Songs of Other Times and Places [Photo added 1-11-04]

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  1. #1

    Songs of Other Times and Places [Photo added 1-11-04]

    Songs of Other Times and Places

    The elf crested a small rise and reigned his horse to a stop. The dirt road before him continued on a gentle downward slop to a stream, across a shallow ford, and into a small hamlet nestled along the far shore.

    "Good," the elf thought as he kicked his mount into a slow walk, "Dead Orc Creek is still running low. I can cross here, and not lose any time. And I can leave this accursed forest behind. A forest is no place for a burglar, even if he is an elf."

    When the horse reached the edge of the stream, the elf dismounted and led the beast into the swift yet shallow water. He ran a hand along the horseís wet flank as the animal dipped its head to drink from the crystalĖclear water. "Poor creature," the elf thought. "Iíve ridden her hard, mayhap too hard. Sheís tired; I doubt sheíd make it all the way to the coast and Portabello." He scanned the hamlet ahead. "There should be a stable here in Brinís Crossing. Iíll get a new horse, pick up the Old Emperorís Highway west of here, and still make Portabello before the new moon five days hence."

    The elf stopped halfway across the stream, dipping his cupped hands into the cold water to taste it himself. As he drank, he looked at his reflection in the water: straight black hair hanging to his shoulders, violet eyes, tanned skin streaked with dirt from the road, the hilts of his longsword and shortsword visable above his shoulders. He scooped up more water to wash his face.

    Looking down again, he saw something sparkling in the gravel of the ford, something golden. He picked it up. It was a gold coin. On one side was a stylized picture of a dragon, on the other was what looked like writing, though he could not read it.

    "The Trickster smiles!" the elf thought, slipping the coin inside a near empty belt pouch. "I can use it, too. My money is almost gone. I sure hope Tezla and Dirk were able to sell the gems. I told them we should take only coins as payment from the Baron.

    "Now, where in Portabello did they say to meet them? At that tavern in the Dock Quarter they like. What was the name? Ah yes, the Stone Pony."
    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Tuesday, 1st March, 2005 at 12:26 PM.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And sights you may never see.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And things you may never,
    That you may never hear of again.
    Songs of Other Times and Places Story Hour

    Chronicler of the Tales of the Bray Keaven Traveller T20 Story Hour


  • #2
    First Movement

    The Stone Pony was crowded for a midweek night, thought Arianna Flamelocks as she stepped upon the small wooden stage in one corner of the smoky, dimlyĖlit tavern. Most of the customers ó stevedores and teamsters, by the look of them ó were crowded around the bar, but many of the tables were occupied as well. A raucous cacophony of boisterous voices assaulted Ariannaís ears while a malodorous mixture of burning codfish oil, spilled ale, sweat, and urine assailed her nostrils. "How am I ever to compete with all this noise?" she thought. "Or keep my supper down ó what is that accursed smell? Itís enough to ruin a maggotís appetite!"

    As she seated herself upon a tall wooden stool, Arianna surveyed the crowd before her. Gustin Longpike, the tavernís massive owner, was busy behind the oaken plank bar. Arianna knew that Gertrude, Gustinís plump wife, was in the kitchen sweating over a cauldron of stew and baking trencher loaves in the brick oven. The coupleís two daughters, Mae and Ginny, were threading their way through the unwashed masses, bustling from table to bar and kitchen, and back again, dodging the groping hands of drunken dockworkers. Hardly anyone in the place noticed the young bard on the stage preparing to perform. There was one man ó an attractive elf with long black hair and violet eyes sitting by himself at a small table along one wall ó who made eye contact when she looked his way, but his gaze quickly returned to the tavern door as he sipped from a pewter mug.

    "Heís a handsome one," Arianna thought, a wry smile dancing across her lips, a smile reflected by her twinkling emerald eyes. "Howíd he ever wander into this jakes pit? Not that I mind. I would be very happy waking up tomorrow morning to see that face in bed beside me. He seems to be waiting for someone. I hope itís not his sweetheart. Of course, no respectable man would bring his beloved to a place like this. But then, since he is in this place, whoís to say heís respectable?"

