The lands of Haymet, crossroads between the oasis-hopping trade routes between the vast interior deserts of Rutas and the fertile valleys nearer the its coast, have been fought over for millennia. It was a motley collection of city-states and petty principalities when Islamic invaders swept through the area led by the great emir, and later self-appointed Caliph, Karim Al-Usman. The Usmanid Emirate embraced Sufism to an extent unrivaled elsewhere, and was therefore viewed as schismatic or bid’ah by other emirs and rival Caliphs, each of whom had good reason to covet Usmanid lands.

Haymet was also among the earliest conquests by Hamur, the great unifier of the orcish peoples and promulgator of the Hamurabash code under which most contemporary orcs live. Orcish memory halls are still rife with references to ancestors who fought at the great battles of Alyd, Garyssh, and Al-Khopesh, at which the Usmanid armies were annihilated and the last Emir, Tariq Al-Usman III, was captured and executed.

Hamur therefore inherited lands with a centralized administration and an institutionalized religion. Hamur himself was an atheist and his Hamurabash allowed private worship but harshly punished proselytizing. This was a problem for Haymet in particular, as the new orcish rulers found themselves suddenly in charge of an overwhelmingly human, and overwhelmingly Islamic, population. Hamur took an indulgent route, with relaxed standards on what he considered proselytizing; only areas that resisted the imposition of orcish rule had their imams massacred and their mosques converted for use as orcish memory halls.

After the death of Hamur, betrayed and murdered by his lieutenant Ramuh in his moment of victory at the Battle of the Kyssel Pass, Haymet was ruled by one of the cadet lines of his house headed by his son Aluhamur. In the years that followed, however, the fragmented Islamic rump states on the coast of Rutas were reunited and energized by the Fahimid emirs. The Fahimids launched a series of lengthy assaults on Haymet and gradually brought more and more of it under their control. This resulted in considerable strife on both sides: the orcs who had settled in the areas, as well as humans who had begun adhering to the Hamurabash, discarded Hamur’s tolerant stance and began aggressively seeking to suppress Islam in their territories. For their part, the Fahimids refused to consider adherents of the Hamurabash as Ahl al-Kitab, People of the Book.

As a result, anyone following the Hamurabash in the reconquered lands was viewed not as a dhimmi who was eligible for protection so long as they paid the jizya tax. Instead, such humans were regarded as apostates and orcs as musrikun, idolaters, who were required to convert or face execution. These two stances–the orcish authorities’ increased persecution of Muslims as “proselytizers” and the Fahimids’ insistence on the Hamurabash as apostasy and idolatry–led to an unprecedented slaughter and wave of violence throughout Haymet.

Though the Fahimids managed to conquer 85% of Haymet at one time or another, and counterattacking orcs in turn retook up to half of their former lands in return, the conflict eventually became known to both sides as “the open wound,” inflicting ruinous violence and occupation costs on both the Aluhamurids and the Fahimids. In time, both states collapsed; the increasing desertification of the interior of Rutas ruined the orcish state, which had no solid access to the coast, while the Fahimids fragmented in a series of dynastic struggles and were eventually all but occupied by foreign powers.

But the “open wound” of Haymet remains–a patchwork of orcs and humans, Hamurabash and Hadith, both hardened by centuries of warfare and massacres on both sides. Rivers of ink have been spilled over who was in the wrong, who was the aggressor, and who ultimately owns the rich and fertile lands of Haymet. One thing remains certain, though: it remains both a focal point and a sore spot in relations between the largest factions of orcs and humans on the continent of Rutas.

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White white. Endless frigid, colorless expanses, its desolation sparkling in crystal. All the more pale, all the more cold, all the more colorless for the few shades that try to color it, snowy white wearing fresh-ground dirt. Endless in all directions, the doom of the ill-prepared.

What’s that? A blizzard? No, I was talking about the Oscars.

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“Over 150 murders, most of them with no known rhyme or reason,” said Special Agent Johnston.

“Sixty-seven prior arrests and sixty-six subsequent psychological evaluations,” added Special Agent Smythe. “Each reporting more complexes, syndromes, and shades of outright insanity than the next.”

The Snickerer, terror of Cityopolis, had been brought to the interrogation cell in a straitjacket and bite mask. Just recently recaptured, he still wore his trademark motley cap and bells, though it had been checked for sarin nerve gas and other explosives. “Thank you,” he chuckled. “I’m touched you’ve been keeping track.”

“Why’d you do it, Snickerer?” cried Special Agent Johnston, pounding the table. “What was it that drove a former chemical engineer to go so bad and commit such acts?”

“I think it’s time you knew the truth,” snickered the Snickerer. “It was…a wooden banana.”

“A what?” spat Special Agent Smythe.

“A wooden banana. I saw one for sale once, and…why? Why would anyone make such a thing? It served no purpose. You couldn’t eat it, and who’d want to display it? It was an object with no rhyme or reason.”

“A wooden banana? Really?” Special Agent Johnston said.

