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The Salt Sorcerer of Oz

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"The Salt Sorcrerer of Oz" is a short story written and illustrated by Eric Shanower. Originally published in Oz-story Magazine No. 4 in 1998, it was reprinted as the title selection in Shanower's 2002 collection The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories.

Kabumpo is traveling toward his home in Pumperdink when he encounters a nasty shower of hot sulphur rain. The Elegant Elephant quickly falls in with Aa (pronounced "Ah") and his mechanical servant Clank. Aa is a salt sorcerer, because he uses salt in his magic, and also because he is made of salt. Aa believes that Kabumpo can solve the growing problem of hot sulphur rain, which threatens to dissolve him; Kabumpo, though skeptical, is drawn along by the sorcerer's confidence.

Together they trace the source of the rain to Cork Mountain. Ascending the vertical sides of the mountain, the travelers meet Queen Zyzzwyzz and her Geyser Gremlins, among other curious creatures. Kabumpo and friends eventually solve the problem of the growing pressure under Cork Mountain: they release a water genie who gratefully grants them wishes — though Kabumpo, after a trying ordeal, can only wish to go home.

Among the odd characters in the tale is a deeply depressed and pessimistic green bear named Fardels. His name is a Shakespearean pun; "who would fardels bear" is in Hamlet's famous soliloquy.

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