Oz and the Wizard:

In Which a New Character is Introduced

By Oz and Ed Green

Rudely seized from his mundane life in a late twentieth century metropolis by the wizard's messenger, Ed finds himself hurled through some mind-bending special effects thingies involving swirling colors and the end of the popular song by the dung-beetles, 'I am the Large Marine Mammal'. ["Hmm..." thinks Ed, "that doesn't sound quite right... must be some sort of reality dislocation"] His trip ends in a thunk as he falls into a snow drift, and rolls over to see the messenger receeding, laughing to himself... "ASCII... Applied Strategem to Corral Innocent Inebriates.... ha ha ha ha... "

[The wizard employed many creatures of dubious antecendents bound by debts of service, but he was not always able to fully control their impish aspects]

"Ow!" said Ed, "What have I been drinking?"

He finds himself wearing the scratched and dented armor of an apprentice, one who has served many masters but never completed his apprenticeship. A bit graying around the temples for an apprentice... On the breast plate is the curious device "erg", held on by a few rivets.

Before erg has time to realize just how cold this feebly insulated suit of armor is in a snow drift, he is roused from his post translational reverie by an approaching troll, one who has been eating stone tablets, and has a touch of indigestion.

"ARGGHHHESTH" comments the troll, drolly. Ed leaps up and attempts to dislodge his sword from the scabbard, but apparently his fantastic alter-ego has not kept his equipment in shape, and it is rusted solidly into place. "Ohmygod" he thinks, giving one last desperate pull at the weapon. The impulse is sufficient to overcome the coefficient of static friction between steel boots and snow, an he falls in a heap before the charging troll, who stubs his toes on the armor, leaving fresh toe-dents, trips over the mighty warrior and rolls into a ball, gaining momentum on the icy slope and finally flying out into space like a boulder, smashing into smithereens on the rocks below. Seeing that the fearsome warrior knows JUDO, the other trolls beat a tasty retreat (munching the remaining tablets).

"Whoa!" thinks the hero, nursing his bruised arm and slowly pulling himself up. "This place is dangerous!" Just then he spies a feeble bit of firelight in the mouth of a nearby cavern, and painfully heads in that direction. In the cavern, of course, is his old friend, Oz.

"What, you too?" says Oz, once a wizard in his own right, in a distant story. "Has your geodesic entered this place of no return?"

"Yes" says the erg, pulling a stone up to the fire, and drawing his sword to dry it on some straw, finding that the fall in the heroic trollomachy was sufficient to dislodge it from the scabbard, "and the odd thing is, I am not even sure I remember crossing the horizon."

"Well," said Oz "it's quite nice here really. In the summer you can walk over to the village and have a drink at the village pub. Of course at the moment it's a mite chilly."

"You gotta Wizard here?" said Ed

"Yup," said Oz "not a bad one really. Usual bad temper on occasion and he has this tendency to drift off when you are talking to him. He starts thinking about some higher thing and you gotta hold him down from fair floating away".

"How powerful is he, then." asked Ed "Hmm, a fair sized keep, but not one of them with a whole faculty to terrorise."

"Oh, he's pretty good." said Oz "Not that old either. He has to use a wizening spell to look the part. Really enjoys his subject too, which makes a change. You should see the pleasure he got from turning me into a turd^H^H^H^H toad. He is trying to teach me about General Relativity, but I'm making heavy weather of it. He *says* it's really powerful, I hope it's powerful enough to hex the wench at the pub, must be .. surely. Anyway he does it in a funny way, we have been at it for weeks and we still haven't got to any sargents, let alone any generals. There's all this stuff he gives me that I have to carve onto these stone tablets."

Oz gestures casually at a mighty pile of inscribed stone tablets balanced precariously over the chasm.

"It's a full time job keeping the Trolls away from them. These local trolls claim to have a sophisticated palate. Humpf" sighed Oz.

"Anyway, Wiz is having a thaumaturlogical battle with some smart-ass upstart from over the water at the moment. No work for me as he is glued to his desk producing magic spells to win the battle. You want to have a look at some of this stuff? There's a few questions that he doesn't like my answers to, no sir, not at all," groaned Oz

Ed walked over to the heap of tablets and pulled one out. On it, in flickering glowing letters, were the Wizard's questions.

"Hey, no sweat." said Ed "Lets go through it slowly."