The Folklands is a merging of various fairy tales and folktales as well as some classic literature, all told in a continuing story. Any characters found in these story collections with the same names—for instance, Trusty John, John Henry, and Johnny Appleseed—are merged into a single character whenever possible.

It must be noted that this is an on-going project, and the stories are subject to change as more and more stories are merged into them. Also, although it is written in a synopsis format here, the actual book is expected to read more like a regular fairy tale.

Total Pages: 21
Total Words: 13,565

The Founding of NationsEdit

Slithering RedemptionEdit

Two will-o'-the-wisps seek out a way to cross a river into the beautiful Garden of Ideal Aspirations, something that they cannot do on their own. To this effect they find a sleeping ferryman, resting in his boat. Although they wait for a short time the two spirits get impatient and dancing before him to wake the ferryman.

The ferryman awakens and the spirits shake gold from themselves into the boat; this startles him, as had the gold fallen into the river it would overflow. Although he agrees to ferry them across, he demands more reasonable payment as well as the gold: Food. He requests a trio of each artichoke, cabbage, and onion. The wisps agree and depart to locate the vegetables.

As the Ferryman watches the wisps leave, he takes the gold, as heavy as it is, and hefts it up to a high location nearby, until he reaches a rocky cleft. He disposes of the heavy gold here so that it will not weigh down his boat. As he wanders back to the river a green-scaled serpent slithers from the cleft. The gold glints beautifully, and the serpent quickly eats it up. The gold however is magic, and the snake finds itself illuminated. Thus "enlightened", the snake slithers back through his cleft, but now that he is glowing he can see deeper into the caverns than ever before. Curious, he slithers on until he reaches an underground temple, long forgotten. As he starts to study the temple however, an old man also enters the caverns, finding it just after the snake did. This elderly man carries a lamp of his own, which he reveals to the snake is magic: It can only give light when another light is present. Although normally this makes it a particularly useless item, the snake's existence here allows the lamp to shine brightly, as well. The two continue on to investigate the temple. The two eventually locate four kings: one of gold, one of silver, one of bronze, and one as a mixture of the three. The duo begin to travel back to the old couple's house together.

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Meanwhile, the old man's wife is wandering the lands outside their home when she comes across a melancholy prince. When she asks, he informs her that he has met a beautiful lily, yet finds himself distressed due to the fact that anyone whom touches her will perish.

By midday, the old man and the luminous serpent have reached the couple's home, and they are told of the prince's plight. The snake, thankful to the old man for his earlier assistance, offers to form out of his own body a temporary bridge from which the old lady and the prince may cross the river into the Lily's garden. They come across the Lily, who is mourning her own fate. There they stay in the garden until twilight falls. The moonlight makes the Lily ever the more beautiful, and at this point the prince can no longer hold himself back. He succumbs to his desire for the Beautiful Lily, and rushes to her. As legend had stated, the prince immediately dies upon embracing her. The snake is disappointed to see this turn of events and encircles the collapsed, lifeless prince. The old man and his wife mourn the prince's death and move in close to his body. The wisps, which had traveled into the garden earlier, see the prince's demise and join the others, and the group form a procession, standing upon the back of the snake as it slithers back across the river.

Once again in the land of the senses, the people regroup, and return to the garden, guided by the old man. Here, the Lily uses a bit of magic to bring the prince back to life—albeit in but a dream state—by touching both the snake and the prince at the same time. At this point, the snake chooses to sacrifice itself, transforming it into a pile of precious stones, formed from the mystical gold the snake had consumed earlier. Although sad to see the snake go, the old man knows what to do with these stones. As the snake is dead and the ferryman has gone and left, the old man takes the stones and tosses one after another into the river, creating a path of rocks that he uses to make it back to the entrance to the underground temple. However, he realizes that the doors have become locked and he cannot enter.

The twin wisps tell the old couple that they like the taste of gold, and in fact eat gold as often as they can get their energies upon it. The old man and the lady offer the wisps the gold from out the door. The wisps happily oblige and eat the gold out of the doors, helping the couple to enter. Setting foot inside the temple, the old couple trigger a magical transportation system, and the entire temple moves beneath the river with much shuddering and shaking. Eventually the temple begins to lift up again, finally surfacing beneath the hut of the ferryman. This magical process transforms the ferryman's hut into a beautiful and silvery altar. Recognizing the party's arrival, the three kings of Gold, Silver, and Bronze arrive at the altar and bestow upon the now-hibernating prince gifts, thus restoring him to waking life. However, the fourth king does not make it to the temple—instead he collapses under his own weight as the ravenous wisps lick the veins of gold out of him.

Returning afterwards to the land of senses, they run again into the Beautiful Lily. She runs to the prince and embraces him, but the old couple are amazed to discover that her touch no longer kills. The prince and his flower are married soon after. During the ceremony, many citizens come to see the prince and his gorgeous bride, crossing a bridge they could have sworn never had existed before. This bridge, the prince announces, is to be known as the serpent's bridge—though he neglects to tell the people that it is the formation of the serpent's sacrifice. For many years to come, the bridge would become the most frequented in the entire realm, as was the temple.

The Litter of AsenaEdit

In the wake of the disaster that befell their pack, the Amarok alpha Fenrir, and the she-wolf Asena choose to mate. While she remains in the den, Fenrir goes out to hunt for food.

Unfortunately for both Fenrir and Asena, the Æsir have finally located the great and fearsome alpha, and he is thus captured and taken to Odin's tower. Having already dealt with both Jormungand as well as Hel, he finally sets his sights on the Amarok. By this time however, the Æsir had grown afraid of Fenrir. Of all of their supposedly-courageous stock, only Týr is brave enough to attempt to approach Fenrir to feed him. As an Amarok, Fenrir's hunger is all but insatiable and like others of his kind he will continue to grow so long as he is well-fed. The Æsir noticed that he grew rapidly each and every day and understanding that prophesy foretells that Fenrir is destined to cause them all harm, they plot a solution.

To this end, they fashion and prepare three fetters: The first is great and strong, referred to as Leyding. Bringing it forth before Fenrir they suggest that he test his growing strength upon its length. Always prideful, Fenrir judged the object as not beyond his strength and therefore lets them do as they pleased with it. With a single kick the bind snaps and he easily loosens himself and continues on with his day, feeling ever more prideful than before.

They next fashion a second fetter referred to as Dromi, which is twice as strong as the last one. Again they offer it to him to test his strength and cater to his ego, though this time they feign excitement, telling him that the Dromi was a feat of their engineering prowess and should he break it, he would achieve great fame for his strength. Plied sufficiently, he notes that the fetter is very strong, though his strength has also grown since breaking the Leyding. He still accepts the challenge as he comes to understand that it only makes sense for him to need to take some risks if he wished to be truly famous. They applied it and exclaimed to him that they were ready. Fenrir shook himself, knocking the fetter first to the ground. From here he strained hard against it and upon kicking with his feet, successfully shattered the fetter, sending pieces flying far off into the distance.

Although their plan has been fruitful thus far, the Æsir begin to fear that they may actually not be able to develop a bond strong enough to cage him. Odin hears of this and sends a messenger down to the dwarves, asking them to create a new fetter: What the dwarves come up with is a fetter known as Gleipnir, made from six mythical ingredients. The Gleipnir is smooth and soft as a silk ribbon, yet at the same time strong and firm. This fetter is returned to the Æsir.

Thinking so highly of their sacred sanctuaries that they did not wish to taint it with wolf's blood but still wanting him far from the throne, they convince Fenrir to accompany them to Lake Amsvartnir, where he proceeds to drink. They convince him to paddle across the lake and take them across to the island of Lyngvi. Here they finally show Fenrir the newest fetter and ask him to tear it. However, they revealed unto him that it was in fact stronger than it seemed. Fenrir replies to the Æsir with suspicion:
"It looks to me as though that with this ribbon I will gain no fame from it if I do tear apart such a slender band, but if it is made with art and trickery, then even if it does look thin, this band is not going on my leg."

Realizing their folly in hinting at its true strength, they try to convince him that he could quickly tear such a thin silken strip apart, and make sure to note that he had so recently broke the great iron bands and that were he unable to break the Gleipnir as well than he was nothing for them to fear, and as a result will be freed.

Fenrir huffs dramatically, and bellows out a loud, coarse voice:
"If you bind me so that I am unable to release myself, then you will be standing by in such a way that I should have to wait a long time before I got any help from you. I am reluctant to have this band put on me. But rather than that you question my courage, let someone put his hand in my mouth as a pledge that this is done in good faith."
The Æsir know what this means, and with planned deception in their hearts, all that they can do is look to one another with concern over the dilemma they had inadvertently set themselves in. Each in turn refuses to do so, and Fenrir believes he has proven their plot; it is then that the great warrior Týr steps forward and thrusts his right hand between Fenrir's jaws. Fenrir was surprised but accepted the challenge and allowed Gleipnir to be tied to his leg.

