Chapter 2 – The Island
When he awoke to find himself upon a lost isle of unspeakable beauty – one that he'd spoken of on but a single occasion – he was not entirely surprised. When he had been all but fitted for a dead man's chest all those years ago, this was where he'd washed ashore. Was it so strange that after Jones' ghastly beastie swallowed him whole he should end up here once more?
He thought not.
Pushing himself upright he swayed about as if he'd been spun 'round before settling into a seated position. Brushing the fine grains of beach sand off his face, he squinted at the sunlight as it glistened off the vast ocean before him.
Realization ebbed in like the coming tide. His Pearl was gone. He'd lost her once more to the depths, and wasn't so sure fate would deem the Black Pearl or its captain worthy of saving from the locker yet again.
There was many a fine captain who got far less chances than he, so he couldn't rightly complain. It was a peculiar thing, but the thought of his ship lost to the depths – left to rot on the ocean floor – was more troubling to him than his own passing.
The Wicked Wench was his reason for making his fateful bargain with Davy Jones; he could not bear the thought of parting with her. She'd been a different ship after Jones had resurrected her, and thus Jack had re-christened her The Black Pearl.
Hence the reason for his return to the Pearl whilst the Kraken tore it apart; there was little joy in sailing the seas without her. Neither ship nor captain was complete without the other, and he wouldn't let her go down without a battle. It would be a great surprise to most that when the last survivors boarded the longboat, and he ran his hand across The Pearl's damaged exterior to say goodbye, he'd seriously considered going down with her.
Elizabeth needn't have gone to such lengths to keep him aboard the Pearl. If her actions hadn't proved him right about her, he would have felt hurt by her betrayal. Instead, he was angry; angry at himself for letting his guard down with a pirate. He should have known better.
Elizabeth was a pirate. She'd crossed that line in the sand, where no manner of nobility or goodness could pull you back. She and William would have to square with that one day, and he thought that might be punishment enough for the both of them.
But, enough of such ponderings. He was seemingly stuck on an island with no ship, no food, no effects but his compass, and lingering memories of the Kraken's innards. There were more pressing matters, he daresay.
Many believed that luck must surely follow Jack Sparrow, but this belief missed one very important actuality; he found luck just as easily as he lost it and there was nothing so cruel as to endlessly lose what you desired most.
He couldn't keep hold of anything; not his ship, his title, his name…
Not even his hat.
Jack's shoulders sagged tiredly as reality hit him like a tidal wave. His gaze fell on the compass, still strapped to his belt.
More curse than sea charm. Blasted siren.
It was a good, long moment later – once his vision stopped swimming and his head stopped spinning – that he truly looked at his surroundings.
Presently he sat near the shore on a narrow stretch of beach. The sand was nearly white as pearl and, now that he thought about it, quite hot beneath his rump.
Standing, Jack spotted the trident-like rock jutting out from the water. He'd not seen it straight away because of a particularly leafy palm. The trident was a natural monument that could stand guard to only one island; yet it was an island that had neither name nor precise coordinates.
The Trident didn't possess the same magnificence it'd once held, and he could admit to a touch of disappointment at the fact. But then, what manner of natural wonder would seem astonishing when you'd been swallowed whole by a mythological creature not but a few hours before?
The day held no promise of storm, with little wind to jangle his trinkets or cool his skin. Before him lay the beauty of the ocean and he found himself squinting as the light danced merrily about the blue waves of the warm Caribbean waters.
'I could stare at you forever, luv' he thought.
He ran a bejeweled finger underneath his right eye, checking his finger to see if any kohl remained.
None. No wonder the light made him squint so much.
Turning around, he surveyed what was behind him as the beads in his hair clinked lightly with the motion.
Although not as dense as the Isla de Pelegostos, it was still a bit dense for his taste. Here and there large stone structures peeked out through the undergrowth. From where he stood they looked as though they were ancient temples, long left to nature and her destructive elements; the soft, white stone they were built from eroding a little more each day.
Moving his gaze away from the temples and back to the jungle he couldn't help but think that there was something different about this island; it had undeniably changed, yet he'd have a hard time putting a finger on exactly what had altered during his absence.
Had the surrounding jungle been so dense upon his last visit?
As he pondered the thought, the rhythmic lapping of the waves was interrupted by a splash, and he turned to see what had caused the sound.
Indeed, death must have been unkind to his sanity, for he saw nothing despite hearing it distinctly. Be just his luck to go mad only after his death.
Speaking of which – or rather thinking, as it were – he couldn't say with all certainty whether or not he was well and truly dead.
Funny thing, that. After all, you'd think the least He could do is let you know.
