Four weeks ago, I was disillusioned and guildless. My audition for a Rakdos burlesque went fine until the director asked me to kill a fellow auditionee at the end. “What, did you think this was some sissy show like X-Factor?” he growled at me. Then, I tried volunteering at a Golgari cooperative soup kitchen only to discover that half the homeless who waited in line for the day’s gruel ended up in the next day’s gruel. Later, entranced by the lovely stained glass of an Orzhov temple, I went inside to pray and hopefully find peace and answers—to no avail. The pews were filled with accountants, typing away madly, their eyes wide and fixed. A glowing drop-down screen that completely obliterated the pulpit and the choir was showing a PowerPoint presentation on Internal Rate of Return.
I gave up and as usual, went to a tavern. On a waypost outside hung a poster:
I called. A hale and throaty “ALOHA!” answered. Schmazzoid said he couldn’t meet with me personally—he was in Hawaii buying pineapples and Kona Brewing beer for Schmazzapalooza—but that he’d get me an interview with his top agent, known on Ravnica only as INKWELL LOOTER.
We met at an inn. He wore a cloak of Blackwatch tartan covered hood to hem with a smattering of bright buttons. Rising to greet him, I knocked over my scotch and soda. He pulled a button off his cloak and spoke words of magic, sucking the spilled drink into the bauble. Then he gave it to me.
It was like a Mox Opal with a cartoony drawing of a scotch and soda inside. I glanced up at him, puzzled. The hooded head nodded. “Try it,” he said, “Just hold it over your heart, and think of what you w—”
I did. Three dozen scotch and sodas appeared on our table.
Here follows my interview with Inkwell Looter, the multi-faceted artist, suspected planeswalker, and Official Schmazzgordios Spokesperson.
MJ: What is the meaning/history behind the name of the guild? How was the guild founded?
IL: The impetus to start a new guild came from the realization that the ten existing guilds are mainly dicks, psychos, or both. It’s hard to choose a guild when every option means self-identifying as a wacky extremist. I mean, if torture or plant worship are your things, cool, but it’s not for us. Response has been overwhelming. Ravnicans want a real choice.
MJ: What does the guild sigil represent?
IL: Ah . . . we’re still working on it. Basically, Schmazzoid doodled this skateboarding raccoon on a napkin and said, “Sigil this up, because rad.”
MJ: What are the guild colors and why?
IL: Schmazzgordios is plaid, all colors. Some have complained that this violates the spirit of color pie, and to that we say, “Durrr.” We are people, not slices of pie!
MJ: What would be three guiding principles if you were to sum up the ethos for Schmazzgordios Guild? Does the guild have an official motto?
IL: Our motto is, “Blah bluh blah [abrupt needle scratch followed by torrent of hot guitar licks].”
MJ: How can an individual become a member of Schmazzgordios?
IL: We’re an inclusive guild. All you have to do to “take the plaid” is look in the mirror and say, “Nacho cheese waterslide,” three times. A surprising number of people cannot do this. If you can, you belong with us.
Schmazzgordios Guildmages specialize in removing letters from signs to make them funnier/dirtier and preparing foods with melted cheese.
— Inkwell Looter (@inkwell_looter) September 17, 2012
MJ: What can you divulge about Schmazzoid the Burly, Guildmaster?
IL: Schmazzoid is a minotaur whose natural charisma and wit have made him a beloved figure in the streets and taverns. He always wears sunglasses and plaid. He invents new dance moves every time he hears music. He can ollie down the steps of the Azorius Senate. If you are leaving home for a vacation, he is always happy to water plants and feed pets. Good guy.
MJ: What social/economic functions does this guild play in Ravnica?
IL: We currently control a few pizza joints and a skate park, but we intend to expand that. We’ve started an intramural softball league to play against the other guilds. Other interests include public art and ice cream.
MJ: Can you describe the Schmazzgordios Guild's relationship with Ravnica’s other guilds?
IL: Azorius – The motion that they are severe dicks passes unanimously! We try to produce as much ugly, asymmetrical public sculpture as we can just to get on their nerves.
Orzhov – It’s been centuries since anyone in this guild has had a regular bowel movement, and you can see that strain on their faces. Not pleasant company.
Izzet – More like Izznot. Ugh, those droopy mustaches and goatees. We get it! You’re craaay wizards. Seriously, though; they’re the guys you want to avoid at parties or else they’ll talk your ear off with their boring job stuff.
Golgari – Approach with caution—VERY bad breath.
