Malazan Empire: Marzipan Cookbook of the Fallen - Malazan Empire

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Marzipan Cookbook of the Fallen

#1 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 08:38 PM

Hi. So I wrote a parody of Gardens of the Moon that I'd like to share with you guys. I'm done writing it, but it's a pain to reformat into a forum, so it will probably take me a while to post the whole thing. Feel free to comment and let me know what you like/don't like/hate about it.


I don't think it's a big deal since this is just a parody of book 1, but I guess I should mention there might be SPOILERS in here for GotM. Anyway, thanks for reading. I'll try to post the prologue and maybe a chapter or two in a little bit.
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#2 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 08:39 PM

Prologue

1154th Year of Bum's Sleep
96th Year of the Marzipan Empire



Ganos Stabros Paranos stood on the south-facing roof of Sock's Hold, once the premier sock manufacturer in the entire Marzipan Empire, and now just a rundown factory in the backwater Marzipan City. The sock factory stood on a cliff overlooking the city and its bay, and Ganos Stabros Paranos laughed as smoke rose from the Louse Quarter.

"What's there to laugh about on a day like this, boy?" came a gruff voice from behind Paranos. The nine-year-old turned to find himself staring at a grumpy old man with distinctive insignia on his armor.

"You're a Fridgeraider, an elite. An officer in the Marzipan Army."

The man shrugged.

"Is it true then? Is he dead? The First Sword of the Empire, Dusty Ulcer. Is he dead?"

The Fridgeraider blinked in surprise and turned to face Paranos for the first time. "Hood's Blimp, boy. They're still searching for his cooling body back in that frat house in Seventy-Two Cities, and here you are, some snot-nosed noble brat from the capital six-thousand miles away, and you know more than I do."

As the officer finished talking another, younger Fridgeraider approached the two from across the roof. This man had a saxophone strapped to his back.

"Captain Vodkajoe."

"Yes?"

"I've been informed that the army has put out ninety percent of the gas grills in the Louse Quarter. You can still see the smoke from here."

"Very good, Saxophonist," Vodkajoe replied. "That will surely teach the bastards not to grill hot dogs again, though why Swirly—"

"My reasons are my own," a new voice said, this one a woman's. She was plain-faced and green skinned. "Don't dare defy me in this, Captain. Too long have the presumptuous residents of the Louse Quarter sought to supplant our marzipan sales with their sausages. I will not allow such filth in my city."

"You're city, Swirly?" Vodkajoe asked.

Swirly's lips crept up into a slight smile. "That is no longer my name. I have changed it to Latrine."

Everyone stared at each other for a few seconds.

"Bwahahaha," cried Latrine, as she turned and left the three alone on the roof once more.

"Latrine, huh?" mused Saxophonist. "Napakin word, that. Means—"

"It means 'Thronemaster,'" Paranos cut in. "My tutor's Napakin," he explained.

There was another, longer silence, before Vodkajoe sent Saxophonist out to see if he could save any hot dogs before they were all destroyed. After a while, Paranos looked up at Vodkajoe's grimy face.

"I want to be a soldier one day."

"You'll grow out of it."

"Yeah, that's what mother always tells me when I say that I'll wear my Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt for the rest of my life."

Vodkajoe shrugged. "Well, I gotta go somewhere…"

"Okay," said Paranos. Then he sniffed the air and smiled. "Bacon! The bacon factory's on fire!"

"Whatever, kid."
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#3 User is offline   Aptorian 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 09:12 PM

I see what you are doing with the names and some of the references but besides the funny names, it's still the same story you're telling. Same people, same events, referring to the same places. I am guessing you might be branching out more from the start and it becomes more of its own tale after this prologue but right now it's hard to see the appeal.

You do get 10 points for the Thronemaster joke though. I didn't catch it first time around.
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#4 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 09:58 PM

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I'm kind of just sticking with the original storyline. I branch off in some places a bit, but for the most part I tried to keep it a parody of the original story rather than funny fan fic.
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#5 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 10:01 PM

Chapter 1

1161th Year of Bum's Sleep
117th Year of the Marzipan Empire
3 Years Since the Events of the Prologue



Ganos Stabros Paranos sat back on his horse and sighed. It had been nine years since that fateful day meeting Vodkajoe on the roof of Sock's Hold, and he still had little idea where his life had taken him since then.

Today, evidently, it had led him to a scene of slaughter. The bodies before him were piled high, two and even three deep in places. The ground was black around them, as though enormous amounts of blood had been spilt, only to be absorbed into the ground. Seagulls were doing unthinkable things to the bodies. Missing eyeballs, torn flesh…

Paranos shuddered and turned away, toward the officer standing next to him.

"Horrible things, Black Fridays at Wal-Mart."

"Aye," the officer replied, spitting to one side.

The entire entrance to the department store had been clogged with corpses; clearly the shoppers had all murdered each other in a mad stampede to see who could get inside the store first. Paranos noted with horror that the automatic door was still rhythmically opening and closing on one dead customer's neck, gradually decapitating the poor woman in minute increments. A most macabre scene indeed.

"Well, I'd best be off," said Paranos. "I've been assigned to a squad of Fridgeraiders in the Jellibopin Campaign. Smell you later."


***


A few moments later, after both Paranos and the other officer had caught their respective taxis, two shadowy forms appeared in the middle of the parking lot. The first, hunched over and clutching a short cane, chuckled with glee at the sight of slaughter.

"See what we have done, my dear Balls! All our plans are going according to plan!"

"Indeed," replied the second man, Balls. "Remind again, though, Shallowthrone. What did we seek to accomplish by unleashing the Zebras of Shallow on these poor people?"

Shallowthrone stammered for a moment. "Why, personal amusement of course, what else?"

"There is no deeper plan here?" Balls asked. "Nothing that will, perhaps, lead to getting our throne back from Latrine?"

"That time is long past, my friend Balls. We are the masters of a true throne now."

"Ah, yes. The Throne of Shallow. Tell me, what shall we do with such a device of unspeakable power?"

"Very little, Balls. But I swear to you, it will be mildly amusing and offer you some much-needed light comic relief."


***


"Just go straight down Exposition Street," Paranos commanded the taxi cab driver. "I need to get to the capital city of the Marzipan Empire, Boonta, in the next half hour before my boat leaves."

"Sure thing, pal," the cab driver said, pulling onto Exposition Street. The man turned around. "You should know first, Ganos Stabros Paranos. I know you. My name is Tippler. Do you recognize that name?"

"Nope," Paranos replied. "I owe you something?"

Tippler smiled. "Well, no. Not exactly. You see, I am the Flawmaster."

"The Flawmaster?" Paranos cried. "Not the master of all the Flaws himself, and the heir to Swirly, former Flawmaster, who is now the Empress of the Marzipan Empire after her botched assassinations of Emperor Melonhead and his assistant Dances?"

"The very same."

"Hood's milk in a cup!" Paranos cried. "Are you here, then, to make a botched assassination attempt against me, as is the goal of the Flaws?"

"Alas, no," replied Tippler. "I am here to take you through the Empirical Warren, so that you may reach Boonta on time."

"But we're only ten minutes away from Boonta, the capital of the Marizpan Empire, home to Empress Latrine and seat of power for—"

But Tippler had veered sharply off Exposition Street and Paranos's mouth snapped shut instantly. In fact, they were no longer driving in the real world at all, but traveling across a barren landscape filled with nothing but stale, faded M&Ms.

Tippler waved a hand dramatically out the window. "Alas, this desolation is all that remains of a once great empire. All good intent and integrity has been destroyed here, and the immutable passage of time has quenched the fires of advancement. Inimical forces have obliterated this land with dread efficacy."

"Say what?"

"Never mind, Paranos. We have arrived."

All of a sudden their taxi was speeding through the streets of Boonta, and they were approaching the palace gates. Tippler didn't slow down, however, and the taxi crashed through the enormous front doors and finally slowed to a stop in the middle of the throne room.

Empress Latrine stood from the grand Porcelain Throne and strode down the steps of her raised dais to greet them.

"Ah, Paranos. It has been a long time."

"Indeed, Empress."

"You have been assigned to Jellibopis, as you know. Sergeant Vodkajoe's squad. You will not be on your own, however. I am sending my personal aid, Adjunct Loon, to assist you. And, of course, to accomplish her own nefarious, clandestine affairs. Report everything to her. You are dismissed."

Paranos walked down a hallway and then up the steps of the tower that housed Adjunct Loon's apartments. He rushed over and opened the door. He walked in and immediately flushed with embarrassment, moving hastily to step out and close the door.

"Oh, come in," the Adjunct said. "I'm not one for modesty."

Paranos sat down in a chair and watched uncomfortably as Loon finished up. Finally she was done and turned off the vibrator.

"You look tired," Loon said, climbing from the bed and storing the vibrator in a drawer. "You'll have to leave soon, so I'll make this quick. The ship will take you to Methilab, a port city on the west coast of Jellibopis. From there you head south to Pail. Understood? I'll meet up with you there."


***


Paranos was standing at the dock waiting to board the cruise ship ten minutes later. With only a minute or two left until boarding time, Paranos remembered he had promised to call home before leaving. He walked to a nearby phone booth and dialed his home number.

"Hello? Paranos residence."

Damn. It was his hated sister, Travork.

"Uh, hey, Travork. It's Ganos."

"Oh, you insufferable big brother! What are you up to this time? Did you beat up a homeless hooker again? Did you—"

"No, Travork, I'm fine. I'm leaving for Jellibopis, remember?"

"Oh, right. Well, goodbye and good riddance."

"Hey, wait!" Paranos cried. "Is Felicitous there?" Paranos had always enjoyed the company of his youngest sister the most.

"No," Travork replied. "She's out at one of those dreadful poetry slams again, the bitch. Kids these days…"

The cruise ship began honking its horns, and the other passengers started boarding.

"Well, I have to go," said Paranos. "Say hi to everyone for me, will you?"

"Sure, Ganos," Travork answered. "Well, have a good life."
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#6 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 10:03 PM

Chapter 2

2347th Year of Bum’s Sleep
94th Year of the Marzipan Empire



The sorceress Bladdersnail lounged in a hammock strung between two palm trees on a hill outside the city of Pail. The great city, made out of sand as if by giant buckets and pails, had finally fallen to the Marzipan Empire. Violently.

Sipping her martini, Bladdersnail fondly recalled the fell events.