When he kicks, the Gleipnir catches tightly and the more he struggles, the stronger the band's hold grows. Each of the Æsir laugh with the exception of one: Týr. Realizing he is caught fast and noting the group's laughter as a sure sign of plotted treachery, Fenrir takes the opportunity to chomp down upon the warrior's hand and tear it clean off at the wrist. Týr went to recover before blood loss took his life, and during this time Fenrir continues to try to free himself, only to find himself ultimately fully bound. At this point the Æsir remaining on-scene grabbed a Gelgja cord that hung from Gleipnir and inserted it through a large stone slab before fastening that deep into the ground. To serve as an anchoring peg, a great rock is then thrust even further into the earth. Knowing he was caught, Fenrir reacts violently, opening his jaws as wide as he could to try and bite as many Æsir as he could. Sensing opportunity, one drew their sword and thrust the point hard into the roof of Fenrir's mouth and jammed the hilt against his lower jaw, lodging it in place and gagging him. In excruciating pain, Fenrir howled horribly, saliva running from his great maw like a river of hope for all the Æsir.

With Fenrir bound indefinitely, Asena is alone. Eventually she has to begin hunting for herself again and thus risk the lives of her unborn pups, or starve to death. The pregnancy is harsh but she pulls through. By spring she gives birth to a litter of six new Amarok pups: Akela, the Gentlewolf; Amaguq, the Trickster; Calu, the Hellhound; Hati, the Goat Eater; Sköll, the Pig Eater; and Uou, the Sheep Eater.

As is the case with Amaroks, the pups each had an insatiable hunger to the point of being maddening. As also the case with Amarok families, each member, as they grew, chose to stick to a particular food source to keep from inadvertently starving their own kin. When they reached juvenile age, their mother sent them into the world, despite knowing the trouble they might cause the civilizations of man that she had personally helped foster. For months, the wolves traveled the countryside of Sebastea unabated before finally reaching the lands of men.

Hati arrived in the hills entering Johtonheim, where he meets a tribe of mountain goats. Having never seen such creatures before he is impressed by their agile nature on the rocks of the mountainside, and decides to protect them. Because of his hungry nature he often leaves for the forests below to hunt other game. The goats are impressed by his composure and hunger-based willpower and pay him no ill mind.

Uou reaches the northern farmlands of Colchester, the realm of the mirthful King Cole. Here he finds rolling hills and before long finds himself among thousands of cottony creatures. He has run across the grazing fields of the Shepherd, who has met other wolves before - though none nearly the size of the great Amaroks - and is suspicious of the beast. Uou however is dumbfounded by the sheer volume of meat, and having never seen such creatures in his life he is more curious than anything. The shepherd stands guard around his flock every morning, keeping a watchful eye upon the Amarok as the Amarok keeps a curious gaze upon the sheep. However, the Amarok never attacks and after some weeks, the shepherd lets his guard down and begins to trust the wolf. One day the shepherd's wife goes into labor, and excited at the prospect of his new child, he takes a huge risk: He asks the wolf to guard the flock while he is gone. Uou agrees.

The shepherd runs off to be with his wife and Uou returns his gaze to the cottony creatures he had watched for so many months. Minutes go by, and turn into hours. Hours turn into a day. The wolf was famished and despite his better judgment begins to salivate at the sheer thought of what these soft creatures must taste like.

After a day and a half, the shepherd is finally ready to return to his flock, ready to proudly announce to Uou that he has had a little boy. But when he arrives he finds his flock decimated and the wolf nowhere to be seen. His livelihood is now in shambles and he collapses to his knees, realizing what a fool he has been. He blames himself. Uou, soaked in blood, moves into the surrounding mountains but cannot pull himself away from such an easy and delicious meal as the sheep.

Sköll finds himself in the neighboring kingdom of Camelot, where he discovers pigs to be the preferred farmed animals of the land. Unlike his previous two siblings, Sköll sees nothing but opportunity here. He stalks the lands for weeks but is unable to find a proper place to become his den. Eventually Sköll attempts to rout a local fox from its den but the creature proves too agile for him. Frustrated, he threatens to blow the den apart and to this the fox offers to share its den rather than lose it entirely. The two creatures then grow to become allies of convenience. The team set their sights on the nearby pig farms.

A motherly pig sow has three young piglets just entering their young adult stage of life. Wanting a better life for her offspring, she sends them into the world and tells them to seek out their fortune. The three travel several miles before finding a spot they all agree looks like a nice place, and the three stake out claims equal distances apart from each other. Unfortunately for them, they have entered the borders of the territory that Sköll considers his own, and he keeps a close eye on the three.

The first little pig was named Browny. He set out to live a simple life, and to that means he chose a field near a river in which to set up his house. Using the material he saw available, he built himself a modest house out of straw bales and mud. The house was built in no time at all, and he spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the shade of his new home, snoring loudly. However, just watching the pig work had made the wolf was hungry. Smacking his lips he stalked down to the river front. The fox yips excitedly at his heels and wakes up the pig, who sees the wolf coming and locks the door. Aggravated at the ease of a kill spoiled by his partner in crime, Sköll instead chose to try and reason with the animal.
"Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in?" he tried to sound as convincing as he possibly could, but the piglet had seen the wolf's arrival and knew what would be in store for him should he comply.
"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!" called out the pig, relieved that his choice in building quickly meant that he now had a barrier between himself and his tormentor. Finding himself losing his temper, the wolf called back to the pig as a final warning.
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"
The piglet was unsure if the wolf had the strength to perform such a feat, and he began to worry. The piglet remained quiet. Not willing to take such insolence further, Sköll inhaled deeply. His father Fenrir was also the embodiment of the north wind, and this allowed his kin to breathe great gouts of wind. Sköll huffed, and Sköll puffed, and with a mighty whoosh of air he toppled the straw and mud hut of Browny which had not even completely dried. Squeal as he might, Browny could not escape or dissuade the wolf, who grabbed him and dragged him back to his lair.

Back in the lair, Sköll prepared to eat the poor brown piglet. Fox saw an opportunity for greediness and insisted that Sköll wait to feast. Impatient, the wolf asked the fox why he should do such a silly thing, to which the fox replied that if he waited to collect all three piglets, they would have a feast made for a king. Despite his hunger, Sköll was swayed by this idea and let Browny live for the time being.

A few days later, both Whitey and Blacky are talking about their brother, whom neither had seen hide nor hair of. The conversation goes nowhere and Blacky offers to take Whitey with him to the market in town; she refuses however as she would rather focus on finishing her cabin and relaxing the stress away. Blacky leaves without her and she returns to her chosen territory. Whitey had chosen a nice spot against the forest treeline where shade kept her property cool. Here she constructed a house though being no architect she did love things of beauty and built it out of weaved sticks of furze, with a roof made out of thatched cabbage leaves. Even so it suited her purposes just fine and she enjoyed it as a wonderful place to lay her head.

When she was asleep and murmuring about pretty things, the wolf crept down from his den. He insisted that the fox stay in the den under the pretense that he must watch the brown piglet to keep him from escaping. The wolf thought himself clever to be rid of the fox and felt he could now catch this piglet with ease. He did not know however that despite her feminine ideas she was still a pig at heart and did not clean up after herself upon completing her cabin. She had left twigs strewn hither and thither, and it was not long before the wolf stepped upon one, its snapping piercing the air. The sudden noise woke Whitey up and she glanced out her window to see a wolf approaching her home. She had just enough time to latch her door and shimmy under her bed before the ravenous beast was at her doorstep. Smacking his lips he again tried to cater to her, but this time chose a slightly different strategy.

"Oh dear, sweet, beautiful piglet! I have just now seen the most beautiful patch of flowers one ever did set their eyes upon!"
Whitey nearly got up upon hearing this but she was suspicious as to his motives and so stayed quiet. Hearing no response, Sköll frowned.
"Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in?" he cooed in his most gentle and soothing voice.
Although it made her feel just downright terrible to do it, she remembered that her brother was missing and pieced that together with the wolf outside her door. She realized it was better for her to refuse.
"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!" called out the young sow.
The wolf was shocked - sure, he was going to eat her, but how could she know that? He found her refusal quite rude, indeed! Finding himself losing his temper again, the wolf called back to her as a final warning.
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"
This frightened her and she was unable to act even had she wanted to as she was quivering so hard. Not willing to take her rude behavior laying down, the Amarok inhaled deeply. Sköll huffed, and Sköll puffed, and with a mighty whoosh of air he toppled the weaved furze and thatched cabbage cabin of Whitey which had not even been completely decorated. She was knocked unconscious during the strike, and therefore could not escape or dissuade the wolf, who grabbed her and dragged her back to his lair.

During this time, Blacky had gone into the nearby town to visit the market. Here he was impressed by the buildings of man, and seeking to emulate them he picked up masonic building materials such as brick and mortar. Thinking himself quite clever, he also purchases a slab of roast beef to reward himself for the hard work of building a true structure.

Returning to his chosen property, Blacky begins work on his house right away, placing bricks and slathering on mortar. At this same time, the wolf was finding his hunger to be excruciating. When he attempted to eat the two pigs in his possession, the fox would pipe up and tell him not to do so. When his hunger got too great, the wolf stormed off to hunt deer in the surrounding forests to satiate him for the time being. He would not return for a week and in this time, Blacky had completed his brick home. The clever piglet than began prepping his roast beef for his celebratory meal.

