CHAPTER 2.5 – More Backstory But This Time It’s The Story Of Congo, Orange, Shed & Highborn, and Some Other Random Bullshit That Probably Has Nothing To Do With The Rest of This Chapter
Update / Newsflash
Right. So this isn’t really an update, as for you, it is three seconds after reading the last sentence. For me, it is the next day, and at some point during the time I finished the paragraph above, and right at this moment, I realized there is more to this story. It isn’t really important, but I’ll tell it to you anyway. You’ve read this much. The poison is already going to kill you, might as well try and hope that reading more of this crap will speed the death process up so you don’t suffer too much more.
One day, back in the ancient lands of a place called Silicon Valley, was an enclave of wizards and magicians and sorcerers. This enclave, it was full of some of the most powerful mages in the entire realm, and even realms that had never been discovered yet. That sounds about right. I’m kind of making this one up as I go along too, so… you know, put your bullshit filters back on. Which you should have never taken off.
These mages at the Enclave, they heard the far-reaching stories of a great sorcerer, one unfamiliar to them as this sorcerer, Congo The Wise, had come from a land called Seattle, far to the northwest. The Enclave became curious as to how this unknown sorcerer had become so powerful that his name traveled the winds all the way to the Valley. The enclave was well known for the way its various sects had begun to shape the land and the lives of the humans that lived within its sphere of influence, which was quite far and wide.
When the Enclave learned of what the sorcerer had been doing to garner such praise and rumor, the members openly scoffed, brushing off this ‘wise’ sorcerer as nothing more than an illusionist, a trickster, not a real wielder of the great arcane power known as Technology. Privately, the Enclave’s wizards and mages and warlocks and sorcerers and even those granola-eating bastards called druids who rode their stupid bikes to work all began to worry.
And so the High Council of the Enclave of the Unmatched Power of the Arcane Technology, and this is why I just call them ‘The Enclave, because that shit gets old after about the nineteenth time, these elders began to send their best and brightest to this place called ‘Seattle’ to find out exactly how the sorcerer was doing his magic, and to craft their own magic to capture the interest of the citizens (mostly peasants still) of the realm and get some of that internet money. I mean gold. They were after the gold.
One by one, and sometimes in pairs, the wizards and mages and warlocks and necromancers and druids and such would leave the borders of the Enclave’s land and make their way to this ruggedly damp (stupid adverb! Hah!) and kind of cold but never really too cold nation called Seattle. As each mage arrived and began to study the sorcerer, he would begin to craft his own spell. At first the wise sorcerer didn’t notice, and when he finally did, he laughed a little, just like those publisher guys laughed at him. This made him stop cold in his tracks at the realization that he was about to make the same mistake as the publishers had, which also had the effect of the package of yoga pants and a powder blue yoga mat he had been teleporting end up in the distant realm of Uruguay instead of the Province of Florida.
Congo The Wise stopped laughing and began crafting new spells, each targeted towards a newcomer from the Enclave. Most of the Enclave mages were no match for the powerful sorcerer, and were quickly destroyed or vanquished back to their homeland, humiliated in their defeat. This kind of incensed the Enclave’s elders. They sent out more powerful wielders of the arcane arts to try and tame the sorcerer. Most of those were destroyed or defeated as well, but a couple of them got a foothold within the realm, and were able to snick a few gold coins here and there with their spells that were little more than copycats of the sorcerer’s powerfully crafted spells.
Since none of the Enclave mages’ spells were original, their clunky attempts to copy the elements of the sorcerer’s spells would never be more than a minor annoyance to him, much like a single mosquito. And besides, the great sorcerer thought, maybe it would be good to have a little competition to keep him coming up with new layers for his continually-evolving crafted spells. It would keep him on his toes, but it would also let him know if one of the lesser chumps the Enclave kept sending began to get too powerful.
Eventually the Enclave got tired of watching their wizards come back defeated, bearing tales of how some of their fellow Enclave members met their demise and couldn’t make the journey home. The summoned their greatest asset, a middle-aged warlock named Orange. Orange had been in the Enclave for decades. He’d had almost unmeasurable potential when the old Techlords had recruited him, and for a while, he shined under their tutelage.
