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Playing My Song


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Another glance around the room following another empty mug. Another frustratingly friendly smile from the wench as she walked over with his next drink. Another dose of her depressingly cheerful banter and her sickly sweet cheap mead. He tossed a coin onto the table, landing in his empty mug. She gave an insufferably cheerful giggle as she fished it out of, wiping the dregs onto her apron. Another miserable little tavern in another miserable little town on another miserable day but these hollow-headed, easily amused fools refused to share his misery.


His life wasn’t supposed to be like this. A year ago he’d been in Solitude, a student at the Bard’s college who was showered in praise more often than in snow. How fast things can change and how fragile the future can be. His pride had taken him to Solitude but his shame had brought him south.
Another hush descended and again all eyes and ears waited on the bard. A pretty young thing, she lifted her instrument but it wasn’t the strings of her lute that her fingers played, instead they brushed across his heart as the haunting beauty of her voice caressed his ears.


With a beer in hand
The thieves did stand
Cheering a toast to their health
The cat downed her beer
And she said with good cheer
The next round is on the elf


It wasn’t a song you heard often, he’d only met a few bards who still knew it and none of them would play it again. He’d sometimes hear of bandits singing snippets of it but none who knew all the words. It was the song he’d written, it was his shame.


With the beers all drank
The Elf’s heart sank
As he handed over the coins
The nord made a toast
And he yelled out a boast
As the drunk cat eyed his loins


He remembered when he’d first tested his words on an audience of his fellow students. Let them keep their epic ballads, he’d known the best way for his words to spread across Skyrim wasn’t with some historically inaccurate love story but with a simple drinking song.


With three beers down
The orc did frown
And bid the elf goodbye
For none could know
‘Twas not or show
And someone had to die


He’d dreamed that one day he’d walk into a random inn, some place he’d never heard of before, to hear strangers singing his song.


He let out a roar
As the elf fell to the floor
Then he snapped the neck of the nord
As the orc grabbed her hair
The cat leapt out her chair
And she whipped out a hidden sword


It was his own fault really. He could have written something simple, he should have written something simple. Instead, despite his plans, he found himself writing a story.


The orc downed one last beer
And he said with a sneer
The treasure will all be mine
She knew that his knife
Could cost her a life
But that cat she had nine


It was supposed to condemn the treacherous nature of bandits but the college claimed it romanticised and celebrated their thefts and backstabbing. He’d left in shame when he’d heard that the very people it was supposed to criticise had taken it as an ode to their heroism.


As the cat dodged his blade
The orcs courage did fade
And slowly gave way to fear
The cat slashed his throat
Then brushed off her coat
And ordered another beer


The small crowd cheered their drunken approval but the bard had eyes only for him. She ordered drinks and took a seat at his table.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” she asked.
“Of course I do,” he smiled. “I’d forget my own name before I forgot your face.”
“Liar!” she teased. “You barely noticed me at the college. I noticed you though.”
The barmaid brought over the drinks and this time he returned her smile. He’d finally found what he’d been searching for.


Another walk along another road on another day. His misery had been merely momentarily misplaced last night. One more bard who knew his song but would never sing it again. He wondered how long before they found her body. A little less of his shame in the world, but what of the drunken fools who’d heard her? He could only hope that they were too full on drink for the words to fill their memory. After all, he thought as another caravan of captured rebels passed by, it wasn’t as if he could silence everyone in Helgen.

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