Wafting out of the chimney and out into the surrounding woods, the smell of cooking meat is too much for the wolf. It is finally time to catch the final pig and begin his great feast. The wolf quickly moves to the door of the home, surprised to see the place completed so completely. He knocks at the door and the pig comes to it, calling out to him from the other side of the heavy wooden door, asking who it was who had come to visit him.
"Little pig! Clever pig! Your building prowess is superb! Let me in so that I may admire it from the inside as well?"
The piglet is wary however, as he has not seen his siblings in over a week and that was not normal for them to stay away for so long. "I'm sorry but I do not know you! I cannot let you in."
"Little pig! Clever pig! Please let me come in?" the wolf repeated itself.
"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!" calls out the piglet, hoping to end the conversation with the nosy neighbor.
This greatly angers the wolf who had starved himself far too long to just be brushed aside. He readies himself and issues his first and final warning: "Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"
And so he does. Gusts of wind whoosh out of the wolf's mouth until it peters out, all the air in his lungs spent. The Sköll opens his eyes and to his shock and dismay, the brick house still stands.

Again he tries, and huffs once more, and puffs once more, and once more he fails to topple the building down upon itself, which continues to stand in sheer defiance of the wolf's pride. By this point the wolf is exhausted; his lungs ache and his legs feel weak. For the first time in his life, the wolf finds himself winded. Panting heavily, he sits in the shade for a time. After several minutes of catching his breath, Sköll comes up with another strategy.
"I must apologize, clever pig. I let my emotions get the better of me. Please, step outside and allow me to apologize for my brash behavior."
"I am not so sure that your anger has subsided, and I fear you may yet intend me harm," Blacky replies.
"Then perhaps I can prove my intent by telling you where there is a nice field of turnips."
"Where?" replies Blackie.
"Why, they are in the field of Mr. Smith. If you will be ready tomorrow morning by 6, we shall travel together and get for us some dinner."
"Very well," says the little piglet, "I will be ready."

Feeling right pleased with himself, Sköll leaves for the night, already tasting pork on his tongue. He hardly can get to sleep he was so excited, but by 4 in the night he finally collapses from exhaustion and sleeps.

Blacky has no intention to let the wolf get the better of him, and still wary of the creature's slavering jaws, he gets up at 5 and traveles to Mr. Smith's farm. Here he roots around and digs up many turnips. He has returned well before 6. The wolf however has difficulty waking himself up after but 2 hours of rest and barely reaches the door of the brick house by a minute before 6. At exactly 6 on the clock, the wolf raps upon Blacky's door.
"Little pig, are you ready for our journey?"
"Ready I have been!", calls out the pig, "I have in fact been and come back again, and have already fetched myself a nice potful for my dinner. You may still go yourself if you like."
The wolf's feels his body heat up from frustration, but blames himself for having woke up so late. He feels he could still best his little meal, however.
"I still owe you for an apology. Little pig, I know where to find a nice apple tree."
"And where is this?" the pig asks.
"Why, it is down at Merry Garden," replies the wolf, "and it is the best in the land. If you would please wait for me this time and not deceive me than I shall come for you at 5 on the clock tomorrow, and we can collect us some apples from the best apple tree in the land." The piglet agrees and again, the wolf departs.

Blacky however chooses to once more deceive the wolf, and goes to the tree at 4 instead; he hopes to reach the tree and return before the wolf returns outside his home, but this time he had further to go and and to climb a tree, which pigs are not accustomed to doing. By the time he has finally shimmying his way down the tree he glances out from its leafy branches and sees the wolf coming. As one would suppose, this frightens him very, very much. Sköll comes upon the tree and glancing up as wolves are apt to do, addresses the pig who had so obviously attempted to defying his will once again.
"Agile pig, what! Are you here before me? Are the apples as nice as I have told you?"
"Why yes, very," the pig replies, "Let me throw you down one so that you may taste them as well." And so he does, but he throws it such a distance that by the time the wolf has fetched the apple and returned, the pig has had the time to shimmy the rest of the way down the tree and run home. Bested once more, the wolf storms off.

He returns to the door of the third pig again the next morning. "Flighty pig! There is a fair in the market town of Shanklin today. Will you go?"
"I shall go. What time shall you be ready?"
"Today we shall leave at 3," says the wolf, feeling a might impatient by this point.
The wolf was again fooled, as the pig leaves early again. Here he buys himself a new butter churn but he is so fascinated by the sights and sounds of the fair that he forgets the time. Hurrying home he runs again into the wolf. Before the creature sees him however he desperately tries to hide himself and to this effect, hides within the churn, knocking it over in the process with all his frantic shifting around. Shanklin, like Merry Garden, is situated upon a hill and tipping the churn over leaves it to roll at an ever-increasing pace down the hill and towards the wolf and the piglet's home. Surprised by the rolling object barreling at him the wolf finds himself fleeing back to his den without ever traveling to the fair, believing that the townsfolk had sent it after him.

The wolf's sudden return to his den wakes up the lazy fox, and startles the imprisoned pigs from their stupor. When he has calmed down and feels safe enough to leave his den without the fear of persecution by the likes of man, he travels back to the pig's home, unknown that the fox slinks behind him to see what has been occurring beyond the den's walls. Watching the pigs has been incredibly boring for him and he seeks some excitement. Here, the wolf tell the pig of the event and how it had frightened him. Hearing this, the pig is unable to keep from bursting into a fit of laughter.
"Well then, wolf, it was I who frightened you! For you see, I had been to the fair and bought a new churn, but upon seeing you, hid inside and rolled down the hill. How funny is that, a giant wolf such as yourself scared by a little pig like me!"

This is the last straw for Sköll and he grows more furious than ever before. Threatening the pig he states that he will most certainly eat the pig now and that he will get him no matter what, even if he has to climb down the chimney to get to him. Hearing this, Blacky immediately sets a pot of water to boil underneath the chimney. The wolf proceeds to try several ways into the home but none to any avail, and as promised he attempts the chimney. The Amaroks are large wolves, however, and his footsteps are unmistakable upon the little pig's roof, so when he hears him scurrying down into the chimney, he opens up the cauldron and in falls the wolf. The waters burn him through his fur, but before the pig can slam the lid shut upon him successfully, the wolf yelps loud and flies up and out the chimney. He continues to flee deep into the woods.

Both seeing and hearing the raucous, the fox peers from his hiding spot in the wood pile. Sensing an opportunity to catch the pig himself, the fox leaps upon the roof and quickly crawls up to the chimney and shimmies down it. However, the piglet has not yet covered the cauldron and still stands by the fire so when the fox lands in the water with a splash, the pig is there and ready to close the lid shut upon him. The fox is not as strong as the wolf, and unlike the wolf cannot force the lid open. Trying to bargain for his life, the fox tells the pig that if he lets him go, he will lead him to the wolf's den where his siblings are still being held.
"Where?" asks the pig. And so the fox, fearing for his own life, blurts out the exact location of their den.
"Well then, I must go and rescue my siblings before the wolf returns!" exclaims the pig, and he is off, having not opened the pot lid first. The fox is boiled and becomes no more.

Blacky is surprised to find the den only a half hour from his own home. Here he finds his brother Browny, and his sister Whitey, caged within the den. The three join together, are able to dig under the bars and escape back to the brick house, excitedly squealing all the way home.

Sköll licks his wounds and, seriously scalded but too proud to except failure in this way, travels the nearby borders of the lands until he comes upon the pig farm that the three siblings had originated from. Here he watches cautiously and soon he spots a tiny spotty piglet on the borders of the fencing. Sensing his opportunity the wolf rushes in and nabs the tiny baby piglet before fleeing back towards his den to finally eat his meal.

Hoping to reach his destination faster, he risks man's road. Clear sailing this is for most of the journey, but coming around a bend he comes face to face with a party of men leading ahead of them a priest in tattered clothing and heavy manacles. The priest stops upon seeing the wolf, forcing the rest of the caravan to stop behind him.
"Dr. Blaise, move along!" one of the guards orders, shoving the priest forward. The priest stands firm and rights himself once more. Ignoring the men behind him he turns his gaze to Sköll and the two lock eyes. Sköll feels dizziness and vertigo overtake him, and when he hears Blaise command him to put down the pig hanging from his jaws, he is unable to refuse and does just that, lowering his head in submission but without taking his eyes off of Blaise's.
"Move along, I said!!" the guard orders and shoves the priest with all his might, causing him to stumble forward. The caravan continues onward but Blaise does not break his gaze from the wolf until he is out of sight. After a minute or so, the wolf feels his mind return to him, but he somehow no longer has the desire to eat a piglet feast and instead trudges home.

Many days later, Blaise finds himself in a Sebastea cell awaiting execution via beheading. Blaise is not afraid for himself, though he is deeply saddened that he cannot help people any longer. It is then that the warden tells him he has a visitor, and wonders who it is who might stop in to see him, in steps a lady in her mid-forties, hefting a small, spotted, baby piglet in her arms.
"Thank you, doctor, for saving my young piglet from the wolf. He is very special to me and I do not know where I would be without him." she says to him.
He welcomes her but says no thanks is necessary, yet apologizes that he would not be around much longer to perform such deeds. Instead he tells her to pay it forward to honor his deeds. She tearfully agrees, and tells him that he is a saint of a man. The next afternoon, "Saint" Blaise is taken out into the town square and beheaded.

