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==Semifinals Night 2==
==Semifinals Night 2==
The first day of the semi-finals featured 5 contestants on Thursday, August 15, 2019: Lazaryth, Balantine, and Meril.
The second day of the semi-finals featured 3 contestants on Thursday, August 15, 2019: Lazaryth, Balantine, and Meril.

Revision as of 23:36, 15 August 2019

The 24th Annual Bardfest

House Argent Aspis held this annual showcase of talent inside their Den of the Dragon Theater.

6 Contestants were named as Finalists from their qualifying performances in the semi-finals for Bardfest 5119, which takes place on Thursday, August 22 at 10pm: Meril, Leifa, Jersea, Balantine, Bjornsongs, and Lazaryth!

Their challenge from the judges for the words of inspiration were: troll and moonflower.

Semifinals Night 1

The first day of the semi-finals featured 5 contestants on Wednesday, August 14, 2019: Angellos, Leifa, Jersea, Bjornsong, and Ceyrin.


Angellos recites:
    "Come on, come on, I don't want to be alone,
     Wish I could turn back the hands of time,
     To the left, To the left, and make you mine,
     Come on, come on, 
     Still have your picture on my letter,"

Angellos recites:
    "But no one is home,
     Turn back the hands of time, hold on,
     Hold on to me,
      to another place and time,
      if I could make you mine,
     'And the musician is playing our song,
     I don't want to go home alone,"

Angellos recites:
    "Because you are gone,
      and the memories are still strong,
      as time passes by,
     So hold on, hold on to me,
      to another place and time,
      turn back the hands of time,
      oh yeah, yeah!"

Angellos recites:
    "If I could find a way to your heart, 
     I would be with you tonight,
     So hold on, hold on, hold on, your hands in mine,"

Angellos recites:
    "If only we could turn back the hands of time, to another place and time,"

Angellos recites:
    "It would be worth it, a day with you'd would be so perfect, I just know it."

Angellos recites:
    "Shine a light,
      I will find you no matter how far,"

Angellos recites:
    "Hold your hands in mine,
     I want to know what's on your mind."

Angellos recites:
    "You make me a BIG MIGHTY, a small mighty, my strength in so many ways,"

Angellos recites:
    "If only you could hear what I have to say."

Angellos takes a gallant bow, tipping his hat slightly, before sweeping it behind his back.  After a moment's pause he rises and places his hat firmly on his head, adjusting it to fit.


Leifa strides along, tightly gripping a brilliant cobalt brocade toy pony with satin-shod hooves.

Leifa removes a sand-caked horse blanket from in her fox fur riding mantle.

Leifa carefully unfolds her horse blanket, letting the long ends fall to the ground.

Lifting her horse blanket high into the air, Leifa gives it a mighty shake that dislodges any and all debris that might be clinging to it.

Leifa carefully places a sand-caked horse blanket on the floor.

Leifa kneels down.

Leifa calmly says, "Good evening, everyone.  Thank you for coming out tonight to see me and all the wonderful and talented performers with whom I am so fortunate to share the stage.  It is truly an honor and a pleasure to spend these moments together."

Leifa smiles for a moment at the lovely gathering of folks sitting before her in the audience.

Leifa clears her throat.

Leifa begins, "Recently, I returned from a long sojourn on the Isle of Teras.  I ventured out towards the wilds of Ta'Nalfein to do a little hunting.  As I scouted for a safe area to camp, I chanced upon a halfling hiding in the brush.  The poor boy was ragged and tired, clearly needing comfort.  Nowadays I oft' keep to myself, but I took pity on this wee fellow and offered that he take rest and share a fire with me."

Leifa turns up her lips in a silly, self-conscious smile.

Leifa swiftly runs the tip of her forefinger across a sand-caked horse blanket.

Leifa continues, "As we huddled 'round the warm fire, we shared handfuls of chestnuts and exchanged stories of our journeys, as travelers are wont to do on such nights.  The lad reveled me with a rather sensational tale of a surprise battle attack in a nearby village, from which he barely escaped with his life."

Leifa clutches her chest with an anguished expression.

Leifa fans herself.

Leifa picks idly at a handful of roasted chestnuts.

Leifa states, "In fact, this possibly tall tale was sung to me by the not-at-all-tall boy...in return for the nuts and company, of course."

Leifa glances down coyly, fingers absently attending to her tortoiseshell haircomb, as an enigmatic expression playsacross her face.

Leifa glances out.

Leifa flutters her eyelashes.

Leifa announces, "I hereby present the bloody ballad to you, my friends, as I do recall it...for your information, edification, and diversion."

