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Library: Bards' Academy

Books

Author: Ryla
Date:Nov 2 1995

Auditorium, 7:30 am.     
 
     Amarth tapped the microphone protruding from the mahogany podium,
and after blowing into it twice whispered, "Is this thing on?"  Deciding it
was indeed on, he cleared his throat and spoke.  "Good morning, future bards,
and welcome to the new Bards' Academy.  As some of you may know, in past
years bardic training has been very loosely organized, with aspiring
songmasters seeking out the more experienced bards wherever they may be in
the lands, and learning from each the song for which he or she is famous.  As
a result of a number of unfortunate incidents, including several young bards
being eaten by monsters while searching for songmasters, and the dwindling
finances of the Bardic College (not to be confused with this institution,
the Bards' Academy), we have decided to attempt training new bards in a more
academic manner.  Here we have gathered together some of the finest
songmasters in the land, who will contribute their wisdom and experience in a
classroom setting to you, tomorrow's bards, who have already contributed
a small tuition to pay for the facilities and expenses.  (Yes, the fee
is nonrefundable and please hold all further questions until I'm finished.)
I would now like to introduce the faculty.
     "With great pleasure, I first introduce Gilian, who will be teaching
songs associated with the campfire and will also be serving as the school
physician."  Amarth stepped to the side of the podium as a light haired 
young man wearing a patchwork cloak stepped to the microphone and smiled
warmly at the assembled bards of tomorrow.
     "Greetings, my friends," said Gilian in a friendly voice.  "For all
the humanoid races, there has always been great power and emotion in the
campfire, the magical flame, which from the start, provided warmth and a
bright circle of safety against the night.  Companionship, safety, romance,
courage...all of these spring from the campfire, and I will teach you how to 
evoke at least some of them with song."  He then smiled at Amarth and
stepped to the back of the platform.
     Amarth stepped back to the microphone and said, "I'd now like to 
introduce Patricia, who is a true master of the less ... controllable
forces of song."
     Patricia took the mike, giving Amarth a dirty look, and said, "The
name is Pat."  Turning her attention to the audience, she continued,
"I'm really thrilled to be here and I'm sure we're going to have some
great times!  I just know we'll have wodnerful student-faculty relations and
my door will almost always be open.  I'm really looking forward to getting
to know the student body..." she concluded with a slow grin as she studied
the people in the audience.  She then tossed the microphone over her 
shoulder to Amarth and walked to stand beside Gilian, who quickly slid a
meter away from her.
     Amarth smoothly caught the microphone and announced, "And now, please
welcome, just from Shadowkeep, the master of martial music, Thor's Axe, 
Hurundir, creator of the powerful War Ensemble!"  The master of martial 
music, complete in full plate armor, stepped to the podium, nodded once to
the assembled students, and walked to stand at the back of the platform, a
few feet from Pat.
     "Thank you for your inspirational speech, Hurundir," said Amarth
dryly.  "Next we have a man who needs no introduction--the legendary
 
