Disclaimers: Everything belongs to LucasArts/Telltale Games, though I take huge liberties with characters that have only been mentioned and never actually appeared. Like everyone in Morgan's background details.
Notes: Long chapter is looooooooong. Also, pirates appearing in this chapter are not the Men of Low Moral Fiber. I wonder what happened to those guys...
Big thanks to Reaper_Lyn for beta reading and feedback and to GiantTope for letting me bounce ideas off her.
Chapter 6 – The High Seas
Standing in the prow of the Sea Monkey, I heard my crew gasp in awe behind me as the forbidding peaks of the fabled Monkey Island slowly rose against the horizon. There could be no doubt that this was indeed our deadly destination, the ship had been steering itself ever since I had cunningly deciphered the voodoo recipe concealed within the cryptic instructions I'd found in the captain's quarters. Where else could they have taken us, except for an island that was as wrapped about with infernal magic as LeChuck himself?
However, it soon became apparent that the spell was not sufficient to penetrate the defences of the Ghost Pirate's lair. As I deftly turned the wheel towards the southern beach, the ship ground to a halt, dead in the water despite the wind that still filled its sails. Otis immediately panicked, thinking that we had struck a reef, but it soon became apparent that the force which was stopping us was supernatural in nature. But there had to be a way for me to reach that accursed shore, I refused to admit defeat, not when I'd come so far.
Casting around the deck for anything that could be of use, my eyes lit on the cannon on the port side of the vessel. A long shot maybe, but certainly worth a try...
- Guybrush Threepwood: "The Time I Blew Up LeChuck"
Closing the book quietly, Morgan set it down by her empty bed and crept over to the door, listening carefully. She'd heard Dragotta retire to his room about half an hour ago, an hour after she had supposedly gone to bed herself, but for all she knew he could still be awake. Her tutor's room was on the opposite side of the landing, so it was impossible to listen for his breathing, though Morgan could hear the occasional creak from his mattress so at least he was in bed.
Morgan's own bed had been filled with a few bundles of clothes, to form what looked vaguely like a sleeping figure. Once she'd doused the lamp it would hopefully be enough to fool Dragotta if he happened to look into the room for any reason. Reaching under the bed, Morgan retrieved the sword that she'd bought in the town a few weeks before and belted it around her waist. No sense in going out without taking precautions, even if the weapon did feel far more clumsy than any of the practice swords downstairs. But this one had a sharpened blade, so it would be much more effective if she had to defend herself. She'd considered secretly sharpening one of the practice swords, but on consideration, there had been far too many ways for that to go horribly wrong.
Blowing out the lamp beside her bed, Morgan waited for a few moments so that her eyes could adjust to the sudden darkness, then cautiously moved back to the door and inched it open slowly, careful not to let it make a sound. Stepping out onto the landing, she closed the door silently behind her. The fire in the hearth was almost out, but it provided enough light for her to make out the time on the clock, it was nearly twenty to eleven. With any luck, she'd have cast off from the dock and would be on her way to Scabb Island before the clock struck the hour.
Tiptoeing to the stairs, Morgan took hold of the banister and put as much of her weight on it as she could. Even so, the first step creaked softly beneath her foot and she immediately froze. She waited for almost a minute, but heard no sound from Dragotta's room, and continued her descent with more confidence. At this time of night, the stairs had a habit of creaking by themselves as they settled, so it wasn't as if the noise was unusual.
Nearly halfway down, Morgan had to bite back a curse as another stair creaked and clicked as she set foot on it. This time she waited twice as long before continuing, and though she thought she heard the sound of Dragotta's mattress shifting, his bedroom door didn't open. Breathing out heavily, she wished that she'd thought of taking her boots off first, then continued.
Finally reaching the bottom, Morgan paused again just to make sure she couldn't hear anything. Once she was sure that she couldn't hear any footsteps, she sneaked over to the door, moving silently over the mats. She already had a spare key, and she'd taken the precaution of using some of the lamp oil to lubricate both the lock and the door hinges, so it made no sound as she opened it. Stepping out into the cool night air, Morgan fought the urge to cheer as she locked the door behind her and quickly skipped along the path towards the jetty.
