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The Second Element III: And Broken Fragments
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Act Two: Our Ruined House

“Land ho!”

Armena came up from below deck, stretching in the warm afternoon sunlight. That light quickly disappeared behind a cloud, though, bringing a scowl to her face. Scabb Island was just coming into view off their port side. “It’s about time,” she muttered, heading for the rail.’

Guybrush was standing at the rail, too, watching as the island came into sharper focus. He hadn’t seen it in years, and it had changed dramatically since then: Woodtick was still there, but it had been “fortified” over the years by the shattered remnants of LeChuck’s ships...and any others that had the misfortune of straying too close to the small town. The island had been stripped of much of its vegetation for defense purposes, and it had never quite found the strength to go grow back. The swamp, however, flourished, and now occupied about a third of the island.

“I didn’t know they meant ‘cess pit’ literally,” Guybrush said, wrinkling his nose. “If it’s this bad this far away...”

Armena nodded, pinching her nose shut. “This shouldn’t take very long. I hope.”

“I hope so too. Elaine’ll kill me if the smell gets into my clothes.” He stopped and fell silent, staring down at the water below. Armena cleared her throat.

“I’d better go help the navigator, or he’ll steer us right into those ships,” she said, and hurried away.

The navigator, such as he was, was actually the lookout. Both the original navigator and the lookout had tried to quit their jobs the moment Guybrush and Armena set foot onboard, and it was only after some incessant nagging and begging on Guybrush’s part that they agreed to switch jobs, “for variety.” It wasn’t going very well; they were two days behind schedule and had nearly run into a couple of hostile pirate ships along the way.

“Go around the ships,” Armena told him, “unless you want them to add us to their little collection.”

The navigator shook his head and turned the wheel. “Look, lady, d’you want to navigate?”

“Well, no--”

“Then shut up and let me do my job!”

Armena shrank back a step. “All right, fine. Put us in by those docks, there. And try not to wreck anything.”

He grumbled something unrepeatable and stared sullenly at the wheel. Armena returned to the rail and watched as the ship steered around the fortifications and towards Scabb’s only docks. Lying far to the east of Woodtick, they were old, long, and twisted, and narrow enough that only one person could walk along them at a time. They had originally been built only to house one boat, but now there were five anchored along them--including, Armena was relieved to see, the Persephone.

“Bring us up alongside that ship there,” she called back to the navigator.

“Yeah, yeah...I’ll try not to hit the docks either, Your Majesty.”

Guybrush looked over at the navigator. “Morale problems much?”

“You could say that.” She rubbed her temples and sighed. “I really hope this doesn’t take too long. I don’t know how much more of this I can stand.”

As soon as they dropped anchor (narrowly avoiding several collisions with the other ships), someone from the Persephone who’d been making repairs to the mizzenmast dropped down onto their deck. Armena and Guybrush both jumped, but it was Guybrush who collected himself first.


The other man grinned. “Aye, that’d be me, cap’n. Glad to see your memory’s not going.” He peered around Guybrush and caught sight of Armena, eyes widening. “What’re you doing here?”

Armena’s back stiffened and she folded her arms across her chest defensively. “There’s something I need to get from--from your captain. I assume he’s around here somewhere?”

Estevan wiped some sweat from his brow and shrugged. “He’s not here,” he answered quickly. “Down at the Bloody Lip, last I saw. I dunno, he could be anywhere.”

Armena frowned. “Right.”

“Right,” he echoed, his brown eyes darting from side to side. “Well, that mizzenmast isn’t going to fix herself, so it’s back to work. Cap’n,” he added, nodding to Guybrush. Then he hopped over the siderail and down onto the dock, making his way back to the Persephone.

Guybrush raised an eyebrow at Armena. “He doesn’t seem to like you much.”

“The feeling’s starting to be mutual,” she grumbled. “I think he was lying.”

“Why would he?” Guybrush glanced over to Persephone’s empty deck, then back at Armena again. “Wait,” he began, a note of suspicion in his voice, “does this have anything to do with why you left your ship in such a hurry? Enough of a hurry that you left the talisman behind?”

“Would you quit asking me about that?”

“Well, maybe if you weren’t being so secretive about it...”

“Look,” she said, sighing, “I told you the whole story. What do you want, a written report?”

Guybrush frowned. “Why’d you leave the talisman behind?”

