kahran042 (kahran042) wrote,
kahran042
kahran042

Sküljagger Manual: Chapter 2

Previously, on "Sküljagger Manual," we learned a few shocking facts about this game, specifically:

-Sküljagger isn't a pirate.

-Storm Jaxon isn't a pirate.

-There are, in fact, no pirates in the game.

-The story is actually pretty interesting (at least, IMHO.)

Anyway, when we left off, Storm had shown off his cool stolen magical (sorry, but using "magic" as an adjective just bugs me) sword to his buddies Wits and Trina, the latter of whom had a bad feeling about this. Now for...

The people of Westica lived for Mask Day.

It was the one day of the year when they didn't have to work in

the jemerald mines. It was the one, single, solitary day of the

year when Sküljagger actually let them celebrate.

On Mask Day, everyone wore bright green masks made of

bone, straw, and painted wood. According to tradition, anyone

who wore a mask on Mask Day became completely invisible.

All day and all night, the Westicans sang, feasted on roasted

bladeback, and danced through the streets of Tuscamesh.

Storm's favorite part of Mask Day was the story-telling contest,

where old men told tales of how happy Westica had been—

before Sküljagger came.

Later that day, Storm heard the news.

"Hear ye, hear ye!" the Kiltish warriors shouted. "By order of

Captain Sküljagger, there will be no Mask Day! And any

Westican caught wearing a mask will be shot on sight!"

Storm's heart began to pound like crazy his chest. (sic) Trina had

been right. There was going to be big trouble.

And Storm was the cause of it all.

2 THE REVOLUTION

  Storm sneaked down the steps like a thief, careful not to

make a sound. He could hear the voices, rising and falling like

angry waves.

       Storm's father had ordered him to stay in his room and

read. But this was a top-secret meeting—and Storm wouldn't

have missed it for the world.

       Storm hid behind a workbench, and peered into his father's

locksmith shop. Twenty men were gathered around the work-

benches, their faces glowing in the dim candlelight. The air

inside was tense and still.

       Storm had never seen his father so angry in all his life.

       "It's the last straw!" Coe Jaxon said, slamming his fist on

his workbench. "Sküljagger can't just cancel Mask Day!"

       Everyone grumbled in agreement.

       "For ten years," his father continued, "Sküljagger has treat-

ed us like dirt. He's forced us to work like slaves in the jemer-

ald mines. And then he takes all of our jemeralds, packs them

onto ships, and sends them off to the Kiltish King."

       "And we're left with nothing," someone said. "Nothing!"

       "Those jemeralds are ours, not his," Coe Jaxon said, getting

angrier and angrier. "They came from our island. And they

should stay on our island."

       All his life, Storm had heard his father talk about Westica's

incredible jemeralds. He knew that jemeralds were the most

valuable stones on earth—far more valuable than diamonds or

rubies. He also knew that the small island of Westica had more

jemeralds than the rest of the world put together.

       Unfortunately, the Kiltish King had a big thing for jemer-

alds. And that's why—ten years earlier—he had sent Captain

Lucius Khan Sküljagger to conquer Westica and gain control of

her jemerald mines.

       "Cancelling Mask Day is the last straw," Coe Jaxon said.

"It's time to do something about the Kiltish."

       " But what can we do?" someone asked.

       "I've got a plan," Coe Jaxon answered. "And it has to do

with jemeralds."

       It was the most amazing plan Storm had ever heard. His

heart began to thump with excitement, and a little grin curled

the edges of his mouth.

       The next night, at midnight, the men would put on their

Mask Day masks. Then they'd sneak onto a certain Kiltish

ship—the one where all the jemeralds were kept. And then...

they'd dump every single jemerald into Tuscamesh Harbor.

       "Millions of duckets of Westican jemeralds," Coe Jaxon said,

"Dumped to the bottom of Tuscamesh Harbor! At least that

way, every Westican jemerald will stay in Westica. Even if they

are at the bottom of the sea!

◆◆◆

       Coe Jaxon pounded his hammer against the white-hot

metal, sending up a shower of bright sparks.

       "Absolutely not," he said, lifting the hammer and smash-

ing it down again. "You cannot come along tonight."

       It was the next evening, and Storm was standing in the

locksmith shop. His father was at the forge, fixing a broken

padlock. Storm watched his father's powerful arms flex in the

glowing orange light.

       "First of all," Coe Jaxon went on, "Those are secret plans.

You should not have been eavesdropping on our meeting.

                                                          And second of all, you're too

                                                          young to come along."

                                                                 "But you don't get it, Dad,"

                                                          Storm answered. "I've got to

                                                          come along. I've got to help

                                                          out..."

