"No, no, no!" Guh cried, but it was too late. The inkwell he had knocked off the shelf had landed and spilled nearly all of its contents smack dab in the middle of the latest manuscript he was printing up for one of his clients. He tried in vain to clean the thick black ink from the pages of the manuscript, shrieking as he only worsened the situation, spreading inky fingerprints to the many other pages that had not been ruined when the inkwell fell. When all was said and done, the entire middle section of the manuscript, some thirty pages, were completely illegible. What was worse, the writer was due to pick up a proof copy in less than three hours. He would certainly find much to correct in his new, middle-less work.
"Oh no, oh no," Guh muttered hurriedly when he finally stopped flailing about and accepted that he had indeed ruined his project. "What am I going to do?" he asked one of his fluffy orange cats, who gave him a look that said he didn't want to be embroiled in the mess and then hopped up and sauntered fleetly out into the front room of Guh's bookshop.
"Thanks for nothing, you ingrate!" he called after the animal. He put his finger to his lip to think more clearly, only to taste the foul ink coating its tip. "Ach!" he cried, spitting and frothing at the sensation of tasting the mildly poisonous ink. "Wonderful, now I'm going to be sick."
His work on the manuscript was already late, three weeks past due, and the writer was a prominent politician. If he should be too displeased with Guh, which he already was due to the delay, he could easily have Guh's lucrative license to operate his press revoked. Seeing as how no one was buying books lately, that most-to-all of his profits came from the printing services he offered, this was simply not an option Guh could entertain.
After having scoured his hands clean in the alley behind the bookshop, Guh sorted through the undamaged pages of the manuscript to see how he might be able to savage what was left of it. The manuscript seemed to tell a tale, one rather bawdy for Guh's tastes, of a damsel taken prisoner by a wrathful ex-lover. At least the beginning of the manuscript, the first half of the undamaged pages did. The second half of the pile of papers seemed to tell a different story altogether though, something to do with horse riding. How or if these two stories ever joined up into a coherent whole was impossible to discern from the remaining evidence. Still, Guh thought, he wasn't too bad of a writer himself. He would be able to make the two halves stick together. He had no other choice.
"Let's see...," he mused to himself. "So here we have Lady Beebe deciding that she may in fact be in love with Lord Grimikal... and then suddenly she's on horseback... and then the horse begins to fly?" There wasn't anything in the first half of the story that indicated something so fantastical was going to happen to the main character. "This can't be the same story," Guh said, shaking his head. "But I know it is. Well, here goes nothing."
He took up a pen and sat down at his desk. Suddenly, Lady Beebe realized something she had known all along, that she could make horses fly... he began. "No, that won't work. That's ridiculous," Guh sighed. "Perhaps..." Lady Beebe awoke from her terrible nightmare, realizing that Lord Grimikal had been a dream... Terrible, Guh thought. Just terrible.
Lady Beebe hated her capture, sure, but was willing to suspend her own sense of identity in order to learn the secrets of horse-magic from Lord Grimikal, who was proving to be a much more emotional man than she had ever suspected...
"Horse-magic, Guh?" Guh asked, giving himself a frown in a broken shard of a mirror hanging off a shelf above his desk. "Yes, horse-magic," he announced defiantly to his reflection. He went with his dubious story invention, carrying on for twenty pages about the secret history of the Grimikals, about the different kinds of horse-magic. Guh hated such nonsense. He own tastes tended towards non-fiction mainly, and if he ever read fiction it was the kind based in reality. To create such balderdash as horse-feathers and invisible sun-wings was truly painful to his sensibilities.
After an agonizing hour of forced imaginings, which saw Guh laying down some of the most ridiculous sentences he had ever seen, he managed to bridge the disconsolate sections of the ruined manuscript into a coherent, if absurd whole. He managed to squeeze a copy of the tale out of his press just before his client showed up to claim his proof.
Guh didn't hear anything after that for a week or so, until the writer of the manuscript Guh had so badly butchered returned to his shop.
"Guh Hsing," the man asked as he rang the bell to call the old man out from his hiding spot in the back room.
"...Yes?" Guh said with a tremble in his voice, sure that his license was about to be revoked.
"I'll need to order two hundred official copies of the manuscript, please. My publisher loved the draft so much, he thinks it has the potential to be a big hit this holiday season."
And it was, the story of Lady Beebe and Her Magic Horse. The author mustn't have been very familiar with his own writings, as he never questioned the changes Guh had made to them. Guh tried hard to duplicate his success at writing silly fantasy, but nothing he tried could ever be as strange, could ever compare to that first work of nonsense he had magically doctored. Still, he was happy with the attention and business the book's success brought to his press. But he made sure to move the inkwell shelf across the room, to a very low shelf where its contents could never cause such serendipitous literature to be produced again.