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The Second Element I: Camera Obscura
By 1


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Act 5: ...Serve Cold

Guybrush stared with mingled shock and horror. Largo LaGrande sprawled lazily on the stone throne in the center of the room, watching him with a cruel smirk on his face. He looked just as he had three years ago, with his white shirt and green pants, prominent chin and beady black eyes. There wasn’t a hair out of place; it was as if he’d walked away from LeChuck’s fortress three years ago to sit down in that throne and had been waiting there ever since.

“Largo?” was all Guybrush could manage.

Largo arched one thick eyebrow. “You were expecting maybe LeChuck?”

“Well--well--yeah, maybe.”

Largo snorted. “You’ve gotten pretty stupid these past three years, Threepwood.”

“Hey!” Guybrush recovered his senses a bit and tried to stand, to put himself at equal height with Largo. But he couldn’t find enough leverage with his hands tied behind his back. Finally, he sighed and settled for another attack. “Well, at least I don’t wear a bra. Now come on Largo, where’s LeChuck? I’m supposed to blow him up today.”

“He’s dead, Threepwood. Dead and for once not coming back!” He jumped up and walked down the dais until he was only inches away from Guybrush. Then he reached his hand out and grabbed Guybrush’s chin roughly--Guybrush could feel tiny, rough scars on his fingers. “It’s just you and me, Threepwood.”

“Oh, how cliché.”



***


Her hands were so tiny, she could barely grab hold of Elaine’s pinky. But she had a surprisingly strong grip--and she wasn’t afraid to use it, either. Elaine had had to quickly learn how to make notes and write reports with only one hand, while Armena Torquemada Marley-Threepwood clung quite happily to the other.

Mr. Serand knocked on the door that morning to find two sets of eyes looking at him. “Ex--excuse me Governor, I didn’t mean to interrupt, but--”

“You’re not interrupting anything, Mr. Serand.” Elaine set her pen down and looked up. “I was just going over some reports.”

“Right, I--” He paused and tugged at his shirt collar. “Didn’t the midwife order you to stay in bed?”

Elaine looked at the paperwork piled on her desk and snorted. “It’s been three days; I think I’ve rested long enough. Besides, I was going stir crazy by day two.” Armena gurgled, as if trying to confirm what her mother had said, and temporarily dropped Elaine’s pinky to make a grab at her pen. “Hey--give that back, you!”

Serand smiled faintly. “It looks as if she’s taking after her mother already.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Elaine answered dryly, taking the pen back. “She’s trying to steal it, not use it.”

“Right--well--I just wanted to let you know that LeChuck’s ships are still out there. Just...waiting. We’ve managed to restore a handful of the fort’s defenses in the meantime, but if they launch a new assault we may not be able to hold them off. And that Blondebeard fellow won’t lend us his chicken. He said something about ‘bad press.’”

Elaine laughed. “He would. And for now, Mr. Serand, be grateful for the lull in the fighting. The sound from the cannons was keeping Mena up at night.”

“We heard, believe me.” Serand grimaced faintly, then his expression returned to its normal, neutral look. “Sorry, Governor. Didn’t mean to insult her.”

“I don’t think she took any offense.” She brushed a tiny tuft of blonde hair away from Armena’s forehead. Her dark blue eyes were starting to close. “I think she’s finally going to sleep.”

He nodded. “If you’d like to inspect the work we’ve done...”

“No, thank you. Mena’s not the only one here who needs sleep.”

“All right,” Serand said, turning to go. “I’ll let you know if the situation changes.”

“Mr. Serand--has...has there been any word from Guybrush?”

He turned back around and looked at her. Her gaze kept flickering between him and her daughter, her expression hopeful. “It’s only been three days, Governor. I’m sorry, but he’s probably only just arrived on Monkey Island.”

She nodded, trying to hide her disappointment. “Right, I forgot. Sorry--you can go now.”

Serand left without another word. When he was gone and the door had closed, Elaine slowly got up and walked over to the crib a group of citizens from Puerto Pollo had built the moment they had learned she was in labor. It was slightly misshapen, but it was the thought that counted. She set Armena down in it gently and then stood back, watching.

“He said he was sorry,” she whispered. “He’s busy trying to save your life. Honest.” Armena snorted and twisted in her sleep.



***


Guybrush didn’t take Largo at all seriously until he pulled out a knife. It looked more like something one might steal out of a kitchen more than an actual pirate knife, but the mere fact that Largo had it pressed against his throat was enough to convince Guybrush that he meant business.

“Do you have any more witty comments, Threepwood?”

“Er, well--” Guybrush swallowed and wiggled his hands around a bit, straining against the ropes--“D’you think you could maybe--um--”

“Oh right, how stupid of me.” He pulled the knife away from Guybrush's throat and then, in one quick dive, cut the ropes tying his hands behind his back. “Is that better, or do I need to stand you up and give you a bandaid, too?”

Guybrush cleared his throat, rubbing his battered wrists. “No, I’m just--” He paused, trying to collect himself. Then, thinking quickly, he switched tactics--and tried to regain even a fraction of his former confidence. “So, um, Largo...why’re you here?”

Largo snorted and returned to his throne, knife still drawn and ready. “You’re going philosophical in your old age, Threepwood.” He swung his feet up onto one of the armrests. “I’m here because of you.”

“Oh really? Well, I’m flattered, but--”

“Quit interrupting me!”

Guybrush coughed. “Er, sorry.” He shifted his position around so that he could sit more comfortably--and have better access to his right pocket, where he’d put the Vodun Island scroll. “Go ahead, tell your story...I should be used to these things by now.”

