Title: Singapore Enchantment
Characters: James, Elizabeth, Chai, Mei, Tai Huang
Summary: Set during AWE. After James is stabbed by Bootstrap, Elizabeth manages to rescue him from the Dutchman onto the Empress. But is the weird Singapore magic strong enough to save his life, especially since she is the one who has to use it?
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Disney.
Author's Note: The two Chinese girls in this story are not Park and Lian from the Bath-house scene as they were both killed. These are the twin Chinese girls known as the "Empress Twins" that were on the Empress and who helped dress Elizabeth in the fancy outfit for Sao Feng. They don't appear to have names, so I have decided to call them Chai and Mei.
Elizabeth Swann clung to the thick rope that trailed from the Empress with all of her might, her fingers white-knuckled as she was dragged through the freezing ocean. The numb-inducing waves however could not compete with the ice dagger that had stabbed through her heart a moment before as she had watched James fall to the deck of the Flying Dutchman, run through with a sword. Never before had she felt so helpless as she did now. Even before, on her very first adventure with Pintel and Ragetti, she had "parlay" up her sleeve. But what could she do now but cling to a rope? She was down here and James was up there, the distance between them growing already.
Somehow she felt it was her fault. She had called out to him at the wrong moment, distracting him as the crazy fishman approached. If only she had kept her mouth shut, if only she had been more persuasive in convincing James to come with her, if only there was something she could do! At the moment it was hard just keeping her head out of the water, her elaborate Asian outfit now water soaked and threatening to pull her under. Waves slapped her in the face and she coughed, clearing her nostrils. How much time had passed since he had fallen? Was he still alive? Could she save him somehow?
She felt the rope moving now, the Asian pirates pulling the rope up onto the deck. She tightened her grip and hung on, kicking with her feet to bring her closer to the Empress. Then she was hauled up the side like a sack of potatoes, the strong Asian pirates dealing with her scant weight easily. She transferred her grip to the railing and quickly climbed onto the deck to face them. Many of them stood there staring at her while others ran around doing their jobs with the sails as they prepared to flee Jones' ship of monstrous mutants.
"You Captain now." Tai Haung reminded her, his arm wrapped in a sling of white cloth. It had been clearly damaged somehow when the Flying Dutchman had attacked them earlier. He wore a straw worker's hat, a studded leather jacket, pants that went only to his knees and sandals. One eye was a faded gray and the other a normal brown. His hair was long and in a ponytail that flowed down his back.
"Turn this ship around, now!" Elizabeth screamed at them in her best voice of command as water dripped off of her and onto the deck around her. She impatiently shoved wet strands of hair out of her eyes. "We have to rescue James! He risked his life to save us from that cell and now he needs us!"
"We small. Dutchman big." Tau Haung stated in English, fear clear in his mismatched eyes. "She outguns us and we are injured. How do you propose we do this?"
How? Elizabeth didn't have the bloodiest idea how they could do it. And she was very aware of the gaping hole that went right through the Captain's cabin from the cannon shot that had killed Sao Feng. And many of the crew was injured to boot. If they turned around now and attacked the Dutchman, they might not escape again. But she couldn't just leave James to die, either. Her thin body trembled from the stress of it, hot anger keeping her from freezing in the dripping clothes. How could she get these pirates to obey her? Most of them didn't even understand English and she was forced to rely on the first officer, Tau Haung, to translate her orders for her. Worst, he didn't like that she was Captain, but had been quick enough to point at her earlier when they had been captured! That labeled him as one of the worst sorts possibly.
"Blazing Air…" a soft voice stated.
Elizabeth turned her gaze onto the young woman who had spoken. It was one of Sao Feng's female bodyguards, one of the Chinese twins that had dressed her earlier. She didn't recall seeing the girl in the cell with the other pirates, but she was clearly here again so she must have been.
"That has never been proven to work!" Tau Haung snorted in disgust.
"What is it?" Elizabeth demanded to know, hope growing within her chest. She knew that many wondrous inventions and weapons had come from the Orient, including black powder and fireworks. "If this Blazing Air has a chance to save James, we have to take it! There is no time to lose!"
