Gr 6-9- This trilogy concludes as Jolly, Griffin, Munk, and other pirate friends battle one last time to save their lives and world from the evil Maelstrom. As Jolly and Munk make their way underwater to find the center of it, they find strange allies along the way and meet another mysterious polliwog named Aina. Meanwhile, Princess Soledad almost dies but is saved by a serpent goddess. Jolly's love interest, Griffin, leaves the belly of Jasconius (a huge whale) to fight the king of the kobalins. Meyer has done a great job of creating a cast of intriguing and interesting people, creatures, and environment in these action-packed adventures. Pirate Wars will have the most appeal to readers who enjoyed Pirate Curse (2006) and Pirate Emperor (2007, both S & S).-Shannon Seglin, Patrick Henry Library, Vienna, VA
Pirate Wars (The Wave Walkers Series #3)by Kai Meyer
Join the pirate crew in their final spectacular adventure!
Jolly, Griffin, and their pirate friends are back, battling to save the world from the evil Maelstrom. Griffin leaves his magic room in the belly of a giant whale to take on the lord of the kobalins. Princess Soledad fights to protect the sea star city and encounters an awe-inspiring serpent god./b>… See more details below
Join the pirate crew in their final spectacular adventure!
Jolly, Griffin, and their pirate friends are back, battling to save the world from the evil Maelstrom. Griffin leaves his magic room in the belly of a giant whale to take on the lord of the kobalins. Princess Soledad fights to protect the sea star city and encounters an awe-inspiring serpent god. Together, Jolly and Munk make their way underwater to reach the center of the Maelstrom. There they meet the beautiful Aina, who is a polliwog like themselves but from an ancient time. Is she a girl or a ghost? A friend or an enemy?
While the battle for the sea star city is raging, Jolly learns the shocking truth about Aina. As Jolly begins to understand the past, she realizes what she must do to save the whole Caribbean. But is she already too late? This rip-roaring fantasy filled with nonstop action is a perfect ending to magical mastermind Kai Meyer's swashbuckling Wave Walkers trilogy.
Read an Excerpt
The Dreaming Worm
On the morning of her last day in Aelenium, Jolly visited the Hexhermetic Shipworm.
His house in the Poets' Quarter of the sea star city was narrow, just wide enough for a low door with a window beside it. As everywhere in Aelenium, there were no right angles here and hardly a straight wall. The city's buildings were formed from the ivorylike material of the coral, some having grown in a natural way, others created by stonecutters and artists.
"It's me," she called as she walked past the guard and opened the door. "Jolly."
She didn't expect an answer, and she received none. She knew how things stood with the worm. If his condition had changed, she'd have been told about it.
Jolly closed the door behind her. What she had to say to the Hexhermetic Shipworm was none of the sentry's business. Furthermore, she was afraid Munk might have followed her and stolen into the house behind her, unseen. The last thing she wanted was for him to overhear what she said to the shipworm.
This was her farewell. Hers alone.
She mounted the uneven stairs to the upper floor. There, in the largest room in the house, the worm hung in his cocoon and dreamed.
The room under the peaked roof was largely filled with the fine web being secreted by the worm's motionless body the only sign that he was still alive.
A few days before, when the first signs of his transformation became visible, Jolly had begged for him to be housed in the palace, even in her own room. But Forefather and the Ghost Trader had refused. They'd given no reason for their decision.
Jolly wasn't really surprised. She and Munk were the two most important people in Aelenium, they were told over and over again. No unauthorized person was allowed to come too close to them. Certainly not some unknown thing that might hatch from a cocoon when the worm had finished his pupation. If something should hatch.
Jolly stopped at the wall of silken threads. The windows of the roof chamber were covered with translucent material to impede the view from the houses opposite, but also because it was feared that hungry gulls might discover the helpless worm. Windows were glass only in the palaces of Aelenium's rulers, not in the dwellings of the simple folk; here they used wooden shutters to protect themselves from wind and weather, but those also blocked out the light. Instead, the fabric that had been stretched across the attic's windows turned the light streaming in milky, dissolving the edges of the shadows. There was no longer any sharp delineation between light and dark in the entire space; everything blended together, mingled.
