[Not remotely proofread or finished but here to check if it’s remotely readable or funny, at all.]
The Ogres ride into the township with all the grace and arrogance of the ruling classes, coaches rattling along the cobbled streets, festooned with decoration. The jarvey, putting up the whip, draws the vehicle to a halt and the cockhorse whinnies as the carriage dogs run hither and yon.
“Settle down!” Shouts the jarvey, jumping down from her perch on high. “Settle!” Like the coach she is much decorated, as gentleman might be, though cut for her proportions and somewhat more closely than the equivalent. The red of her jacket is untouched by the dust of the journey, as are her ridiculously pale trousers and shirt. The tails of the jacket flap in the breeze, exposing the closeness of the cut of her trousers. “Settle! Now!”
At this exhortation, the dogs sense a certain keen seriousness in her voice, and come to the sit where they stand. She proceeds to the door of the carriage and, reaching up, opens it.
Inside, the bulk of the occupants is apparent even though by human standards the carriage is built oversized, and thus drawn by a six and not four. The well-appointed interior is velveted and of a deep maroon colour, buttoned and stuffed richly, and the seats, if anyone could see them, are of the finest leather. The jarvey holds her hand out to assist the first passenger as he alights from the carriage.
This would have looked less ludicrous to any observer, and there are many in the square, if the hand were not taken by two, and only two, fingers of the person being helped, since no more could fit in the hand of the now diminutive looking jarvey.
This notwithstanding, observers can see very well that the alighting creature takes care to neither eschew the aid so extended, nor make such use of it that it might be redundantly damaging to the person offering it. The emergent figure stands up to his full height, which at seven feet and some change, easily dwarfing1 the tiny human jarvey. Unlike any human being who might attain that height, the Ogre looks entirely in proportion to it, and though considerable frippery, a doublet and hose, puffy shirt, hat with a feather in it and boots that were curled at the ends, was employed onlookers had no doubt that the creature was heavily and dangerously muscled.
To compare the Ogre to the proverbial Ox would be to make said Ox pack his bags and move to another country, where such comparisons would still let the animal come off favourably in the mean-looking and strength stakes in which it had heretofore prided itself, before the arrival of such creatures into the domain in which it, the Ox, might be brunch for two instead of a steady week’s meal for fifty. No sir, we’re leaving for a farm where there might still be one or two docile cows, and a farmer who understands the needs of an Ox, proverbial or otherwise.
For those not making that comparison, the path between amusement and fear is a tightrope act of its own making. While the giant creature has at least the good grace to say “Thank you” in an incredibly gravelly voice that conveys undertones of conquest and the later barbequing of those so conquered, he also looks about the place absently while the put upon jarvey fetches, from the back of the carriage, a walking stick evidently made from iron or similar, as tall as the jarvey and requiring the use or two hands to get the thing off the ground. It is topped by a large diamond which the hand of the Ogre covers immediately and completely.
Upon this stick he leans heavily, and adopts a stance of one favouring his right leg, though no injury is apparent, and bends down to the jarvey, to whisper into her ear.
Upon hearing the command given, the jarvey walks to the door of the building, around the other side of the carriage from the majority of observers, leaving the Ogre to move one step to the side and hold his hand out for the next occupant.
She; and it is a she, very definitely, because although green like all Ogres, and with the classic tooth arrangement, two incisors up and two down constantly poking between lips; she has a mass of blonde hair, clearly dyed, but fabulously arranged in ringlets and cascades, topped by a diamond encrusted circlet that is not quite a crown, but conveys the sort of royal ambitions designed to show that the wearer was deserving of the obeisance such a position customarily commands. Her lips were painted in a shiny bright colour, but in deference to her greenness the colour is a deeper, richer green that accentuates the bow that her lips form between her fangs.
Her dress is richly fashioned; a bustle yes, but this fails to convey the sensation of the piece.
Make it pretty, the designer had been told, with bows, folds, ruffles, pleats, gathers, tucks, ruches, creases, corrugations, crimps, flounces and not least flutes; but since the designer had long since lost control of the piece and had employed many apprentices upon the same, the flutes were something upon which a tune could be played, if one so desired, as much as a deployment of an accoutrement to the dress. The ample bosom is allowed of some breathing space by the omission of what would anyway have been a redundant corset, the required shape being achieved despite this exclusion.
The elder Ogre holds her eye for a moment and then bows deeply and elegantly, cane to one side, as she casts her eye upon the proletariat.
It is upon these poor souls that the gaze should now fall, since the putative royalty is surveying them with some expectation that they are currently unable to discern, though this expectation is very much on the minds of the collected even if understanding is absent. The motley collection of grocers, candlestick makers, bakers, assorted streetwalkers, urchins, and general purveyors have been looking at this little scene for a few minutes now, a frozen tableau gaping at the unfolding of the little drama before them. While there are many humans, there are also in numerous quantities; elves, dwarves, sylphs, gnomes, goblins and hobgoblins and assorted boogiemen and earth creatures. They look universally poor, for the simple reason that they are. Not one of this number have seen anything above the value of a silver piece of their lives, let alone actual precious metal. The Ogres have all their attention, and not because they could easily harvest the entire town’s inhabitants for a good supper. Also, the dress.
