Friends and Fortunes
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Shea passing time at the Inn. A dialogue project for class, Shea is my character and Phillip was given to me by a classmate.
The beetle inched along the table, stopping every so often at a crumb here or a speck of something there. It flicked translucent wings under a shell of ebony and ran its forelegs along its long whip-like antennae. Its little head spun around, looking around the room through its many lenses, paying the watching bard no heed. Shea sighed. They were late, he hadn’t counted on that. What if his friends didn’t show up at all? Doubt suddenly assailed him. Those promises had been made years ago…a lot could change in a few years, let alone the dozen that had passed. Complications arise. People change…he certainly had.
Shea rapped his knuckles on the dark wood of the table and searched around the common room of the Winking Bard Inn. The front legs of his chair lifted off the ground as he leaned back, his roaming green eyes skipping over the men and lingering slightly longer on the women. He needed a distraction before he started pulling out his hair. Where had that pretty bar maid wandered off to…? He couldn’t see her.
“Hey, Mister,” A boy approached him, curiosity burning in his toffee eyes. He was young, about ten, with messy short brown hair and plain dirt-stained clothes. A farmer’s boy no doubt, sent on some kind of errand. He had a small worn bag slung over one shoulder and clutched at a folded piece of paper with his right hand. He stood before Shea, openly staring.
Shea grinned awkwardly. “Yes?”
“Ye have a lute. Are ye a bard?”
The chair dropped smoothly back to the floor. “I am.” Shea pulled himself up straight and inclined his head in a mock bow, “Shea Aleaear of Verthall at your service. The Shea, you know,” He gave the boy a wink, “Our secret, if you don’t mind. If word got out that I was here, I’d be mobbed by my adoring populace.”
“Me name’s Phillip. I lived here me whole life an I aint never heard of no Shea Alur of Verrall.” He spoke the foreign name awkwardly.
“Really? How about Will of Severn? Or Kaeytlen of the Gaels? No? Unsurprising. It’s the fate of a bard to know, and yet not be known. Our lives are dedicated to making sure that the important names, those of the hero’s, and the deeds that they accomplished, are remembered. They are the ones that matter. He who tells the tales is unimportant.” He paused, considering, “Sometimes there are exceptions.”
“That’s sad. Can I tell yer fortune, Mister Shea Alur?”
“Just Shea is fine. My fortune? Oh, with your little paper toy… Sure, why not? How do I…?”
“Easy. Jus pick one of the four colours painted on the outside.”
Shea looked at the paradox of folded paper with suspicion, “Blue?”
“B-L-U-E. Okay, now pick one of the numbers inside.”
Shea felt a bit silly and his eyes darted up to see if anyone was watching the childish exchange. They may as well have been the only people in the Inn for all the rest of the dwelling cared…He looked back at the boy. “Four.”
“One-two-three-four. Okay. Pick another number.”
Philip unfolded the piece of paper with a bold black seven scrawled across it. His gaze met Shea’s, his young eyes serious and his voice sombre. “There is a true and sincere friendship between you and your friends.”
For a rare moment Shea was stunned into speechlessness before he abruptly fell back in his seat laughing. He smacked the flat of his hand down on the table before coming forward to ruffle Phillip’s hair. A few heads turned towards him at the outburst but he paid their raised eyebrows no heed. His eyes were warm as he looked at the boy. “Thanks Phil, I do believe that’s the best fortune I’ve ever had.”
“Glad to be ov service, Mister Shea, now I should really find me da, I should’ve been back home ages ago. Mayhap I’ll see ye around?” With a final nod the boy was off, and Shea was once again left alone.
“A true and sincere friendship…” Shea mused thoughtfully, “I guess that means they’ll be showing up after all.”
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