The Three SonsEdit

A man and his wife run the local mill and have raised three sons, becoming wealthy in the process from their original peasant status. One day, their father retires, and the family is left to take over in his wake. When the time comes to distribute his inheritance, the eldest son, Uele, inherits the mill; the middle child, Seame, inherits the family's mules; and the youngest son Hans, long considered to be foolish, inherits nothing other than a tabby cat. Hans laments but it is soon revealed unto him that this is no ordinary cat when the feline requests from its master a pair of boots; bewildered, Hans responds and gets him the boots he desires. From that day forward the cat insists on being referred to as "Puss in Boots". The cat decides to prove its loyalty to Hans by making him his own fortune; he begins doing this by first bagging a rabbit in the forest and bringing it to the country's tsar, informing him that it is a gift from his master, whom the cat refers to as the Marquis of Carabas. The tsar accepts and so the cat continues to periodically bring him the gift of game over the next several months.

Eventually the cat decides it is time to raise the stakes. Hearing that the tsar decides to take a carriage drive with his youngest daughter, the cat persuades his master to remove his clothes and enter the river ahead on the road, and after some minutes their carriage comes along the path. The cat disposes of his master's clothing behind a rock and as the royal coach nears, the cat begins yelping for help in great distress. When the tsar stops to investigate, the cat tells him that his master the Marquis has been bathing in the river and robbed of his clothing. The tsar, recalling him from the cat's gifts, has the young man brought from the river and tells his entourage to have the "Marquis" dressed in a splendid suit of clothes. He is then offered a seat in the coach with the tsar's daughter, who falls in love with him on sight.

The cat hurries ahead of the coach, ordering the country folk along the road to tell the tsar as he passes that the land belongs to the "Marquis of Carabas", saying that if they do not he will cut them into mincemeat. The cat then happens upon a castle inhabited by an ogre who is capable of shapeshifting, specifically into creatures. The ogre displays his ability by changing into a lion, frightening the cat, who then tricks the ogre into changing into a mouse. The cat then pounces upon the mouse and devours it. The tsar arrives at the castle that formerly belonged to the ogre, and, impressed with the bogus Marquis and his estate, informs Hans that he would entertain the idea of allowing Hans and his daughter to marry. The tsar then returns home, leaving Hans to consider the possibility of living the good life.

Not too many days later however, this young daughter falls ill to some unknown malaise. Desperate, the tsar offers her hand to anyone who can save her life. Uele takes a basket of apples to the kingdom with hopes of gaining her hand, but along the way he meets a small iron man who asks him what is in the basket. Looking to impress the being, he informs him that he is carrying frog legs, and the iron man tells him "And so it is." Uele is confused but simply continues on to the tsar's castle presents his basket to the ruler, who looks into the basket to find it full of frog legs. Aghast, he drives Uele out of the castle.

Seame journeys out next with another basket, and encounters the same mischievous iron man. When asked about what's in the basket, he scoffs at the creature and sarcastically informs him "hogs' bristles". Upon reaching the throne, he hands over the basket and the tsar does indeed find swine hairs filling the basket. Angrier than before, he drives Seame out of the castle as well, who unlike his brother is lucky to escape with his head.

Hans insists upon going as well, despite the serious failures of his brothers. His father allows it despite his better judgment and gives Hans a basket as well. Down the path he also meets the iron man, but when asked what is in his basket he answers truthfully and confidently, telling the creature that it is full of apples with which the princess would be able to eat and make herself well. With a smirk the creature informed him "So it is." Hans did not flinch, as of course it was so, how couldn't it be? He arrived at the castle to greeting from the tsar as the Marquis of Carabas, and when he opened the basket and saw apples, he immediately sent them to his daughter and she was cured. Before the tsar could award the "Marquis" the hand of his daughter, a sudden commotion in the castle courtyard reached their ears. Shocked at the sudden distress, the tsar and his men ran to the windows to discover the castle being invaded by a trio of giants. Not wanting to break his promise to the Marquis he considers so loyal, he orders a small segment of his own royal guards to escort Hans to safety away from the castle walls. Hans escapes in the confusion and returns home to the mill.

While the giants are eventually driven off, they successfully carry off all three of the tsar's daughters. When Puss in Boots hears this he reports back to Hans with the information, suggesting to his master that this attack was in retribution for the ogre's murder, as the tsar was noted in the area at the time and thus considerably a more likely candidate for as the aggressor than a cat in leather boots. Distraught, the tsar visits with the local sheanachy (historian) who says to him that the only way to get his girls back was through a ship that could travel over both sea and land. Intending to get his daughters back safe and sound and as quickly as possible, the tsar decides to (potentially) dispose of his idea of the Marquis taking one of his daughters' hands, and instead declares that whosoever could craft him a ship that could sail through the air would marry their choice of his daughters. Puss hears this and returns to the castle to ask if the Marquis still had the princess' hand promised to him, and the tsar informed him that he would refuse to marry his daughter out to him unless he was the one who built the magical boat. Puss returned home to the mill and informed Hans of the news.

Depressed, Hans mentions the challenge to his father later that day, and his father then brings the topic up at the dinner table. Hearing this, Uele decides to set out on the quest, and his mother gives him everything she could to be prepared in terms of gear and equipment, though he asks his mother to bake him a bannock and roast a chicken for a meal he would inevitably become famished for while cutting wood to build the ship. She offers him either a small bannock with her blessing or a large bannock without one, and knowing he would become hungry, he takes the large and heads out. Along the way he runs into an uruisg, a species of brownie. When it asks for some of his food he refuses to share, inciting the importance of his mission. Reaching the trees, he found that each and every one he cut down would suddenly reattach itself to its roots again and stand back up. Eventually completely exhausted, he sits down to rest and eat his meal. At this moment, the iron man returns and asks what Uele is making. Remembering the creature none too fondly and too tired and frustrated from his reward-less work, he exasperates, "Wooden bowls! What does it look like?". The creature nodded softly and said "So it is," before wandering off. After numerous restless hours, Uele continues to work at the trees, and when he finally begins making progress in cutting one apart to make a boat, he finds that the finished product is a wooden bowl instead. Nearly driven mad by the prospect, he gives up and returns home. The middle brother, Seame, has a personality quite similar to his brother and the aspects and outcome are the same for him, as well. He also returns home defeated.

Hans, fearing that he might lose his chance with the princess but choosing not to reveal his deception (as it could be considered treason towards the throne), he begs to go out too and try his luck. Although his family sees him simply as a foolish, irresponsible simpleton, they allow him to go. He is given the same deal as his brothers, but unlike his older siblings he asks for the small bannock with a blessing. He, like they had before him, also meets the uruisg, who again asks if he will part with some of his meal. Feeling sorry for the creature he gives some to it. Now fed, the little being informs him to go home and to return in a year and a day. Confused and honestly a little disappointed, he did as he was told and returned home.

During this time, the tsar received no gifts from the talking cat nor his mysterious master, and began to grow curious. He sends his scouts out to the Marquis' castle only for them to discover it empty, as Hans had never actually moved in. Realizing something was amiss, they traveled the local countryside trying to find out what happened to the Marquis of Carabas, and with no one seeming to know what they were asking about, the scouts continued on. On fateful day they walked into a local mill well within the tsar's kingdom, and soon spotted the boy who their ruler knew as someone completely different. Making an excuse as to why they had arrived there, the scouts quickly head back to the castle to tell him their news. When word arrived to him that this noble was in actuality from peasant stock, he decides to punish the liar in the most clever way he can think of; he lets word spread that he is seeking an audience with the Marquis of Carabas, and Puss overhears, informing young Hans that he must travel back to the castle, which he does posthaste. Once there, the tsar informs him that if he wants his daughters' hand in marriage, he must complete a number of tasks. Hans readily agrees.

The tsar sets Hans up to watch a hundred hares in a nearby meadow for the whole day. Although he is unsure as to the reason behind this task he accepts it. Standing, moving hither and thither, sitting, and eventually laying down as the day dragged on, the sun began to plummet harshly in the sky. Seeing the day was nearly done, the tsar sent a maid to beg the "Marquis" for one of the hares for guests at the castle. Hans flat out refused her request and instead stated that he would only give one to the tsar's daughter, knowing full well that she was not available. The little iron man poked his head out from behind a hillock, and offered young Hans a whistle, telling him that it would summon any hare back to the meadow should he blow through it. In an attempt to trick the young miller's son, the tsar uses the magic of a local sorcerer to disguise the maid as his daughter, and sends her back to again ask for one of the hares. Seeing through the ruse, Hans gives her one but as she enters the castle town proper, he blows the whistle and the hare leaps from her arms and comes scurrying back to his side faster than she can catch it. The day passed and Hans had won the challenge. The tsar however sends him home.

