Authors: Rob Kidd
City of Gold
City of Gold (Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow #7)
JACK SPARROW City of Gold
A lone figure paced back and forth on a tiny patch of relatively solid land in the middle of a giant swamp. His red bandana was the only bright thing for miles. He was getting impatient, and sweat from the muggy heat was running down his face.Gloom and
surrounded him like the muddy waters that obscured his feet. Big trees full of Spanish moss blocked most of the sunlight. The moss hung from the tree
branches like hundreds of small
snakes. Everything was moist a
ts many probably carrying disease
swarmed above, forming buzzing
clouds. Things dripped. Things oozed and bubbled. Things floated and bobbed in the murky
boy, one Jack Sparrow, was getting really tired of fending off all the vicious, man-eating creatures in these swamps. And--though you couldn't tell it from the permanent gloom here--the sun was setting. Shadows deepened and fireflies were beginning to dot the darkness under the trees. Jack just waited."What is taking her so long?" a bush whispered to him.Jack rolled his eyes, wishing for once that he really was crazy, which w
as what everyone else believed.
Jack sighed dramatically and pushed aside some thick vines and marsh plants. Hidden behind the swampy flora was Fitzwilliam P. Dalton III, a sailor aboard Jack's boat, the mighty Barnacle. Fitzwilliam was from an aristocratic background and always looked the part. Even now, here in the swamp, his jacket looked spotless and his buckle shoes were well-polished."Would you be quiet?" Jack shouted. Then, quickly realizing that he himself was being loud, lowered his voice to a forced whisper. "There are certain ways to do things, you know. Hiding, for instance. Hiding, you might be surprised to learn, often requires not being seen or heard."Jack moved the marsh plants back into place and adjusted leaves to hide Fitzwilliam."Jack Sparrow," came anoth
er voice, behind him this time.
The powerful mystic, Tia Dalma, parted the tall grass and emerged before Jack. There was no sign of a path, no sound of her approach. She had one hand on her hip and smiled eerily, showing her blue-white grin."How do you do that?" Jack demanded."Why did you call me here?" she asked, somewhat pointedly. "You know I prefer to stay deep in the wetlands.""Well, there's a lot going on in my life," Jack answered airily, waving his hand. "Things I thought you should know about."Tia Dalma opened her mouth to respond, but before she could, Jack had already launched into his story."See, it's like this," he began, "There's this amulet. It's called the Sun-and-Stars, savvy? So, this Sun-and-Stars was stolen from the village of a member
of my crew named
Tumen. Lovely boy. My good crew and I--well, mostly I, but my good crew as well, recovered the amulet. But it does not end there. Not at all. In fact, it's just the beginning. We found this little bronze gem thing that we then inserted into this amulet, and after we did that, can you venture to guess what happened? No? Well, I will tell you. Everything the amulet touched turned into bronze. Yes, bronze. I know I felt the same way about it. Who wants bronze? Apparently, someone. And that someone was named Madame Minuit--a beautiful pirate and--like you, Miss Dalma--a practitioner of the mystical arts. Not quite as good, I dare say. Although she does have these creepy snakes that emerge from her arms as if out of nowhere--you should look into getting yourself some. They might have them on clearance
down at the mystics' market, or
wherever it is you magic people get your goods. Anyway, we escaped from this New Orleanian lady by the skin of our teeth, and not long after we escaped, we bumped into--you will never believe this one--the mother of my first mate, Arabella. Now, why would you never believe this? Well, because the woman was supposed to have been dead as a crab cake. Turns out not only is she alive, but she is a pirate, sailing with another fellow we all thought dead--Left-Foot Louis. All this, and we're not even finished yet. There's also this weird chap sailing aboard her ship--Silverback. And the ship itself, the Fleur de l
a Morte, isn't all that normal
it disappears when the sails are unfurled. How do you find it, you might ask? With a special compass that points to said invisible ship! (I have to get me one of those.) This man Silverback had another g
em--a silver one, and when that
was put in the amulet, what do you think happened? I know, that's what I thought, too, but you're wrong! Everything that had turned bronze before was now turned into silver." Jack tapped his silver tooth and stared at Tia Dalma. Tia Dalma started to speak again, but Jack cut her off, continuing, "As if all that weren't enough, mommy dearest, Captain Smith of the Fleur absconded with my first mate."* Once more, Tia Dalma opened her mouth to speak.
"We think they're in New Orleans," Jack Sparrow said, cutting her off again.Tia Dalma sneered at Jack, and he shivered.
"Okay, I'm done," he said nervously.
"You have come to me because you want to learn the way of the tid
e. Is that so, Jack Sparrow?”
