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  #21  
Old 01-28-2014, 01:24 PM
rand rand is offline
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Chapter 19

“Come on, Mouth,” Crapsalar complained in the doorway. “I just want to go for a short walk.”

“And I said no,” the Psychology Professor answered, blocking his way out. “I’m fond of you, lad. I don’t want to even think of you getting all electrocuted, what with your organs getting all boiled and such.”

Crapsalar frowned. “Oh, all right, Mouth. You win.” He turned his back on her as if to head back into the apartment, then rapidly spun back to face Mouth and punch her full in the face, knocking her out. Crapsalar grinned. He’d seen Kirk do that on Star Trek and had hoped it would work. He made his way down to the front door.


***


She-rat moved across the roof until she was directly over the front door. She’d seen the boy punch his caretaker. He was leaving, and by this doorway. Gleefully, the Teeste Andiii picked up the anvil and heaved it over the edge of the roof. The lad was coming out. Her plan had finally worked this ti—

Suddenly, the anvil stopped in midair and reversed direction. It shot back up and smashed into She-rat’s chin, knocking her out cold. She dropped off the roof and landed behind some bushes.


***


Crapsalar paused. Had someone just fallen off the roof? He shrugged. No matter. He set out through the city. He’d stay hidden, just as Mouth and Rosalita wanted. But in his fashion, not theirs. He’d take to the rooftops, and make his way over to the belfry at D’rul’s Temple.


***


Fidellio paced across his own bedroom. Fallick Tom was late. Their plans would be in a shambles if Fallick was dead. The two of them had been planning on killing off Councilman Turban Burban in front of everyone at Stemcell’s birthday party. Just for fun, of course. But the microeconomics professor had always been the cold-blooded killer of the two of them. Still, Fidellio had vowed to attempt to kill Turban Burban if Fallick wasn’t up to it.

The door opened and Fidellio breathed a sigh of relief as Fallick Tom entered…only to shriek in horror as he realized the man was quite naked but for all the oatmeal he’d smeared across his body.

“Uh…Fallick? You all right.”

“Fine, Fidellio. I just need to rest. I’ll be okay for the party, I think. Outlet’s dead, and Moll’s not, so that’s good enough for today, at least.”


***


“Well, that all seems to be in order,” Baloop said to Krepe across his desk. “Granted, you never made it to the Jagoot barrow, let alone protected it. You ran over a woman and left Moll to die. But, all things considered, well done, Krepe.”

“Thank you, thank you,” the janitor replied, straightening his tie. “May I go now?”

“Certainly,” the Archivist replied. “I’m just a bit frustrated, that’s all. I keep getting messages from the Seal. From some guy named Triangle Destroyer, actually. I’d love to know the Seal’s plans, but as to how…”

“I may be able to help,” Krepe replied. “I know some of his agents. Expect a reply later this evening, Archivist.”


***


Adjunct Loon climbed onto her horse and urged it into a gallop. She would make for Karugyzstan with all speed, the Finest Finnest in her hand. She would hide it somewhere in the city, somewhere secret, and then her tasks would be over. Almost over.

She kicked at her horse to go faster. After all, who knew how long a Jagoot tyrant took in the shower?


***


Crapsalar settled himself into D’rul’s belfry. He pulled the book he’d brought with him from his pocket and started reading. Hood’s milk, he was bored already.

Once upon a time there was a man named Grallin. He was a smart, handsome, likeable man who lived in a magical valley beside the glittering Stream of Wisdom, beneath the comforting shadow of the great Mountain of Life. He had a beautiful wife and two strong sons, and he was loved by all his neighbors. Grallin was shot to death one night by his evil twin brother, Frallin, who lived on the moon.

Now, Frallin was an odd sort of fellow. He wanted to plant gardens on the moon, despite the obvious breach of logic involved. Physically, of course, it would be quite impossible to live on the moon, let alone…


Crapsalar threw the book down in boredom. Well, maybe he wouldn’t stay hidden after all. Maybe he could find Wendy D’Arle again, and finally convince her that the boy she’d once known had become a man.
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  #22  
Old 01-28-2014, 02:13 PM
rand rand is offline
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Chapter 20

Fidellio walked through the misty streets of Karugyzstan at night. Fallick Tom was resting up nicely, which was good.

It was the last night of the old year, the Year of the Five Husks. Tomorrow would see the beginning of the Feast of Pepperoni and the Year of the Spoon’s Smears. Time. It was an odd thing to be thinking of right now. Fidellio could remember watching the giant time piece in Travesty Hall as a kid. It had been built by the wandering man Icarus Imodium (commonly known as Icarium) and his faithful servant Marco.

He turned a corner and almost bumped into Krepe. The janitor was carrying three boxes.

“Fidellio! I was just looking for you.”

“What’ve you got there, Krepe?”

“Costumes. Lady Stemcell has just announced that see wants her birthday party to be a costume party as well. So I took the liberty of getting costumes for you and Fallick. The other is mine, of course.”

“Say, thanks.” Fidellio grabbed the two boxes Krepe handed him. “See you at the party then, Krepe.”


***


“There is a matter I must speak to you about,” the Son of Dorkness said gravely.

“It’s about the party, isn’t it?” Baloop guessed. “You’d like to attend?”

“Well, yes. But that can wait. No, I have more important questions first. You know how the plural of cactus is cacti, and radius radii?”

“Certainly, but what does that—”

“Thus, is the plural of anus therefore ani?”

“I…well, I suppose, I’ve never really thought about—”

“And what about more than one uterus? A pair of uteri, would you say?”

“Come now,” Baloop said. “Let us talk about the party.”

“Oh, very well,” Anomander Hoe sighed.

“You have a costume? A very good disguise?”

“Yes, yes.”

“It’s important you remain hidden, my Lord. I can introduce you to several members of my T’urgid Cabal, but if anyone else should suspect that the Lord of Goon’s Pawn was here among us…”

“Tell you what,” Anomander Hoe said, grinning. “You let me wear whatever I like, talk to who I want, eat whatever I please…and I’ll think about helping you out against that pesky tyrant.”

The Archivist hesitated only a moment. “Deal.”

“One other matter,” Hoe went on. “The other Teeste Andiii have kicked me out of Goon’s Pawn. Seems they’ve had enough of me winning at bowling in our bowling alley every night. Anyway, mind of I crash here for a little bit?”

“I, uh…sure,” Baloop replied. “You want the couch, or…?”

“Oh, no. I’ve brought a small tent and a sleeping bag with me. I’ll just pitch it downstairs somewhere.”

The door flew open suddenly and an angry Marmot strode in.

“The hell you leave me in the basement for? Bah, never mind. The Jagoot tyrant has been freed. We have a day or two until he arrives, no more.”


***


Adjunct Loon walked through Karugyzstan’s east gate early the next morning unnoticed by anyone. Secrecy was of the utmost importance, she knew. She must blend in with the crowds, hide. Remain almost invisible. No one must recognize her.

“Can I have your autograph, Adjunct?” a young girl asked, running up. Loon quickly scribbled her name on the girl’s paper and headed into the city, which was already in the grip of madness sparked by the Feast of Pepperoni.


***


Triangle Destroyer recognized the Adjunct straight away and sent the Seal a text message saying so. The guard next to him shifted.

“Nervous for the Feast? Things’ll get pretty hairy.”

Triangle Destroyer, who was pretending to be a gate guard, grunted. “Aye, I was here for the Feast of ’86.”

“Oh, now that was a bad one, all right. Had to take out the polearms, draw some blood. Chopped a few heads off, that taught ‘em. Roasted ‘em with flamethrowers, too, we did. Ain’t nothing more satisfying than killing innocent revelers, now is there?”

“Not at all,” Triangle Destroyer agreed.

“Yep. Killed a dozen of the bastards myself back then. And what do I get as a reward? A double shift tonight.”

“Where?”

“Some stupid birthday party. Lady Stemcell’s or something.”

“Let me take your post,” Triangle Destroyer offered, knowing the Seal wanted him there anyway. “Go enjoy the parties for yourself.”

“You mean it? Aw, Hood. You’re a real pal. Thanks, man.”


***


Loon stopped at a bar. Might as well have a drink or two before I assassinate Vodkajoe and his squad, she thought. She was surprised, then, to find three people waving her over to their table. Marzipans, by the looks of them. Likely those she was meant to kill. She joined them at their card game. They were using a Deck of Flagons!

“Greetings, Adjunct,” the skinny one with the broken saxophone strapped to his back said. “I’m Saxophonist. This here’s Mullet, and that’s Wedge. Join in the game.”

Before she could protest, Saxophonist threw a card before her.

