GUYBRUSH, ELAINE AND GRIGNR
by Chris Ratcliff (ryback@fcmail.com)

In a dim stonewalled room scores of feet below ground, the gaunt sorcerer
flexed his fingers and muttered the final sentence of the spell.

Thin flutes of smoke wreathed up from the two glass jars laid on
the table in front of him, curled around his head, and pooled together
beneath the uneven, hacked-out ceiling. The air was close and still,
despite two low passages on either side that led up and out to the
warren-like maze of organic passages above. Here, save for the mutterings
of the sorcerer, there was total silence. Hundreds of feet above, snow lay
in ragged, discoloured clumps on the jagged spikes of the Rokian mountains.

The sorcerer came to the final word of the spell. It passed his
lips as the barest whisper, and immediately the room was dark. Two points
of light appeared in the glass jars. They slowly floated upward, along the
sinuous smoke trails, leaving a path of light as they went, like a vine
pushing itself through the soil. The tiny sprites of light moved upward,
coming together in the smoke near the ceiling and merging as one. Then they
moved outward, seeking the two passages. Hugging the ceiling, they moved
out of the sorcerer's sight.

The sorcerer sighed and gratefully sat in the chair behind him. In
his mind's eye he could see the smoky light slowly moving through the
passages above him, sometimes pausing at junctions, but always moving
onward, upward. And then coming to a fissure in the surface of the earth,
moving out, and spreading inexorably across the land...

The sorcerer smiled, and closed his eyes. He saw himself zooming
upward, straining to keep the ever-widening circle of his spell in vision.
Then, spotting a dark figure on horseback, zooming back in, on long
unwashed locks of hair falling down over bare, muscled shoulders, on the
longsword strapped to one side, on the rippling, bodybuilder biceps and
rope-taut forearms. He saw the circle of his spell behind the figure,
coming on faster, reaching and finally encircling him...

The smile became a grin. Then a leer. The sorcerer began to cackle.

===

Guybrush slowly struggled up from sleep.

He'd been dreaming, a vaguely disturbing dream involving pinking
shears... but the details were already fading, as Guybrush became aware of
his surroundings - the downy pillow beneath his head, the silky sheets he
lay on.

Guybrush opened his eyes. Grey glimmers of light peeked out through
the bedroom curtain, giving the merest outline to the furniture kept
here - the bedroom dresser, the old dusty armchair in one corner, a rare
antique chest stolen by Elaine's grandfather. Guybrush rolled over, but the
space next to him in the bed was empty.

So Elaine was up. Guybrush wasn't surprised. The woman was a
workaholic. Up at six each morning, and straight into the paperwork. Half
hour break at twelve, time to have lunch, talk to Guybrush, and give
Philbert and the chef their tasks. Back to work. Six and a half hours,
without a break. Seven o'clock, come out and have dinner in the backyard,
as the sun set below the ocean. More talk with Guybrush. If she'd thought
she'd done enough work for the day - and days like that were becoming rarer
- they would have time for several hours talk before they went to bed. If
not, it was back to the workstudy. At first, Guybrush had waited for her in
their bedroom, later he just went to sleep at the first opportunity. Elaine
could make you wait a long time.

Thinking about all this now just made Guybrush tired. He rolled
back on his side, and shut his eyes. Back in the world of sleep, a world of
warm blankets, soft mattresses and blessed inactivity. Guybrush smiled.

Then a loud, thumping sound jerked him out of this blissful
state. An urgent knocking on their front door.

Guybrush sighed and got out of bed. Rubbing his bleary eyes, he
stepped into a pair of slippers and pulled a robe over his pyjamas. The
pyjamas were pink and yellow, with cute puppies on them, and Guybrush
judged it might be wise to hide them when talking to their visitor.

As he came down the stairs, the noise started again, as five short
agitated knocks. Then the visitor - whoever he was - fell silent.

Guybrush paused at the foot of the stairs. Listening, he could hear
the faint noise of activity coming from Elaine's workstudy. Obviously she
must have heard the knocking, yet she hadn't even opened her door. Guybrush
knew why - receiving visitors was his job - yet it still disturbed him.

Frowning, Guybrush pushed these thoughts away. He crossed the room,
and opened the door on their visitor.

It was a Booty Island pirate, about thirty, tall and haggard with
filthy-smelling clothes. Of course, most pirates looked like that. Most
pirates, however, did not look like Satan was hot on their heels,
carrying a pitchfork with their name on it.

"Guybrush Threepwood!" gasped the pirate, and Guybrush was able to
place him - it was Dan Rotgut, a destitute half-pirate half-highway robber.
Most of the time he stayed well clear of Ville de la Booty, and Elaine
personally hated him with a vengeance. So what could have driven him here?

Dan, having identified Guybrush, didn't seem to know what to say
next. He looked around with wild eyes, and his hands shook up to his face,
then fell back. "Guybrush... I... there's..." he stammered.

Dan shook his head, and seemed to recover some sanity. "Could I talk
to Elaine?"

Guybrush, who was getting unnerved by Dan's behaviour, shook his
head. "Elaine's busy," he said. "Why don't you tell me whatever it is? I'm
sure you know Elaine isn't exactly your biggest fan."

"Yeah, I know. But this news is too important. She's got to hear
it."

"She will. Look, why don't you take a seat. I'll pour us both a
grog. Start from the beginning..."

===

Twenty minutes later, Guybrush walked with slow, uncertain strides to
Elaine's workstudy. He'd left Dan in the front room, staring at the walls
as if they might suddenly rush at him. After hearing Dan's tale, Guybrush
felt a little bit that way himself.