Her lover, Carrot, had been killed. Which was good, all things considered. He’d been only seventeen, and with her at the age of two-hundred and seven, uncomfortable questions may have soon arisen. Yes, she was certainly glad the High Mage Tastechicken had offed Carrot. Though why Tastechicken had done so still troubled her slightly. The High Mage was, supposedly, a great ally of Empress Latrine. It was therefore rather rude of the man to kill, not only Carrot, but the rest of her mage cadre as well: Harlot, Ak’crak’cro’krys, Bellydrum, and Nightkrill. But, he had spared Bladdersnail herself, and that was all that really mattered. The battle was won, Pail was theirs, and the giant floating mountain, Goon’s Pawn, had fled to the south, likely retreating all the way to Karugyzstan.

The Marzipan 23rd Army had done well, all things considered. The mysterious Lord of Goon’s Pawn had thrown heavy sorcery down at them, but he was apparently no match for the High Mage Tastechicken. Kojak Threearms’s Host had had precious little to do, though Bladdersnail had heard of some kind of trouble with the Fridgeraiders. Nothing serious, surely. She reclined back in the hammock and closed her eyes.


***


“There’s one of them mages now. Let’s go kill her!”

Hold on a minute,” Sergeant Vodkajoe said, holding out a hand to stop Saxophonist from attacking the woman in the hammock. “We don’t know that she’s involved. Yet.”

“Fine. I’ll go get the rest of the squad.”

Vodkajoe studied the sorceress in the hammock for a few more moments until Saxophonist returned with everyone else. As usual, Corporal Konan and the mage Lickety Split Nick were arguing about something. Saxophonist didn’t seem very happy with his fellow sapper, Wedge, for some reason. Their healer Mullet, sporting his bizarre hairdo, seemed lost in thought. Bringing up the rear was Snotts, an exiled Barfmask warrior.

The Sergeant turned to stare up at the city of Pail as his squad approached. Three years they’d been trying to besiege the damn place, and now it was done in the span of a half bell. And so, it seemed, were the Fridgeraiders. All twelve squads of the elite force had been underground searching for buried treasure when Tastechicken had begun his assault on Goon’s Pawn and its mysterious lord. And now, more slaughter would follow. Vodkajoe watched as the army of Coranth Beauticians, allies of the Marzipan Empire, marched into the city of Pail to knock down all the sandcastle-like structures. The Coranth Beauticians, it was said, hated sand.

“Lickety Split, get up here,” Vodkajoe commanded. The squad mage hurried over, and the sorceress Bladdersail finally turned and took notice of them.

“Sergeant Vodkajoe,” she said by way of greeting. She tried to sit up on the hammock, but it tipped her over backward. Standing up, she brushed herself off and faced the squad of Fridgeraiders.

“Bladdersnail, this is my squad mage, Lickety Split Nick. And Corporal Konan. We are under the belief that High Mage Tastechicken has conspired to murder all the Fridgeraiders.”

“That’s preposterous,” Bladdersnail shrieked. “But okay, I’ll look into it.”


***


The next day Bladdersnail was called to a meeting in High Fister Kojak Threearm’s command tent. There she found, beside Threearm himself, High Mage Tastechicken and Sergeant Vodkajoe. The latter two were arm wrestling at a card table in the corner.

“Ah, sorceress,” said Kojak Threearm, giving Bladdersail a two-handed handshake while clapping her on the shoulder with his third arm. “We’ve just been discussing the Lord of Goon’s Pawn. It’s possible that High Mage Tastechicken has discovered who he is.”

“Indeed?” said Bladdersnail.

“I believe so,” Tastechicken said, as Vodkajoe beat him at the wrestling match. “Do you recall the mage named Bellydrum?”

“The one you betrayed and killed yesterday?”

“Yes, that’s the one!”

“What of him?”

“Well,” Tastechicken continued, “he was doing some research for me a few months ago up in the grand library of Methilab. He was supposed to be researching the play Gobbo’s Foolery for me, but instead the stupid man got distracted and brought me a poem by Fisher kel Price.”

“And your conclusions?”

“Just this. The Lord of Goon’s Pawn is none other than the Son of Dorkness, Anomander Hoe himself.”

“Anomander Hoe!” Bladdersnail cried. “The Ascendant? The lord of all the Teeste Andiii on earth?”

“The very same, I’m afraid,” Tastechicken continued. “I’m lucky I beat the son of a bitch so easily.”

Suddenly Vodkajoe stood from the card table. “Enough of this. Goon’s Pawn has fled to Karugyzstan, so what does it matter who’s flying the damned thing? This Anomander Hoe is gone, but what of his allies? Have the Beavi peoples of the plain fled, too? Have the Mauve Sentinels abandoned their posts? Has Caliban Prude packed his bags and left? I think not!”

“You’re absolutely right,” Kojak proclaimed, waving his three arms through the air. “These people should be our first priority. Therefore, I will completely ignore them all, and in the meantime I am sending you and your squad to Karugyzstan so you can single-handedly take it over.”

“Well, okay,” said Vodkajoe.
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#7 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 10:57 PM

Chapter 3



Ganos Stabros Paranos rode toward the city of Pail. His cruise ship had arrived at Methilab a week ago. The journey had been fraught with breakdowns, crashes into icebergs, and power outages. Then again, it had been a Carnival cruise.

And now, as he approached the city that looked like a monstrous sandcastle, a rider was beating a swift path toward Paranos from Pail. Paranos noticed the man's ravaged face as he reigned in.

"Hood's blimp, man," Paranos said. "You have two eyes."

"So do you."

"Oh, yeah."

"I'm Tic Toc Junior," the rider said. "The last surviving member of the Flaws on Jellibopis. Come along, Captain. I'll escort you to the city."

"Tic Toc, huh?" Paranos mused as they neared the gates of Pail. "Your father…"

"Aye, everyone's heard of Tic Toc Senior. Bastard disappeared when I was just a wee lad. Most say he's dead, assassinated by Empress Latrine, but I don't think so. Something tells me he's still out there, just biding his time."

They rode through the warren of streets and eventually made it to the Marzipan barracks. A few Fridgeraiders were milling around outside the doorway. "That's Corporal Picker," said Tic Toc, nodding to the woman picking her nose. "And the other one's Sergeant Antsinpantsy. You're with Vodkajoe's squad, though, right? I'm sure they'll be around later. Well, see you around, Captain."


***


Bladdersnail stood on the wall above the city gates of Pail, watching as Tic Toc Junior and the new Captain rode through. It was a fine day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the smells of burnt flesh and human decay were mostly gone by now.

"Eh hem," someone coughed behind her.

The sorceress turned to find Tastechicken standing at her shoulder. The High Mage was looking at her expectantly. "I was wondering, sorceress… could you give me a reading?"

"Sorry, the wind was blowing, couldn't hear that last part. You want me to give you a what?"

"A reading. Of the Deck of Flagons."

"Oh yeah, right. Sure."

They moved over to an overturned barrel and sat to either side of it. Bladdersnail reached into her cloak and pulled out a deck of cards. She flipped the top one onto the barrel.

"Seven of Clubs. Oh, wait, wrong deck. Hang on a second, High Mage."

She pulled a second deck of cards from her back pocket. Again, she whipped the top card off and set it before them.

"Jigglypuff. Oh, damn, wrong again…"

Bladdersnail stuffed her hand down the front of her shirt and, after a moment, pulled it back out to reveal a third deck.

"This has got to be it. Okay, High Mage. Ready?"

Tastechicken lifted his gaze from Bladdersnail's chest. "I, uh, yes, yes, certainly…"

The top card was again thrown onto the top of the barrel.

"Aha, it worked!" Bladdersnail cried. "The first card is an unaligned. Zorb. Okay, that's boring, let's see… Second card, Virgin of High House Breast. Not sure what that could mean."

Tastechicken lifted his eyes again. "Uhh…"

"Third card, Ass of High House Shadow. Huh, that's interesting. The Grope, Patron of Asses. Okay, next card. Hood's milk, it's Poponn, the twin clowns of fate. And I hear something…a coin, a spinning coin!"

"What does that mean?" Tastechicken asked hungrily.

"Look for yourself, High Mage. A nickel just fell out of your pocket. Here let me get that for you." She bent forward to retrieve Tastechicken's coin, revealing more of her bosom in the process. Finally she straightened and handed him the nickel. "Here you go."

Tastechicken feebly put the coin back in his pocket.

"All right, fifth card. Another unaligned one, Frown. How boring. Oh well, that's all I can do for now."

"What…what do you mean, sorceress?"

"I charge a dollar per card after the first five."


***


Sergeant Antsinpantsy and Corporal Picker had directed Paranos to a nearby inn that Vodkajoe's squad, the ninth, normally frequented. He picked them out of the crowd easily enough: four soldiers sitting by themselves in a corner, one of them playing solitaire with a Deck of Flagons. Paranos made his way over to them.

They looked up as he approached, each one displaying a hostile stare.

"Hi. I'm Captain Paranos. I'm taking over your squad. Mind if I have a seat?"

One gestured to a chair. Paranos sat down, then immediately jumped up in pain. He reached behind him and pulled a thumbtack out of his rear end.

"Oh now, really!" said Paranos, rubbing his behind. "That was uncalled for. Now that I'm captain, things will be changing around here."

"You're right, Captain," said the man who'd pulled the chair out. "I'm Wedge, a sapper. This here's my fellow sapper, Saxophonist. And those two are Snotts and Mullet. Go on, Captain, have a seat."

Paranos sat in the next chair provided, this time to the sound of a whoopee cushion.


***


Humiliated, Paranos slammed the inn's door behind him in disgust. The nerve of that squad, making fun of a respectable authority figure such as himself. Well, he'd show them. Once they got back to the barracks, he'd be waiting for them, and then they'd be…

A shadow moved in the alley he was walking in. Paranos stopped for several heartbeats, then, seeing nothing more, continued on his way.

Yes, those bastards would get what was coming for them soon enough. Hopefully Vodkajoe wasn't as bad. He'd met the man once, but he'd only been seven at the time, after all. And Vodkajoe's corporal was said to be an assassin from Seventy-Two Cities. Such people were…

This time Paranos heard a noise behind him. He turned just in time to see a shadowy figure with a missile strapped to his back standing on a fire escape above him. The stranger shot a poisonous dart into Paranos's neck and, just as he was losing consciousness, Paranos saw the figure activate a jetpack and fly away.
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#8 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 10:58 PM

Chapter 4



Sergeant Vodkajoe was having a tea party in Bladdersnail's apartment with Corporal Konan and Lickety Split Nick when Saxophonist burst into the room.

"I've just sensed something, Sarge! Something nasty. There's blood out there in the streets."

Vodkajoe chugged the rest of his tea and set the cup on a small table next to his chair. Konan and Lickety Split Nick did the same.

