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THE TALKING SWORD -- My first-ever story

I promised I'd post this story if the Sequence a Science Fiction Writer fundraiser went over $47,000. As of this posting, it's at $48,462.

This is the first story I am known to have completed, although not the first one I ever attempted to write. It was originally written longhand, in cursive script, which leads me to suspect I was in fourth grade at the time. I have left grammatical and spelling errors intact.

Later this week, I will post a discussion of newbie writing errors exhibited in this effort.

by Nancy Owens
(ca. 1986)

Illustrated by Nancy Owens

Sir Louis walked towards the last merchant shop on the street. Hopefully this shop had swords. Sir Louis didn’t relish the idea of going down another street full of merchants trying to get him to buy things he didn’t want or need. The only thing Sir Louis needed was a sword.

Briefly, Sir Louis tried to imagine fighting a dragon without a sword. Ridiculous! Sir Louis had to have a sword.

Sir Louis arrived at the merchant’s shop, a small, brown tent, decorated with colors on the inside. There were all kinds of knick-knacks, a golden shield, a red, obviously fake statue of a cat, a small, green, (what kind of bird was it?) in a silver cage, several books and other such things. But no swords.

Well, he might as well try. As soon as Sir Louis stepped into the tent, up rushed the merchant.

He was tall. Almost seven feet! It made Sir Louis’s six and a half look short! The man was wearing a, um, Sir Louis forgot the name, a cloth on his head. And there was a ruby in the center of the cloth. Oh, what were those things called, anyway?

Sir Louis didn’t have any time to think. The merchant bustled about, grabbing this and that, shoving something or other under Sir Louis’s nose, and talking all the while.

“Hello, Sir. What would you like, kind sir? How about an ancient copy of The Magician’s Book of Spells? Or, perhaps you’d like Magic is Wonderful. Maybe you’d enjoy this fine linen? No? I could even sell you the tent! No one’s been here for so long. Wait! I know just the thing!”

“Excuse me,” said Sir Louis. “The only thing I want is a sword.”

“A sword?” The merchant mumbed, “A sword, a sword!” The merchant went digging through his things. “Aha!” he exclaimed. “Here it is!”

“Here what is?” grumbled Sir Louis. Warily, eyeing the dull, brown, dusty sheath and the dull, gray, unfancy sword hilt sticking out of it.

“Great. Just fantastic,” thought Sir Louis. “Now all I need is… is… oh pooh! I’ve forgotten. Oh well, I’ll just have to manage without it.”

The merchant had just finished dusting off the sword. It was still dull.

“Ah! Here it is! Just what you need, my good man,” the merchant chattered happily.

“How much?” asked Sir Louis.

The merchant didn’t hear him.

“And a marvelous thing it is, too!” said the merchant.

“How much!!?” screamed Sir Louis at the top of his lungs.

“Wha…? Oh! The good man would like to know the price? Well, I’ll sell it to you cheap. Fifty gold pieces.”

“You call that cheap!” cried Sir Louis.

“Yes, yes I do.” Said the merchant. “Because this is not a regular sword. It is a magical talking sword!”

“Talking sword?” said Sir Louis, “I’ll take it!”

Sir Louis paid the merchant. Then the merchant said, “Now, would you be interested in…?”

“No!!!” Sir Louis screamed, and he ran out of the tent.

Sir Louis walked through the forest of, of, what kind of trees? Green forevers or something. Oh, well. Sir Louis relaxed and enjoyed the scenery, the cool, fresh, air, the ferns, the calls of birds, and the quiet.

Sir Louis came to a clearing of nice, green grass. Is was especially nice and quiet. Now was a good time to try the sword.

Carefully, Sir Louis pulled the sword out of the sheath.

“Hi!” said the sword extremely loud and slow. “You know,” said the sword, beginning to talk very fast, “I’ve been in that stupid, idiotic, stuffy, and uncomfortable sheath so long. It’s a pleasure to talk to someone! Even if it is a dumbbell like you!”

“Ahem,” said Sir Louis.

“Why,” said the sword, ignoring him, “It’s amazing how idiotic people can be!”

“Ahem!” said Sir Louis.

“I remember one time when…”

Sir Louis shoved the sword into the sheath. When the sword saw what he was doing it cried, “No! Nononononononommff!”

Sir Louis pulled the sword halfway out of the sheath, and before it could say a thing said, “May I speak for a change?”

