Drunken Cows Abused My Eland

…and they crapped on my lawn!


The Doclopedia #1,181

Send In The Clowns: Boffo, The Clockwork Clown

Way back in 1870, in San Francisco, a rather mad inventor named Volmer Heely built an amazing clockwork man. The intricacy of the inner workings of his creation were decades ahead of anything else anywhere in the world and allowed this clockwork being to move as smoothly as a human. Inside the skull and the lower torso were small metal disks that functioned like the punch cards used in an analytical engine. There were dozens of them, each holding a quite large amount of programming. Even better, in the upper torso was a device that could actually create new programming based upon events the machine experienced.

The creation was powered by a series of springs that would either wind up as other springs wound down, or that he himself could wind up using a key. A voice, with a somewhat limited vocabulary, was provided via a special sort of music box setup.

Now, in other hands, this amazing clockwork man might have been used as a servant or soldier or assassin or something, but Volmer Heely wanted to spread joy and happiness through the world, so he, made his creation into a clown that he named Boffo. He then programmed Boffo to do all the things clowns do and more. Once this was done, he sent his clockwork clown out into the world.

Within a week, Boffo was the hottest thing in San Francisco. He would walk around town juggling, dancing, miming, doing cartwheels and generally being funny. Children of all ages would follow him for blocks. He was written up in the local newspapers and son, word of this incredible clown was popping up in print around the country.

After about three months in San Francisco, Heely did some minor repairs and tweaks on Boffo and then sent him out to tour the country and the world, which he did for 20 years. Millions of folks saw Boffo doing his thing in circuses, theaters and just out on the street. He performed for presidents and kings and even the Pope. And of course, he entertained millions of children.

In 1890, Boffo went back to San Francisco and Volmer Heely. Heely was very proud of his creation and gave Boffo a major upgrade that included a vastly better vocabulary and much more human look. He replaced Boffo’s program disks with several banks of what we would call punch tape drives. This increased Boffo’s available memory by a couple of orders of magnitude. It also gave Boffo the skills needed to do card tricks and such. Best of all, he created a clockwork monkey named Miki to be Boffo’s companion and sidekick.

Again Boffo went out into the world and again he was a huge success. He traveled mostly with circuses for another 20 years, usually as the star of the show. He so impressed Mark Twain that Twain wrote “One cannot help but think that a world without Boffo would be considerably worse for those of us made of flesh & blood.” In Barcelona, they erected a statue to him. In Japan, they sold thousands of Boffo dolls. The clockwork clown was a much beloved fellow.

When Boffo returned home in the spring of 1910, he found his creator old and in poor health, but still inventing things with the help of his son and grandson. Twenty years of inventing had lead them to the creation of a much better body and artificial brain for Boffo. Once the upgrades were complete, the clown would be indistinguishable from a human unless he were examined by a doctor.

But this upgrade never happened. Boffo explained that he was happy as he was, although he did ask for a new memory setup. He wanted to continue performing as the Clockwork Clown, not as a human. Volmer Heely accepted this and after some more minor repairs and tweaks, once again sent Boffo on his way. Six months later, Heely died in his sleep.

Boffo continued traveling the world, including entertaining troops in World Wars I & II (he lost Miki to a sniper in France) and Korea. He appeared in movies and television programs in over 30 countries. In 1958, the United Nations awarded Boffo a special medal for his humanitarian work.

On June 3rd, 1960, at 2:15 pm, Boffo was back in San Francisco performing for a group of children when he just stopped moving. He was taken to the workshop of Frank Heely, grandson of Volmer. It was there that Heely found a note in Boffo’s pocket, one that had probably been there for decades. It read…

To Whom It May Concern,

Should I be disabled or stop functioning, please do not repair me. I have lived a long life and do not wish to be upgraded or rebuilt. If possible, please return me to San Francisco and put me on display somewhere that many people will see me.

Thank you,


And so it was done. Today, you can see Boffo standing exactly as he stopped at the cable car turnaround in downtown San Francisco, next to a plaque with his story on it.

The Royal Report On Dealing With Dragons

…it’s only one word: DON’T!


The Doclopedia #1,180

The Truth About Monsters: Ents

The physical description of Ents that Professor Tolkien gave us in The Lord of the Rings is spot on. These “tree shepherds” are roughly humanoid looking trees themselves. Any sort of tree can be represented, with the deciduous species being the most common.

What the good professor got wrong was how talkative Ents are. They are not the slow and excruciatingly deliberate speakers they were portrayed as. Indeed, most Ents will talk your leg off given half a chance. Depending upon how great a hurry you are in, this can be either good or bad.

Among themselves, Ents speak by rustling their leaves and creaking their branches. With other species, they speak the Common tongue. Ents are also great gossips and a treasure trove of useful information, which is why most other sentients seek them out. The secret to getting the good info is patience. Ents are easily set off on tangents and can take a good long while to get back to the main topic.

Ents are also big on songs and poems, many of which relate events centuries past. You can learn a lot from these, if you have a few hours to spare. It was in fact the Entish story of Old Roughbark and the Great Flood that helped the Adventurers Five find the lost tomb of the Golden Emperor. Of course, the telling of the tale did take nearly 9 hours.

Ents are almost always found in groups of 10-30 in the deepest parts of old growth forests. They are found in every climatic zone that such forests exist. Young Ents, those under a century old, often wander into less dense forests or even lightly wooded areas.

