Art | Fiction | Music | Animations | Scripts | Comics | Games | Sheet music
The Second Element II: Through A Glass Darkly
Add review | Fan fiction index
Act Four: The Left Hand of Midas
Armena woke up late that morning, uncomfortable after having spent a majority of the night on the floor. It took her a moment to get her bearings--to remember where she was, what was going on, and everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours, from resurrecting the most hated pirate in the Caribbean to his nearly getting throttled by a known psychopath. She groaned quietly and rubbed her eyes. “I’ve got to be nuts,” she said, sitting up.
Guybrush was still asleep with the sheets tangled so tightly around him it looked as if, when he did finally wake up, he’d never be able to properly untangle them and get out of bed. One bare foot stuck out by the end of the bed, slowly sinking towards the floor. She smiled faintly--he’d wake up the second that foot hit the cold floor, no doubt. Quietly, so as not to disturb him, Armena got up and tiptoed out the door.
The deck was all but empty--the only person in sight was the other man on Guybrush’s crew, Estevan. He was doing his best to steer the ship (though since he wasn’t much taller than the wheel, it was a bit difficult) and consult a map at the same time. Armena closed the door to the captain’s cabin and headed for him, clearing her throat as she approached so as not to startle him.
“Where are we?” she asked, squinting out to sea. The early morning sunlight reflected off the waves and made it difficult to see anything. A cursory glance, however, told her that they weren’t anywhere near any of the islands--usually one or more of them could always be spotted on the horizon.
Estevan made a minor adjustment in their course and then answered, “Headed out for open waters, Cap’n. I figured it’d be best--not so many of LeChuck’s ships out here.”
She nodded slowly. “Just so long as you can get us back.”
“If we don’t let Cap’n Threepwood navigate, we should be fine.”
“I’ll remember that,” Armena said, chuckling. “So...where is everyone, anyway? Still sleeping?”
Estevan shrugged. “Last I heard, Carla’d gotten chewed out by that Bill guy for falling asleep, so she’s probably off sulking somewhere...she’ll get over it in a while. Bill’s guardin’ the other guy you brought onboard--” and at this he cast her a sideways glance--“and Santiago and Castaneda are looking for a new chess set.”
“Oh. Right. Well...thanks for steering the ship, then.”
“Of course.” He nodded to her and dove back into his map; the conversation appeared to be at an abrupt end. Armena sighed and was about to go below deck in search of either Bill or breakfast when the door to the captain’s cabin burst open and Guybrush staggered out, wide-eyed, a sheet still wrapped around his ankle. He didn’t have to go far for it to trip him up, causing him to land flat on his face.
Armena turned back to Estevan, who had momentarily poked his head up over the map to see what all the commotion was about. “Does he do...things like that a lot?”
Estevan nodded. “Yep. All the time.” He ducked back behind the map again.
She shook her head, slowly making her way down towards Guybrush, who was trying to pick himself up with as much dignity as possible. Right, she thought. My father’s a former ghost, barely older than I am, and a klutz. Maybe I should’ve just stayed on Lucre...
Guybrush finally made it to his feet, yanking the offending sheet from his ankle and tossing it back into the captain’s cabin. He grinned sheepishly at Armena’s approach. “Uh...morning! I was just, um--just making sure I hadn’t dreamed everything that happened yesterday or something. It’s been known to happen before. ...I think.” He paused, scratching his head. He accidentally touched the bandage and winced.
Armena tried to cut through all the nonsense to some sort of point. “How’s your head?”
“Better, actually. The pain’s subsided to a dull roar, at least.”
“Good. Listen, I wanted--”
He cut her off. “Armena...I think we need to talk.” It took him a long time to get the words out of his mouth, and he winced as he said them. “Really.”
She sighed. “All right. But is this going to take long? I’ve got--”
“I want to go to Monkey Island.” He paused, as if he didn’t believe what he’d just said. Armena looked around. Estevan was watching them out of the corner of his eye, clearly trying to eavesdrop. So Armena gently took her father by the shoulder and pulled him into the captain’s cabin, where they wouldn’t be overheard.
“Okay,” she answered slowly, closing the door, “we’ll go. I don’t know how to get there, personally, and it’s supposed to be some sort of fortress, but what the hey--we’ll go. You’ll have to navigate, or...whatever it is you have to do.”
Guybrush shook his head. “No, I mean I want to go to Monkey Island. First, we’re going to go back to Lucre Island to drop off Eligo--Inspector Canard’s still there, right? He’ll keep him out of our hair for a while. And I’m going to leave you with the Voodoo Lady until this all blows over.”
The resulting silence lasted nearly a minute. Then what Guybrush said finally seemed to sink in, because Armena managed to sputter out a “What?”
“I’ve handled LeChuck on my own before--”
“Yeah, before he got half a dozen strongholds and an army of pirates!”
Guybrush continued, unfazed. “--and I don’t really want you anywhere near him.”
“I handled him before,” she shot back, bristling.
“He would’ve killed you, Mena. He had the upper hand--that’s not ‘handling.’”
She shook her head and started pacing, carefully stepping over the sheets on the floor. “You need me,” she finally said. “I’m the one who’s actually been alive these past seventeen years. I know what’s going on around here, where LeChuck’s strongholds are, and nobody wants to lynch me.”
Guybrush winced. “Okay, good point. But we have to go to Lucre Island anyway, because we’re going to drop off Eligo. I don’t want him trying to kill anybody again--much less me.”
She started to shoot back an angry reply but stopped. “You know his real name?”
He nodded slowly. “I met him when he was a lot younger...and a lot less homicidal. I thought I recognized him earlier, but it took me a while to figure it out.” He sighed. “He looks a lot like his father.”
“He said you killed his father,” Armena answered, folding her arms across her chest.
“Does the name ‘LaGrande’ ring any bells, Mena?” he asked quietly.
She shrugged. “LaGrande? As in Largo LaGrande? Why, what’s--” she stopped, tilting her head to one side. “You don’t mean...”
“You can ask him if you want to, but I’m sure. It explains a lot. Where’d you find him, anyway? The last I saw he was just a kid on this...really stuck-up island filled with lunatics.”
