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The Second Element I: Camera Obscura
By 1


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Act Four: ...And One-Half Part Hope...

Guybrush nearly fell over with relief when he saw the Sea Cucumber resting in Plunder Island’s harbor. He didn’t even wait until the Persephone had dropped anchor before he grabbed a rope and swung down onto the docks--narrowly missing a net full of crates on the way--and took off running for the fort. When he sprinted in through the front gate, it was to find Elaine standing in the courtyard, giving out orders to bolster the island’s defenses. She caught sight of him and smiled, but waited until she was sure the pirates assembled had gotten her directions straight before actually talking to him.

“So,” she said coolly, “you’re back. It’s about time.”

He thought at first she was being serious--that she was annoyed he was late--but one look at the mischievous glint in her eyes changed his mind. “Very funny,” he mock-growled, pulling her into a hug. “And I suppose you made the crew get out and push our ship into the harbor?”

“Of course,” she answered teasingly. “And what did you do, row all the way back here?”

“Well, almost.” He sighed. “I would’ve had to, if I hadn’t gotten lucky again.”

Elaine raised her eyebrows, looking him up and down and noticing for the first time his dirty clothes, disheveled hair and the circles under his eyes. Her eyes lost that mischievous glint. “Guybrush, what happened? Where’s my grandfather?”

“He’s fine,” Guybrush said quickly. “I left him back at the harbor. He’ll probably be along any minute now. But--come on--it’s all kind of a long story.”



***


Elaine sat back in her chair and rubbed her temples. “Well,” she said at last, quietly and somewhat numbly, “I guess it’s a good thing I ordered Plunder’s defenses stepped up.”

Guybrush started to sputter a reply, but one of Elaine’s trademark looks cut him off. “LeChuck has to be looking for us. I don’t know if he’ll get word back from any of the undead on the Persephone, but if he does--”

“--He’ll know we made it here,” Guybrush finished.

Elaine nodded. “If and until then, he’s likely just taking random stabs in the dark, hoping he’ll find us.” She sighed. “And then there’s this curse you keep babbling on about...”

“I told you, the guy was insane. I don’t even know what the ‘hands of Midas’ are, and do you see anything happening to anything or anyone I touch? He was a loon.”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “Nothing’s happened yet. But I don’t want to be turned into a gold statue or god knows what at the moment, so you’d better go talk to the Voodoo Lady. Just in case.”

Guybrush scratched the back of his neck. “Uh, Elaine, I don’t--”

“She’s in Danjer Cove, Guybrush. We’ve been keeping track of all the ships that have been coming into port--she arrived only about a day ago.”

“Oh.” Guybrush was about to say something more when Grandpa Marley came in, slammed the door and looked around until he spotted Elaine.

“There you are!” he said, grinning. “I’ve been looking all over the fort for you; really should’ve looked in the office first, should’ve known you’d be here...”

Elaine smiled back. “Grandpa! I’m glad you made it back safe.” She pushed herself up out of her chair and hugged him. “I was worried,” she added quietly.

Grandpa Marley chuckled. “Heh, don’t you worry about me, darling. Now c’mon--I’ll tell you all about this LeChuck business while we have a look at the fort.”

Elaine glanced over at Guybrush. “In a minute, Grandpa. I’ll meet you out in the hall.”

As Marley grumbled good-naturedly about “kids these days” and left, Elaine walked over to where Guybrush was leaning against her desk, sifting through a couple of maps. “You should go see the Voodoo Lady,” she said again. He looked up and set the maps down. “She’ll know about this curse--and she’ll probably tell you how to defeat LeChuck, too.”

Guybrush groaned. “But Elaine, I don’t want to go on a totally random search for some voodoo object, only to have it backfire at the last second...”

Elaine gave him a look. “If you don’t go now, you’ll have to stay here, away from everyone until we’re sure that curse is a hoax. Away from me.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll go! I was only kidding anyway...”

“Of course you were, plunderbunny.” She smiled and leaned forward for a second, debating, then finally kissed him gently on the cheek. “Good luck.”

“Just promise me,” he said, poking a finger at her stomach, “that nothing exciting will happen while I’m gone.”

Elaine sighed. “I promise, Guybrush. Don’t even worry about it--we’ve still got a couple of weeks left to wait. Now go on; Grandpa’s waiting for me. He’ll want me to tell him what I’ve done to help Plunder's defenses, I’ll bet...” She looked to the door, then back at Guybrush. “I’ll let you know if anything happens, all right? And don’t forget to go to the Voodoo Lady.” She smiled, then slipped out the door.



***


Guybrush left the fort shortly after and headed for Danjer Cove. It hadn’t changed much since the last time he’d seen it--save that there was no Sea Cucumber anchored offshore. Guybrush looked around at the familiar landscape. There didn’t seem to be anything resembling a place where the Voodoo Lady might live.

“Okay...Elaine, I think you’re losing your mind.” He sighed and looked around again. There was a charming pile of rocks, the sharks in the bay, the idyllic waterfall... Guybrush paused. Next to the waterfall but half-buried under a patch of undergrowth, was a sign. It was old and peeling and looked as if it had once been hanging from a doorway--it read “House of Mojo,” though someone had scratched “International” into it, as well.

Guybrush, feeling a little sheepish, stepped behind the waterfall.

The Voodoo Lady had obviously done some redecorating. The narrow opening Guybrush had seen the first time he’d been here had expanded--or been expanded by unnatural forces--into a full-blown cavern. He stepped through a curtain of glittering voodoo beads and into a musty room to rival some of the Voodoo Lady’s other previous residences. Dusty carpets lined the cave floor and the walls were dotted with well-worn shelves containing voodoo things of all shapes and sizes, broken only occasionally by a lit voodoo torch. There were still several boxes tucked away in the back of the cave and otherwise lying unpacked. An empty, elaborate chair rested at the far end of the cavern next to a table cluttered with voodoo dolls, pins and scraps of paper.

“Uh, hello...?” Guybrush cleared his throat. Nobody answered and there was no indication that there was anyone in the room besides him. “Is this a bad time?”

“Not at all.” There was a flash of light, and then the Voodoo Lady appeared in her chair. She smiled at him from beneath her tall burgundy hat. “Greetings, Guybrush Threepwood. It has been some time. I was surprised you did not come looking for me earlier.”

He blinked. “Well, uh--”

“You’ve come looking for a solution to your current situation, yes?”

“Well, uh, yeah--”

“And I sense that you’ve also had an encounter with one of my counterparts.”

“If you mean that complete loon--”

She waved a hand to interrupt him. “His name is Cyrano de Salon. I studied with him at the university on Vodun Island.”

“Uh--”

“He comes from a long line of voodoo practitioners, one very old--and very corrupt. I am not surprised he treated you poorly.”

Guybrush sputtered. “He cursed me! With some...hands of Midas...thingy.”

The Voodoo Lady nodded. “Indeed. It is an old curse--one of the first curses to follow in the path of the original curse, the Ultimate Insult.”

He blinked. “Um, that doesn’t sound good.”

She waved her hand again, looking annoyed. “Stop interrupting me Guybrush or I’ll never get to the point.”

“...Right.”

“Long ago, there lived a king named Midas. He was rich, but also foolish and greedy--one day he had the ‘fortune’ of coming across a powerful being who promised him one wish. Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold.

“The wish was granted, and Midas was pleased--everything he touched, every fabric, every piece of furniture--became solid gold. The riches he would gain from this new power would be unimaginable. But when Midas sat down to eat...”

“All the food and water turned to gold,” Guybrush finished, wide-eyed.

“Yes. The blessing was nothing more than a curse in disguise. For his foolishness and greed, Midas was condemned to a slow death. It was only through his acknowledgment of his mistakes that he, eventually, was freed.”

Guybrush swallowed a lump in his throat. “But, um--nothing I touch turns to gold.”

The Voodoo Lady picked up a short strand of beads, glittering green in the low torchlight. “We shall see. Here, catch.” And with a deft flick of her wrist, she tossed the beads at Guybrush’s head.

They bounced off his forehead and landed on the floor with a muffled clatter. “Sorry...” Guybrush muttered, bending down to pick them up. “Bad reflexes.” The Voodoo Lady chuckled. He scooped the beads up in one hand and closed them in his fist, then looked back at the Voodoo Lady.

“Drop them on the table.”

He set the strand down and scooted away, as if afraid of what he’d see. But the beads glittered harmlessly in the torchlight, the same color they’d always been.

“Well...” The Voodoo Lady stared at the beads for a while, then shrugged. “Perhaps Cyrano’s talent is waning as the years go by. He never was very good with curses...” She cleared her throat and smiled at Guybrush. “You shouldn’t have to worry about this curse, Guybrush. If it hasn’t affected you now, it likely never will.”

Guybrush let his shoulders slump a bit and sighed with relief. “Great. Thanks, I--”

“But...” She arched one eyebrow at him. “There is still the matter of your enemy.”

He groaned. “Yeah, LeChuck. He’s back again...he’s the one you warned me about on Mêlée, right? Do I even want to know how he got control over clocks and storms and bridges? I keep waiting for the ceiling to fall in on me or something.”

“He is quite formidable--especially with his newfound powers. I cannot say where he came across such things.”

Guybrush rubbed his eyes. “So, what do I need to beat him this time? Please tell me it’s nothing involving tourists.”

“Actually--”

“I said no tourists!”

The Voodoo Lady smiled. “Actually, I believe I know what it is you require--and it is quite safe from tourists.”

“Great,” he said, standing up a little straighter.

“There is a scroll containing a particular voodoo spell--it was once well known to voodoo practitioners everywhere, but no one could ever make it work.”