Noitulove!"  The hall was suddenly filled with explosive applause as
a tall man dressed in black and red walked to the podium.  He took the
microphone from Amarth and said something that was lost in the din.  He
paused and tried again, with the same result.  He then gave Amarth an
amused smile, shrugged resignedly, and walked to the back of the platform,
grinning at Pat and tossing her a small wave on the way.
     Amarth waited for the applause to abate.  After a few minutes of
waiting in vain, he frowned and signaled for the next instructor to
come over.  The slim, dark haired elf woman nodded and walked over with
a slight smile on her face.  She turned to face the madly applauding
students and played a quiet, soothing melody which was carried over
the hall's sound system.  Slowly the hall quieted and everyone raptly
watched her with soft smiles on their faces.  After a few moments,
she finished her song, smiled and nodded to the students, and walked
to stand near Hurundir.
     Amarth smiled to himself for a few moments and then shook his
head to clear it.  "Ahem," he said.  "I would like to thank Sindyl
for her demonstration of the calming and enchanting influences of
song.  I am sure we can all learn a lot from her.  And now, I'm very
happy to introduce the songmaster of focused destruction, Timillian,
who is just recently returned from an extended vacation."
     Timillian, a slender blond haired human dressed in brown pants
and a green shirt, walked over to Amarth with a big smile on his face.
Finally, after so many years in exile, he was back in civilization and
surrounded by his fellow bards.  On top of that, he was going to have
the chance to speak to all his peers at once and finally let them know
how much he loved them and cared for them.  He took the microphone from
the guildmaster, and joy written all over his face, opened his mouth
to speak to the hall.  Unfortunately, at the first touch of his voice,
the microphone gave a loud pop and every speaker in the hall blew 
simultaneously, each shooting brief fountains of sparks into the air.
Timillian gave a horrified look, dropped the microphone to the floor, and
despondently shuffled to the back of the stage.
     Amarth rested a comforting hand on Timillian's shoulder and spoke a
few quiet words to him before returning to the podium.  Projecting his
well-trained voice into the hall, he spoke to the audience.  "It seems
our sound system has unexpectedly shorted out, so we'll have to do without
it for the rest of the assembly; I'll make it brief.  First, can everybody
hear me?"  Amarth listened to the chorus of "Yes"es and grinned as he heard
a "No!" from the back of the room.
     "Then how do you know what I said?" he called back.
     "What?" responded the same voice.  
     Amarth grumbled and a sour expression replaced his grin.  After clearing
his throat, he continued.  "This is Zord, who has developed songs which
may counter poisons of all sorts," he said, indicating a rather pale elf
with a purplish face.  "Next to him is Hassakiel, master of culinary tunes;
he will be in charge of meals at the Academy."  The culinary master appeared
to be a fair haired elf wearing a luxurious kimono.  "Over there is Zantus,"
he continued, indicating a man who seemed almost to be overflowing with
inner strength.  "And finally, there is Zinbaf, whose tales are long and
many," finished Amarth, his eyes glazing over slightly as he mentioned
Zinbaf's stories.  Zinbaf, who looked like nothing if not a friendly old
wizard complete with long white beard and pointy hat, just smiled affably.
     "Now!" exclaimed Amarth, "breakfast will be served in the dining hall
in half an hour, and after that the first day of classes will begin!"  As
Amarth went to the back of the stage to chat with the other songmasters,
the students rose and filed from the hall in a disorderly manner.
*****
 
Dining Hall, 8:30 am.
 
     Lagmonster sighed and began to trace patterns on the table with his
fingertip.  Walin, who was sitting next to him, clapped him on the shoulder
and said, "Don't worry, breakfast should be ready any minute now.  I can't
wait to see what Hassakiel made--he's supposed to be great!"
     "It's not that...It's just that I have a feeling already that I'm not
going to get along well with my roommate."
     "You just got here last night and already you don't like your roommate?
Who is he?"
     "Kiilgore," said Lagmonster with another sigh.
     "Kiilgore?  What's wrong with him?  I've known him for a while and he
seems like a nice enough fellow."
     "Oh, I'm sure he is!  It's just that he's a ... dabbler."  Walin cocked
his head and gave his dining companion a puzzled look.  "Let me put it this
way," continued Lagmonster.  "You know how he was in the Crimson Brigade
for a time?"  Walin nodded.  "Well, last night when I was coming into our
room, I tripped over his weapon belt and nearly flew out the window!  And
this morning when I was getting up, I almost brained myself on his
navigator sextant he has hanging from his bedpost!  I'm terrified I'm going
to come in after dinner and find him sacrificing a cow on my bed next!"
     Walin threw back his head and laughed.  "Don't let it get you down;
I'm sure you can straighten everything out with a little chat.  After all,
communication is the hallmark of bards."  Suddenly the sound of a triangle
being rung echoed through the dining hall.  The two bards jumped to their
feet and almost ran to get to the serving line before everyone else in the 
hall.  "Come on!" exclaimed Walin, "I want to see what we're getting!"  
     The two bards managed to claim the first two places on line and, mouths
watering, proceeded to the spot where the food was being served.  Walin
peered into the serving dishes and simply gaped.  Lagmonster glanced at his
friend, confused for a moment, and then quickly looked at the trays of food
and the nearby kegs.  "Bread and beer???" he exclaimed.  "For BREAKFAST????"
*****
     
Dining Hall, 8:50 am.
 
