Odorous Soldier Outwits Devilish Spirit--and the Pleasant Army
Forest of Carnivorous Conifers, Odorous Realms - Mr. Lane Grey, who made headlines in September as the only visitor to escape the Inn of Hellacious Hauntings unscathed, appears equally untroubled by the ordeals of war. Mr. Grey signed up to fight for the goblins and was briefly captured by the Pleasant Army. After escaping his captors, he attempted to rejoin his original Odorous unit, but got lost in the dreaded Forest of Carnivorous Conifers. Alone and surrounded by hungry trees, Mr. Grey met another solitary traveler.
"He was an odd fellow," recalls Mr. Grey. "Horns on his head, cloven hooves, spiky tail. And he carried this flaming ember, which never seemed to go out. I thought he was one of those half-transfigured folks looking for the Lizard Lift, but then he started going on about taking my soul to the Underworld."
Mr. Grey then pulled a trick even more fiendish than the figure he faced: "By that point I had figured out he was probably some sort of devilish spirit, so I told him we would flip a coin. If it landed heads, I'd stay in the forest and if it landed tails I'd go to the Underworld to be his eternal servant. Only we didn't have a coin, so I told him he'd have to transform into one. He put down his flaming ember and whoosh, sure enough, turned into a quarter. Well, I just picked him up and threw him down the maw of the nearest Hungry Hemlock. Haven't seen him since. The ember's been useful though."
Unable to pick up the ember directly, Mr. Grey hollowed out a wild turnip to hold it like a lantern. No matter how dark or wet the forest becomes, the ember does not go out. By its light, Mr. Grey navigated his way back to his original unit of goblins.
"I made lanterns for the rest of the lads too. Hollowed out more root vegetables and lit candles with the flame from my ember."
Those lanterns lit the way to victory during a recent skirmish. "We heard some Pleasant soldiers coming. They outnumbered us, so we carved our lanterns into faces and stuck them in the trees to make it look like we had flame-eyed ghouls fighting with us. Well, the Pleasant soldiers got one look at those faces and fled in panic. Pretty sure the trees got them. The hemlocks ate well that night."
Mr. Grey says the lanterns are proving so popular, Count Rufus V. Ruthless the Fifth has ordered the production of a Lane Lantern for every soldier in the Odorous Army.
Some men may be daunted by filling such a huge order, but Mr. Grey? "Well, no, I'm not really worried about it. Just going to get to work, I suppose."
Inspired by the Irish folk tale Stingy Jack, from which comes the tradition of carving Jack O'Lanterns at Halloween. For more on Mr. Lane Grey, see our September 10th article, NOTHING TO FEAR HERE: Infamous Inn Fails to Scare Visitor For First Time.
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Weekly News from the Wacky World of Fairy Tales. The Once Upon A Times keeps you up to date with all the goings-on in the fairy tale lands, from the Pleasant Kingdoms to the Seven Seas of Despair.