Harassing the Troubadour

Terrel reminded himself that making people burst into flame was more illegal than not.

In lieu of human barbeque, he scowled again at the list his sister had given him that morning. Help your darling sister out she’d cooed, before flouncing away to try on her wedding gown for the five millionth time.

A goblin knocked into him, nearly sending him straight into a puddle of something that looked like mud but was probably far more frightening than that, to judge by the stench. Fire flared briefly at his fingertips, just long enough to send the surely-looking goblin running away like a maiden in a tavern at midnight.

Feeling somewhat mollified, wishing fervently he could give up wandering the over-crowded streets and return to his own work, he turned away from the retreating goblin–

And ran straight into what felt like a wall.

Swearing profusely, he checked his nose to make certain it was merely bruised, and not broken.

Easy, warm chuckles washed over him, drawing his attention up–and up.

Very good looking, he thought absently. Handsome, elegant. He always did like a man with dark hair, and that bit of curl wasn’t bad at all. The blue eyes were common enough, but they held a sparkle that wasn’t.

Terrel realized belatedly he should be speaking. “My apologies.”

“No, no,” the man said with a grin, pushing back an errant strand of hair. “My fault entirely. I was more interested in the songs in my head than where my feet were leading me.” He gave Terrel a slow look up and down. “Not that I’m complaining where they’ve brought me.”

Smiling, Terrel didn’t bother to step back to give them a bit more proper space. “Music?” he asked, and only then noticed the colorful pin fastened to the man’s pale green tunic. A swirl of colors wrapped around a star–the mark of the Performer’s Guild. The star was silver, marking the man as a musician. “Oh,” Terrel said before the man could reply. “I think I’m hunting for your lot.”

The man laughed, then stepped back to sweep him as much of a bow as the milling people around them would permit. “Kera, Master Troubadour, at your service, my lord fire mage.”

Terrel returned the bow, unable to resist a laugh of his own. “Terrel, Flame Master, and a pleasure to meet you.”

“Oh, an honor indeed, to meet a Flame Master.”

He could see Kera was surprised—he didn’t look the part, he knew. He was several years young for the position, short and plainly dressed, and he did not ornament his hair the way so many of his brethren were inclined. Nor did he wear any marks indicating his status. It was much easier to get around when he wasn’t intimidating everyone around him.

Kera, for all his surprise, did not appear intimidated. Then again, crashing into someone rather ruined any chance of intimidation.

“Why do you seek the Performer’s Guild, my lord?” Kera asked. “Have you a ball or dinner for which you require entertainment?”

“Good lord, no,” Terrel said with a grimace. “Not even. My sister is getting married, and she set me to…” He lifted the list, and squinted at the words, wishing he had not forgotten his spectacles. “…’track down those dratted perfromers and harass them until you obtain confirmation they will be there, at the appointed time, and mostly sober’. So that is my mission, I suppose.”

Kera threw his head back and laughed. “I do believe I know the wedding in question. Tiny woman, with gold hair and freckles, bit of a temper?”

Terrel snorted. Saying his sister had a bit of a temper was like saying the dam kept back a little bit of water. “That would be the one.”

“I was assigned to that one,” Kera said with a grin. “I’ve got a festival the night before, though, so I can’t promise much more than ‘moderately sober’. Sorry.”

“No worries,” Terrel replied. “I intend to be ‘mostly not sober’ myself. Her groom can have her, and may the gods reward his fortitude and courage.”

Kera grinned. “So, my lord, would you care to harass me over lunch or dinner? Or would that be too bold of a lowly, uncouth musician?”

Terrel glared briefly at a woman whose elbow got his ribs in her hurry to get by them. He took Kera’s arm just to prevent being dragged away, and said, “Lunch sounds perfect, and I suppose if that is not suitable enough a length of harassment, we can discuss dinner.” At his place. Food optional.

To judge by the gleam in Kera’s eyes, lunch would be delightful, and dinner delightfully sinful.