Storytime: Fairy Tales of the Great and Powerful.

January 20th, 2016

Once upon a time, in a faraway castle, there was an elderly and respectable giant of great size and luxurious, flowing hair. Many were his impoverished, plucky subjects, and enlightened and benevolent was his paternal rule over their short-sighted and selfish whines for charity, even if he did have to punish them now and then for their own good as was his just and manifest right.
Then one day, as the relaxed giant was having his morning bowl of Cloudflakes in his breakfast nook, a fearful great stretching and scrunching sound arose from beneath his feet, growing louder and louder faster and faster until WHOOM a great beanstalk burst up between the cobbles of his floor, vigorous and virulent.
“Goodness gravy,” said the genial giant, putting down his pitchspoon. “I didn’t think I told the gardeners to use that much fertilizer; I’ll have to have their families deported. Now, who’s this then?” he asked of the tiny, fuzzy creature clinging to the side of the beanstalk. It chittered at him and bared its tiny, simian teeth.
“Ah! It’s a young urchin,” deduced the clever giant. “How utterly peculiar! Mayhap I can train it to shed the most irksome of its wild and savage ways and lead it upon the path of prosperity and right-mindedness! Here, m’boy, try a mouthful of this pate. It was made from the finest and fattest marrow-bones of the most upstanding paupers I could grind. Then we can wash you up, chain you in the dungeon, and put you to work weeding my driveway, waxing my limousine, and earning an honest day’s minimum wage, minus expenses on my part for housing, education, food, drink, and oxygen.”
The urchin gently reached out and touched the bowl, then flipped it into the air and atop the generous giant’s face. As he stumbled, cursing, it plucked his silver pitchspoon from his paw, his novelty golden egg dispenser from his table, and last and most audaciously his second-favorite golden smartphone from the charging station on the kitchen counter.
“I’ll grind you alive!” reproached the wounded, tender-hearted giant, but alas, he discovered to his chastisement that the urchin was far nimbler than he, and was already halfway back down the beanstalk. The bereaved giant shook his fist at the retreating thief, went back inside and found his eighth-favourite golden smartphone, and dialed up the mayor, police commissioner, and governor to complain, all of whom were his golfing buddies.
Two weeks later a tough-but-fair series of bills to cut down on crime, lawlessness, youth delinquency, and smartphone theft rolled out, and the weary giant sat in his nook with a sigh of contentment as the paper proudly informed him that the incarceration rate for peasant, urchin, and impoverished children had skyrocketed. Some of them were being arrested even faster than they could charge them with anything!
The gentle giant sat back in his chair with a satisfied smile and idly glanced out the window, where he was satisfied to see the foreclosure on the tiny, unkempt cabin far beneath his castle had finally gone through. At the press of a button on his newest, favoritest smartphone, a foreman pressed another button and it was knocked to flinders and cinders.
And he lived happily ever after, particularly after his fourth martini.

A long time ago, in a cave far, far away, there was a wise, rich, beautiful, magnificent, powerful, and wealthy dragon of discerning and sophisticated tastes. In particular, it deeply enjoyed consuming lovely maidens, and it was the pleasure and benefit of the local lands that this was so, for this habit supported a thriving throng of jobs in the maiden-sacrificing industry. Truly, it was a pillar of the community; nay, without its blessing, could any community be said to exist at all? Such is the generosity of the great, from whom all money and goodness – but we repeat ourselves – flows.
On this particular day a lot of blessing was flowing; the dragon’s stomach was rumbling most fiercely. It had been feeling fiercely peckish for the past few weeks, and was beginning to suspect its wards had been shortchanging it on maidens, or perhaps their maidens were subquality. Perhaps it would have to raze a few of their cities and take its business – and jobs – elsewhere. It would be hard on them, but that was the free market, after all.
A wavering scrap of silk peeked over the edge of the valley, and the dragon’s mood improved. A princess! It had been a while since it had eaten a princess. Perhaps it would be the sugar-sweet blood of royalty that would elevate its moo-
Then its hopes fell silent as sunlight glinted from the spearhead embedded in the heart of the fluttering fabric. Hooves echoed in its ears. The smell of armour polish and ferocious flop-sweat filled its nostrils.
A knight. The unruly little ungrateful bastards hadn’t been trying to make it happy after all. They’d been organizing on it! Going behind its back! And after all it’d done for them! The thousands of feet of city walls it’d motivated them to fruitlessly build! The hundreds of promising careers as a guardsman it’d launched and subsequently ended! The millions of hours of crying, weeping, and moping it’d inspired! All for what? SOME GRATITUDE.
The dragon was, of course, properly bred and brought-up, and so did not display any of this inner turmoil overtly. Instead, it simply snorted venomous fire once, laughed as the puny spear clanked off its impenetrable armour, then waddled back towards its cave for a nap.
A faint chewing sound followed him, then there was an unpleasant clang as a sword bounced off its thick, noble skull. The dragon spun about in disbelief – then its eyes flew to its prize-winning orange tree.
The little bastard had stolen it. Stolen its precious, juicy, best-in-state fruit with antitoxidant properties, the only green thing that could grow in its valley. It could SEE the moistness on his filthy stubby-fingered trade-working lips as he swung his stupid clunky sword at it. Then it huffed and sputtered and spat horrible toxic embers all over his stupid body until all his armour turned green and came off.
Another orange. ANOTHER ORANGE! The dragon couldn’t believe what it was seeing as the impertinent little weasel dared eat its fruit in front of it, defiant as you please. This was the last straw. Not only had its (pampered, beloved) subjects dared to express dissatisfaction with its kindly, supple regime, not only had they conspired against it, not only had their emissary stolen the fruit right out of its mouth, but he was defying it to its face, standing against the tide of its poison, eyes blazing with gall.
The dragon puffed out its chest, dug its claws into the ground, lashed the mountain bare with its tail, and threw strikebreakers at the knight until he was buried under a pile of pummeling, hairy fists a thousand knuckles deep.
Then it burned down three or four of its poorest cities too, just to show them who was boss.
And it lived wealthily ever after.

