Vengeance: Clawful’s Tale

Written by and copyright © by Robert Clawson

Deep within the dark caverns of Snake Mountain the army of Skeltor was gathering at the command of their master. The small council chamber was cramped with warriors. The higher ranking warriors, Evil-Lyn and Beast Man stood behind the massive spined throne as their leader spoke.
"I have found a way to gain the power of Grayskull and take Eternia for my own," the hooded skull stated, "but this plan does not involve the defeat of He-Man, but his enslavement."
This bold proposition by Skeltor caused a murmur to spread through the gathered warriors.
"No man alive can best He-Man in combat, let alone enslave him," grumbled Blade from the front of the assembly.
Skeletor shook his head, "Blade, always thinking of fighting. No man can best He-Man, but magic can." Skeletor held out his Havoc Staff and created a shimmering image of a thin circlet of gold with a single red gem set in the middle, "Behold, the Diadem of Tajiv. This talisman has the ability to control all life within a hundred miles, including He-Man."
Another astonished whisper spread through the crowd. Evil-Lyn stepped forward.
"You are more of a fool than I believed," she stated bluntly, "if you believe those old wives' tales. The Diadem is only a legend."
"Aah yes, I considered the Diadem a legend until I discovered the Snake Men's documents in the lowest tunnels of this mountain. Those ledgers told of the great Snake Man sorcerer, Tajiv, and the Diadem he created for his master, King Hiss, but the ledgers also told of how they sank to the deepest part of the South Ocean. That is why I gathered you here my warriors. After I gain the Diadem we will launch our greatest campaign ever, on the light side, but first, I send you Mer-Man to retrieve the Diadem."
"Yes, my lord; I will leave immediately," Mer-Man responded.
"Not so fast, I do not trust you to return the Diadem to me." Skeletor told the Fish Man, "That is why I am sending Clawful with you. He is loyal only to me, and his race is immune to the affects of the talisman. Now, go."

A large cloud of dust rose up behind the Land Shark as it cruised across the dry, cracked land of the dark side of Eternia. The trip was going to be long; it was going to take several hours to get to the right part of the coastline, and another three to swim to the sunken ship. Mer-Man was bored out of his skull, and there was no way to carry on a decent conversation with Clawful.
Clawful; now there was an ugly brute. His entire torso and forearms were plated with thick crustacean armor. He had a constant scowl, beady eyes, and two small horns on the tip of his nose. A row of spines started at the top of his head, and ran down back. His right claw had grown disproportionately larger than his left giving his already ugly appearance an awkward lack of symmetry.
Clawful, unlike Mer-Man, was deep in thought. He had posed as a bumbling fool in Skeletor's army for long enough. His plans were about to come to fruition.
Fifteen years ago Clawful had been the son of the king of the undersea Kray Empire. The Kray Empire's capital city of Starlon was as large and powerful in the ocean as Eternos was on land. This is what brought on the wrath of the Ocean King.
The Ocean King was a fierce warrior. He was cold-blooded and scaly-skinned. His eyes were large and well adapted for vision in the murky depths of the ocean. His mouth was filled with hundreds of tiny needle-shaped teeth. His armor and sword were fashioned from the shells of the great golden sea clams.
The Ocean King was the last of his kind; known only by his race: Mer-Man. Mer-Man, in his mad dominance of all sea life, considered the Kray a threat to his authority, so he attacked them with an army of great oceanic beasts. The Kray army fought well, but could not stand up to the likes of sea serpents and leviathans. Clawful's father died in personal combat with Mer-Man himself. Eventually the city was flattened by the continuous onslaught.
Tri-Klops found Clawful a week later, unconscious on the beach. Clawful was taken back to Snake Mountain to join Skeletor's growing army.

When the Land Shark had finally reached the South Ocean, Mer-Man parked it in a cluster of boulders, and the two warriors got out. As they walked toward the ocean Clawful slipped on a patch of loose stones and fell to the ground.
"Get up you oaf," Mer-Man burbled. As he leaned over to help Clawful up, Clawful clamped his massive right claw around Mer-Man's wrist an threw him into a boulder.
"What are you doing, you idiot," screamed the dazed Fish Man.
"Avenging my people," growled the Kray warrior, "and my father, murderer."
Clawful charged and slammed his spined forearm into Mer-Man's face leaving three cuts in the Fish Mans skin. As Clawful lunged again Mer-Man drew his sword and smashed the flat side against the back of the Kray's head, crashing him to the ground. Mer-Man then slammed the pommel of his sword on Clawful's head causing him to lose consciousness. He left Clawful for dead and started his swim for the Diadem.

