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The Second Element II: Through A Glass Darkly
By 1


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Act Three: The Right Hand of Midas

Commodore LeChuck cracked his knuckles together and stared out at the open sea. One of his ships had brought back news that a trade ship had been seen lurking around Mêlée Island--very much outside of the trade routes he’d personally and painstakingly outlined. LeChuck had jumped at the chance to go take care of the problem--he had more than enough of them he was happy to leave behind.

The man he’d sent to get the divorce papers was currently sitting in Lucre Island’s jail, the priest hadn’t arrived and had sent no word as to why he was delayed, and Elaine had been more frustrating than usual. She’d escaped twice from a supposedly inescapable prison, and one time she’d gotten halfway to Plunder before he caught up with her.

He cracked his knuckles together again and sighed. “I’ll be havin’ ta check those hexes on the walls...again.” He was beginning to wonder if asking the Voodoo Lady to do these sorts of things was such a smart idea after all.

A skeleton scurried up behind him. “Er, Commodore LeChuck, sir?”

“What?”

“We’ve--er, we’ve spotted the trade ship, sir. She’s been circling the area around Mêlée. I don’t think she’s spotted us.”

“Ye’d better hope she hasn’t. Get the cannons ready...and don’t bother with a warnin’ shot.” He grinned. “This is goin’ ta be fun.”



***


Armena found John leaning against the mainmast, trying to fix a hole in one of the sails. He wasn’t having much luck; he kept poking himself with the sewing needle. “Merde!” he muttered, jamming a much-abused finger in his mouth just as she approached.

“Maybe you should let me do that...?” Armena offered, sitting down beside him.

“Mmrph--” he paused, pulling his finger out of his mouth before he tried again. “I can handle it. I sailed all the way to Mêlée by myself, you know, and I had more than my fair share of torn sails.”

She snorted. “Sailed from where, the next island over?”

“A--another island. Far away. Anyway, I can handle it.” He closed up and didn’t seem to want to say anything more. Armena sighed.

“All right, if you say so.”

“I do.” He picked up the needle and made another attempt at fixing the sail. “So what d’you want?”

She arched both eyebrows. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

He arched his thick eyebrows right back, mocking her. “You never talk to me unless you want something. So what is it? Bill’s already got me doing this--” he waved the sail around, earning himself another poke in the finger with the needle-- “so whatever it is, it’d better be easy. This’ll probably take me the rest of the day.”

“It’d take you less than an hour if you weren’t so lazy,” Armena snapped. “Here, give me that.” Before he could protest, she yanked the entire thing away from him and quickly went to work. Out of the corner of her eye she caught John watching her with an impressed look on his face, but when she tried making eye contact with him he looked away quickly.

“Anyway...” she began, trying to concentrate on the sewing and the conversation at the same time, “I wanted to talk to you.”

“Yeah, you said something like that. What about?”

“Well...um...” she bit her lower lip, suddenly seeming very interested in the sail’s stitching. “I might’ve gotten a few, um, complaints. About you. Not really complaints exactly, but Bill might’ve said a few times--”

He sighed. “Look, the second we take care of Threepwood, I’ll be off your ship. I know your sorry excuse for a navigator would rather throw me overboard, but I think you can keep him under control, can’t you?” He gestured out to the open sea vaguely. “Of course, if we’re stuck sailing around in circles--”

She nearly dropped a stitch. “That was my idea. You agreed to it.”

“Because I figured we’d bump into Threepwood right away!”

Armena finally dropped the needle altogether and turned her attention fully to him, glowering darkly. “I warned you this might take a while. He’s seen us before; he knows we’re after him, so he’ll be avoiding us. You didn’t have to come along anyway, but you invited yourself--”

“You agreed!”

“--you invited yourself, and all for what? Revenge! It can’t be that much of a grudge if you haven’t gotten off your lazy--”

“Maybe I had! You don’t know a thing about me! Merde, girl, you’re an idiot. I can’t believe you even made it as far as Mêlée without killing yourself. Besides, you’re looking for revenge too, aren’t you?”

She shrank backwards. “I never said that--”

“Yes you did! That’s the reason I agreed to come along on this little trip in the first place. Yeah, I want revenge, but so do you. You’re no better than I am! And if you don’t get that through your thick little head, I may as well throw you overboard. We’d be better off!” John snatched the sail away from her, found the needle and picked it up again, stabbing at the sail in a sort of half-hearted attempt at mending it. “Now go--go push somebody around or something. Take a long walk off a short gangplank. Whatever--just get out of my hair.”

She looked at the tangled mess of hair on his head and snorted. “You call that hair?”

He reached over and pushed her roughly away. “And you’re as repulsive as a monkey in a negligée. Now scram.”

She was just about to retort when a call came down from the crow’s nest--Castaneda was on duty, though under protest. “Black sails on the horizon!” Armena and John both froze, waiting. A few seconds later Castaneda added, “She looks like a flagship!”

Cursing, Armena jumped to her feet. “Get that sail fixed. Now.” She shouted for Bill to try and outrun them, though they all knew that would do little good: LeChuck’s flagships were the fastest in the Caribbean.

Armena dragged Santiago up from below deck and set him to work prepping the cannons; she helped him whenever she could. Bill caught her as she ran by and pressed a sword into her hand. “I think you’ll need this,” he said, then let her go. She nodded.

LeChuck’s ship started gaining on them fast. Castaneda kept calling out the distance between the two ships, and it kept getting smaller and smaller. Soon the tattered black sails came sharply into focus, as did the crew beneath them. Castaneda started cursing.

“What is it?” Armena had just returned from below deck with bottles of root beer, just in case they wound up battling any ghosts. She peered up the mainmast at the crow’s nest.

“He’s with them!”

“Who?”

“LeChuck!”

Armena started swearing herself as she ran to hand the root beer to the rest of the crew. She reported the news to Bill, who grimaced. “This isn’t going to be pretty.” He paused, then added, “Mena, we’re close enough to Mêlée right now...if things get bad, you could jump overboard and swim--”

She cut him off with a shake of her head. “There’d be no point. He has no reason to even suspect I might be a Threepwood, anyway.”

“That wasn’t what I meant. Just in general, if--”

“I’d still rather stay,” she said firmly. “But thanks for the thought anyway.”

He grinned. “You’re welcome.” After a moment’s pause his face fell into a more businesslike demeanor. “Now go on, Santiago looks like he might need some help with those cannons. And tell John to get back to work if he knows what’s good for him.” Armena nodded and took off.

