Milo was still desperately trying to untangle himself from the rigging when Septimus reached him. Septimus was about to appear, when to his astonishment Milo suddenly yelled, "Grub!" in his ear.
Septimus jumped - but not half as much as Skipper Fry. Fry swung around to see where the shout had come from and his eyes lit up with malice at the sight of the trapped Milo. He swaggered up to him and - by standing on the end of the plank - was able to stare Milo straight in the eye. "Sir to you, boy," he growled.
"Don't you dare call me that ever again - you hear that, Grub?" Milo snarled. Skipper Fry laughed, too triumphant to notice an annoying twitch beginning in his left eyebrow. "With five thousand men at my command, I'll call you what I like, boy. Got that?"
Milo fumed. He was outnumbered on board his own ship, just as he had been nearly ten years ago, when the notorious pirate Deakin Lee and his first mate, the vicious Grub, had captured his ship. He could not believe it.
"Yer bin double-crossed good, boy," Skipper Fry said with a grin. "Them monkeys yer sent to fetch the consignment - yer should a paid 'em more. Everyone has his price."
"You'd know all about that," said Milo, struggling to free himself from the rigging, but only succeeding in entangling himself further.
Skipper Fry eyeballed Milo. "Yer know what, Banda - I never forgot. I were two whole weeks in that boat what yer and that ungrateful turncoat crew a mine cast me off in. All I had ter eat were a dead seagull. Drank rainwater outta me own boots."
"I should have let your crew throw you overboard like they wanted to," snapped Milo recklessly. "Grub."
"Well yer didn't, did yer?" Skipper Fry snarled, eyebrow twitching fast. "So now it's payback time. Kill him!" he shouted at the first four warrior jinn. "Kill!"
The jinn stepped forward, leveling their swords at Milo. Septimus went cold. The warrior jinn had no hands - their weapons were part of their bodies. The leather cuffs of their tunics seamlessly gave way to a short sword at the end of their right arms and a rectangular shield at the end of their left.
From the raised deck at the stern of the Cerys, Jenna saw the jinn pointing their swords at her father. "No!" she yelled. "No!" She rushed down, but the deck below was packed with the crush of crew backing away from the encroaching jinn. Jenna quickly became trapped in the throng, and so she did not see the strange sight of the collapsed rigging suddenly taking on a life of its own - unwrapping itself from Milo and transferring its attentions to Skipper Fry, leaving him trussed up like a fly in a spider's web.
Skipper Fry saw the warrior jinn approaching with their short, razor-sharp swords pointing straight at him, their blank eyes staring right through him, and he suddenly realized that it didn't matter to the jinn who was stuck in the rigging. Milo Banda or Theodophilus Fortitude Fry - it was all the same to them.
It was not, however, all the same to Skipper Fry. "Get me out of here, you idiots!" he screamed at the Crowes.
The Crowes did not move.
Fry's voice rose to a wild shriek. "Stop, stop! Oh, what are the words?" Fear temporarily loaned Skipper Fry an adequate number of brain cells and, with the four swords at his throat, he remembered the Reverse.
Milo, meanwhile, was being dragged through the crowded deck by an invisible force that smelled strongly of peppermint. Somewhere in the crowd Jenna found him.
"Ouch!" yelped the invisible force. "My foot."
"Sorry, Sep," said Jenna.
Septimus let go of his UnSeen before anyone else stood on him. Milo looked relieved at the sight of Septimus; being grabbed by something invisible had been a disconcerting experience. "Thank you, Septimus," he said. "You saved my life."
They escorted Milo up to the small section of raised deck at the stern of the ship, and Septimus got straight to the point. "What's the Awake?"
"Huh?" asked Milo, still a little disconcerted.
"The Awake," Septimus repeated impatiently. "It's your chest, they're your jinn, so you know the Awake. Tell us the Awake and we can stop them."
Another batch of twelve jinn stepped on deck, and Milo saw the dark tide of warriors move closer. He shielded his eyes from the daggers of light glancing off the winged helmets, and he knew that the ship was no longer his to command. But he said nothing.
