Into their village late one spring day, rode|
a man, muscular in body and noble in bearing.
‘Tho he now travels alone, once he strode
in the company of kings, loyal and serving.
The day grown hot and the road being dry and dusty,
the weary warrior stops at the inn, his thirst to quench.
The loud squeal from the door’s hinges, old and rusty,
draws all eyes his way. His settle on the lusty bar wench.
The wanderer crosses the room to sit with back to the wall.
“My lady, bring me meat, cheese, and a tall tankard of ale.”
The innkeeper rushes over to ask, “And can you pay for it all?”
The stranger’s response turns his blood cold, his face pale.
“Do you, kind sir, question my honesty? Doubt my honor?”
The innkeeper spies his ring, impressive and bearing a noble
seal. “I assure you I never intended to treat you with dishonor.
I must use caution because too many travelers are ignoble.”
The wanderer lays a bundle he has brought upon the table,
unwrapping it to reveal four swords of the highest mettle.
“Will one not buy me my evening repast, use of your stable
for my horse, and a room in your inn for me? We can settle
our account on the morrow.” The innkeeper readily agrees
and orders the wench to serve the needs of the stranger.
His having supped, now ready for bed, the girl precedes
him up the stairs to a room. “Sir, you are in great danger!
“The innkeeper fancies your ring and has made an evil plan
to kill you in your sleep. I have been ordered to ensure
you sleep soundly from exhaustion so that his men can
safely steal into your room…but murder I cannot endure.
“Sir, you must somehow escape without their ever finding out
I warned you, or else it will be my death, not yours, they seek.”
“My lady, you may be but an indentured servant, yet no doubt
have I of your nobility. Take heart. Neither of our futures is bleak.”
She lies awake in the bed; he stands guard beside the door.
Come mid-night, the door slowly opens and three shadowy
figures enter the room. The door slams shut, and even before
the men realize they are entrapped, in unison they suddenly see
the room is filled with flashes of moonlight reflecting upon
his sword shredding air and bodies. “Three deaths deserved,
three deaths delivered,” says the warrior. “My lady, you’ve won
my gratitude. Gather your possessions and go unobserved
“to the stable. I shall await you there.” At the stable he quickly
saddles his horse and the innkeeper’s. He knows there won’t be
any justice for the girl or for him in this village – best they simply
leave...and so, side by side, they gallop away to their destiny.