King 2

"Captain," Lt. Groves said as he looked at the older man. "What happened to our quest for the Fountain? Were we successful?"

"Alas, the Spanish destroyed the Fountain." Barbossa replied honestly as he made his way towards the next shop he needed to visit, his sharp blue eyes scanning the busy street for pickpockets. "But a smart man realizes the water comes from underground and not from that silly arch the Spaniards knocked over."

"So we could still complete our quest for the King?"

"And ye be willin' to catch the needed mermaid yourself, aye?"

Groves gulped as his eyes grew wide.

Barbossa laughed at his reaction. "Any water would do, I would think. The King of England naught be knowing enchanted water from ordinary spring water. And the mermaid's tear need be fresh. That be meaning we would have to transport said mermaid all the way back to England and their preferred meal is men. Would you be willin' to feed the crew to the she-beast then, toss the victim into the tank yerself? It takes several months to cross the Atlantic and she'll not keep that long without many a meal."

"No! Of course not!" The young man looked truly horrified at the idea. "We have lost enough men to the mermaids."

"Then it be settled." Barbossa stated firmly, pleased it had pointed out all of the facts and had twisted it around to suit his own needs. "The King can go catch his own blasted mermaid."

Just then a group of four especially scruffy looking pirates came out of a nearby bar and one of them pointed a finger at Barbossa. Attentive to the surroundings, Groves noticed this and still not at ease with pirates being everywhere, feared the worst. He pushed his navy coat back and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword in case a fight should break out. The Captain was spending gold very freely and perhaps these four took him for an easy mark due to his peg leg. And just as he had thought, the four came charging at the captain.

"Captain, Captain Barbossa!" The shorter fat one cried as he skidded to a halt in front of the captain. He saluted clumsily and then gawked up at the taller man, a frown on his face. "Ye left without us and we was stuck here!"

"Yeah!" The taller one nodded in agreement. "It takes time to shop for a new eye! They be incredibly hard to find fer some reason…nobody stocks them."

Barbossa sighed as he looked at the ragtag group of Pintel, Ragetti, Murtogg and Mullroy. The two newer pirates were quieter, probably because they didn't feel as comfortable with him yet. It was no secret to Barbossa that they were really marines from the navy and he didn't really care. Pirates weren't that fussy, just as long as they did the jobs they were given.

Pintel's eyes narrowed as it suddenly dawned on him that Barbossa was wearing nice clothing instead of his usual outfit. "Why you dressed like that fer?"

"Because he wants to look nice." Answered Ragetti. "Nothing wrong with looking nice…"

"Since when do we care how we look?" Pintel slapped his best friend, the statement reminding him of the horrid dress-wearing episode. "And I aint wearing no dress! Let some other sap do it next time. And why the heck did you steal trunks of ladies' clothing fer anyway? We want gold!"

"I didn't know what was in 'em!" Ragetti countered.

"Well, look next time!" Pintel then shifted his eyes to Lt. Groves. "And what's yer problem? Are ye supposed to be a pirate or what?"

Barbossa rolled his eyes. It was clear that they had not changed since he had seen them last except for the fact that Ragetti had found a new wooden eye. Barbossa smiled at them. "Gentlemen, this is my new first mate, Lieutenant Commander Groves. And we be privateers, not pirates."

"Huh?" The four gawked dumbly at Barbossa with mouths gaping open and confused expressions.

"Alas, our official Navy ship sunk, taken by mermaids, but I acquired us a new one – the Queen Anne's Revenge."

A lightbulb went off then in Pintel's head and he whispered something in Ragetti's ear, who started laughing. Being in a good mood now, Pintel reached forward and grabbed Groves' hand, shaking it with much excitement. "Welcome to the crew!"

Groves was unsure what to say to this, as he felt sure the whispers and laughing of a moment ago had been about him, but he had been taught to be polite. "Thank you."

"Why don't you go keep Mrs. Turner company?" Barbossa suggested.

"Poppet's here?" Ragetti asked, his single real eye widening in surprise.

"In me cabin."

Hooting and howling, the four ran off towards the dock.

"Me former crew…" Barbossa explained needlessly. Of course, the four didn't know they were lucky he had left them behind that day or else they would have been killed by Blackbeard along with the rest.

