The Minstrel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
just read it its good

Submitted: September 04, 2010

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Submitted: September 04, 2010

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Belaine stood on the balcony of the small room he had rented. It wasn’t a very nice room, but in this part of the world it was considered very lavish. He seemed comfortable in this simple setting, but he did not look a part of it. He was a young man of 23 summers, his hair dark and curly, and on his face he had a trimmed beard. He usually kept it clean shaved, but now that he was trying to hide his identity from those who wished to do him harm, he felt a beard was in order. The air was filled with the sounds of the people below going about their daily business. They were shopping, haggling over prices or simply having a conversation with a friend they happen to pass by. How did he come to this unseemly junction in the road of life? Well the answer was simple, his mother had brought it upon them. Belaine rolled his eyes as another sound reached his delicate ears, ears that could hear a mouse breath in another house, or a horse whiney from a mile away. His mother was weeping. She did this quite often ever since “the incident.”
Belaine’s mother was none other than Servilla Vispanus Emeritus, former Empress of the Voridian Empire. The Voridian Empire was the one of the most powerful nations in the world, until greed and political infighting caused it to lose much of its influence and power. Eventually the Empire’s influence over its people waned, and the once great Empire fell. Though it wasn’t what it was those many years ago, when Servilla took power, it was still quite formidable. But no longer, now it was just a vassal state of the Dark Prince, who placed his puppet Emperor, Chancelo Invirtis into the Emperors ivory chair. And now Belaine was a  refugee, hiding from the Dark Prince and his Legion of Fallen Knights.
Belaine walked inside, his mother sat on an old overstuffed couch, her eyes full of tears, but she did not look towards him. Belaine had always had a strained relationship with his mother. She was contented to let wet nurses and nannies raise him as a child, as she always busy ruling her nation with an iron fist. But now she had nothing, no servants, no sycophantic advisors hanging on her every word, and no people to revere her and cheer her name. 
“I’m going to work now mother, I trust you will be fine here, Maxwell the Innkeeper will bring food and drink by later.”
Servilla did not even look at him, and so he gathered the tools he would need for his trade. A mouth harp made from yellow bone, a lute, and a metal sword shaped flute. His work was only a short walk away, at a tavern a few blocks down. The small town of Taranil did not have much in the form of entertainment until Belaine arrived, and so he filled in the much needed void. 
Belain arrived at the Cocks Crow tavern and was greeted with cheers. 
“Sparrow, good to see you!” said a country local name Bridi, a farm hand with long straw colored hair, and coal colored teeth.
“And you Bridi!” Belaine said with a smile, “I see you haven’t used the herbs I gave you to clean your teeth.” Belaine then clucked his teeth like a concerned mother. Bridi just smiled back at him sheepishly.
Belaine greeted more of his local friends, people he felt more at home with than he ever had with the high society of Voridan, the only people that his mother considered good enough to socialize with her son. Though his mother was miserable, Belaine enjoyed this life of simplicity, the only qualms he had was the fact that there were seven foot tall armored knights looking to kill him.
Belaine, or Sparrow as the people knew him mounted the small stage in the center of the tavern. The tavern customers then began to applaud, Belaine smiled and beckoned them to quite down so he could begin. The air was filled with beautiful music as Belaine played the bone mouth harp, the people began to dance around the stage. As Belaine played he noticed peculiar creature among the humans, he had the upper torso of a man, but had the horns of a goat. His lower body was also that of a goat, though it made a grotesque sight, somehow he pulled it off quite well. The people in the tavern seemed to not even notice him as he danced around the stage, in fact they didn’t even seem to see him. The goat man waved and smiled at Belaine, Belaine only sighed and kept playing.
The goat man continued to dance; his dance was both beautiful and appalling at the same time. Belaine knew the goat man to be Nap, a strange creature that had appeared to him long ago when he was but a child. In fact it was Nap who taught him how to play the instrument now in his hands, the mouth harp, also known as the Nap flute. When Belaine was but a boy he was taught by many tutors in the seclusion of his room in the palace of Voridan. He did well in many of the different subjects; however he was a virtual prodigy in the musical arts. Pretty soon his music tutor found that not only did his pupil learn his lute lessons very quickly, but had also surpassed the music teacher by leaps and bounds.
