The Rambunctious Ram
Passing the crooked tree with the knotted face, you pass under low-hanging vines that seem to wave hello as you pass. You then enter a clearing in the Sherwood Forest. And there, built into the sturdiest of the great trees lies Finn’s Den. The comfy little house is home to the little friendly dragon, Finneas Ignatius Horatio Fernroot. Known to many as Finn, Finn is also known for weaving stories from magical worlds far away. He also makes a mean cup of tea!
Today is your first day visiting Finn.
You find Finn outside trying to rip some vines off of his house. “Hello, young explorer!” He greets you. “Just give me a moment.”
He turns back to the gnarled vines on the house. Grabbing a vine he begins to tug and pull. No success. Finn spits on his hands for a better grip and puts both his feet against the wall. And he tries one more mighty pull! “Geee grrr graaw,” he growls and grunts as he hovers off the ground held in place by the vines.
With a sudden rip the vines give way. And both Finn and yards of vines fly backward. Finn crashes to the ground followed by the mass of vines. The tangled vines bury the poor little dragon. You pause worried.
But then a scaly paw emerges. It pokes up out of the viney depths. “Don’t worry, I’m fine!” A muffled voice calls out. The vines slowly begin to shake. And then Finn bursts upward out of their clutches.
Finn dusts himself off and apologizes, “I’m just doing some spring cleaning.” And as he regains his composure, a vine trips him. And the little dragon tumbles to your feet.
Looking up from the ground at you, he greets you again. “Haha hello there. Welcome to my home. Believe it or not, this reminds me of a story…”
The two of you enter the house with Finn still shaking off the vines. Though it is your first time visiting Finn, you immediately feel at home in his little den. A fire crackles in the corner. And a new yet delicious smell wafts from his kitchen. Hopping across the entry into his kitchen, Finn disappears around a corner. He quickly reappears with giant oven mitts. A steaming kettle in one hand and a tray of baked goods in the other are held aloft by your dragon host.
“Elder spiced, herbal tea? Or how about a razzleberry scone?” You accept Finn’s offer. Taking a bite of the scone, the razzliest of tastes fills your mouth.
After sharing his kitchen goodies, Finn makes a bee-line for his bookshelves. They are sprawling, spiraling shelves, which somehow seem taller than the ceilings themselves. After a short search, he pulls out from a lower shelf a leather-bound book. Mountains of blue and metallic green accents cover the book's exterior. The cover reads, “The Collected Exploits of the Mountain Guard.”
“Grab a seat and make yourself at home,” Finn motions to the abundance of seating options — chairs, sofas, and exotic bean bags. The little dragon leaps into his favorite chair. It is a little big for a dragon his size, so he almost looks like a scaly little dog sitting in a human chair. All the same, he looks perfectly at home perched in the chair.
As you take a sip of your spiced tea and the fire crackles away, Finn speaks, “Ok, let’s get started!”
He cracks open the book. Then Finn, half reading and half reciting from memory, begins to tell the story of the Rambunctious Ram.
Far off in the Blue Kingdom of Hammerholt, the Mountain Guard was gathering after a patrol. After the last guard arrived, their commander initiated the meeting. “Anything to report?” He asked, dismounting his horse.
“Nothing beyond the mountain reaches seems to be out of the norm.” Terry, the young captain started. “There has been some rustling on the cliffs above. But it’s probably nothing more than a curious animal or some—“
Sckraamp chomp thuump thudt duuhpt
A gnawing and the rumbling sound came from above them. Quick to action, the commander shouted, “Take cover! Rock slide!”
Soldiers ran and took cover. Their horses disappeared with clouds of dust trailing behind them.
Thud Thud Thuudd Thruump
The rumbling got louder. Terry’s reactions failed him. So a boulder hit him right in the stomach. “OOF!”
More boulders kept flying past them. Seeing their comrade injured, the guardsmen ran to Terry’s aid. Forming a protective wall with their shields, a few began examining him. “Are you ok?”
