IT WAS THE MIDDLE OF SPRING WHEN THE PHOENIX disembarked at the southern coast of the continent Chiariotti. While the main capital was called Chiariotti, many of the provinces within the continents went by different names. The town that the crew had arrived at was none other than Gailyna, the pleasant port city of agriculture and farming. From a geographical position, they were at the southern border right next to Zyttle, the port city of weaponry.
Charlotte, only eighteen and extremely tired from navigating the sea for almost five months straight, stretched her limbs out on the sandy beach. Had she been stuck on the Phoenix any longer, she was afraid she’d get cabin fever.
What surprised her most was Anna and Belle running full force out from the ship to breathe the fresh air.
“Smell that air twin, we’re back home!” Anna giggled before grasping her twin’s hands within her own. The blonde with the strand of blue hair and glasses smiled to her sister.
“I can’t believe it’s been four years since we’ve come home.”
Charlotte jumped right into their conversation. “This is your hometown?”
Anna bobbed her head excitedly. “We live closer to the borders of Chiariotti north of here, but we’ve visited this port multiple times with our family. It’s too bad with the piracy running amok that Gailyna couldn’t fiscally handle their own affairs, thus the reason why the main capital of Chiariotti accepted Gailyna into its wing. Or rather, the Cheric family which headed one of the main Estates had. Now it seemed like everyone had to find the means for survival themselves.”
Charlotte seemed at a loss because Anna had rambled on quite a bit of information for the auburn to handle. “I… think I would like a simplified version.” She turned to Belle.
“The Cheric’s help out their neighboring countries.” Belle abbreviated happily. “Anna, you can’t just blather on like that, you’ll confuse people.” Her twin scolded the other playfully, but Anna was too stimulated to calm down. It had been a long time since she had come home.
“I can’t help it,” She beamed, and then an idea struck her like lightning to a tree. “Oh, oh, oh! A picnic. That’s it, we’re doing a picnic!” Anna all but rushed back to the ship leaving a befuddled Charlotte and distraught Belle.
“I’ll go inform Xavier that we’ll be here for an extra day or so. Care to join us?” Belle resigned her fate to her bubbly sister while she was faced with the problem of suggesting they take a day to relax. While it was important that they stock up and move on, it was also a good idea to rest before doing something possibly fatal. Like destroying another facility.
Charlotte nodded enthusiastically, seeming happy to be included. “Of course, and I’m sure the others would like to come too!”
Belle nodded. “Alright, I’m sure Anna will have everything prepared by high tide so gather those who want to join up on deck.” The secretary ran back over to the ship leaving Charlotte to her amusement. She was gazing down at the sand beneath her feet and then found herself being choked by an arm being wrapped around her neck. She playfully yanked at the muscular forearm and tried her best to fight it.
Aden merely released his arm from around her and she laughed at his antics. “What were Anna and Belle plotting?”
Charlotte grinned, fixing a couple loose ends from her hair. “Anna’s preparing a picnic! Care to join?”
The male thought long about it before shrugging his shoulders. “Sure, as long as no one disturbs me sleeping or reading. It’d be nice to unwind.”
The auburn gaped at Aden’s sudden approval. “Holy shit, you’re actually agreeing with me. Where did pissy Aden go?”
Aden went back to his indifferent and apathetic expression, which made it hard for Charlotte to range what he was thinking. “Uh—I mean— Aden, I didn’t mean it, I swear I didn’t. Lo—ahhh!”
The male gripped his arm around her neck like a headlock and started to ruffled her hair within his hand. “What was that about me being pissy?”
۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞
ANNA HAPPILY BEAMED as she swung up one of the many baskets up for people to carry down to the grassy slopes. She was humming a nice tune when the wind picked up. “Having fun?”
Anna looked up at Tyler who was already carrying one of her many delicate baskets. Apparently he was offering to carry the last one in her hands.
“Lots!” She giddily jumped up, and took the last basket in her arms. “I can carry this one. Aden, Damien, Charlotte and Xavier took the other baskets down already. I still need to set up the plots where we’ll be sitting.”
Tyler easily caught up to the excitable blonde hair with pink strand and looked down upon her. He was thinking thoughtfully to himself before opening his lips to think aloud. “I wonder what you’ve made for everyone today.”
The baker only tsked in response. “You’ll find out when we get there!”
They were the last ones besides Belle who were left to arrive. Dean, Xavier, Aden, and Rebecca shared a blanket with two baskets while Olivia, Charlotte, and Belle were waiting for Anna and Tyler to arrive. Nearby them were Jakob, Jimmy, and Franco coming up with a routine show to entertain everyone while they ate. Cesium was romping around the grassy plains, enjoying the sound of the wind rushing past his mechanical ears and the fluttering wisps of wings as butterflies flew away from him.
