Jack Sparrow and the Thorns of Death
Note: This is the sequel to "Kiss of Death" so please read that first or you may be confused. And just as a reminder, this story is set during the Age of Piracy, so it is the late 1740s and 1750. Ciel is the King's Watchdog (King George II, as seen in "On Stranger Tides"). And Grell never killed Madame Red so she is alive.
The story includes some flashbacks so keep an eye out for them. I already have the first 6 chapters of this story written, too.
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. The Pirates characters belong to Disney and the Black Butler ones belong to someone (unsure who).
William T. Spears waited in the office somewhat nervously as he drummed his fingers on the metal staff of his death scythe, wondering if he had made a mistake giving Sutcliffe the potions. The thing is, he had been caught off guard with the unexpected news that Selina was back home after all of these years and so when he had asked for them, well, he had handed them over without thinking. The truth was he had been worried about the little girl that had gone missing, even if he didn't show it much and he had been overjoyed at the news of her return.
But now he was somewhat worried.
Exactly how much of Sutcliffe had the girl inherited? It was no secret he was the biggest trouble-maker in the office, always slacking off or breaking rules or creating havoc somehow. It gave him constant headaches and now he feared there might be two trouble-makers to deal with.
He didn't know if he could stand that.
But luckily she had been raised far away in the Caribbean, apparently as a Governor's daughter. She would be a proper young lady surely? He had no idea what it was like out there, as he only knew London but how different could it be?
William frowned as he recalled the girl was part demon as well. He didn't exactly like that, but she had apparently chosen to be a reaper and not a demon so he would try to overlook her genetics. He just hoped she wasn't the wild card like her mother was.
Out of all of the Shinigami or death gods as they were called, William knew he was the most serious and grim. He took his job seriously and tried his best to be a proper supervisor to the others. His black hair was always neatly combed with not a single hair out of place; his glasses were perfectly clean, his dark suit spotless and his necktie perfectly knotted. It was a dour business to collect souls and a grim reaper had to be properly grim in his opinion. Laughter and smiles was simply not wanted.
Excitement was running wild through the office, the other reapers gathered in a group as they talked about the return of the long-lost girl. No one was getting any work done but he didn't have the heart to yell at them. He couldn't wait to see her again, either.
And she apparently wasn't coming alone, either, but was bringing some of her friends with her. He just couldn't pass up the offer of more Shinigami, especially with Alan sick with that disease. There were days when he was just too ill to work and everyone had to do overtime. Four extra workers would help even out the load. He just wished he knew something about them. Grell had been as dramatic as ever, crying and getting wet stains all over his neat paperwork as he had begged for the potions and he had just handed them over without thinking. Had Grell informed the humans that the potions would bring them to death's door before changing them – most likely not – all Shinigami were dead more or less.
He heard the loud tapping of heals then and he unconsciously tightened his grip on his hedge trimmer. He knew any moment they would appear and then he would have to try to control the chaos.
And Grell, Grell expected his daughter to be a dispatch officer. They never had a female dispatch officer before. The girls usually took more gentle jobs, like secretaries and the like but the redhead would be persistent. Most women just couldn't handle the issues that came with taking someone's life and he asked himself if the girl would be any different. It could be bloody work sometimes and they saw horribly mangled corpses and then had to jamb their death scythes into the person's chest to collect the soul. Would she be able to handle that kind of work, after living a pampered life as a governor's daughter in a fine manor? And would her mother be able to understand if she couldn't? If not, he would be the one left to handle the resulting mess…
The door opened then and the flamboyant Shinigami pranced into the office on a wave of perfume, blowing kisses to his co-workers in his usual fashion. He had long red hair that trailed to the back of his knees and a red coat hung off of his arms. The rest of his clothing was the usual grim reaper attire of white dress shirt, a dark grey waistcoat and black pants. A red-and-white striped cloth was tied about his neck in a bow and his high heeled boots – women's boots no less – were red-and-black. Long fake eyelashes clung to his eyelids and he was wearing other makeup as well, like mascara. Although Grell was technically a male, he believed he was a female and referred to himself as a lady. "Here we are, my darlings! This is where your dear mother works!"
