Songs of Experience

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Joined: Jul 15 2006
Songs of Experience

Clouds of acrid smoke surround the tinking section of the Hall of Reconstruction, as strained machinery and coal-fired forges wind wire and belch steam, showering the area in sparks, and making a general nuisance of themselves.  Despite this, a rough but clearly practiced voice is audible above the cacophany.

"In time gone by, in sacred halls,
The heroes heard the dragon calls,
And faced the fire and the flood,
And thus was fought the war of Blood.

And heroes fell to chance and blade,
Despite the courage some displayed,
All with their feet of clay, and flaws,
For not all monsters fight with claws.

And we grew old, as ages turned,
And fat on meat and gold we earned,
And heroes rose, but different now,
As circumstances would allow.

But we're no safer now, than then,
Though we are different maids and men,
In dire straits are blades still drawn,
Did we feel safe, for Blood was gone?

And whether or not it is fair,
We must now beard the beast in lair,
For dragons stir from slumber old,
And men are sold in chains for gold.

Rise up you heroes, while you may,
And make this now your age, your day,
If you break faith with us gone by,
Then ask for what did heroes die?"

The song ends, and as the eye-watering smoke clears, the singer is gone, with a flash of light and the telltail 'pop' of arcane teleportation, there is little to prove the singer was there at all.

__________________

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but an infuser really needs rubies to make the cool stuff.

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It is not altogether uncommon for visitors to public baths in Leringard to test the accoustics, tile and ceramic being such wonderful modulators and amplifiers of the mortal voice, it is the privacy that such places allow that can really loosen songs from even the rustiest of throats.  Even if one were so gauche as to break the softly-but-firmly-spoken taboos against peeking at other bathers, one could make good use of the cover of steam, to say nothing of the discretion of the proprietors.

Perhaps it is simply the warm and soothing environment, the gently proffered fine spirits or pipeweed, or the already accentuated vulnerability of nudity (or bathing attire, for the modest).  But many the voice that would go on to bark harsh commands, scream in agony or triumph, or make a snooty remark about the cut of that man's cloak and that lady's gown is softened to songs of innocence or experience.

The song that now cuts through the steam and resounds off the walls is clearly a relaxed if unschooled one, gaining in confidence as it beats out a familiar tattoo to those of Leringard who recall too well the report of powerful wings, the chill of a frozen breath, and the steady knowledge that, with cause, today will not be recorded as a Good Day in years to come.

But the song...  the song is a ghost story, a tattoo for the fallen, and a call to arms in one.  The Pikes of Leringard.

"Once our harbour sang with glory,
Once our port was rich with fame,
Once before the darkest story
Shadows fell, and ice-wings came.

Those with will and mind withstood it,
Those with courage to their name,
Struck the blows that ne'er could hit,
That which on the ice-wings came.

Heroes stood and did not falter,
Though the path ahead was hard,
Heroes fell, to guard our harbour,
Fell the Pikes of Leringard.

In the North, the Snow-beast slumbered,
Beast of senseless greed and wrath,
Wyrm by morals unencumbered,
Ice and death along its path.

Struck us, Snow-tooth, proud and vicious,
Tried to set us all to fear,
Came to feed its greed on riches,
Winter came too hard that year.

Heroes stood, and did not falter,
Though the path ahead was hard,
Heroes fell, to guard our harbour,
Fell the Pikes of Leringard.

Though we failed and we were beaten,
Though the death toll was too high,
Though our ships and cargo eaten,
Though we look to fearful sky,

Stand we now to keep their promise,
And fulfill their destiny,
Stand we now, beneath their onus,
Keepers of their legacy.

Heroes stood, and did not falter,
Though the path ahead was hard,
Heroes fell to guard our harbour,
Fell the Pikes of Leringard."

The last notes die out, and no further reverberate among even the most exceptional spirits, pipeweed, and acoustics.  Their origin is difficult to determine.

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The Crossroads, surrounded by forest, often serve as a fair place to sit and watch and listen to the bustling traffic through the Dapplegreen.  On a good day, one can hear all the news of the world - or at least, that portion of it which concerns someone who can afford to take a day to eavesdrop out-of-doors on passers by.

On one particularly slow day, someone doing so might hear but not see a voice, gaining in confidence, its owner slow and heavy in tread, emerging from the Dapplegreen, crossing the clearing, and then heading further along the path back into the forest, singing all the while.