“...Not so great.”

“Well, not work correctly--there were a few nasty accidents. The occasional priest who banished himself to the underworld, you know. The United Voodoo Council eventually banned its use and sealed the only remaining copy deep within Vodun Island. Since then an entire community has sprung up on the island around both the university and the legend of the scroll.”

Guybrush nodded slowly. “And...this scroll does what, exactly? Besides screw up, that is.”

“It will summon an ally from one of the planes of the underworld to help you. If it works.”

“And it’s hidden somewhere on Vodun Island.”

“Yes. I can have a map sent to your ship, if you’d like.”

“And if it doesn’t work, I’ll be banished to the underworld and LeChuck’ll take over the Caribbean.”

The Voodoo Lady smiled faintly. “Guybrush, Guybrush--it should work. I can predict that the ally it will summon for you will be powerful indeed. But...” She raised a hand to stop his unspoken question. “I can tell you no more. Only that it will work, but you must beware the consequences.”

He scratched his head nervously. “But, err, I thought you said--”

“Farewell and good luck, Guybrush Threepwood.” And with a bright flash of light, the Voodoo Lady disappeared.

Guybrush jumped up out of his seat. “But wait! What consequences? What the heck’re you...oh, never mind.” He rubbed his temples and sighed. “Elaine’s not going to be happy about this...”



***


When Guybrush made it back into Puerto Pollo, it was to find a town suddenly come to life with organized activity. People moved back and forth, hauling crates of supplies to and from the fort. He trailed after them with his eyes on the ground and tried to think of the sort of “consequences” the Voodoo Lady had been talking about. His imagination provided him with no end of possible scenarios, and each one was progressively more frightening than the last. He had just started to mull over a “consequence” that involved him switching bodies with LeChuck when someone cleared their throat behind him.

“Going somewhere, plunderbunny?”

Guybrush jumped clear off the ground. “Er--yes--err, no--I mean...” He turned around and tried composing himself. “Er. Sort of.”

Elaine smiled. “‘Sort of’ indeed; if you’d kept going you would’ve run right into the fort wall.” Guybrush turned back around and looked--he was no more than five feet from the far wall of the fort. He blinked.

“Er, thanks.” He coughed and changed the subject. “So, um, what’s everyone doing...?”

“Moving supplies into the fort,” Elaine answered. “Grandpa thinks it’s the best idea--if LeChuck’s armada shows up here, they’ll probably overrun the town. We’ll need to get everyone into the fort as quickly as possible if that happens.” She paused to shout directions to a couple of men who looked like they’d rather be spending their time catching some rays on the Brimstone Beach, then turned back to Guybrush. “Grandpa’s leaving to try and organize some sort of resistance on Booty Island. We’ve gotten a couple of reports from outlying islands that LeChuck’s been systematically attacking every island on the map--he’s either looking for us or having fun trashing the place.”

“Or maybe both.”

She frowned. “Maybe. Well, you’ll need supplies, anyway. Come on, I’ll help you get the ship ready--and you can tell me what the Voodoo Lady said’s going on.”



***


The Persephone was ready to go an hour later, with her crew assembled and all the supplies resting safely in the hold. Only Guybrush lingered behind again, standing on the docks with Elaine. She was practically pushing him towards the gangplank, but he kept digging in his heels.

“--and if anything happens, I want you to send a messenger for me. I’ll come back right away.”

“Guybrush, that’s silly, by the time the messenger even got there it would be too late.”

“And after I’m through on Vodun Island, I’m coming back here. I want to make sure you’re all right.”

“You’ll be wasting valuable time.”

“And I want you to go to the Voodoo Lady if the undead start taking over the island; she’ll be able to get you out of here.”

“Guybrush Threepwood!”

He stopped. “What?”

“If you don’t get on that ship right now,” she growled, “LeChuck won’t have to worry about killing you. I’ll have done it myself.”

“Er.” Guybrush blinked, then looked up at the ship and back down at her. “Sorry...I just...you know...”

She smiled faintly. “I know. But you’re making us both look ridiculous.” She kissed him on the cheek before giving him one last, hard shove towards the gangplank. “Now go on--I’ll be fine here, honest.”

Guybrush smiled at her. “Well...okay. ‘Bye, Elaine--I love you.”

“Love you too, plunderbunny. Be careful.”

He walked up the gangplank, looking over his shoulder most of the way. Elaine stood on the dock, quietly shooing him onwards. He kept staring back at her.

“Fripweed, would ya move so we can bring up the gangplank?”

Guybrush sighed. “Okay, Carla. Geez.” He hopped off the gangplank and helped pull it up, then looked around until he spotted Carla. She was leaning against the side rail with a smirk on her face and a bottle of grog in her hand. Guybrush sighed.

“Well, aren’t you two just the cutest little things,” she said, snickering.

“Uh-huh. Yeah. Adorable.” Guybrush walked over to her and grabbed the bottle out of her hand before she could even protest. “Carla, what did I say about drinking?”

“Not to do it unless it’s absolutely necessary! ...Cap’n.”

“...Right.” He shook the bottle--it was half empty. “Go help Estevan, and try not to fall overboard or anything.” He threw the bottle over the side and headed towards the wheel, counting under his breath. “Five...four...three--”--and before he finished, there was a splash and a call of “man--er, woman--overboard!”

“Fish her out,” Guybrush said, and calmly went back to getting the ship underway.



***


The journey to Vodun Island--after they fished Carla out of Plunder Harbor--proved difficult. The weather was perfect for sailing and the wind was in their favor, but the Voodoo Lady’s map proved to be as cryptic as her advice. They got lost and turned around so many times that finally Guybrush took the map and the wheel into his own hands and tried to navigate himself--not that that helped anything. Between Guybrush’s navigation and their attempts to avoid LeChuck’s armada, the journey took them nearly four days.

Finally, there came the welcome call of “Land ho!”

Guybrush ventured a quick look over the side rail at the island so rapidly approaching on their port side. It was small and altogether very round; according to the map it was (including several tiny outlying atolls) nearly in the shape of a perfect teardrop. They were approaching the wider end, where--according to Estevan up in the crow’s nest--there was a harbor. Or at least what passed for a harbor. Estevan had added that he couldn’t really tell; they appeared to just dock their ships wherever they had room.

“Okay,” Guybrush said, letting out a deep breath. “Let’s take her in.”

They turned the Persephone about and guided her into the tiny harbor, dropping anchor next to a schooner that looked as if it had seen better days.

Guybrush was just about to order the crew to drop anchor when a short, sprightly little man with long white hair appeared out of nowhere in a flash of bright light. “Excuse me? And just what do you think you’re doing?”

Guybrush blinked. “Um, docking my ship.”

“Oh no you’re not!”

He sighed. Again with the lunatics... “Oh yes, I am.”

The man blinked and scratched the side of his nose. “All right, so I can’t argue with that. You’re docking your ship, fine, fine. But you have to have a permit.”

“A what?”

“A permit.” The man sighed and tugged at the collar of his long green robes. “Oh honestly, you stupid tourists. You all think you can come in and park your ships wherever you darn well want to! Well just because you can do what you like on the other islands doesn’t mean that you can do so here. We have standards, you know.”

Carla stifled an obscenity. Guybrush just rolled his eyes. “Okay, okay--look. We’re here looking for--”

“Yes?”

He hesitated. “--for...um...”

“Training,” Carla answered, leaning against the anchor. “We’re looking for training at that university of yours.”

The man’s face brightened. “Oh. Oh! Well then, go ahead and park your ship here. You can pick up your student permits later. Oh, new students--this is so wonderful!” And with another flash, he disappeared.

Guybrush let out a deep breath. “Wow. O-kay...that was weird...and thanks, Carla.”

Carla grinned. “You owe me one, Fripweed.” Then, to the rest of the crew, she called, “All right, drop anchor!” She turned back to Guybrush, dusting off her hands. “D’you suppose they have a bar around here?”

He gave her a flat look. “I doubt it, Carla. Can’t you just wait here for once? Please?”

“I’ll consider it. Maybe.”

Well, it’s a start, anyway... As he gave a few last minute instructions to his crew--leaving Estevan in charge, as he didn’t quite trust Carla with the job--he hopped down onto the makeshift docks and took a look around.

The island was largely overgrown with patches of briar and brush. Only a thin, beaten-down trail indicated that there was actually some form of civilization lurking within. Birds were chirping, but in a distinctly ominous manner. “I guess they don’t have many gardeners on this island,” Guybrush said, heading for the trail.

Darkness surrounded him the minute he stepped on the path and into the woods. He found himself looking over his shoulder a couple of times at the fast-disappearing Persephone and her crew, just to make sure they were still there. But soon enough he went around a bend in the trail and they were lost from sight. Guybrush plucked up his courage and kept walking, hoping he’d find some other sign of life soon. The darkened solitude was already starting to get to him.

He walked for what felt like an hour before he came to a fork in the trail. Then he paused and peered down each path, but both twisted away in some mysterious direction, and he couldn’t see where they led.

Sighing, Guybrush looked back the way he’d come--he wished now that he’d thought to ask that strange little man for a map--and then down both paths again. On the left path, this time, there was a little boy standing there. Guybrush jumped.

“Uh...hello,” he ventured warily. The boy couldn’t be more than three or four years old, from the look of things. He had short, tangled black hair and dark brown eyes that seemed eerily familiar. The boy also had a strong chin, already prominent amongst his other features.

“Hello?” Guybrush tried again. The boy just stood there and looked at him. “Are you lost?”

The boy nodded and stuck his thumb in his mouth. Guybrush scratched the back of his head. “Okay...um, come on then. I’m looking for signs of human life, so I guess you can come with me.” He bent down and held his hands out to the boy. “Come on.”