Ronald Knox, Eric Slingby and Alan Humphries stood in a line near the door waiting to meet Grell's daughter again, their faces eager. Ronald had blond hair mostly but the hair near his ears was the deepest black. He was the youngest of the Shinigami but that was about to change with the fresh faces joining the team. Ronald loved women and going to parties.
Eric and Alan were best friends and had their desks next to each other. Eric also was a blonde and had hair on one side of his head in little braids; cornrows while the rest was rather thick and bushy. He had a slight edge but got along with his co-workers well. Alan had soft brown hair and was easy-going and quiet. He often grew sick with the rare disease he had caught, the Thorns of Death. At those times he collapsed in pain and struggled to breathe. He was immortal but he was clearly dying.
And then the newcomers appeared behind Grell.
Elizabeth, formerly known as Selina, appeared first and William knew she was Grell's daughter. When she had been a little girl her hair had been brown but he saw it was now more of a reddish-blonde in her Shinigami form. She was almost as tall as her mother and her yellow-green eyes surveyed the office with confidence. She was wearing an outfit similar to what most Shinigami already wear: a white shirt with a dark colored waistcoat and a pair of man's pants with boots. He had never seen a woman wear pants before and the sight shocked him, his eyes widening for a moment. Then he noticed the sword belt, complete with scabbard and a sword hilt. This is certainly not what he had expected…
Elizabeth gently gripped the arm of the man next to her, one wearing a full Royal Navy uniform. By the looks of the outfit, he was clearly of high rank and he too possessed an air of confidence. Then he noticed two more naval officers behind the first.
Of course, they were all wearing glasses as all Shinigami wore glasses as they were extremely nearsighted. They also all had green eyes with rings of color in them. Sometimes the outer ring could look a tad yellowish and other times it was more a lime green, depending on the mood of the person. Grell, who was the hothead, often had the slight yellowish tone in his eyes when he was upset or angry. The odd eyes allowed them to see souls and cinematic records.
"William, dear, come and meet my daughter!" Grell cried happily as he motioned with a hand for the other to come closer. "Now is not the time to be a stick in the mud!"
William grimaced a bit at the remark but let it slide. He stepped up to the new employees to introduce himself. "I'm William T. Spears, your new supervisor. Over the coming month you'll learn how to be a proper grim reaper. The work isn't that hard but there are things you must learn. I see you've already got your glasses so you'll need to pick out a death scythe next. Now why don't you introduce yourselves?"
"Actually," Elizabeth interrupted in a firm voice. "We already have our death scythes."
There was the sound of a sword being pulled from the scabbard and the next moment she was holding a cutlass in her hand. The long curved blade gleamed under the office lighting, the sharp edge shining white to show its sharpness.
William stared it for a moment and adjusted his glasses with the tip of his hedge trimmer. "I hardly thing a sword is appropriate. All death scythes are to be gardening equipment…"
"A cutlass certainly can cut trees and plants." Elizabeth protested hotly as her green eyes flashed. "Clearly you've never been out to the Caribbean."
"I cannot say that I have…" William admitted as it suddenly occurred to him that he had no idea what to call her. Was she using Sutcliffe's last name or that demon's last name, Michaelis, or the name of the human that had kidnapped her? He normally knew these things in advance but the suddenness of her appearance left him at a loss with no time to prepare.
Elizabeth then pulled a round brown ball out of her pocket, showing it to him. It took him a moment to realize the thing was a coconut. He grew slightly confused then, a slight frown creasing his face, as he wasn't sure where exactly she had kept the giant nut. Her clothes were rather form-fitting and he hadn't noticed any large bulges where the nut might have been kept.
She smiled at him then, as if humoring him.
He decided he didn't like the smile and he feared that she had indeed inherited some of her mother's bad habits. He watched silently as Elizabeth set the coconut down onto someone's desk.
Ronald's desk to be precise.
Elizabeth then tossed her sword high up into the air, the sharp blade twirling around and around. Ronald, Eric and Alan gawked open-mouthed at it in amazement. The sword started to come back down and Elizabeth caught the hilt easily in her hand. The blade slashed out then at the coconut, cleanly chopping it in half as white milk went flying in all directions. Amazingly enough, none of it landed on Elizabeth herself. "Do you doubt it can do gardening?"