A cannonball crashed into the water nearby, rocking the ship and sending up sprays of water. Bill bit down on his lower lip and forced himself to concentrate on steering the ship.

Several more cannonballs landed in the water all around them, though only a couple succeeded in doing any real damage. Still, it was enough to slow them down. Armena ordered Bill to turn the ship around so they could stand a chance at returning fire. In the brief moment when the Iago’s side was facing the flagship, LeChuck didn’t waste his opportunity, and neither did Armena--the resulting crossfire did more than a little damage, to both ships. In the end, though, the Iago hadn’t fared nearly as well as LeChuck’s ship had; several gaping holes near the bottom of the ship were taking on water much too quickly for Armena’s liking. She turned to John, who was busy reloading the cannons.

“You know that sail you were fixing?”

He arched an eyebrow at her. “Yeah?”

“Tear off a piece and run it up the mainmast.”

“But that’ll--” he stopped, frowning as he realized what she meant. “Merde. You’re going to surrender?”

She nodded. “It might be our only shot at surviving this...and besides, I think I have an idea.”

“If it’s anything like your last--”

“Shut up and do what I asked for once!”

He offered her a mock salute. “Whatever you say, m’amie. But just this once.”

As John hurried to run up the makeshift white flag, Bill caught Armena by the arm. He pulled her in closer, speaking in barely a whisper and casting a wary eye in John’s direction. “Mena, you can’t do this. If he recognizes you--”

“Why would he? Besides--” she pulled the crystalline talisman and its chain from underneath her tunic--“I’ve got this. Marley said it could put the dead to rest...I think it’s worth a try, at least.”

He looked at the talisman, finally nodding. “All right...it’s worth a try.” He squeezed her arm once for good measure. “Good luck.”



***


Commodore LeChuck eyed the white flag now flapping lazily in the light breeze with the air of a cat deprived of its kill. He growled several curses under his breath before he finally turned to a skeleton standing nearby. “Board ‘em,” he commanded, sighing. “Rough ‘em up a bit and take whatever cargo they’re haulin’. I’ll be boardin’ meself to speak to their captain--they’ve got no respect for the rest of us, surrenderin’ like that...takes all the fun out of everythin’.”

He grumbled his way through the next few minutes as the crew made preparations to board the other ship. Her crew showed no sign of resisting, which only irked LeChuck even more.

“D’aaaargh--blast be these traders; ye can’t get a good fight out o’any of ‘em!”



***


When LeChuck’s men boarded the ship, the crew up on deck surrendered immediately, dropping weapons, root beer bottles, and anything else they had on hand. One of the skeletons did a quick count and, seeing that there were only five people up on deck, ordered a group to search the rest of the ship.

“That’s all of us,” growled the only woman amongst them.

“Shaddup!” A skeleton grabbed her roughly by the arm and shook her. “Now which one of ye’s captain?”

“I am,” she answered, at the same time a scruffy-looking man with a half-grown beard said the same thing. The skeletons looked at both of them with confused expressions.

The woman rolled her eyes. “Bill!”

“Mena,” he shot back, mimicking her annoyed expression. A third man did the same, though his annoyance seemed genuine.

“Could you two stop flirting for at least ten seconds?” Both of them blushed and went quiet. He smiled. “Better.”

LeChuck finally saw fit to come aboard, making sure he cut an impressive figure as he stepped across the gap between the two ships. The entrance would have been better if he hadn’t nearly tripped, but he seemed to recover himself well enough, shooting dark looks at anyone who dared to even so much as think of snickering.

“All right,” he said, cracking his knuckles together--everyone flinched at the sound. “Which one of ye’s the captain o’this little crate, eh?”

Armena looked once at Bill, who shrugged and turned red again. “That would be me.” She straightened even as LeChuck fixed his gaze on her, doing her best to make herself look more confident than she felt. She couldn’t stand to make eye contact with him, though--something in his ominous stare frightened her more than she liked to admit.

LeChuck strode casually over to her, hovering in such a way that she had to lean back just to see his face. “So,” he said, “what makes a little trade ship like yers get so lost?”

“We--um--we’re not lost,” she answered, mentally berating herself for stuttering. “I didn’t know we were lost. Bill, did you know we were lost?”

“Uh...no. But then again I can’t read a map, so--”

“Shut up, both of ye!”

Armena flinched as a sprinkling of dust rained down on her, tickling her nose and stinging her eyes. She wanted to use the talisman now, but with a skeleton holding one arm and LeChuck nearly standing on top of her, she didn’t dare. And, though she hated to admit it, something like fear held her back, as well. She’d heard stories--they all had--but she hadn’t believed LeChuck could be quite so frightening. He wasn’t when the lawyers were making a fool out of him, she thought ruefully. But the stone demon in front of her now was frightening indeed--she suddenly understood why only one man had ever managed to defeat LeChuck.

“I go ta all the trouble ta outline the routes for trade ships like ye, and--” he paused, looking around. “Where’s the rest of their crew?” He turned to the closest skeleton and decked him, knocking his skull and a better part of his upper body overboard. “Ye dunderheaded morons, how can ye let half o’their bloody crew go free?”

The skeleton holding onto Armena’s arm cleared his throat. She ducked instinctively, not wanting to get in the way of one of LeChuck’s temper tantrums. “Well, um...”

“Yeeees?” The look LeChuck gave the skeleton made them both shrink back.

“This is all their crew I swear!” he squeaked out in a rush. Armena nodded quickly to confirm what he’d said.

“It’s true,” she said. “It’s just the five of us.”

LeChuck cocked his head to one side, disbelieving. Then he laughed. Armena shrank back another step. “What kind o’trade ship goes around with just five people on it, eh? Ye’re either daft--or ye ain’t no trade ship at all.” He turned to a couple of skeletons standing around nearby. “Search the ship again. Bring me anythin’ that looks suspicious.” He swung his attention back around to Armena. “As for ye, ye and I need to be havin’ a little chat.” He grinned, motioning for the skeleton to bring her as he headed for the captain’s cabin.

The skeleton pushed her along and she stumbled, and she took the opportunity to yank the talisman and its chain from around her neck. She slipped it into her palm and closed her hand around it, glaring at LeChuck’s back.

They were just about to go into the cabin, with LeChuck barking a few last minute orders to his crew, when a cannonball struck his ship--and went right through it, passing through the Iago, too. All heads swung around to gape as it disappeared beneath the ocean’s surface, including LeChuck.

