Reddy and Willing

The Adventures of Jair in Oz

Carl Offenterdinger

 

Reddy and Willing: The Adventures of Jair in Oz

By Nathan M. DeHoff

(March 2015)

           Back in the day, when the Land of Oz was not quite as pleasant a place as it is now, there lived a tribe of tiny people in the Quadling Country.  They were similar to brownies, but as they wore red and had reddish complexions, they were known as Reddies.  These little people were wanderers, often falling prey to wandering monsters, natural disasters, or just being stepped on by the larger Quadlings.  They tended not to bear grudges but instead helped out the bigger folk whenever they could.  Still, they longed to be tall and proud like the humans they saw around them, and some even lived in Quadling households and assisted the people with their housework.  Others preferred to remain in the wild, and perform deeds of other sorts.  One of this kind was a man named Jair, who was officially a chieftain, although leadership among the Reddies tended to be fairly loose.  Jair was an adventurer, often riding on his tiny horse Ibzan to perform heroic deeds throughout the land.  On several occasions, he assisted a magician named Jakgar on his various searches for magical treasures.

            One day, while Jair was riding through a patch of treacherous territory, overgrown with bramble bushes, the Reddy came across a group of terrifying-looking women holding canes and brooms.  Jair realized that this could provide an opportunity to perform a good deed, but could also be trouble.  While riding under the hedges was not much of a problem for a Reddy, humans were unlikely to come to such an out-of-the-way place unless they were either lost or planning something.  So, concealing himself and his steed behind a rock, the tiny man began listening to the women’s conversation.

            “Are you sure this will work?” asked one of the women, in a raspy voice.  “I mean, the King has guards, doesn’t he?”

            “Yes, but he leaves his window open a crack at night,” stated another, whose voice was a bit lower in register.  “He gets heat stroke otherwise.  I learned this while working at the castle.”

            “I still don’t see why I couldn’t have been the one to work at the castle.  You know I always wanted to be a spy!” insisted a third.

            “You’re too bad-tempered,” answered the eldest who served as their leader.  “You would have turned someone into a frog on your first day there, and been exposed as a witch.  Anyway, are we all clear on the plan?”

            “I’m not,” put in the fifth woman, whose voice was rather dense.

            “Why do we have to repeat everything for your benefit, Bleakie?  All right.  One more time.  We’ll all shrink ourselves and fly through the King’s window, regain our normal sizes, and turn him into a cricket.”

            “Aren’t crickets noisy?” asked the third witch.  “Wouldn’t a ladybug be better?”

            “All right, we turn him into a ladybug, even though he’s not a lady.”

            So these women were witches, planning to overthrow a king!  Which king, though?  Thanks to Bleakie’s slow wits, Jair knew the plan, but not where they were going to strike.  Oz was full of kings.  A thought did occur to the Reddy, however.  If the one witch were still working at this king’s castle, he could follow her there.  His horse would never be able to keep up with her, but maybe he could stow away on her broom.  So, with a whispered command to his steed, the two tiny beings quickly jumped into the bristles of the witch’s broom.  He did so just in time, as the witch promptly sat on the broom and flew off into the afternoon.

            The flight was quite stressful for Jair, who was doing his best to hold on to the bristles with one hand and his horse’s bridle with the other.  It was a much bumpier ride than you might expect on a broomstick, and Jair soon learned he was not particularly comfortable with heights.  Fortunately, it was less than an hour before the witch arrived at her destination, a bright red castle on a hill.  In fact, the Reddy recognized it from pictures he had seen as the home of Jandor, King of the Quadlings.  So the witches were planning on taking over the entire quadrant!  This was an even more significant plot than the tiny man had thought.  He had to warn the king before the witches could spring their trap.

