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The Second Element II: Through A Glass Darkly
By 1


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Act Five: A Fist In The Eye

Armena smiled at LeChuck as meekly as she could possibly manage. “Yes,” she said, keeping her eyes on the ground, “I’m really sorry about that, you know, the whole escaping thing...but I’m sure that LaGrande ghost can find her. She can’t have gotten far.”

“Ye think so, do ye?” LeChuck strode closer to her, his feet smashing against the stone floor with every step. “The last time this happened, she nearly escaped for good! Ye don’t want that ta happen this time, now do ye?” His dark eyes flickered with anger.

“Um, no.” She cleared her throat and clenched her hand tighter around the talisman. “I just...well, I’m sure they’ll catch her.”

LeChuck snorted. He walked back over to the center of the room, where a massive stone throne rested. It looked to be just a shadow of its former glory, though, as it was marked by numerous chips and dents. As LeChuck cracked his knuckles (the sound echoed in the massive cavern; Armena winced) and rested his hands in exactly the spot where most of the chips were, she saw why. She glanced back at the half-open doors behind her. Guards had taken up positions there once again, and all was quiet.

“Did ye have somethin’ ta tell me, or were ye just showin’ up here ta bother me?”

She glanced back at LeChuck, then at the doors again. If she wanted to, she could probably escape right now, find her parents and get their help before she ended up dead...but the talisman, still cool in her hand, made her think otherwise. After all, she thought, I brought five people back from the dead. It can’t be that hard to do the reverse.

“I’m waitin’, lass.” He paused, then added, “Ye look kinda familiar...have we met?”

Armena looked up at him and smiled. “You sank my ship a few days ago.”

LeChuck chuckled. “So ye didn’t end up as shark bait after all, eh? And what would an apprentice like ye be doin’ out on th’open sea?”

She quickly remembered the story she’d told Largo and repeated it, with some embellishment, to LeChuck. “I was out hunting for Threepwood,” she said, spitting on the ground for added emphasis. “And actually it was lucky for me you attacked us--I got his trust, and his ship, and then I...well, I took care of him.”

LeChuck sat in silence for a very long time. Then, slowly, he got to his feet and began circling her, towering over her. “Are ye tryin’ ta tell me,” he began, “that a little girl like yerself got rid of Threepwood?”

She bit her lower lip to keep from smiling. “I told you, I took care of him. I’ve got his ship and his crew out by the docks if you want proof.”

LeChuck didn’t seem very impressed, though. If anything, he looked annoyed. “I’ve been tryin’ ta get rid o’him for years, and then someone like ye comes along and takes care of it! Where’s the fun in that, I tell ye?” He looked down at her again, this time with a faint air of curiosity. “How’d ye do it, lass?”

“Oh. Um. Well...I’ve got this...um, well...” She took a step backwards, trying to get out of the circle LeChuck had trapped her in. When he sensed her trying to back off, perhaps towards the doors, he simply widened his steps.

“Out with it, lass,” he growled lowly.

“Um...”



***


Guybrush screeched to a halt at the end of the hall. The doors to the chamber Elaine had described were partway open--through them he could see LeChuck circling, and a tall, blonde-haired figure who had to be Armena--but there were four guards outside. And he was unarmed. It was a miracle the guards hadn’t seen him yet; their attention was mostly on what was going on inside the room.

He watched as Armena tried to make an escape but was cut off by LeChuck. Guybrush shuddered--he’d only grown taller and more intimidating during the time he’d spent as “Commodore.”

He took another, hesitant step forward, wary of being seen by the guards. They didn’t take their eyes off the scene going on inside. He was about to take another step forward when Elaine tore past him, running, and with no attempt made at secrecy. She shot Guybrush a look of pure contempt over her shoulder as she went.

Elaine came to a quiet halt in front of the guards, clearing her throat. Their heads snapped back around to stare at her. “Hey...aren’t you supposed to be a ghost?” one asked, tilting his head to one side. Elaine gave him a faintly amused look.

“I guess LeChuck didn’t hire you for your brains.”

“Hey!”

She smiled in a sickeningly sweet manner and took off running down another hall, yelling for them to catch her if they could. All four of them rose to the bait--they ran after her with swords drawn.

