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Tea with a wanderer

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Amy Gregory

Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 297
Location: Derbyshire

PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:12 pm    Post subject: Tea with a wanderer Reply with quote

The autumn leaves drifted to the ground outside a delicate window casement. Inside, a meagre fire burned it's very best, taking the chill out of a simple, but pleasantly furnished room.

In the room sat Barney, the official unofficial head of the Bards College, in the act of gently stirring a delicate china cup of sweet tea. "Please help yourselves to cream and sugar," she remarked to the elegant couple sat across from her. "We stand on no ceremony here." She smiled earnestly at the Usagi, both clad in fine garments, one black, one blue.

Lady Usagi delicately picked up the tongs and transferred a lump of sugar to her tea, before pouring in a small amount of cream, and gracefully stirring the cup with a small spoon, which she tapped thrice upon the rim before laying it upon the saucer. Her expression meek and open she sat primly upon the threadbare but plush divan, a scorch mark still prevalent on one of its wooden legs. "I must thank you for agreeing to meet with my husband and I. Your hospitality is greatly appreciated."

"Truth be told Lord and Lady Usagi, you owe this more to WB than me. I esteem him quite highly and he asked me to make sure I'd be in for visitors. Without his word I'd've likely have been travelling and harder to come by. He flatters me by calling me the head of this college, however it's rare that I have to do much as part of the role. Well, until..." Barney gestures a green sleeve sadly at some of the obvious damage to the room, including a dislodged brick by the fireplace and boarded panel in one of the smaller windows."

"I had heard the news of what had happened and it is of this I wish to speak. " Replied Lady Usagi. "We have not known each other long, so perhaps I should explain...I am also a traveller and wherever I may go I am blessed with the charge of protecting stories where I can. I-"

"I am - sorry for interrupting my Lady - I am honoured, you are the one chosen by the White Tiger, in't that right?! " Barney interjected excitedly. "I didn't know of your connection or Lord Usagi's one at that! I'm so pleased that there's someone else with an interest in protecting stories!"

"Is it, that obvious?"

"Forgive me, I just assumed, I mean, what with the ears and everything, and I know a tiny bit of the Bardic culture of most nations, I hope I haven't offended you?"

Lady Usagi smiled primly; a perfect picture of poise she sipped her tea to hide the bashful blush that momentarily rose in her cheeks. "No, Barney Sama, I am not offended. I am curious as to your, how you say, motive? for protecting the stories, as they seem to have caused harm to you and yours, I am unclear on your design."

Surprise flickered across Barney's face for a moment, before a resigned nod."I guess so. I have lived my life working alongside story and song, eeking out a feeble living and getting by in hedgerows and tavern stables. I did it then, as I do now, because I am good at it and I love stories and music. I've always honoured them as best as I could. I fear that a rogue story, one I dare not name here, has coerced some down a darker path, twisted their minds, their purpose. I believe this rogue was the catalyst for the unrest, causing a war which neither side could truly win.

Barney looked truly forlorn. "It is difficult, not being a story, to have seen the damage they caused to all that we mere mortals built, the lives lost or ruined, to hear the other Bards whisper about not being on the right side. But I can't forsake the stories that still may want peace, I have to hope for the sake of everyone that peace can be found and that the rogue can be stopped. That a-a broken teapot can be repaired again."

In the silence you could hear a pin drop, the cracking of a teapot.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sound of a broken silence always carries further than one would think.

Lord Usagi carefully inspected the suddenly broken teapot, using a serviette to mop up the spilled tea he gradually gathered the fractured pieces into a small pile all the while talking while he arranged them.

“Are you well? I hope none spilled on you?”

Satisfied that no pieces were missing Lord Usagi continued to arrange the small and larger fractures.
Toying for which ones might fit where.

“There is an art I'm sure you're already familiar with called Kintsukuroi that seems most appropriate here, it means golden repair and carries with it a most interesting philosophy, Indeed a broken teapot can be repaired again an engaging puzzle in and of itself when the pieces start to come together however in Kintsukuroi we join the pieces together with gold, as to not hide the cracks and flaws but to highlight and celebrate them, just because something was broken does not mean it cannot be made beautiful, if not more beautiful than it was before. Time has a way of introducing flaws into pretty much anything, accept and grow with it.”

“Hmm, I already appear to be getting distracted, my apologies.”

