Ever Bard, Ears of Time
By Kenneth Shumaker & Aria
Episode 004, Autumn 50 Bear – 4
April 9, 2017
Following in this series, we get to know the female Elven child – an 115-year-old bard whose beauty is god-like – known as Ta’Myka by her parents and mortals, and known as Time and as Fate by the gods and other immortal. She is joined by the Journeyman Dragoman, holy hero of four gods, Bloodgrue – a twenty-year-old human Jalnoric male from the North Docks of the royal city of Mount Oryn. Journey through these stories with authors Rusty Knight and Aria in Rusty Knight’s medieval fantasy realm of Quantos. Experience their adventures beyond those of mere mortal in the time of King Dolan IV.
We continue with Episode 004 on …
Autumn 50 Bear
Eeene responds as best a simple mind can, “We be a pack of three if you want. You, Sereee, Eeene. Pups will die if Matriarch decrees it so. As many pups live as Matriarch decrees. We see your mind when not guarded.”
Ta’Myka takes a minute to ponder what Eeene is telling her. ‘It is the nature of every living creature to populate and preserve their species. Yet, my two little rodent friends are willing to sacrifice their offspring for me – for the good of our pack. In reality, for what is convenient for me. Am I comfortable with the deliberate death of their pups?’
Ta’Myka whispers to Eeene. “Let me think about this.”
The next ten minutes pass quickly, then footsteps are heard from the hallway, and a firm knock is heard on the door.
With trepidation, Ta’Myka opens the door, grateful for the distraction. The office door opens, exposing a Toyfem of mature years, standing next to the old Doorman Jessep.
Jessep clears his throat quickly. “Mistress Annalise is here to see you regarding employment. Miss Annalise, this is Lady Ta’Myka.”
In a genuine welcome, Ta’Myka smiles and says, “Good day, Miss Annalise. Please come in.”
Like a cautious mouse, Annalise enters the office just as cook Bellah steps around her. Bellah sets a fresh pot of tea onto the desk, then exits, closing the door after her.
Now, bold as lightning, Annalise steps forward and extends her arm for clasping, while speaking in tradesman Jalnoric, “I am Journeyman Weaponsmith Annalise of South Mount Oryn.” Annalise stands straight as she waits impatiently tapping the toes of her foot.
Though tired with pomp and manners, Ta’Myka clasps the woman’s arm and offers a friendly smile. Taking her own seat at the desk, Ta’Myka motions for Annalise to sit down. She pours two cups of steaming hot tea, watching the tendrils of steam snake up from the spout of the teapot, and then hands one of the mugs of black tea to Annalise. She begins her well-rehearsed speech on the opportunities in the stronghold of Lady Mychel’s Owerton Stronghold to Imvor. “It’s a new village … just three years in the making. Lady Mychel has established a large troop of militia and men-at-arms, so there is no lack of work for a good weaponsmith.” … “Tell me about yourself. How many years have you been a weaponsmith? You have your journeyman papers? How do you feel about living in a relatively new village in the middle of the wilds? Will you be bringing a life-companion or a family with you?”
Politely, Annalise sits where indicated, listening intently to Ta’Myka’s speech. Then she congenially answers, “I have been a smith for all my working life, a journeyman weaponsmith for five years now.” She eagerly proffers her papers of weathered parchment certification to Ta’Myka for reading. “Starting new is always scary. But I am sure, by what you say, that there will be work there for me. I will be travelling alone.” Annalise sits on the edge of her chair, anticipating the possibilities.
Ta’Myka takes a minute to look over the documents that Annalise has given her. She hands them back to Annalise and smiles. “Everything looks to be in order, Master Annalise. I can scribe up a contract of employment. I have told all the new hires that Lady Crusader Mychel has the final word as to wages. But, I can put your request in the contract. Lady Mychel is very fair and pays her people well. What do you think is a fair wage to pay an experienced weaponsmith?”
