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
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arbara Huntington had a fierce headache.
Spying on pirates was much more annoying than she’d expected. Barbara had thought she was being very clever when she gave her unwitting accomplice, Marcella Magliore, a supernatural hand mirror. That way Barbara could see and hear everything Marcella did—and, by extension, everything that was happening on the
The good news was that it had worked so far.
The Huntingtons knew exactly where the Pirate Lord Jack Sparrow was going next: Africa. He was looking for the Pirate Lord of the Atlantic Ocean. That much they had overheard through the powerful mirror, although they weren’t exactly sure
Sparrow was looking for him.
But the bad news was that in order to spy on the
, Barbara and Benedict had to spy on Marcella. And as they had quickly discovered, Marcella
looking at herself in the mirror. And talking to herself (or rather, whining to herself) in the mirror. And checking her teeth in the mirror, and plucking her eyebrows in the mirror, and using the mirror to peer up her nose, and all kinds of other horrible things that Barbara could happily have lived without seeing.
Barbara flung the mirror down on the floor of her husband’s cabin and rubbed her forehead. Her dazzling red hair was piled high in a crown of curls around her pale face, and she wore one of the bright blue silk gowns Benedict had purchased for her when they fled to Delhi after the humiliating battle at Sri Sumbhajee’s palace. They hadn’t had time for the gown to be fitted properly, so she wasn’t entirely pleased with it, but Benedict assured her that it was effective nonetheless.
She was lying on thick white- and gold-colored furs, which were draped over the couch in Benedict’s austerely decorated cabin. Normally she did not spend time on his ship, preferring the luxuries of their home in Hong Kong, so he had arranged the cabin according to his own bleak, unadorned preferences. There were none of the little comforts she liked: few pillows, hardly any mirrors, and no curtains at all. The sun beat painfully through the tiny windows, shining right in her eyes.
rocked and swayed, making her headache worse. They hadn’t seen land in days, and the last time they had stopped, she hadn’t even had time to buy herself a new pair of shoes. Benedict was driving his crew like a man possessed.
Hearing the mirror clatter on the smooth wooden floorboards, Benedict looked up from the charts on his desk and smirked. “Not going well?”
“That girl is horrendous,” said Barbara with an aggrieved sigh. “She’s worse than those irritating monkeys I had killed after they stole my breakfast that one morning, remember? If I have to hear about ‘dear, handsome Diego’ and his furious Spanish princess one more time, I’m going to throw someone overboard. Start thinking about who you can spare.”
Captain Huntington snorted. “All of them. This useless crew can’t even catch up to a bunch of half-wit pirates. I should keelhaul the lot of them.”
“It’s not really their fault,” Barbara said, draping a turquoise silk scarf over her eyes. “You heard the pirates in the mirror. They say the
is the fastest ship in the entire ocean.”
“Yes.” Benedict’s eyes gleamed. “What an excellent prize it will make. A reward for all the trouble I’ve gone to.”
He picked up a letter emblazoned with the seal of the East India Trading Company from his desk, and crumpled it in his pale, bony hand. “The nerve of the Company—telling me to return to my post! This mission is far more important than anything I had to do in Hong Kong.”
“Don’t worry about them,” Barbara said. “Focus on capturing Jack Sparrow. He must pay for what happened in Hong Kong. And again in India.”
Benedict Huntington was always pale, but the thought of the indignities he’d suffered lately made his skeletal face even paler with fury. Several Pirate Lords had been within his grasp—first Sao Feng and Mistress Ching, and then Sri Sumbhajee—but they had all slipped away, all of them escaping to freedom and further pillaging. All because of Jack Sparrow. Oh, Jack would pay dearly. Indeed he would.
He slid another letter toward himself, one that he and Barbara had been studying since leaving India. Evidently another party was as interested in stopping Jack Sparrow as they were. Benedict didn’t even know how the letter had appeared on his desk, but he didn’t question it. His enemy’s enemy was certainly welcome to do as much violence as he liked.
The only thing Benedict didn’t know was how to contact this Shadow Lord, or who he was. Or why he hated Jack Sparrow so much. All right, to tell the truth, there were a lot of things he didn’t know—like why the Shadow Lord was using the stationery of the Spanish Pirate Lord, Villanueva. Or why he wanted Benedict to do everything in his power to stop Jack from coming face-to-face with the next Pirate Lord.
But at least Benedict knew something Jack didn’t know about this Pirate Lord of the Atlantic Ocean Jack was searching for. From the conversations they’d eavesdropped on—at least, from what they could hear around Marcella’s injured sighs and muttered comments—it was clear that Jack didn’t even know the current Pirate Lord’s name.
Benedict, on the other hand, had a large file sitting in front of him, all about this “King Samuel.” And from what he’d learned, he had a feeling the
would get a warmer welcome than the
would. Which was something he could, and definitely
, use to his advantage.