Leifa nods once.

Leifa offhandedly adds, "Oh, and...."

Looking a bit smug, Leifa slowly taps her index finger against her temple as a knowing expression spreads across her face.

Leifa stresses, "My dear, dear audience, I cannot speak to the authenticity of the story itself, as I know it only to be a Rumor in the Woods."

Leifa steeples her fingers slowly as a smirk plays across her lips.  Her eyes narrow into mere slits as she glances around.

Leifa stands up.

Leifa picks up a sand-caked horse blanket.

Grabbing the horse blanket by the short ends, Leifa swirls the blanket over her head and drapes it across her shoulders.

Leifa pauses in place and glances around for a moment, as if pondering which direction to go.

Leifa snaps her fingers.

Leifa sharply turns to the left and marches back and forth.

Leifa sharply turns to the right and marches back and forth.

Leifa strides a few steps forward.

Leifa sings abruptly:
    "The cloaked invaders diverged on Aspen Grove at night.
      There was mass confusion, bloodshed, fear, and fright.
       All the cutthroats, heretics, and torturers delight
        When the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods!"

Leifa sashays about in a circle with her head thrown back and arms wide.

Leifa grins maniacally!

Leifa folds her hands behind her back.

Leifa sings smoothly:
    "It was dark at dusk, thus no courtiers gave a care
      When they saw hooved men a'waltzing through the fair,
       Yet despite their revelry, they'd soon become aware
        That the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods."

Leifa trembles as if a cold chill just ran up her spine.

Leifa tugs her horse blanket up higher around her face, and bundles up tightly into its thick folds.  She looks cold.

Leifa struts about slowly.

Leifa sings sonorously:
    "The Battle of Phoenix and Serpent underway.
      Their host, Siethidi's eye trained directly on horseplay.
       Even armored guard posts, unexpectant, shocked were they
        As the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods."

Leifa stares at her cobalt brocade pony.

Leifa casually observes her surroundings.

Leifa violently shakes her head in the negative, causing several strands of manelike hair to fall free from its bindings.

Leifa smacks her forehead with the palm of her hand!

Leifa sings tremblingly:
    "Drunken riders clumsily clutching at their poles
      Were truly in for something horrible, I'm told.
       Stead of jousting sticks, broadswords did centaurs hold
        Whilst the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods."

Leifa leans forward.

Leifa clears her throat.

Leifa sings rhythmically:
    "Still unawares, festival riders took the green,
      Sporting wiley foxes 'longside their equine team,
       But as they raced towards victory, stars are all they seen
        For the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods."

Leifa trembles.

Leifa just tried to pull a luxurious platinum fox pelt.

Leifa marches back and forth a bit.

Leifa shivers in fear of some inner thought.

Leifa sings hauntingly:
    "As the siege took hold, screams overtook the din
      Of the joyful celebrations heard within.
       People stopped their chat as it started to sink in
        That the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods."

Leifa inclines her ear, listening intently.

Leifa covers her ears.

Leifa sings grimly:
    "Soldiers were summoned, ordered to the field.
      Mayhem, murder, they were thus sent forth to yield,
       But the hammering hooves overtook their novice heels
        Cause the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods."

Leifa marches back and forth, sharply turning at the end of each stride.

Leifa removes a pillow-shaped ivory dauber capped with a bloodstained horse head from in her fox fur riding mantle.

A pained expression crosses Leifa's face as she grimaces at a pillow-shaped ivory dauber capped with a bloodstained horse head.

Leifa shakes her head and turns away.

Leifa sings gravely:
    "Throughout the evening, a battle would be waged.
      Only those poor souls who hid or ran were saved.
       The gruesome scene next morn', bloody and grave
        From the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods."

Leifa can offer a pillow-shaped ivory dauber capped with a bloodstained horse head only a blank expression.

Leifa put a pillow-shaped ivory dauber capped with a bloodstained horse head in her fox fur riding mantle.

Leifa gives a sigh of sadness.

Leifa sings somberly:
    "None knew how or why invasion came that way.
      There was no fair warning, no clear reason for the fray,
       Yet stable hostelers found all the stalls EMPTY that day!"

Leifa blinks.

Leifa looks around with pleading eyes, wondering what's going on!

Leifa shakes her head, totally at a loss.

Leifa chuckles to herself.

Leifa sings thunderously:
    "Aft' the centaurs rushed Rumor Woods!"

Leifa sashays along, displaying a brilliant cobalt brocade toy pony with satin-shod hooves!

