2022 Storm Stomp: The Curse of Captain Bucks

Chapter One: Lost in the Nethersea

Urrlie. Urrlie. Urrlie in the Morning

The waning gibbous moon slid from behind the raggedy clouds at storm’s edge and cast a soft light on the calmest waters he had seen in several days. Finally, finally, after a week of battling wind and wave, the fine crew of the Silver Stormcheater had squeezed enough speed from the magnificent ship to put some decent distance between them and the squall spewing storm building up in the summer heat. Soon they would dramatically change directions to throw the storm off their wake, at least for awhile. So Captain Buck took a break and sat on the slippery deck, sucking on the last of the lemmy fruit, wondering where the rum was and letting the tensions of the last storm run bleed off his shoulders.

Captain Buck. Accursed by his bloodline to be chased and hounded by any storm on the seas that crossed his wake and sensed the ancient aura of his genes. Or maybe they just whiffed the tang of his wet ass crew on the air. Who knew for sure? But they always found him and followed him and the speedy Stormcheater always outran them. So far. Absentmindedly he rubbed his lemmy hands on his wooden leg, tracing the name of Julianna carved in the shin, reminder of an ill timed skinny dip and the huge and hungry Bludger Eel attracted by the underwater dance of the drunken duo. She was sorely missed. Julianna as well.

Oh Captain Buck. Bully Bucky Oakleg they called him and the mention of his name struck terror in every port and harbor on every coast and island across the Panthalassic Sea. Since Buck and the Stormcheater were cursed to be chased by every sizable storm that sought the glory of his demise, Bully Bucky had learned to terrorize any port and harbor just by showing up, claiming a berth and refusing to leave until he had extracted every bottle, barrel and basket of rum, wine, food and provision, danced with every beautiful maiden and lithesome lass and trimmed out the Silver Stormcheater with all the gold and silver and precious jewels he could demand – as soon as the inevitable storm clouds crested the near horizon. No port wanted to see Bully Bucky Oakleg and his lascivious ravenous crew ride into their harbor and hold them hostage, so they all paid up dearly to watch his stern when they left.

But where was the next port? Where was a good harbor to lay up and replenish and have their fill of wine and wenches and shiny things to fill their coffers? He called over his Helmsman, Bob, who lay exhausted on the deck from a grueling 24 hour shift where he refused to relinquish the wheel.

“Great job Bob” the Captain praised the tired helmsman.

“ Thank ye, thank ye Captain” Bob nodded excessively.

“But where are we, Bob? Where in the seven or eight seas are we – I need to find a port.”

“I’m not sure, sir” Bob bobbed and winced. “That last stretch against windage from every direction turned me right round, sir and all i could do was find anywhere to escape the terrible grasp of that storm, sir. She seemed most tenacious and determined to snag us – unusually persistent for just a potential tropical disturbance.” Bob nodded nervously and peered over the railing at the moonlit waves. “And the water, Captain. The water ain’t right. Seems too thick and sparkly. No sir, water ain’t right and the stars are off kilter too and i wish i knew Captain but, great heavens, I’ve failed you and I just need some sleep and…”

“Okay, okay just stop your sobbing and bobbing, man. Call up the nightwatch and go get some rest. We will sort this out in the morning with the Solar Naviseer and set a new course. We’re good for now. I need some rest too.”

And so Bob bobbed away and Captain Buck pivoted up on his oaken leg and pirouetted round to head to his berth for the night, pocketing his lemmy fruit rind to surprise Little Bucky with later.

Across the waters she snickered. She chuckled and the waves rippled and leapt at her delighted demeanor. The winds whistled merrily through her seaweed tresses. Her diabolical plans were working and Lorolorolei, the Empress of the Oceans, the weaver of wind and wave, the Grand Dame of Destruction let loose an evil laugh that thundered through the heavens. (obligatory moohoohaha) Too long had the upstart Captain Buck escaped the curse the gods had laid upon him. Too long had he prospered from outrunning her storms. This chase would end differently. She had camouflaged herself as a mere tropical disturbance to fuel his overconfidence. And she had turned the Stormcheater round and round until she spun them right into the Nethersea – waters that existed outside of normal space and time. A sea of lost legend and a certain doom for the crafty Captain Buck. And so she chuckled to herself and made the slow turn to find his wandering wake, tasting the breeze for wet ass sailors and silently bemoaning the blindness of her one ill formed eye. Soon enough she would see better and she would find him.