Selesnya – One of those guilds with a reasonable-sounding premise (nature, awesome) but takes it too far (surrender all individuality to our abstract tree cult).
Rakdos – These guys claim to be all about fun and chaos, but without fail, it all turns into a cliché bloodbath of trying to show how hardcore they are. Grow up, Rakdos. Your parties are crap.
Gruul – Is this even a guild? Isn’t it basically a bunch of dudes whaling on each other with clubs in a vacant lot? Serious questions.
Dimir – The worst-kept secret on Ravnica. They specialize in covert action and dwell in the shadow of oh wait who cares.
Simic – Went from threatening the whole city with an out-of-control ooze mutant to consisting mainly of merfolk who suddenly appeared out of mysterious holes in the ground. Surely you’ll pardon our skepticism.
Boros – The few brain cells they had were killed by armor polish fumes. You know the saying: “If you need to beat up a hobo for loitering, call Boros.” Otherwise . . . ?
Hours later, we were just doodling on napkins. I looked around the inn—a rainbow of plaid swirled. Elves and Merfolk were playing beer pong in the corner while Vampires, Zombies, and Centaurs threatened each other over shuffleboard. The Dwarves were obsessing at a mini-basketball machine, trading high scores with Humans. The great diversity of the group astounded me. Males, females, and many of indeterminable gender. Old, young, and ageless. Enemies such as Angels and Demons mingled over pizza. A lot of folk were playing Magic, but some discussed politics. A Kithkin and two Faeries were rapping to a Goblin fiddler’s music. I threw a plaid scarf around my neck and held my button aloft . . .
Nacho cheese waterslide
Nacho cheese waterslide
Nacho cheese waterslide
Till next time, may Magic be your sword and may your cheese slides and fondue fountains runneth over.
P.S. The story below was related to me by my new comrades. It’s the Guild’s favorite legend, taking place when Schmazzgordios was so unknown that the hipsters even thought it was cool.
How to Save a Slice (A Schmazzgordios Tale), Pt. 1
Wren of the Leyline sped across the polished crown of Azorium Morgutem, the public building that housed the portraits of every Azorius bureaucrat that had held office since a few years after Ravnica’s creation. Possibly the most boring museum you could imagine, Azorium Morgutem’s mathematically perfect corridors were inlaid with the finest etherium and lit with energy-efficient lightglobes that some said had their technological origin in some primitive place called Urborg.
One might think an experienced thief (and rake-about-town) like Wren would have made off with a pocketful of Azorius sapphires or some of that shining etherium. But Wren had something much more valuable under his arm: a portrait of a pasty, dour man whose neck girth spoke of too many trips through the Azorium Cafeterium buffet line.
Shouts and heavy footsteps rang out behind Wren. He turned his head to see a clot of Azorius Guildmages jammed into the doorway to the roof, their bulbous armor clanging together as each tried to force himself through first. Wren giggled. Their new armor hadn’t been spec’d out properly; Azorius wearing standard issue now had to turn sideways to make it through their own doors. So, those with cause to run form them made sure many doorways were peppered along the escape route.
“Woof!” Wren pumped his legs, planted his foot firmly on a Sphinx statue’s granite butt, and lunged—up and over the gleaming rampart, and then down . . . Wren sucked in a lungful of dank Ravnica atmosphere and let out a wild yell as he fell . . .
Onto the back of the curly-haired, flesh-and-blood Sphinx that, with impeccable timing, wheeled up from the city murk to catch Wren midair.
“Was tempted to finish my dirty brown and let you die,” growled the Sphinx. “But without you, who’d scratch the parts of my balls I can’t reach?”
Wren laughed, twining his fingers through the Sphinx’s woolly purple coat as Bogey flew away into the late afternoon sun.
The portrait looked down on Wren and Bogey as they reclined in the deep shade of their Bandit Hideout. Outside, alley Dryads beat the door, giggling and shouting promises of pleasures unimaginable in Wren’s general direction.
“Just let some in so they’ll shut up,” groused Bogey, tucking his head deep into his armpit and trying to fall asleep yet again.
“Nahs, man. They’re all the same. You seen one, you seen ’em all. Plus, I’m tired of buying new toothbrushes.”1
Wren sauntered over to the two dozen ale taps that had been installed in the north wall of their fort, flicking his ’coon tail back and forth in irritation at the Dryads’ shrill cries. Just as Wren passed Bogey, the Sphinx rolled over and let a huge fart rip in the direction of his partner in crime. The blast was so powerful it knocked Wren off balance, and one of the alley Dryads stopped in mid-knock, saying in a muffled high-pitched voice, “What is that smell!?”