                                                                 "This is serious business,

                                                          Storm," Coe Jaxon responded.

                                                          "Sküljagger said he'd shoot

                                                          anyone caught wearing a

                                                          mask. Anything can happen

                                                          out there tonight."

                                                                 Coe Jaxon put his hands on

                                                          Storm's shoulders and looked

                                                          him straight in the eye. "When

                                                          your mother died, I promised

I'd keep you safe. Remember, you're my one and only son.

You're all I've got.

       "But I can..." Storm began.

       "That's it," his father answered firmly, turning back to the

forge. The hammer fell again, sending sparks into the air.

When Coe Jaxon spoke, his word was final.

       Wits looked up from his workbench, and gave Storm a

shrug. Storm just shook his head. How could his father

expect him to miss out on the most amazing night in Westican

history?

       Storm and Wits worked together in Jaxon's Locksmith

Shop. Storm's great-great-grandfather had founded the shop,

over a hundred years before. Before Sküljagger came, Coe

Jaxon had been the finest locksmith in Westica. Now, he spent

his days swinging a pick in the jemerald mines—while Storm

and Wits did their best to keep the shop afloat.

       "Dad's crazy," Storm muttered angrily, sitting back down at

his workbench. "I've got to go along."

       Storm snatched up his hammer and got back to work.

       "Hey, Storm," Wits said, when Coe Jaxon had left the work-

shop. "I want to show you something."

       Wits walked over and handed Storm an orange ball. Storm

could tell it was Wits' newest scientific experiment.

       "Don't drop it," Wits said. "It's a homemade hand grenade."

       "You're kidding," Storm said, slipping his other hand

beneath the grenade. "What's it made out of?"

       "You combine homemade bubble gum with the crushed

skins of oranges, then add the right amount of extract from the

brain of the giant insect," Wits said. "If my theory is right, the

stuff should explode on impact. And I mean really explode. I

haven't tested it yet, but...."

       Just then Coe Jaxon walked back into the workshop, and

Wits hurried back to his bench. Storm opened up his work-

bench drawer and hid the grenade inside.

       Sküljagger's sword was sitting in there too, beneath some 

papers and an old white shirt. Earlier that day, Storm had

sneaked the sword in without anyone noticing.

       The sword glinted in the dim workshop light, and the

orange grenade sat right beside it.

       Storm grinned.

       "I got us into all this trouble," he muttered. "And I plan to

help get us out."

◆◆◆

       At five minutes before midnight, Coe Jaxon came down the

steps with his mask in his hand. It was a fine green mask,

topped with bone and straw hair. Usually, the sight of a mask

made Storm think of dancing and stories and juicy bladeback

steaks.

       But tonight, the mask made him think of revolution.

       Coe Jaxon put his hand on Storm's shoulder.

       "Big things are happening, Storm," he said. "I'm almost

glad Sküljagger cancelled Mask Day. Because now, we

Westicans are finally standing up for the things we believe in.

Things like freedom and liberty."

       Storm looked down at the floor. His father didn't speak this

way very often.

       "It's going to be dangerous out there tonight," he went on.

"Some of us may not come back. But whatever happens,

Storm, always remember... we did what was right."

       Storm thought he saw his father's eyes clouding up. Coe

Jaxon quickly slipped on his mask.

       "And, Storm," he added, "I want you in your room tonight.

Period."

       He slammed the door, and disappeared into the darkness.

       Storm always thought twice before he went against his

father's word. In fact, there was nothing that Storm dreaded as

much as getting in trouble with his father.

       But tonight, it was worth the risk.

       Storm ran upstairs and pulled an old mask from his closet.

He put on some old clothes that he hadn't worn in years, and

snatched a hatchet from his father's

workbench.

       This was one night Storm was not

going to miss.

       Before he rushed out the door,

Storm pulled Wits' hand grenade

from his workbench drawer, and

slid it in his pocket. Then he

grabbed a fresh piece of home-

made gum, took a sip of island-lime

juice, and blew a huge green bubble.

       "In this get-up, Dad will never know

it's me," Storm said, as he closed the

door behind him.

       Storm rushed through the

darkened streets, keeping an

eye out for Kiltish warriors. Finally he came to the wharf where

the jemerald ship was docked.

       "Ingawa!" Storm said, stopping in his trakcs and gazing at

the scene that spread out before him.

       All the Kiltish sailors were tied to the masts, with gags in

their mouths so they couldn't make a sound. Men in green

masks moved silently across the ships's deck, swinging orange

torches and searching for crates of Westican jemeralds.

