Here is another short for you to enjoy. "A Place for Ogres" is the follow-up to "The Goblin and the Ogre" which I posted earlier. In it we explore a little more of the Green and look back at how oversized beings like the ogre first arrived in that world.
Author: Steven Best (the one and only)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Length: ~1700 words
Written: Not sure exactly. Likely 12/06 or 01/07.
All rights reserved, please do not copy without my permission
There is an old saying in the Green: “Those who grow too tall have trouble seeing what’s at their feet.” This saying is attributed to the gnomish philosopher, Archibald the Occasionally Wise, and is widely believed to be a way of saying that those who ascend to a position of authority often forget the common people who are the base of their power. While this interpretation makes a great topic for philosophical debate, it is wrong. What Archibald was actually referring to was an ogre which had unknowingly stepped on his house.
Ogres, as you may know, are large. Huge. Gargantuan. Colossal in stature, even. While most people of the Green could use a toadstool as an actual stool (and many often do, or else why would they call them that?), ogres are much taller than your average tree, and twice as wide at the least. At first, this size might be considered an advantage. After all, consider what it would like to be one of the few races that can actually look down on a troll? However, in such a thick forest environment ogres can barely move without knocking over trees and causing a considerable mess. Even worse, with their heads often in or above the leafy canopy they cannot see what, or whom, they are stepping on. Thus, they are feared and hated by most of the tiny folk whom the ogres unintentionally harm. Because of this the life of an ogre is a lonely one.
Such was the case of one such ogre until he met a certain goblin companion by the name of Hoblin. Hoblin was a curious little creature, to be sure. For one, he was willing to be friends with a creature that most feared, and then there was always the mismatched armor he insisted on wearing. Still the ogre valued his company on his journeys. With the tiny goblin running ahead and warning the forest of his approach, he could travel without worry of hurting people (Hoblin never did tell the ogre about the troll that he had squished). By day they would walk, from sun up to sun down, and by night the odd pair would sit and speak of whatever came to mind.
One such night found the ogre and his goblin friend sitting in a small forest clearing. This particular clearing was home to a small homestead of cantankerous dwarves. They had been none too happy to see a goblin wander onto their property that evening, but upon seeing his friend they decided it was in their best interest to let him be. They would remain behind locked doors for the rest of the night, nervously clutching their axes whilst wondering how they would possibly make it out alive when the ogre decided to eat them. He had no such intentions, obviously, but there would be no convincing them otherwise. Though the dwarves had widened the clearing considerably to gather lumber over the years it was unfortunately still too small of an area for the ogre to properly stretch out to sleep. Such was his lot in life. So, like he had done many nights before the ogre stayed awake, looking off into the night sky.
“We have walked far this day, my friend,” rumbled the ogre after a time of silence.
“We sure did,” replied Hoblin, who stared at the dwarven house on the other side of the clearing. Bearded faces stared back through the windows of the squat stone structure. “I don’t think those dwarves like us camping on their lawn.”
“That they do not,” said the ogre, “but we will be gone come morning. We have far to travel before tomorrow’s nightfall.”
“Really? Where are we going?” asked the goblin.
“I know not where my destination lies. I shall know it once I arrive.”
Hoblin scratched his head. “I don’t get it. We’ve been walking for months, after all. I thought you were going somewhere important.”
The ogre laughed, a low rumble that shook the clearing and caused the frightened dwarves to close and their shutters and jump back from the windows. “Just because I do not know where I am going doesn’t mean getting there isn’t important.” The ogre grew silent for a moment, and then looked down upon his miniscule friend. “Would you like to hear a story?” he asked.
This was mainly a rhetorical question, as the ogre knew that Hoblin absolutely loved stories. The goblin sat down in front of the massive creature and listened intently, waiting for it to begin.