"Come again?" he asked.
"This is what I hear from you," she waved a finger at him violently. "You want the final gold gem for the amulet. But you also want to be together with your lady, Arabella." She said this last piece with a little smile. Then she became stern. "You cannot have both, Jack Sparrow. Choose now."Jack's mind raced. Before he could decide Tia Dalma shook her head and clicked her tongue. "You delay, Jack Sparrow." She stepped past him and parted the vines, revealing Fitzwilliam. "Perhaps him know the answer?" she said in her deep island accent.Jack looked concerned. He should have known Tia Dalma would find Fitzwilliam. You don't get to be a powerful, mysterious practitioner of
magic by missing the obvious.
Fitzwilliam was staring up at Tia Dalma with an embarrassed smile."We're here to rescue Miss Arabella Smith," the nobleman managed to spit out."Getting the final stone for the amulet would be nice, too," Jack quickly put in.Tia Dalma sighed, looking at Jack sadly. "I can get you t' golden gem. But for the rest you are on your own. You will have to rescue your lady yourself."Jack grinned. "That's hardly a problem there, love! 'Rescue and recover' are my middle names!""You know I demand payment," the mystic said, rolling the words out
, yes, of course." Jack began to dig around in his pockets. Surely he had something. Tia Dalmas tastes weren't always expensive--just weird."Uh," J
ack added, patting his pockets
more desperately. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even a twig or a broken shell, things that would be right up Tia Dalma's alley.
"YOU!" Tia said, suddenly turning to Fitzwilliam and pointing.The nobleman yelped and jumped back, causing the skiff he sat in to tip over and land him in the swamp."When you retrieve that which is lost to you," she continued, "that t'ing will be lost again. This time, to me."I beg your pardon?" Fitzwilliam asked, stuttering a little. "Could you be slightly more...specific?""Oh, shush," Jack said, waving his hands in Fitzwilliam's face. Then he turned to Tia Dalma. "Yes, yes, very well, we understand, we're clear to go and a
ll. Will do...yes and, yes..."
"Very well, then." She leaned over and tapped Fitzwilliam's neck delicately. When she took her finger away, a deep black tattoo of something that looked very much like a crab remained."You will be marked until I have payment," she pronounced.
Jack stared at Fitzwilliam, eyes wide.
"What is it?" Fitzwilliam demanded, trying to keep calm, but clearly unnerved by Tia Dalmas touch."Nothing," Jack answered, a little too quickly.The gloom seemed to gather around Tia Dalma. She wasn't moving exactly but was somehow still disappearing into the marsh as if the plants and water were slowly sucking her into them."You will find the last stone for your amulet, th
e golden one, at t' same place
where your payment is. I will be looking forward to receiving it," she called to them, laughing as she
lot of good that is," Jack said, scowling. "I thought she said she was going to 'get us t' golden gem,' not 'confuse us with stupid riddles' and 'deliver idiotic messages.'"
"What was that woman talking about?" Fitzwilliam demanded, turning on Jack. "About 'that which was lost to me'...and payment. Do you have any idea?"
"No," Jack said, shrugging. "No idea at all, mate." He turned the skiff over, hopped in and picked up an oar. Fitzwilliam, dripping with mud, joined him.Fitzwilliam scowled, refusing to speak to Jack as the
two rowed off into the bayou.
After poking around the maze of waterways that was the bayou, Jack and Fitzwilliam finally came out onto a canal. The trees opened up, and they had a clear view: New Orleans gleamed in the sunset. Literally. The entire city was silver!Jack had accidentally turned it to bronze. Then when Jack put the silver stone into the amulet, the city must hav
e turned from bronze to silver!
"It looks like a city of the gods," Fitzwilliam said, moved by the sight.The boys tied up the boat and stepped out into the city. The plan was to meet the rest of the crew at a hideout chosen by their crew mate Jean. It was perfect: the unused chapel of an old church, abandoned and overshadowed by a much bigger, newer church. The Barnacle itself was stowed a little upriver.As they walked along the docks, Fitzwilliam looked around nervously.
"I hope that blasted
master does not bother us."Jack frowned. Now that Fitzwilliam had mentioned it, it was surprising that they were being allowed to just choose anyplace they wanted to dock. He narrowed his eyes, looking around. There didn't seem to be the usual port police, harbor officials, or gendar
mes scurrying around. Strange.
And the people walking around seemed harried--or haunted. They kept their heads down as if they didn't want to be seen.
"Look!" Jack pointed.Striding menacingly down the street was a pair of pirates, all in black. Tall, black boots, black bandoliers, and black tricorn hats. They glared at everyone around them. People went out of their way to avoid them.
