Haughtily Hungover Hindsight

            She looked like Naieyle, and that is why. That is how.

            The Sleepy Slough Inn was quiet at midday, yet still far from empty. A shrieking in the distance shattered windows, with an arcane force. The glass fell back neatly upon the inner window sills, and clattered into shining heaps.

            That is how I justify it.

            And in the center suite, facing the street on the second floor, two people rolled in their separate beds. To them, and their hangovers, the echoing scream was more painful than what the windows had felt. It shook their heads with uneasiness and discomfort.

            For fame has lost me the fencer of my heart.

            Though the afternoon was maturing well, the Slough Inlet was still recovering from a night thick with merriment and debauchery. The modest port town knew to be quiet and courteous towards those still sick with the remnants of the harvest's last night. However, down the forest path that led into town, it was clear that someone had not anticipated the occasion.

            This scream that swims my head with pain, does not compare to the heartache I feel...

            The cries of a tortured, angry woman contended awkwardly, all across town, with the hangovers of the celebration. The final day of the harvest was always celebrated with great drinking and high spirits. Regardless of whether a highly-acclaimed pair of troubadours was in town.

            We pay dearly for that night. Oh, that wonderful night... and this wonderless, yet ponderful, morning. Then came a long, deep, heartful groan, and a handsome man stirred beneath linen sheets. His broadly angled, striking face was bristling with red, unshaven hairs. And the sunlight that penetrated his shattered, draped window fell upon the saffron dye that glistened upon him.

            Her hair was blond, as is my favourite wig within Naieyle's collection.

            And the woman to whom the saffron dye belonged, not so sluggish, had already left his bed at noon. All she'd left was a trace of yellow across his left shoulder, neck and face. It was the popular thing to do, if one chose to sell one's body so. Perhaps because the blond dye separated, distinctly, the lewd Lakeland wenches from the pretentious nobility of Crownlake.

            "Johm, wake up!" A childishly high voice called, from the person across the suite in the other bed. "The Qurystal of Slough Temple will mend the torment of fine poison."

            The man raised himself up wearily with both arms, against the frame of his straw mattress. And as he did so, his feet grazed the shards of glass that had fallen upon the foot of his bed. He was tall, and his feet had hung beyond the reach of the linen sheets, which were now askew from the passage of his womanly companion. And, again, he groaned.

            She did things Naieyle was going to wait until marriage for...

            "I don't blame you, man. I'd have done the same thing, last night, if I had the plums for it." Again, the sweet voice of the other man; though he was no man. A child's voice and a diminutive yet masculine body - as aged as any young adult in its own eccentric way.

            "Well, I'm sorry I didn't feel the need to sacrifice my golden plums for my singing," Johm's rich voice, thickly laced with sarcasm.

            "That's all right, I drank enough that I slept through the pair of you moaning into the night, man. Heh heh," his memory fell upon the night - the tavern, the people, the songs, the drinking and the joy. He lay there, his dirty blond hair sleeked back in a mane of mild curls, towards a ponytail that fell beyond his shoulders. Bright green eyes blinked nervously. And then the eunuch remembered the promise his friend had made a week ago. For a moment, his attention had trailed off. Then, "Naieyle?"

            Naieyle! A look of horror crossed Johm's face at the utterance of the name, and the look on his friend's face. She had been on his mind, but not in that way. He had been trying to pretend fame had not eclipsed her from his life. And his reddened face, topped with scintillating freckles and fiery red hair, was met with the tears of regret.

            "Don't fret, Jo', I won't mention it."

           However, Johm just kept sobbing. If we ever see her again... He stared at the corner of the room, where they'd put down their instruments.

            A lavishly painted green shawm, its finger holes rounded with enamel and its tip sharp with a bamboo double-reed, rested upon its bell. And every tiny lever had a tab painted and carved as a green leaf. And the bell, itself, flared out like a blossoming orange flower. The shawm was as renowned as its player, and its sound was as sweet as any flower's nectar.

            Pretentious, fragile fame. As fragile as any love.

            Beside it, lying lengthwise upon the ground, was another double-reed woodwind. It was a fagotti. The baroque bassoon was of a rich, reddish brown pearwood. The buttons on it, too, were shaped like leaves, and made of patinaed copper; such that they looked like greenery in the early fall, soon to redden. However, its thinly barrel-rounded bell ended without flare, with the jewel-eyed, gleaming head of a lower-Lakeland leviathan-eel. The mouth was open round in a perfect circle, and its lips were rimmed with a ceramic ring. Its duty was to shatter without the shaft of the instrument breaking - in the event of a fall. And the whole thing, a great vine-wrapped eel, was bent in a 'U' shape.

            Looking at their vainglorious instruments, Johm's thoughts revolved around his engagement. Leaving their quiet, rural village on behest of the Queen of Lakeland. Rarely ever, or perhaps never, to see their friends, families and lovers again. We chose to pursue fame, and yet still I regret leaving her. Even if royal non-compliance would end... with my head upon a berdiche. Must I have left my fair fencer, Naieyle?

            "C'mon, put on your vestments. We should foot it to the temple, to heal our nightly woes. Then we've got a canoe to load and launch. Crownlake won't reach itself."

The End

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