The boy didn’t budge. He stared at Guybrush’s hands almost as if he were afraid of them--when Guybrush tried scooting forward to shorten the distance between them, he recoiled away. Guybrush sighed. “Okay then, follow me, but I’m not going to leave you standing here.”

He got back to his feet and took a few, careful steps down the path towards the boy. When he didn’t startle or run away, Guybrush took a few more steps, until he was right beside him. The boy peered up at him through those familiar brown eyes.

“Come on,” Guybrush said again, feeling a little silly. He started walking away at a slower than normal pace, glancing back over his shoulder every other step to make sure the boy was toddling after him. He was, albeit warily, and any motion of Guybrush’s hands towards him caused him to jump. Guybrush wished he’d overcome his apparent hand-phobia; he felt more like he was leading along somebody’s dog rather than a child.

“So, um...you wouldn’t happen to know if we’re on the right path, would you...?” The boy just looked at him blankly. He sighed. “Right.”

The rest of the journey they spent in silence. The boy seemed quite content to follow after him wherever he led, and Guybrush didn’t have any objection to that. After a time he noticed that the trees began to thin out a little and more light was seeping in through the canopy. The jungle disappeared slowly, until finally the entire path opened up onto a wide dirt road.

Guybrush stopped in his tracks and looked around. The entire place was alive with activity, particularly that of the voodoo variety. People in long robes or exotic dresses hurried from place to place with an air of importance, as if everything they did was essential to the survival of all humanity. Some even teleported from place to place--even across the street to visit a friend; all was done in a bright flash of light.

The shops--or whatever they were--were for the most part more humble than the people who visited them. They were all a bit rundown, with old faded signs that supposedly told what they were. Guybrush couldn’t read any of them. Only one was different; it was quite obviously a restaurant or bar of some sort, complete with brightly colored overhang and tables set out front.

Guybrush looked back at the little boy. “I guess you’re not going to tell me where to find your mommy, right?”

The boy looked around, then back at him--then went back to calmly sucking on his thumb. Guybrush sighed. “Great...just great. Okay, then we ask somebody. Come on.”

He stepped out into the street and picked a random passerby, an elderly woman with long gray hair and a similarly colored dress to match. “Um, excuse me...”

She teleported across the six inches between them and quickly looked him up and down. “Yes?” she asked, sniffing.

“Um...you wouldn’t know who this kid belongs to, would you?”

The woman peered around him and recoiled. “The child is Azelma’s. You’ll find her in the café--and do tell her to keep the child under better watch. It does not do for...strangers to be finding him wandering about the island. Now, if you will excuse me, I have other business to attend to.” She disappeared in a flash of light before Guybrush could protest otherwise.

Sighing, he looked back at the boy, who was still blinking innocently. “Looks like somebody doesn’t like you. Come on--let’s go find your mom.”

They walked across the street together and down towards the café. People got out of their way and looked askance at the boy, and occasionally directly at Guybrush. People accidentally teleported into their path more than once, then ducked out of the way without so much as an apology. All the flashing light was starting to give Guybrush a headache. They made it to the café’s doors in one piece, and Guybrush waved the boy in ahead of him before ducking inside the dim interior himself.

The place was more of a tavern than the café the woman had described. Men in dark clothing slinked around the room to tables and a lengthy dark marble bar, nursing drinks. Guybrush waved the boy closer to his side and started looking around the room for someone who fit the name “Azelma.”

He found her quickly--she was the only woman in the bar. He approached her with some reservation. She had thick auburn hair and brown eyes--eyes Guybrush was sure now he’d seen before, glaring at him back on Mêlée Island. “Excuse me, are you--?”

The woman stood up and smiled thinly at him. “Azelma de Salon, monsieur.” She didn’t offer him her hand. “And you would be?”

“Guybrush. Guybrush Threepwood.”

For a moment, he could’ve sworn he’d seen her eyes glint with something like triumph. But he was sure, later, that he was wrong--it was only a trick of the room’s poor lighting. “I do not believe I have heard of you, monsieur,” she continued. “What brings you to Vodun Island?”

“I’m, uh, er. You know. Training.”

She raised both eyebrows briefly. “C’est vrai? Pardon my saying so, monsieur, but you do not seem to have within you the ability to learn. Then again...” She paused and seemed to turn her thoughts even more inward. “Then again, I suppose there are surprises in all our lives, non? Perhaps you would like me to escort you to the university? I used to be a teacher there, before the other professors and I had a...how do you say...a falling out, of sorts.”

Guybrush shook his head. “No thanks. Look, what I wanted to ask was--” he stepped aside and pointed at the boy--“I found him wandering in the woods. Somebody said he was yours.”

“Ah,” she said, swooping down and picking the boy up in her arms. “Eligo!”

“Oh, so he has a name.” Guybrush grinned. “Sounds kind of...Spanish.”

“Oui. Is that some sort of problem, monsieur?” She raised her eyebrows at him again, obviously expecting an answer.

“Err, no...”

“Bon. Now come with me monsieur, I must take this little troublemaker home. Then we shall see about this training of yours.”

Azelma left the table without a word--and without paying, Guybrush noticed--and walked with a quick, sure stride out the door. He had to hurry to catch up to her. Well, at least she didn’t teleport like everyone else on this crazy island. She led him down the road towards the beach, where she hurried towards a small, ramshackle house sitting rather precariously on one of the sand dunes.

“This is where you live...?”

“Oui monsieur. I did have, as you say, a falling out with some of the more influential members of the university.” She forced open the door--which, she explained, was almost always stuck--and went inside. “Wait here for a moment, monsieur. I must see how it is Eligo managed to...escape, as you say.”

She closed the door, though Guybrush could still hear a rapid-fire stream of French seeping through the thin walls. He didn’t understand a word of it, but it didn’t sound pretty. He winced. “I’m surprised the kid’s not afraid of French, too,” he muttered under his breath. Things quieted down, and Azelma reemerged a moment later, straightening her hair as if nothing had happened.

“Now I will show you to the university, n’est pas?”

Guybrush hesitated. “Actually...”

“Oui?”

“Actually, I’m looking more for some kind of scroll or something. A priestess I know told me I could find it here--and I’m in kind of a hurry.”

She nodded. “Ah. You speak of Vodun Island’s legendary scroll, do you not?”

“Um...I guess so.”

“It is not here.”

“But--”

She glared at him, shaking out her long hair. “Monsieur, it is only a myth, I assure you. Come, we will walk along the beach and I will tell you.”

“Err.” Guybrush coughed uneasily, but Azelma gave him an unshakably dark look that forced him to accept. “Okay, okay...geez, you’re worse than my wife.”

“I heard that, monsieur.”



***


Azelma led him along the beach away from her home and the town, back towards where the jungle started to reclaim the land. The midday sunlight glinted off the ocean’s surface, creating an uncomfortable glare. “There,” she said, pointing out to one of the atolls that formed the tip of Vodun’s strange, tear-like shape. “Do you see the buildings out there, monsieur?”

Guybrush squinted--if he tried, he could almost make out faint outlines of tiny buildings decorating several of the larger atolls. “Yes...but what’s that got to do with--”

“That, monsieur, is the Université de Vodun. I believe many of the less...sophisticated locals call it ‘Voodoo U.’” She snorted. “The myth of our scroll started there. I can tell you truthfully, monsieur, that it is all a myth.

“Many years ago a group of students attempted to summon a spirit to help them pass one of their more difficult examinations. They failed and were severely reprimanded; several of them were expelled. A few...how do you say...copycats attempted to follow in their footsteps, and they too failed. That, monsieur, is where the myth of Vodun Island’s legendary scroll springs from. Nothing more. I am sorry to disappoint you.”

Guybrush listened to her story with a disbelieving ear. When she was finished, he shook his head. “Listen, the Voodoo Lady told me that what I need is here. She’s never been wrong before. Just...annoyingly obscure to the point of putting my life in danger. But hey, we all have our off-days.”

Azelma offered him a patronizing smile. “True, but I would not trust the word of one of those students who were expelled because of the incident.” Guybrush blinked and sputtered, but she continued without giving him a chance to recover. “I think perhaps the thing which you seek can be found on Monkey Island.”

Guybrush shook his head and tried to recover himself. “I’m not going to Monkey Island if I don’t have to.”

“Ah, but you have to, non? You must always find your way back there in the end. Why not go now?”

Guybrush took a step backwards. “How did you know about that?”

She smiled again. “I am a trained voodoo priestess, monsieur. I know things such as these. Now,” she said, her eyes glinting in the light, “what you seek has always been found on Monkey Island. Why should it be any different this time?”

He shook his head. “I’m not going back...there unless I have to.” He repressed a shudder. “LeChuck’s probably there now--I’m not going in unprepared. That’d be suicide.”

“LeChuck? Oui, I suppose. But why does it matter who is there? I assure you, you should go to Monkey Island to find what you seek. The scroll may be a myth, but there are other, more powerful artifacts yet to be found. Such as, perhaps, the Secret of Monkey Island? If you were to find it, it could help you.” She adopted a more tantalizing, almost seductive tone. “And you do want to find the Secret, don’t you monsieur? Think of the fame you would gain...”

Guybrush took another, shaky step backwards. “I’m going to go now, okay?”

Azelma simply shook her head at him. “There are things you cannot outrun, monsieur.”

But to his credit, Guybrush did run rather quickly.



***


Elaine walked up onto the roof of the fort and looked around for William Serand, the commander of the fort in Governor Marley’s absence and now her second-in-command. She found him leaning against a cannon and staring out to sea.