“If something like that could exist…why, then all bets were off. Anything was possible, all rules were repealed, and there was no reason not to do whatever you wanted. If a wooden banana with no purpose could exist, why…the universe was ultimately meaningless.”

“People put them in bowls,” said Special Agent Smythe. “They’re wood so they don’t rot in decorative fruit bowls.”

“Really?” said the Snickerer. “I had no idea.”

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The tutor sketches her as she poses next to the trophy case, spread across the tarnished scores, the forgotten pride of students long since dead. Stumbling fingers dance across a canvas propped up by textbooks. Her pose is one meant for sunshine and vinyl appliques, not the dusk of after-hours school and the cool light thereof.

She is as a wolf, hunting for what she needs from a mankind that owes her a livelihood, and the tutor’s sketches are her first kill.

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“RANGER SULLIVAN!”

Jake started, jerking his chin out of his palm and focusing on the desk in front of him. Otto Luther, the last remaining Ranger rookie for the time being after the promotion or expulsion of the rest, was standing at the desk with a pile of receipts for reimbursement.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Jake said. “My mind was elsewhere.”

“That’s okay, mine was too,” said Otto. “Back to that Orleans madam and her wiles, and the man I had to kill in cold blood in front of her…”

“That never happened,” snapped Jake.

“Well, it could have! Play along, we’ll get people talking at least.”

Jake sighed. “Just give me your receipts. The excitement of being a deputy marshal under virtual house arrest begins.”

Otto dropped a pile of paper scrips, and Jake wearily began to go through them with his good hand, copying each into a ledger in ink.

“Box of 20 rounds, .45 Colt cartridges, Scroggins’ General Store…one breakfast platter, with eggs, Portia’s Saloon…one iron horseshoe, Strasser & Niece Smithy…one-” Jake paused and flipped through the remainder of Otto’s receipt stack. “…make that seventeen receipts for ‘ladies of the evening’ and ‘services rendered’ at the Fantastic Filly in Dunn’s Crossing.”

“And you know what goes in there, don’t you?” said Otto, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. “It’d be a ‘shame’ if that got out, wouldn’t it? Poor, sweet, safe Otto is really a stallion in disg~//122.31.822

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~//122.31.822ver the desk. “Otto,” he said. “Whorehouses do not give receipts.”

“They might if they’re a classy establishment!” Otto cried.

“Otto,” Jake continued. “Even if whorehouses did give receipts, they would not be reimbursed by the Rangers as they do not constitute Ranger-related expenses.”

“Sure they would,” countered Otto. “Says so right in the by-laws that we are to be reimbursed for the ‘riding of mounts’ and the ‘exhaustion and keeping of mares, mustangs, colts, fillies, and geldings.’ The Fantastic Filly is a good, hard ride if you catch my drift.” More suggestive eyebrow action; Jake half expected them to leap off Otto’s face and frolic about on his desktop like hairy caterpillars.

“Otto,” Jake added, “even if whorehouses gave receipts and we decided to reimburse said receipts as ‘riding expenses,’ you have already used your allotment of ‘riding expenses’ for this month. You will have to pay for your escapades out of your own pocket…”

“Aha!” crowed Otto triumphantly. “So you agree I did have them! So you may let it slip out that I had them!”

“…if in fact you had them at all, which I doubt,” Jake continued with a deep, rattling sigh that made his mostly-healed wound ache from inside. “Or, considering that these receipts spell ‘Dunn’s Crossing’ with a 5, you’ll be responsible for paying whoever forged them out of your own pocket.”

Otto turned away from the desk, disconsolate. “You don’t know what it’s like,” he sobbed, “people always thinking you’re boring and harmless and weak.”

Jake gritted his teeth. At least Virginia’s idiocy had been in the saddle, about real things, instead of trumped-up notions of what it meant to be a Ranger influenced by bad newspaper articles and worse books.

“I just need some rumors, some innuendo, to get my reputation started. I’ve tried everything I can think of, and a few things other people thought of, but even with all the Ranger duties I’ve been discharging—I brought the dismissals to Prissy and Virginia!—people still think me a milquetoast babyface and a plain fool.”

When no response was forthcoming, Otto turned around. Jake’s desk was vacant, and the cotton drapes around his open ground-floor window were fluttering in the breeze. In the distance, he heard a rider spurring a horse out of the Ranger stables.

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While known as a great philosopher, mathematician, and thinker, the ancient Greek sage Zeno was also a master of the most ancient varieties of funk and soul, winning the Dionysian Funk-Off in Athens from 439 BC until 430 BC, inclusive. Despite his success, the philosopher regarded funk as an infinite horizon, and famously proposed what are now known as Zeno’s Paradoxes of Funkiness to bedevil generations of those looking to get funky.

1. The Paradox of Isaac Hayes and Jimmy Carter
The funkiest man ever to live, Isaac Hayes, and the least funky, Jimmy Carter, agreed to hold a funk-off to settle a matter of honor. Hayes, recognizing his unfair advantage, allowed Carter a head-start before getting funky himself. However, when Hayes had begun and reached Carter’s level of funkiness, Carter had moved on, if only slightly. When Hayes reached the new funk level, because of Carter’s head start, he had moved on by and even slighter distance. Zeno holds that it is impossible for Hayes’ funk to catch up to Carter’s.