Chapter 146: In Which Our Hero Saves A Fair Maiden From The French, Then Tosses The Evil Cardinal Off A Cliff

…sadly, God was not on the cardinal’s side


The Doclopedia #1,179

The Truth About Monsters: Owlbears

Few monsters are as strange looking and as misunderstood as the Owlbear. It’s half a ton of grizzly bear with the head of an enormous owl, walks upright and, when it can find a mate, reproduces by laying eggs.

The first half dozen Owlbears, three of each sex, were created by the well known and totally insane wizard Igor Vanaskofsky. Old Igor was infamous for his creation of strange and dangerous creatures such as Butterfly Cobras, Tigoose (tiger/moose), Octoapes and Owlbears. Fortunately for the world, Igor was killed and eaten by his final creation, a cross between a shrew and an crocodile.

Owlbears can be very dangerous during mating season or when raising young, but most of the time, they are solitary creatures that prefer a very large home territory. They eat almost anything they can catch and sleep in caves or lairs they dig themselves.

What most people don’t know about Owlbears is that they are quite a bit more intelligent than either bears or owls. Studies of them reveal that they are just shy of being sentient, which is beginning to come into conflict with their solitary nature. They want to interact with other Owlbears and certain other species, but their instinct keeps them from it most of the time.

A few Owlbears have started staying together as couples for at least long enough to raise young. A very few have formed bonded pairs. Not surprisingly, these bonded pairs have a much higher survival rate than loners do. It is also more likely that their offspring will form bonded pairs when they mate.

Finally, a few Owlbears have been observed using tools. Now, by tools, we mean things like a stick to knock a prey animal out of a tree or a rock to drop on an unsuspecting future meal, but that is still definite tool use.

In conclusion, it is obvious that Owlbears are no longer the dumb creatures we once thought they were and are in fact rapidly heading toward becoming yet another sentient species.

My Life Among The Wild Writers

…which is actually most of them.


Below, Sasha’s latest rant.

Sasha Explains It All

Why You Can Never Really Talk To Your Dog

I know, I know. The first thing you humans say to that is “well, they don’t understand <insert your local language here> anyway”. Typical human arrogance. Look, dogs have been hooked up with humans for maybe 30,000 years and for sure for 25,000 years. We learned your languages as they developed, folks. When we met you, your vocabulary was maybe 300 words. Not real hard to master, ya know?

Now, to be fair, 99% of dogs do not have enormous vocabularies, but we all understand your languages at at least the conversational level. Of course, most dogs only understand the human languages they were raised with, but we understand them. And we pick up new languages pretty fast. Survival skill, don’t ya know.

The above also applies to cats, pigs (have I mentioned how smart pigs are?), apes and several other species that are either in contact with humans a lot or related to you. None of them are quite as good at understanding humans as dogs, but they DO understand you.

So, back to why you and your dog can never really understand one another. It’s pretty simple, really: humans lack tails, scent glands and really moveable ears.

Now, you lot have figured out that tail/ear positions indicate some general emotional stuff, but you have only scratched the surface and you can’t differentiate smells worth a damn, if at all. Let me set you straight.

Suppose I meet my friend Moose, a 4 year old male basset hound. You see Moose and I wagging our tails, ears perked up as much as we can perk up our floppy ears and we are sniffing each others butts. You figure that are greeting each other in a friendly manner. You are right, but only partly.

What you don’t know or notice is that Moose is wagging his tail in a clockwise rotation. He is also emitting a very slight fear odor and his ears go back a couple of times, just for a second. This means that he is glad to see me, but he is a bit nervous about something. We exchange woofs and a sub-vocalization or two and I learn that he is going to the vet later and is worried. Given that the vet once removed his testicles, it’s easy to understand his nervousness. This is very common among most male dogs & cats.

So now, I give him a few reassuring woofs and hold my tail a bit lower, wagging slower. My ears are relaxed and I emit a bit of female scent. You know what I’m talking about. Just a whiff that says “You’re gonna be ok, you hot hunk of dog.” His tail wags faster and then we are on our way with our humans.

Two humans meet like that and all you’ve got is facial expressions, hand moves and body stance and emotional inflections in your voice. We dogs have all of that (except hand movements), plus the tails, ears & scent. Hell, sometimes we say things just with scent alone, which is why we mark territories and sniff each others marks.

But wait, you say, what about dogs & cats who lose their tails or have them docked way short or were born without them? Or have tiny ears or have lost an ear? Well, truth is, those critters speak to us the way a person with a speech impediment or maybe a mental problem speaks to you. We understand them, but it’s a bit more difficult and requires some patience. While I’m on the subject: STOP DOCKING EARS & TAILS, YOU FUCKING HAIRLESS APES!

Sorry for the outburst, but it’s a touchy subject.

Of course, there are also certain concepts that all species have that are unique to that species. Dogs have things like
griff and warrooo, which I can’t even begin to explain to humans, although oddly, my human father has a fair understanding of griff. But then, he’s special. Cats have things like mrrowk and hssht going on and they won’t even try to explain them to non-cats. Among you humans, the concept of religious and political fervor are a couple of the many emotional states we animals can never hope to understand.

So there you have it. We can understand each other, but not completely. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing. Regardless, we all seem to deal with it.

Until my next rant,

Sasha Jane Cross

Three Young Ladies In Search Of Adventure

…or cheap drinks


The Doclopedia #1,178
The Truth About Monsters: Hydras

Let’s face it, anything with more or less than one head is scary. Something big and reptilian with SEVEN heads is pretty much guaranteed to terrify you, possibly into soiling yourself.

