Day Arndt "Dustpaw" Pritchard (1290? - 1380) is best known for his novel, "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With." He is also known for being totally insane.
There are few truths known about Dustpaw, and an array of mythos and tall tales almost as vivid as his own creation. What follows below is careful historical research and the most plausible theories, based on studies conducted by the Ministry of Niceties.
Day Arndt Pritchard grew up in Bully Harbour, joining the Navy at an early age. He eventually rose to Lieutenant through a willingness to work and his eagerness to lead exploration expeditions. He was known by his crewmates as Dustpaw, for his occasional tendency to go wandering off exploring when they were in port.
His crewmates recalled his enthusiasm for new things the most. Dustpaw was never very talkative - he never felt like he could articulate the things he saw and felt very well - but he was always willing to try, and up for any new adventures. On these adventures, his crewmates would be a bit disturbed by the short stoat with dreamy eyes who was calmly eating up the vistas they encountered.
When his ship stopped on a routine check in what is today Alton Bay, Dustpaw disappeared and was not seen again for over seventy seasons.
In 1379, Day Arndt Pritchard was in the lobby of Pirniket's Printing with a manuscript of "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With" in his paws. Disheveled, staring into space and muttering about boots, stars, and occasionally barking at his own limbs, he frightened three secretaries into quitting before someone took his manuscript and booted him through the door.
"It's mystical" an Editorial Assistant at Pirniket's was later quoted as saying. "Day Arndt Pritchard has created a lively and complex world completely different from our own. This startling peek into the world of his insanity shows that, far from being a state of mental degeneration, it is the result of a genius imagination run wild."
"Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With" flew off the shelves, to those who could afford it.
And those who had it were entranced by it. Being creatures of means and money, they found Day Arndt Pritchard, dirty in a Slups back alleyway, and began to ask about his story. "About Mossflower - the red abbey there, it was an abandoned fortress, wasn't it?" they would ask. And he replied: "RufFF! Rannng--grrrrg--grrrrrrouuufff! BOOTS OFF AN' IN THE AIR, YER PUNCHIN' PRETTY PICK A FLOWER!"
Day Arndt Pritchard died in 1380 during a fight over a pebble.
"Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With"Edit
The book is written in the form of a travel journal. It begins in what the author refers to as the "Northern Marshlands, which are still seasons south of Alton's Bay, though how many seasons I cannot tell anymore." The author encounters a river called the Broadstream, and follows it to another ocean on the other side of the land - along the way he meets many goodbeasts who live in their own small communities. These beasts regard him with suspicion at first, but the basic kindness which governs their hermitages or loose alliances often wins through.
At the western ocean, the author continues his journey south along the coast. There, he meets many bands of roving pirates who attempt to recruit him. The pirates are governed by greed and their own interests, and lack the honor and civility Pritchard feels are necessary to a ship's success. Nevertheless, he signs on as First Mate to one ship (the Daybreak's Revenge's Revenge) after helping the remnants of a crew escape from an attack by hedgehogs. Aboard the Revenge's Revenge, he visits the pirate strongholds of Deadlyground and Sempetra, "anarchic cesspits of revulsion" which lead him to fashion a raft from his door and abandon ship in the middle of the ocean.
He follows a river - the River Moss (which runs through Mossflower), to an idyllic abbey where the first sign of any true civilization is found. The goodbeasts in the abbey live in a communist-sharing environment much like the Tookumberry Keys, and the author suggests this is the natural state of mind for goodbeasts, because they would rather not worry and live safely than do anything important. There are goodbeasts living around the abbey, too, but they hold to no laws, and are much more distrustful. The author has a number of dangerous encounters on every one of his attempts to leave the abbey on his own. Eventually, he finds safe passage out with a trading caravan bound for Salamanderstron, where he fears for his life every day amidst the only militarized goodbeasts he has encountered, a number of distrustful and cruel "hares," (this being a creature like a mouse, but much larger and pudgier, with giant hind legs, a small furry tail instead of a long normal one, and ears as long as their arms that point straight up. They kick fiercely, and enjoy boxing far too much).
