Kazoo Productions ™presents…
A soldier was marching along the high road, returning from war. He had his knapsack on his back and a sword tucked into his trenchcoat. As he walked, he saw a woman dressed in scarlet standing along the side of the road. To look upon the lovely woman in her rich clothes, one would never think her to be a witch.
"Hail, soldier," she greeted him when he was near.
"Bonjour, madam," he said with a bow of his head.
"Bleu?" Remy asked.
"What are ya doin'?"
A bit of this, a bit of that.
"What's with this 'madam' business?" Wanda asked harshly.
Creative license. Don't you like the ring?
She looked at the sparkly rock set in silver.
"Depends who it's attached to."
Remy grabbed Rogue, who was on stand-by, and tugged her to him.
"I like who mine's attached to," he grinned.
She rolled her eyes but didn't try to get away.
"A fine, brave soldier returning from war! Such a fellow as you deserves a reward. As much money as you can carry. Yes, that sounds quite fine," the witch said with a certain gleam in her eyes.
"Do you see yonder large tree?" said the witch, pointing to a tree that stood close by the wayside. "It is quite hollow. Climb up to the top, and you will find a hole large enough for you to slip through, and tyou will get down into the tree. I will tie a rope round your waist, so that I can pull you up again when you call me."
"What am I to do in a tree?"
"What are you to do?" she asked with a laugh. "Get the money, of course!"
The witch went on to tell him what he would see, and what he would do.
The soldier listened and considered this.
"I see. And how much money am I to give to you?"
"Not a penny will I have," returned the witch. "The only thing I want you to bring me is an old lighter which my father left there by mistake last time he was down in the tree."
"Well, then, give me the rope and I'll be gone," said the soldier.
"Here it is," said the witch, "and here is my red apron."
"Does anyone else find this to be extremely normal but still very odd so far?" Wanda asked.
There was a general chorus of yes.
It really should be tinder-box, not lighter. But who knows what a tinder-box is?
No one said anything. Remy raised his hand.
"You would," Rogue shook her head.
"Only reason I know that is 'cause I…acquired one before. It's real weird lookin' and not very effective. They like antique and rare now."
So the soldier climbed the tree, let himself down through the hole in the trunk, and suddenly found himself in a wide passage, lit up by many hundred lamps, as the witch had described.
He opened the first door. There sat the dog with eyes as large as tea-cups, staring at him as though in utter amazement.
"There's a good dog!" cooed the soldier, as he spread the witch's apron on the floor, and lifted the animal upon it, as the scarlet witch told him. He then filled his pockets with the copper coins in the chest, shut the lid, put the dog back in his place, and passed on into the second apartment.
There sat the dog with eyes as large as mill-wheels.
"I need you to blink," remarked the soldier; "It's really disturbing that you don't," and with that he set the dog down on the witch's apron. But when he beheld the vast quantity of silver the chest contained, he threw all his pence away in disgust, and hastened to fill his pockets and his knapsack with it. And he passed on into the third chamber. The dog in this chamber actually had a pair of eyes each as large as the Round Tower, and they kept rolling round and round in his head like wheels.
Remy scratched at his chin.
"Are these mutant dogs?"
"Is there even such a thing?" Rogue asked.
"Well, dogs can get the same sicknesses as humans, so why not mutations?"
"Heh, the Invisible Pooch."
"The Canine Torch."
"KNOCK IT OFF!" Wanda roared, hands glowing blue.
The two Southerners looked equally abashed.
Remy muttered low under his breath.
No! Bad Remy!
"Desole," he smirked.
"Hello, poochie!" said the soldier, and he lifted his cap respectfully, for such a monster of a dog as this he had never before seen or heard of. He stood still for a minute or two, looking at him; then thinking, "the sooner it's done the better!" he took hold of the immense creature, removed him from the chest to the floor, and raised the lid of the chest. Oh, what a sight of gold was there! Enough to buy not only all the French Quarter, but all the cakes and sugar-plums, all the tin-soldiers, whips, and rocking-horses in the world! Yes, he must be satisfied now. Hastily the soldier threw out all the silver money he had stuffed into his pockets and knapsack, and took gold instead; not only his pockets and knapsack, but his soldier's cap and boots he crammed full of gold; he could hardly walk for the weight he carried. He lifted the dog on to the chest again, banged the door of the room behind him, and called out: "'Ello, Madam Rouge! Pull me up again!"