She shrugged again, chewing on her lower lip. Guybrush was right, it did explain a lot, but... “He was on Mêlée when I got there; don’t ask me why.” She paused and finally stopped pacing. “But--doesn’t that mean that he’s right? I mean, you did kill Largo, didn’t you?”
“No, LeChuck killed Largo, but that’s not the point. It’s just--he’s dangerous, Mena. And so’s LeChuck, probably even more now, which is why I don’t want you anywhere near him.” He sighed, his face falling. “I don’t want to lose you, Mena. If LeChuck finds out who you are, he’ll kill you.”
“I’ve heard that before,” Armena shot back darkly.
“He’s already got the entire Caribbean...and Elaine. I don’t want to throw you into that mess. He’ll kill you, I know he will.”
She took a deep breath and let it out again. “Just like he wants to kill you?”
“How? How can that possibly be different? He wants to kill you, he wants to kill me--I don’t see the difference.”
Guybrush shook his head stubbornly. “Just trust me, Mena. I can handle him.”
“With what? The talisman?”
He shrugged. “Maybe. If it can bring people back from the dead...”
“You don’t even know how it works,” Armena answered, gritting her teeth. “And if you’re going to treat me like this, don’t expect me to tell you, either.”
He snorted; she thought she finally caught something like anger in his eyes. “Well, it can’t be that hard, if--”
Armena knew immediately where he was going and cut him off before he got there. “If what? If I can use it?”
He seemed to shrink back a step. “That’s not what I--”
“You haven’t been trained by the Voodoo Lady for seventeen years,” she shot back. “You wouldn’t have a clue. And if you’re trying to say that you think I’m stupid--I think I know who I got it from.” She glared at him and made a rather impressive show of stalking past him, out the door, and likewise slamming the door shut as hard as she could. Guybrush winced at the sound.
After a moment, the door opened again and Armena reappeared. “And by the way? You fight like a cow!” She smirked and slammed the door again. Guybrush almost chuckled--almost.
Half an hour later, after he was sure Armena wasn’t storming around nearby, Guybrush went to find a set of maps and a member of the crew who hadn’t been undead for seventeen years. Santiago and Castaneda were too wrapped up in a new chess game to notice him (even after repeated attempts at distraction), so he settled for pulling Bill Duncan away from guard duty.
Bill unrolled a map of the Tri-Island area and began pointing at a series of islands in rapid succession. “Here--these’re all controlled by LeChuck. The only two he doesn’t have strongholds on are Spittle and Jambalaya. And if I were you I’d avoid the entire area around Pinchpenny.” He made a wide circle on the map with his index finger. “It’s as much a fortress as Monkey Island. Half his fleets against Plunder and Scabb have been launched from there.”
Guybrush looked at the map and frowned. “We’d have to go around half the Caribbean to get back to Lucre.”
“Yeah, but--” Bill paused, looking up at him. “Why’d you want to go back to Lucre? If you’re looking for help from the free pirates, you’d be better off looking on Plunder...they’ve got a lot of pirates with some pretty nasty grudges living there, from what I’ve heard.”
Guybrush shook his head. “No--we’ve got to drop Eligo and my daughter off on Lucre. Unless we went back to Mêlée...that’d keep us well away from the Voodoo Lady, and--”
“Sorry, what?” Bill took a step back from the table, arching both eyebrows. “Why’re we taking Mena back to Lucre? Or...wherever?”
“It’s safer there. Anyway--”
Bill held up a hand, cutting him off again. “Sorry...but did Mena have any say in this?” He shot Guybrush a disbelieving look. “Does she even know?”
“She knows,” Guybrush answered, sighing. “She had a lot to say about it, believe me.” He glanced over his shoulder as if afraid Armena might suddenly appear in the doorway. Bill chuckled darkly.
“Somehow I figured...and, er, have you considered she might be right? I mean, I know you’re her father and everything, but I’ve known her since I was three. She’s smart, she knows a lot about ghosts--and if you ask me, I’m starting to wonder if maybe the Voodoo Lady hasn’t been teaching her stuff like that for a reason. It got that talisman working, after all.”
Guybrush shrugged. “I don’t know...and I don’t exactly trust the Voodoo Lady right now, either.”
Bill nodded and went back to scanning the map. “Okay...but I’m just warning you, Mena’ll probably find some way to sneak back onboard the second you throw her off.” He smiled. “She’s...like that.”
“She gets that from her mother,” Guybrush answered, then fell silent. Bill cleared his throat and changed the subject.
“Right--well, um, if you really wanted to, we could try a direct route to Lucre...but I think...” He squinted at the map and traced a line on it with his thumb. “That’d take us right near Pinchpenny.”
“Where one of LeChuck’s ships would catch us,” Guybrush finished. He scratched the back of his head and then looked at the deck above and below him. “Then again--we’re one of LeChuck’s ships too, technically.”
“What do you--” Bill suddenly caught on, and he grinned. “Do we still have the original sails for this crate?”
Armena stormed into the captain’s cabin intent on telling her father just how she felt about him and his “brilliant idea”--again (she’d thought of more insults while storming through the ship)--and was surprised to find it empty.
“Well,” she said, looking around, “that was rude.” She threw herself down into the chair and began rooting through the desk, determined to wait until Guybrush decided to come back. In one of the drawers, she found a beat-up old journal that looked as if it had been waterlogged multiple times and gone through more than a few adventures. She flipped through it, surprised to find that every entry began the same: “From the personal log of Guybrush Threepwood...”
She almost shut the journal then and there, not wanting to intrude on her father’s personal journal...but then she remembered she was supposed to be furious with him and changed her mind.
As journals went, though, it was fairly disappointing--there was more purple prose than there was actual content. One entry near the beginning, though, caught her eye. Scribbled in the margin in barely-legible handwriting were the words “Directions to Monkey Island™!!!”
Armena squinted at the list that followed--it looked more like a recipe than anything else, and a particularly unappetizing one at that. A closer inspection, however, revealed that maybe it really was directions...in a way. She grinned. Maybe she didn’t have all the ingredients, but nobody said improvising was a bad thing in a voodoo spell...
