Twice upon a time. Yes this all happened more than once. How anything could let it happen a second time is unknown, but it did.
Two evenings long ago, both times it was cold and wet, a tall dark stranger rode into town. Both times he rode a large black horse, though it was a different horse the second time around. He rode in in complete silence, neither horse making a sound on the cobblestone road. Both times the few villagers out that late in the evening watched him carefully, wondering who or what could be moving so quietly. The stranger stopped outside of the village inn and dismounted then tied up his horse. He patted it gently telling it to be still and to wait. He then entered the inn. As he opened the door lighting flashed outside, both times making the view of him coming into the inn look very dramatic, a dark shadow in the doorway against the bright sky behind him.
He called across the inn as he found an empty table, ‘Innkeeper, bring me a drink.’. Both innkeepers were quick to bring the stranger the drink, you do not argue with some one who makes such an entrance, and the second inn keeper remembered the story from the first. The stranger quickly drank his drink then shouted to the innkeeper for another. The innkeepers took the stranger his drinks, both gingerly reminding the stranger he had not yet paid for the first. On both occasions the stranger gave the innkeeper a look, a look which turned both innkeepers white with fear. He then gave them both a quick grin and held up a gold coin to each of them and asked the innkeepers to keep the drinks coming.
The stranger sat in the corner and drank for the rest of the night, making no sound except to ask for another drink. No one dared to go near him, in the first inn out of fear of what their imaginations thought he could do, and they stayed away from him the second time knowing what he could do. This pleased the stranger, no one interfering made it easier for him. As the two nights drew in the two innkeepers began to clear the inns. The stranger stayed sitting in his seat, drinking his last drink. Once everyone else had left both innkeepers asked the stranger to leave. The stranger asked for a bed for the night instead. ‘You have drunk a lot of ale sir, I don’t think your coin will stretch to a bed for the night’, both innkeepers said wearily. The stranger handed each innkeeper another gold coin, ‘I expect breakfast and a bag of oats for my horse as well for this.’, he added. The innkeepers nodded in acknowledgement and lead the way to the room that the stranger would spend both nights in.
Both mornings that followed were bright and sunny, the early sunshine had dried up the paths and fields as well as the strangers horses which stood and waited for him outside the inn. Neither time did anyone think of taking the horse to the stables, though neither horse would of gone. They had been told to wait, so wait is what they would do. The innkeepers took the horses the oats, while the innkeepers wives took the stranger his breakfasts. The second innkeepers wife looked worried as she handed the stranger his second breakfast in the village. ‘You look troubled’, said the stranger to her.
‘I am.’, she replied, ‘We don’t want trouble like last time. There isn’t going to be any is there ?’
‘I do not know. Let us hope not.’, he sighed.
The second innkeepers’ wife turned and left as the stranger began to eat his breakfast. The first innkeepers wife turned and left too, wondering why the stranger had been muttering to himself before he began to eat.
The stranger finished his breakfast, washed and dressed on both occasions. He then made his way to  the main room of the inn, thanking the innkeepers wife on each occasion for the delicious breakfast, then left the inn.  He then patted his horses necks, climbed onto his saddle and began his ride out of the village. On both mornings he was stopped by a group of young men who still had a little too much drink in them from the night before. ‘I believe your purse is too heavy sir, and ours are too light. Maybe we should even things up.’ said two of the young me, one on each of the occasions. ‘I am happy with the weight of my purse’, he replied to both of them. ‘Well we are not’, the two young men who spoke before said as they drew their daggers. The stranger sighed. The other young men drew their daggers too. ‘Go home. You will be forgiven for drinking all your money away. There is no need for you to try and take mine.’ the stranger told them all.   The two leaders did not listen to him, they wanted, needed his money, both of them would get a good beating at home if they returned with out any. ‘Hand over your money now.’, they both said, ‘You are no match for me and my friends.’  The stranger sighed and drew his sword. It was a magnificent sword that shone in the morning sunlight. Some of the young men backed away. The stranger was relieved, hid not wish to hurt them all. The two groups began to back off a little more, the two leaders were shouting at them to come back and fight. Suddenly there was a strange glint in the eyes of the young men of both groups. They all began to draw swords, swords the stranger thought young men of a small village like this should not have. He sighed again as all of them cam towards him.
Neither group of men were very good with the swords, it was easy for the stranger to hold them off from doing him any harm on both occasions. It was not long before both groups began to get angry on either occasion, their thrashing became wilder and harder for the stranger to fend off, but as yet no one had hurt him. It then happened at the same time into both fights, some one caught his horse instead of him. The horses flinched at the pain from the sword that had cut it, but both of them held their ground. Both groups of young men moved their attacks to the horses, the stranger could not easily defend his horses and it was not much longer before both horses fell. On both occasions the stranger managed to roll free of his falling horse. He was now enraged with the young men and began killing both groups. As the stranger began the killing cries from the young men made it back to their village, but they would be all dead long before any one would reach either group. When the last man fell each time the stranger sank to his knees and began to sob beside his dead horses. As he wept the villagers arrived to see what was going on. The villagers stood around the carnage that surrounded the stranger, no one entering the circle either time. Shouts and cries came from both sets of villagers but no one came near the stranger, after a while the shouts stopped and just the crying of mourning mothers could be heard, every one still stayed in the circle. ‘Some one please bring me a spade, so I can bury my horse.’, the stranger asked.
‘What about our sons ?’, two voices asked one from each time.
‘I am sorry for what happened to them, and mourn their deaths as you do. I will dig the graves of those who have none.’
The relatives of the dead young men entered the circle and took the dead men away. The rest of the villagers made their ways back to the village. On neither occasion did any one question the stranger on what happened, and neither time did anyone seem angry with him once they left the circle.
After everyone had left the stranger began to bury his horses beside the road out of the village. The first horse he buried on the left side and the second on the right. Once he had finished he looked back towards the village, on both occasions ten bodies laid out on the path ready for burial. The task had been left to him, as he had offered each time.
The village had a hill on either side of it, on each occasion he took the bodies up one of the hills and buried the young men, saying a small prayer over each one of them as he filled in the graves. When the graves were all filled on both occasions the stranger walked down the hill then on out of the village. Both times he did not look back. And both times he hoped he would not visit the village again.

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