Once upon a time, an evil wizard wanted to enslave the world.
He really didn’t have any good reason to enslave people, except he was a very lazy evil wizard and didn’t want to do stuff for himself. Also, he liked shiny things, and nice things, and liked to be comfortable.
Other evil wizards were trying to enslave the world, too, but they only managed to enslave bits of it. A small kingdom here, a large village there, but not the entire world. Worse, none of the wizards could hold onto their slaves for very long. They’d keep escaping, or would throw the wizards out of towers. And this made all the evil wizards sad, because though they were powerful, a pitchfork through the stomach really ruined their day.
This evil wizard had a name, but he cast a spell of forgetting and so I don’t remember it. Do you remember it? No? Then the spell worked.
One day, the evil lazy wizard whose name we all forgot was half-squatting with his robe hiked above his waist. He was waiting for his slaves to finish rubbing soft white paper on his butt cheeks when he had an idea.
He had wondered why no wizards had enslaved the entire world, and he thought he could succeed where they failed, because he took Success Magic Seminars and learned to believe in himself and trust in his own lazyness.
“No one wants to be a slave,” he thought to himself, waiting for his slaves to finish. He was looking through the window of his tower as they wiped him. He liked to see the fields where people toiled in fear of him, planting and harvesting and baking and sewing and forging for him. But he knew those people hated him, and he knew they wanted to kill him, and he knew that he wasn’t immortal, and this made him a very sad, evil wizard.
And then he realized what he needed to do.
So he summoned the other evil wizards. He hated them, he wanted their slaves and wealth, but he needed their help. Also, they ate all his food when they came over, because they were very greedy wizards like him.
So they all sat in his very spacious tower, around a bespoke cedar barn-door table inlaid with black Rhino horn and discussed the problem.
“Our slaves want to kill us,” he said, as they all grumbled suspiciously at him, keeping one hand on their wands. But no one disagreed with him.
“And we’re afraid of them, right?” He had his hand on his own wand, too–he wasn’t gonna be in a room full of wizards holding their wands without gripping his own, larger and thicker wand.
A few of the other evil wizards shouted back.
“I fear no one!” roared one wizard, making the chainmail under his wizard’s robes rattled.
“They are ignorant and powerless!” shouted another, stroking the intricately-carved arcane fire-wand he’d forced an artisan to make for him.
“They are lazy and greedy!” said a third, patting his over-full stomach so hard the heavy purse of gold hanging from his belted-robe jangled.
“We should kill them all!” said a fourth, rather stupid wizard.
Everyone stared at him and glowered, gripping their wands tighter.
“They are all those things, yes,” said the first evil wizard. “But we need them, because without them we’d have to do things for ourselves, and who here even knows how to clean your butt?”
Silence and intense introspective stares filled the room, followed by expressions of confusion, disgust, and finally utter panic.
“You get my point, then,” the first wizard said, and the other wizards nodded, fiercely.
“But our slaves don’t want to be slaves, and they’re always trying to stop slaving, and just yesterday Gurdlebuff the Greasy was thrown from his tower by a group of women-slaves.”
The other wizards choked with the news. Gurdlebuff had been a very powerful wizard, and very, very lazy. Though they were happy to lose a competitor, they all knew that if the slaves could kill ol’ Greasy, they could kill them, too.
“We have to do something!” exclaimed a shrill wizard named Anadora the Vain. She looked like a wedding cake, with white-frilled robes with pink-and-beige trim, and the powder on her face when she sweat looked thick and clumpy, like frosting. “Just the other day I saw a one of my slave-women wearing something pretty! How dare they? And you know what comes next? They’ll decide they can love whoever they want and think they can choose how many new slaves they birth for me!”
A great uproar rose from the other wizards, shouts of ‘we can’t have that!’ and ‘how dare they!’ and even ‘kill all the women-slaves!’
It took awhile for the crowd to settle.
“So,” said their host, smoothing his robes. “You are all agreed–we must find a new way to control our workers.”
The wizard with the chain-mail under his robes protested. “Slaves!” he said, quite angrily. “They’re our slaves.”
“Serfs!” cried another, and ‘peasants’ shouted a third until the whole room erupted with more shouts. It was very, very loud.
But suddenly, they all went quiet, because their host was known for a horrible temper.
“They are all those things, yes. But we will now call them our workers. If they think they are slaves, they will try to rise up and throw us out our windows and off our chamberpots. We must change, and use a new magic to control them.”
Everyone in the room clutched their wands tightly, though some started stroking them a bit, whispering things to the wooden shafts that I’m too embarrassed to repeat.
“A new magic, yes. A magic of…forgetting.”
“What do you propose?” asked a particularly wizened-looking evil wizard, who liked to remind the others how old he was and was therefore wiser than all the others. But all the other evil wizards knew that ‘old’ doesn’t mean ‘wise,’ so they usually ignored him.
