Vampirates: Tide of Terror


By Justin Somper

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 1, 2008. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

In this sequel to Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean, there’s a traitor aboard the Diablo and enemies at every turn. As the danger intensifies, Grace discovers a place where her twin brother Connor could learn more about the pirate way without risking his life: the elite Pirate Academy. Will Connor choose an education by sea or by school, and will Grace be forced to follow him wherever he goes?


A tale as old as true.
Yea, I’ll sing you a song of an ancient ship,
And its mighty fearsome crew.
Yea, I’ll sing you a song of an ancient ship,
That sails the oceans blue…
That haunts the oceans blue.”

As many times as they had heard the shanty, they had never thought that the ship might actually exist. But it did! And she had found herself on board, coming face to face – or rather, face to mask – with its enigmatic captain.

“They say that the captain, he wears a veil
So as to curtail your fright
At his death-pale skin
And his lifeless eyes
And his teeth as sharp as night.
Oh, they say that the captain, he wears a veil
And his eyes never see the light.”

The captain did not wear a veil, but rather a mask. This was just one of the ways in which the reality of the Vampirate ship contrasted with the words of the shanty. The ship was as mysterious as she might have anticipated. But it certainly wasn’t the place of unalloyed horror that everyone expected. At least, it hadn’t been for her.

“Wasn’t it a terrible place?” one or other of the pirates would ask her each and every day. “What was the worst thing that you endured?” was another popular question. And “What were they like, those demons?”

Faced with these questions, Grace had decided the best strategy was to say, “I’d rather not talk about it, if you don’t mind.” That generally did the trick. Poor Grace, they thought. Of course, she doesn’t want to conjure up memories of that awful place.

This was far easier than trying to persuade them that she had actually been treated well on board that ship. The masked captain had seemed a benevolent creature, with Grace’s best interests at heart. And though the Vampirates did – of course – drink blood, they did so in a measured fashion at the weekly Feast. And the blood was supplied by donors, who were treated well in exchange for their gift. She had told Connor about this, but even he had struggled to understand how she could be so accepting of it all. The mere thought of blood-taking – or “the sharing” as the Vampirates called it – filled him with horror. Grace smiled. As tough as Connor might appear to his pirate comrades, the very thought of blood made him nauseous. It was a good thing, she reflected, that it was she who had found herself on the Vampirate ship and he on the pirate vessel – and not the other way around!

As strange as it sounded, Grace had made good friends on the Vampirate ship. Why, the very clothes she was wearing had been given to her by Darcy Flotsam – the ship’s figurehead by day and, in her own words, “figure of fun by night”.

Sitting down on her narrow bed, Grace drew back the thin curtain over her porthole. Outside, the ocean was dazzling blue. It made her think – as she so often did – of Lorcan Furey. He was the “young” Vampirate who had rescued her from drowning. He had guarded her aboard the ship and, when the pirates came to find her, he had protected her one last time. She had left the ship in much more of a rush than she would have liked. She hadn’t even had the chance to say a proper goodbye to Lorcan. She had lost track of him after Connor arrived. Her brother’s arrival had been such a surprise!

Of course, Lorcan must have headed inside the ship as daylight fell. But, when Grace went to his cabin to bid him farewell, he wasn’t there. She had made Connor wait while she searched the rest of the ship for him, but she hadn’t found him. Even the Vampirate captain was unable to tell her where Lorcan might be. Finally, she could stall Connor no more. Grace said her goodbyes to the Vampirate captain and then returned to her cabin one last time. She took a small case of possessions – including the notebooks from her cabin and some of Darcy’s cast-off clothes – and headed back up to the deck to depart.

When she had unpacked the case in her cabin on The Diablo later, she had discovered a small wooden casket that she didn’t remember packing. There was a small cloth bundle inside. As she unwrapped it, a small notecard fell out. Written in a familiar spidery scrawl – the handwriting even wilder than normal – were the words:

Dear Grace,
Something to remember me by.
Travel safe!

Your true friend,
Lorcan Furey

Grace’s heart was beating fast as she lifted the card. Just the sight of Lorcan’s scrawled signature was enough to move her. But folded within the cloth lay an even greater shock. For there was Lorcan’s Claddagh ring. She remembered the first time she had seen it, as he’d brushed a stray hair from her wet face, after rescuing her from drowning.

