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Curse of the Aztec Gold

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Fight on Isla de Muerta 17
Curse of the Aztec Gold
Object information
Creator

Heathen Gods

Usage
Affiliation

Treasure of Cortés
Curse
Blood ritual
Cursed crew

Behind the scenes
First appearance

The Curse of the Black Pearl

Last appearance

The Legend of Jack Sparrow

Cause

The disappearance of the Treasure of Cortés.

"So the heathen gods placed upon the gold...a terrible curse. Any mortal that removes but a single piece from that stone chest shall be punished for eternity."
Hector Barbossa[src]

The curse of the Aztec Gold, also known as the Aztec curse, was dark magic cast upon the treasure of Cortés, consisting of a stone chest with 882 pieces of Aztec gold. Having saw Cortés' greed he wreaked upon with his armies, the heathen gods placed a curse on the gold: any mortal who removed a piece from the chest would be punished for eternity. The only way to lift the curse was by returning all the pieces of the Aztec gold and payment in blood. Upon first hearing the tale, Hector Barbossa's crew laughed at the stories about the curse, with Barbossa himself believing it to be a ridiculous superstition. By the time they learned the truth, it was too late. It took ten years until the crew's curse was lifted.

History

Legend

"I hardly believe in ghost stories anymore, Captain Barbossa."
"Aye. That's exactly what I thought when we were first told the tale. Buried on an island of dead what cannot be found, except for those who know where it is.
"
Elizabeth Swann and Hector Barbossa[src]

The Aztec Empire delivered a stone chest with 882 pieces of Aztec gold to Hernán Cortés in an attempt to stop the slaughter of their people. But in his greed, Cortés refused to halt his conquest. In response, the heathen gods placed a curse upon the gold, so that any mortal who removed a single coin from the chest would be punished for eternity. The only way to lift the curse was to return all the Aztec gold pieces to the chest and pay the heathen gods back in blood. Ultimately, the treasure of Cortés would end up in the caves of Isla de Muerta.[1]

Blood of the Aztec Curse

"So there is a curse. That's interesting."
Jack Sparrow[src]

Captain Jack Sparrow, not swayed by the tales of the curse, intended on finding the Treasure of Cortés aboard the Black Pearl. Jack had heard rumors that the treasure was cursed, but luckily for him, Hector Barbossa and his crew marooned him before he could take his share of the gold. Upon first hearing about the curse from Jack, the crew ended up not believing in the curse, with Barbossa himself having said, "Ridiculous superstition!"[2]

Becoming Cursed

"Find it, we did. There be the chest. Inside be the gold. And we took 'em all. We spent 'em and traded 'em and frittered 'em away on drink and food and pleasurable company. The more we gave 'em away, the more we came to realize...the drink would not satisfy, food turned to ash in our mouths, and all the pleasurable company in the world could not slake our lust. We are cursed men, Miss Turner. Compelled by greed, we were, but now...we are consumed by it."
Hector Barbossa to Elizabeth Swann[src]

Using the bearings acquired from Jack Sparrow, Captain Hector Barbossa and his crew were able to find Isla de Muerta. There, they found the stone chest and summarily stole all 882 pieces of the Aztec gold, an act which the crew would later regret. Captain Barbossa and his crew would then spent all 882 pieces of the Aztec gold on drink, food, and pleasurable company. Soon afterwards, the crew realized that they fell under the curse, suffering a living death in which they can't feel or taste nothing, and when they step into the moonlight, their flesh vanish from their bones, and became walking skeletons. After figuring out that it was the Aztec gold pieces that placed the curse upon them, Barbossa's crew returned to Isla de Muerta to find a way to lift the curse and end their punishment. There, they found out that the curse could be reversed only when every last piece of the Aztec gold was returned to the stone chest from which it came.[1]

It wasn't until Bootstrap Bill Turner was sent to the depths did the crew learned of an additional requirement: that all who stole from the chest had to pay the heathen gods in blood, which now seemed impossible with Bootstrap lost to them. But a chance of hope lied on Turner's child, who had both his gold medallion and Turner blood in his veins. Thus, Barbossa's crew set about, attempting to reclaim all 882 pieces of the treasure.[1]

Lifting the Curse

"There is one way we can end our curse. All the scattered pieces of the Aztec gold must be restored and the blood repaid."
Hector Barbossa[src]
Jack grabbed

Jack Sparrow discovering that the curse is real.