Annalise asks, “I seek thirty-one Dyns a day, plus a four percent commission. Include a forge, with two apprentices along with that and housing as well as tools.” She sits back now, having spoken her mind.
Ta’Myka silently admits to herself that she has no idea how much coin a weaponsmith would usually make. ‘Thirty-one Dyns a day? Good gods, maybe a highly skilled mage might make that much coin, but a weaponsmith? Perhaps I should offer her a gold chalice, too?’ Ta’Myka frowns. “What you are asking is probably more than Lady Mychel would agree to.” Ta’Myka stands and walks towards the door. “I wish you luck. However, I cannot agree to such high terms. Thank you for showing interest. It was nice meeting you.”
Surprised by this, Annalise is shocked by the quick rejection from Ta’Myka, after she has offered to work for below fresh journeyman wages. Annalise stands and quietly leaves, confused, wondering what she did wrong. But, as is her life’s training, she doesn’t question the employer’s decision.
The ever-present Doorman Jessep escorts Annalise out the door to the front gate, in time for another figure to be addressed.
Addressing her employer’s partner, Enamae asks Ta’Myka, “Is there anything you need Lady Ta’Myka? Bellah wishes to inform you midday meal will be ready in under an hour.”
Saddened, Ta’Myka nods her head at Enamae. “I am not very hungry, but I will join the others.”
“As you wish Lady Ta’Myka. I also heard you wanted Archbishop Rena to attend to Master Gerris. As Archbishop Rena’s attendant, I must inform you that the Archbishop left several hours ago to attend to Physter Hospital. Might someone else be able to aid Master Gerris? Perhaps Lady Fayth?” Enamae waits patiently for Ta’Myka’s reply.
Alarmed now, Ta’Myka nods her head. “Yes, please see if Lady Fayth can look in on Gerris. I don’t know Fayth very well, but I do know she has a kind gentle soul and is a devoted priestess.”
Satisfied with the response, Enamae bows and says, “Yes, Lady Ta’Myka, I will do so.”
Now befuddled by the situation, Ta’Myka is still bewildered at the weaponsmith’s requests. Approaching Jessep, she asks, “Jessep, do you know how much an experienced weaponsmith would earn for wages?”
Thinking for a moment, Jessep considers the question then offers, “Sorry, Lady Ta’Myka, I have no experience negotiating wages with those in any metal crafting. I know that armourers and weaponeers are paid many Flairs, several hundred a season. A blacksmith may earn around a hundred Flairs a season. But how much, I do not know. Why do you ask? … Perhaps Chamberlain Andalyn may have an idea. It is part of her position to know. If she doesn’t, then she could find out for you. Shall I send her to you?” Jessep pauses, then says, “There is a Master Lars waiting to interview with you, Lady Ta’Myka.”
A familiar voice creeps out from down the hall, behind Ta’Myka, “I might know, but if I did, I would have to tell you. With waiting for you so long in Adan, I am not sure I want to tell you. So, I am not sure that I know the answer to your questions.”
Turning around in a burst, Ta’Myka sees the familiar dragoman who is holding a certain male brown rat. Both their eyes are laughing at her in glee, yet both are silent.
Hearing what Jessep has to say about wages for weaponeers and blacksmiths has Ta’Myka thinking that she was hasty in sending the weaponsmith away. ‘It’s becoming clear to me that maybe I am not the right person to be hiring workers.’
Hasty in response, Ta’Myka turns and replies to Jessep. “Tell Master Lars that I will see him in a few minutes. And, when you see Andalyn, please tell her that I need to meet with her when she has a moment. I really must get educated on the wage scale for various skilled workers.”
Jessep nods positively. “I will inform the Chamberlain of your request. Also, I will inform Master Lars.”
