The Warlord’s Dust
(a 12 year old)
Maxwell Alexander Drake
Some say that stories are an escape from reality.
That a good story will let you forget your troubles for a while.
I say that stories are an extension of reality.
That they let you experience what life is like
on the other side of the fence for a while.
And, if it is a good one, by its end,
you’ll find that you are not the same person
as you were when it began.
Perhaps that is why I love them so much.
Nigel the Bard
Dawn came upon the land like a splash of cold water thrown into a bum’s face to revive him from his drunken stupor. It wasn't a nasty, overcast morning. Nor one that you would want to sleep through. But rather, one you didn't want to see quite so early.
There was one early morning traveler, however, who did not seem to mind. An old bard strolled along, skillfully stepping between the muck filled ruts in the cobblestone street. He was not a stranger to the town for he traveled through every so often playing his music and telling tales of far off lands and distant adventures. His steps were that of a traveler simply passing through, and yet they seemed to have a purpose, as if he was searching for something very important. And, to him he was. To him, it was the most important thing in the world at this moment. After searching for quite sometime, his little face lit up as he spied that which he sought. A not overly large, yet not too small rock lay resting lazily under a low-branched tree. He scuttled over to it and eyed it for size.
Yes, he thought, this will be perfect. He sat down on the stone, dropped the small sack he carried to one side and set his lyre to the other. He spent the next few minutes adjusting and readjusting himself on the rock to get the best possible position. When he decided he was comfortable, he leaned over and plucked the instrument from the ground. As he started to tune the lyre, a group of blurry-eyed children gathered round.
The old bard leaned toward one of the younger boys. "Go!" he said, pointing to the inn sitting across the street. "Run and ask the Innkeeper what he's fixen' for supper, and what it will cost for that, and one night's lodgen'." He watched the boy run off to fulfill the day's first mission. A few minutes later, the boy returned.
"The Keeper says roast duck stuffed with cabbage, hard rolls and sprouts. He says that, and one night's stay'll cost ya six silver bits. That includes a bottle of house wine or tankard of ale." The boy puffed out his chest and smiled, thrilled to have succeeded in his task.
"Well done, my boy. Well done. Now then," The bard leaned back and let his gaze meet with each and every child gathered in front of him. "You heard him, six bits. I'll need a total of six silver bits to begin me tale. Ya wouldn't want poor ole' Nigel to starve now, would ya?"
All of the children sprang up to go fetch what they could. When they returned, they found old Nigel playing a happy tune on his lyre, and singing a song of princesses in castles and of knights in shining armor. They all gathered around once again, sitting very still, enthralled with the music, trying to capture every word the bard sang.
When he finished his song, he returned the lyre to the ground next to him. "Well, let us see what ya collected, shall we?" All of the children came forward and placed the coins they had collected into Nigel's outstretched hands. Every coin was copper, though he expected nothing more. When they finished filling his hands, he began to count. "Three, nine, that's one silver. And, another. And, . . . Hey! This is only a total of five silver bits."
The children glanced at each other, as if their looks could magically produce the last coin. "That's all we have," said one of the older girls.
"Well," said Nigel scratching his head. "I'll tell ya what I'm gonna do. I enjoy this story so much, I'll pay myself the last silver, just so I can listen in on it as well. How's that sound?"
All of the children clapped their hands and giggled. "That would be wonderful!"
"Okay, okay," Nigel raised his hands to settle the group down just a bit. "Gather 'round closely now, for the story I'm about to tell ya is most interesting.
"It all started in a land far, far from here. In the lands of Silaway. Silaway is a vast continent filled with many dangerous adventures and untold riches. On the western coast of this land, just past the Impassable Mountains, there lies a city. Oh, yes! The fabulous city of Harkon. Filled with more sights and sounds than ya could possibly imagine!
"On the eastern side of that city, there can be found a tavern by the name of Foxferds. Just last year I was in that very pub. And, on that night, I was introduced to an adventure so grand that ya wouldn't believe your ears. It all happened like this . . ."