Taking a cue from the gentleman Ogre, the crowd bows before the apparition, and she flounces round the carriage out of sight to the door.
The next inhabitant of the coach emerges. He is wearing large handcuffs and an outfit made from rough but brightly coloured orange cloth. He has clogs for shoes, and they make a clatter as they hit the cobblestones. He glares at the crowd, which so far is nonplussed by all of this. Seeing this, he reaches a decision and roars at them, far louder than any lion might, for an extended period.
Right then! This is more like it, thinks the crowd. An Ogre, roaring in anger. That’s more what we expect, not all this frippery. That’s an ogre you can respect just before he rips your arms off and stuffs them down your throat. Oh yes, that’s the real thing.
The crowd breaks out into a spontaneous round of applause. This angers the roaring creature more and he roars again, silencing the crowd’s cheering abruptly, with just time for the echo of his rage to dissipate before a sad little tinkle of glass hitting ground indicates that he has shaken a precious pane out of its frame.
“Boo!” Shouts one of the crowd. “Boo to you!” It’s a pudgy man, with a butcher’s apron, the owner of the shop in which the glass has fallen. “That’s a whole two shillings that is!” A lot of the people move to shush him, but he won’t be silenced. “We won’t stand for that sort of thing!” This causes a general movement away from the butcher, whose last name, inevitably is actually Butcher, the movement away being catered on the man, who finds himself using the royal form of “we” rather than the united collective version.
“Boo.” He repeats weakly, trying to maintain the courage of his convictions. He continues very much sotto voce, “It’s criminal damage that, someone ought to pay. That’s what I think anyway, not that my opinion’s of any importance, don’t what I’m fussing about, too much light anyhow, I’ll just patch it up.” The crowd knows when things are going well, it thinks, and this is not one of those times, but while it has been paying attention to Mr Butcher the butcher, they have not noticed the dapper Ogre speaking very quietly to his manacled and orange clad companion, and importantly, giving him a few coins.
They perk up immediately when they hear the well-dressed fellow speak up a bit louder.
“Go on, do it right now, you miscreant!” And so saying, he kicks the satsuma coloured ogre up the backside. There is a moment when the crowd thinks that the town is done for, two Ogres fighting is a death knell for any town, but despite the growling the orange clad fellow walks over to the butcher, clogs clacking and slipping on the cobbles, and says in a voice surrounded by flowers and treacle.
“I’m so sorry. One regrets any property damage caused by one’s outburst. What did you say the cash amount of any damage was?” And because the butcher, while terrified by all seven feet of Ogre bending over him and almost apologising, was a trader and not above making a profit immediately replied,
“Well taking everything into account, professional installation, putty, manufacture of matching glass, time off, lack of working during the intermediate future pending replacement, fear of staff and future health safety adjustments,” he broke off, because the Ogre was smiling at him. “Two bob, like I said.”
“Tell you what.” Growled the bigger participant in the putative negotiation, “Let’s make it four, for you and your merry crew, eh?” And the butcher, knowing when he was being let off a very meaty and immediate hook, nodded vigorously.
“That’ll do nicely, your Ogreship.” And he held his hand out while the fellow counted four silver pieces into his palm, which gripped them tightly.
“Good day to you, sir.” Said Ogre. And he clogged his way back to his captor, or whatever.
The crowd, sensing that something wasn’t quite right, and feeling much emboldened by the presence of one who might normally be considered a predator giving money to a lowly butcher, was moved to ask a question. They chose one of their number by the expedient of all taking a step back while he wasn’t looking.
“I say, excuse me?” The fellow with all the frippery looked at the chap providing the interrogative. He raised an eyebrow to indicate that he was prepared to field a question. “I say! What’s going on?”
Aha! Bang on, thought the crowd, gets down to cases, hits the nail on the head, targets the central issue. Yes, that’s the question right enough.
In answer there came out of the carriage a tiny, shining thing, like a firefly dancing in the wind, and it shone and grew and shone and grew until it was about a foot talk, almost dressed in bright green, with gossamer wings behind and alabaster skin. It was topped by a very pretty face, with blue eyes, so blue in fact that there were no whites at all. She, and it is a she, perches on the orange Ogres’ head. Her voice when it comes is a tiny shrill voice, but loud, and it can be heard all over.
“We’re talking over this town, that’s what’s going on.”
“Oh shit!” Says the man in front, now distinctly alone. “A fairy!”
Published January 2018
A rather speciest term in this company. ↩