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Once upon a time there was a lonely girl in a lonely tower named Misanthrunzel. The girl had been in that tower since she was a baby and had never known the outside world. You see, shortly after she was born, Misanthrunzel was kidnapped by a wicked hag who wanted to grow the girl’s hair out so she could sell it to some mattress makers to make some quick cash. However, the hag had died before she could cut the girl’s 200 foot long mane. One year later, when Misanthrunzel turned 12, she decided to sheer off her long locks into a short pixie cut and burn the hair.
“I guess there’s no one to keep me in this tower anymore,” Misanthrunzel murmured as she watched the hair disintegrate in the fireplace. With her heavy hair burned away Misanthrunzel began climbing down the tower’s wall. The grass was cool and tickled her tiny feet. She took a deep breath of the wind and smiled.
“It’s better than I could’ve imagined!” Misanthrunzel jumped and danced, tumbled and twirled before halting to a stop.
“Mmmm…” She snorted the air, “lamb and honeysuckle stew, my favorite!” Misanthrunzel hiked her gown to her knees and began running in the direction of the scent. She came to a rickety building that had a sign out front that said The Outskirts Pub, no solicitors. Misanthrunzel had never heard of a pub before…or a solicitor, but with the smell that was wafting from the building it must mean food. She creaked open the door and stepped inside. Somehow the sweet scent that led her here wasn’t so sweet inside. She made her way across the crowded gloom to a pot that was boiling away. Leaning over it she took a big whiff, she wanted to gag.
“Hey!” a large, hairy hand reached out and pinched poor Misanthrunzel’s nose. “You gotta pay to sniff!”
“Pay…what do you mean pay?” Misanthrunzel had honestly never heard of the word but the bulging bald man pinching her nose didn’t seem to care. He tossed her hard out the door; she landed with a thud on her bottom.
“And don’t ever come back here ‘til ya got some cash to pay!”
Tears welled in the poor girl’s eyes as she rubbed her bruised nose and shuffled onwards to the city skyline she saw in the distance.
“Maybe I’ll find nicer people there…” but Misanthrunzel was having a hard time believing her words as she stepped through the mud and rocks.
The city was loud and stunk of rotting produce as it cowered in the shadow of the palace. Men and women surrounded both sides of the narrow street, shouting about the goods they had to offer.
“Fresh lamb! Get the freshest lamb in all the kingdom here!” a thin woman with hollow eyes and very few teeth spouted, though her lamb was anything but fresh.
“Dollies over here! Dollies of the finest quality for your brats!” a grotesquely fat woman covered in pox marks shouted, though the dolls had no faces and were covered with splinters. Suddenly a man with long nails and no teeth yanked off Misanthrunzel’s necklace from behind.
“Hey!” Misanthrunzel whipped around, “That’s my necklace!”
“It can be yours…for just thirty-two gold pieces!”
“No, you don’t understand, that is really my necklace,” Misanthrunzel reached out for the jewelry but the man was too quick.
“You tryin’ ta cheat me?” the thin man gave her a toothless sneer.
“What, no! It’s really my…”
“Guards!” The man screeched, gaining the attention of two palace guards, “This woman’s tryin’ ta swindle me!” Misanthrunzel was stunned when she saw the two guards barreling towards her; one hand outreached the other on their swords.
“What…I just...!” Misanthrunzel bolted into the hoard of vendors, who never let up despite her urgency. One vender snatched her bracelet and tried to sell it to an old man, another ripped off a piece of her gown to try and sell to a woman with six screaming kids.
“I just want to go back to my tower!” Misanthrunzel sobbed as she passed the pub, where the bald man shook his fist. At this point the guards had lost momentum, but she kept running until she came to the cave that led to the clearing of her tower. She promptly began to hide the opening with ivy and large leaves.
“That wicked hag was right,” Misanthrunzel panted as she worked feverishly. “You can’t trust people; they’re cruel, unforgiving, untrustworthy welts on the world!”
The next day Misanthrunzel, refreshed and relieved to be home, cleaned up her tower and began work on planting a large garden. She even bought some supplies and chickens from an old woman passing by named Minerva. Minerva would become Misanthrunzel’s only human contact, bringing her supplies and the week’s newspaper every Sunday.
* * *
Misanthrunzel was out in her garden harvesting potatoes, onions and honeysuckle. It was her nineteenth birthday and Minerva had brought her a leg of lamb. So Misanthrunzel decided to make lamb and honeysuckle stew. She whistled happily as she chopped everything up and slid it into the pot to boil. As the mix began to bubble away Misanthrunzel picked up the paper and scanned it thoroughly.
The main story was about a girl from another kingdom who was kept in a tower by a witch. About a year ago she was rescued by the kingdom’s prince, who promptly married her. Apparently they were found murdered in their castle after being robbed on Monday.
“She should’ve stayed in her tower,” Misanthrunzel smiled as she sipped her tea and waited for her birthday stew.