So far things were going better than she'd expected, especially considering that it was the first time she'd tried sneaking out after dark. She'd made it outside without being caught; surely things would only be easier from this point on. Morgan had been planning the excursion for some time, although she'd never been expressly forbidden from leaving the gym at night she doubted that Dragotta would give her permission if she asked. And that would also put him on his guard, because then he'd have been expecting her to try and leave without his knowledge. As long as she was back in a few hours, he'd never know she'd been gone, and Scabb Island was less than an hour away.
Well, Morgan reflected as she reached the dock, less than an hour away if the pilot was halfway competent anyway. Leaping down onto the deck of the Zanni, she patted the sloop's prow affectionately. These days Dragotta allowed her to do most of the sailing, though neither of them were in any doubt that this was because Morgan was far better at it than the swordsman. Despite Dragotta's insistence that the ship handled like a pregnant sow, Morgan never had any problems steering it, and could even get the vessel to put on a fair turn of speed, often while her tutor muttered something about ships being as capricious as women. It had certainly amused her uncle when he'd seen her bring the Zanni into the docks at Lucre; the look on Dragotta's face had only gotten darker when Jugbender had suggested that Morgan could give him sailing lessons sometime.
Unfurling the sails, Morgan carefully adjusted them to catch the wind, the faster she could make the journey, the more time she'd have to explore the infamous pirate island. Once she'd set them to her satisfaction, she moved back over to the dock to cast off... only to see a booted foot standing on the post that she ship was moored to. Morgan slowly looked up to see Dragotta standing on the dock, fully dressed and not even out of breath as he leaned down towards her, his expression neutral.
"Might I ask exactly why you're making sail in the dead of night?" Dragotta's voice sounded genuinely curious, but his eyes betrayed his amusement at Morgan's predicament. "It must be very important if you left without telling me..."
Morgan thought fast, she'd been expecting anger and accusations if she was caught, so Dragotta's calm reaction made the protestations and rebuttals that she'd mentally prepared completely useless. Instead, in much the same way as she'd done when she'd first hit him with a practice blade over a year ago, Morgan looked up at him with her most winning expression, the one that always seemed to throw off her sparring partners in class. "I just thought that I'd maybe go visit another island..." Looking down at her feet, she twisted her hands behind herself, trying to look demure. "You never said that I wasn't allowed you know..."
"I take it that's why you never asked?" From the shrewd look on the swordsman's face, Morgan could tell that he wasn't fooled one bit. "Tell me, were you also intending to meet a boy on this other island?"
Morgan scowled before she could stop herself, insulted by the implication. "What, just because I'm a girl I must be going off to meet a boy?" she asked indignantly. "Not because I'm bored of being cooped up here and I want to see some other islands? And I bet you think that this 'boy' asked me to sneak out and meet him too, don't you? Like I..." Her words tailed off as Dragotta began to laugh.
"I believe you," Dragotta chuckled. The girl's outrage certainly proved that she was telling the truth. "But still, I must ask you to desist. Your uncle would not be happy with me if I let you roam the Caribbean alone by night."
Instead of arguing, knowing that it would be futile, Morgan turned back to the Zanni and started to reef the sails. Dragotta didn't say anything, but she could feel him watching her, obviously he was intending to escort her back to the gym, and no doubt also to her room. "I haven't really done anything wrong you know," she called over her shoulder. "Are you still going to punish me?"
"Well, you are technically correct... so no, not this time." Dragotta admitted as Morgan pulled herself back up onto the dock. "That will change should you try this again."
"What if I get permission from my uncle?" Morgan asked, following Dragotta as he headed back along the path.
"Yes, that would be acceptable." Dragotta replied, with a sideways look at the girl. "But do you honestly expect for him to agree?"
"I can take care of myself," Morgan grumbled in response, knowing that Jugbender's answer would be no. "That's why I'm here, isn't it?"
"You are here because you wish to learn the art of the blade." Dragotta's voice was sterner now, and Morgan immediately fell silent. "And a considerable part of that art is discipline. You will do as you are told." Glancing at the sword belted at the girl's waist, Dragotta's lip curled slightly. "Besides, were you expecting to defend yourself with that?"