"Hello," said Jolly once again, because the sight of the eerie thicket of silk affected her more than she'd expected. Buenaventure, the pit bull man, came here twice a day to make sure everything was all right. He'd told her of his visits, but this was the first time she'd seen the extent of the cocoon with her own eyes.
The silken threads were woven into a mighty net stretching from the floor to the peaked ceiling not unlike a spiderweb, only with much finer mesh and without an obvious pattern. The uncanny thicket of threads was several feet deep. In its center hung an oval thickening the worm's cocoon. He seemed to float. The threads that held him over the floor at shoulder height were almost invisible.
The Hexhermetic Shipworm was no longer recognizable in the center of the cocoon, his form buried underneath a layer of silk a handsbreadth thick. Only a weak pulsing showed that he was still alive.
"This is quite...impressive," said Jolly tentatively. The sight seemed to glue her mouth shut, as if it were filled with the webs too. "I hope you're feeling all right inside there."
The worm didn't answer. Buenaventure had warned her that conversation with him at this time was a one-sided affair. Nevertheless, the pit bull man was convinced that the worm could hear them. Jolly wasn't so sure of that.
"You gave all of us quite a fright," she said. "You could at least have warned us that something like this was going to happen. I mean, none of us knows a whole lot about Hexhermetic Shipworms." She sighed and stretched out her hand cautiously to touch the foremost threads of the web. The surface billowed like a curtain. It was as if a slight breeze had stroked her fingertips.
"I've come to say good-bye." She pulled her hand back and hooked her thumbs awkwardly into her belt. "Munk and I, we're going to start out. To the Crustal Breach. Everyone here in Aelenium the nobles, Captain d'Artois, the Ghost Trader, Forefather is hoping that we manage to seal the source of the Maelstrom. We do too, of course. And I don't know...Munk is really good at mussel magic. Perhaps he actually will manage it." She stopped for a moment, then went on. "Myself, I'm not ready yet, even if no one wants to admit it. Anyway, no one says it to my face. I'm not half as good with the mussels as Munk. He...well, you know him. He's so ambitious. As if he's possessed. And he's still mad at me because I turned the mussel magic against him on the Carfax. But did he give me any choice?"
She began to walk back and forth in front of the web. She'd rather have had this conversation with someone who could give her advice. But even if the companions here in Aelenium were on her side the pirate princess Soledad, Captain Walker, and his best friend, Buenaventure, the giant with the head of a dog none of them could really put themselves in her place.
Except perhaps Griffin. But Griffin had vanished. His sea horse had returned to Aelenium alone. At the thought of him, Jolly felt her knees grow weak. Before they could give way, she dropped down onto the floor, rather clumsily, and sat cross-legged. It was too late to hold back the tears that were running down her cheeks.
"No one can tell me what's become of Griffin. Everyone thinks he's dead. But that can't be. Griffin's not allowed to be dead. That's just how people talk, right? I mean, not allowed to...pretty silly, huh? As if there were some sort of rules and regulations." She shook her head. "I firmly believe he's still alive."
The cocoon in the heart of the web pulsed on undisturbed. With every faint expansion, every contraction, a wave ran through the silk like a deep breath.
"What will you have turned into when you come out of this stuff?" she asked. "Do you have any idea yourself? What about the wisdom of the worm now?"
She noticed that as she spoke her fingers were clutching her knees so hard that it hurt. Frightened, she let go.
"Forefather and the Ghost Trader whisper together from morning till night. They say the attack on Aelenium is about to happen. And this morning they decided."
She brushed a strand of hair out of her face. "We're leaving," she said wearily. "The practices are finished. I don't think Munk and I can do half of what we're supposed to be able to. But there's no more time. Tyrone's fleet will be here in two or three days, at the latest, and the deep tribes will probably attack at the same time, or even sooner. No one knows how long the soldiers of Aelenium can hold out. Maybe a few days. Maybe only a few hours."