Leifa touches one finger to her lips.

Leifa ponders.

Leifa mutters myownverse.

Leifa slowly strides a few steps forward.

Leifa sings ponderously:
    "Now I've heard this tale and thought on it, of course,
      Because centaurs beasts are half men and half a horse,
      It makes me curious 'bout the mares they took by force?"

Leifa smiles wryly, glancing expectantly back at the audience.

Leifa watches the surroundings in breathless anticipation.

Leifa enthusiastically nods her agreement, causing several strands of ash blonde hair to fall around her face.

Leifa sings playfully:
    "I wonder if we'll learn exactly what's a....QUARTER Horse?"

Leifa gazes with interest at the cobalt brocade pony in her hand.

Leifa gazes up into the sky.

Leifa gently shakes her head, then holds up her hands in an almost apologetic fashion.

Leifa begins to giggle, then bursts out in a silly laugh.

Leifa sings boisterously:
    "Or 'twas simply a Rumor in the Woods!"

Leifa nods once.

Leifa winks and flashes a sly grin.

Leifa holds her sides and lets out a rumbling belly laugh.

Leifa leans forward.

Leifa drops into a deep curtsy, moving smoothly as her arms sweep grandly to her sides.


(Jersea steps through the curtain and takes center stage.  A large spotlight focuses on her as she stands there.)

Jersea recites thoughtfully:
    "Sometimes life takes us in unexpected directions."

Jersea recites apologetically:
    "That's what happened with this Bardfest performance for tonight."

Jersea recites humbly:
    "Though this is inspired by a small clearing just outside of the town of River's Rest, I am sure there are many such clearings to be found all around the world."

(Jersea steps to the side of the spotlight placing herself mostly in shadow.  The spotlight focuses on an empty center stage.  Jersea's voice rings out loudly across the empty stage.)

Jersea recites somberly:
    "The camp is taken down now
     There's nothing left to see
     And the path that was well traveled
     Now becomes a mystery."

(Jersea pauses as the sound of tramping feet echoes out across the empty stage from behind the stage curtain.  As the sounds fade away, Jersea continues her recitation.)

Jersea recites thoughtfully:
    "A road that leads to nowhere
     That you'd pass without a thought
     Of the Captain... and the soldiers...
     And the battles that they fought."

(Jersea pauses once more as the sound of clashing swords rings out over an empty stage.  She lights a match and brings it closer to her face, highlighting her somber expression before quickly blowing it out, though the scent lingers.)

Jersea recites pensively:
    "Oh, the campfires are extinguished
     And the tents are taken down
     And the grass will soon recover
     And will hide the trampled ground."

(Jersea stands there to the side of the stage, deeper in shadow now as the spotlight fades somewhat.)

Jersea recites softly:
    "The memories will fade away,
     As dew before the sun,
     Of the soldiers and the Captain
     And "Fall in!" and "Ah-ten-shun!"

(Jersea pauses to let silence fill the stage.)

Jersea recites delicately:
    "For the campsite now is quiet
     The activity has ceased
     And the soldiers that are left behind
     From their duties, are released."

(Jersea jumps slightly as the muffled sound of a horn sounds across the stage.)

Jersea recites confidently:
    "No more they need to answer
     To the Captain's battle call,
     For the soldiers that are left here
     Have given her... their all."

(Jersea walks back into the center stage spotlight as it brightens once more.)

Jersea recites earnestly:
    "For, that soon forgotten campsite
     Has become their resting place.
     E're long, time will work its magic
     And those fresh turned mounds, efface."

Jersea closes her eyes for a moment.

Jersea recites emotionally:
    "Then, if you choose to linger here,
     Let not their service be in naught,
     But take a moment... for the soldiers
     And the town for which they fought."

Jersea recites quietly:
    "Thank you."

(Jersea stands there as the spotlight fades away, then slips off behind the curtains.)


Bjornsong smiles.

Bjornsong waves.

Bjornsong sings melodically:
    "I was not expecting to perform tonight.  Please excuse me for any mishaps, this performance is unrehearsed."

Bjornsong removes a carved rosewood music stand from in his crushed silk backpack.

Bjornsong sets up a carved rosewood music stand.

Bjornsong removes a note-stamped white music folio from in his crushed silk backpack.

Bjornsong just opened a note-stamped white music folio.

Bjornsong put a note-stamped white music folio on a carved rosewood music stand that is on the ground.

Bjornsong removes a haon tambourine from in his storm grey cape.

Bjornsong softly shakes his tambourine, starting a gentle and lulling rhythm.

