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On Deck With Ursula Ironfists
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TOPIC: On Deck With Ursula Ironfists
On Deck With Ursula Ironfists 7 Years ago  
Ursula and the Crew; an Introduction

These tales surround the tough-as-nails sailing crew of Assim's Wind. Currently they are under the patronage of Lord Gunther, a cleric that is as venerable as he is wealthy. For him the crew searches ruins and deep dungeons on an abandoned island near the edge of their world for an ancient and sacred Hammer and Anvil. Once found, Lord Gunther will use the Hammer and Anvil to destroy an amulet of Pure Evil...and hopefully pay the crew of Assim's Wind a healthy bounty.

The Crew on board Assim's Wind:

Balthazar, The Captain: The Captain is a young, swarthy southernman. A rogue who commandeered Assim's Wind and is under the patronage of Lord Gunther to secure a sacred Hammer and Anvil in order to destroy an amulet of pure Evil.

Landar: A twelve year old boy, first mate to the captain.

Tosh, Cleric of Jah: the ship's Surgeon and Chaplain. He is draped in fabrics, his eyes glow red, his skin glistens like dark brown resin, a smoking chalice hangs from his neck.

Ursula Ironfists: Cook and Quartermaster. Nothing but a runaway feral dwarf child who found passage on Assim's Wind due to her excellent skills at procuring food, slaughtering monsters, and having a nose for gold.

Matteus, the Wanderer: Ship's Seargent of Arms. A heavily armored, moss covered Paladin from the forests of the North.

Gandayar Slyheart: Ship's Carpenter and Scout. A roguish courtesan who is always biting off more than he can chew. Ursula can never pronounce his name and is always finding new ways of adding more syllables when she yells it (eg. Geyahdayar, Geaandhayaharr, etc.)

Crakehall: Master of Arms. Crake is known for his fighting prowess and tall, grizzly tales where he is the lone survivor. He is the only person on board who can call Martial Law and bestow Captainship onto himself or to One-Eyed Jack in case of Balthazar's absence.

One-Eyed Jack: All around Sailor. Jack's an old salt, with many tales and many skills. He keeps the ship in shape as well as the crew.

Almeric: Ship's Sage and Engineer. A quiet and sometimes wicked seeming character, he is a proficient wizard and a master at destruction. He also has ranks as an engineer.

Tortak: Artillerist and Wizard's Assistant. A brooding elf-boy who has shown his skill with the bow. He is currently apprenticed to Almeric.
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On Deck With Ursula Ironfists 7 Years ago  
Stormin’ the Seas!

It seems I found meself r'spectable employment. Out adventurin' I had taken up in this Northern coastal town. One day I was out smokin' n' fishin' on the docks when I ran across a fella roundin' up crew for his boat Assim's Wind. I decided I wasn't doin' much else, so why not? Especially when he promised killin' and treasure! So I joined and becomed Galley Mistress. Basically I round up grub and cook it. Most of my non-adventurin' time I set-upon the deck, hang a fish line off my toe and puff at my pipe. Fish is a plenty in these waters...AND SO ARE THINGS TO SMASSSH!

I'm lucky that this crew has a wild captain who gets us into plenty of trouble. Our mission at present is to find this magical hammer n' anvil. We got to destroy this vile amulet or somethin' usin' the two. He seems to think it's in these tunnels and caverns out below this abandoned, swampy island. I ain't seen no hammer, but I've seen plenty of stinkin' troglodytes!

Set a spell on the old deck with Ursula and I'll catch you up on what me first month's been like.

Well, we've had several forays into the depths there lookin' for this hammer n' anvil. So far we've found three different sections. One area is full of natural caverns and tunnels that lead to a network of underground lizardmen and troglodyte camps, another is a seemin' dead end of stoneworked walls and rooms, and the best one yet is a bunch'a ancient stonework hallways and rooms full'a traps, gold and minotaurs! I don't think I gotta tell ya which one is my favorite.

Ya see, the problem is every time we go down into these tunnels and halls we always get lizardmen and trogs tryin' to kills us. So, this last time we decided to take matters into our own blood-soaked hands and kill every last one of the scaley bastards! We decided to ambush 'em at the rear of their encampment. We creeped through the tunnels slower than bat shit, but they heard us anyways and came up on us quick! This time though, instead of a normal swarm'a lizards n' trogs we had to deal with a damned troglodyte cleric and his evil zombified lizardmen! In quick time we lined up in front of the exit to cut 'em off. Swingin' madly my maces only thudded against the rubbery flesh of the lizard zombies. This got me thinkin', so I decided to run around to another entrance, to come up behind and sandwich 'em in. Perhaps even smash a few skulls between me old maces!

This worked like a dwarven charm. I ran through the tunnels to their lair's other entrance and came up on true lizardmen, surprisin' em. They quickly surrounded me and I just smashed away with me maces, splattering their guts against the cave walls while they snapped and hissed. As I did so the bodies just piled up around me. I was nearly up to my clam in corpses! When I thought I was gonna get a chance to run over and close in on the zomibes a bunch of lizards that had been hidin' in the water with blowguns (this lizard village has a little lagoon around one side) crawled out. They drew their dripping swords and flashed their fangs as they closed in on me. It looked like I was gonna have to fight my way to those zombies once again!

I heard the cries of my comrades and decided to make a tactical retreat. I struck out at the nearest scale-bag with my small mace and then jetted over to the other opening where my crew-mates were fightin' the zombies. With two strokes I smashed through the trog cleric's skull, sending his limp body to the ground twitching, it's head just a pulpy pile of flesh. Soon enough the other lizards were on my tail and I had to smash through them. Which was just fine as Matteas, Gandayar and the rest slashed their swords through the zombies. With one final rally we overcame the last of 'em and sent them to the ground choking on their own blood.

Covered in their reeking black blood we soon stood victorious. Piles of lizardmen lay at our feets. Not wasting time we dashed into the village to search for treasure and survivors. I noticed across the lake on the dead shaman's (from a previous battle) ritual platform there was a huge pile of coin. I dove in and swam across to fill my pack full of gold AND GEMS! Huge gleaming opals looked me in the eye, at least a thousand gold a piece they was worth! I nearly needed a fresh pair of pantaloons I was so excited. Throwin' the gems in I dove back into the water and swam over to the lizard cheif's island hut and using a nearby torch burnt that stinkin pile of sticks into the ground! Seein' this my mates did likewise. In moments the whole lizardman village was up in flames. It was a glory to behold.

Takin' our newfound winnings into town we stocked up on all supplies and got us all some new weapons. I got myself a new set of masterwork maces, done to my specifications. I had the smithy make each one be replicas of my god's tail. All hail the Mighty Rommdarr! Goddess of the Furious Tail! I named each mace and had the smithy carve their names in Dwarven runes on 'em. The heavy mace is known to all as Rommdarr's Fury, the light DEATHBRINGER! I drooled as he handed me the finished maces, all smooth steel and shining. I dreamed of who's blood I would first bathe them in. I would soon find out!

Finishin' up our duties on the ship and in town we headed back out to once again seek that hammer n' anvil. (we woulda headed back a lot sooner but had to wait an extra three days so Genadayar could dress himself up like some fancy noble and trick his way into a dinner with the Mayor, he didn't even come back with anythin' except some tall tale about how a serpent headed lady lives deep in the tunnels of that island we been explorin. Supposedly she turned a town cleric to stone and he now stands in the town square, totally forgotten that he used to be alive.)

++ More action n' adventure in Stormin The Seas Part II ++


Stormin’ the Seas part II

So, as we set sail back on to the abandoned island ruins we formed a plan to search out the further reaches of the tunnels (now that we don't have to worry about Lizardmen ambushes no more! Rot in pieces you filthy wretches!). We docked and Matteas, Gahandeyar, and the new elf boy Tortak and meself all clambered down into the passgeways. We headed off towards a great cavern we'd traversed before but hadn't explored past. Perhaps this would be the place where the magic hammer lay?

Comin' up into the great cavern we were met by the same damnable creatures we had killed once before: Dark Mantles! (They look like giant seething mops of flesh. They hang down from the cavern ceilin' and drop on ya as ya pass em by. It's then they start tryin' to grab at ya and pull ya in. The whole time they fart out this black cloud of concealment. It makes it so's you can't hit em every time. CURSE THEM!)

As we crossed the cavern floor they floated down upon us, black trails of fumes spurting from them as they drifted closer and closer. As soon as they was in reach we squashed 'em like the bugs they are! They grabbed at us and whipped us with their tentacles to no avail. We slaughtered every last one of em. For nothin! The filthy things didn't even have pockets, so's it' was a waste a time killin' em I say. With the mop monsters bashed and bloodied on the cave floor we moved on through the caverns and tunnels, noticing it getting damper and mustier as we delved deeper.

Gradually we began to see slime and fungus growin' on all the walls. Then mushrooms started appearin' on the floors and in wall cracks. I took notes for grabbin' em fer the crew's dinner. Then, all of a sudden, at this intersection we come upon these fearsome giant mushrooms, and would'ya believe they started screamin. I mean SCREAMIN! Their cries became deafening shrieks I rushed forward and started smashin' one right away. Before we knew it these walkin' mushrooms rose up out of the muck , called by the screams, and came at us! Ropey tentacles lashed out from the walkin' shrooms and grabbed at us, stinging our flesh. Between Matteas and meself we hacked em to pieces. Elf boy even cleaved a screamer in two with his bow, instantly. SMACK! Just like that. After the massacre of mushrooms we cleaned the gunk off our blades and maces and spied about. I noticed that one of the natural passages shootin off from this point dead-ended with a fancy stone worked wall. Ursula smelled her a secret door!