He knocked twice on the workstudy door. The noise from within
stopped. "Who?" said Elaine.

"It's Guybrush. I've- there's this bit of very important news I
think you should hear."

"Okay," said Elaine.

Guybrush opened the door. Elaine sat at her desk, turned away from
her paperwork and looking at Guybrush. Her eyes were bright and
inquisitive.

"What's the story?" said Elaine.

Guybrush looked around for a chair, and saw none. He could sit on
some of these piles of paperwork - but Elaine probably wouldn't appreciate
it. So he remained standing.

"That pirate at the door was Dan Rotgut," said Guybrush. He saw
Elaine's face darken at Dan's name, but she didn't interrupt. "There's been
some commotion in Ville de la Booty."

Elaine sat and listened. "Apparently," said Guybrush. "Dan was
drinking in the Slimepot with five other pirates. Sometime during the
night, they all heard a loud yell. They all got up to the window and
looked out, and there was a huge man outside, mounted on a grey horse, and
holding a sword in one hand. He was staring at the inn and bellowing."

"Bellowing?"

"That's what Dan said," said Guybrush. "Anyway, said Dan, what they
all noticed at first was that he didn't look *local*. He had really long
hair which came down below his shoulders, and he was wearing a series of
gold bracelets around his wrists and ankles. The sword was about twice as
long as your regular pirate sword, and looked really heavy. Dan said none
of them had seen anything like him. He looked foreign."

"Guybrush," said Elaine, "much as I am enjoying all these
incidental details, could you please get to the point?"

"Okay, I'll try," said Guybrush. "Like I said, the man was
bellowing, and they all thought he was talking in a different language,
until they realised he was just shouting his name over and over. His name
was Grignr."

"Grignr?" Elaine looked amused and interested.

"Grignr. So Grignr's outside the Slimepot, on his horse, shouting
'Grignr! Grignr!' Dan and all his mates thought this was pretty funny, and
one of them - Hap Yardley - took a mug and went outside. 'Fancy a drink?'
Hap said, and gave him the drink. Grignr looked down at him and said, 'Ho,
a pint of your finest ale!' and he took the mug and quaffed it in one. Then
he went berserk. He jumped down from the horse and hit Hap over the head
with the mug. Those Slimepot mugs are pretty thick, but this one burst as
it hit Hap's skull. Hap went down.

"Dan and his pirate mates all saw this, and as Hap hit the ground
two of them stood up and grabbed their swords - Fred Twice and Vince
Trapley. The two best swordfighters on Booty, as I'm sure you know. They
went outside, where Grignr was standing over Hap with a stupid look on his
face. He was shouting 'Grignr! Grignr!' again. Fred and Vince stood either
side of him, swords in hand, and Grignr didn't even seem to know they were
there. Fred shouted 'My handkerchief will wipe up your blood!' and that was
Vince's cue to come up behind the stunned Grignr and stab him in the neck.

"But it didn't work. Grignr didn't react to the insult at all. When
Vince drew back his sword arm, Grignr suddenly dropped into a crouch,
grabbed his longsword, and swung it around in a low arc. The sword went
cleanly through both of Vince's legs, and Vince toppled backward screaming.
Grignr jumped back up in front of the shocked Fred, and ran him through
with the sword, right to the hilt. When he pulled it back out, Fred fell
without a sound. Then Grignr turned back to Vince. He was lying helplessly
on his back, legs ending in bloody stumps, and just beyond them, two boots
still standing together on the ground. Grignr shouted 'Death to the
Simarian dogs!' and cut Vince's head off."

Elaine no longer looked amused.

"By this time," continued Guybrush, "Dan and his pals weren't
feeling any more righteous anger. Instead, as he saw this stranger
butcher two of Booty Island's strongest pirates, Dan said he was more
afraid than he'd ever been in his whole life. He and his two mates ran out
the back way along with the barkeeper, who'd also seen everything, and when
they thought they were far enough away they turned around and looked back.
By the time they did, the Slimepot was a ball of flame, and Grignr was
riding toward them, sword in one hand, a flaming torch in the other. Dan
and the others ducked into an alley, and somehow the light from the
burning Slimepot must have blinded Grignr, because he went right by them.
They waited there for an hour, and Dan said they heard all sorts of noise -
screams, the slam of heavy doors and bolts, flames licking to the heavens,
heavy footfalls. Dan says he still doesn't know what happened in that
hour... and he's afraid to return to Ville de la Booty and find out."

"Go on," said Elaine. "Finish the story."

"Okay. After the hour was up, Dan and his mates decided they were
getting right out of Ville de la Booty. Except, they thought one of them
should stay behind and come and tell the Gover- tell *us* what was going
on. Dan drew the short straw. So, while the other three were boarding the
ship _Blue's Heaven_ and casting off, Dan was creeping out of Ville de la
Booty along the darkest paths he could find."

Guybrush paused, reluctant to continue. Finally he said, "A few
minutes after he made it out of Ville de la Booty, Dan got lost. I asked
him about this, because Dan probably knows this island better than anyone
else. He said the land had changed. The vegetation thinned out, and the
land got rocky and barren. Dan didn't recognise any of it. All the
landmarks that were supposed to be there, like that thin stream running
with yellow water, were gone.

"And - this is just Dan guessing - but he thought this land was
where Grignr came from."

Guybrush stopped. "That's the story. Somehow Dan just kept going
and found his way back to landmarks he recognised. He's still here, and I
think he expects us to do something."