“Threepwood!” LeChuck smashed his fist into the side of the cabin and, growling, turned around to glare at the ghost ship coming in fast on their starboard side. Several more cannonballs went flying through the air all around them. They didn’t do any damage, but they were more than a little distracting. “Blast be ye to the underworld, why can’t I get rid o’ye?” If he knew Armena and everyone else could hear his muttering, he didn’t notice or care.

“Threepwood?” a voice echoed. Armena recognized it as John’s and quickly motioned for him to stay quiet. He shot her a dark look and grumbled something under his breath. Another cannonball flew through the air, sliding through the deck just inches away from where Armena was standing. She shuddered and flinched away, then flinched in the other direction as LeChuck’s hand swung out, nearly clipping her upside the head.

“D’aaargh...let’s be gettin’ out o’here. Threepwood won’t let us have any peace until we leave them alone.” He motioned to Armena and her crew and shook his head. If Armena hadn’t known better, she would have said he looked disappointed. “They ain’t worth puttin’ up with him, anyway.”

“Er...Commodore LeChuck, sir?” A skeleton fidgeted nervously near the mainmast. “What do you want us to do with them, sir?”

LeChuck thought about it for a minute, then said, “Let ‘em go...they’ll drown anyway with all the holes we blew in their ship.” He grinned once, faintly. Then, as the rest of his crew hurried to get back to LeChuck’s flagship--save those who were still restraining Armena and her crew--LeChuck leaned down so he could look Armena square in the eye.

“Ye’d best be hopin’ we don’t meet again, lass. Nobody crosses Commodore LeChuck twice an’ lives ta tell about it.” She matched his gaze as best she could, trying not to break eye contact. For a moment she could’ve sworn she saw a flicker of recognition in his dark eyes, but when she blinked and focused on him again, it was gone.

By then all of LeChuck’s crew had gone back over to his ship and he was quick to follow. He spared Armena only one last, parting glance, which she pointedly ignored. When he was safely back on his ship, though, he whispered something to one of the skeletons manning the cannons.

“Let this be a warnin’ to ye--if ye’re not endin’ up as shark bait, be sure ta tell everyone--especially those pirates who might have an idea of gettin’ rid o’me--that there ain’t no pirate who can even think o’beatin’ me!”

As if to prove how wrong he was, a ghostly cannonball sailed right through LeChuck’s outstretched hand. He growled a curse under his breath, then yelled, “Fire!”

One of LeChuck’s cannons fired straight into the Iago’s hull, adding to the damage and knocking Armena and everyone else off their feet. Laughing, LeChuck sailed away, even as Threepwood’s ship drew in closer and pulled up next to the Iago.

“Hey--hey!”

Armena slowly sat up, only dimly aware of the voice calling her. She shook her head and made sure she wasn’t bleeding anywhere before she tried standing up.

“Hey--do you have any longboats?”

She finally managed to look around, only to find herself staring across the deck at a man who had to be Guybrush Threepwood. He floated about an inch off of his own ship’s deck, watching her with concern. She blinked at him.

He looked much as he had the first time she’d seen him, through the spyglass--except that his face now had more of a concerned expression to it, coupled with a genuinely friendly tone in both his voice and eyes. If it weren’t for the way he floated around and the bloody mark on his forehead, Armena would have sworn he could’ve been one of the pirates she’d grown up with on Lucre. She was surprised, too, by how young he looked--he couldn’t have been much older than she was when he’d died.

Bill pulled himself to his feet beside her, rubbing his temples and groaning. That seemed to snap her back to reality. “Um--I don’t--I don’t think so,” she finally managed. Threepwood sighed.

“Well that’s no good. Can you fix the ship, do you think?”

“Hold on--” Armena got up and walked over to the side, peering over the rail at the gap between the two ships. She could feel Threepwood’s eyes on her constantly. Taking one look at the gaping hole in the ship’s hull, though, she could only shake her head.

“Doesn’t look like it.”

“We could swim,” Bill offered, shrugging. He was busy pulling Santiago and Castaneda to their feet and retrieving their weapons.

“There’s a lot of sharks around here anyway,” Threepwood said. “I’d take you all to the nearest port but, well...” he shrugged, indicating his ghostly form. Behind him, the ghost of a dark-skinned woman snorted and grumbled something under her breath.

“Carla, don’t even think about it.”

“Yessir, Fripweed.”

He clenched his teeth together in something like a grimace and looked at Armena again. He squinted, tilting his head to one side and leaning forward a bit. “You look kind of familiar...” Armena’s breath caught in her throat. “Have we met?”

“Um--no, no, we haven’t.”

He nodded slowly. “Okay...but you know, I could swear...” he trailed off. The Iago creaked and started to list uneasily to one side. Armena frowned and hurried over to the railing so she was nearly face-to-face with Threepwood. Up close, the resemblance between them was even harder to ignore, so she avoided making direct eye contact.

“Listen,” she began, “I know this is going to sound a little strange, but I have an idea that might save us both.” She opened her palm, breathing a small sigh of relief when she saw that the talisman was still there. In the midday sunlight, it seemed to shine clearly and reflect the light more readily, rather than absorbing it. Threepwood watched it for a moment, seemingly transfixed.

“Looks like a glorified knickknack. What is it?”

She smiled faintly. “It’s a voodoo talisman of unknown powers. A man by the name of Horatio Torquemada Marley gave it to me.”

That pulled Threepwood up sharp. He drifted forward a bit, studying both her and the talisman more closely. “You met him? I thought--I thought he was dead! What happened to him; is he all right? Where--”

She held up her other hand to stop him. “I’ll explain later when the ship’s not sinking. Let me just put it this way: I think this thing has the potential to--um, well, resurrect you. If I could do that, and do the same to your ship, would you be willing to take my crew to the nearest port?”

He stared at the talisman for a while, seeming to consider her proposal. Armena could guess that he’d accept, though--a gleam of hope had entered his eyes, breathing new life into them. Finally, he nodded.

“Good,” she said. “I’ll start with your ship; no offense, but I’d rather get off this ship before it sinks.” She lifted the talisman further into the light and stared at it. I really hope this works... She had just closed her eyes to try and figure out how to work the thing when someone tackled her from behind--or tried to--missed, and went flying overboard.

Armena opened one eye just as Bill yelled, “John!”

Threepwood peered over the side of his ship, watching John flounder and sputter in the water. “Is he yours?”