With a copy of the “directions” in one hand and a bag full of voodoo ingredients in the other, Armena snuck out of the captain’s cabin and towards the ship’s kitchens. She counted on the idea that those few who were up on deck would be too distracted by various things--as they usually were--and for once her luck held. Estevan was still buried in maps and Carla, up in the crow’s nest, was too busy sulking to notice much of anything going on on the deck below. Armena grinned and walked on quiet tiptoe down the stairs.
Below deck, she was much more careful and kept a constant eye out for her father. She had no idea where he’d gotten to, or what he was up to. And somehow, she doubted that that could be a good thing.
“Oof--you know, I would’ve appreciated a warning. Nothing fancy, just a ‘patching tar weighs a ton, just so you know’ or something like that. Really. That’s all.” Armena froze in her tracks, recognizing Bill’s voice. It seemed to be coming from the deck directly below and was headed up the stairs in her direction.
“Sorry--hey, watch where you’re going!--I thought you knew.” She flinched, recognizing her father’s voice, too. She had no idea what those two could possibly be up to, but she wasn’t much inclined to stick around and find out. There was a closed door just at hand, unlocked, and Armena didn’t hesitate in opening it and diving into the room beyond. The door closed behind her just as Guybrush and Bill staggered their way up the stairs, barely balancing a barrel full of tar between them.
“Did you hear something?” Bill asked, casting a glance down the narrow passageway.
Guybrush followed his gaze, wincing as a splinter dug its way into his palm. “Nope...didn’t hear a thing. Why?”
Bill shrugged. “Never mind. Come on, let’s just get this thing up the stairs before we kill ourselves.”
When she heard them continue up the stairs, Armena let out a quiet sigh of relief. She turned around to see where she was--it was fairly dark; all the windows had been boarded shut long ago and there were only a couple of lamps lit. Those few lamps provided barely enough light to see by, but she thought she caught a glimpse of cabinets and--maybe--a few pots and pans.
“Lucky,” she muttered, and went about trying to light the other lamps.
She’d just finished lighting the lamps and was lighting the fire in the stove when she heard a floorboard creak behind her. As she started to turn around to see what, if anything, had made the noise, the tip of a knife was pressed into her back. She sighed. “Well, at least you’re armed this time.”
Guybrush looked up at the sail and all the white patches in it, then at the barrel, then at the sail again. “Maybe they won’t notice if we just leave it the way it is...?”
Bill snorted. “Yeah, right.”
“Right,” Guybrush echoed, shaking his head. “Maybe we can get Carla or somebody to help us. Hey Carla!”
Carla peered down over the edge of the crow’s nest. Upon seeing Bill, her eyes narrowed dangerously. “What, Fripweed?”
“How’d you--um--how’d you like to help us cover up all the patches on the sails?”
She stared at him for a minute. “You’re nuts, Fripweed.” Then she turned away, fixing her attention on the sea again. Bill looked over at Guybrush and shook his head.
“Whatever happened to ordering people around?”
He shook his head. “Nobody orders Carla around. She’d disobey orders even if you bothered giving them to her.”
“If you say so,” Bill said, sighing. “I’ll go see if I can find somebody else. Maybe Mena’ll be willing to help.”
“Only if she gets to tar and feather me afterwards.”
He snorted. “Yeah, right.”
“So--” John looked over her shoulder at the bag of ingredients she held. “What’re you doing in here?”
“None of your business,” Armena shot back angrily.
He grabbed the recipe out of her other hand and glanced at it. It seemed to take him a few minutes to read and understand it. “Monkey Island...” He crumpled the page up in his hand and pressed the knife harder into her back. “Your father’s idea?”
She snorted. “Hardly.”
He spun her around so that she faced him. His thick eyebrows were knotted together in confusion. “Another one of your stupid ideas?”
“Something like that.”
“Huh.” He shook his head. “Going to Monkey Island’s suicide. Does he know you’re doing...this?” He gestured vaguely around the kitchen. Then he grabbed hold of her arm again, pointing the knife at her. “Or is this really one of your stupid ideas?”
Armena sighed. “He doesn’t know. So no, he won’t come looking for me here anytime soon, if that’s what you’re wondering. Now are you going to kill me or what?”
John frowned. “I was thinking more of a hostage situation.”
“Which doesn’t do you much good, since it’s a little hard to have a hostage situation when nobody knows you’ve got a hostage. Right?”
His eyebrows knotted together still further, but only for a moment. Then he shook the knife at her angrily, growling French curses left and right. “Stop doing that!”
“Doing what?” She grinned as innocently as she possibly could while her hand started undoing the clasp on her bag. Hopefully all the ingredients were in order...
“Never mind,” John snapped, tugging her towards the center of the room. “How long do you think it’ll take for your father--” he kept spitting out the word--“to notice you’re missing?”
Armena folded her arms across her chest, ignoring his restraining hand for the time being. “We had a fight. It’ll be a while.” John cursed under his breath again. “Not what you were hoping for, hmm?”
“Not exactly.” He sighed. “You got any rope in that bag? I don’t want to stand here holding onto you the entire time we’re waiting.”
“Hmm...” She opened the bag up the rest of the way, peering inside. “Well, no, but I do have this powdered cinnamon here.”
John snorted. “What good’s that going to do?”
She calmly pulled the cap off the bottle. “Not sure. Let me see.” And with one quick movement, she grabbed a handful of the stuff and tossed it at John. He let go of her arm to shield his eyes, though it did him little good, and Armena, coughing, immediately set to work.
While John was kept busy coughing and swearing and desperately trying to get the cinnamon out of his eyes, she managed to get a pot over the fire and water poured into it. She didn’t bother waiting for the water to start boiling--she knew there wouldn’t be enough time--so she upended the entire contents of her bag into the pot.
Armena scowled at it. “Why won’t you work?”
John, his eyes still stinging and tearing up, managed to get behind her and poke the knife into her back again. “Because it was your stupid idea, that’s why.” He sneezed, sending a cloud of cinnamon into the air.
“No, I don’t think so...” She shook her head, completely ignoring him for the time being. She was mentally running over a list of all the ingredients, trying to figure out which one she’d forgotten or found a bad substitute for. Nothing came immediately to mind.
“Come on--” he jerked her roughly away from the pot--“let’s go. I’ve got to find some rope.”
She stumbled, and then her eyes fell on the recipe. It was lying in a crumpled ball on the floor. Armena glanced at John, who was more concerned with trying to drag her out of there than anything else. “John...”
