Authors: Rob Kidd
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Media Tie-In, #Action & Adventure, #General, #Fantasy & Magic
Copyright © 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved. Published by Disney Press, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney Press, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.
nap. Snap. Snap.
The sharp sound echoed across the water through the quiet night.
“Oh, stop playing with it,” an irritated voice interjected. Barbara Huntington marched up to the rail and snatched the silver mirror out of her husband’s hands. “It won’t do any good. The other one is gone now. We can’t use it to spy on Jack Sparrow anymore.”
Benedict Huntington gave his wife a cold stare. “And whose fault is that?”
, obviously,” Barbara replied. She tilted the mirror, trying to see her hair in the dim light of the lamps around the deck of the
. “If you hadn’t blundered into the background and made so much noise while I was talking to Marcella, she would never have known we were working together.”
hadn’t given that horrid girl your mirror in the first place, it wouldn’t be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean right now!” Benedict snarled.
Barbara put her hands on her hips and glared at him. “
am the only reason you’ve gotten anywhere
Jack Sparrow,” she spat. “
stowed away on the
when it left Hong Kong—in that nasty, disgusting hold with that horrible food, I might add—and then
guided you to Sri Sumbhajee’s palace and told you how to get in.
the one who failed to capture any Pirate Lords there. Then
figured out a way to still spy on Jack Sparrow, so
found out he was going to Madagascar, and then
put up with that
King Samuel, and what did you do? Fall asleep in the kitchen, evidently, instead of killing Jack Sparrow as you were supposed to! I think it’s fairly clear who is not holding up their end of the mission.”
Benedict’s pale face contorted with rage. He would never admit it, but he knew she was right. He had let Jack Sparrow slip through his fingers three times so far. He would not let it happen again, even if it meant letting every other Pirate Lord go free.
He whirled back to the railing, pulling his long white cloak closer around his shoulders. “At least we know where he’s going next,” he muttered.
“Thanks to me,” Barbara said, rubbing it in.
She wrapped one curl around her finger and admired how exactly her hair matched her bloodred fingernails. “He won’t get far in France. Our agents will be waiting for him, thanks to the message you sent on ahead.” She stroked Benedict’s arm, her green eyes glinting like a cat’s. “And think of the reward from the Spanish when they find their long-lost princess on board.”
“I don’t care about that,” Benedict said, shaking her off. “I shouldn’t have sent that message.”
“Of course you should have,” Barbara said, her patience starting to wear thin. “The
could never get to France before the
Benedict slammed his fist into the railing. “But
want to be the one to kill Jack Sparrow! What if some worthless low-level agent gets to him first?”
,” Barbara said dismissively. “If you haven’t been able to kill him yet, what makes you think someone of a lower rank will be able to?”
Benedict’s nostrils flared at the reminder of his failure to kill Jack Sparrow. “So what if he escapes again?” he hissed.
will have to find him for you.”
Barbara and Benedict blinked at each other. Neither of them had spoken. The new voice was deep and gruff and entirely unfamiliar.
They turned and glanced around the deck. Empty. All the
’s sailors had heard the captain fighting with his wife and were now hiding as far away from them as possible.
The Huntingtons looked up at the dark night sky and then down at the inky black water. They were alone. Who had spoken?
“Ahem,” the voice said. “Use your heads. I thought you were smarter than that.”
Barbara let out a small huff of indignation and lifted the mirror. Of course, that was where the voice was coming from. But the face on the other side was murky and unclear—more a mass of shadows than a face.
“Ah,” he said. “The lovely Mrs. Huntington. Charmed to meet you.”
Barbara smiled and patted her hair, but before she could respond, Benedict snatched the mirror out of her hands.
“How are you doing this?” he asked the shape in the mirror. “Did you retrieve the other mirror?”
“From the ocean?” The stranger shuddered delicately. “No. I don’t need enchanted devices to do what I’m doing right now. My powers are much stronger than that.”