I told the old Gendayar abouts it and he immediately flopped up there to it with his hat and moustache and figured out there was indeed a door, but also a trap! A trap he couldn't trip. His knowledge of such things was limited. I knew this ya'see. He knows more about playin' dress-up than door traps. So, I told 'im to step back. Spittin' on the floor I took a few good pulls on it with a crowbar I had. That popped 'er right open...right open to look straight in the face of a snortin' mad Minotaur! Needless to say I dropped the crowbar and we all high-tailed it straight back to the mushroom alcove with the Minotaur hot on our heels. We all wheeled around to face it's charge as soon as we hit the wide intersection. It stopped short allowin Matteas and Ganedheayar to get in a few fast and furious brutal hits. With a final stroke from Ganeanyar's blade it was down! I almost dropped my pipe outs me teeth. That old fop took down a Minotaur right before my eyes. Now, I'd seen him deal some good damage with that little sword of his, but a hulkin', ragin' bull man? I was impressed. My nipples didn't get hard or nuthin', it takes way more fer that t' happen.

Searchin' the hairy muscle-bound body we found nothin' to speak of 'cept a crude pouch with some gold coins. Well, that'll pay for some more pipeweed and ale anyway. We moved on back down the narrow natural passage and headed through the wrenched open secret door. The walls in this new area were beyond ancient and made of a stone these eyes ne'er seen. There was an eerie silence to it all. Nothin' to be heard save the trickle of water down the stones, feedin' the fungus and slime that clung to the walls. Once we made it into the Minotaur's room we found that's where the money was. A whole pile a gold just waitin' for us! A few little gems too. Glorious gems! Not bad. Searchin' as we went we eventually moved on into a T-shaped hall.

Outta nowhere two large spears shot out of the wall in front of us, one pierced me right in the shoulder so deep I had to rip it out. The other spear grazed Matteas, his fancy armor takin' most of the blow leavin' only a scratch acrossed his metal plates. We're both used to dealin with these long-spears of surprise, so not much damage was done. I know how to brake 'em and he knows how to take 'em! I looked across from us and noticed strange shapes carved into the wall. I walked over and on a closer look could see there was skull heads carved into the stones with large, low mouths that slacked agape. The spears must've shot outta their mouths! Lookin around we saw two doors at either end of the hall, both flanked by rows of spear chuckin' skulls. This made it so we didn't get too far too fast.

Choosin' the left door we did our best to rig the trap. I pressed against it and sure enough a spear splintered against the wall. Triggered, there was no more worry so we stepped up and opened the door to find yet another Minotaur! This one was definitely a burlier beast than the one before. It snarled and charged into the room, stoppin' right in front'a Matteas. It roared as it swung down it's great stone axe at his head. The elf boy squealed and began feverishly pelting it with arrows. The fop and meself ran towards it with ironfists raised. The bullman reared it's massive head and tried to head butt Matteas. Quickly he side-stepped the attack and sliced a wicked gash into it's guts, intestines leaked onto the floor. Gendeayar leapt in front of me and drove his sword deep into the gut-wound. The creature roared once more before it's head pitched forward and it fell grunting to the floor. When Gandy pulled out his sword great buckets of blood spilled onto the floor splashing over our feet and covering the stones.

Now, I know he's the captain's assistant, but I ne'er respected the man before this moment. Two minotaurs in less than ten minutes. I was startin' to snort and rear. My maces remained clean! I needed to draw some blood today! Why's this Gehendyar dandy gettin' all the action!?

Searchin' the blood soaked body we found us some another pouch of gold and what appeared to be a magic circlet. Nothin' like gold to soothe the Dwarven soul! Lookin' about ourselves we noticed we were all beat and pretty scratched up. So we decided with this booty and this new-found area of traps and gold piles we would call it a successful journey. Wasting no time went back to the ship to alert the captain of our findings. He'd surely want a piece of this action!

We found the captain strollin' about the decks givin' orders and cursin' at the crew as usual. He was mighty pleased with our haul'a gold; especially the magic circlet. Takin' the money from our bloody hands he made us set sail for town. Havin' to sail with a weak wind it took us til late to arrive. This left us no choice but to sleep and eat on the ship; but with full stomaches and pockets we slept well that night. The next mornin' the Captain rose early and began curtly orderin' the crew about to get all the necessary supplies fer the ship and our next foray into the tunnels. I stayed back and got the Mess Hall, Galley, and Larder stocked and ordered, the rest went to the shops and yards with the Cap'n. A few hours passed, and they arrived heavin' boxes of supplies, boards, and bags of grain on board. Not one second after it all got stowed away did some fancy man and his lackies come strollin' up and started makin' trouble!

"Ahoy there!" called out the noble looking man from the pier, "We come seeking Lord Schlusler, for he is a wanted man! We have heard that he had booked passage on this vessel. Release him to us!"

"Under what authority!" exclaimed the Captain, looking rather menacing as he strode up the deck towards the man.

"Under the authority of myself, the Chief Cleric of this Town! Lord Shlusler has stolen a wand that is very dear to me. I am willing to go to extreme measures to retrieve it!" retorted the well dressed, and now noticeably well armored Cleric.

The Captain quickly replied, "I've heard of no such nobleman. We book passage for no man on this boat. Especially noblemen. What wealthy man do you know that'd charter a scum-boat like this?"

"Yes'a what 'a man would'a charter this boat? Look at it?" chimed in Geayahdar. The Captain glowered at Gandayar and then returned his stare to the Cleric seeking his wand.

"Ah, you there, you are whom we come to claim! Return my wand at once or prepare to be boarded!" Shouted Cleric, his nostrils flaring.

"I, ah, I don't know what-a you're talking about" said Gandayar coolly as he stroked his moustache.

The Cleric wasted no time responding, "A close friend of mine just reported to me that a man in a foppish hat that fits your mustachioed description was just in his shop seeking identification for the very wand in question! Surrender it at once!"

"We will surrender nothing to you! I know not who you are, and I don't want you on my boat! The man you're describing could be anyone! Many men in this town wear foppish hats and mustaches. Even I have a mustache. Your claims hold nothing here. Leave!" and with that the Captain turned, and began to untie the knots mooring the boat.

"That was not the answer I was hoping to recieve. Men, board this vessel! Today I will regain my wand!" the Cleric bellowed.

And with that his men began to approach the craft brandishing their weapons. Tortak the Elf boy began firing blue streaming missiles of magic from his palms, striking the cleric and enraging him further. "TAKE THE WAND! KILL THEM ALL!" he screamed.

"MURDERERS! MURDERERS!" called out the captain as he leapt about dodging sword and axe blows as the heavily armored posse of the cleric hastened their assault. I ran up beside the Captain and started'a smashin'. They were noteworthy fighters but we contained them and kept them from getting on the boat. We slashed, hacked, and smashed with the vigor of the righteous. One of the men brandishing and axe drove it through Matteas' leg, nearly rending it in twain. With a howl the mighty paladin struck back and hacked the axeman's arm off and it fell into the sea. Blood began to cover the dock. Good footing started to be an issue, but we dug in. Slowly we all one by one leapt off the boat and each took a man. Gandayar even leapt down and ran up behind the cleric's back. Taking advantage of his situation Geandayar let out a vile snicker as he reached out grabbing the clerics hair. Within seconds he wrenched back his neck and cut off the clerics head. This left only the lanky archer of the cleric's posse standing. Gulping he took a step forward towards the captain, then with a quick look over his shoulder dove into the sea.

Well, we gathered the bodies up quick and stashed them on boad. We made sail and as fast as our bloody little fingers could. Boils on a bladderbeast, there was a good haul'a weapons n' armor on these fallen fighters! I even came out of it with a silver sword. Handy for fightin' Werewolves I've been told. I should also mention the wand Gandayar had indeed stolen. [It took the captain threatenin' to whip 'im to get Gandy to tell the tale'a how he came about the wand. Turns out after his dinner with the mayor he decided to follow his dinnermate, the Cleric, home and steal a wand from his back pocket while they walked the street together. Just like a common theif!] Well, at least it was worth somethin. The Wand of False Life it be called. Supposedly it grants the owner extra vitalities to help them make it through tough fights and long adventures. Tortak the Elf boy carries it now, as he should. He's a delicate little acorn flower, he is! I tell ya one thing, he better be useful. I shouldn't complain. Even though he's got a name like an Orc he still eats like an elf, and that means less food I gotta catch.

Takin' stock again of our treasures we weighed down the bodies and then we tossed the naked carcasses overboard. It was time headed back toward the marshy island to continue our hunt for the Hammer and Anvil.
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On Deck With Ursula Ironfists 6 Years, 12 Months ago  
The Captain Dies

Oh, lads, this part o' the tale is sad indeed. This little lady shivers at the thought'a what I seen. An I seen a lot. Set a spell up here on the deck and let me weave this turbulent tale for ya.

