The Pilgrim in Pain

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Kevaar
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Re-post from old forums. Comments got a little bogged down in gender debate, so I'm not sure what the current status of this is. Below is the latest version. Intended to be a Velothi folktale, would like a better title.

The Pilgrim in Pain

A pilgrim was walking down a rough dirt road. Rocks poked out of the road at irregular intervals. The pilgrim, tired from his long journey, finally stumbled and stubbed his toes on one.

His toes hurt very badly from being stubbed thus, and the pilgrim came upon a thought. "If I did not have toes, I would not have toes to stub." He looked down at the offending toes. "I am sorry, but you are causing me pain, and so therefore you must go, so I will no longer be troubled by you." And the pilgrim took out his hunting knife and cut off his toes.

The pilgrim continued on his journey, but without his toes, he found it harder to keep his balance. Soon he stumbled again and fell to the ground. He flung out a hand to catch himself, and the hand was cut on one of the sharp rocks. Wincing, he looked at the blood welling up from his palm.

"If I did not have a hand, I would not have a hand to be cut and bleed," thought the pilgrim. "I am sorry, hand, but you are causing me pain, and therefore, you must go." So the pilgrim cut off his hand and continued on his way.

The pilgrim continued to walk down the road, which was getting rougher, and he had to slow down to almost a crawl to keep from tripping again. He turned a corner in the road and came upon his wife.

The wife began to rail at him in the way wives do--why do we no longer walk together in the mushroom groves? Why were you late for the meetings with the Heads of House? And why, by the gods, are you bleeding!

She ranted and raved so much that the pilgrim closed his eyes in pain. "Wife," he finally said. "You are causing me too much pain, and therefore you will have to go." So he killed his wife, cutting her out of his life, and continued on his way.

As he continued his walk, he found that the combined pain from the missing toes, hand, and wife was becoming unbearable. He was confused, because he couldn't understand why such things were paining him, if they were no longer a part of him.

"It is my heart that feels this pain," he said to himself. "If I did not have a heart, I would no longer feel pain."

"I am sorry, heart," said the pilgrim, looking down at his chest. "But you are causing me pain, and therefore you must go."

And so the pilgrim cut out his heart, and with his lifeblood spilling out, he soon collapsed and died. Too late did the pilgrim learn that pain was a necessary part of life, and that he would have been wiser to suffer with patience and humility.

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--why were you late for dinner? Why do we no longer spend time together? Where is that money for the debt collector you promised you would pay off two months ago?

These are still too modern. They really should be tailored directly to everyday Dunmer life. Otherwise, the story could take place practically anywhere at the moment. There's not much in it that ties it directly to Morrowind. Besides that, I think the text reads well.

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All in all, this is very good. I agree with Parker about the bit with the wife being anachronistic.

How about making the story a fable? Make the pilgrim and his wife scarabs/beetles? "A pilgrim beetle was walking..." Call it Fable of the Pilgrim Beetle. It would make it clearer from the beginning that the book is a folktale and not a religious book.

 

The moral of the story could be even more explicitly stated. How about changing the ending:

And so the pilgrim learned that pain is a necessary part of life.

to

Too late did the pilgrim [pilgrim beetle?] learn that pain was a necessary part of life and that he would have been wiser to suffer with patience and humility.

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It wouldn't be the first conspicuously modern Dunmer text. 

'Love is used not only as a constituent in moods and affairs, but also as the raw material from which relationships produce hour-later exasperations, regrettably fashioned restrictions, riddles laced with affections known only to the loving couple, and looks that linger too long. Love is also an often-used ingredient in some transparent verbal and nonverbal transactions where, eventually, it can sometimes be converted to a variety of true devotions, some of which yield tough, insoluble, and infusible unions. In its basic form, love supplies approximately thirteen draughts of all energy that is derived from relationships. Its role and value in society at large are controversial.'

Vivec might not be the best comparison, though. 

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The 36 lessons is definitely an exception to many rules.

The thing is that the wife's lines seem out of place in the context of this particular book. It's a folktale, yet the questions read like quotes from a contemporary guide to marriage. 

This is of course a very minor thing to change, overall the text is good.

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Oh, I like the idea of changing them into animals. Though that would need changes to quite a few places--hand to paw, knife to...teeth? Hm.

Some of the humor was in that the wife sounds modern. "Even back then, they could be a pain!" But that would make it into something written by a contemporary writer still, not an old folktalke.

Okay, how about this:

The wife began to rail at him in the way wives do--why do we no longer walk together in the mushroom groves? Why were you late for the meetings with the Heads of House? And why, by the gods, are you bleeding!

I also like Rats' change to the last bit of the moral. Editting that into the first post.

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Better? Worse?

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That paragraph is much better, I’d say.

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Oh yes, much better!

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Edited!

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Transferred to asset browser. Author has responded to and incorporated suggested edits.

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