Enter the creatures known as Hydras. They got the name from that old Greek legend, which managed to bleed over into realities that don’t even have a Greece. People saw a multiheaded dragonish looking thing and it was like, “Holy Shit! A hydra!”.

The big problem is that hydra are not generally aggressive and the vast majority are plant eaters. They really only get aggressive during mating season and during the raising of their young. Or if you decide to attack them, which happens every so often.

In their normal state, hydra have only two heads, both on long flexible necks. This allows then to eat twice as fast or look out for predators while one head eats. Yes, these 8 ton creatures do have predators. You do NOT want to meet one of them.

Anyway, the near instant re-growing of heads & necks is a hell of a survival adaptation. Most hydras can go as high as 7-8 heads, but the Greater Forest Hydra can go up to 12 heads. The GFH also has a poisonous bite, so you’ve been warned.

So, some dumbass adventurers see a hydra, attack it and maybe manage to cut off a head. Two more pop up and pretty soon it’s a meeting of the Dead Adventurers Club.

Afterward, once the hydra is out of danger, all but two of the heads and necks drop off and it goes back to eating plants.

A Pocket Full Of Butter

…oh no, my good pants

The Doclopedia #1,177

The Truth About Monsters: Demons

In the pocket dimension known as “Demarra”, the beings that we call Demons look and act surprisingly like we do. Indeed, if you were transported there safely, you’d fit right in.

The key word there is “safely”. You see, transporting between realities via magic is inherently unsafe and it is doubly so when going from or to most realities and Demarra. The magical energies warp and restructure your body while filling you with great power. When a Demarran arrives here, they look, well, demonic and they are under the control of the summoner. The same thing would happen if we went there, but Demarrans don’t practice magic.

Needless to say, the Demarrans hate being summoned and used for fouls purposes. That’s why they try like hell to kill the mages who summon them, something they do with increasing frequency of late. In fact, the government of Demarra has instituted mandatory “Summoner Eradication” classes for all citizens.

So stop summoning Demons, mages! Go back to making deals with dragons and liches!

The Girl With The Green Nipples Goes Crazy

…she may have been a bit stressed out

The Doclopedia #1,176

The Truth About Monsters: Orcs

The simple fact is, Orcs are mostly hard working beings who just want to live their lives with as few problems as possible. You know, just like every other sentient humanoid species with half a brain. The problem is, a few generations back, a bunch of lowlife assholes decided that they’d team up with some evil wizards and some redneck Goblins and try to take over a good sized piece of the free world.

There was a long and bloody war and by the time it was done, the whole Orcish brand had been drug through the shit pile. Humans, Elves & Dwarves started getting pretty hostile toward Orcs and over the course of a decade or two, the word Orc pretty much became a slur.

Of course, the fact that Orcs are ugly by Human/Elf/Dwarf standards didn’t help, nor did the Orcish language, which is guttural and harsh sounding. Add in the fact that Orcs tended to live in the places the other humanoids didn’t want and you have the makings of some pretty heavy prejudice.

That’s pretty much how things have been for Orcs for the last couple of centuries, at least in H/E/D heavy communities. But get out into the hinterlands and things aren’t so bad for Orcs. There are small towns where Orcs are a respected part of the community. They own businesses, farms, homes, etc. There is even a town, far to the west of the so called “civilized lands”, where an Orc is the mayor.

Remember that the next time you call somebody a dirty Orc.

The Somewhat Rambling, Yet Aways Entertaining, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Class Trip From Hell

…co-starring her pet hyrax, Morty

Ok, I know, it’s been a while since I posted the last part of Sparrow, Sunny and the Return of Magic. Here is the rest of the story.

WARNING! Longass post ahead!

Part Three of:  Sparrow, Sunny and the Return of Magic

The guy was a short, balding Latino, maybe in his forties. He was chubby and had a jolly demeanor, but Sparrow could see in his eyes that he was seriously checking them out.

“I expect you are wondering several things right now,” he said in a lighthearted voice. “Let’s go down the short list, shall we? First of all, everything has stopped because we are now in Wizard Time, which is outside the normal passage of temporal river. Secondly, I am indeed a Wizard, not a child molester as Sunshine is thinking or a nutjob as you are thinking, Sparrow. I really can do magic, which brings us to the third answer: so are you. Or rather, you are possessed of the Talent. Becoming a full on Wizard takes quite a few years and a lot of damned hard work. Finally, my name is Wizard Holy Mole. Yes, I know, it’s a terrible Mexican food based pun, but we Wizards do like our goofy names.”

Sparrow recalled that later, she would find out that Wizards were pretty bi-polar, being utterly serious at times and completely screwy the rest of the time. All of them had names chosen during the screwy time.

Noticing that Sunny looked gobsmacked into near paralysis, Sparrow took it upon herself to ask about 200 questions in rapid succession before her head exploded. The Master had a good long laugh over that.

Wiping the tears from his eyes, he had told her that all questions would be answered in good time, then told them about the offer of training in the Talent if they wanted it. He described the Academy and how life would be there. When he was done, Sunny finally found his voice.

“Hogwarts!” Actually, he said it three times, the last time adding “Fucking Hogwarts!” to it.

Again, the Master laughed.

“Well, not quite, but similar. More like Hogwarts meets bootcamp meets Harvard Law School. Tough, but fun and very different. Sadly, there are no owls or broomsticks, but the students have devised a game like Quidditch.”

