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RP:Bard Beats Bandits

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Summary: Lucas saves the Larket Queen from highway bandits, and lands a job at the Larket Concert Hall’s symphony.

Xalious Mountain Road

Josleen travels southbound from Frostmaw in a short caravan of two royal carriages. The first carriage: contains two Larketian kingsguard inside the cabin, and a third guard drives the horses. The second carriage: The Queen sits in the cabin reading a book with only her plump poodle, Gigi, Prince Pooch, for a companion. Her carriage is driven by a chauffeur who shares the driver’s bench with a guard-mage who magically smooths the ride for his Queen. A lone soldier on horseback brings up the rear. News of a Queen on the road travels faster than the Queen herself, and quick-thinking highway bandits have long ago hatched a plan for such a rich opportunity. Four bandits have positioned themselves on high ground flanking either side of a chasm through which the Larketian caravan must pass. One bandit aims an arrow at the guard-mage’s skull. The second, third, and fourth bandits brace themselves against a boulder down and wait for the archer’s signal. When given, they will throw the boulder down from on high onto the first carriage to put those guards out of commission while also blocking Queen Josleen’s advance. Simple highway robbery! Nothing has happened yet; the bandits lie in wait.

Lucas sat below a tree, snow surrounding as he lingered in a damp area with a harmonica in hand. He plays one of those folksy tunes. A couple of shadowy figures breeze by him a long time ago, but he is so caught up in harmonic tunes to even pay attention to the bandits, well, until those fancy carriages trot by. The half elf sits up straight, perked with awe with a head canted with curiosity as the melody changes to “hip-hop” harmonic vibe. Out of the corner of the man’s eye, he notices the archer from afar drawing back his arm. As he connects the dots of the target, the man spits the instrument from his lips. “Hey, you, uh, sir…” Really, what was he thinking? Spit it out, Luke. “Man, look out!” he hollers. Hopefully by this time, the guard moves in action, but Luke does not notice the men behind the boulder.

Wendel, the guard-mage, hears Lucas and immediately throws up an arcane blue shield to protect the carriage. The first carriage stops and the guards inside leap out, weapons drawn. The horseman bringing up the rear pulls out a shortbow and takes aim at the cliffs as his horse gallops to the fore. “S--t!” The highway bandits scatter. They wanted an easy mark, not a fight, and there’s no way this ragtag group of thieves can take on the Larketian kingsguard. They disperse like cockroaches, disappearing into shadows and nooks and crannies so quickly they appear to melt. The horseman gallops over to Lucas and demands, “Who are you?” Josleen moves to open her carriage door, but a guard slams it shut. “Apologies, Your Grace, but the area is not yet secure.” Gigi barks.

Lucas scrapes up the harmonica while leaping to his feet as he was very light on those toes. The blue aura surrounds the carriage and Lucas is alert while searching for the others that had swept passed him. The other guards scatter, and as the horseman halts Lucas, the man offers his hands up in defense as amber eyes furrow. “Whoa, whoa, take it easy, man,” the bard was “poorly” dressed with a white button up that was buttoned down to the tip of his chest, loose fitting heather-grey pants, and some cheap slip on shoes. Honestly, he just looked like he was going to the beach, so he was a little sketchy being in a chillier environment. “Luke. My name is Luke. What’s it to ya? Are you going to start asking me twenty questions because obviously there is a more important situation going on,” he was blunt, the lyricist just vomits words.

The guard, Roald, sneers at Lucas’s attitude. Under better circumstances, Roald is normally an agreeable man, but enough misfortunes have befallen his Royal charges that he cannot suffer even the idea of yet another attack. “How is it you came to be here, dressed as you are, at this precise location and time? Are you in cahoots with those rogues up there?” He gestures at the chasm. “ If this is part of a scheme, I insist you abandon it. Speak truthfully, now.” The Queen insists on leaving the carriage the moment Wendel allows her to. Long cream furs shield her small frame from the cold. She crosses her arms and watches Roald interrogate the stranger.

