Read The Pirate's Wish Online

Authors: Cassandra Rose Clarke

Tags: #assassins, #magic, #pirates, #curses, #ships, #high fantasy, #epic fantasy, #fantasy, #deserts, #Romance, #Young Adult, #Adventure

The Pirate's Wish

BOOK: The Pirate's Wish
12.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Cassandra Rose Clarke





“Do you feel that?” Naji asked.

“I feel cold.” I rubbed my arms over the worn-down fabric of my coat sleeves. Me and Naji’d been stranded on the Isles of the Sky for longer than I could keep track, thanks to him throwing the
Ayel’s Revenge
off course while we were headed to Qilar, and the weather did a number on my clothes. I planned to march down to the Wizard Eirnin’s house to see about getting some new things later today.

“You’re always cold.” Naji leaned forward and squinted out at the sea, his features twisting from the rough scars lining the left side of his face. We were sitting outside the shack the two of us shared, knotting bundles of pine needles to re-thatch the roof. “No, this is… something’s on the air. Something disruptive.”

“Disruptive?” I tossed my bundle of pine needles on the sand. “The hell does that mean?”

“Are you still wearing your protection charm?”

At that, I gave him a withering look and yanked back my coat collar to show him. “I ain’t never taken it off before. Don’t know why I’d start now.”

He didn’t answer, which wasn’t much of a surprise. He’d been in a mood the last few weeks – at least, that’s what I would guess, I’d stopped keeping track of the days awhile back – mostly cause him and Eirnin had gotten themselves tangled up in a feud. As near as I could tell, it started when Naji was casting one of his blood magic spells. He had a whole mess of them going: some to protect us from the magic of the Isles and some to keep me hidden from the Mists, that whole other world full of lords and monsters who kept trying to break through to ours.

Now, he’d been casting those spells the whole time we’d been on the island, ever since he got his strength back, but this
spell had mingled with one Eirnin had going and messed it up. Since then, the two of ’em had been at a feud like a pair of noble families in some Empire story.

It went pretty much like this: when his spell failed, Eirnin retaliated against Naji, sending a swarm of droning gnats down to our shack one evening. I managed to get away since they weren’t after me, and I sat on the sand and watched ’em swirl in a dark cloud around Naji. Not biting him or anything, just annoying him. It took almost two days before he dispelled ’em completely using magic, and by that point I was sleeping out on the beach just to get away from the noise. Then Naji marched down to Eirnin’s house as soon as he was free from the gnats and cast some kind of long-term binding charm that made it pour rain for six days straight. Eirnin cleared it up, thank Kaol, but who the hell knew what they’d get up to next. Probably ruin my day, whatever it was.

“I don’t like this.” Naji dropped his pine needle bundle into his lap and stared up at the sky, which was gray and cloudy like always. His sleeves were pushed up to his elbows, revealing the swirl of tattoos on his skin. “Stay close to the shack for the next few days.”

Well, blood and saltwater. There went my trip to Eirnin’s house. And I really wanted some new clothes.

“Does your head hurt?” I asked.

Naji glanced at me. “No,” he said. “It’s just… as a precaution.”

“Right. A precaution.” I nodded. If his head didn’t hurt, then that meant the curse wasn’t activated and I wasn’t in danger, which meant I could sneak off while he was fishing, like I’d planned to originally. “Is it… it’s not the Mists, is it?”

“The Mists?” Naji shook his head. “No. This is different. Something with the island.”

I shivered. Course, his magic had kept us free of the side effects of living on the Isles of the Sky for awhile now.

“Something’s changed,” he added.

“Something’s always changing on this damn island,” I said. “The trees, the path in the woods – the freaking
.” I finished up the last of my pine needles. “There, done. I’ll thatch up the roof while you’re fishing.”

Naji blinked at me, then pushed aside his own pine needles. “Maybe I shouldn’t–”

“What? No! I’m starving. And, last I checked, fish is all we got to eat.”

Naji sighed. “Stay in the shack.”

“I’ll stay
the shack.”

“Ananna, you know I can’t concentrate when you do that.”

I frowned at him. “I ain’t gonna fall! How many times I got to tell you–”

“As many as it takes.” He stood up and dusted the sand from his own clothes, which were worse off than mine, hanging in tatters around his arms and legs. Eirnin was only willing to trade clothes with me. “If I feel the slightest suggestion of pain,” Naji said, “I’m coming back to the island. Fish or no.”

I slumped up against the shack. “Fine. But we’re cooking that fish before I thatch the roof. Don’t blame me if it rains.”

He didn’t say anything, only unhooked his scabbard from around his waist and tossed it to me, then stepped into the shadows of a pine tree and disappeared. I wrapped the scabbard around my hips, the sword a reassuring presence at my side.

For a moment I stood there on the sand, listening to the wind and the sea. Off in the distance the bonfire flickered golden. I didn’t look directly at it. Naji’d set it alight when we first arrived, and it was a terrible, magical thing. Blood magic. Sometimes Naji would go out at night and stand in the fire’s glow, and the next morning he would wake up with dark circles under his eyes. It must’ve been draining him, bit by bit. I grew up around magic, though I can’t do it much myself, but Mama’s magic never hurt her, never kept her up at night. But then, she didn’t do blood magic.