As it was, we could no longer venture into that nearest port town again, thanks to Gandayar and his antics. So we spent most of our time delving into the dungeons lookin' for the hammer and anvil to destroy the evil amulet (so said to be held in waiting by our patron Lord Gunther of Greyhill and to contain dark necromantic powers).

This last journey was meant to be a simple mining mission. We needed to clear out this collapsed hallway we spotted the last time we were delvin' in the Minotaur's lair. Piece 'a mushroom cake it was supposed to be! I told the captain having the StoneCunning (I am a Dwarf!) made me qualified to be the Head Pick-Dwarf. Lookin' me over the captain nodded his ascent and tossed at me a grip of pitons, a hammer, and some crowbars to carry. Spittin' on me hands I I straightened my belt, my pack and the mining pick I always had stowed. Without a wasted moment we headed back down to the Minotaurs lair. Easin' our way back through the passageways we took the time to cut off the horns of the Minotaurs that we had killed the days before. Fine drinking vessels these would make! Not long after hacking off our last horn we made it to the head of the collapsed tunnel and started to dig it out. With pick-axe in hand I gave orders to the crew, showin' em where the loose spots were, how the rubble should go so it wouldn't spill back. You know, all the Dwarven tricks. Betweens us all heavin' and pickin', pilin' and gruntin' we dug out most of the hallway. Takin' note of the time and the amount of sweat on us, we decided to pack it up for th' day and come back fresh tomorrow. But, as we packed up the gear and mopped our brows we got to feelin' we should take one look around before we headed all the way back. Why waste a moment to kill somethin' and take it's treasure?

Slidin' down stone passages the Captain and I crept away from where we had been noisily minin' all day. Finding where the open hallway intersected another series of halls we picked the largest one and slowly moved down it a ways to enter into a large room. The walls were covered in smooth pale stone, complete with carvings of charging bullmen. It seemed they must'a used this area for worship or fightin' or somethin. We started searchin' the walls for secret doors. Surely there'd be secret doors in a room like this! Our searchin' was stopped short as a giant, shaggy Minotaur mightier than any we'd ever seen roared into the room and charged Matteus horns pointed right at his chest. With it's giant bullhead the Minotaur slammed into Matteus sending his heavily armored body clanging to the ground. Matteus then lay motionless at the feet of the stomping and snorting Minotaur. A faint trail of blood could be seen dripping from the closed visor of his helm. The Captain and I crept around some alcoves to come up behind the stomping wild Minotaur, who was seen once again charging a quickly healed and now standing Matteus. (It helps to have such a strong Cleric like Tosh standing behind you!)

We hacked at the massive bullman back and forth between all of us. Each of us stabbing and smashing at the creature with fury in our eyes. The Captain took advantage of the Minotaur's unguarded flank and struck two deep wounds in its thighs. It's legs trembled as blood ran down and matted the fur above its hooves. With a roar the Minotaur lifted its axe into the air and swooped it down at the Captain. The blad whooshed just over my head. With a soft wet sound I turned to see the blade taking off the head of the Captain behind me. An eruption of blood shot out of the Captain's headless torso as his body fell limp to the floor. His head rolled up to my feet, his open eyes staring up at me. My bottom lip quivered and I felt my maces go slack in my hands. The room stood in blood-soaked silence.

With that the Minotaur let out a hideous roar of laughter. That was enough to break our spell. Gripping our weapons tightly we all advanced and began furiously striking at the beast. We ripped muscle from tendon, and bone from flesh. The Minotaur's muscles glowed with the red of its own blood. With a howl Matteos leaped forward and brought down his broadsword in a violent arc, cutting off the Minotaurs head. The room once again fell silent. Not a sound was heard save our panting breath. Rolling the Minotaur's head about with my foot I exclaimed,
"We shall cover it in copper and hang it from the mast. Let us gather the captain in cloth, search this beast and be away! We must waste no time if we are to save the Captain!"

It was not long after that Matteus and Gandayar quickly started undressing the Captain, scavenging his body for potions and goods.

"Keep all his things in a safe-chest, not in your grubby paws!", I growled while I scrambled around on top of the giant Minotaur searching for jewels. No jewels this day. However, from it's waist did hang a weighty sack of coin. The jewels would come later I told meself, for this had to be the King of the Minotaurs! He must have a horde somewhere. We'd be back to finish this job!

After getting ourselves back onto the boat Tosh performed many smoke-filled rites over the body of the Captain as he tenderly wrapped Balthazar in fine holy cloths to prepare him for the cleric. Matteus paced about at the bow, "We must take him to Lord Gunther, he is the only chance for the captain".

"I agree! He is the most knowledgeable, and this happened on his dime!" I shouted, "Let us make haste at once! The wolves of the underworld already breathe at his neck!"

At that time Gandayar was seen coming up from below deck, cooing and fingering his new mithril armor and tossing about the sword known as Devil's Fist, freshly stolen from the Captain's safe-chest. Noticing the glares from all of us he stammered,

"Oh, this. This is just for the journey. We must all arrive safely, for the captain's life depends on it!" and then gave an odd chortle and twitched his mustache at each of us.

The crew seemed to ignore it. But, I tells ya, I'm takin' note. Ol' Ursula don't play these games!

It took us three days to sail up river to the tiny port town of Estburry where we'd have to disembark and journey overland to the keep of Lord Gunther. I took this time on board to fashion a fine drinkin' vessel out of my Minotaur Horn, includin' a matching one for the Captain. When we got to port we set about finding a decent tavern to slake our thirst and drown our sorrows a bit. We'd also need to find a good local fightin' man to guide us up to the keep. These were dangerous and foreign lands to us.

Bein' so directed we found ourselves a suitable Inn not far from the town centre. Settin' down at a large round table Gandayear pulls out Devil's Fist and places it on the table, "Tonight, we drink to thee Cap-tain!" he said jovially, doing his best to hide the concern from his eyes. Hearing this a surly steward padded over and took our orders. Soon pitchers of wine and gallons of ale were set about on the table in front of us. I poured hornfull after hornfull of delicious ale down me gullet. Each time making boasts and oblations to the Captain. Seeing the night get late we decided it was time to search out a fightin' man. Hopefully drink had softened the steel heart of some rogue in the Tavern, or near-abouts!

Without much trouble Gandayar picked out this old fella by the name'a Crakehall. His face was hideously scarred to the point that his lips were not sufficient to close his mouth complete. His rear teeth poked out of scarred cheek-flesh. His helmet was adorned with giant cat fangs, his cloak was made from the same animals hide. Gandy promised him a master-works Bastard sword , new armor, and a fair share of the treasure if he would guide and accompany us. He agreed to join the crew and with much haste we left the Inn to return to the ship. It was time to begin the journey to Lord Gunther's Keep.

As we began to travel Crake's jaw didn't stop flappin. It seemed he had an endless number of stories to tell. Most of em were about how he'd fight some big hairy beast or some unfathomable demon with a group'a fightin' men and he would end up the sole survivor. Every time. That don't make a Dwarf feel comfortable.

As we traveled through the outskirts of the city, our heads full'a ale, smokin' our pipes and tryin' not to think dark thoughts about the captain, I told a tale of a time I fought a six headed Owl Bear. But right in the middle of it, right before I was gettin' to the part about cuttin' it open to find a belly full'a gems this whole mess'a bandits ambushed us!

"CRAKE!" yelled Crakehall and we were set upon by the thieves. As they charged us, waving their swords, Crake the Crasher hacked them down one by one. With a call of his name he would bring down his sword. With another he would bash the wounded man with his shield. The battlefield was filled with the sounds of:





That's all ya ever heard when you were fightin' next to this guy. The whole lot proved to be poor swordsmen and we had them all slain or running away in little time. Not very affective thieves if you ask me! Rummaging through the bodies I managed to acquire a masterwork battle-axe from one of the generous corpses. (This will do fine fer when I needs to kill some zombies or hack off some dragon teeth!) There was some coinage in the pockets and pouches amongst the rest of the crew, a few breastplates, and a master-work Great Club which somehow got left behind.

Scavenging what we could from the bodies, we got back to the boat and had a miserable night's sleep. Packing' things up quick we headed out the next morn, and onto the road. The road was fairly uneventful. No travelers nor anything else was to be seen. Just birds and the looming miles of mountains in front of us. The Lord's keep was not but another half a days march at least. But, wouldn't ya know, as we marched along there in the rain we were taken by surprise by a roving group of kobold bandits and their snarling pack of weasels! The little lizards even had a shaman with 'em! RommDarr's fury would spare not a one! Or so I thought.

As they closed around us I swung wildly, RommDarr's Fury missing their leathery heads every time. One of their giant weasels took advantage of this and latched onto me with its long snarling fangs. I tore at it mightily to no avail. It hung suspended only by its death-grip on my upper shoulder. Raising my arm I brought down blow after smashing blow with Deathbringer. Thankfully Deathbringer never let me down. I struck every time. With one final bloody smash it loosed its grip and slumped bleeding to the ground. Within moments I was surrounded by kobolds once again. I SMASHED small skull after small skull until there was a thick ring of dead kobold around me, gettin' thicker every minute. I saw the Shaman standing in the back of the horde, reading spells from his pouch and causing a general nuisance to the crew. It was then I saw the large metallic form of Matteus run up and tower over the creature, his sword raised high. Ten hacks of his sword chopped up that pesky leather-sack and shut his magic yap from flappin'.