A full year and a day goes by, and young Hans goes to set out upon his quest for the boat that can travel over both land and sea again, with Puss in tow. Partially due to their own past experiences with the quest and partially because they still considered him to be a fool, his brothers ridiculed him, and made sure that this time he set out with less than fine food. This made his journey a little harsher, but not enough to get him to turn on his heels. He continued on to the forest he had been to a year prior, and ran across a little man who asked if he would share his meal. Hans hesitated at this, but not out of selfishness. Instead, he informed the little man that he did not believe it was fit enough for him to eat and that for his own sake he really better not. The little man showed no dissuasion and so Hans opened his basket to feed him what he had, only to find that the food had somehow become a fine meal that they both could share. Afterwards, the little man stood up and introduced himself as Paul, and that there was a trick to striking the trees out in this forest: First, you take an axe and chop at the tree, but to never look at it while doing so. As the tree was to fall, you must fall to your knees instead of moving out of the way. Hans thanked the man and continued deeper into the forest. Here he met the iron man again, who asked him what he was making. Hans told him the truth, that he intended to create a boat that would travel over both land and sea. The iron man nodded sagely and muttered "So it is," and left. Undeterred, Hans prepared to chop down the tree. He removed his axe from his pack and prepared to strike it, looking away right before he took his first swing. From then on he would not look at the tree. As he was foolish his axe marks were never on-spot, and so it took him many hours to chop the tree down, but when it finally groaned and began to collapse, Hans dropped to his knees. Where he expected a loud crashing sound, none came. Minutes went by and still no crash. Eventually he opened his eyes and dared a peek.

He found the tree to have become an airship. Left in awe, he was startled when the little man Paul walked up behind him and calmly told him that he should fly the ship to save the daughters from the giants and then the tsar's palace to show him, but should give anyone who asked a lift. Without turning his eyes from the vessel, he nodded and obeyed. Paul left without another word. Hans proceeded to board the airship but found it already staffed with its own crew. To his dismay he also found that there were several gentlemen on board who insisted upon marrying all of the tsar's daughters.

Along the way, the crew met a man drinking from a river, leaving little left but a trickle. This man's name was Broad, and he told them that his thirst could not be sated even by a lake; they welcomed him aboard before continuing on. Next they flew over a park and came across a gluttonous man eating stots and intending to eat every last one, who told them that he would need a great basket of bread for his breakfast every morning. They also came across a man with his head to the earth, who informed the crew when asked that he can hear the grass grow, and who said that he could listen to everything in the world. As he had to shout at them for them to hear him when they had muttered their question to themselves under their breath, they knew what he said to be truth and let both he and the stot-eater aboard.

That very night the listener stayed up to listen to the world from the starboard side of the airship, and overheard the giants and learned that that was the place where they kept the tsar's daughters. They turned in that direction and by dawn they had arrived at the castle of the giants. They descended in a creel basket in an attempt to be stealthy but were immediately noticed by the first of the three giants. Upon learning of their intent, he told them that he would not give up the tsar's daughter in his possession until they could set a man before him who could drink as much as the giant himself could; Broad the Drinker stepped forward and accepted the challenge. The two knelt onto hands and knees and began to drink from the great bay that lay beyond the castle's walls, and the two drank and drank. But before Broad was full, the giant's belly burst open and he died. The crew celebrated their victory and brought the eldest princess aboard in the creel.

Now made confident with their first victory, they quickly made their way into the castle where they encountered the second giant. They told this giant of their quest and he chuckled, telling them that they would not have the tsar's daughter until they had set before him a man who could eat as much as he could; the Stot-Eater stepped forward and accepted the challenge. The two sat at a massive table, strewn with more food than any man can imagine, and began to scarf it down almost too fast to see. But before the Stot-Eater was full, the giant's belly burst open and he died. The crew celebrated another victory and brought the middle princess aboard in the creel.

The gentlemen had remained on board the airship and now began to flirt with the princesses, but Hans was too close to the end of his quest to reprimand them for their insolence, and continued on. He finally found the third giant and informed him of their quest. This giant nodded and smirked before leaning forward, getting as close to little Hans as he could. He told him that he would not have the tsar's daughter until Hans himself agreed to be his slave in trade for a year and a day. Unfazed, Hans agreed and brought the youngest princess aboard in the creel. He then sent the servants and the daughters and even Puss in Boots back to the palace. The airship abandons Hans as per his request and returns to the palace. Despite Puss' protests, the gentlemen claim that they had rescued the princesses themselves.

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A year and a day go by and Hans' grueling servitude reaches its end. The giant gives him a large eagle on which to fly out and back home, and hands him some meet to feed it and keep it continuing on the journey. Hans readily takes flight upon the eagle but realizes that the meat given was not enough, and the eagle turns back a quarter of the way home. Arriving back at the giant's castle, the monster laughs heartily and demands another year and a day from Hans. Hans has no choice but to agree to the terms.

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Another year and a day go by and the giant lets Hans attempt to leave again, upon the same eagle as before. This time he sends him off with still more meat, but it is still not quite enough for the journey and the eagle turns around and heads back for the castle about halfway home. The giant again demands another year and a day of servitude from young Hans.

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The third year and a day goes by and the giant gives him yet more meat and Hans finds himself running out of meat when almost 2/3rds home. Growing desperate yet calm, Hans chooses to cut some meat from his own thigh to give to the eagle. The eagle continues to its planned destination and lands. Hans immediately topples off the bird before it can fly away again. He is surprised to find the eagle dropping a whistle off next to him for him to summon it whenever he may need to. The eagle then returns to the giant's castle.

It is now that Hans realizes that the bird left him at the top of a spire of rock. The wounds on his leg make it difficult for him to climb down, but he does make it. He finds a small village at the base of the spire, and the villagers take him in upon seeing his wounded leg. He remains here for a few months while his leg recovers, and during this time he meets a man who goes about his day hopping on one leg. Hans asks him why he does this, and the Hopper tells him that he does so so that he would not reach the end of the world in a single bound. The two spend some time together and once the wound has sealed up and he is well enough to walk normally again, he departs. The Hopper chooses to follow.

In the forest they find themselves starving and out of food. Suddenly a bird falls straight out of the air and crashes to the ground right in front of them with an arrow sticking straight out of its chest. A hunter reveals himself and tells them that his name is Sharpsight, and he boasts that he can shoot a bird at a hundred miles. Seeing the duo's appetite he offers them his catch and the three camp for the night. Hans regales the two with the tales of his journey thus far and Sharpsight is impressed. At daybreak he already has his gear packed and tells Hans and the Hopper that he will be accompanying them. They do not dissuade him.

Deeper in the forest the trio come across a dilapidated cabin, and choosing to explore it they find an old man wearing a wig resembling cornmeal mush. The man, surrounded by many cords of wood, introduces himself as Mister Geppetto. When asked what his profession is, he tells them that he is an expert woodcarver, so good that he can actually bring the wood to life, but that is not what he would call a profession as he is left penniless and alone. The group tell him he could probably make better money if he were to travel to the townships or the palace, and Geppetto decides to try his luck by joining them. He brings as much wood on his back as he can, and the four men continue on towards the palace.

The journey is a long one but they come across a field that Hans recognizes—it is the meadow in which he had watched a hundred hares years prior. He excitedly tells his allies that they are almost to the palace. Halfway across the meadow the party meets a man producing straw bales. Having never seen someone come from the direction this group had come from before he asks them what they are doing. They tell him that they are going to go see the tsar to claim the princesses. Sensing trouble, the Haymaker offers to follow them and bring with him some bales of straw which he informs them will make everything cold. They agree and continue on to the palace.

The tsar's scouts see the young miller's son's arrival and go and tell the tsar. He tsar is upset by the news, and tells him that he does not want his princess to marry a peasant. Instead he decides to give him an impossible challenge by sending him to the end of the world to fetch healing water before the tsar can finish his dinner. The Listener hears this and tells Hans, who laments his fate. The Hopping Man steps forward and begins hopping with both feet to get to the end of the world in time. He quickly makes it to the spring where the healing waters trickle from, but seeing as he had arrived so very quickly he decides to take a short nap before returning to the meadow. Hours pass, and the group begins to worry; the Hopper has not returned. The group decide to enter the town proper to wait for him, and run into both the Stod-Eater and Broad, who are quite happy to see the young man's return. Despite the happy reunion, the sun begins to arc in the sky and the mood becomes somber again. Sharpsight becomes impatient and looks around for the Hopper. he finds him asleep by the spring, propped up against an apple tree. The huntsman nocks his bow and aims high, letting the single arrow fly. The arrow flies to the end of the world, where it strikes the tree that the Hopper is sleeping against, thus startling the fleet-footed man awake. Realizing the time, the Hopper then grabs the water and rushes back to town, with just enough time to burst into the chambers of the tsar and offer him the healing water.

The tsar is not amused. He next instructs Hans to eat twelve whole oxen and twelve tons of bread, knowing his stomach to burst far before then. But the gluttonous Stod-Eater stepped forward to meet the challenge, and consumed the meal unabated. The tsar was still not amused and offered that he wash the food down with forty casks of wine, each consisting of forty gallons. Broad stepped forward to meet the challenge, and swigged the casks as if they were glasses of water. Although far from sated, the thirsty man has to sit down to clear his head. Infuriated, the tsar orders his royal guards to throw Hans and his friends out of the palace and have the doors locked. Hans is unable to reenter and feeling defeated, calls himself a fool and tries to move on with his life, although he and his friends remain close.