Early the next morning Captain Buck awoke with a loud cry, a long oak splinter from his peg leg stabbing his good leg through the sheets hard enough to draw blood and curses. Damnit he needed a new leg soon. Maybe at the next port and maybe some teak or even mahogany. Now that would be some fine wood, fit for a Captain to wake up with every morning! Crawling off his pallet he nearly tripped over Little Bucky, still curled up and snoring by the bed. He reached in his pocket and found the lemmy fruit rind he saved and bent down to wave it under Lil Bucky’s nose. Their eyes flashed open and they immediately gobbled up the sour rind and bleated a happy belch. Lil Bucky was the Boat Goat and never strayed too far from the Captain. Some said Lil Bucky was magical and could hear the stars sing and predict the future. Sometimes after much rum raising, the crew would coax Lil Bucky to sing with the stars and they would rouse Old Two Finger Tom from his usual drunken slumber to interpret what Lil Bucky sang. He was the Goat Whisperer and many a fanciful future that had never come to pass had been translated from Lil Bucky’s baaaaas. All the sailors still loved Lil Bucky, though, and secretly had nicknamed them “The Captain’s Daughter”, for reasons that mostly went unspoken.

Captain Buck, with Lil Bucky not far behind, went up on deck to the Helm and called for Roydan, his Solar Naviseer, to try and determine just where exactly they were. Slowly but steadily, Roydan made his way to the helm, wrapped in a wreath of smoke and an air of mystery, clutching his translucent sun map and a slim necked glass bottle. The morning sun bounced sharply off his yellow vestments.

“Greetings Roydan” said the Captain. “We appear to be in uncharted waters and Helmsman Bob says the water aint right and the shaky stars have eluded his skills.” Bob nodded vigorously in agreement. “What does the bright Sun say about where we are. I need you to look closely so we can set course for the nearest and richest port. And stay comfy a week or so ahead of that last storm.”

Roydan took a long drag off of his bakki stik, tapped it on his bottle and contemplated the horizon. The Sun was only up about 30 degrees but was already excruciatingly bright on the flat water. He squinted. The Captain squinted.

“Well, what do you see?”

“Hmmm. Hard to tell jest yet.” Roydan exhaled a small cloud.

“What do you see Roydan?! Waves, messages, ripples, spots? Do you see any great spots?”

“Well hell yeah i see spots. Ahm starin’ straight into the dang hot sun aren’t I? Ahm seein’ spots everywhere!”

“Aaargh” cried a frustrated Captain Buck. “I mean special spots. You know. Magic sun stuff that tells me where we are on this vast and formless ocean! Help us set a course or i will have you keelhauled and bunking with the fat rats in the dark and grimy boatbowels below.”

“Okay Capn. Simmer down and let me check my Heliomap.” Roydan carefully unrolled his translucent sun map, magically etched on the skin of a high flying sky ray, and held it up to the light. “Un hunh. Hmmm. Yep. Un hunh. Wow haven’t seen that in forever.”

“Well, where are we!”

“Well, considering the auroral disturbances that have filtered through the Heliomap, current fluctuations in the ultraviolet and plasma densities and the proximity of a hypersonic molecular cloud formation, I would say, without hesitation, that we are definitely on the water. Heh heh. Thass an old Naviseer joke. But really. now, it appears we may have wandered into an interstitial electromagnetic space between the real Panthalassian Sea and the Legendary Nethersea which exists from time to time as a mystic subset of the known Universe. Whew. Think I need a nap now and maybe a handful of boiled peanuts to recover my strength.”

“Wait Roydan. You mean we are really in an uncharted place, outside of normal reality?” asked Captain Buck, briefly waving his peg leg about hoping it might transform into a real working limb again. “How do we find a port? Do they even exist here?”

Roydan rolled up his Magic Heliomap and peered through it scanning the horizon. “Aha. Lookie way over there. You can just barely make out the tall peak of a mountain, catching the morning sun. Like a beacon.” He unrolled the map scope and flipped over to the back and dragged his finger across some scribbled runes. “Yever hear of the fabled lost island of Urrlie?”

“Island of Urrlie? That’s a fairy tale” the Captain scowled.

“Oh no” said Bob. “I’ve heard stories in almost every bar we plundered over the years. Sailors who stumbled on it and stayed awhile speak of great treasures of giant pearls and golden statues, free flowing rum and sumptuous festivals full of dancing girls. A mighty sorceress rules the island but she allows no visitor to stay more than three days and nights. They say she has great and mysterious powers.” He nodded profusely.

