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Excerpt from Thorn Changer by Christy Reed
“Yes, yes, I believe so,” Sieku laughed at Lord Gredlo’s comment. “The minstrels have been keeping Foaie at a standstill, or so I hear. Hopefully His Majesty will figure out how to defeat the Iezomen for good soon.”
“My lady?” she heard a voice at her elbow.
Sieku looked at her steward. “Yes? What is it?”
“Forgive me for the interruption, but would you care to have the minstrel play now? She’s quite ready to do my lady’s bidding.”
Sieku smiled. It would never do to admit she had eavesdropped. “Ah, so you did find a minstrel? And a woman, at that?”
“No, my lady…she’s but a child. But her skill makes up for it.”
“Are you sure she’s good?” She laughed, “I can’t have a bad singer. You know the talk it’d make.”
He shook his head. She smothered a giggle. What if it rattled loose from his neck… “No, no, no, my lady. I assure you she plays well. Very well. She may even rival Farer.”
“Well, then, she must be skilled.” To hear a minstrel besides Farer, after all this time… “Yes, I believe we’re quite ready for some music,” looking around to the guests. “Would you care to hear the minstrel now, or shall we wait a while longer?”
Many nods went around the room. “Yes indeed, whenever you wish is fine,” Lady Meyka said, closing her fan. “I would like to hear a minstrel’s voice after so many weeks.”
Sieku turned back to the steward with a smile. “Very well, you’ve heard the decision. Fetch this young minstrel of yours.”
The doors of the great hall opened. All was silent as a yellow-haired girl walked into the room, and straight to her.
So this was the minstrel. The steward wasn’t exactly right when he called her a child. Though she wasn’t grown up either. Around fifteen, sixteen, she’d say. The girl gave a sweeping bow, and looked up at Sieku with confident green eyes. The kind of eyes she’d always imagined the fae had. “Greetings, my lady. Am I to have the pleasure of playing for you and this merry company tonight?”
Sieku laughed. She liked politeness in a minstrel. “Yes, indeed.”
The lass straightened up. “Very well. Tell me, what shall I play for the pleasure of my lady’s ears?”
Such good court manners. It was like she had spent years as a royal minstrel. “How about ‘The Chalice of Nairve’?” Sieku took her chair at the head table. Gredlo and Meyka sat on either side of her, as the peasants in the great hall followed suit.
The girl dropped to one knee before her table. “If that’s my lady’s pleasure.” Her fingers glided over the strings. She bowed her head. In a low clear voice, she began:
“Many tales have been told
Of Zennure, and the cup of gold,
The treasure of the glad fairies,
Not for men’s eyes to see,
The Chalice of Nairve.
Her father a shepherd,
She watched the flock, as a small bird
Sung softly, sweetly in a tree.
There appeared a lady
Shroud in fine misty gray.
She tried to run away.
The lady said, ‘Don’t be afraid.
I need your help to find something
Dearer than anything
Any tongue’s words can say.’
‘What, Lady?’ Zennure asked.
‘If I can, I’ll complete this task.’
The lady told her the whole tale
Of that cup of gold pale.
And Zennure didn’t stay.
She started out to find
The cup whose tale was in her mind.
It is too long to tell of here,
But by hill and stream clear
She made her winding way.
At the cave said to hold
That Chalice of such lovely gold.
A fierce dragon stood on guard,
With sharp fangs and scales hard,
Keeping Zennure away.
She charmed it with a song
Of spring, and summer days so long.
The dragon sighed, and fell asleep.
Zennure softly did creep,
And took that of Nairve.
She came back, but she found
The lady was nowhere around.
She couldn’t find her anywhere.
So she watched with it there,
The Chalice of Nairve.”
The words faded away, as the girl ran her fingers once again over the strings, and was silent. Sieku sat still, and didn’t say a word, though many cheers went up from every side of the room. The child told it almost as if she had been there, had lived through the legend. Never had she heard it so well told. She gazed down at the girl as she tuned her strings and brushed off an imaginary speck of dust. Maybe she was fae, after all.
It was just a song, couldn’t be real, yet she couldn’t help asking every time she heard it. “What ever happened to them? What became of Zennure, and the lady?”
The girl looked up, and smiled. “I don’t know. But I hope the lady returned one day, and took Zennure back with her to her fair kingdom.”
Was that bitterness she detected? Why? She peered closer at her. Where did this girl come from, anyway? She didn’t quite look Beolkin or Mekain…
“Now, Seili,” the steward’s voice cut into her thoughts, “sing that song you sung earlier. You know, about the tear. You’re certain to be pleased with this one, my lady,” he turned to Sieku.
She sighed to herself, and nodded to the girl. She would have to ponder this all out later. Seili ran her fingers over the strings:
“But a drop, but a tear,
But a second in a year.
But what things are revealed
In naught more than a tear…”
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That's the end of Chapter Five Part Three. I hope you enjoyed it. For right now, Thorn Changer is available exclusively on Amazon. Feel free to share this excerpt, just please include all text between the asterisks (* * *), as well as a link to Thorn Changer's Amazon page. This will give your viewers a link to where they can purchase Thorn Changer if they're interested. Thanks.
Chapter Five Part Four will be available tomorrow.