"It was obvious." Groves stated as he realized that the four looked familiar to him. Weren't the two talkative ones part of the cursed pirates that Commodore Norrington had arrested? That thing with them wearing dresses … hadn't Andrew mentioned seeing that just before the attack on the Dauntless? If he recalled, those particular two had escaped from the Fort Charles cells somehow. And the other two, weren't they marines? But if they were who he thought they were, what were they doing with the pirates? He dutifully followed Captain Barbossa around as they completed their shopping and then headed back to the ship. He was relieved to see that the first of the supplies had indeed arrived and that Gillette had the crew busy loading it onto the ship. The four new pirates were busy loading supplies as well, laughing each time they ran up and down the plank.

"Theo," Andrew Gillette called. "There's something wrong with these new crew members that reported here, especially those two. They keep laughing each time they go past me."

"I believe, Andrew, they find it funny that we're following orders from a former pirate." Groves replied as he watched the two pirates in question work together to haul a barrel of fresh water aboard. "Hopefully they'll settle down soon once they grow accustomed to the unique situation."

"Why did the Admiralty put a former pirate in charge?" Andrew asked in a low tone as his eyes shifted nervously towards the captain as Barbossa made his way up the plank. He didn't want the captain to hear him or think he meant any disrespect. Truthfully, he found Barbossa a little bit scary. The man was nothing like his former commander, James Norrington. Norrington had never pointed a gun at his lieutenant's head for one. And worst, he felt that the man wouldn't have any qualms about firing it. "I know we needed the map, but don't we have captains in the fleet?"

"Yes, we have captains…" Theodore replied, unsure of the answer. "I'm sure there is a proper reason."

Barbossa came upon the two, his hearing sharper than the lieutenants had suspected. Truthfully, he was a bit surprised it had taken them this long to discuss the little matter or to ponder the reasoning behind the Admiralty's decisions. Of course, they were well brain washed to follow orders without questioning. "It be because pirates are clever. None of your captains have the needed experience for the expedition or the knowledge of the supernatural. They're used to patrolling an area or firing broadsides at smugglers, not searching for legendary treasure or dealing with mermaids. The Caribbean is not the English Channel. There be monsters here." At the last line, Barbossa laughed.

The two looked at him, a bit embarrassed that he had overheard them.

"Contrary to rumor, I don't bite. Ye be welcome to ask yer questions." Barbossa stared at each one to make certain it had sunk in. He had never minded if the crew came to him with questions. Hadn't he shown the map to Pintel, Ragetti, Murtogg and Mullroy? Yes, he had and they were just deckhands! Of course, that was when he had discovered Jack had stolen the important bit. "We have an audience with the King now. Let's not keep her waiting."

Barbossa made his way towards his cabin, his wooden peg thumping loudly on the deck, his officers following hot on his heels.

000

Captain Jack Sparrow found himself unexpectedly in a dimly lighted bar with no recollection of how he had gotten there, which was very odd indeed. He paused where he stood, hands held aloft as if to keep his balance in a stiff wind where no wind existed. A tune played from one side of the room, the melody and words striking up the sense of déjà vu. It was that same ditty about a jolly sailor bold, the one that Scrum liked to sing. Fearing he would see Scrum sitting there playing his stringed instrument, Jack resisted the urge to look behind him. He resisted it for a full three minutes before spinning rapidly on one boot and shouting out as if to catch someone sneaking up from behind. But it was Scrum and it was the Captain's Daughter, in London…

"But I'm supposed to be on the beach, my beloved Pearl in a bottle…"

"Jackie…"

At the low voice, Jack turned to see Captain Teague sitting at the same table they had shared more than a month ago. "Hello, Dad. What are ye doing here, in the past? And better more, what am I doing here?"

"I needed to contact you, Jackie." Teague simply replied as he lifted a cup of rum from the slightly sticky table. "Now sit and pay attention."

"Is there rum for me, too?" Jack asked as he made his way to the table, his dark eyes falling on a tall mug of the finest dark rum that the Captain's Daughter had to offer awaiting for him. The pirate reached for it and took a swallow, wetting his sun dried lips. Pulling out an empty chair, Jack settled himself into it and fastened his kohl-rimmed eyes on his father. "Thank ye, Dad, fer the drink."