In relief, Ta’Myka smiles at Bloodgrue and Eeene. “Bloodgrue, I have another interview. However, I will be taking a break in about an hour. Meet you in the dining room in an hour?” Pausing briefly, Ta’Myka then continues. “Bloodgrue, I am so daft. I just sent away a weaponsmith, because I thought she was asking for too high of wages. I am a bard. I sing for whatever people are willing to give me. I have no experience in hiring skilled people. I don’t even know how much coin my father made as an ostler. I know we lived comfortably and ate well, but he had two-hundred years to build up his business. I am hoping Andalyn can help me find the answers I seek. Bloodgrue, would you be willing to sit in with me while I conduct the next interview? “
Nudging the bard, Bloodgrue smiles mischievously. “You said the right things and asked the right person. Master Andalyn can answer your questions as well. But yes, let’s interview Master Lars together. If you want my opinions, ask, and I will offer. Otherwise, I will remain silent. Deal? After the interview, you need to have evening meal with me, Lady Fayth, and Warden Jessep.”
Ta’Myka is feeling a little more settled now that Bloodgrue has agreed to interview with her. She gives Bloodgrue a passionate hug. “Thank you, my friend. I appreciate your help.”
Surprised by this affection, Bloodgrue returns the hug, remaining pleased, yet silent.
“Come, let’s return to the study and get ready for Master Lars. With you by my side, I don’t anticipate I will blunder again.” Ta’Myka says with a wide smile.
Laughing heartily, Bloodgrue informs Ta’Myka, “Negotiating isn’t an exact science, and no potential hire is the same. There are no set wages anywhere. We will blunder a lot, but we will do it together in smaller ways.”
The two enter the study, and Bloodgrue pours two mugs of warm tea, also helping himself to another bun. Moving a chair to sit near Ta’Myka, Bloodgrue sits and gives Eeene a bit of the bun, and then sets the Ratmal nearby on the floor.
Excited, Eeene takes the bit of bun and scurries under the bookcase. Then, there is a knock on the door, followed by Jessep quickly opening the portal.
Jessep gestures for a tallish heavier set Toymal to enter while stating, “Master Lars Tan, to interview.”
Quickly entering the office, Lars, an average appearing male, takes the seat gestured to by Bloodgrue. Both men turn and wait for Ta’Myka.
Ta’Myka introduces herself and Bloodgrue to Lars. Then she settles into her chair behind the desk. After her now well-rehearsed speech on what to expect in Mychel’s holy stronghold of Owerton, she asks Lars. “Master Lars, what is it you can bring to Owerton in the way of skills? You do understand that Owerton is a small village and in the middle of the wilds? For some people, the thought of starting anew, so far from the city is frightening. For others, it is exciting to know they will be part of establishing a new land, so to speak.”
Grinning eagerly, Lars says, “I am a leatherworker with many years of experience. I look forward to such challenges in a new place. That is why I came to you. I ask that I have a home and food with two Dyns a day for wages.”
On the sly, Bloodgrue smiles and nods to Ta’Myka.
Relieved, Ta’Myka gives Bloodgrue a subtle nod, indicating she agrees with Bloodgrue.
Returning a smile to Lars, she says, “I can agree to your request. Keep in mind that because Owerton is growing so quickly, there is a temporary shortage of housing. You may have to reside in a tent for a short time. Housing is being built, but Owerton does have a shortage of builders. However, the tents are large and comfortable, if an actual house is not available.”
Gesturing approval, Lars smiles eagerly. “Yes, a tent will be fine as long as the work is steady.”
Ta’Myka’s eyes quickly take in the details of Lars clothing, looking to see if he is wearing something leather which he may have crafted. “Master Lars, do you have any documents or samples to show the quality of your work?”
Seeing the need for proof, Lars nods as he hands Ta’Myka his side pouch.
Ta’Myka looks over the pouch, designed to hold about ten pounds. The workmanship is fine, with average quality and design. Nothing appears spectacular, but also there appears to be nothing obviously wrong with this pouch. The catch is securely attached. The seams are even and sturdy.
