An Affair of Bards

by Deandre

A delicate flower, Jasmine was born into privilege and married into prestige. A beautiful woman from Hammerfell, she never lacked for suitors. Her marriage to a minor noble was celebrated by her family and helped propel her career in the Legion. Though he was cold and oft times aloof, Jasmine loved her husband, or thought she did. She led an idealistic life, wanting for nothing but love. This she did not know until that fateful day she met me…

I remember the day well, sitting in the Six Fishes tavern, playing my lute and flirting with the beautiful ladies gathered about me like so many fawns. A wink here, a smile there, I had them all waiting on my very words, breathless anticipation of my next verse. My music filled the air with its sweet sounds of seduction and pleasure. Tales of love lost, beasts defeated, obstacles overcome and lost loves rediscovered entrapped my audience into my carefully created web, set to ensnare the unwary. A high time I had, gleefully flirting, making veiled promises and catching fleeting glimpses. A humble bard from High Rock I was not that night and I enjoyed every minute. That was, until my vision of beauty glided in.

As the door to the tavern opened, all eyes swung to her presence; a noble lady in a less than noble establishment. Dark skin stood out in stark contrast to the creamy wave occupying the floor, though no less lovely for it. Brown eyes swept over the crowd from a face as delicate as any flower before a small smile alighted upon that face which haunts me still. Know, dear reader, that many a bard, yours truly included, have sang about that quickest of love; the love that grasps a hold of one’s heart with the merest of glances and refuses to let go. If you were to listen carefully, you would hear the barest of cynicism present when one of the baldric arts sings of such. For we know, more than any another, the falsehood of this love. Or so I thought until I gazed at that flawless skin, those graceful limbs that parted the sea before them, those lips slightly apart, as if a portend of pleasures to come. I stood struck, momentarily forgetting my place, but quickly resuming my song as the hush ascended and conversations began anew. My attention no longer affixed on those lovely morsels arranged before me, I fell into the depths of the eyes that captured me.

She sat alone at a table near where I was singing and politely watched me, though she did not stir for a few moments as the waitress requested her order. With the barest of turns, she laid out her request and returned to me; my heart fluttered then, afraid I would loose her forever. My song finished, I strum my strings as I composed a new one just for her. Listen, dear reader, as I relate it:

“For you to be in my arms,
My precious lute.
Pluck your strings, every note one of love.
To caress your slender neck,
Every tone given freely.
Bringing your song to life,
Filling my air with your music.”

Oh how she blushed then! A perfect crimson ‘neath a flawless complexion. I must admit the satisfaction I received upon beholding this blush from a rose. I set down my lute and excused myself from the gaggle of beauties arrayed beneath me, some casting glances of pure venom at the Redguard lady who so carelessly stole the attention they so craved. As I carefully navigated the gauntlet of outstretched hands, I made my way to the bar, carefully concealing a note whilst there. As I returned to my seat, I casually brushed against my fair maiden, dropping my note into her lap. Her blush deepened to a ruby glow, the heat of which warmed my back as I made my careful way through a nest of venomous snakes to return to my seat. I picked up my lute and sang to those savage beasts, casting nary a glance at the plucker of my strings as I sang sweetened songs of love and romance. Those jealous hearts soon forgot their venom; fangs were retracted, perceived slights forgotten. My songs finished, I set aside my lute to receive their congratulations, fending off more than one opportunity with a disarming smile and a hint at possibilities. As those lovely flowers swept from the inn, I stole one last glance before ascending the stairs to my room. Oh! How my heart beat inside my chest, fair that it would kill me soon!

I had barely gained my room and set aside my lute when there was the softest of knocks on the door. I swept it open in a rush, the sight of my delicate beauty stopping my arm. She lowered her head demurely before returning to my sight with a slight tilt. Tones of the purest gold issued forth as she addressed me: “Master Bard, I wish to inform you of my pleasure upon hearing your wondrous tales. I wish to press the question of a private audience with you, if that should please you, good sir.”

I released my death grip on the door and flourished a low bow before gently taking of her hand and bestowing it a kiss. “It would please me to no end, dear lady. Where should you wish this audience to take place? Merely breathe the barest hint and I shall most certainly be there.”

Her eyes lit up mischievously as the brilliance of her smile momentarily blinded me. She looked past me into my room before deigning to reply: “I believe here will suffice, Master Bard, unless there is another place that suits your fancy?”

I smiled and stood aside, keeping a firm grip so that I might keep that electrifying contact. “Here is most suitable, dear lady; I am humbled by your presence.”

She smiled and swept into the room, the fragrance of her passing filling my senses. I quickly closed the door as she stood in the middle of the room, turning to take in the sights before returning to me. She smiled coyly and held out her hand to me. I quickly closed the distance between us and took her hand, giving it another gentle kiss before releasing it and enfolding her in my arms. Her head tilted towards me, lips slightly parted, I kissed her deeply, emotions long since forgotten resurfacing and crashing over me. We stood there, outside of time, drinking of each other’s passions before I gathered her up in my arms and laid her on the bed. No words were spoken, nor even necessary as we drank of each other until we were both filled. It was all that I could do to prevent being swept away. I kissed her sleepy cheek before laying down my head, exhausted beyond compare. Faint did I feel her quit my bed, a lingering presence and a kiss her parting gifts to me.

Sunlight streamed through the window and bathed my face, bringing me once more into the world, away from that sweetest of dreams. Dressing quickly, I settled my debts with the innkeeper and set about, a smile on my face and a new jingle in my pocket. New horizons called to me, but ne’er will I forget that most delicate of flowers; the one who stole the keys to my heart.

Call me foolhardy, gentle reader, a chaser of dreams and catcher of none! Faint I deserve it; but is it not the chasing of dreams that drives men forward? For, without dreams, are we not animals? Fah! To this day I chase after my dream, catching only the merest glimpses; pushing ever forward. I call to you, my delicate flower, thy bard awaits thee!