He paused. “Yeah?”
“Should I call you Eligo now or what?”
He stopped entirely, though he kept a tight grip on her arm--preventing her from making a quick dive for the paper. “So you talked to your father.”
“Yeah. I did.” She did her best to look sympathetic. “I’m sorry about your father--I didn’t know.”
John shrugged. “I’ll get back at Threepwood soon enough.”
Armena coughed uncomfortably. “Why’d you change your name?”
He looked at her and shook his head. “You’re so naive, girl. Yeah, I’m going to walk around the Caribbean and introduce myself as ‘Eligo LaGrande.’ Yeah, that’ll go over real well. Especially with LeChuck’s whole lot.”
“Well, I don’t know, I just thought...” She paused, then added, “So what do I call you?”
“I don’t know. And I don’t really care, either. I didn’t really plan on talking to you again.” He started to pull her away again, then stopped, looking at the pot. It was still boiling, and the combination of all those voodoo ingredients was making it smell funny. “What is that stuff?”
“Oh. You know. Just some stuff. My lunch, actually...” She smiled as innocently as she possibly could--let him think she was stupid and naive.
John looked at her for a long moment, then rolled his eyes. “You’re disgusting.”
“Not any more than you are,” she shot back. He was about to retaliate--with his knife, it looked like--when the door opened and Bill walked in. Armena and John both froze. Bill sputtered blankly for a minute before he yelled for help.
Armena seized the opportunity--she took the moment of confusion to dive out of John’s grasp, grab the paper off the floor, and toss it into the pot just as John grabbed hold of her again and put the knife up against her throat.
He didn’t have time to do much of anything in the way of threatening her, though, because at that exact moment the greenish looking slop in the pot started to boil, pop, and possibly even explode, filling the air with a sickening smell.
At which point everyone passed out.
Armena woke up face down on the floor with a nasty headache and the sound of someone yelling at her. Or at least trying to.
“Armena...um...whatever-your-middle-name-is...geez, this is embarrassing...Marley-Threepwood!”
She opened one eye just as her father gently rolled her over onto her back. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a blurry glimpse of Bill, hauling a very groggy-looking John out of the room. The knife was on the floor by her hand. Groaning, she rubbed her temples and tried to focus on something. Guybrush seemed the most collected and awake of all of them, and he’d also taken the bandage off his head, leaving behind only a small scrape that probably wouldn’t even leave a scar.
“What did you think you were doing?” he demanded, at the same time carefully pulling her into a sitting position and supporting her back with his hand. “I don’t know how you found that recipe, but so help me, we’re going to turn this ship around and go to Lucre Island right now!”
Armena ignored him. “Did we make it to Monkey Island?”
He paused, glared at her, then answered, “Yes. Not like it does us much good--we’ll be surrounded by LeChuck’s fleet the second they realize we’re here. Which is why we’re turning the ship around. Now come on--it’s not as bad as you think it is. It gets better when you stand up.” Guybrush pulled her gently to her feet. She swayed--the room didn’t seem to want to stop spinning. After a moment, though, things sorted themselves out, and she started to feel a little better.
“We don’t have to leave,” she said, shaking her head. “If we can get out of sight before one of LeChuck’s ships notices us--”
“Mena, the Persephone’s the most wanted ship in the Caribbean right now. Trust me, they’ll notice us.”
She sighed. “I thought you wanted to go to Monkey Island.”
“Yeah, but not like this. Advance warning would’ve been nice.” He paused, then snapped, “What were you thinking?”
She smiled faintly. “Maybe I wasn’t. I’m supposed to be stupid, you know.” Guybrush groaned and hung his head in his hands.
“Look, Mena, I didn’t mean--”
“By the way,” Armena continued, still smiling, “my middle name’s Torquemada.” Then she slipped out the door, leaving Guybrush shaking his head in her wake.
“I thought Elaine promised she wouldn’t even think about using that name!”
She stuck her head back in the door. “Apparently, she and I both lie.”
He had just opened his mouth to shoot back a reply when Bill came charging down the stairs, nearly crashing right into Armena. “One of LeChuck’s ships--” he sputtered out, trying to steady himself and catch his breath at the same time. “They’re boarding. They recognized us--her captain said he wanted to talk to Threepwood.” Quickly, Bill turned and sprinted back the way he’d come.
Guybrush turned pale and looked torn between rallying himself with some overly dramatic statement and fainting, but Armena cut him off. “I’ll go,” she said, turning for the stairs. Guybrush rushed forward and grabbed her hand.
“No, I’ll go. It’s me they want.”
“Bill said the captain wanted to talk to ‘Threepwood.’ He never said which one.” She smiled as he finally caught on to what she was saying. “Besides,” she added, the smile vanishing, “they’ll kill you on sight. At least I stand a chance.”
“Maybe.” Guybrush hugged her tightly. “But be careful.”
She returned the gesture, then, taking a deep breath, started for the stairs again. “I’ll let you know when it’s safe,” she said, then took off up the stairs.
The second Armena’s blonde-haired head appeared on deck, two skeletons grabbed her by the arms and hauled her forward to where a ghost, obviously their captain, was standing.
The captain--of one of the less important flagships, from the looks of things--was something else entirely. He was a ghost, and unlike some other ghosts Armena had bumped into lately it was painfully obvious how he’d died. Half of his face, already twisted by old scars, was marked with new wounds. His left arm hung useless at his side and instead of floating, like most ghosts did, he preferred to walk--allowing his right foot to drag behind him and scrape under the ship’s deck. He already had half the crew on deck cowering in fear or disgust, and now he fixed his narrow, one-eyed gaze on Armena.
“You supposed to be Threepwood?” He looked her up and down and then laughed bitterly. “Threepwood, you’ve changed. What--new haircut?”
Armena’s eyes narrowed on him, but she let the remarks slide. “I’m Armena,” she said. “There’s nobody named Threepwood here.”
“This is his ship,” the ghost snapped back angrily. One of his skeletons, his empty-eyed gaze fixed on Armena, tapped him on the shoulder. “What?”
“Uh, Captain LaGrande--” Armena’s eyes widened when she heard the captain’s name--“um, weren’t we supposed to be waiting for the Voodoo Lady’s apprentice?”