“This tale,” began the ogre, “goes back long ago, to the time of the First Ogres. The First Ogres were like me, you see, large and strong, but they did not know themselves to be giants. They lived in open spaces without end, and loved to run and play through the plains and over the hills, no different than the small folk. However, one fateful day, a mist arose over the land, obscuring all sight. After it had cleared the First Ogres came upon something they had never seen before; a forest. Now, it’s not like they had never seen trees before or even groups of trees, but nothing like this endless woodland. It was the Green, this ancient, trackless forest that in which we dwell. It seemed to go on forever and perhaps it does for all that anyone knows.”
“Wait,” interrupted Hoblin. “If the Green goes on forever, how could the First Ogres be outside of it?”
“An interesting question and one yet to be fully answered. You see, when they found this place, so different than the nigh-treeless plains and hills they lived upon, they were compelled to explore it. They entered and looked about for a day, and when night arrived they followed the trail of fallen trees they had made back the way they came. Strangely, the trail ended in thick woodland, not the flat plains where the First Ogres had originally started in. For days, weeks even, the ogres searched for a way out of the Green, but everywhere they looked the forest went on and on and on.”
“Then what happened?” asked an enthralled Hoblin.
“Well,” continued the ogre, “after weeks of walking through the forest the group of ogres had become greatly discouraged. They missed their home with its wide open spaces and room for a creature of size to move freely without being hindered by flora. It was then they came across a tower rising up from the forest floor, a pillar or stone out of place among the natural landscape. The First Ogres gathered about it, wondering what it was, when someone stepped out onto the balcony. He was dressed head to toe in flowing robes with a hood that hid his face, so to this day no ogre knows what he really looks like. Though he was much smaller than the lost ogres, he had a sense of power and authority about him, and seemed unafraid of the massive creatures on his doorstep.”
“‘What are you ogres doing on my lawn?’ he asked, much like the dwarves whose lawn we currently occupy. The ogres were surprised and delighted that someone in this unusual place knew what an ogre was. Hoping that since he knew what they were he’d know they way back to their home, they explained themselves and their plight. When they had finished the man of the tower stayed silent for many moments, as if in thought, and then answered: 'The Green goes on forever, but that does not mean there is not a way out. However, only one Mistgate is large enough to accommodate those of your girth. Seek ye the Hidden Path where the wind hides, and there your people shall find their way.’”
“With that, the entire tower disappeared, and the mysterious man with it. Not knowing where this Hidden Path was, the First Ogres agreed to split up and go their separate ways to search. To this day they still seek, and their children and their children’s children seek with them. We stay far away from each other, lest we cause too much damage to this forest in our passing, and every now and then meet at the place where the tower was to compare our findings. One day an ogre will find the Hidden Path. The word will spread to all my kind and on that day the ogres will leave this place. Never will we trouble the small folk again.”
“Ah, no more ogres?” whined Hoblin. “What’ll I do without you?”
The ogre laughed, the rumble shaking some of the shingles off the roof of the dwarf house across the clearing. “Worry not, little goblin. No ogre has yet to find the Hidden Path. I wager that if you so wish, we shall be traveling together for many years to come.”
“That’s nice,” said Hoblin, holding back a yawn. “If I wasn’t walking with you all the time, I’d have to find somewhere to live. Anyway, goodnight ogre.” He curled into a ball and went to sleep almost immediately, his poorly fitted helmet rolling off his head.
For many hours the ogre sat and thought, looking at the sleeping goblin. It was true, Hoblin had nowhere to go in all the Green: unwelcome by the nicer creatures for being a goblin and too nice to live among the nastier ones. Yet even without a home, he slept peacefully, at home with his friend. Maybe the two of them weren’t such an unusual pairing after all.
Morning came slowly. Overnight the dwarves had apparently called in the local militia to drive off the monster on their lawn. As they readied their spears and bows the ogre thought it best not to overstay his welcome. Scooping up his still sleeping guide, he lumbered back into the forest, crashing his way through the trees. The dwarves celebrated their victory over the beast, confident that their show of force had scared him away, and for years to come sang songs of the great Battle of Duncan’s Lawn. The ogre, of course, was unconcerned with his part in the boastful stories of dwarves. He simply kept walking, hoping somewhere out there he would find a place for ogres, and maybe a place for a goblin, too.