Two Finger Tom rolled out from under a stack of folded sails, rubbed his eyes and croaked, “Lil Bucky has sung the ballast, uh snug the baggage, uh the ballad sung the ballad of Lost Urrlie before. But only when the moon was dark and the rum was strum. Straw. Strong. The rum was strong. Island only appears in the Panthalassian Sea every Eleven Years and only for a short time. It has a tall tall peak with a cap of snice and snow that flashes in the sun like a bacon. A beetle. A Beacon dang it. We should go there.” Tom passed out and Bob rolled him back under the sails and out of the sun.

“Well there ya go” said Roydan, firing up another bakki stik. “According to my dayta the Sun has just crossed over a Solar Minimum and is starting a new Eleven year cycle. Can’t be just a coincidence.”

Captain Buck took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “Gold. Rrrum. Girls and giant pearls. Sounds like a good port for pirates like us, eh. And maybe these pesky storms won’t know how to follow us into the fairytale Nethersea or wherever we really are. Looks like our new homeport has risen from the Aint Right waters and called us in. Thar she waits, Bob. Set us a course and lets rouse these stinky sailors to raise up some sails.” He reached down and scratched Lil Bucky’s ears and they left the helm for the main deck to headbutt the crew into action. Roydan wandered off for a nap and Helmsman Bob set the new course for the Lost Island, treasures and adventure.

Off in the distance, lingering just out of sight, Lorolorolei began to gather her strength, spread her arms, tighten up her one good eye. Rising up through a towering thunderhead, she squinted and tried to focus on the path of the Silver Stormcheater but she wasn’t quite formed up enough yet to see the ship. But the winds brought her the ripe odor of sailors at work, the sweats of rum and just a tiny hint of….goat! “Oh Bully Bucky Oakleg,” she smiled, “Your day of judgement is coming!”

Way hey and up she rises, way hey and up she rises,
Way hey and up she rises. Urrlie in the Morning!

Chapter Two: What Do We Do With Those Drunken Sailors?

Urrlie. Urrlie. Urrlie in the Morning

High Priestess Yemaya, wise ruler of the mystical isle of Urrlie, settled into the silk pillows of her sacred chambers with a wide and satisfied smile on her face. Plans and preparations for the Summer Solstice Festival were going well and many days of raucous merriment and
celebration would kick off this very night. All of the bars and taverns and public spaces around the glistening harbor would be filled with the finest food and wine, rums and ales, and singing and dancing of all the beautiful citizens of Urrlie. And High Priestess Yemaya, Soothspaker,
Pearlmaker, Caster of Spell and Keeper of The Shell, would be decked out in fine robes and thousand of pearls and she herself would drink and dance until no one else was still standing. A loud gong sounded at the entrance to her chambers.

“Whoa dere now. Who would tink dat interrupting my happiest of moods would be a good ting at dis moment?” she called out. Her handsome but meek assistant Jamal stepped nervously into the room. “ So very sorry to disturb you ma’am, but the Watchers have sent word that a
large and shiny vessel is approaching the harbor and it appears to be the accursed pirate Bucky Oakleg and his plunderous crew. What should we do?”

“Ah well now just in time for the party. Bully Bucky Oakleg and his thirsty band of stinky sailors. I see no clouds on the horizon, chasing his putrid wake. The Nethersea seems cool and calm. Show him the hospitality of Urrlie, but put him in the most expensive slip we have and let
him fill my coffers while we all enjoy the Solstice Festival. Send him a personal invitation to join me tonight at my feasting tables and we will shoot the shots until I determine what his devious intentions may be. No worries, Jamal. My powers here are beyond anything that rascal Captain Buck has ever seen. Perhaps he may even be sporting good company!” Yemaya’s smile widened even further as she contemplated the excitement of dangerous drinking partners for the duration of the festivities and settled back into her comfy cushions. But no need to fear – no storms here – on the magical Nethersea.

The Silver Stormcheater was filled with excitement too as they approached the Lost Island of Urrlie. Colorful tugs festooned with bright burgees and filled with lovely lads and lasses waving from the decks and tossing petals into the air had been sent to escort them into the harbor – a far cry from their usual reception when they came to port. Every grubby pirate in Captain
Buck’s crew came out on deck to gawk at the enormous golden statue of Tito, Great Warrior of Legend and Keeper of a Thousand Girlfriends whose mighty stick was always raised high to ward off evil and be ready for those thousand girlfriends. The sounds of musicians tuning up and the aromas of roasted meats and frothy ales and spicy rums filled the air as everyone in Urrlie prepared for the Great Solstice Festival.