2. The Paradox of Quincy Jones’ Funk-Up
Quincy Jones, one of the funkiest funkers ever to funk, began funking with an eye toward reaching maximum funk. However, before reaching maximum funk, he had to reach half-funk. But to reach half-funk, he had to make it to quarter-funk. And in order to achieve quarter-funk, it was necessary to reach 1/8 funk. Zeno holds that since there are an infinite number of funk points between zero funk and maximum funk, it is impossible for Quincy Jones or anyone else to reach maximum funk or, indeed, to accumulate any funk at all.

3. The Paradox of Grand Funk Railroad
At any one point in time, Grand Funk Railroad is neither becoming funkier, nor becoming less funky; for that instant, its funk is fixed. It cannot become more funky since because no time elapses for it to funk up, and it cannot become less funky because it has already gained funk. Zeno holds that since gaining or losing funk is impossible at any one instant in time, and time is composed of an infinite number of instants, it is impossible to generate any funk at all.

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Can it be? Has it really been five years since we here at Excerpts from Nonexistent Books set out on a wing and a prayer to fill the gaping need for imaginary literature on the internet? We certainly never anticipated our five-year growth from a niche blog read by nobody to a niche blog read by a couple of people. Last year, the editors brought you some statistics on EFNB throughout the years, and we’d like to do the same for you here today.

Bottom Posts
1826. From “Scandal at the 2013 PTA Book Sale” by Em Njcole Mayers
1827. From “The Gorilla Diamond World” by G. Marc Kanev
1828. From “Through the Gate of Gales and Rust” by Tara-Astrid Danae

The least-popular posts on EFNB, with only four views by spambots apiece, are an eclectic bunch: science fiction, humor, and dour alternate-world fantasy. Why are they so unpopular, so neglected, when imaginary tales by imaginary authors that are arguably worse get better hit counts and even some non-spambot hits? The editors’ best guess is that the bizarre spelling of Ms. Njcole Mayers’ last name put off some readers, as did her use of the acronym PTA (parent-teacher association) when many are switching to the more neutral PTO (parent-teacher organization). Gravity-based posts are never popular, as evinced by the failure of the editors’ previous blog Musings on Gravitational Lensing Effects. And Ms. Danae confirms that the limited appeal of her post, the least-popular on our site, may be attributed to the fact that her post was based on a half-remembered dream within a dream.

Bottom Search Terms
01. “memory in seed crystal”
02. “callistans and humans”
03. “the room in which the boys were fed, was a large stone hall esercizi”
04. “sarcastic excerpts from literature”
05. “ixium bones in the dog rear”

While it’s become increasingly difficult to see what search terms are leading netizens to EFNB due to Google becoming increasingly paranoid and secretive about its search terms, clutching them tightly to its chest and muttering about CIA transmissions in its teeth, we have access to come data and can therefore present the least-popular search terms bringing peeps to our doorstep. We’re glad hat at least one person into New Age crystal healing was brought to us and hope to attract more of such (the success of our forthcoming Shards From Nonexistent Crystals merchandise line demands it). It’s unfortunate that the strained relationship between the shapeshifting Callistans and humanity isn’t attracting more attention, though. Our editors are also devastated that, despite a strong push for sarcasm in all that we do, our achievements in such have as yet gone unrecognized. None of us have any idea why boys would be fed in a large stone Italian exercise hall, though we are in contact with the proper authorities to find out. And yes, we do realize that a query about the bones in a dog’s butt is a perfect candidate for our bottom position…so much so that an investigation is currently pending.

EFNB’s Least Popular International Locations

Flag of São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé

Flag of Armenia

Armenia

Flag of Mali

Mali

Flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent

Flag of Tunisia

Tunisia

While EFNB attracts hits from all over the world, these countries are the least interested in what the site has to offer, with only a single hit apiece in our five years in existence. São Tomé and Príncipe and St. Vincent and the Grenadines continue EFNB’s unfortunate tradition of being deeply unappealing to small island nations with unwieldy names, and the editors would like to take their opportunity to renew their commitment to such (as well as other underserved locations like Antigua and Barbuda, the Federated States of Micronesia, and St. Kitts and Nevis). Tunisia and Mali are both excused from participation in EFNB as their recent histories are filled with turmoil, with Tunisia as the maternity ward of the Arab Spring and Mali in the throes of a devastating three-sided civil war. As for Armenia, allow the editors of EFNB to be the first to reach out with the olive branch of peace and a hearty բարի օր.

A Heartfelt Thank-You
We have a lot of fun here at EFNB, but the editors would be remiss if they didn’t thank every viewer from every country, even the spambots who are our most reliable clickers, for supporting the site over 5 years, 1,828 posts, and 0.545404814 comments per post. You are the reason we started, the reason we continue, and the reason we reject the advice of physicians, lawyers, and psychologists to cease and desist at once.

Here’s to another 5 years and 3656 posts!

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