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Hans is able to convince a smith in the area to hire him as a gillie. Time goes on and periodically he catches a glimpse of the princesses as they sashay through the courtyard. They recognize him one day as they pass close by the smithy, and noticing his line of work they demand that he make crowns for them like the ones they had worn as the giants' prisoners; while Hans does not know how what such crowns are, it dawned on him to use the whistle the eagle had given him. He heads out into the meadow and calls on his whistle, and before long the eagle lands next to him. He asks it to fetch the princess' exact crowns from the giants' castle and the eagle flies off. One, two, three nights go by and finally the eagle returns, carrying the three glistening crowns in its talons. The next morning Hans the gillie sees the princesses again and calls them over. He shows them the crowns and they are astounded as to their likeness. Excited they place the crowns on their heads and head back giggling into the palace. When the tsar sees the crowns he travels to the smithy himself to ask the smith how he had come to learn to make such crowns. The smith then confesses that it was not he but his gillie who produced them, and impressed the tsar sends for the gillie. When Hans steps out the tsar's smirking face falters and he has his own gillies grab Hans and roughly toss him into the carriage. In order to escape Hans blows on his whistle and within minutes the eagle arrives, grasping the carriage in its talons and taking it into the air alongside the tsar himself. The tsar's gillies remain on the ground, watching the scene unfold in bewilderment. The eagle does not stop long enough to let the tsar off of the carriage and swoops about, picking up stones that it fills the carriage with. It then grasps Hans and drops the carriage, which plummets to the ground. The tsar is nearly crushed by the weight of the stones, but the gillies pull him from the rubble. Infuriated at Hans' insolence, he orders his gillies hung on the spot.

Hans returns to the smithy via eagle. Not long after his arrival, a second coach shows up and also tries to rough Hans up and throw him in the carriage; however these gillies are knocked out and the carriage is filled with dirt and sent back to the palace. The tsar seemingly calms down and sends his own confidential servant to see Hans. The servant tells him that the betrothal would be announced after he had himself bathed, and he enters the carriage under his own will this third time, and is brought back to the castle. Geppetto sees what has occurred and follows the carriage back to the throne room, grabbing the Haymaker on the way.

Hans and his two friends are permitted entry into the royal bath and Hans strips down and begins to bathe, but the tsar has set other plans in motion. The room is locked from the outside and the heat increases rapidly in the room as the tsar attempts to have him stifled by it. The Haymaker has brought his cold straw with him however and tosses handfuls around the room, cooling the entire room off. Saved from overheating, he blows his whistle once more and the eagle returns. He tells it to fetch him gold- and silver-lined clothing from the giants' castle and the eagle obeys. One, two, three days go by and finally the eagle returns. The trio have been trapped in the bathroom the entire time, as the tsar has hoped that by greatly extending the length of the death trap that there would be no possible way that they could have survived. Hans finishes getting dressed right as the door to the bathroom is opened again and the tsar steps in. His jaw hangs. A few moments later he spins around on his heels and leaves, calling back to the trio that he wishes to speak with them in the throne room.

The three friends arrive in the throne room, and the tsar demands to know what happened. Although Hans begins to tell him the true story from the very beginning, Puss pops in out of nowhere to interrupt him as a way to remind him that he is known to the tsar as a marquis, not a miller's son. The tsar chooses to give up his ruse and throws his scepter at Puss in Boots, scaring him out of the room before yelling at Hans that he knows he is of peasant stock and that he has come to doubt Hans' lineage. He demands that Hans must prove to him that he is a marquis. He first demands that he prove he is fit to defend the kingdom's borders by demanding that he present an army on the spot. Mister Geppetto stands firm and places his bundles of wood on the floor. He takes out his tools and swiftly begins whittling away at the logs until the room is filled with wooden soldiers. Suddenly they come to life and stand behind Hans. Feeling emboldened by the army backing him, Hans demands that the tsar keep his word and give him the princess' hand in marriage. The tsar promises to have the gentlemen who had sought to marry the princesses years earlier hanged. In doing so, he convinces Hans to go on one final task before marrying his daughter: To fetch a feather from a nearby griffin's tail.

This time, Hans travels alone. As he passes the castle of a local duke, the lord of the castle emerges and asks him to ask the griffin where a lost key to his money chest had gone to. He passes through another duchy and is allowed rest in the lord's castle. He discovers that the duke's daughter has fallen ill, and the duke desperately asks "the marquis" to seek out a cure. The following day, Hans continued onward and eventually leaves the kingdom's borders, crossing over to a lake where he discovered a giant standing at the waters' edge. Initially expecting a fight, he learned that this giant had not heard of the others' deaths, and was relieved to find it not aggressive towards him but instead served to take people across the water to the other side. On the way across the lake it asked him why it had to carry people over the lake at all. He then set Hans down on the other side and the boy entered the griffin's castle.

Deep inside the otherwise seemingly abandoned structure Hans ran into the griffin's mate, and found her to be a benevolent sort. He told her about his journey and the questions he had been asked on the way, and she warned him that the male was aggressive and would try to eat him. Instead she suggested that he make a move on the griffin during the night and that after he pulled the feather she would get the answers he sought.

Hans did as she said, and he stalked through the castle walls until he located the slumbering male griffin. He then yanked out one of his tail feathers, waking the creature with a start. While Hans moved swiftly out of sight the griffin's wife distracted him by telling him that a man had been there but fled, but that he had told her a number of stories first. She repeated the questions to her husband and, groggy, he answered them for her: He told her that the key was in the wood house, under a log; that a toad had made a nest in the second duke's daughter's hair but that she would recover if they removed the frog; and that the giant would be made free of his magical servitude by shoving a person down into the middle of the lake instead of taking them across. Having heard these answers, Hans snuck out of the castle.

On the way he meets the giant again, who takes him back across the lake. Once safe on the other side he tells the giant how to free itself. The giant was upset at having been tricked, although it understood why. Hans continued on into the borders and enters the kingdom. He reaches the second duchy and again stays the night, and during the night he informs the duke how to cure his daughter. The duke immediately tries this out and it works. Grateful, he sends his servants to fetch a large sum of treasure and have a carriage sent to follow him back to his own kingdom with it. The next morning Hans continues on and eventually reaches the first duchy. He requests an audience with the duke and tells him where the key to his money chest is in private. Thankful to the marquis for the info as well as the confidentiality, he awards him with great treasures as well, heaped upon the carriage and sent with him to his own lands.

When he finally reaches the tsar's palace, he enters freely as the guards are left in awe by the treasures he brings in tow. Walking in to the throne room, the tsar at first begins to call out to his men but is quickly enthralled by the glinting gold and treasures Hans has in tow. The tsar asks him where he attained such riches, to which Hans tells him that he will let him know if he finally gives over the princess' hand. The tsar immediately agrees and Hans tells him that the griffin himself had given them to him. The tsar, still in awe just lets Hans leave without another incident, and he goes to find his future bride. In the meantime the tsar immediately sets up an expedition to the griffin's castle. The tsar passes by the first duchy, and ignores the castle of his duke. He passes through the second duchy and ignores the duke's attempts at getting him to spend the evening in his castle. The tsar passes the false March of Carabas, and passes by the mill and into the realm of the griffin. He arrives at the lake of the giant, and insists on being carried across. He giant gets halfway across and stops, to which the tsar angrily asks why he has stopped. "You're the first to reach here, since the answer." "What are you going on about?!", the tsar replies with much frustration. With that, the giant violently dunks the tsar into the lake. Fight as he could, he could not escape the giant monster's grasp. He felt life escape him and after some minutes he went limp. He had drown. The giant tosses his body needlessly to the ground and runs off to his own freedom.

Within weeks, Hans and the youngest princess are wed, and even the glutton and the thirsty man had enough to eat and drink at the feast. With that, the cat enjoys life as a great lord who runs after mice only for his own amusement. After a few months the search for the tsar is called off and he is declared deceased. With no other heir, Hans is coronated as tsar of the land.

Portrait of a PrincessEdit

A king on his deathbed informs his bachelor son that he wishes to see him married before he dies, to which the son replies that he does not know a suitable bride. To help his son, he sends the prince to a tower room that has not been opened for years; however, he pulls his servant, "Trusty" John Henry, aside and orders not to let his son see beyond the curtained window also located in the room.

The two then take leave to the tower. There the prince enters the room and finds magical windows showing beautiful women, but becomes curious when his eyes fall upon the curtained section of wall. As he moves towards this wall, John blocks his path into the room, the prince forces his way past him. He pulls away the curtain and instantly falls in love with the woman he sees there—a princess who, instead of being seen through a magic mirror is instead simply a portrait.

He quickly returns to his father, who shows regret that his son has seen the portrait. He tells his son that her country had been at war with theirs for years, and the portrait stems from betrothal negotiations that had fallen through; since that day however, the woman has become the prisoner of an evil sorcerer in an iron castle, but the prince, completely enamored, gives his word to rescue her anyway; even so, despite his enamoring, he does not know how to do this nor how to win her. Remaining loyal to the crown, John tells the prince to prepare a ship with all manner of riches, and the two set sail to her country.

Arriving in her country, the two disembark and continue on foot. On the way, they meet a man who appears eager to join the prince and John on their quest; his name is Long, and he can extend himself, and shows it by taking down a nest from a tall tree. The prince is impressed and lets him come along. He also meets Broad, who can make himself grow until he is as large as a mountain, and Sharpsight the Sniper, who keeps his eyes bandaged because he can see through the bandage, and without it his gaze would set things ablaze, or break them into pieces. The prince takes them into his service as well, knowing that he could use all the help he can muster.