Largo smirked, briefly, before his face returned to that distinctly unamused expression it had had when Guybrush had been brought in. “I figured you were the one who blew up LeChuck’s fortress, right?” He didn’t even wait for confirmation before continuing on. “See, you’re lucky, Threepwood. You got away without a scratch, you and your dumb luck. Me, I don’t have luck like you do. I’ve got more what you might call bad luck. ‘Cause I just happened to wash up on a stupid island full of morons who wouldn’t know a bandage if it jumped up and hit ‘em over the head.” He sat up and faced Guybrush. “They did know a few tips for making masks, though. This one’s pretty good, isn’t it Threepwood?”

“Well, it’s kind of ugly.”

Largo rolled his eyes, seeming to take no offense to the insult. “Humor me. And I thought I told you to quit interrupting.”

“You asked a que--”

“Shut up!” Guybrush snapped his mouth shut and didn’t say anything more. Largo, regaining his calm composure, continued. “Like I was saying--the mask. It’s nice.” He stood up. “But I don’t know, I’ve kinda gotten used to seeing all the scars. They remind me of you.” He paused, waiting to see if Guybrush would interrupt with another smart-alec comment, but for once he kept quiet, watching through wide eyes. Largo didn’t waste any more time with grandiose speeches--he waved one hand and his entire appearance changed.

His clothes faded, his white shirt becoming more of a filthy gray with a tattered gray coat--it rather reminded Guybrush of the fancy one he’d had--to match. His green pants, too, faded to more of a dull puce, and there were a handful of sewn patches around the knees. But the most dramatic change came in Largo’s face--Guybrush could barely stand to look at him.

Largo LaGrande had never been confused with handsome in the first place, but now it was even worse--the explosion at LeChuck’s fortress had obviously done him no favors. The entire right side of his face was a mess of scar tissue, leaving him blind in that eye. His chin was bent slightly out of shape by it, and his nose looked as if it had been broken--and then hadn’t healed properly. It was twisted at a faint angle that was distinctly not normal.

Guybrush, staring up at Largo with a faint feeling of nausea, could only think of one thing to say--“Yich.”

Largo stared at him. “Yich?” he shouted, reaching out one hand as if he might throttle Guybrush with it. “That’s all you’ve got to say?”

“Well...um...double yich, then?”

Largo sighed. “Three years of planning and all he can say is ‘yich.’ Wonderful.”



***


Mr. Serand knocked on Elaine’s door again, several hours later. He had to knock twice before she finally opened the door, yawning. “What is it, Mr. Serand?”

“Well--two things, Governor. There’s been some suspicious movement spotted on the ships; we think they may be preparing another attack. And for another, there’s someone here demanding to see you.”

Elaine rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and stood up straighter. “Who is it?”

“He didn’t give me a name, but he says it’s urgent. We think he arrived on one of the last ships that came into port before the first attack began. And...he did say that he knew your husband and had some sort of information about him.”

“Have him brought to my office; I’ll be there in a minute.” She slammed the door shut and hurried to get dressed.



***


Largo reached the end of the dais, turned and started pacing again. Guybrush watched him silently from his position on the floor. They’d been trapped in this position for what felt like hours. His legs were cramping underneath him and he was trying very hard not to yawn. Largo was obviously trying to cut an imposing figure, but Guybrush was less than impressed.

“All right!” Largo said, startling Guybrush back to attention. Largo stepped down from the dais again, approaching him with knife drawn.

“Uh, please don’t--”

“Beg for your life later, Threepwood.”

Guybrush grimaced. “There’s going to be a later?”

Largo bent down and lifted his chin with the tip of his knife. “You bet, Threepwood.” He pulled the knife away and straightened. “I learned a few things from the morons who did this--” he pointed at his scarred face--“to me. Voodoo stuff and all that. I thought it might come in handy when I bumped into you again. So tell me Threepwood, you had any dreams lately...?”



***


Elaine strode into the governor’s office with an air of authority that sharply contradicted the dark circles under her eyes and the frown on her face. The moment she entered the room a man stood up from the chair in front of her desk, his dark brown eyes sweeping over her appearance before he inclined his head to her politely.

“Bonjour madame. I do not believe we have had--”

“Stow it,” she snapped back, sitting down at her desk. “And sit down.”

He looked angrily at Serand, who was standing in the corner. Serand only shrugged. Sighing, the man sat back down and straightened out his long dark robes. “As I was saying--”

“My second-in-command said you had information about my husband. Now I want to know what you know, and how.” She paused, then added as an afterthought, “And--who you are, too.”

He smiled faintly and looked over his shoulder at Serand again. “I would be happy to tell you, madame, but I am afraid that the information is...how you say...sensitive. I should reveal it only to you.”

Elaine waved her hand to dismiss Serand immediately, but he stayed put. “I’m sorry Governor, but with the current situation, we can’t take the chance. He’ll have to say whatever it is to both of us.”

The man sighed, flicking a lock of his long auburn hair out of his eyes. “If monsieur so insists,” he said, shaking his head. “I, madame, would be a voodoo priest of the highest rank. And you would be the wife of that insufferable Threepwood character, n’est pas?”

Elaine suddenly became very interested in a mark on her desk. “It depends,” she answered. “What’s he done now?”

“Well, it seems to me that madame has a bit of trouble with those ships in her harbor. Other islands have had difficulties with them too, non? They say it is a fleet led by a Monsieur...LeChuck, is it?”

She nodded. “That’s right. Guybrush’s gone--” she cleared her throat, stopping herself before she revealed too much. “I’m sorry, you were saying?”