            To that end, Jair rode into the castle, carefully avoiding the feet of the many people hurrying to and fro.  None of them noticed him at all, which was partially because of his size, but also because they were all so busy with their own tasks.  Servants rushed around the castle with baskets of laundry, trays of food, mops, and many other items.  The Reddy took a quick look into every room he came to, except the ones where the doors were firmly closed.  Finally, he made it to what he assumed must be the throne room, as a rosy-faced man with a red beard was sitting on a ruby chair at the other side.  As quickly as he could, Jair drove Ibzan through the chamber and up the arm of the throne.  A leap brought him to the king’s shoulder, and avoiding the monarch’s unconscious attempts to shrug off the intruder, he began to whisper into Jandor’s ear.  “Your Majesty, a coven of witches is launching a plot against you!”

            “Huh?  What?” muttered the King, who was barely awake, having just spent the last two hours listening to a speech from his chief chamberlain.  “Are you my conscience?”

            “No!  Look here, on your shoulder!”

            “A tiny man?  I must be hallucinating from hunger.  When is dinner?”

            “No, Your Majesty!  My name is Jair, and I’m a Reddy!”

            “Ready for what?”

            “No, we’re a tribe of tiny people.  Are you sure you’ve never heard of us?”

            “Eh, I seem to recall readin’ about you in one of my old books.  I didn’t think anyone actually believed in you, though.”

            “How can you live in an enchanted land and not believe in Reddies?”

            “Never thought of it that way.  Anyway, what’s this about witches?”

            “Hush, Your Majesty!  Wait a minute!”

            “Huh?  For what, Mr. Reddy?”

            The reason Jair saw the need to shush the King was that the witch with whom he had hitched a ride to the castle had just entered, sweeping the dust from the floor into a bag.  There was very little dust, however, and King Jandor asked, “Do you have to do that now, ma’am?  One of the other maids just swept the room, and I’m sure my staff isn’t THAT messy.”

            “Very well, Your Majesty,” returned Bikkie, with an awkward curtsey.

            After the witch had left the room, Jair once again tried to explain the plot to the monarch.  He was rather disturbed by the whole thing, but wondered what he could do about it.  “It’s not like I can sleep with the window closed, eh?  I get heat stroke somethin’ fierce!”

            “Do you know of any good magicians you can call in to fight off the wicked witches?” questioned Jair.

            “Ah, that’s a good idea, my good man…er, Reddy.  Now, where did I put that directory of magicians?  Joab!  Joab!” shouted the King, while pulling on a bell-pull.

            “Yes, Your Majesty?” said the tall man who responded to the summons.

            “Joab, where is my directory of magicians?”

            “It should be here on the shelf,” replied Joab, looking at a nearby bookshelf.  “Oh, my stars and stockings!  This book of common Quadling fish should be on the other side.  When’s the last time anyone organized this shelf?”

            “Just this mornin’, you did.”

            “And it’s already out of order?  My whales and whiskers!”

            “You haven’t any whiskers.”

            “Ah, yes, Your Majesty.  ‘Tis always been my shame, that I have been unable to grow facial hair.  Ah, here’s the directory.”

            Paging through the book that Joab handed him, Jandor said, “Hmm, this girl lives in the area.  Glinda, Good Witch, First Order of Lurline.  Very pretty, what?”

            “With all due respect, Your Majesty, judging a magician on looks is a rather bad plan.  Nonetheless, this Glinda sounds like a promising young lady.  What do you need a witch for, anyway?”

            The King, with help from Jair, explained the plot as quickly as they could, and Joab immediately dispatched a messenger to Glinda’s home.  A mere hour later, while the King was eating a piece of bread and butter, the Good Witch arrived in the throne room.  She was a tall and very attractive red-haired woman, looking rather young, although it can be difficult to tell ages with magic-workers.  She bowed to Jandor, and asked, “How can I be of service to you, Your Majesty?”

