At the end of the day, the party is tired. An inn is just ahead, and they decide to stay there for the night. They enter, the warrior-mage finding a table for the party to have dinner at and discuss the day's events, the cleric and a female bard moving to join him, followed closely by the jongleur, and the other bard moves over to the bar to ask the innkeeper if he would care for some music in exchange for a meal and a place by the fire.

He joins his friends around the table and passes a pleasant meal with them, chatting about what was done over the course of the day, and reliving old memories that are shared by all. Then, when his meal is done, and the conversation has died down a bit, he picks up his harp and moves to a stool about halfway between the fire and the bar, so that he can stay warm and still keep his cider-mug filled. He plays and sings until the last of the customers have left, rousing tavern songs, quiet ballads, uplifting jigs, and despairing laments, weaving his bardic magic about all who are present. When at last his music fades away, only his friends, the innkeeper, and the hired help are still in the common room. The other customers have left for their rooms, and the bard smiles comfortably at his friends.

They leave for their rooms then, the warrior-mage and the bard, and the cleric and the jongleur. The bard smiles as he sees them go, taking warmth from the happiness in their faces. He loosens the harpstrings so they don't pull the cherished instrument out of tune, and puts her away; tips his hat to the innkeeper, and lays out his bedroll next to the hearth. He thinks about many things, laying there in front of the fire: the poem that he's writing about the party's travels, the performance he gave tonight, and how he can improve upon it at the next stop, the new song that he learned at the last inn, where instead of providing the entertainment, he was a member of the audience, and, in his last thoughts before he drifts off to the world of slumber, he thinks upon the joy of his friends, and whether he will ever find a happiness to compare. At one time, he was sure that it would only be a matter of time, but as the years go by, he is beginning to wonder if he ever will see that happiness, except on the faces of his friends. With a shrug and a sigh, he rolls over to face the fire and falls asleep. He dreams of epic adventures and grand songs, good things and bad, and everything between, looking for the words and images to incorporate in his next work.

--the bard closes his eyes for the night--
--           November 6, 1994           --

(note: he does not begrudge his friends their happiness, but instead takes joy from it--knowing that they are happy brings a smile to his face.)