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|A little more insight into Gorthican myths, legends and traditions, as well as some funny prophecies||
Chapter 10 (Thief and the Bard)
The hall was crowded already, full of merchants and a few drunken travelers. In one corner, several bearded men were betting and shouting. In another corner, cloaked men, who had the look of traders, talked in whispers. Searching through the smoke of the brightly lit room, Talin soon found Diara and Bonba in a far table.
Snaking her way through the throng of people, she made slow progress. On the way, her sharp senses told her that there was a hand in her pocket. With accustomed grace and speed, she grasped the hand, but just as fast, it slipped away. Peering around, she saw the back of a short shaggy-haired man disappear into the crowd. Annoyed and frowning, she continued walking on, deciding not to raise any alarm, since nothing was missing from her pocket. When she finally got to the table, Bonba was no longer there.
"Hey Tal, how's your father?" Diara's voice barely reached Talin's ears.
"He's alright, just getting some more rest. Where's Bonba?"
"He went to get some food for us. He said the service is way too slow here."
"Hehe. With his skill at haggling, we'll have us a feast in no time!"
Shaking her head, Diara suddenly looked at Talin seriously, her brows knitted.
"Did something happen? You don't sound so casual."
"A thief just tried to steal something from my pocket."
"A thief? Wow, you'd think in this crowded place, it'll be hard to do something bad and then run away. Did you catch any features?"
"Just a short and shaggy-haired man. Funny thing is, I caught his wrist in my grip, but tight as it is, the thief was able to slip away."
Her eyes wide open with alarm, Diara grasped Talin's hand.
"The hand just slipped out?"
Swallowing slowly, the other girl regained her composure.
"Balath told me bits and verses. He gave me images and scenes. In one of them, something important about a hand was mentioned. It's something that goes like this: And the hand that slips all locks shall join the company of four. He shall render them service and find which was no more. There is something else after that, but I can't remember what."
"You mean we will meet him again?"
"What I don't know is if we are the company that is mentioned."
"Diara, what exactly has Balath been telling you?" Talin was suspicious, her eyes narrowed.
Exacted how much does Diara know?
Distrust not your friends.
I am not distrusting. I just don't know if she knows what she is doing.
Describe your friend.
What does that have to do with my trusting her or not?
Just answer me.
Well, she is kind, witty, pretty, and…
All right, all right! She is very loyal to me!
Like the time she stood by you when the other kids called you names?
I get the point!
"Huh? What did you say?"
"I was saying that we should go to my room to talk. This isn't the place really for that kind of conversation. Besides, I already said too much about you-know-who."
"Sure, but what about Bonba. We shouldn't leave him here."
"We have plenty of time." Then with a wink, she added, "No curfew, you know."
Just then, the goat herder appeared with a large tray covered with plates of food. Steam rose out of the cups of cider. Slices of thick bread covered with chunks of butter and large slices of roast ham rose in piles over the plates. There were three bowls of thick vegetable stew too.
"Aren't ye gonna gemme a 'and?"
Relieving him of his aromatic burden, the three sat down and started on their late meal, all hungry and tired. It was indeed delicious, for none of them spoke as they reveled in the richly flavored food.
Finally full, Talin wiped her mouth and looked at the others. To her embarrassment, they were already done and were grinning at her.
"So…what are you going to do now?" she asked, trying to sound casual.
"Vell, if ye don't need me no more, I plan to go back to Bavoth. Its high time I go back, I'f gon' for almost fo days now. Not that I don't trust Siggy, but ye know, I feel guilty 'cause it is muh job."
"And I am going to visit my aunt. Tomorrow I'll ask for her around town. Then, I'll probably go home too." Muffling her yawn with her hand, she waved her other hand to clear away the smoke of the room.
"Ye must be all tired as bears in vinter, so vhy don't ye get some rest?"
"Wait, look!" Diara pointed to a clearing in the center of the room. Following her gaze, Talin saw the innkeeper step on a stool. He made some motion with his hand and all the noise subsided.
"Ev'nin', honared guests of the Ga-reen Ga-rove. As is custom, ar marvelous bard will sing to please ye. I beg ye to hear him out. Thank ye."