            Jandor and Jair explained the plot of the wicked witches, and Glinda readily agreed to help the ruler.  Therefore, on the night when the witches were about to spring their trap, they found Glinda in the King’s bed rather than the monarch himself, who was staying in Joab’s room.  Glinda had chilled the room to a considerable degree, so that when the flies entered the room, they could not fly so quickly.  Seeing a woman in place of the king, the witches discerned the trap, but before they could return to their human forms, the Good Witch promptly caught the five flies in a jar, hastily but gracefully screwing the lid on so they could not escape.

            “Let us out, lady!” buzzed the leader of the witches, who held an evil gleam in her eyes.

            With a few waves of her hands, Glinda restored the witches, but with ropes tied around them.  As they soon learned, the ropes neutralized any magic that the women tried to use.  The Good Witch called the King into the room, and he promptly had the five witches banished back to their home territory.  Four of them settled in Jinxland, which was technically part of the Quadling Country but was generally left alone by the monarchy.  The one remaining witch, Bleakie, became lost along the way, and was not heard from for some years after that. 

King Jandor was very grateful to both Glinda and Jair.  Some say he proposed right then and there to the Good Witch, but she turned down his offer.  As for Jair, in exchange for his valuable service in exposing the treasonous plot, the King ordered his finest artisans to build a miniature city for the Reddies.  The city, known as Baffleburg after the chief artisan Byron Baffle, was placed in the territory of the barons in the Red Mountains, and Jair himself was appointed Baron of Baffleburg.  While he had his own castle, he still enjoyed performing good deeds for the people in the area.  Several years after Baffleburg had been established, Jair walked out of his fortress and noticed a man tramping through the mountains with the aid of a cane.  He was a bit stooped, and had a rather sloppily trimmed red beard.

            “Well, bless my boots!” exclaimed the man in a raspy but still jolly voice, despite the fact that he was actually wearing sandals.  “If it isn’t a Reddy!”

            “There’s an entire town of us right around the bend,” returned Jair.

            “Ah, yes, I believe I have heard of your town.  Battleburg, or something like that.”

            “Baffleburg, good sir.  In fact, I believe I’ve done services for you before.  Jakgar, right?”

            “Indeed so.  Good to see you again!  I am in these mountains to seek out a valuable treasure that is said to be buried in a nearby cave.”

            “If you need help, I’ll gladly come along with you.”

            “Oh, certainly!  I’ve never been one to scoff at assistance, no matter how small.”

            So with that, Jair leapt onto Jakgar’s shoulder, and the magician proceeded toward the north.  A bit of searching with his cane led Jakgar to the cave he was seeking, and he then walked down a long passage, complaining under his breath about his decision to wear the wrong sort of shoes.  The passage was dark, but Jakgar used a fast spell to produce a bright light with his cane.

            “According to my seventh sense, what I’m looking for is behind that wall,” stated the magician.  “I don’t know how I could possibly get through there, though.”

            “I think I could, Mr. Jakgar,” said Jair.  “I see a crack in the wall that I could fit through.”

            So the Reddy ran through the crack, and found himself in a room lit with an eerie red light.  It turned out to be coming from a large ruby on top of a pedestal, which Jair promptly climbed.  As soon as he touched the jewel, however, a wall on the other side of the cavern slid aside, revealing a simply enormous woman with the body of a snake below her waist, and a huge snout with a horn like that of a rhinoceros.

            “I am the guardian of the ruby,” announced the woman.  “Do you really think you could defeat me, let alone take a ruby that’s bigger than you are?  Don’t make me laugh!”

            “You don’t sound like you’re going to laugh.  Besides, I may be small, but all I really need is strength of heart!”

            “Strength of heart?  What is that, even?”

            Jair did not bother to answer, but instead leapt up to the monster’s hand, and stuck his tiny sword into one of her fingers.  It made a small wound, but did bleed.  Well, it looked at first like it was bleeding, but the red liquid that poured out of the wound did not have the same consistency as blood.  As the liquid drained out, the monster began shrinking, and lost some of her more bizarre features.  In fact, she was soon recognizable as the wicked witch Bleakie.

            “Wait, aren’t you one of Blinkie’s witches?” inquired the Reddy.

