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The Storm Cloud

by cpmtiger


Note: This story takes place before Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem.

Captain Storm looked up at the horizon. Dark clouds hovered ominously in the air, and even from a distance, Storm could see the lighting hammering down on whatever the clouds were over.

      "Arr, another thing ter add to me list," the pirate Lupe grumbled.

      Storm's boat, a small, dark wooden rowboat called the Rainbringer was certainly living up to its name. Only a few minutes earlier, the boat had gotten a leak, and now Captain Storm was up to his shirt sleeve collars in cold, ocean water. The Lupe pushed his red captain hat out of his eyes, brushing away its stubborn gray feather. He found himself wishing he'd brought a bucket for bailing water, instead of an extra canister full of grog that he planned to sell.

      The pirate Lupe closed his eyes for a moment. The sword on his belt clinked softly in its sheath. Mystery Island was nowhere in sight. The Rainbringer was sinking quickly. A storm was on the way. Well, he was definitely going to be late for his meeting.

      Storm was a pirate Lupe, but he wasn't a real pirate. He usually talked with a pirate's dialect, and enjoyed swinging his sword around, despite the fact he had no idea how to use the darn thing. Most of the pets he came across gave him odd, puzzled stares. But Storm didn't mind. He enjoyed being a pirate, even if he wasn't a very good one.

      Besides, pirate or not, he had an important job. Storm was part of a group fighting an evil Kougra named Scarback, who planned to steal the magical Emerald Noil Gem in order to take over the world, or something along those lines. Quaz, the leader of the force and the Guardian of the special Gem, had called a meeting to discuss the group's next move.

      From the looks of it, Storm would be missing that meeting.

      Storm scowled through the rapidly rising water at the wood of the boat. "Ye just had ter spring a leak!" he yelled. "Yer first leak, in the middle o' the ocean! Are ye nuts?"

      The boat didn't reply. Storm hadn't expected it to. Looking ahead, he saw the storm clouds moving closer at an alarming pace.

      "We're in the middle o' the ocean," Storm growled at the boat, "Ye've got a leak, an' there be a storm headin' our way!"

     He threw up his paws. A strong wind blew his hat's gray feather in his eyes. The pirate Lupe closed his eyes in exasperation before brushing it away again. The water was now halfway up his legs.

      "An' so ends the Rainbringer," Storm said solemnly, dipping his hat respectfully before leaping into the water. "Agh! Ye could freeze Bruceicles in this here wa'er!"

      Teeth chattering, the pirate Lupe treaded water and looked over at the storm clouds. He realized that the clouds weren't on the horizon anymore. He looked above and groaned. Seconds later, rain began to fall. Storm had never been in such a torrential downpour. His hat drooped over his eyes. The Lupe frowned, taking off his hat and wringing it out. He placed it back on his head, only to have it soak up even more water than before.

      Giving up, Storm shoved his hat farther back on his head, using his ears to anchor it. Turning back to the place where the Rainbringer was rapidly sinking, he shouted, "Arr, this be yer fault! Why did I 'ave to call ye Rainbringer? I should've known!"

      The Rainbringer simply sank beneath the waves, leaving behind an oar and the wooden canister of grog. Mumbling angrily, Storm paddled to the canister and dug his claws in. Instantly, the sticky grog began to leak out of the barrel, coating Storm's paws.

      "So much fer sellin' this on Krawk Island," Storm grumbled. "I don' even like grog!" he said as an afterthought.

      Then the lightning began to flash, and the thunder began to rumble. Storm decided he was okay, since there was obviously nothing for the lightning to strike and set on fire. Then he remembered that lighting was electricity.

      "An' electricity an' water don' mix," Storm muttered. He began banging his head on the barrel, until his head stuck in the grog. After some wiggling, he managed to get loose and decided not to try it again.

      "Arr, I HATE grog!" Storm shouted, glaring at the barrel. It was probably just his imagination, but the grog seemed to flow faster and thicker after he said it.

      Storm looked around. Besides the stupid barrel full of the stupid grog, there was nothing to hold onto. The oar from the Rainbringer had just vanished from Storm's sight. There wasn't a single thing around him, other than water, water, and more water.

      Storm looked to his right and saw a mass of land. Krawk Island? Eyeing the barrel of grog, he wondered if there would be enough left to sell. Probably not, he decided. Wringing out his hat once more, Storm dug his claws into the barrel and turned toward Krawk Island. He might not get there, at least not in time to sell the grog, but he was definitely going to try. With several kicks, Storm began moving toward the hunk of land, leaving a faint, orange grog trail behind him.

      "Arr, Krawk Island's a lot farther than I thought," Storm said aloud. He looked behind him. The storm clouds were already vanishing. "I wonder how tha' storm moved so fast," Storm muttered. He shrugged, and turned back around.

      "AYE!" he shouted, "WATCH WHERE YER GOIN'!"