"Mighty Hempstead, home of wonder,
Gold can speak, and magic, spell,
Once the site of dark-elf plunder,
One dark night, the city fell.
Gold that vanished into shadow,
Lives that fell to lives below.

Hempstead Hempstead, proud and mighty,
Home of both the great and good,
Hempstead learn from your history,
Be the place you someday could.

Mighty Hempstead, they were cruel,
Sacked the city, do the math;
Were they free or but a tool
Of a wicked dragon's wrath?
And yet, upon a time of old,
Did you hurt more for lives, or gold?

Hempstead Hempstead, proud and mighty,
Home of both the great and good,
Hempstead learn from your history,
Be the place you someday could.

Pious Hempstead, guards no evil,
Now their tolerance is gone,
Lost as well in the upheaval,
Now no light of kindness shone,
May they have left behind a seed?
Is evil found in face, or deed?

Hempstead Hempstead, proud and mighty,
Home of both the great and good,
Hempstead learn from your history,
Be the place you someday could.

Now, see Hempstead, clad in glory,
Home to heroes great and strong,
Yet this is real life, no story,
We know that goodness can go wrong,
How many throats would slit a soul,
If plundered treasures were the goal?

Hempstead Hempstead, proud and mighty,
Home of both the great and good,
Hempstead, 'ware your own history,
Gods know that somebody should."

The voice trails off into the Dapplegreen, beginning a new song about hedgehogs and the unlikeliness of their amiable amorous relations.

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Tracking a song on the winds of the docks of Hempstead is like attempting to catch a butterfly in a hurricane: constant movement, endless mixing and blending voices, and a thousand distractions, from the movements of ships in port to the scents of nearby public houses and shops.  Nevertheless, a trained baritone carries over the din.

"I learned upon my mother's knee
Of magic old as ancient rock,
The Al'noth's joy for all to see,
The secrets magic could unlock.
And so I wrote this tortured rhyme,
And thank you for your borrowed time,
To speak of the Stop Clock.

Now with no attempt to trick,
Sing a song of Stop Clock,
A clock that never once will tick,
And hanged man will never talk.

I sought it out in light of day,
As day was turning into night,
And coming from the other way,
Was but myself; a dreadful fright,
He said 'I found it, yesterday',
'That's your tomorrow by the way',
'And now your job to put things right'.

Now with no attempt to trick,
Sing a song of Stop Clock,
A clock that never once will tick,
And hanged man will never talk.

I asked 'why can't you fix your mess?'
I thought myself clever to ask,
He said 'it's just that way, I guess',
Emotions hidden like a mask,
He claimed to find the clock would take
Mistakes I would now never make,
And I had to perform the task.

Now with no attempt to trick,
Sing a song of Stop Clock,
A clock that never once will tick,
And hanged man will never talk.

And in frustration, he stabbed me,
And so I lie before you now,
The victim of myself you see,
As time should not per se allow,
For if I'm dead my murderer can't logically exist,
But still I'm bleeding and my wounds seem inclined to persist,
If I run into him we'll have an awful bloody row.

Now with no attempt to trick,
Sing a song of Stop Clock,
A clock that never once will tick,
And hanged man will never talk."

The strange and silly song drifts off into nothing, the singer gone - or was he ever really there?

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Excepting an anvil chorus, the Hlint Smithy isn't frequently the source of song these days, as Center, Hempstead and Vehl long ago drew away the most fervent of the adventuring masses.  Still, with time kept by the ringing of a hammer, a melody is ground out in strained bass and falsetto alike, as a song intended for two voices is managed by one.

"Sing a song of Silverbeard,
His legend to engorge,
A master smith whose story ends
With the Golem of the Forge!

Long ago there lived a smith,
Who honed a weapon's edge.
He had a workshop bright and bold,
Atop a lava wedge,
The heat was great and so he bought
A golem to survive the hot,
And help him to produce a lot
Or so the tales allege!

Sing a song of Silverbeard,
His legend to engorge,
A master smith whose story ends
With the Golem of the Forge!

Though famous weapons he had made,
The dwarf was not content,
He swore he would create a blade,
As good as heaven sent,
With adamant he folded tight,
Three hundred times to prove his might,
And hone a blade so sharp and light,
To leave the heavens rent.

