Revelation in Narrative
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Scintillating starlight gleamed between the wisps of misty cloud. The symphony of cricket drones beat a counterpoint to the chattering of oak leaves in the late night breeze. Shafts of cold clear light from Luclin's lunar surface snaked across the surface of the lake below, and the earth was still. So still that Naethan knelt to press a hand against the ground, lightly humming a tracking tune as he cast his gaze quickly from left to right. His party shifted their weight as silently as possible behind him. He smiled as he felt the light tug of the song as it pulled his mind to the east. "This way," he whispered as he stood, pulling the lute from his back.
The dew-laden grass grunched softly beneath their assorted boots, solarets, shoes, and even a bare pair of feet wrapped lightly in cured silk, and they hunched down as they moved. The orc would have heard these various sounds, if not for the sound of the hilt of his axe striking the ground as he idly jostled it in boredom. The party froze, holding their breath as a solitary figure broke from the group and creeped ahead. In one sudden movement, Sarith was behind the green-skinned monstrosity, daggers buried to their hilts in the space between his helm and the back of his breastplate. With a muted gurgle, he fell to the ground. Giving a silent signal to continue, he faded back into the shadows, and the party continued.
The sound of bubbling lava crested up over the ridge, and the sound of gravel falling was the first and most obvious signal that they had reached the edge of the pit. Suddenly, an orchestra of feral grunts rose up from the pit.
"Damnation. We're spotted," hissed Kolthax from beneath seven feet of steel-plated armor. Pulling his shield from one shoulder and his blade from his hip, he burst into a slow trot. "Charge!" he yelled in a guttural barbarian yawp. Naethan's lute already in hand, his fingers flew to the right notes, and suddenly the entire group of five brave warriors was running at an impossible speed thanks to his song, flying down the crest of the pit as their blades met with Orc steel and flesh. Hooting and shouting, they all praised Naethan's leadership, that he was able to find this place, and keep everyone together in light of the insane melee. It was barely organized chaos, and it was beautiful. The beauty was broken instantly.
"NATHAN!" a shrill female voice from the other side of the house exclaimed. "GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!"
"Damnation," he whispered. Typing as fast as he could, he tried to apologize to his friends, making up some lie about the wife or being paged or something, it didn't matter anyway. "Hang on, mom!" he yelled.
The rest of the party hurled insults and apologies, not necessarily in that order. Kolthax sent a private message: "Mom yelling at you?"
"Yup," he typed back. He had barely hit enter when he was already running down the stairs, awkwardly stepping over a chihuahua, a guitar, and two towels as he went. As he hit the bottom steps, he realized the sky outside was the red and purple of late evening. Had he been gone that long?
"What are you doing up there?" she demanded.
"I'm raiding, mom" he sheepishly explained. She shot him a quizzical look, then shook her head.
"What is this?" she asked, holding up a towel. He hung his head in shame.
"Looks like a towel, ma," he said, idly rubbing the back of his neck.
"It is a towel. Does it go on the floor?" she asked.
"No, it goes in a hamper. I'm sorry, I just got--" he started.
"It doesn't matter. I don't get this. Why can't you do this?" she insisted. His voice was hoarse as he grasped awkwardly for a response. Did he really need a reason?
"I guess I'm just dumb?" he offered.
"Don't feel sorry for yourself," she instantly scolded. There was something between anger and remorse in her voice.
"Wouldn't feeling sorry for myself be more like, 'why are you yelling at poor old me', not 'why am I so stupid'?" he asked. Her eyes narrowed in what he could only assume was rage, but might have been thoughtful rage.
"It doesn't matter. If it were a snake, it would have bit you when you walked by it. I thought you were getting better about this!" she screamed. Nathan wondered why everything is a snake in these conversations, and why the snakes would bite him instead of just letting him by.
"Look, I am getting better--" he began.
"So if I go upstairs, I won't find two towels on the floor?" she said as she started up the stairs.
"No, wait. I might have left one out there," he offered, too late. She was going up the stairs. Head hanging low, he followed her up. Each step brought him further into the upper floor, and he was further away from Naethan with each plod on the carpet. One day, he would be the bard with the skills to inspire nations. But not today. He patiently lowered his head and continued to trudge up the steps. The lights upstairs were off, and the evening light from the windows faded into darkness...