Terry gasped for air, unable to talk. “Oh no! He’s bleeding,” one soldier felt something wet with his hand where the boulder had hit him.
“Wait a second… Terry? Since when did have green blood?” The same soldier held up a hand with oozy, green juice. The three looked to Terry’s side and found a split open tumble fruit. These boulder-like fruits grew on the Hammerholt mountain tops. People often mistake them for small boulders.
“This doesn’t make sense. The tumble fruit shouldn’t be ripe yet. Why would they be dropping off the vine this time of year?”
As the final fruit tumbled past the shield wall, they looked up the mountain. Above them stood a blue, Hammerholt ram. It smirked knowingly. In its teeth was the tumble fruit’s vine. It had bitten loose the fruit and caused the stone-like melons to fall down off onto the soldiers.
If rams could smile, it would have at this moment. Before the guardsmen could chase it, the ram savored its prankster victory and pranced away.
Some time passed since the tumble fruit incident, and most of the men had forgotten about the ram. Everyone except Terry.
At a mountain outpost, a group of guards was relaxing alongside a campfire. Others manned the watch towers and others went out on patrol. Around the campfire, the guards shared stories from the day. And others told favorites from their childhood like Harold the Horse and Ralph the Ramblodon.
From beside the fire, Terry got up. “I’m going to get some sleep before my watch starts.” Walking away, he said the guard’s motto, “Steadfast and strong.” A small chorus of goodnights and “steadfast and strong”s called out from around the campfire.
Hours passed. And the fire became glowing embers, and dusk turned into the dead of night. Suddenly a noise broke through the night’s silence.
“Waah! Ger’ off!”
The outpost cabin’s door burst open. And the ram from the morning ran out. Now instead of chewing on a vine, it held in its teeth a pair of pants.
“Stop that ram!” Called Terry from inside the outpost cabin.
The guards leaped up from the campfire and began chasing the animal. To and fro it sprinted. The pants waved in its mouth. One guard grabbed the pants and pulled them taut. Then a tug-of-war ensued between the ram and a couple of the soldiers. Tugging back and forth, the pants stretched across the cabin’s door. At that exact moment, Terry ran out of the building. Pants-less Terry tripped over his own trousers.
The half-naked guard lay sprawled out on the ground. The ram and the trousers were freed from the guard’s clutches. At the sight of Terry, the guards gave up chasing the ram and burst out laughing. With the guards distracted and Terry splayed out on the ground, the ram easily escaped with his pair of pants prize.
Following the two incidents, the ram gained a mythic reputation among the Mountain Guard. In future encounters, they would never try to harm the animal because it had gained their respect. And more importantly, it had made them laugh.
A few years later the Mountain Guard founded a special forces unit. Their job was to enter enemy territory and cause chaos. Using the tactics of the ram, they would always catch the bad guy with their pants down. Also following the ram’s influence they named themselves the Ram Rangers. Surprisingly, Terry became the first leader of the Ram Rangers! Terry the Tactical Troublemaker went from being the pranked to the pranker.
“And that is the story of the Hammerholt Ram’s guard and a very pesky ram.” Finn slowly closes the book and flips it onto a table already covered in books of all sorts of sizes and colors. Getting up, he looks at you. “Well, I’m afraid that I need to say goodbye. I’ve got to go battle some vines.”
Grabbing a nearby knapsack, he shoves a few handfuls of razzleberry scones and hands them to you. “Here’s for your journey home.” Together you walk to the front door. It takes a little time because you have to wander through stacks of books and strange artifacts. With a push, he opens the round, wooden front door. Together you both walk outside. “Farewell young adventurer! Come back next week for another story!”
He immediately goes back to work on the vines. This time he uses a different tactic. Mimicking the ram he begins gnawing at them with his spiky dragon teeth. This effort quickly fails.
You slowly walk towards the path leading out of Finn’s clearing. And just before you duck under the vines and pass the crooked tree, you hear in the distance, “Have at you, viney fiend!”