Indeed, he now found himself stranded on an isle he only graced when seemingly dead or dying, but appearances could be deceiving. Who knew? Perhaps he wasn't dead. Perhaps the Kraken had found him as distasteful as respectable landlubbers had, and spit him back out… it seemed plausible enough, if you accounted for the implausible.
Once again turning to face the ocean, he stood there staring unthinkingly at the lapping waves.
What are you waiting for, sea bird?
He shook his head as if to clear it, chuckling to himself; he was waiting for her. He expected his enchanting siren to come… but seconds passed, becoming minutes, and she had yet to appear.
Would she not come to welcome the Captain Jack Sparrow?
He didn't see why not. In his mind, he was far more grand and worthy now then when he'd first laid eyes upon her.
'You're wasting your bloody time,' he thought after another minute of gazing at the ocean. Turning back toward the jungle, he contemplated the best course of action for the baffling situation he found himself in now.
If he was dead, he could belay his worries of what to do next. If he wasn't… well, he'd best get a move on.
Until he knew for certain, he decided to opt for the latter possibility.
Now, he had to admit to a bit of trepidation at the idea of waltzing into the forest. Jungles made him feel trapped; he couldn't see the horizon. He was stuck between wanting to find the place his siren had taken him to heal, and an almost indescribable longing to stay along the shoreline.
After a minute of contemplation, he decided to keep to the shore as much as possible. Just in case a ship should happen to sail by. Stranger things had happened… and Jack knew from experience that even the most improbable things were entirely probable.
After a five minute trek down the beach, he began to notice the change in the landscape. The beach had been white and sandy where he'd washed ashore. Now the sand beneath his boots was becoming increasingly rocky. Soon, there was no sand at all; only rock. The jungle to his left was also different. It was not only thinning, but dying. Trees were barren, vines were dead, and anything green was in the process of being consumed by growing patches of brown. The further west he walked, the more desolate the island became; as if half of the island was dying.
He was starting to think that perhaps he should have taken his chances in the jungle after all. This half of the island was not only turning out to be less than promising, but ominous as well.
Stumbling a bit over a piece of driftwood that had escaped his notice, he caught his balance just as he became aware of the melody of a musical instrument, carried on the wind. It had a harp-like quality to its sound, but was somehow… less soothing.
'Could it be her?' he wondered.
As the melody sang in the breeze he slowly made his way closer to its origin, soon reaching a large escarpment of rocks that acted as a wall to the other side of the island.
They blocked his view of whomever or whatever was playing the instrument. He'd have to climb over, or go around through the dying jungle. Since the rock was only about fifteen feet high, and seemed easy enough to climb, he chose to try and scale it.
As he climbed to the top of the rocks it became obvious that this was not his most inspired plan. He'd not the foggiest notion of who was playing on the opposite side of the escarpment, in spite of his hopes, and no plan on how to escape if he should find himself in a troubling situation.
He supposed he'd just have to count on that damnable luck of his once more. He was, after all, Captain Jack Sparrow.
Reaching the top, he took the opportunity to regain his footing, then looked out to what was beyond the natural rock wall. What he laid eyes on nearly caused him to tumble back down the way he'd come, and he surely appeared three sheets to the wind as he caught his balance atop the rocks.
It could only be described as a graveyard – of both ships and men – but Jack doubted that the vast stretch of rocky beach before him could ever be called a place of rest.
Shipwrecks lay scattered and broken across the shore and shallows for as far as his eye could see; hundreds of them, in all shapes and sizes. Their disfigured forms jutted from the landscape like skeletons, left to rot for eternity amongst countless others in this seafarer's necropolis.
The ocean's waters no longer caressed the shore gently. Now she crashed against the rocky shore relentlessly, as if trying to rid the world of such a grim spit of land, and he was rooting for her to win.
He knew he should turn back, but he had to know to whom the music belonged. He had to know if it was her.
Making his way down the embankment, his arms flailed wildly for balance as he teetered and leaped from rock to rock. He noted that the music had grown in volume, the sound no longer blocked by the rocky outcrop, yet there was still no visible source of the melody. The music had changed in both rhythm and tone as soon as he'd completed his climb and set foot on the other side of the rocks. As if the player was aware of his attendance at their private concert, and no longer had their mind focused solely on their music.
His progress along the beach was thwarted by the increasing difficulty of the terrain. Now only large rocks, wreckage, shallows of water and dark gray mud made up the shore. Impeding him even further was the maze of decaying wood, sail, rigging, and almost anything else that made up a seafaring vessel.
Jack made his way as best he could towards the music, but soon found a large wreck of a thing in his path. The oddity and sheer size made him stop to consider it further. He dare not call the thing a ship, because surely it hadn't been able to float with so much metal and iron. Yet the massive wreck was most surely a ship in its design, and was extraordinary, regardless of the folly of its creation.