But the lessons the Techlords and then the elders imparted on Orange had the opposite effect, and Orange closed his mind to their techniques and decided to wield the arcane power without sharing his knowledge, without letting others use his crafted spells as a base for them to improve upon it, thereby making his spell much more powerful as well as much more widely used by the other members.
The strange warlock caused quite a stir with his demands that the other Enclave members only use his crafted spells in the manner he instructed, and none were permitted to add their own layers to it unless he agreed upon it, and worse, only if he was compensated. The fury of the elders and the Council was swift, and they voted to remove Orange from the Enclave’s membership, sending him off to fend for himself.
Many years later, the Enclave found themselves in a bind, one which none of their own members seemed to be able to resolve. Many wizards and warlocks and sorcerers and necromancers and druids and such tried, but it seemed their arcane powers were becoming stagnant. Peasants were no longer amused or even interested in the doings of the Enclave. One of the Council suggested, behind closed doors of course, that they send out messengers to find the warlock named Orange. A big debate ensued, and many mages lost their eyebrows, and one even ended up with sixteen foot nose because the the sorcerer that cast the spell on him had been so enraged that he’d winked out of existence before telling anyone else how to remove the Spell of Lying Bastard Noses on his victim.
The debate raged but soon enough the majority agreed that while they didn’t like Orange as a person, they needed his input on their problem. Since Orange had been absent for a long time from the Enclave, it wasn’t a stretch to guess that Orange’s powers would be foreign enough to the bind they were in to break the bind and free the Enclave of their Big Problem. And it was true, when Orange finally returned, he had strange new powers that the Enclave had never seen before.
Not too long after, the Enclave grew worried again, but this time it was over Orange. The warlock was indeed powerful, too powerful some said. There were dark rumors that junior mages had disappeared because of the strange warlock. Every new report of a missing recruit or member would cause everyone to cast a suspicious eye on Orange, and for good reason. Each time a wizard went missing, Orange’s powers would seem to be even greater than they had been just a week earlier. Eventually there were too many Enclave members and recruits that were coming up missing in the roll calls, and the warlock was beginning to make his moves to gain complete control of the Enclave.
The Supreme High Councilor, a man named Ten To from the family line The Hundredth Power, met with his closest advisors to deal with the problem of Orange. This was right around the time that the Enclave was getting a little pissed that all of their members that had been sent to the realm of Seattle either came back barely alive, with tales of utter defeat at the hands of the wise sorcerer, or were stuck in the strange, cold, damp land, constantly parrying stealthy attacks here and there from the wise one, who was mostly just amusing himself with the little game he’d begun playing with them.
“Hey, let’s kill two fuckin’ birds with one stone,” Ten To said to his advisors.
“Jolly good idea,” they replied. “What’s your plan, Daddy-O?”
“That asshole Orange the warlock, he’s got to go,” Ten To said. “But he’s too powerful now, we’ve given up too much, and he’s enchanted too many peasants as well as too many of our members. But we can send him on a quest. That will get rid of his ass.”
“Oooh, a quest!” his advisors all said with excitement.
They liked quests. There was always good treasure at the end boss of a quest, though most of them would always end up with their beards burned off because when the end boss dropped died and dropped all the loot, the mages would begin fighting amongst themselves for the various items. You couldn’t blame them though. Epic quality magic staves and robes were not made on a Chinese assembly line and shipped all over the realm. So whenever one happened to drop from a boss, there was a mad scramble to snatch it up before any other pointy-hatted bastard could.
“Yeah,” Ten To said, pulling his pointed wizard goatee in thought. “Yeah. He’s too powerful for us, but maybe he is also too powerful for that asshole up in Seattle to handle. We will send him up there to take on this Congo The Wise. He’ll be out of our hair and we can get back to doing what we do best, which is keep tabs on everything the peasants do and report it to the King’s Secret Guard.”
“Great idea, Ten To!” all the advisors shouted and began to clap. All except one.
“Hey, smart guy!” one of the advisors in the back shouted, getting the stink-eye from those near him for speaking up. They were in a hurry to get this meeting over so they could go get drunk and cast spells on unsuspecting peasants while one of them recorded the event in a crystal ball. “What happens if Orange happens to defeat this wise sorcerer? Won’t that mean he’ll be so powerful that he’ll just teleport himself back to the Enclave’s tower and take over? If he can defeat the sorcerer, he’ll be more powerful than any mage in the realm. In the galaxy!”
