The Troll Siege

by Zarston
(Bardfest 5111)
Zarston slings a masterfully carved cherrywood case clasped with interlocking silver clefs off from over his shoulder.

Zarston kneels down.

Zarston drops a masterfully carved cherrywood case clasped with interlocking silver clefs.

Zarston fiddles with his cherrywood case before lifting the latch and flipping the cover open.

Zarston removes a red-varnished ancient fireleaf mandolin strung with bright silvery mithril from in a masterfully carved cherrywood case clasped with interlocking silver clefs.

Zarston stands up.

Zarston carefully checks the strings of his mandolin, plucking them lightly and adjusting the tension until the sound is perfectly pitched.

Zarston recites:

    "This is a story about my first encounter with the Troll siege.
     Please listen and be entertained."

Zarston rubs his chin thoughtfully.

Zarston recites jokingly:

    "And if you're not entertained, please at least pretend to be.
     I think the judges watch the audience to make sure you're awake!"

Zarston wraps his fingers around the neck of his mandolin and strikes an ecstatic chord.

Zarston takes a deep breath.

Zarston sings airily:

    "Where were you when the trolls first struck?
     You were safely in bed if you had any luck!
     But I was not one of those nestled in sheets,
     So I stepped through the gate to perform heroic feats.
      
     But I almost didn't make it outside of the town,
     For the empaths had set up a triage for men who were down.
     Watching the writhing adventurers made me feel sick,
     So I screwed shut my eyes and made my feet move quite quick."

Zarston closes his eyes for a moment.

(Zarston takes a couple of bounding steps towards the front of the stage, his face scrunched up as though he is avoiding something unpleasant.  After almost falling off of the stage, his eyes open experimentally and fix themselves back on the audience.)

With the skill of a master, Zarston pushes the song into an explosion of harmony that leaves you full of inspiration.

Zarston sings powerfully:

    "I may seem like a coward, and that may be true,
     But I listened to what the town was yelling to do!
      
     The town's under siege so it's time to fight!
     You cannot run from each and every unpleasant sight!
     For while it may seem like great fun at first blush,
     It will not stay that way unless you survive the enemy's rush!"

(Zarston returns back to the center of the stage, his feet moving in rhythm with the strumming of his mandolin.  His eyes glance down towards his fingerboard for a complicated run of notes before he begins his next verse.)

With a masterful display of showmanship, musical skill and raw talent, Zarston puts on a flamboyant performance to delight all onlookers.

Zarston sings clearly:

    "A gaggle of adventurers had gathered into a group,
     That charged any monster and left their entrails open like soup.
     After watching them for a while, I thought to join their ranks,
     Then I saw a wizard incinerate his friend Trolvin, and I shouted out, "No thanks!"
      
     I escaped from the crowd and charged into the forest,
     Which doesn't really sound like the action that's best.
     But the magnitude of my fault I did not truly realize,
     Until I was standing alone in a sea of unblinking, trollish eyes."

With nimble fingers, Zarston adds a contrasting countermelody to his song, skillfully creating a dramatic effect.

Zarston sings grimly:

    "There was an army around me, and that's not a lie,
     But I gathered up my courage and proclaimed with a sigh,
      
     The town's under siege so it's time to take arms!
     You'll need all of your strength, wisdom, and charms,
     For while the entirety of the Landing may call you a Lady or Lord,
     The only thing that matters to the trolls is if you can handle a sword!"

Zarston begins a musical chant...
Zarston sings a melody.
An animated longsword appears and hovers near Zarston.

(Zarston performs an intricate dance with the sword that consists of the sword taking vicious, exaggerated swings, and Zarston dodging harmlessly out of the way.  After missing a low swipe the animated sword begins to fly out towards the audience.)

Zarston plucks his instrument's lower strings, adding a driving bass foundation to the melody.

The animated longsword dissipates in a shower of sparkling motes of light.

Zarston stops singing.

Zarston grins mischievously.

Masterfully, Zarston draws every nuance out of each slow note, layering melody and harmony in a slow pyramid of tones that sends goosebumps over your skin.

Zarston sings confidently:

    "I swung my shield around me like gnomish toy gear,
     And let out a shout that may have been born from fear.
     But after a skirmish that left me mostly living and them entirely dead,
     I moved deeper into the forest with visions of glory in my head.
      
     I continued fighting on until my arms and voice were sore,
     Leaving behind a trail of trolls in decaying piles of gore.
     But while I was swinging a sonic handaxe at a siege tower,
     A gryphon swooped down on my back and lifted me up higher."

(Zarston stumbles erratically back and forth across the stage, as though an unseen force is pulling him upwards from behind.  His hands never leave his mandolin as he moves, continuing to pick a melody that has increased in speed and urgency.)

Zarston strums across the strings of his mandolin with a purposeful emphasis, then slowly begins fingerpicking the melody and harmony.

Zarston continues the breakneck speed of his song, setting your heart to racing.

Zarston sings nervously:

    "I went higher and higher and the world seemed to grow small,
     But I had enough time to sing boldly before the fall,
      
     The town's under siege and there's no time to think!
     The enemy will pick you right up if you blink!
     And after flying through the air thinking helplessly on your life,
     They'll drop you like a package straight into the strife."

Masterfully, Zarston executes a scale in half-notes, creating a sound like a lightning-fast dragon diving to the earth then pulling up once again.

(Zarston charges towards the front of the stage and makes a half-leap!  His legs slide off of the front of the stage, bringing his butt down towards stage with a small thumping sound.  The only evidence of the impact on his now seated body is a minor wince that quickly fades away as he continues his song.)

Zarston sits down.

Zarston sings somberly:

    "And so after a panic-stricken dive down through the air,
     I landed quite painfully in a troll chieftain's lair.
     After eyeing my body like a meal on a plate,
     The troll slammed his massive fist down and sealed my fate.
      
     I awoke much later on in the center of town square,
     And found my eyes squinting into the midday sun's glare.
     I'd been saved by an adventurer and Lorminstra's smile,
     But my body had spent the rest of the night underneath a grotesque pile."

Zarston shakes his head.

With a small brow furrow of concentration, Zarston increases the tempo further, his fingers fairly flying across the frets.

With the skill of a master Zarston creates a breathtaking fall of harmonics, each tone pure and clear.

Zarston sings:

    "The town was again under siege the very next night!
     But you couldn't find me anywhere within that fight!
     For as soon as the alarm was risen, I suddenly found,
     My eyes were too heavy, and I drifted to a sleep quite sound."

Zarston grins mischievously.

Executing a precise run of masterful fingerwork, Zarston dances his light fingers over the strings of his mandolin in a lighthearted run of harmonics.

Zarston sings playfully:

    "While through those weeks I may not have in my training invested,
     I've never in my entire life felt quite better rested.
      
     But now the town is safe at last and I'm free to stay awake,
     So "Thank you!" to you brave adventurers who fought on for my sake.
      
     And a warm "Hello!" to all of you other fellows,
     Who, like me, spent the invasion testing their pillows."

With a final jaunty chord, Zarston stills the strings of his mandolin.

Zarston stands up.

Zarston bows.