Again some time passed in which she said nothing, staring thoughtfully at the attic floor in front of her. She imagined what would happen when the servants of the Maelstrom reached the city. The monstrous whirlpool thundering on the open sea out on the horizon had brought the kobalins under his rule. Thousands of them were advancing on Aelenium in mighty swarms. And the dreaded cannibal king, Tyrone, would fight on the side of the Maelstrom with his fleet.
Sooner or later Aelenium would have to acknowledge defeat. Sooner than ever if she and Munk weren't successful in conquering the Maelstrom. But the fight for the sea star city was supposed to create the necessary time for them to do just that. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, would lose their lives to gain precious hours and minutes for the two polliwogs to try to close the Maelstrom back into his mussel deep on the floor of the sea.
And besides everything else Griffin's disappearance, Munk's ambition, and fear of the gigantic whirlpool that was bringing all the evil to Aelenium and across the Caribbean that was what concerned Jolly the most: the fact that men would die in order to support her and Munk. Because they placed all their hopes in two polliwogs.
"I don't deserve so much trust!" she whispered sadly. "They must know that, mustn't they? That I'm going to let them down for sure."
She was just not ready yet. Maybe she never would be. But it no longer mattered. Her departure was decided.
She'd resisted, rebelled against it all in vain.
The Crustal Breach awaited her.
Jolly stood up, blew a kiss to the cocoon in the center of the web, and wiped the tears from her eyes.
"The rays are ready to leave," she said. "Captain d'Artois is going to lead us to the Maelstrom. The Ghost Trader is going with us." She smiled wearily. "And Soledad. You know her she insisted on coming with us as far as possible. No one dares to contradict her."
She pulled herself together. "Farewell," she said sadly. "Whatever you are when you hatch out of that thing farewell!"
Then she turned, left the cupola chamber, and walked slowly down the narrow stairs. The eyes of the sentry at the door widened when he saw that she had been crying. But he said nothing to her, and for that she was grateful.
"The whale is being attacked!"
Griffin started up. He lowered the hammer with which he'd just struck the first blow and turned his eyes from the coarse wooden chair that lay in front of him on the floor. The twenty-eighth. He'd counted as he went. Twenty-eight chairs for Ebenezer's Floating Tavern the first tavern in the interior of a giant whale.
"Harpoons, Griffin! They're attacking Jasconius with harpoons!"
"Who, who...kobalins, of course!" The former monk had appeared in the doorway, arms flailing.
Griffin had believed himself to be looking certain death in the eye when he was swallowed days before by the gigantic animal. But in some amazing way he'd landed in the stomach of the whale very much alive and had been rescued by Ebenezer.
The monk must have gone crazy in the long years of solitude down here, of that Griffin was convinced. His plan to open a restaurant in the stomach of the monster was the best evidence of it. This mad plan was the reason that Griffin was spending his time making chairs and tables. Until he was finished with the job, Ebenezer had threatened, Griffin would never walk on land.
"Harpoons, Griffin!" the monk repeated excitedly. "The kobalins have harpoons."
Indignant, he was running back and forth in the wood-paneled room. Outside, in front of the opened door, stretched the dark stomach cavity of the giant animal. But here inside, on the other side of the magic doorway, the atmosphere of a solid country house prevailed: very cozy, very comfortable, very well appointed.
"How many kobalins are there?" Griffin asked.
"How should I know? Have you ever heard of a whale that could count?"
Griffin opened his mouth to reply, but at that moment there was an earsplitting noise in the dark grotto of the whale's stomach. Something shot toward the open door like a wall of shadows, accompanied by a roaring and raging as if someone had torn a hole in the body of the whale.
"Flood!" Griffin bellowed, and then they both plunged forward, threw themselves against the door, and together pushed against it with all their strength.
