A gentle shade of golden light glimmered throughout the entire length of
the village's main street, the result of a hundred flickering lanterns hung
from lampposts and porches. The sky overhead was completely black. Night
fell sharply on this region of Mud-Paq.
Martha Raisindough walked awkwardly down the cobbled road, occasionally
stumbling over its uneven surface. The rude and evil stranger followed close
"How much farther, bitch?" He asked with quiet menace.
"Not far." Martha answered. She winced as the barrel of the man's
gun was pressed into her back, her generous layers of flab providing little
protection against its hard mussel.
"Trick me," he snarled, "and I'll toast and distribute sections
of your intestines to the entire population of this world."
Martha wondered what intestines were, and then decided that she did not
want to find out. "I not be wantin' to trick you."
Martha and the strange man continued up the main street. It was completely
deserted. Most of the villagers were inside old Mister Emptyhead's cramped
but comfortable tavern, drinking, eating, burping and vomiting. There was
nothing else to do during the evening. Video systems, holo-games, and virtual
sensation stimulators were unheard of on this rustic world.
As Martha and the stranger passed by a narrow, murky alleyway, a voice called
out from the shadows. "Gimme' a coin forra' drink, Martha."
Martha watched as a repugnant, blotchy vagrant emerged from the darkness.
It was putrid Carl Slugguzzler, an unsuccessful tomb looter from the northern
forests. Once a month he would trek down to the village and beg.
"Hello, Carl." Martha said nervously. "You be on yer' way
now. I've no coins for you this time."
"Please Martha." He pleaded.
"Go away, Carl."
"One coin be all I ask for."
"Please leave." Martha said. Normally she would have gladly given
Carl a coin, but she was worried for his safety.
Her concern was justified. Carl had turned his attention towards the cloaked
"You, sir?" Carl said in a grovelling tone. "You be new to
this place. Would you give me a coin?"
"Leave." The evil stranger said in a voice that could freeze time.
Martha was extremely worried. "Go away, Carl!" She shouted.
"Just one coin!" The beggar pleaded.
A bright beam of purest red fizzed through the cool night air and sliced
through Carl's waist. His divided body crumpled to the ground. Carl moaned.
The stranger fired again, this time cutting into the vagrant's chest. Flesh
and bone crackled and sparkled brightly.
"Sad peasant!" The cloaked evil man said. He fired once more,
decapitating Carl's head and silencing his groans of agony.
Martha tried to scream but could not manage it. The stranger's hand had
covered her mouth. The gun was jabbing at her back once again.
"Make a sound and that happens to you."
He released his grip on her face. Martha kept quiet. She was shaking visibly.
"Take me to the wise man now!"
Martha began walking up the street. The stranger followed.
At the far end of the street, on a small hillock, was a tall thin thick-stoned
tower almost sixty metres in height. It was the tallest structure in the
village, more than four times taller than the surrounding houses. A dull,
crimson glow emanated from a single round window at its pinnacle. On top
of its pointed roof, a long metal spike reached upwards.
"That be his abode." Martha said, pointing to the tower.
"Excellent!" The Stranger said, smiling unevenly.
They walked up some steep, lichen covered steps to a heavy wooden door.
Two purple lanterns illuminated the entrance.
"This be the door." Martha said, stating the obvious.
"Open it!" The stranger ordered.
"I must knock first!" Martha said. "The wise man be not liking
surprise, uninvited visitors."
Martha knocked loudly.
After a second of inactivity, the door buzzed and slowly opened.
"Wow!" She exclaimed. "The door be magic!"
The cloaked stranger was confused.
"An electric door?" He mused. "On this planet of gutter dross?
How unexpected and odd." He nudged Martha, pushing her inside. He followed.
They both climbed up a cramped, spiral staircase up to the tower's top level.
Martha found the going tough. By the time that they reached the top, she
was panting like a dog. Another, smaller door greeted them.
"Open it now!" The stranger ordered.
Martha was about to knock when a voice, deep and calming, spoke.
"Please enter." It said.
Martha gasped. "It be the wise man!" She said, breathing heavily.
The door buzzed and opened. They entered. The small room that they found
themselves in was covered in multi-coloured lanterns. The light was steady
and unflickering, and created a mystical glow of magical mist that seemed
to roam and undulate around the dark wood furniture. A weighty looking desk
was positioned at the room's centre. Behind it, with his back to them, sat
a red haired, red cloaked, wise looking man. He was gazing out of the large
round window. The lights of the main street could be seen stretching off
into the distance.