    Possessing long, muscular legs and a lithe body, Arianna usually attracted her share of menís attention. Her red hair was cut short, spiky on top. Tonight her green eyes and milky skin were set off by her allĖblack outfit: a strapless leather bustier, tightĖfitting leggings, and soft leather boots cut to come just above the knee. Hanging from each slightlyĖpointed ear ó an inheritance from her elven sire ó was a silver chain ending in a small emerald. Fingerless black silk opera gloves stretched the length of her arms. While her swordbelt and rapier hung in a kitchen alcove along with her hooded cloak, a dagger with a hilt of malachite scales was tucked into the top of her right boot, in case the audience got too rowdy.

    Arianna pulled her masterwork lute, an instrument she had lovingly crafted with her own hands, into her lap and began to tune it, her long, dexterous fingers caressing the catgut strings, ivory frets, and smooth mahogany pegs. After she finished, she ran her right hand through her closeĖcropped hair and considered her opening number. Then another smile crept across her face as she decided how she would catch the crowdís attention. She started to pluck and strum the luteís strings. Four glowing spheres of light swept out through the tavern, barely missing the heads of several patrons. After reaching the back of the room, the spheres reversed course and arced back to the stage, drawing the attention of almost everyone in the room to Arianna. She began to sing in a strong, confident contralto that pierced the tavernís quickly diminishing din.

    "Iím a traveling troubadour,
    Selling my songs from door to door,
    As I journey down the long, dusty roads.

    "I sing in the bars,
    And sleep beneath the stars,
    And please the ostlers when their wives are asleep."

    This last line drew a menagerie of catcalls and wolf whistles from the crowd. Arianna just flashed a wicked smile, gave them a wink and continued with the song.

    "In exchange for food,
    I give them my youth,
    And a song to remember me by.

    "Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And sights you may never see.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And things you may never,
    That you may never hear of again.

    "For the food I canít pay,
    And I really canít stay
    Because your wife will be waking up soon.

    "But before I go,
    I really must show
    How much I appreciate your kindness.

    "So Iíll make love to you,
    And when weíre through,
    You can lay back and Iíll sing you a song.

    "Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And sights you may never see.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And things you may never,
    That you may never hear of again."

    Arianna began the instrumental bridge, deftly plucking the luteís strings with the fingers of her right hand as those on the left slid up and down the neck of the instrument. She chanced a quick look at the audience; everyone seemed to be watching her intently, many nodding along to the melody. Pleased, she resumed singing.

    "But before I can go,
    I really must show
    How much I appreciate all youíve done.

    "And for the food I will pay
    If youíll only come lay,
    If youíll come lay down with me.

    "And Iíll make love to you,
    And when weíre through
    Iíll sing you a traveling song.

    "Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And sights you may never see.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And things you may never,
    That you may never hear of again."

    As Arianna strummed the songís last chords, the taproom erupted in applause and cheering. She smiled again and acknowledged the crowd with a small nod of her head. As the sound began to diminish, a booming voice came from behind the bar.
    "Arianna, after my Gertie goes to bed I need to talk to you about settling your tab," Gustin said. The people standing nearest to him began to laugh.

    Arianna waited for the laughter to subside, then cocked her head to one side, smiled, and said, "Donít worry, Gustin, weíll settle up proper later tonight. Iím dying to know why they call you Longpike."

    The crowd exploded in hoots and hollers again as Gustinís face turned bright red. Arianna gave the crowd another dazzling smile, winked again, then started to finger the opening chords of the haunting "Circle of Stones."


    Arianna exited the Stone Ponyís side entrance, pulling up the hood of her cloak as protection against the cool, damp night. Her emotions were still running high from the recently completed performance. She had thirty silver pieces in tips in her belt pouch, she had a belly full of good food and passable ale, and she had an invitation to perform at the Dock Quarter tavern again next week. And, despite the innuendo of their banter, Gustin Longpike had sealed their transaction with only a chaste hug and a fatherly kiss on the forehead. The only damper on her mood was the elven stranger with the piercing violet eyes; Arianna had wanted to speak with him, but he had disappeared from the tavern shortly after she finished performing. "Oh well, I guess I wasnít his type," she thought as she headed for the dark alley between the Stone Pony and the stables of the neighboring Eagleís Nest Inn.

    As she rounded the corner into a small courtyard behind the stables, she heard low voices and the sound of steel striking steel. She saw a lone figure backed into a corner with several other figures arrayed before him, cutting off all routes of escape. She recognized the lone figure immediately ó it was the elf from the tavern. He was fending off his attackers with a longsword in his right hand and a shortsword in his left, but he seemed barely able to hold his blades upright. A quarrel stuck out of his right thigh and another from his chest. Arianna could see that two of the attackers were armed with hand crossbows.