"Sorry, but we're gonna have to cut things short," Vodkajoe said. "Our place next time?"

"Sure, sure," Bladdersnail replied. "No problem."

And so she finished the rest of her tea in morose solitude as the squad rushed out her door.


***


Paranos slowly opened his eyes. He was lying on the ground before the entrance to an enormous milk carton.

Hood's blimp! he thought. This is Hood's deathly milk carton itself!

A monstrous, undead milkman emerged from the portal in the milk carton and slowly shuffled his way toward Paranos with groping hands and a hungry look in his eyes. Paranos tried to recoil in fear but found that he couldn't move.

There was a poof sound from behind him, and moments later a pair of conjoined twins stepped around Paranos's body to intercept the demon milkman. The two were joined at the hip, making their walk rather awkward.

The milkman stopped in his tracks.

"Damn you, Poponn, you miserable vermin. Can't you see I'm busy?"

"You're not Hood," the male Poponn said. "We need to speak with him."

"The master is busy," the milkman replied. "I take care of the gate while the master is away."

"Fine," the female Poponn said. "We have a request to ask of you, then."

"You want me to send this man back to life. What do I get from that?"

"My dear demon milkman," the male Poponn said. "You have it all wrong. You see, this man here once spit in one of our temples. As punishment, we request you give him some form of unending torment."

Paranos shrieked and, with a surge of will, rolled away from the trio. He only had time to see a portal before him, presumably the one that Poponn had just emerged from. He went through it and all went black.


***


Vodkajoe, Konan, Lickety Split Nick, and Saxophonist stared down at the body in the alley for a few moments. Finally, the Sergeant spoke up.

"So…who the hell is this guy?"

"Captain Paranos," Saxophonist replied. "You met him in the prologue, remember? He was supposed to take over the squad from you."

"Oh, yeah."

Everyone stared at Paranos a moment longer.

"Well," said Vodkajoe, "let's get on with it and cremate the bastard."


***


Sergeant Antsinpantsy and Corporal Picker had just finished pouring lighter fluid all over Paranos's corpse on a bed back in the barracks. Picker pulled her finger out of her right nostril and grabbed the nearby gas grill light.

"Hey, Sarge. Remember when they outlawed these things in the Louse Quarter?"

"Enough talking there, Corporal. Light 'im up already."

Picker flicked the gas grill lighter on. Holding it out with her right hand (and probing her left nostril with the other), Picker lit the toe of Paranos's boot on fire. The flames swiftly swept up the Captain's leg. Then…

"Arrggghhhhh!"

Paranos jumped to his feet and started to brush at the flames climbing up his legs.

"I'm not dead, you fools! Put this out!"

Picker dashed off to find a bucket of water. Antsinpantsy could only watch in horror.

"But, but…they said you'd been poisoned!"

"Well, I think I'm getting better."

Picker raced back into the room and threw the water, bucket and all, straight at Paranos. It hit him in the stomach and he doubled over, falling back onto the bed. The fire, thankfully, had been put out. The Captain lay motionless on the bed.

Picker glanced over at her sergeant. "Can we still cut off his head or something?"

"I'm not dead!" Paranos mumbled.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'll be just fine."


***


Bladdersnail, alone in her own apartment, decided to play with her Deck of Flagons again. Pulling the cards from her bra, the sorceress began to lay them out in a spiral pattern on the small table before her. Each card was placed upside down until only one remained in her hand. Bladdersnail flipped in over and set it in the center of the spiral, revealing the image of a pack of zebras.

"So," she mused to herself. "Zebra of High House Shallow. Just as I suspected."

Suddenly the door crashed in. Vodkajoe and Konan were carrying an unconscious man between the two of them. They dumped him unceremoniously on Bladdersnail's bed.

"Hi," said Vodkajoe, "this is Paranos, he's our new captain, but we don't really want him, so we're just gonna leave him with you. Okay, bye."

And with that, they left.


***


A half bell later, Vodkajoe and Saxophonist emerged at the top of a tower to await High Fister Kojak. It was a miserable, rainy night, with a cloudy sky and no stars in sight.

"I always hated this damned thing," said Saxophonist, pulling out his sword and chucking it over the wall. Far below they heard a faint scream as the sword impaled someone.

"Careful, Sax. Don't forget what happened last time."

"Oh, Hood's punctured blimp, Sarge. I kill one politician in Boonta and no one ever forgets it. I'm just not cut out for this soldiering stuff. I used to be a stoner back on Marzipan Isle. Just like you, right? And then one day I had to make a choice. I could be a soldier, or I could be a bum who hangs out with a wasted girlfriend in a crappy apartment playing video games and eating cheese puffs for the rest of my life, only, I'm not gonna pay bills with no job, so that girl, she's gotta work at some run-down corner store, and probably sell drugs on the side, just so we can—"

"I, uh, get the picture, Sax."

The trapdoor banged open and out climbed a bloody Kojak.

"Dammit, Saxophonist!" he growled, handing the sapper his sword. "You almost took my third arm off!"

"Greetings, High Fister," said Vodkajoe.

"Greetings my second to the left arm. Well, you're here, at any rate. Listen, I've been thinking. About your mission to Karugyzstan. Why don't you just blow the whole place up? That way we don't need to worry about besieging that city at all."

"Just blow the whole city up?"

"Sure, Vodkajoe. Now, the Coranth Beautician's Curls will be here soon to fly you over to Karugyzstan. Good luck, men."


***


A thunderclap sounded overhead as a shaggy zebra materialized in the middle of a crowded street. Its name was Beer, one of the Zebras of Shallow. The civilians around the dread creature cried out in surprise. Those cries soon turned to screams of horror, but it was only moments later that the Zebra Beer left the now-bloodstained street in silence.


***


"Time to mount up, boys," Vodkajoe said, as the last of the Curls landed on the tower. They were immense, winged beasts that the Coranth Beauticians used to covertly move their hair care products over long distances. Vodkajoe turned to the nearest Coranth Beautician who, like all members of their race, hid his head under a paper bag in shame of a bad haircut.

"There was one among you," Vodkajoe said. "A warrior with a mangled arm who was awarded for valor. Tell me, does he still live?"

The Coranth Beautician stared at Vodkajoe for a few moments before he slowly lifted a mangled arm into view.

"That's me, you idiot. Now get on your stupid Curl."

Shrugging, Vodkajoe mounted up and, after the rest of his squad did the same, they took off into the dreary night sky.


***


The two guardsmen outside the Imperial Barracks stood no chance. The Zebra of Shallow was upon them before they could even utter a single comical invocation. The Zebra tore the first man's head off, powerful jaws mashing through the weak flesh. The striped beast clamped onto the spinal cord and vertebrae and proceeded to pull the whole length out, from the cervical bones all the way down to the coccygeal. The Zebra of Shallow turned on the second man and, quick as lighting, bit into his stomach, revealing the man's spleen and several feet of the jejunum. After a quick feast, the beast sniffed the air and raced off toward a certain apartment where it could eat again.


***


Bladdersnail was sitting by the fireplace knitting some underwear for Paranos when the Zebra of Shallow blasted through the door, sending a rain of slivers across the room. Its gaze latched onto her immediately, ignoring the unconscious form of Captain Paranos on the nearby bed.

Fear coursed through the sorceress's body. Waving her hands, she tried to access her Thyrsty warren but found it kept slipping away from her. Hope, too, slipped away. The Zebra was rearing back, and then it began to crouch. It pounced at her, and…

A sword flew from the side to embed itself in the Zebra's neck. Blood spurted out. It thrashed about for a few moments, reared its front legs again, and took off back out the door. The sword clattered to the floor in its wake.

"Ta da," said Paranos. Then he fell back asleep.
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#9 User is offline   Trull's son 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:49 PM

I honestly don't know what to think of this.
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#10 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:57 PM

You cannot go wrong with "Smell you later."
They came with white hands and left with red hands.
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#11 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 04:42 AM

Chapter 5


Green light bathed the city of Karugyzstan in an otherworldly, ethereal glow. Some said that this was caused by the street lamps being fed from underground pockets of natural gas, but most scholars knew that the true cause was the high level of radiation found in Lake Azul to the north of the city. This theory was supported by the number of mutant sea monsters that attacked the city each year.

The young thief Crapsalar cared little for such ideas. He was on his way to rob an estate, and mutated fish rising from Lake Azul to attack him were the least of his worries.

The youngest daughter of House D'Arle, Wendy, had recently won the lottery, and it was rumored that she had received the winnings in cash and kept them stashed away in her room. It would be a big night for Crapsalar if his plan worked. His uncle Marmot had promised to give Crapsalar a cookie if he completed this assignment for the cabal of criminals that secretly ruled Karugyzstan, of which Marmot was a prominent member.

Approaching the D'Arle Estate Crapsalar ducked into an alley beside the estate's walled garden. He pulled out a grappling hook, threw it over the wall until it stuck and, with a sharp heave, pulled a small section of the wall down. Hoping he'd gone unseen, Crapsalar hurriedly scrambled through the opening.

He scanned the estate before him and decided that Wendy D'Arle's room was likely on the third floor. There, that one with the balcony! Crapsalar retrieved his grappling hook and stowed it safely in his pack before he began the arduous climb up the building's wall. He reached the balcony out of breath.

A quick glance around him revealed various tripwires, booby traps, and alarm systems. Shrugging, Crapsalar flung himself at the glass sliding door and fell through in a rain of glass shards.

He looked around for Wendy, but thankfully she was still asleep in her bed. And… Hood's soggy cereal, she was naked! Crapsalar snapped a few pictures to post on Facebook, then set about finding the fortune.


***


D'rul's belfry stood in a temple nearby the D'Arle Estate, with only a pharmacy and a pizza restaurant in between. The last monk of D'rul had died decades ago in that bizarre roller derby incident, and it was said that D'rul, the Elder God himself, had died centuries earlier.

Mallo Krafter was climbing onto the roof of the pizza restaurant, just a simple delivery man setting out across the roofs to give someone their pizza. Thus, the crossbow bolt punching into his left thigh took him by surprise. Groaning, Mallo pulled the bolt out and threw it to the ground. He looked around, and, seeing D'rul's Temple, decided the belfry there would be the perfect spot for a little retaliation.


***


"Dammit. Uncle Marmot's gonna kill me."

The rumors had been false. Wendy D'Arle had indeed won the lottery, but all that was left in the hidden safe behind a Justin Bieber poster was twelve dollars, seventeen cents, and a paperclip. Grabbing the paperclip, Crapsalar swore and dashed back toward the sliding doors in front of the balcony.