      A fishing boat had pulled up right in front of him. A surprised starry Yurble was in the boat, fishing pole in his right hand.

      "Um…what happened to you?" the Yurble asked, eyeing Storm curiously.

      "Me ship sank," Storm said shortly. He stuck his paw in the water, groping for his sword hilt. He found it, and wrapped his paw around the silver sword, ready to draw it.

      "Listen, if you need some help, I can-"

      Storm pulled out his sword and pointed it at the Yurble. "How abou'," the pirate said in his most threatening voice, "Ye give me a ride ter the shore." He waved his sword around a bit, and it fell in the water. Storm made a desperate grab for it, and managed to catch the sword just before it sank under the water.

      The Yurble gave Storm an unimpressed look, then said, "Sure. Hop on in."

      Satisfied, Storm climbed into the boat, using the grog tank to push himself in. The Yurble shook his head and set down the fishing pole. He pulled two oars from beneath his seat, and began rowing.

      "So," the Yurble said after a long moment of silence. "What's your name?"

      "Arr, I be Cap'n Storm, commander o' the Rainbringer, least 'til she sunk today."

      "Ah," the Yurble said. He was obviously unsure what to make of the strange Lupe. "Uh…so do you have a crew?"

      Storm shook his head. "I work alone," he replied. "Less chance o' a mutiny, ye know."

      The Yurble nodded again. He and the pirate Lupe made no more attempts at conversation. Storm looked around, wondering how he would get to Mystery Island.

     "Well, here's the dock," the starry Yurble said at last, pulling into a small wooden pier. "You gonna be okay?"

     "Arr, I'm Cap'n Storm!" the Lupe scoffed. "I'll be alrigh'." He leapt onto the boardwalk, took three steps, and stumbled on a Butterfish.

     "I didn' fall!" he called to the Yurble, who rolled his eyes and began rowing away from the island.

     Storm shook his head. "'E was sure weird. Now, where can I get a boat?" The pirate Lupe was familiar with Krawk Island, having lived there most of his life. But when he'd lived on Krawk Island, there hadn't been so many places for tourists. Everywhere he went, there were huge lines of pets. The Eyrie who ran the Swashbuckling Academy let someone enter, then spotted Storm.

     "Ahoy there!" the Eyrie called.

     "Greetin's matey!" Storm called back, grinning fiercely. His hat drooped over his eyes again. With a low growl, Storm took off the hat and wrung it out again. Looking around, he saw something that definitely shouldn't have been on Krawk Island.

      Storm slammed his hat back onto his head, racing toward the nearby crowd. Slipping in with the other pets, he looked around for what he'd seen. Storm had just passed two conversing pirate Krawks when he saw it: A shadow Gelert slipping through the crowd. It looked back, and Storm saw a small collar with a red, eye shaped pendant on it.

      Scarback wasn't alone in his attempts to steal the Emerald Noil Gem. He had a huge pack of Gelerts helping him out. Some of them were plain shadow, instead of the special color of the others, and so wore Red Eye gems. Storm was prepared to take on any Gelert he found.

      The Gelert saw Storm and barked, turning and running the other way. Obviously the Gelert had recognized Storm, in his distinctive captain hat. With a loud growl, Storm began to pursue the Gelert.

      "OUTTA THE WAY!!" Storm shouted to the crowd, who immediately dispersed at the sight of a pirate Lupe chasing a shadow Gelert. Looking behind him, Storm saw the two pirate Krawks coming after him, waving police badges in the air. Storm turned and ran faster. The Gelert wasn't far ahead.

      "Uh-oh," Storm muttered. The Gelert was darting ahead, running faster and faster and paying less and less attention to where it was going. The Golden Dubloon loomed ahead, and the Gelert didn't stop its run toward the window.

      CRASH! The Gelert leapt through the window, shattering the glass. Storm lowered his head and followed the Gelert into the restaurant. Instantly, several pets and their human owners screamed as the two canines bounded over tables, quickly advancing to the opposite window.

      Realizing he would have to overtake the Gelert quickly, Storm leapt up and to the right, landing on a silver ledge used to move trays down the food stations. Snatching some drinks from the ice bucket next to him, Storm dumped them on the ledge in front of him. With a loud howl, the pirate Lupe jumped forward, landing on the wet ledge and sliding forward. As Storm had hoped, he was soon even with the Gelert.

      Timing his move, Storm leaned off the ledge and tackled the Gelert. The two rolled across the floor, knocking over a table and several chairs. In seconds, they had sprung to their paws and stood, growling at each other. The Gelert's eyes flashed angrily.

      Storm scanned the restaurant with one eye, while watching the Gelert closely with the other. The pirate Lupe began circling, as did the Gelert. Out of the window the Gelert hadn't broken, Storm saw a sign above a large, wooden shop overlooking the ocean: "Boats and Boat Equipment."