    "Six against one doesnít seem like a fair fight," she thought. "Letís see about evening the odds a bit." She swung her lute around from off her back and began to strum the chords of an old lullaby. Four of the men attacking the elf immediately collapsed to the ground, fast asleep.

    One of the remaining attackers whirled to face Arianna, raising his small crossbow in her direction. She drew her dagger from her boot top, then dropped to one knee as a bolt whizzed past her head. In one fluid motion, she cocked her arm and let fly. The blade struck the man in the throat and he went sprawling backward. Drowning in his own blood, the man gasped for air like a newlyĖlanded flounder on the deck of a fishing boat. The dagger suddenly disappeared from his throat, instantly reappearing in Ariannaís hand.

    The other man lunged at the elf with his rapier. The elf parried the thrust with his shortsword and brought his other blade down on the attackerís arm, severing it cleanly just above the elbow. The elf allowed the momentum of his attack to spin him around, and he cut off the head of his surprised assailant with his longsword. But the effort drained the last of his strength, and he collapsed into a heap.

    Arianna rushed to the elf and knelt beside him. He was still breathing, and his pulse was strong. "Mayhap heís been poisoned," she thought. She slapped his cheek; his eyes flickered open.

    "Can you stand?" she asked him. "We need to leave before the others awaken."

    "I, I believe so, if you help me," he replied, his voice soft and gentle, like worn leather. "My blades, where are they?"

    "Here." Arianna retrieved his two swords and placed them in the scabbards crissĖcrossing his back. She then placed his right arm across her shoulders and helped him stand. The elf was able to place weight on his left leg, but the right was almost useless, dragging between them as they started down the alley.

    "Where are you taking me?" the elf asked.

    "To my room. Itís not far," Arianna replied. "My name is Arianna. Whatís yours?"

    "Elrytch," he said. "Elrytch Chaminade."

    "Well, Elrytch Chaminade, why were those men trying to kill you?"

    "Iím not sure. I believe they were just brigands. I was supposed to meet some friends at the tavern tonight, but when they didnít show I thought they might have taken rooms at the inn next door. I was on my way there to check when those men attacked me. I believe their quarrels were tipped in poison ó most likely giant wasp venom. I began to feel very weak after I was struck. I doubt I could have held them off if you hadnít come along when you did. I am very grateful that you did."

    "Well, you just save your strength. Weíre almost there."


    Arianna helped Elrytch across her cramped room and onto the bed. She pulled out the quarrels and dressed his wounds as best she could. She assisted him in removing his swords and his boots. As he lay back on the bed, she walked over to a small table and returned with her lute.

    "Are you going to sing me a lullaby like the one you sang back in the alley?" Elrytch asked, a slight smile forming on his lips, his violet eyes sparkling in the lantern light.

    "No, but I do know a song that might help your wounds heal more quickly," Arianna said as she sat on a corner of the bed. She plucked a few notes on the luteís strings, humming along as she played. Then, as she kept humming the soothing tune, she laid one hand on each wound. Elrytch felt a gentle warmth soaking into his body; the weakness from the poison ebbed away, replaced by renewed strength.

    Arianna propped her lute against the wall, then turned back to Elrytch. "How do you feel now?" she asked.

    "Much better. Thank you," he said, looking up into her emerald eyes.

    Arianna returned his gaze, looking deeply into his violet eyes. "Theyíre like bottomless pools," she thought to herself. "I could get lost in those eyes." She felt herself being drawn into his eyes, as if she were standing on the edge of a precipice. She was starting to lose her balance, to plummet over the edge into a depthless space. Vertigo was taking hold. She was falling, falling, falling . . .

    Her lips met his. There was eagerness there, hunger, desire, warmth. Arianna felt it through her entire body. Now his arms were around her, holding her, coaxing her down onto the bed beside him. She went willingly, happily, passionately.


    The next morning Arianna awoke first. She looked at Elrytch lying next to her; the smile on her lips matched the joy she felt in her heart. She quietly slipped out of bed and pulled on a robe which had been hanging from a peg next to the bed. Next she went behind a screen in the corner and relieved herself in the chamber pot there. She then retrieved her money pouch and poured its contents onto the table. Hearing a noise from the bed, she looked in that direction. Elrytch was sitting up, looking at her. "What are you doing?" he asked.

    "Good morning," she said, then walked over to the bed and kissed him. "I was about to buy some food so we could break our fast."

    "Great," he said. "Iím starved." He started to look around the room.