When he leaves Salamanderstron, he travels again along the coast, past the mountains and to other lands [Ed. Note: due to cost constraints (it costs 100G/hr to read one of the original editions of "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With") the remainder of the book cannot be accurately summarized (the book was republished later, but each edition has taken more and more liberties with the original text, due to it being so expensive to view. As such, the later sections of the "travels" often have references to castles and flying creatures that are clearly adopted from our own histories and mythologies, not a result of Pritchard's wholly original universe.)]
Some creatures will believe anything, and there are always some creatures who will try to make money off that fact. Although it's obvious that there is nothing to the south of Alton Bay except forests, and certainly no civilizations, there are some beasts who maintain the fantasy that if you travel very, very, very far, then you will encounter the Northern Marshlands. A number of beasts have published later accounts of these same lands in an attempt to squeeze gilders from their paws while their minds are preoccupied with fantasy.
These lands of the Mahsterious Sahthern Cahntinent are also the setting for many false backgrounds. To hide their own pasts, creatures will often invent a historie originating in the region that explains the circumstances of their past without naming the specifics. It is considered very rude to attempt to uncover the reality behind these histories.
It is important to emphasize that no reputable exploration party as ever found anything beyond Alton Bay except a bunch of trees.
However factual or infactual the book is, it is undeniable that it created quite a stir in the Imperium. Beasts smitten with the idea of exploration were soon requesting charters to explore and establish base camps on the Cahntinent. The Emperor was quick to seize on this new mania, and a major Imperial expansion effort was soon underway. Alton Bay, once a small colony, quickly grew into a large villege, the precursor to the port town seen today; likewise, many of the Imperium's southern holdings owe their beginnings to the sudden influx of colonists, including Pricklee Pointe, Drustan Wood and Voil.
Several plays and books have since been written about Pritchard's adventures, and dozens of unauthorized sequels and "fan fictions" have since been penned by beasts with more time and ink than sense. More common were narratives written about the ensuing rush of adventurers and would-be globetrotters, the most intriguing (and well-known) of which is The Emperor's Decree, the story of an ill-fated expedition to the Cahntinent to learn the truth of Pritchard's work.
What really happened to Day Arndt Pritchard in the seventy-odd seasons he was absent from the Imperium? Was he absent at all? How did he go insane? How did he write such a coherent tale while slipping into barking madness? Did he write the tale? How did he get back to the Vulpinsula without anyone seeing him? Nobody knows for sure, because of Day Arndt Pritchard's untimely demise, but there are plenty of theories.
The Fevered Ramblings of A Barking Mad Recluse TheoryEdit
aka the Official Theory (supported by the Imperial Government) This theory is not interesting, and simply asserts that Day Arndt Pritchard went mad, wrote an entertaining story about an imagined world, then died over a piece of gravel the size of a pea. It is mentioned here because it is the story you will recieve from anyone without an imagination or who might know something important.
The True/Rowboat TheoryEdit
Some creatures believe that the travelogue is a true accounting of his journeys in the Mahsterious Sahthern Cahntinent, after he left Alton Bay. When he reached Pricklee Pointe, fearing government suppression of his story, he stole a rowboat and some supplies, then rowed himself to Bully Harbour. On the way, a storm threatened to destroy his masterpiece and his boat, and he went mad staying up for four weeks straight to survive.
The True/Magh TheoryEdit
The other commonly held "It's true!" theory has more intrigue, though. At Pricklee Pointe, he purchased passage on a government ship back to the Vulpinsula. Little did he know it was crewed by the Ministry of Misanthropy's henchbeasts, who brought him to Magh in secret and tortured him until he went mad. They trained and tortured him until he was unable to speak to others, and would be dismissed as obviously insane. But Pritchard had saved a copy of his manuscript, and when he returned to Bully Harbour, instead of fading to obscurity in the alleys of the Slups, he got the truth about the Mahsterious Sahthern Cahntinent published.
The Mushroom TheoryEdit
This theory holds that Pritchard found some hallucenigenic mushrooms in the wilds beyond Alton Bay, and spent the rest of his life stoned into a fantasy world. He lived by selling some of his mushrooms on the black market (there is a popular market for heavier drugs in East Tookumberry Key). Eventually, he arranged passage with his smuggler friends to the Vulpinsula, who brought him there in utmost secrecy so that their dealings would not be uncovered. In woe over the gritty reality of Bully Harbour and the Imperium, he used the last of his mushrooms and his gilders penning "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With" as a lesson in the harsh realities of the world and the good and bad elements which pull at us. He finished the manuscript and "sold" it just as the drugs destroyed the last of his crucial brain cells.