“Oui, I was saying that I would take care of this petit problème in exchange for some information which I have been seeking.”

Elaine looked up, glaring at him. “If you don’t get to your point soon--”

“I’m looking for a man known as Largo LaGrande. We have a...discussion which we have yet to finish. And I know that your husband knows him, am I not correct?”

“They’ve met.”

“Ah, bien.” He straightened in his chair, smiling. “Then the matter is simple. You tell me where your husband is, and in exchange I will use my voodoo powers to take those pesky ships from your harbor. And he will be able to tell me where LaGrande is. Are we agreed, madame?”

Elaine shook her head, trying to appear calm, though her hands were slowly clenching into fists. “I can’t tell you that.”

“But whyever not?”

“I’m sorry,” she said, adopting a lighter tone, “what did you say your name was again?”

“I did not give it.”

“Right--Mr. Serand, get this man out of my fort.” She stood up and motioned at the door, her face calm. “I won’t give information to a man who’s probably a spy. Your information’s out of date, anyway--Largo LaGrande is dead.”

“He is not--I have been forced to live with the sight of him for almost three years!”

Elaine continued as if she’d never been interrupted. “And you--you’re the lunatic who tried to curse Guybrush, aren’t you?”

“Oui--but only because he is a complete idiot. I cursed him only with what he deserved--which is less than what I wanted, c’est vrai, but I do have my pity. I was willing to make a bargain with you because I believed you to be much more...shall we say...intelligent than Monsieur Threepwood, and I--”

“Mr. Serand, if you don’t get this man out of my office in the next ten seconds, I’ll throw him out myself.”

Serand moved to grab the man by the arm, but he pushed him away with surprising strength, glaring at Elaine. “You, madame, are no better than your husband! I hope you are all unmade by les mains de Midas!”

Elaine stepped out from behind the desk, moving to grab him herself. “I thought I told you--”

“I will curse you too, madame, with--”

He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence--Elaine punched him so hard that he hit the floor. Mr. Serand hauled him to his feet and dragged him out of the room, promising to make sure he kept out of the fort.

Elaine sank into her chair when they were both gone and the room was quiet again, sighing. “It’s only nonsense,” she said under her breath. “He can’t do anything. Then she paused, looking around. “But why is he looking for Largo--”

She never finished that thought. A cannonball slammed into the fort walls, shaking the entire fort. Elaine cursed under her breath and ran from the room.



***


“That was you?” Guybrush asked, wide-eyed. “You’re the guy with the creepy mask?”

“Yep.”

“But--but--he’s tall!”

Largo’s face twisted into a snarl. “Are you saying I’m short, Threepwood?”

“Uh--er, no, I just...never mind.” Guybrush shook his head. “I thought it was LeChuck.”

“LeChuck’s too dumb to pull anything like that off, moron, and you know it.” Largo snorted. “Now listen. LeChuck’s not here--I am. And I--”

“But one of your--well, I guess they’re yours, anyway--skeletons said that LeChuck sent him. So if you’re not LeChuck, and obviously you aren’t, then--”

Largo jumped across the few feet of space between them and punched him in the face hard enough to send him reeling. He grabbed Guybrush by the shirt collar and hauled him up. Guybrush blinked, dazed. “I’m only going to say this once, Threepwood. So listen.” Largo dropped him to the floor with a thud and resumed pacing.

“The skeletons think I’m LeChuck. It’s easy,” he said, and in an instant his entire appearance changed again. He now was well over six feet tall, with LeChuck’s familiar beard and dark, hateful eyes--all in his old zombie form. “Masks,” he said again, this time in LeChuck’s voice, before he returned to being Largo LaGrande again. “Voodoo’s easy when you know how.”

“Yeah?” Guybrush muttered, rubbing the bruise on his jaw. “I didn’t think you were smart enough to learn things like that.”

“You’re just begging for another punch to the face, aren’t you Threepwood?” He laughed and dropped back onto his throne, seemingly at ease again.

When he didn’t say anything for a long time, Guybrush tried prompting him while he fished in his pocket for the scroll again. “Right...so...you tricked the skeletons into thinking you were LeChuck. Then...?”

Largo shrugged. “I sent them out after you. Oh, and I told ‘em to wreck as much stuff as they could along the way. Did they do a good job?” Guybrush only grunted in response. “I’ve been looking for you, Threepwood--you sure know how to run and hide, don’t you?”

“Hey!”

“Thanks for coming here for me, by the way. I really hate having to drag people in kicking and screaming. They always make so much noise. Anyway--you’re here. I’m here.” He got down from his throne again and moved towards Guybrush. “It’s about time.”



***


Elaine brushed a layer of dust off her forehead and turned to Serand. “I take it,” she said thinly, “that it’s not going well.”

“No Governor. We managed to sink several more of their ships, but--” a cannonball hit the walls nearby--“but the other ones are obviously better armed than we thought.”

She winced, then winced again as Armena began to cry. “Have they sent out any longboats?”

“Several; we managed to sink them all. But they’re preparing more, and we can’t possibly--”

“We’ll try,” Elaine interrupted, picking Armena up and trying to calm her down. “Make sure everyone’s armed--I have a feeling well be fighting on land soon enough.”

Serand nodded and turned to go, then stopped and looked back at her. “Governor, you might consider leaving the island...”

“I can’t and I won’t, Mr. Serand,” she snapped back immediately. Armena squawked loud enough to temporarily drown out the cannonfire outside and leave Elaine’s ears ringing. She closed her eyes and sighed. “...All right, I can’t keep Mena here, I know. LeChuck would--just--just tell the Voodoo Lady I want to see her immediately.”