Four score and seventy million dollars past, there was a just and charitable witch who ruled over an expansive private forest. It was the best forest in all the land, and it was coveted dearly by the hordes of unscrupulous, ungrateful peasants just outside its borders who wanted to ‘hunt’ or ‘pick berries’ or ‘just have a nice walk is that okay?’ inside it, the little moochers. The poor old witch, elderly though she was, had little choice but to spend much of her golden years in constant vigilance, ever on the look-out for trespassers. So when she came back from a walk one day to find a pair of grubby little children chewing on her mantelpiece, well, the witch did what any right-thinking person would’ve: she slammed the boy in the cellar and chained the girl to the wall and told them they’d have to earn their keep if they wanted to get out.
“How?” they asked her.
“She sweeps, you eat,” she told them, affectionately slapping them across their stupid little impoverished faces. And she bustled about gathering things to feed the boy, because she was really getting peckish and a nice plump child pie was just the treat to take forty years of crinks off of her spine.
The days went by, the boy was fed, the girl swept, the forest stayed silent, and day after day the nigh-blind old witch felt the little boy’s finger and it grew no plumper.
“It feels almost like a gnarled stick or a twig,” she said, dispirited, three weeks in. “Something you’d find attached to the end of a broomstick.”
“Definitely not!” said the children simultaneously.
The witch trusted them, softhearted old dear that she was, but a creeping fear tickled at her bra-straps as she went about her business. How could the boy stay so trim after nearly a month on an all-suet diet? He must be exercising in there when she wasn’t looking, doing some sort of calisthenics regime or somesuch. Amazingly disciplined, too, to keep the pounds off. But who would…
And the witch knew, she knew it with an icy terror that took all the moisture from her mouth and the strength from her knees. He was a G-Man, an FBI agent, a tax collector come to steal away the precious few coins she’d managed to scrape together for her retirement. A government crow come to peck the two ferryman’s-pennies straight from her eyelids, and the eyeball, too! It was enough to make her blood boil, but she settled for turning the oven on full blast.
“We’re cooking your brother a bit early, slave,” she informed the little girl. “Now lean over and test the coals to see how hot they are, there’s a good child.”
The little girl stared at her, radiating a thickness no brick could match. “How?”
“Just lean over the coals and hold your hands out near them.”
The girl wobbled around with her fingers in the air. “Like this?”
“No! Lean over the coals and hold your hands out near them! Palm-first!”
The girl did a surprisingly capable handstand, toes wiggling. “Like this?”
“No!” said the witch, puzzled and bemused by the strange habits of the badly-reared. “Just like this!” And believe it or not, just as the poor thing leaned over to show what she meant to the little hellion, she shoved her into the coals pointy-hat-first, without even time to swear. Five minutes later she’d pulled the key out of the ashes with the poker, let out her brother, and they were down the road a mile and moving more.
Mercifully, the law was quicker still. At that very moment the witch’s daughter received a notice of her mother’s untimely death – and, thanks to a timely repeal of the faraway land’s estate tax, her entire fortune, stocks and bonds included. She promptly and wisely invested much of her liquid cash in fortifying the gingerbread cottage into an apocalypse-caliber bunker, with enough left over to hire a bigshot lawyer to take the two little children for every worthless penny they earned from then unto seven generations.
And she lived very pleasantly vindictively ever after.

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