The Quest for the Sword of Justice! Part Seven: The Bard

This is my NaNoWriMo 2016 project. Today’s post is a bit late! Thanks for reading!

Read more parts here!

“That’s roight kind of you to notice me key,” said Brutus. “Most people don’t even see that I’m wearing it. King gave it to me and said I should hold onto it for ‘im. I’m the captain of his guard. Pays well.”

The Wizard started to shake in his chair a little bit. “We are not fugitives of any kind good guardsman sir, I assure you!,” he said with no confidence in his voice.

Osiris turned and looked at him.

Fugitives?,” asked Brutus. “Hah! Your friend in the pointy hat here is funny! Of course you’re not fugitives! If you were I’d know about ya, and I’d be busy trying to bring you both in.”

Osiris leaned in close to Brutus. He felt a strange calm wash over his mind. “Brutus,” she began. “What do you know about that key?”

“Not much miss,” said Brutus. “Other than the King is trying to keep it away from whatever haunts him at night.”

“Oh we’ve seen that,” said the Wizard. “Big floating head. Stars behind him. Terrifying to behold, indeed!”

Brutus sat back and his eyes widened. “Really? I had no idea anyone outside the castle knew about that. You’ve seen Zeltar too?”

Osiris tried to jump in before the Wizard could say any further stupid things. Clearly the ale was getting to him. “Oh yes, I’ve known that wretched floating head for quite some time. He is no friend to anyone, and not to be trifled with.”

“Well on that we agree,” said Brutus. “I’ve never liked him. He tried to boss me around a few times, but I wouldn’t have it.”

“That’s impressive and brave of you,” said Osiris.

“Yeah well, if there’s one thing I’m good at miss, it’s not being pushed around! I’m only doing this job as a guard to save money so I can move away and start me own pub, like this place,” Brutus said as he looked around the room. “Elena’s got a fine thing going, ‘ere.”

“Oh right!,” shouted the Wizard, “We’re in a pub!” He waved his arm to no one in particular. “Another round of drinks over here, if you please! My mug is empty and my mind is still full!”

Willow had been keeping an eye on the table for the last several minutes, and at the Wizard’s random shouting, she saw the chance to intervene. She loved to intervene. Her whole job was to intervene. She sauntered right over to the table, and put her hand firmly on the Wizard’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry, love, but that’s not the way we do things ‘round ‘ere,” said Willow. She squeezed the Wizard’s shoulder firmly. “You may be honored guests, but please be keeping your voice down so as not to draw unneeded attention. If you want somethin’, come o’er to the bar.”

The Wizard felt some pain in his shoulder. “Very well! No need to treat me like common rabble!”

Osiris put her hand on the Wizard’s other shoulder. “We are honored guests. We should act as such!”

“That’s right,” said Brutus. “Elena doesn’t welcome just anyone into her bar.” Brutus pointed at Willow. “You be careful ‘ow you treat her, pointy hat, she’s a tough one. I’ve seen her break a man’s arm in half for looking at her funny. Though she insists I was just drunk at the time.”

The Wizard stood up and nodded at Willow, who removed her hand. He walked over to the bar.

“What did you do to deserve being stuck with ‘im?,” asked Brutus. “Lost a bet maybe?”

“Hah!, no, nothing like that. He’s…an acquaintance of an old friend, and I owe him a favor,” said Osiris.

“Well, favor or no, I wouldn’t want to put up with that man, funny though he is,” said Brutus.

Osiris leaned in close again, and once more Brutus felt a calm come over his mind. “Tell me Brutus, have you heard of the Sword of Justice?”

Heard of it? Miss, I know where it — “

The door of the Rusted Axe flew open, and in came a man with a lute slung over his back. The whole room looked over to see who had interrupted their evening this time, and then simultaneously let out a groan at the sight of the man.

His name was Pipple, and he was a bard. He tried desperately to get people to call him Pip, and it worked. Sometimes.

***

“That’s not a name, mom.”

You complain too much about the names of my characters.

“That’s because they started out cool, and then they got stupid.”

He’s a bard. Bard’s are often the comic relief or the reluctant hero in this sort of story, so he needed a goofy name.

“When you told me this section was about a Bard, I was excited to hear about him or her. But now I immediately think he’s a doofus.” Lisa shifted on the bed and took a sip of her hot chocolate. She started to reach for her pocket.

Don’t you dare pull out your phone, we’re not finished yet. We’re still having our quality time.

“I was going to look up Pipple, and see if it was a real name.”

It totally is. I just used it in my story.

“Is it spelled like Nipple?”

Yes.

“Then how can I take it seriously?”

This is a fun story, it doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Too many fantasy stories are obsessed with themselves. I want this to be fun. How else am I going to justify finally typing it all up?

“The internet dictionary says that Pipple is a verb, which means ‘to make the sound of a gentle wind or rippling water.’ Huh. I guess it is a real thing. But it’s not a name.”