He nodded again. “Right away, Governor.”



***


Largo sheathed his knife and extended a hand out to Guybrush, as if to help him to his feet. “C’mon, Threepwood. I want to show you something.”

“Like what,” Guybrush shot back, still rubbing his jaw, “the bottom of a deep dark hole?”

Largo paused, thinking for a moment. “Maybe later. Now come on.”

Guybrush reluctantly reached out and took Largo’s hand, pulling himself to his feet quickly and then jumping away, afraid of what Largo might do. But Largo only smirked and started walking towards his throne again. Only this time he went around it, into a dimly lit section of the cavern. Guybrush trailed warily after.

Largo led him over to the far wall and waved his hand at it. “Take a look, Threepwood.”

Guybrush peered into the darkness, keeping his distance. He squinted. He tilted his head to one side, then the other. He took a few shuffling, wary steps forward, then tried the same routine again. After several tries, he was finally able to make out what Largo was pointing at--the wall, made of red stone already, was coated with the faint dark burgundy of dried blood. Someone had written the words “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned” over and over again. Guybrush took a step backwards.

“You did this?” he asked, horrified. “That--those dreams were real?”

Largo nodded. The grin on his face almost perfectly copied the one on the death’s head mask Guybrush had seen one time too many. “Nightmares happen. I figured it was easier than kidnapping everybody and dragging them here for the whole...blood-letting thing. People might notice, y’know.”

“How--how many people--”

Largo shrugged. “I can’t count that high.”

“So more than two?”

Largo punched him again, knocking him to the floor. This time he stayed down and kept his mouth shut. “Your stupid comments are going to get you into even bigger trouble than that one of these days, Threepwood.” He shook his head.

Guybrush glared at him, trying to ignore the bitter taste of blood in his mouth. “Why, Largo?”

“I’m getting to that!” Largo snapped. He paused and took a deep breath before continuing. “You ever go to church, Threepwood?”

The first thing that came to Guybrush’s mind was the First Church of LeChuck, Orthodox that used to be on the island. He decided not to mention that particular oddity. “No...why does it matter? It’s not like we’re here to talk about--”

Largo shook his head at him. “My father used to go all the time. Every day even, sometimes. I guess he felt guilty or something like that over stuff my grandfather’d done, stuff he’d done.”

“Harassing the general populace?”

Largo rolled his one good eye. “My father didn’t want to be like my grandfather, so he took me and ran for some stupid faraway island the first chance he got. He got all mixed up in the church and started going to confessionals every day. Every day, Threepwood! Somedays he’d take me along. You know what it’s like, Threepwood, to be stuck outside a tiny little box listening to your father go on about all this stuff he’d done like it was something to be ashamed of?”

“But--”

“That,” he said, pointing to the wall, “that’s how confessions start. I heard that stupid phrase almost every day for nine years. Nine years, until I could get out of there and back to my grandfather.”

Guybrush tilted his head at the wall again, then looked back at Largo. “So...what does it have to do with me? Or,” he swallowed, thinking of Elaine for the first time in hours, “or Elaine?”

Largo grinned and drew out his knife again, slowly advancing on Guybrush. “You blew up LeChuck’s fortress. You and everybody you know--it’s your fault I nearly died. You screwed up, Threepwood--I’m going to make sure it never happens again. It’s a little thing called penance.”

He swallowed. “You’re going to give me an informative lecture and then send me on my way?”

“Not even close.”

“Darn.”



***


By the time the Voodoo Lady made it to the governor’s rooms, Elaine was already pacing impatiently. The Voodoo Lady opened and closed the door as quietly as she could, then cleared her throat. “Mrs. Threepwood?”

Elaine jumped. “Oh, right...” She hurried over to the crib and picked Armena up. The girl burbled happily and made a grab for her hair. “There’s not much time; LeChuck’s already sent his forces out in longboats, but--I need you to take Armena where she’ll be safe. Please, if LeChuck finds her here he’ll kill her.”

The Voodoo Lady frowned, staring at the floor. “I can’t--”

“Please,” Elaine interrupted. Her voice took on a pleading tone that startled even her. “I’m not asking you to watch after her long-term. It’ll only be a few days at most--then I’ll come and get her. Guybrush and I both will.”

The Voodoo Lady thought about this for a while and then nodded, holding her hands out. Elaine sighed with relief and kissed Armena once on the forehead, whispered a few words to her, and delicately handed her over to the Voodoo Lady.

The Voodoo Lady looked at the girl now squirming in her arms and shook her head sadly. “Mrs. Threepwood,” she said, “you should come with us as well. It would be better if--”

Elaine shook her head. “No, no--go. I can’t--I can’t leave my citizens behind. Not now.” She reached out and brushed her hand against Armena’s. Out of habit, the girl latched onto Elaine’s pinky and looked at her with sleepy eyes. “I want to,” she whispered softly. “I just can’t.”

“I’m sure they would understand--”

“No--I can’t run away now.”

The Voodoo Lady smiled softly. “You’re not running away from anything, Mrs. Threepwood.”

“Besides,” Elaine continued, lost in her own thoughts, “I should probably let myself be captured anyway. They’ll take me back to Monkey Island, right? And Guybrush should still be there somewhere, if he’s--” she broke off. “Just go. I hate drawn-out goodbyes.”

“Very well.” The Voodoo Lady inclined her head politely and, drawing Armena closer to her, stepped away. “Farewell and good luck.” Elaine reluctantly pulled her hand away from Armena’s grasp just before the Voodoo Lady disappeared in a flash of light.