Armena leaned against the railing, her arms still folded across her chest. “Does that really matter anymore?”

“Well, no, but...”

“Good!” Smiling, she jumped away from the railing. “Now, if you don’t think Estevan’s lying, why don’t you go down to the Bloody Lip and see if you can’t find Bill? I’m going to sneak onboard the ship and see if I can’t find anything.” When he looked as if he might interrupt with another question, Armena quickly shooed him in the direction of the gangplank. “Go! Don’t worry, I won’t get caught.”

Guybrush cast her a doubtful look, but figured that if he protested any further, she might well throw him off the ship. “All right,” he said slowly, “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Don’t get into too much trouble.”

She smiled brightly. “Don’t worry about it.”


Guybrush walked the long and winding trail from the docks to Woodtick as fast as he could, keeping a wary eye on his surroundings. He found it more than a little suspicious that there was nobody out and about on the footpaths, and he jumped at the sound of wind rustling through the tall grass more than once. But he made it into town in one piece, crossing the bridge that marked Woodtick’s only entrance and hoping there were no Largo LaGrande wannabes lurking around. Woodtick itself didn’t appear to have changed much, except that a few new wrecks had been added, and the ocean below stank worse than ever. The fortifications had been put together such that water didn’t flow in and out of the bay quickly, allowing bacteria to grow and thrive.

The moment Guybrush started down the bridges that made up Woodtick’s streets, though, Guybrush saw why nobody was out on the paths--they were all hanging around here. Pirates lurked in shadowy corners and any other place there was room, shoulders hunched, bottles of grog or lit cigars in hand. And they were all staring at him.

Guybrush swallowed and kept walking, carefully not making eye contact. He didn’t want to provoke any of them. One group in particular seemed interested in him--their leader, a skinny bald man with a patch over his left eye, was staring at him intently. As Guybrush passed by them, the man signaled to his cohorts, and they stepped out into the dim afternoon light, falling into step behind Guybrush. So it was that Guybrush covered the last few feet between himself and the Bloody Lip in just a few seconds, diving down the hatch and praying they wouldn’t follow.

When he landed--with a lot of bumps, scratches, and some bruised pride--on the floor in front of the stairs, he quickly stood up, dusted himself off, and made a quick survey of the bar’s interior. All of the creepy pirates seemed to be outside; there was only one drunk snoring on the floor in the corner and someone plunking out notes at random on the bar’s piano. Guybrush smiled.

“Looks like the bartender finally hired a new monkey.”

“Oh, that’s hilarious, Fripweed.”

He walked across the room and sat down on the piano bench beside Carla, leaning against the wall. She didn’t look up at him, but to his surprise, she appeared to be sober. “I know the drinks are bad around here, but I would’ve figured that you’d melted your tastebuds down a long time ago.”

She hit a low C that made his teeth rattle, glaring at him out of the corner of her eye. “I don’t feel like drinking,” she answered sullenly. Ignoring the vaguely shocked look on his face, she continued, “The bartender quit and wandered off somewhere anyway.”

“Not like that stopped him,” Guybrush said, motioning to the drunk in the corner. Carla only snorted.

“He was like that when I got here.” She shook her head, returning her attention back to the piano. “I think he’s comatose.”

Guybrush peered over at the drunk again. Her assessment struck him as fairly accurate. “So, um, Carla...”

“Even when I’m sober, he bugs me,” she muttered, plunking out a couple of high notes. “What, Fripweed?”

“You haven’t seen Bill around here lately, have you? Estevan said he was supposed to be lurking around here somewhere.”

She snorted again and let her palms slam down on the piano, creating a screeching discord that had them both wincing. “You want to hear something real funny?”

Guybrush frowned. “Try me.”


Armena slid down over the side of her own ship, clinging to the shadows and keeping a wary eye on Estevan. He was tangled up in a sail that had gotten in his way, though, and didn’t look as if he’d spot her anytime soon. Smiling, Armena crept over to the Persephone--dodging rotting planks along the way--and crawled in through one of the open windows.

She ended up in the scullery, which was--fortunately--empty. As quietly as she could manage, she tiptoed over to the door, opened it, and peered out. This part of the ship seemed empty, too. Armena frowned for a moment, but decided it was nothing more than a bit of good luck and headed for the stairs.