The rest went pretty quickly. He answered a few basic questions, then told them he and two there Wizards would meet with them and their parents that night. After that, he vanished and time sped back up and she and Sunny had stared at each other for nearly a minute before saying “We’re gonna be Wizards!”

But not loudly enough for the rest of the cafeteria to hear.

Two weeks later, they were gone from their hometown and families and standing outside a small farmhouse way to hell and gone in the middle of the Nevada desert about 4 miles off Highway 50. The master lead them in and, sure enough, it was bigger on the inside. How big? Try 5,000 acres of land in what looked like the north coast of California, but maybe 150 years ago.

That had been 6.5 years ago and now she was out doing her period of fieldwork for the Council.

And with that thought in her mind, Sparrow finished her coffee, paid the bill and added a five buck tip, then started heading off toward the Town Hall. As she walked, she felt in her pocket for her good luck charm. It was still there, which reassured her. Even though this was probably going to be a dead easy job with no hitches, she figured a bit of luck couldn’t hurt.

She pulled the Petoskey stone, which she had found on a childhood vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan. It was pretty cool looking and she fondly remembered how her grandpa, a rockhound from way back, had polished it for her, then drilled a little hole in it for the leather shoelace that was still there.

During Third Year, Wizard Suzie Creamcheese had been teaching Charms and asked them all to bring small and something dear to them to class. Sunny, always the geek, had brought his very first 20 sided die. She had brought her Petoskey stone. Wizard Suzie had shown the class how to imbue a little bit of luck into their charm. Not too much, because you would be draining luck from the next 24 hours, but enough to give you a bit of good luck when you needed it.

Most of the class had overdone it and the next day they sported black eyes, menstrual cramps, scrapes, bruises, lost books and, in her case, a zit on the end of her nose the size of a pea. Lesson learned.

She always took a couple of days a week to put a bit of luck into the charm. Not too much, just enough to maybe miss a favorite tv show or maybe be sitting next to a dog or cat when they farted. Since she seldom had need to use the charm, she had tons of good luck in it. In fact, every once in a while, she had to bleed some off. This usually happened in concert with buying a lotto ticket or finding a lost item in her less than tidy apartment.

By now, Sparrow had reached the Town Hall, which wasn’t all that big. She walked up the steps while casting Ambor’s Concealing Shroud and then walked in the front door invisible to organic or non-organic vision. The latter wasn’t necessary because this place had no video cameras, but you could never bee too careful.

It took her about half an hour to check out the entire place, which looked like a zillion other small town city halls. Rooms full of boxes of records or microfilm of records, people at desks, some using computers that were WAY out of date looking, people answering old telephones, calendars on the wall from local businesses. Same old, same old.

And then she froze as a thought hit her hard. Slowly, she turned to look at a calendar on the wall. It was from 1999. So were the ones on desks. The date on these old computers…computers running Windows 98…was the same. It was May 5th, 1999.

She was in the PAST! The Council had transported her over 15 years into the fucking past! But time travel was like, number three on the THOU SHALT NOT EVEN THINK OF DOING THIS SHIT list!

What the fuck was going on here?

Mentally, she screamed out an angry summons.

It took maybe three seconds for Wizard Robotix to show up. She was thankful that it was him, because he was marginally less screwy and much less prone toward dancing around the truth with Adepts. He was also an excellent explainer of things, as he had been in his other life, the one before he died and became a Wizard.

“Hello, Adept Sparrow. What can I help you with?” His smile was broad and his voice was calming. Truth to be told, with his big old muttonchop sideburns and curly hair and glasses, he kind of reminded her of her Uncle Fred.

She took a calming breath, which really didn’t calm her all that much. “Well, sir, I seem to be in the past. Over 15 years in the past. I’d just kind of like to know what the fuck is going on!”

So much for trying to be calm. Fortunately, Wizard Robotix merely took her arm and started walking her outside.

“We were hoping you would react a bit less panicky, but you still did better that Adept Sunshine. He fainted dead away when he saw the date. George is tending to him.”

Poor Sunny, she thought, George is going to never let him live this down.

Wizard Robotix went on. “You see, Sparrow, it is vitally important that an Adept be here, today, at this exact place. Without you here and Sunny at his location, Magic will not return to the world.”

The fuck? Magic was already in the world. In 2014, there were about 200 Wizards and 1,700 Adepts. That seemed pretty damned magical to her. She relayed these thoughts to the Wizard.

“Well, yes, there is some magic in the world, mostly in the Wizarding Pockets such as where we live. And we do bring some of that with us out here into what you young people call Mugglespace. However, I’m talking about Magic with a capital M. It’s what powers dragons and elves and gnomes and spells. It’s a force, or rather, an entity, that will reshape our world. The reshaping will come in August of this year and you and Adept Sunny will be playing a vital part in insuring it happens.”

She gulped twice and then had to sit down on a bench. This was some brain twisting shit right here.

“But…but why didn’t it happen before in 1999? Why did we have to come back and change history or restore history or whatever the hell we’re gonna do?”

He put a fatherly hand on her shoulder, looked her straight in the eye and said, “Damned if we know. Magic contacted the council and told us what to do and who should do it. We just followed orders.”

“You don’t know? You DON’T KNOW? Some magical twat tells you to send a couple of adepts back on some dead easy bullshit missions without telling them the truth and you all were ok with that? What the hell, man?”

“Magic didn’t hang around after she gave the order and we felt we had better do as she said.”

