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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
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Author's Note: This one was begun by request from a friend. You'll notice it isn't finished. That's because I've since lost contact with her, quite likely for a long time, but I consider this to be *hers*, so I am waiting until we tlka again to complete it. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure it was as saved as I could make it, so it's on my hard drive, npw the Pen, and next comes floppy.



Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there lived a young man who had an inn. It was not a very prosperous one, or very poor.


It did exactly as well as he needed it to do. This made the young man very happy.


For he was not so concerned with the money to be made, as much as he was with all of the people he could meet. He'd met priests, thieves, Mothers, murderers, Daughters, butchers, sons, nuns, governors, and judges.


But someday, he hoped, he would meet his wife. He'd met many women, he'd seen them all: old and small, youngand tall, dark and sensuous, innocent and fair, mad, bad, good, fat, thin, skinny, strong, but still he wondered when he would meet she who he would wed, all day long.



This summer had been particularly dull. It was so dry, there was drought across the land. No one wanted to travel with no water, so the young man was barely making enough money to keep the inn going.



The day was one of the quietest and loneliest it had been though all the hot summer weeks. The young man had been awake since three hours before dawn, as was his custom, to prepare himself and the inn for the day, and it had now been fifteen hours without receiving any business.


Breakfast passed with only the songbirds for company. Lunch had passed with only the lazy gnats coming in. As dinnertime fast approached, and even the sun was taking its leave, nothing so much as a farmer's wife on her way to markey had driven past.



The young man was unaccustomed to worry, he always made just as much as he needed to survive, and to keep his inn as it should be, but today, with so much time with no companionship whatsoever, his heart slowly began to fill with gloom.


"I beg your pardon, Sir Sunshine," he said to the sun through the window, "for you have long been a reliable source of warmth and cheer, but it seems as though your cheer can only stand when there are others to enjoy it with." He mopped his brow, and decided to go to the pump for water.


"I have to ask -Is the reason you've come so much closer than is your wont, that you are lonely like me? If so, I can hardly hold ill will toward you. I too suffer the lack of the joy that human talk and human laughter brings." He pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped, until the bucket was full. Lifting the bucket with a grunt, he turned back to the inn.


"If it does not overstep my bounds, Sir-it would seem that your search for neighbors is what causes this calamity in our hearts, for your face is the most attentive and the brightest of us all, but your warmth is so greater than ours, I fear we begin to burn. So," he continued through window once more, as he brought the water behind the bar and began filling jugs with it, "Your lack of friend and mine is largely due to everyone fleeing your well-meaning but hot gaze"


He filled the last jug, and looked outside. "Alas, you cannot hear me, can you Sir Sun? So intent are you in your search for your playmates. Ah well", he sighed. "I still may not hold this against you, good Sir. For I know much the same lies in my breast as well."


The young man raised a glass of water to his lone neighbor. "May you succeed more swiftly than I."


The sun had slipped lower now, and the young man heaved a sigh of relief as he felt the air begin to cool. "Perhaps you heard me after all!", he smiled. "Sleep well this eve, old man, and tomorrow we shall begin our searches anew together."



A knock came at the door, and a light, airy voice called in. "Hello? Is anyone there?" The young man started from his reverie.


"Yes! Please, come right in!" The door swung open, and a young woman with long, curling hair and a white cotton dress swept in. Her hair was flaxen, her cheeks rosy, her figure tall and slender.



Her hair, too was knotted and scattered with leaves. A twig she seemed unaware of jutted out of a particularly thick knot at an antlerlike angle. Her white cotton dress, he realized was not so white, either. She was splattered and smeared with mud everywhere. There was one streak of red over her left elbow that looked like blood.


He realized, with further shock, that she carried neither purse, nor belt.


She was smiling at him in incongruous merriment. He finally realized too, that he had been staring. The young man stammered out an apology and hurried to help her to a seat in the common area.


"Are you all right, Miss? You look as though you've had a terrible time", he soothed as he set a fire to boil water. The young woman stretched her legs with a small grimace before turning that same cheerful smile to the young man again.


"Oh, I'll be quite alright, thank you. I've just been robbed."


"Robbed!" the Young Man exclaimed, nearly dropping the kettle as he tried to set it on its hooks. The Young Woman laughed merrily.


"I've had quite worse as a small girl with my brothers, I assure you!"


"But have they taken everything? Are you hurt?", said he, now kneeling by her side in concern. She waved a hand dismissively.


"A woman my age, travelling alone with naught but a walking stick and summer clothes to protect her? Of course. They took my whole belt, took my stick, threw that away. and threw me down on the side of the road. I scraped my knee something fierce", said she with a gesture. "And I quite imagine that by now they've thrown away my bag as well." She looked thoughtful. "They didn't look hungry enough"


The Young Woman looked every bit as though she was contemplating a butterfly, and not recollecting her assault and robbery.

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