Just before she came up above deck, Armena paused again, taking a quick survey of the scene. A couple of crewmen were dozing near the helm, and Estevan still seemed to be tangled up with that sail. She took a deep breath and bolted for the captain’s cabin, pushing the door open and dashing inside, hopefully before anybody saw her.

“Sneaking around on my own ship,” she muttered under her breath, looking around.

The cabin was empty, to say nothing of a complete mess. The bed hadn’t been made, papers and maps were scattered all over the floor, and there were a few articles of clothing peeking out from under the bed that looked as if they’d petrified. Looks like Bill hasn’t gotten any better on the “cleaning” thing, Armena thought, forcing a desk drawer open. It was empty and covered with a thin film of dust. The other drawers were empty too, though not dusty. Frowning, Armena started picking through the things on the floor. And when that search likewise turned up nothing of interest--such as the talisman--she resorted to gingerly picking up the clothes on the floor, trying not to touch them too much or disturb anything that might be living in them. But that, too, turned up nothing.

Armena dusted off her hands and took another survey of the room. She didn’t think she’d missed anything--and she was surprised that Bill wasn’t here, or that he hadn’t come barging in on her by now. “Something’s definitely not right,” she said, sighing. “I just hope Dad found something out.” She turned around and slipped back out the door.


“Cap’n got kidnapped about two days ago. Some ship cruised in with no markings and no colors. Attacked all the ships sitting in the docks, grabbed him and ran.” Carla shrugged. “No idea why.”

Guybrush’s eyes widened. Parts of that story sounded just a little too familiar for comfort. “ you know what direction the ship came from?”

She tapped a few of the piano keys experimentally. “Not sure. If I had to guess, Lucre maybe. Why do you care? And why’re you looking for Bill Duncan, anyway?”

“It’s...complicated,” Guybrush answered, scratching his head. Really complicated.

Carla snorted. “I’ll bet it is.”

Silence fell for a few moments, broken only by a handful of discordant notes from the piano and a few snores from the drunk in the corner. Finally, Guybrush cleared his throat and said, “Hey, Carla...?”


“If Bill was kidnapped...why did Estevan tell us he was here?”

Carla shrugged, tapping the middle C key over and over. “He doesn’t want anybody finding out we don’t have a captain. None of us really want to get back to work. Besides...we didn’t do much to defend the ship during the fight. He’s afraid we might look bad.”

“You already do,” Guybrush answered, grinning despite himself. She slammed her hands down on the piano keys as hard as she could, and looked for a moment as if she might do the same to his head.

“When I want your opinion,” she growled, “I’ll ask for it, Fripweed!”

The drunk in the corner snorted as if in complete agreement.


Guybrush fled the Bloody Lip shortly after that, leaving Carla to her piano-playing. A few of the pirates gave him more than a passing glance as he went by, but he was moving so fast that none of them seemed to want to bother with him.

Once safely out of town, though, he didn’t slow down. He hurried all the way back to the ship, hoping Armena hadn’t gotten into trouble while he was gone.

To his relief, Armena was safe and sound, pacing around the deck waiting for him. She didn’t even wait until he was halfway up the gangplank before she ran to the railing to meet him and blurted out, “Bill’s gone and so’s the talisman.”

Guybrush nodded, though he frowned to hear that the talisman was missing, too. “Carla says he was kidnapped. By the same guys who attacked Lucre Harbor, I think.”

She sighed, rubbing her temples. “Does she have any idea who they are?”


“Or where they went?”

“Not a clue.” Guybrush leaned back against the railing next to her, staring out at the open ocean. “But whoever they are, they move pretty fast.”

“Either that or our ‘navigator’ moves slower than we thought he did,” she answered sullenly. After a moment she added, “So what now?”

“You’re asking me?” He blinked at her and tried to come up with a plan, fast. Armena only shrugged.

“Well, you are my father and all that.” She began absentmindedly picking splinters out of the unfinished railing. “But if you don’t have any ideas...well, we could always go back to Lucre and talk to the Voodoo Lady again. She might have an idea where the talisman went. If she hasn’t packed everything yet.”

“You can talk to her, you mean.”

“Yeah. Sure.”

She was just about to give the order to make sail when someone smashed into a stack of crates at the end of the docks, toppling them all. The man hardly seemed fazed by it, though, as he continued stumbling drunkenly down the narrow walkway, singing some song or another in French, extremely off-key.

“...mais n’y perdons jamais la raison, on va...on va...”

