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Book: Rise of the Dough Monster
Chapter 3: Thickly-Lensed Spectacles

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 behind.

"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 stranger.

"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.

"Please, sir."

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."

"Do it!"

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. And Martha."

"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?" he asked.

"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 very difficult."

"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 possible way."

Lawrence pulled back the gun, leaving a round indentation on the wise man's forehead. "How?"

"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 sub-space."

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.

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