“Woo, that’s a good one. Virgin of High House Breast. You might win with that, Adjunct.”

“Win what?” asked Loon, getting interested.

“Free toaster,” Wedge announced. “Two slots only, but it’s worth it.”

“Knight of High House Dork,” Saxophonist called, laying a card before Mullet.

“Queen of High House Lice,” Saxophonist said, as he continued to dish out cards to everyone. “Zebra of High House Shallow. Captain of High House Heavy. Ass of High House Shallow, the Grope. Toilet. Zorb.”

A hand was laid on Loon’s shoulder. She looked up to see a man.

“I’m Sergeant Vodkajoe. I can brief you, if you’d like.”

“Sure, but…did I win? Did I win the toaster?”

“Nope,” Saxophonist said. “You lost. Big time. Owe us each forty bucks, as it happens.”

“Drat!” Loon cried, forking over the money. “Yes, now. Sergeant. Could we retire to somewhere more private?”


***


Vodkajoe opened the door to his personal hotel room and ushered Adjunct Loon inside. The only light came from flickering candles, there was soft music playing, and there were rose petals sprinkled across the large bed.

“Not this private, you idiot,” Lorn cried, turning to slap the sergeant.

Vodkajoe sighed and turned on the ceiling light, shut off the music, and brushed some of the rose petals off the bed so he could sit down. He gestured for Loon to take the chair opposite him.

“Now, bring me up to date,” the Adjunct commanded.

“Well, we’ve been trying to order a pizza since we got here, and have been unsuccessful for the most part. So, we’re taking out our revenge on the city later tonight. Saxophonist and Wedge, our sappers, will blow up every pizza restaurant in the city.”

“A sound plan,” Loon mused.

“Thank you, Adjunct. I’ve also sent my soldier Snotts out today. He’s gonna get our squad hired on as guards at a birthday party for someone named Lady Stemcell. Big to-do, we gather. Everyone important in Karugyzstan will be there. So, we’ll blow that up, too.”

“Excellent,” Loon said. “Well, I’ll be back later.”

She left, and a few minutes later Snotts and Lickety Split Nick entered the room. The Barfmask warrior smiled.

“Success,” he said.


***


He would wait for night before heading out from the belfry, Crapsalar decided. Wendy D’Arle would almost certainly be at Lady Stemcell’s birthday party. Things would go better this time. Much better. They’d have to. And if they didn’t, he’d just have to kidnap Wendy or something. He’d think about that part only if it came to it. In the meantime, it was as good a time as any for a nap.


***


She-rat saw the boy in the belfry drift off to sleep. Now was her chance. There would be no interference this time. She rotated the cannon until it was in the perfect position. She loaded the cannon ball, prepared everything expertly, then lit it and fired straight at the boy’s head.

The cannon ball shot out and, inches from the boy, stopped in midair. Then it came hurtling back at her, full speed, to smash She-rat in the face.

“Come on, this is getting silly,” the invisible Mauve Sentinel laughed. “Go on, get out of here.”

Nursing her many wounds, She-rat stood and decided the Sentinel was right. She’d return to Goon’s Pawn. For now.


***


Raestlin was his name. He emerged from his barrow to find a pavilion milling with people taking photos with cameras. Beavi tribesmen and Adobe Flash herders sold cheap goods from market stalls around the hilltop. Children ran to and fro under the watchful eyes of their parents.

When Raestlin was done, nothing remained on the hilltop but severed limbs and pools of blood. And some fry bread.


***


Geezer flew high above the Adobe Flash Hills, and thus he was the first to see the dread tyrant emerge from the ground, and witness also the horrific slaughter that ensued.

But then the Great Crow turned to the west, and saw the dragons of Goon’s Pawn approaching. Glorious they were, flowing over the landscape like a dream. Five of the beasts were a deep purple, brilliant as the most glorious sunset, and they held the promise of violent storm clouds. The sixth was Red Filandah, the true dragon, a lint. Bigger and stronger than the others, she gave off an aura of time beyond memory and strength beyond comprehension.


***


Raestlin raised one finger, pointed at the sky, and incinerated the six dragons in the blink of an eye. He dusted off his hands and turned west. His Finnest lay there, somewhere. His Finest Finnest. Nothing would stop his journey to it.

He traveled quickly toward his magical Finnest, never breaking stride, even as he was forced to blow up garrisons, destroy bridges, and burn a small girl’s lemonade stand. Today, victory would be his.
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  #23  
Old 01-29-2014, 12:55 PM
rand rand is offline
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Chapter 21

Adjunct Loon hid the teddy bear Finnest in Lady Stemcell’s backyard. The tyrant would come here, then, to add to the Fridgeraiders’ mayhem. There would be a convergence tonight, she knew. A fell gathering of figures of unspeakable power. Power drew more power, so who knew who would show up?

Finished, Loon climbed the garden wall and landed in an alley. She headed for the street.


***


Krepe rose from his seat by the coffee table in the University of Phoenix lobby. He’d heard disturbing news from those two Psychology Professors, Mouth and Rosalita. Crapsalar had escaped their clutches, and now he was on his own if he wanted to escape the electric chair.

The janitor went to the bathroom to change into his costume. He hoped Fallick Tom and Fidellio liked the costumes he’d found for them. Krepe set out a few minutes later. The birthday party would start any minute.


***


It was night now, or close enough. Crapsalar looked down from the belfry. Things were really picking up down there. He watched idly as a mob tore a homeless man limb from limb. Well, it was time to head out. Stemcell’s party would begin soon, and he couldn’t afford to lose his chance with Wendy.


***


“I thought you were all Barfmasks,” the Captain of the Guard at Lady Stemcell’s house said to Snotts and the rest of Vodkajoe’s squad. “Well, never mind. Position yourselves by the trees toward the back. Keep people out of the gardens, if you can. There’s poison ivy back there.

The Captain left, and Vodkajoe turned to his squad. Only Konan and Paranos were absent for the moment, off on their own mission. The sergeant frowned upon seeing Lickety Split Nick’s face. It was deathly pale.

“You all right there, Lickety Split?”

“You remember that Jagoot tyrant Paranos mentioned?” the mage asked. “It’s free. And it’s heading our way. He’ll be here before the night’s over.”


***


“Still think the Adjunct’s gonna try to kill us all?” Konan asked. They were back at the University of Phoenix, making sure Moll hadn’t dropped a slice of pizza somewhere by accident. He hadn’t.

Paranos shrugged. “I guess so.”

“Well, that’s good enough for me. Let’s head over to the party, see if we can track her down. And remember, you hold her arms while I punch, okay?”

They were walking toward the exit through the lobby when Konan, in a fit of exasperation, lunged at Scurvy and slammed the poor man against his vending machine.

“I don’t care how you do it,” Konan hissed, “but you’re going to find a way to get some pizza delivered to the back wall of Lady Stemcell’s backyard later tonight. You hear me? Contact anyone and everyone you know.”

He let the homeless man go and lead Paranos out the door.


***


Baroop came downstairs to find that Anomander Hoe had pitched his tent in the middle of the bathroom over night. The Archivist hurriedly shook the Teeste Andiii Lord awake.

“Hurry, my lord, or we’ll be late.”

“A minute, Baloop,” Hoe said from within the tent. “I must change first, of course.”

Baloop left Anomander Hoe in the bathroom. The Archivist himself had already changed into his Big Bird costume.

A moment later the bathroom door opened and Anomander Hoe emerged. He was wearing high heels, a tight shirt, and short shorts that said “Do Me” on the back.

“What the…?” Baloop said.

“Is this too much? I don’t know…”

“Oh, it’s too late now. Come on, we’ll have to hurry if we want to make it for the start of the party.”

The two rushed outside to the Archivist’s pickup truck.


***


Councilman Turban Burban was about to knock on Lady Stemell’s front door when he heard a car pull up on the street behind him. He turned to see a rundown pickup truck pulling to a stop. He recognized it as that fool Baloop’s truck.

The door to the house opened and Stemcell herself emerged. She was wearing a gorilla costume. Turban Burban was dressed up as a hot dog.

Lady Stemcell let out a large breath. “Who is that?” she cried, as a long, high heeled leg emerged from Baloop’s truck. It was followed a moment later by…an extremely tall man.

“I have no idea,” Turban Burban replied. “I see Baloop’s dressed in his Big Bird costume again. Honestly, some men have no taste.”

Archivist Baloop and his guest walked up to them.

“Welcome,” Lady Stemcell said. “It’s an honor to have you here at my eighteenth birthday party.”

“Thank you, Lady Stemcell. Councilman. Permit me to introduce Lord Anomander Hoe to you.”