Morgan started slightly at her tutor's words; she'd forgotten that she was still wearing the weapon. However, Dragotta still didn't seem angry, instead he sounded disgusted. "Well... what's wrong with it?" she asked, more than a little defensively. Stopping mid-stride, Dragotta held his hand out expectantly. Drawing the sword, Morgan let him take it, hoping that he'd give her it back.
Turning the weapon over in his hands a few times, Dragotta's lip curled even further as he made a few practice cuts with it. "You should have waited and bought one on Lucre instead of Phatt," he informed her shortly. "They might not be known for their swords, but at least they would have sold you one of higher quality."
"How do you know I got it here?" Morgan asked, her curiosity getting the better of her. "I could have bought it on Lucre..."
"Because on Lucre they have such a thing as trading standards," Dragotta replied, now sighting along the blade. "Whereas here on Phatt they will sell you a weapon that doesn't even have a straight blade, is poorly balanced, badly constructed and..." Lifting the weapon to his ear, Dragotta flicked the blade with his forefinger and nodded to himself. "...has more tin in it than steel." Reversing his grip on the sword, he handed it back to Morgan and resumed walking. "It might do for fighting pirates, but any swordsman with a blade worth his skills would shear it in half. So be careful who you fight with it."
"You mean I can keep it?" Morgan asked, in some surprise. "Like... on me?"
Reaching the door to the gym, Dragotta held it open for the girl, then closed and locked it behind them. "You will not wear it in this school, nor will you fight with it here." There was a pause as he considered that for a moment. You might want to practice with it though, because the balance is truly terrible. Now back to bed with you."
Although she did as she was told, and she was grateful that Dragotta hadn't confiscated her weapon, Morgan was already revising her plans for the next time she snuck out. She was almost certain it had been the creaking on the stairs that had given her away; she just had to come up with a way to avoid them...
Morgan tugged hard at the rope that she'd tied to one of the rafters, wanting to make sure that it was secure enough to hold her weight. The knot didn't budge; that might be problematic later when she was trying to untie it, but for now she didn't care. She'd waited nearly a fortnight after her first attempt to sneak out before trying her next idea, hoping that Dragotta would think she'd learned her lesson. She'd lain awake until midnight the previous night to see if he would check on her, but she hadn't heard his footsteps outside the door, and it hadn't been opened.
Since the stairs had been problematic last time, Morgan had decided that missing them out entirely would be a good start. She'd taken some spare rope from the Zanni while Dragotta had been in town and hid it in her room, if Dragotta had noticed it was missing, he hadn't mentioned it. Now that it was tied firmly in place, she carefully spooled it out the open window it was next to, trying to make as little sound as possible. It didn't quite reach the ground, but it was low enough for her to climb back up without any problems. Sitting on the windowsill, Morgan swung her legs over it then reached round to grab the rope and quickly shinned down it to the scrubby grass below.
Landing noiselessly, Morgan headed to the dock with more care this time, her tread almost silent. This time the first thing she did was unmoor the boat and shove off from the short pier, opening the sails as the Zanni slowly drifted towards the open sea. She doubted that Dragotta would swim after her if he caught her now, but looking back towards the shore she could see no sign of the swordsman. Maybe she really had sneaked out without his knowledge this time.
Despite that cheering thought, Morgan didn't start congratulating herself until the wind had caught the sloop's sails and Phatt Island was receding into the distance behind her. Glancing up at the stars, she adjusted the tiller accordingly then sat next to it, finally relaxing. Even if Dragotta discovered that she was gone, there was nothing he could do about it now.
Striding along one of the wooden walkways between the half-sunk, half-buried hulks that formed the town of Woodtick, Morgan tried not to look too out of place. She'd moored the Zanni to what was left of the Steamin' Weenie hut out on the beach, and although there had been a few people gathered around a campfire on the sand, they had only glanced in her direction before resuming their conversation. Morgan had heard one of them break into song as she'd headed along the path to the town, but as the lyrics were something about being a pirate on Scabb, she'd guessed that it wasn't aimed at her.
The path had ended, along with the actual island, at a rickety bridge leading to the semi-floating town. The battered 'Welcome to Woodtick' sign was still missing its shovel, and Morgan grinned to herself as she imagined Guybrush taking it. Of course, if she'd been him, she'd then have used it to hit Largo LaGrande and pushed him off the bridge while he was stunned, but she supposed that the terrible voodoo curse that Guybrush had put on the pirate to run him off the island had been even worse. Guybrush might not have written any more books about his further adventures, yet, but he'd never been shy about giving interviews to the broadsheets, and the stack of articles that Morgan had collected now rivalled The Time I Blew Up LeChuck in thickness.
