The following is the folding story “The Piper’s Flute” as it has been written so far. It is turning out to be my favorite tale being constructed by The Community. Please read and consider adding a few lines to the tales being told in The Aught or The Naught.
The rain began to poor heavily. Just my luck… Benjamin thought to himself, smiling at the irony of it all. He had a long trek before him, and the sky was beginning to lose light. The scenic hills rolled in the foreground, and despite being soaked through to the bone, a small fire within his heart burned brightly.
In the distance, he saw an Inn. He decided to stop there and dry off, warm up his belly with a hearty hot meal. Benjamin would need all his strength to survive the journey ahead. He knew this was just the beginning. Almost there he felt a sudden chill, he shuddered and at that moment reached deep into his inner pocket, clutching the map Draffno had given him of the Highlands beyond the hedgerows, where he would begin his quest to find the mysterious Piper, the keeper of the Golden Flute. ” I must succeed in bringing the Golden Flute back to Dawnarc Glen”, he mused. Only the magical powers of the Golden Flute will ensure the survival of the Dawnarcs over the tyranny of their sworn enemy, the Ratuarr Clan Empire and their evil Empress Tigreena who has ruled with darkness for millennia, spreading evil over the entire Urld Planet.
Benjamin quickened his pace to reach the Inn,. He was not able to shake the weird chill from his bones… all the while being unaware of an ominous dark figure stalking his every move …
Before taking a room for the night, he decided to grab a pint to celebrate the beginning of his adventure. The Piper… He thought to himself, staring into his frosty mug of ale. When I find the man, I’ll have him teach me his secrets… I swear to the heavens, with his guidance, I will be the greatest musician of all time.
“Hoy there, mister!” A small man, about as tall as the stool Benjamin sat at began tugging at his half-way dried coat. “Me friends and I saw you come in, saw that you were carryin’ one of those strange stringed instruments. Would you play us a song, lad? We’ll buy you another round of what you were havin’! A little livenin’ up would do this place good, we’re startin’ to fall asleep to the patter of rain.” The tiny elderly man said in a friendly tone, his wrinkles accentuating with a deep smile. He wore a large red cap that drooped over the side of his wizened face, scruffy white beard and spectacles that shimmered a reflection of the warm hearth nearby.
The man’s friends were of a similar stature and wearing caps as well, but their hats were of various colours, lengths and shapes. They played cards with one another, puffing corncob pipes and gossiped amongst themselves about the farmers of the countryside and occasionally of their pretty wives. One man with a large black beard wearing a flat purple hat, however, watched Benjamin with an unmoving and suspicious eye.
“Mind if I tune up first? I warn you, it isn’t a pleasant business, but if you’d like anything resembling a song, it’s a necessary evil,” Benjamin asked as he untied the mandolin-like instrument from his rucksack.
“Do what you must, good sir, jus’ be sure it be a merry tune that folks be knowin’. The lethargy is enough to kill us, no sense in makin’ us die sad, too, as ye wanderin’ types often do with yer melancholic laments!”
It only took him thirty seconds of turning knobs and plucking the woefully dissonant strings to set them in good order. The painfully dreadful sound came, however, when he began squeezing the sack that rested beneath his right arm. The men were puzzled by the droning sound it made, much like a bagpipe except that its tone changed with his grip on the mandolin neck and seemed to resonate out the top of the head of the instrument. It was nearly too much cacophony for the few who were trying to enjoy good company and good drink so deep into dusk. Ben kept his eye on the purple-hatted gent, who didn’t seem terribly affected like the others.
Ben gently squeezed and plucked and spun the instrument until finally it all seemed to drone into a tune, then he began singing:
“My dear, she be a-flittin ’bout me in me head all anxiously
For she seen me ‘Neath the oak tree With a lass, fair an’ pretty
My dear did blink As she caught the wink Of the maiden from the city
My heart did sink For I knew she’d think We were havin’ a little diddy”
“Agh! Stop! I told yer none of them’s about unhappy and unfaithful men!” Cried the man in the red cap, “We here are all too old to be further bogged by the stupidity of youthful lust!”
“It’s not what you think,” replied Ben in a hurry, “trust me, and just listen. You’ll be stomping along come the chorus.” The men all sat at attention, now perturbed and a mere nose-hair’s width from storming out the door and breaking Ben’s instrument along the way. Still, the purple-hatted man seemed unmoved. Ben continued:
“So I stopped for an hour To buy her a flower Off the pretty lady from the city
An’ when I returned, Me lady’s ears burned An’ she began a-gettin’ giddy”
Ben paused and smiled as the intrigue caught the attention of every last man in the room, and a smirk came to the corner of purple-hatted’s mouth.
“An’ round an’ round We dance through the night For love we’ve found An’ no better sight Could be beheld But my dear an’ me An’ the golden rose Grown by the lass from the city”
The tune was sung a couple dozen times by everyone in attendance, and it seemed as if they were cast into an intoxicating stupor, when Ben finally stopped. On they sung as he slung the instrument back onto his rucksack, seemingly unaware that there was no longer accompaniment.
For a while Ben got lost in his thoughts. People seemed to be so happy. They all were just completely into the music. Those lyrics just made their day. The lil’ man was dancing along with the music! While Ben pondered.. “It so strange. Sometimes we just want the time to pass by disregarding whatever we have in life. We want to escape from life, cause everything seems so wrong. We never realise that we’ve got so many things to embrace. Every day gives thousands of reasons to smile… And sometimes, we just don’t want time to pass by. We want to stop the life and live there forever. But time has its own pace…” With a slight smile on his face, he got up and went towards his room. The air was mingled along with scent of happiness and joy. The night was cold. He ordered some warm drink before his sleep. He knew he was going to have a long journey and decided to have a good rest.