Largo didn’t appear to make the connection right away. “Yeah,” he snarled, “and?”
“Er--isn’t her name supposed to be Armena?”
Largo looked at the skeleton, then at Armena, then back at the skeleton again. “Yeah,” he said at last. He turned to her and shook his head. “You the Voodoo Lady’s apprentice?”
Armena nodded quickly. “That’s me, yes.” She bit her lower lip and hoped that she hadn’t just said anything that might get her in trouble. How the heck did they know to expect me? She tried to think of someone who might have known she was coming--and could think of no one.
Largo’s thick eyebrows arched. “You got here quick. Voodoo Lady’s messenger just left.” He snapped his fingers at the skeletons who had taken up positions all around the deck. “Get outta here, all of ya!” Then, to Armena, “Do I even want to know how you got a hold of Threepwood’s ship?”
“Oh, I took care of him,” she said, grinning darkly. Then, noticing Carla moving around in the corner of her vision, she added, “And just, you know, resurrected his crew.”
He snorted--he looked a bit disappointed. “Yeah? Too bad I wasn’t there to see it. LeChuck’ll love this.”
“Um--” Armena cleared her throat--“about LeChuck...”
“Um, what is it he wants me to do, exactly?” She swallowed and hoped she wasn’t blowing what little cover she had. “I mean, I left so fast, you know...”
Largo nodded. “Fixing some hexes on Elaine’s prison--she keeps escaping. She’s not supposed to do that, ya know? Anyway, you’d better fix ‘em--LeChuck’s holding up the wedding and everything for this. He don’t like waiting long for anybody, either.” He shot Armena a dark look. “You follow my ship in. Then I’ll take you to take care of those hexes--and I’ll leave a guard on your crew. When you’re done, LeChuck’ll probably want to talk to you, especially when he catches wind of what you did to Threepwood. Then you can leave, maybe. If LeChuck lets you.” He grinned--a movement which twisted his scarred face in a manner which was distinctly sickening--and then turned and left. When he was back on his own ship, he quickly ordered his crew to head back to Monkey Island, and Armena did likewise. Soon, the Persephone was following Largo’s ship at a wary distance.
Armena and a few other crewmembers who’d never seen Monkey Island before peered over the siderail as the island came into focus. But it was less an island and more like a fortress, now. Docks had been built on all the island’s beaches to house LeChuck’s massive armada--though most of the ships were out patrolling other strongholds on other islands. Only a couple of the black-sailed ships were actually docked, obviously for repairs and possibly for crew rotations.
At the island’s only peak--a dormant volcano--small lookout points had been built and heavily armed with cannons. Armena caught a glimpse of a skeleton’s bleached-white skull poking up above the stone walls. And where the lookout points couldn’t defend the island well enough, there were ships drifting in the water, forming a loose blockade of sorts. The ships, though, were obviously old and in want of repair and looked as if they might not be able to put up much of a fight if someone brought enough ships in against them.
As for the island itself--much of what must have once been a lush jungle had been clear-cut to build the docks and more of LeChuck’s ships. The island was relatively flat, so with the jungle cut away, anyone approaching had a clear view of the island from the beach to the dormant volcano. Armena didn’t see anything that looked like LeChuck’s fortress, but every now and again skeletons would appear from the little jungle that was still remaining--she figured they had to be coming from the fortress.
As the ship pulled in closer to the docks under the wary eye of Largo and his crew, Armena turned to Bill--he’d given up the wheel to Estevan after it became obvious he’d crash the ship into the island he was so busy gawking at. “Bill,” she hissed in a low voice, suddenly wary of being overheard, “I’m going to talk to my father. If anybody asks, tell them I’m putting some voodoo stuff together--and I don’t want to be interrupted.”
He nodded. “Will do, Mena. I’ll keep them busy until you can get back up here.”
She smiled gratefully and snuck away below deck. She’d barely gone a few steps down the stairs, however, when she ran smack into her father. He almost went tumbling backwards, but he managed to catch himself in time. “Oof--I guess you pulled something off, since we’re all still alive?”
Armena snorted. “I didn’t have to do anything--they were expecting me.”
His eyes went wide. “What?” He grabbed her by the arm and tugged her down the stairs, back into the warm light of the kitchens. It still smelled faintly of that voodoo recipe she’d cooked up--Armena wrinkled her nose at the smell. “They don’t even know you exist, how could they--”
“The Voodoo Lady told them to expect her apprentice to show up. I guess--I guess they’ve got hexes on Elaine's prison or something...that aren’t working right. I guess they asked her to fix them and she told them she was sending me, instead. But why--” She looked around, half-expecting to see the Voodoo Lady standing there beside them. So that’s how they knew I was coming, she thought. The Voodoo Lady must’ve known...
“So,” Guybrush said, interrupting her thoughts, “what does that mean?”
“Well, it means I’ve got a way to Elaine...and possibly LeChuck. I could probably resurrect Elaine before they suspected anything.”
Guybrush frowned. “What about me?”
“What about you?” Armena looked at him, confused. “I suppose you could sneak onto the island later, but it wouldn’t be easy, and anyway, I don’t see why--”
“You’re not facing LeChuck alone,” Guybrush answered, with as much sternness in his voice as he could muster. “I won’t let you. I’ll sneak onto the island later, somehow. Don’t worry about it. Just don’t even think about attacking LeChuck without me.”
Armena waited a few moments before responding--she didn’t want to lose her temper, tempting though the idea was. Finally, she nodded. “But if you get caught...”
“I won’t.” She couldn’t tell if he was just boasting again or not, so she just nodded.
“All right--I should be going. Stay below deck, and stay out of sight--they’re going to be posting guards.”
“Don’t worry, Mena. Just...tell your mother I said hi.”
She smiled faintly. “I will.”
When Armena came back up on deck, the Persephone had already docked right alongside Largo’s ship. Skeletal guards were milling around on the deck, and Bill and the rest of her crew were standing near the mainmast doing their best to look harmless. Largo himself was waiting down on the docks, pacing impatiently. Armena offered Bill a small, hopeful smile, then jumped down onto the docks below.
“It’s about time,” Largo snapped, though he couldn’t have been waiting for more than a few minutes. “That’s all your crew, right?”