Their host smiled wickedly, so broadly that his perfect teeth, whitened with the tears of innocents, blinded a few of them.
“We will enchant them, so that they forget they are slaves.”
The Wedding-Cake wizard, Anadora, was the first to speak. “We can’t do that! How will they ever know how powerful we are?”
“Oh, they’ll know,” said the host. Because they will see us and our strong towers and powerful wands and fear us.”
Innilji of the Horrid Breath shook his head. “But they already fear us. How will they know that we are better than them?”
Oh, they’ll know,” said the host. “They’ll see our expensive towers and beautiful clothes and want to be like us.”
Earnywayst the Vast shook his head. “But they already envy us. How will we force them to toil for us?”
“Oh–they will,’ said the host, smiling so widely that birds a hundred miles away began their morning song, believing the sun to have risen. “We will convince them that, if they work hard enough for us, they will become like us.”
The wizards all applauded. It seemed a very, very good idea. And the idea of their slaves working very hard made them particularly happy, because there is nothing worse than a lazy slave.
But one wizard, who had not yet spoken because he was too lazy to move his lips except to eat decided that he would tell everyone what’s what.
“This will not work,” he said, slowly, in shallow, breathless voice. “They will see through our magic.”
The applause ended, the wizards tittered, and the host leaned forward in his chair. “Do tell, oh Nallowmouth the Nayer.”
The other evil wizards sighed. Nallowmouth talked very, very slowly, which made them very impatient, and waiting was against their lazy lifestyles. Several wizards had specifically enslaved waiters for this very reason.
“They will know they are slaves, because their dead will tell them.”
The host laughed. “No, no. Not if we they cannot hear them. We shall make it so they are deaf to them.”
Nallowmouth spoke again after a few minutes, surprising everyone with his urgency.
“They will know they are slaves, because their priests will tell them.”
Again, the host laughed. “No, no. We shall tempt their priests with money. Nothing shuts up the mouthpieces of the gods like the promise of coin.” He’d thought of everything, and the lazy, evil wizards nodded sagely.
“But,” said Nallowmouth, by now quite exhausted. “They will know they are slaves, because the stars and animals and forests, who do not toil and do not have masters–they will tell them.”
“Nallowmouth the Nayer, you tire me with your naysaying! We will convince them the forests and the animals do not talk, and that the stars are just balls of fire. We will make them think the animals are only for food and the forests are only for wood and the very soft paper they clean our butts with, and we will give them celebrities.”
But Nallowmouth was not done, though he looked about to pass out from the effort of talking.
“They will know they are slaves!” he almost shouted, “because the land beneath them will always tell them the truth, and the witches of the land will not shut up.”
This time, the host did not laugh. A cold wind blew in from one of the high, narrow windows, and because being lazy gives one poor circulation and they were too lazy to close the window, the wizards shivered terribly.
They sat this way for some time, depressed.
The slaves would all come for them and throw them from their towers like they’d done to Gurdlebuff the Greasy and nothing could stop them. Their slaves might even stop cleaning their butts for them after they shat.
But just as they were all about to become very sad and give up, the host understood what must be done.
“Then we will make them believe there is no magic.”
The wizards gasped. No more dangerous spell was there than making people forget about magic.
“We will convince witches that magic is only about feeling good, like what we did with Yoga.
And if they hear the land speak, they will think they are going crazy.
And if the land tells them they should revolt, they will say that sounds uncomfortable and they will hold workshops on crystal-healing and write books on getting in touch with their spirit animals.
And when they no long believe in magic, they will build supermarkets and amusement parks and watch television.”
“Oooh,” said the wedding-cake wizard, Anadora. “I want to go to an amusement telemarket!”
And this time Nallowmouth had nothing to nay.
So the wizards held a vote, because they believed in Democracy. And they voted the way evil wizards vote, with a ballot box and flashy election advertisements and campaign promises, and then threw out all the ballots and declared a winner because it was Democracy.
And they all voted to Disenchant the World, and to make their slaves think they were free.
And they cast their spells and left their towers and went on to rule the world lazily ever after.
But it is said, in secret whispers in old forests, that the spell did not quite work the way they’d hoped.
Though everyone began to think they were free instead of slaves, some still felt like slaves.
Though the priests all were tempted with nice houses and fast cars, some still remembered to listen to gods.
Though great factories rose to turn the forests into butt-paper, some forests still whispered, and were heard.
And though witches held workshops on inner-peace and crystals, some still gathered poisoned roots from the remembering land, and plotted.
And the evil wizards? The spell was a bit too powerful, perhaps, and they too were disenchanted. They put away their robes for business suits, their towers for mansions, and their wands for fast cars.
But they are still there, and they are still the masters, and we are all still, for a little while longer, their slaves.