“It pleases me to know you look forward to the challenges of a new place. Owerton is a friendly village, brimming with opportunity. There will be an abundance of work for a leatherworker. Of course, you will need a place to do your craft. I am sure Lady Crusader Mychel can find you an appropriate building for tanning and dying. Though, you may have to put up with something less than perfect for a short period of time. Owerton currently has a leatherworker, so perhaps arrangements can be made to share the space. All these details can be worked out with Lady Mychel, upon your arrival to Owerton.”
Ta’Myka, wanting to get a ‘feel’ for Lars, keeps her eyes on him, taking note of his body language and mannerisms. Ta’Myka silently admits to herself that she feels more confident in her interviewing skills with Bloodgrue in the room with her.
Answering Ta’Myka, Lars sits forward on his seat. “I look forward to establishing a shop and providing leather goods to Owerton’s residents.” His hands rest easy, clasped together on his lap. Lars only watches Ta’Myka.
Ta’Myka thinks to herself. ‘Not everyone can be great at their craft. Just average is probably adequate. He isn’t going to Owerton to become a famous leatherworker, and that is probably a good thing.’ Resigned to signing a mediocre craftsman, Ta’Myka takes a quill and dips it in ink. She says to Lars, “I will scribe a contract stating that while I agree to your employment requests, your conditions are subject to Lady Mychel’s approval. I can say with confidence that I highly doubt there is a single person in Owerton who does not respect or admire Lady Mychel. She is truly a great leader.” Rapidly she finishes scribing out the contract and turns the parchment for Lars to sign. “As I have told the other newly hired, you may reside here at West Door Inn, then travel with the others, or you are free to travel on your own to Owerton. Either way, your travel expenses will be covered. If you agree to stay here, and travel with the others, then I will give you a signing bonus of six Dyns – three days wages.”
Sitting stiffly, Lars is silent a moment, then a relieved sigh escapes him, and he smiles. “Thank you so much. You won’t be disappointed I am certain. I will stay here then. Where do I set my things? I left them by the front entrance. May I have my pouch back? It has my certification parchment in it, in case you want to see it.”
As she hears this, Ta’Myka lets out a chuckle and says to Lars. “Definitely you can have your pouch back. I would like to see your certification so I can verify its existence in my notes.” After viewing the certificate, she hands them back to Lars.
Observing all of this, Bloodgrue smiles. “Jessep will show you to the staff rooms, and you can have a bunk there. You can eat with the staff in their house.”
Content, Lars signs the document Ta’Myka has scribed, and he happily accepts the six Dyns. Standing, he clasps arms with Ta’Myka while Bloodgrue opens the door. “My good man Jessep, we are in a bit of a crunch in here. Please see Master Lars to a bunk. Let them know Lars will be sharing room and board there until the expedition leaves for Owerton. Thank you, my good man.”
As Bloodgrue speaks, Ta’Myka walks with Lars to the door and says. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Master Lars. All the best to you.”
Finished speaking with Jessep, Bloodgrue watches Lars exit into Jessep’s care, then turns to Ta’Myka. “You owe me your company over a meal. I smell food so we can go and eat.”
Elated with the turn of events, Ta’Myka gives Bloodgrue a happy smile. “I do owe you. Thank you for your help, Bloodgrue. Yes, we shall eat and be merry! Whatever we will be supping on, it certainly does smell good.”
Eager to move, Ta’Myka links her arm into Bloodgrue’s arm as they make their way to the great hall. Entering the great hall of West Door Inn, they find seated Warden Jessep and Archbishop Fayth with Lydia sitting near Jessep coddling Dawn. On the table is a platter of roast duck, as well as boiled tubers, and peas with onions. A royal feast – Fryers is just now realising this will be theirs as often as they dine in West Door Inn. Fresh bread, butter, as well as two pitchers, one with milk and one with wine, rest on the table.
Looking over at Bloodgrue, Ta’Myka can see that he is smiling and has a twinkle in his eyes. He turns to Ta’Myka. “Any of these seats? Which one?”