Exiting, his foot caught on a tripwire and he plunged forty feet to the garden below.


***


Mallo Krafter heaved himself over the wall of the small belfry and lay staring up at its roof, motionless and barely conscious from blood loss.

Be a pizza delivery man, they said. It will be fun and rewarding, they said.

Well, so much for the stupid opinions of his friends and family. He'd better get a free stuffed crust pizza out of this when he returned later tonight.

There! Movement on a balcony at the D'Arle Estate. The figure looked suspicious, even as he tripped and fell off the balcony. There was his would-be assassin. Mallo craned his neck enough to see that the assassin had fallen into an in-ground pool below the balcony. The man would surface any minute.

Thankfully, the pizza restaurant at which Mallo Krafter worked understood the dangers of the delivery job and equipped their employees accordingly. Mallo pulled the sniper rifle from its harness on his back, took aim, and, as the assassin surfaced, fired.


***


As Crapsalar surfaced from the conveniently located pool, his foot caught on the pool vacuum and he was jerked to the side. A loud bang sounded as if from a gun, something whizzed past Crapsalar's hair, and behind him an inflatable duck pool toy exploded.

"Oh, Maui," Crapsalar implored. "I'm caught in a clan war of the Pizza Guild."

He climbed out of the pool and dashed out of the garden through the hole he'd made earlier.


***


Mallo cursed and made to reload his rifle, then remembered that delivery workers were only allowed one bullet this early in the night. Well, there was more than one way to kill someone. Struggling to his feet, the delivery man put one leg over the wall of the belfry. He was just about the slip the other leg over to climb down when a pizza wheel cutter slashed at his neck. He fumbled uselessly at the torn flesh for a moment before he lost his balance and fell sixty feet into a dumpster below. And so Mallo Krafter died.


***


Crapsalar looked up and saw the silhouette of D'rul's belfry in the moonlight. A figure was falling from it, and a second, shadowy figure stood in the belfry. And he was looking directly at Crapsalar.


***


The mysterious figure hitched his mysterious cloak tighter about himself. His mysterious companion approach.

"Did you feel it?" the first mysterious figure asked. "There was a parting of realms. An Ascendant has meddled tonight."

"Yes," the second mysterious figure replied. "I smell Poponn's stink all over this."

"Really?"

"No, but that sounds intriguing. Shall we follow this thief and kill him for no particular reason?"

"Indeed. Let's be about it, then."


***


Crapsalar raced toward his own tenement building. He figured he could lure the pizza assassins inside and get them to go after his Uncle Marmot by mistake. The thief dashed through the door and up the stairs, racing around a group of children who lived in the hallways of the building. He burst through the door to Marmot's apartment and, without pause, crossed the room before his uncle's desk and jumped out the open window into the nearby tree.

There. The foolish assassins were even now likely cutting his uncle to pieces. There would be no need to tell Marmot of his failure at the D'Arle estate.

Crapsalar sauntered down a few more streets until he reached the welcoming lights and open door of the University of Phoenix campus in Karugyzstan. He walked into the familiar reception room and bathed himself in warmth. He could see his friends at a coffee nearby table, but before he could greet them Silty, the Adjunct Advanced Biochemistry Professor, placed a shot glass of tequila in his hands.

"Rough night, Crapsalar?"

The thief downed the drink. "No, nothing special."
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#12 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 04:46 AM

Chapter 6

Geezer, patriarch of the Grand Crows living on the sides of the floating mountain Goon's Pawn, flew down toward the greenish-tinged city of Karugyzstan below him. He ignored the desperate calls of his kin as he soared by them.

"Feed us!"

"We're starving, father!"

"Help us! Please! Mercy!"

Geezer pushed all such petty thoughts from his head. He needed to find something for the Son of Dorkness this night. Something in the city. There! Geezer swooped down and made his way toward a building bathed in a strange glow. There was sorcery down there, and Geezer was drawn to magic as if it were crack.

With a cackle, he flew down to make the invitation on behalf of his master.


***


Fusspot's Barbecue was publically known to be the oldest restaurant in Karugyzstan. When it was built was anyone's guess, but it was said to have involved warrens, sorcery, and an ingenious barbecue sauce recipe. The interior was filled with nooks and crannies and secluded corners to dine in. As such, it was a popular location for clandestine meetings.

Such as the one that Triangle Destroyer, a waiter at Fusspot's Barbecue, was witnessing now. As usual, Councilman Turban Burban had the upper hand in the conversation. At one point, when his fellow councilmember had reached for the last diner roll, Turban Burban had stabbed the man's hand with his fork.

Triangle Destroyer replaced the rolls at once, but he would have to remember this detail so he could tell his master: the Seal himself, Karugyzstan's master spy.

After their meal was done, Councilman Turban Burban paid for the check himself (including a generous tip) and the two councilmen were soon on their way. And so, too, was Triangle Destroyer on his way, to report these nefarious goings on to the Seal.


***


The sinister leader of the T'urgid Cabal and librarian for the University of Phoenix, High Archivist Baloop was standing in his kitchen toasting a Poptart when his phone vibrated in his pocket. It was a rather simple message from Triangle Destroyer, on behalf of the Seal: "Councilman Turban Burban stabbed Councilman Jones in the hand lol."

Well, Baloop thought, perhaps more interesting things will happen this night. He was still unsure who the mysterious Seal was. A master spy, collector of intelligence, and manipulator, to be sure. But who could the man be? If he even was a man and not a woman. Baloop found himself looking at everyone askance. Why, that man who'd come in to mop the bathroom floor of that sleazy Chinese restaurant while Baloop was at a urinal—he'd been rather suspicious, had he not? And then there was that woman in the alley who'd tried to sell Baloop the pickled left testicle of the Marzipan hero Dusty Ulcer.

Archivist Baloop was carrying his Poptart back upstairs to his office when he heard a crash in that room. Throwing the Poptart down, he raced into the office in time to see an enormous, decrepit crow flapping about on the floor amidst a pile of broken glass from the window it had just flown in.

"Now, see here," Baloop started, but he got no further.

"I am Geezer," the crow cried. "The patriarch of the Grand Crows of Goon's Pawn. My master, the lord of Goon's Pawn, would like a word or two with you."

"Indeed?"

"Yes. Prepare yourself, foolish mortal. Anomander Hoe is coming for you."


***


Fallick Tom, a professor of microeconomics at the Karugyzstani campus of the University of Phoenix, was late for a business appointment. He was unused to being out in the streets of Karugyzstan, as, indeed, he was unused to being outside at all. So, heaving his briefcase over a shoulder, Fallick Tom climbed a gutter and made it onto a rooftop. Surely he could find a shortcut to the Microeconomics Fair Awards Ceremony here.

He heard a noise to one side and glanced over to see two figures on a balcony. He recognized the first immediately. Lady Stemcell. She was almost eighteen now, but about three years ago she had seduced Fallick's friend, Professor Moll. The cops had been about to put Moll away for life, but the fourteen-year-old had given an evil smirk and explained that she'd settle for suing Moll for every penny that he owned. Moll had been fired from his job as Professor of Advanced Calculus 2 at the University of Phoenix, but having no money, he still slept in the campus's lobby.

And now, Fallick Tom saw that Stemcell was at it again. This time, she was making out with Councilman Jim on her balcony.

Well, Fallick Tom wouldn't let another man suffer the same fate as Moll. Fallick pulled his crossbow from the briefcase, aimed, and fired.

The force from the crossbow bolt at such close range (twenty yards or so) was enough to rip Councilman Jim's head from his shoulders. Stemcell was clearly startled, as the head she'd just been kissing was now impaled against the wall of her house three feet away. With a shriek, she dashed back inside.

Fallick snickered before he set out again. If he didn't hurry, he'd be late.


***


Archivist Baloop looked up from his pocket calendar of fiendish plots to see Geezer standing at attention, staring at the doorway. The Lord of Goon's Pawn must be approaching. Baloop snapped the calendar shut. Then he heard a noise coming from beyond the door. A terrible, groaning noise. Like a rusty gate hinge. Like chains…

The door burst inward and a tall figure wearing jeans, a purple t-shirt, and a propeller hat rode into the room on a bicycle.

"Hello, my dear Archivist!" the man said brightly, riding about the room in circles. "I'm Anomander Hoe. Sorry about the squeaky bike. Must get that oiled soon, eh?"

Anomander Hoe vaulted off the bicycle and let it crash into a nearby wall. He strode straight to Baloop and vigorously shook his hand. "Well, well, well, well, well. How are you this fine evening? Gum?"

He held out a packet of gum.

"Uh…no, thank you," Baloop replied. "What brings you here my, uh, Lord?"

"What a funny thing to ask," Hoe replied. "My bicycle brought me here."

"Well, yes, of course. But what do you want to talk to me about?"

"Oh, nothing much, don't you worry. I simply have a few questions. Which flavor Skittle is your favorite?"

"Well, I…I don't know that I really—"

"If you were trapped on a desert island and could only bring one person with you, who would it be?"

"Well, I…"

"Would it be me?" Hoe cried. "Oh, please let it be me. Take me, take me!"

"Okay, fine then. I'd take you."

Anomander Hoe slapped Baloop across the face. "But that's not a very practical choice, now, is it? Why wouldn't you take a professional swimmer who could swim out and save you? Or a doctor? A lifeguard? An ingenious inventor? But me? Oh now, really."

"My Lord, would you not care to discuss matters of more immediate import? Such as the impending Marzipan attack on Karugyzstan?"

"Oh, who cares about all that. Don't worry."

"Then the Marzipans won't attack us?"

"Of course they'll attack you," Hoe replied. "I'll be long gone, though, so they'll be no need to worry about me. Now, how 'bout some Xbox, bro?"


***


Later that night Fallick Tom rushed into the lobby of the University of Phoenix to find his friends all seated around their usual coffee table. Moll was asleep on the couch behind them. The thief Crapsalar called out to Fallick and waved at him enthusiastically, but Fallick was already on his way over.

"Krepe," Fallick called to the janitor. "Krepe, I have dire news. I believe I have done something quite terrible."

"Well," said Krepe, dressed as ever in a three piece suit, odd as it was for a janitor. "Well, friend Fallick, tell us what you have done."

"So you see, I'd just finished assassinating Councilman Jim when—"

"You assassinated a councilman?" Fidellio exclaimed. A Professor of Accountancy, Fidellio had the opposite problem of Moll's. Every year, Fidellio kept a tally of how many students he could talk into his bed before the semester was out.