They entered the house to carry on with their conversation.


***


Fidellio stood by the door leading out into the backyard, wearing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume Krepe had found for him. Raphael is fine, he thought, but I would have preferred Leonardo or Donatello.

Fallick Tom stood next to him, dressed up as the Pink Power Ranger. He still looked a bit tired, by Fidellio wasn’t overly worried.

In walked Turban Burban, the man they were here to kill. Beside him was Lady Stemcell, and behind him were Baloop and a tall stranger dressed as a lady.


***


As the councilman and Lady Stemcell left them, Baloop and Anomander Hoe were confronted by Krepe, dressed in a cowboy outfit.

“Howdy!” the janitor said. “Man, this thing feels weird, after wearing that suit all the time.”

“A pleasure to meet you,” Hoe said, shaking the surprised janitor’s hand vigorously. “I’m Lord Anomander Hoe. I like doughnuts. Do you like doughnuts? I sure do. I’m going to go look for some doughnuts.”

Krepe shared a stunned look with Baloop, then he hurried off.


***


Turban Burban was sipping a martini in the corner when he suddenly recognized a guard standing across the room from him. It was the waiter at Fusspot’s Barbecue. The councilman started to walk over to the man, eager to say how much he liked Fusspot’s ribs.

He was stopped short when someone tripped him. He got up and saw a man wearing a Pink Power Ranger outfit.

“That hot dog outfit is quite appropriate,” the stranger said. “You stupid doo doo face.”

“I beg your pardon? I happen to be a councilman.”

“I know who you are, you son of a diseased platypus.”

“Really, now. Who are you, to be saying such things to me?”

“You don’t deserve to hear my name, you toilet drinking, piss swilling, fungus eating piece of used condom!”

“You’ll pay for that!” Turban Burban cried. “Look, ladies and gentlemen! A duel for you all tonight! Come, let us move into the backyard. Someone clear some space out there. You, servant. Take down the badminton net. We’ll need room for this.”


***


Fidellio took his cue right after Fallick Tom tripped Turban Burban. He needed to distract Lady Stemcell now, or she’d surely put a stop to all the ruckus. He quickly found the girl and dragged her up the stairs.

“What are you doing? Unhand me, Fidellio, I have a party to attend to.”

“They can live without you for a few minutes,” Fidellio replied. They reached her bedroom, and he locked the door behind him. “So. Eighteen, huh? Big year. How ‘bout we celebrate it, if you know what I mean.”

“Oh, Fidellio!” she cried, as he tossed her onto the bed.


***


“I name Councilman Crustacean D’Arle as my second,” Turban Burban said as they walked outside. Everyone turned to look at Crustacean, dressed as a vampire, beside his wife and his daughter Wendy.

“Very well,” Crustacean said. “I accept.”

“And who might your second be?” Turban Burban said, smiling a wicked smile at the Pink Power Ranger. “Or perhaps you have no one?”

“I’ll do it,” came a voice from behind everyone.

Anomander Hoe stepped outside, holding a box of doughnuts. There was cream filling all over his face. “I’ll do it,” he repeated. “Not sure what you’re doing, but I’ll do whatever it is.”


***


Vodkajoe and his squad were called upon to move the lawn chairs out of the way. Saxophonist ran over to turn off the sprinkler. The sergeant, however, was studying the crowd emerging from the house.

“Hood’s punctured blimp,” he hissed. “Recognize that tall man dressed like a woman?” he asked Mullet.

The squad healer squinted. “Doesn’t look too familiar. Saw him on one of those websites of yours, Sergeant?”

Vodkajoe cuffed the man over the head. “No, you idiot. He stood on Goon’s Pawn to oppose Tastechicken back at Pail. That’s the Teeste Andiii Lord himself, Anomander Hoe.”

Mullet swore under his breath.

“Go see if Saxophonist and Wedge are ready with something,” Vodkajoe told him. “We need to blow this place up soon, then use it as a distraction when we blow all the pizza joints up. Understood?”


***


Crapsalar pulled down a large section of the back wall with his grappling hook and walked inside. There sure were a lot of trees in Stemcell’s backyard. Was she trying to start a forest back here?

Finally he emerged from the trees to see a commotion right outside the doors to the house. A duel, it seemed. One of the duelists was Turban Burban and the other…it was Fallick Tom! He was dressed as a Pink Power Ranger, but there was no doubt it was him. But Fallick, in a duel? The economics professor owned a crossbow, Crapsalar knew, but still…

And then he saw her. Wendy D’Arle, dressed as a sexy anesthesiologist. Damn, she was hot. He crawled through the bushes until he was right behind her.


***


“A message for you, good sir,” said a man dressed as a cowboy. He handed a letter to Triangle Destroyer and disappeared into the crowd. Triangle Destroyer broke the seal and read what was inside.

The time has come for you to retire from active duty, you old fart. The Seal thanks you for all of your services in his name. Let it never be said that the Seal cares not for his loyal servants. Enclosed you will find twenty dollars and a pamphlet for the city of Daveran. I’ve also included a bag of trail mix for the road. Farewell, my loyal friend.

It was signed simply, Seal.


***


“All right, all right,” Baloop said. “I’ll referee the match. Come on everyone, let’s get started now.”

Anomander Hoe and Crustacean D’Arle stood off to one side. Baloop handed each duelist a revolver.

“Any final comments from the seconds?” Baloop asked.

“I would like it to be known,” Councilman Crustacean D’Arle said,” that I agree with this stranger’s assessment. You, sir Turban Burban, are indeed a doo doo face.”

“And I would like to say,” Anomander Hoe said, “that I get this stranger’s wallet if he loses. Fair enough?”

The duelists stood back to back. The Archivist pulled out a used tissue and dropped it, and they each walked ten paces. The stranger in the Pink Power Ranger costume tripped a bit on a croquet wicket, but he seemed to recover quickly enough. Then, the duelists turned on each other.

Turban Burban was quick as lightning. His arm flashed out and he pulled the trigger before the stranger could even move. There was a loud bang, but all that shot out from his gun was a small flag that said “POW.”

“What the…?” he started to say.

It was the last thing he would ever say. Fallick Tom, the mysterious challenger, raised his own revolver and fired. He missed his first three shots, and Turban Burban began to run about the yard to dodge the bullets. But eventually Fallick was able to hit the man in the back of the head and silence him forever.

“Woohoo!” shouted Crustacean D’Arle, jumping up and down and waving his arms.

The rest of the guests went back inside to hit the cheese platter and get some chips before the dip ran out.

“Well, that was fun, yes?” a woman said by Baloop’s shoulder. It was Puerildan, a witch of Tennis and a fellow member of the T’urgid Cabal. “Too bad that tyrant’s coming for us, yes? Might be a good idea to go home and get safe, yes?”

“No to all three,” Anomander Hoe said, walking over.

The witch stared up at him blankly.

“I think it’s time we all thought about leaving this party,” Baloop said.


***


Krepe was eyeing the relish platter when, all of a sudden, he drifted off to sleep. Still on his feet, he began to run. First he left the house, then the city, and finally he came to the edge of the Adobe Flash Hills.


***


Fallick Tom rushed up the stairs and swung open the door to Lady Stemcell’s bedroom (its location was well-known throughout the city). He paused for a moment to watch the gorilla and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle writhing about on the bed. Then he ran over and pulled them apart.

“I’ve just killed Turban Burban,” he announced. “We did it for fun, you see, but just now I realized that this means your demise as well. Since Moll never went to jail, he can take over this house and resume his teaching job at the University.”

“Wait,” Lady Stemcell, said. “How does that make any sense?”

“Well, I don’t know,” Fallick Tom admitted. “I don’t make the rules, I just misunderstand them. Now, come on, Fidellio. Let’s get out of here.”


***


Crapsalar pushed through the bushes until he was as close to Wendy D’Arle as he could be. Her parents were both gone now as, indeed, almost all the other guests were. Wendy seemed to be looking around, as if waiting for something.

“Pssst!” Crapsalar whispered.

She looked over, but evidently couldn’t see him. “Snorlax? Is that you? I’ve been waiting all night! Come on, let’s go to that art exhibit you mentioned before.”

Cursing, Crapsalar did the only thing appropriate. He jumped out at her, put a hand around her mouth, then knocked her out with a crowbar. He gagged her, tied her up, and dragged the D’Arle maiden back into the bushes.


