[SaD] 01. The Singer and the Thief

Metallic notes weaved their way around the crowd gathered by the fountain, engulfing every ear present to the fullest extent.

Their source was a young man, perched precariously on the rim of the fountain. He seemed young, but fully grown: his bark-like brown hair was tied behind is head in a loose knot, stubble dusted his chin and cheeks, and he looked around the crowd with azure eyes washed in the thick glow of attention. His clothes were not memorable or insteresting, but in his hands was something remarkable indeed.

Carved from a single log of some sort of rare wood, with a canvas of some kind stretched over a hoop at the bottom, the instrument dwarfed the man who held it. Five thick, metal stings shone brightly beneath his palm as he played. His thumb anchored the rest of his hand to the smallest of the strings, a string which only climbed half of the way up and ended short of the others at the top. His fingernails did most of the playing, as he dragged their backs across the full set of strings to strum.

On top of that ferric tapestry floated a deep voice, recalling the past trials of a forgotten Lady: Her climb through the Merkatol Mountains to the South, her narrow escape from an ambush of bandits, leading up to the final confrontation with her brother, the bandit-king, who had been kidnapping merchants as they passed through towards her town. He admitted it freely, and demanded a portion of the trade profits she saw, or else her merchants might never be safe again.

The battle between them was raging, and each and every open ear was enthralled by the story as it progressed. Each and every ear, that is, save for two small ears, covered by a large, white hood with beads hanging down from it’s brim.

The owner of these ears was wearing a Theorin Cowl- religious garb, marking those who had given up their earthly possessions and taken to the earth itself for their livelyhood. They are white at the outset, and through labor and toil (and acres of soil) it would be kept until it was brown as the earth which they worshipped and worked with.

This one was almost purely white, and were it not for the beaded hood, could almost be mistaken for any number of different outfits common to the Summer streets. By design, it seemed, it was inconspicuously conspicuous, and difficult to describe.

It’s owner, the owner of the ears mentioned before, was not at all interested in the battle being fought in the minds of the crowd. Instead, they were playing their own trade against the distracted audience, cutting purses and bumping bags, the contents disappearing beneath the flowing folds of that heavy robe.

Here went some produce, there, a stream of silver, and now a ring dropped from some unlucky finger as it grasped at its lover’s arm. Once safely secured beneath the robe, it and its owner would move away: quickly, quietly, and curiously investigating some other section of the crowd, or the square.

It was going well for them both, the singer and the theif, when two things happened to occur at once: One, the singer tripped off of his perch, stopping his playing to save that beautiful instrument from harm. And two, a man decided to tip the storyteller just as a knife was put to his purse.

The uproar that followed was very loud and intense, and it seemed as though the bandit king would live to see another day, as the crowd had found a bandit of their own to chase, and no longer remembered that there was a musician there, at all.

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