    "Your clothes are there," she said, gesturing toward a chest at the foot of the bed. Elrytchís shirt, pants, and belt lay in a heap on top of it. "And thereís a chamber pot behind the screen in the corner."

    Elrytch retrieved his belt and pulled a coin from his belt pouch. "Here," he said, holding the coin out toward Arianna. "Let me pay for the food."

    "I have plenty of money," she said.

    "Iím sure you do. But youíve already done so much for me. Let me at least do this."

    Arianna took the coin from him and examined it. On one side there was the worn image of a dragon; on the other there was some strange writing, maybe Old Loreeni, though she couldnít be sure. "Odd little fellow. Donít believe Iíve ever seen a coin like this before. Where did you get it?"

    "I donít remember exactly," Elrytch said distractedly as he stood up and headed for the screen, trying to cover himself with his waddedĖup clothing. Arianna smiled at his awkwardness. "I think I was in Portabello."

    "This is Portabello."

    "Oh, sorry. Then it must have been Brinís Crossing."

    "Well, gold is gold. Iím sure it will still spend."

    Arianna walked over to the window and opened the shutters. Warm sunlight caressed her face, and the smell of fresh bread from the bakery downstairs made her mouth begin to water and her stomach begin to growl. She spotted a group of young boys in the street three stories below. "Kursk!" she called down to the guttersnipes. One boy broke away from the others and came over to stand below her window. Barely ten years old, Kursk was one of several urchins who earned money by running errands for residents in the neighborhood.

    "Be a good lad and go to the bakery for me. Ask Madam Hearthjoy for a box of sticky buns, two loaves of bread, and a bottle of winter wine. Fetch it up to my room. Hereís a gold piece. You can keep the change."

    Kursk caught the gold coin and stared at it, his eyes going wide. "You bet, Arianna, right away!" He dashed off towards the bakery.

    Arianna turned back to the room. Elrytch emerged from behind the screen, wearing his clothes. "Breakfast is on the way," she said as he crossed the room and sat down at her small table. She joined him there.

    "Last night, you said you were looking for some friends," she said. "Who are they, if you donít mind my asking."

    "Well, one is a wizard, Tezla the Unlikely. The other is his swordarm, Dirk Stryker."

    "Donít believe Iíve heard of either one."

    "Tezla also is known as the Purple Mage. I understand they frequent the Stone Pony when they are in town."

    "The Purple Mage. Yes, Iíve heard of him, he dresses all in purple, right?" Elrytch nodded. "In fact, Iíve seen him on a couple of occasions, over in the Artisans Quarter. Thereís a small shop there that makes excellent bound volumes of vellum. Many wizards go there for their spellbooks. Iíve bought a few sheets of vellum there myself, for composing songs.

    "Donít worry," Arianna said. "Weíll find your friends. After breakfast, weíll go back to the Stone Pony and the Eagleís Nest to inquire about them. Do you have a room at the Eagleís Nest?"

    "No. My horse is stabled there, but I didnít have enough money for a room. In fact, thatís why I was trying to find my friends. Theyíre holding some money for me. That gold coin I gave you was the last bit I had."

    "Then you should have kept it," Arianna said, reaching across the table to take his hand in hers. "I could have bought our breakfast."

    "I couldnít impose on you like that."

    "Nonsense. Itís no imposition at all."

    "Besides, The Trickster must be laughing at me; Iíve had nothing but bad luck since that coin came into my possession," Elrytch said.

    "So meeting me was bad luck?" Arianna asked, feigning anger.

    Elrytch lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. Then he smiled at her. "No, I believe my luck has changed."

    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Wednesday, 5th November, 2003 at 07:40 AM.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And sights you may never see.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And things you may never,
    That you may never hear of again.
    Songs of Other Times and Places Story Hour

    Chronicler of the Tales of the Bray Keaven Traveller T20 Story Hour

  • #3
    Arianna performing at The Stone Pony.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Arianna.jpg  
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And sights you may never see.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And things you may never,
    That you may never hear of again.
    Songs of Other Times and Places Story Hour

    Chronicler of the Tales of the Bray Keaven Traveller T20 Story Hour

  • #4
    Trying to find this on the new boards.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And sights you may never see.
    Iíll sing you a song of other times and places,
    And things you may never,
    That you may never hear of again.
    Songs of Other Times and Places Story Hour

    Chronicler of the Tales of the Bray Keaven Traveller T20 Story Hour

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