A shrill voice came from the mirror on the floor. “Salt pork
today? It’s horrible stuff! I hate it! Just look what it does to my skin! Am I getting yellower? I think I am! Jean, pay attention to me! Look at my face! Yellower! I’m sure of it!”
Benedict glanced at Barbara, but she refused to move her eyes from behind her scarf. Reluctantly, Benedict picked up the mirror and looked into it. He shuddered at the close-up of Marcella’s sharp chin on the other side. She was peering at her skin intently, unaware of her observers. Behind her, Benedict could see the other girl pirate on the
practicing her sword-fighting skills with a redheaded pirate. They danced and parried back and forth while Marcella grumbled about how Jean never listened to her, and how it wasn’t fair that “poor Diego” always had to be up in the crow’s nest, and how swords were stupid anyway.
Then Benedict spotted Jack Sparrow flouncing cheerfully around the deck. He gritted his teeth, wishing he were standing there with his rapier. He’d carve that cheeky smile right off the pirate’s face.
A wet splash hit the mirror on Marcella’s side, blurring the image. Benedict saw Marcella’s fuzzy outline lift her head to the sky.
,” she wailed. “It’s
! Ew, I’m going to get all wet! Ew, it’s going to mess up my hair! I’m going to my hammock, and I’m not coming back until it stops!”
“Promise?” said a pirate’s voice in the background.
“I really hate pirates,” Marcella snarled at the mirror and then snapped it shut. The image went dark, and now all Benedict could see in the smooth surface was his own pinched face.
At least he could agree with Marcella on one thing. He really, really hated pirates, too.
ain splattered down on the deck of the
, relentlessly drenching the slippery boards and drooping black sails. Pirates huddled under oilcloths or belowdecks, wet and miserable. Gloomy gray clouds filled the sky to every horizon, with even darker clouds visible up ahead.
A lone figure stood at the prow of the
, staring out at the endless gray sea. He had been standing there for several hours without moving. His ragged clothes were soaked through, and his hair was plastered to his blank face.
“Oi!” a voice called through the rain.
The figure did not turn around.
Jack Sparrow, captain of the
, Pirate Lord of the Caribbean, was a busy fellow. He had important things to do. He needed to chart the ship’s course to Africa and figure out how to liberate a vial of Shadow Gold from a Pirate Lord he knew nothing about, and he had to do it all before his mysterious illness returned to torment him with nightmares of the angry Shadow Lord. He’d had one particularly awful nightmare in India which he was
certain had been an actual visit from the Shadow Lord. If so, that meant the evil pirate knew exactly what Jack was up to, which was a bad, bad thing.
If the Shadow Lord got to the vials of Shadow Gold before Jack did…well, all manner of trickery and thievery and sneakery might be required, and really, given the choice, Jack would much prefer
confronting the sinister Shadow Lord and
being eaten by nasty shadows, thank you very much.
But it was difficult to focus on charts and maps when he was distracted. He leaned a little further out the door of his cabin and squinted through the curtain of steady rain at the man on the foredeck.
“What is he doing out there?”
“Nothin’ worth our botherin’ about,” his first mate, Barbossa, growled from inside the cabin. He tapped the maps and charts on Jack’s desk meaningfully, irritated at all the interruptions Jack managed to find whenever they had important ship’s business to attend to. “Jaaaaaaaack.”
Jaaaaaaack,” Jack muttered absentmindedly. “I mean, I’m all for keeping a weather eye on the horizon, but not when there’s so much…
involved.” He paused, thinking. “I’ll just go check on him, shall I?” He threw a coat over his head and popped out the door before Barbossa could stop him.
Barbossa grumbled for a minute before realizing that the coat Jack had grabbed to use as an umbrella was, in fact, Barbossa’s own fashionable blue peacoat with the silver buttons. With a snarl, Barbossa threw a glass across the cabin to shatter against the opposite wall.
“Soon,” he muttered aloud to himself. “I won’t have to put up with this much longer. Soon things will be very different around here.” The scheming first mate knew he had to wait until the time was right, and at the moment Jack had too many friends among the crew. Jean, Diego, Billy, Carolina…Barbossa was sure he could convince any one of them alone, but together…it would never work. But one day his time would come.…
Outside, Jack slipped and slid across the open deck and up the wooden steps to the foredeck. He lifted Barbossa’s coat and peered out from under it at the sagging face that stared so solemnly out to sea.
“Lovely day,” said Jack.
“Lovely day, Captain Jack Sparrow,” the zombie said agreeably.
Jack raised an eyebrow at him. Alex the zombie had been raised from his grave by the mystic woman Tia Dalma—the same mystic who had stolen the vials of Shadow Gold from the Shadow Lord in the first place. She had given the vials to Alex to give to the strongest Pirate Lord, but he had rather misunderstood the message (that’s the trouble with partially decayed brains), and instead distributed one vial apiece to several of the strongest Pirate Lords. Jack had not been one of them, a detail which he still found quite insulting.