Bjornsong sings melodically:
    "Good evening, my story tonight is entitled..."

Bjornsong sings melodically:
    "Fame Forever!"

Slowly building into a stunning crescendo, the cadence of Bjornsong's beat rises and gains intensity with each measure.

Bjornsong sings:
    "Our story begins in a small elvish village near the Vipershroud"

Bjornsong dances around the room, ending with a spin and right left arm held high!

Bjornsong sings:
    "In a small hovel, two young boys compete in a race to finish their cleaning chores."

A slow, pulsing rhythm unwinds as Bjornsong plays his tambourine.

Bjornsong creates a hypnotic rhythm with his tambourine, with deft flourishes and skilled riffles in the exotic beat.

Bjornsong recites rejoicingly:
    ""Mother!  I finished all my chores first!" Ivvan claimed, flexing his powerful muscles."

Holding the tambourine lightly in his hand, Bjornsong builds a rapid rhythm, rising and falling with drama and emotion.

A peaceful, flowing rhythm surrounds you as Bjornsong's supple wrists manipulate his instrument, drawing forth the soft beat.

Bjornsong recites emphatically:
    "Daneiel proclaimed, "No you didn't!  My cantrip was finished before you put away your broom!" "

The deep and profound meaning of the music is not lost as Bjornsong's extraordinary talent shapes it beautifully.

As the last whispered note fades from the stilled air, Bjornsong slowly smiles and puts his hand over his tambourine, bowing with a flourish.

Bjornsong sings proudly:
    "Their mother praised them both for their successes, and admonished them for being so competitive."

Bjornsong put a haon tambourine in his storm grey cape.

Bjornsong removes a bright silver banded military fife from in his storm grey cape.
With a mischievous glint in his eye, Bjornsong lifts his fife to his lips and lights into a jaunty little number!

Bjornsong sings:
    "But as many siblings, their competitiveness only grew over the years."

Bjornsong dances around the room, ending with a spin and left left arm held high!

Bjornsong recites commandingly:
    "Ivvan returning to the hovel one day, his brigandine armor dripping with blood "Mother!  I was surrounded by six war trolls, and slayed two before I escaped!""

With a rakish tilt to his head, Bjornsong draws his melody along, whirling and spinning faster and more daring with each moment.

Bjornsong recites defiantly:
    ""I surrounded four mountain trolls with a wall of fire, and merely watched while they perished!" Daneiel bragged."

With a wink and a grin, Bjornsong trills his final notes, lowering his fife.

Bjornsong put a bright silver banded military fife in his storm grey cape.

Bjornsong removes a black cherry cornett from in his storm grey cape.

Bjornsong lifts his cornett and begins playing a joyful tune.

Bjornsong sings:
    "More years passed, and both boys grew into battle hardened and skillful soldiers."

Bjornsong recites resolutely:
    ""Mother!  Our troop of archers and swordsmen successfully repelled three waves of undead invading the Vipershroud and threatening our village!  I was in command!""

A jolly song bursts from Bjornsong's cornett, the raucous refrain reminiscent of taverns, merriment and friendship.

Bjornsong dances around the room, ending with a spin and right left arm held high!

Bjornsong recites audaciously:
    ""Without the fireballs cast by me and the wands I manufactured for the other mages, our village would have perished tonight!" Daniel proclaimed proudly."

Bjornsong dances around the room, ending with a spin and left left arm held high!

Bjornsong blares a glad anthem on his cornett, the unrestrained excitement of the song infusing the surroundings with its jubilance.

With a blaring final note, Bjornsong brings his joyous tune to an end.

Bjornsong sings:
    "The village was saved that night, but another would come some years later..."

Bjornsong put a black cherry cornett in his storm grey cape.

Bjornsong removes some fringed red velvet bagpipes from in his blue bagpipe satchel.

Bjornsong picks up his bagpipes and plays the first notes of an inspiring melody.

Bjornsong recites triumphantly:
    ""Mother, where is Ivvan?  I want to tell him how the spell research I finished allowed me to cast major ewaves, destroying hoards of invaders and even though many families perished, our home and a large portion of the village was saved!  My deeds this night shall be remembered FOREVER by our people!""

Bjornsong brings forth the power and inspiration of the bagpipes, chords echoing through the air.

The song modulates into a still lower key, Bjornsong demonstrating his skillful fingerwork as he makes the transition.

Bjornsong slowly retreats from the wailing cry of the bagpipes to a soft, low murmur, evoking images of a slow fog rolling in to cover grassy hills.

