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Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The Most Important Post You'll Read All Day
Another Codex Kalachnikova preview. This one is called "The Gathering of the Juggalos."
What? Did something else important happen recently?
What? Did something else important happen recently?
Intermission: A Gathering of the Juggalos
There are none who would dare approach this great circus tent, high in the folds of the Shattered Mountains bordering the great Grass Sea. The Lords of the holdfasts, Stone and Apple and River lords, even Scum Lords, do not venture into this place, nor do their consorts, nor do their bastards or eunuchs. Even the Angels do not venture here. You alone must witness this, and understand the bearings it has on the tale to come.
There are those who say that the gods were blinded by the hellfire that was TEOTWAWKI, that the endless maelstrom of clouds obscure their vision and block out the prayers of the mortals below. If that is true of any place in the vast wastelands of Efrafa, it is true here. No prayers are heard here; that much is certain.
The air is still thick with poisons in some places, even now, hundreds of years after the great cataclysm. The baked dirt holds no life; the waters are the same, save that they burn the flesh of any foolish enough to wade in their alkaline depths. The landscape of the shattered mountains is absolute stillness on the eastern side, and great terrible storms that break constantly against the west side. You can heard the crashing thunder as the churning brown clouds fling water, salt and the shattered ruins of an ancient civilization against the mountainside. From time to time there is a great rumble in the earth, and if you were to watch for hundreds of years you could see the mountains spreading out as their very roots are pulled apart by incomprehensibly old forces you cannot perceive, let alone understand.
Perhaps they are demons, toiling in darkness far below the earth. This is a place to believe in demons.
You have seen these before-multicolored wagons towed by scrub ponies and hawgs and people. But surely you have never seen this many. You watch them pass by for hours, a train of them, each bearing the mark of their tribes-green and purple Riddle Boxes, red and silver Great Milenkos, Jekell Brothers, Ringmasters, even the secretive Butterfly tribe, with rainbow banners hanging limp from their windows. Surely you lose count after five hundred wagons go by, singing their simple war songs and shaking rusty hatchets at the uncaring sky.
At the tail end of the train, you join them-you must! You smell their ragged, meat stinking breath-the journey across the grass sea is long, and you can see chewed legbones along the trail, both human and animal. The Gypsy Jokas travel day and night, at a pace that is certain to be fatal for most. A trail of torches winds up a tiny footpath in the mountains, vanishing into the Stygian darkness of the other side.
The mountain is grueling, and the air grows cooler as you rise above the Grass Sea. The trail slithers precariously along the mountainside, and far below you can see shattered wagons and bodies-human, and otherwise. By luck alone do you reach the summit, after a day and a half of climbing. It is surely luck-there are no miracles in this place. One final sign points you to your destination, a great tent as large as the largest holdfast, stitched together in a riot of conflicting colors and patterns that make your eyes ache. It stands in sharp relief against the drab mountain, below the edge of a small bluff that blocks the wind and the constant barrage of detritus from the howling storm. And here you see more wagons, more than you could ever count, all left haphazardly outside. The single path through them is a churned track of ashes and mud by now, worn by countless feet and wheels and hooves. From where you are, you can hear nothing inside, but there is a deep rattle that vibrates your teeth as you approach, and it grows stronger the closer you come to the big tent.
Inside is a riot of cacophony and lights of half a thousand colors. One of the traditional war songs rings from a thousand throats and simultaneously from dozens of black boxes that thrum with some arcane power. The crowd of juggalos and juggalettes around you shake like madmen in time with the music, shouting something about hunting chickens over and over in a frenzy. Occasionally a scattergun or pistol goes off at random, sometimes wreaking carnage in the ranks. At the very center of the circular tent stands a great black box. Butterfly tribe juggalos, quieter and more clever than their companions, move purposefully around it carrying great wires and boxes and hoses. In the flashing light, they move like ghosts, flickering and indistinct, seeming distant and unreal.
Perhaps responding to some tiny, unknown signal, the music suddenly stops, and the c hanting dies down with it, though it does not quite go away for a few minutes. Then the lights stop as well, and darkness fills the great tent. You have enough sense to wonder if this will be your grave, this strange carnival of horrors, but before you can flee you see the center box light up-and two men appear within its confines.