Armena nodded quickly. “Right.”
“It’d better be,” he answered, glaring at her. “Come on.” He turned and shuffled off away from the docks, motioning for her to follow him.
Largo moved slowly through the clear-cut jungle, along a wide, well-beaten path that twisted around the stumps of the trees. Occasionally they had to move aside for a patrol of skeletons to shuffle through, though it was more often the skeletons who moved aside for them--they all seemed inclined to give Largo a wide berth. A couple of them, however, took up positions as Armena's escort, walking a pace or two behind and keeping a wary eye on her.
Largo led her through a long-dried lava field which showed the wear and tear of many feet walking along the same path, then along a second, wider path, which widened still further once they reached the jungle. An eerie silence hung over the area--as they walked along, Armena never heard the sound of any birds or other animals, least of all monkeys.
Finally, just when the too-quiet jungle started growing too claustrophobic for her tastes, the path ended in an open clearing and a large, gaping hole. Armena peered at it--it looked as if something had been there once, but had been completely destroyed. A second catastrophe--a cave-in, it looked like--had partially collapsed the entrance and left another, smaller hole in the earth not far off. Only the first, however, was actually guarded. Largo didn’t even hesitate as he led her through the guards--again, they parted to give him a wide berth--and down a set of roughly-hewn steps into the cave system itself.
From the entrance, the caverns opened up into a series of twisting passages, some of which had clearly been abandoned long ago. Many were caved-in or just unused, but there were several which had lanterns lit along the walls, indicating that they were still in use. Largo led Armena down one of these and through a complicated series of twists and turns. Armena tried keeping track of the route, but gave up after she figured out that Largo was partly leading her in circles anyway--to confuse her, she imagined. Well, he succeeded, she thought, shaking her head.
Finally, they came to a wide hallway thick with skeletal patrols. There were several doors or badly carved chambers leading off from the hall, but one was of particular interest: it was the most heavily guarded door Armena had seen so far. “In here,” Largo grunted, motioning to the door. The skeletons moved aside again, except for one, who rested his hand on the heavy door handle. “Okay,” Largo said, “I’ll let you in and then wait here. You just...do whatever it is you have to. And make it fast.”
She nodded. “Right.” Largo snorted and made some sort of signal to the skeleton, who quickly opened the door just barely wide enough for her to squeeze through, pushed her into the room, and slammed the door shut behind her.
Armena slowly picked herself up off the floor, muttering and checking to make sure a stinging scrape on her arm wasn’t as bad as it felt like. “I wonder if they treat the Voodoo Lady like this...”
Armena looked up, somehow surprised to hear another woman’s voice. A ghost floated a few inches off the floor, watching her from a wary distance. She was tall, with long, thick hair held back by a bandana. Her clothes were smudged with dirt and soot, and her beautiful face was marked by a dark, angry look. And even though she had to know that she was a prisoner in what was essentially a bare room--hardly even bigger than a shoebox--the look of contempt she shot at Armena was enough to make her cringe.
“Um--” she coughed and quickly pushed herself to her feet. “You’re--you’re Elaine Marley, right?”
“Threepwood.” She glared, then shook her head, rolling her eyes. “Don’t tell me you didn’t know that. Where’d they ever find you?”
“Lucre Island,” Armena shot back. She slipped the talisman and its chain up over her head, holding it out for Elaine to see. “And I’m here to rescue you. So unless you have any more insults to fling at me, we’re a little pressed for time...”
Elaine snorted. She leaned against the wall, sinking only part way through it, and that with some resistance. Armena winced as she felt all the hexes in the room almost buckle and give way under the strain. They were horribly flawed, right down to their most basic parts. She grinned--the Voodoo Lady must have had something to do with that.
“Who sent you?” Elaine asked, picking at a nail disinterestedly. “If LeChuck’s trying to get me to escape so he can figure out how I’m doing it, so help me I’ll--”
“I’m working with my--with Guybrush Threepwood.”
Elaine’s eyes widened, but that was all. “Please,” she snorted, shaking her head. “He gave up trying to rescue me a long time ago.”
Armena smiled weakly. “That’s why I resurrected him. I hear he does a lot more damage when he’s actually alive. Now--” she straightened, trying to focus on the task at hand--“he could stumble in here any minute, and I’m supposed to have you free by then. Only problem is, there’s a bunch of guards outside, and we don’t want them raising the alarm. So...I’m willing to take suggestions.” She almost threw in the idea that Elaine was insulting her own daughter, but she held back. One thing at a time, she thought, watching Elaine.
“I can escape,” she said, drifting closer to Armena, “but not when I’m...alive. There’s a little alcove just down the hall. If you’re really working with Guybrush, you can meet me there. If not...” The look she gave her more than filled in the rest of that sentence. Armena started to nod, but Elaine had already gone--she’d dived into the wall and through all the hexes despite their best efforts to keep her there.
“Well, that was...interesting. Dad really should’ve warned me about her...” Armena cleared her throat, put the talisman back around her neck and out of sight, and knocked twice on the door. A skeleton opened it a fraction of an inch.
“Let me out!” she yelled, doing her best to sound worried and panicky. “She escaped!”
The door flew open the rest of the way, bringing Armena face-to-face with Largo LaGrande’s ugly visage. “What d’you mean, she escaped?” If he’d been alive, he probably would have throttled her right then and there. “What kind of apprentice are you, you stupid little--”
Armena immediately took a page from the Voodoo Lady’s book--she drew herself up to her full height and towered over Largo in a manner which was distinctly threatening. “If you would get out of my way,” she said in a low voice, “I could find her. But if you insist on standing there...well, I can let her escape. I don’t care.”
Largo grumbled something under his breath, but moved aside. “We’ll find her,” he said. “You’ll just follow along to help us bring her back.”
“I’ll find her,” she answered, stalking out of the room with as much disdain as she could muster. “I get the impression that you’ve had to do this sort of thing before--how long did it take for you to find her and bring her back? A day, a week? I don’t think Commodore LeChuck would be very pleased.” She smirked, then started off down the hall, looking for the alcove Elaine had mentioned. Largo trailed after her with a couple of guards in tow.