She stood there for a few moments, pensive, before the sound of gunfire brought her back to reality. With grim determination, Elaine marched out of the room and grabbed a gun right out of the hands of a passing pirate. “You’re not getting anywhere near me, LeChuck,” she growled, heading for the roof of the fort.



***



Largo leaned in close, his knife against Guybrush’s cheek. “I want you to be as scarred as I am, Threepwood. Then maybe you’ll think twice before you go blowing up any fortresses.”

“Wait!” Guybrush squeaked. “It was an accident I swear, I didn’t mean to do it!”

“Yeah, right.” Largo shook his head. “Likely story.”

“No,” Guybrush managed, “it really was an accident!”

“You’re starting to tick me off, Threepwood.” He tapped the sharp edge of the knife against Guybrush’s cheek, just hard enough to draw a tiny bit of blood. “Now, do me a favor and read what it says on that wall there.”

Guybrush’s glance darted to the wall and then back to Largo. He opened his mouth, then closed it again, looking at Largo warily. “Why?”

Largo closed his eyes and let out a long, deep sigh--not that that helped calm his temper any. He grabbed Guybrush and slammed him against the raised stone that made up the dais in the room’s center, moving the knife’s edge down to his throat. “Because,” he said lowly, “by now I’ve got your wife--yeah, I heard you got married, didn’t believe it for a while--and she’s on her way here. You want me to hurt her because you wouldn’t be a nice sorry excuse for a pirate and do what I want?”

Guybrush turned pale. He closed his eyes, trying hard to think over the rising panic. “I don’t--” he began, prepared to make some bold comment, but when he opened his eyes again and caught the malicious gleam in Largo’s eye, he stopped. “No,” he whispered at last, defeated.

Grinning like mad, Largo hauled him to his feet and pushed him in front of the wall. “Read it,” he said again. “Nice and loud.”

He glared but did as he was told, struggling to keep his voice steady. “‘Forgive me Father...’”



***


Elaine threw her gun down and grabbed her hair in both hands, stifling the urge to scream. Beside her, face sweaty and streaked with dirt, Mr. Serand fired off one last shot over the fort wall and then looked as if he wanted to follow her lead. “They’re fighting in the courtyard, Governor. We can’t hold out much longer.”

When she didn’t respond with anything more than a slow, frustrated nod, he prompted her again. “Governor? What do you want me to do?”

“Keep fighting,” Elaine managed through gritted teeth. “Guybrush will have things taken care of soon enough.”

“With respects to your husband, Governor,” he said, “I seriously doubt that his...erm, ‘impeccable’ timing will be of much use to us. I think it’s time you considered just how much you can count on him in such situations--”

Elaine grabbed him by his lapels and glared. “He’s my husband, Mr. Serand. I trust him.” She let go of him and leaned against the wall, brushing some soot from her sleeve. “But you’re right...I don’t know how much longer we can last.”

Serand nodded faintly. “We’re prepared to fight ‘till the end, Governor...well, the men who haven’t run off, that is.” He sighed.

“Thank you,” she said, casting a wary eye to the stairs. Sounds of renewed fighting drifted up the staircase, louder than before. Elaine began to wonder if the fighting hadn’t finally made it beyond the courtyard--they’d been waiting for it to ever since LeChuck’s skeletons had breached the fort walls. “But that won’t be necessary.” She stood up and began dusting herself off, trying to make herself look more presentable.

Serand arched his eyebrows at her. “Governor?”

“I’m going to surrender, Mr. Serand.” She adjusted her shirt sleeves and did her best to look nonchalant about the entire affair, but the best she could manage was a frightened, tired look. “Once they have me they’ll leave. Take what men you have left and start rebuilding, putting out fires...anything. I’ll be back.”

He shook his head. “Governor, you can’t just--”

“Do you have a better suggestion?”

“Well, no.” He sighed and stood up as well, shaking her hand. “Good luck then, I suppose. My men will keep a careful watch for your return.”

She nodded. “Good luck to you, too.” With a final glance out to sea--and the handful of black-sailed ships resting there--Elaine turned and headed down the stairs, her hands in the air.



***


“‘...for I have sinned.’”

Silence fell over the cavern. Guybrush shut his eyes, waiting for some sort of impending doom to hurry up and get there. Then, behind him, Largo laughed.

“Nice job, Threepwood!” Largo laughed again. He walked over to the wall and rested his hand against it. Some of the dried blood flaked and fell away. “See, this spell’s a funny spell. It needs the person it’s supposed to work against to talk to it, say the nice little phrase I made up, for it to work right. You just bound yourself and everybody who’s up on this wall here to me.”

Guybrush flinched. He didn’t feel any different, “bound” somehow, but he somehow didn’t doubt the truth behind Largo’s words. As subtly as he could, he began reaching into his pocket for the scroll. “So, uh, Largo,” he said, trying to distract him, “what does this whole...gluing thing do anyway?”

“Binding, and it means that I get to beat you and your friends up whenever I want to. You’re stuck here. You don’t leave until and unless I say so--and I ain’t going to let you go anywhere.” He grinned. “The rest of the morons who decided to help you’ll probably be showing up pretty quick now. The spell’ll make them. And you can bet they’ll blame you for it, too.”

Guybrush shook his head. “They don’t know how to get--”

“They’ll know,” Largo answered thinly. Then he changed into his LeChuck guise and walked over to the double doors, opened them, and shouted something about visitors at the guards. Guybrush took the moment Largo had his back to him to pull out the scroll, open it and toss the black ribbon to the ground--and then stare in disbelief.