Guybrush’s path was clear, but he hesitated again, wondering if Elaine might not need his help. The entire place was now swarming with LeChuck’s men--if she wasn’t careful... He took a deep breath. She can take care of herself, he thought, shaking his head. Mena, on the other hand... LeChuck now had her by the front of her shirt, a sight that made Guybrush’s stomach twist into painful knots.

He sprinted down the corridor towards the chamber as fast as he could manage.



***


Armena wiped the dust from her eyes and finally gave in. “All right,” she said, “I’ll tell you.”

LeChuck smiled and backed off a few feet. “Aye? And?”

Guybrush sprinted into the chamber just as Armena was about to open her hand and show LeChuck the talisman. LeChuck didn’t notice his entrance--all his attention was fixed on Armena, still dangling about a foot off the ground. Armena saw him run in out of the corner of her eye but kept her mouth shut, waiting for him to draw attention to himself.

“Um, you know what? Never mind.” She smiled at LeChuck and then pulled the talisman in towards her chest, clutching it in her fist as tightly as she could.

LeChuck’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Give it to me, lass--whatever it be.”

“Um, no, really...you don’t want it. I don’t think it even works right anyway, and--” she stopped as LeChuck’s free hand moved towards her. Before she knew what was happening, LeChuck had grabbed onto her forearm and, wrapping his rough stone fingers around it, snapped Armena’s arm like it was nothing more than a twig.

Armena couldn’t help it--she screamed. Her vision disappeared into a swirl of little black dots, and she certainly couldn’t keep her grip on the talisman anymore. It clattered to the floor.

LeChuck smiled at her. “Thank ye, lass.” He’d just bent down to pick it up when someone slammed into his waist.

He looked down at Guybrush, who was standing just inches away, rubbing his nose. LeChuck’s eyes widened, but for the most part he managed to hide his surprise. “Threepwood,” he grumbled, then looked at Armena. “I guess ye weren’t tellin’ me the truth, now were ye, lass?”

Armena shrugged, wincing as the movement jostled her broken arm and sent black spots dancing across her vision again. “I told you, I took care of him.”

He stared for a minute before he finally figured out what she meant. “D’aaaargh!”

Cursing violently, LeChuck tossed Armena down to the ground--she landed on Guybrush, who then likewise fell over. Guybrush’s hand instinctively wrapped around her broken arm, trying to protect it.

“Are you okay?”

“What does it look like? No!” Armena disentangled herself from him and sat up just as LeChuck bent over them with a murderous look about him. The talisman lay abandoned on the floor behind him.

Grinning, LeChuck grabbed Guybrush by the shirt collar and lifted him up off the floor. “I don’t know how the lass managed to resurrect ye, Threepwood, but she’ll be havin’ ta do it all over again when I’m through with ye! First ye get yerself resurrected by some fool girl, then ye come in here, and then ye try an’ attack me! I beat ye, Dripweed, and ye know it! Why’re ye even botherin’ anymore?”

Guybrush grabbed onto LeChuck’s arm--his hand didn’t come anywhere close to making it all the way around even LeChuck’s wrist--and started frantically pushing, trying to get out of LeChuck’s grasp. “Because,” he said at last, and left it at that. LeChuck just rolled his eyes.

“Ye never were much good with them retorts, Dripweed.”

“Threepwood!”

LeChuck opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off by a bullet that ricocheted off his arm, narrowly missing Guybrush. It pinged off harmlessly towards the back of the cavern, echoing in the silence that suddenly developed. The bullet only took a tiny chip out of LeChuck’s arm and probably did more damage to his pride than anything else, but he howled anyway and dropped Guybrush to the ground. Guybrush winced.

LeChuck turned toward the doors, where Mad Johnathan the Incapable stood, his pistol still smoking. “Who the hell’re ye?”

“Somebody with really bad aim,” John answered, shaking the pistol like it was all its fault. “I’ve really got to work on that...”

Ignoring Guybrush for the time being, LeChuck stepped over to John and pulled the pistol out of his hands. “I’m gettin’ just a little sick of yer little friends, Sheepgood. But at least this one’s got the sense ta try and kill ye.”

John made a grab at the pistol, which LeChuck immediately threw out of reach. It clattered away into the dark, shadowy recesses of the cavern. He dived after it, much to LeChuck’s amusement.

