Bardic Lore: Minstrel

by Rose Quill


Untouched, unseen,
Forever and ever green.
The fields of Evenmarch lay bare.

And rain, and sun,
And clouds unending run,
O’er the little cottage there.

O! why did she roam,
And why never home,
Did the mare ever turn her hooves?

O! why did she never
Turn her hooves for home?

I closed my eyes and lowered my head as the final chord on the guitar fell silent. I heard a few sniffles from the crowd. I waited another moment before raising my eyes, tossing my shaggy mane out of my face. I kept meaning to get it trimmed, but something always came up.

“Thank you,” I said, settling the guitar behind me on a stand. “That one is a particular favorite of mine, despite its sad note.” I glanced out the window, judging the sun’s position. “I believe we have time for one more song before we have to part ways for the time being. Any particular ones you want to hear?”

I heard many good choices called out, from The Beggarcolt to Wild Rover. I was about to start the ridiculous intro to Beggarcolt when I felt a soft touch on my shoulder. I turned to see River standing next to me, an eager smile on her face.

“Are you sure of this, sprout?” I whispered. She nodded with surety.

“Well, it seems we’ve an unexpected guest,” I said, putting a hoof on my daughter’s shoulders. “This wee lass here wants to give it a go, and I can’t say no to her. Give River here a proper greeting, what say?”

She blushed as the applause rolled in. She dipped her head and slowly began singing.

O the summertime is come
And the tree’s are sweetly bloomin’
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather

I smiled and joined her as the chorus came on.

Will ye go, lassie, go?
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the bloomin’ heather
Will ye go, lassie, go?

I lifted my guitar and started a soft pattern behind my filly's voice, careful not to obscure it under the music. She was a little quiet, but her voice was sure on the notes and her confidence grew as she went on.

I will build my love a bower
By yon cool crystal fountain.
And around it I will pile
All the wild flowers o’ the mountain

Will ye go, lassie, go?

This time, I heard several voices rise up in the crowd to join us. Looking back, I could pick out Gleam’s massive frame, along with a few guards from his unit. They knew the songs as well as I did, and when River saw him, she grinned broadly and stood a littler straighter.

I will range through the wilds
And the deep glen sae dreamy
And return wi’ their spoils
Tae the bower o’ my dearie

Most of the crowd joined in with us, but right then, in that moment, I knew the only voices that River could hear beyond her own were that of mine and Gleam.

I ruffled the fillies mane as I pulled the blanket up around her shoulders, her sleeping face as sweet as I could imagine. I left softly, pulling the door to and turning to see Gleam setting our battered old kettle on the stove.

“She go down ok?” he asked, keeping his voice soft.

“Oh, aye,” I said, walking over and nuzzling his neck. “A perfect angel, that one.”

“She certainly sings like one,” he smiled down at me. “Going to train her right and proper?”

I shook my head. “I’ll not force her to follow my hoofsteps iffen she doesn’t wish to,” I said. “She’s more about the stories than the presentation, she is.”

Gleam nodded, picking the kettle from the stove as steam started to come from the spout, keeping it’s singing from waking the slumbering filly.

“So, what’s next for my elegant singer?” he said after he poured the steaming water into a pair of teacups. “A cross-Equestrian tour with your family?”

I shook my head. “I’m thinking that I’m ready to stay home a pace,” I said, glancing at the door to where my daughter slept. “Maybe for longern’ normal this time. She could use some kind o’ stability.”

“Fluttershy was happy to watch her when we left to get the adoption papers finalized,” he said. “If you get the urge to go off wandering again…”

I put a hoof across his muzzle, a soft smile on my face.

“I appreciate the offer, sweetheart,” I said, lighting my horn and brushing a stray lock of his mane back. “But this is something that I’ve been wantin’ a long time now. You know that full well. I think takin’ a wee bit of time off and being a proper Mum would be enough adventure for me right now.”

He smiled.

“I understand,” he said, leaning forward and kissing me just below my horn, a few shivers passing down my spine.

That night, I slept just like the tan-coated filly in the room next to me.