This, he thought, looking at the parchment, is not good. But he took a deep breath anyway, shouting at the top of his lungs, “You! Hey you, over there!”

Largo turned around and stared at him. “Threepwood, what’re you--” He stopped, noticing the scroll in Guybrush’s hands, and made a mad dive for him. He shifted back to his normal form as he went.

“You fight like a cow!” Guybrush finished just as Largo slammed into his waist and knocked the wind right out of him. The scroll dropped from his hands and fluttered away. Largo, drawing his knife again, pinned Guybrush to the floor without saying anything. A grim silence followed.

After a while, Guybrush closed his eyes and let his head drop onto the floor with a slight thump. When a thump from beneath the surface of the cavern answered back, however, his eyes popped back open.

Largo’s face screwed up into an expression that faintly resembled confusion. He reached out a hand and tapped it against the floor--and something answered back. “What did you just do, Threepwood?”

Guybrush shrugged. “I have no idea.”

The floor beneath them started to shake, just enough so that a tiny crack opened up nearby. Largo and Guybrush both instinctively moved away from it. As the tremors increased, dust and rock started falling down from the ceiling. Finally, the shaking stopped altogether and the crack, in a flurry of dust and flying rock, split wide open.

His eyes stinging from the dust, Guybrush couldn’t see what had come flying out of the floor, but he heard it. “D’aargh!” an all-too-familiar voice shouted through the dust, “and ye be fightin’ like a dairy farmer!”



***


The skeletons found Elaine walking down the flight of stairs leading to the main floor. They seized her immediately and took away the sword strapped to her hip. Elaine stared at some point above their bare skulls, doing her best to look the part of the strong-willed prisoner. When one of the skeletons roughly grabbed her wrists to tie them behind her back, though, she couldn’t help but wince, and the disguise fell apart. One of them noticed and laughed--she glared, silencing him quickly.

“Just take me to LeChuck,” she said at last, shaking a lock of hair out of her eyes. “Leave this island alone and I’ll go with you--that’s all I’m asking.” The skeletons exchanged unreadable looks. Elaine sighed. “Look, if you’ve got some sort of lackey that I can talk to, maybe he’ll understand me a little better than you--”

One of the skeletons behind her shoved her roughly, causing her to stagger into motion. The others took this as their cue and began leading her out of the fort. Two of them held her by the arms to prevent any sort of escape attempt.

As they left the fort and headed down towards the harbor, Elaine nearly choked from all the smoke in the air. It hadn’t been nearly as bad up on the fort’s roof--here, though, the devastation the armada had wreaked became all too clear. She couldn’t see Puerto Pollo for all the smoke, but she had to assume that it was little more than rubble now. She sighed. I should’ve wished you more than good luck, Mr. Serand. She strained, too, to see any movement in the direction of Danjer Cove. I hope the Voodoo Lady had the sense to take Mena someplace safe...

She fixed her gaze on the ship in the harbor ahead after that last thought, concentrating on its ragged sails and literal skeleton crew. Her escorts pushed her into a longboat and took her to the ship, moving with deliberate speed. As they brought her up on deck, Elaine managed to get another glimpse at the island--and was relieved to see that the skeletons were as good as their word. They were leaving the island in droves.

One of the skeletons pushed her down into a seat near the bow of the ship and took up guard, watching her with a wary eye. Elaine glared at him once before sighing and leaning against the ship’s rail. It promised to be a long trip.



***


Guybrush, coughing, drew away from the hole in the floor and began inching towards the doors--he hoped--in an attempt to get away. He didn’t want to be stuck in a room with both Largo and LeChuck--not if he could help it. An ice-cold hand on his back stopped that plan.

“And just where do ye think ye’re going, Sheepgood?”

Guybrush tilted his head back and peered up. Though his eyes were stinging from the dust, he could still make out a large form hovering over him, complete with dusty beard and dark eyes. He had to work hard not to shudder at the sight. “Uh,” he said, swallowing, “I was looking for the exit, actually...”

LeChuck picked him up roughly by the shoulder and dragged him back towards the middle of the room. “Nice try.”

He landed with a thud on the ground again, wincing as a fresh tremor sent more dust and rock crashing down. He heard Largo coughing beside him. “Nice going, Threepwood,” Largo muttered. “What did you do?”

“I told you, I don’t know!”

“Shut up, both of ye!”

Guybrush looked up, still coughing. As he watched, all the dust falling through the air slowed--and stopped. One particularly large speck, really more like a pebble, stopped just short of hitting him square on the nose. Then they began moving towards one spot in the room--the dense shadow that was, Guybrush assumed, LeChuck.

They picked up speed, spinning around and around in a vortex, gradually tightening their formation and drawing together. Then, finally, they all rushed towards the center--and LeChuck. In one short burst of light, the room was clear of dust; even the floor was swept clean.

LeChuck now floated before them. He was over seven feet tall; his head very nearly touched the ceiling. Dust surrounded his true form, a cracked stone demon with dark, soulless eyes. They glowed with a touch of inner fire, though, as if some part of his last form still lurked within. He laughed, seeing the look of shock on both Largo and Guybrush’s faces.

“You’re the spirit who’s supposed to help me?” Guybrush squeaked out after a long pause.

“Uh, Captain LeChuck, uh, sir,” Largo added, ignoring Guybrush’s comments and LeChuck’s snort of derision, “I was just, uh, keeping your chair warm.”

“Of course ye were, Largo.” LeChuck grinned and floated over towards the throne. “This looks more like a chair for someone yer size.”