He stumbled closer to the Persephone, still singing, though he couldn’t seem to remember enough of the words to make the song make sense. Armena snorted and rolled her eyes, brushing him off, while Guybrush yelped and dove behind the nearest available barrel. Armena arched one eyebrow at him.

“Um, Dad...”

“ l’on court les rues à saute-moutons!”

He peered out at her, though his attention was focused mainly on the drunk, who was staggering ever closer. “What?”

“Um, is there any particular reason why you’re hiding behind a barrel?”

“Him,” Guybrush answered, pointing at the drunk. “I think it’s Cyrano de Salon. He must’ve followed me from the Bloody Lip...I should’ve known that was him in the corner...he must be trying to do me in again.” He dove down behind the barrel again as Cyrano slammed into the prow of the ship and then continued on.

“J’en ai tant bu de ce...ce...ah, zeut!”

Armena glanced between her father and Cyrano, frowning. “I don’t get it...who’s Cyrano de...whatever. Who is he?”

“Some kind of voodoo priest--only completely insane.”

“Voodoo priest?” Armena’s blue eyes lit up. Guybrush caught that look and, knowing what it meant, immediately began waving his arms, trying to dissuade her without coming out of hiding.

“Oh no no no...Mena, trust me, you don’t want to go anywhere near him,” he said, peeking up from over the top of the barrel. “He’s crazy! He’ll probably curse you with some sort of horribly disfiguring voodoo curse! And he’s French!”

She only rolled her eyes, hardly convinced. “He’s drunk--you can’t curse anybody when you’re drunk.”

“Yeah, but I bet he’ll--” He stopped suddenly, frowning. “ would you know that?”

“I was just guessing,” she answered, smiling as sweetly as possible. “Now, since we have a voodoo priest right here, I think I’ll go ask him for advice. This’ll save us a trip back to Lucre.” Without waiting for a reply, she hurried down the gangplank. Guybrush watched her go, sighing.

Armena didn’t have to go far to catch up with Cyrano. He’d gotten stuck in a sort of cul-de-sac created by several stacks of crates and seemed to be having issues getting out. He was still singing, though under his breath, and it was punctuated by mutterings directed at the offending crates.

Armena cleared her throat gently to get his attention without startling him. “Excuse me?”

He whipped around and offered her a toast with an imaginary glass. “Amis, buvons!” Then he seemed to come back to his senses a bit and offered her a bow that nearly sent him sprawling onto the docks. “Can I help you, mademoiselle?”

“I think so,” she answered, taking a step back as the smell of grog on his breath nearly overwhelmed her. “Are you Cyrano de Salon?”

“C’est moi!” he cried, offering her another imaginary toast. Armena, not understanding a word of French, merely blinked at him.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Indeed, mademoiselle. Now tell me, what brings you here? ...Better yet, what brings me here?” He paused, looking around. “Where am I?”

She sighed, doing her best to be patient with him. “There’s a curse that’s been going around lately. And we--I--don’t know what to make of it, and the thing that might be able to reverse the curse was stolen. I thought you might be able to offer some advice...being an, erm, fabulous voodoo priest and all.”

But Cyrano was only half-listening to her, squinting his bloodshot brown eyes as if concentrating. “A curse? C’est vrai? You know, mademoiselle, I was once very good with curses.”

“Really?” She wondered for a moment if maybe he wasn’t the one who’d started this curse in the first place--but then brushed that idea aside, figuring he’d been drinking too much for too long to do anything resembling voodoo. “Well, if you have any ideas about this one...I’m sure you’ve run into it--”

“This is no doubt the work of my nephew,” he interrupted, scowling, “espèce d’idiot that he is.” Armena leaned forward hopefully, thinking she’d finally caught some sort of lead at last--but then he continued, “Of course, so far as I know, he does not know anything about curses...mais if he kept that ability to detect them, as son mère insisted he had...” The rest of his sentence trailed off into unintelligible muttering, mostly in French.

Armena broke him from his thoughts when she cleared her throat again. “What’s your nephew’s name?”

He stared at her incredulously for a moment, then answered, “Eligo de Salon--though I suppose he uses his father’s name, as neither of them has any common sense. Eligo LaGrande, then, mademoiselle.”

That set her back on her heels, fighting hard to keep the look of recognition off her face. Not that Cyrano would have noticed in the first place--he was too busy getting into an argument with one of the crates that was still in his way. He turned back to her suddenly, though, stumbling towards her.