"What the deuce is going on here?" Jack wondered.But Fitzwilliam wasn't listening. His attention was trained on a pawnshop. A glum-looking shopkeeper sat next to a trash barrel full of silver jewelry, dinnerware, and goblets. Silver was literally cheaper than dirt in New Orleans now.But what attracted Fitzwilliam's attention was the g
old jewellery in the window. One
pocket watch in particular. His pocket watch. The one that had been stolen from him by a crook on Isla Fortuna during the crew's
quest for the Sword of Cortes.
"We must go in here!" Fitzwilliam declared, grabbing Jack's shoulder and pulling him in. He made straight for his lost treasure."I love shopping as much as the next tourist," Jack said, "but shouldn't we get back to the others with--" Jack stopped short. Another small gold object in a glass case grabbed his attention. It looked like a round gold pebble or stone. Or gem."The last stone!" Jack whispered, punching Fitzwilliam excitedly in the shoulder. "The gold one! There it is!""Oh, so it is," Fitzwilliam said, without taking his eyes off the watch. He couldn'
tell if it had the inscription on the back.... If it did, it would prove it was his.
"Here's what we'll do, mate," Jack said, rubbing his hands together while forming a plan. "You distract the shop owner. I'll get the gem."
"Jack," Fitzwilliam said disapprovingly, "I'll not take part in your illegal little ventures.
"It's not stealing," Jack said. The shop keeper looked over at them, suspicious of their low voices. Jack shot him a quick smile and then pulled Fitzwilliam aside and whispered, "Look, everyone has been claiming that this wretched amulet belongs to them--Madame Minuit, Silverback, Tumen's townsfolk....It can't belong to everyone. Therefore, it must belong to no one. Therefore, I'm not stealing it. Because
no one really owns it. Savvy?"
There was something wrong with this logic. Fitzwilliam was sure of it. But he needed that watch."Good sir," Fitzwilliam said in a grand, loud voice, turning to the shopkeeper. "How much for this here watch?"
"Oh, that's a beaut, ain't it?" the man said, brightening at the prospect of a real customer.
"Nice Dutch craftsmanship. It will set y'all back a pretty penny. Though by the looks of it, y'all can easily afford such a thing."Fitzwilliam was seething. He shouldn't have to pay for the watch--it was his to begin with!"This?" he said, trying to sound indifferent. It was hard. "It looks like golden junk to me. I could be persuaded perhaps to take it off your hands...."
Every word hurt.As soon
as he saw the nobleman and the
shopkeeper deeply involved with haggling over the watch, Jack set to work.Not that he had a lot of experience taking things locked in glass cases--of course not. He had just picked up useful information here and there on his travels. Like how if you spat on your palms and pressed against the glass...like so... and up...There was a little click as the pane of glass neatly popped out of its frame. Jack delicately lifted the gem from among the other charms, rings, and trinkets. He rolled it in the palm of his hand. The last stone! They would finally unleash the full power of the amulet and maybe even solve the mystery of the City of Gold. The words of Tumen's grandfather came back to him: Wherever the silver lives, the city is.Jack stuffed the gem in his pocket.
it, but thank you, good sir,"
Fitzwilliam said as he tipped a few coins out of his purse.Fitzwilliam yanked the watch out of the man's hand. He turned it over. The inscription was still there: To my little brother, with much love... His eyes grew shiny as he thought of his long-lost sister who had given him the timepiece.
Great, glad you got it, have to go," Jack said cheerfully, grabbing Fitzwilliam's arm and pulling him out the door."Jack, really!" the nobleman shouted."Never done this before, have you?" Jack asked, dramatically looking up and down the street and narrowing his eyes, searching for possible witnesses.
"Stolen things out of a perfectly reputable store?" Fitzwilliam said sarcastically. "No, Jack, I must admit that is a life experience I have someho
w missed up until this point."
"How reputable a store could it be, dealing in stolen goods?" Jack pointed out, wisely."Okay, we'll quickly get back to the others, then come up with a plan to save Arabella," Jack said excitedly, leading Fitzwilliam down the street.
"Then we'll see about Left-Foot Louis and Silverback. And then..."But whatever Jack was about to say next was cut off. Another pair of the all-in-black Pirate Guards came striding ominously towards them. In fact, they were coming straight for them.
"How did they find out so quickly?" Jack wondered, feeling the gold stone in his pocket."Run?" Fitzwi
lliam asked."Run," Jack agreed.
