The Bard: A Song

Ren wiped the sweat from his face and looked at the mountain road before him. So far, he thought to himself. Too far. He had been on this road for three days and in all that time he had yet to meet anyone. He examined the path and it was easy to see that grass had begun to reclaim part of the roadway. Oh, well. Not going to get there standing here, he mused.

He had left home a year before, and tried his hand at various occupations. His slender build, however, didn’t really suit the labouring jobs he tried at first. He then landed a position in a tavern. The hours were long, but he enjoyed the work. He in fact became a rather skilled barman. This too was short-lived, a fire in the wee hours had destroyed not only his place of employment, but nearly killed him as well.

As he took to the road again he began to hum to himself. Soon, he was belting out some of the songs of heroism he had heard in the tavern. One particular tune that he particularly liked had several lines that he didn’t understand. Despite this, there was something about the words that lifted his spirit and made him feel invincible.

He got caught up in the song and let his travel become automatic. Because of this he failed to notice the bugbear at the mouth of a grotto he was passing until her was nearly on top of it. When he did see it he was shocked to see the creature transfixed at his voice. He tried to decide whether he should flee or to proceed. Go on, he thought to himself. He took a few more steps and continued to sing. It was then that he got to the mysterious words. As he rang them out, the beast covered its ears and fled into the cave.

Surprised at his luck, but not wanting to take any chances, Ren repeated the same verse for the next thirty minutes. Then hoarse and a bit shaken he finally rested. “I have to find out what that song is about,” he said to himself.


A Party Split

They split the party

Went separate ways

And thus were weaker

In subsequent frays

Warriors without a healer

A mage without support

A bard with no audience

And things of that sort

And what did they learn

From this error so basic?

It makes for a good novel

But not for the game in your basement




It wasn’t the most comfortable camp, but it seemed secure. Fallen timber framed the space on three sides and there was considerable concealment by a pinewood thicket on the fourth. A fire, however, was out of the question as it would negate the tree cover.

The day had started well with light-hearted chatter as the companions took to the road. Noon found them having a light meal by a brook side and it looked as if the journey was going to be an easy one.

It wasn’t long after lunch, however, that they found the road blocked my an inexplicably fallen tree. As they tried to work their way around it they were beset by bandits. The party gave as well as they took, but were in the end forced to make a fighting withdrawal into the surrounding woodland. That is how they came to be in this small enclosure.

“That’s the last time I ever let you talk me into a side quest,” Theos the Cleric said to Balwyn.

“How could I have known bandits would be after the artefact we were asked to deliver?”

“What is it that we are carrying anyway?” Tristen the Archer asked.

“Let me take a peek,” Balwyn said, opening the cloth sack.

“Well?” Theos prompted.

“It’s just an old hammer.”

“Hammer? Is it a war-hammer or magic?”

“No, just a worn-out old hammer. Oh, wait a minute. Ah, the hammer is wrapped in a wadge of wanted posters of guess who.”

“So do you think they just want to stop people from finding out about the reward?” Tristen asked.

“I imagine so,” Balwyn said. “Let’s give this a miss,” he suggested tossing the fabled Hammer of All Creativity into the underbrush.


The Littlest Fisher (Part 4)

Danshe went to her usual spot the next morning and was surprised to find a large rowboat had washed up into her tidepool in the night. Though it was largely submerged it still had become a receptacle of a large amount of seawater and yet had enough freeboard remaining to trap over thirty meal-sized fish inside. There was no way the little girl could pull the boat to the ledge by herself, nor was it practical to extract the fish in its present position so she ran off to get the lighthouse men to help her.

A short while later the boat had been retrieved and there was enough food to see all of the islanders through for several days.

Danshe then ran to tell the redhead about the windfall. When she arrived on the porch however she found a note attached to the door. Dear Danshe, Thank you for restoring my faith in people again. You are a very special lady. Please accept this small gift to remember me by. All the best, Cealia. Next to the note was a silver chain with a starfish on it.

Danshe then noticed the redhead, that she now knew was called Cealia on the beach with four seals. The girl immediately started to run to see her. Her path led her over a couple of dunes, and while she was climbing the larger of these she momentarily lost sight of the lady. When she creased the dune the beach was empty, but she could see five seals swimming out into the open sea. As she watched she could swear that one of them turned back to her and waved a flipper before diving out of sight.