Ten years had already passed since the cursed crew started their quest, having collected all but one of the gold pieces and had already given their blood to the gold. However, the crew still needed the last coin as well as blood of their last crewmen, Bootstrap Bill Turner, who was lost to them, from his only child. Having sensed the final coin, Barbossa's crew led an attack on Port Royal. It was during this attack that Jack Sparrow, who was locked up in the town's prison, learns that the curse was real once Koehler grabbed him through the prison bars. As the moonlight falls on the pirates arm, Jack mutters "So there is a curse. That's interesting." Following the attack, Barbossa's men obtained the final Aztec gold medallion from Elizabeth Swann, whom they believed to be a descendant of Bootstrap Bill Turner. And so the Black Pearl set a course for Isla de Muerta.[1]

CotBPTheMoonlightshowsusforwhatweare

The moonlight showing the true form of Barbossa's crew.

While the Black Pearl sailed in the moonlit night, Barbossa had Elizabeth as his guest for a dinner in his cabin. It was here that Barbossa told Elizabeth the story of the curse, and how the crew fell upon it realizing that they were unable to feel and taste nothing. Barbossa also told her that her blood was the last needed to lift the curse. After that, Elizabeth leapt up and attempted to run out of the cabin, having stabbed Barbossa with a knife from the table. However, she was shocked to see that Barbossa was still alive and ran face-to-face with Barbossa's skeletal crew of the living dead. Barbossa explained the curse's effect on the crew, drinking wine as evidence. Elizabeth then ran back into the cabin, where she remained for the remainder of the voyage, terrified of what she had seen.[1]

First Attempt
"It didn't work."
"The curse it still upon us!
"
Ragetti and Twigg[src]

Upon arriving to Isla de Muerta, Barbossa used Elizabeth to perform the blood ritual to lift the curse. However, although they performed the ritual, the entire crew didn't feel any different. As a test, Barbossa shot Pintel with his pistol to see if the curse was lifted; but Pintel didn't die. Barbossa confronted Elizabeth, realizing that Elizabeth was not the child of Bootstrap Bill. The crew then began to argue amongst themselves on their unsuccessful attempt to lift the curse until Barbossa realized that Elizabeth had taken the medallion and escaped to the Interceptor. But with the help of their old, left for dead captain Jack Sparrow, the crew was able to catch up with the Interceptor and retrieved the medallion. By the time the Black Pearl returned to Isla de Muerta, Barbossa's crew had Will Turner, the true descendant of Bootstrap Bill Turner, as their prisoner.[1]

Crew underwater

The cursed crew while walking underwater.

Second Attempt
"Wait to lift the curse until the opportune moment."
Jack Sparrow[src]

Entering the caves of Isla de Muerta, Barbossa once again aimed to lift their curse, this time with the intention of killing Will and using his blood in the ritual. Barbossa and his crew prepared to perform the blood ritual once again, but was interrupted by Jack Sparrow, who warned Barbossa that the HMS Dauntless was offshore waiting for his crew. Upon this revelation, Barbossa, despite his desire to lift the curse, listened to Jack's proposal and agreed to it. And so Barbossa sent his crewmen for attack, save for three of his men. But to Jack's dismay, having planned on Barbossa's men using the longboats to attack the Dauntless crew, Barbossa ordered the crew to "take a walk". So as the pirates were indestructible beings, they staged a surprise attack on the Dauntless by simply walking on the sea bed and climbed up from the ship's anchor to ambush the Dauntless crew.[1]

CotBPIslaDuel3

Jack revealing to Barbossa that he was cursed.

Barbossa, Will, and Jack waited in the caves for the slaughter to end, until Jack tossed Will a sword. With the tides turned, Will freed himself and fought Barbossa's men, while Jack and Barbossa pulled out their own swords and duel ensued. Jack and Barbossa fought a fierce battle around the treasure cave until Jack stabbed Barbossa, who then pulled the sword out and stabbed Jack with it. However, once Jack stepped into the moonlight, he turned into a skeleton, revealing that he was cursed; having secretly palmed a piece of the Aztec gold. Though they were both immortal, Jack and Barbossa continued their fight through the caves. Elizabeth later arrives to help Will fight the cursed pirates. They then teamed up to kill the pirates using one of Jacoby's grenades that were planted inside of him before he reverted to his human form; thereby blowing his body to pieces.[1]

