It was a village named Tamsade. Hidden snugly in the mountains, away from view. The ethereal network could not reach there and his mistphone was just a trinket that hung from his pocket. He toiled through the days, relinquishing sword for spade, digging trenches to capture rainwater. In the evenings he rested, the cool mountain air calming his senses. Helping him hide his secret better. He played charades and chess to while the time away. It lasted seven days. And in the time that he was gone, the Fates decided to do some tapestry. As Inbeef rested, the world changed around him.
The two of them walked over the still-smoldering ruins. The ashes had powdered and charred, but some of the heat from the fire of that night remained. EnPsyClops knelt on one knee, picked up some of the ashes and let it slip through his fingers. He rose again to face the lady before him.
“This used to be the Witch’s Lotte, before we destroyed it. I just want you to know the power we hold, Princess Ankh-Rose.”
“I’m aware of that, Wizard of All. You think I don’t know what you and the others can do?” The Princess stared at the ground but her voice was defiant.
“Once again, why did you try to steal the Auric Petra document?”
“I told you already, we’d been led to believe that it was a heresy being perpetrated by some dark force. My mind… it wasn’t entirely mine when I made the decision to side with Arkol. I don’t… really know what happened.”
EnPsyClops was silent for a while before he sighed and replied.
“Well, at least it explains your tremendous enthusiasm for being a part of the retinue that looked after the document at Xavi. I still remember you petitioning me passionately for the post. Yes I’m good at alliteration. You really were the chink in their armour.”
Ankh-Rose looked at EnPsyClops, and he could see tears welling up in her eyes.
“Don’t you understand? This wasn’t my fault! I wanted no part of this. I only did what I thought was right.”
“I do understand. I want to help you out. I’ll try to fast-track your trial. We’ll go with the standard ‘was under a mind-control spell’ defense. With my references, I don’t think we should have trouble getting you exonerated.”
Ankh-Rose looked up sharply, shock registering in her face. And then, for the first time in her recent memory, the Princess smiled. And even though her eyes had tears, it was a genuine smile that brightened up the place.
“Thank you! Thank you for believing in me.”
She stretched out her hand towards EnPsyClops. EnPsyClops hesitated, but only for a while, and then he took her hand in his.
Vingav paced back and forth. Outside his home, the sea raged, turbulent and frothing. He could hear the waves crashing on the rocks, and it did nothing to calm his mind. His eyes fell on the piece of parchment that he’d thrown onto the table. In the upper right corner, a gilded sun gleamed, the mark of Apollo.
He picked it up and read it again.
“Greetings Lord Vingav, Taskmaster and Provider of Solutions,
We have been keeping an eye on your efforts for some time now. We know of your mastery at providing solutions for other people’s problems. Your prowess especially came to our notice after you set up your own guild, The Whyit. After seeing you design your way around the intricacies of the Spiders of Arachne and their nefarious webs that coated the outer cities, we feel that you will be most suited to work for our cause. We need a ferryman, but one of the utmost discretion, who will also be our troubleshooter, giving us the protection we need from our rivals and detractors. There are those who feel predestination is blasphemy, and would gladly wage war on us for it. We need their ilk removed. And we already know you’re going to work with us.
Name your price. Gold is of no consequence to us where your services are concerned. We will know when you’ve decided on the right course of action.
The Keepers of the Oracle
The Temple of Apollo
Vingav put the letter down and continued to pace.
“You don’t really have to go, you know. We still have faith in you.”
“I appreciate that, Deniza. But I don’t. It’s time I shook myself up, went looking for other avenues. I’ve already handed in my resignation.”
“But…it’s not fair. It’s not your fault.” Deniza stifled a sob.
Namgan smiled bravely and said, “I wouldn’t be able to do my job knowing I let this happen. Who knows, it might happen again. And I need to leave before my friends find out and convince me to stay. I’m already packed. I’ll be out before the week ends.”
“What will the Politscia do without you? You’re our Commander.”
“Not any more. You are.” Namgan smiled as she waited for her news to sink in.
“Wha…What? Surely, you must be joking. I can’t head the Xavi Politscia.”
“Too late for that. I already recommended you for the job. And please, don’t call me Shirley.”
Deniza smiled a little, before a frown came across her face.
“I’m not suited for the job, really. Maybe Romikoff…”
“No, I chose you. I guess we’ll just find out the hard way if you’re up for it.”