"It experimental weapon against Jones. Never tested." Tau Haung stood there looking sour. It was clear he would rather flee.
"Then we test it now! There is no better time! Jones believes we are fleeing so he won't expect an attack! Look, he doesn't even care enough to pursue us!" Elizabeth pointed behind them to where it was clear that the Flying Dutchman didn't even care that they had escaped. No orders rang out on the other ship, no busy crew ran about preparing things. "Get this Blazing Air and use it! We attack the Flying Dutchman!"
Tau Haung tightened his lips into a thin pale line, but then he bowed slightly in her direction and shouted orders in Chinese. The crew grew wide-eyed and fearful, but they ran to do his bidding. A cannon was loaded with some mysterious object and the ship came about, turning with ease as it was small and maneuverable. Soon they were approaching the Dutchman from the rear, in silence.
"Jones is fish-man. He likes it wet. Blazing Air removes water from fish-man, makes him weak and dry. We test earlier on real fish. Not harm humans, only fish." Tau Haung explained. "Sao Feng knew we would face Jones sooner or later, so he had this developed in secret. Still, I doubt it. Fish-man are unnatural and not real fish."
Elizabeth knew she was asking a lot of the pirates and it was a miracle that they were obeying her at all. Pirates generally did what was in their own best interest and in this case, that was fleeing for their lives. Perhaps she had gained their trust by staying in the same cell with them or the fact that it was her obvious friendship with James that had rescued them. Whatever it was, she was thankful that it was working! If only their luck would hold out a little longer!
The Dutchman was incredibly close now and then the loud retort of the Empress' cannon rang out. She saw the bright flash of fire from the cannon's mouth and then instead of a heavy lead ball striking the enemy ship, strange red sparkles filled the air above the Dutchman's deck. And then they were alongside it and hooks were being thrown upward onto the Dutchman's taller deck. Chinese pirates shimmied up the ropes as fast as monkeys and she stepped forward to follow them, but a strong hand gripping her elbow stopped her.
"Wait here. They bring." Cautioned her new first officer.
And he was as good as his word. A moment later the pirates were coming back carrying James. They had him strapped to a board they had found somewhere and Elizabeth cried out when she saw the sword protruding from his body. She dashed forward then, an icy fear squeezing the very air out of her chest. Could he still be alive with an injury like that? Within a few scant moments she was at his side and quickly gripped his limp hand. It felt cool but she could feel a weak pulse at his wrist. His eyes were closed but his nostrils flared a little with each breath. She heard Tau Haung shout something in Chinese and then she felt the ship beginning its turn so they could escape, hopefully before the Blazing Air wore off of Jones' men.
The pirates carried James into Sao Feng's Captain's cabin and carefully set the board down in a clean spot on the floor and then they left. Elizabeth sunk to her knees at his side, her throat tight and her lips trembling. What could she do for him? She was raised as a Governor's daughter, not as a doctor! She knew very little first aid and what she did know was no where equal to treating this type of wound! Had she rescued James just to watch him die? She gripped his hand tighter, her eyes starting to burn as tears threatened to spill out.
Sensing she was no longer alone, she glanced up to see the two twin Chinese girls standing side by side, looking down at her.
"Please, help me!" Elizabeth pleaded.
"Yes, we help." The girl on the right replied as she moved closer to Elizabeth, a folded colorful garment in her hands. "First you change."
"Change?" Elizabeth's eyes grew wide in shock and she shook her head in denial, cold drops of water spraying off the end of her drenched hair. "No, we don't have time for that! Can't you see, James is dying! We need to do something to save him! Do you have a doctor on board, a surgeon? Do you understand, a doctor? A healer?"
But the two Chinese girls reached down and gripped her by the arms and hauled her to her feet. Pulling her away slightly from James, they started to undress her with nimble fingers. Soon the soaking wet outfit was on the floor and they dried her off quickly, even rubbing most of the water out of her hair. Then she was redressed in a soft but colorful robe sporting a floral design and trimmed in sparkling gold threads. The material was quilted and she savored the new warmth that covered her skin. Elizabeth hadn't wanted to admit it, but she had been freezing in the wet outfit, her teeth on the verge of chattering. Only her worry for James had stopped her from seeking relief from the condition. It seemed paltry to worry about simply feeling cold when James had a sword through him.