“It appears that we have arrived at the best possible time for hungry pirates and horny brigands to ever lay siege to this magic kingdom” Captain Buck proclaimed. And all the crew danced around the deck and, led by the sweet bleatings of Lil Bucky, they sang out in joy – “We can’t wait to be drunken sailors, we can’t wait to be drunken sailors, we can’t wait to be drunken
sailors, Urrlie is our Party!”

Roydan the Solar Navigator, always pondering his SunMap, looked up and simply said, “Y’all best go warrsh up first.” and returned to his calculations.

Meanwhile, shrouded in the misty fractal edge between the Neversea and the real world, Lorolorolei tasted the winds and cackled at her findings. “Hmm. Overconfident captain. Yesss. Party platters and fruity cocktails. Unhunh. Sweaty dancing sailors. Nervous goat. Bingo. There is the Silver Stormcheater and that cocky Captain Buck. Ha! Soon he will be crushed by my
swirling arms and plummeting pressures and he will never never see me coming. Nor will that fancy shmancy High Priestess of Urrlie Miss Yemaya. The same ancient magic that keeps Lost Urrlie and the Nethersea hidden from the RealTime can be used by me, Lorolorolei, Queen of the Storm and Raging Wind, to camouflage my every move. I will creep in quietly behind the tall
peaks of Urrlie and in just a few short days, when my eye is tight enough to see, I will pounce on them like a spider monkey all hopped up on Mountain Dew!” And Lorolorolei slipped quietly across the languid sea towards the island.

Embracing the longest days of summer, the Great Solstice Festival of Urrlie raged on for days. The less smelly crew of the Stormcheater partied nonstop in every bar and tavern and alehouse, chasing winsome wenches around the bushes and bandstands, filling their bellies with the finest foods on the island and occasionally staggering back up the gangplank with a load of pilferage to stow or a tasty treat for Lil Bucky. Captain Buck came to the High Priestess’s Feasting Tables and never left her side, enchanted by the pulse of her powerful aura and enthralled by the vast array of riches and jewelry casually displayed everywhere around the port.

They ate and drank nonstop, probing each others adventurous spirits, spinning yarns of magical worlds and adventures on the high seas and occasionally playing a little pirate footsie under the tables. But distracted as he was by Yemaya’s charm and beauty, Buck still became obsessed with the giant iridescent pearls that decorated much of the landscape. They were enormous. The smallest ones the size of cannonballs, the largest ones would barely squeeze into the hold of the Stormcheater. They shimmered and swirled from deep within as if they had a light of their own and Captain Buck was mesmerized by their magnificence. He began to talk about them so much that Yemaya became annoyed as his interest in the pearls rivaled his interest in revelry with her.

“I must know” he finally demanded. “Where do you find these unbelievable pearls. They are stupendous. I must possess some before I leave this beautiful place. And your beautiful company of course.”

“We do not just find them, my Captain” Yemaya answered quietly. “Dey are made here, with much magic and mojo and terror and tears. Do not become so enamored with them that you lose sight of the other amazing beauty offered all around you.”

“But how High Priestess? How is it possible to make these enormous pearls? What oyster or ocean creature can make such a huge treasure.? I must know.” he persisted.

Yemaya stood tall, looming over the tipsy Captain. “I am de Soothspaker, the Pearlmaker, the Caster of Spell and de Keeper of the Shell. The Shell is the leviathan of all oysters, as large as a three masted schooner, and her origins hark back to the very birth of the Nethersea. She is entrusted to the care of the High Priestess of Urrlie forever and is tended to by a hundred
acolytes deep beneath the shoreline nearby. The smaller pearls, she grows fairly often. But the Big Ones – the Ones that have so captivated your greedy mind – they are only produced once a year at the end of the Great Solstice Festival.”

“Well what good timing! Maybe I can see the making of this Giant Pearl. Maybe I can have one or we can come to some sort of arrangement so I could have one. I need one.” Captain Buck’s desire glazed his eyes over and quickened his breath. His greed was suddenly palpable.

“Oh no Captain Buck, you will want no part of dis and you must forget your lust for dis treasure. You see each year the good people of Urrlie make a list. A list of the most annoying and irritating citizens of de island. And at the conclusion of the Festival, there is a secret vote. A vote and a powerful ritual. For whoever is voted de most irritable has their soul painfully extracted and
placed within The Shell and becomes the catalyst, the annoying grit, that becomes the Giant swirling pearls you see around you. So forget about them. Drink up and let us dance and be merry, lest you find yourself high on da list, dear Captain.”

