Ron watched the two men walk down the path, following along with a muted sense of interest. She sighed, bored, and let her eyes wander to the various roots catching in her feet.
Minutes or perhaps hours later a loud yell made her look up, only to see a commotion arising.
“Maybe some cannibals made off with ‘im!”
“I think it was a ghost!”
“What kind of ghost would want that bag a bones?”
“It’s the cannibals, I’m telling you!”
“But the boy had barely any meat on him!”
“Maybe bones are a delicacy for these natives!”
“I think one of those dogs carried him off!”
The entire party froze at one of the crew’s declaration, quickly making a rather astute realization. Both Jonin’ and Jackeye were gone. Cotton stood a moment, her jaw clenching and unclenching, and immediately set out giving orders.
“You two, comb through the forest, find Jimmy and those dirtbags. Both of you can head back where we came from, keep a look out and guard the ship once you reach it. Ron, George, you come with me this way, along the cliff, and keep your eyes peeled. Now go!”
The crew immediately scrambled off to their assigned locations, the captain quickly assuming her own. Veronica trotted along, enjoying the scenery despite the situation. The forest was filled with unfamiliar foliage, flowers the size of plates and vines that draped the trees like streamers. The path they were following was rather crude and required a large amount of hacking and chopping at the various branches flying everywhere, and various insects seemed to be buzzing in tandem, even smacking against her face and near entering her ears, but it was still exciting. An undiscovered island, uninhabited and uncivilized. It was all very...new.
Ron looked over the cliff to her right, delighting in the sight of a sparkling river gushing beneath it, gently lapping at soft, sandy banks. It was twenty feet or so below them at most, but the height was still somewhat exhilarating. Camping out in the crow’s nest was much less dizzying, and much less breathtaking. The waters were wild, untamed and unkempt. Perfect.
“Look!” George suddenly shouted in his rough voice, pointing to a bundle of wet clothes and hair floating down the river.
It took Veronica a moment to realize that it was a person and, on top of that, Jackass lying face down and drifting through the water.
“He must be dead,” Cotton muttered, “Or genuinely suicidal to be pulling a stunt like that. Idiot.”
The trio watched him float a few moments, before being interrupted by the rustling of the trees.
“We found Jimmy!”
The cabin boy, now in the hands of his crew mates, was still loosely bound in rope and spat the gag from his mouth.
“That tub of lard, Jonin’ grabbed me and tied me to a tree!”
George pointed towards the river a second time, revealing a second, plumper bundle floating down the river. Isabel took a deep breath and huffed irritably.
“Who do they think they’re fooling?”
Everybody shrugged simultaneously. Cotton paused a moment, a pensive look on her face.
“We could always beat them at their own game. Who here wouldn’t mind going for a dip?”
Veronica thought about the beautiful cliff and immediately volunteered herself. She rolled up her sleeves and trousers before, kicking off her shoes and tying her hair up, stood at the edge and jumped, feeling adrenaline course through her and diffuse through her entire body as she slipped silently into the river. The water was wonderful.