“Serand!” She strode over to him briskly. “What’s all this about?”

He jumped to attention, dusting a smudge off his long blue coat. “The lookout’s spotted black sails on the horizon, Ms. Marley. We think it’s LeChuck’s armada.”

Elaine frowned. “That was quick. All right; tell everyone to be ready, step up the defenses...and start evacuating Puerto Pollo into the fort. From what Guybrush told me about what happened on Mêlée, they’ll be better off in here.”

He nodded. “Right, Ms. Marley.”

“Threepwood, Mr. Serand,” she added quietly. Then, “I understand a ship came into port an hour or so ago. Why wasn’t her captain sent directly to me? Why wasn’t I given a report, at least?”

Serand frowned, taking her gently by the arm. “I had him report directly to me, Ms. Marley. I thought it would be better if I told you myself.”

“Told me what?”

“We’ve heard word from Booty Island,” he said, clearing his throat. “The armada came there a few days ago--and I regret to say that their defenses were not nearly as strong as Plunder’s. They completely ransacked the town, only a few ships managed to escape--and no one’s heard from Governor Marley since.”

“You mean he’s dead,” she said flatly. She swayed uncertainly, one hand on her stomach, and Serand quickly tried to steady her. “Why wasn’t I told immediately?”

“I--I thought it best--”

She gritted her teeth. “Well you thought wrong, Mr. Serand.”

“But Ms. Marley--”

She pulled her arm away from him, recoiling. “For the second time, it’s Threepwood, and you’ll be calling me Governor Threepwood from now on. Now listen to me: I want you to prepare all the ships and get them into Danjer Cove. I don’t want them sinking our ships first thing. Double the island’s defenses; make sure we’ve got enough cannonballs and gunpowder to last through a long siege. We’ll fire Blondebeard’s chicken at them if we have to, but they’re not going to get any further than this fort. Am I clear, Mr. Serand?”

He nodded, caught off-guard by Elaine’s sudden transformation into an authority figure. “Yessir--er, ma’am.”

“Right. I’ll be in the gov--in my office. Let me know when the armada arrives.” She didn’t even wait for a confirmation before turning and storming back towards the stairs. She paused at the top and suddenly grabbed hold of the wall, resting her other hand against her stomach and wincing.

“Governor,” called Serand, noticing her, “are you all right?”

She straightened immediately and nodded. “Fine, Mr. Serand. Now get to your orders.” But as she went down the stairs her steps were taken with a bit more caution, and when she reached the bottom she turned to the nearest guard on duty and said, “As soon as she reaches the fort, I want you to send the Voodoo Lady directly to me.”

The man nodded. “Aye, I’ll do that.”

Elaine walked calmly back to the governor’s office, closed and locked the heavy door, then sat down at her desk with the same air of calm. She almost started a letter to Guybrush, then tore it up, deciding that he’d just rush back to Plunder from wherever he was and make a complete fool of himself--and her. She brushed the resulting shreds of paper off her desk along with a couple of maps she didn’t bother picking up. Sighing, she let her head droop into her arms, losing her stern posture, and waited to hear the first cannon shots.



***


Guybrush returned to town and went straight for the café, hoping to find someone worth talking to inside. The first person he spotted was an elderly man in official-looking robes, wearing an excessive amount of rings. He was sitting alone at one of the tables in the back much like Azelma had been, but he looked, somehow, infinitely more approachable than she was. And he didn’t look in the least bit French.

Guybrush walked over to him and cleared his throat. “Excuse me--do you mind if I sit down?”

The man looked him up and down, then nodded. “All right,” he said in a calm voice that sounded faintly British. “You know, I saw you in here earlier talking with the de Salon girl. I should warn you, that’s not a smart way to go about meeting people on Vodun Island.”

Guybrush sat down, rubbing his temples. “Yeah, I kind of figured that one out on my own. But I found her son wandering around, and I couldn't just leave him there...”

“Sir--sorry, I don’t believe I caught your name.”

He smiled proudly. “Guybrush Threepwood.”

The man blinked. “Well, sir, believe me, if you’d left the boy where you found him no one on this whole island would care, not even Azelma herself.”

He sputtered. “But--but he’s her son!”

“I assure you, Azelma wouldn’t care if Eligo was her long-lost twin brother. She hates the child just as much as everyone else on this island does.”

Guybrush sighed, shaking his head. “Sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, he’s her son, and--”

“Sir, allow me to tell you a little story.”

He groaned. “Oh man, here we go again...”

The man continued with a faint smile. “Azelma de Salon used to be a teacher at Voodoo U, about three years ago. She taught one of the advanced courses in necromancy. That is, before a stranger, a drifter washed up on our shores.” He bristled. “He was near death as it was from starvation and his injuries--wherever he’d gotten them from, he wouldn’t say. He was an ugly man; the consensus among the more prominent members of Vodun society--myself included--was that he should be left to die.

“Azelma thought otherwise. She took the man in, against my urgings, and proceeded to nurse him back to health. She seemed to think he had...oh, what did she say, ‘potential.’ We all thought that she was mad, of course. And then we learned that he had asked her to teach him the art of voodoo, including necromancy, no less--and she’d agreed!

“She was fired from her position at the university, of course. To teach voodoo to one not enrolled in the university is strictly forbidden; there’s no telling what sorts of...odd characters might try to twist it for their own purposes. And then she married the man.”

“I guess that’s where Eligo comes in.”

“Yes. Azelma lost her place in society the very moment the news got out. And of course it all came to nothing anyway. The man was a drifter, a bully, and probably a pirate to boot.”

“Hey!”

“He left just as soon as he had learned everything he wanted to learn. He cared nothing for the boy, nor Azelma. Never left a forwarding address or any such thing, not that we wanted him to. Azelma insisted he’d gone to do something or another...I believe she said it was something to do with trying out his new powers on some helpless creature. But he never came back, and she hates the boy for it, of course. Her older brother Cyrano was the only one who cared--he went out after the man, but I don’t think he ever found him. He disappeared several weeks ago.”

“Cyrano? I think I met--”

“Yes, well, the de Salon family has lost some face, shall we say, on Vodun Island. No one cares for Azelma anymore, and they don’t like the boy either--he looks far too much like his father, who was far too much a bully, shall we say. Eligo will probably turn out exactly the same. As I said, it’s a bad idea to be associating with that family your first time in town, Mr. Threepwood.”

He closed his eyes and sighed. “Okay, I get your point.”

The man smiled. “Good.”

“But I just wanted to ask you--I’m looking for a scroll an...an old friend told me I could find here. Azelma said it was just a myth. But the thing is, I really need to find it. You wouldn’t have any--”

The man leaned in closely, pushing his drink out of the way. “Legend speaks of a scroll buried beneath this island.”

Guybrush leaned in too, though he seemed much less intent on secrecy than the other man. “I’ve heard this before. Repeatedly.”

“Yes. Well.” He bristled. “I can tell you, it exists. I know the person who knows where it’s buried.”

Guybrush sighed with relief. “Finally, progress.”

“There’s only one problem. She’s dead.”

“Um...just how dead is ‘dead?’ I mean, really really dead, or just...sort of dead?”

He smiled. “I can speak with her still. Come with me, I will show you.”

Guybrush hesitated. “Well, err, I don’t know--”

But the man had already stood up and, in a blinding flash of light, Guybrush landed with a thud on a polished floor in a place that was most definitely not the café. “Ow.” He sat up and looked around.

The room was a perfect circle, lined on all sides by tables carved to fit the room’s unique shape. Each one was filled with vials and jars that reminded Guybrush of the Voodoo Lady's shop. The floor, polished red marble, was swept clean of all dust. The only markings were a circle of white markings in the center of the room, just to the left of Guybrush’s feet.

“Wow,” Guybrush said, “that’s disorienting.”

“Welcome,” said the man, sweeping across the room and extending a hand to help Guybrush up. “Welcome to the office of Professor Swift. That, of course, would be me.”

Guybrush grabbed hold of his hand and pulled himself to his feet. “Uh, thanks.” He fished around for something more to say. “Nice...um, nice place you’ve got here.”

Professor Swift beamed. “I’m quite proud of it, thank you. It’s not much, but we’re a bit cramped for space here these days. Anyway!” He clapped his hands together and shooed Guybrush over to the far wall. “You’ll want to get out of the way; summoning is a tricky, tricky business...”

Guybrush swallowed. “You’re not going to resurrect this person, are you? Are there going to be any zombies involved? Because I warn you, I have this recurring fear of--”

The professor shook his head and laughed. “No no, nothing of the sort. We’re just going to be talking with her spirit, that’s all. Very simple, no zombies involved. But I do need you to be out of the way.”

Sighing, Guybrush obliged, scooting over to the nearest curved wall until he bumped into one of the tables, nearly upsetting the entire thing. As he tried to keep it stable, the professor went about gathering various powders and things and dumping them into the center of the room, just inside the ring.

“There,” he announced, taking a step back to look at his work. “This will work perfectly for the séance. Now here--” he handed Guybrush a small match--“light the fire, and we’ll see about summoning old Alene.”

Guybrush struck the match on the floor and, after several tries, managed to get it to light. Having had bad luck with matches before, he quickly tossed it into the circle and braced for a possible explosion. The match caught on one of the professor’s powders and lit the entire thing with a soft whump, flared up for a second, then settled back down to a harmless fire.

“Ah,” said Swift, “good. Now--you sit over there, on that side, and I’ll sit here.”

Guybrush sat down. The smoke from the fire was laced with some sort of strange herbal scent, and it was making his head spin. Professor Swift seemed to take no notice of it. He sat down opposite Guybrush, barely visible through the flame and smoke.