Sparrow was really wound up now and was getting ready to tell Robotix that she wanted to speak to the entire Council and maybe this Magic chick when the Wizard abruptly looked at his watch and said “Oops! Time to go. I know you’ll do well, Sparrow” just before blinking out of existence.

Oh, this was total bullshit.

Sparrow jumped up and was just about to call up George when the ground under her feet and pretty much everything else just faded away. A long moment later, everything reassembled, but she wasn’t in a small town, or even any sort of human habitation.

She was in the middle of a dry riverbed in the middle of the desert. It was sandy with lots of small rocks and dry as a bone.

It looked to be pretty early in the day, maybe a couple of hours after sun up. Not too hot yet, maybe 80 degrees out here in the open. No wind and not a cloud in the sky. It would probably get damned hot before too long.

She was just about to start yelling..or walking…or both, when she saw Sunny appear about 30 feet away. He wasn’t facing her, so she called out to him.

“Hey, Sunny! Over here!”

Predictably, he yelled, spun around and shot off Foskar’s Fiery Fist. She deflected it easily.

“Jesus! Calm down, you twit! It’s me!”

Sunny stared at her, then ran up and hugged her.

“Oh Spare,” he gasped out. His heart was racing. Poor Sunny was much better suited for the safer and more predictable work he usually did in the Potions lab. “I could have killed you! I’m so sorry.”

She hugged him and chuckled. “You, kill me? Not very likely, even on your best day, which this isn’t.”

Breaking his embrace, she took him by the hand and lead him over to a large rock. They sat down and she waited a minute for him to get a normal heartbeat back. She was pretty sure he had a quarter sized pee stain on his jeans, but decided not to point it out. She was kind of surprised she didn’t have one.

“So, your mission was a ruse, too?”

“Yeah, it was. I was all set to pick some Green Fairy Moths off of a spruce tree when I remembered it was early spring and there wouldn’t even BE moths for about 5 months yet. I knew I had been sent through time. I sort of panicked at that point and Wizard Mississippi showed up and told me about Magic returning and then I was here.”

Sparrow stared at him. “Wait a minute! You knew you had traveled through time because of some moths?” She felt like a bit of a dim bulb for having had to see the newspaper.

Sunny nodded. “Well, sure. That and the fact that I was in a stand of flowers that don’t bloom until late June. You mean you didn’t see ANY sign that it was not early spring, 2014.”

Sparrow gave it some thought. Let’s see, no snow on the hills, breakfast at a Lenny’s (a chain that shut down in 2003) that only cost $6.00 instead of $10.95, the television had been running a piece about Y2K and she had not seen a single car older than early 1999.

“Nope,” she said, “Not a single clue until I saw a newspaper.” Sometimes it was better not to be too honest about being a dummy.

Sunny seemed to believe her, so she decided it was time to discuss the situation at hand.

“So, I’m thinking we’ll be meeting Magic soon. What about you?”

He glanced around nervously. “I think I’d rather be back in the lab. this changing history shit is not good, Spare. One little fuckup and we don’t get born and dinosaur men rule the world or something.”

Sparrow rolled her eyes. “We have got to get you away from the Sci Fi Channel and out on a date with a real girl, Captain Fanboy.”

“Hey! I go out on dates! I went out with Debbie Mancuso just a couple of weeks ago.”

“You went to see a Godzilla triple feature! I’ll bet you didn’t even kiss her!”

Sunny was about to come back with the fact that they had, if fact, made out at his place, when their conversation was interrupted by a jackrabbit that hopped up onto a rock and spoke to them in a feminine voice.

“Hello, young Adepts!”

They both sat there, mouths gaping and eyes wide. Talking jackrabbits have that effect on you.

“I know, I know,” the rabbit chuckled. “You were expecting something more grandiose and, well, magical. I considered that, but decided that this form would do for introductory purposes.” Then she started scratching her ear with a hind foot.

Sunny spoke up first. “This must be what tripping on LSD is like.”

“Yeah,” Sparrow agreed. “Only this trip ends with us changing history.”

The rabbit looked at them and smiled, something that looked very strange on a rabbit.

“Oh, children, you have no idea how strange things are going to get. Once I am back in the world, Magic shall reign and there will be wonders the likes of which you only know from movies or Dungeons & Dragons games. I shall re-make things to be fun.”

Sparrow was about to point out that many of the D&D games she and Sunny had played in involved subject matter that was decidedly NOT fun, but was interrupted by a smooth and sexy male voice saying “I’m thinking no, Magic. I’m thinking the world is doing fine as is.”

She, Magic & Sunny all turned toward this new player. She and Sunny both said “You have got to be fucking kidding!”

Magic said, “Hello, Tech. I was wondering if you were going to butt in.”

Technology had taken the form of Robby the Robot from film & television, with the addition of an iPad in his chest on which an late 1980’s video game face appeared.

Sparrow was rapidly getting used to this constant mindfuckery, but Sunny was looking at Tech/Robby like he was made of chocolate and gold.

“Holy crap! Is that Baruto from Fistfight Legend 2? I used to play that on my old NES! Also: ROBBY THE ROBOT? COOL!”

Sparrow would not have been if her friend had started drooling.

Tech gave as much of a bow as he could.

“Yep, lad, it’s Baruto. Nice to meet you, Sunny. Miss Sparrow, you look fine today. Magic, my dear, as always, it is a pleasure to see you again.”