     The cluster of novice bards sat at a large round table near the door,
exchanging their first impressions of the Academy.  "Well, it wouldn't be
so bad if we at least had some butter or jam," said one, nudging her barely
touched plate of bread.  "Or at least milk or something other than beer!"
     "Will you forget about the bread and beer already?" cried another.
"I'm sure it was just a mix-up in the kitchen.  What I want to talk about
is the songmasters!  Do you think we'll get to meet them outside of classes?
I can't believe Noitulove himself is here!"
     "I know!  I'd, like, die to find out more about him!  He's, like, so
powerful and, like, totally mysterious," chimed in a valley elf.
     At this moment, Pat, who was about to leave the dining hall stopped and
slowly grinned to herself.  With a quick motion, she slid into an empty seat
at the table, startling the novices.  "So, you want to know more about
Noitulove?" she said, furtively glancing from side to side to make sure no
one else was listening in.  She motioned the bards close and said in a low
voice, "I can tell you a few things about him....."
*****
 
Classroom 2A, 9:00 am.
 
     Zinbaf smiled at the bards sitting attentively at their desks and
proceded to perch on the edge of his larger desk in the front of the room.
"Good morning, my young friends," he said in a warm voice.  "I'd like to
begin today's class with one of my favorite stories.  It was a warm, pleasant
summer, maybe three...no four...no, wait; that's a different story entirely.
Ah, yes...It was a warm summer, twelve or thirteen years ago...My friend
Jonah and I... No, actually, it was Amarth...were going out on a picnic in
the afternoon and... Oh, silly me!  It wasn't Jonah OR Amarth at all--it was
Sindyl!  Anyway, Sindyl and I were... Now, what were we doing?  Ah, yes...
Sindyl and I were going out on a picnic one afternoon... Hmmm, now was that
early or late afternoon?  No, it couldn't have been late afternoon, because
we were rained out that time, so that must have been the week before... So,
we were going out on a picnic in the early afternoon that summer and..."
Zinbaf looked up at the room full of sleeping bards and stopped.  With a 
slight grin and a twinkle in his eye, he whispered, "And when you can stay
awake through one of my stories, you'll be experienced enough to dull
anyone's mind with a few choice phrases," and quietly left the room.
*****
 
Classroom 3B, 10:00 am.
 
     The young bards sat nervously at their desks, awaiting the arrival of
their legendary instructor.  Sweat rolled down the back of one's neck.
One student coughed, nearly sending the rest into a panic.  Finally, the door
opened, and Noitulove calmly strode to his desk at the front of the room.
"Good morning," he said, "I am Noitulove."
     Suddenly the room erupted into a flurry of motion as the students dove
from their chairs and raced for the door in a blind panic.  There were a few
shrieks of terror and moans of fear as the crowd bottlenecked at the door,
but then all the students managed to escape, leaving Noitulove to stare in
bewilderment at the scattered papers and toppled desks.  The master bard
thought for a few moments and then stormed for the door shouting, "Patricia!
I want to have a word with you!"
*****
 
Hallway, 10:50 am.
     
     Frederick walked out of the classroom, numbly staring at the twisted
spectacle frames still containing a few jagged shards of green glass.  "I
can't believe it!" he wailed.  "These were from the Shadowkeep sewers!  I'll
never be able to replace them now that the sewers are closed!"
     Kasi, walking out of the classroom after him shrugged and merely said, 
"I told you not to wear them to Timillian's class."
*****
 
Classroom 3B, 11:00 am.
 
