A long, long time ago in a land far, far away there was a shoe. Of course by now you would think that there was something magical about this shoe. There was nothing magical about this shoe. Except maybe the fact that it was on the foot of a very rich businessman and it was being tapped up and down very impatiently.
The businessman’s name was Charl. Charl had bought a cow and was going to sell it to a farmer at a great profit, but his client was late. He did not appreciate being kept waiting. The cow stank and the tavern where he was waiting was rowdy – with barbarians yelling and drinking. He longed to go up to bed, for it had been a long week of travel. Charl was heading to the countries of the east to expand his business’ trade to the region of spice and flying carpets. Of course, he didn’t believe in flying carpets, they were Persian rugs. To a practical man like dear Charl, fantasy was a luxury that tended to change business deal into a messy affair ending in debt. Charl did not like debt – or debt collectors for that matter. No, Charl was a many of money, deals and commission. Char loved his commission since it swelled his pockets and really helped his business along. Oh and the “tax” too. Charl had many taxes on his wares. Of course there was the legal tax paid to the state for trading rights, but there was also the tax that made him rich – like “transport tax” and “businessman in danger tax” and “blessings from the gods tax” and, his favourite, “because I can and want to make lots of money tax”. But poor Charl had one problem: All his tax and commission and profit would be worth nothing if he didn’t have a buyer. Right now his buyer was late, thus he was wasting time, which meant he was wasting money, which made Charl a very irritated businessman.
The client eventually came, but, true to a tradition concerning stories like this, he did not have the money to pay. This was not helping our impatient businessman’s temper and he quickly let the man know exactly what he thought of him. This included the word donkey in all its forms and the combination of dogs and mothers. When our dear businessman had calmed down, his client finally had his turn to talk – he made a new proposal. The farmer said that he had once helped a genie and that the genie still owed him a wish. Of course, as previously mentioned, our dearest businessman does not believe in fantasy and thus there are no magic lamps, genies or wishes. Again he used his insightful vocabulary to describe the man in the most colourful words. Of course you couldn’t see the words since that would be fantasy and Charl does not believe in fantasy. But, the farmer did believe in fantasy. He saw the coloured words bouncing from Charl’s mouth and decided to teach him a lesson. So using his genie wish, in which he believed and the businessman didn’t, he asked the genie to show this man that a lack of fantasy could get you into quite a pickle. Naturally on seeing this and hearing this madman say these words into empty air, the genie being invisible as Charl does not believe, our businessman stormed from the tavern, his face gleaming like the midday sun. He left as soon as he had his cow tied to his arm. If only he believed in fantasy, he would have been aware of the genie floating behind him, but he didn’t believe and thus did not see and continued on his rather oblivious journey.
The genie, finding it extremely frustrating to be bound to a non-believer at the wish of his previous master, started playing with some magic and as far as they walked, turned the trees into different colours. The businessman soon decided he would have to set up camp if he was so fatigued that his eyes played tricks on him in the dark, like trees changing colour. It had to be fatigue, since trees only changed colour in fantasy – and Charl did not believe in fantasy. So, frustrating his invisible genie companion even more, the businessman set up camp, cooked a stew and enjoyed some cheese and bread. Soon after he went into his tent for a nice night’s rest. Not long after he had fallen asleep, the genie came up with a brilliant plan. He howled as loud as he could and soon two ghosts stood before him. He told them of his predicament with the non-believer and they quickly agreed to help him. After all, they had not had the chance to haunt anyone in ages. They got to work as quickly as they could on howling and screeching and flapping and ghosting until the businessman woke up. Hearing their racket, he decided to stuff two socks in his ears to keep out the noise he believed was the wind. The idea that it could be ghosts crossed his mind, but that would be fantasy and fantasy didn’t exist. Soon he was fast asleep again. The ghosts got tired and tried to return to their crypts, but found they couldn’t leave. They realised they would not have rest until this man believed and so they fell to the floor – terrified of their fate.
The next day our reluctant traveller, Charl, got up and tied his cow to his arm. Soon the camp was packed up and he was ready to leave when something caught his eye. A few crystals lay on the ground. He picked them up and felt that they were cold and wet. He had heard rumours of similar objects called ghost tears, but that was fantasy and he didn’t believe in fantasy, so he pocketed the crystals and marched off. Not far along the way, the genie and ghosts had a plan they knew had to work, so together they whistled like the wind through the trees and two elves answered their call. Quickly they explained their problem to the tall woodland people. Naturally the opportunity to have some fun stirred the elves to join the condemned beasts of fantasy and jumped in front of the businessman. Startled by the two tall young men before him, Charl faltered in his step, but only momentarily since he had to get home to his town to sell the cow and gems. So he walked around them, but they fell into step next to him, babbling all the while. They talked of talking trees and monstrous creatures and of magic and epic battles and immortal races. Charl only half listened for it was fantasy and he didn’t believe in fantasy. He quickly decided he would get his eyes tested when he got home too, for his eyes were playing tricks on him again. They had to be playing tricks on him, since people with catlike eyes and pointed ears didn’t exist. A fact that made him ignores these “people”. The elves gave up and tried to walk into the woods, but found they could not. They had to follow until this man believed. So his procession grew as he walked along to his home.
