Taurin is the king's knight, but he has a weakness for song. When he hears of a new bard performing at Jéànty's Inn, he has to go see the half-elf flautist for himself.
Quim's music is captivating, and Taurin returns to the Inn a second night. The knight's interest is evident to the bard, who invites Taurin to his room for a private performance.
This story appears in my print collection Other Worlds Than These.
Before long Taurin felt a hot gaze on his back. Turning, he saw a slim man had seated himself on a stool in the corner of the inn, dark eyes staring from a pale face. Staring at him. Taurin felt heat race across his groin at the intensity of the gaze and he couldn't look away. The man sat with his feet on the lowest rung of the stool, his knees together, but Taurin could tell by the worn fabric of his clothes this was a bard used to hard living on the road. He had long hair a vibrant shade of eggplant, purple so deep in places that it looked black, and his eyes were a light violet. On his lap sat a battered case.
Without dropping his gaze from Taurin's, he opened the case, nimble fingers quickly assembling a beautiful, silver flute. He put the reed to his thin lips, puckered, and blew softly.
The breathy music carried across the crowded room and pierced Taurin's heart. He felt the notes rain down upon him, burning into his soul one by one. As each note faded away, Taurin felt a sadness descend at the loss -- he wanted them to last forever. When the song ended, he found himself on the edge of his seat, eager for more.
The hint of a smile toyed around the edges of the bard's mouth as he played another song. And another. And another. Each sounded more beautiful than the last. Taurin forgot his drink, his surroundings, himself. The only thing that existed was the bard and his lovely ethereal music.
Then the concert was over.
Amid a smattering of applause, the bard rose and left the room. Taurin felt as if he had just awakened from a dream so vivid, it seemed more real than his waking world, but he could only recall fragments and colors and faint, half-remembered sounds. "Where ..." he began, looking around.
At his elbow, the bargirl refilled his glass. He shook his head but she just smiled. "Compliments of the bard," she said. "Seems you took his fancy. Your drinks are on him."
Taurin downed the glass in one swallow. "Where is he?" He was surprised to find his throat dry and his voice harsh to his own ears.
The bargirl shrugged. "He doesn't stick around. Usually one show's the end of it. But don't worry -- he'll be back tomorrow." A smile crossed her worn features. "The question is, will you?"