"Hello! I'm Kireh, the mind-reading outsider. I'll demonstrate that later this evening, but first, here's a story from my home.
There once was a family of farmers in a poor remote village. Times were hard and children often died from accidents and illness, and especially from the swarm of frogs with their backs covered in knives which engulfed the fields every few years, eating the crops and causing many injuries to the farmers. In hopes that at least one child would survive to work the farm as an adult, the family had many children. This was a frog-summer, and they were taking heavy injuries as they tried to protect the fields.
This particular summer, however, a wandering doctor-adventurer was passing through the village, admiring the exotic musical traditions that had developed in isolation. The doctor healed the injured villagers, including all the children in this family, and killed many of the frogs. At first, the parents rejoiced, but as winter approached, their joy turned to anguish. For they realized that with the crops half eaten by the frogs, and all their children alive, thanks to the generosity of the doctor, they could not all survive the winter. And the doctor was no help, for he had already left for the next village.
The family had three more sons than they needed, and three extra daughters. The parents went to the sons first, and explained that they would have to leave the village, perhaps to seek their fortune as adventurers. Like the wandering doctor, right? Wasn't he so brave and noble?
The three brothers were inspired by their parents' words, and set off to learn to fight. The first brother joined a monastery, where the monks were said to be able to slice off a wolf's head with a bare-handed chop. The second brother joined the city guard, where he would fight real criminals every day. The third brother watched at a fighting ring until he saw a man with a build like his own and approached him for an apprenticeship.
The first brother labored day and night, chopping wood, raking the garden, serving the monks at their supper, painting walls... and when the monks had no more work for him, they set him running laps until he collapsed from exhaustion, sleeping the night on the bare ground where he fell. They told him that the work he was doing was training him to fight. Whenever his stance with the rake was wrong, or he let the soup ripple as he set it down, they beat him, punching him on the forehead and kicking him in the belly. When he asked what he was doing wrong with the rake, or how to carry soup more steadily, they laughed and beat him more. After a year, he stopped speaking, stopped trying to think about learning to fight, and stopped planning for the future beyond how to avoid getting beaten in the next hour.
The second brother patrolled with the city guard, wearing his new uniform and shiny sword. After walking about the streets for a few hours each day, the guards would retire to a pub, where they told of great criminals they had captured, duels they had fought, ladies they had wooed. They would go out onto the street" - Kireh staggers into a wobbly fighting stance, miming drinking from a glass in her off-hand - "and talk about tempo and measure, the cavazione, the molinello." She illustrates the moves with sloppy melodramatic flourishes.
"The third brother watched his master's fights for a month, sparring with him in the afternoons before the fighting rings opened. At first, his master moved slowly, as if in armor, gradually speeding up as the third brother learned to see the movements of a fight instead of a bewildering flurry. He focused on one flaw at a time, striking the third brother hard so he would remember the lesson, and letting himself be struck when the third brother corrected the error, sealing the new knowledge with the signet of satisfaction and confidence. He himself feigned various styles, challenging the third brother to deduce the weaknesses of each. After a month, the master arranged fights for him in the rings, and began to teach him to use, not his fists, but a brace of daggers.
Now, in the city, with the monastery, the guards, and the fighting ring, there was a clever, beautiful thief. She heard that the monastery stored the notebook of the great engineer Archimedes, so she snuck in to steal it. The first brother was raking the garden as she sauntered past. The monks were supposed to be celibate, but if one of them was having a dalliance, the first brother had no desire to report him and get beaten. Because anything he did out of the ordinary would surely get him beaten, even enforcing the rules of the monks. So he pretended not to notice the thief, and she stole the legendary notebook.
Next, the thief went to the city guards. They had no great artifacts, but she thought it would be funny to have a uniform and sword. She followed the guards to their pub of the day, where she seduced the second brother, took him to an inn, and walked out with his uniform and sword while he was asleep.
She then went to the fighting ring to flaunt her new possessions, and fought the third brother. He recognized that her stance didn't match the creases in her clothes, and she was swinging her straight rapier as if she was used to fighting with a heavier, curved sword. He named her a thief then and there, grappling her before she could run away, and called for the actual guards.
The first brother despaired of learning at the monastery, despaired of having any future at all there, and left in shame, penniless. The second brother was expelled by the city guard, the very same people who had congratulated him for catching such a beautiful woman on the previous evening, slapping his back and calling themselves friends. The third brother, at his master's orders, left the city to face greater dangers and become a real adventurer. And so, the three brothers traveled together back towards their village.
On the road, the three brothers were accosted by bandits. The first brother fought viciously, wielding a stick like the rake he so hated. He killed one bandit and threw the bandit's sword to the second brother, but the next bandit he engaged punched his forehead, and he froze, reminded of the beatings he had gotten from the monks. This hesitation was enough for the bandit to kill him. The second brother swung his sword with glee, at first, but was flabbergasted when several of the bandits attacked him at once. That's not an honorable duel! That's not how the city guard fights - they're supposed to be the ones in a group, surrounding a lone criminal! And so the second brother also died. The third brother had fought against multiple opponents before. His daggers flickered and flew, he retreated and circled the bandits, and eventually he killed them all. Covered in sweat and blood, he continued down the road, now a real adventurer. He had some frogs to kill.
But what of the three daughters who were sent away? What did they do? I'll get to that in a minute, when I've rested my voice.
In the meantime, we're not yet at the part of the evening where I demonstrate my mind-reading, so if you want another drink, you'll have to ask!"