“I agree it would be amiss to forsake any of the stories, even the tallest of tales, or quietest whispers are still part of someone or someplace, told or untold.”
“My wife is much wiser in the ways of these things than I, but I do wonder where we could be of assistance in helping piece together a solution.”
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Amy Gregory

Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 297
Location: Derbyshire

PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barney watched Lord Usagi examining the teapot, a mixture of surprise and concern on her face. "Please be careful that you do not catch your fingers on the sharp edges...let me get some more tea."She walked and opened a door out of the room, her gait betraying the agitation on her mind. " 'Ere John, be a love and fetch us another pot of tea please? And a box and some clean rags."

Lady Usagi looked her husband with a slight smile, whilst Barney was preoccupied she leaned over and whispered into one of his large soft ears "Heart's Desire, let us watch what Barney-Sama does next, I think her actions will show us what we needed to know."

Barney returned to the table and looked at the fractured pieces of the teapot. She smiled brightly "Alas, I have no gold on me at the moment, even if I did I doubt I'd have the skill to fix something like this." She picked up the piece that contained the handle, mercifully intact. "I imagine this would be the hardest bit to mend, so it is good that it is not completely broken, and at least it's a part I recognise."

The door opened and a man dressed in brightly coloured clothes including a foppish hat with a feather on it entered holding a small wooden crate. "Hey Barney, this about the right size? Didn't have much in the way of clean rags but I got a couple of handfuls of clean straw in there for you."

"Oh that will be great, thanks John!" Barney swept over to him and scooped the box out of his unresisting hands. John looked from Barney to the Usagi, who smiled and inclined their heads in tandem. " I'll go and see to that tea for your visitors." He stuttered, trying not to stare as he backed out the room.

"He's a good lad," Barney said as she set the box on the floor next to the table." Sorry if he was a bit odd, we don't get many, uhm, beastkin in here, and what with the ears, he probably got a bit confused. Lots of our newer intake will want to ask you so many questions as you'll be unusual to them. Sorry."

Usagi watched as Barney spread the straw in the bottom of the box carefully and heaped the clean rags on to the floor beside her. She started winding the bits of old cloth around the larger fragments of teapot , the smaller ones being 'bagged' together in another bit of cloth and carefully placed in the box. When John returned with the tea she had almost finished packing the remains of the old teapot into the crate.

"Thanks John, much appreciated. Just had a small accident is all, can't let our friends go without another cup of tea." Barney explained. " You want one whilst you're here?" John shook his head, "I need to go practise my punch lines; Jaren says I won't get better without practise."

"Okay, mind how you go."

Once they were alone again, Barney looked at the last two pieces of the teapot left on the table. "I think this is the lid. I'd like for you to have the teapot, as a gift, including the puzzle of putting it back together. I'll keep the lid, and find my own way of mending it and then when both pot and lid are fixed we can make it whole again and it will be a nice tale to tell others some day."

As Barney sat back down and refilled the teacups, Lady Usagi smiled contentedly. It was clear that she had found what she was looking for.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seeing the smile on his wife's face Usagi went to go inspect the boxes contents once more.

“Thank you for the kind gifts Barny-sama, hopefully with a bit of work maybe we'll both be able to make it better than it was before and put it all back together, though it will never be the same teapot again.”

Satisfied Usagi sat back down and added some sugar and a bit cream to his fresh cup of tea, stirring diligently.

“It does seem like you've attracted a fine selection of people to this place, We were actually planning on staying for a few extra days with your permission, meet the people, maybe peruse the library you've put together here, perhaps spend some time at the inn and see the training performances and acts being put together, I'm sure we could make a good audience for them maybe see how Johns punchlines have come along.”
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And so the days past all too swiftly with the two Usagi making their presence felt at the bardic college each in their unique own way. They would answer the questions of the younger bards to be though would leave them with more than what they started with, they would spend evenings in the taverns watching the rehearsals and performers bring a show to life, neither being too easy or too hard to please with a performance, they would dance together often when a song called for it or lend a voice to sing when a bard called upon their audience to join in. Sometimes they could be seen walking the library looking for things of interest and other times in the nearby distance meditating near the trees seemingly alone with each other but most definitely not alone to those that knew how to see.
All too soon they were gone and for a place that trains entertainers, songwriters, storytellers, and poets, it was that bit quieter that night.

As Barney returned to her office having said her farewells and making her own preparations for her own journey soon to be had, a scroll and a letter were awaiting her on her desk. Picking up the letter she cracked open the wax seal and examined the letters contents.

Our dearest thanks Barney-Sama

It had been long since the two of us have had the chance to spend time together in such a wonderful and wondrous place you and yours have built and we are most grateful to you for hosting us these past few days.
Still, the road calls us and travel again we must until our paths must part and cross once again, yet it would be amiss of us to not leave something behind for you.
So we put our heads together, thought hard and pulled something we thought you would enjoy out of the edge of our memory, a tale rarely told by the kami, we heard it from Black Tortoise once when he invited us to spend a few days with him at his home, it was difficult to translate for it was a very different time and a nearly forgotten language but now it is our gift to you.