"Have you got the lighter?" asked the witch.
"Upon my honor, I'd quite forgotten it!" shouted the soldier, and back he went to fetch it. The witch then drew him up through the tree, and now he again stood in the highroad, his pockets, boots, knapsack, and cap stuffed with gold pieces.
"What are you going to do with the lighter?" asked the soldier.
"That's no concern of yours," returned the Witch. "You've got your money; give me my lighter this instant!"
"Well, take your choice!" said the soldier. "Tell me at once what you want with the lighter, or I'll cut off your head."
"I won't tell you!" screamed the witch.
So the soldier drew his sword and cut off her head. Then he made haste to knot all his money securely in her red apron, slung it across his back, put the lights into his pocket, and went on to the nearest town.
Rogue gaped. Wanda glared at Remy. Remy snickered.
"What kind of foolishness!" Rogue exclaimed.
"This sucks," Wanda said.
"This is really a role more suited to Wolvie, doncha think? I'm a thief, not a killer."
"I'm surprised you didn't say something perverted," Rogue said.
"What, ya mean about the sword and head and –"
"SHUT UP!" the Scarlet Witch screamed.
Remy looked at her very seriously.
"That is why you ain't got no head."
There's something not quite right with me that I think that entire murder scene is funny.
It was a large, handsome city. He walked into the first hotel in the place, called for the best rooms, and ordered the choicest dishes for his supper, for he was now a rich man, with plenty of gold to spend.
The servant who cleaned his boots could not help thinking they were disgracefully shabby and worn to belong to such a grand gentleman; however, next day he provided himself with new boots, and very fine clothes besides. Our soldier was now a great man, and the people of the hotel were called in to give him information about all the places of amusement in the city, and about their king and queen, and the beautiful princess.
"I should rather like to see her," said the soldier.
"No one can see her at all," was the reply; "she dwells in a great copper palace, with ever so many walls and towers round it. No one but King Logan and Queen Raven may go and visit her there, because it has been foretold that she will marry a common soldier, and our king would not like that at all."
"Shouldn't I like to see her, though, just for once!" thought the soldier.
"Oh, gee, I wonder who the princess is?" Wanda said dryly.
"Wrong," Rogue said. "This man treats me like a queen."
"Aw, Roguey, did you just compliment me? That's the first time today."
Wanda gave him a look.
"You keep count?"
"I have to ration them for his ego's sake, and he makes sure I get my daily quota in."
"You two are so weird."
Remy hugged Rogue.
"But we're weird together!"
And now he lived a high life; went continually to the theatre, drove out in the Royal Gardens, and gave much money in alms to the poor. He knew by past experience how miserable it was not to have a shilling in one's pocket. He was always gaily dressed, and had a crowd of friends, who, one and all, declared he was a most capital fellow, a real gentleman; and that pleased our soldier very much. But, as he was now giving and spending every day, and never received anything in return, his money began to fail him. At last he had only two pennies left, and was forced to remove from his splendid apartments, and take refuge in an attic, where he had to brush his boots and darn his clothes himself, and where none of his friends ever came to see him, because there were so many stairs to go up, it was quite fatiguing.
"The dirty guys," Remy muttered.
"I'd visit you," Rogue assured him.
"Hm. Sure ya wouldn't be too tired when ya got there?"
"When has me bein' tired ever stopped ya before, sugar?"
"Not only are you guys weird, you're extremely mushy," Wanda noted.
"Jealous?" Remy asked.
It was a very dark evening, and he could not afford to buy himself so much as a rush-light; however, he remembered, all at once, the lighter that the witch had bade him fetch out of the hollow tree. So he brought out this lighter and began to strike light; but no sooner had he rubbed the flint-stone, and made the sparks fly out, than the door burst suddenly open, and the dog with eyes as large as tea-cups, which he had seen in the cavern beneath the tree, stood before him and said,
"What commands has my master for his slave?"
