• Published 2nd May 2017
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Bardic Lore: Minstrel - Rose Quill



Azure goes on tour, and River tags along

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The Minstrel Mare

The minstrel colt to the war has gone
In the ranks of death, you will find him.
His father’s sword he hath girded on
And his wild harp slung behind him.

“Land of song” cried the warrior bard
Tho all the world betrays thee
One sword at least thy rights shall guard
One faithful harp shall paise thee.

My magic forced air through my flute, the haunting sound that went so well with this particular air. I saw a few tears in the audience, the mark of a well-done show. I saw River sitting on her stool just off to the side, her eyes rapt with interest.

The minstrel fell but the foeman’s chains
Could not drag his proud soul under.
The harp he loved na’er spoke again
For her tore its chords asunder.

And said “No chains will sully thee,
O soul of love and bravery!
Thy songs were meant for the pure and free…..

They will never sound in slavery!

I snapped my flute upright bowing as the crowd broke into applause. I smiled and thanked them before stepping down from the stage, getting an excited nuzzle from the small filly that I was proud to call my daughter.

“That was so cool, Ma,” she said. I grinned as I heard the slight lilt to her voice, recognizing the slight bit of the brogue that was making its way into her speech.

“Thanks, sprout,” I said as we made our way to our room. We here in the Crystal Empire while Gleam Star had been on rotation here again. We had come up for a weekend to celebrate his birthday and to spend some time together, just us two mares.

“But, what happened to the colt from the song, Ma?” she asked.

“Hmm?” I said, settling my flute down on the dresser. “Oh, I’m not sure, actually. I learned that song long ago when I was about your age, and it’s a lot older than I am at that.”

Her face fell. “Someone should remember him," she said.

“Oh, aye,” I said. “And they do, through the song, sprout. Otherwise, how would we have known he existed?” I flashed her my grin. “Mayhap he came back from the war and told his stories, married some fine young filly and raised a family? Maybe this was a friends way of remembering a lost comrade? Who knows, little one, who knows?”

She nodded. “I guess I see,” she said after a few minutes. “Do you know any other songs like that?”

I nodded. “A sure as Celestia raises the sun,” I said. “You’ll hear some more tonight at the evening show. Maybe I can get you up to sing along with me this time?”

She blushed at that. I had heard her singing in the yard back home and found her voice pretty and clear, though her confidence was a bit lacking. All she needed was that one little push.

“Tonight’s your show, Ma,” she said, backpedaling. “I don’t want to get in the way.”

“Ah,” I said. “What if I chose a song you know well? Say, the lullaby?”

She pawed at the floor.

“Or maybe something else?” I prompted with a soft voice.

She made to speak and then hesitated.

“Go on, then, sprout,” I said, smiling. “What do you want to breathe to life?”

“Raglan Row,” she whispered, blushing fiercely.

I smiled in appreciation. “That’s a fine tune, sprout, a fine one indeed.” I put a foreleg around her withers. “Now, I’ll not force you up there, not if you don’t want to sing. But maybe we can work up to it?”

She nodded.

I ruffled her mane. “That’s my girl,” I said. “Now, I’m for a nap before the nighttime showing and I think you could stand one yourself.”

She was asleep before I finished tucking her in. I smiled and kissed the top of her head before climbing into my own bed.


I plucked at the string of the guitar in my aura, tuning it slightly as River finished her dinner.

“So, sprout,” I start, seeing her grin at the nickname. “What’s it going to be? Am I still going to be a solo act tonight?”

Her coat makes it hard to see her blush but she sure did. “I might,” she hedged. “I’m nervous about it.”

“You know the best way to deal with the nerves?” I asked. When she shook her head, I leaned in close. “Pretend the room is empty. Iffin you believe you’re on your own, you’re suren to be less a flitter inside.” I smiled. “But you shan't have to if you don’t wish to.”

She followed me downstairs, taking her spot on a stool off to the side of the raised platform I performed on.

“Fillies and gentlecolts, I thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives and giving this humble mare your attention,” I said, giving a short bow. “Now that’s enough blathering on, how’s about we start off with a rousing little number from your own empire?”

I started strumming a strident, deep chord, giving a driving purpose to the anthem.

I was born in a country where ponies admire
Their great sporting heroes and how they aspire
To stand upon mountains and always be winners
And never give less than their all

I once met an old mare who told me great stories
Of legends of old who played hard for the glory
Of lifting the cup in that moment of triumph
Those memories kept me enthralled

I was mildly surprised at the number of voices I heard join in with me. I hadn’t realized the popularity of this particular song. I grinned and kept going into the next verse.

Supporting their team with a true sense of place
Are the handfuls of ponies with pride on their faces
They come from the townlands, the parish, the village
Their banners they proudly unfurl.

An anthem of hope is the song they are singing
The whistle, it sounds and the game, it begins
And the roar of the crowd it echoes to the heavens
It sends out a clarion call!

To the fields, the fields of glory
To the fields where dreams they send
To the fields, the fields, of glory
May the best team win! Win in the end.

A good crowd, it was.They knew the words and the rhythm to the song. Sometimes you'd be lucky to have someone sing the same version as you as the older songs tended to have more than one version.

I gave River a glance and she shook her head. Not quite yet. As I started up another tune, I smiled as I heard hooves clapping along.

This was the life I had chosen. The life of a minstrel.