“Frag you, Boegs! Frag you to the bottom of the fraggin’ Void, where I hope Nicol Bolas eats your fraggin’ ugly face for tea—by Razia, by the Sisters, by—Holy, moly, what is that? Blue cheese and Gruul goat stew!?” Wren gagged and staggered back, holding his nose. The alley Dryads had fled. The silence and the smell were deafening. The Sphinx yawned.
“Blue cheese and a Dimir agent, actually,” Bogey made a dismissive gesture with his paw. “Now pour me onyx ale, turdburger. That malty stuff is good for my digestion.”
Delivery of the goods had turned into a nightmare.
Sweat dripped down both of Wren’s temples, his eyes wide. The woman in the ridiculous leather pantsuit and rhinoceros hat was not fooling around. The commission had said Guild Orzhov. This was definitely not an Orzhov lady.
“The terms were two thousand upon delivery,” Wren said weakly. “W-we just want what the terms state.”
The woman’s eyes gleamed, and she grinned.
“You could ask for the terms, and I might just have your friend get this instead,” she held up a swirling ball of black and red fire, holding it near Bogey’s muzzled face. The Sphinx swayed upside down, his ankles tied to a rafter. His strong paws were bound by some kind of device that looked Selesnyan to Wren. What in the hell is going on.
They needed the money. Had to pay that Simic guy to clean out the beer tap lines and then pay for re-enchanting of the hideout’s doors and windows, and of course, the lease on the pizza parlor . . .
“Nevermind,” Wren panted. “Just take it,” he flung the Azorius portrait to the dark lady. She caught it deftly with one hand.
“Ah, thank you,” she purred. With the other hand, she made a quick stabbing motion and gutted Bogey from ribs to tail as nonchalantly as if he was a cow and she a master butcher.
The Sphinx’s eyes went dark. Wren felt himself fall to his knees. His hands were outstretched toward his friend.
“Why?” he whimpered, the woman approaching him with her knife in hand was like something from a theater-sphere. He felt dizzy and dull. The woman turned up her hand as if in apology. Then, she froze mid-step, arching backward in agony, scrabbling the air with her hands like a demon rodent.
“To the Void with you,” spat a girlish voice from behind her, and the Rakdos murderess stopped moving and pitched over sideways with a thud.
Wren had the vague impression of a young woman dragging him to his feet. He feebly tried to push her away, to go to Bogey.
“Shush,” the girl said. “He is completely at peace. And he’d think you stupid for wasting time to retrieve his shell when he’s already moved on to eating jalapeño pork rinds in the Big Above.”
“An’ dark beer,” Wren murmured, “He liked that a lot.” The world was spinning, and Wren knew he’d pass out soon. “Who’re you?” he muttered.
The girl was buckling the portrait and Wren, in a hurry, onto the back of some strange animal that smelled like an aquarium that hadn’t been cleaned in about a month.
“Pillbox Poprocks, Valkyrie-Mage, Schmazzgordios Guild,” she kicked her heels into her steed. It made a sound like water burbling through a clogged drain, but as it reared up, Wren noticed how powerful it felt under his legs.
“Thank y—”Wren drooled as he blacked out.
“Shush. I wore Royal Stewart panties just for this occasion. EAT PLAID, ASSHOLES!” she screamed to the legion of demonic, spiked-and-checked reinforcements that crashed into the warehouse at that moment.
A brilliant light flashed behind the Schmazz duo and their mount, blinding the Rakdos gang just long enough for Pillbox, Wren, and their weaponized pony to crash through a window in a flurry of ’coon tail and flying skirts to freedom on the sullied streets of Ravnica.
The Rakdos gang members eyed one another, scared of reporting failure. Though they rubbed their eyes continuously, they couldn’t get the stars of light or the impression of plaid drawers out of their vision.
Additionally, the smell of Aquus fart—the only gas on the entire plane held in more revulsion than Sphinx fart—lingered in their noses for weeks, causing some to go mad and others to turn on each other in violence.
“Revenge is sweet, but Schmazzgordios Revenge is like a stuffed-crust. You can’t even begin to comprehend the layers,” mused Pillbox as she tucked Wren into a soft, warm bed. She gently smoothed his tail under the covers next to him. Then, the Valkyrie-Mage stretched luxuriously, adjusting her wedgie to a more comfortable state.
“Now, to contact Tomato . . . ”