“Alene de Salon,” he began, closing his eyes and muttering so that Guybrush could barely hear him, much less, he supposed, any spirits. “We ask you--” The professor stopped and opened one eye. “Sir, you’re going to have to close your eyes.”

“But I feel silly!”

“Do you want to find this scroll or not?”

“Okay, okay...” Guybrush sighed and closed his eyes.

“Oh Alene,” the professor began again, “we ask you to come forward from your place in the afterlife, so that we may ask of you one question.” Guybrush heard the fire flickering and the smoke almost became overwhelming. He coughed and struggled to keep his eyes closed, though they watered horribly.

“One question,” said a new voice, a woman’s voice. She had such a heavy French accent that Guybrush had trouble understanding her. “Une question, messieurs. Ask.”

When Professor Swift didn’t say anything, Guybrush jumped in. “I’m looking for a scroll that’s supposed to be buried on this island. It’s supposed to bring allies from another universe or...something. I’m not really sure, but--I need to find it. Any idea where it is?”

“Oui, monsieur. I placed it in the heart of the island, the place from which the entire island originally springs. It is there that you will find the scroll--but you must beware, monsieur. There is un gardien--a guardian--whom I have placed in the same area. You must first defeat him to reach the scroll. And I should warn you, he is not easily defeated. Many have tried before--and failed.”

Guybrush sighed. That seems to be a theme around here. “What is this guardian? Or, er, who?”

She laughed, a delicate, airy sound. “You are only to ask me one question, monsieur, and so you have. Au revoir.”

“But--wait!” Guybrush’s eyes popped open just in time to see a longhaired, smoky figure disappear back into the flames, which immediately died out. Professor Swift’s eyes opened shortly afterward.

“Perhaps,” he said quietly, “you would have been better off accepting the scroll as myth.”



***


Thanking the professor for all his help and promising that he’d try to stay alive, Guybrush let himself be teleported back to the café. None of the patrons seemed startled by his entrance or even looked up to acknowledge it.

Sighing, Guybrush left the café and strolled through the town, trying to think of what Alene had meant when she’d said “heart of the island” and dodging the occasional priest or priestess who appeared in his path. He had just stepped around another one and was heading for the trail leading out of town when he looked up and happened to see the tip of the island’s volcano, peering up over the top of the trees.

He slapped himself in the forehead, muttered “of course,” and jogged away towards the volcano.



***


The volcano itself was relatively small and inactive, with a steep slope leading up to the top. The entire base was comprised of dark stone dotted occasionally by trees or scrawny little bushes. There was no path, natural or manmade, leading to the top--Guybrush had to scramble his way up on his own, often having to move sideways or even backwards after encountering a ravine too wide to jump across or some other impasse.

He finally made it to the top an hour later, sweating more from exertion than from any heat coming from the volcano. The side he was approaching had a sort of natural fence of stone just before the rim, where some lava had somehow gotten stuck and hardened. Guybrush peered over it warily, afraid of what he’d find.

“Hello!”

Guybrush fell over backwards. Then, standing back up and dusting himself off, he took a deep breath and looked again--ready for any surprise, this time.

The ghost waving to him from the other side seemed, at second glance, rather familiar. He had a tattered blue coat on over more tattered clothes that barely hid his skeletal frame, a peg leg and a faint blue aura. His head popped off and back on again as he spoke.

“Hello again!”

Guybrush tilted his head to one side. A faded memory was starting to come back to him... “Murray?”

“Nope.” His head popped off again. “Name’s Bob.”

“Oh. Can I call you Murray?”

“Nope.”

Guybrush sighed. This was the guardian? Not very inspiring. “Are you the...um, guardian?”

Bob nodded, which nearly caused his head to fall off. “Well, sort of. See, I’ve been out of work since some nosy kid blew up my boss four years ago. I came here looking for the job and the guardian who used to work here--you should see him, he’s a big scary guy--he let me take over for a few years while he’s on vacation. He’s been working for over a hundred years without a break!”

“Okay...well, thanks. Bye.”

Bob waved again. “Bye!”

Guybrush ducked down below the “fence” and considered his options for a minute. Finally, he crouched down so that he was hidden from view from the other side and started walking along the rim. He walked until he ran out of that natural barrier and the only thing separating him from a long drop down into boiling lava was a few feet. Here, he peered over the edge again, very carefully--wondering just what Bob was standing on that kept him from falling into the lava.

Bob was standing on a thin ledge that extended just a few feet out into the volcano’s center. It gradually lessened and turned into a misshapen set of stairs a few feet later, down where Guybrush was standing. He looked at Bob again--he was busy staring at the fence like it was the only thing he was supposed to guard, and Guybrush didn’t think he’d take any notice of him. Taking a deep breath, he walked over to the edge and, standing up to his full height, jumped.

He landed with a thud on the stairway, scrambling to catch his balance before he tipped too far one way and fell in. Finally feeling safe enough to stand, he did, clinging to the edge above him for support. He looked back--Bob still hadn’t noticed him; hadn’t seemed to notice anything at all. Then he looked forward again--the stairs continued down for several feet before turning into the stone of the volcano itself and disappearing into a black, gaping hole. Guybrush plucked up his courage and started his descent.

The stairs were more stable than he thought they’d be so he had no problem walking downwards, so long as he didn’t look over at the lava boiling to his direct left. He reached the hole quickly and peered in. All that stared back was a quiet, inky blackness, which Guybrush took for a small sign of good fortune--at least there were no backup guardians lurking inside. He stepped inside and waited for his eyes to adjust.

As things came into focus, he noticed that it was no cavern at all, but a tunnel, one which gradually sloped downwards into an even more disquieting dark. A few feet down from the entrance the light from the lava began to fade, and he hesitated. “Just how far down does this thing go?”

“Pretty deep, I think.”

Guybrush jumped and nearly hit his head on the low ceiling. “I really wish,” he said slowly, turning around, “I really wish that you’d quit scaring me like that.”

Bob shrugged and tossed his head from hand to hand. “Well, you’re the scaredy-cat here.”

“Am not!” Guybrush shot back, glowering. “I’m just a little...nervous.”

Bob didn’t look very impressed. “Uh-huh. Sure.”

Sighing, Guybrush took a few more steps down the tunnel. The further away from the entrance he got, the harder it was to see. He’d never make it down to the end of the tunnel--wherever that was--in one piece if he didn’t have some sort of light. He looked back at Bob, who was glowing a faint iridescent blue in the dim light, and suddenly got an idea.

“Hey Bob, how’d you like to come with me on a thrilling adventure?”

Bob shrugged. “Well, gee, I don’t know...I’m kind of not supposed to leave that spot...if the guardian comes back, he’ll be pretty mad.”

“But you’ve already left that spot! And besides, who’s going to come snooping around here anyway?”

His head wobbled uncertainly from side to side. “Well...you did,” he said.

Guybrush rolled his eyes. “Besides me, I meant.”

“Well in that case, nobody.”

“Exactly! See, nobody’s going to show up. Now come on, it’ll be fun.”

Bob tossed his head around for a few seconds, then said, “Okay! But this isn’t some plot to push me into the lava or anything is it?”

Guybrush, having already started down the tunnel, looked back with a confused expression on his face. “Why would I do that?”



***


Bob actually didn’t provide all that much light beyond a faint blue glimmer, but it was enough for Guybrush to see several steps ahead. They walked together in a sort of awkward silence. Bob kept flipping his head around so he could see over his shoulder (something Guybrush found stomach-turning), afraid that the guardian would be there, back from his vacation. Guybrush just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other without sliding down the rest of the tunnel. As they went the path gradually grew steeper, and the rock beneath their feet was starting to become smooth and polished.

“I don’t know how we’re going to get back up,” Guybrush said, breaking the silence.

“I don’t think anybody’s supposed to come back. That is, if they made it past the guardian.” Bob’s blue aura flared briefly as if he had just blushed. “I don’t think anyone’s ever tried. Not since I’ve been here, anyway.”

Guybrush sighed. “Yeah...I’m beginning to see why.” He stopped briefly and stood up on his tiptoes, nearly grazing the ceiling. A faint, warm glow had just appeared in the tunnel ahead--Guybrush couldn’t quite make out what it was. “More lava?” he muttered under his breath.

“This far down?”

He looked back at Bob and shook his head. “Wait here, okay? I’ve got a feeling that this is what I’m looking for.”

Bob shrugged. “Okay. Waiting.”

Guybrush took a deep breath and started downwards, resting one hand on the wall--the floor was almost perfectly smooth now, and he didn’t want to go sliding headfirst into any lava.

What he found at the bottom of the steep incline, far out of sight from his earlier position, was not lava--but lamps. He’d stumbled into a circular room that reminded him a bit of Professor Swift’s office, except that instead of being lined with tables, this room was lined with lamps. They glowed quite innocently, though Guybrush couldn’t imagine how they’d stayed lit for however many years they’d been down there. And resting in the center of the room, atop of a gilded pedestal, was what he was looking for--a scroll. It was rolled up and tied with a black ribbon that had not well stood the test of time--it was torn, ragged and fading. The scroll itself, though, appeared to be in excellent condition.

“It can’t be that easy,” Guybrush muttered, searching around for a hidden trap of some sort. He couldn’t find any. “Okay,” he said, “what’s the catch?” His words echoed back unanswered.

Guybrush looked at the scroll again, distrustfully. “It can’t be that easy,” he repeated. “Can it?”

He decided to test his luck. He took and step forward and, without touching the pedestal in any way, gingerly picked up the scroll. Then he froze with it dangling in midair, eyes closed, waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop. When nothing happened for what felt like hours, he opened one eye and looked around.