Danshe never saw Cealia again, and three days later the weather broke and a relief boat arrived on the island.


The Littlest Fisher (Part 3)


Before going to her fishing place, Danshe paid a visit to the redhead’s cottage. The pot was gone from the front porch, but there was no answer at the door either. As she stepped down onto the walk she noticed that the lady was down on the beach kneeling down next to a pair of seals. She seemed to be having a conversation with them. Though Danshe thought this was curious, she didn’t want to be rude and interrupt her so went to her fishing spot to begin her day’s work.

A short while later the lady appeared near her place. She was carrying the pot.

“Do you mind if I join you?” the redhead asked politely.

“Yes, you may,” the little girl relied.

“Thank you for the yummy stew,” the woman said as she settled down next to her. He then placed the pot between them.

“You’re welcome,”Danshe replied.

The girl seemed to have something on her mind.

“A penny for your thoughts,” the lady said.

Danshe looked a bit embarrassed and then asked, “Can you talk to animals?”

“What makes you ask that?” the woman responded.

“I saw you on the beach with the seals,” she said.

“You might say we are friends,” the redhead replied.

The girl again looked as if she had a question on her mind.

“Um, are” she began hesitantly. “Are you an angel?”

The woman gave a good natured chuckle. “No, I’m not one of the bright ones, but I do try my best to serve the Power-that-Is.”

The girl looked even more embarrassed, and while fascinated, decided not to ask any other questions.

The two sat quietly for a short while, and then Danshe got a bite despite the turbulence of the water.

It proved to be a very big bass, one large enough to feed her and her family. Once she landed it she began to pack away her things. “Thank you sea,” she then said aloud.

“Is that all you are going to catch today?” the lady asked.

“I never take more than I can use,” the girl replied.

The lady smiled at that. “Most people are greedy,” the woman observed.

“But that would be wasteful of blessings,” Danshe responded, as if she had never thought of taking extra.

“Some people say that the greed of people is why the storms have come, and why the sea is acting strangely,” the redhead relied.

“That would be awful if it’s so,” Danshe said thoughtfully. A lot of people could go hungry. In fact, I wish I could feed everyone on the island, but I don’s know how much would be enough.”

“I am sure your present way of doing things is exactly right,” the woman said with a wink. She then got up, “Thank you again for the stew.” With that she departed.


The Littlest Fisher (Part 2)

The next morning Danshe grabbed her tackle box and made her way to her fishing spot. The waters seemed as turbulent as they had since the storm, but the small tide pull into which she often dangled her feet was absolutely calm. To her surprise the largest lobster she had ever seen was there in the pool. Leaving her rod and tackle on the edge she lowered herself into the pool. After giving it a few moments’ thought she took out here show laces and bound the creature’s massive claws. All-in-all it took her nearly fifteen minutes to subdue to beast of a lobster.

“Thank you sea,” she called out over the waters.

She could have sworn that a seal or sea lion responded with a bark of “You’re welcome.”

Danshe placed the creature next to her tackle box and then scrambled up the ledge. She now faced another problem. The lobster was so large that she couldn’t carry it and her precious tackle box at the same time. She decided to make two trips being sure to get the sea’s gift home to her mother first.

Within an hour, she had completed her round trips and was settled back home.

Shortly afterwards her sister came in saying there was a boat struggling to come to the island. About an half and hour later the assistant lighthouse keeper, Brian Smally managed to work his way ashore.

“I’ve been rowing since yesterday morning,” he said.

“Is help coming from the mainland?” Karl asked.

“It looks worse over there than it does here,” Brian replied. “The port is totally smashed up. One barge with fifteen thousand kilos of onions broke its moorings during the storm and rammed the ferry broadside bringing them both to the bottom of the harbour. It was enough to bring a tear to the eyes,” he said giving a wink to Danshe.

“So no help?” Danshe’s mother asked.

“No time soon. But I did manage to get a small sack of potatoes; and picked up some floating onions on my way.”

That night the islanders has a rich lobster stew.

“Do you think we should bring some to the redheaded lady?” Danshe asked her mother.

