I stared at my face in the paper, the article had said that I crashed a very important wedding between a high ranking marine officer and a princess of an undisclosed location. The officer that reported it was the same one whose throat I slit at the altar. I knew I should have stabbed him as well, just for good measure. But I couldn’t complain, my bounty was up another 25 million belli from its last raise. I was slowly making my way up in the world at 50 million belli.
I put the paper back on the stand and looked at the poster that was behind the table showing new issues of various magazines, there was one that had a picture of a pepper on it. It said this was an ultra super food. One that could enhance the taste of any food that it is put in and has many health benefits.
“May I help you, young lady?” The old man at the stand asked me as I was staring at the poster.
“What’s that pepper there?” I asked, pointing to the poster.
“Ah, are you a cook?” He asked me.
“Well, that, young lady, is the Sherry Cola Mountain pepper. It’s said to be the best super food this world has to offer.” He told me.
“Were can I buy it?” I asked him.
“Oh, dear, there is no vendor who sells it.” He told me.
“Then where can I get it?” I asked him.
“They say it grows deep in the mountains on this island, in a place where the sun always shines even when it’s dark. With leaves so large they can be used as umbrellas.” He told me, “But, if you are able to get it then it will be sold for quite a high price. Although, if you don’t want to sell it and want to cook it for yourself, I would suggest leaving it in the freezer for at least 48 hours to help mellow out the flavor that it has. But that is an old man’s suggestion.”
“Mister, how much for that poster?” I asked.
“Woah, how do we get it?” Heat asked as he, and the rest of the crew, gazed on in awe at the poster of the Sherry Cola Mountain pepper.
“Supposedly it grows in a place where there is light all the time, even when the sun isn’t out.” I told them, “And if we find it, I’ll make something extra delicious for you guys.”
Everyone cheered, saying how they would scour the entire island looking for them if need be.
I smiled as they made preparations to go out into the harsh climate and made my way to the upper deck where I knew Killer, Kidd and Mykhayla would be.
“Hey.” I said as I approached.
“Hey.” Killer greeted back.
Kidd just grunted at me.
“Torri!” Mykhayla sang from behind Kidd’s chair, “I saved you the walnuts!”
“Oh, thank you.” I said and walked over to grab one from her.
“So, what did you just tell the crew?” Kidd demanded as I cracked the nut open.
“When I was in town earlier I found out about this super food pepper called the Sherry Cola Mountain pepper. It only grows on the mountain of this island where there’s light all day. But it’s supposed to be the best tasting thing you’ve ever eaten, and it’s supposed to have a lot of health benefits. So, I told the crew about it and they agreed on helping me look for it. And when we find it, I’ll make an amazing dinner out of it.” I told him with a smile, as I popped part of the shelled walnut into my mouth.
“I’m not helping you.” Kidd said not even looking at me, “If anyone else wants to help you that’s their prerogative.”
“I’ll help out.” Killer offered.
“Me too!” Mykhayla said and jumped up from behind Kidd’s chair and faced me, “I want to taste it in your cooking!”
I smiled, “Great, by the sounds of it we’re leaving at first light tomorrow to try to find it. First one to find it, gets the first helping.”
By dawn that morning I was climbing the mountain with Killer and another crew member named Zane. The search for the Sherry Cola Mountain pepper was on, and I was determined to find it.
I followed my nose to a small restaurant on the edge of town. The aroma of garlic and melting cheese wafted out at me, enticing me to go in.
“Table for 1 please!” I said as I entered.
A waitress with a kind face seated me in a table in the corner. I looked over the menu, so many pasta dishes!
“Is everyone okay?” I asked as I sat up. We just slid down a very steep hill, after hitting just about every rock, stick, root and everything with a thorn on it on the way down.
“Fine.” Zane said shooting up, holding his head.
“I’ll live.” Killer said and stumbled to his feet.
I pushed myself up and dusted myself off, “Let’s keep going then.”
I licked my lips as I finished of the giant plate of cannelloni. It was absolutely delicious. I wanted to bring Torri here, and maybe Killer, and Wire, and definitely Heat.
“Would you like anything else, sweetheart?” The waitress who sat me asked.
“No, I’m good.” I told her with a smile.
“Alright, I’ll be right back with the check.” She told me.
Realization dawned on me and I furiously searched my pockets for money to pay for this. I didn’t have anything.
She came back with the check.
“Um, actually,” I said to her, “My friend is sitting over there, he said that he would pay for me.”
She looked over at where I was pointing and I used it as an oppertunity to run out the door. But I was stopped when I collided with something at the door.
I looked up to see a giant polar bear standing in the doorway. I glanced behind the white puff ball to see a familiar fluffy hat.
I used a flashlight that I had in my backpack to illuminate the cave we were entering.
“Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Zane asked me.
“Yes.” I called back to him, “I talked to a man who would go up to these mountains all the time to try to find them. He said they were in the caves here.”
“Torri, I know you want this, but we’ve taken a lot of damage just getting here.” Killer called up to me, “Have you even thought about how we’re going to get back?”
“Presently, that’s not our objective.” I told him.
I winced backwards, partially blinded by light coming from ahead in the tunnel.
“We’re here.” I said and shielded my eyes.
“Fluffy hat!” I exclaimed pointing at the man I knew I’ve seen before.
“I know you, don’t I?” He asked me.
“I think so.” I told him, “You look familiar to me. But right now I can’t talk. I need to leave, you see I ordered food here not realizing that I didn’t have any money. And now I need to, like, dine and dash. And I feel really bad about it because the waitress was great and the food was absolutely amazing. But I don’t know what to do now. Oh, and I really like your hat. It’s nice and fluffly and-”
I was cut off by Mr. Fluffy hat putting a hand over my mouth.
“I’ll pay for your food.” He told me, “But in return you need to shut up.”
“Okay!” I cheered, “And thank you, you see…”
“Here they are.” I said as I walked forward.
The cavern was alight with flowers that produced their own sunlight. The peppers were a deep red, cherry colour with swirls of dark brown across their skins. They grew on dark green vines with leaves so large I could stand underneath one with my arms outstretched and still be covered by it.
“Man, we’re rich!” Zane exclaimed as he ran to the nearest vine to pick all the peppers on it.
“Stop!” I ordered him. Zane stopped in his tracks and stared at me.
“Only take what we need.” I ordered him.
“What are you talking about!?” He all but yelled at me, “We’re standing in a goldmine. And you don’t want me to take everything.”
“I will kill you where you stand if you disobey me.” I growled at him.
“Why wouldn’t we want to take more?” He asked with a huff.
“It’ll disrupt the natural balance of things.” I told him, “And small peppers are out of the equation too. If they’re small it means that they’re new and we don’t want those.”
“Fine.” Zane grumbled.
“You know you guys are really good listeners.” I told them as we were all walking through town, “I should hang out with you guys more often. Everyone on my crew never takes the time to listen to me and make me feel appreciated, except for Torri. She’s great. Speak of the devil, Torri!”
The said brunette turned at the sound of her name. She was there with Killer and another under crewman. They all looked beaten up, dirty, exhausted, and covered in scrapes and bruises.
“Hey.” She said tiredly, “Weren’t you in Heat’s group? Are they back yet?”
“Well you see, I got separated in town from them and wound up having lunch with this man in a fluffy hat. And then we went around the village just hanging out. He and his crew were very attentive and great listeners.” I told her, “Oh, and there’s this great italian restaurant that I want to take you to.”
She just nodded, “Let’s go home first.”
“Okay!” I said walked with them back to the ship.