"Mr. Banda, please," said Beetle. "Tell us the Awake."
While Septimus had been rescuing Milo, Beetle had gathered everyone together on the raised deck (where they had discovered Jim Knee dozing in a corner). Milo now found himself under the expectant gaze of not only Septimus and Beetle but also Jenna, Nicko, Snorri, Ullr, Lucy, Wolf Boy - and the rudely awoken Jim Knee. Milo gulped. "I don't know the Awake."
Beetle was aghast. "You take something like this on board and you don't know its Codes?"
Milo collected himself. "Security measure, apparently. The chest always travels separately from the Codes. I was to collect them from the Manuscriptorium when I got back. There's a ghost there who keeps the Codes. A Mr. - "
"Tertius Fume," said Septimus.
Milo looked surprised. "How do you know?"
Septimus didn't answer the question. "Grub's right," he said. "You've been double-crossed."
A long line of rats appeared from the stern hatch below and headed for the side. Milo watched them go. "The time has come," he said, "to abandon ship."
At that the Cerys gave a loud creak. Something shifted, and Milo knew that his beautiful ship was no longer earth-bound, weighed down on land. Now she was back in her element, rising with the tide.
A muted cheer rose from the crew.
Milo hesitated. It was a cruel coincidence that the sea had returned his ship to him at the very moment it was being overrun. But as the first rank of warrior jinn took another step nearer the ship's ladder, threatening to cut off their escape route, Milo knew it was now - or possibly never.
"Abandon ship!" he shouted.
Chapter 45 Turtle and Ants
Jakey Fry had not been able to forget Lucy's smile as she had wished him good luck. As he sailed away into the early morning sun, the ominous silence from the Cerys had played on his mind, until he could stand it no longer and had turned the Marauder back. Now, far below the Cerys, at the foot of the ship's ladder, Jakey stood at the tiller, listening to the strange clank ing noises from above and gathering his courage to climb aboard and rescue Lucy.
His plans were thrown into disarray by a sudden shout from above: "Abandon ship!"
The next moment a fearsome mixture of bandaged men liberally sprinkled with splashes of purple were pouring down the ladder and leaping onto the Marauder.
"Hey, not so fast," said Jakey. "I only come back fer Lucy." Despite his protests, the Marauder steadily filled with crew. "Lucy!" he shouted up at the Cerys. "Lucy Gringe! Come down!"
From above, Lucy heard the shout and leaned over the gunnels.
"The crew are getting on the Marauder," she gasped. "Tell them not to - it's a trick!"
It was too late. Apart from the first mate, who had gone below to fetch the galley hand, all the crew were now on the Marauder.
"Lucy!" Jakey was desperate now. "Where are yer?"
"Go away, fish head!" Lucy yelled.
Jakey saw her now - Lucy in her salt-stained blue cloak with her braids silhouetted against the sky - and he suddenly felt happy. "Lucy, Lucy!" he shouted. "Down 'ere. Quick!"
As if in reply a figure stepped onto the ladder - but it wasn't Lucy. It was almost, thought Jakey, the exact opposite of Lucy. A seven-foot-tall, armor-clad warrior carrying a razor-sharp, double-edged sword - Jakey knew all about blades - was heading straight for the Marauder.
Jakey's new crew saw the warrior too. "Push off, push her off!" yelled the bosun. As another warrior climbed onto the ladder, the crew pushed the Marauder safely away from the side of the Cerys, and Jakey Fry's dream of rescuing Lucy disappeared. Equally dismayed, Milo watched the Marauder go - his order to abandon ship had been a disaster. He had wanted to get Jenna safely away, but yet again nothing had gone to plan. Overwhelmed, he put his head in his hands.
"Right," said Septimus, "we need to get off this ship fast. Where's that jinnee gone?"
Jim Knee had never, ever wanted to be a turtle. He had seen quite enough of turtles in his time. He didn't like their snappy little jaws, and just touching their shells set his teeth on edge - but if his Master insisted that he become a giant turtle, then a giant turtle he had to become. But it didn't stop the jinnee from bargaining.