Now she looked down at the ring – at the strange icon of the hands clasping a skull, a small crown set upon the skull’s head. She took the ring in her fingers. This was too great a gift, she thought. It was almost a part of Lorcan. But perhaps that was the point, she thought with a thrill. He wanted her to have a part of him. She’d have to return it to him one day, she decided. In the meantime, it would be her talisman – a reminder of the time she had spent on the Vampirate ship and an omen that one day, in the future, she would return.

For now, she unfastened the chain Connor had given her, and slipped the ring onto it, so that it nestled beside Connor’s locket. They were her two most precious possessions.

Grace reached up her fingers to touch the ring now. Sometimes, when she touched it, she closed her eyes and had such a clear vision of the Vampirate ship, it was as if she was able to see it for real. If only this were true!

How were they all – the captain and Darcy and Lorcan? she wondered. Where were they now? Once again, she wished she had had longer to say her goodbyes. It had been impossible to argue with Connor when he had said she must come to live with him on The Diablo. She would never have been able to convince him that they should stay on the Vampirate ship. That would be madness, wouldn’t it? Choosing to live amongst a crew of Vampirates? She remembered something her father had once told her. “Sometimes madness is wisdom, Gracie.” She had the feeling her dad would have understood.

Grace let her hand fall from Lorcan’s ring. She would have chosen to stay with them if she had had a real choice. Only one of the crew had threatened her. As always, she shuddered as the image of Lieutenant Sidorio came into her mind – his eyes flaming pits of fire, his gold incisors as sharp as daggers.

Sidorio – who had killed his donor and held Grace hostage in her cabin until the captain rescued her.

Sidorio – who had told her that he had been killed by Julius Caesar himself before he crossed.

Sidorio – who had been banished from the ship, and sent into exile.

He had been the only truly dangerous one aboard that ship, thought Grace, as she stared out into the translucent ocean. But Sidorio was gone. The danger had passed. Surely it would be safe to return now, if she could only find a way.

Send this pirate to his rest.
He was one amongst the best –
Set his spirit free to fly

Brother Sun and Sister Moon,
Bathe him in your balmy light.
Now no longer need he fight –

The one you called back far too soon.

Lightning, thunder, wind and rain,
Let his cutlass blunt and rust,
As his body turns to dust –

Free from every mortal pain.

Spring tide, neap tide, morning, night,
All you things that frame our days,
Carve him out a resting place –
Where ever will his cares be light

Creek and harbour, gulf and reef
Waters shallow, waters deep,
Grant him now eternal sleep –
And anchor us who reel with grief

Bart hadn’t had to look once at the piece of paper in his hands. Grace guessed that it was an old poem, but the way Bart spoke it, each word seemed fresh and potent. There had even been a temporary lull in the wind, as if the elements themselves were paying heed to the pirate’s pleas for his lost comrade.

Now, Bart turned and signalled to Connor and the four other pirates beside them. The six men, all wearing black armbands, arranged themselves around Jez’s coffin. On a quiet count, they lifted it as one and walked slowly and sombrely to the prow of the ship. The skull and crossbones flapped in the breeze.

They held the coffin aloft for a moment and then let it drop down into the waters below. It met them with a terrible thud. Grace’s heart wrenched at the sound. But the noise was soon overwhelmed by a volley of cannonfire, during which Bart, Connor and their fellows resumed their positions.

At the close of the cannonfire, Molucco Wrathe turned to his crew.

“This has been a sad day, my friends, but there are two halves to mourning a death – first, the sadness and then, the celebration of a fine life. Tonight, we shall direct ourselves to Ma Kettle’s Tavern to drink a toast or two to Mister Stukeley.”

There were sounds of approval across the deck – and although they were more muted than usual, the noise was a sign that things would soon return to normal about The Diablo. It seemed terribly sudden to Grace but perhaps this was just the way things had to be aboard a pirate ship.

“And now,” said the captain, “go about your business. Let no man say that The Diablo isn’t the finest pirate ship on all the seas.”

