Faintly Macabre begins the story of Rhyme and Reason by describing the horrible place the Lands Beyond were when they were first created. One day, a young prince from across the sea appeared and established a city that would become the Kingdom of Wisdom. Eventually he had two sons who went out in the wilderness to start their own cities, one founding Dictionopolis and the other establishing Digitopolis.
The king also found a basket with twin baby girls in his gardens one day. The king was delighted with the girls, whom he named Rhyme and Reason, and he raised them as his own children. When the king died, he left instructions that the Kingdom of Wisdom was to be divided equally between his two sons, who would also have the responsibility of caring for Rhyme and Reason.
Over the years, Azaz and the Mathemagician came to rely upon the princesses' wise judgment as the brothers grew more and more competitive and distrustful. Things reached a boiling point when they began arguing about whether numbers or letters were more important. The two rulers brought their quarrel to the princesses who, after careful consideration, declared that numbers and words were equally important.
At last, Azaz and the Mathemagician were able to agree upon something: they were infuriated by princesses' answer. In an act of rage, they banished Rhyme and Reason from the Kingdom and imprisoned them in the Castle in the Air. When the story is done, the Which explains that Officer Shrift "loves putting people in prison, but does not care about keeping them there" and shows Milo and Tock the way out. On the outside, the king's five advisors find them and immediately lead them off to the Royal Banquet.
Inside the banquet hall, Milo and Tock find a sizeable party waiting for them. The Humbug explains that they have been waiting for the guests of honor to select the meal. Milo proposes that they have a "light meal," and immediately a set of waiters hurries into the room carrying serving platters. When they remove the lids, rays of light shoot all over the banquet hall. The Humbug suggests that Milo select a dish that the guests might find "a little more filling." Milo, who has not picked up on the menu game yet, orders a square meal, prompting the waiters to bring plates filled with a variety of squares. For dessert, the waiters bring out platters of half-baked ideas, which the Humbug explains are very sweet but can cause indigestion. Milo munches on his "THE EARTH IS FLAT" while the king devours "NIGHT AIR IS BAD AIR."
As soon as King Azaz's nonsensical Royal Banquet is over, the guests rush from the hall, leaving only Azaz, Milo, Tock and the Humbug, who explains that they have all gone to dinner. The king declares that he will command that his guests eat their dinners before the banquet. That would be just as bad, Milo argues.
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In The Lands Beyond, time passes differently. In Milo's adventures weeks were passing, but, when he got back home only 1 hour actually passed.