Armena carefully--she winced every time her arm moved--picked herself up off the floor and made her way over to Guybrush. “I have an idea,” she said quietly, keeping a wary eye on LeChuck. “Give me the talisman, I can get it to--”

“No,” Guybrush answered, sitting up. “You’ve already broken one arm. Besides, it--”

“What’re ye two up to, eh?” LeChuck leaned over them both, smiling darkly. Armena shrank away from him.

“Oh, um, nothing.”

LeChuck smirked at her, in particular. He opened his mouth to say something, then stopped, looking back and forth between Armena and Guybrush. Armena felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“Threepwood,” LeChuck began slowly, “that lass o’yers...she’d be about seventeen now, wouldn’t she?”

“Well, yeah...” He looked over at Armena, who hastily shook her head. “If she were alive,” Guybrush added, composing his face into a mask of grief. LeChuck, however, would not be deterred.

“And ye, lass--ye’d be about seventeen now, wouldn’t ye?”

Armena bit down on her lower lip and didn’t say anything. LeChuck reached a hand out and, brushing her tangled hair away from her face, grabbed her chin. He held her there for half a moment before he jerked his hand away as if she were somehow poisonous. The recognition in his eyes was plainly, painfully obvious.

“She’s not the one you want, LeChuck.” Guybrush pulled himself to his feet, forcing LeChuck to take a step back.

“Oh no, Sheepgood--I’m thinkin’ she’s exactly who I’ve been lookin’ for.” He reached for her again; she shrank away. LeChuck laughed. “Ye’ve got a bloody coward for a daughter, Threepwood! She must take after ye.” Before Guybrush could even respond or think of a retort, LeChuck grabbed Armena by her shirt again, paying no heed to her broken arm. She had to bite down hard on her lower lip to keep from crying out.

“LeChuck!” LeChuck paused and looked over at Guybrush with a distinctly annoyed air about him.

“If ye don’t want ta watch the lass die, Sheepgood, I can have my guards take ye outside.”

Guybrush shook his head. Desperate, he scooped up the talisman from the floor and held it out towards LeChuck. “No, no--just--just take this. Please. You can use it to turn me back into a ghost, or get rid of me, or anything you want! It works, just look at me--I’m alive again. Just please...let Mena go.”

LeChuck looked at the talisman with more than a little well-placed suspicion. “Ye’d let me kill ye, eh?” He grinned, his dark eyes lighting up with a sort of sickening inner fire. “How about if I kill ye in a different way? I think I’ve still got that voodoo doll of ye somewhere...”

Guybrush shuddered but held his ground. “Whatever; that’s fine. Just let her go, let her go back to Lucre or wherever she wants to go.”

“Dad, you can’t--”

“Yes, Mena, I can.” He smiled at her weakly, then returned all his attention back to LeChuck. “Set her down, and I’ll give you the talisman.”

LeChuck considered this for a moment. Then, “No. Ye give me that bit o’glass first--now, or I’ll kill the lass and then take it from ye!” He shook Armena in emphasis, not caring as she pulled her arm close to her chest to keep from injuring it further.

“All right,” Guybrush said, sighing. “Take it.”

LeChuck quickly reached out with his free hand and snatched the talisman out of Guybrush’s hand. He didn’t bother with any sort of care or gentleness; his rough fingers almost scraped Guybrush’s own hand raw.

“Now let her go,” Guybrush said evenly, clenching his hand. A tiny bit of blood seeped out around his fingers.

LeChuck loosened his grip on Armena, but not nearly enough to let her go. He smiled at Guybrush in a distinctly sickening manner. “Sorry, Sheepgood. I’ve got that piece o’glass, and I’ve got yer daughter now, too. What’ve ye got? Nothin’! And I’m not about ta let any lass o’yers just walk right outta here.” He paused, and it seemed as if he’d suddenly been seized by another idea.

“How about if I use this ‘talisman’ on her, eh? What would it do then?”

Armena and Guybrush exchanged frantic, confused glances. “I...I don’t know,” Armena finally admitted. “I’ve never used it that way before.”

LeChuck’s smile only grew wider. “Well, we’ll just have ta be findin’ out, won’t we?”