Benedict frowned. He didn’t like the idea of anyone being more powerful than the East India Trading Company, or more specifically, the Benedict Huntington branch of it. “We got your letter,” he said. “I gather you must be the Shadow Lord.”
get my letter,” the Shadow Lord said, sounding displeased. “And yet somehow you failed completely in the one simple thing I asked you to do.”
Benedict’s pale blue eyes glinted angrily. “I tried to stop Jack Sparrow. I tried to kill him—but you don’t understand, there was this monkey—this very
“I don’t care about your excuses,” the Shadow Lord interrupted. “You were supposed to keep him away from the African Pirate Lord. You failed.”
“I will kill him in Marseille,” Benedict vowed.
The shadowy figure rippled a bit, as if he were shrugging. “Or perhaps you won’t. But it doesn’t matter, because I will find him wherever he goes…or he will find me, as he will have to, soon.”
Barbara started to ask what that meant, but the Shadow Lord kept speaking. “Keep this mirror close to you. I will contact you again when you are near enough to be of use. And then I will tell you where to go to find Jack Sparrow.”
Among the shadows, something like an evil smile gleamed briefly.
“And then…then we can kill him together.”
ack Sparrow was suffocating.
A dark shape sat on his chest, pressing large, shadowy paws over his mouth. It weighed as much as the
’s anchor and it tasted of smoke and nasty chemicals. Jack struggled, thrashing his arms and trying to shove the shape away, but his hands went right through the shadow like it wasn’t even there.
Two small yellow eyes gleamed above him. “The Day of the Shadow is coming,” it hissed.
Jack couldn’t even make a smart remark. It felt like smoke was filling his lungs. He fought harder, clawing at the air with frantic fingers.
“Yum,” purred the shape. “Fear. Delicious.”
The shadow hissed, twitching angrily. The voice calling for Jack came from the material world. It was dragging him back from the shadows and nightmares.
“Jack!” it cried again.
The shadow coiled, writhing as if it were swallowing its own tail, and then abruptly vanished in a puff of glimmering black dust.
Jack lunged upright and awake, gasping for breath.
“The Day of the Shadow will be here soon.”
The final whisper from the shadow skittered around the room and then seemed to slide away into the curtains.
Jack Sparrow blinked groggily and finally noticed a redheaded sailor standing beside the couch, looking worried.
“Ah, Jean,” he said, hoping he looked better than he felt. “Just getting my beauty sleep.” He waved one hand airily.
“You look horrible,” Jean said. Jack winced—so much for that. “What were you dreaming about? Your face was all contorted and scowly and pained.”
“Oh,” Jack said. He tried to shake off the lingering effects of the dream. The last thing he wanted was to let his crew know how his shadow-sickness was plaguing him, or how terrifying the nightmares really were. He winked knowingly at Jean. “Yes, of course. I was dreaming of Barbossa’s hat.”
Jean rolled his eyes as Jack sauntered around him and threw himself into the captain’s chair. Jack leaned back and rested his boots on the wide desk that was covered in charts and scribbled notes. Jean was pretty sure Jack’s nightmares had been about something much more dire than the first mate’s feathered blue hat. But if Jack didn’t want to talk about it, Jean wasn’t going to be nosy.
“We’re nearly to Marseille,” Jean said. “I thought you’d like to know.”
“Splendid!” Jack cried, leaping to his feet again. He hurried to one of his windows and threw the red velvet curtains open. Then he frowned.
“Huh,” he said. “France is a lot more gray and shapeless than I thought it would be.”
“That’s the fog,” Jean said patiently. “The same fog we’ve been stuck in for days. We can barely see our hands in front of our faces out there.”
“Still no sign of the
?” Jack asked. The
had set sail from Madagascar two weeks ago alongside the
, a frigate captained by Gentleman Jocard, the new Pirate Lord of the Atlantic Ocean. The plan was for Jocard’s crew and Jack’s crew to work together—well, as much as pirates ever work together—once they got to Europe. Jack would find the Shadow Gold and save his own hide; Jocard would establish a reputation as fierce and bloodthirsty. A win for everyone, as Jack saw it.