***


Triangle Destroyer only stayed long enough to watch some servants heave Turban Burban’s corpse into a dumpster. Smiling to himself, the waiter-turned-spy walked out of the backyard, into the house, then out the front door into the city.
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  #24  
Old 01-29-2014, 02:19 PM
rand rand is offline
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Chapter 22

Raestlin continued his relentless march toward his Finest Finnest. He could see his destination, now. A large city, bathed in a sickly yellow-green glow. He was almost before the walls, now. The Jagoot tyrant paused. It was a nice city, whatever it was called. But, he had come to destroy it, and—

A man dressed as a cowboy was charging straight at Raestlin from the direction of the city. He was running in his sleep, the tyrant realized.

“Spare some change, yo?”

Raestlin turned to see an old man beside him, wearing a tie-dye shirt and a headband. He was odd, certainly, but the tyrant could sense something about this man. He was an Elder God.

“Raccoonus?” Raestlin guessed. “Hm, no. Femael, perhaps? Sucha Laugh? Grizzly Fart?”

“The name’s D’rul, man.”

Just then, the man in the cowboy costume came upon Raestlin and embraced the tyrant in a crushing hug.

“Woah, far out. That dude’s all over you, man.”

Frustrated at the insanity of it all, Reastlin decided to abandon this march on the city. He could have teleported inside anytime he chose. He did so now.


***


Paranos and Konan climbed over the wall into Lady Stemcell’s backyard. From among the trees, Paranos could tell that the party guests had just recently vacated the yard to head back inside.

“Hey, look at this,” Konan said.

The captain rushed over to a small clearing in the trees. Konan was pointing to a low, dark shape in the middle of it.

“That’s a rock, corporal.”

“But, it…I…oh, yeah. It is just a rock.”

They went out to the edge of the main yard and found Vodkajoe and the rest of the squad.

“Any success with the pizza?” the sergeant asked.

“Not yet,” Paranos said.

“Then it’s almost time. All right, everyone, listen up. Let’s get ready to blow this city up.”


***


Fallick Tom was about to leave Stemcell’s house when a woman in a hula dancer costume stepped forward to block his path. It was Dvorkin, the President of the University of Phoenix campus in Karugyzstan.

“Professor Fallick,” Dvorkin said, adding nothing more.

He feared the worst. Surely assassinating a fellow Professor and a Councilman would only get him a write-up?

“I need your help,” she finally said. “I need to…deliver something to someone, out in the backyard. Will you accompany me?”


***


Crapsalar dragged Wendy D’Arle’s tied up, gagged, unconscious body further into the bushes. Was he doing the right thing? He thought so, though he didn’t particularly care either way. He had the girl, and that was all that mattered. He pulled the gag out and was in the process of untying her when she woke up.

“What’s hap—you again! I would’ve thought they’d caught and electrocuted you by now, you creep.”

“Not yet,” Crapsalar said. “Listen, almost everyone’s back inside. Your dad wouldn’t notice if we just—”

“You idiot! My father will skin you alive. And my boyfriend, he’s a duelist. He’d duel you to death.”

“Oh, forget about all that. Aren’t you in love with me yet? Let’s just do it here behind this bush and then get married and all that other stuff. My Uncle Marmot is a famous criminal. He could formally introduce us. Then we could move to Seventy-Two Cities and get a nice house, a log cabin or something. And I’ll expect kids, five of them, at least, and—”

Wendy squirmed out from the rest of her bonds, kicked Crapsalar in the crotch, and dashed off toward the house, screaming.


***


Paranos and Konan walked back into the trees behind the house. Time for some destruction. This city would pay for denying the legendary Fridgeraiders of the Marzipan Empire a simple pizza.

And then, Konan smelled it. The undeniable, delicious scent of…

“Pizza!” he cried out, sending a few birds flying from their branches. “I can smell it. All right, whoever you are. Come out with the pizza and you won’t be hurt.”


***


Crapsalar hid behind a tree as he watched the encounter. He’d been trying to sneak back out of the yard, only to be stopped by this meeting. And he recognized two of the people. One was Fallick Tom, and the other was President Dvorkin. The latter was holding a pizza box. He crept closer to listen in.

“You made an impression on poor Scurvy this afternoon,” Dvorkin said. “He used to be a student of mine, you know, before he dropped out and everything. I’m the President of the local university. Anyway, Scurvy’s a resourceful man. Called me straight away from the pay phone in the lobby and told me about your…situation.”

She held the pizza box aloft.

“Pepperoni okay with you?”

The two men charged forward and grabbed the box, stuffing slices of pizza into their salivating mouths.

“I’m Captain Paranos,” one of the men said. “And this is Corporal Konan. We’re Fridgeraiders.”

“Look,” Konan said between bites. “This is delicious and all, don’t get me wrong. But there are other members in our squad too who’d like their share. And this one pizza won’t be enough for even the two of us, let alone the whole squad…”

“I see your problem,” Dvorkin said. “Very well. I myself have run out of pizza, but I know who has more. We have a librarian. Archivist Baloop, he is called. A greedy, voracious eater. He’ll have squirreled away some pizza in his house. He and the rest of his cabal of criminals. You have awakened hateful emotions in me, Corporal. I believe the time is now ripe to show the T’urgid Cabal a thing or two. I will personally lead the assault on his house. Tomorrow, you and the Fridgeraiders will feast upon all the pizza you want.”

The two Marzipans cheered and left the clearing. A moment later, Dvorkin walked away as well, leaving a confused Fallick alone among the trees. Crapsalar jumped out and poked the economics professor.

“Ahhh! Oh, it’s you, Crapsalar. Did you hear all of that? President Dvorkin is going to kill our friend Baloop. And all because of some silly pizza. You have to warn him, Crapsalar. If Baloop is still here, get to him and tell him what you’ve just heard.”


***


Baloop, the witch Pueriledan, and Anomander Hoe were leaving Lady Stemcell’s estate when young Crapsalar came with the warning. The Archivist panicked at the thought of the President herself, apparently enraged enough to murder him. He’d only hoarded a few hundred pizzas in his basement, after all!

“Come on, Pueriledan. Come with me. We have to reach my house.”

The two mages ran for Baloop’s beat up pickup truck, but Anomander Hoe pushed them out of the way and climbed into the driver’s seat. He’d even stolen Baloop’s keys in the process.

“Sorry, man,” Hoe said. “But I’m gonna need a ride if you want my help at all. See ya.”

The Teeste Andiii Lord sped off down the street, spinning the tires and rounding a curve sharply.

Sighing, the Archivist and the witch ran back to his house as quickly as they could manage. They arrived, and no one else was in sight yet. Baloop stared up at his house for a moment, strong emotion playing across his face. Finally, he spoke.

“This is my house. I have to defend it.”


***


Vodkajoe was crouched down next to Saxophonist and Wedge. Lickety Split Nick was looking on. Saxophonist held a detonation device in his hand.

“Okay, on three,” Vodkajoe said. “One. Two. Th—”

“Wait!” someone cried. Captain Paranos and Konan came bursting forth from the trees. “Wait! We’ve made contact with someone who can get us pizza. We can be feasting on it tomorrow.”

Vodkajoe looked around at the faces of his squad members.

“Tomorrow ain’t soon enough, Sarge,” Mullet said. “Come on, blow the bastards up already.”

“Fine,” Vodkajoe said. “On three again. One. Two. Thr—”

Suddenly there was a scream from near the house. They looked over to see a horribly desiccated, tusked figure smashing through the sliding glass doors to emerge onto the patio. The party guests followed in its wake. It was the Jagoot tyrant himself.

“I’ve come for my teddy bear,” the tyrant pronounced in a deep, sinister voice. “Relinquish him or die, mortals.”

“Get it!” Vodkajoe yelled.

Wedge pulled out his crossbow and fired. He missed the tyrant, and his bolt flew into the crowd to hit an old man in the head.


***


“Uncle Marmot!” Crapsalar cried, seeing his uncle walking outside. “I’ve missed you so much over the past few weeks. I’ve—”

He was just about to embrace his uncle when a crossbow bolt took the man in the head. It shot straight through and burst his head like a melon, showering Crapsalar in blood, flesh, and bits of bone and brain.


***


“Oops,” Wedge said. “One more try.”

This time the sapper shot a woman in the arm. Then he shot the grill’s gas tank, causing a small explosion that set the house on fire.

“Will you give me that!” Saxophonist snapped. He snatched the crossbow away from Wedge and fired at the tyrant. It hit the Jagoot in the head, killing him instantly. Then he shoved the crossbow back into Wedge’s hands.

“Sorry,” Wedge said. “I’ll get the hang of it soon enough.”

He tried another practice shot. This time the bolt ricocheted off the roof of the house, bounced off the clothes line pole, hit the grill, bounced off a column, and sailed back toward them to hit Vodkajoe in the leg.

“Hood damn you, Wedge. Someone help me get this thing out.”