“Shut the fuck up, Ted” Ten To grunted, waving his hand towards the advisor.
There was a flash, a bang, and then only the advisor’s ashes were left. The other advisors were happy. They’d come up with a new drunken game to record, one that involved a creature called a cat. Apparently it was all the rage among the Enclave to watch each other’s crystal balls that contained moving images of these cat creatures doing all sorts of crazy things. If a wizard rushed in with a hot new crystal ball of a cat doing something amazingly cute or evil or funny or annoying, the entire Enclave would come to a standstill as every mage in the tower would copy the crystal ball’s images to their own before letting one of their wizard buddies do the same, and so on and so forth.
Orange was brought in and told of an epic new quest that only he could complete successfully. Orange was totally down with it. He loved a challenge. He’d sucked the essence from thousands of lesser wizards and apprentices and was now more powerful than all of the High Council and most of the Lower Council combined. To be able to steal the essence of one so powerful as this wise sorcerer was reported to be would be glorious, marvelous, and satisfyingly adverbial.
Intermission – holy shit, this story is longer than the little paragraph that I’d thought up earlier. I’m gonna go have a smoke and try and figure out where the hell this story is going. I suggest you do the same. If you don’t smoke, and I don’t either by the way, then go chew a piece of gum and kick a puppy. Wait. Puppies are awesome and cute. Go kick a Westboro Baptist protester. I know for a fact none of them will ever read a book I write, so they’ll be totally surprised when you guys just walk up to them and kick them in the shins.
Okay, where was I? Ah yes, Orange the warlock set off for the realm of Seattle to try and conquer the wise sorcerer who was much beloved by the peasants and even the king. So this warlock Orange sets up shop and starts to do business. But remember, Orange had been kicked out of the Enclave for many years, and in those many years, he wandered the realms, learning new magics, studying how other wizards and sorcerers and necromancers and druids and such wielded their arcane powers.
Orange had no plans to try and mimic the sorcerer like the other mages had. He knew that wouldn’t work, as the sorcerer was indeed wise, and kept his crafted spells hidden in secret. All of the other mages the Enclave sent had tried to watch the sorcerer’s power in action and then craft a spell that would mimic what they’d seen. Since they didn’t know the core algorithms of the base crafted spells, all their spells were just guesses.
Most of the wizards, if they weren’t destroyed or beaten and exiled back to the Enclave, barely survived, picking at the edges of the sorcerer’s delivery empire. Some, like Shed & Highborn, twin brother necromancers, had even done well, carving out a very small but profitable niche with the peasants that were afraid of the sorcerer and refused to deal with him, or had believed in the twins when they pitched their services.
Shed & Highborn though had an advantage that the other Enclave wizards didn’t, which was that their father and uncles that weren’t invested with the ability to wield the arcane powers had built their own empire, one that directly competed with the sorcerer, and in fact had been the most popular purveyor of these books that the peasants and the royalty were reading before the sorcerer came along and began to encroach on this book purveying.
Shed & Highborn’s family business was of the old school though, a book empire built on the old ways of peasants traveling to one of the S&H physical locations and shopping for their wares before traveling back to their homes. For hundreds of years, this is how it was done. The great sorcerer had upset the status quo when he’d come along and began to teleport first books and video games, then later-shirts and shower curtains, directly to peasant homes.
S&H and other trading companies did well for a while even with the sorcerer’s new and strange ways of doing things. However once the sorcerer built teleportation hubs all over the different realms to increase efficiency and expedite deliveries, saving him much energy for other Power Word spells he was working on, it allowed him to begin dominating trade everywhere. S&H tried to keep up, hiring wizards of their own to teleport books to the peasants, even coming up with their own new way to read books that had been recorded in the newer crystal balls that were being made.
Unfortunately, this was yet another case of trying to copy what the sorcerer had already done, and done well. The sorcerer had started infusing books into the crystal balls two years earlier, and by the time the S&H wizards started selling their own crystal balls, most of the peasants had begun to starve for a month or two to get their hands on these crystal balls, or as the sorcerer called them, Tinders. They were called Tinders because of the warmth that would seep from them as a peasant read the book infused within it.
