As the campfire dies down to cherry-red embers, the evening
closes in around the camp, enfolding the traveler in its
ever-tender embrace. The man wears nondescript clothing suitable
for travel -- breeches, a loose shirt, vest, and a cloak. Next to
him lie his few belongings -- a rucksack with his clothes & tools;
a bedroll; and an instrument case. This last, he leans toward,
reaching tenderly inside to retrieve his harp. "Good evening, my
lady." At this, a small, tight grin flashes across his face, gone
almost before it even appeared. "Shall we welcome Mistress Night to
our camp again?"
A soft breeze soughs gently across the harpstrings, bringing just a
hint of sound from the carefully-tuned harp, as if in response. A
more gentle smile appears on the man's face, not disappearing as the
previous one did. "No, my dear. You will always be my chief love.
Mistress Night just helps provide a gentle backdrop to your sweet voice."
With that, the bard lays his fingers to the strings, and a sweet, haunting
melody springs forth. The clearing goes still, as if Nature was pausing
to listen to the music being formed in its midst. The notes sound the
evening breeze through the boughs around the clearing. His voice is the
rippling, merry bubbling of the brook. He sings a welcome to the
darkness, his solace. He sings of the gentle caress of the birds' wings
as they settle onto their evening perches. The harp plays the delicate
folding of the flowers as they close in on themselves for the night. The
calming notes of their blending bring forest creatures to the edge of the
clearings, laying down at the edge of the music's reach to absorb the
peace evoked by the song.
The song comes to a close, the last notes hanging almost visibly in the
air around the man and his harp. He wraps his arms gently around the
harp, loosens the strings -- to keep the precious wood from warping --
then replaces it in its case. He looks around the clearing at the
assembled animals, bids each in turn a good evening, and begins to lean
back -- into nothing. But Lady Night has heard her troubadour, and the
darkness molds up around the bard as he leans back, almost as if she had
formed a pair of arms expressly to hold this solitary traveler. He closes
his eyes and the lines on his face fade as he slips into the gentle warmth
of her embrace, relaxing into his evening nap.
--The Wandering Bard--