Snotts bent over and yanked the crossbow bolt out of Vodkajoe’s thigh. A thick chunk of meat still clung to the bolt’s tip. The sergeant yelled briefly before passing out.

“Let’s go ahead with the plan,” Saxophonist said. He grabbed the detonator and pushed the button.

Lady Stemcell’s house exploded behind them. Most of the guests on the patio were thrown, burning and ripped apart, over to where the squad stood by the trees. The house itself was engulfed in flames that climbed skyward. The windows shattered and blew glass out, and wooden splinters rained down in all directions.

The fire dissipated, and soon the only sounds were that of the remaining pieces of rubble falling from the sky and the crackling of fires. There was a silence, then a distant car alarm started.

“Good job,” Captain Paranos said. “You have the second detonator for the pizza restaurants?”

Saxophonist nodded. “All set, sir. But we have to be in range for each shop. We’ll probably have to drive around to hit them all.”

“Not a problem,” Konan said. “We hijacked a van a few days ago from some janitor in a suit. All right, men. Throw the sergeant in the back, then we’ll head out.”
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  #25  
Old 01-30-2014, 12:31 PM
rand rand is offline
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Chapter 23

It was night now, almost full dark, and the dreaded convergence had begun. Powers from across the land arrived in Karugyzstan that night, ascendants and mortals, gods and goddesses, each vying for a chance to complete their own goal: the complete and utter destruction of Karugyzstan.


***


Poponn appeared, the twin clowns of fate. The male and female conjoined twins walked down a street. That captain was here, in this city. Paranos, his name had been. This time, they would finally get their revenge against the man who’d once spit in one of their temples.


***


Oprah Winfrey crouched in the shadows of an alley, meat cleaver in hand. She’d made her millions, and then her billions, but she was back and wanted blood this time. Cautiously, she moved out into the street.


***


He’d failed to kill Captain Paranos the last time, it seemed. But Boba Fett would not fail twice at the same task. Tonight, the city belonged to him. He’d taken to the rooftops, where no one could stop him.

A pigeon darted away, but Boba was quicker. One blast of his flamethrower and the bird was toast. He hooked the bird to his belt for later and resumed his search for the captain.


***


D’rul stood atop his belfry, in the middle of the temple dedicated to him. Blood had been spilt her some weeks before, and the Elder God must now answer that. And the obvious way was to answer for it one hundredfold. Thus D’rul, equipped with several automatic weapons, made his way down the stairs and out into the streets, where his victims awaited him.


***


Gandhi, cloaked and sandaled, walked down the street. These people were a violent people, he decided, observing some of their bizarre festival rituals. After the seventh corpse of a slaughtered goat he came across, he knew it was time to take action.


***


Captain Paranos was following the others to the hijacked van in the alley behind Stemcell’s house when he tripped and fell. He cried out to the squad to wait for him, but they’d already piled into the van and sped off.

He heard a growl beside him and turned just in time to see a Zebra lunge out of the shadows and bite him in the arm, ravaging the skin and crushing the bone to pulp.

“Down, boy,” a voice said. “Down, Lood, you mangy Zebra. Down.”

A man stepped forward then, though Paranos did not recognize him.

“I am named Balls,” he said.

“Balls…” Paranos mused, nursing his injured arm. “Not the Ass of High House Shallow? The Grope himself?”

“The very same,” Balls replied. “Here, let me heal you.”

Paranos’s arm instantly stitched itself back together. The captain tested it gingerly.

“Thanks you,” he said, “but what do you want of me?”

“Your sword, for one. I’ve never had my own, and yours looks so stylish.”

Paranos handed him the sword Chance. It was pretty useless for him anyway. Balls continued.

“I also have some advice. Or a message, rather. Adjunct Loon is currently eating cashew chicken at the Magic Garden on High Street. Use this information as you will. Farewell, Captain.”

Balls and the Zebra Lood vanished, and Paranos was left alone in the alley, with a decision to make.


***


Crapsalar had survived the explosion by diving into a nearby dumpster at the last second. Now, not only was he covered in his dead uncle’s brains, but he found himself face-to-face with the corpse of Turban Burban. After the dust and debris seemed to have settled, he slowly pushed the dumpster’s lid open and climbed out. The yard was in ruins, and the house itself was all but gone, a smoldering pile of rubble.

The thief ran through the carnage of bodies and the wreckage of the estate until he reached the street, still crowded with revelers for the Feast. Even as he watched, though, a pizza restaurant across the street blew up. Countless bodies were ripped apart and thrown about. Blood soaked the street, and guts rained down from the sky.

Things were getting hairy. Crapsalar decided he would head to Baloop’s house. He’d already warned the Archivist of Dvorkin’s attack as Fallick had asked, but he could do more. Somehow.

A large shadow crept over him. Looking up, Crapsalar gasped as he saw the great floating mountain fortress, Goon’s Pawn, directly overhead. It was low to the ground—very low—and moving rapidly north.


***


“Can’t you drive this thing, man?” She-rat cried. They were in the cockpit of Goon’s Pawn, and the woman Orfantal was at the steering wheel.

“No,” he replied. “Not really. Anomander Hoe was the only one who really knew. And since we kicked him out for cheating in our bowling games…”

She-rat looked out the window in horror. They were going to crash.

“Abandon ship!” she cried, grabbing a microphone. “Abandon Goon’s Pawn! We will regroup in the city, but get out while you can!”


***


Crapsalar watched as Goon’s Pawn smashed into the taller buildings of the Lakefront District. The mountain landed a block away from Lake Azul, but its momentum propelled it forward through the last few buildings, across the docks, and into the water. Crapsalar saw several Teeste Andiii jumping out as Goon’s Pawn slowly sank to the water’s murky depths.

Then he shrugged. He still had Baloop to save.


***


Adjunct Loon finished off her cashew chicken before heading out the back door of the Magic Garden and into an alleyway. The Fridgeraiders could create mayhem in their own fashion by blowing up the pizza restaurants, but she had a trick of her own up her sleeve.

Loon reached up that sleeve and pulled out a small glass vial. She threw it down to break it, and the demon within solidified before her. It was a Gatling demon, the most powerful demon ever made.

“You know your task, Gatling,” the Adjunct said. “Succeed and you’ll get twenty big ones.” She held up a twenty dollar bill. “No go.”

She watched the demon run, a blur of motion, out of the alley. The Gatling demon stopped in front of a speeding Lamborghini. He stopped the vehicle with one hand, killed the two passengers, and jumped in behind the wheel. Then the demon raced down the street. Loon went back inside for her fortune cookies.


***


Archivist Baloop and the witch of Tennis, Pueriledan, set about booby-trapping his house. When they were satisfied, the two sat down to a quiet meal of microwaved macaroni and cheese. Then they felt it.

“A demon is unleashed,” Pueriledan cried, spitting out macaroni noodles all over the table.

A moment later there came another blow, and then a third.

“Harald has been killed,” Baloop hissed.

“And Thewlis. With Marmot dead as well, that leaves just the two of us.”

“Yes,” Baloop said. “Berdpu fend, we must have prepared enough. Dvorkin is coming.”


***


Anomander Hoe watched from Baloop’s truck as Goon’s Pawn crashed into the lake. Idiots, he thought. He’d have a hell of a time convincing somebody to tow the thing out now. Not to mention his insurance would skyrocket.

But he had other matters to worry about. A demon had entered the playing field this night. A Gatling, he thought. Adult male, about six foot two. Probably around three-hundred twenty pounds.

Then he saw an orange Lamborghini cross an intersection ahead of him. It was the demon, Hoe knew, and driving at about one-hundred miles an hour, carving through the crowded, partying streets.

“Well, so can I,” Anomander Hoe said softly. He revved the truck’s engine, then floored the gas pedal. He smashed into people right and left, but he’d worry about that later. He flew around the curve at break-neck speed, trying to keep the demon’s orange car in his sight.


***


Gandhi approached a small child who was clinging to a lamppost as he watched the carnage on all sides. A riot had broken out. The crowds were no longer partying, but rather killing each other and destroying property. Pizza restaurants were exploding all across the city.

“Hello,” said Gandhi, smiling at the small boy. “What is your name?”

“J…Joey.”

“Well, now, Joey. Do you know who I am?”

The boy shock his head.

“My name is Gandhi. I practice the art of passive resistance, meaning I don’t use violence. Be at peace, my boy. I cannot hurt you.”

The boy smiled.

“But my Tommy gun can! Ahahaha!”

Gandhi left the boy pumped full of lead on the sidewalk and continued on through the city, looking for more victims.