But there was one problem. No one had seen the
“No,” Jean said sadly. “We’ve really lost them.”
“Don’t you worry, Jean,” Jack said. “Look on the bright side. At least that means we’ve lost Marcella, too!”
Jean wrung his hands. His missing cousin was exactly the part that worried him most. He couldn’t believe he’d let her go off on the other pirate ship. “I’m responsible for her!” he fretted.
“Anything could happen to her out there!”
“Yes,” Jack said with a dreamy expression. “Anything. Sharks. Giant squids. Grouchy mermaids. Smelly sea-monster thingies.” He sighed. “We can only hope.”
He started back to his desk and tripped over something on the floor. Grumbling, he turned to kick it aside and realized it was the large sun spear the Incas had given him on a mountain in South America. The warm, golden glow had helped them return through the tunnels to the
, but since then it had just been rolling around cluttering up his cabin and getting underfoot. He grouchily poked it with his toe, wondering what would happen if he tossed it overboard. Would angry Incan warriors turn up to yell at him? You never could tell with quasi-supernatural objects.
The door to his cabin flew open and then slammed shut again almost as quickly behind Diego. The former stable boy stamped his feet and clapped his hands together, trying to warm up.
“I m-m-miss Africa,” he said through chattering teeth. The warm tropical breezes and sunny skies of Madagascar seemed very far away from the freezing fog that hung low over the ship as they approached France.
miss India,” Jean said. He was thinking not only of the warmth and food and luxury, but also of the warrior girl he’d fallen in love with at Sri Sumbhajee’s palace. Everyone was afraid of the coming Day of the Shadow, but as it drew closer and closer, Jean felt his heart aching with worry about Lakshmi. She’d have to fight the Shadow Lord’s army to regain her freedom from Sri Sumbhajee, and Jean wouldn’t be there to fight alongside her.
Absentmindedly, Jean picked up a trinket from Jack’s desk and turned it over in his hands.
He realized that it looked suspiciously like one of the miniature ivory elephants that decorated Sri Sumbhajee’s palace. He frowned at Jack, who gave him an innocent, wide-eyed look.
Diego held his thin brown hands to the lamp on Jack’s side table, shivering. “I don’t like being so close to our old home,” he said, remembering the marble halls and orange trees and grim-faced soldiers around the palace where he and Carolina had grown up—one of them in the stable and one in the royal quarters, of course.
“Well, I don’t like my bloodthirsty grandmother,” Jack said, “but would anyone get me out of having dinner with her in Madagascar? No, nobody lifted a finger. Downright disloyal, if you ask me.”
Diego ignored this, his mind still on the dangers of Spain. “The Spanish navy will not have given up,” he said. “They’ll be looking for
“Not on a pirate ship, they won’t,” Jack said cheerfully. “This is the safest place she could be. No one expects a Spanish princess to be gallivanting around with a bunch of pirates, savvy?”
Diego hoped that was true…but unfortunately for all the pirates, there was something nobody on the
Some time ago, near the beginning of their fateful global journey, the ship had stopped along the coast of South America. While Jack was off finding a vial of Shadow Gold, a few of his crew had infiltrated a Spanish fort hidden in the jungle. Barbossa, Diego, and Gombo (Gentleman Jocard’s former name) had left the fort feeling well-pleased with the bags of gold they had found. What they did not know was that the fourth member of their group, Marcella Magliore, had managed to leave a message on the desk of the Spanish commander.
Fueled by jealousy and spite, and furious that Diego was so much more devoted to Carolina than to her, Marcella had scribbled this on a sheet of paper:
I know where you can find your precious Princess Carolina. She is on the
. Come and get her.
So the Spanish navy was well aware that their
was gallivanting around the world with a bunch of pirates. Moreover, they knew exactly which pirate ship they were looking for. Not only that, but thanks to their informant in the East India Trading Company, they even knew when to expect him.
Unaware of the danger lying in wait for them, the pirates of the
sailed on through the fog, drawing ever closer to the doom that awaited them in Marseille.