"Now listen, Jack. The door's been opened."

Jack stared at his father confused. "What door?"

"We talked about this before, Jack. You need to remember. The door's been opened and things have come through it. You need to go see to that, fix it."

"But there's lots of doors, everywhere…" Jack pointed out. He liked doors, especially doors that led to valuable treasures. Those were the best. Other doors, like ones on cells, those he didn't care for at all. But the door on his captain's cabin on the Pearl, it was more than OK and he loved the smooth, shiny wood that was well cared for despite the ship's many seasons. That door spoke of his rank and his captaincy, which he valued above all else.

"Wake up, Jack. This isn't an ordinary door." Teague reminded his son.

"So it's extra-special, rare even?"

"Aye, that it is." Teague confirmed with another swallow of his drink. "Our King has got herself right in the middle of it and has no idea what's going on. Took me awhile to figure it out myself. I didn't expect this during my lifetime, Jackie. Not sure if we're ready for it."

Jack finished his drink, upending the heavy mug to swallow the last bitter drops of the rum. When he lowered it, he was only half surprised that the older man was gone. His father was just like him in more than appearance, as they both had the ability to just vanish into thin air. "Dad?"

No one answered.

"Just as I thought. Gone again."

Gaudy laughter blared out as Scrum finished his song to much clapping and table thumping. His friends and the other patrons cheered and shouted for more drinks.

"Jack!"

Another familiar voice floated to Jack's ears as if it was coming from a great distance. After listening for a moment, he realized it sounded like his first mate, Mr. Gibbs. He turned about in his wooden chair, surveying the busy bar but didn't see the man at all. Where was he?

"Jack! Wake up, Jack!"

Jack blinked his eyes and licked his dry lips, shading his dark eyes with one hand. He found himself laying on the beach flat on his back, the ocean just a few steps away. "I was back in London just now, in the bar…"

"Your ring, Jack!" Mr. Gibbs exclaimed with wide eyes as he pointed fearfully to one of the many rings the pirate lord wore. "That one, with the big black stone! It was glowing just now, glowing I tell you! It's uncanny, witchcraft even!"

"What, this one?" Jack asked as he sat up and pointed to the ring in question. It sported a large onyx stone in a silver setting. "Me Dad gave me that one years ago, just before I went off pirating on me own."

"Well, it's un-natural like!" Mr. Gibbs complained as he stared fearfully at the ring. "And you was talking in your sleep, something about a door…"

"Oh!" Jack's eyes brightened as he suddenly recalled the entire conversation with his father. "It was a dream then. It seemed so real…"

"What's it all about, Jack? Is this some new venture, something to get the Pearl back to her normal state?" Mr. Gibbs held out his hand and helped the other man to his feet. "And what's this to do with three goats? I don't understand how goats are going to restore the Pearl…"

"Forget the goats, mate." Jack said as he walked a bit on the sand, then turned around and walked back the other way. "We need to go looking for this door I think…"

"So now you'll go chasing dreams?" Gibbs asked, clearly unsettled and a bit upset. "It was just a dream, Jack! Dreams are not real. Your brain just makes stuff up as you sleep or I think that's what they are anyway…"

"Or else we enter a different realm, a realm owned by Morpheus. Perhaps they are just as real as our waking moments." The pirate countered in one of his rare moments. "How are we to know the truth? Wasn't the Fountain of Youth in a different realm, the doorway the pool of enchanted water on the cave's ceiling?"

"Well, I suppose it could be called that…" Gibbs hesitatingly replied, unsure if fueling Jack's madness was the proper thing to do. "Are you suggesting your father actually contacted you while you slept, via that ring?"

"I think that's exactly what it was, mate. And I fear it be important. I just … I just don't remember what dear old Dad wants me to remember…" Jack frowned at the puzzle, unsure how to solve it. How did one dig up old memories, ones soaked in countless bottles of rum and possibly lost during that horrid moment when the kraken swallowed him alive? What if it had been lost down in the Locker? He turned to his first mate. "How do ye recall old memories?"

"Well, umm…." Mr. Gibbs paused, unsure what to say.