The house-high wave crashed against the outside and brushed aside the man and boy along with the door. Water shot into the room, swirled over the parquet, flung tools and finished chairs together, and smashed some of them against the walls. Griffin and Ebenezer both howled with pain as their heads and backs were shoved against corners and wooden edges.
The water withdrew just as quickly as it had come. A second flood wave never came. In no time the water began to seep away through the cracks in the floor. When Griffin staggered to his feet with a groan, a damp film over everything was all that was left but it was enough to make it slippery. With a wild pirate oath he sailed backward onto his behind, landing on his tailbone, and wanting in his pain and rage to throw around all the dumb chairs he'd just made so laboriously.
Ebenezer's breathing was wheezy. He was sitting on the floor, his back against the wall, listening to the voice of the whale. He claimed that he and the whale understood each other through the power of their minds alone, and Griffin had become convinced that there was something to that.
Suddenly Ebenezer gasped. "He's swallowed them," he said. "Griffin, he's swallowed the kobalins!" His eyes swept worriedly to the open door and searched the splashing, gurgling darkness out there.
"How many?" Griffin was on his feet in one leap.
Ebenezer groaned. "Not many. But they're hardly likely to have drowned. It might be that he's squashed a few of them."
Griffin hurried to a chest where Ebenezer stored some of the weapons that had collected in the whale's stomach over the years. Whole shiploads of sabers, daggers, flintlock pistols, and rifles had been swallowed by Jasconius. Unfortunately, the guns were of little use in the whale's stomach the dampened powder made it impossible to fire them. And besides, the danger of missing the target and wounding the stomach wall was too great.
Griffin pulled a saber out of the chest, tried its weight in his hand, and also stuck a long knife into his belt. Ebenezer looked from the door back to Griffin. "Are you really going out there?"
"Got any better suggestions?"
The monk was torn. "Jasconius has never swallowed a kobalin. Until now they've always given him a wide berth."
Griffin picked up a lantern and pushed through the door past Ebenezer. "Stay here and bar the door. I'll see what I can do."
"We could both hide."
"And what would become of your tavern? Besides, we'll have to go out anyway to look for food soon. The supplies in the kitchen won't last forever."
Ebenezer nodded, but he didn't seem convinced. Griffin was unexpectedly touched by the older man's concern. Until now he'd rather felt himself the prisoner of the whale and his occupant, just good enough to cobble together the chairs and tables for Ebenezer's cockeyed dream. But now he realized that the monk liked him. And he couldn't really deny that it was the same on his part. Ebenezer was certainly a little crazy, quite definitely odd, but he was a lovable fellow.
"I'll be back soon." Griffin said it more to himself than to Ebenezer. The words made him sound braver than he really felt. His voice wavered, which Ebenezer must have noticed.
Kobalins with harpoons. Even if they'd lost their weapons when they fell into the throat, that didn't make them any less dangerous. Their long claws and sharp teeth were as lethal as knife blades.
Griffin walked out of the light of the room and climbed slowly down the hill with his lantern. He looked watchfully about him, taking pains to appear determined as he did so. No victim is more preferable to kobalins than one in deadly fear; it makes it easier for them to strike at their prey from ambush.
Ebenezer closed the door behind him. Griffin heard the bolt snap. The rays of brightness around him were cut off and only meagerly replaced by the weak shimmer of the lantern. The edges of the circle of light were just three or four yards apart. Beyond it, all was darkness.
Everywhere there was bubbling and splashing as the water dripped off parts of wrecks and seeped into the mire. The sounds were hardly distinguishable from the whispering speech of the kobalins.
Griffin nervously shoved some of his braids out of his face with the crook of his arm. His blond hair was plaited into dozens of them. That was really a hairstyle of the slaves brought over to the New World from Africa. It was only rarely seen on one of the white inhabitants of the Caribbean, so Griffin was especially proud of it.
He'd just reached the foot of the hill when he heard a snarl. From the right. Out of the darkness.