The sky was pitch black, obscured by clouds that covered the night stars. They moved rapidly in the broken sky of the Outlands. Solwyn's metal-covered charger whinnied as it worked a spot of the road with its front paws. "Easy girl," he said with a smile.
"That's no way to talk to a lady," Daenalyn said, the silent paws of her Nightsaber mount coming to a gentle stop next to him.
"You know I was talking to my horse," Solwyn chuckled. Daenalyn smirked in response, tossing her strangely azure hair.
"Where to?" she asked. Solwyn opened his journal with a heavily gauntleted fist and flipped a few pages.
"Due north, there's a Horde settlement nearby but we need to drop off these plans to the men at the nearby camp," he said with quiet authority. They both smiled and Daenalyn broke into a gallop on her mount, leaving Solwyn in the dust. Hastily throwing his journal aside, he grinned as he pulled back on the reins of his charger. "Ha!" he shouted, giving chase.
They swerved in and out of hills and trenches in the broken desert landscape, leaping and dodging as they went. He glowed with both holy power and leadership, and he was in his element. He leapt at the sound of a chirping bird.
"Honey, it's the phone," Danielle said from across the room. Nathan shook his head to free his ears from the headphones, and reached down to grab his cell phone, couching it against his shoulder so he could continue playing as he spoke.
"Y'ello, this is Nathan," he said with a smile.
"Hey man, did you ever hear back about the hall director job?" the voice on the other end asked. Nathan's shoulders fell, and he typed a quick apology, he had to take this call in the other room. Danielle understood.
"No, I haven't heard anything yet. Do you know what's up?" he whispered as he went to the only other room in their tiny five-hundred square foot apartment.
"I'm sorry man," the friend on the other end said. "The offers have all been made. Who did you interview with?" Nathan's shoulders somehow fell further as he closed the door behind him.
"Never got an interview. That's weird," Nathan responded. His voice was obviously haunted by an air of shattered spirit.
"Look, I don't know what happened. Everyone I've talked to said they were just waiting for your paperwork. Maybe it got lost," the voice said.
"Yeah, I guess that's true." Nathan sat down on the mattress that was laid out on the floor for a bed.
"What are you going to do?" the voice asked.
"I don't know. Everyone told me I was a shoo-in for this. I'm--" he began, but his voice cracked. "I'm too tired to think about it. There's a midnight to eight AM job that's open at one of the halls."
"Oh. Well that could be cool," the voice said cheerfully. "That gives you time to work on your music, right?"
Nathan sighed. "Yeah, that's true." Solwyn was riding his horse faster and faster away, and the aura of leadership and honor went with him. The slam of hooves against the ground faded slowly away, to be replaced by a gentle tapping sound...
In the distance, a wolf howled mournfully at the moon, and the steady chop of axes on wood filled the Chetwood night air. Narenath sat on a rock, his harp in his lap as he absently plucked the strings. His long hair tousled softly by the night wind, he rocked back and forth gently with it as he absently pressed the strings, his eyes closing as he let the music pull him away into the Middle-Earth night wind. He didn't notice the crunching sound as a Champion ran along the road in front of him. After a few paces, he turned around and returned, sitting down before him to listen. The sound of the man's whisper broke Narenath from his reverie.
"That's great," he said, admiration clear in his voice. Narenath jolted a bit, then chuckled as he thanked the stranger. He continued playing, and the man just sat there listening. After a few moments, he was jolted again, but this time by an alert of "out of character" speech. "Is that a script or something?" a video gamer somewhere was asking Nathan.
"No, I just have my midi keyboard hooked up to the game," Nathan typed back.
"Wow, so I'm just listening to you perform live?" he asked. Nathan shrugged, but Narenath just stood there dumbly.
"I guess you are," he said with a smile. He added a smiley emoticon for good measure.
"I could listen to that all day," the stranger said. That suddenly reminded Nathan of something, and he checked his clock.
"I'd love to entertain that, friend, but I need to go pick up the wife. We're meeting some friends for a movie," he typed back. Disappointed, the stranger stood.
"Thanks for the tune," he typed. Then his character waved and he ran away.
As Nathan reached down with his mouse and clicked the logout button, he smiled a bit. With a slight grunt, he rose from his seat and went to the door. Pulling on his jacket and walking away from the computer, he could feel Narenath's eyes on his back, watching him go. Nathan was sad, but he smiled, because he knew that Narenath was realizing that he would never be Nathan.