Largo coughed and swallowed. “Well, uh, yeah, well...I had to shrink it a little because, uh, you know...yeah.”

LeChuck bellowed loud enough to shake more of the ceiling down on them. Guybrush instinctively scooted out of the way, leaving a clear path between Largo and LeChuck. “Ye thought ye’d take my place, did ye?” LeChuck snarled. “Ye can’t ever take the place of me!” He turned around in a circle, surveying the place. “Bah, ye don’t even know how to build a fortress right!”

“Well, uh...sorry.”

LeChuck closed the distance between them in the blink of an eye. Grabbing Largo by the throat, he lifted him into the air and shook him. Largo made a strangled protest while LeChuck looked at Guybrush. Swallowing, the mighty pirate scooted backwards. “I’ll deal with ye later, Thirkweed. Me old right-hand man and I need to be havin’ a little chat.”



***


Elaine sighed and shifted in her seat, trying to get more comfortable. The skeletons seemed to have developed a different method of traveling to Monkey Island than the usual “cook up something stupid and then pass out” routine. They’d been sailing through thick fog for several hours now--the only sign that they were still in the ocean at all was the constant splashing of water against the hull.

The skeleton currently on guard seemed, surprisingly, just as uneasy as she was. He kept shifting from foot to foot and glancing at her occasionally for no reason. Please let that mean Guybrush’s won, she thought. It wasn’t until she looked down at her own feet that she found the real reason the skeleton kept looking at her strangely--her feet were transparent, like that of a ghost’s.

Elaine just stared at them for a long time. “Well,” she said at last, quietly, “I’d like to see Guybrush explain this.”



***


While LeChuck was busy yelling something about how hard it was to find good, competent help, Guybrush inched for the door. It was slow going--he didn’t want to tip LeChuck off, and he was more concerned with other thoughts, now. Some ally, he thought, shaking his head. Yeah, that’s great, an ally who kills me and steals my wife. That’s the last time I go to the Voodoo Lady for advice.

Grumbling under his breath, Guybrush finally made it to the door--and there he abandoned all attempts at secrecy, jumping to his feet and running out of there as fast as his feet would carry him. Largo, though, noticed his exit--he could hear his shout of “Hey! You can’t leave! I didn’t say you could leave!” following him down the passage.

He kept running, taking twists and turns through the cave system at random, hoping he’d find the exit by chance. But the shaking caused by LeChuck’s reappearance extended farther than he thought--he kept having to double back, finding a tunnel collapsed or otherwise blocked. Finally he made one backtrack too many and rounded a corner to find himself face-to-face with LeChuck, who did not look at all pleased. Largo peered out from behind him.

“I thought I told ye to wait, Dripweed!”

“Threepwood!”

Largo sighed. “He should’ve been stuck in that room! I don’t get it, I did everything right, he said the stupid words...” He aimed to hit Guybrush upside the head, but LeChuck held him back.

“Largo, ye’re even more incompetent than he is. Don’t ye know that ye’ve got to have everyone ye hate and everyone who might’ve helped Sheepgood here?”

Largo blinked. “Well, yeah, but I got--”

LeChuck rolled his eyes. “I’m thinkin’ ye might’ve forgotten one of those ones ye hate. Me!”

Largo looked as if he might hit himself.



***


It wasn’t until her knees flickered, faded, and turned transparent that Elaine finally realized what was going on. By then the skeletons had decided to leave her well enough alone and the same transformation had started happening to her hands--the rope binding them fell to the deck, though she didn’t feel it slip free. “The hands of Midas--but...oooh, Guybrush Ulysses Threepwood, when I get my hands on you--!”



***


LeChuck brought them both back to the throne room by their shirt collars, depositing them on the dais. Guybrush cringed, waiting for LeChuck to beat him up or take out a voodoo doll and start torturing him, but he did no such thing. His attention was still focused on Largo.

“I don’t know how ye survived that explosion, Largo, but I’ll give ye two choices.” Largo grumbled something unrepeatable in return. LeChuck, unfazed, continued. “Ye can go back to bein’ my henchman...or ye can go back to bein’ my henchman.”

“’S not much of a choice.”

“I could kill ye, if ye rather.” He glared. “I can get rid of ye and Sheepgood at the same time!”

“Threepwood!”

Largo rubbed his one good eye and sighed. “Will you stop correcting him already? He ain’t listening.”

“Well...er...” Guybrush trailed off, sighing.

“And Sheepgood?”

He opened his mouth to correct him, but a look from Largo and a flash of his knife changed Guybrush’s mind in a hurry. “What?”

“Where be Elaine, eh?” LeChuck leered.

Guybrush, on the other hand, lied. He closed his eyes for a moment and brought to mind memories of that nightmare, not even trying to suppress them. When he opened his eyes again, he looked to be near tears. “Largo killed her.”

LeChuck slammed his fists into the ceiling with such a fury that he nearly brought down the entire cavern on their heads. Largo shouted “He’s lying!” but it was lost in the tremors and falling rock.

Guybrush rolled out of the way just as LeChuck picked up the throne and hurled it at both of them, sending stone crashing and clattering across the floor. Largo dived out of the way as well, drawing his dagger. “I told you he’s lying, the stupid no good son of a--”

LeChuck didn’t hear Largo’s protests and didn’t seem to care. He picked Largo up by the foot, dangling him in midair. “Ye always were incompetent, ye stupid midget!”

One large chunk of rock fell near Guybrush’s head, clipping the side of his face and stunning him. He watched, half-dazed, as LeChuck dangled Largo over the crack in the floor. Lava boiled just a few feet from the surface.

