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Forward the Mage

Table of Contents


In Which We Introduce the Gentle Reader to Our Tale Through a Most Cunning Usage of the Ancient Narrative Device of The Plunge Direct Into the Turbulence of the Times. Taken From the Autobiography of the Notorious Scapegrace, Benvenuti Sfondrati-Piccolomini.

In Which, Our Prelude Passed, We Acquaint the Gentle Reader with the Heroes of Our Tale, The Sorcerer Zulkeh and His Stupid But Loyal Apprentice Shelyid. Accompanied By Some Brief and Modest Notes Introducing Your Narrator, Alfred CCLXXIX, and My Noble Clan of Chroniclers

The Which Consists of Alfred CCLVI's Account of Zulkeh's Last Days in Goimr, the Events and Thoughts of Those Final Days, and His Decision and Departure. Taken From the First Chapters of the Great Chronicle of the Alfredae.

A Sublime Discourse on the Nature of Gravity. A Knock on the Door. The Wizard Is Summoned by the King!

Journey Through Goimr. A Discourse on the Geography and History of the City. The Palace Doors Swing Wide!

A Portentous Dream—Its Contents Revealed. The Mage Is Troubled in His Mind. King Roy's Wrath. The Mage Elucidates. King Roy's Anxiety. The Wizard Is Commanded!

A Wizard's Travail. Failure—But the Truth Revealed Therein. The Dwarf Reproved. The Wizard's Decision. The Dwarf Reproved. The Wizard's Command. The Dwarf Reproved.

A Dwarf's Travails, and the Wizard's Comments Thereon. The Dwarf Succeeds. An Imminent Departure, Forestalled by a Gnome's Subterfuge. A Pathetic Scene!

A Journey Begun. A Coach Ride. The Royal Palace. King Roy's Dream Redux. Calamities. A Tumultuous Departure. The Central Travel House of Goimr. The Wizard Inquires. A Commercial Philosophy Explained. A Purchase. "We're Off!"

In Which We Follow the
Further Progress of the Terrorist Trio in Their Unlawful Escape From Goimr,
Revealing Therein Fell Visions and Portents. Taken, As Before, From the Autobiography of the Renegade Benvenuti Sfondrati-Piccolomini, the Veracity of Whose Account, We Must Emphatically Repeat, Is In No Wise Guaranteed by the Noble Alfredae.

The Which Represents a
Lacuna in my Illustrious Ancestors'
Account, Fortunately Made Good By My
Discovery of a Long Lost Manuscript by
the Undeservedly Obscure Littérateur,
Korzeniowski Laebmauntsforscynneweëld,
Companion of the Consortium Director of
Companies in That Superlative
Financier's Most Bitter and
Troubled Exile.

In Which We Momentarily Suspend Korzeniowski's Superlative Account in Order to Resume Our Examination of the Other Fugitives From Goimric Justice, Discovering to Our Horror, as We Do, that Their Social Villainy Is Becoming Entwined With the First Horrid Seeds of
Carnal Lust.

In Which We Return to Korzeniowski's Superlative Account of the Misdeeds of the Sorcerer and his Loyal But Stupid Apprentice as the Desperate Twain Continue their Attempts to Evade the Forces of Justice; Indeed, Now Compound Their Crimes with Further Acts of Malice and Chicanery. Herewith, the Conclusion of Korzeniowski's tale.

In Which We
Resume Our Account of the Adventures of the Artist and his Insurrectionary Companion as They Continue Their
Journey Through the Baronies.

In Which We Return to My Ancestors' Chronicle, of Which, Joyful to Relate, Remains Extant All Portions Retelling of the Sorcerer's Adventures in the Famed Oasis, But in Which, Due to Sad Circumstances Soon To Be Related, those Portions Recounting the Journey From the Famed Oasis to Prygg Exist Only in Truncated and Misshapen Form.

