‘Are you a hero?’ she said when she came to my bed that night.
I had travelled far over the Grey Lands that day and I was tired. ‘Yes,’ I said.
She looked sceptical. ‘Prove it.’
‘I have a sword,’ I said. ‘A special magical sword.’ I drew its full length.
She took a step closer, a smile forming on her lips as her hand reached out to take hold of my magic sword. ‘It feels magical,’ she said. ‘What sort of sword is it?’
‘It is my magical pork sword,’ I said. ‘Come closer and I will show you how it works.’
‘I know how it works.’ She smiled ‘What is more, I have a scabbard for it right here. See?’
A few days later at a similar tavern in a similar town, a similar tavern keeper’s daughter followed me to my room.
‘Are you a hero?’ she said.
‘No,’ I replied; too weary from my travels to play games. At least, I was until she stepped into the flickering light of my candle and I saw her face.
‘Oh.’ She turned to go.
‘I am a mage,’ I said.
‘A mage?’ she was sceptical, but took a step closer. ‘Do you have a wand?’
‘No, I do not have a wand.’
‘Oh.’ She turned to leave again, her hand reaching for the door.
‘I have a staff.’
She stopped. She tuned. She smiled. ‘A staff.’ She took a step closer, reaching to touch it.
‘Be careful.’ I said. ‘A mage’s staff is a very powerful weapon.’
‘So I see,’ she said.
‘It needs a special place for it, so it can be kept safe.’
‘Oh. Where would that be?’ She reached for the staff, feeling its size, its stiffness, its warmth.
‘It need to be put in a wizard’s sleeve,’ I said softly.
‘That’s lucky,’ she said. ‘For I have one here.’ She hitched up her skirts and climbed onto the bed next to me, ready and eager for the act of magic to begin.