After swimming for a few hours, Mer-Man finally came upon the treasure ship. The elongated metal ship was built in the form of some kind of sea serpent. The bow was built in the form of a large serpents neck and head arching upward, and the aft portion of the ship narrowed into a tail.
The ship was larger than Mer-Man had first thought and was badly decayed and rusted. It took Mer-Man a good amount of time to find an unrusted hatch that opened into the lower decks. He then spent a couple of hours searching through the decaying crates and piles of precious metals and gems. He finally found the Diadem in a small metal box in the bottom of a rotten crate.
No sooner had he placed the precious item inside his armor than the rotten wooden wall next to him crashed in and Clawful swam through. He was instantly upon Mer-Man and had his arm around the Fish Man's throat. Mer-Man's brain, unable to get oxygen from his gills, shut down, and he saw no more.

When Mer-Man came around, he found himself on a beach with Clawful standing over him.
"I won't let you die so easily for the death of my people," Clawful growled as he lunged for Mer-Man.
Mer-Man dodged deftly aside, and brought out the Diadem. He quickly placed it on his head, and felt the magic flare through his body.
From the ground before him he called up a twenty foot, razor-jawed kylworm. He laughed and called up another, and another. The magic flowed through his mind as his powers were expanded over all living things
"The power..." the Fish Man yelled, "I can control anything now."
As the huge worms surged inward, Clawful leapt upward and used his claw to sever the pincers from one of the creatures' jaw. As the beast howled in pain Clawful sprang onto the creature's back and wrapped his powerful arms around the monster's neck. The kylworm's body tensed as it struggled to free its self from the Kray's deadly grip, but eventually succumbed to the lack of blood in its weak brain. The beast fell to the ground and died as Clawful leapt away. Another of the beasts attacked him, its mandibles clicking in anticipation. Clawful grabbed a large piece of driftwood, and dodged aside. Just as the creature struck the ground where he had stood, Clawful jammed the driftwood through its head, pinning it to the ground. It struggled briefly and died. The last beast wary of the fates of its lost comrades wove around the Kray warrior, looking for an opening to attack. It soon found the opening and rushed toward Clawful. He dodged aside, but not fast enough. The creature's razor-sharp pincer sliced the unprotected flesh of Clawful's shoulder sending hot, sticky blood down his arm. The Kray winced in pain, and the kylworm surged toward him again. At the last moment Clawful brought up his right claw and jammed it into the monster's eye. The beast groaned out its last breath.
"You were lucky to kill three kylworms," Mer-Man said, "but can you kill twenty."
As Mer-Man said this the stone set in the Diadem glowed brighter, and twenty more kylworms rose up out of the soil.
Clawful charged toward Mer-Man, leaping over kylworms. He stabbed at their eyes, and slashed their heads with his huge claw. As he fought through the jungle of writhing worms, he managed to kill several and wounded others. Clawful leapt over the kylworm blocking his path to Mer-Man. He then charged the Fish Man, bringing up his claw as he went. He sprang forward, jamming his claw into the glowing gemstone. It flared once with magic, and shattered.
The remaining kylworms instantly regained their own thoughts and turned on the one who enslaved them. Mer-Man drew his sword in an attempt to save himself, but the enraged monsters had already reached him. He killed one of the beasts before he could no longer move. The kylworms took a few more lunges at the Fish Man, and then burrowed back into the ground.
"You don't even deserve the remnants of this power," Clawful snarled as he removed the shattered Diadem from the bloodied Fish Man's head.
"Help me," Mer-Man wheezed, "I'll do anything for you."
"You can't bring back those you murdered," the Kray replied, "I have now avenged them and leave you broken and humiliated. I no longer care if you survive, but if you ever return to my Ocean I will kill you."
With that Clawful left the beaten Fish-Man on the beach and returned to the ocean. His ocean, his home.

The Grayskull Library