Day 33 of 100 Word Prompts: Light
Gwen leaned back in the booth inside the Tired Rose Inn. It had been five months since she first ran through the door, running from the guards, and thankfully, she hadn’t had much else for issues. The Harvest Festival was upon the town, and everyone was preparing feasts and drinks for the city to enjoy. Visages of Chauntea had been erected in her honor to celebrate the end of the season.
“Come on already!” Joy said, emerging from the kitchen. Under each arm, she carried a small keg. “It’s taking forever, Germain. We’ve got to go!”
“Calm down, Joy,” Germain said, coming behind her with a sack of flour. “It’s not like the festival is going anywhere. We’ll get there when we get there.”
“Gwen, tell Germain to hurry it up,” Joy said, seeing the red counterpart to her blue skin lying in the dining room. “Are you ready yet?”
“I don’t think I’m going,” Gwen replied, shaking her head. “I think maybe I’ll go out for Sharing Day, or perhaps Moon’s day.”
“No, Gwen! You’ll insult Chauntea if you don’t celebrate Reaping Day,” Joy said as she placed the kegs on the table in front of Gwen, “it’ll be so much fun! You’ll see!”
“I don’t know, Joy. I’m just not feeling the festival this year,” Gwen replied.
“If she wants to stay, Joy. We have to respect that. Perhaps she’ll make her offering to Chauntea in her own way here at the inn,” Germain said. “Though I have to admit, I think you’ll like the play this year.”
“Which one are they doing this time, Selune’s Awakening or Chauntea’s Blessing?” Gwen asked.
“Neither!” Germain replied, his smile growing large behind his beard. His eyes sparkled every time he smiled that big, as though he were a child seeing snow for the first time, “The theater company the town hired is performing Moondust!”
“That is a good one,” Gwen agreed, feigning an arrow to the heart, “I love when the Lycan finally figures out that his love is the goddess. It’s so tragic and wonderful at the same time.”
“And guess what else?” Germain said, covering his mouth as though he might burst.
“What’s that?” Gwen asked.
“Lord Thornton’s Troupe is performing it,” Germain said. “Have you seen Lady Ainsley and Lord Carr, the leading couple, perform before? Lady Ainsley may as well be an avatar of Selune herself. I could die! Maybe I’ll get to meet them tonight! Can you even imagine!”
“Germain, you’re starting to make me think that you aren’t that well known as a bard?” Joy said, poking him in the ribs.
“Knock it off, Joy. You know very well how far my name has spread,” Germain argued, “That doesn’t mean that I can’t have fallen helplessly in love with two magnificent actors.”
Germain melted into a seat at Gwen’s table.
“You really should come with us,” Joy said. “If Germain gets overwhelmed again, we may have to drag him home.”
“I don’t know,” Gwen said, “I’m afraid I’ll run into Kellin again like at the last festival. I don’t want things to be awkward again.”
“It is only awkward because you let it be awkward,” Joy said. “You need to learn to assert yourself! You should never let anyone stop you from being magnificent and grand. You’re too pretty for all that.”
Gwen thought about it for a moment as she looked at Germain, smiling like she had seen her grandparents do a thousand times. Joy held out her hand as an offer to join them. In that brief moment, Gwen’s heart filled with the love and adoration she hadn’t truly felt since losing her family.
“Alright, I’ll try,” Gwen said, taking Joy’s hand.
“That’s the spirit!” Germain cheered as the three of them walked toward the Inn door.
Stepping into the street was akin to stepping into a raging river. People flooded past their door, heading for the temple in the center of town, enveloping them entirely and taking the group with them. Gwen quickly lost sight of Joy and Germain as shoulders bumped into her, and hands practically carried her along. Somewhere nearby, she could hear Germain singing a song from a play and Joy giggling with delight.
“Joy? Germain?” Gwen called out, hoping for a close reply. When none came, she felt her heart beat faster as the crowd seemed to press harder against her.
Gwen thought back to the lessons Germain had taught her about great bards that could command the attention of the masses with little more than a lute and a song. She struggled to retrieve her lute from her back but managed to do so without tripping or breaking her instrument.
I can do this, Gwen thought as she concentrated. Magic coursed through her body in time with her heartbeat, giving her a sense of calm. She focused the magic into her throat and parted her lips as she strummed the first chord of The Life of Stars from Moondust. As she sang the first note, the sound amplified and boomed away from her.
In an instant, she found herself walking on her own, the crowd watching her while she sang the song. Every note was perfect for the first stanza, but when her foot caught a cobblestone in the street, she tripped and felt two large hands grab her shoulders to steady her. The crowd murmured at the interruption when she looked up to see Germain beaming down at her with his sparkling eyes.
“The crowd’s waiting, my dear. I think you should give them what they want,” he said, motioning forward with a bow.
Gwen opened her lips and continued the song, walking in time with the rhythm. Every person on the street that had been loud and pushy previously was now following her as though she were some villain from a children’s story stealing the children. At the end of the second stanza, Germain joined, singing the part of Raoul, the counterpart to Selune in the song. Joy was there for the third with her harmony to Gwen.
The trio finished the song and without missing a beat started the next in the play. They sang for the entire walk to the temple. When they arrived at the temple, they had just finished their fourth song, and the crowd applauded. The sound was both terrifying and incredible for Gwen. She had never seen a reaction of that size before. She could feel the energy of it charging through her as she bowed with her friends.
“That was mighty impressive,” a gentle voice said from behind them, only loud enough for them to hear.
They turned around to see Lady Ainsley standing there looking royal and important, her excellent elven features beautiful and refined. Her silver hair caught the afternoon light and shimmered as though it were made of moonlight. Gwen watched Germain’s jaw drop as he tried to form words to reply, but none came out. He fainted on the spot, turning the large man into a large pile of muscle for Joy and Gwen to scrape off the street.
“Oh, my, is he okay?” Lady Ainsley asked.
“He’s fine, m’lady,” Joy replied, grunting to lift one of his arms. “Just a big fan of yours.”
“Well, I hope he wakes soon, the play will start in twenty minutes,” the Lady replied, producing a silk handkerchief. “In the meantime, would you be so kind as to give him this? I’d love to hear his voice again some time. Tell him I’m staying at the Singing Dove Inn, please.”
“He’ll be thrilled!” Gwen said, dropping Germain’s other arm.
“I heard you coming from some distance away, young lady,” Lady Ainsley said, turning to Gwen, holding out the favor. “You, my dear, have a natural talent. Never squander it. Never hide it. Understand?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Gwen replied with a nod as she took the silk piece.
Gwen watched as Lady Ainsley turned and walked gracefully into the temple. Only then did she notice the four large men on either side of her eyeing up the crowd as though they would kill them all.
“She’s incredible!” a feeble voice whispered from the cobblestone. “What happened?”
“Come on, you dope,” Joy said, pulling hard on Germain’s arm. “You’re not going to believe what happened, but I’m going to make you find a seat before I tell you. Let’s get our offerings inside and find a good seat for the play.”