Adventure Date: May 19, 2009
Last Updated: May 25, 2009
Freedom Is Just Another Word
"Wake up! Ninniach. Wake up." The words intruded into Neon Wilde's unconscious mind like kobold raiders attacking a keep. He ignored them, gathered the furs around his body and tried to bury himself deep into the warmth of the bed.
"Wakey, Wakey, " Jhaer Brightsong said, in her sing-song voice. "You have to get on the road to Harrowdale early."
With an act of supreme effort, Neon opened his right eyelid. "I'm not going!" he declared, and then promptly shut the eye again.
"What foolishness is this?" Jhaer asked. He felt the moon-elf sit softly on the bed beside him. "Gideon will be wondering where you are."
"Screw Gideon! He's not my mother; although he thinks he is."
Jhaer decided to change the subject. "Do you like how your gift looks in my hair?" she asked.
Neon was curious about this, so he turned toward her and tentatively opened both of his eyes. Jhaer had used the silver hairpin to hold her flaxen locks loosely together on top of her head. He liked how the hair spilled down in places in spite of the pin; but it was enough to reveal her long sensuous neck. Neon started to work a hand in between the soft leather of her deerskin top and the sleek skin of her waist. "It looks beautiful. You are beautiful. Come back to bed;" he urged. "The Seekers can wait."
Jhaer grasped his probing hand and moved it away. "There isn't time for that. Now come on. Get up. Get out of bed."
Neon sat up creakily with the bed furs still wrapped about him. She must have been up for a while. The fire was reduced to red coals, filling the cottage with warmth and heating a pot of porridge. More breakfast, consisting of goat's cheese and late-harvest apples, was piled on the wooden table. He teetered to his feet, pulled on his shirt and pants and stumbled to a chair at the table. "Why should I go?" he complained. "I left Harrowdale to be free. Free of my mother. Free of the stupid Harrowdale constables. Free to do what I want. I don't want to go back."
Jhaer sat in an opposing chair and changed the subject once again. "I have been thinking about your song Me and Swannie Bee this morning, she said. "I have written the music for it. In the Harrowdale Blues style."
Jhaer was a skilful musician and Neon had wanted her help with the music. But still he was surprised by this. "I thought you said that I was being na´ve. Naive to ask for your help on a song about another woman."
"You are na´ve Ninniach," the bard replied. "It's true that I am jealous, but your lyrics are wonderful and they need to be given voice in song."
"You needn't worry, sweet nymph. There is nothing between Swan and I," Neon declared with an emphasis on the word nothing.
"Nothing? I don't think so. Elves can be very understanding of lovers who stray physically. Life is too long to be very possessive. But penning songs inspired by other lovers, that will turn us green with envy."
"Look, I care for Swan as a friend, but there can't be anything between us. These dark times are too dangerous. I do think she cares for me too, but that almost got her killed by the Drow."
"Very well," Jhaer said. "After running your lyrics through my head this morning, I think I understand." She picked up her mandolin and began to strum the strings saying, "Listen to your song." She did not sing it in her usual bright, high voice, but instead she found a deep register. Her voice was strangely raw and harsh, but at the same time it ripped the song open and bared the depths of its feeling. She played the mandolin and this is what she sang:
Busted flat in Ash'benford, workin' on a scow. I's feelin' nearly faded as my cloak. Gideon comes to the Veil, says we must fight the Drow, It is ours and Faerun's only hope. Swan grasped her grandpar's bow with its sturdy brown quiver, She's sayin' strong we'll stand and deliver, oh-yeah. Swords and arrows slappin' time, holdin' Swannie's hand in mine, We fought the Drow and we sang the blues. Freedom's just another word for no Dragons left to slay. Dragons, Dragons rising with the darkness, oh-no. Fightin' evil was easy Tyr, when we sang the blues, Fightin' evil was good enough for me, Good enough for me and my Swannie Bee. On the mad wizard's trail, with the Seekers of Faerun, Swannie shared the secrets of her soul. Through every kind of peril, through every battle won, Swan saved me from cold, cold Toril. But somewhere near Essembra, the Drow tore Swan's life away, Now she's searchin' for her peace and I hope she find's it. But I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday, To be holdin' Swannie's body next to mine. Freedom's just another word for no Dragons left to slay. Dragons, that's all Swannie's left for me. Fightin' evil was easy Lord, when we sang the blues, Fightin' evil was good enough for me, Good enough for me and Swannie Bee.
Neon found it oddly moving to have his own words sung to him. Clever woman, he thought. How could he stay in the safety of Ashabenford and in the warmth of Jhaer's bed, after he had been rebuked by his own words?
"It's like every woman I have cared about is in danger or worse," Neon said, his eyes moistening. "Aleena was murdered. Swan was almost killed." Neon searched the elf's expression closely to try to divine her feelings.
"Don't worry about me, Ninniach," she reassured him. "I will be safe, but I am afraid that you cannot be free. Your friends need you now more than ever."
Neon nodded his head with resignation. The issue was settled; so the couple spent their last remaining moments together finishing breakfast and talking of happier days. When the time came for Neon to leave, they lingered as long as they could at the cottage doorstep. Jhaer kissed him hard. "Promise you will come back to me," she urged.
"I promise" he vowed, and he walked away into the rising light.