A bloody metal ship! It was of no surprise to him that this particular vessel had ended up here, for building a ship solely of such material could only bring failure. He did sorely hope to escape from this island, just for the pleasure of telling this new yarn.
However, though he thought the ship incapable of floating, he couldn't overlook the fact that it had gotten here somehow.
"Madness or brilliance," Jack muttered, reaching out to touch a piece of its deteriorating hull. Making contact with it, he reassured himself that he wasn't hallucinating. However, no sooner had he rested a hand on the rusty hunk of metal, than the music stopped.
Jack parroted the action; he froze in place, listening intently. He stood still as a figurehead, hoping to remain inconspicuous during the silence, though he had a strange feeling that it mattered little.
After about a minute, the music began a second time, and he breathed a sigh of relief. He needed to see who was playing, so that he could assess whether or not all his covertness was necessary.
He neared where he thought the sound had been coming from, concealing himself behind the immense hulk of the strange metal ship. Carefully tip-toeing his way over the rocks, he did his best to remain quiet.
He wasn't quite sure why he bothered, as he was convinced that the person who was playing was aware of his presence. He wasn't sure why he was certain of it, but he'd learned it was best to trust his instincts. They'd led him afoul only a few times… honest.
Spotting what might be a decent peephole a bit further up he edged his way towards it. It was then that he took note of how truly odd the ship before him had been. Not only had it been made of metal, but it had no masts. Indeed, there were no sails at all, nor were there any sweeps.
How the devil did she ever sail without sails?
Thoroughly perplexed by the ship, his attention was forced back to the mystery musician as their music changed from an absentminded melody to a much more purposeful song. He neared the hole in the shipwreck's keel, close to her bow. The hole would give him a fine view to where he thought the musician might be.
Peering into the hole and beyond the wreckage, he spotted her on the other side.
Not her, mind you, but most assuredly a creature of the feminine variety. She had her back to him, and like his siren she had the lower half of a fish, and scale-covered wings. But unlike his siren's sea-green locks, this one's hair was black and adorned with some sort of weave or netting.
The siren perched on a rock just off shore, and he could see from his precarious spot amongst the wreckage that she was indeed the musician, for she was playing some sort of instrument… although what instrument he couldn't say. It was harp-like, but certainly not large enough to be the type of harp he was familiar with. He was too far off to see her or the instrument in detail, and he thought he might be the better for it.
She paid him no mind as he watched her, though he was certain that she knew of his presence. Her gaze was firmly fixed on the horizon, and as he followed her intent look he saw what captured her attention so.
A ship; it was still merely a dot on the horizon. Her attention was fixed solely on it, and her expression was more than a trifle unnerving; hunger, lust, and anticipation. Her emotions colored her music, and it soon became a seductress' song of lust. At that moment, she saw nothing else but that ship, and he saw no one but her.
But don't let it be said that Jack Sparrow had succumbed to her spell. Quite the contrary; he was more anxious to make haste into the jungle, for now it seemed a more than welcoming option. He'd heard more than his fair share of siren tales, of course. How could he not? Some were quite bawdy and entertaining, while others were more… horrific in nature. They all had the same lesson in their telling, however, and that was a mermaid or sea siren would bring about your demise.
Even though his siren had shown him kindness, he wasn't ready to trust that they'd all be as hospitable. From the look of his surroundings, he'd wager his dreadlocks that it was a wise choice. Again, many may voice their disagreement but Jack Sparrow was not a simpleton.
Daft? Common knowledge, I should think.
Mad? A probable probability in its possibility.
Suicidal? Is rum or treasure involved?
Stupid? No, I don't fancy myself that.
Dylan Jackson Laraine had not been a stupid man, nor was Jack Sparrow a stupid man now.
Keeping his gaze fixed on the siren as she sang her song of seduction, he began backing away with the full intention of taking French leave. The further he was from this graveyard, the healthier he'd stay.
Because of his preoccupation with the siren, he hadn't noticed what manner of creature lay in waiting closer to his person, hidden in the remains of the metal ship. That was until it made a sound, much like a hiss.
Jack spun around to face the creature, hand instinctively reaching for a sword that was no longer in its hilt. Realizing its absence, he took a step back to distance himself from what was beginning to crawl out of the wreck. Unfortunately he'd no solid ground to step back on, and tumbled into a tide pool behind him before he caught a decent glimpse of his attacker.
The tumble was not a gentle one. A sharp rock cut deep into his forearm as he fell. He had little time to react to the pain before his head was bursting with a similar sensation, and his vision darkened before him.