Lucas appears stoic, but in his imagination his eyes are rolling to the back of his head. “Alright, twenty questions it is: I was trekking towards Craughmoyle and went too far – I know this because of the snow. I was winded from the mountain, so I took a break and here’s some ‘too much information’ for you, I was sweating. Unfortunate for me, I sweat easily. In Craughmoyle they have a trading post and I was on a journey for work – I work in Cenril at their music shop,” arms begin to fold across his chest as he stares Roald down. “Also, are you judging the way I dress? Perhaps, I’m poor, hm?” Lucas appears confident. Although a mess at the time, he appears dapper on other occasions and is not low-income. Poor timing, indeed. Amber eyes are dumbfounded, “Does it look like I’m in ‘cahoots’?” The end has a mimicking tone. Sassy Lucas. “I have not a damn thing on this day trip except my baby,” he lifts the silver toy. “Besides, I can be asking you the same thing, can’t I? Aren’t we all a little suspicious of one another? You’re a stranger. Come on, you can be playing an act, can’t you? I –am- a witness after all. No one knows that –you- could be in cahoots this whole time!” Now he was just being sarcastic, but he was stating a point theatrically.

Josleen rolls her eyes once to the side as the man, who she identifies quickly as a bard like her, sasses one of the Crown’s most trusted kingsguard. “Sir Roald, I believe this man means us no harm,” she says as she approaches the pair. Addressing Lucas now, she waits for him to bow or at least nod his head respectfully. If he doesn’t, Roald will insist he do so by announcing, “Her Majesty the Queen of Larket.” If Lucas still doesn’t, Roald will look to Josleen for how he should proceed and she’ll shake her head. Fealty from random travellers is a tedious thing to collect. “Sir Roald is beyond suspicion. You say you work at a music shop in Cenril. Which one? Is it still the one that services the students of the Cenrili Academy of Music and Arts? My alma mater. Does Mr. Henry still own the shop?”

Lucas suspects that Josleen is some sort of importance as she comes out of the carriage. The guard was making a big enough deal about it. He does not bow, but he does nod with respect towards the Queen. “Thank you,” a smile is graced upon his lips briefly until she starts asking “twenty questions” as well. “Well, if you are mentioning The Last Note, then yes. Temporary, but something to get me by in the meantime. Mr. Henry…? I don’t recall. Perhaps? I’m part-time. I work with another lad named of Reed, tad older than me. May be going out on a limb, but perhaps a relative? I’ll look more into it. Recently hired. Recently new to Cenril. Before that, Venturil. Before that, Kelay. And before that, a village past Rynvale into the desert, hence light travel attire. I’m fond of dry weather," beat. "You graduated from the Cenrili Academy of Music and Arts? What's your specialty?" He was genuinely curious.

Josleen smiles victoriously at the shop name. “Yes, The Last Note.” She knew the name of the shop, and she new the employee there was named Reed, and was testing him on both accounts to see if his story checks out. It does, which is Lucas’s saving grace. She gives Roald a look which puts him at ease. In reply to Lucas she says, “My main is the violin, but I also studied theater and composition. My thesis was a ballet that I composed. My colleague did the choreography. Your list of travels hasn’t brought you through Larket. Any reason in particular? The concert hall is quite expansive, you know.”

Lucas has those puppy dog interest eyes. “You’re very classy,” those eyes go away and now he smirks. “I can tell,” a know-it-all grin, how annoying. The half-elf gestures towards the carriages and guards. “I like it, though. We need classy.” He then scratches his head at her question. “Larket? Never actually have gone. Nothing has drawn me there completely. I usually move for job opportunities. I’m hoping to help with the academy if I can, perhaps get an in on something steady and important. I am just moving up in the field slowly I guess. Started with the orphanage in Venturil teaching them music, and I’ve just been working from there.” His eyes gaze over her briefly to take her in for the first time. She would be one to catch his eye, if she was not so higher up. “I mean, I suppose maybe I can visit one day, Larket is close by, but for now, you know,” he shrugs nonchalantly.

Josleen smirks right back at Lucas’s game, the yo-yoing compliments, the daredevil smile. He reminds her of every boy she lusted after at the Cenrili Academy; it’s such a classic bardic trait. Only this verve can produce reverb. Is she older than him? Hard to tell, but she feels older than him during this exchange. Roald clears his throat, uncomfortable with this young man’s flirtation. “Well, the symphony is currently auditioning regular members, looking to replace those lost in the earthquake.” Surely Lucas knows of the earthquake which rocked the central plateau, and Larket hardest of all. “If you’re as good with your instrument as with your words, you should audition. It beats teaching music.” She grins, because she’s been down that path. Most child students are terrible, and those with talent rarely survive the distracting pubescent years where girls and boys take precedent over the piano. “I should get going. If you need a lift, you may ride in the first carriage as far as you need. The least I could do to thank you for your intervention today.” Riding with the Queen in her carriage would simply be improper. Class has lines. “Take care.” She nods goodbye and disappears into her carriage with her frou frou poodle.