Ta’Myka greets all that are present at the table with a wide smile. “Good day everyone. I am sure you all remember Bloodgrue.” She takes a seat and motions for Bloodgrue to sit beside her. ‘I see we have roast duck. I never have developed a taste for duck. But, I am not a meat eater at the best of times. The vegetables look scrumptious.’ With a look of concern, Ta’Myka turns to Fayth and asks, “Fayth, have you had an opportunity to check on Gerris? I am worried about his health. He doesn’t seem well at all.”
Calm and relaxed, Fayth, known in the community she grew up in as a priestess for the people, gives Ta’Myka a nod and replies. “I checked on Gerris not very long ago. As you know, I am a priestess, not a physician, so I don’t know what is actually ailing him. I think Rena should take a look at him, as soon as she returns from Physter Hospital. I gave Gerris a healing blessing … I think he is feeling a little better. I will check on him again after our meal. I asked the servants to see to his every wish and to give him a light meal of broth and toasted bread.”
Relieved only slightly, Ta’Myka sighs. “Thank you, Fayth. I know you will do whatever you can for our dear friend. I know he is an old man, but he still has a lot to offer the world, and he’s very special to me.”
Understanding the concern, Fayth gives Ta’Myka a gentle smile. “I know how you feel. My father was already old when I was born. I, too, feel Gerris has a lot to offer. I can never dismiss someone just because they’re old.”
Ta’Myka suddenly remembers her news. “By the way, Sereee had four pups today. I want to be happy about it, but the truth is I am not sure what to do. As the matriarch of the pack, it is up to me to decide the fate of the pups. It seems heartless to not want the pups, but it is an extra burden.”
Turning to Warden Jessep, she asks, “What do you think, Jessep? Should I allow Eeene and Sereee to keep the pups? Eeene and Sereee follow me everywhere, so having to worry about the safety of four pups is my concern. If I travel anywhere, I suppose I could have Sereee stay behind until the pups are weaned. I am just not sure what to do.”
Bloodgrue and Jessep listen with interest, while Lydia seems uncomfortable with both conversations, one about an old man, the other about some rats.
With Warden Jessep being the one addressed, he deems it wise to think before answering. After some thought, Jessep replies. “You are the pack matriarch. Also, Eeene and Sereee seem to be familiars or animal companions … IN the first case you must consider the pack’s well-being and what is good for the pack. In the second case, you must consider your well-being and your companions. In the first, individuals do not hold high importance – the group as a whole holds importance. In the second case, you would be considering individual lives. How long before the pups mature to be old enough to wean from their parents? How long do these rats live? Are they animal companions, familiars, or pets? These facts all must be considered in your decisions.”
Frowning, with deep creases in his forehead, Bloodgrue gives Jessep an intense gaze. “Indeed, you are a noble, politician, and priest, with using that answer, Master Jessep. Do you have an opinion, or just questions and enquiries?”
Laughing enigmatically, Jessep then says, “I am also a husband and father. Yes, I have noble blood. Yes, I have been a victim participant in the political arena, and yes, I am a priest. Opinions I cannot give easily anymore, as an Earl nor as a Warden. As a father of a baby, I say let them live. As a husband, I say death to them because they are rats. I cannot give a helpful opinion, Ta’Myka.”
Exasperated at this fluctuation of indecision, Ta’Myka sighs once again. Truly, this decision is weighing heavy on her heart and mind. Her eyes scan all that are seated at the table, and then she settles her gaze on Jessep. “Thank you, Jessep, for your thoughts. I do know this is my decision. There is a part of me that thinks keeping this one pack is probably wise. It seems unfair to Eeene and Sereee not to give them at least this one opportunity of propagating their species. However, is there anything you can do, as a priest, to prevent them from producing more pups? I know it seems an unusual question. I cannot deny Sereee and Eeene their natural desire to mate, but I do not want them to produce any more pups, for the good of our pack. Do you understand what I am asking? Perhaps Rena may have some suggestions – a herb or something to stop Sereee from becoming pregnant.”