“Fuck you, Tech!” Obviously, she did not feel the same pleasure. “This is MY time and my mission and you have no place here.”

Tech smiled broadly. “My goodness, you are SO hot looking when you’re mad. the way your ears twitch is…”

His sentence went unfinished when a blast of arcane energy hit him and knocked him ass over tea kettle for about 60 feet.

“Damn!,” was all Sparrow could think of to say before Tech stood up and hit Magic with some sort of ray that punched a sizzling two inch hole right through her. The rabbit cursed loudly in a language that Sparrow had never heard, then slowly healed the hole up. It seemed to hurt to do it.

Tech was approaching fast now and waving a white flag.

“Really, Magic, are we going to keep up this foreplay all day? Shouldn’t we get down to the real deal?”

“Are they gonna get it on?,” Sunny whispered.

“I hope not,” Sparrow replied. She was not sure her brain could handle a jackrabbit sexing a robot.

Magic went from being incredibly angry to just being REALLY angry, but also looked a bit resolved about something.

“Alright, alright! We’ll do the goddamn contest. Shit!” She kicked a rock the size of a duck egg so hard it flew 200 yards and went through 7 saguaro cactus and almost hit a roadrunner.

Tech chuckled in a strange computery manner.

“Well then, age before beauty, sweetheart.” Sparrow wanted to punch him in his robot face for that one.

Magic looked at the two Adepts, sizing them up. Sunny grabbed Sparrow’s hand and she didn’t mind at all. He gut feeling was that Big Shit was about to go down.

Magic finally spoke up. “I’ve made my choice. To find the Soul of Magic, I choose Sparrow.”

“An excellent choice,” Tech said in an amused voice. “That gives me Sunny, who I just know will do an excellent job.”

Sparrow and Sunny looked at each other. Soul of Magic? What the hell?

Magic was about to speak up when Sparrow stopped her with a flood of questions.

“Wait just a fucking second here! What the hell is the Soul of Magic? Why are WE looking for it? Are we going to be tramping around this damned desert? And what the hell gives you two the right to just tell us what to do anyway? What if we just tell you to kiss our asses?”

“Yeah,” Sunny spoke up, “what Sparrow said! And besides that, what the hell does Technology care about Magic?”

Magic, who had been cleaning one of her ears while the Adepts ranted, sighed and waved her front paws in what they all knew was an complex spellcast.

For a second, the humans felt a bit dizzy. Once that passed, information streamed right into their brains.







It took about half a second to get that input. Sparrow and Sunny were just taking in a deep breath when technology shot them in the eyes with a blue laser beam.

“Well, you’ve certainly cranked Magic up a few notches. Let me explain a few things she left out. You won’t just be looking for the Soul of Magic. You’ll also be looking for the Heart of Science, which is my heart. Well, Sunny will be looking for the Heart. See, this is a competition and a race, kids. First one back decides the fate of the world. And no, you won’t be wandering in the desert. You’ll be in a house, actually. Big old Victorian place on a sadly overgrown 500 acres. You’ll have your choice of trails to follow to get to the place. Try to stay on the trails. Oh, and the first one back with the Heart or Soul has to toss it into a pit filled with Primal Fire. Second place dies. Sorry about that, but them’s the rules.”

A moment later, the blue beam stopped and Sparrow & Sunny were facing a big hole in the air. On the other side was a high stone wall and a big open gate. They could see the house far off on a hill with a whole lot of old forest between them and it. Just inside the gate was a good sized gravel topped area. Six trails lead off from it into the woods.

“Hey! You never said anything about one of us dying!” Sparrow was very afraid for Sunny and, much less afraid for herself.

“You must leave in 10 seconds,” said Magic.

“Good luck, kids,” said Technology

Sunny looked at them both. “If anything happens to Sparrow, I’ll spend however long it takes to bring you down.”

Sparrow did the same thing and said, “Ditto, but I might just do it regardless.”

And then the portal moved forward and they were inside the gate standing on gravel. They looked at each other, then in unison said, “I won’t let you die” just as a loud voice said, “You have six hours. GO!”

Sunny took off down the nearest path at a dead run and was lost from view in the woods within seconds. Sparrow thought for a moment, then chose the far right path. It seemed to follow fairly near the wall and that might mean that any hazards would only be coming from one side. Or not. You could never be sure with magical places.

As she loped along at a pace she could keep up for an hour or more, she tried casting the Mind To Mind spell, so she could talk to Sunny, but it was no go. She stopped for a second and cast Faltine’s Fire. An innocent bush went up in flames. So, no talking to the competition, but offensive spells were OK. So be it. She resumed running.

Sunny was a couple of hundred yards into the forest when he tried to contact Sparrow. Finding that it didn’t work, he tried a Flight spell. Nothing happened. Back to running he went until a minute later when he heard something up ahead. He slowed to a walk, then to a very slow walk. Whatever was up behind that big bush was grunting and moving around. Sunny moved as quietly as he could until he could peek through part of the bush for a good look.
“Oh holy shit,” the young Adept thought, “It’s a freakin’ Shambling Mound!”

A Shambling Mound is pretty much a big semi-humanoid shaped pile of slimy compost. A big and dangerous pile of slimy compost that was carnivorous, which would explain why this one was eating a bear.

The Shambler was about three quarters of the way done digesting the bear, which was incredibly gross looking and nearly made Sunny barf. He wondered if the bear had suffered much. Probably it had.

