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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: April 28, 2018      Views: 627
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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 20 of the book The Piper
Burkehart's decision
"The Piper, part 20" by w.j.debi


Piper is a young musician whose grandfather has passed away, leaving Piper an orphan to be raised by the music guild where he is an apprentice. After the funeral, Piper returns alone to play his flute at his grandfather's grave, and a Fae appears--a creature considered swift, strong and deadly--and compliments Piper's flute playing. Captain Burkehart comes to the rescue and escorts Piper back to the castle. 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 by a vigilant Captain Burkehart. Meanwhile, Piper continues his musical education under the direction of the popular performer Master Braun, including traveling with a performing troupe. A wolf attack leaves Piper separated from the musicians and in the hands of the Fae, Redd-Leif Summerstorm who tells Piper he is half-Elven and Piper's Elven mother (Melodica) is alive and wants to see him.

End of previous chapter
Redd-Leif's shoulders drooped and he put his face in his hands. When he looked up, he stared into the fire. "Melodica was barely conscious, but let out a plaintive, "No, no, no, my baby!' as I ran out of the cottage with her in my arms." Redd-Leif fell silent. When he spoke again, his voice was distant, as if he were speaking only to himself. "I can still hear the anguish in her voice." He shuddered. Then Redd-Leif rose, went to the wood pile and grabbed his cloak. He walked to the mouth of the cave, pausing with his back to the others. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Nature calls." Then he disappeared into the storm.

Sheba moved to the cave entrance and gazed after the Fae. She cocked one ear in Piper's direction. "Summerstorm has told me several times how he regretted leaving you behind that day."

Piper glanced out into the rain, then back at the fire. He placed his flute to his lips, took a deep breath, and improvised a tune to echo the mood of the rain.

Chapter 20

Captain Burkehart yawned, shook his head, and rolled his shoulders to get the blood flowing. How long had he been standing at the window staring into the darkness? Cool, fresh air leaked through the sash and brushed his face, alleviating the overly warm air from the room behind him. Burkehart clenched and unclenched his fists. The aromas of ale and last night's stew, and too many people forced into the protection of the inn were straining his already thin patience. It could be worse. At least the musicians kept everyone entertained with music and stories last night, and only a few people were awake at present. Still, he wanted to be on the move, not cooped up like a prisoner with no control over his destiny.

Burkehart looked out of the window again. A few stars were peeking through the clouds. The storm had moved on, but trees and buildings were still dripping wet; the road in front of the inn was a mire of mud and pools of water.

"Captain Burkehart, sir?"

He turned from the window to face the speaker and gave a slight nod of his head. "Troy."

"The change of the guard has been completed."

Burkehart allowed himself a wry smile. "Thank you, Troy." When Troy did not move on, Burkehart asked, "You think I'm wrong to head out alone?"

"I admit I would prefer you to stay with the company, sir, or at least take a few men with you in case you run into trouble."

"Thank you for your concern, Troy, but I can travel faster by myself. I know this area and the people; I can find help if I need it. Besides," Burkehart looked directly at Troy, "it's time you had a chance to be in command." Then Burkehart glanced in the direction of the sleeping musicians. "Master Braun made it quite clear last night that they would not risk damaging their musical instruments by heading out into the muddy roads. Keeping this crew under control while in close quarters should offer its challenges, but I feel you are up to it."

Troy nodded. "Thank you for your confidence in me, sir."

Burkehart surveyed the occupants of the room. His men were hardened and tanned soldiers, even the officers of noble birth; for them a march in the sodden earth would be just another day's work. The musicians, however, looked pale and pampered in comparison.

"Master Braun may have a point, sir. We can make better time once the roads dry out and firm up. In the long run it may take about the same amount of time, and it will be easier on the animals."

"Perhaps." Burkehart let out a sigh. "At any rate, I will survey the two main routes to Hanover. I'd like to also check out a third way that may be less traveled leaving the ground firmer. It could allow us to be on the road sooner. Or the roads may not be passable at all." Burkehart waved toward the window. "It's almost dawn. Walk with me to the stable, Troy. There are too many ears here and too many people sleeping with their horses and donkeys in the stable. There's no one on the road at the moment."

"Yes, sir."

Burkehart girded on his sword, put on his cloak and gloves, and reached for his pack. Then the two men stepped out into the street. Mud sloshed ankle deep and they had to keep moving so they wouldn't get sucked in by the sludge.

When they were a few feet from the inn door, Burkehart said, "If I am not back in five days, get this group to Hanover as fast as possible using the main route. I'll catch up with you as quickly as I can. As we discussed, keep an eye on the musicians. I want to know if any of them disappear from the group, even for a short time, and let me know who and how long when I return."

"As you wish, sir."

A northerly gust whipped at their cloaks and then died back to a slight breeze. Burkehart let out a pleased sigh. "Ah, looks like nature might help us out. A couple of windy days will dry things out."

"And drop the temperature," Troy added.

Burkehart clapped a hand on Troy's shoulder. "It is spring, warm one day and cold the next." Then he handed Troy an envelope sealed with a wax crest. "This message must be delivered to the Duke's brother in Hanover when you get there. Wait for a response and return it to Duke Welf."

Troy looked puzzled. "But you'll be back to deliver it yourself, sir."

"Yes, that is the plan." Burkehart surveyed their surroundings. "But in case I am delayed I leave it in your capable hands."

Troy nodded, a suppressed smile on his lips. "Yes, sir, Captain Burkehart."

"Good man. Now go back to the inn and keep an eye on things."

"Yes, sir." Troy saluted. "Good luck, Captain."

"The same to you, Troy. See you in a few days."

Burkehart stopped on a firmer plot of ground under the roof of the stable to watch Troy re-enter the inn. A stronger gust of wind whipped his cloak about him then settled back to a steady breeze. Satisfied he was alone, Burkehart turned up the street and headed, not for Hanover, but back the way they had come. Somewhere out there a fairie wolf lurked in the forest, and that creature might lead him to Piper and Rupert, and perhaps the fairie realm itself.


Cast of Characters 

Piper = A musical apprentice, just turned age 15. 

Rupert = A musical apprentice. Piper's friend, age 14. 

Grand Master Raymond Acker = Head of the music guild. Piper's grandfather. Recently deceased leaving Piper an orphan under the care of the music guild. 

Captain Burkehart = Captain of the Guard at Castle Welf 

Redd-Leif Summerstorm = A Fae 

Master Braun = Troubadour recently promoted to the rank of Master in the music guild at Castle Welf 

Sheba = an enchanted creature in wolf form 

Melodica = an Elven female 

Fair Folk = Refers to non-human races sometimes considered magic such as elves, Fae, brownies, sprites, gnomes, dwarfs, etc. Also called elementals. 



The book continues with The Piper, part 21. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Thank you to GaliaG for the use of the artwork "Music Abstract"
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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