Armena sighed through gritted teeth. “Not anymore. Bill, somebody, fish him out and make sure he doesn’t try that again.” She waited until Bill had pulled him back up on deck before she even thought about trying to use the talisman again. John was glaring at her angrily, wiping seawater from his eyes.

“Mena, what the hell are you doing?” he hissed, shooting a dark look at Threepwood, too. “You said you were going to kill him, not help him, so stop with the voodoo gibberish and get out the root beer! He’s a ghost, it’s not like he can stop you.”

Threepwood was peering at them anxiously, straining to hear what John was saying. Armena smiled thinly at him and turned her attention back to John. “Let me put this in terms you can understand: Ship sinking. Need help. That--” she pointed to the ghost ship--“is help. But only if we can bring it back to life. And in case I didn’t mention, this ship is sinking!”

John muttered something under his breath in French. “All right,” he said at last, “fine. Resurrect the stupid ship.” He shook off Bill’s weak grip on him and walked over to the mainmast, where he sat, sulking. Armena turned back to Threepwood and smiled again.

“Sorry about that...he’s just got a temper. Let me try that again. Without getting interrupted.” She closed her eyes and concentrated on the talisman again, trying to find a way to make it work. After a long moment--with the ship creaking below her constantly--she opened her eyes again. Both Threepwood and his ship still floated in the water, ghostly as ever. She sighed.

“Maybe if you tried getting the thing closer to the thing you’re trying to, um, resurrect,” Bill suggested.

“Or maybe it really is just a glorified knickknack,” Threepwood added, shrugging. There was something like disappointment in his eyes, though, and for a moment Armena felt a stab of pity for him. It must’ve been hard, she thought, but cut herself off right there.

“Right,” she said, straightening, “I'll try that. Thanks, Bill.” She took a deep breath and leaned against the side rail. Then, closing her eyes, she reached out and barely skimmed the surface of the ghost ship’s railing with the talisman.

The ship flickered, wavered in and out of existence entirely for a few seconds, and then fully materialized, the talisman still stuck in the side railing. Threepwood looked at the suddenly solid deck below him and nodded. “Impressive.”

Armena opened one eye. “I’d say so,” she said, letting out a long breath. She started tugging on the talisman’s chain, trying to free it. “That’s one--oof--powerful--okay somebody, a little help here--knickknack.”

“Lucky for us...leave it Mena, we’ll get it later. Right now, though, we’ve got to get off this ship. It’s sinking, if you remember...?” Bill, shooting a warning glance at John, gently took Armena by the arm and ushered her over to Threepwood’s ship. “You’ve got everything, right?”

She shook her head. “There’s still my things in the captain’s cabin.”

“Okay--” he turned around. “Santiago and or Castaneda, one of you go into the captain’s cabin and bring Mena’s stuff. Don’t steal any of it.”

“Like they could,” Armena snorted, climbing over the siderail and tumbling onto the deck. She landed right at Threepwood’s feet and they made eye contact again, briefly.

“You know, I could swear I know you from somewhere. It’s--you know, you look kind of like--”

She jumped to her feet. “Okay, everybody on board? Good--I’ll just get that talisman--Bill, could you help me here?”

He smiled faintly, shaking his head at her. “You’re such a weakling, Mena.”

“Get used to it. Now I need your help. Over here.” She shot him a significant look and he, finally understanding, scuttled over as fast as he could.

“So what is it?” he whispered under his breath, pretending to examine the talisman for any damage before they pulled it out of the railing. “What’s the verdict on Threepwood? He looks like you, you know. You could be related.”

Armena shook her head. “It’s not him I’m worried about. It’s John.”

“He thinks you’re still going to kill Threepwood?”

“And I don’t intend to,” she said, nodding. “I mean, look at him.” She gestured subtly at Threepwood, at the same time trying to look as if she was trying to chip away some of the railing with her fingernail. “He doesn’t look at all like the rumors say.”

“That wouldn’t be hard.”

“True. But--listen, I just need you to take John, find something on this ship that’ll pass for a brig, and lock him in it. I’ll let him out later if he promises to behave.”

Bill snorted and tugged the talisman free. “Easier said than done, but okay.” He handed her the talisman. Then, picking at a splinter in his thumb, he walked over to John. “Okay John, you and I are going to go check out the rest of this here ship.”

“Don’t break anything!” snapped the woman Threepwood had called Carla.

John rolled his eyes at both of them. “Yeah, right,” he said, though it was impossible to tell who he was actually responding to. Bill assumed he was talking to him, and wasn’t much amused.

“Lose the attitude, Incapable, and come on.” He pushed him towards the stairs that led below deck, sending him tumbling forward. Bill nearly grinned.

“Quite the...um...crew,” Threepwood said, looking at Armena. “And I thought I had all the bad luck.”

“Hey! I’ll have you know that I’ve been perfectly sober these past...however long it’s been, Fripweed!”

Threepwood rolled his eyes. “That’s only because you can’t drink the grog.”

“We have grog on this crate?”

“No, but that’s not really the point--”

“Do you want me to resurrect you or not?” Armena waved the talisman in Threepwood’s face, one hand on her hip.

He returned his attention back to her and nodded. “My crew first, or they’ll lynch me the second they get the chance. And we might want to get away from your ship before it goes down...”

She peered back at the Iago, now nearly half-underwater and sinking fast. She motioned for Santiago and Castaneda to at least make an attempt at steering the ship away. “The Voodoo Lady’s going to have a fit when she finds out what she probably owes that captain now,” she muttered, moving over to Carla, the nearest crewmember. “Just hold still,” she said. “I don’t want to wind up with this thing stuck in your skin or anything.”

The woman nodded distractedly. “Yeah, right. Fripweed, are you sure we don’t have any grog on board?”

“I’m sure, Carla.”

She opened her mouth to shoot back a less-than-complimentary reply but was stopped short when she fell the few inches of space between her feet and the deck and landed, falling over backwards. Armena stood beside her, the talisman still swinging freely in one hand.

Carla sat up, started to rub her back and complain, and suddenly stopped, staring at her hands. Her dark skin seemed a startling contrast to her earlier pale, ghostly color. It took her a moment to figure out that everyone else on deck was staring at her, too. Threepwood had a distinctly amused expression on his face.

