This is a story about Stout Henry, an average citizen of an average land, doing the average things one might do, in a land far away.
“Forsooth!” cried Stout Henry from his reading chair, as the morning sun’s bright beams seeped around the edges of the dark oilcloth that covered the window. “I have wasted my last candle on this tale!” Stout Henry hurled the badly penned tome, with its thin parchment color, to the ground. “And now I must be about my morning tasks, with no benefit of the double experience a feather bed might grant. Well, I be off!”
Stout Henry tied his tattered wooden cloak around his neck, and picked up his carved staff. Shading his eyes against the light, he stepped out of his small cottage.
No sooner had he done so, than a beagle, its tongue out and lolling, rushed up to him with a joyful bark!
“Back, foul vermin!”, he cried, as he stove the puppy’s head in with his carved staff.
Farmer Jonas ran up, anger and shock twisting his normally placid face. “What have you done to Poochie!” he screamed.
Stout Henry pulled a small book from his tunic and quickly flipped the pages. “Farmer Jonas, I do apologize. I have been tasked with killing three large dogs by a wandering guardsman I met upon the road yesterday. Poor Poochie wasn’t quite large enough to satisfy him. But if you would just step back a pace or three, I’ll have her fangs for the witch over in Cotsberry and her two front feet for the gnome by the mill who is tryin’ to build a machine to stop time.”
Farmer Jonas knelt by his dear, dead puppy. “P-p-p-poochieeeee!!!!”
“Heh, yeah, apparently he needs a ‘paws’ button. I didn’t quite understand it myself. Well, off I go. You wouldn’t happen to have any larger dogs back at your farm, would you?”
Making a mental note to stop by the farm later, Stout Henry left Farmer Jonas and the corpse of the farmer’s best friend behind as he wandered over to Cotsberry to deliver the dog fangs to the town witch. Along the way he passed a chapel, from which arose a joyful singing. Stout Henry checked his book, then sneaked in through the sacristy and broke the pastor’s legs with one swipe of his staff.
“No hard feelings, Father,” said Stout Henry. “But I can’t have you healing the congregation while I train my fighting skills!”
“But… they’re peasants!” gasped the pastor. “Why would you ever want to fight them?”
“Well,” admitted Stout Henry, “they aren’t the best. I mean, I would definitely like to be killing dragons, but I’ve been living here twenty-five years now, and I’ve seen precious few dragons, but you can’t hardly swing a stick without staving in the head of a peasant, so which do you think ‘twould be best to level up on? I mean, if you were me.”
Stout Henry strode into the nave, where the congregation, expecting their pastor but instead finding this poorly dressed man with a bloody staff in his hand, wearing a woolen cloak decorated with a poorly stitched picture of a wolf howling at a crescent moon, fell silent. Stout Henry weighed the brass bowls and candlesticks in his hands and tried to guess how much the merchant might buy them for.
“These are a rather poor kind of brass,” said Stout Henry, disappointment plain in his voice. “Well, I hope you lot have brought better coin in your pockets. Come now, who’s first, then?” He hefted his staff and set his feet apart in a fighting stance; the congregation screamed and run from the chapel. Stout Henry sighed. “Runners. Might have known. No fight in them at all.”
He unfolded a bag from his belt and filled it with everything from the altar that would fit, then went among the pews to see if anything had been left behind. Nothing.
“This is turning out to be a very dull day. A dull day indeed,” muttered Stout Henry.