FALL OF A GIANT (Jack & the Beanstalk)

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Colossal Cloud-Dweller Killed; Local Farmers Pay Tribute

Beane Farm, Borderlands - Fofum McFee, the famed Giant of Cloud Castle, fell to his death yesterday morning while chasing a robber from his high-altitude property. His widow, Fifi McFee, detailed the grizzly event: "He was going after the burglar down that big beanstalk. Well, the thief got to the bottom, chopped it down and splat--Fofum went down with it! Needless to say, I want justice for this terrible crime: the theft of my money bag, magic goose, and singing harp--oh, and for the murder of my husband, of course. That too."

Unfortunately, Ms. McFee could provide little description of the burglar. "Definitely human. But I can't tell you much more, you all look like ants to me!"

Undaunted, authorities continue their search for the perpetrator. "The burglar was indeed human," confirms Sir Wolfgang Ferrell, the Chief Royal Investigator. "I can further say that it was a human male, which narrows the search considerably. We shall catch him, no matter how far he has fled!"

Jack Beane, 16, and his mother Edna Beane, 42, own the farm where the giant beanstalk sprouted. "We definitely didn't plant it," says Jack. "And we didn't see the burglar. But I'd bet he's probably really strong and dashing. I mean--a thieving scoundrel, obviously--but probably, like, a charming sort of scoundrel who the village girls would be really lucky to spend quality time with on Market Day."

Edna refines her son's description. "That sounds about right. Except the last bit about the village girls. I expect that, whoever the burglar is, he'll be helping his mother boil the laundry on Market Days for the foreseeable future."

With the crime scene on their doorstep, the family is spearheading memorial efforts for Fofum McFee. As Jack explains, "Yeah, we've turned our house here into a tribute museum where mourners can come and pay their respects." The tribute museum features stunningly accurate replicas of the items stolen from Cloud Castle. "Sure, we've got a money bag, magic goose, and harp, just like the real thing. Well, not just like, but uh, they're very impressive reproductions. And you can see them seven days a week between noon and sundown for the reasonable price of just five silvers."

Visitors may rest assured that this fee contributes to a good cause. "All proceeds go to the Friends of Fofum McFee Memorial Society," Edna explains, "of which I am the chair. Can you put a notice for donations in your paper? We really want to keep the memory of this dead giant alive."

Meanwhile, memories are all that remain for the widowed Ms. McFee. "Oh, I've noticed Fofum's absence all morning. No snoring, no belching... To think I'm now the sole proprietor of this entire castle. How lonely. I just can't stop weeping, but I guess I'll do my best to move on."

Yet as Ms. McFee tries to move on, others remain rooted in the mystery of her husband's death. "What I want to know is: how did such an enormous beanstalk sprout up overnight?" asks local botanist Richard Plantwell. "I suppose it could have been magic but I think it was probably an invasive species. If that beanstalk had natural predators, it never would have grown so high. I've talked to the government about this sort of thing but do they listen? Do they? I'll tell you what else is odd... when a cloud giant weeps there's a spell of salty rain--very bad for crops, you see--but so far it's been dry as a bone. Very unusual."

Unusual indeed.

Based on Joseph Jacobs' version of Jack and the Beanstalk

Based on Joseph Jacobs' version of Jack and the Beanstalk

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