Elaine looked thoughtful - and doubtful. "Guybrush," she said, "are
you sure he wasn't telling you a tall tale? Some pirates have a strange
sense of humour-"

"I'm quite sure," said Guybrush. "If you'd seen Dan, you'd be sure
too."

"Okay, maybe he's sincere. But you said he and his mates had been
drinking. Perhaps he just hallucinated the whole thing. Pirate D.T.'s."

"Yeah, I guess that's possible," said Guybrush. "But I really don't
think he could have made the whole thing up. You know Dan, he's got the
imagination of a dung beetle."

"Look, Guybrush, whole landscapes don't change overnight."

"I'm not saying I believe everything he said," said Guybrush. "But
I think we should check it out."

Elaine sighed. She looked back at her desk, and the small mound of
paper arranged unevenly on top of it. "Perhaps we could do this later-"

"Check it out *now*."

The slight edge in Guybrush's voice seemed to decide Elaine. She
stood up. "Okay," she said. "I'll go get changed."

===

Five minutes later, in the bedroom, Elaine had changed. She had discarded
the robe and spectacles, and now wore leather boots, sturdy black pants, a
faded leather vest over a ruffled purple shirt, and a floral bandanna tying
back her hair. As Guybrush entered the bedroom, he saw her on tiptoes,
rummaging around in the cupboard.

"There it is." She drew back, and in one hand she held a sword.
Elaine looked at it for a moment. "Oh, it's yours." Not even looking around,
she tossed the sword in Guybrush's direction. Caught by surprise, Guybrush
nearly fumbled and caused himself a nasty hand injury. Elaine was already
pulling out a second sword, and she looked more satisfied with this one.
She swished it left and right, experimentally. "Not too bad. Haven't used
one of these in years..."

On the bedroom dresser behind Elaine, Guybrush could see a small
pile of Booty Island maps, a spyglass, a knife, and one of Elaine's larger
gemstones.

Elaine finally stopped her activity, and looked, slightly
self-consciously, at Guybrush.

"I thought you didn't take Dan's story seriously," said Guybrush.

"Oh, I don't," said Elaine instantly. "This is just for show. Don't
want Dan, or any other of my constituents, to think I'm not taking them
seriously. Now are you ready? I'd like to get this over nice and early."

They moved downstairs, where Dan was waiting. As soon as he saw
them, he grasped their intent. "You're going out there to fight this
barbarian? *On your own?*"

"Well, what else would you suggest?" snapped Elaine. "Booty Island
doesn't have a standing army or security force. There's nobody for us to
send, so we'll go ourselves. Now, are you coming with us?"

Dan looked around, afraid. "I'd rather-"

"Let me make myself clear," said Elaine. "You've only got two
choices. Come with us, or go someplace else. You're not staying here. I
wouldn't trust you within ten miles of this mansion." She stepped forward,
and pointed the tip of her sword at Dan. "Now decide."

Dan sat frozen, looking at Elaine's sword. Finally he found his
voice. "With all respect, Miss Governor, if you're going to Ville de la
Booty, I'd rather be going somewhere else."

"The door's there."

Dan stood up. Annoyance had melted some of the cold fear on his
face. "Understood. Thank you so much for your hospitality, Miss Governor."

He left.

Elaine was seething. "So that's their name for me, is it? *Miss
Governor!?* I've been out of Ville de la Booty too long..."

===

Guybrush and Elaine were walking along the narrow spit of sand connecting
the offshore Mansion island to the main island. Well, maybe walking is
putting it mildly - Elaine was setting a very good pace. She strode
forward, looking down at the Booty Island maps in her hands, her sword
secured to her belt. Guybrush was content to stroll along behind, gazing at
the land around them. It was still early morning, the sun barely risen over
the ocean, and the tide was out.

"You haven't done this in a while, have you?" said Guybrush.

Elaine looked at him. "What?"

"Been outside."

"And what's that supposed to mean?"

"Just an observation," said Guybrush. The next five minutes passed
in silence, as they crossed the spit and started across Booty Island
proper. It was broken when Guybrush looked up, and saw something
unexpected.

"What's that?" he said, pointing.

Elaine followed his gaze. The sky all around them was clear and
blue, except for a small spot over the centre of Booty Island, where there
was a jagged, dark grey cloud. As they looked, it seemed to flicker
faintly, as if tiny sparks of lightning were discharging within.

"It's a cloud," said Elaine.

"Yeah, but look at it," said Guybrush. "All on its own... and
that's about where Dan said the landscape had changed."

Elaine sighed. "Really, Guybrush. You're impossible." She looked
down at her maps. "Take a left at this crossing up ahead."

Guybrush looked at the cloud once more, then followed Elaine.

===

It was an uneventful, slightly strange journey to Ville de la Booty, and
although they didn't see anything unusual, there was something weird,
something eerie in the air.

For one, Guybrush had never seen the island so lifeless. So far,
they hadn't come across a single pirate, which for a cross-island trip was
something of a record. This inactivity had even extended itself to the
Booty Island wildlife. Although they could hear the chirp of insects and
the lilt of birdcalls, they hadn't actually seen any animals. It was as if
a tiny, movable wildlife-free buffer zone was being maintained around them.

For two, it was cold. This hadn't been noticeable up around the
Mansion, but as they walked across the island - and came close to the dark
cloud, which seemed to be slowly getting bigger - the air became chill.

Then they reached Ville de la Booty, and got their first major
confirmation of Dan's story.

The first warning was a dark plume of smoke on the horizon. It was
too large, and too black, to be fireplace smoke. From this point on,
still three miles from Ville de la Booty, Guybrush and Elaine had gone
twice as slow, with their hands tight on their swords and eyes constantly
scanning their surroundings.