      Rope would be there, too, Storm realized. Rope, and a boat. That was what he needed. Now he just had to find a way to get the Gelert to the boat shop.

      Looking around, Storm spotted a ripe tomato nearby. Using his tail, he scooped it up.

      "Aye, Gelert," Storm growled. "Ye hungry?"

      "Hungry? What's this, some kinda lame trick?" the Gelert snarled back.

      "Ye bet it is!" Storm lifted his tail, aimed, and smashed the tomato in the Gelert's face. Immediately the Gelert drew back, pawing at the red juice on his face.

      Storm turned and ran, slamming the door open and racing toward the boat shop. He looked back in time to see the Gelert, angry beyond reason, charging at him. Just as Storm had hoped. With a fierce grin, the Lupe thrust the door to the boat shop open.

      A brown Krawk was doodling on the counter with a sharp blue quill. He looked up as the door slammed behind Storm. A Pirakeet on the corner of the desk squawked loudly.

      "I need a boat an' some rope," Storm announced.

     The Krawk ducked below the counter and pulled out a length of tan rope. "This what you had in mind?"

      "Aye, but more. An' hurry up!" Storm added, peering out the window. The Gelert had been held up by a large crowd, but he was still barreling his way toward the boat shop.

      "Here," the Krawk said, shoving a massive pile of rope across the counter. "That'll be twelve dubloons-"

      "Sorry, but I got no time ter pay." Storm snatched the rope off the counter and ran back outside.

      "Wait a minute!" the brown Krawk shouted, scrambling out from behind the counter.

     But Storm was already outside, untying one of the boats. Quickly, the pirate Lupe attached one end of the rope to the boat, which was quickly beginning to float away.

     The Gelert stopped about a foot away from Storm. The pirate Lupe let the rope hit the ground next to him, and growled at the Gelert.

     "Nobody," he snarled, "does something like that to me and lives."

     Storm rolled his eyes. "Why must ye bad guys constantly use clichés? It bores us heroes ter death!"

     "Good," the Gelert retorted, stepping forward.

     Fast as a whip, Storm grabbed the rope from the ground and flung it at the Gelert. It wrapped around the Gelert's stomach and flew back to Storm. The Lupe caught it, crossed the ropes, and began reeling the Gelert in. Out of the corner of his eye, Storm saw the brown Krawk watching him and the Gelert with a stunned expression on his face.

     Once the Gelert was close enough, Storm took out his sword, and, after a few unsuccessful tries, cut several short piece of rope. He tied it around the Gelert's mouth, front paws, and back paws. Satisfied, Storm stepped back and studied his prisoner.

     "Nobody lives, eh? Well, it looks like Cap'n Storm's not dead yet, ye scumbag!"

     The Gelert glared at Storm as the Lupe struck a dignified pose - tripping over the rope in the process.

     "Now wait a minute!" the brown Krawk growled, striding towards Storm. "You can't just rope up an innocent citizen with stolen merchandise!"

     Storm eyed the Krawk superiorly. "If ye knew who 'e was servin' ye wouldn' be stickin' up fer him. Trust me."

     The pirate Lupe turned and began hauling the boat in. The brown Krawk, sounding flabbergasted, stammered, "Aren't you going to pay for the rope?"

     "Aye, I've got no money ter give ye," Storm said solemnly. "None fer this boat, either. I'll sen' some money to ye as soon as I get some."

     "The boat? You're not…" The Krawk watched in horror as Storm beached the boat, dumped the tied up Gelert into it, and leapt in himself.

     "YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" the Krawk roared.

     "I'm a pirate, matey!" Storm shouted, pulling out the oars and dipping them into the water. "I can do whate'er I want!" And with those words of wisdom, Storm rowed away with the Gelert captive and his new boat.

     He was still going to miss the meeting, but at least he had a captive to give to Quaz. Storm grinned as he saw the Gelert still glaring at him.

     "Yer tied ter the boat," Storm said. "If ye try ter make a run fer it, yer not gonna go very far."

     The Gelert muttered something and struggled against the ropes. Storm's grin widened. He knew that the rope was nearly impossible to break or wiggle out of.

     Storm suddenly realized that he needed to name his new boat. He immediately decided against anything with the word Rain in it.

      Well, he thought, the reason he had this boat was because of the storm forcing him to swim to Krawk Island. So maybe something stormy would be appropriate. Lightningbringer?

     Lightningbringer? No way, Storm thought. The next thing he new, the ship would be struck by lighting. Thunderbringer seemed harmless, but where there was thunder, there was lightning. Storm frowned. This ship's name was incredibly difficult to come up with.

     He suddenly remembered the storm clouds on the horizon. He recalled the ominous feeling he'd gotten when he's seen the clouds. Grinning, he realized he'd come up with the perfect name.

     "Aye," he said to the Gelert glaring at him, "Enjoy yer ride on The Storm Cloud!"

The End

If you enjoyed this story, I highly recomend reading my series, Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem!

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