William sighed and pulled a white hanky out of his pocket to wipe the sticky white milk off of his face. "Fine. It's a gardening tool. I presume you know how to use a sword?"
"Of course I do." She replied.
William was sure that even out in the Caribbean women were not taught how to swordfight. And a novice certainly couldn't do the trick she had just performed. He would have to keep an eye on her he decided. He then turned his attention to the man next to her, the one in the fancy blue and gold uniform. "And you are?"
"Admiral James Norrington." The man replied in a cultured voice.
"Mr. Norrington," William began to say but was cut off.
"Admiral." James corrected him. "A retired officer is still addressed by the rank which he has honorably earned, to show respect. Or are you trying to be disrespectful, Mr. Spears?"
William's frown increased at the new words that were uttered. This was not going the way it normally went with new Shinigami. New ones were usually shy and mousey and felt unsure. They worried about fitting in and doing a good job and so forth. But these people had confidence and the man had perfect posture and that confident air that made people follow him. And now he would be forced to call him "admiral" each time he addressed him, which only pointed out his low rank of "supervisor". He adjusted his glasses again with his hedge trimmer. "I am afraid I have no experience with military tradition. I assure you no disrespect was intended."
"Very well." James nodded his head slightly to show he understood. "These are my officers, Lieutenant Commander Theodore Groves and Lieutenant Andrew Gillette. Elizabeth is my fiancée."
"And do you have any titles I should know about?" William asked Elizabeth, already sensing there was more to her than just a governor's daughter.
"Well…" Elizabeth paused uncertainly.
"Spit it out." William demanded.
"Fine!" She exclaimed as she held her chin high. "I'm the Captain of the Empress, Pirate Lord of the South China Sea and the King of the Pirates!"
Ronald, Eric and Alan gawked at her in surprise, their mouths hanging open and their eyes looking slightly glazed.
"My baby is the King of the Pirates?" Grell asked as he too looked shocked.
William closed his eyes for a moment and hung his head. Pirates, the office now had an official Shinigami pirate of all things!
Could matters get any worse?
Then he realized she most likely would be a dispatch officer. The office would never be the same.
"A letter has arrived from the King." Sebastian informed Ciel as he offered said letter to him on a silver plate, holding the plate over Ciel's office desk so the younger demon could easily take it.
"It must be a new problem for us to solve…" Ciel said as he took the letter, turning it over in his hand to study the seal of wax on the back. It was secure and unbroken, the wax bearing the King's personal mark etched into the wax. "I wonder what it is this time? I didn't notice anything in particular in the newspapers, no odd murders or anything of the sort. Maybe it's farther away, like where we first found Pluto?"
"It could be, my lord." Sebastian held the silver tray against his side as he patiently waited to see what might be required of him.
Ciel tore the letter open, the wax seal breaking. His single blue eye shifted up and back as he read what was written on the piece of parchment. "It's a summons to the King's Palace. Apparently the new job is too sensitive for us to be informed by letter…"
"My, that does sound important."
"Sebastian, prepare the carriage. We shall leave at once." Ciel said as he stood, picking up his walking stick. "And get my top hat. I need to look my best for the King."
Elizabeth followed her mother as she was led around the Shinigami Realm on a tour. So far they had been shown the offices, the cafeteria, classrooms where they would take classes, had been assigned apartments for their personal use and now the tour was taking them outside. Apparently there was more than one building and they would have to learn their way around. For some reason or other, the other Shinigami had decided to tag along, especially Mr. Spears with his watchful eyes and she had the distinct feeling he disliked pirates. A lot of other people had disliked pirates as well and they hadn't fared well. Besides, it wasn't like she was a real pirate, even if they had voted her King, as she had never actually gone pirating (unless one counted that bit where Will had tried to steal the map from Sao Feng).
"It's really good to see you again." Alan said with a smile as he walked nearby. The skin around his lips was a little pale, as if he didn't feel good. "We've all searched for you years ago, when you disappeared…I'm glad you're all right."
"It's good to see you again, too. I would dream about this place, you know…" Elizabeth fiddled with her glasses, still not used to them. Truthfully, she found them rather annoying and wished she could toss them away somewhere. Her ears felt raw where the handles were rubbing or maybe that was just her imagination. She was sure with time she would grow used to them and they were nowhere near as awful as the corset had been. "I hadn't known if it were real or not… The man that raised me didn't believe in the supernatural, not until he saw the cursed pirates anyway."