Connor stood with Bart on one side and Grace on the other. He needed them now, more than ever. He had always known that the life of a pirate could be brief. His first night aboard ship, Bart had told him, “I’ll be lucky to see my thirtieth birthday.” Connor had registered the words but only now did he really understand how true they were. The Three Buccaneers were supposed to have been invincible. Jez was only twenty-three – far too young to die. But, thought Connor, when you sign up to be a pirate, you accept that you are never too young to die. He was only fourteen, but he could just as easily lose his own life in the next battle. He couldn’t risk leaving Grace all alone in the world. He’d have to smarten up and stop daydreaming. And he’d have to watch Captain Wrathe a little more carefully too. He couldn’t shake the feeling that, in spite of the captain’s fine eulogy, Jez Stukeley had died a needless death.

It seems no pirate captain wants a wife.
So it’s time to jump this ship, and give piracy the slip –
Yes, I’ve had it with the nautical life!

I had ocean-faring dreams
But nothing’s what it seems.
Yes, I’ve had it with the nautical life!
Oh, I’ve well and truly had it with the nautical life!”

At this, Sugar Pie removed the captain’s hat from her head, shook down her long blonde hair and beamed at the audience.

Grace smiled despite herself. She and Sugar Pie had something in common, she thought wryly. If only it was so easy to give piracy the slip!

A short distance away, a small boat docks at the jetty.

There are three people inside – the ferryman and two passengers.

“This is the place,” the ferryman announces.

“Excellent,” says the heftier of the two passengers. “Stukeley, out you get while I settle our tariff.”

Stukeley needs no further urging. “Ma Kettle’s Tavern,” he says in wonder, as his feet land on the jetty. “I never thought I’d see you again!”

“Don’t go too far ahead!” the other passenger calls after him. “We must be careful.”

“No, Captain. I’ll wait for you just here.”

“Good, Lieutenant,” says the other, turning his attention to the ferryman. “This gold buys your silence,” he says, “but, I wonder, can you be trusted?”

The ferryman nods eagerly, his hand reaching out for the payment. But the other’s fist suddenly closes about the gold. “I’m afraid my trust issues have gotten the better of me again,” he says with a sigh.

The ferryman looks at him in surprise. Something is very wrong here. The surprise soon turns to indignation, then raw terror.

Stukeley has been lost in thought as he watches the glorious waterwheel turning in the distance and hears the familiar slosh of the waters. But now there is a bigger splash close by. He turns and sees Captain Sidorio striding towards him.

“What was that noise?” Stukeley asks.

Sidorio shrugs. “What noise?”

“Isn’t that the boat we came in? Where is the ferryman?”

Sidorio turns. “Ah, yes. The ferryman seems to have disappeared. That is strange,” he says, wiping his mouth and picking at something between his teeth. Turning back, he slaps a firm hand down on Stukeley’s shoulder. “Come on, Lieutenant. We don’t want to linger here a moment longer or we’ll miss your party.”

Stukeley has an uncomfortable feeling. But he knows that Sidorio doesn’t like to be questioned. And, after all, it is Sidorio who brought him back. Sidorio is his captain. And it is only right that he should do the captain’s bidding – whatever it might be. This is a second chance. And Stukeley intends to be the very model of a good and trustworthy lieutenant.

The pirates roared their approval for Sugar Pie, but she raised a finger to her lips to silence them. She held her hat aloft, poised to throw it.

“Whoever catches this, wins himself a kiss from Sugar Pie!”

She sent the hat in a high arc through the air, above the whooping pirates, their arms and hands flailing about like reeds to catch it. It eluded the majority, sailing on towards the tables where the pirates of The Diablo sat. All eyes turned as the hat finally made its descent. It was plummeting towards Connor and Bart, whose hands both reached out for it. Grace leaned back to give the two of them more room. Bart had the advantage in height and he grabbed the hat before Connor could do so.

“Better luck next time, buddy,” chuckled Bart, placing the captain’s hat on his head and playfully pushing Connor aside as he strode off to claim his prize.

“So near yet so far,” said Grace, digging Connor playfully in the ribs. She was enjoying herself now. She felt a flush of guilt, thinking of Jez. But then she remembered Ma Kettle’s words. They were here tonight to celebrate Jez’s life. And there was no doubt in her mind that this was what Jez would have wanted. Why, if he had been here, he’d have been fighting Bart and Connor for Sugar Pie’s attentions!

The show over, the lights went up and Grace saw that a fresh batch of drinks now lined the table. One mouthful of rum had been more than enough for her, but the other pirates lifted their glasses gleefully and threw the fiery liquid down their throats.

“I’m going out to get some air,” she said to Connor.