Our Deepest Regards.
Until we meet again.

Placing the neatly written letter down and taking a seat, Barney prepared a fresh cup of tea and began to unroll the mysterious scroll her two strange visitors had left her.

A Tale rarely Told.

Once a long time ago in a very different age, in a land few would know and fewer would recognize, there were two creatures, one a being of water born from the rains of a passing storm, the other a being of fire born from the spark of lightning that had struck the earth.
They lived in a vast empty land that they travelled endlessly together, for no other reason than to move as they willed, one of them spoke the tongue of the moon, the other spoke the tongue of the sun, but it didn't matter they knew how to make themselves known to the other, how to communicate without the bonds of language, they would travel far and wide never meeting another soul, always just the two of them, at night they would dance to entertain the other, or change into many shapes to amuse, sometimes they would run alongside each other to see how fast they could go, never willing to let the other win but also never willing to let the other lose, never far apart. For so long they travelled together, how long? I doubt anyone could say, a journey is as long as a journey is yet all journeys one day come to an end.
One day in the vast land the two looked at each other to try something new, they outstretched their hands and each knew the intention of the other, for so long they have travelled together they had never walked hand in hand and though they knew it would hurt for one of fire to hold the hand of one of water yet it was something they were willing to endure to be closer to the other.

Yet just as their hands grew closer, something happened, something different, something horrible, the vast land shook, the ground cracked open and a vast terrible beast erupted from the earth, a leviathan of metal a monster larger than any creature has a right to be, emerged from the depths in a horrifying display of power it stood towering over the two, then something worse happened, for the creature of water fled thinking the other followed but the one of fire stood to face the metal beast thinking the other stood with them, the behemoth did not care and did not notice them, it strode forth free from its confines beneath the earthy crust, simply stepping over the creature of fire and making its way towards where ever it willed but in its uncaring steps the being of water was caught, and crushed by the terrible monster as it strode ever forward.

The creature of fire rushed as fast as it could, desperate to help but there was nothing it could do, it could not save that one most precious to it, the creature of water barely moving looked upon the fiery being one last time outstretching its hand but failing to touch the other as it faded into vapour and mist.
The one dearest to it gone, the shock of what had happened in such a bare instant set into the creature of fire and it changed, rage, pure rage, the very heart of fury the very purest anger the land had ever felt or will ever feel, well beyond anything as petty as hate, well beyond anything at all in its purity. The creature of fire looked at the colossal beast as it strode forward not even noticing what its careless footsteps had done and so the one of fire leapt into the sky, the very ground itself breaking apart at such power and like the lightning bolt from which it was born it struck the leviathan with a blow that others still feel the echoes of today, marked in time and etched, cataclysmic and focused unlike anything the world will ever see again, the creature of fire did the impossible and shattered the metal monster, destroying itself in the process.

But in this desolation and despair the story does not end for in the vast destruction and debris of the beast, it still lived, clawing to life a bare metal skeleton of what it once was emerged from the destruction and flames, unwilling to die, it would not allow itself to die, it refused, a tenacity to live, a will to live a need to live, it crawled forward, ever forward on its hand and knees amongst the flames. Yet still this story does not end, for as the metal skeleton inched weakly so weakly forward bit by bit, the direction of the flames changed and moved against the wind, the flames enveloped and embraced the creature and changed, forming muscle and sinew, flesh and meat upon the skeleton, raw and exposed yet strong and powerful, the creature no longer shook, it was in pain, so much pain, yet it was a focus, a new clarity, a new thought, where the monster once had metal orbs for eyes such had melted away and a bright light shone from deep within took there places, looking upon the world anew, the creature cried in its pain. Still yet the story does not end for as the creature struggled forth clouds had formed far above the devastation and rain had begun to fall, perhaps the sky was crying for what had happened, no it was something different for as the rain fell it began to cover the raw exposed creature and sooth its agony while much water fell some of it clung to the creature, coating it, changing with it, forming scales, brilliant and beautiful, subtle and flexible, yet as strong and tough as ice, the pain of the creature faded but its clarity did not for it had changed as had many things but it was itself and so, so much more, it was comforted, embraced, complete.

Once more the creature looked up and saw the vast world before it, then leaped into the sky flying forwards towards whatever it willed for the sake that it could.

Alight with new will.
Together in a vast world.
The future awaits.

The End
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