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A Barbaric Summer of Shenanigans

Chapter 3

When the concert was over, the bands both came down to talk and sell their wares.

Filly held back a little. The confident Oracle, who danced through valley’s bearing up the only torch of light to stay back darkness in the night, felt awkward in her nervousness. She giggled at herself and scolded her own silliness.

Vilhelm Ragefall was sitting at a long table. He looked like a Viking king, arms crossed with stern, yet kind face. Filly wanted to greet him, but then Kaid, the drummer, joined him, filling his hungry belly with succulent meats from the kitchen. They laughed together as merry men do.

Now Filly truly scolded herself.

“You’ll give yourself away like this, idiot.”

Even though no one here knew her, (or her secret tells: that she was only nervous around men who fluttered her heart), still the self-conscious paranoia kicked in.

“Stop it.” She berated herself.

Not wanting to be revealed as the silly high school fangirl that her heart threatened to become, the woman swallowed and forced herself to smile and introduce herself,

“Hello. I’m Filly.” She said in her best Under Shelf accent.

“Hallo!” The drummer smiled, recognizing the familiar sound. “How the bloody hell are ya?”

Vilhelm nodded and resumed his silent repose.

“I am well, thank you.” Filly responded in her default correctness. All the Temple’s public presence training was a perfect refuge to hide behind.

She sat with the men and hoped to look relaxed. But, to this day, she still has no recollection of what they discussed; likely pleasantries. All she remembered was the smile and the eyes to which her heart connected dangerously.

Fortunately, the Chamberlin was called off to state duties by his Executive Manager, Mema Yhen. She looked like a formidable woman who must be obeyed. Kaid jumped to do so eagerly and held his arm around her shoulders affectionately.

Filly thought Meme Yhen must be a woman of great worth, to be openly admired by these mighty men. For, the character of souls is the first thing Filly saw in others. Outside appearance was a second-rate assessment. It was the soul that shone forth to the eyes of the Oracle. [Dragon Tears was the reason for that: the concoction every Oracle is required to consume before entering office. It did terrifying and wondrous things to the Trevel physiochemistry.]

Filly remained in awkward silence with Vilhelm. There was no negativity emanating from him, but there was a wall up. He blocked her energies, yet did so without malice. So, Filly respected his need for privacy and smiled a pleasant farewell.

Captain Garretson surfaced from her hood that lay down her back. This was the quiet place her pocket ninja often retreated to in public. They didn’t like the company of most “large folk.”

“We need to be getting gone.” The fae guardian advised.

Filly sighed, not wanting to leave, but knew the departure of her companions was imminent. She looked to wave a farewell to Kaid.

He stood with the other four as they posed for flickergraphs with adoring fans. Filly couldn’t help smiling and squinting at the same time. She dearly wanted to capture this beautiful memory of the quiet connection that she felt, likely only in her heart, and not his. She knew what it was to be famous. She watched the crowd of beckoning fans, each waiting eagerly for their three minutes with their favorite musicians.

Something akin to an ancient and inherited darkness bared it’s snapping teeth in her heart and she thought,

“Somebody kill me if I ever look that pathetic.”

But, then her heart of grace spoke back,

“Nonsense, look at all the love that is shared. They aren’t pathetic, they are family.”

The arguments inside her continued to wrestle in silence, but she ignored them.

Kaid caught her eye and called her over. Ionny agreed,

“We gotta get a flick of the five Shelfers.”

Apparently, Angel Bryte had already told them of her upbringing. Filly would have to thank her for that.

The fangirl heart ran over and fell into the hugs of all four men. Then she turned and smiled her own happy delight as they posed for a keep sake.

Snap! went the flicker-capture. And snap went her heart. Kaid had his arm around her and pulled her in for another hug.

“Damn.” Filly thought as she blushed and smiled shyly.

She made her farewells and pushed her feet away to attend to the farewell of her own companions.

The transport pilot was rudely all set to go. Filly scowled and thought he should have been enjoying the concert, not getting ready to leave. Sure, he was all eager to spend a summer by the beach with Vahly. Filly knew what that would likely result in. And her own lonely heart lifted in possibility, too. After all, summer was just beginning and anything could happen.

Kissing her Trevel companions with fondness renewed, she blessed them as they parted.

Then Seamus wandered off to the bar, again, so Filly followed to get some dinner. There was a pleasant surprise waiting inside.

The whole troupe of bards and crew were already seated, ordering food. They called to her to join in. Seamus cheered and ordered a round of drinks for everyone. That warmed their reception considerably, even though most of them ordered soft drinks. They were only beginning a rather long musical tour and wanted to maintain their health. Filly considered them all a refreshing change to the expectation she had been warned about by her more “civilized” friends.

A seat was open next to Vilhelm and he chatted more openly with her.

“What are you ordering?” she asked.

“I’m not eating tonight. I must have had something bad yesterday and my insides are still upset.” Vilhelm rubbed his belly and sipped his clear drink.

Filly reached over and laid a hand on his arm,

“I’m sorry you’ve been unwell.” She lifted his hand, asking, “do you mind if I try to help?”

Vilhelm looked skeptically at his hand in hers and gruffed,

“Sure, if you can.”

The Oracle of Atlantis moved her fingers around the nerve map of his palm and whispered quiet words to her own heart. The bard breathed deeply. Then she smiled and patted the top of his fingers.

“That may help a little.”

The bass player was amused, but thanked her.

Over the table banter, Kaid opened a conversation with her about home and it was discovered that they knew the same areas of Under Shelf. Filly shared her old haunts and even remembered the name of the street her home was on.

Ionny’s joined in,

“I know that street.” He continued the conversation eagerly.

Fast friendships were made that night, over much laughter. Even Vilhelm joined in a little merrier and stole food from the plates of those nearest him.

Filly was smiling unsubtly at Kaid and as the evening wound down, she noticed him lean into his mate and whisper something decisive. Then he stood suddenly, grabbed a chair, and brought it around to sit next to the woman of his attentions.

Filly’s heart leapt rather annoyingly. But she was enjoying his focus far too much to pay attention to her typical reservations. They chatted and connected even further, until Mema Yhen announced she was driving away and they all needed to be in the transport or get left behind.

Filly smiled and hugged them all hard. She held Kaid a tish longer in her goodbyes, before returning to her room.

The insides of her soul were in turmoil. Someone had let all the butterflies loose. She settled herself to bed with meditations of peace. Singing songs of hush, she soothed the flutters, and they shone quietly within, carrying her off to a world of dreams that may yet come.

When she awoke in the sunrise hours of the morrow, refreshment blew over her. She breathed deeply and took a dip in the warmings pools before breakfast. Dripping beneath a great fluffy robe, Filly wandered along the covered garden path. All the world was quiet here. She was alone and her solitude was precious.

A sign hung on the hotel board that caught her eye. She took a flick of it with her mobell communique bracelet and sent the uplink to her flowboard.

Hugging herself with crossed arms, Filly smiled in confidence. Now she had the next few weeks’ worth of band schedules for the Lords of Ragefall, the Patriot Contenders, and a few other bard bands. It was going to be a good summer, indeed.

Pre-exposition Letter by the Scribe

Chapter 4