The Savage Bureau

Saturday bonus entry!

Thog prepares the warband for conquest. But first . . . he visits Snakeface, mystic servant of the gods!

“Thog begin his mighty conquest,” Thog says. “Howling! Screaming! Descending on civilization!”

Snakeface considers the work involved in Thog’s proposal.

“The gods do not favor this,” Snakeface decides.

“What?”

Thog’s voice is strained.

“Dude,” says Thog. “This is why Thog employ shaman. Shake ritual bones! Fill out sacred paperwork! Make manifest Savage Bureau’s sympathy towards Thog!”

“We could submit form 105103-A,” Snakeface admits. “It is the sacred triplicate form that attracts the gods’ favor for Howling and Screaming and Descending Upon Civilization. Yet what mighty barbarian could stoop to triplicate paperwork?”

Thog looks uncomfortably towards the Great Offices of Heaven.

“Thog permit weak and puny Snakeface to lower himself in this fashion,” Thog says. “Filling out paperwork while Thog look on with disdain.”

“I?” says Snakeface.

“Ung,” Thog affirms.

“No,” says Snakeface, decisively. He shakes his head. “It’s no good. We are illiterate barbarians, Thog. We cannot fill out the sacred form 105103-A. The risk of liable error would be too great.”

“Grar!” rages Thog. “Thog’s literacy makes the women marvel! Thog crush participles and grammar beneath Thog’s mighty erudition! How dare foul Snakeface impugn Thog’s ability to read?”

“Ah—” hesitates Snakeface.

Thog points at Snakeface’s sacred button. (It is pinned to Snakeface’s robe.)

“‘Priests do it behind the throne,'” reads Thog.

“Oh,” says Snakeface, uncertainly. “Thank you.”

“No,” says Thog. “Not compliment. Thog demonstrate ability to read your button! Though Thog uncertain of exact meaning.”

“Ah,” says Snakeface. “So you are literate, then.”

“Yes,” says Thog. His heart beats powerfully as he revels in his dominance. In the savage land of Neo-Cimmeria, thinks Thog, those who can spell the word ‘Neo-Cimmeria’ are King!

“But,” protests Snakeface, “illiteracy is a crucial part of the gods’ definition of barbarian! It is one of our savage tribal skills, like howling and living off the land. Without it, how can we defeat the terrible Alphabet Blocks of the Glur-Thak or the Spammers of Truul?”

Thog hesitates. It had not occurred to him previously that literacy might be a vice in the eyes of the Savage Bureau. He sweats.

“Regulations unrealistic considering savage cunning of barbarian tribes,” Thog handwaves. “Perhaps Thog boundary case best handled under civilized divine supplications.”

Snakeface’s face is set and hard. “I am a barbarian-only shaman,” he says.

“What good barbarian-specific shaman when barbarians cannot obtain shamanic services due to illiteracy?” Thog rages.

“I teach with my obstructionism that the Savage Bureau is cruel!”

Thog sighs.

“That is wisdom,” Thog admits.

Suddenly Thog looks very old.

“Thog gain permission for minor skirmish with city guards?”

“I can do that,” says Snakeface, his voice laced with relief. “That form only needs an X.”

Thog raises his axe to the sky.

“The Savage Bureau!”

The warband hears his cry, and answers back. “THE SAVAGE BUREAU!”

“Sign here,” asides Snakeface.

Thog marks the spot.

“THE SAVAGE BUREAU!”

And the sun is bright on the metal of the tribe and the weak and puny city folk tremble with a sudden dread and form 10218-EZ speeds on wings of prayer towards Heaven.

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