"This is a pretty joke!" cried the soldier; "A fine sort of lighter this is, if it will really provide me with whatever I want. Fetch me some money this instant!" said he to the dog.
The creature vanished, and in half a minute he was back again, holding in his mouth a large bag full of pence. So now the soldier understood the rare virtue of this charming little lighter. If he struck the flint only once, the dog that sat on the chest full of copper came to him; if he struck it twice, the dog that watched over the silver answered his summons; and if he struck it three times, he was forthwith attended by the monstrous guardian of the golden treasure.
The soldier could now remove back to his princely apartments; he bought himself an entirely new suit of clothes, and all his friends remembered him again, and loved him as much as ever.
But one evening the thought occurred to him.
"How truly ridiculous it is that no one should be allowed to see this princess! They all say she is so very beautiful; what a shame it is that she should be shut up in that great copper palace. And I do so want to see her where's my tinder-box, by the bye?"
"This soldier internally monologues almost as much as you-know-who," Remy remarked.
"Who?" the girls asked at the same time.
"You know. Red and black outfit, small armory, actively psychotic, even more perverted than me?"
"Oh, yeah. You know, now that I think about it, he might have been better suited for this than you."
"Who would be the princess then, cherie?"
He struck the flint and before him stood the dog with eyes as large as tea-cups.
"It is rather late, I know," began the soldier, "but I do want to see the princess so much, only for one minute or so."
And the dog was out of the door, and, before the soldier had time to think of what he should say or do, he was back again with the Princess Rogue sitting asleep on his back. A real princess was this; so beautiful, so enchantingly beautiful! The soldier could not help himself. He knelt and kissed her hand. The dog ran back to the palace with the princess that very minute. Next morning, while she was at breakfast with King Logan and Queen Raven, the princess said that she had had a very strange dream. She had dreamt that she was riding on a dog, an enormously large dog, and that a soldier had knelt and kissed her hand.
"A pretty sort of a dream, indeed!" exclaimed the Queen. And she insisted that one of the ladies of the court should watch by the Princess's bedside on the following night, in case she should again be disturbed by dreams.
"You wanna explain why you have me married to that?" Logan asked, pointing at Raven who slapped his hand away.
Remy, you want this one?
"Bien sur. Now see, Mademoiselle Bleu is workin' with the idea movie-Raven has a crush on movie-you and decided to play on it. Oui?
"So the fact that I can't stand her just doesn't matter?"
"Well, movie-you stabbed movie-her so a lil' thing like you hatin' her ain't much of a deterrent."
Logan glanced at Raven. She sniffed and turned up her nose.
"You look nothing like Hugh Jackman."
"Shut up, Gumbo!"
Next evening, the soldier summoned the dog to fetch the princess again. So he did, and ran as fast as he could; however, not so fast but that the ancient dame watching at the Princess's couch was able to follow them. She saw the dog vanish in a large house; then, thinking to herself, "Now I know what to do".
She took out a piece of chalk and made a great white cross on the door. But on his way back the dog chanced to observe the white cross on the door; so he immediately took another piece of chalk, and set crosses on every door throughout the town.
"Roguey, can we get a dog? I promise to take care of him! Please?"
"Ya just wanna see if you can train him to steal."
"Oui!…that's bad, isn't it?"
"You're learning," Rogue smiled and kissed him quickly.
Remy sighed dreamily and pulled her back to him.
"Do it again."
She giggled and did as she was told.
They're so cute!
"Crazy fan-girl," Logan muttered.
Raven grunted in agreement.
Early in the morning came out the king, the queen, the old court dame, and all the officers of the royal household, every one of them curious to see where the princess had been.
"Here it is!" exclaimed King Logan, as soon as he saw the first street-door with a cross chalked on it.
"My dear, where are your eyes? This is the house!" cried Queen Raven, seeing the second door bear a cross.
"No, this is it surely. And here's a cross too!" cried all of them together, on discovering that there were crosses on all the doors.