Gradually the jungle thinned around them, until they were walking
on the fields around Ville de la Booty. Out from the cover of the canopy,
they felt very large and conspicuous.

And they could finally see Ville de la Booty. From this distance it
was hard to make out much, but they could see at least two houses still
burning.

No noise. Still no noise.

They crept on, using fallen logs and woodpiles as cover, until they
were up at the town itself. The wind began to pick up, a warm salty breeze
blowing in from the ocean. With it came other, more dangerous smells.

The main street of Ville de la Booty ran forward ahead of them. A
house on their left was burnt and beaten in. No motion, except for grass
blowing in the breeze.

Guybrush didn't waste time on told you so's, and Elaine didn't
bother with the mea culpas. This was real.

"What'll we do?" Guybrush whispered.

"Hear anything?" Elaine whispered back.

"No."

"Let's head for the Slimepot. Watch your back."

They moved on, sticking close to each other, heads darting around
watchfully. Still they saw nobody. Ville de la Booty wasn't one of the
larger towns in the Caribbean, but still a hundred or so lived here. Where
had they all gone? Had they sailed?

Guybrush suddenly stopped. His head dropped slightly, and he
listened intently.

"Hear something?" said Elaine.

Guybrush nodded. "Up ahead." He straightened up. "I know another
route to the Slimepot. Follow me."

He led her to a narrow alleyway between the sword store and General
Pirate Clothing. About halfway along, Elaine tugged at his shirt sleeve.

Guybrush stopped. "What?"

"Guybrush, what are we doing?" said Elaine.

"Just scouting around. Trying to find this Grignr guy."

"Yes, but-" Elaine looked very worried. "I never expected any of
this. What if we find this Grignr? If what Dan said is true, he'll kill us
both before we can say hello."

Guybrush wanted to keep moving, but Elaine held him back. "We're
not fighters, Guybrush. You're not. I'm not. What do you possibly think
we can do?"

"Well, what do you suggest?" retorted Guybrush. "That we should...
go back? Just ignore this?"

"No," said Elaine. "But I've got an idea."

Guybrush looked at her questioningly, but Elaine shook her head and
pulled him back into the main street.

They slowly walked down the street, and before long the Slimepot
came into view.

There was a figure standing in front of it.

Guybrush immediately ducked back, but Elaine grabbed his arm
firmly. "Stay here," she hissed. "No hiding."

The figure - Grignr, Elaine supposed - had his back to them. A horse
stood beside him, along with a small pile of shiny metal. Some of it looked
like gold coins, others looked like necklaces and trinkets. A small fire,
stoked with what looked like floorboards from the Slimepot, burned behind
him.

The Slimepot was no more. Fire had done the damage, although Elaine
could see notches in the remaining woodwork, as if someone had been hitting
the walls with a broadaxe.

Elaine suddenly remembered their swords.

"Guybrush," she whispered. "Bend down and put your sword on the
ground. Slowly."

"What?" said Guybrush. "We'll be-"

"*Just do it*."

Guybrush nodded. Carefully he knelt down, placed his sword
soundlessly on the ground, and stood up. Elaine did likewise.

"Now forward," she said. "Try to look relaxed."

It took all of Guybrush's courage, and Elaine's hand holding his,
for him to move forward. Grignr was less than fifty feet away from them,
and he was *huge*. He looked to be over seven feet tall, with broad,
muscular shoulders and thick biceps. His back was still turned toward them,
and he was naked from the waist up.

Elaine reached into her shirt pocket and closed her hand around the
diamond she'd taken from her bedroom. She no longer remembered why she'd
taken the thing in the first place, but maybe it would help them now.

They were still twenty feet from Grignr, and Guybrush would have
sworn they made no noise, but suddenly Grignr whirled around to face them.
He held a longsword in his hand, poised to strike.

But he made no further movements, and he looked somewhat puzzled.

"Whence came you?" said Grignr.

Elaine let go of Guybrush's hand and took a step forward. "We come
in peace," she said. "Here." She held the diamond, nestled warmly in her
palm, out to Grignr.

Grignr came forward, warily, sword half-raised. He reached for the
diamond with one hand. Bronzed and callused, his hand dwarfed Elaine's
upraised palm. Forefinger and thumb picked up the diamond, making it look
like a grapefruit pip, and raised it to one eye. Grignr squinted at it in
the morning sun.

"You can have it," said Elaine.

Grignr suddenly smiled. "Ha!" he roared. Then he slammed a hand
down on Elaine's and Guybrush's shoulders, a gesture of friendship that
nearly broke Guybrush's collarbone. "Precious bauble for Grignr, yes?"
he said.

Guybrush looked up at Grignr and smiled madly. "Uh, yes."

===

Soon all three of them were gathered around Grignr's fire.

Having made up his mind that these two travellers were friends,
Grignr had been consistently jolly and good-natured in the last few minutes.
He beamed, made jokes (or what Elaine and Guybrush guessed were such) and
roared with laughter, mostly at his own jokes. There seemed to be no trace
of the psychopathic killer Dan had described. In all, he wasn't such bad
company.

He was also a tireless storyteller. As soon as they were all
sitting together around the fire, he had immediately launched into the
story of how he had personally liberated the Eye of Argon from that bloated
prince Agaphim. Following this came the tale of how his one true love had
been devoured by a giant twelve-legged spider, and how Grignr had found his
next true love.

When this tale was done, Elaine asked what had happened last night.