“Why, sure,” said the sword slow and innocently. “You can do anything, anything at all, only…” here it speeded up, “Don’t put me in that stuffy sheath again! Pleeeeeze! You can’t…”

Sir Louis started the move the sword into the sheath.

“Noooooooo!” Pleeeeeze! Nooo…”

Sir Louis moved the sword faster. It was quiet! Nothing but forest sounds!

“Now,” said Sir Louis. “What I was going to say is that we’re going to slay a dragon.”

“Slay a dragon!” the sword exclaimed. “Hah! You’d have more luck catching a unicorn!”

Sir Louis tried to remember how he had shut the sword up before. His mind went blank.

“Slay a dragon! Don’t you know anything? I faint at the sight of blood! And do know how swords faint?”

“No!” screamed Sir Louis, somehow out-voicing the sword. “And I don’t want to! I’m boss and we’re slaying a dragon!”

“Alright,” said the sword. “There’s a dragon’s den a mile back.”

Upon reaching the den, without resting a second, Sir Louis charged in. The dragon, which had been sleeping, was awakened by his loud battle cry. Sir Louis charged in, headed straight for the dragon. The sword was calling, “And the dragon strikes! And the knight parries! Now the knight strikes! And he misses! And the dragon’s claw scratches the knight’s hand! And… it’s… blood… and…”

Then the sword hit the dragon, and bent. Then it grew limp. Then it flopped all over the place. Finally it dripped to the floor.

Sir Louis looked at his empty hand. Then at the dragon, which was blocking his way out.

Sir Louis smiled a broad grin, showing all his teeth.

Then Sir Louis ran, dodging this way and that. Somehow, he passed the dragon, exiting the cave just in front of the flames the dragon breathed.

Sir Louis didn’t hesitate; he ran straight for town. After about a mile he slowed down.

Sir Louis thought about all the money he had wasted on that silly, useless sword. Oh, well. Sir Louis shrugged his shoulders, and walked on.



Ok, I admit. This story isn't exactly Nebula material. My protagonist has some rather distressing anger management issues, for one thing. There's also the matter of his unexplained forgetfulness and the itsy, bitsy detail that the premise of the story was lifted from one of my brothers' D&D games. All the same, I'm impressed at the cohesion I managed to attain at that age.

I also showed a decent amount of business sense, making sure to give myself author and illustrator credits on the title page. I even included an "About the Author" section, because... you know... Branding!

Of course, as we all know, the most important question regarding any work of fiction is: Did it please the target audience? On this point, I leave my readers to judge for themselves.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Floris Kleijne
Feb. 13th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
POV perfection
Given that Sir Louis is apparently a complete idiot with, like you said, a mild case of amnesia, afasia, and anger management issues, you must give yourself credit for maintaining perfect POV...
Feb. 13th, 2013 08:21 pm (UTC)
Re: POV perfection
Well, either that, or my 9-year-old self had a lot of issues she wasn't consciously aware of... :)
Feb. 14th, 2013 06:02 am (UTC)
As an armature collector of children's writings, I love this. It is free of our mental restrictions; self-doubts and fears! (I once thought of creating a web site, to display such items, in a .jpg format. I gathered about a dozen pieces, and put them up for the kids to show their friends and classmates, but never followed through, beyond that.)

The "Green forevers" is so natural. We should consider changing our motto from "The Evergreen State", to "The Green Forever State"!

And, why shouldn't the hero have common, everyday issues? After all, how do we feel after a long day of shopping for just the right item, and dealing with high pressure sales persons? Sometimes the protagonists are just too, too... :o)

I'd have given you an "A" also!

Feb. 16th, 2013 11:45 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed the story!

It's a really great idea, to have a place where children can share their creative projects with others. I'm quite pleased to see that Barnes & Noble's self-publishing branch has opened up a couple of kid-friendly services. :)
Feb. 14th, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
Heeheehee! I read it through, which is more than I've done for many stories I've started. :)
Feb. 16th, 2013 11:44 am (UTC)
Tee hee! Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )




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Nancy Fulda is a 2012 Hugo and Nebula Nominee, a Phobos Award winner and a Vera Hinckley Mayhew Award recipient. She is the first (and so far only) female recipient of the Jim Baen Memorial Award. Her fiction has appeared in a number of professional venues.

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