The Shadow Star

Rating: PG-13
Summary: An old map is given into Governor Swann's safe-keeping. Soon the map is stolen, split in half by the struggles of Captain Sparrow and his adversary. And so Commodore Norrington finds himself on the hunt again, realizing too late that the chase will hold more dangers than he bargained for.
Diclaimer: All POTC characters belong to Disney. I'm just having a bit of fun with them.

Prologue

Night had settled over Port Royal as Geraldine quietly lit the oil lamps in Governor Swann's study so as not to disturb the two men who stood in front of the dark mahogany desk.

"The artwork is magnificent, I admit." Governor Swann peered closely at the piece of parchment and frowned. "But it does not make any sense."

The object of his attention was an old map painted in intricate and colourful detail, yet faded by age, upon a yellowed parchment that had begun to fray around the edges. The Governor carefully smoothed out the map and bent closer. He held a magnifying glass in his right hand and took great care to study every line and dot, attempting in vain to match the markings to any location he could remember.

"I quiet agree, old friend. I quiet agree." Richard Travers put a hand on the Governor's shoulder. "And yet it holds the location of wealth beyond your wildest dreams."

Richard Travers was a tall, thin man nearing fifty years of age, who could only be described as lanky. From what Geraldine had observed, he constantly seemed to be at odds with his limps, trying to look dignified but always managing to appear vaguely uncomfortable in his own skin. Although his nose was slightly to long, his mouth a bit too wide, and his green eyes a little too big for his oval shaped face, his countenance was handsome. It was the lines in his face that kept Geraldine and the other servants on their guard around him for they suggested that a sneer was more familiar to him than a smile, a frown and the twisted mask of fury more common than the approachable expression of kindness.

Geraldine lit the last oil lamp behind the Governors desk. She knew that propriety demanded she leave the room at once and without calling attention to herself now that her task was done but duty warred with her curiosity for dominance. Geraldine dared to glance over her shoulder, her hand still raised to the last lamp.

The men appeared to be completely engrossed in their study of the parchment. Judging herself to be safe for the moment she calmly walked past the two men towards the door, then turned around once she was standing behind them and dared to peek over the Governor's shoulder.

While, at 5feet 7inches, the Governor was not a tall man by any standard, he still towered 5 inches over Geraldine and she had to raise and balance herself on tiptoes in order to sneak a look at the ancient map.

Apart from what appeared to be the sketch of a shoreline, Geraldine glimpsed a four-pointed star in the upper left corner. Each of the star's tips was labelled with a letter written in a thin, elaborate script she could not decipher. The bottom of the map held several lines of writing in the same hand as well as detailed depictions of trees, birds, and random designs, the purpose of which Geraldine could not possible fathom.

Suddenly, however, one of these drawing caught her attention. Intrigued she leaned closer to have a better look.

"Governor, please forgive my intrusion."

Commodore Norrington's sharp voice came from behind Geraldine and with a gasp of surprise she lost her balance. She hastily stepped forward to regain her footing and stopped with her nose only inches from the Governor's frilled collar. Mortified, her glance flickered up to the confounded expression of his face before she sank into a deep courtesy.

"My apologies Governor. I am so sorry. I did not mean to pry." She backed away as fast as she could, not daring to look any of the men into the eye.

Geraldine heard a slight rustling as the parchment was quickly rolled up.

"Well, I must say Elerby, the conduct of your servants leaves much to be desired." Mr. Travers' voice, normally calm and monotone had taken on a slightly shrill note.

"Come now, Richard, the girl was merely curious. There was no harm done."

"I beg to differ. This map is most…. What I mean to say is that the nature of the situation…" Richard Travers paused as Geraldine, overcome by curiosity at hearing the usually eloquent man grasp for words, glanced upwards. "Perhaps it is best if we discuss the matter later. In private," he added with a pointed look at the servant girl. Geraldine flinched inwardly as Travers beckoned her towards him.