Eventually, the five travelers reach the gates of the Iron Castle and as soon as they make it inside castle limits, the gates close shut behind them. Here they find themselves in a courtyard littered with many dozens of men, all turned to stone. However, a banquet of still-edible food has been laid out and seeing nobody around and famished from their travels, the party sit down and consume it. Mid-meal, the sorcerer appears with the woman in tow and smugly proposes a challenge: If they can keep her from escaping for three nights, she will be theirs. He agrees, and during the next few hours the prince attempts to speak to the princess directly but she does not respond. Eventually the party all grow weary and fall asleep. Suddenly the princess vanishes, startling Sharpsight who notes her disappearance but scanning the area soon spots her—she has been transformed into the acorn of a great oak tree that serves as the centerpiece to the courtyard they reside in. Long extends his reach to pluck her from the tree and bring her back. Although unseen in his machinations, the wizard sees this and stomps away, furious.

Morning arrives, and she remains with the party. It is not until they all look away from her that she suddenly disappears again. Sharpsight scans the area again but when he doesn't see her in the castle, he runs up to the fortification walls and scans the surrounding hillside. Again he spots her, this time transformed into a precious stone resting in the mountains far to the north. Long extends his grasp again and they once again have her in their possession. Again the wizard is furious.

She remains calm and still for the rest of the second day and all the way through to the night of the third day, when she finally disappears again. Sharpsight spots her once more, having transformed into a golden ring on a shell in the coastal sea that the castle is nestled against. Long himself cannot reach into these depths as it is too dark dark there for them to spot it, so instead he brings Broad with him to the beach. Broad grows huge enough to swallow up the sea, giving Long enough time to reach down and pluck the ring out of the sandy seabed. The two attempt to return to the castle but Broad has not returned the water and the excess weight causes Long to falter and drop him. Knocking the wind out of him, Broad is unable to keep the sea in his mouth and quickly but inadvertently spits it back out, nearly drowning himself in the process. The two survive and make it back to the castle no worse for wear.

Soundly defeated, the sorcerer turns into a crow and flies off. Finally out of range, his spell on the stone people weakens and they all return to life. Believing that the prince intends to take her back to her own kingdom, she continues with the party without a second doubt. The six individuals make it back to the kingdom's coastline, and it is here that Long, Broad, and Sharpsight leave the prince's service to continue to seek out their own fortunes. The princess happily bids the three farewell, and not long after, the remaining trio arrive at the prince's boat. The princess is enthralled by all the beautiful trinkets on board, and thereby successfully lured the prince excitedly orders John to set sail, carrying her off and away from her homeland. Although she is initially upset, the prince, with John Henry's help, convince her to calm down by informing her of his intentions to marry her.

While they travel back to their own homeland, the princess and the prince each fall asleep while John keeps the boat on the right course. In the night, he hears three ravens, which have landed upon the boat in a rolling fog. He is surprised when they squawk a sort of whisper to him, as if telling him a very important secret. The first tells him that as soon as they reach the shore, a horse will come; should the prince mount this horse it will go wild and carry him off, dashing him upon the rocks. It then goes on to tell him that the only solution is to kill the horse, but informs him that any attempt to state this out loud will have his legs turn to stone up to the knees.

The second raven then chimes in at this point, and tells him that the prince would be killed via a combination of poisoned wine and burning of a wedding garment at his wedding feast unless the bottle can be smashed and the garment burned beforehand, though the same stipulations were given as the first raven, albeit the stoning would occur up to the waist in whoever uttered the warning vocally.

The third raven butts in following the second, saying that the prince's life was still yet in danger, as a dragon would then attack their bridal chamber and mortally wound the bride; she would then faint and die. The only way to stop these events from happening was to drive off the dragon by first drawing three drops of blood from her right breast. Again, the raven warned that verbally warning anybody would cause the person in question to turn entirely to stone. The ravens then flew off noisily into the night.

A few nights later the ship arrives back at the shore of Henry and the prince's country. Disembarking, John sees the horse trotting towards them and succeeds in slaying it. Although surprised by his sudden violent action, the prince trusts that he acted in his service. When the group arrive at their own castle, the wedding ceremony is immediately prepared, and within a week it has begun. John remembers the second warning, and throws the wedding garment—a cummerbund, into a fire and not but an hour later slaps the wine bottle out of the waiter's arms, shattering it. Again surprised but having spent some time with John beforehand on the original quest, states that he trusts John's decisions in this matter too, and the ceremony continues on.

By the end of the night, the prince and princess retire up to his quarters, and John becomes desperate as he is unsure how to get the blood from the princess. Hearing the beating flaps of giant leathery wings very slowly grow louder he makes a rash decision and slices her chest, leaping on her to get the three drops of blood into a vial. To his relief the dragon never arrives but the prince has him apprehended; his trust in John has been shattered by this sudden and seemingly cruel act, believing it may have something to do with his blocking the prince from the portrait in the tower in the first place. Still very confused, exasperated and quite frankly, infuriated, he orders John Henry's execution the following morning.

The morning of the execution, John is brought up to the gallows. Disappointed in his old friend, the prince moves to John personally to ask him why he did it. John, knowing his end was nearing anyway, informed the prince the warnings of the three ravens, progressively turning himself to stone until he breathed no more. The prince, learning this, is left distraught at the death of his loyal servant and friend.

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Years go by, and the king has long since perished, leaving the prince to be coronated as the new king, and uplifting the princess to queendom. She comes to bear the new king twin sons. Word comes to them that if they were to sacrifice their boys and rub John's statue with their blood, he would return to life. Shockingly, the queen agrees and the two kill their children and anoint John Henry's statue in the innocent blood, breaking the curse upon him and immediately returning him to life. As a reward for the new king's loyalty, the children have their lives restored, as well.

The Iron WildmanEdit

The king sends his huntsman, Sharpsight, into the surrounding forests and he never returns. Dismayed at the disappearance of his old friend, the king sends more huntsmen into the woods but these too disappear. Ever stubborn, the king orders each of his remaining huntsmen into the forest as well, but each appear to meet the same fate as none ever return. Finally the king relents, and proclaims that the woods are dangerous and now are to be considered off-limits to all citizens.

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Years later, a wandering explorer wanders through the capital, with his faithful dog at his heels. He hears the stories of the dangerous woods and this excites him, as he loves the prospect of a good adventure. To this effect he sees the king and asks for permission to hunt within the forest, making a bold claim that perhaps he can discover the fate of the other hunters. Time has softened the blow for the king and as he does not recognize the traveler, he relents and allows him passage into the forest.

The man and his companion travel into the forest, and after but a few hours they come to a lake nestled within the woods and the two companions decide to take a break and sip from its waters. Suddenly a giant arm reaches out from the lake and drags the man's dogs under the surface, frightening the man off. The next day he returns with a group of volunteers to empty the lake. Although this process takes the better part of a fortnight, they eventually drain it enough to discover a nude, sasquatch-like monstrosity resting at the bottom, with long shaggy hair and iron-hard skin. The creature's heaviness makes it slow and they successfully capture him and drag him back to town where they lock him in a cage within the castle courtyard as a curiosity for the citizens. Because of the chaos the creature is believed to have caused, including the supposed death of his good friend Sharpsight, the king decrees that no one is allowed to free the wildman, lest they face the penalty of death for re-endangering the kingdom and her many citizens.

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Years have now passed since the Iron Monster was captured in retribution for the death of Sharpsight, and the king's young son is playing ball in the courtyard near the monster. As will happen when one does not pay enough mind, the ball accidentally gets rolled against the cage of the wildman who then picks it up and taunts the boy, promising that he will only return the ball if he is set free. He then informs the child that there is but one solitary key to the lock, which is hidden beneath the queen's pillow.

Hesitant at first the prince eventually relents, as he is still very young and his ball is his only extravagance in life that he can claim as his own beyond the studies of princedom and the preparations for eventual kinghood. Eventually he works up the courage to sneak into his mother's chamber during the day and steal away the key, a large iron skeleton key with a skull motif upon its handle, with its eyes inlaid with beautiful ruby gems. Returning to the courtyard the boy inserts and turns the key, and the lock drops off. The door swings slowly open and out lumbers the iron-skinned man. The creature turns to the boy and thanks his savior, handing him the ball and telling him that he should be called "Iron John". The prince then remembers the decree and suddenly fears for his life, believing his father will have him executed despite their close blood relation. The boy worriedly wonders aloud what he is going to do and while Iron John refuses his asking him to return to the cage, Iron John offers to take the prince with him into the forest. Feeling he has little other choice, the prince agrees and the two flee the capital, returning to the lake bed.

Once in the lair of the beast, the prince is informed by Iron John that he is a powerful being who has been set to guard many treasures. He then informs the prince that he will need to try and earn his keep, and suggests that the boy guard one of the treasures, a mysterious well known as the Midas Well. He warns the boy however not to let anything either touch the well itself or actually fall in as it will instantly transmute into gold. At first the prince has no problem obeying the creature, but as the days wane on he grows bored and, being still just a boy, he begins to play in the well. One day he happens to accidentally dip his head into it and when he pulls himself back out his hair has turned to gold. This transmutation is impossible for the poor prince to hide, who had forgotten to take a hat with him when he left the capital. Disappointed by the boy's failure to follow orders, Iron John sends him off to find out what it is like to experience poverty and struggle; however he tells the boy that should he ever need anything to just call Iron John's name thrice and he would appear.