He raised the saber high, and then something shot at him as if it had been slung in his direction with a catapult a spindly, thin body with scaly skin on which the lamplight broke in oily rainbow colors. The kobalin's hands, with their long claws, were wide open, and his mouth gaped like the jaws of a shark.
Griffin let himself drop, and as he did, he thrust the blade upward. Steel cut through skin and muscle, a scream sounded, then the body disappeared somewhere in the shadows and moved no more. A long-drawn-out smacking indicated that it had sunk into the mud of the stomach.
That was easy, Griffin thought as he struggled to his feet. An oily shine gleamed on his blade. The kobalin must have taken him for a confused, starving castaway. But now the others were warned.
If he only knew how many he had to deal with!
He held the lamp on an arm stretched over his head. A rustling was audible somewhere in front of him, followed by the lightning-fast splish-splash of rushing feet.
At least one, thought Griffin. Probably two or three. He hoped not more.
Something hit him in the back and made him stumble forward. He cried out, stumbled into a depression between the wrecks, and plunged forward. A moment later it was clear to him that the fall had saved his life: A claw swished through the air over his head. The blow would probably have broken his neck.
But then he rolled onto his back and hit his spine on something hard. The lantern slid out of his hands and sank into the morass a yard beyond him.
In its last light Griffin made out his opponents. There were two of them. Their furrowed grimaces were like unfinished accessories arranged around their wide-open mouths as if the creator of the kobalins had concentrated all his powers on the gigantic throats and sharp rows of teeth, like a child who loses interest in a piece of clay and apathetically squashes the rest of his work together.
Griffin struck blindly over him with his saber in the darkness and at the same time tried to prop up his body with his left hand. But his fingers sank into the dark muck with a sound like a smacking kiss. Again he slashed, but his blow went wild. Instead he felt something grab his right ankle in the dark and pull on it, just outside the range of his reach. A second hand gripped his other leg, and now the creatures began to pull in opposite directions.
They're going to tear me apart! The thought flashed through Griffin's mind in a fraction of a second. Without stopping to think, he sat up and slashed a desperate stroke across his spread legs toward his feet. The pain that seared through his back with the abrupt movement was murderous.
Then resistance! A cutting sound, followed by a mad kobalin screech.
His left ankle came free. But the strength of the creature to his right forcefully pulled him farther, away from the wounded one.
Kobalins are sly, mean creatures, but they are stupid and a little childish. If they can kill an opponent slowly and painfully, they prefer to, rather than slaughtering him the quickest way because killing is like a game for them and the longer it lasts, the greater their pleasure.
This characteristic came to Griffin's aid now. The kobalin could easily have killed him in the darkness. But the feared attack did not come.
Griffin tried to kick away the claws that held his leg. In vain. The creature's long fingers sat as firmly as C-clamps. Now the kobalin was pulling him along through the bog, through puddles and mud holes, over hard wooden edges, fish skeletons, and bones, which broke beneath him and tore his clothing and his skin. Once it seemed to him that his face was being brushed by grass until he realized he was lying with his head on the matted fur of a lion cadaver.
The cries of the wounded kobalin behind him became softer, turned to gurgling and sobbing. Then they broke off.
Suddenly Griffin's leg was free.
Stuffy darkness surrounded him on all sides.
Smacking steps to his right.
Before he could spring up, claws seized his braids and pulled his head back into the mud. But still the kobalin did not kill Griffin. It snatched the saber from his victim with one grab. In a twinkling, Griffin was disarmed. Steel clattered in the distance. The kobalin had thrown the blade away.
Dumb, thought Griffin. Kobalins are really terribly dumb.
Not that this insight was of any help to him now.
He tensed his neck muscles, supported himself on his arms, and sat up swiftly. There was a fearful jerk, and with a yell he realized that he had sacrificed patches of his scalp and at least one or two braids they remained behind in his opponent's claws. But he was free.
Somehow he got onto his feet, while behind him the muscular kobalin arms snapped into emptiness like scissors.