"What have you seen?" Travers demanded to know. "Answer me, girl." He took a step into her direction his fist clenched around the map.

"Nothing, Sir. Only a few lines and some writing." Travers face darkened. "But I was too far away to actually read it, Sir."

"There you hear it, Richard. Now stop frightening the girl." Governor Swann stepped forward subtly putting himself between his friend and the servant girl.

Geraldine had joined the Governor's household seven years ago. She found him to be a kind man, mild-tempered and just, and though she held the genuine affection for him that a niece might hold for an uncle, he had inadvertently driven her to frustration time and again.

Geraldine had often thought the Governor to be somewhat meddlesome and exhaustingly excitable about any small and mundane event to the point of obliviousness regarding the serious nature of these social occasions. He seemed to find his way through propriety and social acceptance with sleep-walking sureness, as if he were not quiet aware of the intrigue and scheming that went on around him. He greeted friend and political enemy with the same heartfelt smile and opened gate and door for them without betraying the slightest awareness that he had assessed any measure of the person he was inviting into his home. It had always been a mystery to Geraldine how Governor Swann managed to remain in the favourable position of being the right hand of the king in this corner of the world. Even the marriage of his daughter to a blacksmith who had been convicted of piracy and whom Governor Swann had pardoned shortly thereafter had no significant alteration in his status and standing as a consequence.

Now, however, after taking a quick look at Mr. Travers' face, which was a mask of barely concealed fury, Geraldine reassess her impression of the Governor's awareness to the people around him.

Richard Travers was clinging onto the map so tightly that Geraldine doubted the parchment would remain undamaged if he kept mangling the paper much longer. Anxiety was radiating off him in waves and for once he did not appear lanky at all but rather formidably imposing. Geraldine swallowed nervously and tried to back away again. She came up short when she collided with the Commodore who was still standing behind her in the open doorway.

Strong hands descended to her shoulders in order to steady her as Commodore Norrington stepped around and in front of her, blocking her view of Mr. Travers.

Geraldine breathed a sigh of relief. Mr. Travers reaction seemed to be completely out of proportion with her misconduct. All she had done was steal a quick look at a map of which neither he nor the Governor could make either heads or tails. Unless… Unless of course he had recognized the small drawing a the bottom right corner.

*And yet it holds the location of wealth beyond your wildest dreams.* Geraldine shivered as she remembered Travers' words. There was no doubt that he had recognized the markings.

The servant girl dared to glimpse around the Commodore's tall frame. The Governor, aided by Norrington, seemed to be successful in his endeavour to calm Mr. Travers. At least his hands weren't clenched around the map anymore.

Geraldine narrowed her eyes and considered the situation carefully. She did not know Mr. Travers very well. He had arrived two days ago, sailing into the harbour aboard the Seerose, a merchant ship on which he had bought passage for himself and his family. A man of some fortune, he and his wife as well as their three daughters were to stay as guest at the Governor's estate, while the family scouted the surrounding countryside for a suitable piece of land to build their new home. From Mr. Travers' manner and the little snippets of conversation she had overheard about him she did not think him to be a seafaring man. Maybe he was a scholar of old lore and had thus found out that this map existed.

A black seven-pointed star above a quarter full moon. Geraldine repressed another shiver as she recalled the small picture from the map.

"Geraldine!" Governor Swann's voice snapped her out of her reverie. "Please go to the kitchen and see that diner is coming along as planned. Wait there until I summon you again." The man nodded encouragingly, then dismissed her with a wave of his hand.

"Of course, Your Excellency." With another courtesy Geraldine hastened out of the room.



Notes: I apologize for any and all spelling and grammatical mistakes. English is not my first language and by writing I'm trying to gain a better understanding of it. So if there are any mistakes you'd like to point out to me, so I can fix them, I appreciate any help I can get. :-) Simply e-mail me here :dpe115@aol.com