"Are you really the King of the Pirates?" Eric asked with a somewhat crooked smile.
"I am. Jack voted me to be their king. He's a good man, Jack." Elizabeth thought of the famous pirate and pondered where he was now. Had he gotten himself into another awful mess by now or was he enjoying a bottle of rum on some beach? She realized that she'd probably never know now or ever see Jack again, as she was now stuck in London being a reaper. She realized then she would miss the sea, but she still had the Empress and maybe they would get days off where she could still go out sailing. The Atlantic and the English Channel was not the Caribbean she knew so well, but it would have to do. She had her family and James and surely that's all that mattered?
"He's a pirate." James scoffed at her words. "Don't tell me you still trust him, after everything you've been through."
"Of course I trust Jack." Elizabeth replied automatically. "He saved my life. And he can do the right thing when he wants to. He's not totally selfish you know."
"He does things only when he profits from it." James corrected.
Elizabeth looked at her fiancée and she could see he still harbored dreams of hanging Jack, even if he knew he could never actually do it. James just couldn't erase a lifetime of hanging pirates and then switch to being friends with them. She saw he tried for her sake, but he still had the old thoughts and habits inside and he had been chasing Sparrow ever since he had met the man that fateful day. It also irked him terribly that the pirate often outsmarted him and made him look the fool. She really wished they could be friends someday, but she supposed that was unlikely. "I suppose it's moot anyway. We'll probably never see Jack again. I'm sure he's off chasing after some legendary treasure and lying on some nameless beach with a bottle of rum."
"And shipless no doubt." James added with a crooked smile, as if the idea pleased him. "He is quite the penniless pauper…"
They turned a corner then and Elizabeth was startled to see a long pier sticking out into what looked to be some unnamed sea. Well, she was sure it had a name but she was clueless as to what it was, but it was the last thing she had expected to see here in the Shinigami Realm. The path they were on ran along the water and continued on to some huge building with a big dome, which no doubt was their real destination. But it was the sea that drew her ringed green eyes, a sight she thought she would never see again. Yet here it was.
The salty sea breeze blew her hair off of her shoulders and tugged on the sleeves of her white shirt. She stopped before the pier and stared out to sea. The waves sloshed against the shore in the endless sound that was so familiar to her ears, the waves rolling in tipped with white foam. The water was darker than the bright blue-green she was used to in the Caribbean, but that mattered little at this point. And for some reason she seemed drawn here, to this spot. She could tell the water was deep, the dark depths mysterious and probably freezing. A few bits of flotsam floated on the crashing surf, a dried leaf and a few twigs from some unknown shore carried here over endless distances.
She was about to step onto the pier with one boot when she felt an arm wrap itself around her waist and draw her back. Glancing down, she saw the dark blue and gold of James' fancy Admiral's coat. She was about to ask why he had stopped her, but then her eyes saw the condition the pier was in. The wood was old and rotted, black with deep marks marring its wet uneven surface. It was a miracle it was holding together still.
"What ship docks here?" James asked the other Shinigami.
Elizabeth watched the others exchange confused glances. Eric and Alan looked at each other, then to Ronald who looked at Grell and then to William. It was clear to her within an instant that none of them knew.
"I've never seen any ship here since I became a Shinigami over a hundred years ago…" Grell replied as he raised a hand and tossed his long hair behind his back, the sea breeze blowing it about and into his eyes. "I doubt if any ship uses this pier…"
"It's a floating pier." James replied firmly. "And that means it's for a ship to dock at and the water here is deep so the hull can come right next to the shore. It's in atrocious condition, the wood rotten and falling apart. When I was in charge of Port Royale, I would never allow a pier to deteriorate so badly."
"As far as I know, no ships use this pier so I doubt if it's important…" William said somewhat doubtfully as he stared at the rotten wood that fell and rose with each wave. "Truthfully, I never paid it much attention."
"Who would come here anyway?" Ronald asked, clearly confused. "Other areas have their own dispatch offices and buildings…"
Something was itching at her mind, a thought. Elizabeth turned to regard her new boss, William. "Where does the Dutchman moor?"