Clenching my maces I stood back to back with Crake. For every cry of "RommDarr!" there was an equal reply of "CRAAKE!" somewhere behind me. The bodies of Kobolds continued to stack. A large white rat of theirs took an open moment and dashed up to bite me. Its poisoned teeth sunk deep into my leg. With a roar I slammed my maces down into it's flesh. Pounding its rodent brains into the mud. Looking up, I saw Tosh kneeling next to an injured Kobold, holding the little body in his lap. Smoke rose from the lips of the lizard creature and wafted upwards towards Tosh's face. Tosh sucked in the smoke through his nose, mumbling magic under his breath. Tosh was inhaling the creatures life! The kobold gave a final shudder and fell limp in his arms. Tosh turned his red eyes up towards me and smiled. Suddenly, I heard the large leader of the kobolds strike his sheild and cry out and start ordering others about. Chittering and slithering they ran to his side. That was fine by us, it just made it easier to surround em and take em down! Crake took note of the leader and with a hefty shield bash shattered the creature's axe into splinters. Standing there shocked, holding naught but splintered twigs in its claw, the kobold captain ordered a retreat. One too hasty for us to run up an catch em.

I'll boil yer heads with my cabbages! I'll SMASH your SKULLS you slithering scum!

We surveyed the corpses about us. Not much but scraps of skin and leather remained. Taking a good look at the corpse of the dead shaman we found five golden hunks of Amber, a few potions and some scrolls that Tosh added to his pack. There was five of us and five pieces a' amber so that split up right nice. I don't mind a shiny little stone for a fight like that.

Putting our winnings away in our packs we continued our march. It wasn't long before we reached the well-lit keep of Lord Gunther of GreyHill. We pounded on the door and were quickly ushered by his footmen. Once they saw the dead body of the Captain the Lord was quickly summoned. A certain young girl seemed to take the news real hard. Had the captain wet his blade this far afield? I wouldn't doubt it.

Taking us into his private chambers Lord Gunther laid the Captain's body on a table and began consulting his library. He searched for a record of the closest Shrine of Life to which we could bear the Captain. After a long time of pacin' about he finally decided the best place to do this was an old Elven Shrine on the far side of the big island, just across a straight from where we'd been with the Minotaurs. It was there Lord Gunther would, with the help of the shrine elves, perform the rites to bring him back to life.

Again a place these green eyes ne'er seen! I hoped for some Elven treasure and a Captain brought back to life. Maybe some nice mithril armor for meself would make up for all this trouble.

We were not to leave straight-away. We were first to share the fine brandy that Gandayar had secretly acquired for the Lord back in Estburry. Needless to say Lord Gunther seemed to be a man that liked his brandy, especially in times such as these. When the captain that you've hired to find hidden treasures goes down in a bloody heap, your own capacities take a fall as well. After drinkin' down the entire contents of the small keg, we all set about preparing for the journey back.

Tomorrow we would ride to Estburry and sail for the Elven shrine!
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On Deck With Ursula Ironfists 6 Years, 12 Months ago  
The Voyage to the Elven Shrine

There is a cool breeze in the air while gulls wheel overhead. Waves slowly lap at the stern of Assim's Wind as Ursula taps out her pipe on the deck. Her stubby fingers deftly pack a fresh bowl from her pouch into the newly emptied pipe. Clamping her pipe in her mouth she leaps onto the deck rail and begins swinging by ropes down the line until she reaches the bow. Doing a back flip she straddles the bow spit and lights her pipe.

"Oh, gather round, gather round. Here's how she went from the time we left Estburry. We had our patron Lord Gunther the Master Cleric with us, Crake, Meself, Matteus, Tosh, the wily wizard Almeric, and Gandayar was always lurkin' in the shadows. Settin' ourselves aboard the stocked ship, we set out for this mysterious Elven Shrine, where the old Lord Gunther says he can put the Captain's head back on and bring 'im back to the livin'. We had only nine days t'make it to the shrine, or the Captain's head would forever be lopped off. Oh lads, it seemed the world was against us! But, I wasn't too worried. I knew if we didn't make it, we'd still have Craaake! to help us out. Even if I would have to listen to a hundred more stories of how he was th' only one left standin' and unsinged after fightin' the fire fartin' sea wyverns of Mummsk.

"The first leg o' the journey was a rough one indeed. Not a half a day out did giant sea trolls swim up at the ship and clamber aboard. We took turns slicing off choice body parts. Almeric and Lord Gunther took turns throwin' their magic at em. Tosh brought forth his holy chalice and covered himself in its smoke. The thick blue smoke was a perfect cover for him to get up close and run his spear through the creatures. His red eyes blazed as he called out to Jah, stabbin' one right in its rubbery leg. Matteus and meself jumped upon em and cut 'em down to our size. In two slaps of a lizard tail Lord Gunthy and Almeric lit 'em up like rag dolls and watched their slimy flesh burn! There's still three greasy spots on deck that stink t' the highest. A good memory of what we done, and a good warnin' to the next ones that try and climb on board this vessel!

"We sailed and sailed. The sea's bounty was sparse, there be no fish for days! The crew had to eat old rations and the occasional sea bird for nearly half the trip. Nothin' Matteus and I could do about it. We fished our little fangers and toes off. One day he even had seven lines hangin' off his armor, I was hopin some sea beast would get aholt a' all the lines at once and drag 'im over. Not to kill em! Just so's we could fight somethin' else. Well, this little girl got her wish.

"Sailin' the wide, deep, open sea one night I sat upon the deck whittlin' a new chewin' stick for meself when I see the ocean on the starboard side just starts a boilin'. Boilin' I tells ye! Boilin'! Like a mountain risin' out o' the waters this giant smooth head rises on up followed by a pair a' eyes as big as beer barrels. I backflipped over and clanged the clangin' bell. This startled Matteus and Craaake! as they were just lowerin' their eyes-lids from their watch. They both called out and the whole crew was on deck to witness the giant Sea Kraken start throwin' it's limbs about. Arrows were flyin, I was stompin' around on deck, me old mouth foamin for the fight! When all of a sudden it grabs the mast and starts pullin' us down, the cracks of the wood splinterin' and the screams of my mates were all about me ears. 'Hold Fast!' I yelled and prepared to jump on the thing when Matteus beats me to it! He even gets the beast to carry him out there! I dove outs the way as the giant slimy arm swooped over me head and scooped up the heavily armored paladin. "God GIVE ME STRENGTH!" cried Matteus as he was lifted over the deck rail and pulled towards the flashing eyes of the Kraken. Seein' how he's got that end under control I went to smashin' every tentacle that was in my reach. Hunks of flesh and black blood splatter'd me face and the mast as I hacked at the slimy things. My maces smashed true as one tentacle after the other was withdrawn from it's grasp. Lord Gunther shot at the thing his magics. Almeric chanted endless reams of spells, sending forth powerful blasts and severin' several tentacles. Matteus sliced and hacked with his sword. Puttin' one right through it's eye I was told later. Gand'yar ran about wildly, pokin' the thing with his rapier, squealin' occaisonaly as it would try and grab for his little red leggins. It wasn't long before we had the thing burblin' and sinkin on back down into the watery depths from which it came. I ran to the deck rail and threw curses at it. 'I'll fry you alive next time beast! Then I'll hunt down yer mother and shit in her eye! Then clean off the shit and fry her alive!' All this talk of fryin' got me. I started slicin' off pieces of tentacle and took em down below deck and fried up some slices for everyone. We all feasted on the giant fried rings of flesh...with my own hand made dippin' sauce.

"The excitement from that night faded as more and more days of listless sailin' went by. The winds were poor and so were our spirits. The mast was damaged and we had nothin' but the promise a' Lord Gunther that we'd make it there alive. No one asked if we'd make it back.

"As luck would have it, on the eleventh day we dropped anchor off the shores of the Elven Shrine. Gettin' our gear together we all piled in the rowin' boat and headed to shore. The forested beach loomed ahead of us. There was a dankness to the air abouts, Swamp Country! Yes, it was swamp country lads, I can smell me a bog eight conks away I can. I dove overboard, put the roap betwixt me teeth, and pulled us the rest o' the way to the beach. Shakin' off the wetness the hairs on my back-neck stoods straight up. There was gonna be blood spilled today. We cinched up our packs, readied ourselves, and Lord Gunther began cuttin' a path through the undergrowth. The trees and such were thick in these parts. I felt if someone would toss me up high enough I could walk on 'em. Giant winged insects buzzed around our heads, birds and beasts screamed and trilled in the high branches above us. Strange noises and sights filled our senses. This was a wild and untamed place. It put me in such a mood I had t' wipe the drool from me mouth every ten paces. I sensed a good fight was to be had in this muck. As we journeyed on we had the occasional beast wander onto our path, and we killed em. Killed em all. But then we hit the deep swamp. Scum covered everythin', it stank like me bung after a night of shellfish feastin'. I was ready to get to that shrine! I needed to kill some more!