Grignr laughed, and started to tell her. But this story was
somewhat different to the one Dan had told them. In Grignr's version, he'd
been *inside* the Slimepot, drinking ale instead of beer, and out of flagons
instead of mugs. A gang of local roughnecks had tried to accost Grignr and
steal his change, and naturally he had to fight back. The details of the
fight itself were a bit murky, but apparently there had been a lot of
swinging from chandeliers, heroic brandishing of swords and hitting people
over the head with chairs. Then the fight had spilled outside, and as
Grignr told it he'd been out in the street, surrounded by a circle of forty
hostile men, while he was armed only with a burning torch. He managed to
escape by ducking as they all charged him, and while he'd been sprawled on
the ground all the men above him had crashed into each other, knocking each
other out.

"That's some story," said Elaine, nodding. Guybrush could guess
what she was thinking, however, because he was thinking the same thing.
*Does he think we're idiots? Of course that's not how it happened.* But
Guybrush didn't know why Grignr was lying. In the flesh, Grignr was a
fearsome man. He'd killed a lot of people last night. Why did he have to
embellish the truth further?

"So where did you say you come from?" said Elaine.

"Aye, the mountain land of Ecordia," said Grignr. "Our people have
given the Noregolian Empire much trouble, ah ha ha!"

"And how did you... get here?" continued Elaine.

Grignr's brow wrinkled. "I am not sure. I rode my steed for three
days over the southern reaches of the Rokian mountains, hoping to find the
outskirts of the Simarian empire. Instead I have found this strange land."
He grinned. "But there is good plunder here, no?"

"Actually," said Elaine quickly, "we haven't got much treasure."

Grignr held the diamond up and dangled it from side to side.

"Um," said Guybrush, thinking fast, "that's the Eye of... Bobbeard.
We stole it from a far and distant island a very long way away. It's worth
a lot," he added. Grignr looked at his prize even more warmly.

"*Bobbeard?*" Elaine whispered. Guybrush looked embarrassed.

Elaine looked back at Grignr. "But doesn't it seem strange to you?"
she said. "Normally you'd find yourself in Simaria, but instead you're
here."

"It is perplexing," said Grignr. "Perhaps there is... magic."

Elaine and Guybrush looked at each other. "Magic?"

"Grignr detests magic," said Grignr. "He has killed many a
sorcerer."

"The thing is," said Guybrush, taking up the attack, "we don't
really think you belong here, Grignr. There's not much treasure and no high
priests, and you'd probably get bored. So we'd like to try and help you
get home again."

Grignr looked at Guybrush, waiting for him to finish.

"Several hours ago we passed a region which was very cold and
cloudy. We... think that might be your land."

Grignr's brow furrowed. "You wish to come on a quest with me?"

"I guess you could call it that," said Guybrush. "A quest to find
home."

Grignr laughed. "Accepted!" he said. He stood up, and roused his
horse up from sleep. Looking at them, he said, "You have swords, of
course?"

"Uh, of course," said Elaine. "We... just left them in the grass
over there." They went and retrieved their swords. When they came back,
Grignr looked at the swords pityingly. "Nay, they are not long enough to
skewer a hare!"

He mounted his horse. "And, you have a steed?"

"Well..." said Elaine.

"Not right now..."

Grignr let this pass. "It is of no matter. We shall go at walking
pace. Come." He mounted his horse. "Let us ride!"

===

The sorcerer frowned, and abruptly stood.

It was going wrong. He'd cast a dimensional spell, one of the most
powerful in existence, connecting a region of the Rokian mountains (centered
on Grignr) with a world that, as far as the sorcerer could see, consisted
of illiterate pirates. The spell had a life of twenty-four hours, but he
hadn't seen this as a problem. Once he'd ridden out of the mountains and
into the pirate world, that should have been it. Grignr never turned around
of his own accord. And there was no chance of anyone leading him back,
either - Grignr's normal method of discourse with anyone he didn't recognise
was to kill them.

So the sorcerer had reckoned. But he hadn't reckoned on these two
unfamiliar people, who seemed to have come out from the furthest corner of
the island. They were dressed as pirates, but they could speak in complete
sentences. Grignr hadn't killed them. Somehow, they'd *befriended* him!
Even now, they were leading him back!

The sorcerer began pacing back and forth, as he considered his next
course of action. The attempt to get rid of Grignr had failed, yet so far
all he had lost was time and mana. Perhaps he should just cut his losses.

No. The sorcerer pushed this idea aside. The purse from the
Noregolian emperor was too big. And he still had plenty to throw at
this barbarian hero and his two buddies...

===

They were now about an hour out of Ville de la Booty.

Grignr was in the lead, riding slowly along and humming some tune.
Guybrush and Elaine were a small way back, walking together.

"Boy, I'll be glad to see him gone," whispered Guybrush.

Elaine looked at him. "What do you mean?"

"Well, we take him back to his homeland, and then he rides off,
right?"

"It can't be that easy," said Elaine. "I don't know about you, but
I'm not going back to the Mansion with a great big heap of my island still
missing."

"Maybe it'll return when Grignr leaves?" said Guybrush hopefully.

"Why should it? I'm not taking that chance."

"Maybe the Voodoo Lady-"

Elaine snorted. "The Voodoo Lady couldn't make a body disappear,
let alone half an island."

Guybrush looked forward. The grey mass of cloud was growing above
them, and the temperature was now noticeably cooler. "Well, I guess Grignr's
right, then. Some sorcerer from his land must have cast a spell to... do
whatever's been done to our island."

"He probably wanted to get rid of Grignr," said Elaine. "And I
don't blame him. How can someone just kill indiscriminately like that?
Pirates aren't like that. They kill people so they can rob them. This...
barbarian just slaughters people."

