There was already a Bard in Roost at the Seventh Heaven when Amon walked through the doors. This was a strange looking fellow with an admirable mask, who idly strummed a few chords from time to time on his harp in the corner. The instrument sounded good and the man was dressed like the real deal.
Amon didn’t know if things had changed during the time he’d been away, but where he came from, there was a code of honor among Bards. One did not infiltrated another’s Roost… without permission, at least.
So, he approached the other minstrel with the politest airs he had. “Good evening.”
The other nodded his acknowledgement.
“I came to provide some local entertainment,” Amon explained. “But I see this Roost is well-tended already. Would it be that I have permission to play in your establishment?”
The minstrel merely smiled, like someone who knew the secrets of the world, and stopped plucking his harp. No words were exchanged, but Amon took that to mean that permission was granted.
He bowed his head in a motion of thanks and scoped out the room. A few travelers were there, and what seemed like a few locals. Not a large crowd. But seeing Amon hadn’t performed in this new body yet, and he wasn’t certain how much muscle memory would get him through, it was probably a good thing.
Must be confident… I did this for years. I can do this again.
Amon found an out-of-the-way spot next to the fireplace where he first took a moment to tune Zuri’s little harp. It was in bad need of alignment and some of the strings were far too loose. She really needed something better to learn with.
Why… am I even concerning myself with that?
Zuri and the others had followed Amon inside, and now sat around the table nearest to the fireplace. She watched him with a hopeful look, while Ajir just glowered and Mocho seemed to be drifting off to sleep.
The Bard steeled himself and played a few shaky notes.
Come on hands. Work for me.
He tried to strum the start of a simple tune that he’d known since childhood, but the sounds came out all wrong. He paused, glared down at his uncooperative fingers and Hmmmed at himself.
Ajir gave a snide comment, leaning back. “A great Storyteller is he? One that can’t pluck a note.”
Zuri hadn’t given up hope. She placed both hands on the table and spoke quietly, “You can do it Amon. Don’t be nervous!”
Did he look nervous? Was he nervous? When had he ever been nervous in front of a crowd?
Music. Performing was… what brought him joy… even in the darkest moments of his past life.
They never understood it. They thought he was strange and eccentric. They were right. He was.
This is who I am.
With a flurry of memories, old emotions rushed through him. Amon’s hands began to play. Remembering the notes. Drawing out a song of his people, a music long lost to this strange new world.
The Allagans were best known for their technology, but they had just as much culture as any people. They had songs and stories and things to celebrate and dream of. They may have failed to capture the stars, but deep down, people are still people.
Amon wove the words of song into the little harp’s offerings. From the look on the faces that watched, he was right to think that they’d never heard this tune before. He knew many, many songs, and most of the songs held ancient stories. Though, he was very careful to choose only those that would not give away his origin.
By the time he segmented into a second song, other people in Seventh Heaven had begun to take notice. Amon didn’t know if the melody was as exotic to them as they were to him. He didn’t know if it stirred within them the same emotion… some universal truth that all people share in the vibration of light and sound.
But they did come. They did listen.
As the final notes of the song sounded through the room, Amon let out a long breath. It had been a while since he felt… truly felt… anything like that. But his reveling was short-lived.
The tavern keeper walked to the edge of the counter closest to Amon and remarked, “Sir Bard, I’ve had a lot of songs performed here, but n’aint none I’ve heard like that.”
“Thank you.” He wasn’t sure how to reply, so he chose the humble route.
She looked at the counter, then at the small audience that had stopped to watch Amon’s performance. Finally, the tavern keep asked, “What would it take to get you to stay a bit longer and play a full set tonight?”
This was exactly what Amon was hoping to hear.
“Well,” the Elezen tilted his head as if taking time to think it through. He already knew exactly what he was going to ask for. “I’d be willing to share a few more songs for supper and a room for myself and my companions there.”
The tavern keep followed the motion of Amon’s hand as the Bard indicated Zuri and her two friends, who were still seated at the nearby table. Now, it was the tavern keep’s turn to consider things.
“Well, as long as your friends don’t treat this as an all-you-can-eat, you’ve got yourself a deal.” She reached a hand out to shake on it, requesting a name, “Mister….?”
“Amon.” The Elezen offered and shook her hand in return.
“A pleasure to do business with you, Mister Amon. You can call me Alys.” She nodded with a smile. “You just keep strumming those songs. I’ll have a supper out to yall soon enough.”
Amon glanced over at the table to where Zuri beamed at him, absolutely delighted. Mocho was now fully awake, anticipating the meal. Even Ajir seemed fairly pleased by the turn of events.
“Very well,” the Samurai muttered. “He can stay. For now.”
The Bard smiled to himself and gave the Au Ra a mocking bow.