“If you think we’re going to let you run around without anybody looking over your shoulder--”
Armena paused--the alcove was just in sight, a narrow crack in the wall just a few feet away. She turned on her heel, glaring down at Largo again. “She’s still around here somewhere. And so long as you and your skeletons are hanging around, she won’t come quietly.” They didn’t appear convinced, however. She sighed.
“Do you remember who I am?” she asked in a low, barely audible growl. “I’m the Voodoo Lady’s apprentice. And if I have to go back and explain to her that she won’t be getting any pay from LeChuck because you wouldn’t let me do my job, well, I don’t think she’ll be happy.” She paused, then added, “And you don’t want the Voodoo Lady to be angry with you...do you?”
Largo took a step backwards, grumbling all the while. “I’ll empty the hall--but that’s it. If she escapes to anyplace else, you get us as an escort, got it?”
She nodded, smiling. “Got it.”
They withdrew from the passageway quickly, and Armena slipped into the alcove the second she was sure they were gone.
Guybrush finished prying the boards off one of the scullery windows, squinting at the bright light that suddenly flooded the room. Cautiously, he poked his head out and looked around. The window happened to be right above the docks, fortunately, and there were no skeletons in the area. He peered up at the Persephone’s deck--no skeletons currently looking over the siderail, either.
He grinned and then slid out the window, dropping to the deck below with a clumsy thump. As quickly and quietly as he could, he pulled himself back up to his feet and sprinted for the nearest cover--one of the other ships.
Guybrush had just ducked around the side of the neighboring boat when one of the skeletons, hearing the noise, made it over to the siderail to investigate. “What was that?” he demanded, turning to the Persephone’s crewmembers.
Bill shrugged. “Don’t look at us. It was probably just a rat or something.”
“Yeah,” Carla added, snickering, “a really big rat.”
The skeleton shook his head at them and turned away.
Elaine shrank away from her the moment she entered the alcove, ready to dart away through the wall at any moment. Armena tried smiling weakly at her, again pulling the talisman off and into her hand. “This’ll only take a second,” she said. “I just need you to hold still.”
“Wait.” Elaine held her hand up to stop her. “How can I trust you? You say you’re working with--with Guybrush, but--”
Armena took a deep breath, interrupting her. “Because I’m the Voodoo Lady’s apprentice.”
“Like that’s a reason; I still don’t know if she’s really working for LeChuck or not.”
“...And my name’s Armena Torquemada Marley-Threepwood.”
There was a long, awkward silence. Elaine stared at her with a strange glint in her eyes, looking her up and down over and over again. “Okay,” she said quietly, “that’s reason enough.”
“I thought it would be.” Armena stepped closer to her, closing her eyes, then swung the talisman out like she had for Guybrush and the others. And, like before, Elaine landed on the ground perfectly solid again, albeit with a touch more grace than anyone else had.
Armena opened her eyes and looked straight into a set of dark blue eyes almost identical to her own--save for the fact that these had a touch more inner fire, more determination.
Elaine took only a moment to straighten her long auburn hair and shake some dirt from her sleeves before she looked at Armena again. “Well, it’s nice to see the Voodoo Lady lived up to her promise.” She paused, then added, “And it’s nice to see you’re not...you know, a complete maniac or something.”
Armena grinned. “Well, um, actually...”
“Don’t tell me,” she answered, chuckling. “I’ll bet you take after your father enough as it is.”
“Funny, he says I take after you.”
“So you really did find him.” Elaine smiled and almost looked like she wanted to hug her, but she quickly snapped back to the matter at hand. “Right. Well, you said he’d be here eventually, assuming he doesn’t bungle anything up...and there’s still those guards to deal with, not to mention LeChuck. You leave the guards to me, Mena. Go find your father and take care of LeChuck.” She hugged her once, briefly, then disappeared out into the hall.
Guybrush slid around the tree and through the underbrush, picking dirt and leaves out of his hair the entire time. The fact that he’d even made it this far inland was a miracle--he’d only just escaped being seen by several patrols of skeletons--but he didn’t think it was much of anything. Crawling through the bug-infested underbrush just wasn’t worth it. They’ll never let me hear the end of this, he thought, shaking a large, dangerous-looking bug off his sleeve.
He slowed and then stopped entirely as the jungle began to thin out. A handful of tree stumps started appearing, as if LeChuck’s minions had started to clear-cut this area like they had the rest of the island but had, for some reason, stopped. Guybrush figured he had to be getting close to the old clearing by now. He risked standing up to get his bearings.
He was actually several yards north of the clearing, which was probably a good thing--skeletons were completely swarming the clearing proper. From the way they were acting, organizing themselves into groups and descending down into the caverns as quickly as they could, it looked as if someone had done something to sound the alarm. Guybrush grinned.
There was a hole in the ground not two feet away, the site of a cave-in Guybrush recognized with a sort of sickening clarity--that was the way LeChuck had escaped the caverns seventeen years ago, and it was the same way Guybrush had left, too, after he’d...died. He sighed and looked at the dark, gaping hole warily. It didn’t look as if the cave below had been put to any use in recent years, so he figured that it was probably the safest way into the caverns.
The sound of a pistol being cocked made him look up at the jungle across the way. He half expected to find a skeleton standing there, but what he found instead was, quite possibly, worse: Mad Johnathan the Incapable, with a loaded gun and a smirk on his face.
Guybrush let out a long sigh and held his hands up in the air. “Do I even want to know how you escaped? Again?”
John grinned darkly. “I know how to pick locks. It sort of...runs in the family.”
“Your father probably would’ve just ripped the door off its hinges. He never was the subtle type.” He rolled his eyes, starting to tap his foot on the ground. “Now really, I’m kind of in the middle of something here, so--”
John waved the gun in a manner which was distinctly threatening. “I’m not letting you get away, Threepwood. You murdered my father, remember?”
He sighed. “No, LeChuck killed your father. And it’s not like he didn’t have it coming. Now, is there a chance we could talk about this later? I’ve got to go find my--”
“Okay,” John said, relaxing his grip on the gun a little. “Okay, yeah, we can talk later.”
Guybrush let out a deep sigh of relief and started lowering his hands. “Phew, that’s a relief.”
“But I still plan to shoot you now,” John added, bringing the gun back to up to bear. Guybrush frowned.
“That’s not fair.”
