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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Week's End with the Troubadours



Snow fell yesterday in the Shire. I awoke missing the sun. My window framed a picture of the approaching winter. The canvas held the dark gray and white oils of a sad sky. The black branches of a leafless oak divided the scene into smaller parts. I watched the small branches shiver in the wind as the clouds blew by, driven by a gale from the Great Salt Sea. The scene brought memories of last year's cold. I remembered my aching bones. I remembered the dark mornings. I remembered the sun leaving us to the dark of night earlier each passing day. It was hard to conjure the spark of merry thought. I turned away to search the castle’s stone hallways for my fellow Troubadours. It was the week’s end. We entertained the noble’s guests until Friday’s late hours. They would soon be gathering for breakfast and then calling upon to conclude the tales and song begun the night before.

I found my fellows in their sleeping quarters. They sat cold in their seats waiting for a fire’s warmth.
“This room is too frigid for sleep,” Master Merryweather complained. “My spit hath frozen in my mouth. I can barely speak,” The others agreed. Merry rose to speak for all gathered. “We must have better accommodations if we are to be asked to entertained so early. How can I sing when I can hardly mouth a sentence?”

Pastries were delivered from the cook house. I thought the treat would lift the dark spirit in the room. Most partook. Others sat motionless, except for the pronounced chattering of their teeth.
“I shall look into providing a sustainable fire,” I promised. Thanks were given and accepted. We could now move ahead.

I spoke when all were gathered. “Soon our guests will be rising. They will have their breakfast in the great hall. We will then entertain. Let us make haste with preparation.”

Our troupe sprang to action. Our stages and equipment were uncovered. Our instruments tuned and fires lit. Our oil backdrops of lands far away were unrolled. In the half of an hour our band of Troubadours were on their marks, ready to perform. The noble expected our performances to replace the missing sun. He wanted the hall filled with music, story and laughter. He needn't worry. We knew what was expected and performed in full voice.

We entertained throughout Saturday’s afternoon. All five stages performing for noble and peasant alike. The sunless court was warm in spirit as those gathered drew hands together to applaud our tales of danger and woe. I was pleased with my fellows. Our reputation was well earned. We are the best band of Troubadours in the Shire, nay, I will be bold and further my statement to include the entire Kingdom. Some in the village may argue and I welcome the debate. Let them show me other Troubadours that do what we do. Let them bring them hither and show my troupe their talents. If their talent exceeds ours, then I will be the first to surrender the argument. If not, then I beg their voices silent so we may continue.

Before the first curtains parted we gathered to bid adieu to Madam Lorraine. The first lady of our Band had horse and cart waiting. Her health has been a demon to suffer. The Nobleman’s best surgeon’s examined her. After countless attempts to find a cure using tonics, trinkets and leeches they informed our noble lord that a treatment was beyond their understanding. A special doctor skilled with knifes and stitches lived in a village near. Lady Lorraine was leaving to seek his treatment. Her journey back to health will take four to six weeks. We watched as her cart rocked back and forth over the cobblestones and out the castle’s gate. A moment later it disappeared into the gently falling snow of a gray fog.

Masters Kyle and Spencer spent much of the day working on our new stage. It was commissioned some time ago and is nearing completion. It will make a good addition to our other sets. It has been costly, draining a great deal of the troupe’s reserves but all who see it marvel at its beauty. Instead of wood the stage is supported by polished metal. Its designed incorporates movement, allowing this stage to turn and move. Our Noble Lord wishes it ready in a fortnight for Thanksgiving’s feast. Masters Kyle and Spencer offer their word that it shall.

Lady Stacy and Master Bracken spent the day engaged in the creation of new art for our canvases. Master Long and his small band of artists spent the day on the mathematics of movable set. A feature no other band of Troubadours offer. Their imaginations, along with the melody of voice and the spoken word, combine to transport our audiences to distant lands.

Our day ended at the stroke of 5. The peasants thanked us with applause then bowed to the noble lord in gratitude for his hospitality. The Great Hall’s doors opened giving them escape to the village and their suppers and bed. Our band worked diligently to pack our props and instruments away. Some went to their rooms. Others stayed in the Hall to talk near the fire. While others disappeared into the dark of night with invitations to enjoy meals elsewhere in the village.

I along with others sat near the flame of three candles to hear a new story told by a visiting Troubadour, not of our Troupe. This story captivated my imagination, holding me spellbound for the better part of an hour. It was the story of a magical round gate of stone on a great ship lost on the black sea around the stars of the night sky. The sailors passed through the gate and carried away by magic to a distant land in search of food. Their journey turned deadly when a small snakelike creatures was discovered roaming the land. These creatures attacked in the dark of night, moving with such speed our hero's arrows could not find their marks.

I wont’ go further in this retelling. Perhaps it is a story we may tell on our own stages.

I bid my fellows adieu and retired to bed. Tomorrow was the sabbath and our day of rest. I put out the candle and drifted away through the magical gate in search of new tales to tell, heroes to praise, songs to sing and demons to thwart. Such is the life of a Troubadour.
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