A lot of peasants, already afraid of sorcery and magic and arcane Power Words and such, refused to even allow one of these new Tinders anywhere near them. They were abominations, some claimed, that would bring about the end times. As time went on though, the peasants eventually realized that the world was moving on, and the sorcerer was here to stay, and if they really thought about it, the one time they’d sneakily messed with a friend or relative’s Tinder, they would have to admit it was pretty damn cool. It wasn’t a real book of course, but books back then were these massive things with heavy, leather-bound covers and thick paper.
Over time, the publishers had used wizards to help them reduce the size of books, making them not only portable, but affordable and abundant. But the Tinder was pretty damn cool because a peasant only had to buy one, and from then on, whenever they wanted to starve for a month just to read a book, they’d talk into the crystal ball and tell it what book they wanted, and the sorcerer’s spell would instantly infuse the book into the Tinder.
The publishers heard this and said, very loudly (take that Unbreakable Rule!), “Fuck that!”
I probably left out this part in the earlier section where Congo The Wise shows up and starts teleporting shit straight to the doors of peasants and how he destroyed the power and influence of the publishers because of it. This whole Tinder thing being a crystal ball and infusing words into it… I suppose is a pretty important aspect of the story. But like I said at the beginning of this update, I just thought about this shit. If I had thought of it when I wrote the earlier story, I’d have put it in there. But that story was more about how the sorcerer helped the authors gain power to rival that of the publishers. This story is how a bunch of other wizards show up and try to defeat the wise sorcerer. So sue me.
Shed & Highborn, in the meantime, were becoming desperate to stop the bleeding that their coin purses were doing. They saw the magic of the Tinder and had the company wizards come up with a crystal ball of their own. The twins called it the ‘Cranny’, which sounds kind of… I don’t know. Kind of weird. Definitely not as cool as the Tinder. I mean, tinder is shit that helps you start a fire. What the fuck is a cranny but a hole you can put some shit in? This might have been the twins’ first mistake in dealing with the sorcerer, but they were soon to make many, many more mistakes.
The S&H wizards began working day and night to improve upon the Cranny, hoping that if they developed one that was able to show brilliant colors and recorded scenes, the peasants would ooh and aah enough that the Cranny’s successor would begin turning the tide for S&H. And in a moment of triumph, the wizards came to the twins one day and showed them their newest creation, the Cranny Stain.
Shed and his brother Highborn each raised an eyebrow at the wizards, wondering if they’d also been creating some kind of new grass that could be smoked and gave the smoker really dumb ideas. The wizards though, they yapped on and on about how the Stain meant that the crystal ball, made of glass, could now be stained with color (and moving pictures). The Cranny Stain was far superior to the Tinder, and when one of the wizards produced a hated Tinder from the sleeves of his robes, the brothers Shed & Highborn saw the difference indeed.
They still weren’t really all that pleased with the name, but they figured since the Cranny Stain was new and hip, all the young kids and apprentice wizards would be mesmerized by the pretty colors, and their peasant mothers could just hand them the Cranny Stain and keep the kid entertained while she went and did whatever peasant women did back then. Probably pop out another peasant baby.
In the meantime, the brothers also had to worry about the other part of the business, the one that involved real estate and inventory that forced peasants to travel the roads, a journey that could sometimes take days and was dangerous with the amount of brigands and robbers on the roads who knew the schedules of the King’s Guard patrols. Peasants were barely visiting the S&H physical locations, so the twins decided to try all kinds of crazy things. They started reducing the space in their buildings that held books and put in things like clean water bars that offered drinks that wouldn’t give you dysentery or cholera. All of the crazy little tricks that the twins tried couldn’t stem the tide of red ink from eroding their profits, and all they’d done in the end was end up with a lot of real estate that didn’t house as many books as it once did.
And the sorcerer… he wasn’t worried one bit. He’d been working on his successor to the Tinder, and a year after the twins came up with their weirdly-named crystal ball, the Cranny Stain, who thought… never mind. Anyway, the sorcerer called his newest crystal ball the Tinder Pyre. A lot of peasants thought this name was pretty badass. I kind of do too. This new Pyre, it wasn’t quite as good as the Cranny Stain, but number one, it wasn’t named something silly like ‘Cranny Stain’, and number two, it was charged with some crafted magic that not only allowed it to order books from the sorcerer without being anywhere near one of the communication crystal balls, but it cost less gold which made it more affordable to the peasants. And I guess number three, since it was built by the sorcerer with the intention of helping peasants more easily order books, it would also function most excellently as a way to order other goods besides books from the sorcerer.