John shrugged. “I’m a LaGrande, what can I say?” Then he pulled the trigger.
Guybrush, in a frantic effort to somehow avoid getting shot, dove for the ground. But as he dove, he tripped over a tree root and went sprawling, sliding right up to and then into the hole in the ground.
The cave floor also happened to be a lot further down than he remembered.
John leaned down over the edge of the hole, shaking his head slowly. “Idiot.”
Armena stopped when she came to a set of doors that were different from all the others she’d seen. These had a more permanent, impressive look about them. They were also closed and unguarded. She looked around for any sign of the guards, but they seemed to have run off somewhere--probably to answer the alarm that had been ringing so insistently just a few moments earlier.
She rested one hand on the doors, clutching the talisman tightly in the other. After a moment frozen like that, she thought she heard guards coming down the corridor, so she quickly pushed the doors open and slipped inside.
“If I were ye,” a voice said, “I wouldn’t be showin’ up here ‘till ye found my bride.”
When Guybrush managed to stagger to his feet, shaking off dust and dirt and cobwebs, he was quick to find the exit and get out of there before John had any ideas about following him. He walked slowly and carefully, though, partially because he was afraid of running into any guards, and partially because his back hurt so much.
The corridor he walked into was lit only occasionally by the glow of lanterns, as if someone used this particularly passage, but not often enough to warrant proper lighting. Part of it was collapsed, too, and the floor broken at regular intervals by cracks sometimes wide enough to be called small fissures. Guybrush picked his steps carefully and kept a wary eye and ear out for any of LeChuck’s guards.
He managed to find his way from there to some of the more well-lit tunnels, though these, too, were obviously not used very often. As he walked he stirred up a thick layer of dust and had to try hard to keep from sneezing. The dust soon began to thin, however, and he could make out the occasional skeletal footprint. The passages began to twist more, too, into an eerily familiar maze. Guybrush began peering around each corner or turn he came to, just to make sure there were no skeletons waiting for him. He was still, however, hopelessly lost, and he also suspected that he was going in circles.
At one particularly sharp turn--it had to be man-made--he stopped, hearing footsteps. They didn't sound, however, like the usual clicking and scraping of a skeleton. In fact, they sounded more like someone wearing shoes--someone very light and graceful on their feet.
Guybrush thought quickly. He knew it couldn’t be Armena, since she sounded more like a herd of monkeys than anything graceful, and so did John, and while there were some living pirates in LeChuck’s employ, they were usually confined to his ships or other strongholds. That only left...
He took a deep breath and turned the corner--straight into somebody’s fist.
“Oh, sorry,” said a familiar voice that made Guybrush’s heart jump into his throat. “I didn’t know it was you.”
He rubbed his forehead and looked up at her. She was watching him impassively; something in her eyes was almost unwelcoming. Her hair was in slight disarray and there was a tiny cut on her cheek. She held a sword in her right hand, obviously stolen, and Guybrush was suddenly rather glad she’d decided to punch him. It was certainly better than the alternative.
“Er...” He fumbled, as if his vocabulary had spontaneously abandoned him. “Er...Elaine?”
She smiled faintly. “Yes, Guybrush. Now here...let me help you up.” She set her sword down for the time being, extending her hand out to him. Her palm was warm and familiar to his touch as she gently pulled him to his feet.
As he stood, trying to catch his balance, he started to say something again. He still couldn’t seem to form a complete sentence, though, and Elaine hadn’t yet let go of his hand. “Um, Elaine...”
She grinned and pulled him, completely unsuspecting, into a chokehold. “Guybrush Ulysses Threepwood! You told me that curse wasn’t anything to worry about! Did you actually ask the Voodoo Lady about it or did you just tell me you did?”
Guybrush tried to reply, but it only came out as a confused and desperate-sounding “squawk.” Elaine continued, undaunted.
“You and your...antics,” she said, her tone more than a little accusatory. Guybrush winced, still struggling to relieve some of the pressure she was putting on his windpipe. “If it hadn’t been for that curse, neither of us would’ve been turned into ghosts! And we probably wouldn’t’ve been stuck with LeChuck for seventeen years!”
He squawked again, which Elaine somehow managed to interpret that as a signal that he wanted to say something. She dropped him to the ground with a distinct lack of gentleness. “What?”
“I--” he coughed, taking in a deep breath of air--“What are you talking about?” He frowned. This couldn’t be Elaine, he reasoned. Yet she seemed real enough...
“The curse,” she snapped back, shaking her head. “‘The hands of Midas.’ I didn’t forget, but you obviously did.”
That was enough to jog his memory. He winced again, rubbing his eyes. “Oh, geez. Elaine, I--I swear, the Voodoo Lady told me it wasn’t real. Then again, there’s a lot of things she ‘forgot’ to tell me the last time I talked to her.” He sighed. “I thought the curse would turn us all into gold statues or something. And I mean, the avalanche and everything--I thought I really was dead.”
Elaine relaxed, sliding down the wall to sit next to him. “Well, you were wrong.”
She reached out and straightened his shirt collar, which had gotten ruffled in their argument. “I’ve been meaning to say that for seventeen years.”
“Glad to see you remembered me,” he grumbled, looking away.
“Just because I’ve been wanting to yell at you doesn’t mean I didn't miss you, Guybrush.” She got her arm around him and hugged him, this time. He smiled and made to kiss her, but she held up a hand to stop him. “We still have to deal with LeChuck, plunderbunny.”
He groaned. “Yeah, right...” Suddenly a thought came to him, and he bit his lower lip, a knot of fear slowly curling its way into his stomach. “Hey, Elaine?”
She was already on her feet and picking up her sword again. “What?”
“If we weren’t really dead...then Mena didn’t resurrect us, did she?”
The knot tightened so suddenly it was almost painful. “She thought she did, though...she thought she could use the talisman to control the dead. But all she really did was break a curse.”
Elaine’s eyes widened as she caught on to what he was thinking. “Find her,” she said, her voice strained. “If we’re lucky she’s still looking for you, or she’s lost, or--LeChuck’s grand chamber’s down the passage and to the right. It’s at the end of a long hall, probably guarded. Get there before she does. I’ll...I’ll try to keep the guards distracted, or something.” She took off at a run, and Guybrush didn’t hesitate in following suit.