     The young bards sat nervously at their desks, awaiting the arrival of
their legendary instructor.  Sweat rolled down the back of one's neck.
One student coughed, nearly sending the rest into a panic.  Finally, the door
opened, and Noitulove calmly strode to his desk at the front of the room.
"Good morning," he said, "I am Noitulove."
     Suddenly the room erupted into a flurry of motion as the students dove
from their chairs and raced for the door in a blind panic, only to bounce
off the chest of a large man with wild hair and a grin on his face who was
standing in the doorway.  Noitulove continued, unperturbed, "And I'd like
you to meet my teaching assistant, Stringbreaker.  Now, if you'll kindly
return to your seats, we can begin today's lesson."
*****
 
Kitchen, 11:45 am.
 
     Hassakiel sighed and searched through his books of food-producing
songs; he knew breakfast hadn't gone over well.  Dark bread, white bread,
adventurer's ally bread, seven grain bread, pumpernickel bread, whole wheat
bread...He knew it wouldn't be so bad if he at least had something like
almond bread, zucchini bread, lamb-stuffed naan, or even bagel dogs.  He'd
never realized his songs were so specialized!  He sighed again and decided to
check his book of beverage-producing songs.  Maybe it would be all right if
he could make something other than beer.  Light ale, dark ale, honey double
bock, amber ale...  A droplet of sweat slowly worked its way down the
culinary bard's forehead as he reached the end of his second book...
*****
 
Dining Hall, 12:15 pm.
 
     "I'd even settle for a bagel dog!" exclaimed Badi as he threw down his
bread in disgust.  He sighed deeply and tried to forget the meal as he
took a long pull of his beer; at least that was good.  Suddenly he turned
to his dining companions and grinned.  "Guess what!  Pat propositioned me
this morning!" he cried.  Kiilgore, who was sitting next to him nearly choked
on his beer and burst out laughing.  "It's true!" protested Badi, but
Kiilgore just continued to laugh and started to shake his head.  "You're
just jealous," accused Badi.
     Kiilgore clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle further laughter and
finally regained control of himself.  "Oh, I believe you," he said, and then
raised his voice to call to the entire hall, "Hey, how many people here were
propositioned by Pat this morning?"  Badi gaped in disbelief as a third of
the people in the room raised their hands.  Kiilgore turned back to his
companion and grinned, saying, "So you see, it's no big deal if..."
     Suddenly he stopped speaking and turned bright red as Pat herself
walked past the table.  She smirked at the embarrassed bard and then called
to the hall, "Enjoy your lunch, everyone.  Just so you know, I have tons of
Chinese food back at my rooms, and anyone is *welcome* to join me."  Then
with a wink and a whispered comment in Kiilgore's ear which made him blush
even more, she exited the room.
*****
 
Headmaster's office, 2:45 pm.
 
     Amarth sat down behind his large mahogany desk and looked at the bard
sitting in the chair before him.  "Hello, Ryla.  Getting an early start on  
trouble, are we?" he said.  "First, I can understand your unhappiness with
the dining service so far; personally, I'm not thrilled about the bread
and beer, myself.  However, that is no excuse for telling Zord that his
presence is urgently required at the dining hall.  Second, your figurine
has been removed from the room of melodies.  While I must admit it was
a rather flattering likeness of me, I now have to figure out how to deal
with this note from Elvanshalee thanking me for listening with such a
sympathetic ear last night and asking me if I have any advice on the
matter we discussed!"  Amarth looked at the note in question for a moment
and frowned.  "Now, since this IS the first day, I think a warning and
confiscation of your figurine is sufficient.  Close the door on your way
out and please TRY to stay out of trouble for the rest of the day."
*****
 
Hallway, 3:50 pm.
   
   Bards flattened themselves against walls as a mob of roaring students
charged out of a classroom and ran down the hall to disappear around a
corner.  Ralin peered into the room the pack had originated from and turned
to the bewildered bards still in the hall.  "War ensemble," she explained.
*****
 
Kitchen, 6:30 pm.
 