This was kind of the killer blow to the Cranny Stain and the brothers Shed & Highborn. Because peasants could only really order books from S&H on their Cranny Stain. Tinder Pyre owners could order books and truck tires and baseball mitts and monthly deliveries of gum and cat food. Not to mention that the Cranny Stain was also able to order all of those things… but from the sorcerer instead of the twins’ business. It kind of seems at this point that the brothers decided to simply badmouth the sorcerer, crying to the King about how the sorcerer was putting them out of business, instead of tasking their wizards to keep coming up with new ways to beat the sorcerer. The family and their wizards had built an empire, but had grown too complacent to change with the times when the sorcerer came along, instead relying on peasant loyalty.
And if there’s one thing we all know, peasants are only loyal to the price and ease of acquisition. I mean, peasants were known to just rebel against their king one day, out of the blue. No one knew why this was. Some blamed taxes, some starvation, some corruption, and some even suggested inbreeding. But peasants would just all wake up one day and say, “Hey, fuck this king and his fuckin’ dukes and barons and shit. Let’s go kill him and eat his gold and elect a new king so we can do this again in another ten or fifteen years.”
Except the peasants… a very large number of them were loyal to the sorcerer. The fact that the sorcerer knew to keep them happy and loaded with goods and books made the peasants believe that the sorcerer truly cared for them. And the sorcerer, he truly did. Some customers he hated, but he usually teleported live grenades with the pin pulled into their shoes, or teleported the customer to the 138th Dimension. But he cared for most of the peasants.
They’d helped him build his own little empire, and in return, whenever his crafted spell went awry somehow (crafted spells are like our modern day computers, they weren’t infallible, and some could glitch pretty hard sometimes. There was this time MegaHard (whoa, stop… I think you know which company I’m talking about here, but I might not be able to stop laughing long enough to keep writing if I have to think of the name ‘MegaHard’ every few seconds while writing this, so I guess I’ll make this little anecdote short) had a crafted spell glitch and millions of peasants grabbed torches and pitchforks and stormed the corporate castles to demand that the new Xbox One had better goddamn well NOT contain restrictive DRM nonsense nor that creepy fucking Kinect thing that is like HAL9000 in your living room watching all the shit you do like eat, pick your nose, scratch your balls, masturbate, strangle prostitutes, etc.).
Right. So. Just as the twins and their family business is going under, well, hanging on for dear life anyway, Orange the warlock arrives in the realm. He’s been using some of his strange magic to watch from afar the events happening in Seattle, and he laughed a little inside and out whenever he would scry with his crystal ball and see the bumbling S&H brothers make yet another mistake.
Orange isn’t going to try and take on the sorcerer head-to-head like the other dumbass wizards all have done, and have failed. Orange’s secret, strange magics had been used to suck the ideas and knowledge out of many other wizards over the years, and he built a crafted spell upon another crafted spell, one that utilized the communications crystal balls. The communications balls had been around for a long time, but Orange came up with a new look for them, and gave them the functionality of a Cranny Stain and a Tinder Pyre.
But Orange wasn’t done with just that. While the peasants of all the realms were suddenly marveling about this new uCall crystal ball he’d developed, he was busy building an empire in the same manner the wise sorcerer had. Soon after the uCall came an even more impressive crystal ball that he called the uJotter (yeah, go google that one). The uJotter was basically a uCall that was also a Cranny Stain and a Tinder Pyre all in one. Orange had also secretly sprinkled a little of some rare, magical dust he’d picked up in Cambodia or something on the uCalls and uJotters that he’d developed.
This rare, magical dust had the ability to make anyone that touched a uCall or uJotter instantly want one of their own, and if they were touching their own, it made them want a newer version even if they’d just starved for eight months to buy the one they were touching less than three months ago. This finally started to freak the sorcerer out, and he had one of his minions go negotiate with the warlock to allow the sorcerer to sell these new uCall and uJotters.