Stunned into silence and still unable to shake his fervent desire to possess a Giant Pearl, Captain Buck tossed back his rum and excused himself from the table. Despite her warning he knew he must plan to steal this treasure. Not just one, but all the Stormcheater could sail away with. He headed back towards his ship determined to come up with a scheme.

Behind him he heard the scuffling and yowling of a pack of his drunken crew, stumbling back towards the Stormcheater, pushing and jostling and each wobbly pirate professing that his love for Lil Bucky the singing goat was greater than all the others put together. Oh Bully Bucky Oakleg dearly loved his crew, but he had plans to devise and no time to deal with these drunken sailors tonight.

Put em in the bed with the Captains Daughter, put em in the bed with the Captains Daughter, put em in the bed with the Captains Daughter, Urrlie in the morning!

 Chapter Three: Rusty Razors

Urrlie. Urrlie. Urrlie in the Morning

The summer sun, fresh off the Solstice and rising early, had just cleared the tips of the rugged peaks that occupied the backside of the Lost Island of Urrlie. Solar Naviseer Roydan, dedicated student of the heliosphere and daytime navigator for the Silver Stormcheater was already up and observing, taking notes and enjoying a sharp draw on a bakki stick. But something about this morning was disturbing him, something he couldn’t quite put a finger on but yet was causing a twitch of anxiety in his sun sensitive eyes.

“Sumpin’ aint right here” he muttered to himself. “ Ah feeel it in mah very bones. It’s the light. Not right. The texture of these solar emanations is not consistent with normal atmospheric filterin of the visible spectrum of light, given a straight line transmission of the photonic particle stream – even allowing for the equatorial bulge in the troposphere.” He hunkered down over his tables and maps spread across the deck. “We might be on the cusp of a significant magnetic transference event, but the sunlight is still bent all wrong.” He took another drag, disposing the stub of his bakki stick in his handy glass bottle, rolled up his maps and wandered off in search of the Captain.

Lorolorolei, the Queen of Storms and Surge and Destruction, hunkered down as well, trying hard to be patient, hiding just behind Urrlie’s tall peaks. She had woven the hidden magic of the Nethersea and the strands of sacred space between realities into an enormous cloak of invisibility, waiting for the Solstice Festival to refill with revelers and priestesses, pirates and dancing wenches and most of all that cocky Captain Buck, before she leapt over the mountains and crushed them all in one quick strike. Already her wind fields threatened to break free from her camouflage and the power of her turgid tides were pushing the rocks on the backside beaches. So far, no one had noticed. “So far, so good, so very very good”, she chuckled quietly.

Captain Buck woke to the ear rattling snoring and bleating of Lil Bucky at his bedside, who had stayed out very late singing untranslatable goat songs of dystopian futures and had been plied with way too much cheap rum by the rowdy pirate crew – who also lay snoring and bleating around the deck of the Stormcheater. Captain Buck’s fervent desires to steal as many giant pearls as possible had not died with his dreams this morning. If anything, they had doubled down. He had hatched an elaborate plan to storm the sacred cavern deep beneath the shoreline, subdue the hundred acolytes who tended The Shell and sail away with a hold full of the giant pearls and maybe even snag a few of the truly tremendous pearls made from the Island’s Irritable Souls.

And this very night, the Annual Ritual of Selecting and Dissecting the most annoying person on the island was scheduled to culminate the Solstice Festival and there would come his opportunity to execute his plan, crack that fat oyster open and abscond with the most amazing treasures in the known worlds. Treasures of Legend!! As soon as he could wake them all, he would gather his hungover heroes and set his devious plans in motion.

Roydan appeared in the Captain’s doorway, head bowed and feet shuffling nervously.

O Captain, my Captain, I’m afraid I may have some forebodings about certain manifestations that have caused me to question the security of our existence in this interstitial reality.” Roydan announced.

“Aaaargh! Say What??! And say it in plain pirate speak”

“Well ok, sir. The light aint right. Like its bouncin off something behind the mountains that i just can’t see and it’s making my spidey senses tingle like troubles a comin. Danger Will Robinson, Danger.” He waved his arms about like a madman.