"Welcome to my chamber of inter-dimensional knowledge." The wise
man said with calm confidence. "Ask what you wish and be mesmerized
by the immeasurable complexity of my expansive, superior intellect."
He turned to face his two visitors. When he saw them, his eyes widened noticeably.
"Fuck! Lawrence!" He shouted, getting to his feet and knocking
over a potted Nugget weed. "Err… I mean greetings, Lawrence.
"Your name be Lawrence!" Martha said, looking at her evil captor.
"It doesn't suit you."
Lawrence, the evil cloaked figure, ignored Martha and aimed his gun at the
wise man's head. "How do you know my name?"
The wise man quickly put on a pointed, gold braided hat and some thickly-lensed
spectacles. Now he looked even wiser, if a little unsure. "Err... I
have unrestricted access to the spiritual freeways of information that wander
the ethereal regions beneath the warm, vacuous voids of enlightened awareness."
"Is that so?"
"Yes it is." The wise man continued. "My mind simply hauled
your name from the incorporeal zone, forcing it to materialise within the
temporal matter designation centre of my super-conscious perception domain."
The wise man pulled his chair over to the desk and sat down. Confident calm
had returned to him.
Lawrence stared at the wise man with a expression of severe suspicion. "Really?"
"Absolutely!" The wise man replied.
Lawrence continued to stare at him. "You look familiar."
"Of course I do." The wise man said. "The essence of my congenial
vibes enters the life-force of all who encounter me. Your subconscious trans-universal
neural interconnections have become instantaneously and thoroughly accustomed
to my virtuous presence."
"Cut the bullshit!" Lawrence screamed. He fired at the wall next
to the window, blowing a gaping hole through to the outside. "The next
shot will fry your throat."
The wise man remained calm. "How can I be of assistance?"
Martha decided to speak. "Lawrence be wantin' to leave this planet."
"Very interesting." The wise man said, rubbing his chin. "And
"Tell me how!" Lawrence yelled.
"I'm afraid that there are no spaceports or spacecraft on Mud-Paq."
"I know that!"
"Then you know that you can't leave. Why ask me?"
Lawrence pressed the barrel of his gun onto the wise man's forehead.
"You claim to be a wise man. Tell me or lose your superior intellect."
A look of thoughtfulness filled the wise man's face. "There is one
Lawrence pulled back the gun, leaving a round indentation on the wise man's
"Deep within the dense forests of the Phargrah Plateau high in the
western region of the Mumph-Scuttle Mountains lives a mystical herd of creatures
known as Warphs."
"What has that got to do with my wanting to leave this dung heap?"
"Warphs have a unique ability to fly out of the atmosphere and enter
An expression of excessive annoyance appeared on Lawrence's face. "That
is total crap!" He bellowed, preparing to pull the trigger.
Martha's observant nature had noticed that the situation was about to turn
bad. She decided to help out the wise man.
"It be true!" She said. "I remember hearin' about the Warph
legend when I be a child."
"It is no legend." The wise man said. "On my numerous excursions
into the wilderness, I have often seen them accelerating into orbit."
Lawrence was reaching breaking point. He could not believe what he was hearing.
"Enough!" He shrieked. "Both of you are full of shit and
are about to die!"
"Calm yourself." The wise man said. "Kill me and you will
never leave this planet. You will also turn me into an apparition of puissant
aptitude. I will possess your living essence and transmogrify you into a
low paid drainage labourer."
Lawrence fell silent. "Prove to me that Warphs exist and you shall
live." he said finally.
"That will be no problem," the wise man said, "but it will
require a four day journey through rough and dangerous lands."
"Sort it out!" Lawrence shouted.
"Indeed I will." The wise man said, getting out of his chair.
"We shall leave at sunrise."
Lawrence scowled. "We will leave right now!"
The gun had been placed on the wise man's forehead once again.
"Very well." The wise man pulled a lever on the wall behind his
desk. A low hum emanated from above.
"What are you doing?" Lawrence asked with extreme suspicion.
"This releases the locking mechanism on the stable doors at the base
of my tower. That is where I keep my baby grunk and carriage." The
wise man walked around the desk. "I'm afraid that it's the fastest
mode of transport that I have."
"If that lever unlocks your stable down below," Lawrence asked,
"why does it make a sound above us?"
"Power transfer." The wise man said quickly. "Nothing to
concern yourself with."
Lawrence motioned towards the door with his gun. "Let's go."
The wise man, Martha, and Lawrence left the wise man’s mystical room
and headed down the tower’s staircase.