“What’re you all staring at?” she snapped, pushing herself to her feet. She stretched experimentally and tried taking a few, uneasy steps. She paced back and forth, then stopped, shrugging. “It worked,” she said, then let out a whoop. “It worked! Holy jumping mother of God, Fripweed, I might not have to kill you for turning us all into ghosts after all!” She ran down below deck--to make sure there really wasn’t any grog on board, Armena assumed--after nearly running into a few objects she would’ve normally just floated through, yelling all the while.

A short, nervous-looking little ghost of a man floated up to Armena. She held out the talisman again, but he made sure that his feet were as close to the deck as he could get them, first. When he solidified again, there was only a slight bump as his feet hit the deck, and he seemed to regain his bearings quickly enough. His dark brown eyes flickered nervously, as if taking the entire scene in again with a new perspective. “Thanks,” he said quietly, and slunk away, in the same direction Carla had run off in. The fourth member of Threepwood’s crew, another short man (though this time not so little), followed the others’ example the moment he was standing on his own two feet again.

Armena turned last to Threepwood--he remained half-floating, half-standing, several feet away and made no move to approach her. Finally, clutching the talisman close in one hand, she approached him. She did her best to avoid direct eye contact. “Right,” she said, “well.” And, closing her eyes again, she swung the talisman out and concentrated--concentrated as hard as she could--on returning Threepwood back to life, by whatever means necessary, even though it ran against some of her better doubts.

Only the quiet thump of his body hitting the deck told her she’d finally done it. She opened her eyes and looked down at him, sprawled face-down in front of her. Well, now you’ve done it, she thought, placing the talisman back around her neck. You’ve resurrected Guybrush Threepwood. The pirates are just going to love this.

Realizing that he didn’t seem inclined to stand up under his own power anytime soon--in fact, he seemed completely unconscious--Armena knelt down and pulled him gently to his feet. He wasn’t all that heavy; he seemed to be only skin and bones as it was, and it seemed almost as if his time spent as a ghost had only added to that impression. Armena sneezed--he was covered with dust. The bloody mark she’d seen on his forehead started to bleed again, too, and his face and lower arms were covered with tiny bruises and cuts.

“Looks like you got in on the wrong side of a fight,” she said, struggling to support his weight with her own. She half-carried, half-dragged him to the captain’s cabin and dropped him on the bed, then made a quick search of the room for bandages. Finding none, she went up on deck, hoping to find someone to help her--but the only people on deck were Santiago and Castaneda, and they were concentrating so hard on navigating that she didn’t think it would be wise to disturb them.

“It’s a ship,” she muttered under her breath. “They have to be somewhere.” She spared Threepwood one last glance and then hurried out of the cabin, aiming for the stairs that led below deck. On her way down, she nearly collided with Bill, who was sprinting back up the stairs.

“Whoops--sorry about that.” He helped steady her on her feet, squinting at her in the dim light. “How is he?”

“Unconscious. You didn’t find any bandages down there, did you?”

Bill arched one eyebrow. “Bandages? Mena, what’d you do?”

“I didn’t do it! I swear, he was like that when I resurrected him.”

“Well...it makes sense, I guess, if he was supposed to be buried under a ton of rock...” He sighed. “All right, you can’t tie a good bandage to save your life; I’ll take care of him.” Gently elbowing his way past her, he started up the stairs again. Armena caught him by the arm.

“I’ll come with you.”

He nodded faintly, leading the way up on deck and to the captain’s cabin. He’d barely stepped inside the door, though, when he stopped, staring at Threepwood. “Mena...” he said, quietly, letting out a long breath.

She shuffled over to the desk and opened a drawer, pretending to be fascinated with its contents. “What?”

“He’s you. Or you’re him. Or...something.”

She didn’t look up. “I hadn’t noticed.” In truth, though, she had--it had been impossible to ignore the fact that they shared similar, twig-like frames, the slightly fly-away blond hair, and the weak chin that gave the impression that they were both younger than they actually were. Still, she did her best to seem calm and noncommittal about the entire affair, pulling up a chair and sitting down in it as if nothing were the matter.

Bill began rooting through drawers until he found a roll of bandages. “Mena,” he said gently, casting a worried glance her way, “I don’t think you can deny it anymore.” He unrolled the bandages and tore one off, dabbing the blood away from the wound on Threepwood’s head. “Besides, it’s not like he’s the murderous, back-stabbing pirate everyone’s made him out to be. I mean, look at him, Mena--he looks more like a flooring inspector.”

Armena snorted. “Maybe that’s how he got people to trust him--before he betrayed them.”

“Now you’re just being ridiculous.” He lifted Threepwood’s head and started wrapping the bandage around it.

She slid open another desk drawer, lazily flicking around the dust bunnies inside. “I know, Bill.” She sighed and looked over at him, but he was still busy tying the bandage tight. “It’s just...how would you feel if someone just told you that your parents might still be alive, and oh, by the way, your father’s the most despised man in the entire Caribbean next to LeChuck?”

“I’d be happy just to hear my parents were alive.”

She bit her lower lip. “Oh. I forgot. Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it...LeChuck’s killed a lot of people. It’s not like we’re the only ones who lost somebody.” He double-checked his work, then stood up, rolling up the rest of the bandages. “He should be fine, I think. Whatever hit him didn’t hit that hard. There’s still the little cuts and all, but those don’t look too bad. I’ll just...whenever he comes around, I think you should be here. I’ll take care of the ship for a while.”

Armena smiled faintly. “Thanks.”

“Not a problem.” He started for the door but, on his way out, stopped and patted her shoulder awkwardly. “Good luck, Mena. And, by the way...”

“What?”

“I’ve got John down in what I guess passes for a brig on this crate. But he’s not happy, and I think he’s caught on that you maybe...stretched the truth a little. If we can spare somebody, I’ll set a guard on him. He’s bad news, Mena--stay away from him.”

Her eyes flickered over to stare at some point in the wall. “He deserves an explanation.”

“He deserves what he’s got, and maybe not even that. Just leave him to me and the rest of the crew, all right?”

She sighed. The sharp, impatient tone in his voice told her that he wouldn’t leave until she agreed, anyway. “Fine, fine.”

“Right.” He looked over at Threepwood and patted her shoulder again. “Don’t keep him guessing who you are, Mena.” Then he slipped out on deck, closing the door behind him.



***


Guybrush Threepwood didn’t want to wake up. He had no idea where he was, or why--it didn’t feel like an avalanche of rocks, the last thing he really remembered. He didn’t feel dead, either, though he couldn’t really guess at what that felt like. He just felt...numb. There was a dull ache in his head, too, like he’d spent the night drinking, only sharper.

