172/366 – The Bard, the Bar Fly, and the Brother.

Day 30 of 100 Word Prompts: Crush

Byron sat in The Grateful Lamb Inn, looking out the window past the random pedestrians flowing through the West Drip District outside. The ale in his hand hadn’t been touched in the fifteen minutes since receiving it from the barmaid.

“Where are you right now?” Arely asked, touching his arm.

Byron flinched from the contact and blinked his eyes a few times, looking at the woman sitting next to him.

“Sorry, what was that?” Byron asked.

“I asked where you were,” Arely repeated. “You were all distant and quiet.”

“Sorry, I was thinking about someone I need to find,” Byron said, taking a drink of his ale.

“Who are you looking for? Maybe I can help,” said Arely.

“No, it’s fine,” Byron replied, turning away from the window.

“Is it a woman?” Arely asked.

“Perhaps,” Byron said. “I would say it’s more of a demon than a woman.”

“Oh, is it a crush or something? The one that got away?” Arely pressed.

“No, she took something very precious to me, and I want it back. Nothing more, nothing less,” Byron replied.

“You’re too clever to let someone steal from you,” Arely said. “I’ve known you all of three weeks, and I know that.”

“Cleverness had nothing to do with it,” Byron replied. “She stole something because she was an opportunist.”

“Opportunist, eh?” Arely replied, a smile twitching at the corner of her mouth. “Sounds like you were trying to sleep with her to me.”

“I was doing nothing of the sort,” he lied. “We were all having a good time and drinking. I simply let my guard down for a moment. A mistake I intend never to repeat.”

Arely leaned forward and wrapped her hands around Byron’s free hand. She stared into his eyes, batting her lashes at him expectantly.

“I’m not jealous. After all, we aren’t together. We’re just having some fun. It’s okay if you were trying to sleep with her,” Arely said. “I know how minstrels and bards can be.”

“Do you now?” Byron teased, leaning forward as well. “You know how I am?”

“In a general sense, yes. All bards and minstrels travel the world, seeking fame and fortune. Most have sad songs about love lost or found adventure, but all of them leave,” Arely said, her eyes growing sad. “Such as shame as apparently, musicians are my type.”

“Is that so?” Byron asked.

“Very much so,” Arely said, releasing Byron’s hand as she leaned back in her chair. “Doesn’t matter how much I beg and plead, or tie them down, they always find a way to leave me alone again. You’ll be no different. As much fun as we’ve had together, you’re still going to leave to pursue some lady who took something trivial from you.”

“Trivial?” Byron repeated, the amusement in his face vanishing in an instant. “My life’s work is trivial to you? You have no concept of what was stolen from me or its importance.”

“Calm down, Byron. I was just making a point,” Arely said.

“I’m not angry, simply disappointed. Perhaps the reason that every bard or minstrel leaves you is not because of their travels, but rather because of your lack of understanding of what’s important. You can complain for hours on how lonely you are after they leave, but I can tell you, I’ve seen many bard and minstrel with their partners on the road. You are aiming to live a lifestyle you have no means of achieving on your own, and you think you understand, but you don’t,” Byron said.

Byron rose from his chair, leaving the mug sitting on the table. Without another word, he grabbed his bag and left the Inn, preferring to fight against the crowd than spend another second with Arely. He continued down the road, past the merchants and crafters until he bumped into a familiar face.

“Byron?” Dakis said, holding his arms out.

“Dakis?” Byron said, embracing his friend. “What the hell are you doing out here? I figured you’d be in Teshal by now with the way you were talking.”

“I had every intention of going, but you know how it goes,” Dakis said, pointing to the woman at his side. “This is Lina. The love of my life.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lina,” Byron said, bowing formally to her.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” she replied, waving her hand dismissively. “So, how do you know each other?”

“Byron and I used to work together,” Dakis said, raising an eyebrow at Lina.

“I see,” she said, pursing her lips.

“I’ve been out of the business for some time, actually,” Byron said, seeing her disapproval. “I’m currently seeking out a thief who stole my book of songs.”

“Remember, honey? That’s what I was telling you about the last time he and I saw each other. It was a crazy night, to say the least, am I right, man?” Dakis said.

“Please, I don’t want to hear the tale again,” Lina said, “So, Byron, you are out of trickery and the like?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Byron replied, pulling his lute in front of him. “I make an honest living now, traveling around looking for the thief. You know, you have an interesting accent, you’re not from here, are you?”

“No, I’m from Thait originally, have you been there?” Lina asked.

“No, but I hear it’s wonderful this time of year,” Byron said. Dakis winked at him with the eyes furthest from his love. “I hope someday to visit it. Is it true that the royalty there is comprised of several families, rather than a single bloodline?”

“Yes, actually. You see, I’m fifteenth in line for the throne in the event anything happens to all my predecessors,” Lina said, sounding happy about her place but the tone changing to sadness at the end of the statement. “Are you doing anything today? You should come to our humble home. I can cook for you and leave you two alone to catch up.”

“Are you sure, my love?” Dakis asked, “I know you love entertaining, but you’ve always had a bad taste in your mouth for my old friends and acquaintances.”

“As long as you trust him in our home, I can trust him in our home,” Lina replied, squeezing his arm.

“I’m scheduled to play at a tavern tonight, actually,” Byron lied. “I’m sorry. Otherwise, I would most certainly acquiesce to your request for entertainment and company, ma’am.”

“How charming,” Lina said with a chuckle.

“Too bad,” Dakis said. “I’ll see you around, I suppose, provided you aren’t leaving tonight.”

“I’ll still be in town for a few more days,” Byron replied.

“Then another night perhaps,” Lina said. “Come now, Dakis. We have more errands to run.”

“Talk to you later, bud,” Dakis replied as she dragged him away.

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