Heading into the town proper, if it could be called that, Morgan couldn't stop herself from looking around curiously. She had to admit that it was an interesting way to build a settlement, run a few ships aground by mistake, then crash a few more on the wrecks of the first few until they only sank halfway. There were a few near the shore that were now sunk in silt instead of water, and one or two that looked like they might just be seaworthy... if they actually had any sails to speak of.
Despite her best efforts, Morgan was aware that she was still getting looks from the passers by, all of them scruffy-looking men who she assumed to be pirates. She wasn't sure whether that was down to her age, or due to the fact that her clothes were clean and in decent repair. Although the looks weren't particularly threatening, Morgan didn't like the way their eyes followed her as she walked past, and tightened her grip on her sword nervously. As she did, she realised she hadn't noticed her hand moving to the weapon, and immediately let it go. Dragotta had told her the worst thing she could do in the run up to a fight was look nervous, so she let her arms drop casually to her sides instead. She also tried to tell herself that she wasn't here to fight, but she was well aware that was why she'd come here instead of Booty. Melee was much too far away to get there and back in a night, so if she wanted to duel pirates to hone her skills like Guybrush had done then Scabb was the obvious choice.
Of course, where to find a fight here was the question. She knew that the forked path leading into the forest was the best place to pick a fight on Melee, but that didn't help on Scabb. Figuring that the bar would be the best place to start, Morgan looked for the sign for the Bloody Lip and headed towards it. However, just as she reached the hatch that led down to the bar itself, Morgan heard a loud wolf-whistle off to the side. Given that she couldn't see any other women about, this one was undoubtedly meant for her.
Turning towards the source, one of the larger ships by the shore that was half run aground and half in the water, Morgan saw that she was being watched by a group of pirates lounging around on the stern of the ship, some of them hanging out of the windows of what had once been the captain's quarters. She couldn't help feeling a twinge of intimidation as she realised that there were at least ten of them, and found herself wondering exactly why she'd thought this was a good idea to begin with. Nevertheless, she quickly composed herself; Guybrush had been able to hold his own against the pirates on Melee when he'd only been a year older than she was now. And he wouldn't just have stood there staring at them, he would have had no doubts about challenging all of them at once.
Although she didn't quite swagger, Morgan's pace was measured and confident as she approached the boat, still keeping her hands at her sides. A shaven-headed pirate slouching across the aft rail straightened up as she got closer, muttering something to his companions that made them snigger. From the look he gave her, Morgan was sure that this was the one who'd whistled, and locked gazes with him challengingly. She tried to think of something suitably caustic to say to him, but the pirate spoke first.
"Well, well, well..." Looking Morgan up and down, the pirate sneered. "Little bit young for a street walker, aren't you?"
Feeling a pulse of rage at his words, Morgan nevertheless managed to keep her voice calm, if cutting. "Why do you ask? Can you only get laid when you pay for it or something? Or are you just a child molester?"
The pirate's eyes narrowed as his companions sniggered again, this time at his expense. Straightening up to his full height, which wasn't particularly tall, he glared at the girl. "With a mouth like that, I'm surprised you get paid at all."
"With a face like that, I'm surprised you even have friends." Morgan countered, smirking as the other pirates laughed. The one who'd spoken wasn't particularly ugly, but his weather-beaten face and flat nose could hardly be called handsome. His glare became a glower as Morgan grinned at him impishly. Dragotta could say what he liked about insults, but they certainly still had an effect.
"I think you could do with learning some manners girl," the pirate growled, taking a step back from the rail as if he was going to head down onto the walkway. One of his companions caught his shoulder and pulled him back, shaking his head.
"She's just a girl Jakes. Leave it."
"Oh, don't worry about me," Morgan replied sweetly. "If he wants a fight, he's got one." There was a pause as the entire group looked at her disbelievingly, then a series of snorts and chuckles.
"No offence girly," said the dark-haired pirate who'd intervened. "But, well, if you're too young for a streetwalker then you're definitely too young to fight ol' Jakes here."