He opened one eye, just for an experimental look around. Some ever-hopeful part of him piped up with the idea that, maybe, Elaine was there somewhere. And then he remembered--she was dead, a ghost, and so was he--supposedly. He groaned and clenched his eyes shut. He really didn’t want to wake up.

“So you’re awake.”

He opened one eye again. A young woman sat in a chair near the door, her feet propped up on the desk. She was flipping lazily through a journal, not really watching him. All he could make out of her appearance was her long blonde hair, which was currently hiding most of her face.

He sighed, slowly reaching up to rub his temple--but he stopped, touching against a bandage wrapped tight around his head. “Um...” he said after a minute, “yeah, I guess so.”

“That’s good--you’ve been out for an hour or so.” She paused, then added, “I was starting to get a little worried.” The tone of voice she took then reminded him so much of Elaine that he winced.

He pushed himself up into a sitting position, resting one arm against the wall for support. He winced again, but this time it was from all the bruises. “Um...yeah,” he said at last, “it’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

She turned her head to fully acknowledge him, and then he remembered a little more--she was the captain of the trade ship they’d rescued. She was the young woman who had seemed so eerily familiar, and more than a bit anti-social. He scratched the bandage on his head--she was the one who’d resurrected him, too. He tried smiling at her. “Thanks, by the way.”

“Oh...well...it was nothing.” She blushed, looking away. “We needed a ship anyway, and it was only fair to resurrect you along with your ship...my crew’s sort of taken over the ship, by the way, if you don’t mind.”

“It’s fine,” he said, waving a hand, though his pride protested sharply. “Just so long as by ‘taken over’ you don’t mean, you know, ‘taken over.’”

“Don’t worry. My crew couldn’t take over a toy boat.” She laughed nervously, and he couldn’t help but laugh with her--he had just a little too much experience with crews like that.

“So--” he cleared his throat; he was still getting used to little ordinary, human things like that--“who are you, anyway?”

For some reason, she hesitated. She closed the journal she had been reading and put it back in the desk, then dropped her feet back down to the floor, deliberately avoiding making eye contact with him. Guybrush tilted his head at her, slowly, wondering what exactly was going on.



***


Armena cleared her throat. Bill had said not to keep him guessing, but...she shook her head and tried to make eye contact. “My name’s Armena,” she said finally, not bothering with a last name.

“Armena?” Threepwood fell back onto the bed, rubbing his eyes. It seemed to her as if he’d suddenly withdrawn from her, and her breath caught in her throat again. “That’s funny,” he said, his voice cracking. “I had a daughter...Elaine and I were going to name her Armena...but I don’t know, it’s been so long, and Elaine’s--” he broke off, staring at the wall. “She must be dead,” he finished numbly.

Against her better judgment, Armena stood up and walked over to the bed, quietly sitting down beside him. If he noticed her, he gave no sign--his eyes were shut tight. “I didn’t realize it was such a popular name.”

“I didn’t, either.”

She bit her lower lip and reached her hand out--just barely brushing the back of his hand. “I’m sorry. I could leave, if you’d like me to.”

“No, it’s all right...” He opened his eyes again, sighing. “It’s just--” and he stopped, staring. She had finally, though inadvertently, made direct eye contact, and he had finally caught sight of her dark blue eyes.

Armena could tell by the way he was staring that he’d seen something he recognized. She looked away, but he caught her arm, forcing her to turn back and look at him. He pushed himself back up into a sitting position, ignoring the throbbing in his head. “You have Elaine’s eyes,” he said quietly.

She bit her lower lip, nodding slowly. “I thought maybe I might be, you know--”

But she didn’t get a chance to say anything more, because he’d pulled her into a hug with more strength in it than she thought he had. It took her a moment, but she embraced him, too. He smelled of dust and--strangely--of lilacs. She couldn’t decide whether to giggle or sneeze over it.

He pulled back after a long moment, holding her at arm’s length, searching her face for familiar features. He must have found more than a few, she imagined, as she had when she’d first seen him--but his gaze kept coming back to her eyes.

“How old are you?”

She smiled faintly. “Seventeen.”

“Has it been that long? It hasn’t...” He paused, looking around. “I guess I’ve been dead longer than I thought.” Armena nodded. His attention focused on her again. “How’d you--” his voice seemed caught in his throat. “I thought LeChuck...I knew he had Elaine, but...I thought for sure he’d killed you.” His bright blue eyes glimmered with what looked to be tears. “If I’d known...”

“You couldn’t have,” she interrupted. “The Voodoo Lady’s good at hiding people--even from themselves.”

He arched one eyebrow slowly. “The Voodoo Lady? Wow, that’s...weird. Elaine must have been desperate...” He looked away again, trying to compose himself, though he failed. Armena politely stared at her feet. This can’t be the same man who single-handedly let LeChuck loose on the Caribbean...who started those rumors?

A quiet cough broke her from her thoughts. “What happened to her?”

She looked back up. “Sorry--what?”

“Elaine.” Guybrush bit his lower lip. “I know she’s...you know...I just don’t know how she...you know.”

She raised both eyebrows. Oh boy. “Um, that’s a funny story, actually. I don’t really know. See, there’s a few...I guess you could call them rumors about the whole ‘LeChuck taking over the Caribbean’ thing...”



***


A few hours later, Armena leaned her head against her father’s shoulder, listening to the tail end of his story. “I just--LeChuck left, and I guess the ceiling must’ve caved in...I don’t really remember. So I screwed everything up, basically.”

“Well, not really...” she said, trying to shift the blame away from him. It was hard, though--especially when some of the rumors she’d heard all her life had just been confirmed. “The Voodoo Lady could’ve told you to expect consequences from using that scroll. So maybe it’s more her fault.”

Guybrush snorted. “She did say there’d be ‘consequences,’ she just didn’t tell me they’d show up as LeChuck. And I can’t blame her for anything--she kept you safe.”

Armena blushed, though she could sense a “but” in his voice. “But...” she said, prompting him.

“But it’s just--you’re seventeen!”

“I could lie and say I’m eighteen, if you want. Or sixteen.”

He didn’t seem to appreciate her attempt at a joke. “I’m twenty-two. Do you have any idea how weird this is? The last time I saw you--well, you weren’t even you yet. You were busy making Elaine think she was fat.”

She giggled despite herself. “When I see her, I’ll apologize. But it’s not like we can do anything about it. The age thing, I mean. Ghosts don’t age--time just keeps on going without them. I’m sorry, though.” She looked up at him--they looked more like brother and sister than father and daughter, and she cleared her throat, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.