“Whew.” He let out the breath he’d been holding and grinned. “I guess it’s just that easy.” He pocketed the scroll carefully and turned to go. But he’d no sooner set one foot in the direction of the exit when all the lamps went out and he began to hear a low rumbling sound coming from somewhere beneath his feet.

“Uh-oh.”

He bolted out of the room and past Bob, shouting for him to follow. It was pitch black; Guybrush couldn’t even see his hands in front of his face. There was a brief interlude of light when Bob shot past him holding his head in one hand and muttering, but after he was gone the tunnel was plunged into darkness again.

Guybrush’s pace was slowed still further when the ground began to shake. Already unsteady from the uphill run on a relatively smooth surface, he nearly lost his footing altogether. He had to grab onto an outcropping on the wall and steady himself, taking only a split second to catch his breath before he was off and running all over again.

He was nearly to the entrance--he could see a faint light just up ahead--when the ground heaved again, knocking him completely off his feet. His head hit the ground with a sickening thud and he drifted off into blackness, oblivious.



***



Guybrush woke up, sat up and rubbed the lump on the back of his head. “I should start a collection,” he muttered. Then he looked around.

Instead of inside the tunnel, where he expected to find himself, he was outside in a damp, foggy place that he somehow doubted was anywhere in the Caribbean he knew. A faint wind stirred past him and he shivered, drawing his coat up around him for warmth. He stopped and looked down--he was wearing his old blue coat, the one he’d lost nearly three years ago when he’d been captured by LeChuck. He tugged at the fraying sleeves, a bit more worse for wear than when he’d last seen them, and slowly got to his feet.

“Well, we’re not on Vodun Island anymore.” He snorted at his own obvious statement and started to look around. The fog obscured nearly everything that was more than two feet away, but Guybrush thought he could make out shapes in the distance, lumpy, square objects tilted at all manner of angles. Guybrush took a few hesitant steps towards one of the larger things and immediately realized what they were--and where he was.

“I’m in a cemetery.” He blinked, tilted his head to one side, and sighed. “Oh great, I’m probably dead. Elaine’s going to kill me...”

Without even bothering to inspect the rest of the cemetery, Guybrush found the path leading out of the area and took it. His boots crunched against stone and gravel as he walked, somehow always aware of how the path would turn even in the dense fog. It seemed to get lighter as he walked, but Guybrush chalked that up to a trick of the light--what little there was.

He walked for what felt like hours, until finally the fog really did thin out and he could see a murky shape at the end of the path. Finally having a goal in sight, Guybrush increased his pace to a jog and hurried towards the building.

It turned out to be a ruined church, a fragile-looking building made out of broken stones. The ceiling was full of holes and ivy covered all the shattered windows. But for all it looked abandoned, Guybrush couldn’t help but feel that there was still someone inside. Curiosity overcame what little caution he had, and he quickly yanked open the polished doors and stepped inside.

The church wasn’t quite what he expected on the inside. For one, it was bigger than it looked on the outside. For another, there were no holes in the ceiling when he looked up--or maybe there were, and he just couldn’t see them for all the cobwebs and murky blackness. Tall stone pillars disappeared into the distance and empty space.

“Hello?” Guybrush called, only to hear his own voice answer him. The interior was clear of any dust, dirt or furniture. He shrugged and took a step forward--only to find himself blinking in the light as every torch and brazier in the building flared to life.

Just as soon as his eyes adjusted to the light, he looked back up towards the altar, at a scene that made his stomach tie itself into uncomfortable knots. A tall man stood at the altar dressed all in black except for a grinning death’s head mask. He was busy cleaning a bloody dagger and paid Guybrush no attention. Beside the altar a faint specter of a woman paced, her long hair flying behind her in some unseen wind. Every so often she would stop and glare in Guybrush’s general direction, a look that marred her pretty features. But tied to the altar--Guybrush had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dead or dreaming--tied to the altar was Elaine. He knew from first glance that she was dead. Chained to the altar, still and pale, with blood streaming into golden bowls beneath each delicate hand--Guybrush couldn’t see how it could be otherwise. He swallowed, blinked away tears, and began the long march forward.

The black-cloaked figure looked up at him as he approached and calmly stepped away. Guybrush pointedly ignored him as he walked to the altar and dropped down to his knees. “Elaine?” He brushed her hair gently, then her face--and jumped back. Her skin was as cold as ice.

The man in the cloak knelt down beside him, pulling his attention away, briefly, from Elaine. He realized then that he’d seen that grinning death mask somewhere before--in a nightmare of his own. He scooted away.

But the man didn’t do anything to him. Instead, he picked up one of the golden bowls and stood back up. Guybrush watched him out of the corner of his eye as he walked over to the far wall. He dipped his hand into the blood and started to write.

“Hey!” Guybrush stood up and glared angrily. “What do you think you’re doing? Leave--leave her alone!”

The man looked back at him, shrugged, and continued with his work. Guybrush was frozen to the spot--he could do nothing but watch as the man went on writing on the wall. When he was finished, he stood aside so that Guybrush could see it. He blinked and read it aloud. “‘Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.’” Looking now at the man, some of his anger and grief replaced by confusion, he said, “I don’t get it.”

The man’s shoulders seemed to slump as if he were disappointed. Then, calmly, he replaced the bowl in its former position and walked out of the church. The doors opened wide for a brief instant, letting in some natural light, then slammed shut with a tone of finality. All the lights in the church went out at once, plunging the entire place into blackness. The only faint light came from the ghostly young woman--and she too soon left, glaring at Guybrush the entire time.

“Hey--hey you!” Guybrush blinked at the voice that seemed to come from, literally, nowhere. His head started to swim as if he’d been underwater for far too long. “Hey, wake up!”

Guybrush stirred and sat up again, this time to a more familiar, warm darkness. He rubbed the bump on his head and groaned. “What happened?”

Bob flopped down in front of him and shrugged. “Volcano almost erupted, they say.”

Guybrush rubbed his temples. “‘They?’ Who the heck’re ‘they?’”

“Myself and a few others, monsieur.”

He groaned, suddenly wishing he were back in that nightmare. “Not you...”

“Oui, c’est vrai.” Azelma knelt down beside him and appeared to be inspecting, from a respectful distance, the lump on his head. “It is a miracle you were not killed, monsieur. If we had not been able to stop the eruption in time--”

“I would’ve been a pirate flambé,” Guybrush answered. “Look, I’m really very grateful and all, but--”

She arched an eyebrow. “But what?”

“But--” he swallowed and tried to ignore the knot that was still twisting in his stomach--“but I’ve got to get home. I think--I think Elaine might be in trouble.” Scattered images from the dream came back to him just thinking about it. He shuddered.

Azelma laughed. “It is nothing to worry about, monsieur. It was only a dream, something caused by your fall, non?”

Guybrush shook his head. He’d had fairly surreal dreams before--but this one was even worse than the time his parents had shown up to do a song and dance number. That dream had left him with a vital clue. This one left him with a sick feeling in his stomach that wouldn’t go away, no matter how hard he tried to get rid of it. “No, no, I need to go home.”

Azelma held out a delicate hand and pinned him to the spot. “You are trying to outrun that which you cannot, monsieur. You know--”

“That’s enough, Azelma.”

Guybrush looked up. Professor Swift had just appeared, dusting soot off his robes. He bent down and tilted Guybrush’s head from side to side. His hands were ice cold. “The poor man’s lucky to be alive. There’s no need to harass him like that.” Swift bristled as he tapped the bump on Guybrush’s head. Guybrush winced. “Why are you even here, Azelma?” he added with a faint sigh.

“I came to help. I thought perhaps you would appreciate it.”

The professor snorted, abruptly letting go of Guybrush’s head. “He’ll survive, provided you don’t get your hands on him. Here,” he said, offering Guybrush his hand. “I’ll take you back to the path. The tunnel entrance’s collapsed--if it wasn’t for your ghost friend, you’d likely still be trapped in here.”

“Yeah,” Guybrush said, “tell Bob I said thanks.”

Swift smiled. “Azelma will thank him for you. Won’t you, Azelma?”

Azelma gritted her teeth and muttered something under her breath in French. Then, “Very well. Though, Professor, when you take him back to the surface--I would search his pockets. I believe he is carrying a scroll that belongs to the university.” She smiled primly at Guybrush, then disappeared in a flash of light.

Swift rolled his eyes. “Likes to make up stories, that one.” He helped Guybrush to his feet gently and brushed him off. “I suppose this has something to do with the scroll you were looking for.”

Guybrush swallowed uneasily. “Well, um...”

Professor Swift held up a hand. “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know about it. I know absolutely nothing, not why you were down here or what made the volcano erupt--nothing. Trust me, we’re all better off that way. Just don’t mention it, all right?”

Guybrush nodded. “All right.”

“Good.” In another disorienting flash of light, Guybrush found himself blinking in the sunlight at the base of the volcano. A faint trail of ash drifted up from the rim. The professor straightened his robes and cleared his throat. “Well, I should go help the others clean things up a bit--and make sure Azelma hasn’t done anything stupid.” He disappeared before Guybrush could thank him.

Guybrush, for his part, didn’t waste any time. The second he was sure he was alone, he darted off in the direction of the harbor. He stopped only once, to make sure the scroll was still in his pocket, and then he was off and running again.

“Get ready to make sail!” he yelled just as soon as he was sure he was within earshot. Carla’s head poked up lazily from below deck.

“What’s goin’ on, Fripweed?”

Guybrush jumped up on deck and looked at Estevan. “Is she drunk again?”

Estevan nodded. “Yessir. She went into town and got some of the local moonshine.”