"We just kept sloggin' on, pushin' dead animals and logs out of our way. Then, the air began to carry an acrid sting. Lord Gunther put up his hand. We all crouched low and slogged a little more slowly. The sharp smell grew stronger, we saw somethin' slither in the near distance. Within seconds we heard a shrill, piercing scream as a black dragon swooped down and splashed into the murky waters in front of us. The creature was the size of three horses, and black as Gand'yar's mustachioed heart. It shrieked again and shot a stream of acid through the air, rainin' down on all of us. It's jaws snapped and it's claws raked as it sloshed forward, it's neck slidin' this way and that like a great serpent. We all leapt to the sides of it, tryin' to flank the beast. Craaake! dashed forward with Matteus and began slashing at it's neck and wings. Bashing it with his shield each time, echoing the dragons shrieks with is own cries of CRAAAKE!.

"Runnin' up I jumped over Matteus' back and bashed the thing in the head with RommDarr's Fury, my heavy mace, and then crushed its eye-bone with me small one, the Death Bringer! Lord Gunther would attack and say another spell, the whole while dancin' around it's snappin jaws. Gand'yar was not to be seen. I think he was probably waxin' his cock-piece in the bushes. The black dragon shrieked again and again as we all took flesh from it one by one. It's acid spray coverin' everything around us, it's head swingin' around all the while snapping its toothy maw at each of us. Every time it opened it I tried to smash out a tooth! Crake caught it in the throat with his sword, scales and green liquid flew through the air. Matteus and I took full advantage o' this and cut and smashed at the wound until we nearly took the thing right off! With a gurgling scream the beast reared up and toppled over backwards, sinking into the swamp with an amazing splash that made sure we were all fully soaked. Washed the acid off real nice. I immediately began lookin' for signs of its lair. It was time for treasure! But it wasn't to be today. The old Lord Gunther reminded me not so kindly that we had the headless Captain to attend to. Oh! Dragon treasure! I'll get you in these sweaty little hands yet! I'll be shittin' gems by the time we get back on that boat!

"So, we left the carcass, no time to cut open it's belly fer gems I was told, and headed for the Elven Shrine once more. As we traveled and watched the sun sink ever to the horizon our spirits lifted. There, in the short distance were small stone buildings, covered in vines and moss. The shrine! Doublin' our pace we made it in hardly any time. Panting, we all gasped at the ancient glory and the end of our runnin'. Intricate little patterns of leaves and berries, monsters, elves, swirls, and dancin' girls covered the ancient stone buildings. We hurried to the big one, the one that had the power to bring the Captain back alive! Slashin' through the overgrowth we made our way in. The air smelled old. Strikin' a torch even more intricate designs could be seen coverin' it all, the floor the walls. Those elves sure had plenty o time to make everythin pretty. I thought they'd spend it all combin' their hair and pickin' berries. Who knew they could craft stone like this. Lord Gunther laid the Captain down on this circular thing right in the middle o' the place. Wastin' no time he threw his arms in the air and began to talk his magic. Whorls of smoke appeared around the captain, I was ordered to place his head closer to his body, I snugged em up real close together and tendrils of light snapped and flashed between the severed head and stumpy neck. Energy pulsed around the Captain's body, waves of light and color flowed all about. The stone he was layin' on seemed to turn to rainbow colored water. The waves trembled and pulsed as Lord Gunther's chantin' grew ever more intense, his deep voice blendin' with the near deafenin' roar of the rainbow water. Then suddenly their was a loud crack, the Captain's eyes shot open and he immediately began to crawl away from the stone circle like somethin' was after him. These little dwarven eyes aint seen nothin' like this before! The Captain was alive, and scared out of his mind. Then we saw it. Right below the rainbow waters was a dark cloud. It grew biggger and bigger, then erupted from the pool. A hundred black screaming faces screamed out of the rainbow light. We all attacked at it to no avail. It just howled and screamed as it's cloudy black shape swirled and lunged about. Lord Gunther gave another command and raised his arms, with light shooting forth in a splendid array the creature howled once again as it blasted through the ceiling. With that the rainbow pool dried up and disappear'd. All was deathly silent. We all eyed one another. Suddenly Lord Gunther spoke, "We must go at once!" cried the Lord. Go we did. I strapped the newly alive and very weak Captain onto me back and we ran out the door. We didn't stop until we reached the boat. The dark thing floating and wailing behind us the whole way back. Once on board we hoisted the anchor and to our luck caught some wind that took us far from that evil swamp island.

"Curses! I yelled while I grabbed onto the deck rail, We must return for the dragon's treasures! My cries fell on deaf ears as everyone had gathered around the Captain, cooin' over 'im and tellin' tales. I knew as soon as he had his strength back he'd be orderin' us around agin like old times.

"We sailed for days through these same cursed waters. No real good fights this time to break up the long voyage home, except some pesky Gargoyles that we smashed back into dust. Eatin' fish and sea fowl we picked our teeth with their bones as we spotted our old friendly shores. We set anchor and ferried Lord Gunther on back to Estburry where he'd get passage back to his manse. He gave few words other than to remind us of our real task at hand: Find that Hammer and Anvil! But he also reminded us that the anvil was taken by dwarves nearly two hundred years ago and we'd probably have to hunt that one down through the dwarven lands of the north. NO problem Lord!

With renewed vigor we returned to the depths of our favorite island and began once again searchin' for that treasure and blood we craved so much. Our first foray proved successfull! We slaughtered a whole tribe of troglodytes, skewered a tentacled swamp creature, and cleared away all that trash from the sealed off tunnel. Oh, my little legs trembled with excitement as we pushed away the last of the rubble. I reminded the Captain I smelled gold in these thar halls. We pressed on past the rubble and ended up in a dead end room...filled with giant spiders! We took out the hairy fangers in no time, and in so doin' found a crack in the floor. I stuck me head down in it, and sure enough that old gold smellin nose of mine told me true once more! I quickly tied a rope to meself and dove in. To my surprise it was a long way down and a whole 'nuther level of the dungeon! A vast hallway spread before and behind me. I ran about, my maw slatherin' with foam. Captain! ,I cried, Captain! We must scavenge these depths! GOLD! GOLD! GOLD! RAAAAAAAA! GOLLLLDDDD!!!! I shouted, foam splatterin' the walls and coverin' me chest. And with that I was yanked back upward with a mighty tug on my tethered rope. We would return on the morrow.

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On Deck With Ursula Ironfists 6 Years, 12 Months ago  
No More Junk in Our Trunk

Sun beats down onto an empty deck. Assim's Wind floats listlessly in still waters. The rigging creaks slow and long as the boat gently bobs against the dock wall. "Ahoy!" comes a distant call. Looking up, there can be seen a small burly figure in the crow's nest, a puff of smoke dissipates above its head. "What may I ask ya be doin' on this vessel?" barks the small figure at the bunch of swarthy, rag-wearing youths that had silently snuck on board. Grunting and with another sharp puff the creature leaps out of the crow's nest. Sailing nearly horizontal through the air the child-like cannonball of a dwarf grabs onto an adjacent sail rigging, and using the sail itself for support, slides down and deftly tumbles onto the deck.

"I said Ahoy there! Are ya deef?!" continues the burly dwarf girl. "Oh, I see." she snarls. "Heard o' this crew have ya? Well, we ain't lookin' for no new crew." and with that she spits on the planks and starts to jump onto the deckrail and unbuckle the small mace that hangs by her side. "What's that? Ya come a long way, huh? Ha! I be believin' not a thing that comes out those mouths. But, I'll tell ya what. Set yerself on a board, I'll tell ya some tales. Tales that'll make you shit your mind!"

Pulling up a small barrel, Ursula the dwarf girl climbs on top, puffs long on her pipe and then gives a level stare at the lot of bedraggled youth that had clambered on board.

"Look around this ship lads. LOOK AT IT! It's covered in blood and full a chinks and cuts from ev'ry weapon ya can imagine. We see a lot out here, boys. This last battle was one for the books, and a lesson for anyone who tries messin' with this boat! See, lads, we be explorin' these ruins on an island abouts, killin', seekin' treasure. Just enough to keep this ole' barge afloat and her larders full, a'course. Well, a time back, this ship come under villainous treachery when this old slant-eyed wizard took the captain's sword. That was his first mistake. Seems like there was other bad blood, but it escapes this smokey head. Well, the captain and the crew tried to break into the wizard's headquarters and take the sword back, but instead the wizard kills two crew members and escapes! Oh, I tells ya that troll tuppin' wizard had it comin'!

"Well, just a fortnight or two ago, we sets into the very port where the wizard and his crew stays. Knowin' there'd be trouble Gandayar disguises himself and comes along with me to get provisions. We go in, we sees nobody (and even if we did, these fellas don't know me!). We set sail, and there they were, just like bugs on a blanket. We could see the flashing of steel on their deck as they sat floatin' in their fancy Junk, chitterin' and chatterin' around in that weird tongue o' theirs. With fancy maneuverin' the captain took hold of the wheel and steered us right past 'em. But, they just wouldn't let up. They kept pace with us. There was nothin' we could do. As fast as we'd go, there'd they'd be. Ridin' the same wind!