       Storm smiled and sprinted toward the action.

◆◆◆

       Storm lifted his hatched high above his head, and smashed

open another wooden crate. The bright green jemeralds—

worth millions of duckets—shone and glistened in the torch-

light. Grunting, Storm lifted up the crate and heaved it over

the railing. The crate hit the water with a splash.

       Tuscamesh Harbor was already covered with wood from

demolished crates. A whole ship-load of jemeralds was sitting at

the bottom of the Harbor. There'd be a real mess in the morning.

       That is, if they lived to see the morning.

       "Faster, men, faster!" Coe Jaxon called out.

       Across the water, the HMS Destruction was coming to life.

The Captain of the Destruction had noticed strange movements

on the distant jemerald ship. Storm could see the Kiltish can-

nons gleaming in the moonlight, and sailors running to battle

stations on the deck.

       Storm was just about to smash open a bright red crate—

which had the words "Downwright Jemerald Cutters" stamped

on its top—when he heard a familiar voice.

       "You there," Coe Jaxon called, pointing right at Storm.

"Help me pull up these crates. It's the last load!"

       Storm slid his hatchet into his belt and ran across the deck.

His father, and three other rebels, were pulling on a rope, try-

ing to lift the last crates of jemeralds through the huge opening

that led deep into the belly of the ship. The men's bright

masks shone in the torchlight. Storm grabbed the end of the

rope and pulled with all his might.

       "Heave!" the men grunted, pulling on the rope.

       When the load was almost to the top, the rope suddenly

snapped and Storm and all the men fell back in a heap. The

jemeralds crashed down into the hole, with a gigantic

"BOOOOOM!"

       The sound echoed through the night, like a cannon-blast.

Lights flashed on in windows all over Tuscamesh.

       So much for secrecy.

       "In one minute, this place'll be swarming with Kiltish!"

someone shouted. "Everyone off the ship!"

       "Not yet!" Coe Jaxon answered. "We can't leave a single

jemerald behind!"

       "But we don't have time!" someone answered.

       Storm saw the broken rope, hanging right above the dark

hole that led below deck. Suddenly, he knew exactly waht to do.

       He took a running leap, snatched the rope, and dropped

straight down—right into the deepest part of the ship.

       Storm hit the crates of jemeralds and tumbled to the damp

floor, gasping for breath. Before he could move, he felt a

warm hairy thing run across his face.

       "Snap-rats!" Storm shouted, leaping to his feet.Suddenly a

sharp tail whipped against Storm's leg, and he screamed in

pain. He kicked wildly at the snap-rats with his boots.

       "Forget the snap-rats," Coe Jaxon called from above. "Just

tie that rope onto those crates, and get out of there!

       Storm took a look around. The hold was dimly-liy, and

seemed to stretch on forever. In the distance, he noticed six

green jemerald boxes that had been left behind.

       "We can't leave a single jemerald on the ship," Storm whis-

pered, clenching his fists. "Not a single jemerald for

Sküljagger's King!"

       Storm took off running, leaping over snap-rats and barrels.

He climbed to the top of the six green boxes, blew a bubble,

and looked around the hold for more jemerald crates. But

there was nothing—just empty barrels and crates filled with

cotton. So he jumped down, picked up the jemerald crates, 

and lugged them over to the hole.

       Storm heard a bell ring out above, and his blood ran cold.

       "They just rang the general alarm!" Coe Jaxon shouted.

"Whoever you are, work fast! The Kiltish are coming!"

       Storm let his hands take over. He had tied sailor's knots so

many times that he could do it in his sleep. He yanked the

knot tight. Then he stood on a purple jemerald crate, jumped

on it three times for good luck, and blew another bubble.

       "Lift me up, he called, trying to make his voice sound dif-

ferent. "And hurry!"

       Storm heard the men grunt as they pulled the rope, then

felt the load of jemeralds lift off the floor. His knot seemed to

be holding, and he rose higher and higher into the torch light.

       When Storm got to the upper deck, his father reached out

and yanked him off the crates. Most of the Westicans had 

already disappeared into the city. The HMS Destruction was

sailing full-speed. her cannons ready to fire. Storm could hear

Kiltish warriors running toward them through the darkened

streets of Tuscamesh.

       "You're a real hero, whoever you are," Coe Jaxon said to

Storm. "Now, GET OUT OF HERE—FAST!"

       Coe Jaxon leaped off the ship—and Storm was just about to

follow—when the HMS Destruction fired off two giant cannon

shots. The balls whistled through the air and exploded in the

water—soaking Storm to the bone.

