For the rest of the journey from the sirens’ rock to the pirate islands, Ada was not the least bit interested in anything to do with sex.
It was kind of nice, actually. While Pasco was busy captaining, Sendia gave her further lessons in pirate history and culture, so that she at least somewhat knew what to expect when they reached the isles.
As Pasco had said, he was a prince. He was the eldest and the heir, and both of his parents still lived. According to Sendia, the pirate queen and king were fearsome and cunning and well-loved. Given that pirates were not much for rules, the queen and king retained their authority on merit. Their strategy was twofold, like a carrot and a stick. For the pirates loyal to them, there were riches overflowing. Conversely, any who opposed them were swiftly crushed.
The way that Pasco’s crew revered him, Ada was sure that he was well on his way to a similar legacy. Would she stay at his side? Become the dragon queen of pirates? She hoped so.
The island chain started as a hazy purple blur on the horizon. As they sailed, the misty outline of rocky cliffs and swaying greens emerged. As they neared a cove, brilliant red parrots flew from tree to tree and seals splashed onto rocks alongside the ship.
The cove was already lined with other boats, each with their own colorful character. The Wanderlust put down her anchor in the deeper water and rowboats came out to meet the crew.
What followed was a flurry of activity, the crew lowering cargo down to the rowboats that went back and forth to the shore. Pasco, as the captain, would be last to leave, so Ada waited as she watched it all go by.
Finally, she joined Pasco and Forte rowed them to shore.
Ada felt equally eager and anxious. If his parents didn’t like her, would this all come crashing down? Would he defy them for her? Or was she worrying for nothing? If they had raised Pasco, surely they couldn’t dislike her so much. Though, she considered how different her own tastes were from her parents, and her worrying renewed.
The pirates’ castle was the island itself, carpeted with peat, walls of lush trees and ferns, adorned with brilliant flowers and twirling vines and birds of every color. Ada recognized some of them from her books, but others were totally alien to her.
Pasco lead her along a path up the hill that ringed the cove, until they came upon a clearing of dozens of huts with thatched roofs.
Men and women bustled between the structures, carrying baskets of fruits and roasting birds on outdoor spits, tasting from simmering pots and arranging fragrant herbs. It smelled amazing.
In the middle of the huts was an open area that was shaping up similarly to the party on Pasco’s deck, with barrels and trays of food everywhere.
Pasco picked up a ripe, pink fruit and tossed it to Ada. She took a bite, moaning at the wonderful taste. It was like nothing she’d ever had before, sweet and refreshing at once.
As she finished the fruit, Pasco took her hand and lead herself to the center of the preparations where a man and a woman were rattling off instructions.
The man was taller and broader than Pasco, his hair cut short and a full salt-and-pepper beard spilling down his chest. His thick arms were ringed with tattoos, even more densely than Pasco’s, and he wore nothing but a grass skirt and a golden necklace. He had a healthy layer of fat and even with his rounded belly Ada knew he did not lack for athleticism.
The woman was a bit taller than Ada, her black hair drawn back from her face in a long ponytail, grey streaks at her temples. She too wore only a grass skirt and jewelry, though hers was more elaborate, loops of golden chains draped across her chests and breasts, hung with gems of every color. The tattoo rings around her arms were so dense that it looked like she wore black lace sleeves.
Ada did not have to ask whether the couple before her were the king and queen. They had an air of comfortable command, and she saw Pasco in each of their features.
They both beamed as Pasco approached.
“Ah,” the woman sang, “My boy!” Pasco went over to her and she wrapped him in a big hug, nearly lifting him off the ground. When his father came over, he lifted them both up, and Pasco protested until his feet were back on the ground..
“I thought you were coming back with a dragon!” The king laughed.
The queen came over to Ada, regarding her warmly and picking up Ada’s hands in hers. She had callouses like Pasco, which couldn’t have been more different than Ada’s own mother, who would hardly even use a fork for fear of toughening her hands.
“Instead,” the queen said, “You’ve brought us this lovely creature!”
“Actually,” Pasco said, “She is the dragon.”
The queen’s eyes widened. “Truly?”
Ada blushed and nodded. Was he really going to just tell his parents about her orgasms! In front of her? Then again… they were each so sincere, and his mother was already practically topless, so she couldn’t imagine they’d be shy about it. The only reason she’d be embarrassed was fear that they’d judge her as wrong or broken or unclean somehow, but… wouldn’t Pasco have warned her if he expected them to receive her with anything less than warm enthusiasm?
“Truly,” Ada said, working up her courage.
Pasco nodded at her encouragingly.
“It’s a long story, but… a witch tried to curse me. When I… um, climax, I turn into a dragon.”
Their eyes widened.
“And it works the other way too,” she clarified quickly.
The queen squeezed Ada’s hand. “What an incredible blessing!”
Ada worried that the queen’s enthusiasm might turn into a request for demonstration, but fortunately, they seemed to have at least some sense of boundaries.
The king marveled, shaking his head and rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. “That we might be so lucky. You may as well be a god among us, to have such a gift.”
Ada blushed. “Oh no, not at all, I’m just…”
“Yes, what’s your name, dear?” the queen said.
“Well, Ada, we are delighted to have you.” She wrapped Ada in a warm hug, and Ada could have cried. “And don’t let the king tease you with that god stuff, we’re happy to have you just the way you are, however that is.” Then, Ada did start crying. The queen sensed it and leaned back, her hands gently on Ada’s shoulders. “What’s the matter, dear?”
Ada shook her head, smiling, and wiped her eyes. “Nothing, I just… my parents are nothing like this. I’m very glad to be here.”
The queen smiled and patted Ada’s arm before stepping back to a more conversational distance. She clasped her hands together gleefully. Ada would have thought that the queen’s expressive demeanor would have made her seem less regal, but it was not the case. It was more like the queen was a force of nature herself, body and heart moving powerfully together, even her gleeful smile inspiring reverence.
“Well, that’s enough foreplay,” the king said. “There is much to celebrate. Now, we feast!”
Ada was momentarily concerned, but the king seemed to have been using the euphemism metaphorically.
As the feast began, Ada could not help but think that there was something sensual about them eating all these wonderful foods together. There was ripe fruit and freshly roasted meat, boiled eggs and seared vegetables, fermented coconut water and cocoa beans.
Ada’s sexual exhaustion from the siren encounter lingered, and for once she was able to just enjoy the party, dancing and singing, eating and drinking.
She asked them about how they had become the King and Queen and they regaled her with their tales of adventure and suspense, intrigue and romance. Without a breath’s hesitation they recounted the night that they had conceived Pasco. He laughed at the story he had clearly heard before, unblushing.
He had three other siblings, a brother and a sister who were still at sea, and a sister who was sixteen and who sat wide-eyed at her mother’s elbow, hanging on Pasco’s every word. It was clear she admired him deeply and Ada was sure he was sweet to her.
Something about tattoos came up and Ada pressed for more, and Pasco explained that each one was a memory. They represented significant moments. Victories, triumphs, celebrations but also defeats and regrets.
“The good and the bad,” the queen had explained, “they all make us who we are and we wear them on our skin.”
Ada begged to hear the stories and they happily obliged, each pirate in turn regaling her with a tale of glory or woe or mischief.
As the night continued on and sleepiness took over her, Pasco carried her back to his own hut. She fell asleep on a pile of cushions, under the caress of the warm dusk breeze.