"We could feel someone was gonna die that day, death hung in the air like an old sea bird. By RommDarr's Tail I would see to it that it'd be none from this crew! We all gathered upon the deck: The Captain, Tosh the cleric, Matteus the MossBeard Paladin, Almeric the Wizard, and meself. We had to come up with a plan. That ship must burn today.

So, we sat about and scratched out the lice from our heads. It didn't seem like we had any other option than to just turn the ship about and fight 'em. Tosh, sittin' on the deck cross-legged, took his sacrament from his robes, placed it into his holy chalice and began calling fire to it. His eyes grew ever redder as they looked up to Jah for inspiration. His mouth hung silently open as he bowed and lowered his head, seeming to have received some kinda message. Standin' up slowly he left the deck and went down to his quarters. He came back from below deck carrying a large grey-black cloth and smiling. It was The Cloak of Manta Ray.

"Brothers and sister." He said, as he sat back down with the crew."Jah has shown me the way." and with that he held up the Cloak of Manta Ray before us all.

"What do you propose, Tosh?" asked the Captain.

With his red eyes gleaming, Tosh responded "Sir, I should put this on and sink their boat." And then began fastening on the cloak.

"Quick, grab the drill and the mallet from the carpenters kit. I want to see this Junk floating at the bottom of the sea!" said the Captain as he quickly stood up, his mustache twitching with excitement, "Jah-speed to you Tosh." and with a wink, the wily Captain Balthazar walked over to the wheel, stared long at the Junk in the distance and began to laugh slowly.

No one wanted them thievin' bastards dead more'n the captain. I tells ya that much. No one.

We all watched Tosh methodically approach the deckrail. His Cloak of Manta Ray shone in the sun, it flowed down his back from the top of his head to the ends of his feet. With his arms upraised he gave a shout and dove overboard becomin' naught but a black shape gliding through the waters, his cloak taking on every characteristic of a Manta Ray.

It seemed like hours had passed, but after a while we heard a scratchin' at the ship's hull. Soon after we saw a wet arm throw itself over the starboard rail. Tosh was back and was pullin' himself on board. In a hurry we crowded around 'im. We could see the Junk was still there off in the distance, but he still could have done his job. It takes a long time to get the sinkin' started with just a few small holes drilled in the hull.

Panting, and dripping salt water, Tosh began to speak, "I cannot drill through the hull. It is too strong. I was attacked. We must try some other way."

"I believe I could be of use." came a cold voice from the edge of the crowd. Almeric, his dark robes gently flapping in the sea breeze, stepped forward. "I do believe that I could cause some serious concern to our friends in the Junk, if given the chance." spoke Almeric as he extended his upturned hand toward Tosh.

"Certainly my friend." dripped Tosh. "Please, take of it and use it well. There is a special place in the dark hells of this world for those men. See that they make their way to it." and with that Tosh unclasped his cloak and began putting it around Almeric's shoulders. "Hold nothing back, my friend."

"Thank you for this opportunity. Tosh, Captain, there will be nothing left of that vessel." flatly stated Almeric as he climbed upon the starboard rail, outstretched his arms and dove into the deep, dark waters.

We watched as he sped off towards the ship. The sun shone bright off the waters, which made it hard for these jungle-cave-eyes t' see much. Then all of a sudden we saw Almeric's shiny black back leap up from the waters, all a-glint in the sun. A stream of energy shot from his hands and connected with the ship's mast producing a giant fireball that engulfed the deck of the Junk. The sails and riggin' burst into flames. We could see the tiny shapes of the crew as they began to run up from below deck, frantically tryin' to put out the flames.

Then there was another jump from Almeric and another bead of flame shot once again from under his Manta cloak. The second fireball struck the ship's deck and with a massive explosion sent the crew screaming overboard, their bodies covered in magic flames.

We all pounded our deck with such a clamor you'd a thought we'd gone mad.

Ahh! That thievin' ol' Wizard! Burn in the foulest of hells you wretch!

But we had pounded too soon. As we looked up again we saw another stream of magic, this one comin' from the ship and aimed right at the black swimmin' body of Almeric! The magic stream shot right through the water with a terrible wail. An eruption of bubbles spewed forth from the sea.

With laggin' speed we watched Almeric make his way back towards the ship.

We all leaned over the rail and helped Almeric climb on up the rope riggin' and onto the deck. He slumped against a barrel, and undid his Cloak. Blood and scorched skin showed itself from underneath his robes. "The wizard still lives. Most of the crew is dead. Now. Now Tosh should go back and sink that floating rat's nest!" spat Almeric, wiping the blood and water from his face.

Laughing, Tosh put his hands on Almeric's shoulders, "No, now Tosh must stay and heal you. You've been badly wounded. Rest my brother. Little red sister will go in my stead." As Tosh spoke, his fingers were working on removing the cloak from Almeric's nearly limp form. "Here, Ursula, take this. You need not worry about breathing with the cloak. Spare nothing." His red eyes glistened as he looked up at me, "Use the tail of the Cloak as Jah would use his Holy Spear." At that moment I could see the mystic healing powers of Jah begin to swirl inside of him. He looked back to Almeric then to the sky, closing his eyes he began to chant.

"'Sure thing', I says to Tosh,'I been waitin' all day t' get my hands dirty!'. So a course I took the cloak, and wrapped it around me. We had t' use some of the deck riggin' to get it to fit right, but once I got it on, I was overboard and swimmin' like a fish. A manta fish. You can glide through the water like it was nothin' in that thing. I tell ya, if Tosh lets me I ain't gonna fish by a line no more. Not when I can just dive overba'rd and grab em! You can't hide from these meaty mits, fish!

"As I approached the Junk I saw a glint of steel from the bottom of the boat. I paused and floated there, my cloak undulating with the underwater current I was ridin'. Somethin' was goin' on here. As I floated closer I saw 'im! There was one a them Junk rats hangin' on the bottom of the boat, tryin' to fix the holes that Tosh had made. I growled as I rocketed through the water, bubbles shootin' behind me as I readied RommDarr's Fury.

'A good Smash in the brain-pan oughta take care o' this vermin!' I said to meself.

"Before I could get my mace in contact with his slit-eyed face he slashed through the water with a blade at menacing speed. A small curved dagger had been curled in his hands. He cut at me with it, tryin' to slash me fine cape! I turned and charged at him again, my maces clenched in me fists and ready to smash! With a gurgling roar I unleashed RommDarr's Fury. I swung it fierce through the water, right for his beady eyes and in me excitement it smashed into the boat hull instead.

Splinters exploded as RommDarr's Fury ripped through the boards. I watched the little pieces of wood float away as I swung fast with Deathbringer, connecting with that Junk rat's little head. Teeth and blood floated slowly on down with the hull splinters.

Soon I was in a rhythm of battle! Smash! Crunch! Smash! Crunch! Smash! Smash! SLASH! That slashin' part was me tail" Ursula says as she stands up on her barrel and points at her rear and pretends her arm is a tail-spear. "Just like that, just like old Tosh said. I could swing it out and jab like a spear. And I did! I kept that deck maggot busy with me tail while I smashed his skull with my maces! He was fierce though! Slicin' out with that curved dagger in the middle of all me smashin'! After much pummelin' his little body let go and just sank on down with the rest. The rest of his body that I had smashed off, I mean. It sank down with that. The smashed off parts.

Well, lookin' at his dead floatin' body and me work ahead, I decided to go and start drillin' some holes in this Junk. But then there was a SPLASH! I look over and see nothin' but a cloud o' bubbles. It only takes me a second more to see that it's none other than that wizard! His rich red robes were all flowin' in the water and he was clawin' at me through it, his eyes all lit up like lightnin'! I stood transfixed as he grabbed aholt of me and sent shock waves through me whole body. My hairs stood up on end as the last of the lightnin' charge subsided. But I tells ya, it stung a might more painful than the lightnin' blow to be touched by such a filthy creature!

This really made me want to SMASH! I grabbed back at the wizard as he tried to swim off. I would smash him, smash him with meself! I reached out and put my arm under his neck, then put my other arm around his waist and pressed into his guts with DeathBringer. I just kept squeezin' and squeezin' him. His little wizard arms were scratchin' at me and struggl'n abouts the waters, but I just kept squeezin'!

I watched all the bubbles stop comin' out of his mouth, and then his little wizard face went slack.

"I released my grip to take out me dagger and finish him for good, 'A good slit across the throat just before I let him sink on down should do it', I thought. But just as I reached for it he twitched and elbowed me in the jaw, in a second he was wrigglin' free and swimmin' away. He was still alive! With a gurglin' RAAAAA! I swung out with me Manta tail, it sliced through the water at a harrowin' speed. There was a crack as it shot straight through the wizard's neck, breakin' his spine bones and sendin' a great plume of his dirty red blood through the water.

"I grabbed at 'im as his limp body floated back down to me arms. I turned that troll tupper insided out lookin' for jewels and magics! I found some fine things on 'im, I tells ya. Fine things! Amongst his robes I found there was a small tarnished silver bird and a sparklin' necklace o' pearls. But no jewels! Bendin' him backwards over me knee I slit his belly open while I floated there. I tore through his entrails. Nothin'. Nothin' but what you'd expect if you slit open a fella's belly in the depths o' the sea. I guess verminous thievin' wizards don't swallow any jewels. I threw his body to the side and dove deep down to search for the body of that daggerin' crewman and see if he had anythin'. I found his limp form folded o'er some coral. Colorin' it with his bleed. Nothin'! So I took his curved daggers, and his punchin' one too. Did I mention that earlier? He was slashin' with a curved dagger, and a punchin' with a punchin' dagger. I punched him in the dead face with it before I swammed back up. That's what you get fer not havin' jewels!