Anna began setting up for her groups picnic when Jakob gave a mock bow to everyone. The only ones who did not appear interested in Jakob’s actions were Aden and Xavier, one was eating and the other reading a book lying down.
“Ladies and gentleman!” Jakob called out and pulled from his cargo pants a small deck of cards. The young youth smiled deviously, about to reveal his mischievous plot to the whole Phoenician crew. “I hope that you all are prepared for a great spectacle on this glorious day. Today I am your host, while my two lovely and dashing assistants Jimmy boy and Fabulous Franco will be helping me out.” Jimmy blew kisses to Anna, Belle, Rebecca, Olivia, Cesium, and Charlotte while Franco flexed his biceps and triceps to their chuckling group. Their behavior elicited a few chuckles from the girl’s blanket, while Aden rolled his eyes silently behind his book cover.
“For our first trick, I will need one volunteer from the crowd, do we have any takers?”
No one raised their hands because he had two perfectly able assistants next to him.
“Come on you guys, if I had JB and Fab Franco help, you all would think it was a trick!”
Olivia remarked back with a small smile, “You introduced your trick as a trick genius.”
The red flush crept up his cheeks and past his hairline as he amended his wording choice. When everyone chuckled at his expense, Jakob coughed into his hand to calm himself down.
“Anyways, I just need a hand is all? Nothing more, I swear on my honor as a Wilyzan-man.”
“You’re not Wilyzan, you’re Refrazzyan!” Damien called his friend out and everyone laughed harder.
“You know what, this is why people hate the Demeuilliens!” Jakob sputtered.
“I’ll help!” Charlotte raised her hand up even while she was suppressing the urge to laugh. “I enjoy magic tricks and all. I think they’re fascinating!”
Everyone had finally calmed down, but a lone voice from the back piped up: “This should be good. Ten dreggs says she’ll face plant!”
“I’ll take that bet.”
The siblings in the back chuckled at the auburn’s expense, even as she got up and walked straight over to the front. She made sure to keep her balance centered as she slowly made her way down the small hill.
Once she was down there with Jakob, Charlotte gave a dark look over her shoulder to Xavier who was now just teasing her for her clumsy ways, while Damien was setting out the sandwiches Anna prepared on the buildable three tiered trays. Aden only kept his indifferent attitude while he was engrossed in his work.
“Alright,” Jakob had shuffled the deck in front of Charlotte before showing it to everyone. “I have no tricks, all of the cards are forward.” He presented the cards individually in the deck to show he had no tricks up his sleeves. He wasn’t wearing any sleeves either, so he couldn’t hide a card for any sleight of hand tactics. “Now, Charlotte pick a card and don’t show me what it is. Memorize it and you can also show the rest of the people behind you.”
Charlotte hovered her hand over the middle of the deck until she plucked out the three of spades. She looked at the card momentarily, turned away from Jakob, and then presented the card face to everyone. She made careful movements to return the card to Jakob afterwards before she saw him shuffle it into the deck.
“Now, I’m going to find your card.” Jakob hovered his hand over the deck and cut it. Once he did that he turned to Franco and had him cut it as well. Once it went around, Jakob was given his deck of cards back and he smiled.
“Was your card this?” Jakob pulled up an eight of hearts, and Charlotte shook her head.
Belle and Anna were giggling at Jakob’s flushed face at the mistake. “Errr… was it this card?”
He pulled out a Jack of diamonds, which also elicited a chuckling response of their group of friends. Jakob appeared flustered before scratching his head. “That’s odd, okay, maybe it’s this one.”
Jakob lifted up an ace of clubs.
“You suck at this.” Aden remarked from the back, and Jakob pouted.
“Shut it peanut gallery, now where could it be?” The youth scrambled through his deck and then turned around. There, sticking to the back of his shirt was the three of spades in plain view. Charlotte had to suppress her giggling while Anna shouted: “Goof ball! It’s on the back of your shirt!”
Jakob was surprised at the sudden remark and turned around again. He reached for his back and pulled his hands away with one card. Except it was a seven of clubs.
“Is this your card?”
Charlotte shook her head, laughing now.
“It’s a stubborn little bastard isn’t he?” Jakob scratched his head and a card floated out from his hat. He gave it a strange and bemused look before presented it to the crowd. “Is the three of spades your card Char?”
The auburn nodded enthusiastically. “Yup!”
Franco and Jimmy applauded before escorting Charlotte back to her seat. Although when she reached the crest of the hill, she tripped over a small divet in the ground and rolled a few feet down before Franco and Jimmy could catch her. The roaring laughter from everyone within the vicinity could be heard as Charlotte grimaced in embarrassment.
