Night fell as I wandered through the streets. I needed a place to sleep. Badly.
I had been on the road for weeks, and I was certainly feeling it. It had been a rough day for sure, my money was getting low, and I was starting to get worried. I had only been side-tracked in Konne for a few days, but the trail had already gone dead. How could such a large and destructive force of barbarians just vanish like that?
I could only hope that she was still alright. I cursed myself for letting them get away as I slammed my fist into a wall. But even that seemed half-hearted. I was just too tired…
“Everything alright over there, good sir?” a voice called out from behind me. I turned around in shock and saw a short, thin man sitting across the street from me, his back to the wall. I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed him until he spoke; he was certainly not a common figure. He wore a sparkling blue outfit, with a massive blue hat and blue leather boots. His eyes were lined with blue make-up, as were his lips, and even his hair had been dyed a deep azure. It seemed as though only his eyes remained untouched by the color blue, instead exhibiting a dark brown color. In his lap, he strummed a small, four-stringed lute-like instrument, which was, of course, blue.
“No…” I admitted sadly.
“Well, things haven’t been going so great for me either, friend,” he chuckled. “Care to sit with me? I have been told that misery loves company, after all,” he patted the sidewalk, indicating a seat next to him. I don’t why, but for some reason I ended up taking his offer. Maybe I had just needed somebody to talk to.
“There we go!” he said happily. “I am the Blue Bard, though some know me as Julian Barowitz,” he strummed a chord on his instrument to emphasize his epithet. “And you would be?”
“Varen Castellos,” I said. “So, what’s your story?” I asked him. He shook his head and smiled sadly.
“Ah, where to start my good man? I was laughed out of my gig at the Broken Bottle, I can’t write a song, my fiancé slept with my biggest rival, the Maroon Minstrel! Then she kicked me out of my own home onto the streets, and she won’t let me back in! Not just that, but the Maroon Minstrel stole my theme on purpose! Now he’s calling himself the Cyan Siren, that bastard! I had the color blue first, but he stole it! I mean really-” he kept getting more and more agitated as he went on, only to be interrupted by a growl from his stomach.
“Oh dear! Do excuse me!” he chuckled awkwardly.
“How long has it been since you’ve eaten, Julian?” I asked, alarmed.
“Oh no need to worry! It’s only been but a few days!” he tried to laugh it off, only to be met once again by his stomach’s protestations.
“Come on,” I said as I stood. “Let’s get you some food. You’ve been having such a bad time lately, it’s the least I could do,” To my surprise, he started to get choked up. I swore I could see him starting to cry.
“That is the most kind thing anyone has said to me in such a long time!” he sobbed as I helped him up. “You are a saint! An angel! Truly a paragon of goodness and compassion!”
I was starting to get embarrassed. People passing by were starting to stare. I ushered him out of the street, looking to find some place to get him some food. It wasn’t long before he stopped crying and started to jabber on again, but I was so tired that I didn’t really hear most of it. Eventually, we found a small little restaurant, where the Blue Bard proceeded to order practically everything on the menu. As he ate, he continued to talk and talk and talk. After a while, he finally asked me a question.
“Oh goodness! I almost forgot, Varen!” he said between mouthfuls of food. “Why are you so unhappy? I had become so enthralled by my stroke of good fortune that I completely forgot to indulge you, my benefactor! Please, do tell!”
“Well,” I said. “My friend Natalia has been kidnapped by the Crownbreakers,” his jaw dropped. “And I’ve been trying to find her for weeks now, but I just can’t find them anywhere! I’m just hoping that she’s okay… That she’s still alive…”
“By the gods!” Julian exclaimed. “How long have you known her?”
“Twelve years,” I said. “Since we were six,”
“BY THE GODS!” he practically shouted in excitement. “Is she beautiful?” He continued to question me about Natalia, about my life, and about my quest, and for some reason, I continued to answer. This seemed to go on and on, until finally, Julian had run out of questions.
“Varen, my dear fellow!” he said once the last question had been answered. “You have given me much inspiration this night! Your story is truly magnificent, and as such, it must be shared with the masses! They must learn of your glorious tale, and I will be the one to educate them! I shall create my masterpiece, my magnum opus, my tour de force, if you will, around this story! Please, my dear friend, allow me to use your tale! I know it will help to take me out of this wretched state of existence!”
“Sure,” I said. If it really would end up helping him, I couldn’t see the harm in letting him tell my story. It’s not like I had some pressing use for it. I just couldn’t see people getting that interested in it, though of course I wouldn’t tell him that.
“Varen, you are truly the greatest! Even the celestials must envy your goodness!” he kissed both my cheeks, crying tears of joy. Once again, people were starting to look.
“To thank you for your kindness, I have a little information that may help you find Natalia! You see, legend has it that deep within the Crystal Cairns of the Edinar Mire, there lies a unique crystal containing the soul of the Soothsayer Iara! They say that she told a truth that was so powerful and frightening to her king that he had her soul trapped within a crystal as punishment! But if one can find her, she will answer any question asked to her with perfect truth! Perhaps she could lead you to Natalia!”
“Thank you for your assistance,” I smiled at him. I had never heard of Edinar Mire, nor the Crystal Cairns, but it was my only lead. If I were to find Natalia, I would have to use every resource available to me.
“But I must go at once!” Julian interrupted my train of thought. “I need to find a quiet place to write while the inspiration of your story is still fresh! Thank you for everything, my wonderful friend!” And with that, he bolted out of the store, plucking furiously at his strange little instrument.
I ended up spending what was left of my money on his meal, but for some reason, that didn’t bother me. I had helped a starving man, if only for one night, and hopefully, I had given him some way to escape his sadness and actually make his way in the world. If I had faith in Natalia being alive, why couldn’t I have a little faith in his success?
Now if only I could have that much faith in myself…