"Takin' my hoard o' treasure I got back to the boat as quick as any feral dwarf girl wearin' a Cloak of Manta Ray could. Which is fast. The captain and crew were needless t' say impressed with my wizard killin' story. Almeric nearly shat his bed when I told him about the pearls and silver bird thing. Which, he comes to tell me later that the silver raven can fly and carry messages across great distances. I ain't heard of no metal that can fly, and I won't believe it til these smashin' eyes sees it!

"The Captain was glad for his curved daggers, Kukri's he called 'em. And he said he'd let me borry his punchin' dagger anytime I wanted to punch somethin' and dagger it at the same time. Which will be often! Don't you doubt it!

"Well, we decided to go on over to the smolderin' ship and kill off any remainin' crew and see what kinda storage they hads on board. Perhaps even find some more t-ttreasure!" at this point Ursula stops to wipe some foamy discharge from her mouth and fling it over her shoulder, where it hits the sail with an audible plop.

"Well, we got the ship ready for a big fight, had old One Eyed Jack secure all the gear, and get them riggin's tied tight. We all took to the bow and readied ourselves for the slaughter. Gently cruising up, we see there are men still on board the junk! Almeric quickly stepped in front of us and put his hands to his head. "There, that one! That is their cleric! Kill him first!" and with that he unleashed a volley of 'orrible *cough* missiles, strikin' the cleric solid in the chest. Huge gaping holes smoldered there, under his armor. I buckled on me maces and got ready to leap aboard. In another instant Almeric through his hands up again and this time exploded the clerics head with his magic arrows. Chunks of it splattered against the Junk's mast. Matteus took this moment to leap aboard the Junk. The heavily armored paladin hopped like a boulder from our boat t' theirs. His sword was slicin' off limbs in no time, lads. He cleaved through them like they was standin' still. Leaves and stuff fallin' out the cracks of his armor the whole time. That's how you know Matteaus has been around; blood covered chunks of underbrush on the open sea. As Matteaus stomped over to the last remainin' of the Junk crew the damned rat leapt overba'rd and dove into the sea.

Tosh and I stood there, just starin' at the blood covered deck of the Junk. Without a word Tosh put on the Cloak of Manta Ray and dove into the water. His sleek black form could be seen divin' deep. I walked over to Matteaus and we watched over the edge of the Junk. Slowly we saw Tosh's form arise up from the depths. Smiling he just bobbed up and down for a while, looking around for any other crew that would try and swim for it. At that point the captain jumped on over to the Junk deck. "Gandayar, get these bodies pushed overboard. This is your boat for the time. Get all that blood off too! Ursula, Tosh, come with me below deck. Let's see if we've got any stragglers." The captain drew his sword and walked up to the door that led below. We followed him on down the creaky wood stairs. It smelled like fish-eyes and sweat down there. We crept through the whole Junk and found no sign of nobody tryin' to hide from us. What we did find was the ship's secret compartment. There was a trick to it. One that ended up sendin' a bolt a lightnin' through the captain. His trap sense was not with him that day. Once shocked though, we got that secret compartment open and found JEWELS! OH! The jewels, lads! Bright shinin' blue ones, as big as me fist! Not only that but did we find us a heap o' gold, the wizards spell book, and a fine sword and shield. Oh, it was a bright day for this little dwarf I tells ye! In my dreams that night I slept on a pile o' gems ten times bigger'n any sleepin' pile I'd had in me dreams before. And that's where she ends lads. We killed em all and took their ship n' their treasure. That's what ya get for tryin' to mess with this crew. All right lads, find your way off the boat now. Go on. And if I see any one of you again, I'LL KILL YA!" spit shooting out of her mouth with that last epithet, Ursula climbs back up to the crows nest with her mace Deathbringer between her teeth. "If I sees ya again, I'LL KILL YA!" she yells again at the bedraggled bunch of youth as they clamber back onto the dock and drift off into the distance.
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On Deck With Ursula Ironfists 6 Years, 12 Months ago  
The Great Skelington Battle

The streets were bustling with carts and carriages. People of all races milled about the open air market, selecting fishes, hardened cheeses, trinkets and hard-wares. Ursula paws through barrels of herbs as a balding and aproned man watches down his nose at her.

"Well, as I was sayin' none of it be yer business! The only thing I know that is your business is sellin' me some o' this shrubbery you call herbs!" Barked Ursula as her head shot out of a barrel, half her stout body still hanging over the edge of it, hands feverishly digging through bruised rosemary.

"How's this then," grumbled the shop-keep, "you spin me a tail or two of that vessel a yours, give an old bored, land-bound farmer a chance t' dream a bit, and I give you an extra peck of herbs...on the house."

Ursula pulled her nose out of the barrel, "All right Old Man. Give me a pinch o' that tabaccy you got in your pouch there, I'll tell ya a little story. Just a tiny taste. Somethin' to whet your appetite."

And with that Ursula jumped full on into the rosemary barrel, raking it all about with her hands to make a proper cushion to sit on. The only thing sticking out of the barrel now were errant strands of rosemary and a apple-cheeked head puffing pensively on a freshly filled pipe.

"Well, shopkeep" Ursula started in her gravely voice before pausing to lift herself and emit a loud and sloppy sounding fart, "Ahh the smell of rosemary. Let me start again, so Tosh and I were belows deck when we here a commotion up above. We run up into the still cool darkness of the night to find a skinny old man with a white scraggly beard and red suit standing over the body of Landar. Gandayar, the Captain, and Almeric were standin' next to him, and so was some squinty eyed fella in big shaggy boots that looked like white panther paws. You could see Landar's brains. What happened next I ain't too sure of. I just kept starin' at that old man's eyes until I felt meself bein' pulled into them, like they were a warm fireplace and blanket that I could just snuggle up to. Then all of a sudden that sly trickster puts his hand to his nose and winks. Next I know we're all standin' around in front of Lord Gunther's palatial keep and that red-coat rag-a-muffin is no wheres in sight...!"

"Who is Lord Gunther?" quickly queried the shopkeep as he scratched his aproned belly.

Ursula stood up like a shot, her hands gripping the barrel edge, her pipe wagging in her mouth,
"Who is tellin' this story?! He's a cleric, now shut your yap before I cram my ass in it!" growled Ursula, taking the pipe out of her mouth to spit and violently sit back down, sending sprigs of rosemary hurtling out of the barrel. Leaning against the barrel wall, Ursula puts her feet up on the barrel edge and starts again,
"Now, as I was sayins, we found ourselves outside of Lord Gunther's keep yet again with another dead body. As was usual the old cleric's house servants ushered us in, took our gear and let us wash our faces. Lord Gunther then appeared and took us into his private den where he worked his magic to preserve the body of Landar. Gunthy then fed us some of his fire-water and cakes n' stuff, told us a bunch a long-winded mumbo-gajumbo about how we gotta get this Landar kid through ogre infested lands to a shrine of the dead in a far-away keep called Heaven's Helm. We passed the night this way, feasting on pheasant and wine while the old man just kept talking.

In the mornin' we all got our gear ready and Lord Gunther brought us to his stables where we loaded up a team of horses with goods to last a month. I tell ya, this Gunthy knows how to keep ya full of tucker and tales! Even though he's just some haggard old man, he's always got somethin' to say! I think it's all the booze he drinks. Well, we saddled up and I hopped on a stout pony named GrumFell and we all trotted out and off. The breeze was brisk and it sent chills down me little salty spine.

For days we rode the trail, through forests and valleys, seein' land I ain't ne'er seen. We passed through Ogre country and heard their echoing howls off in the distance. Oh, my hands ached to smash some Ogre FACE! But we could spare no time, we only had a week or so before the spells put on Landar would wear off and then bringing him back would be impossible. I'll tell ya this, I was not expectin' to come across the dead lands. After the ogre country we passed through nothin' but deadness. Dead meadows, empty mountainsides, no fowl in the air, no beasts on the land, nothin! I tell ya nothin' ain't as un-nervin' as nothin'! The emptiness got into our brains sos our thoughts sounded as hollow and empty as the winds.

After a few days of this Lord Gunther gathers us around the campfire and gives us all a leathern bag.
"Take this," he said, "You will need these on the road ahead. Inside you will find potions that can heal your wounds, a scroll that when activated will protect you from the elements, a few flasks of holy water with which to protect yourself from the undead, and finally a scroll that will turn any handful of stones into divine weapons of protection, guaranteed to strike the heart of any undead creature..."

"Wait, what? What is all this speak of undead? Is that what nightmare roams these lands, mon?" interjected Tosh, his red eyes once fixed on his bag now looking anxiously at Lord Gunther.

Lord Gunther stood and responded, "Tosh, it will be up to you and I to make sure these items are properly administered throughout the group." with that Lord Gunther turned and went into his tent, poking his head back out, "get some rest, I fear tomorrow will be a day you will need it."