“OK,” he said, giving her hand a squeeze. “If you need me, just holler.”

She nodded, moving away from the table. When she glanced back, she saw that one of Sugar Pie’s backing dancers had come over to the table and Connor, along with the others, seemed utterly transfixed by her. Shaking her head in amusement, Grace turned and walked away.

She traced her path back to the entrance of the tavern, careful to avoid the gaps between the decking. Once more, she glanced down into the water below. There she was again, staring back at herself. Like she was drowning all over again. Like before Lorcan had rescued her.

Lorcan. Instinctively, she reached her fingers to the chain around her neck, finding his Claddagh ring. The metal was cool to the touch at first. But, as her thumb and finger lingered there, it began to grow warmer. Was she about to have another vision? She felt a thrill of excitement but also fear. More than anything, she wanted to know the truth about how he was and what had happened to him. And yet she feared what she might discover.

As the ring continued to heat up, she sat down on the decking and closed her eyes, waiting for the wave of nausea she had experienced the last time. But, although the ring grew warmer and warmer, there was no accompanying pain or feeling of sickness. Added to which, she heard nothing and there was no dull fog in her head. What kind of a vision was this? Was she doing something wrong? Puzzled, Grace opened her eyes.

As she did so, she gasped. Down in the water, down beneath the decking, she saw Lorcan. He was stumbling along the corridor of the Vampirate ship, his hands reaching out to steady himself. Grace gasped. It was as if she was experiencing the same scene as before but this time as an external observer. It was painful to watch Lorcan struggling so. She wanted nothing so much as to hold out her hand and help him. Instinctively, she found herself reaching a hand down to the water’s surface. She still held tightly onto the ring, which grew hotter all the time. It was an awkward manoeuvre to say the least, but she was overcome by the strongest of urges to touch the water.

But the instant Grace’s fingers brushed the dark surface, the vision of Lorcan disappeared. The waters became a mirror again, reflecting her own disturbed face and the lights of the tavern back up at her. She frowned.

Then the waters grew dark once more. She leaned closer, waiting for the vision of Lorcan to return. But instead, she saw another face. She shuddered. It was Sidorio. He was looking directly at her – just as he had on the Vampirate deck that fateful night. And now, just as then, his eyes suddenly became empty, then full of fire. He opened his mouth in a horrible smile, the dagger-like incisors seeming to rise up, out of the water.

“No!” Grace cried.

The Claddagh ring was burning her fingers now. She wanted to release it, but somehow she was unable to. Suddenly, her hand jolted forward. The ring had come free of the chain. She was still gripping it between her thumb and forefinger but there was no telling how much longer she could hold it. Any moment now, the heat would force her to release it into the water. No! However painful it was, she couldn’t lose it. The ring was her last connection with the Vampirate ship, with Lorcan. If she let it go, she might never be able to return, never be able to help her friend. It was this thought which, in spite of the pain, enabled her to remain holding the ring, even as the excruciating heat seared through her nerves.

In the waters below, Sidorio watched her. He was laughing at her. What did it mean? Was this another vision? Was he close? Was he coming back for her?

Suddenly, she felt a hand on her neck. It pulled her firmly backwards. As it did so, she felt the temperature of the ring cool at last. She slumped back onto the decking, gasping with relief and weakness – and pure fear.


Pirate Academy

The academy’s harbour was enclosed by a sea-wall, the entrance marked by a tall stone arch rising out of the water. As Cheng Li’s small boat sailed closer, the twins saw that the arch bore an inscription. Grace read it out.

Plenty and Satiety,
Pleasure and Ease,
Liberty and Power.

“That’s the Academy’s maxim,” Cheng Li said, with a great sense of pride. “The words come from a famed captain of the old times.”

“What does ‘satiety’ mean?” Connor asked.

Cheng Li smiled. “Taking everything you want, and then everything else besides.” Connor’s eyes lit up but Grace couldn’t help frowning, thinking of Molucco Wrathe’s unquenchable thirst for treasure. “Of course, these days, piracy is a much more complex and subtle business.” Grace kept her eyes on her, awaiting further explanation. “You’ll see what I mean after a few days at the Academy.” Cheng Li turned away and busied herself with the sails.