"Yes, but that's not the bad part," Fallick Tom replied. "Later at the Microeconomics Fair Awards Ceremony, Billy Smithson won first prize. Only, I never liked that kid, so I read my speech wrong and gave the first prize to someone else. I gave Billy second prize, and spit on his trophy, too."

Crapsalar, Krepe, and Fidellio all looked up at him with horror painted across their faces. Even Moll stirred for a second to give Fallick Tom the finger. Then they all sighed and turned back to their game of Go Fish.
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#13 User is offline   Egwene 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 04:54 PM

Thanks for the fun! Not sure I could stomach the whole series like this but ten out of ten for effort!!!
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#14 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 11:47 PM

Glad you liked it! Yeah, don't worry, I won't do the whole series like this, I don't think it would ever work. I might try writing one of ASOIAF at some point soon (again probably just the first book).
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#15 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 11:55 PM

Chapter 7


Krepe the janitor, long a chronic sleepwalker, found himself outside the city halfway down Butter Cake Road. He was mildly alarmed, as this was the furthest he'd gotten yet, barring that time he'd hijacked a fishing boat in his sleep and woke to find himself miles into Lake Azul near the port of Grubrisen.

He was about to turn back to Karugyzstan's Harsh Gate when sudden music came to his ears. Curious, Krepe made his way over a nearby hill to reveal a man wearing bell bottoms, a tie-dye shirt, and a headband listening to the rock music pounding from a boom box.

Krepe approached the fire the man sat beside. The figure turned down the music's volume and offered the janitor a joint.

"No, thank you," said Krepe.

"That's far out, man."

"Who are you, if I may ask?"

The man's eyes slowly came to focus on Krepe's face. "I'm one of them Elder Gods. D'rul's the name. Groovy night, huh?"

"Yeah, sure," Krepe replied. "Listen, D'rul. Why are you here outside Karugyzstan?"

"Blood's been spilled in one of my temples here, yo. Not cool, man. Not cool. So I'm gonna sit out here until something happens."

"Okay," said Krepe. "Well, good night."


***


Triangle Destroyer walked through the Slice Quarter, Karugyzstan's primary butcher district, on his way home from Fusspot's Barbecue. It had been another long night, this time with no appearance from Councilman Turban Burban. He watched the ships off in Lake Azul for a time, traders just in from Callous, Ellensbarf, and Kuiper's Sprite. He'd always enjoyed watching the various craft in the harbor, ever since he'd been a little boy. Triangle Destroyer could remember marveling at ships from such exotic ports of call as Textile, Fort and Three-Eights, Dead Man's Chest Hairs, and Pyongyang.

He shifted his gaze back toward the city, to the hill of government on which stood Travesty Hall. The city was all a-talk today on the deadlock in voting created by the assassination of Councilman Jim. Yes, it seemed as though the fine people of Karugyzstan would have to wait a bit longer to find out if public urination would be legalized in certain, extreme circumstances.

Triangle Destroyer sighed and trudged back to his tiny one-room apartment.


***


Lady Stemcell paced across the room to look out her window. Aside from the assassination of Jim the other night, everything was going according to plan. Soon, she would be eighteen, and she would host a birthday party the likes of which Karugyzstan had never seen. Something caught her gaze in the street below, and she called to the man in the bed behind her.

"Can you stand and come?" she called.

"Hood's rancid milk," Councilman Turban Burban replied. "We've done it four times al—"

"No, you fool. Stand up and come over here."

The Councilman walked over to stare down at the street with her.

"Do you see him?" Stemcell asked.

"Berdpu fend, I do," Turban Burban replied. "That man at the popcorn stand looks exactly like a young Jeff Goldblum."

"No, no, no. Over there." She pointed.

"Oh. Hey, it's that Fidellio guy."

"Exactly. He's in league with Moll, I'm sure of it. I want you to…take care of him. Take care of them both, in fact. And everyone else around them."


***


Fidellio walked into the house and was immediately met by Councilman Turban Burban's wife. She raced forward to embrace him.

"Ah, at last. My little accountancy tutor has come for me."

"Alas," said Fidellio, "before we get to that, I must ask a favor of you."

"Anything, Fid."

"I need two tickets to Lady Stemcell's Birthday Party."

"The one she's holding on the Feast of Pepperoni?" Lady Turban Burban asked.

"No, the one near Christmas. Yes, the one on the Feast of Pepperoni!"

"Well, fine. I'll do my best, Fid. Now, let's go practice those, ah…taxing forms again, hm?"


***


Fallick Tom sauntered down the street, bow tie straight and briefcase swinging in his hand. The head of the economics department, Professor Outlet, had commanded Fallick to display the fact that he was a microeconomics professor for the entire city to see. He wasn't quite sure what this would achieve, but if the words came from Professor Outlet himself, then he would obey them to a T.

A figure scurried across the street and caught Fallick Tom's attention. The professor straightened his glass for a better look. Yes. He knew that man.


***


So, Crapsalar thought, this is Turban Burban's estate. There must be plenty of gold in there. A man could make himself pretty rich just stealing the gold-leaf toilet paper.

At a noise behind him, Crapsalar turned to see his friend Fallick Tom approaching. The microeconomics teacher bashed Crapsalar in the side of the head with his heavy briefcase.

"Hey, watch it, Fallick. What've you got in there anyway, a bowling ball?"

"Just a candlepin one, but that's not important now," Fallick replied. "This is Councilman Turban Burban's estate. Don't try to rob it, Crapsalar. It's not worth getting caught."

"All right, all right."

"Listen," Fallick Tom continued. "You should really consider getting a degree, you know. The University of Phoenix offers so much in the way of—"

"Yeah, yeah, okay, I get it," Crapsalar said. "Now get out of my way, I have somewhere else to be."

He shoved Fallick Tom into a puddle and ran away laughing.


***


Rold Gold's Round surrounded Tinkle Tower, the most haunted building in all of Karugyzstan. The Round that encircled the tower was now home to various food stands, most of them selling pretzels. The pretzel stands formed a circle that completely closed off Tinkle Tower from the public.

Fidellio approached one such pretzel stand. Fallick had better be right about this, he thought. This vendor had better be a secret agent for the school of microeconomics.

The accountancy professor approached the stand and rang a small bell. A moment later, a disheveled man appeared, metal club in hand.

"Hello, my good man," Fidellio started. "Would this be the pretzel stand of Newt of Talent, by any chance?"

"Might be."

"Might be? Aren't you sure?"

"Fine. I'm Newt."

"Okay then," Fidellio said. "In that case, I'd like to examine your new honey mustard flavored pretzels."

"I'm afraid we're fresh out."

"What do you mean?" Fidellio asked. Fallick had said this was the secret phrase that would allow him through to the back of the store.

"I mean we don't have honey mustard flavored pretzels."

"Okay, how about those great big ones? Know what I mean?"

"Yep."

"Can I have one?"

"Sorry. Fresh out of those, too."

"How about those pretzel sticks that come in a box?"

"No."

"The ones that look like rings?"

"No."

"The little round ones with cheese inside?"

"No. You didn't ask about the crunchy miniature sized ones yet."

"Okay, I'll take those."

"Sorry, no. Delivery didn't make it in today."

Screaming, Fidellio pulled out a gun and shot the man in his head. Newt of Talent dropped out of the way, and Fidellio jumped past him and out the back of the shop. Before him rose Tinkle Tower.

"Psst!" Fidellio turned to see Fallick Tom crouched in the shadows of Tinkle Tower. "Do you have the tickets?"

"Right here," Fidellio said, passing one to Fallick.

"Listen to this, Fidellio. I just caught Crapsalar trying to break into Turban Burban's estate. You know what this means?"

"Hood's blimp, yes," Fidellio exclaimed. "He must have fallen in love with Wendy D'Arle, the maiden he met several nights ago!"

"Exactly. We should talk to his Uncle Marmot. Between him and the University of Phoenix, I bet we can teach the lad enough so he won't make too much of a fool of himself in front of the D'Arle girl."

"Excellent plan."
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#16 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 01:22 AM

Chapter 8

The Curls dropped them off on the north shore of Lake Azul and then flew away.

"Thanks a lot, you jerks," Vodkajoe yelled, shaking a fist at the diminishing Coranth Beauticians astride their flying mounts. "You could've dropped us off a bit closer to Karugyzstan, you know. Jackasses…"

Corporal Konan walked over to Vodkajoe's side. "What now, Sarge?"

"Well, I'm changing our plans anyway. We're not going to blow up Karugyzstan."

"We're not?" Saxophonist and Wedge said simultaneously, obviously saddened. Damned sappers.

"No," Vodkajoe replied. "Men, the Fridgeraiders were nearly wiped out at Pail. I mean to see us survive this mission. So, instead of blowing the place up, we're all gonna have ourselves a nice, two week vacation in Karugyzstan."

"Yay," said the squad.


***


A few minutes later, after Lickety Split Nick had returned from going to the bathroom behind a bush, the squad was ready.

"Okay, lads," Vodkajoe called. "Let's move out."

They all stared for a few seconds at the enormous lake separating them from Karugyzstan.

"Yes, well…we'll just…look, there's a boat!"

The squad followed Vodkajoe's pointing finger to see a fancy yacht a few hundred yards away.

"Okay, everyone, play along," Vodkajoe said. He began jumping up and down and waving his arms above his head. "Over here!" he cried. "Help us! Help us!"

Corporal Konan, Lickety Split Nick, Saxophonist, Wedge, Mullet, and Snotts all did the same. Before long the yacht pulled up twenty yards off shore.

"What is the problem, my good men?" said a rich looking man in a tuxedo, one arm on the ship's steering wheel and the other around a beautiful woman in a white dress. "I say, are you stranded here? Well, come on then, hop aboard."

"Now!" Vodkajoe cried.

Instantly his squad fired their crossbows, killing the man, his wife, their butler, their two children, and the three other crewmen on board.

"All right, climb aboard," Vodkajoe said. "Time for our vacation in Karugyzstan!"
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#17 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 04:45 AM

Chapter 9

Tic Toc Junior sighed. The Adjunct Loon was late, leaving him standing here like an idiot for three days straight out in the Beavi Plain. At least there were no enemies around. The Beavi peoples worked for Caliban Prude now, but the Coranth Beauticians said they were far to the north east, for some reason.

Tic Toc walked over a hill and tripped over something. Twisting around after the fall, he noticed a gravestone sticking up from the grassy plain. In fact, there were several such gravestones surrounding him. Tic Toc went around to the front of the one he'd tripped over and read the engraving: "Here lies Fred, bodyguard to Adjunct Loon."