“It would be nice to offer,” her mom said, but later they found no one at home, so they left a small covered pot on the cottage porch.


The Littlest Fisher (Part 1)

Many people were calling it the storm of the century. The raging winds and crushing seas ravaged the coast and left the small island community isolated. The bridge to the mainland was demolished and almost every boat on the island was damaged.

Mercifully there were no serious injuries on the island, and some say the storm’s timing was fortunate as it occurred in the off season. Most of island residents were seasonal, so it being early in the year, only a few permanent inhabitants were present. Among these were Karl Younger, the old lighthouse keeper; Ben Klopper the ferry agent; and Danshe Fisher and her mother and sister.

Unfortunately for those left of the island the little shop that catered for the seasonal guests was still closed, and there was only a limited amount of food on the island. The light house keeper had been waiting for his monthly supplies when the storm hit, and Ben usually took his meals on the mainland between ferry transfers. If this wasn’t a big enough concern, there seemed to be an ongoing turbulence to the sea that made the hope of a relief boat coming unrealistic.

Danshe’s mom, Karl, and Ben met at the ferry office. They were joined by Jan Wilder, a retired doctor. After a brief discussion they determined that they had enough food to last about four days. Jan also informed the others that there seemed to be an early arrival in one of the holiday homes, a young redheaded woman. Jan had seen her once or twice, but never managed to catch her at home, so she wasn’t sure if she was still on the island.

That evening when her mother told the girls that they had to be careful with their food, Danshe put a plan into action. She would go to her usual fishing spot and do what she could to help out.

The next morning she left a note on her pillow saying she had gone fishing, and took her tackle box and made her way to the bridge end. There she knew the perfect place. When she arrived she saw that Ben had a similar idea, but had given up on it and was packing his things.

“Hey, little Fisher,” he said. “I don’t think there’s much hope. I’ve been here an hour and every time I cast a line it either is tossed into the shore or gets tangled in the swirls.”

“Thank you, Mr Klopper, but I will try anyway.”

Danshe settled herself down and let out her line which indeed did come right back to her. But she was patient and and kept trying. It was about an hour later that she was a beautiful redheaded woman sitting a short distance away watching her efforts.

“Hello,” Danshe called giving a little wave. The woman returned the gesture but didn’t say anything.

After another half an hour Danshe felt a nibble. With a little effort she was able to land a small fish, maybe enough for a little girl to eat but not enough for a family.

“Thank you sea,” the girl said aloud. This gesture seemed to impress the redheaded lady.

A few moments later Danshe managed to catch another similar sized fish, and she again thanked the sea,

A third watch was made an hour later, and as she said her thanks and reeled it in, the lady got up and left. Danshe followed soon after and rushed home with her precious catch. The Fishers had fresh fish that night.


The Sighting

Waldemar Brandt at Unsplash

“I tell you, I know what I saw,” Hans said passionately.

“You couldn’t have. Everyone knows that these lands were cleared of them years ago,” Dieter replied.

“What are you two arguing about?” Karl asked, sitting down next to Hans.

“Nothing of any importance,” Dieter said.

“That’s not true,” Hans said indignantly. “I saw an Ogre in the wood.”

“If you did, how have you lived to tell of it?” Dieter challenged.

“I was lucky, or downwind, or something.”

“Or something,” Dieter mocked.

“Wait,” Karl interrupted. “In the Fallun Wood?”

“Yes,” Hans said.

“It wasn’t just me then,” Karl said leaning in and lowering his voice. “I found some odd tracks about a week ago and tried to dismiss it, then yesterday I saw something big deep in the treeline. I think we might have a problem here.”

“The problem . . . ,” Dieter almost shouted, before being hushed by the other two. “The problem is my two best mates have gone mad.”

Karl cut him off and whispered, “We need to check this out, but we farmers ain’t meant for such things. We need to have a look, but we need help.”

“What about Otis,” Hans whispered. “He was a warrior.”

“So now you want to get a sixty-year old all caught up in your craziness?” Dieter challenged.

“It can’t hurt to be sure,” Karl said. “If anyone can tell us if we’re fools or not on this, Otis is the one.”

“Fine,” Dieter said. “I can always use someone to back up my opinions.”