     Hassakiel watched the barred door anxiously and waited for a sign
of the bards' reaction to dinner.  He'd managed to find a few jars of
mustard and placed them on the tables, but he wasn't sure if it was enough.
As if in answer to his thoughts, the sign came in the form of an angry,
bestial roar from the dining hall, immediately followed by loud pounding on
the kitchen door.  The elven bard steeled himself and sent out a desperate
psychic call, asking for immediate help, "Ugly Joe's?  I need an emergency
delivery to the Bards Academy NOW!"
*****
 
Inn of Four Winds, Common Room, 8:45 pm.
 
     Endek smiled contentedly to see all the bards filling the tables in
the room.  They certainly did seem to be ordering a lot of food; he'd
thought meals were included in the Academy tuition...  But, no matter;
here was an unrivaled chance to start a singalong with a room packed with
bards, and even some songmasters!  "Hey, everybody!" he cried, "let's have
a singalong!!!"  And with that, he picked up his lute and began to play and
sing.  Soon everyone was starting to join in with their own favorite songs
and words.
     "This is a sing-a-long, along, along, along he-hey hey-jeah!"
     "War is TOTAL massacre, sport the war, war SUPPOORT!!!"
     "III want to ROAR, III want to SLAM, III want to bash..."
     "Thar! Rauko! Mor! Ris-Rim! Fuin-Heru! GOR! Gurthgwath!"
     "Augh!!  Get Pat and Noitulove out of here!!!"
*****
 
Infirmary, 8:55 pm.
 
     Gilian stood up in shock as the room started to fill with people
with various degrees of injury.  "What happened?!" he cried.  "Fire?
Clones?  Earthquake?"
     One of the wounded bards clutched Gilian's shirt at the shoulder and
gasped in his ear, "Sing...along..."
*****
 
Student Rooms, 11:00 pm.
 
     
      Pat walked down the hallway in the student quarters, and coming to an
open doorway spilling light into the hall, decided to walk in.  Inside the
room was a young bard sitting at her desk and writing furiously.  "Hello
there," said Pat, walking up behind her and resting a hand on her shoulder.
"You're Ryla, aren't you?  I remember you bringing Zord to the dining hall
during lunch."  Pat grinned and peered over Ryla's shoulder.  "What's that
you're writing?"
     "It's my story for the Institute of Entertainment," answered Ryla.
     Pat peered at the already finished pages on the desk and frowned.
"Well, you'll have to end it; the guidelines say one to four pages and you're
already on page five."
     "End it?!  But I haven't even established a plot or developed most of
the characters!"
     Pat rapped the young bard on the head and said, "Look, Wordsworth, the
reason these things have to be short is because all of us songmasters have
to read them, and if I have to read a story any longer than this, I'll go
frickin' crazy!!"  Pat smiled and brought her other hand to Ryla's other
shoulder and continued in a smooth voice, "Now...since you're done with
that, maybe we can find--Damn it, you're still writing!!!  I swear!  If you
write one more word, I'll
 
[Note:  The text seems to end here -- Hosky]
 
Comments:
 
An interesting idea, but it doesn't really follow a standard story
  format.  I'm not sure we should pass her -- Hassakiel
 
It's not bad, though.  And remember, if we don't pass her, she'll be
  hanging around HERE for gods know HOW long -- Hosky
 
So what if it's not a standard story?  If bards can't be unconventional,
  who can be?  I say pass her -- Sindyl
 
[See attached pages] -- Zinbaf
 
I think it's pretty good, but I see what you mean, Hassakiel.  What do you
  think, Pat -- Noitulove
 
She's quite good and really knows what she's doing.  I'd give her an A -- Pat
 
I was talking about the story. *smirk* -- Noitulove
 
Oh.  It's long, but I say pass her anyway. -- Pat again
 
You idiots!  You've been writing on the library copy!! -- Amarth Shadowstring


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