At least the fire stayed lit even through the worst of the thunderstorms, and hopefully someday someone would see it. I still hoped that somebody would be Marjani, who’d tried to save us from being marooned in the first place. The captain didn’t listen to her reasoning, but she’d leaned in close to my ear that moment before the rowboat dropped me and Naji into the sea and promised she’d find a way to come back for us. The memory was one of the things keeping me going day to day.

I gathered up the pine needles and carted them into the shack, dumping them in a pile in the far corner from the fire. I knew Naji well enough to know that climbing on the roof would really hurt him – that damn curse, thinking me scrambling up on the roof was somehow a danger. His curse was that he had to protect me from harm. As far as I can tell, it was a bit of a joke from the northern witch who cast it after Naji went on a mission to her village. He’s an assassin, a member of a secret order called the Jadorr’a, and he was hired to kill me once. I accidentally saved his life and now, thanks to that curse, I had to listen to him nag me every time I wanted to get some work done.

Course, he
said the disruption, or whatever it was, hadn’t activated the curse at all.

Which meant I should be able to make it to Eirnin’s house and back before he returned from fishing.

Now, Naji would know where I’d been, but maybe I could cajole Eirnin into getting me some clothes for Naji. It’d be tough, but I was willing to clean out his hearth again.

I didn’t have anything better to do anyway.

So I double-checked my charm – still there, hanging on a loop of fabric, just like I’d shown Naji earlier – and set off into the forest with Naji’s sword at my side. The woods shimmered in the gray sunlight. It was cold, the way it always was, but walking helped warm me up some.

It took me shorter than last time to make it to Eirnin’s house. I noticed that with him. Each time the path seems to shrink, and I don’t know if it’s magic or if it’s just cause I know my way better. Tough to say with wizards.

Whatever the reason, Eirnin’s house appeared quicker than I expected. The garden was blooming, big red and orange flowers bobbing a little in the breeze. The air crackled, like a storm was about to roll in from the ocean.

Something disruptive.

I touched my charm again. After so long on the island I knew danger didn’t have to look like what I expected. Naji would probably tell me to turn and run back to the shack, but then, Naji wasn’t right about everything all the time. Much as he liked to think otherwise.

So I walked up the stone pathway, my hand curled tight around the sword, and kept watch for anything out of the ordinary: shadows moving through the trees, or a curl of gray mist. I prayed I wouldn’t see the gray mist.

I didn’t see anything.

I knocked on Eirnin’s door. No answer. A chill rippled through me, but then, Eirnin had been known not to answer if the mood didn’t suit him. I knocked again, and then shouted, “Eirnin! It’s me! I’m here about some clothes!”


At this point, the dread was pooling in the bottom of my stomach, and the forest seemed full of sneaking terrors, though I couldn’t see any of them outright. Part of me wanted to turn back and the other part of me didn’t want to go anywhere near the woods.

I pounded hard on the door, and this time, it creaked open.

I stopped, lifted the sword a little. A scent like flowers drifted out from inside the house. Dead flowers. Rotting flowers.

“Eirnin?” I called out, nudging the door open further. I stepped inside, sword lifted. It was dark. The air was colder than it was outside, as cold as the ice storms in the north, and it felt wrong somehow – empty, hollow.

When I stepped into the main room, the darkness erupted.

Shapes poured out of the dead hearth, dark shadows that slid and undulated along the walls. Moaning filled up the room, the moaning and wailing of a thousand echoing voices. I couldn’t move. The darkness slid around me, thick and oily, smelling of decay and magic.

And then a pale figure moved into the room, transparent and glowing. A ghost.

It looked at me, and although its face was stripped of humanity, like all ghosts, I recognized its features immediately.

“Eirnin,” I said.

The ghost opened its mouth and a stream of ululating syllables poured out. It was the language of the dead. I’d heard it once before, when a sea-ghost boarded Papa’s boat and tried to pull us all under.

I screamed and found the strength to break through the hold of the angry magic that Eirnin had left behind when he died. I raced out of the house, swinging my sword through the thick shadows. They shrieked when I cut them, and their cuts splattered spots of darkness across my hands and arms.

I burst out into the garden. The forest had stilled. Behind me, I could hear the rattle and screams of creatures in the house, and I didn’t stop to contemplate on what had killed Eirnin. I just ran. I ran out of the garden and into the woods, and I wasn’t even out of sight of the house when I slammed into Naji’s chest.

“I told you to stay at the shack!” he roared, dragging me to my feet.

“I’m trying!” I shouted back.

He dragged me into the shadow of a tree, wrapped his arm across my chest, and melted us both into shadow.

A heartbeat later we stood at the edge of the forest, the beach flowing away from us to the edge of the island. Naji slumped up against a nearby pine tree, and for the first time I noticed how pale and waxy he was, and my heart twisted up and I had to stop myself from running over to him and throwing my arms around his shoulders.

BOOK: The Pirate's Wish
12.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Dollybird by Anne Lazurko
Burning to Ashes by Evi Asher
Realms of Light by Lawrence Watt-Evans
The Winning Stroke by Matt Christopher
A Quarter for a Kiss by Mindy Starns Clark
Section 8 by Robert Doherty