A Difficult Decision Made—Yet Failure Withal. The Dwarf's Quandary. The Serendipitous Results Thereof. The Wizard's Praise. The Wizard's Reproof. Our Heroes' Fortune Restored!

A Commercial Philosophy Elaborated. The Wizard Demurs. An Interview With a Subordinate of the Law. The Sheriff's Return. The Unsatisfactory Results Therefrom. The Wizard Seeks Counsel!

A Barrister's Informed Opinion. Sundry Cases of Great Legal Moment Encapsulated. A Youth Intervenes, Hot of Temper and Mien. The Wizard Adjudicates. A Youth Denounces, Hot of Temper and Mien. The Consortium is Recompensed!

In Which, With
Great Horror, We Relate
the Despicable Doings of the
Desperado Sfondrati-Piccolomini
As He Takes It Upon Himself
To Stand Against Custom
in the Baronies.

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—

In Which the Wizard Acquaints Himself With His New Traveling Companions, the Florid and Well-Dressed Man of Some Middle Years, the Imperious Dowager La Madame, and the Warden and His Young Prisoner, Newly Convicted of Stealing Bread From Mother Edna's Bakery (a Subsidiary of the Consortium). A Dialogue Between Zulkeh and the Youth, With Our Hero's Remonstrances Concerning Law and Reason Countered by the Unrepentant Miscreant's Discourse on Poverty and Its Effects. A Visit From the Forces of Law Themselves, and Their Representative's Unfortunate Experience With La Madame's Dog. A Villain Strikes Again! Pursuit. A Villain Strikes Again!

In Which Our Heroes Continue Their Journey Through the Drear, Heading North by North-West, to the Still Distant City of Prygg. Zulkeh Denounces the Highwayman. Further Broodings of the Mage, and Shelyid's Fears and Remembrances Thereof. A Quarrel Between the Imperious Dowager La Madame and the Florid and Well-Dressed Man of Some Middle Years. The Wizard Adjudicates. A Quarrel Between the Wizard and the Imperious Dowager La Madame. A Quarrel Between the Wizard and the Florid and Well-Dressed Man of Some Middle Years. Arrival at Sigh of Relief (a Subsidiary of the Consortium), the Roadway Inn Located on the Northern Edge of the Drear. The Consortium Levies a Heavy Fine on Our Heroes For Allowing a Coach Operated by the GGNESWC& Etc. to be Robbed (Second Offense). The Wizard Instructs the Dwarf to Utilize the Gold-Making Scroll Anew. The Dwarf Demurs, the Rascal Impudently Recounting a Past Beating For This Selfsame Deed. The Mage Explains to his Stupid but Loyal Apprentice the Philosophical Distinction Between Essence and Appearance, in the Course of Which Sublime Lecture Many Ethical Subtleties Are Developed. The Dwarf, Reassured, Utilizes the Gold-Making Scroll. Our Heroes' Fortunes Are Restored! The Dwarf is Praised For The Deed. The Dwarf Is Soundly Thrashed For Rebellious Impertinence in Doing the Deed.

A Journey Resumed. The Coach is Halted by a Band of Armed Horsemen. They are the Noble Royal Commandos of Goimr, Seeking the Subversive Sorcerer Who Has Driven the Former King to Madness. Zulkeh and Shelyid Are Arrested! Shackled, Chained and Gagged, Our Heroes are Dragged Through the Drear Toward Goimr. En Route, the Company Arrives Upon a Gibbet, From Which Swings the Grotesque and Decayed Corpse of a Hanged Man. Our Heroes are Taunted by Their Captors, Who Predict a Like Fate for Them! The Company Makes To Depart, But Are Halted by A Voice in the Wilderness. "Stand and Deliver!" All Are Astonished To See That, Where Had Seemed to Swing the Grotesque and Decayed Corpse of a Hanged Man, Swung Instead a Much Alive and Gaily Dressed Highwayman, Clutching his Horse Between His Legs! "It is I, Rascogne de Sevigneois, Cleverly Disguised As a Hanged Man! Release Your Prisoners!" The Commandos Demur, Scoffing at This Demand From a Lone Man. The Lone Highwayman Demurs, Announcing That He Has Confederates. Sure Enough, Where Had Seemed to Stand a Gibbet From Which Depended a Rope, Stand Instead, Il Conde and La Contessa. A Fierce Melee Ensues. Rascogne Skewers Multiple Commandos With the Greatest of Ease. Il Conde Bludgeons Several More With His Cane, Feverishly Searching For Rare Coins. La Contessa Proves Astonishingly Adept As a Cutthroat, Flaunting Her Magnificent Cleavage All The While. A Massacre Most Foul! The Noble Company of Commandos Butchered To the Last Man! Our Heroes Are Freed and Flee Into the Mountains With the Villainous Highwayman and His Accomplices.

