Tired of living in the Black Forest and living with the stigma of being a disagreeable and wickedly evil ogre, Wormroot, decided to make the long journey over the fields full of bountiful prairie crops, over the rickety wooden Crick Crossing Bridge, down Main Street with the local townspeople gawking and pointing at his presence in their clean town and into the local tavern to see if he could change his fate. Wormroot wanted desperately to be liked. Being an ogre is not easy since most people would upon seeing him immediately dislike him for had a certain ogre-y air about him.
Carefully ducking into the establishment as to not ruin anything, Wormroot was greeted by a silent room of townsfolk, mouths agape and shock showing on their faces. To most, this type of treatment would be a warning, a sort of foreshadowing of future events, but to Wormroot- who was as stubborn as any ogre- the local peoples reaction only mad him angry. He had every right to come into town. There was nothing anyone could do about it! Looking every patron in the eye, Wormroot moved toward the barkeep and greeted him with a friendly enough, “Hello!”
The barkeep having previously interacted with ogres, reservedly greeted Wormroot back as to not irk the ogre further. “What brings you to town, stranger?”
“Name’s Wormroot. I have come to change my fate. I was hoping to start anew and make a good name for myself. Have you heard of any farmer looking for help with the harvest? I’m a strong worker and do not mind doing the heavy lifting.”
Carefully framing his reply for he knew no one would hire the ogre, the barkeep said, “I am sorry, Wormroot. I haven’t heard of any farmer needing an extra pair of hands. I’ll keep an ear open and, if any such help is needed, I can send a message out your way to the Black Forest.” Hoping the ogre would be on his way, he offered the ogre a drink for the road. “Shall I pack a canteen for your trek back home?”
“I was hoping to be able to stay in town or with the farmer that hires me. I haven’t a place to return home to. If you don’t mind, I’ll make a quick announcement advertising my willingness to work.” And with that the ogre turned to the open room and bellowed “I have come to work! I will work hard and long. I can protect livestock from wild predators and can lift large and heavy objects. Please take pity on an ogre trying to make a name for himself!” Having said his piece, Wormroot again scanned the group of gathered townsfolk.
Most looked on him with distrust and loathing, some with fear, but none with pity. They had all heard tales of the chaos and havoc an ogre could create. Ogres are known for their short tempers and violent fits. Wormroot was disheartened looking at the crowd of unfriendly faces. He did not understand their hostility, he had come to them humbly asking for work. Just like them, he wanted to earn a living by doing honest work. He was willing to work hard and do what others couldn’t. Wormroot turned back toward the barkeep hoping the barkeep would provide a friendly face and advice as to what his next step should be, but the barkeep was not quick enough to wipe the growing look of fear from his face. Quickly becoming frustrated with the townspeople, Wormroot grabbed a pitcher off the counter, turned to the full room and prepared to launch the glass container across the space.
Standing feet from the ogre looking up into his face stood a beautiful maiden with long flowing chestnut locks and stunningly brilliant green eyes. At once, the ogre became ashamed of his actions and looked down at the pitcher in his hands unable to meet her gaze. He had not noticed her slip up behind him.
“I am sorry for the less than friendly greeting you have received while in the Land of Oz. I am Lily. We are unaccustomed to the presence of- forgive me for saying- an ogre. You are from the Black Forest, yes?”
His speech having failed him for she was breathtakingly beautiful, Wormroot eagerly nodded his large head.
“I have never ventured that far, but have heard tales of its beauty. What is your name, stranger?”
“Well, Wormroot, my father owns a farm about half a day’s walk to the northeast from town. As my father is getting older and has two daughters and no sons- there are several chores with which we could use a strong back and an extra pair of hands to help us. If you are willing to journey with me, I believe we could use your help around the farm. Mind you’d have to sleep in the barn, but you would be warm and fed as long as your help is needed. To reach the homestead before nightfall, we will have to leave immediately.”
“Oh boy! Thank you! Thank you!! I promise I won’t let you down. I’ll be so helpful you’ll never want to let me go. Lead the way! After you, dear lady!” Wormroot clasped his hands together forgetting that one contained the glass pitcher causing it shatter and splash its contents down Wormroot’s tunic. Looking bug eyed and sheepish through lowered lids, Wormroot smiled at Lily hoping she would not change her mind.
Unsure of what to say to this display of clumsiness, Lily regarded Wormroot and offered a friendly smirk. “We had better set off now. It is a long and winding road. One can never be sure what kind of trouble one will encounter on the road.”
To be continued….