“It could be worse, I guess.”

“How?”

He grinned, though it was obviously a vain attempt at keeping the mood light. “I could be dead dead.”

“Good point.” She pushed herself up so that she was facing him, pushing a few stray strands of hair out of her way. “Um, listen, I don’t know about you, but--”

“It’s a lot to take in,” he finished for her. “Yeah. I know.”

It seemed to take a moment for her to acknowledge what he’d said and respond. She nodded, a little belatedly. “And it’s been a few hours...I should probably go and see if my crew hasn’t managed to blow a hole in your ship or something.”

“There’s a little thing called sleep, too, you know,” he said, yawning. “I don’t know what the Voodoo Lady might’ve taught you, but I say that no daughter of mine is going to turn into an insomniac workaholic like her mother.”

Armena folded her arms across her chest and raised one eyebrow, looking unimpressed. “You need sleep more than I do.”

“How’s that? I’m the one who’s been kinda-sorta dead for seventeen years.” Even as he said it, though, exhaustion and something like grief began to creep into his eyes. Armena snorted, getting up off the bed and gently pushing his head towards the pillow.

“You’re also the one with the bandage on your head,” she countered. “You need rest.”

“Okay, can’t argue with that.” As she made to leave, though, he caught her hand and squeezed it. She knelt down beside him, this time unafraid to make eye contact. “It’s just...I’ve already missed so much...”

“Then what’s a few hours going to matter?” She squeezed his hand back reassuringly. “Sleep on it. We’ll talk in the morning.”

He nodded and yawned. “Yeah. You still owe me your life story.”

“It’s boring,” she answered, shaking her head. “You wouldn’t be interested.” Besides, you still owe me a lot more...Dad.

He couldn’t seem to find a retort to her last words, instead closing his eyes and trying to sleep. Armena leaned against the bed, still breathing in the smell of lilacs and dust, and tried to get a little sleep herself.



***


She woke up a few hours later when someone tripped over her and landed, with an ungraceful thud and a series of French curses, partly on her lap and partly on the floor. By the time she managed to orient herself, scramble around in the dark for a candle and match, and get the candle properly lit, the mysterious someone had likewise gotten to his feet and pounced on her father.

The candle flickered and flared to life, illuminating a scene that was almost amusing, in its own way. Guybrush and John were in the middle of some sort of fight (which John appeared to be winning), grappling with each other and throwing punches blindly. John appeared to be trying to grab Guybrush by the throat. The sudden flicker of light had, however, caused them to freeze in place. Armena chuckled at the sight of them. “If you two wanted a private room, all you had to do was ask,” she said, shaking her head. They both shot her nearly identical dark, “how-dare-you-suggest-something-like-that” looks, which only made her chuckle all the more.

“He’s trying to kill me!” Guybrush finally squeaked out, fixing his less-than-mighty glare on John.

Armena arched one eyebrow. “Unarmed?”

“I’m mad and incapable, what do you expect?”

“Hey...you look kind of familiar...”

Her other eyebrow shot up. “Last I heard, Dad, I didn’t have a twin brother.”

Bill burst into the cabin just then, a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other, nearly knocking Armena off her feet. “John’s esca--whoops, sorry Mena.”

She straightened and stepped away from him--and his sword, which was dangerously close to her ear. “I kind of noticed, Bill.”

“I figured he’d show up here first,” he said, trying to retain some dignity. He sheathed his sword and walked over to John, grabbing him by the shoulder. “Come on--this time I’ll chain you to the bloody hull, if I have to.”

Guybrush quickly slipped out from under John’s grip and stood up, dusting himself off and doing his best to restore his wounded pride. “Well, it’s not like I didn’t have things perfectly under control before, but I’ll let you take over from here.”

“He was trying to strangle you, Dad.”

“Well...I still had the upper hand!” he sputtered, rubbing his throat. Everyone else in the room shot him unconvinced looks. “...Really. I did.”

John, breaking free of Bill’s already weak grip, took an opportunity and made another lunge at Guybrush. Bill lunged after him, Guybrush yelped and dived out of the way, and Armena punched John right in his prominent nose. He hit the deck with a groan and an unimpressive thunk.

“Uh...thanks for that, Mena.” Bill grabbed John and hauled him to his feet, blushing faintly.

“Glad to see you’ve still got things under control,” she answered sarcastically. “Need any help dragging him down to the brig?”

The blush crept all the way up to his ears. “It wouldn’t hurt...” He looked over at Guybrush, who was still straightening his tattered collar and doing his best to look as if he hadn’t nearly been throttled. “Sorry about that...um...sir.”

Armena groaned inwardly. She could practically see her father’s ego expanding at that remark. He was just the type to let things like that go to his head, she could tell... “I’ll probably be a while--I want to talk to John once he wakes up. Are you going to be all right here?”

“Fine. Unless there’s anybody else on your crew who wants to murder me.”

“I don’t think so.” She grinned weakly. “I’ll be back.” She took John’s other arm and threw it over her shoulders. She and Bill together dragged him out of the captain’s cabin, across the deck (garnering a few stares from various crew members), and down below deck to what passed for the brig. The door was wide open, the lock obviously picked, and Carla was sitting in a chair beside the door, snoring.

Armena snorted. “I guess Dad really wasn’t kidding about her.”

“Looks like I’ll have to find somebody else to guard him. You’d think she’d be fine when she found out there wasn’t any grog on board, but I guess not.”

“Mmm-hmm. Maybe you’d better pull guard duty yourself.” They dropped John in the middle of the shoebox-like room, right in a puddle of water--only somewhat on purpose. “D’you think we should tie him up?”

“If you’re going to try talking to him, yes.”

She sighed. “He’s not going to kill me, Bill.”

“He just tried to kill your father, Mena--I told you, he’s dangerous. You shouldn’t have even let him on the ship in the first place.” He shook his head, ignoring the dark look she shot at him. “But now that he’s here...well...we’ve got to do something with him. And I’d rather tie him up.”

Armena prodded John with her foot. He groaned and muttered something under his breath in French. “He’s waking up anyway. Look, if it makes you feel any better, you can stand outside the door. I’ll scream if he tries anything.”

“I saw some rope in the cargo hold, I could--”

“Bill! I can handle this.”

“Right. I’ll let you talk to him.” He shrunk away from her, scurrying for the door. “I’ll be right outside.”