Sing a song of Silverbeard,
His legend to engorge,
A master smith whose story ends
With the Golem of the Forge!

But golem hands are not adroit
At delicate details,
And as it grabbed the masterpiece,
It fell over the rails,
And into lava plunged the sword,
Until the very world was cored,
And in the workshop sewed dischord,
In Silverbeard's loud wails.

Sing a song of Silverbeard,
His legend to engorge,
A master smith whose story ends
With the Golem of the Forge!

With practiced might the dwarf he threw
A hammer at its head,
Told golem to retrieve the sword
At least that's what is said,
And so the golem plunged into
The failing forge, the molten goo,
And brought down the whole workshop too,
And left Silverbeard dead.

Sing a song of Silverbeard,
His legend to engorge,
A master smith whose story ends
With the Golem of the Forge!

And what of sword and golem
The inquisitive might ask,
Was plunging into lava
Simply too great of a task?
Some say creature's destiny,
Did find the longsword "Legacy"
And merged with lava completely,
As Silverbeard did ask.

Sing a song of Silverbeard,
His legend to engorge,
A master smith whose story ends
With the Golem of the Forge!"

As tempered steel is plunged into water to cool, the smithy fills with steam and smoke.  The singer, wherever he might have been, is long gone by the time it clears.

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Raucous good cheer sits heavy in the Scamp's Mug like  the smell of the Chef's Special and flatbottom pipeweed, cloying in its intensity.  It's difficult to determine where the first voice comes from, but before long the hearthside is filled by songs of great and terrible achievement, and it's not long beyond that when the first ghost story song begins.  As the rain pounds down out-of-doors, a ghost story serves well to offer a bit of chill - relief from the fire - without actually getting wet.

"Down upon Alindor's coast,
The Scarlet Dawn descended,
The crew comprised a murd'rous host,
And many lives they'd ended.
And on horizon, far away,
They spotted one more prize to slay,
Not knowing that e'er break of day,
Their many sins be mended.

Sing now with me of Scarlet Dawn,
Their souls the Mother claim;
A pirate crew that isn't gone,
But isn't quite the same.
And as the mist rolls off the bay,
Their cries you may hear to this day.

The merchanter was fat and low,
The die of fates was cast,
Its weighty cargo made it slow,
The Dawn was lean and fast,
And as it sailed around the cape,
The merchanter could not escape,
But their fate held a different shape,
Dawn's fortune didn't last.

Sing now with me of Scarlet Dawn,
Their souls the Mother claim;
A pirate crew that isn't gone,
But isn't quite the same.
And as the mist rolls off the bay,
Their cries you may hear to this day.

Around the coast a Starphire came,
Its captain did not slow,
And through the Dawn it seemed to aim,
And through her did it go.
And down the dawn to briney deep,
Where drowned sailors ever-sleep,
Though none would for these pirates weep,
As they were dragged below.

Sing now with me of Scarlet Dawn,
Their souls the Mother claim;
A pirate crew that isn't gone,
But isn't quite the same.
And as the mist rolls off the bay,
Their cries you may hear to this day.

The tale was swift forgotten 'till
The mists did next descend,
Reminding all who drink their fill,
Tales never truly end.
For in the fog and in the night,
There came a red unearthly light,
The Scarlet Dawn, a ghostly sight,
The living souls to rend.

Sing now with me of Scarlet Dawn,
Their souls the Mother claim;
A pirate crew that isn't gone,
But isn't quite the same.
And as the mist rolls off the bay,
Their cries you may hear to this day."

The door to the Scamp opens and closes quickly, as someone departs, leaving into a night fit for neither man nor beast.

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The merchant district of Hempstead is home to symphonies of discordant sound, with merchants and tradesmen plying their business in an effort to bring greater prosperity to all - at least, that's what they say.  While there is something musical to the sound of coins falling into a chest however, it is rarer that more literal music should be heard.  Still, a strident voice carries far over the hurly burly of the madding crowd, singing a strangely jolly song that might have been appropriate had the Tower Academy taken off - or, indeed, ever had a sports team.

"Fight fiercely, Tower,
Show your speed,
Your courage and your strength:
No wilting flower,
Nor a weed,
We shall triumph at length!

Whether on the field of honour or,
Conversing with a minotaur,
We know that you will give your all
For school and for pride;
They may be stronger, tougher too,
And better at the things we do,
But we won't be so swift to fall,
To rampant magicide.