Hoping that the vegetable monster would not bother with a human running full tilt along the trail, Sunny took a deep breath and took off. He was a good twenty feet past the Shambler when the damned thing dropped the rest of the bear and began chasing him. It sort of rolled along, like a pile of leaves and stuff rolling down a hill, except this was actually rolling uphill just now.

“Remember your Monster Manual, dude,” Sunny told himself as he jumped over a fallen tree. “Lightning and fire have no effect. Cold does little damage, but then there is cold and there is fuckin’ A cold.”

The Shambler was gaining on him when Sunny turned and cast The Fearful Freeze Of Yittorak. In a second, the Shambler and everything around it was enveloped in 200 degree below zero cold. That pretty much stopped everything it touched. When all this shit thawed out, there would be a big dead spot in these woods.

Sunny took a moment to catch his breath, then headed along the trail toward the house.

Meanwhile, Sparrow had just crested a small hill when she stopped cold.

A troll, straight out of a D&D game was heading toward her. He looked to be maybe 10 feet tall and was butt ugly. It was also pissed off, hungry or both. Whatever. Sparrow had no time for this shit.

As the troll barreled toward her like some hideous freight train, she cast the Small Problems spell and shrunk it down to three inches tall. Then she walked up and stomped it into the ground.

“Regenerate from that, motherfucker!”

Actually, it would regenerate, but it would be three inches tall for the next 24 hours.

Sparrow resumed running. She caught glimpses of the house whenever she went over a hill. It looked like every haunted house ever.

The trail was now going up a pretty steep grade and she was slowed down quite a bit. At one point she stumbled and fell, which was why the laser beam barely missed her.

“Lasers? Really? I’m starting to get pissed off here!”

Whipping on a pair of foldable sunglasses from her back pocket, Sparrow ducked under a laser beam that was heading toward her from the left. Standing up, she cast Electric Tsunami and watched as the crackling energy spread out from her in all directions. When the laser packing drone exploded, she gave a yell of triumph.

“Wahooo! Take that, you little fucker!”

Back on the path, she soon saw that she had a straight run of maybe 300 feet to the front of the house. She broke into a dead run.

Meanwhile, Sunny was coming up on the house from the rear. He was a bit winded, having just fought off a horde of magically animated action figures armed with sharp little swords. He had turned his ankle, which kept him from running too fast. He also needed to take a wicked leak.

When he was still a couple of hundred yards from the rear of the house, he saw Sparrow come out of the forest heading for the front of the place. He picked up his pace and reached the back door a couple of minutes later. Damn this messed up ankle. He was glad that the house wasn’t huge. It wouldn’t take much time to check the whole place out, especially if he used a Szandor’s Spell of Location to find that damned Heart. Pausing only to take the fastest, yet most refreshing piss in all history, he threw open the back door and stepped inside.

“Oh Honey, I’m ho..”

The words died on his lips as he saw that this house was a whole lot stranger on the inside than it was on the outside. A staircase stuck out of a corner, but it did not reach the floor. Looking up it, the stairs seemed to go on for about a mile. The room he was in has a slanted ceiling, but even the low side was 15 feet above him. The only door beside the back door was ten feet tall, but only half as wide as a narmal door. All the windows moved around when you weren’t looking at them.

“Shit,” he said. “It’s like a TARDIS desisgned by Salvador Dali”.

Then he opened the skinny door and stepped through.

Sparrow was walking up a hallway. mostly because it had a pretty steep upward slant. When she finally reached the door at the end of it, it opened into a huge dining room, ballroom with elegantly decorated tables full of china and silverware. She made a mental note that if so much as a pickle fork started singing “Be Our Guest”, she would burn the whole place down. As she walked across the room to the only other door, she cast out with her mind as focused through the Stone of Sagamoto. She could feel every line of arcane energy in the place, which was a whole bunch of them. None, however, were connected to the Soul.

It took a long while to reach the center of the room, because the damned thing kept getting bigger. By the time she did get to the center, the doors were a good 500 feet away.

“Hey, house, this is me, Sparrow, hating this architectural mindfuckery you’ve got going on.” It didn’t change anything, but she felt better.

As she moved away from the room’s center, the whole place began to get smaller again, until by the time she got to the out door, it was all back to normal. Stepping through the door, she found herself in a hallway that curved sharply to left and right.

Sparrow headed off to the left at a trot, looking for another door. She didn’t see any, but there were a bunch of pictures on the walls, ranging from portraits of men and women from centuries gone by to several paintings showing her trotting along this same hallway.

After a few minutes, it dawned on Sparrow that she should have come back to the ballroom door by now. Obviously, the house was not done playing Mess With The Adept yet. Slowing to a walk, she finally came not to a door, but a painting of a door.

“I feel like I’m in a Warner Brothers cartoon.” She sighed as she reached out touched the painting. Sure enough, the doorknob felt real. Opening the door, she thought “Please let this not lead to open air over a deep canyon.”

It lead to a pantry.

The pantry measured about 6 feet across and 15 feet long and had shelves on both sides and the rear. The shelves were filled with cans of various sizes. Grabbing a large can of peaches in heavy syrup, she blocked open the door, then began looking around.

Somewhere else in the house, Sunny was finally getting out of the screwiest bedroom he had ever been in. The furniture kept moving around whenever he turned away and the door would switch walls every time he went to leave. Eventually, he rant backward toward the door and got out. Now he was in another damned hallway. This one kept stretching out longer in front of him.

