by Ruben Ortega about a month ago in fact or fiction

Voyage of a Bard

It’s the third day on our voyage. I am unsure what’s bothering me. Is it the waves? The wind? Or the ship creaks as it rocks from side to side. Only a rowboat would be cheaper than this old ship. If honesty were to strike me at this moment I would admit to feeling sick, as I’ve never seen the ocean prior to this task.

“If you don’t get back you may freeze, boy.” – the captain said.

He wasn’t wrong. I didn’t grow up in a desert but freezing and surrounding by water is not the way I would describe home. I had come on deck to relieve my stomach incapable of seeing how much of an inconvenience I was. The men on board had gave me angry scowls as I return to my place in the cabin.

My name is not important. I am simply a humble bard that plays for the captain as he rests. When I am not playing for him, I play for the men on the ship, although I can’t say I’m the favorite. Probably because I don’t know any of the songs they request. I’ve had to pry for lyrics, put together chords for the melodies by ear, or on multiple occasions just make it up. I get a few hours throughout the day to rest but it can be a bit noisy as you hear sailors scream commands at each other. Food is rationed and disgusting, and I typically get the short straw. The only luxury I am allowed is the privacy of the captain’s space to write him new material.

Being a bard isn’t all-bad, I took this job on recommendation of an old friend to get experience adding magic to my skill set. I guess I should clarify that a bard can fit many roles but the job in itself is so unique it isn’t just strumming a lute and chanting. I have heard that bards of old used to quest! They had strange magical abilities and the thought of it excites me. While I was promised good work, I guess I thought it would be me hexes and spells, not chants and harmonies. At least the training at the church came in handy.

It could be days before we reach shore, and any more pranks on the poor composer may set him off to jump ship. I guess the temptation is there. Never the less I must pull through!!! I will not let my old friend down. I will become an accomplished bard! I don’t care what any Order says. I must succeed.

As each day passes, I think more and more of the future to come, the past I left behind, and just about anything to take away from this moment right now. “What’s bothering you?” the captain asked. Realizing that I haven’t plucked a string in over a minute, I quickly resume playing. I can feel the captains gaze move from whatever his occupation at the moment was to me. Even he can tell my attention seems to be elsewhere. I decide to fill my void of escapism by writing down some of the stories from the sailors. I’ve collected some about Sirens, ghosts with no face, a floating fur ball, and a giant that roams the upcoming waters. I knew sailors had some stories but these are so on point I half expected one to talk about some giant snake or a squid monster that can crush a ship in seconds. I mean, the only believable one was the giant, and even I know a sorcerer would have to have be dragon born to conjure such a summon. Facts aside, these stories do entertain. I wonder if I’ll see anything worth telling about? Who knows, maybe I’ll have my own monster to warn people about! I know we’re passing through the northern hemisphere but I don’t think it can get any colder than this.

fact or fiction
Ruben Ortega
Ruben Ortega
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