She nodded absently, waiting until he’d shut the door before she bent down and prodded John sharply in the chest. “Wake up, you.”

“Only if you shut up.” He opened one eye and glared at her. Then, with surprising speed, he pushed himself upright. She jumped back, afraid he was going to try and attack her. But he settled against the ship’s hull, rubbing his nose ruefully. “So who are you really, girl?”

“Hey--I thought I’m supposed to be asking--”

“Why’d you resurrect him? I thought you wanted to kill him! And the next thing I know, he’s back from the dead, and the girl who told me she was going to kill him did the resurrecting!”

Armena’s fists clenched so tightly she thought her palms might bleed. “He’s my father.”

He snorted, looking away from her. “Oh. So you’re a Threepwood. Funny--I thought I might actually like you.”

She scooted away until her back was against the opposite bulkhead. “What’ve you got against Threepwoods?”

“Well, it’s not so much all of ‘em as it is that one. And I told you. He killed my father.”

“No he didn’t--he told me what really happened. He didn’t kill anyone.”

He shot her a murderous stare. “Well, he’s lying.”

“Does he even look like he could kill someone?” Armena answered, throwing her arms up in the air. “I don’t think he has the strength, much less the will. You, on the other hand...”

In one quick movement, John leapt across the room and had one hand on her collarbone, pinning her to the wall, the other on her mouth. “He killed my father,” he hissed through gritted teeth. “Go back and ask him if he remembers a kid named Eligo. Ask him if he remembers what he did to that kid’s father.” And without another word, he let go of her and slipped back to the other side of the room like nothing had happened. Armena rubbed her throat, shooting daggers at him the entire time.

“Eligo? How many names do you have?”

“Just ask him the stupid question.” He found a speck of dirt on the floor and flicked it away disinterestedly. “You could’ve told me you were his daughter, by the way.”

“I didn’t know until now. Would you have helped me fix my ship if I had told you?”

He smirked. “I would’ve killed you.”

“Which is probably why I didn’t mention it.” She stood up, composed herself as best she could, and stalked to the door. She knocked on it once and Bill, peering through the window to make sure it was her, opened the door and quickly pulled her out of the brig.

“Tie him up,” she growled, slamming the door shut. “Chain him up, even--to a cannonball, and then drop him overboard.”

He grimaced. “I guess it didn’t go well.”

“Let’s just say I can see where he gets the ‘Mad’ part of his name from. He’s got a thing against Threepwoods--all I can get out of him is that he thinks Guy--my father killed his father.”

Bill shrugged. “He’s probably mixing rumors or something. There’s a lot of pirates who’d like a chance to kill your father, I’d bet.” He paused, then grinned weakly. “At least you know Guybrush is your father now, right?”

“Right.”

“And he’s nothing like the rumors say, so you’re not related to a cold-blooded killer anymore. You’ve just got one locked in your brig.”

Armena shook her head at him. “Bill, quit trying to be cute.”

“Yeah. Well. Sorry.” He coughed. “We should drop John off at the nearest port...which is probably Mêlée, I guess, though I don’t think your great-grandfather would be too happy to have him. Lucre?”

“Maybe...” She shrugged, giving the lock on the door an experimental tug to make sure it held. “I’ll be honest, Bill--I don’t know what to do. If we put in at any free port--if we’re not blown out of the water for looking like one of LeChuck’s ships first--there’ll be a lynch mob after my father the second they find out he’s on board. And I’d bet anything that once LeChuck catches wind that Guybrush isn’t a ghost anymore...”

“He’ll try to kill him. Again,” Bill finished. He scratched his chin, thinking. “Mena--what about your mother?”

“What about her?”

“She’s supposed to be dead too, isn’t she?” Armena nodded slowly, not quite seeing what he was getting at. He grinned and elaborated for her. “The rumors say that Guybrush killed her. So if you resurrect her, she can tell everyone that’s not true, and Guybrush’s name gets cleared. Because believe me, from what I’ve heard, when Elaine Marley-Threepwood says ‘jump,’ the rest of the Caribbean says ‘how high?’”

“One problem with that, Bill. LeChuck has Elaine. On Monkey Island. Which I don’t even know how to get to, much less onto. It’s supposed to be his best stronghold.” She shook her head, folding her arms across her chest and leaning against the bulkhead.

Bill’s grin widened. “Maybe you don’t know how, Mena, but we’ve got the man who’s been to Monkey Island and back four times onboard.”

Armena couldn’t help but grin herself. “Changed my mind, Bill--you’re brilliant.”

“Thanks. By the way, how’re you...how’re you handling all this? You know, the whole ‘father suddenly not-dead’ thing and everything?”

She snorted ruefully. “Do you have a couple of hours?”

He looked around, particularly at the door to the brig, and then shrugged. “Yeah, actually, I do.”

“It was a rhetorical question.” She shook her head, patting him once on the shoulder. “G’night, Bill.”

He almost looked disappointed. “Yeah...right.”



***


The Voodoo Lady summoned Inspector Canard to her shop early the next morning, not long after dawn. He appeared promptly, looking awake and not in the least bit bleary-eyed. “I assume this is about Armena--”

She raised her hand to stop him. “Commodore LeChuck has sent for me. Apparently my hexes and wards don’t hold up like they used to.”

Inspector Canard smiled and looked at the floor. “Should I arrange for an escort, then?”

“No.” He arched his graying eyebrows, surprised, but she continued. “Send a messenger, instead. Tell Commodore LeChuck that I am unfortunately unable to come to his aid...however, I will be sending my apprentice, who is quite capable of handling such matters. Tell him also that he should treat her with the same respect he shows me.”

Inspector Canard sputtered for a few seconds. “You’re going to send Armena--with all due respects, she’s nowhere near capable of destroying LeChuck, and even if she was, she’s too busy joyriding around the Caribbean!”

The Voodoo Lady smiled in a manner that was at best patronizing. “Show a little faith, Inspector. She has help.”

“If you mean Bill Duncan,” he said with a snort, “he’s more likely to get her killed than anything else. And those other two would-be pirates she took along with her won’t be of much use, either.”

“I didn’t mean them.” She waved her hand in dismissal. “Please send the messenger, Inspector--and do tell him to hurry. It wouldn’t do for my apprentice to appear at the commodore’s doorstep before my message did.”

He paused, collecting himself, before tipping his hat lightly to her. “Have it your way, then. I’ll send the messenger immediately. Good day.”

“Good day, Inspector.”


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