"Damn," Tic Toc Junior swore. The Adjunct's guard had been almost completely wiped out. Someone had attacked her. And now Tic Toc needed to find her, and fast.


***


Adjunct Loon climbed the hill, positioning herself between her two remaining, expendable bodyguards. Barfmasks. They were being attacked by Barfmasks of all things. Well, it was said that Caliban Prude had an alliance with the Algae Clan. This must be them. The three Marzipans held the high ground, but there were at least six Barfmasks swiftly closing in. One of them was a mage, but that meant little to Loon, for she held an Otmealio sword, which negated magic.

A blast of vile sorcery struck the hilltop, disintegrating the two remaining bodyguards and sending a charred Adjunct Loon flying thirty feet through the air. Stupid sword, she thought. Just as the six Barfmask warriors closed about her, there was a swirl of dust which coalesced into a desiccated skeleton of a man. An undead T'ling Imus warrior. Using a massive flint sword, the warrior quickly and bloodily took care of four of the Barfmasks. A soldier swiftly approaching the hill fired two arrows from his bow on the run, both hitting their marks.

The T'ling Imus pulled the arrows from his chest and proceeded to dispatch with the remaining two Barfmasks.

"Ahhh! A monster!" the soldier cried, halting before Adjunct Loon.

"No, Flaw. This is a T'ling Imus warrior. Oboe t'Coolant is his name, I believe."

The undead warrior bowed slightly. "Yes, that is my name. Sorry I arrived so late, Adjunct. You wouldn't believe how much traffic there is in the southbound dust highway today."

"Wow, is that a real flint sword?" the Flaw asked.

"No, it's a fake sword from QVC. But it works well enough for me."

"Oh. I'm Tic Toc, by the way. Tic Toc Junior."

"Well, Tic Toc Junior," the Adjunct said. "I'm late enough as it is. I'll ride my horse on to Pail. You can walk, right?"

"Well, I suppose so, Adjunct. But wouldn't it be kind of fun it I road behind you the whole way?"

But Adjunct Loon had already vaulted onto her horse and was galloping away. The T'ling Imus, Oboe t'Coolant, shrugged and turned back to dust.


***


Captain Paranos paced in the narrow room. This was madness! Seventeen times he'd tried to beat the last level of Guitar Hero on expert, and seventeen times he had failed miserably. Sighing, he threw the plastic guitar into a corner of Bladdersnail's room.

The sorceress herself had been unconscious since the Zebra's attack, but the sound of the smashing guitar stirred her awake. Paranos really didn't even know her yet. He walked over to the bedside.

"Hi, I'm Paranos. I'm a boy."

"I'm Bladdersnail. I'm a girl."

"We should be in love."

"Okay."

They stared at each other for a few more seconds, then Paranos dove at Bladdersnail just as the sorceress lurched up toward him. They had mad, passionate sex for the next three hours.


***


Adjunct Loon was greeted at Pail's north gate by High Fister Kojak Threearm himself. He shook her right arm with two hands and her left with one.

"Adjunct, you're injured. I have a High Denial healer with me. Here he comes now."

"Thank you, but no," Loon replied as the healer rushed up to her. "Sorcery no longer works on me, what with my Otmealio sword and all."

"There, all fixed," the healer said, before he scurried away again.

Threearm led her back to his headquarters building. On the way he stopped at a large courtyard and gestured to it.

"As you can see, we're culling the nobility today."

Adjunct Loon watched as several more nobles were thrown onto the massive bonfire that dominated the square.

"Have you followed Empire policy and killed off six out of every ten?" Loon asked.

Threearm blushed slightly. "Well, we might have gone a tad overboard."

"How many?"

"Well, there's still one left, at least. I think…"

The High Fister's headquarters were located in a now-abandoned supermarket. Kojak walked Loon over to the produce section for their meeting and rounded on the Adjunct.

"So," he began. "How many legions will I be receiving next year?"

"One. And a half."

Kojak sighed. "Empress Latrine is a fool, then. By this time next year, Caliban Prude will have retaken Pisst, Snapple, and One Nostril Moose."

"That's your problem, High Fister, not mine. Now, I've heard tell of a Zebra of Shallow loose in the streets of Pail. I trust you had the problem under control?"

"Of course, Adjunct," Threearm said, blushing again. "Killed the son of a bitch myself, I did."

The automatic door slid open and in walked High Mage Tastechicken.

"Well, High Fister, I must speak with the High Mage now," Loon said. "We'll have a feast tonight?"

"How 'bout Olive Garden?"

"Oh, sounds lovely."

Kojak Threearm left, and Tastechicken stepped into his place.

"So," the Adjunct said. "I've heard of your little debacle with Goon's Pawn. Taking out the Teeste Andiii lord wasn't enough for you, eh? No, you had to assassinate a few of our own mages at the same time. And for what? Kicks?"

"Well, it was pretty awesome, yeah."

"Very well. And what of Captain Paranos? He has arrived, has he not?"

"In a manner of speaking, I believe, yes."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Loon snapped. "Did you assassinate him, too?"

"No, but I believe him to be dead."

"Why?"

Tastechicken grabbed a Pail Times from a nearby newspaper rack. He riffled through it and eventually showed the Adjunct Paranos's obituary. Loon snatched the paper and skimmed the article.

"'Nuclear physicist'…'won the Nobel Prize for Literature'…'survived by sixteen grandchildren'…this isn't him, you idiot." She glanced at the name at the top for the first time. "This is the obituary for Billy Paranos."

"Oh, sorry, Adjunct. He may be alive and well then, I suppose."

"One last question, High Mage. The sorceress Bladdersnail. How good is she?"

"Oh, she's pretty good, if you know what I mean," Tastechicken replied.


***


Bladdersnail looked out the window of her small room. Captain Paranos was seated on the bed behind her, oiling his sword. The doorbell rang, and the sorceress went to answer it. A marine stood outside.

"Greetings, Sorceress. High Fister Kojak Threearm has asked me to formally invite you to a feast tonight at the Olive Garden, located on…Hood's curdled milk, what's that man doing?"

"Oh," Bladdersnail replied, looking back at Paranos. "He's just oiling his…Hood's blimp! I thought you meant…never mind. Thank you, sir; I'll be there."

She slammed the door and spun to face Paranos.

"No see here, young man. Just because we did this once doesn't mean—"

She was cut off as Paranos grabbed her and pulled her into the bed. A minute later they were both naked and at it again.


***


Exhausted from the long walk, Tic Toc Junior trudged into Pail later that night. It was all he could muster to make it to the nearest restaurant, an Olive Garden. At least he'd have some peace, quiet, and, most of all, relaxation.

He opened the door and was instantly showered in confetti. Adjunct Loon, nearby, blew a party horn noisemaker into his face.

"Glad you could make it to the feast," Loon said. "Our table will be ready any minute now."

Seated on a bench next to the Adjunct were Kojak Threearm, High Mage Tastechicken, and the sorceress Bladdersnail.

"Philip," the woman behind the front desk said.

Tastechicken stood up. "That's my first name," he said, in answer to the inquiring looks everyone was giving him.

Soon they were seated at a table and on their second round of wine and third round of breadsticks.

"I hope my Tour of Korelri gets here soon," Kojak Threearm said.

"Hey," said Loon, looking across at Bladdersnail and waving a mostly empty wine bottle in her hand. "Wait just one stinking moment. I know you. You're the bitch who pushed over my daddy's gas grill in the Louse Quarter eight years ago. And you stole our hot dogs, too!"

"Now, now," Bladdersnail said, holding up her hands palms out. "You must be thinking of a dif—"

But Loon was already diving across the table. She smashed the glass salad bowl over Bladdersnail's head, showering the table with lettuce and croutons. The sorceress stood up, grabbed her chair, and brought it crashing down across the back of the Adjunct, who was lying face down on the tabletop. But Loon sprang back up and kicked Bladdersnail in the shin, then whacked her in the head with the wine bottle she still held. The sorceress straightened and broke Loon's nose with a vicious blow to the face. The Adjunct grabbed a fork while Bladdersnail was fumbling for a butter knife.

Finally, Kojak sighed and pushed back his chair, but Tic Toc touched him on the shoulder.

"I'll handle this," the Flaw said.

Tic Toc Junior approached the struggling women and, setting himself in an ancient Flaw stance, prepared to execute a rare Flaw attack that would take out both combatants at once and—

He was pulled into the fray by both women, pummeled to the ground, and left forgotten and unconscious beside the on-going fight.

"Hood's milk," Kojak Threearm said. "Check, please!"


***


The next morning, Bladdersnail staggered out of the police station and back to her apartment building. What a fine night she'd had! Most charming woman, that Adjunct Loon. Most charming. She eventually opened the door to her room. Paranos was sprawled out on the bed.

"Hey, Bladdersnail, guess what?"

"What?"

"I just checked Adjunct Loon's Twitter account. Looks like she isn't here alone. And there's more. I don't think she'll be with us much longer. She's heading for Karugyzstan soon."

"Damn that woman," Bladdersnail said. "I must go after her now."

"Oh, and, sorceress?"

"Yes?"

"Wanna do it again?"


***


Adjunct Loon rode her horse out Pail's eastern gate well before dawn, a raging headache building in her skull. Well, she supposed she'd gotten a little carried away last night. Still it had been a fun change of pace.

A few miles out from the city, the dust swirled nearby and the T'ling Imus Oboe T'Coolant appeared. Loon shrieked in surprise and fell off her horse.

"Dammit, Cool. Stop doing that!"

"Cool. Yes, I will accept that name. It is, after all, quite…cool."

They rode in silence for a time before the Adjunct's curiosity got the better of her.

"Cool, where did you T'ling Imus guys go during the Marzipan takeover of Seventy-Two Cities? You just kind of left us and marched west."

"Adjunct, we had found a hidden enclave of Jagoots, our mortal enemy which we have vowed to destroy."

"How did you find this secret, hidden enclave?"

The T'ling Imus cocked his head. "An interesting question. One to which I do not know the answer. Thus, I shake my head in puzzlement at you, Adjunct."


***


The Grand Crow Geezer soared through the air across the Beavi Plain. Anomander Hoe was not his only master. No, Caliban Prude held that ominous distinction as well. Thus, he flew to a summons. Ahead, the Stairway to Heaven Forest spread out below him.
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#18 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 04:46 AM

Chapter 10

Tic Toc Junior walked into the Pail Ale House. The note had been specific: he was to meet someone here. He just didn't know who. Who did he know in this city, anyway? Certainly no one who would frequent this seedy dive.

"Hey, High Fister," Tic Toc said, clapping Kojak Threearm on the shoulder as he walked by the man.