“Does mademoiselle know mon neveu?”

“Eligo?” When he nodded, she continued. “We’ve...met.”

“Ah!” Cyrano slapped his forehead, sighing dramatically--whether for emphasis or in all seriousness, Armena couldn’t tell. “He has not yet managed to get himself killed, then. Horrible news! Come, mademoiselle, I do believe this occasion calls for a drink. Perhaps a whole bottle. Amis, buvons!”

At which point he passed out at her feet.


“You are completely insane.”

“Says the man who’s been hiding under a bed for the last ten minutes.”

“I told you, I got stuck! I would’ve been out of there in five if I hadn’t--”

“Whatever,” Armena grumbled, closing the door behind her. “It doesn’t matter anymore, unless you’re going to spend the rest of the night under a bed.”

Guybrush peered over her shoulder at the closed door and folded his arms across his chest. “I might,” he shot back. “What were you thinking, bringing him onboard?”

She pushed past him and headed up the stairs, taking a deep breath of air as soon as he was above deck--though she regretted it the minute she remembered Scabb’s lingering aroma. Coughing, she turned back around to face her father, who had followed her up. “He’s a drunk, he’s harmless. I couldn’t just leave him out on the docks to get robbed and murdered.”

“Harmless?” Guybrush stared at her. “Oh, sure, he’s perfectly harmless. He’s only the reason you didn’t have a normal life!”

She raised one eyebrow. “Normal?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Not really.” Without waiting for a reply, she headed straight for the captain’s cabin. Guybrush followed after her and found her standing by the table, unrolling a map of the Tri-Island Area. “I’ve been thinking about what we should do next,” she said absently. “Maybe we should go to Phatt Island...I’m beginning to wonder if Eligo hasn’t escaped from jail. If he is behind this...then again...” She sighed, frowning at the map. “It’d be worth checking anyway, I suppose.”

Guybrush folded his arms across his chest and matched her frown with one of his own. “I’m not running all over the Caribbean, and I’m definitely not going to Phatt Island. Scabb’s been bad enough.”

She sighed again, looking up from the map. “Then you think of something. Because I sure can’t.”

“We could start by throwing that crazy voodoo priest overboard and making a break for it,” he suggested. She glared at him. “Hey, it was only a suggestion...”

Armena rolled the map back up again and tossed it aside. “I give up. I have no idea where Bill might be, and no idea where to even start looking.” She rested her elbows on the table, hanging her head in her hands.

“Then I guess it’s back to Lucre,” Guybrush said. After a moment, he walked over to her and laid a reassuring arm across her shoulders. “No big deal. We’ll find him.”

“It’s not him I’m worried about,” she answered quickly, “it’s--”

The door burst open then and Cyrano de Salon strode in, straightening his robes and trying to untangle his long auburn hair. Guybrush immediately dove under the table, which only drew attention to him. Cyrano looked right at him and blinked a few times, forcing his bloodshot eyes to focus, before they glinted with recognition and he yelled, “You!”

Armena slid in between the two, blocking her father from view. “Um, Cyrano--”

“Monsieur de Salon to you, mademoiselle,” he corrected absently, motioning for her to move aside. “Now be away from here, you have a dangerously stupid man hiding under your table.”

“Right.” She rolled her eyes, ignoring a muffled protest from Guybrush. “I know. He’s my father. And if you could not hit him with any sort of horribly disfiguring curse or anything...well, I’d appreciate it.”

“Yeah, that’d be nice,” Guybrush added.

Cyrano snorted. “Mademoiselle, I doubt that votre père has gained any intelligence since the last time we had the misfortune of meeting, but I shall refrain from cursing him again, as you request, so long as he refrains from speaking in my presence.”

“Thank you,” Armena said, glancing back at Guybrush to make sure that he was willing to agree, too. He glared, but didn’t say anything, slowly climbing out from under the table.

“--And perhaps, this time, he will not so horribly bungle my plans.”

Armena turned back to Cyrano, blinked for a moment, then said, “You’re still not sober, are you.”