"Says who?" Jakes seemed to have lost his anger, but Morgan still didn't like the way he was looking at her. "I'm not going to hurt her... much." There was a grumble of disapproval from his companions at his words, pirates they might have been but they didn't seem impressed by his willingness to fight a teenager.
"Fighting a girl Jakes? Really?" The other pirate seemed just as contemptuous as the rest of their companions. "That's low, even for you."
"Hey, if that's low, then what about getting beaten by a girl?" Morgan called up to them.
Both of them turned to look at her again, Jakes with the same unpleasant look which suggested that he expected to win, and was already planning what to do with her afterwards. However, his companion was now looking at her more closely, taking in her stance and demeanour and noting the sword she was carrying.
"That's what she wants Bart." Jakes said smugly. "Why not let her make her own mistakes."
Glancing at Morgan once more, the pirate called Bart shrugged. "Okay then."
Jakes disappeared almost immediately, then reappeared from the side of the hulk. Now that he was closer, Morgan could get a better look at him, he was taller and much more heavyset than she was, and at least ten years older. And supremely overconfident, which would work to her advantage. Stopping less than two feet away from her, the pirate looked down at her scornfully.
"Give her some room to draw her damn sword," Bart shouted from the ship. Rolling his eyes, Jakes took a few paces backwards. "And if you must fight a girl, at least make it fair."
"What about a bet?" Morgan suggested. "You know, to keep things interesting."
"I'll give you a bet," Jakes sneered. "If I win, you have to kiss me." He ignored the mutters from his companions, even the very audible one from Bart suggesting that Morgan had been right when she'd called him a child molester.
"And if I win?" Morgan asked. "I definitely don't want you to kiss me."
"Then you can have my humility," Jakes replied mockingly. "Will that do?"
"Good enough." With that, Morgan drew her sword, the weapon springing into her hand like lightning despite its unwieldy nature. She heard a ripple of surprise from the pirates, echoed by the look in Jakes' eyes as he drew his own blade with far less grace. Morgan lunged the moment he adopted a fighting stance, and the pirate took a few steps back in surprise, swearing.
"Correct me if I'm wrong Jakes," Bart chortled from the ship. "But weren't you supposed to fight back?"
With a yell of rage, the pirate raised his blade and thrust at the girl, trying to force her back. Instead, Morgan twisted to the side to avoid the blow, her sword sliding downwards to get under Jakes guard then whipping upwards and outwards to catch his weapon and twist it out of his hand. The cutlass described a graceful arc over the pirate's head to land point first in the walkway behind him, quivering from the impact while Jakes stared at his empty hand in shock.
Her blade inches from his throat, Morgan smiled at the pirate charmingly. "I think I'll be taking your humility now, don't you?"
The sky was growing perceptibly lighter in the east by the time Morgan steered the Zanni back to its dock on Phatt Island. Although she hadn't slept all night, and had fought a couple of other pirates who'd started taking her seriously after her insultingly easy win against Jakes, she didn't feel tired in the slightest. It was just as well there were no classes on Sunday mornings because Morgan knew that by the time she finally got to sleep, it would be close to her usual rising time.
She'd beaten both of the other pirates that she'd fought with, and had only stopped fighting because she knew she had to get back to Phatt before Dragotta got up. Her other opponents had been more challenging than Jakes, but still easy compared to fighting Dragotta. Heck, even some of her fellow students were harder to beat than the pirates had been. Despite that, Morgan still intended to go back the next time she sneaked out, there had been mutters about other pirates who'd supposedly be able to beat her with ease, but she hadn't had time to go looking for any of them. If she went back, maybe they'd save her the trouble and come looking for her instead.
Heading back towards the gym once she was satisfied that the Zanni looked like it had spent the night in its usual place, Morgan realised that she couldn't see the rope hanging from her window. Maybe it was just hard to spot in the dark. Maybe the knot had come loose... though how, she had no idea. As she reached the wall beneath her bedroom window, she found the rope lying in a heap on the ground. Its end had been cleanly sliced through, so it hadn't come loose. No, it had been discovered instead.
With a long sigh, Morgan decided it would be best to get it over with, and trudged over to let herself in by the front door. She wouldn't be hearing the end of this one for a while.