Many different musical tutors came from all over the world and soon they too were out of their league when it came to teaching him about music. Belaine soon learned to play every instrument in the world that is until Nap came along. Nap was the greatest music teacher Belaine ever had, however the unusual thing was Belaine was the only one who seemed to be able to see him. Nap’s instrument of choice was a simple mouth harp, named the Nap flute. Nap was a harmless creature and was driven by the pursuit of pleasure and arts. He made outrageous claims to being a god, and seldom did the truth ever cross his lips. However he was kind in nature and seemed to have a genuine affection for Belaine. Nap began teaching Belaine ancient and magical songs that gave him the power to move objects, summon demons to fight for him, and angelic beings to guide him. With the power of Naps music in his arsenal, Belaine was one of the most powerful men in the world. However power and greed were not the things that motivated Belaine. Beauty, love and friendship were the things that piqued Belaine,s interest. Belaine could move cities with his song, but Belaine did not want to move cities, he wanted to move people, their bodies in particular, as they danced to his music.
He continued to watch Nap dance around the tavern, and at times he would come across a fair maiden and dance lewdly next to her. Belaine laughed at his antics and then Nap came across a woman who seemed not only oblivious to the dancing goat man, but to the music of Belaine as well. She had blonde hair so fair that it seemed almost white, and she was dressed in black leather travel clothes. She simply leaned against the wall, as if she had other business at the tavern besides merriment or relaxation. The minstrel could see that she was a warrior of some sort, because of the grace in which she moved. There were two types of people who had such grace, great dancers, or very deadly warriors. And she did not look like a dancer. This could not be good, Belaine thought to himself. Belaine finished his set of songs and promised the disappointed crowed that he would return after a short break.
Belaine went to a table set aside for him alone, the serving wench brought him his usual drink of clear ale. “Nap, that woman, what do make of her?”
Nap took a seat next to him, and a golden goblet appeared in his hands, it was filled with a red wine. “What woman do you mean, this place is filled with many fair maidens.”
“The blonde one, with the glum expression on her face as if she did not enjoy the show.”
Pan laughed, “Well perhaps she didn’t, I found it rather dreary myself.”
Belaine rolled his eyes and nodded, as if he expected Nap to make a joke at his expense. “No really she seems rather suspicious, be a good lad and check on my mother for me would you?”
Nap looked perturbed, “Must I really?”
“I would appreciate it if you did.”
Nap sighed, and then disappeared in a puff of smoke. Belaine kept an eye on the blond woman who still did not seem to notice him.  Several of the tavern patrons went over to her offering to buy her a drink, but she refused them rather rudely. Nap then reappeared.
“Is she ok?”
“No, she is still a miserable creature ruining your pillows with her tears of self pity.”
Belaine smiled, “Thank you Nap.”
Belaine once again mounted the stage and played a few local favorites to the glee of the patrons in the crowd, then his last song he played a tune that made everyone in the tavern stand up and dance with delight. Then he walked through the crowd and exited through a back door.
“Expecting trouble from that blonde dish, I suspect the only trouble she will cause is the trouble most men welcome.”
“There are more things to life than dancing and merriment Nap, that woman is more than just a pretty face.”
“I don’t know what you could possibly be talking about, dancing and merriment are the fabrics of living, and yes I’m sure she is an interesting conversation as well.”
“No Nap, I think she wants to kill me, well me or my mother.”
“That’s ridiculous, no woman that fair could be anything but joyous and wonderful and delightful.”
“Well why don’t you ask her.”
Nap stopped in his tracks alongside Belaine, the woman was indeed before them. Her head was hooded in a long black cloak, and in her hands was a blue sword, that seemed made from glass.
“Can I be of service my lady, it is late, perhaps I can escort you home?”
“You are Belaine Vispanus?”
“No,” Belaine lied, “My name is Sparrow, Sparrow Agnan.”
“Where is your mother Belaine, tell me and I’ll let you go.”
“I’m sorry madam, but again I think you must have me confused with the famous minstrel Belaine, but I am not he, my name is Sparrow.”
Nap looked frightened, these were no mere thieves, they were professional assassins, from the Hashan guild of assassins, the best money could buy. Nap then pointed behind Belaine, Belaine turned to look and could see two more hooded figures, they also had glass swords in their hands, but theirs were made of smoked glass.
“Kill him, well find his mother, she is defenseless without him.”
The assassins began to approach Belaine with their swords, Belaine then drew his sword, however it was only a small sword shaped flute, had these assassins any humor they would have laughed at the minute weapon. Belaine played two notes, then put his hands up in surrender.
“Before you kill me you might want to ensure that there are no witnesses don’t you think?”
“There are no witnesses Belaine,” said the blonde woman.
“Suit yourself.” Belaine shrugged, as if he tried to warn them.