“On the contrary, mademoiselle. I long ago perfected the art of, as your unhygienic pirate friends like to say, ‘sobering up fast.’” He offered her a small, patronizing bow and an equally patronizing smile. “As for votre père, when I cursed him with les mains de Midas, it was my intent to teach him the consequences of being such an annoying, stupid little man. How he managed to break the curse--” and at this he glared at Guybrush-- “I do not know, but he did not do it soon enough. Apparently, both of us were looking for the same man, one Largo LaGrande. I was unable to find him before votre père did, and so I assume that he is either dead or still under the influence of les mains de Midas, which votre père undoubtedly passed onto him. As such, it became quite impossible for me to find him.”

Armena nodded, leaning back against the table. “He’s still alive, so far as we know--but nobody’s seen him for about six months. I think he’s--”

Guybrush poked her hard in the small of her back then, interrupting her train of thought. Armena whirled around, glaring. “Dad--”

He only put a finger to his lips, motioning for her not to reveal too much. She snorted and turned back around, stepping forward so that she was safely out of his reach. “Like I was saying,” she continued, ignoring the amused smile on Cyrano’s face, “I think Largo’s still under that, whatever you called it. But I don’t know where he could be. Nobody’s really been looking for him lately--we’ve been too busy putting the Caribbean back in order.”

Cyrano nodded to her politely. “I thank you for the information, mademoiselle, but I am afraid that it will be of no use to me.”

“But you just said--”

“I was looking for Monsieur LaGrande with the intention of bringing him back to his wife--ma soeur--and their child, whom he had chosen to abandon in his rush to exact revenge on Monsieur Threepwood. I cannot do that now, as I would only be bringing him back to a tombstone and a silly boy long since gone missing.” For a moment, his dark brown eyes almost seemed weary and grief-stricken, but he quickly composed himself once again. “As I have said, your information is of no use to me.”

“Oh.” Armena stared down at the floor, shifting her weight uncomfortably. “I’m....I’m sorry.”

He smiled. “Merci, mademoiselle. And if I may...I seem to remember that you wanted to know something about...a curse, n’est pas?” When she nodded, he continued, “I still believe that my nephew Eligo has something to do with it. He is, after all, his father’s son.”

“Um,” Guybrush interrupted, finally coming out from under the table, “don’t you think it’s possible Le--”

“There are worse curses than les mains de Midas, monsieur, and unless you put your words in the same dark, dusty place where you seem to keep your brain, I will not hesitate to use them.” Cyrano glared at Guybrush over Armena’s head. Guybrush flinched and fell silent, but returned the glare with one of his own.

Cyrano ignored it and returned his attention to Armena. “When he was staying on Vodun Island, Monsieur LaGrande used to mention an island I believe his family once lived on--Pierda Island, je pense. It is not so far--about two days’ journey straight east after you have left the Tri-Island Area. Not many know of its location, but I know for a fact that mon neveu knows where it is. He may have chosen to hide there if he is truly the guilty party. May I suggest, mademoiselle, that you look there for him?”

Armena nodded, trying to commit all of that to memory. “Thank you,” she said, moving for the door. “I don’t know if John--if Eligo--is behind all this, but it’s a place to start.” She paused in the doorway, looking out at the other ships moored along the docks. When she caught sight of Persephone, she couldn’t help but smile, turning back to Cyrano. “And I think I have a way to repay you for that information.”


Late that night, as their ship sailed away from Scabb Island as fast as it could, Guybrush and Armena leaned against the railing, watching another ship slowly disappearing in the other direction.

“I still say you’re insane,” Guybrush said, shaking his head. “Who knows what sort of trouble he’ll get into once he gets back to Vodun? He’ll probably get the ingredients for some horribly disfiguring voodoo spell and show up here to try it out on us.”

Armena watched the ocean moving below them for a minute or two before she answered. “He’s out of our hair for now, at least. Knowing Persephone’s crew and the curse they’re under, it’ll take them weeks to get to Vodun, if it’s as far out as you say. Besides, I didn’t really see anything wrong with him, anyway.”

“I told you, Mena, and he admitted it--he cursed me!”

“You were annoying him,” she replied calmly, not even bothering to look up. “Annoying voodoo priests isn’t a smart idea.”

“He was just looking for an excuse.”

“So you gave him one.”

He sighed, slowly shaking his head again. “You just don’t understand.”

“Or maybe you don’t.” She pushed away from the rail, staring at him. “I did the right thing.”

“Was leaving the talisman with Bill ‘the right thing,’ too?” he asked, returning her stare with one of his own. She didn’t offer him anything more than a thinly-veiled glare, though, as she stormed off.

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