A Bandit Camp in the Mountains. The Wizard Admonishes His Rescuers With Subtle and Intricate Lessons on Ethics and Legality. Rude Replies. Shelyid Learns From La Contessa of Rascogne's Bold Rescue of Her and Il Conde From the Caravanserai Jail. She and Her Husband Have Decided to Join the Highwayman in a Life of Crime—She, From Love of the Scoundrel, Her Husband, From Love of the Rare Coins Which the Rogue's Trade Brings In Such Great Profusion. A Visit From the Big Banjo, Old Friend of Rascogne de Sevigneois. He is Seeking Material For a New Opera. The Big Banjo is Delighted With Rascogne's New ménage a trois, Finding in This Peculiar Arrangement Most Fertile Ground For a Popular Tragedy Filled With Great Emotion and the Littering of Many Corpses About the Stage At the Final Curtain. Rascogne Scoffs at the Big Banjo's Sublime Artistic Proposal, Advocating Instead the Dull Maintenance of a Most Pleasant Arrangement Satisfactory To All Parties Involved. The Big Banjo Approaches Il Conde With the Selfsame Libretto. Il Conde Demurs, Allowing That If He Were But Fifty Years Younger He Would Cheerfully Satisfy the Composer's Desires, For He Suspects the Highwayman of Taking Liberties With His Wife, Several Times a Day, In Fact, If He is Not Mistaken. Alas, At His Age A Man Has Energy For But One Passion. And There Is No Denying the Scoundrel Rascogne de Sevigneois Amasses Coins At a Prodigious Rate, Of Which All Those Of Value to the Numismatist Are Immediately Handed Over to Il Conde, Who Stands Fair to Become the World's Recognized Numismatist Supreme As a Result. Disgruntled At This Uniform Disrespect for the Necessities of Art, the Big Banjo Departs, Seeking More Tragic Sensibilities Elsewhere.

