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In Which, Sad to Relate, Our Narration
of the Further Adventures of the Wizard and His Loyal But Stupid Apprentice is Cast Into Disarray By a Truly Unfortunate Chronicler's Mishap.

The Dwarf's Question. The Wizard's Reproof. The Dwarf's Question. The Wizard's Reproof. The Dwarf's Question. The Wizard's Bemusement. The Dwarf Is Dispatched On a Perilous Journey—Into the Very Darkest Interior of the Sack! Adventures Too Overwhelming to Relate In Detail! Alas! Suffice It To Say—

"Why did he say that, master?" queried Shelyid, as the coach lurched into motion. His question was in regard to the driver's announcement that passengers should bring their own provisions for the first two days of the journey, as no roadway inn could be constructed in the Drear.

"Bah!" oathed Zulkeh. "More to the point, gnome, is the question: Why did he say that three seconds before departure, thus ensuring that no time would be available for the acquisition of said necessities? An outrage!" He fell into a brooding silence, which lasted the length of the coach's voyage through the gates of the Caravanserai and out into the Drear beyond.

Then did the dwarf speak again.

"But why did he say that, master?"

"What?" demanded Zulkeh, frowning fiercely at the runt. "Why did he say that? Because he is a churl, dolt, employed by a churlish firm!"

"But why, master?" persisted Shelyid.

"Why? Why? Why?" cried Zulkeh, his wrath now steeping to the surface. "Wherefore am I plagued by these imbecile inquiries? I have already explained why, diminutive cretin!"

"B-but," stammered the dwarf, "why can't they build a roadway inn in the Drear, master?"

Zulkeh leaned back in his seat, clearly taken aback. "Why, because—" A moment's silence. "Quite amazing. I don't know the answer to that question. Most amazing." He stroked his beard thoughtfully, gazing out the window onto the barren vastness of the Drear.

For many long minutes did the wizard muse after this fashion, until the Caravanserai had long since disappeared below the southern horizon. At length, Shelyid became so bold as to make a whispered suggestion to his master.

"Maybe you could ask one of these people on the coach, master. They've probably lived here for years."

"Bah!" oathed Zulkeh. "Am I to waddle about in the swamp of empiricism, like a child in his sandbox? No, dwarf, the truth is found in books. The question is—which book?"

More long moments of silence. Then did the gleam of understanding come into the wizard's eyes.

"Of course!" he spoke. "Shelyid, fetch me the Chronicle of Edward the Confusor."

Shelyid blanched. "B-but  . . . but." He gulped. "Do I have to, master?" This last in a piteous wail.

A frown gathered on Zulkeh's brow as quickly as the storm clouds of the north amass themselves about the awesome granite slabs of Mount Pud. "Do you question my command, gnome?" he demanded.

"N-no, but—but—" stammered Shelyid.

"Silence!" stormed Zulkeh. "Perform your duty as I bade you!"

Realizing that all resistance was useless, and quite obviously regretting the innocent question which had led him to such a pass, Shelyid sighed, gathered up his courage, and went to seek out the appointed tome in the wizard's sack.

Now, the gentle reader is no doubt perplexed by this attitude on the part of the dwarf. Of course, it will have become transparent to the gentle reader through his perusal of the preceding pages of this chronicle that the dwarf Shelyid was not, shall we say, blessed with leonine audacity. Nonetheless, it must appear bizarre that Shelyid should exhibit such cravenness when faced with the routine task of extracting a volume from a sack.

Ah, dear reader, do not so malign the poor dwarf! His fear was well-founded. For remember, this was no ordinary sack! No, no. Any comparison between the wizard Zulkeh's sack and the traveling pack of any common voyager would be mistaken in the extreme.

For this pack was a wizard's pack, and that of a well-traveled and prodigiously learned wizard to boot. Thus not only was it voluminous—nay, huge—nay, elephantine—in its proportions, containing as it did every single item of every bizarre description which the mage had accumulated in his long and varied lifetime; not only was the internal ordering and arrangement of that multitude of sorcerous materials mazelike in its dimensions; not only was it filled with many a noisome specimen, many a sharp instrument, and many a perilous artifact; not only was all this true, but Shelyid must have known as well, dim-witted though he was, that the many days of arduous and jostling travel would inevitably have rearranged the objects of the interior into a new kaleidoscope in which he stood a fair chance of losing his way for days, and would as well have brought to sullen life the divers intelligences (not all of them animate) which lurked therein.

Mind you, in most instances no problem was posed in extracting the object of Zulkeh's desire from the pack. For the wizard, like all professional men—though he would have bitterly challenged this statement—relied for the most part upon only a small portion of his accumulated treasures. For just as a scholar may have shelf after shelf in his library lined with the most obscure tomes, journals and scrolls, yet does he still rely for the most part on a handful of essential works: the encyclopedias, the classics, and so forth. So it was also with the wizard, and when Shelyid had packed up the sack, he had taken great care to place these items of common usage at or near its surface. But now, it seemed, his preparations had been in vain. Into the heart of the interior must he go!

And so it was that Shelyid went into the sack, in that bouncing coach on its way to Prygg, and did not emerge for many hours. Alas, dear reader, our tale lengthens overmuch already, and so we cannot chronicle Shelyid's adventures that day. Alas! For verily those adventures were epic in their scale!

Suffice it to say that many a time did Shelyid lose his way and tremble in fear lest he starve before finding the book and blessed egress. Suffice it to say that the rearrangement of the interior of the sack would have provided more than ample evidence for Shelyid to have from its study, had he the wits, derived brilliant treatises on heretofore unknown aspects of Brownian motion and entropy. Suffice it to say that he nearly became asphyxiated on the fumes of the noxious ragweed specimen with which the wizard bribed the lower classes of demons whom he conjured up on occasion. Suffice it to say that for many terrifying moments was he locked in mortal combat with the normally lethargic Great Newt of Obpont, now risen from its torpor and filled with the venomous rage which is that beast's distinguishing characteristic—a combat made more difficult for the gnome by his knowledge that the wizard prized the monster highly and would thus overfill with spleen should Shelyid, in his frenzied efforts to prevent his devourment by the amphibious carnivore, cause the creature to come to harm. Suffice it to say that at length the dwarf succeeded in bottling the vicious predator in an unused vial, only then to fall into a pool of that unnamed and unnameable fluid whose presence in various pockets and folds of the sack was made necessary for the sustenance of that very amphibian horror of which I have just spoken—and of that fluid itself, of its nature and its effects upon the human much less the dwarf body, I will say nothing, lest the gentle reader discontinue in his nausea the further perusal of our tale. Suffice it to say that at length the dwarf found the book in question, seized it by frontal assault, and escaped at length the maddened pursuit of the band of club-wielding imps for whom, alas, the tome was their tribal totem. Suffice it to say that as the sun began its descent over the western horizon, Shelyid emerged from the sack, book in hand, and handed it over to his master. Surfeit it to say that that that that that that that—

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