"And the sorcerer isn't going to be pleased when we show up with
Grignr," said Guybrush gloomily. "He must be very powerful. He's probably
got some backup plan which he'll unleash on us. I'm starting to wish I'd
slept in this morning."

"You did."

The conversation lapsed. The landscape in front of them had opened
up on a wholly strange view. Instead of grassy hills and steaming jungles,
before them was a rocky, barren mountain plateau under a grey cloud-filled
sky. There was no vegetation, and no sign of any habitation. The
temperature was barely above freezing.

Guybrush shivered, then looked at Grignr. He seemed calm, and
proud. "Is this where you live?" Guybrush asked.

Grignr smiled. "I am home," he said. Then he let out an enormous,
stone-shattering yell, as his horse sprang forward. He rode the steed away
at full speed, before turning round in a tight circle and speeding back. He
stopped in front of Guybrush and Elaine, and beamed at them. "Come! We
shall hunt down the sorcerer, and smite his evil arse!"

But before anything else happened, Elaine said, "What's that?"

Guybrush and Grignr followed her gaze.

Three figures had appeared on the horizon. Female. Identical. What
wasn't bare skin was leather and studs - they looked barely dressed for the
tropics, let alone this permafrosted land. Each held a sword in their right
hand. Grey light glinted off the three blades.

The three female warriors raised their swords and silently charged.

Guybrush stumbled back, drawing his sword. "We're being attacked!"
he shouted. "Elaine, get out of here!"

"I'll do no such thing," said Elaine, holding her position. "Maybe
we can reason with them-"

Guybrush looked desperately at Grignr. To his dismay, the big hulk
had barely moved on the horse. He was staring at the charging women and
there was a wistful expression on his face.

Guybrush groaned. "Great. Big guy's got a weakness. Grignr!" he
shouted, pulling at Grignr's big beefy arms.

Grignr looked down at him dazedly. "Huh?"

"Grignr, they're attacking us! We've got to fight!"

"Fight?" said Grignr slowly. "These wenches-"

But there was no time for any more debate, because the warriors
were upon them. Ignoring Grignr altogether, they rushed at Elaine and
Guybrush. Elaine and Guybrush drew together, swords pointed out at the
onrushing women.

"I say," said Elaine, "we don't know who-"

Three swords came down upon them. Guybrush and Elaine parried,
swaying back but keeping their feet. The women attacked as if they were a
single organism, swinging their swords in coordinated, identical attacks.
They showed no inclination to spread out and offer three different points
of assault. This made it possible to defend two swords against three, but at
the expense of the defender's strength. Guybrush and Elaine could only hold
out so long.

But the sound of swords clashing seemed to revive Grignr. As they
fought their grim, silent battle, Grignr suddenly shouted and leapt down
from his horse, sword in hand. He strode forward, with his sword swinging
wildly. It dawned on Guybrush that something was wrong. Grignr seemed
almost blind - or drunk. Blundering toward them, he gave no indication
that he could even see the three women.

Still, the wild strokes at their back forced the women to change
plans. Simultaneously they split off, one warrior to each defender, and the
second phase of the battle began.

It soon became apparent that the upper hand lay with the women
warriors. Guybrush fought his opponent with desperate, flailing strokes,
and neither fighter seemed to enjoy a particular advantage. Guybrush had his
insults, but he instinctively knew that they would be useless here.

Grignr fought with more conviction, but his wild, unstoppable
swings were so uncoordinated that his opponent had no trouble avoiding them.
She didn't even have to fight back - her job was simply to hold off Grignr
while the other two finished off Elaine and Guybrush.

And Elaine was clearly in trouble. Her strokes were technically
good, but they had no force, and very little reach. The greater problem was
that Elaine, having not fought in years, was having great difficulty
anticipating her opponent's attacks. Constantly deflecting swings at the
last second, she was completely on the back foot, unable to do anything but
defend.

A couple of times, as they began fighting, she'd tried to talk to
her opponent, reason her out of the battle. But the warrior was having none
of it and merely swung at her as before. Now Elaine defended grimly.

It was while Guybrush was glancing at her that he noticed
something. He'd assumed that when the three women split up they'd begun
fighting independently, but apparently that wasn't the case. When his
opponent swung at him, Elaine's opponent did the same - same stroke, same
area. The movements were so identical, it was if they were being
coordinated by some higher, magical being - who, rather than go to the
trouble of controlling three independent beings, had decided to duplicate
some of his work.

This gave Guybrush an idea. Instantly he swung at his opponent, a
heavy, wild blow aimed at her right shoulder. At the same moment, he
shouted "Elaine! Hit the leg!"

His opponent drew her sword back and deflected his stroke. In
unison, Elaine's opponent did the same. Elaine's sword swung forward, past
the warrior's unprotected lower body, and sank deeply into the left thigh
of her opponent.

Blood poured out over her sword and ran down the warrior's leg. The
warrior grimaced and, as Elaine's sword came back out, bent over and
clutched at the wound. Instantly, their bond still active, Guybrush's
opponent did the same. Taking advantage of the moment, Guybrush stepped
forward and hacked at his opponent's sword arm. It came off at the elbow.
The warrior screamed. Ignoring her wound, she bent down and picked up the
sword in her other arm. She rose, snarling, and rushed at Guybrush.

Now the three women were clearly fighting independently, their
controlling intelligence having realised the folly of his action. But they
no longer enjoyed the upper hand. Guybrush's opponent was less effective
with her left arm than her right, and Guybrush was able to go on the
attack. Elaine's opponent was better placed, but the wound on her leg was
bleeding profusely and her strokes gradually lost their power.