The blonde assassin then raised her sword to strike Belain down, but then she noticed her two associates quivering in fear, then they turned and ran. Then the blond assassin heard the unmistakable sound of someone clearing their throat behind her. When she turned it was the most horrific thing she had ever seen. The giant twelve foot creature was glaring down at her. His face was almost that of a dog, and his skin was crimson red. On his back he had giant bat-like wings. Giant ram horns protruded from his brow and twisted back towards his head. The assassin stabbed at the demon with her blue blade.
“ARRRGG!” Yelled the demon, and then swatted her away like a fly.
The demon then reached down and pulled the wicked blade out of his gut. “Stings!”
The assassin had hit a wall, but she still conscious, and she began to get up to run away. Then a loud sound pierced through the night, and the assassin found that she could no longer move. Two large red hands grabbed her. They were warm, as if someone with a very high fever had just touched her.
“Take us out of here Gronus, somewhere no one will see us.”
The demon grabbed Belaine by his waist and he flew up into the sky, Belaine in one arm, blond assassin in the other. The blonde assassin fainted from the shock of being lifted into the air by a demon.
“Wakey wakey!.”
The assassin opened her eyes to a handsome bearded face. Belaine was before her, and standing behind him with his arms crossed was the dreadful demon.  
“Who sent you my dear?”
The blond woman said nothing, she would rather die than give up her employers. This however did not seem to dismay the smiling minstrel. Belaine then gave her a mischevious glare, he reached into his cloak slowly, as if he were going to remove a dangerous weapon to torture her with. But when he withdrew his hand, she saw that all he held was a bone mouth harp. Belaine put the harp to his lips and began playing a mournful tune.
Then Belaine disappeared, and before her stood Largas, but Largas was dead. Largas had been her one true love, the man she was supposed to marry until he was killed many years ago. Though this was a very distinct fact, somehow it did not matter to her.
“Hello Keyal, its been too long.”
“Largas, how can this be, you were killed in the war with the Tharmians!”
“No my love, I am alive, now tell me why are here Keyal?”
“I was sent by Apina, mistress of the Hashan to kill Servilla, former Empress of Voridan.”
“Why would she want you to do this?”
“I do not know my love, come to me, I have longed to hold you these many lonely years.”
Keyal walked up to embrace the man she had loved those many years ago, but when she looked again all she saw was Belaine.
“I’m very sorry Keyal, I did not mean to cause you the pain you must surely now be feeling, but I had to know who sent you.”
“But Largas…”
“Is still dead, I played tune that made you see what you wanted to see, a tune so sad and profound that the memories from your past seem to materialize before you.”
Keyal fell to the ground in tears.
“You are barbaric, oh the poor girl she is so sad.”
Belaine looked at his accuser, the twelve foot demon, who’s evil looking face was now twisted in pity. As demons go Gronos was absolutely terrifying to look at. However unlike most of his kin, Gronus had a very kind nature about him. When he had first heard the beautiful music being played by Belaine when he was a child, he knew he had to see who the source was. He stumbled upon the young Belaine as he was playing a wooden flute, alone in the forest. Demons were not allowed on the material plane unless summoned, and then for only a short period of time. However something about the young boys music drew him out of the lower plane, and sustained his form, as if the music itself was a summoning spell, a very powerful one. The boy must be a powerful wizard the demon thought. Demons hated wizards. Wizards would always summon demons in the hopes of enslaving them, and bending them to their will. But then Gronos noticed the boy wasn’t even expecting any company, he was perfectly content playing his flute alone, filling the air with wondrous music. Then the boy turned, his eyes were closed so focused was he on his music, and then he opened them, and before him was the twelve foot demon.
“YAAAH!” screamed the boy.
“EAHHH!” screamed the demon.
Both ran in opposite directions, however the boy ran into a tree and knocked himself unconscious. Gronos turned and saw the boy lying unconscious, his flute broken in his hands.
“I can’t leave him like this,” Gronos said to himself, “Some wild beast might eat him, then it would be my fault.”
And so the demon carried the child to a clearing, and started a fire with his demon magic. Belaine woke up to the warm fire, and sitting across from him was the demon. Once again the boy stood up to run.
“Don’t go please, I can’t stay very long and if you hit your head again I will not be able to stay and watch you!”
After a lot of reassurance from the demon the boy finally decided to stay. The talked for a long time and found that they surprisingly had a lot in common. Both of them did not fit in with the perspective group of friends and family. Gronos had nine hundred and ninety eight brothers, all of whom though him to be odd. Gronos did not enjoy the same activities his brothers did. Such as torturing and killing lesser demons in the lower plane. In fact if Gronos wasn’t twelve foot tall and over seven hundred pounds, he probably wouldn’t be alive. Gronos was an embarrassment to his mother, a fact in which Belaine clearly identified with. As they were lost in their chat they didn’t notice a knight dressed in fine silver armor come upon them. 
