990 words this time! Though a couple days late. Meet Adel, the fourth main character of Spirit Song. A knight errant, who does good deeds hoping to achieve glory at a bard's hand. And another meeting with Marc. The unequal length do reveal my bias between the characters. Though I met Marc first, and Adel is really only just starting to grow beyond plot device.
A second post will be up later, for the next theme on my list: Playing the Melody. Which is likely to end up something different as the theme kind of applies to the whole piece.
I'm going to be the greatest hero ever.
Adel had many dreams, most of which revolved around the immortality of fame. He'd been raised on a steady dose of epic ballads and knew that it was his destiny to earn his own.
He had humble beginnings as a poor goat herd's son in the hills of High Zeustch. Adel was the middle child, did look like his parents and hadn't a special trinket. He planned to succeed in his dreams anyway. Those details could be fixed later.
As such, he started small. Saving lost animals, then finding lost children, and then at age sixteen leaving home, descending from the High Zeustch looking for his quest.
Years later and leagues south of his mountain homelands, in a hill fort town, in a foreign land, Adel still dreams.
Adel's sword hisses as he slices the shadowy beast before him. He can feel the filth trying to creep up the blade, to his hand and to corrupt him. He holds firm and the stain fades, unable to withstand his pure action.
Even as this occurs, he is still fighting. His footing sure, his thrusts and cuts precise, Adel does his duty. He pays no heed to the shifting mass of shadows that rally against him. One or a hundred, these spirits have overstepped their bounds. The wrongs that gave them entry into these people's lives have been righted, their time as retribution finished. They should return to whence they came.
They disagree. Forcibly.
Adel rebukes them, safe in the knowledge of his right conduct. With sword and shield and word, Adel forces them to give up their pretence of virtue and reveals them to be untrue.
An hour, a week later all the shadows are brought low, and fade where he fell them. Adel regains his breath, hardly tired by the long fight, sheaths his sword and looks to where his prize awaits.
She smiles coyly at him, more than thankful for Adel's bravery. She takes his offered hand, murmuring her gratitude. He offers, she refuses. He promises her the world, she smiles but refuses. He promises her his all and her eyes say yes.
Adel takes her, still within his right conduct.
He may dream first of fame, but there are certain events that any great ballad requires. The hero gets the girl.
Marc is lost. Not in the sense that he doesn't know where he is, he does, but the more satisfying sense of being lost in a crowd. It is Carnivale and he can't travel five steps without hearing another bard, another story.
I'm going to the Carnivale. I'm at the Carnivale, I can't believe it.
He grins, the only problem he has is that there are too many bards, too many stories. No matter what he tries he will miss some. He will stay ignorant of some aspect of the world's history, of its workings. That thought sits unwanted and uncomfortably in the back of his head.
Before he can follow that train of thought, he sees something out of the corner of his eye. Dorian. That secretive bard, performer afraid of small talk, man who's seen a different world.
Bard Dorian! Marc yells, his words drowned out by the crowd. Determined, he tries pushing the way Dorian went.
The crowd closes in, like some greater force had decided that Marc won't succeed. It seems for ever step he makes toward where he saw Dorian, the crowd pushes him back three.
Where are all these people coming from?
Marc sighs and changes tack, heading to the edge of the crowd. Fortunately for him a walled side, rather than a canal. He's sure the hostile mass would push him in. Going is easier with the wall beside him. It isn't pushing and Marc can forge his way against only half the crowd.
He makes it to the corner he saw Dorian turn around. Several minutes of pushing and less than polite shoving later, and Marc covers the alley. He's reached another intersection, and has no idea which of the five alleys the bard went down.
Need to get higher, he can't be moving through this crowd much faster than I am.
Fortunately there is a raised platform in the centre of the mini piazza. For the bards to perform from. Not for non-musicians to climb as lookouts. Even if it was dangerously easy to lose someone in this crowd.
The crowd gave Marc a couple of minutes to consider how he was going to bluff his way atop the stage. So when the vaguely familiar looking guard at the bottom of the steps gave him a nod and opened the gate, Marc felt an odd mix of surprise, annoyance and dread.
Only the dread survived the short trip to the stage. Marc held his violin tightly by his side. He could see his family, his master, his friends sitting in the front row. All with various bored, disappointed and even angry expressions. Playing for time, Marc checked the tuning of his violin, which was fine.
Any requests? he timidly asked.
The Lay of Old Tyne!
Yonder, Beyond the Hills!
Yonder, Beyond the Hills it is! Marc answered almost sounding confident, safe choice, everyone knew it and knew it different. That'd cover his mistakes.
Marc raised his violin, played a clear Mi and began the lively jig that accompanied the song.
Yonder, beyond the hills,
where my fair maiden lies,
I will free her from...
Marc froze in terror. The words were there. He could feel them eager to be sung, but something was broken. The crowd matched his silence. For a few moments.
The crowd surged forward, climbing on each other. All focused on the disgrace who would ruin a tune and risk offending the spirits it recounted.
I'm sorry. I shouldn't be a bard. I'm sorry.
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