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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: December 6, 2016      Views: 522
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Favorite saying by Albert Einstein, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

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Chapter 8 of the book The Piper
The Escort
"The Piper, part 8" by w.j.debi

Piper, a young musician, risks leaving the protection of the castle and the city gates one evening, and spends the night playing his flute at his grandfather's grave. A Fae appears--a creature considered swift, strong and deadly--and compliments Piper's flute playing. As the Fae approaches Piper, a city guard comes to the rescue and the Fae disappears. During the next few weeks the Fae approaches Piper on several occasions and says he has some secrets he needs to share, but each time they are interrupted. One evening, Piper is packing to go on tour with Master Braun, and the Fae shows up disguised as a troubadour. Just as the Fae is about to say why he wants to talk to Piper, Captain Burkehart appears at the door.  

End of previous chapter
A movement in the doorway caught Piper's attention. He leaned to the left so he could see past Redd-Leif.

"Good evening, Captain Burkehart." Piper noted that the Captain was fully armed, a hand resting on the hilt of his sword. From the corner of his eye, Piper saw Redd-Leif stiffen.

"Good evening, Piper, and to you as well, Troubadour."

Chapter 8

Captain Burkehart nodded at Piper from the doorway, but kept a hand on the hilt of his sword and an eye on the individual dressed as a troubadour. "I see you are busy packing for your journey, Piper. I hope that won't keep you from attending the festivities tonight."

"Oh, it won't, Captain," Piper said. "I'll have plenty of time to get ready."

"Are you providing any of the entertainment tonight?"

"Not officially, but after the ceremony there will be time for impromptu performances: storytelling, music, magic tricks, and all sorts of tomfoolery. It could go quite late." A dreamy look accentuated the huge grin that had not left Piper's face in days. "It's going to be grand."

Burkehart couldn't suppress a smile at the lad's enthusiasm. "It sounds exciting." The captain's gaze wandered to their companion. "And you, Troubadour, will you be favoring us with any entertainment tonight?"

"Perhaps." The troubadour gave a slight nod, keeping his face in the shadow of his large hat as much as possible. "We'll see how the evening goes."

"Yes, of course." Burkehart repositioned himself so that he was leaning against the door jamb. He studied the troubadour for a moment. "Sir," he said, "your clothes indicate you are visiting from a northern region. That area of the world fascinates me. I would love to hear the news of your travels. I'm making my rounds before the ceremony begins this evening. If you can accompany me I would like to ask you some questions as we walk." He looked over at Piper. "That is, if Piper can spare you. Do you mind, Piper?"

"No, not at all, Captain. I still have some packing to do and I need to change for the ceremony."

"Well, then, we will leave you to your preparations. Good evening, Piper." Burkehart straightened up, nodded at Piper, then stepped from the doorway into the hall. "Troubadour? Shall we be on our way?"

"By your leave," the troubadour said to Piper, giving him a slight bow before following the captain.

Piper nodded to each of them in return.

As the pair started down the hallway, Burkehart said in a low voice, "Don't try anything, Summerstorm. I have men positioned in strategic places to keep an eye on you."

"And your hand has never left your sword hilt. I am flattered," Summerstorm said with a smirk. "What have I done to deserve such attention?"

"Hopefully, nothing, but you're in disguise which indicates you are up to something."

"Disguise? I am just dressed for the evening."

"So now you're a troubadour? Why doesn't that surprise me?"

"I do have musical talent."

Burkehart frowned. "Too bad you won't be able to prove that since you aren't attending the festivities tonight. I do thank you, at least, for not upsetting Piper. He seemed in good spirits."

"Of course. It is an important evening for him." After they walked a few more paces, Summerstorm asked, "Tell me, Captain, what is your interest in the boy? You seem to be keeping a close watch on him."

"I might ask you the same thing. What do you want with him?"

"Me? I admire his musical ability. You heard him play at his grandfather's grave and then the other night with Braun. He's a prodigy. Piper plays better than most masters. Such talent is rare in one so young."

"And you intend to exploit that talent somehow."

Summerstorm stopped and faced Burkehart. "Not at all. I am merely an admirer."

"Keep moving," Burkehart growled, and motioned Summerstorm toward the next archway where two guards stood waiting. Summerstorm complied at a slow measured pace.

"Does Piper know who you are?" Burkehart asked.

"He knows I am Fae and that I like his music."

"Nothing more?"

"Nothing more." Summerstorm raised an eyebrow. "Again, Captain, what is your interest in Piper? Is he a relation of yours?"

"My interest is protecting him from your kind."

"My kind?"

"Fae, faeries, gnomes, pixies, elves, trolls, sprites, alfar and the like."

Summerstorm huffed. "You name quite a few races."

"Alright then, Elementals, the Fair Folk, or Faerie-kind if you prefer. Call yourselves whatever you like, but your kind preys on the young and vulnerable. Piper is both at present. He recently lost his last living relative, and he is starting out on his first adventure into the world. He doesn't know what to expect. Who knows who or what he will believe or how he will react? And he's just at the age your kind likes to lure away with tales of changelings who were exchanged at birth with human children and now need to return to their 'true parents' in the Faerie world."

Summerstorm scowled. "Stories invented by you humans to frighten your children and make them suspicious of the Fair Folk."

Burkehart took a deep breath and was about to respond when a shout came from the archway.

"Look! It's Troubadour Braun!"

Both Burkehart and Summerstorm turned to look behind them, but Braun was nowhere in sight.

Summerstorm turned an impish grin on Burkehart. "Seems I've been mistaken for Braun. Frankly, I don't see the resemblance. He's a good two inches shorter and not nearly as muscular as I am. Well, it is said that the clothes make the man."

A moment later a crowd of enthusiastic Braun admirers mobbed them. Burkehart made a futile attempt to grab Summerstorm's arm, but the crowd quickly came between them. Pinned against the wall, Burkehart was helpless to do anything except watch Summerstorm being swept away by the crowd. Summerstorm looked over his shoulder and smirked at Burkehart one last time before he disappeared from sight.

Burkehart cursed. Red faced, he turned toward the archway where his two men were posted. "Guards!"

The book continues with The Piper, part 9. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Thank you to GaliaG for the use of the beautiful artwork "Music abstract"
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