No, most Marzipans wouldn't be caught dead in a place like this, risking their lofty reputations and all.

Tic Toc waved to High Mage Tastechicken, who was dancing shirtless on a nearby tabletop, and made his way to a booth near the back of the room.

"Hey! Tic Toc!"

Tic Toc turned around to see Captain Paranos sitting in the booth behind him. The Flaw got up and moved to the captain's table.

"I thought you were dead," Tic Toc said.

"Maybe," Paranos grunted. "Listen, I have a favor to ask. About a week ago Sergeant Vodkajoe headed down to Karugyzstan. Shortly after, Adjunct Loon arrived and went out to follow Vodkajoe. She has a T'ling Imus following her. And now Bladdersnail is following them both."

"So what do you want, Captain?"

"I want to follow Bladdersnail. Can you get me horses?"

"Aye, Captain. But…can I follow you, too?"

"Fine," Paranos said. "Let's get going."


***


Bladdersnail was making good ground on the Adjunct, but that would not last. She'd been traveling at speed utilizing her Thyrsty warren, but now something was blocking her from using it. The influence of the T'ling Imus, she suspected. Her warren had become narrow, choked with obstacles. After swinging across a pit filled with poisonous snakes and dodging several darts shooting out at her, Bladdersnail deemed it safer to travel normally.

She released her warren and felt the warm sunlight assault her, exposed as she was traveling east across the Beavi Plain. The Adjunct was still half a day ahead. And here Bladdersnail was, alone, out in the middle of nowhere, no food, no shelter, no bedroll, no clothes, no—

The sorceress tripped on a loose rock, fell, hit her head against another rock, and was killed instantly.


***


"Well," said Adjunct Loon, as she snuggled up against the undead warrior lying beside her in the sleeping bag. "Could you tell me more about your people, perhaps? Maybe a little about the Elder Warrens as well?"

"Very well," Oboe T'Coolant said, putting his arm around Loon's shoulders. "The Elder Warren of Fire, the warren of the T'ling Imus, is named Tellanphone."

"That's a stupid name."

"I did not claim to have made it up, Adjunct," Cool said. "It is, in truth, a corruption of the name my people came up with for—"

"Yeah, yeah, okay, I got it. What about the other ones?"

"The Teeste Andiii employ the Elder Warren of Dorkness, which they call Kernel Galing. The Jagoots use the Elder Warren of Ice Cubes, called Obtuse Phlegmack. And of course, there is the first warren, Buffet, from which all others were born."

"I never knew about all this," Adjunct Loon said, her hand slowly creeping deeper into the sleeping bag toward Cool. The stars were shining brightly overhead.

"Indeed, Adjunct, the warrens can be most interesting. Why, just the other day I came across a rare spell that appeared to involve the Thyrsty, Denial, P'iss, and Tennis Warrens. All younger warrens, of course, but for all that they aren't half…Adjunct, are you touching me?"


***


Geezer swooped down to land before Caliban Prude's command tent in the middle of the Stairway to Heaven Forest. The old crow took a quick look at the camp around him. There were quite a few Teeste Andiii hanging around—that was assuredly good. There were no Beavi peoples present, but that was not surprising as they tended to stay on their plains. And off to one side was the camp of the Mauve Sentinels, under the command of the deposed Prince K'azz D'Spazz. Squawking, Geezer flopped through the tent folds and into his master's lair.

Caliban Prude, called the Warthog by his men, stood examining a map table. Short and rather slim for a soldier, the Warthog still had his infamous screwdriver strapped at his belt. It was said that terrible things happened whenever Caliban Prude unleashed his mighty screwdriver.

"Oh, hi," said Prude, glancing up. He wiped off his glasses on his shirt and walked toward Geezer, tripping on a table leg in the process. "Oh, stupid things…"

"I have news, great one," Geezer said. "Anomander Hoe is sending his best mage assassins into Karugyzstan, with the sole intent of murdering every pizza delivery man in the city."

"Oh, my. Why would Hoe do such a heinous thing?"

"This is Anomander Hoe we are talking about, after all."

"True, true," Caliban Prude mused. "Very well. I'll have Prince K'azz D'Spazz send some of his best Mauve Sentinels down to protect these delivery men. Several of his Allowed should do, I think. Now, shoo."

Geezer flapped his way back outside.

"Colour," Caliban Prude called, once he was certain the stupid bird was gone. "Mr. Colour?"

A tall man in a brightly flamboyant tie-dyed cloak entered the tent from the back entrance. Colour, Calidan Prude's second-in-command.

"You called, my lord?"

"Yes. I just wanted to inform you that I'm sending some Allowed down to Karugyzstan."

"Well, whoopdee dippity doo, my lord."

"Yes, thank you."

"I should tell you," Colour said. "You would do better to destroy Anomander Hoe. One sight of that screwdriver of yours, and the Son of Dorkness will be pissing his own pants. He is too dangerous to keep alive. Consider this my last warning, for this evening at least."


***


Captain Paranos and Tic Toc Junior dismounted from their horses upon arriving at the horrible scene. Paranos could barely think, the physical tears in his eyes seeming to blot out all thought going to his brain. There was only so much, so much horror one could take in a single lifetime, before the walls of one's self came tumbling down, crashing inward as if—

"What an idiot," Tic Toc said. "Tripped over a stupid rock. Well, now what?"

Paranos stared down at the lifeless body of Bladdersnail for a few more seconds. Finally, he collected himself.

"We follow the T'ling Imus. Only then can we follow Adjunct Loon, and then we can follow Vodkajoe's squad of Fridgeraiders."

"So, onward to Karugyzstan, Captain?" Tic Toc asked.

"Looks that way."
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#19 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 08:42 PM

Chapter 11



This time Krepe had wandered all the way around Lake Azul and into the Beavi Plain by the time he awoke. Tall grasses swayed to the gentle pre-dawn light all around him. Ahead stood several figures. There was a man, a doctor judging by the stethoscope around his neck. There was also a woman with no arms and no legs lying on the ground beside the doctor, and a woman in a hospital bed before him.

Krepe walked up to the trio, straightening his suit and brushing off the dust of the road. He walked over to the doctor.

"Hello, my name is Krepe. I'm a janitor."

"Greetings, Krepe the janitor," the man said. "My name is Dr. Prune Chew. Would you like to help me deliver this woman's baby?"

"Sure," Krepe replied. "A somewhat random request, but I guess I can help. Who's that other woman with no arms and no legs?"

Dr. Prune Chew shrugged. "Shall we begin?"


***


Crapsalar strode down the middle of Triblet's Walk. The first early signs of the Feast of Pepperoni were emerging on the streets of Karugyzstan. The balloons were being filled, streamers splashed the sky with color, goats were being sacrificed in temples, dogs were having their genitals mutilated in dark alleys, and the intestines of executed criminals were being strung across the streets like clotheslines, dripping unholy blood onto the unsuspecting passersby below.

The thief was bored and still thinking about his robbery of the maiden Wendy D'Arle. Who knew? Maybe he could smarten up a bit. Study a little, pay some dues, and maybe he'd get in her pants one day. He swung around and headed toward his tenement. Uncle Marmot could surely help his nephew out. He was a Professor of History at the University of Phoenix, after all, though this semester he was on sabbatical.

Crapsalar found Marmot's pet flying armadillo outside his uncle's door. Crapsalar grabbed the wretched creature and stuffed it inside its small cage in the corner.

"Stupid armadillo," Crapsalar muttered. "You can just stay in that little cage, okay, Toby?"

He walked in on Uncle Marmot hunched over his desk, staring intently at the screen of his laptop. Some sort of video was playing, which Marmot hastily closed.

"Uh…heh…uh, Crapsalar, my lad. How are you, my boy? Tea?"

"No thanks, Uncle Marmot. I was wondering if you could teach me a thing or two? A history lesson, perhaps?"

"Why, of course. I'm delighted, Crapsalar, truly I am. Now, where to begin? Ah, yes. There were three great founding races on the earth, before the rise of humanity. Well, actually there were four such races, but one just looks like dinosaurs and I've always considered them to be rather silly. Anyway, these three races all warred for dominion over our continent, Jellibopis. The Spoonful Assail bowed out early, so we won't worry about them either. They're called the Krussail nowadays anyway. Oh, wait. No they aren't. Ah, well, no matter. The second group was the Jagoots, who today we call the Shurl. Well, not really, but you get my point. The Jagoots warred with the T'ling Imus peoples, the third founding race. Now, the Jagoots were normally nice, companionable people. But understand, Crapsalar: not all Jagoots are good. Some of them go bad. And a few hundred thousand years ago there was one Jagoot tyrant that went as bad as you can go."

"And what happened to this Jagoot tyrant?" Crapsalar asked, intrigued.

"He tried to enslave his own people, but they revolted against him and trapped him in a barrow not far from here, in the Adobe Flash Hills. Some say he died in that barrow. Cadswallop, in my opinion. I reckon he's still in there, too tired to break out. But one thing's certain. The rumors about the vast treasures in his barrow drew peoples from northern Jellibopis down here. They came and looked for the treasure, and when they failed they got mad, killed off all the native peoples, and built Karugyzstan over sacred grounds. Isn't that wonderful?"

"Born on a rumor…" Crapsalar muttered absent-mindedly. Maybe if he managed to tie the D'Arle maiden down first, he could…

"Well, that's enough for one day, don't you think, Crapsalar?"


***


An hour later Crapsalar was approaching the entrance to the University of Phoenix. Shocked, the thief discovered a body lying in front of the doorway. He quickly collected the man's wallet, watch, and shoes before rushing into the university lobby.

"Gentlemen!" he said. "Chert has died!"

"You don't say!" someone said.

Half a dozen people raced outside, only to return a few moments later.

"Damn," one of them said. "Someone's already got his wallet."

"And his watch," another moaned.

Smiling inwardly, Crapsalar approached the vending machine in the corner, where he found Scurvy. Scurvy was a smelly, old homeless man who lived in the university's lobby and made money by charging people to use "his" vending machine to get drinks.

"Hey, Scurvy," Crapsalar said. "I think I'll have a Diet Coke today." He handed the man some money.

"Sure thing," Scurvy said. He pocketed the money, pressed the button combination for Diet Coke on the machine, and kicked it vigorously. A Diet Coke popped out moments later, which he handed to Crapsalar.

"Thanks," the thief said. He went off to join his friends Krepe, Fallick Tom, Fidellio, and Moll at their usual coffee table in the center of the lobby.