When the auburn was sitting comfortably next to the Great Dane puppy, Jakob continued with his jokes, magic tricks, and acrobatics for such a long time that everyone forgot all about their troubles. The world seemed at peace and they didn’t have a care in the world. Many people shifted blanket groups to experience the different foods. Anna had made each basket with a different menu inside.
Jakob had performed multiple activities before calling out his last trick of the day. “At long last, we finally have our last magic trick. Today, I will magically make something disappear into nothing. Fab Franco, could you bring me my mirrored box?”
Franco wheeled in his magic box. “I need something of value, or else this will not work.”
Belle raised up her necklace with half of the Anderson ring hanging from the chain. “Will this work?”
“Perfect!” Jakob had Jimmy run over to fetch the personal artifact from the young lady. “Now, you see that the box is empty!” He opened the lid and it was indeed empty. He placed it back on the auspicious covered table with wheels. “You’ll see me put it in, no tricks here.”
“Suspicious.” Aden called out, and Jakob ignored his jib.
“Now, I will need everyone’s assistance in this part. Everyone, please repeat after me: Make it go away!”
Everyone did as instructed, and when Jakob tapped the box three times, he opened it up. He turned the contents to everyone to see, and the reactions on everyone’s face threw him off. At first they were expecting it to be empty, but when the lid was opened and off on the side, a black cat popped out from the opened side and the necklace was half-dangling in its mouth.
“Oh my!” Belle called out while Anna squealed in delight. Charlotte had the largest smile on her face while Olivia kept her puppy under control. She had yet to see how Cesium would react to live felines, but if it was a puppy still… well she didn’t want to see what might happen.
All of the girls watched as the cat jumped down and meowed its way over to them. When it reached Anna’s leg, it curled up on its side and meowed, half-expecting them to snuggle and love it.
It was an immediate effect.
“You’re so cute,”
“Where did you come from?”
“You look so adorable!” All of the girls were happily rubbing and scratching the cat, taking turns while the gentleman hovered above them with skeptical glances.
“I’m guessing that wasn’t in your skit?” Aden remarked as Jakob looked just as befuddled.
“Definitely not.” He replied, and tilted his head. “Jimmy, did you put the cat in there?”
The male in question lifted the tablecloth up to reveal his hiding spot. “It just jumped in my lap when Franco and I were prepping this up. I didn’t have the heart to shoo it away.”
Franco laughed boisterously, shaking his own head. “Our show was finished by one black cat. It’s a very friendly feline though.”
“Ah, Olivia can we keep her!” Anna gushed to the Inventor, wanting nothing more to cuddle and love the black kitty cat.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Olivia recalled, holding her Great Dane with a protocol command. “Cesium would rip that poor thing to shreds with his teeth, and we all know how sharp they are. He wouldn’t mean to hurt it, but he’s way too playful to completely let him loose around live animals such as felines.”
Charlotte was cooing the cat with her fingers before rubbing the soft patch of fur under her chin. “She’s adorable.”
“She might belong to someone near here. There is a neighboring village not too far from here.” Aden suggested, covering his face from the sun with his book as he looked west. “She might have come from there.”
“Can we name her then?” Anna was pulling out small treats that she made from organic produce. “I would feel slightly better after naming her.”
Dean rubbed his nose. “I’m sure that’d be oka—y—” He sneezed unexpectedly two to three times. “Blasted allergies.”
Charlotte smiled, “I think Radium has some stuff for allergies in the infirmary.”
“Yeah, I’ll grab some in a little bit.”
“We should name her Chloe.” Belle perked up, and smiled. “If our parents had a daughter, they would have named her Chloe.”
Anna nodded exuberantly. “I approve! I approve!”
The cat meowed as it jumped up from its resting spot to go over to Aden’s side. He looked down from his book to see the cat lift itself up to paw at his calves. The male with red eyes blinked at the sudden response and bent down to pick it up. The cat almost instantly nestled itself in his arms while he shrugged his shoulders.
Damien chuckled before looking over his younger brother’s shoulder. “I think you’ve made a new friend.”
Rebecca cooed at the cat with her hands as Aden sheepishly smiled. “The cat definitely reminds me of Aden; not a care in the world and looks completely bored doing it.”
“I take full offense to that.” Aden replied stoically while everyone laughed.
۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞
THE PHOENIX LEFT Gailyna with warm memories later the next day. The cat had grown much attached to Aden after it cuddled itself in his arms, but like they had assumed, Chloe had come from a neighboring village. It was only a couple hours after the black feline arrived when it’s true owner showed up to find it.
“You’re welcome anytime!” The shop clerk who owned Chloe replied, “She’s an orphan kitty that appeared out of the blue a month ago. She’s been here ever since.” The woman smiled before scratching the tired kitty behind the ears. “Have a safe journey!”
And so it goes on, the journey continued for The Phoenix and its shipmates.