But it’s a pretty good name for a Bard with a pleasant voice, right?

“…I…I guess it is.”

You look upset.

“I don’t like it when you’re right about something I was so sure of.”

That’s life sometimes sweetie, and hey you learned something.

***

Pip announced his presence, as he always did. “Hello ladies and gentlemen, my name is Pip, Bard of great renown and talent. I wish to regale you with many fine songs, and I don’t even charge that much — “

“Oh, piss off!,” yelled a drunken man at the side of the room.

Willow came over and stood in front of the Bard. “Everyone calm down, ‘oive got this.” She turned to face Pip and put on her best intimidation face. “Pipple, we told you, you’re not welcome here no longer. You made fun of too many of our patrons, and we all took a vote and think that Bards are stupid.”

Elena let out a little giggle behind the counter.

Pip, with a calm look of knowing anticipation, produced a small scroll out of his pocket. “I have this writ signed by the King himself that says I can perform wherever I’d like within his lands. I told his clerk about the grave injustice which I had faced here in your establishment, and — “

Willow quickly grabbed the paper out of Pip’s hand and swallowed it whole. “Don’t see no scroll Pipple, gotta do better than that!”

“Attention!,” shouted the Wizard, holding up a mug full of ale at the bar, “I think you should let this lad play us a song! What is a pub without some exceptional music to listen to whilst drinking and eating?”

Pip gave a little bow. “Thank you…strange man.”

“My pleasure!,” shouted the Wizard.

Elena decided it was time to say something. “One song, Pipple, then you have to go.”

“It’s Pip, my lady,” said the Bard. “And thank you, I’m sure that after one song, everyone will be so thrilled that you’ll want me to stay all night.”

“Oh yes,” said Elena. “Because that’s how well it always goes.”

Brutus had been glaring at Pip this whole time.

“Everything okay?,” asked Osiris.

“I don’t like the look of ‘im,” said Brutus. “And neither does Barry.”

“You…you can talk to the goat?”

Brutus nodded. “Yes, been able to understand animals ever since I was a small boy.”

Osiris raised an eyebrow…or she would have if you could see it under her mask.

***

“This story is getting ridiculous. Everyone has a super power or a special ability or something. I thought Brutus was just a guy that likes goats.”

He is a guy that likes goats. And we don’t actually know that he can talk to animals, he just says that he can.

“It feels like he can though. I don’t want to have to figure this much out. I want it to be fun again. Make it fun again.”

I thought it was going pretty well! You’re a tough audience.

“I’ve got a whole pile of books to read over there,” said Lisa, pointing. “You’ve got some tough competition.”

Haha yeah yeah okay, fine, we’ll get moving.

***

Pipple sang a song. The only person who liked it was the Wizard. Everyone else booed.

Then a small group of King’s guards came in. Brutus immediately flashed a look of panic. He excused himself from the table and shoved Barry out the back door, hoping that the other guards didn’t notice him.

“’Scuse me Elena,” said one of the guards, “We’re looking for a couple of fugitives from the law. Guy with a pointy hat and a lady with no face. You seen them?” He looked around the room.

The Wizard smiled at the guard and raised his mug. “Hello there gents!”

Osiris quickly turned her back to the front door, hoping the guards wouldn’t see her. She tried to think of an escape plan.

The eight guards promptly drew eight weapons from their sheaths. “We’ve orders to execute you on sight, Wizard.”

Brutus came bursting in through the back door and marched right up to the group of sword-wielding men. “You’ll have to go through me if you wish to finish carryin’ out that order, gents,” he said with a glare in his eye.

“G…guard captain,” began the man in front. “We didn’t know you were here. You’ve got the situation well in hand, I take it? The King has been looking for you.”

“On the contrary,” said Brutus. “This man is not the one you’re looking for. Do you know how many Wizards are in the town of Hillsvale?”

The guards all looked at each other and blinked. “N…no?”

“Exactly,” said Brutus. He pointed at Pipple, whose face was stark white. “This man, on the other hand, has three outstanding warrants, including one for singing very badly. And yet, you haven’t apprehended him yet. Take him into custody and throw him into the dungeon at once.”

Pipple dropped his lute and made for the back door, but Willow was there. She folded her arms and didn’t budge. Pipple tried to run right through her…but he bounced off and fell to the floor. The guards picked him up, saluted Brutus, and carried him out. None of them noticed Osiris sitting in the back.

Brutus walked over and resumed his seat at the table. “Pardon me miss, I know you and your friend in the hat were planning to stay here tonight, but if the King’s after ye it’s not safe ‘ere anymore. You should both come and stay with me.”

“I think that’s an exceptional idea Brutus,” said Osiris. “I have a job offer for you I want to discuss. It pays very well.”

Brutus smiled. “I’m all ears, miss.”

Written by

I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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