Drabble 7 - Bard

Odd as it as, bards often had better lifestyles than most other people during war times. Currency fluctuated as quickly as the sun made its arc across the sky; what cost only a few copper pieces today could cost several silver slabs tomorrow. Music and entertainment was one thing that rarely declined in value. Music brought smiles and a brief haven from the hardships that plagued the empire, and plenty of people were willing to give Chioko a place to sleep and a warm meal in exchange for the lying, comforting songs on his samisen.

Dinner had been a crude, but warm and filling rice gruel. He had plucked at the three strings of his beloved instrument in front of the tiny family's fireplace, causing the two children to get to their bare, dirty feet and dance themselves into exhaustion. Now they lied in their mother's generous lap, suckling thumbs, eyes drooping.

Rain pitter-pattered atop the straw and mud roof, accenting the soft lullaby he now played.

Little child of mine, dry your tears

The sky cries enough for us both let it quell your fears

See the earth, how it weeps

When we die, our hearts it keeps

These things that make you sad will not last forever

Close your eyes and make them disappear into the Never

It's dark now, but the sun will rise to alight another day

Just keep a tight hold on my hand, we'll find our way

Chioko's voice faded into oblivion as the children's eyes closed, their minds tumbling softly into slumber, but his fingers continued to move, strumming across the instrument in the caress of a lover.

The young widow vanished for a moment to tuck the two siblings in their respective beds. His fingers had slowed to a stop by the time she returned. They sat beside one another in front of the hearth, staring into the flames that waved frantically in greeting.

The effects of the war had been hard on this particular woman; lonely, poor, hungry, and in need of remarrying if she or her children were to survive the next year. They wouldn't survive long on a woman's salary…

Her fingers trailed up the cloth covering his arm, and he turned to meet chestnut brown eyes. It was not difficult to discern what it was she desired of him. A soft kiss; a loving, reassuring touch; a few stolen moments to pretend all was right in her tiny, sheltered little world.

It was her charity that provided him food and shelter this night. Who was he to refuse?

He held her cheeks softly, pulling her into a gentle, timid kiss full of falsettos and illusions. He stroked her hair and whispered sweet nothings in her ears-and they were nothings-and treated her the way every woman dreamed of being treated. He gave, and took as little as he could for himself. For how could he dare to take what he wanted from someone who already needed so much?

He was gone before the sun arose, leaving her sleeping form in front of the still-warm coals of the hearth, her body curled up under the rug. He kept his samisen, his true love, strapped to his back, travel bag hanging over one shoulder. A worn, yellow-orange umbrella leaned against the coat closet next to the door. Outside, rain still fell in a steady drizzle. He picked up the umbrella as she strode out of the house, popping it open over his head, softly shutting the entrance behind him.

The road was muddy but solid, tufts of grass on each side of the dirt path lightly frozen. The sky rumbled, clouds hanging low, grey, and burnt orange above his head. With a small curl of his lips, Chioko pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth and hummed an obscure tune to himself as he continued on his journey, allowing his form to be swallowed whole by the pouring rain.

End Drabble 7

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Uhh, an... update? Already? I didn't think I'd end up writing another so quickly, but I guess it as just the right music to listen to... Actually, now that I'm looking at it, this ficlet isn't as involved with the world of Hirine as I'd like it to be, and there's almost no spoken interaction... ah, well, next time. I think it's high time I drabbled on about another noble/royal/wealthy person.

Read, review, and all that jazz,

Megii