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Cayona, 1669: The streets are not mean, they are downright vicious in the pirate port of Tortuga. Orphans like Jack Higgins scratch a living from errands and mugging drunken pirates, roaming the taverns, whorehouses, alleys, and gambling dens in search of prey, or a dropped penny. The tales told around tavern tables are tall and exotic: sea battles, typhoons, tortures, cannibal islands, lost cites, haunted jewels, rare honey, great treasures won with blood. They incite cruel laughter, dry asides, grim shakes of the head, and dubious guffaws. Jack, just months from manhood, sees little hope of adding to these tales. But during a hurricane's deluge Jack pulls a retching body from the flooded street. It is Old Kit, Cayona's patriarch, by legend oldest man in the Caribbean. Jack's reward is to be his prot�g� and scion. He is learning fast, wearing his first boots, received at the best brothels, meeting those who control the town and mock the pirates as fools. But can Kit's battered health hold long enough for Jack to learn to survive Cayona's literally cutthroat commerce? To win the merchant's niece he craves? Jack discovers ancient Kit owes his unnaturally long life to a dead Arawak shaman's "magic" stone, now near useless. Jack treks to Hispaniola's high country to find the shaman's holy cave - and a new stone. One touch tips him into a terrifying hallucination; or a reality where the Indian dead still live and speak. Jack must escape it and return to Tortuga to save Old Kit, his own future, and soon his own life.