A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF SCOUT
To the Weird Scouts of America:
There was once a boy who lived in a desolate and remote region of the Farian Wastes. Blighted creatures ran amok, and although he had learned to rein in his fear of this ghoulish menagerie of desiccated and ethereal beasts to reasonable levels, he never forgot the wonder he felt when he first spotted the glowing ambulatory mushrooms in the distance. At night, despite the faraway wailing of the misery trees, he would listen for the chirps of bookish crickets, hoping to learn some of their wizened language, and he would stare up at all eleven stars, wishing that he knew their names. He was wild with the love of the grey and spotted outdoors: the mist-trees, the talking herbs, the spell-singers, and the living things that left their nightly tracks in the dust by his reinforced hovel.
But he was utterly alone, and maddeningly defenseless. He had neither book nor wizard mentor to guide him, and he grew up with a hunger for knowledge in his heart (and any number of hitherto unnamed organs) that gnawed at him without ceasing. He decided that, one day, he would have the means of sparing other young boys and girls and shadow-children from this same flavor of torment.
He wanted to learn to camp beneath purple and even indigo skies, to live the life of his humming grandfather, who knew all the tricks for fooling specters, ghouls, salesmen, and minstrel-wolves. From time to time, he met other travelers, human and otherwise, who knew how to win comfort from the distinctly-uncomfortable prickly stones of the Willowy Winding, how to sweet-talk the honey winds into giving them candy for the night, and how to start fires that would never decide to burn their foraged shrub meat or fry the wings of the tasty snack-beetles that sometimes swarmed overhead. “Some day,” he said, “I shall put it all down to paper. Or a digital format, if those still exist despite rapidly-depleting battery supplies.”
As the years progressed and the seasons continued to switch order, he discovered that there were, in fact, books written that contained most of the things he wanted to know: the names of the entities swirling in the void and sometimes invading his own already-crowded mind when he tried to sleep; the secrets of the different trees, mushrooms, and stones that littered the wastes; how to find a trail in the ethereal plane despite having so little recent foot traffic. It would take a whole library of speaking stones to keep track of all that information, but what he really wanted was a handbook. He didn’t need to know the skies as a cosmonaut did, or the plants as an herbalist-magician did. He just needed the basics, just enough that he wasn’t lost.
Knowing that desire, he made many attempts to gather together the relevant lore, and he found it a much easier task as he grew older and enlisted the help of men, women, and shadow-adults who lived and felt the way he did.
Weird Scouts of America, that boy is typing at you now. While he thought he was alone and peculiar, he now knows that there are tens of others out there with the same inclinations. Even if there aren’t, the ghosts in the walls of his office seem to appreciate the sound of the keyboard, so he will continue despite a small audience. That boy, now reaching a pubescent age of 141 years, has attempted to embody this knowledge of the strange, delightful, and cosmically horrifying in the broad work we call Weird Scouting.
Do these things appeal to you? Do they frighten you, or carry you away to a wholly-incomprehensible spirit realm? Do they shock and amuse you?
Do you wish to learn the things that only traveling witches and the Indigo Ones used to know?
Do you believe in curiosity, creativity, and calamity?
Would you like to form habits that will surely bring you excitement at only the price of a little madness?
Then, whether you are a yam farmer or a receipt-collector, a mouse-hunter or feline savant, your place is in our ranks. This Handbook, really the work of many men and outer beings, is our best effort to show you the path. This is the book I wished for as a boy, laying on my back in the grimy fields, staring up at all eleven stars as I wondered, heart hungry, if anything could ever make sense.
-ELLIOT TOSALIND ALLERTON KODIAK
Noon-and-a-half, 13 Flint, Y317