The Ogre and the Halflings (Talia, p. 5)

In thinking of my early days here, and some of the troubles that plagued me, I was reminded of a children’s story I learned while growing up.

The Ogre and the Halflings

There once was an old woman who lived alone in a cottage at the edge of the woods. She was known to be a kind woman, and children from the nearby village would sneak out to visit her. She would playfully scold them, but invite them inside for cookies or other sweets.

On some visits, she would go to the cupboard and find it was empty. She would say, “Oh my, the cupboard is empty, but I’m sure I have more down in the cellar.”  The children would brighten.  “My old legs cannot carry me down those stairs. If you were to fetch another bag, I could send an extra treat home with you.” Children are always eager to help when sweets are involved. They would head down the stairs.  “They’re on the shelves near the back” She’d call down. In the far corner of the dark cellar, the children would find the bag, but when they turned around they would be face to face with a giant ogre!  The ogre would catch and eat the children, and the cellar door would close.

This went on for some time, the village growing, and a few children at a time disappearing. Most believed it was caused by wolves in the forest.

One day, three Halfling adventures stopped by the woman’s house. Her eyesight was not good and she mistook them for children and invited them in. They talked for a moment, and when the woman went to her cupboard she repeated the same story. “I’m too old, and my legs will not carry me down the stairs.” Being good folk, the Halflings agreed to complete her task. All three ventured into the cellar. Upon reaching the corner, they heard a scraping behind them. They turned and, faced with the ogre, drew their swords. The ogre was quite surprised. The Halflings quickly dispatched and killed the ogre. They rushed upstairs to check on the old woman, but could not find her in the kitchen. After some searching, they found a trap door leading to the cellar where the ogre had appeared. Seeing this they knew, the woman and the ogre had been the same. The ogre had masked its appearance by some foul magic, and lured the innocent to their deaths. The Halflings informed the town and the cottage was burned to the ground. Today, the town prospers, and children can be seen running freely, playing in the streets, not a care in the world.

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