Bjornsong sings mournfully:
    "As Mother appeared with tears streaming down her face, she told of sad news..."

Bjornsong recites proudly:
    ""Daneiel, Ivvan perished this night defending ALL the people of the village.    Though your victory shall be remembered by our people forever, Ivvan's deeds this night, will no doubt be remembered FOREVER AND A DAY.group""

Bjornsong furrows his brow in concentration, skillfully extending the bagpipes's cry and turning sorrow to near-madness as the sound seems to overfill the very air.

With a final descent of notes Bjornsong removes his fingers from the bagpipes's reeds, letting the sound echo into silence.

Standing on the toes of his climbing boots, Bjornsong dances a few steps.

Sweeping his arm outward, Bjornsong bows low in a grand fashion.


Ceyrin clears his throat.

Ceyrin says, "Good evening.  This performance has no name -- I just made it up in the last hour."

Ceyrin recites:
    "There one was a man from the landing,
     Whose verbal prose was considered quite commanding"

Ceyrin recites:
    "He played to the crowd,
     Whom all shouted aloud. . ."

Ceyrin recites:
    "We love that Nehor, he's outstanding!"

Ceyrin recites:
    "He took money from any and all,
     Promising entertainment and delivering gall"

Ceyrin recites:
    "Some time went past
     , and the people all asked. . ."

Ceyrin recites:
    "Where's our money?  Where our play?"

Ceyrin recites:
    "A few years later he was seen on Mist Harbor
     Rather looking in need of a barber"

Ceyrin recites:
    "But then one day, Much to Mist Harbor's dismay,
     Nehor's role with Nazhor he couldn't downplay"

Ceyrin recites:
    "He asked over much of his gathered flock
     And they took his orders without so much as a squawk"

Ceyrin recites:
    "Childen died, and homes burned to ash
     Leaving little but rubble and rock"

Ceyrin recites:
    "When Nehor had done what he saw fit
     I heard more than a few note him as a git"

Ceyrin recites:
    "Mist Harbor's fate seemed grim
     Especially for Nehor the Prim
     Then Socius arrived and tore him limb from limb"

Ceyrin recites:
    "These days he's Nehor the Glum
     His arm is rotten and numb"

Ceyrin recites:
    "His facade has faded
     His demeanor is jaded
     And his reputation is all but degraded"

Ceyrin recites:
    "The end?"

Ceyrin bows.

Semifinals Night 2

The second day of the semi-finals featured 3 contestants on Thursday, August 15, 2019: Lazaryth, Balantine, and Meril.


(Lazaryth takes the stage, clutching his lyre by just one of its arms in a cavalier fashion.)

Lazaryth says, "Good evening.  I'm Lazaryth, and everything you've heard about me is most likely true."

Lazaryth grins wryly.

Lazaryth says, "Here's a poem I was inspired to compose the other night.  I hope you'll forgive me my lyre-playing; it's not my instrument of choice, you might say."

Lazaryth says, "Thank you for your attention."

(Lazaryth clasps the lyre gently to his chest and drags a fingernail down one of the instrument's strings, causing a thin, descending vibration to sound.  It cascades into a sole note, then a spray of notes falling like drops when his other fingers join to strike the strings.)

Lazaryth sings with a clear tenor:
    "There will come an autumn when
     In the desultory fall of leaves, all unplanned,
     My aimless gaze meets lines fine as spiderweb
     On the back of my own doomed hand."

Lazaryth takes a deep breath.

Lazaryth sings:
    "This is the end.  How can ecstasy go on
     When the body fails?  How can the arms pretend?
     All - men, elves, words, stones - must fail,
     And this is but the very first beginning of the end."

(Lazaryth strides to the edge of the stage, squinting against the lights.  His eyes scan the crowd, falling briefly on one face after another.)

Lazaryth smiles just the beginnings of a smile as he plucks a single string on the lyre, sounding out a sweet note that hangs over the hall like a wisp of smoke.

Lazaryth sings:
    "Another line as fine as web
     Winds, bravely, a distance great as stars -
     The wind alone could snap its trembling length 
     And yet it holds.  This line is ours."

Lazaryth smiles enigmatically to himself, his eyes still traveling lightly over the crowd.  His long fingers work the lyre's strings in a simple pattern, over and over.

Lazaryth sings:
    "Did the evenings whisper what I failed to hear?
     How could I know, when I met you, who you would be to me?
     My ears have been stopped with lust and laughter
     And the proud conceit that I would never not be free."

Lazaryth sings:
    "All things change.  Flow follows ebb,
     Fox and foxglove supersede fawn.
     Just last night, nine kingdoms rose and fell
     While you and I conspired to embarrass the dawn."

