Important Note: This story is set in the titular world of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. By extension, that means I might get sued for copyright infringement; hopefully writing this will decrease those odds. Also, if you haven’t read the series, all you need to know is that the world this is set in is a literal disc, and then by extension “hub” and all derived words refer to the Disc’s center, and “rim” and all derived words refer to the disc’s edge. Enjoy!
Herb was a nice, average Hublander hero: he looted a great many temples, rescued a great many women, and drank immeasurable quantities of ale. He had been living the life for nearly twenty years, and was about ready to retire. Herb planned on pursuing his true passion: comedy. Unfortunately, like most heroes, Herb was not very bright, and so could not come up with any jokes, save for a few lascivious ones that would not go over well even among drunks. Thus, Herb headed to the place that could answer all of life’s questions: the nearest tavern.
“So, Herbie. Do you want five pints, or fifty?” asked the bartender, who laughed quite audibly.
“I’m not here for a drink, Roak. I need some help. I’m trying to be a comedian.”
This last word Herb pronounced with great difficulty, as, like most heroes, he usually only spoke in one- or two-syllable words.
“Well, I knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a wizard, and that wizard had mentioned something called the Bumper Fun Grimoire. It supposedly contains the last original joke in the universe.”
“Sounds great! What’s a grim-roar, anyway?”
“Oh, that’s just a fancy word for a magic book. Anyway, from what I understand, the book can be found in a cave due west of here, near the Rim.”
“Well, I guess I should leave. The Rim is really far away.”
Thus, Herb went home, gathered some food, some gold, and his trusty (if only recently acquired) sword Falsor, and bravely headed to the Rim and the cave nearby.
Herb walked for many days. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and finally Herb made it to the cave. That isn’t to say that nothing interesting happened on Herb’s journey—for example, Herb swore he once saw a walking treasure chest in the distance—but simply that nothing important happened.
Herb walked into the cave opening. It was almost nightfall. As Herb stepped in, a colony of bats immediately flew over him, and almost subconsciously, Herb unsheathed Falsor and quickly cut all the bats in twain.
(Now would make an excellent time to explain how Herb’s sword works. Herb had found this sword at the end of a demonic temple, but, always up for free loot, grabbed it anyway. This particular sword was enchanted by a vengeful wizard, who made it so that, whenever possible, the sword would perform incredible, nigh-impossible feats, such as perfectly cutting a single blade of grass or, in this case, slicing bats perfectly in half while they were still flying. The goal of this was to make the wielder so confident and egotistical that he would go do something stupid, like attack a giant dragon, and then the sword would shut off and thereby kill the wielder. Fortunately, Herb has not done anything that stupid. Yet.)
Herb trekked through the cave for several hours, until he came to an person-sized opening covered in moss. Herb slashed through the greenery and, seeing a book on a pedestal, immediately grabbed it and ran, half-expecting a giant rolling stone to be in pursuit. After a few minutes, Herb stopped, realized he was perfectly safe, and, remembering he had seen a stone chair in the room with the pedestal, walked back.
Herb sat in the chair and blew some dust off the book’s cover, but the title was so faded Herb couldn’t even be sure this was a magical book at all, let alone the Bumper Fun Grimoire. Herb opened the book, and saw what he thought was an introduction; however, he couldn’t be sure because the book was written in a language he didn’t understand. (Herb was able to read at all because he once accidentally drank a literacy potion he thought was ale; to be fair, it was in a metal flask.) Fortunately, the book was in the same alphabet as Herb’s native tongue, and so he slowly and painfully sounded out all the words. From this, Herb determined the book was written in a tongue called Enn-gliss, and then, skipping quite a few pages, he saw two lines of text printed right in the middle of the left-hand page. Realizing this must be the joke, Herb sounded it out, but was utterly confused. Herb then read the joke several times, thought it over for a few minutes, closed the book, and put it back on its pedestal.
As Herb was walking out, he chuckled and wondered, who was this Sven, and what did he do to poor Nee-Nay?