“Dam’n your eyes man! The sun is up. Not a cloud in the sky. I don’t see any danger anywhere and i have much mischief to make this day and no time for your nonsense and who the hell is Will Robinson?” the Captain demanded, exasperated. “Off with you, man. I have to go back to the Festival and find High Priestess Yemaya and slip back into her good graces. Much to do today, begone”

Roydan just shrugged his shoulders, secured his maps and pad and shuffled off to continue his observations and find a cool glass of ale.

The Solstice Festival kicked back into high gear that afternoon and High Priestess Yemaya actually smiled faintly to see Captain Buck making his way back to her private tables, carrying two flagons of ale and a handful of raggedy flowers hastily plucked from the road by the docks.

“Well well well if it isn’t me Jolly Roger Runaway, Bucky Oakleg. Ha, no worries, mon. Hearing for the first time de way in which we make de giant pearls can be a bit unsettlin for some. Or was it the spicy tuna roll sat out in da sun too long?! No worries, all is forgiven and besides there was much to do to prepare for tonight’s Annual Rituals. Come, Bucky boy. Come and bring to me dat cold beer and dose pretty posies.” Yemaya patted the pillows beside her.

Relieved at the warm welcome, Buck brought the drinks and the flowers and the two of them sat and drank and laughed, piled their plates high with cold meats and steaming seafood and tossed back many shots of golden aged rum that was the liquid sunshine of the festival. All around them the fine people of Urrlie and the not so fine pirates and brigands ate and drank their fill and chased each other lustily around the Pearl Poles. And all would’ve been perfection if not for Buck’s persistent pestering about The Shell.

“Ahoy me lovely, now where did you say the Great Oyster was tucked away, love? Can i go and see it? Do ya bring it out here for that scary ritual, with all the little keepers and sweepers? Or does everybody dance on down to the secret grotto and watch? Can I go, please and pretty please, my love can we go now?” His questions were incessant.

Caught up in the midst of the raucous merriment, no one seemed to notice that the winds had picked up, flapping flags, tugging at tents and scattering the scallop chips across the banquet tables. The clanging of the halyards in the harbor were still drowned out by the trumpets and timpani. The seabirds rose high and began to flee, but no one bothered to look up and see.

Besieged by Buck’s barrage of bother, High Priestess Yemaya extricated herself from his obsession and strode to the center stage of the Festival. Raising her arms heavenward in the unusually gusty winds, she took command and silenced the crowd. But not the sounds of storm descending from the cloudless sky.

“People of Urrlie it is time. Time for you all to join with me, High Priestess Yemaya, Soothspaker, Pearlmaker, Caster of Spell and Keeper of The Shell. Join with me in the Dance of the Trance that leads to the Merger of Soul and Shell and creates the great beauty we love so well.” All the people set down their drinks, forming long Conga lines and began to stomp their feet. In his excitement, Captain Buck leapt to his feet and scrambled to push his way to the front of the line and closer to Yemaya.

“Is this it?” he shouted. “Are we going to the secret place of The Shell now? Is it now?” he quickly scanned the crowd to see if his plunderous crew were getting into place too. “let’s go let’s go let’s go!” he screamed.

With Yemaya in the lead and Buck close behind still anxiously yammering on about the pearls, the people of Urrlie began the ritual procession, stomping and clogging and tapping their way down the long stone pathway to the Cavern of The Shell. Directly behind the Priestess strode Jamal, carrying a jewel encrusted box filled with an array of ancient tools made from the finest silver and sharpest steel. Instruments of power and magic that would be used to prepare and cleanse the sacrifice and extract a cranky soul to mount in the mantle of the giant oyster and become the seed of the next prodigious pearl.

Halfway down the path, Yemaya began to have second thoughts about who was rightfully the most annoying person on the island, as Buck’s desire to possess the pearls had become painfully apparent the closer they got. But when the sky erupted above them, she was suddenly sure who was going to be the prize.

Lorolorolei shucked her cloak of invisibility faster than a five dollar stripper and rolled down the mountains in full Cat 5 fury. All of the Festival stages and structures were swept into the harbor and out to sea in the blink of a well formed eye. Torrential rain begat mudslides and rockslides and the long line of stomping dancing Urrlies quickly transformed to a wild stampede as everyone rushed for the shelter of the Cavern of The Shell. Lorolorolei laughed maniacally as she lapped around the island with howling winds and towering waves and then wrapped the island in her spiraling arms, crushing everything exposed, flooding waters into every nook and cranny and began a deliberate search for her own special prize – Bully Bucky Oakleg.