Later that day, the creatures of fantasy got a new idea. They growled and rumbled like rocks falling down a slope. Not long after, the businessman had to stop or he would walk into a rocky lump of a troll. Again he tried to walk around, but froze when the giant rocky head followed him. No matter which way he went, the head followed and if he walked a few steps away, the gravel of the road would shiver, a rumble would be heard and the rock would follow. Charl was rather certain that he was losing his mind since rocks only moved in fantasy – and he did not believe in fantasy. Quickly he comforted himself with the knowledge that genius and madness went hand in hand and that his mind would make him even more money if he could get visions of money. So with a spring in his step, not slightly deterred, he continued on his way. The troll rolled after for a while, but soon got bored and tried to bore into the ground and munch on some delicious clay. He found however that he could not leave this fantastical fantasy following the businessman. So the troll had to fall in with them and on they went.
By evening word of this strange sight had spread to the entire region’s animals and they sat, lining the roads, to see this wonderful circus pass: first the merchant walking past, then the three spectres, one green and two white, floating by, closely followed by two elves walking on either side of a humongous troll. Charl found this honour guard rather irritating, since this kind of thing only happened in fantasy and he didn’t believe in fantasy. By the time night fell, he was rather irritated by this strange happening and started looking for a place to camp. He walked for another hour before reaching a clearing on the side of the road. During this time a mist had settled and this only aggravated his irritation. Just as he was setting up camp, the troll got a plan and cackled in his deep, rocky voice. Immediately the mist swirled and three witches appeared around a cauldron. Thy echoed the cackle and Charl turned to face them. He told them that he was very sorry, but he wasn’t a very good companion and that he wanted to retire to his tent. At this they laughed and called him to their pot. Eventually the businessman gave in and went closer to take a look. Once he was there, they started naming ingredients they would use to make a potion to cure any bout of grumpiness. This included a couple of ingredients that could only exist in fantasy – like toenails of a catfish or earwax of a bat or the powdered root of a cheese plant. So as they danced and sprang around their pot and made their potion, Charl went to sleep in his tent, for fantasy didn’t exist, did it? He fell asleep quickly and the witches continued their brewing. They felt so tired after finally finishing their potion that they got onto their broomsticks to fly away, but couldn’t. They were now also part of the unbeliever’s caravan.
The next morning, before Charl got up, the witches came up with an idea. They made the sound of tinkling coons. This woke our sleeping businessman and made four dwarves appear. Quickly our businessman was outside – just in time to see four very short people breaking camp for him. He asked them why they were being so helpful and they answered that it was the dwarven way to help a traveller. Charl laughed at the ridiculous joke of these ridiculous people, since dwarves couldn’t exist – they were fantasy! So he broke camp laughing and started forward with the dwarves only staring. They walked with him and made sure he was safe, but, after a while, felt the need to return to their mines to make some more gold. Unfortunately this quartet of beards could not leave the wake of this businessman and fell into step behind him. By now this procession really irritated dear Charl. Everywhere he went, these strange people followed and if he stopped, they formed little groups, talking and buzzing around him. So all the time he was walking his famous temper was growing. But that was not the only thing growing. His reputation was too, for a little fairy had heard of this problem and had decided to help the creatures of fantasy. When Charl took another turn in the road, a bug fluttered before him. There was something strange about the bug, he decided. It was large and humanoid with hair and a dress. And it spoke. It told him of the fantasy and all the creatures that followed him. It told him of what he had to do to free them. This just pushed up our businessman’s temper too far and he snapped at her, telling her that she didn’t exist, since she was fantasy and fantasy wasn’t real. At this reaction the fairy got angry too. She sprayed Charl with fairy dust and willed him to a faraway place.
When Charl finally opened hi eyes, he found himself in a cave. Worse, he was face to face with a gigantic red dragon. All of his fantasy procession was cowering away behind him when realisation dawned. He could no longer deny the fact that fantasy WAS real and so started talking to the dragon. Always the businessman, Charl had noticed potential in the dragon and proposed a business deal. The dragon, never having thought to increase his riches by working was extremely interested and quickly agreed. So they took all the dragon’s riches and flew to a nearby farm. They bought up the land and changed it into a carnival where the whole fantastical fantasy procession could be displayed to the public – at a price, of course. Soon their business was booming, because people came from far and wide to see the creatures of fantasy in their natural habitat. Charl was happy, the creatures were happy, and they all made loads of cash.
And they all lived happily – and profitably – ever after!