Guybrush heard a gurgle behind him and guessed that Grignr had
finally dispatched the third warrior. His opponent glanced behind him,
shocked, and for the first time Guybrush saw something human in those
eyes, as if she'd suddenly woken up from some terrible dream. Then it was
gone. She flailed at him, a wild, hopeless stroke, and Guybrush knocked the
sword from her hand.

He looked into her eyes, and only hesitated for a moment. Grimly,
Guybrush stabbed deeply into her chest. Her mouth opened wide, and she made
a stunned "Uuuh!" Then blood trickled over her lower lip, and she fell back
to the ground.

Guybrush pulled his sword out of her body, and immediately his legs
collapsed beneath him. He was shaking all over. Gorge rose in his chest,
which he only just managed to keep down. He felt weary and sick.

It slowly dawned on him that the sound of battle was gone. He
looked over at Elaine. Elaine's opponent was in deep trouble. Her whole
left leg was covered in blood now, and her face was a pallid white. Her
sword dropped to the ground, her arm no longer even strong enough to hold
it. Then she collapsed.

Elaine came over to her side, a concerned look on her face. She
took the warrior's trembling hand, and said, "Who did this to you? Why'd
you have to attack us?"

The warrior's mouth moved. With effort, she said, "T-the s-"

But at that moment Grignr, bounding forward, swung down with all
his might. His sword cut clean through the woman's neck, clanging on the
stone beneath. Blood sprayed out over the ground. Grignr waited calmly for
the flow to lessen, then he bent down and lifted a leather flap on the
warrior's tunic. Underneath was a strange tattoo of interlocking circles.
"It is as I suspected," grunted Grignr. "The mark of the sorcerer Arafind."
He stood up and wandered over to a patch of moss, and started to clean his
sword.

Elaine, open mouthed, looked at the warrior and then up at
Guybrush. "Dead," she whispered. "She's dead."

Guybrush saw something in her eyes. Quickly, he reached out to her.
"Elaine-"

Elaine stood up. Her face was tightening and her fists clenched as
she strode over to Grignr. The huge barbarian was still playing around with
his sword. Elaine punched him in the side. "You are a vicious, immoral
murderer!" she shouted, as Grignr turned to look at her, puzzled. "That
woman was nearly dead. She wasn't going to harm any of us. And you just
came in and slaughtered her! Like you slaughtered all of my constituents at
the bar! They should lock you up and throw away the key."

Grignr took all of this in without saying anything. He looked
puzzled. Worried, Guybrush came up behind Elaine and tugged at her arm.
"Come on," he said, "I think it's time we got going..."

"Screw that," said Elaine, holding her ground. "I'm going to fight
him."

Guybrush did a double take. "What?!"

"I don't want even a remote chance of this scoundrel coming back to
my island. I want him dead." She held her sword out before her. "Are you
ready, Grignr?"

The puzzled look vanished from his face, replaced by cold
knowledge. "Aha!" cried Grignr. "Traitors! In the employ of Arafind, no
less!" He simply reached over Elaine's sword with one huge rangy arm
and struck her on the side of the head. Elaine slumped to the ground.
Guybrush reached for his sword, but Grignr was faster. His fist caught
Guybrush's chin, and Guybrush was out like a light.

===

When he came back to his senses, the first one activated was temperature.
It was cold. A chilling wind was blowing over his back. The ground
underneath him seemed to rise and fall beneath him, and gradually Guybrush
realised he was on a horse. Grignr's horse.

Recent events flooded back, and Guybrush, suddenly alarmed, tried to
sit up. He managed to get a glimpse of Grignr's back, but everything else
was hazy.

Then Grignr brought the horse to a stop. Unceremoniously, he dumped
Guybrush onto the rocky ground. Another body thumped down beside him, which
Guybrush realised must be Elaine. She was coming around as well.

As Elaine woke beside him, Guybrush examined his surroundings. They
were on a rocky, rolling plain that seemed almost entirely featureless.
There was no vegetation, and here and there drifts of snow nestled in the
shade of boulders and crags. There were several vents of sulphur spewing
into the air around them. The wind whistled. A hopeless, desolate place. Why
had Grignr brought them here?

As if in answer, Grignr suddenly looked at them scornfully. "On
your feet, traitors! You will show me the entrance to Arafind's foul lair
immediately, or die!"

"But," Guybrush stammered, "we don't know where it is. There's
nothing here."

"Your feigned confusion is pitiful," said Grignr. "Countless times
I have been assailed by Arafind's minions. I have managed to track them to
this lonely plateau - but the final secret of Arafind's lair remains
hidden. You will show me the way in five minutes, or your necks will meet
my blade." This said, Grignr turned away from them and began looking
through his saddlebags.

Guybrush turned to Elaine. "Are you okay?" he asked.

Elaine nodded. She took Guybrush's hand and held it, and for a
minute they took some small comfort in each other.

Guybrush broke the silence. "Any ideas where this lair might be?"

Elaine looked around critically. "Can't see a thing."

"There's nothing here," said Guybrush. "We should just make a run
for it."

"Outrun a horse?"

"We could hide," said Guybrush lamely.

Elaine, looking around, suddenly sniffed. "Hey, wait," she said,
and pointed.

Guybrush followed her finger. "That's just a sulphur vent, isn't
it?"

"No. Smell the air. It's ordinary smoke."

"So?"

Elaine looked at him. "Since when does ordinary smoke come out of
the ground?"

They stood and wandered over to the vent. Guybrush cast a nervous
glance back at Grignr, but he just stood by his horse and watched them,
ready to pursue should they do anything so foolish as try to escape.