Without much further ado, Namgan set off into the setting sun.
In a dimly lit hall, the Trickster took the podium to speak to a bunch of awed youngsters. His eyes were sunken and his face was pale. He looked a little sleepy. But he had been requested to speak to the youngsters, to inspire them.
He began to speak. And for several days, he staunchly held that in that speech, he spoke of honour and valor and nobility and persistence and fortitude. He said that he told the audience to stretch, to reach for all that was within their grasp, even the firmament above them. He believed that he had congratulated them on their efforts and inspired them to fight against injustice and dishonesty. He thought he spoke to them, making them believe in the just desserts promised to them.
What he actually said was this:
“Mellow greetings, good friends. Those of you who had fun, raise your hands. Stretch…stretch those hands till they reach the ceiling. Show how enthusiastic you are. (mumble mumble). I’m very proud of all of you for believing. It is unfortunate that I am to be the one to tell you that the cake is a lie.
The time I have spent with you has been great fun. Despite (mumble mumble) Witch (mumble mumble) I still managed to enjoy myself. Some of you were …umm..okay. You could have done better if you’d (mumble mumble mumble) and done some more (mumble). But overall, great effort, people. Don’t ever be afraid to behave like a drunken monkey, because sometimes only then will you get what you want. Peace.”
With those words, the Trickster stepped off the stage and wasn’t heard from for a very long time, perhaps lost in his travels. The speech was received with howling laughter from some and uncertain applause from others, and was forever after known as the Drunken Munkey speech.
No one is sure whether the Trickster was high when he delivered the Drunken Munkey speech, or whether he was just having some fun at the expense of a lot of people. Most people will never fathom the mind of the Trickster. Perhaps he meant to give that speech exactly as he did. No one may ever be certain, for such is the way of Shogun the Trickster.
“What do you mean, they’re together?” Gnaruag nearly fell over, missing his step on the stairs.
“Exactly what it says, Gnaruag. I just thought I’d let you know.” Ruby Tuckwar, shieldmaiden of the Goozooz and self-appointed town crier, smiled smugly at Gnaruag.
“No shizz, I just never thought…Whoa! This is not a drill, eh?”
“Nope, the real deal.”
“I need a timeout. It’s like the world just fricking did a 360 on me.”
“You mean 180?” Ruby enquired.
“Nope, 360. I’m all disoriented, and I think I might be seeing stars.”
“Er…okay. I’ll catch you later then?”
“Look, there’s Orion. Oh, oh, oh and Rigel and Antares. Shiny!” Gnaruag smiled wide, at no one in particular.
Ruby walked away quickly. As she did, her mistphone started to glow a gentle orange.
EnPsyClops mistphone glowed orange. He took it into his hands, and the mist shaped itself into a strapping young man, clothed in fine garb.
“Lord Beavis, how goes your trip to the villages?” EnPsyClops asked cordially.
“It goes well indeed. Unfortunately, it seems I must cut it short. The good people of Vijeti are plagued with some sort of gremlin problem. It seems much more serious than I’d first imagined. I could do with a little help.” Lord Beavis spoke with a certain uneasiness in his voice.
“And you want mine? No worries, I can be of assistance.” EnPsyClops smiled.
“Inbeef is away. But I’ve already called Tuckwar. I think the three of us should be able to handle it.”
EnPsyClops smiled again. “It’s a gremlin problem. How difficult do you think it’ll be?”
“Right, well then, I’ll see you at Vijeti.”
Lord Beavis’ mist shape dissipated into the atmosphere.
EnPsyClops began to prepare for battle.
And in those days, a legend arose in the village of Tamsade and the surrounding villages. The legend of the Pahadiwale Baba, the Mountaintop Mendicant. Tales were heard of how he could convey whatever he wished to say without uttering a single word. Of how he could move mountains of earth with only a tiny implement and his willpower. Of his discourses on treating stones and acting with equal respect. And most miraculously, of his ability to turn water into mead or wine or brew of any kind as he desired. These tales were whispered in hushed tones in the small shops and the fields, and discussed at length by the believer and the cynic. And these tales grew in the telling. Until no one was sure whether the Pahadiwale Baba was real, or just a figment of someone’s imagination. And so it was that the rumours died a natural death. But the legend of the Mountaintop Mendicant persisted.
And so, it was that seven days passed, but a lot changed. Then again, some say it only took that much time to create the world as well.