Bardic Lore: Minstrel

by Rose Quill

Archives of Adventure

I reached over and poked the filly, getting her attention. “It’s time, sprout.”

We rose and gave a bow as Princess Twilight entered the room, her wings tucked in close and her head unadorned. I took that as a positive sign, meaning this was a more informal meeting.

“What can I do for you today, Azure?” the lavender Alicorn asked, smiling down to River.

“I’m in the mind for addin’ to my repertoire of stories,” I said. “And I always like to get an audience reaction to a story before I commit a story t’ memory.”

“Well, you’ve come to the right place,” Twilight said, turning and leading the way, a spring in her step. “I’ve got books of all kinds of stories in here, from modern fiction to old legends and folk tales.” She led us into one of the libraries that the castle held, one smaller and filled with the smell of paper and old books.

I smiled as River stepped slowly forward, gazing at the books in awe, a tiny bit of hunger in her eye.

“Someone has the bug,” Twilight commented, sharing my smile. She motioned me to the side as the filly walked around, eagerly looking at all the titles on the spines of the tomes contained within the room.

“You are welcome to bring her by anytime,” she whispered. “You provided half of these books during your travels, as you well know.”

I nodded. “She has a love of the stories,” I said. “The least I can do is give her the chance to explore and find what she likes.”

The Princess smiled. “Thinking she might want to follow into your profession?”

I shrugged. “At the very least, discover something she could enjoy and provide her with a method of relaxin’ that is of her choosing,” I said. “Rathern’ followin’ some expectation that I unwittingly placed.” I looked at the filly as she came trotting back over.

“This place has got to have thousands of stories!” she whispered, almost prancing in place. “I can’t wait to hear them all!”

I reached over and ruffled her mane. It was getting to where it could stand a trim again, growing out from the patchy, ragged mop she had when she moved in. Long enough where I might have to brush up on how to tend to a longer mane. I kept mine relatively short and simply styled out of habit.

“Well, sprout,” I said, leaning in to rub noses with her. “The Princess here has generously offered to let us come over as oft needed to learn new tales of daring and courage and harrowing frights.” I leveled a look at her, mischief in my eyes. “Are you thinking you’re for that, are you love?”

She set her face in a solemn look, nodding once before the smile broke free and she spun to look at the crystal shelves again.

“That’s quite a load, hon,” Gleam said as he doffed his helm and ambled over to the cupboard for a mug. “Are you sure you aren’t pushing her?”

I raised an eyebrow and stared at him with a tired look. “I had to set a limit on how many we could bring home,” I said with a look that combined pleasure and fatigue. “That lass is insatiable! I’d like to have spent the entire evening there had I not promised her her favorite dinner.”

“Maybe she’ll grow up to be an author,” Gleam said, coming over to nuzzle me. “Or an archivist.”

“Or a pile o’ dust in a library shelf,” I huffed. “I never thought there were so many stories out there. I read five of them to hear her joy just before you got home.”

He smiled that smug and cocksure grin that I normally loved on him.

“What?” I growled good-naturedly.

“You knew what you were getting into,” he started. “And you can’t pretend that you didn’t enjoy yourself in some way. You may have decided to take time to be a stay-at-home mom for now, but at your heart, you're always going to be a bard, and you yearn for new stories and new tales.” He looked at the stack of books on the table, smiling. “You just have to learn some self-discipline and not let her wrap you around her hoof.” He came in close again.

“I canno’ help it,” I said. “She lost so much, I can’t help but want to give her what I can.” I turned my face into his shoulder, making sure my horn didn’t poke him in the neck should he move. “Maybe even make up for how hard her life has been.”

“Her life, or yours?” he whispered in my ear before heading to our room to remove his armor.

I watched the young filly sleep, thinking. Was it what I wanted to give her, or what I wished I had been given when I was her age?

She shifted in her sleep, her face taking on a look of worry, her sleep turning restless and a few whimpers slipped free. I went over and nuzzled her, humming out her favorite lullaby.

Over in Killmarey, many years ago
My mother sang a song to me in tones so sweet and low,
Just a simple little ditty, in her good old Mareish way
And I’d give the world if she could sing that song to me this day

Hush now, don’t you cry!
That’s a Mareish lullaby.

She stopped whipering, seeming to drift back into a restful sleep. I smoothed back some of her bangs with my cerulean magic, smiling at the face.

To Tartarus with doubts for tonight. We’d talk about boundaries and expectations tomorrow. I climbed up onto the bed with her and let my body warm the space next to her, her face turning up in a smile.

As long as she was safe and happy, that was all that mattered to me.