Jack and Fitzwilliam turned and started sprinting down the narrow street. Fitzwilliam had, of course, trained with the best athletic instructors and kept his chest up, his shoulders back, and his stride even. His buckle shoes clicked along the silvered, cobble stones. Jack just leaned back, flailed his arms, and told his feet to go as fast as possible.They rounded a corner, Jack grabbing the side of a building to keep himself steady as he
skidded on the metal streets.
But just on the other side, they collided headfirst into another pair of Pirate Guards.The one Jack slammed into was large, scarred, and had an official-looking medal pinned over his breast. Like a chief of police. He clapped a weighty club into his meaty fist.
"Awright, then!" the pirate said with breath that was worse than five-day-old cod.
"Your papers, please!"Jack and Fitzwilliam both blinked. They turned to look at each other."Beg pardon, mate?" Jack asked."Your papers." The pirate shook his club.
"Hand over your papers, and we might let you be on your way, none the worse for wear.
"I'm sorry," Jack said. "But I'm new in town and my friend here--well, he's a few fish short
the daily catch, if you take my
meaning.... Fitzwilliam glared at him. "And neither of us is really...certain...about what papers we're supposed to have."
"Don't you play Pass the Parcel with me, boys!" the pirate roared, shoving his face into theirs. Jack almost keeled over from the stench--something between stale rum and puke. The other pirates were grinning. "Yer travelers, ain't ye?""Well, yes..." Jack admitted."WELL, THEN, YE GOT TO HAVE YER TRAVELER'S PAPERS!"
"No one told us about any papers when we disembarked!" Fitzwilliam shouted back, unable to stop himself. "What is this--a police state?"Jack groaned and rolled his eyes. It was pretty bloody obvious that was exactly what it was--a bloody police state. With bloody pira
tes for a bloody police force.
"Oh, playing dumb with us, are ye?" the big pirate said, smiling nastily."Yes, it's a game he never seems to quite tire of," Jack said, interrupting. Of course we have our traveler's papers...It's just that we were running a little errand--in that shop over there--buying stuff. For the girls, you know. Trinkets and things? Can't disappoint the ladies, can we?" He gave the pirate police officer a wink. "Anyway, we probably just left our papers there...so if you'll kindly let us...just...get them...."He turned and casually tried to walk away. But he bumped into a pirate who was suddenly there. A solid, well-muscled pirate.
"Nice cannons ye got there," Jack said nervously, knocking on the man's huge and black-leather-covered biceps. He looked around--the six pirates made a tight ring around him
and Fitzwilliam. There was no
way to escape and no way they could fight off all of them. Even with his newly silver sword. He sighed and held his hands out.
"Take us away," he said sadly.The two were marched down the streets of New Orleans with the six police behind them.
"This is all your fault, Jack!" Fitzwilliam hissed at him. "If you had not stolen that gold stone..."
"Do you never listen to pirates when they speak?" Jack whispered back. "This has nothing to do with that--OW!"One of the Pirate Guards whacked Jack upside the head with his club."No talkin among the prisoners!" he growled.
They marched the rest of the way silently, Fitzwilliam fuming and Jack resisting the urge to rub his head. He was afraid he wo
uld be punished for that, too.
They were escorted upriver to a squat Spanish-style fortification. It was made of such heavy stone that it appeared to be sinking into the marsh. There were bars on the windows and moss growing down its sides.
"I'm guessing this is our prison, then?" Jack asked, t
rying to sound cheerful.
," the chief of the Pirate Guards said, not so cheerily. This is just yer holding cell. Once they try ye and convict ye, they'll put you in the real prison. Down river. This is a fairy princess castle compared to that."
Jack and Fitzwilliam looked at each other.They were pushed through the door and into the damp blackness beyond. There was a wide room where several Pirate Guards waited. At the far end was the entrance to a narrow hallway flanked by two guards.Lock 'em aw
ay," the chief of police said.
The boys were pushed down the narrow hallway, which had a number of cells running along its side. One of the barred doors was swung open and they were thrown in. Fitzwilliam was practically run headfirst into the back wall."We'll deal with you later" a pirate said. Grinning, he slammed the door shut, twisting the key with a flourish.
"Bit dramatic, don't you think?" Jack observed.Sitting in the corner of the cell was an old sailor. He grinned up at Jack and toasted him with a brown glass bottle of something. It stunk like turpentine.
"Drunk and disorderly, I'm guessing? How do," Jack said politely. "Pardon me, I just need to have a chat with my friend here," he added, moving close to Fitzwilliam."First I
am an idiot, and now I am your
friend?" the nobleman asked dryly. He waved his hand around the dank cell. "Look where you have landed us this time, Captain Sparrow!"