The Wizard Determines to Leave the Camp of Rascogne de Sevigneois, Explaining to Shelyid the Continuing Necessity To Consult the Witch Magrit That He Might Determine the Identity of His Enemies, the Uncovering of These Dastards Being Essential to the Thwarting of Their Scheme to Thwart the Thaumaturge in His Efforts to Uncover the True Meaning of the Dream of the (Now Deceased) King of Goimr, the Discovery of This True Meaning, In Its Turn, Being Essential to the Mage's Determination to Forestall the Catastrophe Which Even Now Looms Over All of Civilization, Even as the Mighty and Forward Rushing Tidal Wave Looms Over the Sleeping and Unaware Inhabitants of the Island Paradise. The Dwarf Argues With the Wizard, Announcing That He Has Discovered in His Runtish Soul the Burning Desire to Become a Highwayman. Indeed, the Gnome Cavorts About in a Most Unseemly and Ridiculous Manner, Displaying With a Small Poignard the Novice's Skill He Has Learned in Swordplay From the Rascally Rascogne, Who Has, The Mage Now Discovers To His Great Displeasure, Been Usurping the Wizard's Monopoly Over the Dwarf's Education. After a Most Disgraceful Scene, the Proper Relation Between Master and Servant is Restored. Our Heroes Depart, Shelyid Blubbering Great Tears at His Parting From the Highwayman and La Contessa. An Adventurous Trek Through the Mountains, Northward Toward the Still Distant City of Prygg. Several Days Into Their Journey, They Rest For the Night in a Great Cave. Alas, the Cave is Inhabited By Trolls, Which Pounce on the Dwarf Whilst the Wizard Is Absent, Searching for Fell Herbs on the Mountainside Below. Hearing the Alarum, Zulkeh Races to the Scene. He Is Trampled By Trolls Fleeing the Cave in Utter Terror. Entering the Cave, Zulkeh is Presented With a Mystery. Nothing is Within the Cave to Have Caused This Unwonted Troll Stampede Save the Swooned Form of Shelyid, Clutching in His Little Hand the Dagger Given Him by Rascogne. The Wizard Revives His Apprentice and Discusses the Paradox. Shelyid Proudly Proclaims the Trolls Fled From the Most Fearsome Manner In Which He Displayed His Poignard. The Mage Disputes This Absurd Claim, Recounting for the Gnome's Edification The Slavering Fury Of Trolls And These Monsters' Utter Disregard For Pain and Wounds. The Wizard Ponders on This New Paradox Long Into the Night, Taking the Opportunity to Educate the Dwarf Not Only On Trolls But On All Other Manner of Fearsome and Unnatural Monsters, Among Which He Touches Upon, If Only In Passing, Such Creatures As Vampires, Ghouls, Ghasts, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Orcs, Wargs, Werewolves, Ettins, Not To Mention the Divers and Sundry Breeds of Demons, Daemons, Devils and Demodands. Shelyid, Most Unlike Himself, Cannot Sleep. The Next Morning, the Journey Continues. The Crest of the Mountains is Reached. Below Lies the Land of Pryggia, Upon Whose Northern Coast Lies the Less Distant Than Before City of Prygg Itself. Atop the Mountain, Our Heroes Encounter the Legendary Sage of the Mountains. He Summons Shelyid to His Cave. Shelyid Approaches the Entrance. From Within, Unseen in the Darkness, the Sage Whispers the Secret of Life. So Eager Is the Dwarf to Impart This Secret To His Master That In His Haste He Slips On the Rocks and Falls On His Head. Shelyid Cannot Remember the Secret of Life! The Wizard Is Most Displeased. He Rebukes the Dwarf Soundly, Indeed, Very Soundly, Indeed, Not To Put a Gloss On the Matter, Supremely Soundly—Alas, To No Avail. Our Heroes Begin Their Descent From the Mountains Into Pryggia. Along the Way They—

In Which the Persons and Activities of Our Heroes Come to the Attention of Those Authorities Of Puissant and Mighty Ozar Upon Whose Shoulders Rests the Grave and High Task of Defending Ozarae And Its Interests Against Subversion and Insurrection. Taken From the Minutes of the Senate Committee Armed and Brevetted to Investigate Odious Unconscionable Sedition, Obtained by the Alfredae Through Means Which Remain To This Day the Well-Hidden Secret of Our Noble Clan of Chroniclers.

In Which the Artist Arrives in That Disreputable Realm Called the Mutt And, Though Discovering For Himself the Nature of That Disrepute is Given Neither to Reproof Nor Demurral, Thereby Confirming His Own Most Odious and Disreputable Nature.

In Which We Present a Stirring Narration of the Exploits of Our Heroes in the City of Prygg, the Which Include Not Only a Daring Confrontation With the Foul Witch Magrit and Divers of Her Villainous Associates, But Other Impressive Deeds, As Well, Both Fair and Foul.

In Which We Return to the
Autobiography of the Malefactor
Sfrondrati-Piccolomini, this Portion
of Whose Story Consists of a Crude and
Unscrupulous Attempt to Win the Favor
of the Reader, by Means of Mawkish
Romance and Melodrama.