       Storm noticed three small cannons on the deck. He knew

he should run... but he couldn't resist taking a few pot-shots at

the Destruction. He ran to the first cannon, aimed, and fired.

The shot sailed into the night—trailing a tail of fire—then

ripped through the massive sails of the Destruction. Storm

could hear sailors shouting in outrage, and he raised his

arms in triumph.

       But it was a short triumph.

After firing two more rounds,

Storm heard Kiltish warriors 

boarding the jemerald ship.

       "There's one!" they shouted,

pointing at Storm. "Don't let

the vermin escape!"

       Rifle shots rang out. Storm

ducked behind a barrel, and

bullets splintered the wood all

around him. He took off run-

ning across the deck. When he glanced behind, five warriors

were on his tail and gaining fast.

       Another round of shots cracked in the air and a bullet

ripped through the pocket of Storm's old pants. Wits' home-

made gum grenade almost fell to the ground, but Storm

grabbed it at the last second. In all the confusion, Storm had

forgotten about the grenade.

       But he sure did need it now.

       "Let's hope your experiment works, Wits," Storm said, toss-

ing the grenade over his shoulder at the charging warriors.

       A giant explosion ripped through the night. The impact 

tossed Storm over the rail of the ship and across the water. He

tumbled to the dock, did a somersault and landed on his feet.

Without missing a stride, he turned and sprinted down a dark,

winding alley.

       "Good work, Wits!" Storm thought. "I owe you one!"

       For five full minutes, the Kiltish chased him through the

streets and alleys of Tuscamesh. They screamed at him,

swung chains at him, and shot at him. But Storm knew

Tuscamesh like the back of his hand.

       He ducked into an alley near his house, and scrambled up

the gutter to the roof—just as a unit of Kiltish warriors marched

by. Storm peered around a chimney, watching them pass.

       The warriors were leading someone down the street at gun-

point. The man had a blindfold around his eyes, and his hands

were tied behind his back. The Kiltish pushed him forward,

and the man tumbled to the street.

       Storm saw the prisoner's face, and gasped.

       It was his father.

◆◆◆

       Late that night, Storm was laying awake in bed. In his

mind, he watched the Kiltish warriors push his father to the

ground—over and over again. Now that his father had been

captured, what would the Kiltish do with him? Would they keep

him in prison forever? Would they hang him?

       The house and locksmith shop were very dark, very quiet.

The streets of Tuscamesh were quiet, too—except for a shutter

that banged in the wind, and the bats that whistled around his

window.

       Suddenly he heard a voice—deep and low—somewhere in

the locksmith shop downstairs.

       Storm's eyes widened with fear. Knowing that his father

would never have hidden beneath the covers, Storm grabbed

his hatchet, crawled out of bed, and walked slowly downstairs.

Beads of cold sweat broke out on his forehead.

       "Who's there?" he said, entering the locksmith shop.

       Silence.

       "Wits, is that you?" Storm asked, his voice cracking. "This 

isn't funny...Trina?"

       When Storm heard the voice again, he knew it wasn't Wits

or Trina. The voice seemed to be saying something, but Storm

couldn't understand it. It seemed to be coming from some-

where near his workbench. He walked over, grabbed his work-

bench drawer, and yanked it open.

       A blinding golden light shone forth from the drawer, and

Storm flew back, guarding his eyes.

       It was the sword.

       Storm inched closer and closer, his mouth open with 

amazement.

       And then the sword spoke, in a voice as deep as the ocean.

       "Do not be afraid, Storm," the sword said.

       Storm rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't seeing

                        things. But the sword was still there, glow-

                        ing in his workbench drawer.

                               "Pick me up," the sword commanded.

                        "And do not be afraid."

                               Storm reached his hand into the draw-

                        er. He grasped the sword by the handle, 

                        then slowly lifted it. The sword felt warm in

                        his hand, as if it were alive. Its light shone

                        only on Storm's face, leaving the rest of the

                        shop in darkness.

                               "I am a sword of great power," the

                        sword said. "But you, Storm, can never

                        earn my true power—unless you find a red

                        jemerald, and place it in the hole in my

                        blade."

                               "But how do I find one?" Storm whis-

                        pered.

                               "You must prove yourself worthy of

                        one," the sword answered. "And when you

                        have proven yourself worthy, you will find a

                                  red jemerald—and gain my power.

                                           That is my promise."

                                                              Storm shook his

                                                     head, perplexed. "Who

                                                        are you?" he asked.

                                                               "I am a wise and

                                                           ancient soul," the

                                                            sword said. "Listen

                                                            to my story, Storm.

                                                            Listen and learn...."


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