In noble fashion, Jessep nods to Ta’Myka. “I have no experience with such a request, but perhaps Rena may.”
Hesitating, Lydia questioningly raises her hand while looking at Ta’Myka. “Lady, may I answer your question?”
Ta’Myka chuckles. “Of course, Lydia, I welcome your input. I don’t know why I am asking a man such a question, as measures for preventing reproduction is usually sought out by women. As a young elf, I still have several years before I reach fertility, so I have never questioned such things. However, I have heard these matters spoken about by women in taverns.” Ta’Myka gives Lydia a smile, eager to hear what she has to suggest.
Lydia smiles cautiously as she replies, “My mother spoke of a concoction of horse uterus, thistle seed, and foxglove, boiled together and then drank during the woman’s cycle when she doesn’t want to be with child. It is good as it only works during the time it is consumed. But, I don’t know the proportions or how much one needs to drink. I don’t know if it will work on rats.”
Listening, Bloodgrue boldly speaks up now. “I too heard of a similar concoction. The recipe was one sheep’s uterus, one pound of thistle seeds, one ounce of iodine, a half ounce of powdered iron, and half a pound of firefox root. Boiled then reduced to powder. Consume one tablespoon every two days, per hundred pounds of the woman. She will not be able to become with child for about one season after stopping consumption of the powder. But to add, I think you are wise to allow the rats to have their pups if they are your pets or companions, as it will ease their minds and they only live two to three years, rarely more than four years. If they are your familiars, you will have to speak with a mage on a course of action.”
Turning to the dragoman, Ta’Myka gives Bloodgrue an amused smile. “That’s impressive – your memory for detail. I suppose paying attention to detail is important when one is a dragoman. It sounds like Bloodgrue and Lydia may be on to something. I think I will ask Rena to conjure up a rat sized potion. It is too bad Keefe isn’t around, as he is the only mage I know well enough, who would not charge me an arm and a leg just for a short consult.”
Leaning forward onto the table, Jessep smiles brightly. “You must feel like a god, giving life and taking life, being able to control who lives or who dies. Whether it be man or beast … Auh, yes … We won’t talk about that now, Ta’Myka. I am glad though you show control and don’t take it lightly for this question you posed.”
“I guess my mind is settled. I will allow Eeene and Sereee to keep their present litter of pups. I will do what I can to prevent more, at least in the immediate future.”
Settling more into his seat, Bloodgrue, while smiling, adds, “So it is true, you really are an Angel, Ta’Myka. I knew it all along.”
Contemplating Jessep’s statement then Bloodgrue’s, Ta’Myka nibbles at the food on her plate. “These tubers are meant for a king – delectable. I could write a song about them. Calling the song, The Tremendous Tubers.” Ta’Myka laughs at her own fatuousness.
Kenneth Shumaker and Aria
To be continued in the next episode 005 …
© 2017 by Kenneth Shumaker and Aria with Inevitable Unicorn Press
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About the Authors: Aria and Rusty Knight
Ken (the moderator of this blog and my beloved husband) introduced me into his world of North Amara 10 years ago. For several years, myself and various other followers contributed to an ongoing story. My character, Ta’Myka the elven bard, was one of several of my characters in our fantasy story. It’s exciting to bring her ‘back to life’. I hope you find her as interesting as I do.
As for me; there isn’t much to say, I am really just an average middle-aged woman. I work in education and have a nursing background. I have two wonderful grown children with six grandchildren.
Kenneth Shumaker (Rusty Knight):
Following a long break from writing, Kenneth recovered his passion for writing. He is a science fiction and fantasy author with Inevitable Unicorn Press (InUPress). Kenneth has been blogging with the Owerton Challenge and other blogs. He now writes several serial short stories each month. Kenneth’s two businesses, his wife, his two children, and his six grandchildren keep him busy.
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- Ever Bard, E003, Autumn 50 Bear – 3
- Ever Bard, E005, Autumn 50 Bear – 5