And how was she to deal with that? Was it better to pull it out or would he bleed to death if she did that? But surely she couldn't leave it in, either! He would never heal that way. And the sword looked so dirty, crusted with all sorts of nasty grime and gunk from the Dutchman. The thing is she just didn't know what to do and she feared that the crew knew little English. Even Tai Huang, who knew more English than the others, spoke in clipped sentences. The stress of the situation was becoming unbearable, yet James' life rested in her hands. If he was going to survive this, it would be up to her to decide what was to be done and how. It was a lot to rest on her thin shoulders. She would need a level head. Crying and breaking down into an emotional heap would do James little good.
Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth tried to calm her jangled nerves. It helped a little, but not much as she could feel the panic waiting just in the shadows ready to overtake her. Trying to stay in control, she turned to the two girls. "Thank you. I do feel much better now. Do you have a doctor on board? A doc-tor? Do you understand; a healer?"
One of the girls pointed a finger at Elizabeth. "You heal."
"No, I don't know how!" Elizabeth cried in anguish, feeling as if she was getting nowhere due to the language barrier. "I don't know how! You have to help me or I might make it worst!"
"You use magic disk. It heals." One of the girls replied as she turned to survey the badly damaged room. The back wall was entirely shattered, sharp pieces of jagged boards poking out in dozens of directions. "But first we must find."
"A magic healing disk?" Elizabeth asked, the first ray of hope starting to fill her gloomy heart. Perhaps that was even better than a doctor? A doctor could make mistakes but surely magic couldn't, could it? But then her brown eyes swept over the condition of the room and her spirits sunk. It was a shambles! Most of the floor was littered with bits of busted board from where the cannonball had torn its way through to kill Sao Feng. She was surprised that his stiff, cold body was not still propped up against the wall where he had died. Someone apparently had the oversight to have it removed and she was thankful for that small kindness. She didn't need the dead eyes of a corpse staring at her while she tried to save her old friend from death. Still, if searching through the rubble was what it took, she would gladly do so. "What does it look like?"
"It large stone." One of the girls replied as she bent to start looking, picking up pieces of busted board to peer underneath. "It was in … box … there."
Elizabeth looked to where the girl pointed and sighed. Of course it had to have been where the cannonball ripped its way through the rear wall! But she wasted no time and started tossing boards and other bits of rubbish aside, carefully looking at each thing as she picked it up. Had the disk survived in one piece? She could only hope that it had, for apparently the ship had no real physician on board or perhaps he had been killed in the attack as well. There was no way to find out, as the twins seemed set on her healing James herself. The idea made her extremely nervous, as she just didn't have the knowledge to do that.
She was clearing a large area rapidly, working steadily in a weird bent over position. Many of the pieces were sharp and she had been jabbed several times by being careless, the jagged bits of wood stabbing her in her hands. The wounds were minor, little more than splinters really but each one hurt and she would instinctively jerk her hand away from the offending piece of wood. She didn't want to think what James must have felt the moment he was run through, for surely it was a thousand times worst than the little pricks she had just suffered. Could he survive until she found the disk? She was searching as quickly as she could, but she couldn't help feel the sand pouring through the hourglass. Surely he couldn't have much time left? How long could a person live while pierced by a sword? Did it go all of the way through him? Was blood leaking out from underneath him right now to form an unseen puddle? The thoughts alone were disturbing and Elizabeth tried to stop thinking them, but it wasn't easy. The fear was right there, a cold thing breathing on the back of her neck. Shivering, she forced her mind to the task at hand.
A particularly large board was right before her and she bent to carefully grab its edge. Straining, she struggled to push it upward, lifting with her knees as Will had once told her. Finally she felt it starting to move and she gave it a mighty heave, shoving it over the other way. The other side was lacquered, smooth and finished. Its appearance reminded her of an expensive piece of furniture, something her father might have had in his house and that gave her hope. Sao Feng would surely have kept his prize possessions in a chest of drawers or something similar. That might have been what the girl had meant by "box".