“Well, at least she had the sense to come back here with it.” He sighed. “Get the ship ready to go; I’ll deal with her.”

“Right.” He hurried off to raise anchor while Guybrush pulled Carla up on deck.

“Hey!” she hiccuped, swatting him with the bottle. “What’s the big idea?”

“You’re drunk, that’s what. We need to get back to Plunder as quickly as possible, and you’re not making it any easier.” He rubbed his temples--he was starting to get a headache, but whether it was from dealing with Carla or the bump on his head he didn’t know. “I’m getting sick of you being drunk all the time--you’ve got a job, what more do you want?”

Carla tilted her head at him and smiled, clearly ignoring everything he’d just said. “You know what, Fripweed?”

He sighed. “What, Carla?”

“You’re--hic--pretty.”

If he hadn’t needed her as a third crew member, Guybrush would have thrown her overboard right then and there.

“Ship’s ready to go, captain.”

He looked back at Estevan and nodded gratefully. “Good. Let’s go--we’ve got to get back to Plunder.”



***


“Mrs. Threepwood? Are you all right?”

Elaine sat up far too quickly for her liking. “What?” She rubbed her eyes and looked around. She was surprised to find both the Voodoo Lady and Mr. Serand hovering over her. “Oh,” she said quickly, “I’m fine. I must have fallen asleep.” Then she straightened and immediately assumed her new role as governor. “Mr. Serand, has the attack begun yet?”

“Yes ma’am, just a few minutes ago.” As he spoke, a cannonball sailed into the fort wall nearby with a resounding crash. “Luckily,” he added, “they built these walls thick.”

“Luck has nothing to do with it.” She began rifling through some papers on her desk. “You’re in charge of the battle for now, Mr. Serand. But I want you to pick at least two citizens to serve as runners between you and myself. I want to be informed the moment anything happens--if I have to, I’ll come up and direct the battle myself. Am I clear?”

Serand nodded briskly. “Quite, Governor. I’ll return to my men immediately.” He bowed his head politely and then disappeared out the door. When he was gone, the Voodoo Lady pulled up a chair and sat down, resting her arms on Elaine’s desk.

“You locked the door,” she said, smiling warmly. “Mr. Serand and I were both concerned.”

Elaine waved her hands absent-mindedly. “Sorry, sorry...I guess I just wasn’t thinking.”

“Indeed. Did you...hurt yourself?”

“What?” Elaine blinked, shocked, then looked down at her shirtsleeves. On each sleeve, exactly at the crook of each elbow, was a drying bloodstain. She quickly bunched up her sleeves to that the spots weren’t visible. “I--I don’t think so, it must have been--”

The Voodoo Lady lifted a hand to interrupt her. “I had thought that these strange incidents were over and done with already. Apparently, I was wrong.”

Elaine swallowed. “This is exactly what happened to Guybrush back on Mêlée.”

“Indeed. You should tell him--if it is some sort of attack, he should--”

“He’ll only make a fool of himself,” Elaine answered, shaking her head. “He worries too much already. If I tell him that I think somebody might have attacked me, it’ll only make things worse. I’ll deal with it.” She smiled faintly.

“Mrs. Threepwood, if you had a dream when he was attacked, then would the same not be true now?”

“You mean he’s had--” She stopped, doing her best to suppress the nausea that came along with images from her dream--faded, but still disturbing nonetheless. She didn’t even want to think of what Guybrush might have gone through.

“He should have seen the aftermath of your dream, yes,” the Voodoo Lady continued, looking at her with concern.

Elaine flinched and began fishing around for something positive to say or think. “Well...if it’s connected to LeChuck, it’ll all be taken care of soon anyway. Guybrush is probably on his way to Monkey Island right now with that artifact you told him to find.”

“Actually,” the Voodoo Lady said, “he’s on his way back here at the moment.”

“He’s--” Elaine dropped her face into her hands. At the same time, another cannon strike hit the fort wall. “Oh, great.”



***


When the Persephone sailed into Plunder Harbor two days later, it was to a graveyard of sunken ships. Masts and torn black sails poked out from beneath the surface of the ocean, creating a maze for their ship to go through. Guybrush’s eyes swept the scene with growing dread, then looked to the fort and town just barely visible beyond.

The town was in flames, though not nearly as bad as Mêlée had been--and Guybrush thought he could see people sifting through the wreckage and dousing flames. The fort’s walls had fared far worse; the top of one side facing the open ocean had almost completely crumbled. He could see people inside the fort, too, moving weapons about and trying to repair the damage as best they were able.

Guybrush turned to his crew. “I’ll just take one of the rowboats in...there’s no point in wrecking the hull against all that.”

Estevan nodded. “Aye. It’s all still smoking, at that--LeChuck’ll likely be back with more. We’ll stand guard.”

They prepared one of the boats for departure and Guybrush quickly rowed it to shore, avoiding the treacherous maze as best he could. He made it to shore with little damage to the boat and quickly docked her at the Plunder Harbor docks. There were no other boats there--Guybrush wondered if they’d been sunk, too.

As he jumped out of the boat, a young man practically covered in soot approached him. “Who’re you?” he demanded, giving Guybrush a quick poke in the chest with his pistol.

Guybrush rolled his eyes impatiently. “Guybrush Threepwood. Now if you don’t mind, I’m looking for--”

The man’s eyes went wide and he quickly holstered his gun, rubbing some soot from his nose. “Governor Mar--”

“Threepwood!”

“Right, she’s in the fort.” He swallowed. “You’d best go there right away.”

Guybrush, turning pale, didn’t wait for any further explanation. He dropped the oars back into the boat and ran straight for the fort, jumping over downed trees and other debris as he went. When he reached the fort, he found it a center of activity. Men sprinted from place to place carrying weapons and the occasional wounded man. Guybrush tried flagging several of them down, but to no avail.

Finally, frustrated, he grabbed the nearest man forcefully by the shoulder and demanded, “Where’s Elaine?”

The man looked annoyed for a brief instant before he answered. “She’s in her rooms, sir. But she’s given strict orders that no one’s supposed to go anywhere near there except--”

“I’m her husband, she’ll make an exception.” Guybrush let go of the man and sprinted off towards the stairs. He knew, vaguely, where the governor’s rooms were, and he hoped that his memory wasn’t as faulty as it usually tended to be in a crisis.

He began to assume that he was headed in the right direction when traffic in the halls thinned out and an uncomfortable silence started to hang over the area. Finally, he came to a room that looked promising--the door was ajar and there was a guard standing outside.

“Excuse me!” he called, struggling to catch his breath as he came to a sudden stop. “I’m looking for Governor--”

“Finally!” The woman pushed the door open a little bit more and motioned for him to go inside. “Do you have any idea how late you are? It’s been three hours! Go on, inside, quickly!”

Guybrush turned a bit paler and stepped into the room on tiptoe.

A woman bustled across the room, looked up at him and then returned to whatever it was she was doing. The Voodoo Lady sat out of the way in one corner--she nodded at Guybrush as he came in, the first to fully acknowledge his presence. He found Elaine lying on the bed propped up by half a dozen pillows, sweat running down her face.

“Elaine?”

She waved him over. “Guybrush, there you are,” she said with a note of relief in her voice.

He sat down on the bed beside her, even though the strange woman shot him a dark look for it. “What’s going on?”

“She’s in labor, that’s what,” snapped the woman. She flicked a strand of black hair out of her eyes and glowered at him even more. “Honestly, men.”

Guybrush’s eyes went wide. He looked back at Elaine, resting one hand on her stomach. “You--but--I--but!”

Elaine chuckled weakly. “The baby’s just the impatient type, I guess. As for you...” She reached up and grabbed him by the shirt collar with a strength Guybrush didn’t know she possessed, dragging him down until his nose touched hers. “You should have gone straight to Monkey Island!”

He swallowed. “I thought you might be in trouble,” he squeaked. Then, with a touch more resolve in his voice, “And I’m staying here until the baby’s born.”

“No you’re not.”

Guybrush blinked, taken aback. “But--but--”

She gripped his shirt tighter and winced. There was a tense silence, and then she relaxed again. “Guybrush Ulysses Threepwood,” she began, “you’re going to get back on your ship and go to Monkey Island and defeat LeChuck. I don’t want to see you again until you’ve done just that. Clear?”

Guybrush pried her fingers away from his shirt collar and held her hand gently. “But the trip’ll take at least three days, just to get there! I’ll never make it--”

“I know.” Her expression softened slightly. “Don’t forget that when you’re fighting LeChuck. It’s his fault.”

The woman who had been on guard outside ran in. “Governor, we’ve just had word, there’s another fleet of ships headed for Plunder.”

Guybrush started stuttering again while Elaine calmly took charge. “Then tell the repair crews to pick up the pace. I want every cannon in this fort working again by the time those ships arrive. Tell Mr. Serand that I want a report in my hands within the hour on how much powder and shot we have left; I’ll divide it up accordingly once I see it. And tell the men down in Puerto Pollo to get back here right away. If there’s anything worth saving, it’ll be gone in the second attack no matter what we do.”

The woman nodded. “Right away, Governor.” She ran back out, leaving the door ajar again, and in the silence that followed they could all hear her footsteps echoing down the hallway.

Guybrush looked back at Elaine. “I can’t leave you,” he said softly.

“You’ll have to,” the other woman in the room answered. She bustled over to the bed and elbowed her way past Guybrush to drop a bowl of water on a nearby table. She dropped a rag in and wrung it out, then laid it across Elaine’s forehead. “She wants you gone, you go.”

“Who’re you?” Guybrush shot back, a little belatedly.

“She’s the midwife, plunderbunny.”