The prince started his hardships by traveling to a distant land instead of any kingdom nearby where he might be recognized. After many months of travel he finally arrives in the lands of Sebastea. Here he asks to meet with the tsar, who he offers his services to; however he is ashamed of his golden hair and thus refuses to remove his cap in the ruler's presence. Unimpressed and assuming he to be uneducated, the tsar sends him away to assist the royal gardener.

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Some years later, war comes to the kingdom's doorstep as the Army of Hearts invades the land. Seeing his chance to make a name for himself, he finally calls upon Iron John and the beast grants him a horse, armor, and a legion of iron warriors to fight for him. With these, the wayward prince successfully defends his new homeland, but despite his newfound power he returns everything that he has borrowed from Iron John and returns to his former position as gardener's assistant as if nothing had happened.

Not knowing who it was who saved his kingdom, the tsar announces a banquet from which he will offer his daughter's hand in marriage to any of the knights who can catch a golden apple to be thrown into their midst with the hopes that the mysterious knight whom saved their lands will show up and claim the prize.

The prince, along with everyone else in the kingdom hears about this offer and, missing his stance he had as a child he again calls upon Iron John, who disguises the prince as the mysterious knight as he appeared before. While the prince successfully catches the golden apple he flees, afraid that the tsar will realize who he is once he lifts his helmet and try him for fraud. And so, surprised and a little bit disappointed, the tsar holds two more banquets with the hopes that the knight will again show up. He does both times, and both times he catches the golden apple yet again. The third time the tsar is ready for his escape however, and he has all of the entrances blocked off so that when the prince attempts to flee, he has nowhere to flee to. The tsar's guard then bring the man before him and at request he finally removes his helmet, and the tsar does indeed recognize the young man.

Shocked at discovering the savior of the kingdom to be his own gardener's simple assistant, the tsar is unsure what to do. It is then that the prince confesses his true identity, which excites the tsar to hear. He relinquish his daughter unto the prince and allows him to return to his own kingdom, where the two are married before the king and queen of Colchester and its populace, whom have missed the prince dearly all these years. But everyone becomes fearful when Iron John himself shows up at the reception. But when Iron John stands before the prince and his new bride, his hair suddenly falls out and his iron skin sloughs off with a loud clanging. Before him now stands John Henry, who explains that he has been under an enchantment for years until he had found someone worthy and pure of heart to set him free again.



The WesterlandsEdit

The young lad who would soon come to be known as "Pecos Bill" was born under the name William, in the kingdom of Oz. One day but still within his infancy, William's family decides that his hometown has become too crowded, and so they pack up their belongings and head out in a covered wagon. Unfortunately the trail is mighty bumpy and the journey is so hard that everyone is focused almost exclusively upon themselves, so when little William falls out of the wagon near the Pecos River, no one else notices and they continue on as if nothing had ever happened.

Although William would have died of exposure that very night, the fates smile upon him and he is found by a pack of coyotes and, taking pity upon him they take him home and raise him as one of their own.

Many years later, William's real brother has gone looking for evidence of what had become of his long-lost brother on that fateful trip. He searches high and he searches low, and eventually he is about to give up hope when he hears the howling of a pack of coyotes. However, one of the howls just doesn't sound quite right, and he goes off to investigate. What he finds surprises him - a man who has come to think that he is in fact a coyote. It doesn't take long for William's brother to realize that this is William, and once he makes this discovery he sets out to convince William that he is not, in fact, a coyote. After some days, he succeeds and convinces William to try human living for a change. Although the coyote pack are sad to see him go, they all part amicably and William returns to civilization with his brother.

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By the time William, now only calling himself Bill, has reached adulthood, he has become a full-fledged cowboy who enjoys eating dynamite any chance he can get. His life among the wildlife has given him strength over creatures, and he has used this ability to tame a savage cougar whom he refers to in public as Lightning, but when the two are alone he calls it by the true name he has given it: Widow-Maker, which he claims to be the horse's name as none other can ride him and survive. His charm has also allowed him to tame a pair of rattlesnakes to work in his employ: The first is named Shake and has agreed to be Bill's lasso; the second has no name, as it is still young and little, which works as his whip, albeit a short one.

Pecos Bill loves adventure, stemming from his many years as a coyote. One day he travels to the Bear Lake to fetch himself a drink from the sparkling waters therein, but as he leans down to take a sip, the Bear Lake Monster ambushes him and tries to drag him under and eat him. Pecos Bill will have none of that however and he yanks the creature out of the water and onto the land. The two wrestle to see who would triumph, but for several days the two are in stalemate. However the long drawn out battle has taken a toll on the Bear Lake Monster and it grows weary. Noticing that the Monster's eyes are growing heavy, Bill signals Widow-Maker, and the great cat leaps down into view of the Monster and lets out the largest, laziest yawn of all time. Seeing this, the Monster can't help but yawn himself, and this yawning makes the creature so sleepy that it simply collapses to the ground, snoring loudly. Pecos Bill takes this opportunity to defeat the beast.

On his way home he decides to head down the river pouring out from the Bear Lake and soon finds himself washing down the Rio Grande. He is having such a great time that he splashes all the way down, makign the rapids twice as rapid. This splashing attracts the attention of a pack of coyotes, which happens to be his family pack and the group rejoices and splashes together ever the more. They take to riding down the river together trying to fish but are unable to subside their joyous splashing and fail to catch anything. However, this ridiculous commotion does catches the attention of Namazu, who rises to the surface with a beautiful blonde girl named Slue-Foot Sue riding its back. Pecos is enthralled by the girl and asks them their story. Namazu tells him how he came to be freed during Ragnarok, the event that transformed Valhalla into the Westerlands.

Pecos Bill decides to court Sue, and tries to impress her with his abilities. First, he lassos her a tornado, but the wind messes up her hair. Next, he proceeds to shoot down all of the stars in the sky except the biggest and brightest, which he names the Lone Star. She is excited by this and he takes this moment to drop to a knee and propose to her. She is unsure about agreeing however, and as a sign of trust first as she has not known him very long, insists that she be allowed to ride Widow-Maker thrice: before, during, and after their wedding. Pecos readily agrees but Widow-Maker has been secretly harboring jealousy against Sue, missing holding Bill's previously undivided attention. Although Widow-Maker lets her on his back, he soon sets to tearing about, bucking and bouncing every this way and that. Sue holds on better than any before her thanks to her time riding Namazu but Widow-Maker still gets the better of her and bounces her off. She then lands on her bustle, which sets her to bouncing higher and ever higher. Afraid of just how high she might bounce, Bill grabs Shake and attempts to lasso her free of her bouncing fit but fails as Widow-Maker keeps sabotaging his throws due to not wanting her on his back again. After some hours of bouncing this way she bounces too high, and hits her head upon the moon. This sets her to only bounce that high from then on which at first relieves Bill until, after days of continuous bouncing he realizes that she will eventually starve to death. Bill waits for Widow-Maker to fall asleep and finally uses Shake to successfully lasso Sue and brings her back down to Earth. Their reunion awakens Widow-Maker, and he realizes the error of his ways, apologizing for his actions. However Sue is so traumatized by the event that she storms off, not accepting either's apology and never speaking nor even seeing Pecos Bill again. Instead she bounces herself on her bustle, but times this one right and lands upon the moon and stays there, far away from either Bill or Widow-Maker. Disheartened, Pecos Bill shuffles off. To console him, the coyotes offer him respite and he takes them up on their offer, leaving civilization for a time to howl at the moon in sorrow alongside his brethren.

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Eventually Pecos Bill gives up on his sorrow and chooses to try and move on with his life. He marries a woman but his love for Sue is still so readily apparent that the relationship fails. This happens several more times, each failing the same as before. Bill never finds another woman he can love as much as he had felt for Sue.

To drown his sorrows he enters a saloon each and every night and every night he also stumbles back to the spot where he lost Slue-Foot Sue. Many years pass and eventually he watches as Sue, sleeping on the moon, rolls over and tumbles off of it. He tries to catch her but is so drunk he fails to make it over to her in time, and again she lands on her bustle. This sets her to bouncing over and over and over, and Pecos Bill fails each and every time to lasso her to safety. He is so drunk that it takes him two whole weeks to sober up, yet still he is unable to rope the girl of his dreams and by this time, she is in dire straits, half-dead from dehydration and starvation. Realizing he will be unable to catch her and with the heaviest of hearts he apologies loudly to Sue and begs her forgiveness. She simply mutters how she wish she was dead and hearing this, he takes out his pistol and grants her wish, putting her out of her misery. He follows this up by returning to the saloon, mourning the death of his beloved Slue-Foot Sue. When he arrives however he is taken aback by a strange city boy standing at the bar, wearing gator-skin shoes and a gator-skin suit, loudly boasting about being an outlaw cowboy, the kind of which should garner respect, going on about his personal tall tale exploits throughout the Westerlands. Bill, partially out of finds this so amusing and partially out of having reached the end of his rope begins to chuckle, and then to laugh, and then to snort and stifle, and then to chortle. He finds himself unable to stop himself nor catch his own breath even after many minutes of uproarous laughter has turned him blue in the face, the thought of this city boy is so hilarious to him. In an attempt to cure his laughing fit he tries to leave the bar but does not make it very far before collapsing into the dust. Although the dust chokes his lungs he continues to chuckle until he finally dies of laughter.

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