It was evident that their search would be in vain, and they gave it up.
But the queen was an exceedingly wise and prudent woman.
"Ha!" Rogue cried.
"Are you ever going to let that go?"
"I'll let my baggage go with you, when Remy lets his go with his dad."
"Actually," he said, "we been talkin' for a while."
Rogue didn't say anything for a moment. Then she shrugged.
"Then no. Just no."
She now took her gold scissors, cut a large piece of silk stuff into strips, and sewed these strips together, to make a pretty neat little bag. This bag she filled with the finest, whitest flour, tied it to the princess's waist, and then again took up her golden scissors and cut a little hole in the bag, just large enough to let the flour drop out gradually all the time the princess was moving.
That evening the dog came again, took the princess on his back, and ran away with her to the soldier. He never perceived how the flour went drip, drip, dripping, all the way from the palace to the soldier's room, and from the soldier's room back to the palace. So next morning the king and queen easily found where their daughter had been carried, and they took the soldier and cast him into prison.
"Bad dog!" Remy declared.
"You're the one got him kidnapping innocent girls…again."
"You know, that's a terrible argument since you enjoyed it."
"Oh, yeah. Gettin' attacked by Assassins, running from Assassins, getting shot at by Assassins. What more could a girl ask for?"
"She's so easy to please!" Remy gushed.
And now he sat in the prison. Oh, how dark it was, and how wearisome! The jailor kept coming in to remind him that tomorrow he was to be hanged. This piece of news was by no means agreeable, and the lighter had been left in his lodgings at the hotel.
When morning came, he could, through his narrow iron grating, watch the people all hurrying out of the town to see him hanged; he could hear the drums beating, and presently, too, he saw the soldiers marching to the place of execution. What a crowd there was rushing by! Among the rest was a shoemaker's apprentice. He bustled on with such speed that one of his slippers flew off and struck the bars of the soldier's prison window.
The soldier called for the little apprentice, bidding him to run to his lodgings and get his lighter. If he did so, he could have all the money he found there. The boy, of course, obliged. So he raced away and came back with the lighter.
Outside the city a gibbet had been built. All around it were marshaled the soldiers, with many hundred thousand people. The king and queen were seated on magnificent thrones, opposite the judges and the whole council. The soldier was brought out, and the executioner was on the point of fitting the rope round his neck, when, turning to their Majesties, he asked them to let him have a smoke before he died.
Remy looked to Rogue.
"What's this? No smart comment, ma cherie?"
She waved it away.
The King could not refuse this harmless request, so the soldier took out his lighter and struck the flint - once he struck it, twice he struck it, three times he struck it! - and three wizard dogs stood before him.
"Now, help me, don't let me be hanged!" cried the soldier. Immediately, the three terrible dogs fell upon the judges and councilors, tossing them high into the air, so high that in falling again they were broken in pieces.
"We will not-" began King Logan, but the monster dog with eyes as large as the Round Tower did not wait to hear what his Majesty would not. He seized both him and the Queen, and flung them up into the air after the councilors. The soldiers were all desperately frightened, and the people shouted out with one voice: "Good soldier, you shall be our king, and the beautiful princess shall be your wife, and our queen!"
So the soldier was taken to the palace, and the princess was made queen, which she liked much better than living as a prisoner in the copper palace.
Everyone was silent a moment.
"There's just so much I could say," Rogue said.
"I know," Remy agreed. "It's like the moral of the story is to kill witches, steal what is rightfully theirs, exploit it, kill anyone who gets in your way, and steal – or kidnap – what you want and life will be fine."
"Yeah, somethin' like that."
Raven looked at Logan. Logan looked back.
"Just so we're clear, I hate you and would never marry you," she told him.
"I'd sooner light my head on fire," he agreed.
"I'm only asking this one more time," Wanda started. "Who is on the other end of this ring?"
"'Ello there, sheila! So we're hitched then?"
A silver ring hit him in between the eyes.
"We are annulled."
Here ya go.
"Ooh, a new loighter! Oi'll call her Anda!"
You do that, sweetie. Go forth and make cinders.