Close to losing his temper and with his bum ankle hurting, he simply shut his eyes and started walking forward. The end of the hallway was about 90 feet away.

Or, as he crashed blindly into a small table, it might only be 5 feet away.. Opening his eyes, he saw that he was at the end of the hallway. There was one door, on his right. Opening it carefully, he saw that it lead into a rather nice library, so he stepped inside, quickly thinking to prop the door open with a hefty volume titled “A Complete History Of Saddles” that easily weighed 25 pounds.

As he looked through the books on the shelves, he quickly noticed that most of them were titled some variation of “This Isn’t The Book You Want”. Sensing that the book he did want, possibly one telling him where to find that goddamn Soul, was here somewhere, Sunny started a systematic visual scan of all the shelves.

On shelf number 47, halfway along, he found a thick book titled “The Soul of Technology”. Opening it up, he found that it was hollowed out and contained a small stick on a leather strap, meant to be worn around the neck.

But as he watched, the stick turned into a little bow & arrow, then a wheel, then a gear and so on.

“Hmm,” Sunny thought, “I guess the Soul of Technology is change & improvement.” He put the Soul on like a necklace and turned toward the door.

In the pantry, Sparrow had looked at over 400 cans, most of them containing cream of mushroom soup, before she came to a good sized can that was labeled “Heart of Magic, Low Sodium”. She opened the can and sure enough, there inside was a glowing red heart that seemed to be made of pure light. It was on a gold necklace chain.

Sparrow put it on, then turned to head for the door.

It took the better part of 90 minutes for Sparrow and Sunny to find their ways out of the ever shifting house. When they did, they were on opposite ends of the large front porch. They stared at each other for a minute.

“I can’t let you die, Sparrow. I’m going to stay here while you take the Heart back.” He was looking very determined as he sat down. “You go on.”

Sparrow sat down next to him and took his hand. “Not gonna happen. I’ll stay here too and they can come and get this shit if they want it. Fuck ’em!”

They looked at each other and then laughed and hugged.

“We do get into some crazy shit, don’t we?”

“Yeah, we do at that,” Sunny replied. “But I never figured we’d buy the farm at a creepy house in the middle of a D&D live action adventure.” They both laughed again.

Sparrow sat back and looked out across the forest. “Maybe we’ll just be stuck here for the rest of our lives. Could do worse, don’t ya think?”

Before Sunny could reply, the voice of Magic boomed out “New rule! First one back to the pit saves the other one from The Neverending Death curse. You have 30 minutes to get back to the pit.”

The Neverending Death curse was big time shit, so the two Adepts jumped up and started running. Halfway to the woods, they both realized that they could never run fast enough to get back and a spell of Maximum Haste would only get your bones broken as you tripped over tree roots or stumbled into boulders at 100 miles an hour. Nope, for something like this, you needed to fly.

They both cast Kanopo’s Flight and were soon racing neck in neck over the treetops at 60 miles an hour. The spell was an energy burner and both of them knew they’d be wasted by the time they reached the pit.

“Drop back, Sunny! Let me save your life!” Sparrow yelled this as she dodged a rock the size of a basketball that was thrown at her by an ettin.

Sunny blasted two harpies out of the sky with a Splitting Fireball spell, then yelled back, “Save your breath, Spare. Neither of us is going to turn back.”

They weren’t more than a minute away from the portal and the pit when Sparrow pulled in close beside her best friend. Both of them were sweating like pigs and feeling very tired.

“So, hey, Sunny, let’s just tell them to kiss our asses. Let’s drop both of these damned things into the pit at the same time and then die or live or what the fuck ever.” She took off the heart and held it in her fist. Sunny took the Soul into his fist, then locked arms with Sparrow.

“Fuck it, lets just fly right into that damned pit. I’m abour to pas out anyway.”

They went through the portal together at about 10 miles an hour. A second or two later, they were diving into the pit. They could hear Magic yelling “NO!” and Technology saying “Well I’ll be damned.”

And then there was light and color and sound and just everything. Sparrow and Sunny felt like they were everywhere, nowhere and somewhere.

And then they both fell into the black.

Much later…as in, the next morning, they woke up in a big feather bed. They felt well rested and hungry, but were deeply confused.

“Are we dead?.” Sunny asked, sitting up and looking around the bedroom. It looked like it had been decorated by a troop of drunken baboons.

Sparrow sat up and stretched. “Christ, I hope not. This room is seriously ugly. Nice bed though.”

The door opened and several Wizards entered. They all looked happy, which is not always a good thing where nutty ass Wizards are concerned. They were lead by Wizard Mississippi, who stepped forward to address the Adepts..

“It would seem that the two of you chose a not too well considered option for bringing back Magic to the world. Mixing it with Technology has had some unforeseen, but not entirely bad, consequences. Mutants, for one and a rather more interesting Internet for another. We are still sorting things out, truth be told.” He paused to light a cigar, then continued.

“We of the High Council have decided that you did well, and as such, we offer you the rank of Wizard. Take some time choosing your new names. Once you get cleaned up and dressed, there will be a party in your honor. I’m assured that the food and drink will be awesome.”

With that, the Wizards all filed out of the room, leaving the Adepts to stare goggle eyed at each other.

“Holy fucking shit, dude, we are WIZARDS now!” Sparrow was bouncing for joy.

“We created a new timeline and shit!,” Sunny said, punching the air with his fist.

“We’re HEROES!”

“We Rule!”

“We’re in bed together buck naked!”

They bother dived out of bed on opposite sides.