Illustrated by Patrick Mines
In an old ninja village, a young ninja apprentice baker was honing his skills in the ninja bakery. He decided to craft a cookie in honor of his master, in appreciation for teaching him both the ways of the sword, and of the spatula. He shaped the cookie in his master’s image and decorated it to wear the traditional garb of their clan. And as the young apprentice placed the eyes on the cookie, it sprang up and shouted:
Run, run as fast as you can!
You’ll never catch me…
And with a well timed smoke bomb, The Ninjabread Man vanished.
The Ninjabread Man was never captured and his skills matched those of the ninja baker that crafted him. Over the course of his travels, he encountered many creatures and beings, leaving many defeated in his path. And those he could not defeat he would out-guile with his wit and trademark-smoke bomb-vanishing-catchphrase. He had a knack for smoke bombs.
One cold, December’s day, The Ninjabread Man happened upon a harbor town, and ventured across a group of pirates ready to weigh anchor. The tiny cookie ninja had never actually encountered a pirate until this very day, although he had heard tales of their existence as he roamed the lands. I have to see what these people are like, he thought to himself, and quickly stowed away on the vessel before it left the dock.
What The Ninjabread Man didn’t realize was that these were no ordinary pirates. Nor was this an ordinary boat. The ship belonged to the fabled Pirate Cap’n “Saint” Nick.
The ship was no further than a couple miles away from land when it magically hoisted itself above the sea and started to slowly ascend higher and higher into the night sky. The Ninjabread Man trembled with fright as he watched himself soar into the clouds. He looked around the ship and saw that no one was at the helm… let alone on deck!
Just then a large, white-bearded man had kicked open the cabin door and let out a loud, jovial laugh. He wore a large black pirate hat and wore a patch on his left eye. Following behind him were a dozen much smaller crewmen, all of them dragging out a large sack, seemingly bottomless, with stuffed animals and toy swords and the like.
While his gaze was set in wonderment of the large sack, The Ninjabread Man was spotted by one of the crewmen, who then alerted the others.
"Cap’n Nick! Ninja on deck!"
The Ninjabread Man jumped out of the shadows and readied himself for battle. Cap’n Nick barked what seemed to be orders to his crew, but their rally cries drowned out his bellowing. Try as they may, the tiny pirates fell injured, one by one to the swift movements of the cookie ninja. The Pirate Cap’n drew his sword.
“I did not want it to come to this, but I am running terribly late,” the fat man said worriedly as he stood battle ready.
The Ninjabread Man stood to face the Pirate Cap’n and a ferocious sword fight took place. Cap’n Nick seemed too skilled, even for the cookie ninja, proving to be a master swordsman with every swing of his blade. The Ninjabread Man knew this and leapt away from his enemy and exclaimed:
Run, run as fast as you can!
You’ll never catch me…
But the smoke bomb didn’t work. Cap’n Nick laughed with glee.
"Your smoke bombs don’t work on my ship, tiny ninja! We’re in the air and there’s nowhere to hide!"
The Ninjabread Man felt his demise was imminent. He lay down his sword in front of him and sat, cross-legged, ready to accept his fate. Cap’n Nick approached slowly, each step heavier than the last as he closed in. But rather than giving his foe the final blow, The Cap’n lay his sword down next to the ninja’s and offered only his hand.
"Rise, little one. There is nothing to be afraid of."
Hesitantly, The Ninjabread Man looked into the pirate’s un-patched eye and saw a calming sincerity that he had never felt before.
"I am the Pirate Cap’n Nick. My crew calls me ‘Saint.’ You are not in danger. I tried to stop my crew, but I wasn’t fast enough. I apologize for the confusion."
The Ninjabread man, ran up the bearded pirate’s arm and perched himself on his shoulder as he continued to speak.
"You seem to be lost little one. Do you know of this ship?"
The tiny ninja shook his head.
"You have stumbled upon The Sleigh, my lad. On this day every year I leave my cove in the White North with my crew and we bring gifts to all the good pirate children of the world."
Just then, The Sleigh’s crew let out a pained “Arr!”
"But I don’t see how I can do that tonight, with you having incapacitated my crew and all! I steer The Sleigh over the rooftops, and my tiny crew ropes down and delivers the gifts from that sack to the dwellings below. But now in my crew’s haste to defend the ship, we are left in a… predicament, to say the least."
The Sleigh began to hover over a pirate cove. The Ninjabread Man noticed this and made his way to the sack of gifts. He pulled one out and to the surprise of the captain, he leapt off the ship. Before Cap’n Nick could run to see where he had gone, the cookie ninja returned almost immediately and repeated his gift dive.
The speed of this amazed Cap’n Nick and his eyes lit up. The ninja was delivering his presents for him! He ran to the helm and without saying any other words to each other, they flew all over the world delivering presents to all the pirate children. Eventually they had run out of pirate homes, yet the sack still lay full.
"I wish to give presents to those of my kind," said The Ninjabread Man to the Cap’n.
The jolly man smiled and simply nodded.
They made their way to The Ninjabread Man’s village and he began to deliver gifts to all the ninja children. The ninja’s took notice and stormed the ship, ready to pounce the captain and the recovering crew when The Ninjabread Man stood firm between them and yelled in the biggest voice his tiny cookie body could muster:
Of the ninjas, the young ninja baker’s apprentice emerged, recognizing his creation. He stared at the cookie ninja and saw he had drawn his sword, ready to defend the pirate crew. He asked of him:
"Come now, tiny one. These are pirates. You do not belong here," offering his hand.
The Ninjabread Man only stood resolute. He refused. The ninja baker’s apprentice drew his sword.
"Can’t you see," said Cap’n Nick. "He’s helping us."
The look in the ninja baker apprentice’s eyes changed as he sheathed his sword. He sighed knowingly, staring at both the Cap’n and the cookie ninja, then turned to his clan and motioned to the never-ending sack of presents. The ninjas understood and they began grabbing the gifts and delivering them.
Cap’n Nick saw this and smiled. The Ninjabread Man, along with The Sleigh’s crew joined in. After they made deliveries to the whole ninja village, they moved right on to the next one, and the next one. The sack seemed to stay full. They even continued to the other villages filled with townsfolk and delivered presents to them, together.
After a long night, their work was done. For the first time in history, pirates and ninjas worked together to spread goodwill to the world. Both sides lay their swords down for one night, and it was all thanks to The Ninjabread Man and the Pirate Cap’n “Saint” Nick. A calm took over the ship as they headed back to the ninja village. And for a while, they were able to coexist peacefully.
As the ninjas returned to their respective homes, The Ninjabread Man vowed to help Cap’n Nick next year. The Cap’n smiled and told him to spread word of their deed so that the world can see their example.
The Ninjabread Man joins the Cap’n every year. And for at least one night, there is peace.
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