In Which Our Heroes Complete the First of Their Self-Appointed Tasks, Falling Thereby Into the Most Unseemly and Questionable Company, At Great Peril To Their Good Reputation.

A Search for a Secret Door, Thwarted by a Clumsy Dwarf. A Surprising Entrance Found, Thanks to a Clumsy Dwarf. The Secret of Its Entry Sought By the Mage's Lore, Undone By a Doltish Apprentice. A Stairway Leads Up!

The Witch Encountered. Indignities and Introductions. The Dwarf Behaves Badly. His Conduct Reproved by a Reputable Agent. The Astonishing Sequel Thereto. Uncouth Merriment and Wagers. A Salamander Protests!

A Wizard's Discourse. Rather, A Horrid Salamander's Précis of Same. A Demand For Payment. An Offer of Payment. An Offer of Payment Rudely Refused. A Wizard's Indignation. A Lunatic Appears!

In Which the Mage Agrees, Though With Profound Misgivings, to the Proposal of the Witch and Her Vile Accomplices, Producing Those Results Which Reverberate About the World To This Very Day, Not the Least of These Being the Earliest Manifestation of The Horror Henceforth Known, To Friend and Foe Alike, As The Rebel.

A Notorious Council Convenes. A Wizard's Objections. A Theft Proposed. A Wizard's Objections. Motives Revealed. A Wizard's Objections. Particulars Explained. A Wizard's Objections. A Plot Set Afoot!

In Which We Return Once Again to the Autobiography of the Scoundrel Sfrondrati-Piccolomini, this Portion of Whose Story Consists, Yet Again, of a Crude and Unscrupulous Attempt to Win the Favor of the Reader, by Means of Mawkish Romance and Melodrama, Thereby Confirming—Yet Again!—His Unscrupulous Character and Nature.

In Which, It Is Our Sad Duty to Relate, Our Heroes Commit the Most Heinous and Horrific Crimes, Thereby Forfeiting For All Time the Title of "Heroes," a Name Which We Shall Therefore Never Use Again Associated With Their Now Hopelessly Blackened Names

A Cunning Diversion. Chaos and Confusion. "Blood, Booze and Bamboozlement." Divers Family Tragedies Recounted. A Wedding Cake of Misfortune. An Escape Foiled. A Capture Foiled!

Murals Examined. The Mage's Critique Thereof. A Chamber Devoted to Love. A Dwarf's Inquiries. A Melee. A Pathetic Scene. A Reconciliation. An Historic Event!

A Horror Heard. A Wizard's Uninterrupted Exposition. A Horror Seen. And a Horror It Is, Too! The Strangler Prepares. A Dwarf's Folly. The Unforeseen Results Therefrom. The Relic Found. The Mage is Disgruntled!

A Thaumaturge Insulted. A Daemon Destroyed. A Sorcerer Demeaned. A Glyph Dispelled, A Wizard Offended. A Ward Dissolved. A Mollified Mage. The Seal Is Broken!

A Paradox, Followed By a Quandary. The Wizard's Wrath. The Wizard's New Experience, and His Later Reflections Thereon. "Shelyid's Wild Ride." A Lousely Schism. The Crud's Doom. A Parting!

A Wizard's Wrath. A Dwarf's Biography Retold. Unfortunate Misunderstandings Thereof. The Wizard Abashed. A Dwarf's Decision. A Contract Is Negotiated!

Enemies Revealed—But a Deeper Mystery Bared. A Lunatic's Exposition. A Mage's Great Disquiet. A Resolved Apprentice. Traveling Companions Found. Forward the Mage!

In Which We Conclude This
Volume of Our Chronicle By Resuming, With Firm Resolve Though Great Distaste, Our Skeptical Scrutiny of the Autobiography of That Sfondrati-Piccolomini Fellow, in This Portion of Whose Tale Are Related Impudent Revelries Over Recent Reverses Suffered By The Lawful Order of Grotum As Well As Divers and Dramatic Encounters and Leave-Takings.

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