Dirty Money 

by Arpelli 
(11th Annual Bardfest Finalist)
You see Arpelli the Bardess, a Half-Elf. 

She appears youthful and of average height. She has almond-shaped chestnut eyes and fair skin. She has cropped, shiny brunette hair with a red streak running through it and slightly pointed ears.

She is wearing a moppet hat made from bright patchwork velvet, a gold samite minstrel's cloak, a sleek black bathing costume with narrow straps, and a gold-inlaid modwir lute case.

Arpelli says, "So, the other day I was invited to a little gathering over in River's Rest."

Arpelli exclaims, "I figured since I was new in town it would be a great place to make some friends and enjoy a quiet evening out. However, an evening out with these people is far from quiet...and lands away from uneventful!"

Arpelli says, "I mean, what could go wrong? What could be so bad about going swimming at the creek in River's Rest? Yeah...that's what I thought, too. I had no idea that this particular evening would drastically change how I viewed the common Elanthian currency."

Arpelli recites:

"I will now perform for you the song that I wrote the day following this excursion.
It is called Dirty Money!"

(Arpelli adds some simple chording to the baseline melody.)

Arpelli sings melodically:

"It was a night unlike most nights
we gathered by the creek,
To sing and laugh and dance with luck
so close and cheek to cheek."

Arpelli sings melodically:

"Most women wore their bathing suits,
One man wore woolen kilt.
But near the water he'd not go,
Wool shrinks and some things wilt."

(Arpelli places her hand across the lute strings, promptly deadening the sound.)

Arpelli says, "You know, now that I think about it he went in the water anyway."

Arpelli shrugs.

Arpelli laughs softly, trying to hide her amusement.

(Arpelli resumes a jaunty strum.)

Arpelli sings flowingly:

"A grass skirt swished and swayed so free,
The men, they did not mind.
They'd stand quite still with hands clasped tight,
while watching from behind."

Arpelli sings flowingly:

"Such finery I'd never seen,
and mine was nothing less.
I donned a small strapped bathing suit,
and now I must confess."

(Arpelli draws the lute high up on her chest and while adding an offbeat strum, plays the melody line flawlessly. After running through the succession of notes she gives a final strum.)

Arpelli says, "I'm just not feeling it. Something's not right."

Arpelli ponders.

Arpelli exclaims, "OH!"

Arpelli gazes heavenward.

(Here Arpelli removed her cloak and handed it to another audience member, then finished her performance in her bathing suit.)

Arpelli says, "Ambiance and all."

Arpelli nods.

Arpelli says, "Oh, and for the full effect..."

Arpelli drops a coin.

Arpelli giggles to herself.

(Arpelli leans back and sits up straight in the chair. Her fingers begin to pluck out the familiar melody while she bounces her foot to the cheerful beat. With two accented strums she resumes singing.)

Arpelli sings amusedly:

"My moppet hat felt out of place
'til I spied goggled gnome.
And realized that he had left
his swimming gear at home."

Arpelli tilts her head back.

(Arpelli gazes up to the ceiling and squeezes her eyes shut. She appears to be trying not to laugh.)

Arpelli sings gleefully:

"Aghast, I stood unmoving
while the others went to swim.
Then finally I caught my breath
to follow after them."

Arpelli sings gleefully:

"But as I turned to grab the rope,
and swim across the beach,
A single coin, all by itself,
lay just within my reach."

Arpelli glances at a silver coin.

(Arpelli strums some vibrant chords allowing each stroke to ring throughout the hall before changing to the next.)

Arpelli sings jauntily:

"'Aha!' I thought. A trick indeed,
and I won't fall for this.
But darned that thing, it beckoned me!
A shiny coin to kiss!"

Arpelli sings jauntily:

"The water splashed from down below
loud laughter filled the sky.
The noisy fun was calling me.
Coin once more caught my eye."

(Arpelli begins to whistle a harmony against the mellifluous tune, a perfect major third above the melody.)

Arpelli takes a deep breath.

Arpelli sings:

"I looked around and noticed that
there was no one but me.
'Now here's my chance!' I thought.
'It's time to take this coin! It's free!'"

Arpelli sings:

"With trembling hand I took that coin,
and held it up so high.
I rubbed it, smooched it, licked it once,
Then raised it up to dry."

(Arpelli deadens the string's vibrations with her hand causing the melody to end abruptly. She lays the lute across her lap and glances out at the audience.)

Arpelli squints.

Arpelli says, "Now imagine, if you will. It was a shiny! A bright, shiny coin. It beckoned and teased me as it lay on there on the ground. Really, it did. No one was there to see me pick it up, so, why not? Although, if I had known then what I know now..."

Arpelli shakes her head.

Arpelli shrugs.

(Arpelli returns the lute to its performance position and begins playing, working only the last two measures of the chorus before singing.)

Arpelli sings:

"I grabbed the rope and took a swing
and landed with a splash.
Just me and small strapped bathing suit,
my moppet hat and cash!."

Arpelli sings:

"I tossed the coin up high
to let it fall where all could see.
And yelled, 'First one to dive and find it,
wins the coin from me!'"

Arpelli sings:

"The swimmers choked and gagged and coughed.
I didn't know just why.
Then gnome did swim up close,
removed his goggles, wiped them dry."

(Arpelli makes a dramatic decrescendo and scoots herself to the edge of the chair as the song fades to a whispering tune.)

Arpelli sings softly:

"The sudden quiet sent a chill
from head down to my toes.
Splutters looked so serious,
then wrinkled up his nose."

(Arpelli speaks clearly over the softened but continuing melody line. "If you don't know Splutters, I recommend seeking him out and getting to know him. Oh, and drop a coin on the ground for him." As her speaking voice fades into the music, she begins to strum vigorously, gradually building the music to a fortissimo.)

Arpelli sings clearly:

"I think you need to know just where
that coin has been tonight.'
Through giggles, snorts and chortles,
Splutters tried to be polite."

(Arpelli strums a spirited chord and allows the sound to drift through the hall.)

Arpelli sings sweetly:

"The coin was clutched so tightly
in the safest place I knew.'"

Arpelli smiles broadly and with slow, methodical strums, lets each string ring a clear tone.

Arpelli sings clearly:

"I guess I just relaxed too much,
and dropped the coin for you!'"

(Arpelli agilely plucks the strings with the tips of her fingers, resuming the jaunty pace. The now well-known melody line surfaces once more.)

Ahmeuseng begins to giggle, then bursts out in a silly laugh.

Arpelli sings vibrantly:

"The image of the special coin
came quickly to my mind.
Plus all the licking, smooching, fondling
of my lucky find."

Arpelli sings amusedly:

"I wonder if I'll ever heal
from this traumatic plight.
But hope you learned a lesson
from the song I've sung tonight."

Arpelli sings powerfully:

"If you find something shiny
on the ground at the Rest's creek..."

(Arpelli's fingers copy the melody line previously sung and then rapidly flick across the strings to form a single, arpeggiated chord.)

Arpelli sings loudly:

"Good grief! Don't pick it up!
It could have come from a gnome's cheek!"

(Arpelli runs through the remainder of the chorus and then with a wide stroke of her arm, ends the song on a single strum.)

(Arpelli stands up and lowers her arms to her sides, lute still in hand. She does a grand curtsy and while still bent over, she reaches out to pick up the coin and then shrugs, deciding to leave it on the stage for someone else.)

Arpelli curtsies.