This time Griffin didn't stop to fight. He'd learned his lesson. He ran, almost blind in the darkness. Suddenly in the blackness he saw a narrow strip of light, floating behind the parts of a wreck, which looked like huge ribs: Ebenezer had opened the magic door, a torch of light by which Griffin could orient himself in the darkness. The monk must have noted that the lantern was out. He knew that Griffin needed a signal that would point the direction to him.
"One's still alive!" Griffin called, panting, toward the doorway. "At least."
If he received an answer, it was lost in the smacking and splashing of his steps. The kobalin storming behind Griffin was also now entangled in pieces of wrecks and trails of algae. A shrill gabbling sounded at Griffin's back. Was the kobalin laughing? Or was he summoning other survivors of his brood?
Griffin ran. Stumbled. Fell. Jumped up again and rushed on.
He reached the foot of the hill. The door at the top stood wide open. Flickering light poured over the slope and the makeshift board steps. The door stood isolated at the highest point of the rise, merely a frame with an oak panel and, except for the brightness, betraying nothing of what could be found behind it. Quite certainly not a room, for the hill on the other side was empty. Nevertheless, the glow of the great fireplace fell through the frame.
Where was Ebenezer?
Griffin was now clambering up the steps on all fours. His boots were full of mud, and he was afraid of slipping off the boards if he didn't support himself with his hands, too. He looked over his shoulder and saw the kobalin not six feet behind him also on front and back claws, except that this posture looked natural for him. The light from the doorway bathed him in a scaly shimmer, an iridescent play of color. Even while climbing he waved his claws, trying to grab Griffin's leg, feeling, snapping, and snarling.
"Griffin!" Ebenezer's voice. "Stay where you are!"
Stay where he was? He wasn't about to.
Something large flew over him, missing him by only a hairsbreadth. Because that did make him halt, it didn't hit him. It hit the kobalin instead.
There was a hollow klong, then the creature cracked backward onto the steps, finally lost his grip, and disappeared into the depths. Griffin turned around and saw him land at the edge of the light, caught between two timbers and half buried under a mighty sphere, almost as big as he was.
Ebenezer's globe! The monk must have rolled it out of the back room and flung it out the door with both hands.
The kobalin stretched out a trembling claw, then the movement slackened. His clawed fingers fell onto the globe, sought a hold for the last time, and then slipped down with a shrill screeching. The malice in his glowing eyes was extinguished. A broken spar had bored through his body from behind.
Ebenezer's hands seized Griffin and helped him up.
"Was that all?"
"I think so...yes."
"Are you wounded?"
"Yes. No. Not really." He had the feeling of having to dig for each word through walls of pain in his head. Dizziness threatened to cloud his consciousness. "Only a few scratches. Otherwise nothing."
Ebenezer pulled him over the threshold into the light. Griffin fell onto his knees on the floorboards and supported himself with his arms.
"Kobalins have never attacked Jasconius before!" said the monk, while Griffin blinked up at him. "The deep tribes never dared to in the old days."
Griffin gasped for air. "I told you the kobalins are going to war. You wouldn't believe me then. This won't be the last attack. The Maelstrom has taken control of the kobalins. They won't stop for the whale, or for much larger things either. They're going to destroy everything."
Ebenezer took a few undecided paces through the room before he stopped. "I mustn't allow something like this to happen again," he said, as if to himself. His face hardened as he turned to Griffin. "And I will not allow it." There was a new decisiveness and seriousness in his voice. "Looks as if we have to change our plans."
Ebenezer nodded slowly, as if his head were heavier than usual, and at the same time his words seemed to have more weight. "The tavern must wait. Now we have to deal with cleaning up this filthy lot first."
Griffin swallowed, then the corners of his mouth twitched into the beginnings of a smile.
"Does that mean ," he began.
"We'll help your friends against this pestilence," interrupted Ebenezer as decidedly as a captain who was laying out a new course for his crew. "Jasconius will take us to Aelenium by the fastest route."
English language translation copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Die Wasserweber text copyright © 2003 by Kai Meyer
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