Lazaryth flashes a quick grin.

(Lazaryth wanders with aimless feet about the stage in a slow circle, head dropped now to focus on the instrument in his hands.  He pauses, facing away from the audience, as he focuses on bringing the arc of the melody around to a succession of chords: first major, then minor, then a winnowing of the chord to a lone note that sounds again and again like a low heartbeat.)

(Lazaryth turns to face the audience, his lips drawn into a wry half-grin.)

Lazaryth sings:
    "That autumn glen awaits.  You know it too.
     We both will meet with what our hearts forbid.
     I will be old, you will be gone, and they will say of me:
     'He looked so good - too bad that's all he did.'"

Lazaryth shakes his head.

Lazaryth sings:
    "Did they think their scorn would drive us to goodbye?
     They know us not at all, you and I."

(Lazaryth spreads his hands, the lyre now dangling silent from one lean palm.  His bold, faintly gravelly tenor voice continues unaccompanied.)

Lazaryth sings:
    "Take me away.  Fill my hands
     With your history, writ upon your skin,
     My eyes with your elegance, my mouth with your sigh.
     We have but a slender moment ere we die.  So, begin!"

(Lazaryth tosses the lyre up and catches it with the opposite hand, precisely enough that the -thunk- of his palm against the wood sounds out across the hall and the resultant vibration of the strings can be heard - the barest, fading ghost of a sound, soon to be gone.)

Lazaryth smiles a brilliant flash of a smile, then drops into a deep bow and rises sharply, his long hair flipping back over his shoulder.

Lazaryth says, "Thank you."


(Balantine waits a few moments for the crowd noise to settle.)

Balantine folds his hands behind his back.

Balantine smiles broadly

Balantine recites:
    "Honor and Pride"

Balantine recites:
    "They say pride goeth before a fall
      And this wisdom may be so
      For many invader great and small
      Now lies in dust below"

Balantine tilts his head down.

Balantine recites:
    "For they sought their glory, they sought their fame
      With heart as cold as stone
      They sowed the wind in their own name
      And reaped reward alone"

Balantine sighs.

Balantine recites:
    "So build up others, your glory share
      Your praise shall build up all
      And leaders humble with heart bare
      Shall triumph and not fall"

Balantine raises his fist defiantly.

Balantine recites:
    "A life well lived needs not greed
      For favor honors good
      And brings tall growth to the tiny seed
      yielding abundant food"

Balantine holds up two fingers and slowly pinches them together until they are almost touching.

Balantine recites:
    "Together we stand, divided we crumble
      Be kind to one another
      And should ye be the one to stumble
      Be carried by yer brother"

Balantine smiles as he extends a helping hand

Balantine recites:
    "Humility serves well us all
      And honors those beside
      And brick by brick builds mighty wall
      Thick and tall and wide"

Balantine gazes in wonder at his surroundings.

Balantine recites:
    "So set example in deed and word
      Yer criticism swallow
      Offer grace and not the sword
      And many will soon follow"

Balantine recites:
    "For many watch with memory and tale
      Though they may point and laugh
      When all is done they'll drink an ale
      And recite your epitaph"

Balantine removes some frothy Bardfest brew from in his black silk greatcloak.

Balantine raises his Bardfest brew in a toast!


(Meril steps forward from the curtains onto the stage, and shades her eyes briefly from the bright spotlight above her to look over the audience.)

Meril recites cautiously:
    "Have you ever..."

Meril clears her throat.

Meril recites curiously:
    "Have you ever met... a mermaid?"

Meril glances around the room.

Meril recites knowingly:
    "Every sailor I have tended to has seen one, or so they say. Half of them have kissed one..."

Meril recites vehemently:
    "Perilous sirens, some tell me, whose songs lure careless captains to their watery doom!"

Meril recites dreamily:
    "Lovely nymphs of the sea, others say, who fall in love with mortals and carry the drowning to land, leaving them only the memory of their embrace..."

Meril recites thoughtfully:
    "Well, this is a story I heard. If there is any truth in it, I shall leave you to judge. Maybe... it is only a story."

Meril recites:
    "It is called... the Mermaid and the Thief."

(Meril nods once. The spotlight on her dims to a gentler hue. A few more stage lights are lit above the theater, the shafts of light descending into shadows and dust. She hums the soft strains of a ballad, then begins her song.)

Meril sings:
    "I remember the roar of water and the salt upon the breeze,
     The slippery rocks of the coastline, the moonlight on the seas --
     The last time I could say in truth that I was fully free,
     The first time that I found her -- or the first time she found me."