***


Boba Fett saw a woman running across the street with a meat cleaver in her hand. He recognized her as Oprah Winfrey. Curious, he jumped from his roof and blocked her path. Oprah charged at him in a blind rage. There was a furious exchange of blows and chops. Thankfully, Boba’s armor protected him from the worst of it.

He grabbed Oprah’s wrist and snapped it, sending the meat cleaver flying. He smashed her in the head with his helmet and kicked her in the stomach. As she was doubled over, he unleashed his flamethrower on her. Boba Fett watched, amused, as she ran down the street screaming.

“Over here!” a voice said.

Boba Fett turned toward the voice, only to he smashed in the head with a metal baseball bat. This time, his helmet didn’t help him. The rioter threw down his weapon and attacked the unconscious warrior. Soon, the mob had torn Boba Fett apart.


***


The Fridgeraiders had covered a large portion of the city, blowing up the pizza restaurants as they went, leaving a trail of bloody corpses in their wake. The demise of Goon’s Pawn had been surprising, but had actually worked to their advantage, as the fortress’s fall had taken out most of the pizza restaurants on the shore.

Suddenly Konan slammed on the breaks. “Oh, wow. A police chase!”

“That’s not the police,” Lickety Split Nick said as he watched the pickup truck chase the Lamborghini down the road.

“Yeah, well. Let’s follow ‘em. That’s where most of the remaining pizza places are anyway.”

Konan turned the van after the two cars while the rest of the Fridgeraiders created their own brand of destruction. Saxophonist and Wedge continued to detonate the pizza restaurants they passed, destroying entire city blocks and scores of civilians in the process. Lickety Split Nick used magic to blow up additional buildings. Mullet was throwing grenades out the open side door, and Snotts had climbed halfway out the sunroof and was firing a bazooka into the crowds and buildings. Vodkajoe was still unconscious on the floor, and no one had yet realized that Captain Paranos had been left behind.

“We’re gaining on ‘em,” Konan said.


***


Adjunct Loon broke open her fortune cookie to reveal an interesting message: You shall kill the boy running by the window. Loon turned, and sure enough a young man with dark hair was rushing by. Shrugging, she stood up and unsheathed her Otmealio sword. She dashed toward the door.

“Hey, you!” the waiter called. “You have to pay for that, you know!”

She chopped off the man’s head and pushed her way through the door. There. The boy was just ahead, still going straight down the street. She ran up to him and started to swing when another sword intercepted hers.


***


Crapsalar turned at the sound of ringing metal behind him. There was a woman fighting a man, both with swords in hand. The thief looked on with awe.

“Pretty good, huh?” a voice said next to him. He turned to see another warrior beside him. “My name’s Phalanges, of the Mauve Sentinels. That there fighting the Adjunct is Corporal Periwinkles. And don’t worry, we’re being covered from the rooftops by the mage Cowell. You’re being protected, boy.”

“But..but…why?”

“Well, you’re a pizza delivery man,” Phalanges said. “And Caliban Prude has charged us with protecting you guys from the wrath of Anomander Hoe.”

“But I’m not a pizza delivery man,” Crapsalar said.

Phalanges did a double take. “What? You’re not?”

The thief shook his head.

“Hey, stop it!” the Mauve Sentinel called out to Periwinkles. “This guy isn’t a pizza delivery man after all. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

He turned to a nearby rooftop.

“Hey, Cowell! Pack it in! We’re moving out on the double!”

Crapsalar watched as the two men ran away. Then he saw the Adjunct. She was hurt and covered in blood, but she advanced on him nonetheless.


***


Paranos ran up the street. This was High Street, and…there! That was the Magic Garden restaurant. He was about to run inside when he looked up the street and saw the Adjunct, about to attack a civilian of all things.

The Captain raced over. He’d given his sword Chance to Balls, so with no weapon he couldn’t hope to do much. But he plowed into Loon all the same, toppling her over and sending the famed Otmealio sword clattering away. He turned her over onto her back and began to repeatedly punch the woman in the face. He heard several snapping and cracking noises, but he continued pounding away at Loon’s face until his hand sunk in deep. Victorious, he pulled out the Adjunct’s brain and held it aloft in celebration.

He looked around. The boy was running away up the street. Paranos walked over to retrieve the Otmealio sword. It might fetch a good price on eBay.

“Well, well, well,” said a voice. Paranos turned to see the conjoined twins of Poponn standing behind him.

“You escaped from us once,” the male Poponn said.

“But now you are ours,” the female Poponn said.

Just then, a man dressed in a tie-dye shirt and wearing a headband stepped forth from the shadows.

“Poponn!” the man cried. “I’d hoped to kill hundreds of innocent people tonight, but killing an ascendant might be equal to that.”

“Ah, if it isn’t D’rul,” the male Poponn said.

That was all he had time for, though, as D’rul charged at Poponn, sending both gods to the ground. They fought like animals, biting and scratching as much as punching and kicking. Paranos watched for a time, and even saw an odd man dressed in a cloak and sandals jump in to join the violent fray. Eventually, though, the Captain had had enough and decided to go find his squad.


***


Anomander Hoe looked in the rearview mirror to see a van approaching from behind. This seemed to be the source of the pizza restaurants exploding on all sides. He’d only just dodged a half dozen of them, and the demon ahead appeared to be having trouble as well. Hoe decided to ignore the van for now and focus on the Gatling ahead.

They entered Rold Gold’s Round and sped around Tinkle Tower, running over people and smashing through the various pretzel stands and food shops set up in the square. The demon’s Lamborghini exited the Round and flew onto a street that went up a steep hill. As he followed, Hoe saw that Travesty Hall sat at the top.

The pickup followed the Lamborghini, and the van followed the truck. All three vehicles raced up the hill. Anomander Hoe was trying to anticipate which way the Gatling demon would turn to drive around Travesty Hall when the demon went straight ahead, smashing down the front gates of the palace. Hoe and the van behind him followed.


***


“Cool, we’re in the palace,” Lickety Split Nick said. “Hey, Snotts! Duck!”

The Barfmask warrior dropped down from the sunroof just as a low hallway beam clipped the top of the van. The hall was narrow, certainly, but Konan seemed to know what he was doing. They dodged the various nobles and courtiers as best they could, but most were mowed down anyway.

“Don’t stop with those grenades,” Konan yelled back to Mullet.

The squad healer nodded and handed a few grenades to Snotts as well. The two threw the munitions in the van’s wake, killing most of the nobles Konan had managed to avoid. The walls crumbled on either side, burning splinters were flying everywhere, and fire raged down all the passageways of Travesty Hall.

They entered an enormous dining hall, complete with two grand fireplaces and a huge table that could likely seat one-hundred people. Konan drove to the table’s right, while the Lamborghini and the truck went to the left.

“See if you can hit ‘em,” Konan said, as he sped the van up to come alongside the other two cars.

Mullet and Snotts flung their last two grenades at the vehicles, but only blew up the table and a large section of the palace wall. The two cars sped out the hole the second grenade had created.

“Follow them!” Lickety Split Nick shouted.

“I’m trying!” Konan responded.

They raced out the breach in the wall themselves and continued the chase.
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  #26  
Old 01-30-2014, 01:13 PM
rand rand is offline
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Chapter 24

Well, that was interesting, Anomander Hoe thought, as the three cars emerged from the palace. In his rearview mirror, he watch as Travesty Hall collapsed in a ball of flame behind them.

They continued through the streets, pizza restaurants still blowing up to either side. Hoe was getting rather bored of the chase, all of a sudden. He pulled out his magical chainsaw Dragnipoo, fired it up, and threw it out the window at the demon’s Lamborghini. The chainsaw sliced through the two left side tires and the sports car spun out. Anomander Hoe’s truck t-boned the Lamborghini, and the van rear-ended the pickup.

Anomander Hoe got out and retrieved his chainsaw. He held up a hand as some Marzipan soldiers piled out of the van. “Stop, mortals. This is not your battle. I shall now fight the Gatling demon to the death. You are free to watch if you like, though I’m afraid I forgot the popcorn.”

The huge demon was already stepping out of his car, shoving the pickup truck out of his way as if it weighed nothing. The Gatling smiled, then unveiled a double-bladed lightsaber. He rushed at the Teeste Andiii Lord, lightsaber a red blur, but Anomander Hoe was just as quick, parrying the swings with his magic chainsaw. The exchange of blows was furious, beyond fast, almost impossible to follow for the Fridgeraiders looking on.

The Gatling demon was stronger than Hoe, it seemed. Soon, the demon had Anomander Hoe pressed up against the wall of a restaurant, Fusspot’s Barbeque. The Teeste Andiii opened the door and dashed inside, the demon just on his heels. The surprised patrons looked up and screamed as the fight carried on into the bar.