“Stay back boy, I will send this wretched fiend back to the lower plane!”
Belaine was appalled, and tried his best to explain to the knight that this “fiend” was in fact his friend, but it was too late, the knight struck to fast.
The sword struck true and pierced the demons chest, where his heart would be if he had one, but the demon seemed unfazed. The demon grabbed the sword and pulled it out, his face looked mildly annoyed. Unarmed and faced with a twelve foot demon the knight fled, “Run boy, he’s got my sword!” 
The demon and the boy chuckled as the knight mounted his horse and rode away.
“Before I go young minstrel, would you play another tune for me?”
Belaine noticed the broken flute in the demons hands, and gave him a look of dismay. “I’m afraid I can’t Gronos, you see my flute is broken.”
The demon’s face showed his disappointment, and then he smiled, as if an idea had come to him. He held the knights sword in one hand, the broken flute in the other. Using his demon magic he combined the two to create a sword shaped flute and handed it to the boy.
Belaine eyed the queer instrument with doubting eyes. Surely this would not work, but when he put it to his lips he found that it was one of the finest instruments he had ever played. Music then filled the air around the small boy and the large demon, who stayed until eventually he faded back into the lower plane to rest. From that day on the two were very good friends, and lo to the man who would dare try to harm the young boy while the demon was around.
Later in life Keyal would not believe this had ever happened, but as of now she was crying on the shoulder of a demon, who seemed to be genuinely concerned for her. “Now now child, these are trying times, and no one here will judge you for your choice of profession, isn’t that right Belaine?”
Belaine shot Gronos a look of annoyed confusion.
“I said isn’t that right Belaine, tell her everything is ok.”
“Everything is not ok, she tried to kill me!”
“Now now Belaine, let us not make mountains out of mole hills, I’m sure she isn’t the first person who’s tried to kill you, and in the end your still alive, now tell her everything is fine between us.”
Belaine sighed exasperatingly, “Fine, everything is ok you sweet little assassin, I won’t hold a grudge.”
“There see Keyal, all is forgiven, we are friends now!”
Keyal looked doubtingly at Belaine, “He’s only saying that because you’re here, he hates me I know it.”
“Belaine, you aren’t being sincere, it is quite obvious to Keyal and I that you aren’t trying. We can’t make this work without you.”
Belaine gave them both a priceless look of astonishment, “Make what work?”
“Friendship of course, this girl is obviously lonely, you heard her life story, of how her man met his bitter end, she has been so alone, like I was before I met you, surely we have room in our little band for one more.”
Belaine sighed, “How can we trust her, she is under the employ of the Dark Prince, and besides what makes you think she wants to join our little band of fugitives, we are well wanted by very dangerous people you know.”
Keyal didn’t very much like Belaine, but she was getting very fond of the demon Gronos. No one had ever been so kind to her, her brother Biffa was always jealous of her, and the men in her tribe all relied on her when she was among them. She had always been either scorned, or looked too for leadership. No one had ever let her cry on their shoulder, no one that is except for a twelve foot demon who now held her like a child in his arms.
“No Gronos Belaine is right, I cannot be trusted, I was sent here to kill him.”
Gronos looked at Belaine, a look that said Belaine had to do something.
“Keyal is it?” Belaine walked closer trying his best to look sincere as he said, “We would be honored if you would join us in our adventure to avoid capture and certain death at the hands of The Dark Prince, however I wouldn’t recommend it, the road is hard, and the foes are dangerous.”
Keyal smiled at the young minstrel, “You would trust me, even after I tried to kill you and your mother?”
Belaine shrugged, “It is in my nature to trust, and besides if you were to betray me Gronos would hunt you down to the ends of the world.”
“I give you my word, you have spared my life and this is no small thing to my people.”
“And what people is that?”
“I am a Vimbrii, a former huntress of the Ram clan, now a former Hashan assassin.”
“You have been through much Keyal, someone of your experience and skill will definitely come in handy, we don’t have much as far as payment for your services however.”
“Money is a thing I never understood, the Vimbrii clans shared everything, it wasn’t until I joined the Hashan that I learned of the evils of greed and money.”
“Very well then Keyal, I will introduce you to the rest of my little band, however I must warn you, some of them are very frightening.”
Keyal looked confused, “Even more frightening than a demon?”
Belaine nodded, “Yes, my mother makes that demon look like kitten by comparison.”


© Copyright 2020 Shanek. All rights reserved.

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