The short and plump innkeeper then stepped down from the stool and wiped its seat with a handkerchief. In the silence that issued, shuffles of feet and the knocking of a stick was heard. Soon, a blind and lean old man with an extremely long beard came into view, lead by a youth, and leaning on a stick. Sitting on the stool that the innkeeper just wiped, he groped for the lyre, which his assistant handed him.
Striking a tender chord, he began, his voice soulful and mourning. He sang of the fields first, golden fields of wheat. Then continuing in a lighter tune, he sang of the rivers, the rivers of life. Going on to the earth and the sky, the bard finished his song with the heart of men. Although she had heard it many times before, Talin's eyes became tearful. Though simple, the singer seemed to pour all of his life and soul into the song. Never had she heard the Ballad of the Five Colors sung so beautifully. It tore at her heart to know that the evil deeds of a few men ruined the countless treasures of nature.
She was still lost in the echo of it when Bonba walked to the bard and whispered something in his ears. Nodding, the singer struck another chord and began:
Theara medith rurama,
Lat galindrel de re mu,
Belith Gelan yi mordon se,
The veil of darkness is lifted,
But not without a price.
For in a dew-covered field,
The White rider lies.
Her sweet face is peaceful,
Though she lost her life.
For she knows the world is saved,
Through the Riders' strife.
Around her pours rain and snow,
But above her sets a rainbow.
While all her companions and followers,
Surround her kneeling low.
Passes nights and days,
Until only the Riders are left.
Then thunder and darkness,
As a figure rides out of a cleft.
Hooded like the riders,
This man claims to be one too.
'Black Rider Gelan am I,
Save Juradith I will do.'
Taking the White Rider in his arms,
He strokes her silk-fine hair.
His love for her is in his eyes,
As he holds the element of air.
Blowing gently into her lungs,
What is crucial to life.
He ends his mission with a kiss,
A sob, a smile, and a knife.
Opening up her eyes,
Which are filled with remorse.
'One life between us,' she says,
'And you chose to give me yours.
'As mistress of the heart,
I will give thy life back to thee,
It grieves me most to know,
That in the same worlds we can never be.'
Filling his now slumbering being,
With her blinding glow,
Juradith bids Gelan farewell,
Her white heart heavy with sorrow.
Theara medith rurama,
Lat galindrel de re mu,
Belith Gelan yi mordon se,
"Juradith and Gelan." echoed Diara as she cited the name of the ballad. Talin turned in the silence to see Bonba with teary eyes. Even the bard was crying. Suddenly she realized that her cheeks were wet too.
It was a while before words were spoken and the quietness of the room seemed almost oppressive. Getting up, Bonba went to help the bard from his stool and pressed some gold coins in his hands.
"Beautiful and a tragedy, isn't it?" Diara's voice was a bare whisper.
"Yeah, I remember the words because mother taught me them. Yet it was never really sung at home. Whenever I asked her, she would smile and say it is too sad when accompanied by music. She is right; it is more than just a ballad. It seemed so real, and so vivid. Poor Juradith, to never see her love again, though he lives."
"It's part of what makes heroes and heroines, or in this case, legends. What would be a story without sad elements?"
"An unreal story." Talin was startled by Bonba's input. He sounded as if he felt everything.
He is definitely not just a goat herder.
Perhaps he lost his love once too.
Is that why he picked this ballad?
"Bonba, why did you pick Juradith and Gelan?"
"I don't know. I was just trying to remember the past, that was all. Perhaps I should not have chosen it, for it brings sorrow."
Without looking up, Talin knew Bonba was changing. She could tell that his eyes were probably deeper, and his history more complex.
"Vell! Ye be'er get som' rest before it gets too dark now!"
Getting up, the three went up to their rooms, Talin following Diara.
|To Fly On Ruby Wings (36-39)||Chapter 9 (Cynth)|
|Chapter 7 (Odd Pair)||Chapter 5 (Bavoth)|
|Chapter 2 (The Letter)||Chapter 8 (Second Encounter)|