"After that we all looked around at each other as the firelight played off our stunned faces. Who knew what lie on the road ahead? It didn't matter, all we knew we had to do was get that Landar kid's body to Heaven's Helm. Scuffin' our feets in the dirt we all drew straws for watch and the lucky ones crawled into our tents.

We woke up to snow. Lots of snow. Thulhame (the squinty eyed guy with cat-foot boots) smiled cheerily at it, his eyes nearly disappearing from his face, "this snow is pure. this snow is bountiful." he intoned and then began packing up his things. "this snow is pure allright, pure minotaur shit!" I grumbled at the tent wall, as I scooped my goods up and saddled my pony.

We rode for hours without a sign of anything, until the captain called a hushed halt. With a finger over his mouth, the Captain pointed to two places up the road. Ghouls! Ghasts! There was a horde of ghouls and zombies, flankin' us on either side of the road! Seein' us they started moanin' and grumblin' and a shamblin ' towards us.

"Put your backs to the rocks lads!" The Captain called out, "Follow me! To the rocks!" he yelled as he ran back t'wards the rocks to the side of the road. I followed him as best I could while the rest of the group seemed to scatter in all sorts a directions. Lord Gunther and Gandayar were busy with the horses, Almeric kept throwing his hands up and down and yellin' curses, Tosh slowly walked down the road towards the ghouls, his spear of Jah piercing the air. The ghouls and ghasts shambled ever faster towards us. The captain and Lord Gunther began peltin' the beasts with arrows. Tosh launched his spear and spilt a ghasts belly straight in two. It collapsed in a twitching shamble.

I roared and leaped forward, smashing with my maces as fast as I could. RommDarr's Fury, me heavy mace, was not striking yet again! I cursed at it and it was to no avail! I swear that theivin' smithy that made it put a curse on it! As I was standin' there cursin' my mace I saw Almeric jump onto a fence post and call out with ferocity, "From the flames of Heaven I send you back to HELL!" and with that a massive fireball burst in the distance, howls came up from the far group of ghouls and ghasts as they were burnt into cinders and carried away with the breeze.

Not to be outdone Thulhame began shouting, "I curse you undead!" and fired a volley of arrows, striking several in the face and limbs. Again, he shouted "I curse you undead!" stomping his white shaggy boots on the snow, sendin' small flurries around his feets. He then ran towards the rocks and stood next to the captain and drew another arrow from his pouch, "I curse you undead!" he screamed again as his arrow flew through the air, taggin' a ghoul in the eye. It howled as it shambled forward.

Growin' impatient to smash I ran from the rocks and out onto the road where the remainin' undead were shamblin'. With a yell I smashed through em all with RommDarr's fury and Deathbringer at me sides. In no time I had that road a cleared o' ghouls. We looked over ourselves and repacked the horses, we had no time to stop for anythin' but killin'. Landar continued to slowly rot, wrapped in blankets on a horses back. We galloped up the old worn road at high speed, only to be nearly thrown off as the horses suddenly began to rear on their hind legs, whinny and buck.

Lord Gunther quickly spoke some calming words and the horses settled down, their muscles never fully relaxing. It was tough to see through all the wind and snow, but I tells ya, as soon as we took a few more paces forward a massive fortress appeared in front of us. Walls as high as the Beggar's Palace, ya know, from them fairy tales. Great old stones lined the ramparts, huge windows and turrets were dotted all about the place. Lord Gunther gave a shout and the horses ran ahead, around the bend of the castle and towards the main gate. We all needed fresh pantaloons after what came next.

Roundin the bend, our horses spirits broke, and our jaws dropped as we found ourselves face to face with a giant skeletal DRAGON! It's jaw hung open with glistening white teeth the size of me! It raked the air with it's razor sharp talons and roared a raspy call. Behind it stood the fortress, and about a hundred skeleton warriors, who clanked their swords and sheilds together in time as they began to march towards us, their cacophony punctuated by the dry roars of the skeleton dragon.

"Today, nor any day longer do I trust you to protect me RommDarr!" I screamed and through my heavy mace to the ground. I turned around in me saddle and took out my new heavy flail, which I had commissioned before this trip, complete with skeletal dragon etched into its metal shaft. I gave a small chuckle at the irony of it all. Then ran up my ponies neck, leapt off its head, and screamed as I hurled through the air towards the dragon. Lord Gunther jumped from his steed and ran towards the first regiment of Skeletons. Lifting his longsword high in the air he gave a sharp call. Light glowed from his sword, and in a flash the entire regiment exploded. Finger bones and ribs rained down over us all. Tosh, inspired by this, followed suit. Drawing his mace he ran up beside me and called out, "Get high, little one, jump up, let Jah bring you to your foe! Irieeeee!"

I felt Tosh touch my back and suddenly I was weightless. "RAAAAAA!" I howled as I was suddenly launched into the air, bringin' my face and my flail to eye level with the skeletal beasts knees. "Not a bad place t' start smashin'!" I yelled and I brang my new flail down with both hands, I smashed and smashed til it's knee was like a bowl of broken teeth. I was shocked that it didn't collapse. "There's some kinda purple light holdin' this thing together! We got to smash it all!" with that last yell, foam started comin' out of me mouth. Matteus heard my calls and ran up beside me, his sword raised high above his head. With a mighty battle cry Matteus began hacking at the things legs, jabbing the blade between the bones and trying to pry the thing apart. I smashed and howled, flying up ever higher, getting near the things jaws I tried to smash its face in! I was gettin a good hole goin' in it's head when I heard Almeric call out from below,
"Dwarf-Child, out of the way!"

He had climbed off his horse and green oozy light swirled about his hands. With a small cackle Almeric sent green slime shooting from his hands and it went straight into the head hole I smashed, I could see it bouncin' around inside. Then all of a sudden the creature threw back it's head and rasped another deafening roar. It was done. It's head exploded with such a force I was knocked back, near into the fortress wall. A clattering of a thousand bones was heard as the beast collapsed, it's necromantic powers gone.

"I've got a bone to pick with you!" I yelled down to Almeric, "this was my beast to slay!"

Almeric merely gave a shrug and scuttled away, keeping close to the fortress wall, and away from the advancing hordes of skeletons. Lookin' over my shoulder I saw the captain and Gandayar run up a small hillock and daringly leap onto the fortress wall, and with great effort they pulled themselves up onto the ramparts. I saw what was happenin. They were takin' out the archers! Did I tell ya that? Those ramparts were a swarmin' with skeletal archers, and some weird lookin' fella that seemed to be commandin' the whole scene. He wasn't no skeleton. I can tell ya that much.

Seein' the captain and Gandayar in need I flew over to the ramparts and we started hackin' and smashin' the archers until there was none. Seein' my opportunity I flew over to the skeleton commander and began smashin' him. He was tough t' smash I tells ya! TOUGH! Almeric and Thulhame, taking notes from Gandayar, ran up the hillock and joined us on the ramparts. Before I could smash the Commander again I heard a strange shout from Tosh, down below in the battlefield, then all of a sudden a cloud of smoke rose up from behind Skeleton Commander and when it cleared, the menacing face of Matteus appeared, "Not today!" he yelled as he sliced the Commanders back with his sword. THe commander swung around to find not only Matteus but Tosh and his spear as well. "Dat's right mon!" called Tosh as he thrust his spear forward, it scraped off the Commander's armor. Then suddenly a large magical sword appeared above us, and hacked down at the Commander. Lord Gunther's Spiritual Weapon! I turned to give a knowing wink to the cleric and saw that he was awash in skelingtons! Hordes of them pinned him against the fortress wall below. With a flash he raised his sword and the ring of skeletons around him shattered into pieces. Seeing him left alone I knew what had to be done. I flew down to him as fast as I could,

"Here Old Man! Jump on me back!" with no time wasted Old Gunthy clambered onto my back, calling back his spiritual sword it hung above us. Looking up we could see the Captain slinging those divine stones at the commander. With a hiss we saw Skeleton Commander dive off the rampart and into the Fortress, his back smoking from the divine stones.

"I see your game!" I yelled, and in a single bound I flew with Gunthy on me back right over those walls to land right in front of old Skeleton Commander. Now, I wouldn't call it a gasp cuz I don't think Skelly could gasp, but some kinda shocked noise came from old commander as he saw me, Gunthy, and his giant glowing spirit sword pop up right in front of his escape. I heard a cry from the ramparts and to our surprise old Thulhame leapt right off and hit the ground runnin. In two seconds he was on Skeleton Commander, grapplin' him to the ground.

They both wrestled there for a while, but old Skull Commander still had a trick or two up his evil sleeves and pinned Thulhames throat to the ground and escaped. His armored feet clanged against the hard frozen courtyard as he bee-lined it for a turret door. "By the powers of all that is holy!" called out Lord Gunther and he sent his spirit sword after the Commander. Divine light flashed as the sword delivered its final blow. Skelington Commander glowed as he stood there frozen for a second, his body in mid stride crumbled to the ground in a hump. Light smoke rose up from between his armor joints. "a-RAA! a-RAAAAAAA!" I growled as I stomped around, flingin my flail back and forth, foam flyin out me mouth, just lookin' for the next fight!

..to be continued.
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