Another placid day in the blessed kingdom of Nolava, and we find our dear friend and chief of all bards, Sonitrus, wearily approaching his quarters after a long morning of lectures to healers in the eastern marsh. The reader must remember, of course, that song enveloped all aspects of life in this period of Nolava's history, and that one of the chief purposes of song was healing. Oft was Sonitrus dispatched to various regions of the kingdom to share his gift of song with others in all manner of labor, and to instruct them in the use of song for such purposes.
As dear Sonitrus reached the final path to his quarters, not more than a hectare's distance away, he became conscious not only of his own weariness, but that also of the lands through which he passed. The critters that scurried off at the vibration of his footsteps seemed even a bit less spry than they had not so long ago. And the eagles-those sacred birds who would come to admire the songs of the people of Nolava-where had they gone off to? Brother Sonitrus shook his head in what must have appeared a silly fashion and spoke to himself "Do not trouble yourself; all is well and fine. A spot or two of rest and all shall feel right once again."
At length, Sonitrus closed the gate and approached the door to the small cottage that served as the quarters for himself and two fellow bards who were indeed like brothers to him-both for better and for worse. To Sonitrus' surprise the door swung open quickly before he had grasped the handle, and he nearly fell inside. There, in the briefly magical doorway, stood his cheery and wobbling bunk mates: Brothers Martinus and Samulus (also exceptional bards, it should be noted), swirling mixed wine in their dainty goblets.
Sonitrus chastised them somewhat father-like while picking up his satchel he'd dropped on the ground, "What of this?! It's barely mid day, and you greet your weary brother this way?! You ought to be ash-"
"Please, let us explain-" interrupted Martinus, "we're only following the Queen's orders."
"Yes," added Samulus, "the Queen's orders. It's a banquet-a banquet for you, brother!"
Sonitrus returned his satchel to the desk nearest his cot and examined the room. Indeed there was a feast fit for kings-many of them, in fact-upon the table...and enough wine for even more kings. Our friend composed himself considerably, though his brow remained furrowed, "You fancy beginning my banquet without me, do you? It matters not, my "thoughtful" brothers, I must retire shortly anyway-I am due in the central pastures by daybreak. I'm afraid I'll not be able to-"
Samulus and Martinus approached Sonitrus quickly, more giddy than before, and Martinus interrupted once more, "Yes...about that...umm, the Queen suspected you might say something along those lines." Martinus handed our friend a scroll sealed with the Queen's mark. "She instructed us also to give this to you at your first mention of tomorrow's labors...read it."
Samulus stood by, grinning, nodding his head in concurrence, "Yes, yes, read it, brother." He then winked at Martinus, and both bards snickered some more and refilled their goblets-this time filling a third one for Sonitrus while he was distracted with the scroll. Our best translation has the scroll reading thus:
I hope you can enjoy the banquet I have asked brothers Martinus and Samulus to prepare for you. You have burdened yourself far too much of late, and it's my wish that you indulge in a jolly respite. In the event you are not feeling well tomorrow and cannot attend your class in the central pastures, you have my assurance that our court is most understanding, and I have even taken the additional step of cancelling tomorrow's class for the convenience of all parties involved. Enjoy yourself this day and night, my dear friend, and let your worries escape. Also, of note, the wine you've been provided with for your banquet is courtesy of the cellar of my blessed parents.
After reading Queen Kulambria's scroll, dear Sonitrus let out a sigh, rolled the document back up, then tossed it into the gently burning hearth. He smiled softly to himself for a moment, as his back was turned to brothers Martinus and Samulus. The two brothers were behind him, swirling their goblets of wine and anxiously awaiting his response. He turned to them with a thoughtful look, sighed once more, and said "Well, if you can't beat them, join them, they say." He took the goblet from Samulus' hand, held it high in the air, raised his eyes and continued "Tonight, my dear brothers, we sing for no one but ourselves! Gods have mercy upon us for what we're about to do."
Brothers Martinus and Samulus held up their goblets in agreement, the goblets met, then all three brothers shouted in unison, "Here, here!" And so the banquet had begun. They drank, then feasted, then drank some more. They played their instruments and sang, then drank some more; then feasted again and drank more still as the hours vanished like wandering phantoms. Truly the night had served the Queen's purpose well, and at one point our dear Sonitrus even considered that she would have been proud to see her orders so efficiently carried-out with such reckless abandon. Somewhere along the way, even, pots had become helmets, broomsticks swords, and esteemed men but rowdy children. "It's good the Queen cancelled tomorrow's classes," Sonitrus observed eventually, "for indeed there'll be no meaningful work tomorrow."
At that, brother Martinus raised his freshly-filled goblet once again and shouted "Here, here!" Then Sonitrus and he giggled as they noticed brother Samulus lay snoring on the floor near the hearth, trusty sword in hand and magical helmet upon his head. Brother Martinus then shifted a bit on the couch and gestured for Sonitrus to join him. "Come, my dear brother; sit down next to me and unburden yourself."
Dear Sonitrus filled his goblet yet again, and dropped himself down upon the couch next to Martinus. There were several seconds of silence as the two bards seemed to be absorbing the moment. Martinus spoke first, "So tell me what weighs upon you, my brother."
More to come...very soon. Kev