Anomander Hoe finally threw his chainsaw at the demon. The Gatling was caught off guard, and both the chainsaw and his lightsaber went tumbling uselessly to the ground. The demon jumped forward, but Hoe dodged the attack, grabbed a bar stool, and smashed it over the demon’s back. As the Gatling was still stunned, Anomander Hoe dragged it to the bar and repeatedly smashed the demon’s head against the wooden counter. Eventually, the demon went limp and collapsed.

Anomander Hoe dusted off his hands and sat door at the bar stool next to the demon’s pulverized corpse.

“What you got?” he asked the bartender. “Give me something good.”


***


Dvorkin stepped forward before the house. She checked her GPS. This was it, Baloop’s house. The Archivist would pay for hording all of that pizza from the University and the city of Karugyzstan.

She walked up the steps and immediately slipped on all the ice that had built up there. She fell back into the street with a thud.


***


“Haha, it worked!” Baloop said with glee, as he and Pueriledan watched from an upper story window.


***


Dvorkin clung to the railing and managed the climb up the steps this time. She kicked down the door and marched inside, only to fall through a hole cut into the floor. She fell into the basement and collapsed into a heap on the floor. Moaning, she climbed to her feet and turned on a light switch, only to activate another trap which dropped an iron on her head.

Dvorkin collapsed again. Struggling, she crawled toward the stairway. She made her way up to the main floor of the house. In the kitchen, she promptly tripped over some toy cars and set her head on fire turning on another light. A brick fell on her face, she was shot in the nose with a staple gun, and took a bowling ball to the knee. Finally, she made it to the stairs to the second floor, where Baloop would be hiding.

“Look out below!” a voice called.

She looked up to see the Archivist throw a paint can hanging from a string down at her, smashing her full in the face and knocking out several teeth. Cursing, she regained her feet and chased the Archivist up the stairs and into his study. The witch Pueriledan was there too, she saw.

“Well done, Archivist,” Dvorkin said, wiping at her singed, bloody face. “But the chase is over. I will kill you now, so that justice may be brought to the pizza industry of Karugyzstan once and for all.”

She pulled out a handgun and aimed it at Baloop’s face. She never saw the young man creep into the room behind her, nor did she see the shovel he wielded. She felt it, though, as it smashed into the back of her skull, knocking her out.

“Crapsalar!” Baloop called out. “Brave of you, lad. I thank you very much.”

“It was no problem, Archivist.”

“Yes, well. I’m sorry about your Uncle Marmot. He was a good criminal, and a valuable member of my little cabal. He will be missed, dear Marmot will.”

“Aye,” Pueriledan added.

Behind them all, Dvorkin regained consciousness long enough to throw herself down the stairs and crawl out the front door.


***


Vodkajoe had finally come around, and the Fridgeraiders had returned to the University of Phoenix lobby after witnessing the epic fight between Anomander Hoe and that demon thing. They all bought soft drinks from Scurvy and thanked the man for alerting President Dvorkin to their problem. They were sitting around the coffee table, drinking and enjoying light conversation when Captain Paranos entered with a body. He threw Adjunct Loon’s bloody corpse upon the coffee table, then headed over to get his own drink from Scurvy.

“Long night,” Paranos mumbled, before chugging his can of Diet Coke whole.

Sergeant Vodkajoe looked around him at the faces of his squad members. They were good men, all of them. Konan and Lickety Split Nick, Saxophonist and Wedge, Snotts and Mullet.

“Well, now what?” he asked. “We left the Marzipan army and came here for a vacation, but now that we’ve destroyed the city we can hardly expect to stay. I mean, who would want to live in this place now that it’s just a smoldering junk heap?”

“Back home?” Konan suggested. Saxophonist nodded.

“You two can go ahead then,” the sergeant said. “I’d like to stay in the area, though. Rejoin with Kojak, maybe help him with this Panera Seer guy. We’ll see.”

Vodkajoe’s cell phone rang. “Hm. Well, speak of the devil. I’ll put it on speakerphone again.”

“Hello?” came Kojak Threearm’s voice. “Vodkajoe? Is that you? Are you there?”

“We’re here, High Fister,” the sergeant replied. “Me and the whole squad. What’s up?”

“It’s official. The letter came from Latrine earlier today. We’ve been outlawed, my friend. No need to defect now, I guess. So, we’re gonna go ahead and attack that Panera Seer. We can get some allies, too, I hope. Calidan Prude and I have a meeting soon. Hopefully the Beavi peoples and the Mauve Sentinels can join us as well. And I think the Coranth Beauticians are with us.”

“Is that all?” Vodkajoe said impatiently.

“Not yet,” Threearm said. “You’re now my third-in-command, Vodkajoe. And Paranos is now in charge of the Fridgeraider.”

“Third?” Vodkajoe mused. “Who’s second-in-command, then?”

“I thought we’d make Wedge second, Sergeant.”


***


Fallick Tom was still among the trees at the back of Lady Stemcell’s yard, having been lost back here after sending Crapsalar off to warn Baloop. He was still struggling to decide which direction to head in when he heard snapping branches and leaves rustling behind him. Something was approaching.

President Dvorkin emerged from the bushes, and boy was she a mess. Her nose appeared to be broken, she was missing several teeth, her hair was singed, and she appeared to have cuts and bruises everywhere.

“I have failed,” was all she said, before collapsing into Fallick’s arms.

He threw the President over one shoulder like a sack of grain and, without hesitating this time, carried Dvorkin out of the trees, out of the estate, and toward the nearest hospital.


***


Several of the Teeste Andiii had landed in the trees of the estate as well, after jumping down from the crashing Goon’s Pawn. Their leader She-rat had broken her neck in the fall, but Orfantal and her sister Coorlat had survived.

“Shall we attack and kill that man?” Orfantal asked his sister, indicating the man rushing away with a woman over his shoulder.

“Not tonight, dear sister,” Coorlat said. “I am Hoe’s second-in-command now that She-rat is dead, and I say we wait before we do any more damage to this city tonight.”

“A good idea, I think,” Orfantal said, adjusting his cloak. “Come, let’s see if we can get a pizza somewhere.”


***


Crapsalar, Fidellio, and Krepe joined the Fridgeraiders at their coffee table in the lobby and they all became fast friends after learning of how Moll was saved.

“And now Moll can get his house and job back,” Krepe exclaimed.

“Huh?” Crapsalar asked.

“You want me to tell the story?” the janitor asked. “Very well. It all began when—”

“Hold on a minute,” Fidellio asked. “Me and Fallick have had some suspicions about you for a while now, Krepe. You’re the master spy of Karugyzstan, aren’t you? The Seal?”

“What?” Krepe said. “That’s preposterous! I deny ever bit of it.”

“Fine, be that way,” Fidellio mumbled, but he sat back and smiled contentedly. “Go on then, tell your story.”


***


From the corner of the lobby, the Seal tensed upon hearing his name, then smiled over at the group around the coffee table. He leaned back against his vending machine and closed his eyes, ready for sleep after a long night.
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  #27  
Old 01-30-2014, 02:21 PM
rand rand is offline
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Epilogue

Vodkajoe and the remaining members of his squad—Lickety Split Nick, Wedge, Mullet, and Snotts—stood on the north shore of Lake Azul with Captain Paranos, waiting for the Coranth Beauticians to come and pick them up again. They would travel to the Catelyn Plain, and from there they would attack this Panera Seer Kojak had mentioned.

Vodkajoe stared out at the water and sighed. It had hurt to lose Konan and Saxophonist. They’d been two of his best, and Saxophonist had always been his favorite Fridgeraider. There was nothing he could do, though. They were set to travel across the ocean back home, to Seventy-Two Cities and beyond.

Meanwhile, the mage Lickety Split Nick crouched behind a rock, hidden from the others. He’d devised a plan, a secret, ingenious plan. He just wasn’t sure if he should share it with the sergeant now. Or ever, really. He stood up and walked to the others. No, he wouldn’t mention it. Vodkajoe would howl if he learned that Lickety Split Nick planned to betray the squad, join up with Caliban Prude, assassinate the command there, and use Prude’s army to take over the world.


***


Paranos stood away from the others, thinking about the Sorceress Bladdersnail and all the things that were apparently meant to never be.

I miss you, he thought.

I know, a voice answered in his head. It was Bladdersnail’s voice. Now this was creepy.

Woah, you’re still alive or something?

I was reborn.

How?

Magic.

Oh.

Come find me
, Bladdersnail said. I’m only four years old now, so you might get arrested for sexual assault on a toddler, but you’d take that risk for me, wouldn’t you, darling?