            “I was.  When the others went flying to Jinxland, I became lost in these mountains, and found myself in this cave.  I saw this ruby and tried to take it, but it transformed me into a monster, and a cave-in trapped me.  I don’t know why stabbing my finger broke the curse, but it apparently did.”

            Jair climbed back onto the pedestal, and tried his best to lift the ruby.  Surprisingly, he was actually able to do so, despite its being larger than his entire body.  With that, a beam from the jewel shot out, causing the wall through which the Reddy had entered to disappear.  Jakgar stood there waiting for him.

            “What was going on in there?  And who is this charming lady?”

            Jair was not sure about Bleakie being charming, but he did introduce her to the magician.  Taking the ruby from the miniature man, the magic-worker led the way back to his own house, which was south of the mountains and had a high peaked roof.  When Jair told them how he had retrieved the gem, Jakgar guessed that the curse did not affect him because of his strength of character and the fact that he did not want the ruby for himself, but he admitted that he could be wrong.  After a few days of experimentation, he was able to determine several uses for the magical jewel.

            “I feel I need to reward you for the service you’ve done,” said Jakgar to the Reddy.

            “Oh, no reward is necessary.  Performing good deeds is just something I do.”

            “I think you’ll like this reward, though.  Through the magic of the ruby, I can cause you and your tribe, as well as the entire city of Baffleburg, to grow to human size.  Would you like that?”

            “This is a true gift!  Yes, we have long wished to be tall and escape the constant threat of danger and predation.”

            “I can’t say for a certain, Jair, but in making you human sized, this elixir may also make your people mortal.  Is this a price they would be willing to pay?”

            “It is a price we must pay,” Jair said sadly.  “Our natural immortality does not prevent us from being destroyed, or worse, from being crushed and dismembered and still living.”

            The magic took about an hour to perform, but Jakgar was as good as his word.  When he had finished, he gave the now human-sized Jair a black flagon full of red liquid similar to what had leaked out of Bleakie’s monstrous body, telling the former Reddy that Baffleburg and its residents would only maintain their current size as long as the liquid remained in the flagon.  He helped Jair in building a labyrinth in the castle in which to keep the flagon, as well as producing some other magical defenses.

            Bleakie initially sought out her sisters, but even after locating them in Jinxland, found that she was tired of their constant abuse, and preferred to find somewhere she would be respected.  She continued to call on Jakgar on occasion, and eventually the two of them fell in love.  They worked on magical experiments together, and the witch’s proved to be much more talented than she had thought herself to be in the company of her sisters.  Jair and Jakgar remained friends for the rest of the Baron of Baffleburg’s days, and the former Reddy was the best man at the magician’s marriage to Bleakie, who determined not to rejoin her fellows in Jinxland.  Eventually, Jair died at a ripe old age, and left the barony to his son Mozar.  Baffleburg continued on in its way until the time of Jair’s great-grandson Mogodore, who launched a fearsome campaign of conquest that eventually reached the capital of Oz.  That, however, is another story.

 

THE END

 

Continuity Notes

Author's note: "This story was one I'd been thinking of for years before actually getting around to writing it, because I felt the Reddies' back story in JACK PUMPKINHEAD was just begging for more explanation."

 

Dating: As per the author, "The seventeenth or eighteenth century would work, I think.  There needs to be enough time in between this story and JACK PUMPKINHEAD for three generations of Reddies to pass, but some of the barons could have had short reigns. "The Solitary Sorceress of Oz" has Glinda coming to Oz in the sixteenth century.

 

The Jinxland Witches: This story reveals that there had been a fourth sister, the youngest, Bleakie, who left her elder witch sisters behind to become the lover of the wizard Jakgar, eventually leaving Oz altogether.  Blinkie at this time in history has both eyes, as according to Donald Abbott's The Amber Flute of Oz, she lost her eye during the backfiring of a spell in a battle with Glinda in 1871.

 

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