Red Beard opens the door into Grootmoeder’s house. The old woman sits in a rowan wood chair in front of a pentagram with a bowl of sea water within it. The Pope steps in behind Red Beard and eyes the markings on the floor. “Devilry!” he spits. “Dost thou intend to lay a curse upon us, witch!?” Weapons are drawn as other pirates enter the room, casting their eyes about and some of them making gestures to ward off evil.
Grootmoeder whispers harshly, “Silence, fool, or I’ll add yer tongue to my collection!” She turns to Red Beard, saying, “Come forth, victor. I smell the air of glory upon ya! Fear not. Step into the circle and hold forth yer hand!”
Red Beard frowns. He says, “I customarily prefer to know the intentions of a lass before I take her hand.” But he steps forward and places his hand in the old woman’s. She draws a small blade across his palm, and Red Beard does not flinch in the slightest. She lets the blood drip into the bowl of sea water.
She says, “Millalobo! Accept this worthy blood and lay not charge to me soul fer his deeds!” The bowl shakes, then shatters as the sea water spreads across the floor, filling the circle but staying within. Steam rises in a hiss and the markings of the pentagram fade away.
Groany says, “What the hell was that all about? And who is Mill—” Naughty Dog quickly covers his mouth, muttering, “Don’t say it!” The pirate called Two raises an eyebrow as he looks at Groany. He asks, “Do you not know the name of the Mad Sea God?”
Synful Syren smiles mischievously, saying, “Obviously not. Maybe we should just let him say it a few times and see what happens.” Inermis groans. He says, “Oh, yeah! That’s a GREAT idea! Why don’t we ALL say it and talk about what he can go do with himself! Let’s all piss off the Mad Sea God!” Two draws his Stalactar and displays it. He says, “It might be a good idea to avoid offending the one who made this.” Golden Eye, who looks a lot like Two’s younger brother, says, “Who cares? Let’s just get the skull and be gone.”
Red Beard looks down at Grootmoeder, who has her eyes closed and is muttering to herself. He says, “Not meaning to interrupt, madam, but where might I find the skull of Ignaas?” The old woman looks up. She croaks, “Top of the stairs, in the barrel full of rice. But be warned: ya take it at yer own risk! The water spirits will not take kindly to intrusion, an’ I recommend ya just mind yer own business an’ leave the skulls of the traitors in a museum!”
Red Beard walks to the foot of the stairs, stops, and peers back at her over his shoulder. “I’m afraid I can’t do that. There’s a pile of treasure with my name on it, and I intend to claim it. And if any god stands in my way, he’d best back off.” Then he proceeds up the stairway.
The others start to follow, but Grootmoeder shouts, “Not so fast, ya brine gulpers! Don’t ya recollect me words last time!? I got dishes need washin’, so get to it!” Dragora shakes his head and makes for the kitchen, saying, “I dunnow ‘bout the likes o’ ye, but I ain’t arguin’ wit’ a witch! Let’s scrub ‘em and skedaddle!”
∙ ∙ ∙ ∙ ∙
Upstairs, Red Beard draws up the skull of Ignaas from the rice barrel and examines it. The map on the skull shows the location of the Caleuche, and the map seems to shift with the real world. It also indicates that part of Old Ironbeard’s loot was left nearby. He realizes that there will be some serious competition for these items and treasure chests, and he sets out at once to lead his gang to the stash before the others.