From the Journals of Elmo Von Knippenberger

I was poking around my basement the other day and found a crate full of weird stuff (an old brooch with a zombie curse attached, a hurricane lamp that generates frankenstorms) and this old book, written in code.  Luckily I had my ovaltine decoder ring handy and discovered it was the journal of my great, great, great uncle Elmo  VonKnippenberger.  Even though I have a whole half a novel dedicated to the dangers of decoding old journals (Jonesing), I though it a good idea to read through and offer you the translation.  It’s long, so I’ll have to break it up into parts.  Hope you enjoy!

October 27,

We have come to this strange land in the midst of a pitched battle between two rival factions.  On the one side stood the Icans.  The Icans seemed comprised mostly of older men who dance and speak in constant lockstep.  Scattered amongst their ranks were younger men whose eyes appeared to be covered with some sort of blindfold mechanism, and who wore trumpets attached to their ears. Attractive, fox-tailed women with golden hair and soulless, shark-like eyes babbled into the opposite end of the trumpets.  Occasionally, one of the older men, also wearing a fox-tail, would speak into the trumpet as well.  The words spoken by both were often incomprehensible, or contradictory when they could be understood, but the young men seemed to agree, as they nodded and smiled and glared at the other tribe.

Artist depiction of typical Ican

The other faction, called the Cratus, were larger in number, but seemed to be comprised of dozens of smaller factions who bickered amongst them selves unceasingly.  Each smaller faction had their own dance, and they seldom danced in unison (though, when they did, it was an awesome sight to behold).  On occasion, a group of the Cratus, often those who looked most like the Icans, would cross over and join their rival’s dance, swelling their numbers.  Oftentimes, the Icans would subsequently make some change to the dance that the recently departed Cratus would find they could not follow, and would be forced to stumble back to their original camp.

A typical Cratus discussion section

We observed that on occasion, some members of the Cratus would wander across the beach, not for the purpose of joining their rivals, but to give up items they appeared to value and invite the Icans to stand in a spot in the center.  Most often, those invitations would be met with slaps or drawn blades and the Cratus who made the invitation would be driven away.  On the rare occasion when one of the Icans would attempt to step into the center, other members of the group would quickly appear, force him to wear a large horn, like that of a rhinoceros, and cast him into a large pen with others wearing horns.  One of this group could return to the Icans, but only if he made a very broad display of casting off his horn and joining the dance, always furthest to the right of the tribe.  Others, including one who appeared to be a decorated war hero, seemed to wear the horn with pride.

Ican compromiser

A third group moved about and around these two parties, seemingly disinterested and going about their day.  On occasion one would notice the two parties and amble over to one side or another, but in most instances, they would shrug or yawn and continue with whatever happened to hold their interest at the time.  An alarming number of these seem transfixed by the goings on of an exceptionally large, vile, and stupid sounding woman, her adorable moppet of a child, and other family members who seemed to have varying degrees of intellect and charisma.

artist depiction of uncommitted entertainment

For now the two sides occupy their opposite camps, hurling insults at each other and beseeching the disinterested group to join them.  I shall remain here and observe their rituals.

Next:  The two sides build a hero

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