“W--wait!” Largo squeaked out. “Don’t you want her dead?”

“I want her undead. There be a difference.”

“Well...how do you know she’s not a ghost?”

LeChuck paused, carefully considering this option. “Well, I didn’t think of that.”

“You never do,” Largo spat back angrily. He paused for a moment, regaining some of his composure. Even half-dazed Guybrush could tell he was planning something--he recognized the cold, calculating glint in his eye.

The cavern shook again, and it was no mere tremor. A large chunk of rock swung down from the ceiling, narrowly missing Guybrush and aiming for LeChuck with all the force it could muster. LeChuck tried to stop it, but he only succeeded in slowing it down and turning it partially out of the way. It took a small chunk out of his left shoulder, about the size of Guybrush’s head, and then crashed harmlessly into the wall.

“D’aaaargh!” LeChuck shouted, tossing Largo across the room. He landed with a sickening thud against another wall. “Ye thought ye could defeat me, did ye? Well, we’ll just have to be seein’ about that.”

He flew up into the ceiling, disappearing as if he were no more than a ghost. Silence fell over the room save for the occasional sound of falling dust. Guybrush sat up, rubbing the side of his head. His hand came away bloody. “Oh, great.”

Suddenly the entire room began to shake, more forcefully than before. An entire section of the cave’s wall and ceiling caved in, taking with it the bloody writings and Largo LaGrande. Guybrush looked away, cringing.

“Aye, ‘tis a good day ta be dead!”

LeChuck, returning through the newly-created gap in the ceiling, looked only briefly at his work before turning to Guybrush. “As for ye, Sheepgood...”

“It’s Threepwood.” Guybrush wearily pulled himself to his feet, shaking off specks of dust and rock. His skin had turned unusually pale as if he were more a ghost than flesh and bone; he imagined that he must look half-dead already. He certainly felt it.

LeChuck, though, wasn’t impressed with the display. He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes, enough with yer heroics already. Where is she?”

Guybrush coughed. “I told you, she’s dead.”

LeChuck stared at him for a minute until he was certain Guybrush wasn’t going to provide any more information. He shook his head. Another tremor shook the cavern, and from the expression on LeChuck’s face it wasn’t one he’d brought on. “I’ll search the entire Caribbean if I have to, Dripweed, but I’ll find her, don’t ye worry. And if she be dead, then I’ll just be learnin’ how to turn her into a zombie.”

They stared at each other for a long moment, Guybrush in silent defiance and LeChuck in hesitation. A new tremor brought down more falling rock and LeChuck decided it was time to leave. “Ye’ll be buried alive, Threepwood,” he taunted, “and I’ll have made Elaine my bride!”

Laughing, LeChuck disappeared through the hole in the ceiling into the warm Caribbean sunlight. Guybrush watched him leave without saying a word. A moment later, the rest of the ceiling caved in.



***


Elaine drifted through the halls of Plunder Island’s fort with a sort of melancholy air she assumed that all ghosts took. The moment she’d fully transformed, she’d escaped the skeletons and fled back to Plunder Island. Mr. Serand and a few handfuls of survivors were sifting through the ruins of Puerto Pollo, but she was very careful to avoid them.

The fort was little more than rubble and smoking ruin--the skeletons had destroyed it on their way out, she suspected--but she didn’t really care. She was more concerned with not accidentally walking through a wall--she found that more than a little disconcerting.

She heard a crash downstairs and a muttered series of curses. Carefully, Elaine floated down the stairs and peered around a corner into the burning courtyard.

LeChuck pulled himself away from the pile of stone he’d nearly gotten himself trapped under and looked around. “Elaine!” he yelled. “Elaine, where be ye? I’ve been lookin for ye all over this blasted place!”

Elaine moved back around the corner as quickly as she could, but the motion didn’t escape LeChuck’s attention. “So it is true then,” he breathed. She started to run away, but he was faster. He caught up with her and blocked her path, leering.

“I never thought I’d see the day ye joined the undead, Elaine.” He held his hand out to her. “Come with me, and I’ll make ye queen of the dead, just like I promised.”

“Er--” Elaine looked at LeChuck, wide-eyed, then flitted through the nearest wall. “Sorry!” she shouted back. “I’m washing my hair for the next few decades!”

LeChuck’s shoulders slumped. “D’aaargh! It’s always the hair with that lass!” He took to searching the halls again, though this time with a much more frustrated attitude. “Elaine...?”



***


The Voodoo Lady was in the middle of unpacking her things in her new shop on Lucre Island when she came across the strand of voodoo beads. What had once been a perfect strand of green beads--the same Guybrush had touched not more than a week earlier--was now nothing more than a ghost of its former self. Her hand passed straight through them on first touch; she had to summon all her old knowledge of ghosts and spirits to cast the proper spell to pick them up.

When she managed to lift them up into the light--they nearly disappeared, even in the dim light of the Mystes o’Tyme Marshe--she tried every spell she could think of to return them to their former state. Nothing worked.

“The hands of Midas...” she murmured, staring at the ghostly strand. They hadn’t even retained their former color. “Cyrano, you old fool...what have you done?” And then, with a slow shake of her head, “And what have I let you do?”

Sighing, the Voodoo Lady set the beads down on an empty table and turned to the store’s newest addition--who was making a grab for one of the voodoo dolls lying in a nearby open crate. The Voodoo Lady quickly pushed it out of reach and looked down at the girl.

“I have a feeling,” she said slowly, with a note of sadness in her voice, “that we are going to have to learn to coexist for quite a while.”

Armena sneezed.


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