Underneath there was a pile of clothing and Elizabeth bent eagerly to dig through the stash. Near the bottom she found a black velvet drawstring bag about the size of her palm. Upon seeing it, a burst of excitement surged through her bloodstream and her heart pounded faster. Eagerly she reached for it, her fingers closing around it securely. Whatever was inside was heavy for its size and felt like a hard oval. Pulling at the drawstrings, she eagerly opened the little bag and spilled the contents into her other hand.
It was a rock, just like the Chinese girl had said.
"Is this it?" Elizabeth quickly asked as she showed the rock to one of the girls.
"Yes, that healing rock. Now you must prepare." The girl replied.
"And we must prepare him." The other girl stated as she turned to face James where he lay. "My name is Mei. She is Chai. She will fix tea for you now."
"I'm Elizabeth…" She stated as a sudden bout of nervousness suddenly overtook her. She could feel it bubbling in the pit of her stomach, like a bunch of pesky flies that wanted out. It was that word "prepare" that she didn't exactly like somehow, as that suggested dealing with that sword. Now that the time had finally come to deal with it, she wanted to postpone it somehow. The idea of reaching out and grabbing the hilt to pull it out….the very idea made a shiver pass down her spine right into her stomach. She wasn't normally meek, but what if a great geyser of blood sprayed out? What if removing it killed him?
"Come." Mei encouraged as she took Elizabeth by the hand and gently tugged her forward. "You help me prepare him now."
Elizabeth allowed herself to be lead forward until she was once again before James. His face was pale, but not as white as his powdered wig. She could see that his chest was still rising and falling, although a bit shallowly but that little movement gave her hope that he just might survive this after all, especially now that she had the magic rock. She also noted that there were no drops of blood on his lips or around his mouth, not yet anyway. Blood from the mouth was usually fatal, even she knew that. His mouth was open a bit, perhaps from pain or maybe he was breathing that way, she was uncertain.
"Belly wound." Mei stated as she pointed to the sword. "Slow death, many days."
For the first time Elizabeth looked to exactly where the sword had stabbed him and she saw that Mei was right: the sword was stuck through James' stomach. Before she had seen the sword and had been too upset to note the details, but now she felt as if she was in a weird trance and that she could look at it. She could just make out a dark stain against the bright gold of his Navy waistcoat where the sword entered his body.
"He … he won't die right away?" She asked nervously as she clenched her empty hand over and over, unsure of what will happen next. Her other hand tightened around the magic rock until she could feel her tendons straining from the pressure.
"Many days…" Mei held up her hand, showing five fingers.
"Five days…" Elizabeth whispered to herself. Could she heal him in five days? The wound looked so awful and she didn't even know if she could really use this magic rock. She had experienced magic items before, of course. There had been the cursed Aztec medallion, Jack's magic compass and she had been to The Locker. But all had not been perfect. The medallion had brought her bad luck, the compass often did not work right or show her what she really wanted and the Locker, well, it had been bad. Would this rock be any different? Still, it was all she had to believe in and so she had to trust it. "What do we need to do?"
"First we do this." Mei reached out and pulled the sword out with one swift but smooth movement.
A cry escaped from Elizabeth's lips as the sword was removed and she leaped backward a bit, her hands flying to cover her mouth. She heard James moan and saw his eyelids flutter, but they stayed closed. And to her relief, no great spray of blood burst forth from the now empty hole that went deep into his body. That had been her biggest fear and she was now free of it. Still, she could not help but to stare at the gaping hole. She didn't want to look at it, yet she could not tear her eyes away, either. It was the most oddest sensation ever and she could feel herself becoming slightly queasy. But she could not afford to be sick, not now, and she swallowed, trying to force the uncomfortable feeling down.
"Now we undress him." Mei calmly stated. "You help."
"Undress…?" Elizabeth asked, her face suddenly growing hot. She had never done such a thing before in her life and it was considered improper, indecent. But she knew they needed to treat the wound and for that they needed to see it…
So undress him she would.
To be continued…