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The Minstrel

Entry for Matthew Fromm high fantasy challenge.

By Mark GagnonPublished 7 months ago 3 min read

Kings, Queens, and nobles of all ranks love a good minstrel show. The common folk travel for miles just to watch me sing and play my lute. Draw bridges are dropped, so I may perform for the lord of the manor. No one denies me access, and no place is off-limits to me. It is a far cry from the way they treat me when my true visage is revealed. Of course, by then, it’s too late.

The sun is on the wane as I approach a foreboding structure surrounded by rich farmland and peasant hovels. Guards man the parapets, longbows at the ready as I reach the main gate. The sentry’s temperament is somber until I strum a happy ditty on the lute to lighten the mood. Smiles crack their austere faces and we engage in lighthearted conversation. I explain why I’m there while continuing to play an uplifting tune. In a matter of minutes, word arrives from the Liege Lord to grant me access. My goal is in sight.

Entering the castle, I am greeted with smiles and polite conversation from merchants and nobility alike. My escort guides me to the great hall where his Lordship sits on an elevated thrown. He greets me warmly and inquires as to the purpose of my visit. I reply that I have only one reason for being here and that is to entertain and spread joy among his subjects. All the while, I gently strum my lute. My answer pleases him and a decree is sent forth, announcing that I will perform that very evening.

A gentle evening breeze causes the courtyard torches to flicker like fireflies performing an intricate dance. Nobles, soldiers, and peasants all gather as one to partake in the night’s festivities. I step up onto a riser and scan the multitude gathered before me. Silence reigns supreme as even the breeze is still. The only sound appears to come from the faint beating of large wings off in the distance.

I raise my lute to a comfortable position, my right hand poised to strum the first cord when it happens. From the back of the crowd, a youngster’s voice shatters the mood by shouting, “He’s not real! It’s an Ogre.” Multiple children scattered throughout the audience repeat this cry. I had hoped to perform at least one song before they dismantled my fake persona. I do so enjoy performing.

Children have always been the bane of my existence. Their uncluttered minds and perfect vision can penetrate my illusionary countenance. Screams of terror pierced the still night as guards ready their weapons for an attack. All useless gestures because my associates have arrived. The flock of gargoyles makes quick work of guards and spectators alike. Two of the flock approach with a child clutched in each claw. They deposit the children at my feet as a tribute. I despise children, but they are the tastiest of humans. I set aside my magic lute and feast.


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.

I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (9)

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  • Lamar Wiggins7 months ago

    I loved the fact that he loves performing even though it’s a risk. Great detail for your character and great jaw dropping twist!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)7 months ago

    Well that was unexpected! I like the chaotic terror at the end of this one! Great work Mark!

  • Celia in Underland7 months ago

    I was not expecting that! But then I never do, you are truly the master of hard-hitting endings Loved the setting-so cool!

  • Oh my gosh the ending was such a surprise! Fantastic Mark. You have a great nack for drawing in and keeping a reader's attention

  • Hahahahahahahahahaha I despise children's too so imagine my delight at your ending!

  • Jay Kantor7 months ago

    m - Yes, Tasty/wit a little Ketchup - j

  • Matthew Fromm7 months ago

    added, thank you for participating!

  • I love the details in your writing. You put me in your main character's head and settings. 👏

  • Hannah Moore7 months ago

    He seems so very calm and unhurried about it all!

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