Page 1: This page is blank save for a tiny woodcut illustration of a young man and a crow sharing a picnic lunch and a single line of text that reads, “All of what follows is true.”
Pages 2–3: I was having a picnic that first day of spring when a pesky crow flew down and stole my spoon. Zuddiger jumps up and down and waves a sword in anger while a crow flies away into the woods, a spoon clutched in its beak. The jar of raspberry preserves Zuddiger had been about to spoon onto a biscuit lies neglected on the ground. In the background, a scary castle with knife-like towers protrudes above the treetops.
Pages 4–5: The nasty bird flew into the trees and then through a gate, but I followed with haste. Zuddiger runs down a forest path that passes through an immense iron gate flanked by iron statues of beautiful women.
Pages 6–7: He flew over a swirling lake, and the black swans honked at him in anger. Zuddiger races along the edge of a lake, the center of which is a whirlpool and on which float several black swans.
Pages 8–9: I chased him through a garden and tried not to disturb the locals. Zuddiger races through a garden of strange fungus and a carpet of tiny, misshapen, vegetablelike humanoids that crawl and run from him; the crow perches atop a mushroom and watches.
Pages 10–11: Unfortunately, some of the locals were already disturbed. Zuddiger climbs into a leaf-shaped boat on a river while an angry flying owlbear intercepts the crow’s flight, forcing the smaller bird to veer away downriver. In the background, two immense stone hands at the top of a cliff seem to pour a waterfall into the river below.
Pages 12–13: It got very cold and my boat froze, so I had to chase the crow through the graveyard on foot. Zuddiger chases the crow through a snowy graveyard, the gravestones of which are three times as tall as they should be. His boat is frozen in a lake in the background, and the shadowy form of a four-armed giant seems to rise up beyond a large crypt
to watch the chase.
Pages 14–15: But the crow had an older brother. Zuddiger cowers in a large forest clearing at the center of which is a large stone spire. The crow hovers near the top and points down at Zuddiger with a wingtip while the “older brother,” an immense crow perched atop the spire, peers down with angry eyes.
Pages 16–17: I was beginning to worry that I would not be able to finish my picnic after all. The bigger crow clutches Zuddiger in its talons and flies over a swamp filled with scary worms that rise up to bite at Zuddiger’s feet; the smaller crow flaps along behind the bigger bird, spoon still clutched in its beak.
Pages 18–19: Fortunately, I landed on something soft. The giant bird and the crow fly off into the sky laughing as Zuddiger, recently dropped, lands on the belly of a particularly hideous troll. In the background rises an iron cage shaped like a beehive, from which dozens of smiling but disembodied faces shine down.
Pages 20–21: And also fortunately, I’m faster and craftier than a silly old troll. Zuddiger sneaks down a forest path; the angry troll is far behind. The troll carries a large ranseur and is climbing around on a crooked house as if he’s looking for Zuddiger among the house’s dozens of mismatched roofs.
Pages 22–23: But I still didn’t have my spoon. Zuddiger wanders forlornly through a forest glade filled with statues; in the background, a tall tower rises from a round hilltop.
Pages 24–25: As it turned out, neither did that nasty crow! An elated Zuddiger finds the crow caught by a beautiful woman—she holds the spoon in one hand and a scared crow in the other. In the background, a strange house looms on an island.
Pages 26–27: So I traded my sword for a spoon and a bird. The now smiling woman gives a grinning Zuddiger the spoon and the crow and accepts his sword as a gift.
Pages 28–29: And made it back home in time for dinner. Zuddiger, spoon in one hand and the tied-up crow tucked under an arm, walks down another forest path, at the end of which can be seen his picnic basket, blanket, and raspberry preserves sitting patiently in a clearing.
Pages 30–31: It was the best picnic ever. Zuddiger sits down to a picnic meal of raspberry preserves while a deliciouslooking crow roasts over an open fire.
Page 32: The last page of the book presents a full-color, hand-painted map of Thousandbreaths.
Zuddiger’s Picnic is a short picture book, written and published in Pitax 42 years ago.
The author and artist of this book was a talented painter named Karn Zuddiger. His inspiration for this book was not imagination but the result of an actual horrific and frenzied accidental journey through Thousandbreaths. This adventure and his miraculous escape did not leave him unscathed—mad with inspiration, he spent the next 3 years of his life crafting the woodcut illustrations and story for Zuddiger’s Picnic, hoping to drive out the images in his head with art.
Only a month after the book’s publication, however, Zuddiger succumbed to the madness inflicted by his trip through Thousandbreaths—creating the book had not expunged his visions, only inflamed them. He went on a killing spree, murdering a new victim every week and using the remains to restage scenes from his illustrations for the citizenry of Pitax to find the next morning. He was caught soon enough and swiftly executed, and the majority of his books were burned by shocked and scandalized parents.