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When Pau Gasol stood in the Painted Area, hungry dogs howled at his feet and pretty birds fluttered around his shoulders. During the day, these doves and hummingbirds would fly from Memphis and all through the Big Country. Upon their return, they tweeted rumored secrets into his ears. Nothing was hidden from Pau, the Artisan King. When he stood in the Painted Area, he heard and saw every trade rumor, and he carried these whispers in the chambers of his heart.

Bryant Reeves was neither the last nor the most powerful of the Jotuns. When Pau sent out his many birds, they always returned with less plumage. Collecting their feathers were other giants more powerful than Bryant Reeves had ever dreamt of being. These sand giants often shifted their shapes and took on disguises in order to trick humans and referees into rooting for them.  At the southern edge of the Big Country perched a giant eagle named Duncan, and in his beak and in his claws was a serpent named Manu. They were the worst of the Jotuns, but an elk named Dirk and an armadillo named Nash were also evil. Pau could not defeat them, no matter how hard he tried.

But then Hubie Brown came to Pau Gasol as he stood in the Painted Area, losing track of time, waning away his youth, pondering whether or not to shave. In essence, he was lost in essence. Hubie, however, was from a race of giants even older than the sand giants; he belonged to the dust giants, who valued nothing but physical skill. He knew his place because he knew all-time, and when he came to Pau in the Painted Area, he brought with him a wooden bucket. In the wooden bucket was water from the Well of Wisdom. The water was magic because Yggdrasil’s roots drank from this Well of Wisdom, connecting it to the fabric of all things.

Pau asked Hubie if he could drink from the bucket. Hubie said of course and handed Pau a green paper cup with an orange lightning bolt. But, before Hubie handed the Lightning Cup to Pau, he made one demand of the Artisan King: When you leave here, and you will leave here, place your left eye in the knot of a tulip poplar. Pau laughed at the old dust giant and told him, “I will never leave Memphis.” Hubie responded, “Well, if you do,” and handed Pau the cup.

Giant armies gathered outside Memphis, the home of the half-bear brethren. In the old days, in the beginning of time, they had been so happy to fill the emptiness that was Vancouver they had forgotten to build defenses. But now the whole kingdom was at stake. A fierce giant from the Farthest West of the farthest west threatened to do great harm, until Pau stepped forward and said he would allow the Black Mamba to take him hostage. The Black Mamba agreed to never touch Memphis if the Artisan King would come to the Farthest West of the farthest west, to stand in the Painted Area.

The night before Pau was to become a hostage, Hubie Brown came to visit him, again with the wooden bucket and its magic waters. Hubie reached out his hand and said, “Remember your word.” Pau pretended that he didn’t remember, so Hubie poured out a puddle on the ground. In the water’s reflection appeared the moment of Pau’s promise. Angry and ashamed, Pau plucked out his eye and placed it in the knot of a poplar tulip. After he did this, with blood dripping down the trunk of the tree, Hubie Brown pressed his lips to the tree’s bark and breathed into it. He turned around and said, “It is done.”

The act was done, but Pau was so angry and in so much pain that he chopped off Hubie’s head and placed it in the wooden bucket. From the wooden bucket, Hubie Brown watched Pau Gasol stand in the Painted Area of the Farthest West of the farthest west, and his wisdom became Pau’s wisdom. While he still heard all the world’s rumors, Hubie’s voice spoke to him of all time of time, teaching Pau of the times before time.  And while Pau never returned to Memphis, the tree in which his plucked eye was placed and into which Hubie breathed his last breath transformed into an echo of Pau. This echo’s name was Marc, and his destiny was to help build the Grindhouse, but first other things had to happen too.

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