So really, it was Alex’s fault they were on this journey in the first place. Well, his and Tia Dalma’s, as she was the one who sent Jack off to retrieve the vials (and warn the Brethren Court about the menace of the Shadow Lord at the same time). Oh, and it was also the Shadow Lord’s fault, for giving Jack a terrible shadow-sickness that could only be cured by drinking all the vials.
Really, it was everyone’s fault but Jack’s. So if you asked him, it wasn’t quite fair that he was the one standing in a downpour trying to convince a zombie—a zombie specifically sent to spy on him for Tia Dalma, mind you—to come in out of the storm.
“Not worried about melting, are you?” Jack asked.
“Not worried about melting, Captain Jack Sparrow,” Alex said, his gaze still fixed on the horizon.
Jack eyed the zombie’s soggy skin with concerned horror. He didn’t really relish the idea of making his pirates mop up Alex’s melted remains after the storm passed.
“Right,” said Jack. “Well. Quite a bit drier down belowdecks, you know. Much less…melty down there.”
“I am keeping an eye out for the Shadow Lord, Captain Jack Sparrow,” Alex intoned.
“Keeping an eye out?” Jack echoed. That rang a bell. “Ah, yes…as I told you to, eh?” Now he remembered giving the zombie an order that morning, although, like most of Jack’s orders, it had been tossed flippantly over his shoulder as he dashed from one end of the ship to the other.
And, like most of Jack’s orders, he was quite surprised to find anyone obeying it. But that was the best and the worst thing about zombies. (Well, one of the worst things. Others included the smell and finding bits of toes left behind in the ratlines.)
“Well, then,” Jack said. Rain dripped through a buttonhole in Barbossa’s coat and landed on Jack’s ear. “Excellent work. Brilliant. Just as I wanted. So. Any sign of him?”
“No,” said Alex. “But he has always been good at sneaking up on his enemies, Captain Jack Sparrow.”
Jack shivered. That was not what he wanted to hear. “How do you know so much about the Shadow Lord, then?” he asked. “Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe he’s actually very inept and, and…loud and not very good at being sneaky at all, savvy?”
“I doubt he has changed much since I wrote his biography, Captain Jack Sparrow,” Alex said blandly. “Apart from the supernatural forces now under his control, I mean. That’s a little different.”
Jack blinked. Raindrops splashed in his eyes and he blinked some more. “Hang on,” he said. “You wrote the Shadow Lord’s
? What, like a book?”
“Certainly, Captain Jack Sparrow,” said Alex. “I was his barber. I was there for all his underhanded victories and barbarous deeds.” He paused, and a glimmer of personality appeared in his dead eyes. “It was a very good book.”
“Must admit it’s hard to imagine you having a way with words,” Jack said, hunching further under Barbossa’s coat. “But good to know. Per’aps you can tell us something useful about him, then.”
“He was a cruel man, Captain Jack Sparrow,” Alex said. “I fear he is even crueler now.”
“All right, well, that’s enough cheering me up for one day,” Jack said. “Go on below and get dry. Not even the Shadow Lord would be out attacking ships in this weather.”
“Don’t count on it,” Alex said gloomily.
The zombie sploshed his way to the hatch and vanished below as Jack hurried back to his cabin, huddled under Barbossa’s drenched coat. The wind was starting to pick up, turning the steady downpour into a lashing storm. The wet deck rolled and dove beneath his fine leather boots, and he windmilled his arms to stay upright.
Far above him, another crew member watched the captain fling himself at his cabin door and disappear inside. In the crow’s nest, Diego pulled his oilcloth over his head and leaned back against the mast. The terrible weather matched his mood exactly. He felt like he deserved every stinging raindrop and soaking gust of wind. And in any case, even being aloft in the middle of a thunderstorm was preferable to being trapped belowdecks with Carolina and Marcella.
Marcella was somehow convinced that she and Diego were a couple now, because she had kissed him back in India, however much against his will. On the other hand, Carolina, who had also kissed Diego in India, and whom he had very happily kissed back, seemed equally convinced that he and Marcella were a couple—no matter how much he tried to convince her that he felt nothing for Marcella. So Carolina was avoiding him as if he smelled as horrible as Alex, while Marcella kept popping up from nowhere to fling her arms around him or make loud admiring comments into her mirror where he could hear her.
He narrowed his eyes, squinting into the stormy darkness. Where had that mirror come from? She’d been flashing it around nonstop since they left Suvarnadurg. Did someone in India give it to her? Sri Sumbhajee’s wife Parvati had given Carolina a moonstone for protection…but nobody liked Marcella enough to give her things. And it was an odd silver mirror with a European design; he hadn’t seen anything like it in Sumbhajee’s palace.
Diego shrugged, sending a pool of water rippling down his back. Ah, well. The mirror was strange, he figured, but it probably wasn’t worth thinking about.
Of course, he was quite wrong about that.