Well, I suppose, Paranos thought. I could become a pedophile for you.

Then I shall await the coming of a pedophile. Uh, no pun intended
.

The telepathic link closed and Paranos blinked. Yes, this was certainly quite creepy.


***


“No, no. I don’t want to go!” Crapsalar cried, as the two Marzipan soldiers tied him up and threw him in their boat. “This is my home! I’m scared! Please, I don’t want to go!”

“Maybe we’ll get our pizza now,” Konan told Saxophonist as they clambered in behind the young thief. “Ransom this lad for some pizza.”

“Aye,” Saxophonist said. “We’ll hold a gun to his head at every village we pass between here and Seventy-Two Cities, threatening to blow his head off if we don’t get all the pizzas we want.”

“A sound plan,” Konan said. “Let’s get going, then.”

“No, no, please!” Crapsalar cried. “Don’t make me! No! I don’t want to go!”

Konan growled and kicked the boy in the ribs.

From near the bow, one of the crewmen lifted his hood briefly. Triangle Destroyer smiled as he watched the idiots arguing amongst themselves. Then he turned to the lake, wondering what it would be like to—

A shark jumped out of the water and dragged Triangle Destroyer down into the water in a cloud of murky blood, but the Marzipans and Crapsalar were too busy shouting to notice. They continued out onto the lake, sailing into the blazing sunset, even though it was morning.




This ends the first Recipe
of the
Marzipan
Cookbook of the Fallen
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  #28  
Old 01-30-2014, 03:30 PM
rand rand is offline
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Glossary



Titles and Groups

  • First Sword of the Empire, Marzipan title for Imperial Champion
  • Fister, Marzipan military governor
  • High Fister, Marzipan military commander
  • The Fridgeraiders, legendary elite division of Marzipan Army
  • The Mauve Sentinels, mercenary company commanded by a false prince
  • The Panera Seer, a mysterious prophet
  • The Warthog, nickname for Caliban Prude
  • The Flaw, Marzipan organization of incompetent assassins


Peoples (human and non-human)

  • Barfmask, (non-human), warrior society
  • Karu, cultural group living around Karugyzstan
  • Adobe Flash, herders living in Adobe Flash Hills
  • Jellibopii, cultural group living in northern Jellibopis
  • Spoonful Assail, (non-human), founding race whose members have extra joints and two penises
  • Jagoot, (non-human), founding race
  • K’Chuck Che’Norys, (non-human), founding race of dinosaur-like beings
  • Coranth Beauticians, (non-human), race of hair care specialists
  • Beavi, plains people living in central Jellibopis
  • T’ling Imus, founding race, now undead
  • Teeste Andiii, an Elder Race of aliens


Ascendants

  • Berdpu, Lord of Category 4 Hurricanes
  • Bum, Lady of the Earth, the Lazy Goddess
  • Caliban Prude, the Warthog
  • Balls/The Grope, Ass of High House Shallow
  • Dysenterae, Lord of Greek Tragedies
  • F’rek, the Centipede of Spring
  • Finn deRay, She-Wolf of Winter
  • Fender, the Bacon God
  • Pepperoni, Lady of Pizza Parties
  • Hood, Lord of Death and Milk
  • Chess, Queen of Crochet
  • Colour, the High Douchebag
  • D’rul, Elder God, Maker of Crafts
  • Maui, Lady of Beggars, Serfs, Slaves, and Retail Store Employees
  • Overuse, Lady of Tragic Shipwrecks
  • Poponn, the Twin Clowns of Fate
  • Osserc/Osric/Osseric/Osserk/Oosrik/Osoriek/Osiosioosiric, Lord of the Skype
  • Rolypoliel, Mistress of Penitence
  • Queen of Creams, Queen of High House Lice, Queen of Body Lotions and Lubricants
  • Shallowthrone, King of High House Shallow
  • The Nipple God, the Pierced One
  • The Zebras of Shallow, the Seven Zebras of High House Shallow
  • Sogg, He-Wolf of Winter
  • Fake/Freak, the Jaguar of Spring
  • Anomander Hoe/Son of Dorkness, Knight of High House Dork


The World of Sorcery

The Warrens

  • Denial, the Path of Healing
  • P’iss, the Path of Stoning
  • Hood’s Path, the Path of Death and Milk
  • Beano, the Path of Shallow Illusions
  • Chaka, the Path of the Prefrontal Cortex
  • Booze, the Path of Drowning at Sea
  • Rushin, the Path of Dorkness
  • Cirque, the Path of Skydivers
  • Tennis, the Path of the Land
  • Thyrsty, the Path of Fire

The Elder Warrens
  • Kernel Galing, the Teeste Andiii Warren of Dorkness
  • Tellanphone, the T’ling Imus Warren of Fire
  • Obtuse Phlegmack, the Jagoot Warren of Ice Cubes
  • Buffet, the First Warren

The Deck of Flagons
  • High House Lice
  •  King (Henry IV)
  •  Queen (Queen of Creams)
  •  Champion (formerly Lance Armstrong)
  •  Priest (Pope Innocent LXIX)
  •  Herald (Wilson)
  •  Soldier (General Veers)
  •  Weaver (Madame Defarge)
  •  Mason (Charles)
  •  Virgin (formerly Miley Cyrus)

  • High House Breast
  •  King (Hood)
  •  Queen (Latifah)
  •  Knight (once Dusty Ulcer)
  •  Magi (Caspar)
  •  Herald (Berman)
  •  Soldier (Captain Piett)
  •  Spinner (from the board game Life)
  •  Mason (W. B. Mason)
  •  Virgin (Tom Cruise)

  • High House Heavy
  •  King (Kong)
  •  Queen (Mercury)
  •  Champion (Osserc, Osric, etc.)
  •  Priest (Father Larry Johansen)
  •  Captain (Crunch)
  •  Soldier (Admiral Ackbar)
  •  Seamstress (Singer)
  •  Builder (Bob)
  •  Maiden (Snooki)

  • High House Dork
  •  King (King James)
  •  Queen (Mother Dork)
  •  Knight (Anomander Hoe)
  •  Magi (Melchior)
  •  Captain (Hook)
  •  Soldier (General Dedonna)
  •  Weaver (Gary Wright)
  •  Mason (James)
  •  Wife (of Bath)

  • High House Shallow
  •  King (Shallowthrone)
  •  Queen (Elizabeth)
  •  Ass (Balls)
  •  Magi (Balthazar)
  •  Zebra (the Zebras of Shallow)

  • Unaligned
  •  Poponn (the Twin Clowns of Fate)
  •  Bum (the Lazy Goddess)
  •  Frown
  •  Stick
  •  Zorb
  •  Toilet

Miscellaneous Magical Things
  • Chance, a sword Captain Paranos won by chance
  • Dragnipoo, a magical chainsaw owned by Anomander Hoe
  • Finest Finnest, the best of several magic storage containers used by a Jagoot
  • Otmealio, a magic-deadening substance
  • The T’urgid Cabal, an organization of criminals, crime lords, and drug kingpins in Karugyzstan


Place Names

  • Snapple, a Jellibopin Free City
  • Stairway to Heaven Forest, location of Caliban Prude’s headquarters
  • Karugyzstan, last Free City, largest city on Jellibopis
  • Daveran, resort town on Lake Azul
  • Adobe Flash Hills, hills east of Karugyzstan
  • Jellibopi, port city in northwestern Jellibopis
  • Marzipan City, island city, origin of the Marzipan Empire
  • Marzipan Empire, Empire founded by Melonhead and his assistant Dances, two back-alley marzipan dealers
  • Sock’s Hold, famous sock factory in Marzipan City
  • Goon’s Pawn, floating mountain fortress of the Teeste Andiii on Jellibopis
  • Louse Quarter, the poor neighborhood of Marzipan City
  • Methilab, port city in northwestern Jellibopis
  • Pisst, a Jellibopin Free City
  • One Nostril Moose, a Jellibopin Free City
  • Pail, recently conquered Free City on Jellibopis
  • Panera Dominion, new empire in southeast Jellibopis, ruled by the Panera Seer
  • Beavi Plain, central plain of northern Jellibopis
  • Boonta, capital city of the Marzipan Empire


Karugyzstan and Environs

  • Fusspot’s Barbecue, a famous barbeque restaurant
  • Tinkle Tower, a haunted tower in Rold Gold’s Round
  • D’rul’s Belfry/Temple, abandoned Temple of D’rul
  • University of Phoenix, the main university in Karugyzstan
  • Gadrobi Dash Hotel, a dumpy hotel
  • Travesty Hall, the palace, site of the Council
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