Meril sings:
    "I'd searched among the shipwrecks that lay broken on the shoals
     For treasures left behind within the small and narrow holes
     And, picking along the floorboards, heard the inkling of a sound.
     Wary of dangerous company, I quickly wheeled around --"

Meril sings:
    "Her face was cast in moonlight in the shadowy, ruined hold,
     And shone like rippling water, framed by locks of flowing gold.
     Her skin in the darkness glistened, weaving beaded trails
     Into the dazzling colors of a siren's shining scales."

Meril sings:
    "Her eyes were the purest blue -- more brilliant than eyes should be --
     Flashing, as deep within them burned the hunger of the sea
     That pulls men down into the dark to meet their grisly fate --
     She swept towards me, and I could only think to cry out..."

Meril sings nervously:

Meril sings pleadingly:
    "She glided around me, sizing as a huntress towards her prey,
     But I yet lived -- perhaps she'd hear the words I had to say?
     'I'm but a poor thief, my lady, though with a little skill.
     If you would spare my life today, I can help as you will.'"

Meril sings liltingly:
    "'Of coins and trinkets and valued things, of these I have no need,
     Nor any of the trappings that are born of mortal greed,
     But life for life is what I wish, if you would keep your own:
     Bring me a man to take thy place, and bring him here alone.'"

Meril sings:
    "She raised her hand and touched me -- on the forehead, then the lips --
     Then turned and slipped away into the shadows amidst ships.
     I blinked, and knew I was awake, though in dreams I might feel --
     And her scent and aura lingered to remind me she was real."

Meril sings:
    "I could have gone and fled the place, never to return:
     I'd made no promise, and if I had, 'twas little enough concern.
     But standing there, I felt only my heart flutter and soar,
     And knew only the aching need to see her face once more."

(Meril closes her eyes for a moment. Above her, the stage lights spin, and the spotlights slowly sweep out the figure of a circle. She waits until the first light reaches her again before starting the next verse.)

Meril sings:
    "A guard he was, a trusting sort who, drunk on sailors' tales
     After his cups, came down with me to see the shredded sails.
     I led him forward to the brink -- then quickly stepped aside
     When she arose like a goddess out of the ocean tide."

Meril sings:
    "His breath caught, frozen in his throat as much as had been mine.
     The song she hummed was soft, and with a voice sweeter than wine
     As if it were a lullaby to keep him in a dream --
     And when she struck with a sickening *snap*, he had no time to scream."

(Meril winces slightly. Her hands begin to trace out an empathic spell before she stills them and continues with the song.)

Meril sings liltingly:
    "'These belongings are yours,' she said, 'as coin for his demise --
     If you have need for such a thing, then keep it as your prize.'"

Meril sings pleadingly:
    "I gathered up the purse, then asked, wondering if she heard:
     'I'd wish to see you again, some day, if you would trust my word.'"

Meril sings:
    "She shifted subtly in the light and, straightening, looked at me,
     And though in her expression there was no change I could see,
     Her voice was gentler, almost, but with a regretful sigh --
     And thus, after a long moment, she gave me her reply --"

Meril sings softly:
    "'You have your life, so dearly bought, and likewise I have mine,
     In worlds apart thus we must dwell, where fates cannot entwine.
     But one year's time, if you would meet, I shall be here once more --
     Bring with you then an offering as you have done before.'"

(Meril hums the melody softly and wordlessly as the stage lights begin to spin again. One circle... two... three... four... five... six...)

Meril takes a deep breath.

Meril sings:
    "Seven years and seven lives I gave to meet her there,
     To see her face again, to catch the moonlight in her hair,
     To hear the purest sound of peace distilled in her song --
     We grew familiar in a way, but never met for long."

Meril sings:
    "I sought the wisdom of a witch, who gave me this advice:
     A magic oil there is, that may be made for a pretty price,
     Brewed with a vial of whale's blood and with powdered gems most rare,
     Mixed with the dust of fairies and a lock of siren's hair."

Meril sings:
    "Then with the oil anoint oneself, and wait upon the rocks
     From midnight until the break of dawn, the first knell of the clocks,
     And in the sun's light one will change, transforming utterly --
     To be mortal no longer, but a creature of the sea."

Meril sings:
    "The week before we'd meet again, a hunter came to town
     With shining blades and gleaming mail and boots of polished brown,
     And in the tavern asked of folk their rumours and their fears
     About the men that disappeared in mystery over the years."