"You're not much help at all, mate." Jack scowled, disappointed greatly as he stared out to sea. The strong incoming breeze lifted his long locks and braids, blowing his hair about but he hardly noticed. He went over the brief dream, recalling other things that Teague had mentioned. What had it been about Lizzy? Apparently she was in danger, but then when was she not? He had never met a woman with the gift for getting herself in trouble more than she. He would just have to be extra careful not to kiss her ever again. A unique ability that was, to kill people with a kiss whether she meant to or not. She was cursed for sure…but by what he had no idea. Maybe she had angered some deity when she had been younger.

Mr. Gibbs snapped his fingers and grinned. "I know! When I want to recall something I think of the setting…where I was when it happened, who was there and so forth! Or sometimes an item can help you remember stuff, jot your memory as it were."

"Dad, Mum and I traveled a lot when I was younger." Jack explained as he turned to his older friend. "I can't be certain when it was when he talked about this mysterious door…."

"Well, maybe it's tied to some legendary treasure?" Gibb's eyes sparkled in the bright tropical sunlight, his cheeks puffing up with his grin. "I know your old man is just as interested in those old stories as you are, Jack. If he researched it, there must be some great item involved, something unique and rare, aye?"

Jack turned and his dark eyes landed on the glass bottle that was carefully cradled by a pile of soft sand, the curve of the bottle gleaming. Through the glare of the glass, he could make out the shape of tall masts and dark sails above a heaving gray sea. "Aye, mate, a unique treasure…"

"So you recalled what it is then?" Gibbs asked hopefully as he stepped closer to Jack. "Are we to set forth on a new venture, one that might be profitable?"

"Aye, Mr. Gibbs." Jack replied as he hurried over to pick up the bottle containing the Pearl. "First we must get off this accursed island."

"There's some abandoned longboats up the beach!" Mr. Gibbs added quickly as he pointed in the proper direction. "And then?"

"We go find Lizzy…"

"Miss Elizabeth?" Mr. Gibb's eyes widened in surprise as he hurried over to where he had left the big cloth sack of ships in bottles. Hefting it, he gently put the heavy sack over his shoulder as carefully as possible. Still, he couldn't help winching as he heard the glass tinkle as they clinked together, shifting just so. He didn't want to dwell on what might happen if a bottle was to break while he was carrying it. "What has she to do with this?"

"Everything, mate." Jack started off down the beach. "I suspect I know what legendary item this be about, mate, but I won't know for certain until we find her."

"But we last left her at Shipwreck City! We can't go that far in just a longboat!"

It was ironic, Jack thought, that he had an entire fleet of ships in his possession and that they were all useless at the moment. "We'll find a ship, Mr. Gibbs. We always do."

000

Elizabeth had changed into a more comfortable pirate outfit of a white long-sleeved shirt with puffy sleeves, a dark vest and a pair of men's breaches. Her long hair fell freely over her shoulders and down her back. Her Asian outfit had disguised her well while in Tortuga, but now she didn't have to hide anymore or so she hoped. Perhaps her pursuers had lost her trail. She had waited patiently in Barbossa's cabin, pondering where he had gotten the new ship from. Obviously it was stolen. It was no secret he loved to steal ships, as he was a pirate. She heard the loud thumping of his wooden peg and knew he was coming, so she took a moment to prepare her thoughts.

The door opened then and he came in, followed by Groves and Gillette. Barbossa went and settled himself down behind the large desk that was scattered with various papers. His lieutenants stopped before the desk, their eyes shifting from him to her.

"Who attacked Shipwreck?" Barbossa asked. "How did they get in? The place is a fortress."

"I don't know who attacked us." Elizabeth admitted as she, too, stood before his desk. "There were no ships, no sails, no cannon fire. Before the attack, the only unusual thing I saw was a red streak travel across the sky. For some reason it made me uneasy and I thought it a bad omen. Then the attack started while I was talking to Captain Teague. There was a loud whistling sound and then explosions that shook everything. I was practically knocked off of my feet. Then within moments the air was filled with smoke. I barely got out…"

Barbossa rubbed his scraggly beard as his blue eyes narrowed. "Are ye sure it was an attack? Shipwreck is built in the hollow of an old volcano. Perhaps it woke up. It would shake, create sounds and make smoke. Did ye smell a rotten egg smell?"