But Captain Buck was fast and was already at the front of the line and close to shelter and he slipped underground before the wicked storm could spot him. And he thought he was safe for a moment. But he did not escape the angry eyes of Yemaya who called him out in a loud and scornful voice.

“It is you Captain Buck. You have deceived me you scoundrel. You have brought your terrible curse to my magic kingdom to hold us ransom and steal our treasures.”

“Aaargh no m’lady. I thought we had escaped the storms on this mystic sea” he plead.

“And I would never steal your beloved pearls. I love this magical place.” he lied.

“Silence pirate dog” Yemaya had heard and seen enough and she cast a spell of stillness on the Captain and signaled to the 100 surprisingly strong acolytes to subdue the crew and bring the Captain to her as she climbed to stand behind the Great Table of Dissection in front of The Shell. “Bring him to me. There will be no vote this year. This accursed pirate has pestered and annoyed me, ruined my Festival and now betrayed us all. I swear this night he will be our sacrifice, before this storm from hell can take us all down to drown” she promised.

Outside Lorolorolei grew even stronger as she searched for Captain Buck and his fragrant crew. She doubled her surge, seeking to flood every hole on the island until she flushed him from his hiding place. Her mighty winds shook every tree and branch and boom and mast, looking to dislodge him from wherever he clutched and clung. No more would his story be sung. Cocky Captain Buck and the Silver Stormcheater would not live to outrun the lash of her Storm. Not this time.

Inside the cavern, those who had made it to shelter began to climb higher and higher to escape the rush of waters boiling into the place of The Shell.

“Keep Stomping” Yemaya cried.”The Trance of the Dance must arise and the ritual must be fulfilled. Before we all die”

Rendered silent and immobile from the powerful spell, Captain Buck was laid out on the Great Table. With precise movements and long practiced efficiency, Yemaya and a few acolytes quickly stripped him of his clothes, bound his hands and feet and attached him to a great golden chain that swung from the high ceiling above. Jamal opened the jewel encrusted box and stepped aside. The High Priestess reached inside and began to lay the gleaming tools side by side beside the helpless pirate. All gleaming except for one very ancient and rusty blade. Jamal lay the blindfold of mercy across Buck’s eyes just as the giant oyster began to slowly crack open and the High Priestess Yemaya lifted the ancient blade high into the air eliciting a great shout from all the stomping crowd.

And the wind howled. And the waters rose. And the High Priestess began to quickly remove all the hair and grime and stink of fear from the sweaty skin of the paralyzed pirate before she extracted his eternal pearly soul.

Shave his belly with a rusty razor, shave his belly with a rusty razor, shave his belly with a rusty razor….Urrlie in the morning!

Chapter Four: Hurricane on the Half Shell

Urrlie. Urrlie. Urrlie in the Morning

The Ritual of Extraction was moving swiftly towards its soul rending resolution. Captain Buck, gripped in the Spell of Stillness, ceremonial cleansed and hairless, hung limply from the golden chain as it slowly swung over the lip of The Giant Oyster Shell, now gaping wide to receive the pesky pirate’s mortal essence and start creating a new boulder sized beautiful pearl. High Priestess Yemaya selected the last of the sharp and shiny instruments and prepared to chant and pry loose the Captain’s soul.

Many of those gathered held their breath and averted their eyes, for, even though this was an annual occurrence on the island, most could not watch the final step nor hear the tortured wail of the sacrificial soul. So the Cavern of The Shell became churchly quiet for a moment. Even the raging winds of Lorolorolei had ceased for a beat and all was silent. Until there came a mournful cry from amongst the crowd of pirate crew, herded together by the acolytes along the wall. It was Lil Bucky – the Captain’s Daughter, uhh magical goat – who sang the songs of futures wrong on many a stormy night.

“ Baaaa. Baaa. Baabaabaabbbabbbabaaaaa!!” the little goat sang out into the echoing cavern. “Baaabaaabaaababbbaaaaaa” he cried, and the pirate crew yowled along until someone shouted “What the hell is he saying!” Two Finger Tom lurched forward, sobered up by the killer storm seeking to crush them, and translated.

”The Sun shall rule triumphant o’er the stormy sea. Encapsulate in shining Glory. Lifted high for all to see”

“What does it mean?” cried pirate crew and acolytes together.

“Well there’s more stuff in that second verse about needing the Captain alive to conquer Lorolorolei, lest we all are drowned and die….but I need a few drinks to figure out the rest of the rhyming couplets.”