Fight fiercely, Tower,
Play the game,
And never think to cheat;
To use one's power
Is the same
As skill with hands and feet!

(We mean it!)
Fight because they're going to try
(Go fight them)
To make us bleed and make us cry,
(And win it!)
Fight, fight, fight!"

The song fades out with a vaguery of what might have been if things had happened other than they had lingering in the background.

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While strict silence need not be necessarily observed in the Great Library, it is customary that the needs of other visitors be given some consideration when one is within; as many cannot read silently, the idea of raising one's voice to the level at which one is likely to interfere with the concentration of others is somewhat discourteous.  If an unseen observer were tracking incidents of song around the world, they might be surprised that this isbeing observed, for the singer is surely here.

Still, one Does Not Disrupt Other Readers within the library.

Instead, a small pile of tomes and scrolls, ranging in subject from merchantman and war ship designs, to siege enginery, legends and accounts of golems, and finally folk stories and ghost tales, await shelving near where the singer spent time in study.  A loose scrap of foolscap offers some insight into the mindset of the one who too recently studied those books.

The contents are, by and large, predictable.  Sketches, in charcoal and ink, of designs for weapons of war and ships, clearly copied and then improvised upon, although to no useful end.  Ball joints, and rouch sketches of metalwork designs - some of which appear to have been copied from another work, not belonging to the library.  And a bit of poetry that might be a draft for a new song.

"A quiet wizard sat alone,
In tower dark and tall,
And sought to make some company,
To liven up his hall.
He animated chair and stool,
Brought life to one and all,
But this imperfect artistry,
Was pride before the fall.

Sing again of lonely glen,
And lonely wizard's ghost,
He thought his plans so needful when,
He needed hope the most.

Too long he laboured, tired, too,
That when his work was done,
And stood before him, golem, proud,
Days since he'd seen the sun,
He thought that he could order it
To be all life, in one;
It simply could not understand,
That he needed someone.

Sing again of lonely glen,
And lonely wizard's ghost,
He thought his plans so needful when,
He needed hope the most.

Surrounded by his artifice,
The wizard, still alone,
No friends, nor any company,
More lively than a stone.
He grew fearful and paranoid,
His jealousy had grown,
Of artistry, unparalleled,
Of skills he'd trained to hone.

Sing again of lonely glen,
And lonely wizard's ghost,
He thought his plans so needful when,
He needed hope the most.

Creations set to home defense
Made sorry company,
And Wizard's meager social skills
Began to atrophy.
He told his artifice to slay
His final, bold decree;
But he forgot himself to say
'Except, of course, for me'.

Sing again of lonely glen,
And lonely wizard's ghost,
He thought his plans so needful when,
He needed hope the most.

The tale of haunted, tower came
And reached my ear one day,
Of noises strange and fearful, out
Where ruined tower lay.
The tower, long since crumbled was
Upon a field of clay,
But through a cellar door we went,
To learn what went astray.

Sing again of lonely glen,
And lonely wizard's ghost,
He thought his plans so needful when,
He needed hope the most.

His artifice still lingered there,
No ghosts but constructs true,
And so we battled mightily,
And so we made it through.
Where weeping golem over him,
Our motives did construe,
And told the tale I tell today,
And told all that it knew.

Sing again of lonely glen,
And lonely wizard's ghost,
He thought his plans so needful when,
He needed hope the most.

It wasn't pride that slew him,
Though that's how I tell the tale.
Ambition not the culprit,
For in goals he did not fail.
But as we stood there, listening,
Our good air going stale,
I saw what I might have become,
And I grew wan and pale.

Sing again of lonely glen,
And lonely wizard's ghost,
He thought his plans so needful when,
He needed hope the most.

Our moral then, we must now reach,
So that this song might end.
Pursue your virtue, seek your ends,
But take care to amend
Those aims which might more readily
Be solved to have a friend,
For lonely master's jealousy
May lonely masters rend.

Sing again of lonely glen,
And lonely wizard's ghost,
He thought his plans so needful when,
He needed hope the most.

If there is any more to this posey, it is obscured by a large ink blot.  Notations nearby suggest tht this song is unlikely to be sung, for the story takes too many creative liberties...  and the journal suggested that the man deserved more than to be a simple morality tale.

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