"I'm not a fool, Barbossa. It was not a volcano reawakening. Whoever attacked us came by air, I believe. They went over the steep walls somehow and got inside." Elizabeth stared at him hard, unflinching. "It started after a dying man gave me this."

Elizabeth stuck her right hand out, the green jewel flashing in the torchlight that lit the room. "Tell me what that is. Captain Teague thought it might be a key, but was uncertain. He was about to start researching, but then we were attacked. It was originally on an old scruffy brown glove, but as soon as I touched the glove, it faded away to mist and the jewel embedded itself in my hand."

"It be enchanted…" Barbossa stated as he leaned forward to peer at the green jewel.

"Tell me something I don't know." Elizabeth rolled her brown eyes, thinking the enchantment was obvious. "Someone is trying to kill me because of this and I don't intend on dying. And two bracelets came with it…"

She pushed up her sleeves and the black bracelets became visible, the odd white writing practically glowing. "They glow at night, as you can see or in this slightly darkened cabin. They had hinges before I put them on, but now they are smooth and the hinges are gone. Enchanted, I'm sure."

"Have they done anything, any inkling of what they might be used for?" Barbossa asked as he shifted his attention from the green jewel to the bracelets.

"No, none whatsoever." She sighed. "Or not that I noticed. Come, Barbossa, this must fit some old sea legend. You know the stories, don't you?"

"We have but part of the puzzle, Mrs. Turner." Barbossa explained as he leaned back in his chair. "That be a perfect emerald if I'm not mistaken, a large one at that. It be rare to find one that big and fine. And them bracelets, I'm not sure what writing that be on them or even what they're made of. It's clear they be like Jack's compass, something extremely rare. And it very well may be connected to some ol' sea legend, but we lookin' at it from the wrong direction and naught be recognizing it. It be Jack that be the expert at chasing this sort of thing. Me, I'm naught but a humble pirate."

"Then you'll take me to find Jack."

"Jack be without a ship at the moment or so I reckon." Barbossa stated as he stood, leaning on his crutch. "He should still be at Protective Cove. We'll just go back and find him."

"It's Jack!" Elizabeth reminded Barbossa as she walked along his side. "He does the impossible! How many times did you try to shipwreck him on that island? How many times did he escape? He uses … sea turtles!"

Barbossa suddenly recalled the longboats they had left on the beach in the rain. Many had been pulled up onto the sand and the storm would have filled them up with water. If the mermaids had left them alone and he saw no reason why they would bother destroying empty longboats, then the weight of the water would have kept them in place. Jack could just walk up to one, dump out the water and go his merry way! He could go anywhere and they could spend years searching for him. "Groves! Get the ship ready to sail."

"But Sir, the tide…"

Barbossa pulled his new sword out, the one that used to belong to Blackbeard. "We don't need to wait for the tide."

"We don't?" Gillette asked, clearly confused.

"Tides are for normal ships." Barbossa explained as he made his way out of the captain's cabin and onto the little aft deck that had a railing around it. He made his way to the railing and glanced down at the main deck, satisfied to see that the boarding plank had been stowed away as well as all of the supplies. Yes, he had a fine crew. They had worked hard even though they hadn't received the vacation they had been expectin'. He would be sure to make it up to them later. "This be the Queen Anne's Revenge and we have the sea on our side."

Barbossa raised the sword and the ropes overhead started to move. The crew had seen this before so they were used to it, but Elizabeth, Groves and Gillette gawked with wide eyes and open mouths. The rigging tightened and secured itself the way the captain wanted it, the ropes seemingly coming to life.

"Ye might want to hang on, Missy." Barbossa warned her.

Elizabeth quickly grabbed the railing in front of her and hung on tightly, his two lieutenants getting the message as well.

Pointing the sword at the sails, Barbossa filled them with wind and the ship surged forward with a mighty jerk. The crew below stumbled and some fell, but they had been expecting it and none were injured. Tortuga was already falling behind, the open blue-green of the Caribbean in front of them. "We sail for Protective Cove, but keep a weather eye out for a longboat. I suspect Jack has already left the sandy beaches for the open sea."

TBC...