Guybrush jumped forward, trying to stop him somehow, but LeChuck was already moving to touch the talisman to Armena’s skin. She, however, had other ideas. She reached out, struggling to ignore the pain in her other arm, and grabbed the talisman right out of LeChuck’s hand. LeChuck moved to stop her, but too late. She had a strong hold of it, and she pushed it into LeChuck’s chest with as much strength as she could possibly muster.

As the talisman came into contact with both Armena’s skin and LeChuck’s cracked stone form, it suddenly began to glow with such intensity that Guybrush and Armena both had to look away from it. It dwarfed all the lights in the chamber--and, abruptly, put them all out. For a moment, LeChuck and Armena both seemed to flicker in and out of existence, as if locked in some strange sort of battle of wills. Then Armena, whole and solid, finally fell to the floor as LeChuck’s hand became completely incorporeal. Somehow, though, he still managed to hold onto the talisman.

LeChuck rematerialized for a brief instant, as if fighting the inevitable. He glared at Guybrush with such fury and intensity that the mighty pirate backed up almost into the wall in an attempt to avoid that stare. “I hope ye suffer, too, Threepwood--I hope ye know what it’s like ta never have the one thing ye want most! I hope ye know what it’s like ta lose everythin’ ye ever wanted! Forever!”

Guybrush just rolled his eyes, and with an ear-splitting pop, LeChuck disappeared. Only a very distant “D’aaaargh!” could be heard, fading away into nothingness. The talisman clattered to the floor.

An acrid smell of smoke filled the air as all the torches flickered back to life at once. Guybrush coughed--the air was full of dust, a leftover remnant of LeChuck.

He looked at the talisman. It lay on the floor, covered in a thick layer of dust, once again appearing murky and harmless. When Guybrush bent down to pick it up, though, it was hot to the touch. “Ow!” He jumped back, jamming his burned finger into his mouth.

“That was...interesting,” Armena said, slowly--very slowly--picking herself up off the floor. Guybrush hurried over to help her.

“You get used to it after about the second time.” He chuckled weakly. “How’d you know that would work?”

Armena shook her head. “I didn’t. I just...I had to do something, and that was the only idea I had...”

“Yeah, I think you definitely take after me a little too much. And I thought my plan was nuts.” Guybrush shook his head and started for the door, gently leading Armena in that direction as well. “Come on, we’d better get you out of here. And find Elaine, too.”

They were both, however, stopped short by the sound of a gun being cocked. Guybrush groaned. “You know, this is really just starting to get ridiculous...”

“Humor me.” John motioned them forward. “Come on, I need to get out of here. You two walk on ahead and get attacked by any guards that might be interested in stopping me, okay?”

As they moved forward, Guybrush looked at Armena and sighed. “I really wish you’d left him where you found him, Mena.”

“Sorry...”

They’d just gotten out into the passageway--which was surprisingly lacking in any sort of guards--when John stopped. It took Guybrush and Armena both a minute to realize he wasn’t following them and turn around.

Elaine had somehow snuck up behind John from the hall running perpendicular to the passageway they were in and was now holding a gun to his head--and the sword in her other hand hardly looked friendly, either. “I think you should put that gun down now,” she said calmly. John wisely did as he was told for once.

She kicked it far out of his reach and pushed him forward, almost sending him toppling into Guybrush. “I’ve got the guards chasing themselves in circles looking for me. They shouldn’t be much to worry about, since I guess LeChuck’s gone, and--” she stopped, noticing the way Armena was cradling her right arm--“and what happened to you?” She shot Guybrush a look.

Guybrush let go of John briefly to hold his hands up in surrender. “What? It’s not my fault!”

“Yeah, right,” John snorted out of the corner of his mouth. He started to make a break for it, but he didn’t get very far before Guybrush had grabbed hold of him again.

Elaine just sighed and rolled her eyes. “Well, we’d better get that taken care of right away...we’ll get you back to the ship, Mena, and then worry about those guards.” She handed Guybrush her sword, then pressed the talisman--it was cool, almost cold now--into Armena’s left hand. It was still covered with a thin film of dust that wouldn’t come off, no matter how hard Armena tried to wipe it away. “You’d better hang onto that,” Elaine said. “We’ll be needing it before long.”


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