Guybrush joined Elaine in looking down at the vent. There was a
fissure in the ground, about two feet long and an inch wide. Smoke seeped
out of the gap, obscuring the depths to which the fissure sank.

Guybrush pushed his fingers into the fissure, and explored the
walls. "It widens," he said. "Warm."

Elaine said, "Let me try something." She stood beside Guybrush,
jumped high into the air, and brought her feet down hard either side of the
fissure.

The ground gave way beneath her, pulling them both down into a dimly
lit passage eight feet below the surface. Smoke curled along the ceiling.

Guybrush, groaning, got up and helped Elaine to her feet. "Well,
who woulda guessed?" he said. "Now what?"

They both realised at the same instant. They ran. Behind them, they
heard a bellow from Grignr as he realised his captives were missing. "With
luck he'll have forgotten where we were," said Guybrush.

Onward they ran, the passage winding and bumpy underneath them. It
branched left and right, and soon they found they were descending quite
sharply - partly because they could run faster downhill, and partly because
of an unconscious desire to keep following the trail of smoke running along
the ceiling.

They passed no-one, which Guybrush found hard to fathom.
Obviously immense effort had gone into the construction of these passages.
So why weren't they being used? And what were they used *for*? They hadn't
yet run past a single door or room. Perhaps these were natural passages -
but there was that line of smoke above them. It was growing thicker.

They ran into the sorcerer before they knew what was on them. On
moment they were pelting down a curving passage, the next moment they'd
rounded the curve to find themselves in a kiln-like room, where a sorcerer
stood guardedly behind a wooden table.

Before they could react, the sorcerer - who seemed unsurprised at
their entrance - muttered four syllables.

Guybrush tried to move his arm. He couldn't. His legs felt like
stone. He turned to Elaine, and saw she was frozen too. Uncomprehending, he
looked back at the sorcerer.

"A simple freeze spell," said the sorcerer. "I've allowed you
movement from the shoulders up. It's just a temporary measure while we
await the arrival of Grignr."

"You're Arafind?" said Guybrush. He felt ridiculous, like a child
playing at statues.

"Indeed I am," said Arafind.

"And you're the one who sent Grignr into our... reality?" said
Elaine.

"Yes," said Arafind. "I must apologise. I am sure you didn't find
him easy to deal with. I am most sorry."

"Sorry won't cut it!" said Elaine hotly. "I've had a whole mass of
my citizens murdered, and I do not take kindly to having bits of my island
disappear."

"Again, I apologise," said Arafind. "However, the removal of your
land is only temporary. It will return to normal after twenty-four hours."

"And you sent those warriors to fight us?" continued Elaine.

"Yes," said Arafind.

"You knew they were going to their deaths?" said Elaine.

Arafind shrugged their shoulders. "I had no other choice."

"Then you're no better than he is," said Elaine. "Worse even,
because you knew what you were doing. You used of magic to make those
warriors fight us. Some kind of dirty rotten mind control."

"Only because nobody would willingly fight Grignr," said Arafind.
He sighed. "What else was I supposed to do? Let him back in here without a
fight?"

"Why didn't you fight him yourself?" said Guybrush.

"Oh, I fully intend to," said Arafind. He flexed his fingers, and
rolled back two grimy, ink-stained sleeves.

They heard a far-off noise, like someone stumbling over stone. "He
comes," said Arafind. He stepped back and stood in the corner, smiling
grimly. Seconds ticked by. There had been no further far-off noises, and
the room was silent.

Grignr suddenly appeared in the doorway, bellowing madly, and threw
a handful of metal darts into the room at lethal speed. The sorcerer ducked
and flashed an arm around in a semicircle. A pressure wave of force blew
out, bowling Guybrush and Elaine over like statues, and scoring a deep
groove in the walls around them. Stone rained down from the ceiling,
bringing great clouds of dust up from the floor.

From that point on, sight ceased to be an useful sense. Guybrush,
tangled up on the floor, felt something huge and heavy rush past him. There
was a loud yell that almost split his eardrums, and a big meaty thwack.
Then red light flashed from somewhere within the dust cloud, singeing
Guybrush's eyebrows with a burst of heat.

Guybrush suddenly realised he could move. He felt Elaine's hand
groping for his, and together they pulled themselves up off the ground.
They could hear Grignr roaring in pain, and see the colourful sparks of
Arafind's magic. The ultimate warrior pitted against the cleverest wizard -
who would win?

Elaine couldn't care less. She tugged hard on Guybrush's arm,
pulling him out into the passage. "Come on! Run!" she shouted. Together
they sped off.

The sounds of battle slowly faded behind them. They were going
slower now, through fatigue and the fact that these passages went uphill
quite sharply. They followed the smoke trail above them, clambering on
hands and knees when the gradient got too steep, walking when their energy
ran out, and finally crawling out into the thin wintery air. Utterly
exhausted, they fell to the frozen ground and didn't move.

===

When Guybrush woke, the air was warm and full of insect chirps.

He opened his eyes. He was lying on his back in a grassy clearing
in the jungle. This wasn't where he usually woke up... but then Guybrush
glanced left and saw Elaine, still asleep, her hands grey and clammy. At
the same time. Guybrush realised he was still freezing.

They must have fallen asleep on the snow, and if Arafind's spell
hadn't ended they'd probably be dead by now.

He shook Elaine's arm. It took a long while for her to respond, but
eventually Elaine stirred and opened her eyes.

"We made it back," said Guybrush. "We're home."

"Or what remains of it," said Elaine.

They both stood up, took each other's hands, and slowly walked
home.

THE END