“Oh, Isalita,” Brendoris sighed. “Don’t you just love the Pan Pipes? The sound is so dreamy. And Journeyman Taunilyn is so handsome, and his story is so romantic!”
“Yes,” Isalita replied with an echoing sigh. “When you see him on the stage like that, you hardly notice the crippled hand. I saw him walking with Master Natamys, and even his limp wasn’t too noticeable. And he is really handsome.” She sighed again, and both girls leaned back against the vine covered trellis, gazing dreamy eyed at the oblivious player.
The music ended, and Taunilyn, smiling, bowed to the applause. His turn was over for now, and he was looking forward to getting something to eat and drink. As he turned to go off the stage, he noticed a face barely seen at the back of the crowd; an angry, hating face. Even as he completed his turn, he recognised it. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a sudden movement, and something glittering sailing toward him. He swerved slightly to the right. There was a thump against his left shoulder, and then a sharp pain. Warm wetness started running down his back. The force of the blow staggered him, and Master Natamys hurried over to help him.
By the time they reached the area behind the stage, Journeyman Healer Quinlani was there. Quickly they removed Taunilyn’s tunic and shirt, and Quinlani went to work. In a short time the wound was cleaned and stitched, and a dressing taped in place.
“Who would have done such a thing?” Natamys wondered. “I thought all the troubles you had, ended when those three troublemakers were expelled.”
“It was Zachren,” Taunilyn said. “I caught a glimpse of his face. He was in an alcove, almost hidden. As I turned away, I glimpsed a quick movement, and a glittering in the air, so I veered a bit right. I should have veered a bit more, but at least, I moved enough to avoid getting seriously wounded. Eamon and Delmon grew up, and we are all friends now.”
Natamys turned to Baron Rayhan, who had hurried over when he saw Taunilyn stagger. Before he could say a word, the Baron was already ordering his guards to search the grounds. “Guard all ways out. We must find him, and this time, there will be no mercy. He has done nothing but cause trouble since he was expelled. It is time he paid for his deeds.” The guards left at a run.
Zachren slipped away as soon as he saw that he had missed his target. He was angry. He had been so sure no one could see him, no way that cripple could avoid the knife! It should have entered his back and gone right into the heart. ‘When will I be avenged?’ he muttered. ‘because of him, I’m an outcast from my family, from my rights as eldest son!’ He slipped behind a mettalsmith’s booth and tore off the dark cloak he was wearing. Underneath, he was dressed in clothes suitable for a son of a Baron. Clothes he had stolen some time earlier, when he heard he would at long last have a chance at his enemy.
He sauntered out and looked around. He saw Eamvin and Delmon buying meat pies at a booth across the way, and strolled over to join them.
“Hello, how are you two doing?” he asked, smiling. “Haven’t seen either of you for years. “
Eamon turned and looked at him in surprise. “Zachren, you fool! The guards are looking all over for you. You would be wise to make a run for it right now, but for heaven’s sake, cover the glad rags! You stand out like a peacock!”
“What!?” Zachren stared at them. “What are they looking for me for?”
“For throwing a knife at Taunilyn. What possessed you to do such a stupid thing?” Delmon said.
Zachren growled, turned, and was facing two of his father’s guards. He started to move, then gave up. They tied his hands and led him off. The other two watched, shaking their heads.
“Two bad he never grew up,” Eamon said. “I was as angry as him when we were expelled, but after six months under Master Kadrell, I realised that apprenticing with him was much more rewarding than the music school. I’m skippering my own ship now, and will soon marry the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. Life couldn’t be better!”
“Yes, I’m much better off now than I ever thought I’d be. It was hard at first, working in the mines, but I remembered something I’d read at the school about mining, and explained it to Master Dunabur. It was a very old method of following a vein, and when he tried it, it speeded up production a lot. Not long after that, I was out of the mine and in the office. I’m Journeyman now, and I married the girl I always loved. We have a new son, and my life is perfect. I thank Nathanya for kicking me out. And I’ve learned to respect Taunilyn. We are friends now, and I am in awe of his musical abilities.”
“Yes, I too have learned that a crippled body doesn’t make a person less. I have spent many happy hours chatting with him when he has visited Seaside Cove. And I really love to listen to his music. He not only plays well, but he composes some of the most intricate and intriguing music I’ve ever heard. I agree, getting kicked out of music school was the best thing that happened to me, until now. Now, the best thing is coming next month. I hope you can be there for my marriage. Too bad Zachren never learned.”
Shaking their heads, both young men headed to the Manor to see if they could find Taunilyn, and see how he was doing. They wanted to renew their friendship, and offer congratulations on his outstanding performance.