The Wealthy Sponsor TheoryEdit
But maybe it wasn't written by a madman. His barking and boot-yelling certainly do not make any appearances in the narrative, as it would seem such things would. Far more likely, "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With" was written by someone very sane and very cultured, who was able to construct a universe that, while totally different from that of the Imperium, nevertheless served as a foil to help understand it. Any member of the nobility and aristocracy is suspect, as criticism of the Imperium was sharply (in a knife-edge way) frowned upon, and free expression was generally repressed. More likely, Pritchard was picked up as an interesting, if insane, vagrant in the Alton Bay woods, and brought back to the Vulpinsula as the unwilling and very secretive author of a new phenomenon. After all, what secret is easier to keep than the one you do not know at all?
The Imperial University TheoryEdit
Or perhaps such a variety of imaginative genius is not the work of one beast at all, but rather a coalition of intelligent beasts who feared that they had analyzed all there was to analyze in all available art. Perhaps professors at the Imperial University at Length created a work of fiction with such complexity and intricacy that it would keep them busy for hundreds of years, even if nobody ever again had the brains to create a story worth looking at (some Day Arndt Pritchard scholars think just this). They found Pritchard on Resolution during a research expedition, where he had raved in obscurity for seasons, and brought him to Bully Harbour to be their puppet-author, a figure of such possibilities that they could debate his past or the identity of the "real" author until time ended.
The True/Magh/MinoInn Coverup TheoryEdit
This theory spotlights the ever mysterious Ministry of Innovation. It holds that "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With" is fictional, a made up story. Day Arndt Pritchard attempted to mutiny his ship, to get them to sail further south, and was locked up in the hold and brought to Magh where he was tortured and imprisoned for over seventy seasons, losing his mind as the final project of an ambitious student. The telling of the Mahsterious Sahthern Cahntinent is true though, and the Ministries have known about it for centuries. "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With" was created as a way to discredit the claims of those who discovered these lands on their own explorations.
The Magical Urk Revalation TheoryEdit
Another tale says that Dustpaw didn't stop his wanderings at Alton Bay in the Mahsterious Sahthern Cahntinent. He found a one-beast skiff, and sailed across the Imperium, taking in all the sights and the sounds. He was singleminded in his pursuit of beauty. Near Urk, buried in ice, he found the "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With" manuscript, but in uncovering it from the ice, he got frostbite, and frozen-cold-addled-brain-syndrome. He wanted to get the work published with a suitable forward describing the circumstances of it's discovery, but was only able to communicate that he wanted it published.
The Filthy Socialist Scum TheoryEdit
This somewhat biased view of things says (usually drunk, and very angrily) that "Walkin' With Mah Paws In Lands Wiffout Laws, And Then Also In Some With" is a "rubbish piece of filthy socialist propaganda churned out by those ugly lying 'goodbeasts' in East Tookumberry Key to infiltrate the strong and mighty Imperium with their weak-minded, defeatist, capitulating idiocy." It offers no further explanation, but asks very very avidly, "Do you want to give away all your posessions? Do you want to destroy our fine way of life to live in a drug-filled fantasy? Do you want to burn our prosperity and piss on our history? Do you hate freedom? Do you want to go out back and die?"
Proponents of this theory are fat and mean. Stab them if you meet them, especially if their name is Rodger Wallings.
The Amnesiatic Richbeast TheoryEdit
A rich stoat family in Parva bought the manuscript from a wandering writer, who used the name of a friend he had in the Navy, and kept it in their family for years. Exploring the house some years later, the then-father (now grandfather) fell and hit his head, erasing his memory. He woke up and the manuscript was next to him - when he read it, he had a sense of deja-vu, that he had heard this story before, and so he reasoned that it must be the story of his life. Rereading it had shown him how interesting his life had been, and after wondering briefly how he had gotten to this fancy house, he set off to Bully Harbour to have it published. However, his head injury was getting worse, not better even though he had wrapped it in bandages, and by the time he arrived in the Harbour, he had gone a bit mad. While he was not actually Day Arndt Pritchard, he claimed that he was, and was of a close enough similarity that others agreed that this aged stoat could very well have been the young explorer they knew in their youth.