Priestess Yemaya stood firm and waved her flashing tool about. “No it is too late! We must put him in The Shell, a lustrous shiny hell of his own miserable making.”

But Roydan rushed up to the Great Dissection Table, spilling his maps and charts as he came and begged Yemaya to wait and hear him out.

“We need the Captain. We have an opportunity to neutralize this low pressure atmospheric beast and maybe, just maybe, all live to see another sunrise. Now y’all know i have been sensing some perturbations in the magnetic fields of the inner planetary orbits and have determined that a Reconnection is at hand. Did I ever tell you that the Harmonic Spectrum of magnetic resonance that links the Earth to the Sun passes right through the alternate probability spacetime streams we call Multi Magical Quantum Energy Zones. Right. Through. Here. And the Magnetic Reconnection creates a Transference of enormous solar energy that we can harness to trap this storm right in this here monstrous magical Oyster.”

The crowd began to murmur, wondering if Roydan was a heroic genius or if he had just stood too long in the Sun.
“We just need two things to make this work: Better stomping and dancing to trigger and focus the magnetic resonance field. And Courage. Lots of courage – cause this shit’s about to git real.”

High Priestess Yemaya, sensing the outrageous but empirical truth in Roydan’s words, joined in. “I have just the answer for both of those requirements. Acolytes! Break out the Serum of Fortification and Happy Feet. We keep here in the place of The Shell a golden elixir that I have fortified with my spells. It grants courage to those who imbibe and brightens their spirits as they participate in the intense rituals of the Pearlmakings. And sometimes if we finishing cleaning and polishing this big shell before 5:00, we take a break and throw back a few shots just for fun. Pass the elixir amongst the peoples and let them dance and make romance and stomp alive your Resonance!”

And so the gathered crowd eagerly and fortified themselves liberally, as the raging winds outside had resumed their shrieking and more and more of the sea began to fill the great cavern. Roydan and Yemaya repositioned Captain Buck, still suspended on the golden chain, retied the blindfold of mercy, and began to swing him back and forth across the cavern’s entrance – the tastiest bait of all for Lorolorolei – and she took it.

Spying the dangling Captain with her finally well formed eye, the Queen of Storms Lorolorolei gathered her mighty arms and towering waves and swirling winds and rushed madly, impetuously, towards the cavern to finally claim the legendary prize of the Accursed Bucky Oakleg. In her frantic fury she failed to feel the building harmonies as the Stomping and Dancing reverberated throughout the cavern. She missed the mounting magic of magnetic manipulation that Yemaya and Roydan were manufacturing with the maniacal stomping of the Urrlies and the pirates, the singing of goat and guardians, the symphony of seduction that drew galactic goo from the very soul of the sun and triggered a burst of power no world had ever seen, running straight through the heart of Urrlie and into the cavern of The Shell.

And in that moment, Roydan and Yemaya swung Captain Bait deftly out of the way, Lorolorolei rushed past him into the cave and as she turned to see the prize she just missed, her very essence tumbled into the open Oyster, which snapped shut with a clap like a thousand thunders. And no one moved a mussel. (or an oyster)

Until Lil Bucky bleated out Huzzaaaaah in a loud and clear voice. Huzzah, Hurray and Hallelujah they all joined in! For the dangerous and destructive Lorolorolei was sealed shut in the Brobdingnagian Bivalve.

The Sun had triumphed o’er the stormy sea and she would soon be encapsulated in shining glory.

As the wild and joyous celebrations settled, Yemaya found her urge to purge the greedy pirate captain was no longer so strong. And besides, The Shell was filled with the annoying storm and soon there would be an enormous pearl that they would lift high on the mighty stick of the golden statue of Tito – a shining beacon for all those lost on the Nethersea. She was mightily impressed and mildly attracted by the wisdom and dedication of Roydan and so promised to erect a solar observatory on the peaks of Urrlie where he could stay and continue his studies and perhaps play a little Sorceress/Scientist footsie under the feasting tables from time to time.

Captain Buck and his fetid crew, with Lil Bucky on board, were granted leave to return to the Silver Stormcheater and gifted with a few cannonball pearls for their troubles and they soon set sail to find their way back to the Panthalassian Ocean – with more ports to plunder in the endless race from each new season’s storms. But not before they had raided the Cavern of the Shell and stolen all the golden elixir from the Oyster’s Acolytes. Many a night you can hear them across the waters, dancing and fighting on deck, singing loud shanties and professing their undying love for Lil Bucky!