Witnessing this, Jack cuts his hand, putting his blood on his piece of the gold, and threw his coin to Will before shooting Barbossa in the heart. Believing he was invincible, Barbossa gloated at Jack, saying that he wasted his shot. However, Will dropped the last two gold pieces, with his blood on his coin, onto the chest, thereby lifting the Aztec curse. Barbossa then saw that his chest was bleeding. Human once more, Barbossa looked stated that he felt cold before falling to the cave floor, dead.[1]

After the Curse was Lifted

"Scurvy cutthroats who turn into the bony undead under moonlight! Looks like your old crew is back from the grave again, Jack! Let's see to it that they rest in pieces, shall we?"
"Easier said than done, I'm afraid! It's bloody hard to kill something that's already dead!
"
Will Turner and Jack Sparrow[src]

Back on the Dauntless, Barbossa's crew reverted to normal and surrendered to the Dauntless crew, who survived the battle in victory. Although the surviving members of Barbossa's crew were captured by the British Royal Navy, some would later escape and returned to Isla de Muerta, where they became cursed once more, vowing revenge against Jack Sparrow.[3] At some point in time, Barbossa's pet monkey Jack would appear in the cave, where he would take a piece of the Aztec gold and became cursed once again.[1]

Some time later, the entire island of the dead was swallowed into the sea, taking all the treasure along with it, effectively vanishing from the face of the earth.[4] Only Jack the monkey survived this ordeal, because of the curse, and ended up aboard the Black Pearl, under the command of Jack Sparrow.[5] It is unknown if Jack the monkey's curse was ever lifted.[6]

The Curse

Legends tell that the Aztec curse bestowed by the Heathen Gods punished any who stole from the stone chest. Those who fell under the curse would have achieved immortality, thereby becoming invulnerable. Nevertheless, the curse made the greedy beholders feel nothing, whether it was food or anything relating to their lust. When the cursed individuals step into the moonlight, they turn into walking undead skeletons; in this state, they are particularly vulnerable to physical damage, with strong blows being enough to physically take them apart.[1]

The curse only affected anyone who specifically took the coins from the stone chest; Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann each owned a piece of the treasure that had been taken out of the chest by Bootstrap Bill Turner and were never aware of the curse. When a cursed person takes a coin from the chest, no new curse has been given. This is particularly noted after Hector Barbossa used Elizabeth to lift the curse when, after returning the coin, he grabbed it straight from the chest and gave it to Elizabeth.[7]

Behind the scenes

  • The name "Curse of the Aztec Gold" was taken from The Complete Visual Guide.[2]
  • The curse placed upon the Treasure of Cortés was based on the talk of a curse from the original ride, particularly from the line, "No fear have ye of evil curses, says you? Arrrgh... Properly warned ye be, says I. Who knows when that evil curse will strike the greedy beholders of this bewitched treasure?" That line as well as the skeletons that appeared during the curse's mentioning inspired the skeletal effect of the Aztec curse.
  • It is likely that the blood sacrifice is only required if someone takes the coins a certain distance from the chest; Jack Sparrow picked up various coins while talking with Hector Barbossa prior to the battle of the Isla de Muerta, but tossed all of them (except for one) immediately back into the chest, with Barbossa's crew showing no signs that they believed he would fall victim to the curse as a result. The only known exception to this was when Jack the Monkey took a coin from the chest after Barbossa's death.
  • A curse similar to the Aztec curse inhabits the treasure at Devil's Anvil in Pirates of the Caribbean Online.
  • The nature of the cursed coins were actually further explained in the non-canon Kingdom Hearts II. Luxord explains that darkness of men's hearts is drawn to the medallions, which he is able to use to create a "Grim Reaper" Heartless from. The Heartless created from the curse had the ability to curse those who had no contact with the medallions.

Appearances

Source

Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  2. 2.0 2.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, p.36-37: "Curse of the Aztec Gold"
  3. Revenge of the Pirates!
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  6. Jack the Monkey was shown to be cursed by the events of Dead Man's Chest, by which time the Treasure of Cortés would have already disappeared. So given this knowledge, it is likely Jack the monkey remains curse.
  7. The Curse of the Black Pearl Audio Commentary with Screenwriters Stuart Beattie, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Jay Wolpert

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