As Cheng Li steered the boat through the arch and into the harbour, Grace and Connor gasped at the first sight of their surroundings. The Academy was a colourful oasis – a sprawling mass of old buildings, painted in bright yellows, pinks and oranges and set amongst lush gardens, leading down towards the dockside. As they approached the dock, a flotilla of small sailing boats passed them, full of young kids – with one exception.

“Captain Avery!” Cheng Li called out. The old man jerked to attention and looked up, then smiled and lifted his cap to wave at her. “He’s taking the juniors out for their sailing lesson,” she explained to the twins. Now the young students noticed Cheng Li and began waving. As they did so, some of the boats began to veer out of line.

“Focus!” Captain Avery cried at his students with exasperation. “Now, let’s pay a little less attention to Mistress Li and a little more to our own navigation, shall we? Come on Mister McLay, look alive! And you, Miss Conescu – pull in the sheets now, that’s it. Oh yes, Miss Webber, nice recovery. Much improved! Very much improved!”

Grace and Connor watched as the pirate apprentices attempted – with varying degrees of success – to bring their boats back into line. Meanwhile, Cheng Li eased their own craft into its slip. She was poised to jump out to tie it to its moorings but a man appeared at the dockside, held out his hands and said, “Here, allow me.”

“Thank you, Commodore Kuo,” Cheng Li said, throwing out the line towards him. The man caught the coil of rope in one hand and deftly wound it around the mooring pin. He stretched out his hand to help Cheng Li out of the boat.

Commodore Kuo was smartly dressed in calico britches tucked into tall, black leather boots, which seemed to shimmer in the sunlight. He wore a crisp white shirt – open to reveal the beginnings of a strong, tanned chest – and a red silk waistcoat. Hanging around his neck was a chain with four charms on it. He wore his silver-grey hair to his shoulders, like Molucco, but – in contrast to Captain Wrathe – his hair was smooth, well-groomed and noticeably free of reptiles. His handsome face was tanned and his dark-brown eyes sparkled as brightly as the sun on the water.

Standing beside him on the dockside, Cheng Li addressed the twins. “Grace, Connor, it’s my very great pleasure to introduce you to Commodore John Kuo, Headmaster of the Pirate Academy.”

Connor jumped from the boat to the dockside.

“Welcome, Mister Tempest,” said Commodore Kuo, shaking him firmly by the hand. “Connor, I’ve heard so much about you already – from Mistress Li and others. It’s an absolute delight to have you here.”

Now, Commodore Kuo reached out his hand to help Grace cross over onto the shore.

“Miss Tempest, welcome to Pirate Academy.”

As the headmaster leaned forward, Grace saw more closely the chain hanging around his neck. Suspended on a thin gold thread were four charms – a sword, a compass, an anchor and a pearl. The headmaster caught her looking.

“I see you’ve noticed my chain,” he said, running a finger along it. “Each of the charms has an important meaning. They symbolise the four core talents required to be a successful pirate. The sword represents the ability to fight and is modelled on my very own Toledo Blade. The compass represents skills in navigation. The anchor recognises that we must ground ourselves in pirate history. And the pearl . . . well the pearl is perhaps the most important – it marks the capacity to take the most dark and unprepossessing of situations and break through it to find the treasure within.”

Grace felt she knew something of what the headmaster was saying. “Well,” said the headmaster, placing a hand lightly on each twin’s shoulder and brushing them forward. “What are we waiting here for? Let’s go inside!”

The four of them set off along a twisting footpath, through the grounds of the Academy. The gardens smelled wonderful. After breathing little more than sea-air for weeks, the scent of the tall jacaranda tree near the dock was heady enough to knock you out. Its branches hung low, under the weight of its bundles of blue flowers. Running around the tree was a circular seat, on which two boys were sitting, both engrossed in the same book.

As they passed, the boys glanced up and straightened their posture.

“Sebastian, Ivan,” said Commodore Kuo. “Catching up on some reading?”

“Yes, sir!” said the first boy, holding up the book’s cover.

“Ah, The Book of Five Cutlasses,” said Commodore Kuo, “A piratical classic!”


On Sale
Apr 1, 2008
Page Count
480 pages

Justin Somper

About the Author

Justin Somper is the worldwide bestselling author of the Vampirates series, which has been published in 25 languages in 35 countries. When he isn’t writing, he works with other authors as a publicist and trainer. He lives in London with his partner and two energetic dogs.

Learn more about this author