It is startling, but the crowd seems to expect it-chants of FAMILY FAMILY FAMILY fill the air around you, shaking the very walls of the tent. They appear to be at least ten feet tall, and both have the same paitned faces as those that surround you, black and white with grinning white teeth.
They shout WELCOME JUGGALOS, and though their accent is archaic and bizarre the gathered marauders respond immediately by screaming. Juggalettes are flinging their shirts away, and juggalos are waving spears and scatterguns in the air. The music starts again, but this time it is obvious that the two wizards are directing it-they point and chant and leap in a strange dance, spitting their venomous words into small black wands and causing them to echo from every thrumming felt covered box in the tent. The lights resume their flashing, filling your world with chaos. Between songs-for it is clear that they are singing from the box-they speak of family, togetherness, kinship and trust. You are cogent enough to realize the irony.
As the wizards in the box continue their spell, you become aware that the response is programmed-that this has been done many times before. Even the responses of the crowd are coming from the black boxes, magnified a hundred times and distorted to come from every direction. And you realize than that this is a play, an act, and that each response from those around you has been carefully cultivated for generations, like the finest hemp fruits.
The thought chills your blood, but you cannot flee yet. There is more for you to see.
The music fades slowly, leaving a whine in your ears and a vaguely guilty hardon at all the exposed juggalette tits. The thinner wizard, the one called VIOLENT JAY sits down within the box and speaks into his magic wand. He tells them Juggalos, listen up for a very special message from the Hatchet Man. The Hatchet Man never steers you wrong. And both wizards disappear in a blink from the box, replaced by a new face, one quite different from the others.
The lighting is different in the box now, and the wizard looks strange-he is spindly and pale, wearing only a blue gown of some unknown, flimsy material. His face is painted with markings that match no known Gypsy Joka tribe, or perhaps resembles that of the Butterfly tribe but poorly rendered and distorted. His hair is fine and pale, and his eyes are huge and weepy, thick with strange fluids.
He harangues the Jokas for awhile, in a strange, clumsy parody of the two wizards that appeared before him. He tells them that the two immortal sorcerers, Violent Jay and Shaggy Too Dope, have given him instructions to arm them against the enemies of Shangri-Lah, who was even now gathering his dread forces in the Tex Arcane. The Hatchet Man spoke of a redneck chicken bitch who would bring ruin on their civilization. He spoke at length of doom and horror-and then he offered solutions.
A light comes on, focuses on a small knot of men dressed in black with armor and ayears, their faces painted with Butterfly tribe markings-but few juggalos are this well armed or healthy. Around them are over a hundred massive green crates, each marked US ARMY in the ancient speech. The Jokas are not naïve; they know what is in those crates, and in anticipation the crowd surges forward hungrily, but a sharp shout from the Hatchet Man stops them in an instant. The Butterfly tribe juggalettes flit and fawn around the black clad newcomers, several draped over each arm, casting something in the air that glitters in the light.
You’ll get your chance, he says. The Butterflies have the maps. They have summoned warriors and weaopns from the sky using the ancient sorcery known as HALO, warriors who could show them how to use the artifacts in the crates. Find this redneck chicken bitch and kill him. Kill his family. Burn his holdfast.
Then the music starts up again, the Hatchet Man vanishing and the two god-kings taking up their place as if nothing had happened. Any further meaning is soon lost in the frenzy.
Your mind is reeling now. You make for the back of the tent, shoulder aside Jokas who chant along with the war songs of old, stumble a few times on broken bodies. You cannot comprehend what is happening, but you know you must seek escape from this place of madness and violence and magic. Breathing hard, your breeches damp, your eyes dazzled, your ears ringing, you flee into the shattered wasteland-and count yourself lucky.
Away from the tent is peaceful only by comparison; the storm breaks thunderously around you. A porcelain bowl shatters on a rock next to you. Salt stings your eyes and traces burning lines in your skin. The maelstrom above snarls its displeasure as you defy it, on into the western wastelands, death howling above and behind. A great tangle of metal hurtles from above; you see its shape and your mouth gapes open in astonishment. You’ll never know it was the back end of a school bus, flung into the maelstrom by TEOTWAWKI; you know it only as the wrath of the angry voodoo wizards in the box. Salt dries up your saliva, and your death tumbles closer.