***


Lickety Split Nick sat alone on the bed in the hotel room. Konan should be back soon, at least, but for the moment he was by himself. Vodkajoe had taken the rest of the squad down to the nearby public swimming pool. Something was troubling Lickety Split Nick and Konan, however.

The door banged open and Konan walked in.

"Any luck?" Lickety Split Nick asked.

The assassin shook his head.

Damn, Lickety Split thought. They'd been trying to order a pizza for the past three days, but the Pizza Guild seemed to have gone underground. There wasn't a pizza restaurant open in the whole damned city. Odd, what with the Feast of Pepperoni approaching and all.

"We'll just have to keep looking," Lickety Split Nick declared. "In the meantime, I have an idea."

"Oh?"

"I used to be a priest of Shallow. I'll enter the Realm of Shallow and see if I can get an audience with Shallowthrone. He's an odd sort of fellow, maybe he'd know where we can get a pizza."

"As long as it's not some frozen crap," Konan growled.

Lickety Split Nick grinned. He closed his eyes and began to meditate.


***


"Well," Fallick Tom was saying, "I for one will be glad when this Goon's Pawn thing is gone. It's quite alarming, just hanging there and such. It makes me shiver all over, did you know that? Makes me shiver like a madman."

He shivered for effect.

"What's it doing here anyway?" Fidellio asked. The Professor of Accountancy got up and stretched. "Bah, what's it matter, really? Well, I'm off guys. Got Suzy Smith on my list tonight. Cute girl. Bit of an idiot, but I can live with that."

Krepe spoke up as Fidellio sauntered away. "Any word of the Council's attempts to contact the Lord of Goon's Pawn?" He straightened his tie. "You'd think we'd have heard something by now."

"Uncle Marmot said the plan to shoot someone out of a cannonball at the mountain didn't work," Crapsalar replied. "So they've run out of plans, and now Councilman Jeff is dead. I wonder who lives in there, anyway?"

Moll stirred from his sleep on the couch and bellowed, "Five purple dragons!" before falling asleep again.


***


Lickety Split Nick staggered over rough, parched earth. Well, damn. He'd made it to the Warren of Shallow after all. He wasn't sure he'd be able to. Well, here goes.

"Shallowthrone," Lickety Split Nick called out. "Lord of Shallow, I am come to your realm. Um, hi. Mind if I visit for a sec?"

From the hills came an answer: the roaring of angry Zebras.
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#20 User is offline   Anomander Hoe 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 10:04 PM

Chapter 12



Krepe, being the studious, scholarly janitor that he was, sat in Marmot's office, poring over old manuscripts.

And after he was called down, the Nipple God was pierced, and thus chained to the earth. Pierced and chained was this god, and thus he is called the Pierced One as well. The land was blasted by the fall of the Nipple God. Things were created, things were destroyed. There were many present at the Piercing. Hood was present, as was his then-servant Dysenterae. Present too were the Queen of Creams, the Bacon God Fender, D'rul, Poponn, Rolypoliel, George Foreman, John and Kate Plus Eight, Kim Jong-il, the Dalai Lama, Queen Latifah, Boba Fett, Kevin Bacon, Pope Innocent LXIX, and Greg. Furthermore, also in attendance were…

Krepe skimmed through the next few pages of boring lists. Finally, he found a reference to Moll's odd exclamation from the night before.

The Teeste Andiii were present too, of course. Among them was the Son of Dorkness himself, Anomander Hoe. He traveled down from Goon's Pawn with his five purple dragons, and one red one, named Filandah. With him were thirteen-thousand two-hundred and twenty-one lesser Teeste Andiii. Their names are as follows…

Krepe threw the heavy tome down and wiped his hands clean of the dust. Well, he had what he wanted. There were, indeed, dragons living in Goon's Pawn it seemed. Though how Moll came to know such a thing was beyond the simple mind of Krepe the janitor. He straightened his tie as Marmot walked into the room.

"Tea, Krepe? I've been wondering, too. Have you seen my nephew, lately?"

"Crapsalar?" Krepe asked, accepting the tea.

"No, Steve. Poor lad's had the flu. Though now that you mention it, how is Crapsalar?"

"Funny you should ask," Krepe replied. "The boy seems to be infatuated with something. Fidellio and Fallick Tom seem to believe the lad has been smitten by the D'Arle maiden, Wendy."

"Indeed, that is curious," Marmot said. "Why, only the other day Crapsalar had me begin tutoring him in history. Well, what do you know! My young nephew has decided to really take charge of his life after all. Why, I bet in a few years, he'll have learned enough to get a seat on the Council, threaten, bully, and assassinate enough councilmen to gain complete control of the city, marry Wendy D'Arle, and take over the world. Ha. And here I thought the lad was just a lazy bum!"


***


Archivist Baroop returned from the bathroom to find the Grand Crow Geezer in his study.

"Good evening, Geezer. What can I do for you?"

"It has come to my master's attention," Geezer squawked, "that the Marzipan forces are searching for something in the Adobe Flash Hills. Some device of power, it would seem. Do you know what this could be?"

"Hood's Two Percent! The barrow!"

"Barrow?"

"Yes," Baroop said. "There is a Jagoot tyrant buried in the Adobe Flash Hills. No one knows precisely where. But if the Marzipans somehow know…"

"What could they do with such knowledge?" Geezer asked.

"Well, they'd free the tyrant, for one. Then they'd send him straight to Karugyzstan. Oh, Hood's milk. The calamity! With his Obtuse Phlegmack Warren, he could level the city just by sneezing at it."

"What can we do?"

"I'll think of something," the Archivist replied. "But really, Geezer. I must speak with your lord again at once. I've only had one meeting with Anomander Hoe so far. We need to speak again, and soon."

Geezer stared at Baroop for a second then, without reply, the Grand Crow flew out the open window into the night.


***


Lickety Split Nick was soon surrounded by the Zebras of Shallow. He recognized them all. Dumb, Duran, Khan, and Dong. Well, four of the seven were present, at least. Beer, the one that had appeared in Pail, was not here. Neither were Lood and Gonad.

The Realm of Shallow was a nasty place, and Lickety Split Nick recalled the desolation well. The entire world was filled with a shallow ocean, only two or three inches deep. How Shallowthrone's feet hadn't rotted off long ago was beyond the squad mage.

After trudging through the stagnant filth for a half bell, they eventually reached Shallowkeep. The Zebras led him to the main throne room, in which Shallowthrone sat, unsurprisingly, on the throne.

"Speak, mortal," Shallowthrone hissed. "I am very busy, as you can see. Make it quick."

"I was once an acolyte of your temple," Lickety Split Nick began.

"Indeed. And why do you think I would look kindly on such a…deserter of my faith? Why did you leave?"

"I converted to Buddhism," Lickety Split Nick replied.

Shallowthrone shrugged. "Very well. Now, what do you want?"

"I am in a bit of a predicament, in the city of Karugyzstan. There is a Pizza Guild war occurring there, and as such, my friend and I can't get a pizza delivered to our hotel room."

"That is a conundrum," Shallowthrone mused. "Very well. Leave me, and I shall attend to the matter accordingly, in due time."


***


Krepe appeared in Baroop's office a few hours later, after having received a summons from the man. Still looking immaculate in his suit, the janitor sat down across the desk from the Archivist.

"I have a request, Krepe," Baroop began, but Krepe raised a hand.

"A moment, please, if you will," the janitor said. "I have been told to bring you a message on the way to your house. It is, it would seem, from the Seal."

"Go on, then. What message?"

"There are Marzipans. They are here, in this very city. They have infiltrated Karugyzstan."

"And does the Seal know where they are? What they plan?"

"Not as such," Krepe replied. "Perhaps he will inform us eventually. In the meantime, what is your request?"

"What? Oh, yes, that. It has come to my attention that the Marzipans may try to free the Jagoot tyrant buried in the Adobe Flash Hills. I need that barrow protected, Krepe. Therefore, I want you and a few of your friends to do so. Fidellio and Moll should be able to help. Take Crapsalar, too. Marmot's nephew. I'll let you know when to leave. It should be quite soon, I think."


***


Lickety Split Nick returned to the real world. He turned to smile at Konan and give a thumbs up sign, but the assassin was sleeping on one of the beds.

"Wake up," Lickety Split Nick shouted, shaking the man. "I think our plan worked. Shallowthrone seemed amenable, at least. Hopefully we get our pizza soon."

The door banged open and Vodkajoe stepped in. He was wearing nothing but very short swimming trunks, still dripping wet from the pool. Saxophonist stepped in behind the Sergeant. The sapper wore his bathing suit as well, along with floatation devices strapped around his upper arms.

"I think I may have a pizza man," Vodkajoe said. "Wedge followed him to the University of Phoenix."

"You think it's legit, Sarge?" Lickety Split Nick asked.

"Knowing Wedge, I doubt it. Still, no harm checking it out. Well, me and the rest of the squad are gonna go check out the arcade down by the water. Man, I hope they have Space Invaders."

"Oh, and Asteroids!" Saxophonist said as they left.


***


Fallick Tom looked up from the coffee table to see two foreigners in Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and sandals enter the lobby. Oh, Hood's blimp, he thought. These must be the directors of the microeconomics board, just in from Seventy-Two Cities. And here I am, sitting right in front of them, and I haven't passed my latest microeconomics teaching test!

Fallick Tom stood up, hastily throwing on his best tweed jacket. He grabbed his briefcase and bolted for the back door, knocking over a Pizza Hut delivery man in the process. He had to let Professor Outlet, the economics head, know about this!


***


"Hey, look!" Konan pointed. "That guy back there's running away. He must be our delivery man. Come on, Lickety Split. We'll teach him to run!"

The two Marzipans dashed after Falliack Tom, trampling the Pizza Hut delivery man in their haste to reach the back door.


***


Fallick Tom found Professor Outlet skulking around the back alley, as usual.

"Professor, I have a problem," Fallick cried. "I've been found out! The directors of the microeconomics board are here, and they've got blood on their minds, I could tell. My blood! They're here, right in the lobby. I looked back and saw one of them pointing at me. They're coming, Professor!"

"Calm down, lad," Outlet said. "I'll gather the other economics professors. Macros, I think, for this. We'll take care of 'em for you. No go, get out of here, quick."

Fallick Tom ran into the night.


***


Crapsalar stood outside the estate, looking up the wall. He'd have to use his grappling hook again, as they'd repaired the wall since last time. Hood, he must be pretty stupid to return to the D'Arle Estate like this. He thought he was ready, though. Uncle Marmot had taught him so much in those ten minutes he'd spent with him the other day. He was an educated gentleman now. He could do this. Grinning in anticipation, Crapsalar readied his grappling hook.
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