Meril sings confidently:
    "'Well, keep the lamps lit,' he declared, 'and all your doors secure.
     A monster stalks the foggy coast, of that you can be sure.
     A true adventurer, nonetheless, never turns down a quest:
     I'll find the beast in one week's time and drive it from its nest.'"

Meril sings:
    "The beach was empty the first eve while I waited through the night,
     And so too was the second eve until the sky was bright,
     And on until the final day, as I lingered on the shore --
     Out of a whirlpool she arose, and came to me once more."

Meril sings:
    "Where once was awe, I felt relief on nights when she'd appear --
     A new sense of belonging now, to sleep and have her near.
     I warned her of the hunter's quest, and asked that she not stay:
     But make to flee if he should strike, and swiftly slip away."

Meril sings liltingly:
    "'I can defend myself,' she said proudly, if with some doubt.
     'I've not been here for all these years to easily be cast out.
     What little worth would my life be, if this be all it took?
     But there is more you wish to say, is there not, by your look?'"

Meril sings hesitantly:
    "I showed her the potion the witch had made, distilled into a flask,
     And told her of my wish to change, with one remaining task.
     'Would you then grant this boon of me, to stay thus by your side,
     To seek a different life and fate with your hand as my guide?'"

Meril sings softly:
    "She regarded me a long moment, then nodded once her head.
     'If that is what you truly wish, chosen without regret,
     If you would cast this life away instead of saying farewell,
     Then take from me a lock of hair and use it for your spell.'"

Meril sings:
    "I placed it in the flask and watched it dissolve with a shake.
     The sky was lighter now, and soon enough the dawn would break,
     The hour when I would be remade, reborn with salt and scale --
     'Twas then the hunter drew his blade and leapt down from the trail."

(Meril widens her eyes as the stage lights spin into action once more, slashing against each other in a wild unsteady dance. A red light streaks across her, seeming for a moment like a bleeding wound.)

Meril sings:
    "I gave a shout of warning, but already she darted aside --
     The first stroke clattered against the stone, the second slash went wide --
     She lunged at his sword-arm -- he spun away, then steadied and stepped back --
     They circled each other warily, measuring the next attack."

Meril sings:
    "She struck at him, but out of water, it seemed almost slow --
     A counter-thrust caught her retreat, and cut her scales below --
     Wincing, she batted away the blade -- he pressed forward with a sweep,
     Then blow by blow narrowly missed, but his reserves were deep --"

Meril sings:
    "A second cut -- she scrambled back, but she was tiring fast,
     And at this rate, I realized, not much more could she last.
     I shouted again -- he glanced at me -- I stepped forward a pace,
     Then raising the flask in my hand, I hurled it at his face --"

(Meril glances up. Every spotlight converges on her, illuminating her as bright as the morning sun.)

Meril sings:
    "The flask shattered against his helm, the oil seeping down --
     The sun's first light shone on it with a gleam of golden brown --
     For one moment he looked surprised, as if feeling something strange --
     And then he screamed in agony as he began to *change*."

Meril sings:
    "Gills took form along his face, his skin warped into scale,
     His legs were fused -- as he still screamed -- into a thrashing tail.
     The sounds grew hoarse, and before soon he made but gasping cries,
     As I stood frozen, watching the red horror in his eyes."

Meril sings softly:
    "'He'll die here if we leave him.' -- I startled at her voice,
     How calm she was despite the fight -- 'Unless that be thy choice?'"

Meril sings weakly:
    "'N-no,' I answered. 'For to the sea this one we ought to give,
     And if the gods are merciful, there he will learn to live.'"

Meril sings liltingly:
    "'I'll take him then, in that at least you will be free of blame.
     What will you do now, after this? Is your wish still the same?'
     She took my hands and met my gaze with eyes of purest blue --
     I knew not if what I saw there was ever false or true."

(Meril takes a deep breath. One by one, the spotlights drift away elsewhere around the stage, leaving only the first one where she stands.)

Meril sings quietly:
    "'I'll -- return to the town, I think, and tell them of the news,
     Or close enough a story that none would think to accuse.
     But seeing him, I understand who you are meant to be --
     As different from the life I seek as earth is from the sea."

Meril sings quietly:
    "'I'll wait here for you when it is time, but live my life apart,
     And keep our secrets hidden, and always close to heart.
     And surely as the sea will rise and winter winds are cold,
     I'll bring you offerings every year while slowly I grow old.'"

(Meril inclines her head as the song draws to a close and the spotlights go out slowly, one by one, until the stage is covered in near darkness. She drops into a careful bow.)