“...Oh.” He scratched the back of his head and generally felt uncomfortable until another grimace flickered across Elaine’s face. “Um, Elaine--”

“I’m fine, Guybrush. Now if you don’t get up right now and go--”

“But--” He sighed and looked at the midwife. She didn’t look to be at all on his side, but it was worth a shot. “Can’t I stay? It won’t be much longer, will it?”

The midwife laughed. “It’ll be long into the night before this one’s born. Going to be a long night, yessir.”

“Well--can’t you tell her to wait until I get back?”

Elaine looked as if she might punch him. “All right, that’s it, everyone out. Out! I don’t want any witnesses.”

The Voodoo Lady and the midwife swiftly left the room, the latter chuckling under her breath. As soon as the door shut, Guybrush squeaked out a “please don’t kill me” while Elaine just rolled her eyes.

“I’m not going to kill you, Guybrush.”

“Well, that’s a relief.”

She smiled, but it quickly faded into a pinched frown. “Guybrush, please. You have to go.”

“But those ships--”

“--will come whether or not you stay. I don’t know if the fort can withstand another siege, and if LeChuck captures you then, we may not have another chance at fighting back. Beyond you and this fort, there’s nothing standing between LeChuck and the rest of the Caribbean.” She closed her eyes and sighed. “We had word while you were gone--he took Booty Island a few days ago.”

Guybrush bit his lower lip. “What about Grandpa Marley?”

“Nobody’s...nobody’s heard.” She blinked something out of her eye that might have been a tear. “They’re assuming he’s dead.”

He shook his head, trying to think of something to say to fill the sudden, awkward pause. “Geez, Elaine, I’m...”

“Don’t worry about it,” she snapped back. Guybrush winced at the rough, raw tone her voice took. “We don’t even know for sure yet; it’s just a rumor, really. He might even have been captured, and the only way to find out if that’s true is--”

“To go find LeChuck, presumably on Monkey Island,” Guybrush finished. “But if he captures you while I’m gone--”

She shook her head. “It’s happened before, plunderbunny. That’s why the Voodoo Lady’s here--just in case. She can get the baby to safety if we can’t hold the fort.”

Guybrush nodded faintly and looked down at her stomach, half-hidden by twisted sheets and her long white nightgown. “I’m not so sure I like this kid. She’s got lousy timing.”

Elaine’s hand bunched into a fist. “Guybrush Ulysses--”

“Kidding! I was kidding!”

She relaxed a little and shot him a dark look. “You’d better be,” she said under her breath. “Now you’re just wasting time; quit dragging your heels and get moving.”

Guybrush nodded slowly, finally admitting defeat. “Good luck, Elaine. Er, holding the fort, I mean, not--”

She laughed. “You still don’t know how to talk to women.” Then she paused, her expression becoming more serious. “Come back as soon as you can. I’ll--we’ll be waiting.”

He kissed her and squeezed her hand one last time. “Tell Armena I’m sorry I couldn’t be here--but it’s her own darn fault.” He grinned even as she glared. “I was kidding again, honest!” he said the last quietly, with a hint of sadness in his voice. Then he stood up and slipped out the door.



***


He returned to the docks with a brisk step, trying to belay the heavy guilt he felt. He looked back at the fort often, taking note of all her battered defenses and silently hoping that she’d be able to stand until he could make it back.

When he reached the dock where he’d moored the rowboat, he was surprised to find two things--one, the Persephone, anchored where the rowboat should’ve been. And two, Carla standing on the docks with a grim and sober expression on her face. She shoved a sack full of what Guybrush could only assume were random objects into his hands the second he was within reach.

“We heard,” she said, as if that explained everything. “Now come on, the ship’s ready to go at your order, cap’n. We’re going to try and outrun those ships coming in. It’ll be tight, but if you get that recipe...voodoo...thingy...whatever working, we’ll make it.” She patted him on the shoulder gently, if not awkwardly. “We’ll get you back to see your little girl yet, Fripweed.”

Guybrush’s face broke out into a genuine smile. “Thanks, Carla.”

She nodded. “Just get moving. And, by the way--that’s two you owe me now.”



***


When they regained consciousness approximately three days later, it was to find the familiar landscape of Monkey Island off their port side. Preparations were quickly made for Guybrush to go ashore under the cover of the fast-approaching darkness. Guybrush didn’t help with any of them--he stayed by the side rail as if he’d been glued there, watching for signs of life on the island.

Carla joined him as night fell. “The rowboat’s ready anytime you are, Fripweed.”

“You know,” he answered, “I’m probably a father by now.”

“After three days?” She snorted. “Geez, I hope so.”

He ignored her. “I wonder if Elaine’s all right. I mean, with the siege and everything, it’s been three whole days...”

Carla rolled her eyes at him. “She lived happily ever after. There, does that help? Meanwhile, we’re practically sitting ducks out here if any of those other ships show up and wonder why we’re not out wreaking havoc and mayhem.”

That seemed to snap him back to reality. Turning away from the rail, Guybrush quickly resumed his role as captain, giving the crew a few last minute instructions before casting off in the rowboat.

He rowed to shore quickly and easily, concealing the boat as best he could beside a banana tree. He doubted it would stay hidden for very long; he just had to hope that it would go unnoticed until it was too late for anybody to do anything about it. From there Guybrush crept on into the forest, which seemed to have grown back somewhat since he’d last visited. But for all it seemed healthy on the flora side of things, the pervading silence of any kind of wildlife was more than a little unnerving. Light from the nearly-full moon lit the path faintly and allowed him to see where he was going without tripping over his own feet too much.

Guybrush headed in the general direction of the Monkey Head, or at least the Monkey Head’s shattered remnants, hoping to find something of interest there. But the closer he got to the area, the more that plan started to seem like a bad idea. The place was literally swarming with undead; Guybrush kept having to go more and more out of his way to avoid running into the skeletal patrols.

“I didn’t know there were this many dead guys in the Caribbean,” he muttered under his breath. Wishing somewhat belatedly that he’d thought to bring a sword with him, Guybrush began the walk towards the lava field. “How I’m going to get past them all, I have no idea.”

The forest ended long before the lava field began, leaving Guybrush with a span of completely open terrain to get across before he could make it to the relative safety of the other side of the island. He didn’t even want to think about crossing the lava flow that split the island in two.

When he reached that spot he paused behind a particularly leafy palm tree, looking around. There didn’t appear to be any undead pirates lurching about, and it looked as if the island’s volcano had become inactive once again--the lava field had turned to solid rock. Guybrush took a deep breath and a chance; he ran across that open, faintly grassy terrain as fast as his feet would carry him.

He was nearly across before one of the patrols came out of the forest behind him and, seeing him, broke into pursuit. Guybrush was nearly to the old lava field by then, but a second patrol appeared on the other side, almost as if they had been expecting him. Guybrush had no choice but to hold up his hands in surrender.

“Heh, hi,” he offered meekly as both patrols surrounded him and began searching him for weapons. “I’m selling these fine leather jackets...”

The skeletons, binding his hands behind his back with a short length of rope and surrounding him on all sides, led him to exactly the place he wanted to go. They marched him with swords drawn over to the other side of the island and down a well-traveled path towards the Monkey Head. As they passed the path that led to the old cannibal village, Guybrush couldn’t resist a quick peek down it. He wasn’t surprised to find it abandoned, though he was surprised to see that LeChuck hadn’t burned it yet. He’d burned pretty much every place else, after all.

When the skeletons finally brought him to the clearing, they didn’t pause or even hesitate at the rubble and scattered debris. In fact, they didn’t even slow their steady pace when they began getting a little too close to the Monkey Head’s old resting place for Guybrush’s comfort.

“Hey, um, guys, no offense, but the last time I was here there was kind of this gaping hole and--ow!” One of the skeletons prodded him forward with the tip of its sword, causing him to jump and pick up the pace a little bit. They paused to let a patrol go by--Guybrush tried to see whether or not they were climbing out of the hole where the giant robot had been, but he couldn’t see much of anything besides a bunch of skulls.

Just as soon as the patrol had gone by, the group in front marched forward and disappeared, to Guybrush’s relief, down a flight of stairs. “You know, you could’ve just told me those were there,” he said, even as one of the skeletons in back pushed him so hard he nearly fell down the stairs.

The walk down was short and the stairs opened up to a low-ceilinged cavern lit by a steady flow of lava and unnaturally red walls. Skeletons and ghosts alike swarmed in the enclosed space, flitting back and forth and organizing themselves. Several patrols and what looked like a crew for a ship moved out while Guybrush’s group was passing through. The heat from the lava flow started to become overwhelming the further back they went; Guybrush started sweating and another knot formed in his stomach.

One of the skeletons grabbed him roughly from behind the moment they were out of the cavern and into similarly designed tunnels. It half-carried, half-pushed him down through a twisting maze of passages that looked all alike. Guybrush tried to memorize the route, but that idea quickly proved futile--they were moving much too quickly for his memory to keep up with.

They brought him, silently, to an open pair of doors carved out of solid stone. Several skeletal guards stood outside at attention. Guybrush’s escort took him through those doors and into another cavern remarkably similar to the entrance.

He peered over the skeletons’ heads as much as he could, trying to catch a glimpse of LeChuck. All he could see, though, was a raised dais in the center of the room, made of stone, which looked as if it might lead to some sort of throne.

The skeletons dropped him face-first on the floor and were then apparently dismissed, because they turned around and marched back out. Guybrush heard them slam the doors shut with a sharp tone that left his ears ringing.

Guybrush waited for a few seconds, gathering up his courage. Then he lifted his head to meet LeChuck face to face. He looked--and stared.

“Hello, Threepwood.”




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