"Moor?" William asked. "I don't even know what that means…."
"The Flying Dutchman; she's a real ship and ferry's the souls of those that die out at sea. I've seen her and have been aboard her. She moors somewhere; where she anchors … where does she take the souls that she collects?" Elizabeth eyed the pier, trying to imagine the Dutchman tied up to it. From what she could tell, it may be long enough.
"I'm afraid I never heard of the Dutchman…" William stated.
"Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman…" James said with a somewhat crooked smile. "It's an old sea story, except it's very true. My last post was aboard the Dutchman, trying to force Jones to follow orders. He was a loose cannon, destroying ships with his triple guns and his kraken. And he was truly a monster, part human and part octopus; his crew deformed fish-men."
"It was his punishment for not doing his job." Elizabeth explained as she recalled what the sea goddess had told her. "He was supposed to be ferrying the souls of the dead but he hadn't done that for hundreds of years, so he turned into a monster. But the Dutchman has a new captain now. She'll be collecting the countless thousands of souls stranded in the Locker and bringing them in…"
Ronald gulped and his eyes grew wide behind his black framed glasses. "Thousands? That would be a nightmare of overtime!"
"Yes, thousands…" Elizabeth confirmed, remembering all of the souls she had seen in the rowboats and in the water.
"But surely she takes them somewhere in the Caribbean…" Ronald said hopefully as he brightened at the thought. "Why cross all of that water to come here?"
"Because this is where ships are built, in England, and a ship returns to her home port." James replied in his cultured voice. "The Caribbean is wild still, although I tried to put a stop to the countless pirates, rumrunners and assorted lowlifes. Even magic and voodoo is real out there. And ships sink during the crossing as well, so there will be souls to collect between here and there."
Elizabeth noticed a bit of wood lying on the ground then, almost obscured by some green weeds that grew near the water's edge. There was a bit of rusty chain attached to it, the chain itself long broken. It reminded her of the signs that hung outside of businesses, signs that had the places name carved on them. If the pier had belonged to the Dutchman, it could very well have had its name staked out on a sign long ago. Elizabeth poked at the piece of wood with her boot, easily flipping it over to expose the letters etched deep into the wood: The Flying Dutchman. A smile broke out across her lips and she picked up the board, showing it to the other Shinigami. "I don't believe in coincidences anymore. The Dutchman will be coming in…"
William frowned, his grip on his hedge trimmer tightening. "How is it that you've been here just a few hours and you've discovered things that I haven't in over a hundred years?"
"I know the new captain of the Dutchman. And the ship needs a living heart…" Elizabeth really didn't want to think about that day. She may love James, but she still had feelings for Will too and it had been terrible knowing that his heart had been cut out while he had still been alive. She didn't want to imagine the pain that might have caused him or that he had gone through it to save her life. The curse had got him on the end, the kisses catching up to him.
Elizabeth pulled the Dead Man's Chest out of the aether where she had it hidden, holding it in her hands. She stuck the key in the lock, twisting it and the lid popped open to reveal the still beating heart that rested inside the chest. The heart thudded steadily, the valves pumping invisible blood through its chambers. "This is the heart of the Dutchman. It was cut out of her captain while he was still alive. Do you really think I can't sense where she docks?"
Alan paled at the sight and clung to Eric, who put a comforting arm around his shoulders to help support him, Ronald stared at it somewhat horrified, Grell studied it with curiosity as blood had never bothered him one bit and William just gazed at it with a somewhat blank expression.
"You are full of surprises." William finally said after a moment of looking at the heart. "I suppose we must build a new dock. Who knows how to do that? Admiral Norrington?"
"My lieutenants and I can do so easily, but we'll need the proper equipment and supplies." James replied as he stared at the rotten pier in utter disgust.
"I'll see that you have it, after we finish the tour and visit the Library." William promised.
Elizabeth locked the chest again and put it away. She thought she wouldn't see Will for ten years, but now that she was a Shinigami she might see him more often. She wasn't sure how she felt about that. The supervisor started to lead them towards the domed building, which apparently was the Library, and she started to follow; James at her side. Gillette and Groves trailed behind, the two already making a list of what they would need to build a new pier.