They left the restaurant and wandered through the busy streets. There were street performers trying to lure people in to see further entertainments, music, a theater crowd spilling out after a show, and more prosaic bars and taverns. They stuck to the main streets, not wishing to get lost or look for trouble, enjoying the aftereffects of the wine as they stopped here and there to watch or have a drink as time passed, or just goggle at the things they saw. No trouble found them either; between Jared's size, Terzin's duelling cloak, Robin's sword, and the mere existence of Harrick, they looked unprofitable.
As they returned to the keep they noted a light burning high in an otherwise dark tower, and had that watched feeling again....
As usual, there were freshly baked rolls waiting for them in the morning, to be savored as likely their last for a while. Terzin had the letter Kenneth had given him, so he set out in search of the Entertainers' Guild, still not sure why the armiger thought there might be something there for him. After asking directions a few times, he found himself a the theater the group had passed the previous night.
He knocked at the theater door, and when it opened said, "Good day, sir. My name is Terzin Bufon, and I am looking for a representative of the Bards' Guild. I have a letter of introduction."
"Please, come in, come in."
"Your name sir?" he asked the man who had greeted him as they moved indoors.
"Call me Steven. Terzin?"
"Unusual name. I believe it's from south-central, originally, you see a lot more of them down in that general area. Did your family emigrate here within the last fifty years?
"Yes, I was born in the city, grew up here for a short time, my parents passed away and I was forced to live with my aunt and uncle in the north."
"Well, that explains quite a bit," Steven said gnomically. "Is that a genuine toad-leather cloak?"
"Yes, it is."
"Probably quite waterproof."
"Yes. The best thing about the toad is the skin."
"Obviously, you've never had toad eggs," was the bright reply.
"No, I can't say I have...."
"They have a lot of kick to them, if you know what I mean."
"I suppose in Crapaud we were a little too close to the process of manufacture."
"Ah yes, yes, I can understand that. Please come in, have a seat. Would you like some tea?" he asked as they reached a small, somewhat cluttered room on the ground floor.
"Peppermint, orange, blackberry?"
"Blackberry, please." It was the only one he recognized.
Steven bustled about with the tea things for a moment before sitting down again. "So, the letter of introduction?"
Terzin pulled it out and handed it over.
"It seems you've come to the correct place; you're looking for the thespian in this town, and that thespian is me." He read on, with the occasional murmur of interest, then looked up again. "You don't have experience with musical instruments, do you?"
"Not at all," was the frank reply.
"Can you carry a tune?"
"I've never really had the opportunity to try." He was fairly sure that the peasant dances in Crapaud didn't quite qualify.
"So you're wondering why you're here."
"It's not so much... you have to properly understand," he started over, "that entertainment is not merely singing and dancing. It is the dissemination of information. People have to know what's going on in the world, and the songs that we do and the skits that we perform, the music that we play, all carries with it a certain degree of knowledge. The old songs that you heard when you were growing up, as a child, no doubt all had political significance at the time when they were written. They were merely written so successfully that people remembered them. I'm sure you've heard stirring battle stories and other tales of the genius of our various rulers, their bravery and their courage, and all the rest of their sterling qualities. This is information, and it needs to get out to the people. We of the Entertainers' Guild consider that to be our charge, our trust.
"There is more to it than simply getting the information to the people," he went on. "We have to have a way to get information to ourselves. And some of the people who we need are merely sharp-eyed and adventurous young men who are willing to be on the front lines of society, and sometimes past them."
"I see. That seems to fit better," Terzin allowed, intrigued.
"It's all about finding things out, and then telling people about them. And honestly we could use more people like you. Many people come to the Entertainers' Guild wanting to be the one doing the telling. All they can think of is being the person singing, or dancing, or telling the story. And very few are willing to travel out into the woods in order to find out how sphinxes act. So why don't you tell me what you have done to make the Armiger of Crapaud think that you were suited for this?"
Terzin launched into the story again. He had it down to a routine by this time, and scars to prove it. He left out the part about the Raelite nethermantic spy, but hinted that they had a commission for a new adventure, which necessitated their departure in the morning.
"Well. And you're going to be travelling for some time?"
"Quite a while."
"I assume it will be dangerous, perilous even?"
"Battling many enemies to our society?"
"On orders of the--" He stopped himself.
"Do you expect to encounter many orcs?" Steven had a deadly poker face.
"I'm not sure exactly what types of Winterkin we will face...."
"I wish you all the best of luck. In fact, if you'll give me just a moment...." He wrote something out on a parchment. "If you happen to encounter any other members of the Entertainers' Guild along the way, I would consider it a great favor if you were to continue to update them on what you've done, as I said information is very important." He smiled. "I'm sure that they will certainly stand you to a drink while you're telling the tale, if not a full meal. This is a letter of introduction from myself to anyone you might happen to meet along the way," he handed over the parchment. "They'll certainly be able to help you with room and board on your trip, I understand that there might be several small towns where you're visiting."
"Probably," Terzin said warily.
"Avail yourself of that if you wish, and I will certainly remember your name, Terzin Bufon, if you return this way, and perhaps we could begin a more formal introduction into our organization's structure and design."
"Perhaps," he allowed, pleased with himself. He rose, bowed, received a hearty handshake in farewell, and left.
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Copyright © 2000 Brian Rogers