Orange was overjoyed at such a turn of events. He almost couldn’t believe it had been that easy. The only real concession he’d had to make to the sorcerer was to allow the sorcerer’s book infusion spell to work on the uCall and uJotter. Orange had been skeptical of that for a bit, spending three straight weeks with no sleep trying to find some kind of fatal flaw in allowing such a thing, knowing the sorcerer was definitely sneaky and smart enough to somehow make it seem like Orange was getting the advantage when the sorcerer truly was. After freaking out from three weeks without sleep, Orange burned an orphanage to the ground and passed out.
It’s okay, the orphanage had been abandoned for a while because the retired leader of MegaHard had spent millions of gold pieces to send those orphans to work farms or maybe good families. Wherever they went, they’d have clean water and immunizations, which was good, unless I suppose you were an orphan that ended up on a work farm, but at least you’d have clean water and immunizations.
When he woke, he told the sorcerer’s minion that it was a deal, and sat back to watch how things would play out. The sorcerer, meanwhile, was plotting and planning as well, smiling inside at the happiness that he’d finally been matched against a worthy opponent. Shed and Highborn seemed like they’d be worthy opponents for a while, but once the sorcerer realized that the twins could only really compete with him in the book market, and poorly at that now that peasants had been getting shit teleported to their houses for a few years, the game became a boring lesson in attrition.
Kind of like when you totally turtle up in a Real-Time Strategy game like Starcraft or DotA and slowly steal all the other guy’s resources while both of your armies duke it out here and there, until your opponent has no more wood or strontium or whatever the stuff is that lets you build more army dudes to win the game. But these guys had never heard of video games, because they lived back in the time of magic and stuff, that’s why.
Orange grew his empire, and in fact he grew his empire far beyond the sorcerer’s. Orange’s minions were almost fanatically loyal, and just to amuse himself once in a while, he’d visit ye old factory and order a few of them to jump off the roof and onto the cobblestones below. And they would. It was really kind of shitty, but Orange wasn’t all that great of a guy to be honest. But when you were the most powerful warlock, the most powerful wielder of the arcane power in all the realms, people tended to jump off a roof if you told them to knowing if they didn’t, you’d just use your mind to shove them or conjure a tornado to suck them up and then drop them from even higher.
But Orange wasn’t satisfied. He’d been sent by the Enclave to destroy this sorcerer, and destroy him he would. And no matter what Orange tried, he couldn’t break the sorcerer’s hold on the trade of goods and books. Orange tried to make his own uCall and uJotter a gateway for peasants to buy books that he could teleport to their crystal balls, but part of the problem, besides the gateway being rather clunky and mostly only working on a uCall or uJotter, or the more powerful but less mobile uGrannySmith, was that the sorcerer’s book infusion spell was much more popular than the gateway Orange had created. Not only was it more popular, peasants could order books and goods from the sorcerer with one of these uCalls and uJotters.
Orange tried to impose a tariff on the sorcerer’s book infusion spell anytime it was used on one of his uCall or uJotter crystal balls, even going so far as to threaten to change the crafted spell of his devices to where the sorcerer’s book infusion spell stopped working. When the king heard of this threat, he stepped in and explained to Orange that while orange was a very powerful warlock, possibly the most powerful warlock in all the realms combined, he was nowhere near as powerful as a king’s army. The king’s army had wizards, and these were no ordinary wizards. These wizards were schooled in the art of battle and law, and were hardened from campaigns against foes far and wide, foreign and domestic.
Orange postured a bit, a lot actually, but wasn’t sure if he was truly powerful enough by himself to defeat a king and a king’s army. Instead, he agreed to stop being whiny and play nicely. But in the background, where the king couldn’t see, Orange had secretly begun to seek out the publishers who were already pissed at the sorcerer. Orange commanded that they bow to him, that they follow his directives, and if they did, the realm would be rid of the troublesome sorcerer once and for all.
The publishers took a secret blood oath and began working with the warlock to force the sorcerer to bow to their pricing schemes on books. The sorcerer just laughed and sat back, watching the warlock and his new publisher minions attack him on all book fronts. The only thing they really accomplished, besides attracting attention from the king again, was to anger a lot of peasants. Peasants already had to choose between one potato a month as their only food, and a book. They could afford the books that the sorcerer delivered, but when the warlock and his minions raised the price of books, they were soon only left with the potato as a choice, as now a book was more expensive than a potato.