were such nice people! They’re really kind and don’t mean any harm,"
The 2 men and women looked at each other, their faces merely asking each other’s opinions. They nodded and agreed. Feron talked to the professors and handed them each one of the four of the Mayor’s Collection humans. Vivie stayed with Peregrine and Feron.
They made their way back to the Severed Leg in the harbour town. Kazten willingly gave Feron his key and some dinner, welcoming him, Peregrine and the new little human in Feron’s pocket. It was a quiet night. There were no greedy eyes, there were no drunks, there were no fights…all quiet. Feron entered the room and threw the door closed. He gently took Peregrine and Vivie from his pocket and set them down on the table, next to the plate of food.
The 2 dug into the mound of food with no hesitations. Feron merely watched with a smile of relief that Peregrine was back with him, and then turned to the little red head next to her,
"And what’s your name, little one?" he asked her.
Vivie raised her head and pulled back a little, getting timid. Feron curled his hand behind her and pulled her in closer to him so he stared right down at her little figure. She gasped at his looming figure- Feron could feel her shaking,
"No need to be shy, little one," he cooed, "I’m not going to hurt you, just…" he poked her little belly and tickled her with a big, gentle finger.
She giggled hysterically and let out a burp as Feron pushed down on her tummy a little more. She covered her mouth embarrassedly and gave a shy smile. Peregrine smiled at how Vivie almost immediately trusted him. She looked up at Feron, who was enjoying poking and tickling the little girl into hysterics,
"When you’re done, will you tell me what happened?" she asked, "Why was Pewter there?"
Feron scratched Vivie’s head and explained everything to Peregrine- that Pewter was the one in the robe and that he was the one who had notified the Mayor of her presence. He had managed to get the whole story from the old man and even found out that on the night Pewter had fallen in the harbour town
"…he was actually outside the window," he nodded over to the red drapes, "And was trying to make his way in to steal you,"
"So that’s what made that scratching that night…" Peregrine nodded, rubbing her hand up and down Feron’s finger, consequently massaging it.
She looked up at him and tilted her head, an action he had always loved. He scooped her up quickly but gently, and raised her to his lips to kiss her (Vivie didn’t see this; she was too tired and had fallen asleep in Feron’s other hand. She snuggled into the softness of his warm palm curled up like a ball). Feron warmed her cheeks with a little peck and tenderly made his way down her neck,
"Hey, Feron," she said as his warm breath tickled her,
"Yes?" he whispered, smiling.
She kissed him, "I love you," she sang.