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Once upon a time...

 
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Lirssa Sarengrave
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 735
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Jobs: Performer
Can Be Found: Rhydin
38982.98 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 1:47 pm    Post subject: Once upon a time... Reply with quote

Bubber arranged his knapsack of things one more time to see if it would make a better pillow. The few cloth things, a handkerchief, a scarf, odds and ends cast out by betters, took little away from the hard items. The wooden cup dug into his skull each time he lay down his head.

Maybe it wasn't the knapsack but the tight knot in his belly. A few cast off bits of food and the free watered down mead from Rita had not done much. At least he wouldn't starve. There was half a baguette left in his knapsack. Tomorrow, though, the tourney would be packing up and moving on. He would need it for then.

Resolved to get some rest, he listened to the sounds of the nearby camps. Other beggars made their nests, like he did, on the outskirts. The camp itself was for the caravans of performers and the competitors. Their fires were large and bright. Shadows of their figures came together and broke apart. Shadow puppets going about their merry lives.

The laughter and songs scampered out and into the dark recesses were the cast offs and lesser folk bid their time, letting the shrubs and edge of the forest form their temporary home. Bubber could remember a time when he was in those camps, hosting feasts with other performers. Age had stolen his ability. Bones creaked and popped in aching symphonies. His fingers spent their gnarled and twisted days holding out a beggar's bowl and cup. His voice pitched out lines from bygone scenes performed. It was all stolen with time.

A twig snapped to the side of him. In the fading light provided by the campfires, the shadow was small. Maybe he would get something to eat tonight. If it was a rabbit or maybe, maker help him but he would do it, a dog. He reached slow for his knife, old and rusted at the hilt. Firelight caught on the shadow and showed a spark of rusty hair. A fox maybe. Well, he would eat that, too. He did not care at this moment.

In a surge, he snatched at the shadow, ready to plunge the knife in to be a merciful in the killing as he could. The squeal was decidedly not fox, and even his old fingers could feel the soft, tender skin of a human. He let go and the figure dropped from his fingers to roll in the dirt and raised big green eyes at him.

The little girl, little more than a toddler, trembled as she scrambled up to her feet to run.

"Oh, hey, now. Sorry, little one. Shhh...now, don't run. Bubber won't be harmin' ya." He dropped the knife and held up his hands. Sweet Maker, who had left his near skeletal thing to die out in such a world as this? "Are you hungry?" His own stomach rumbled. He took out the remainder of his bread. "Here now, come now. Bubber won't harm you." He took a bite himself then offered the rest.

Immature instincts, hunger before sense, the child came back and took to gnawing with immature teeth on the stale bread. Bubber sat back and watched the child make his last certain meal disappear. In his time on the streets, there was one thing that was certain. Nothing came for free. The child needed food, and so did he. She needed someone looking after and a way to make a life. He knew how to make a life. It was the solution he needed. This child would learn what he could teach her, and between them they could earn their coin.

Lesson one, work is rewarded.
_________________
Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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Lirssa Sarengrave
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 735
See this user's pet
Jobs: Performer
Can Be Found: Rhydin
38982.98 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Another book, please, Master Bolivar." Bubber sat on the stage of the traveling troupe of actors, his hand held up to their lead performer and captain.

The troupe were sitting about on the stage watching. Bubber could feel the mix of emotions percolating around him; disgust, wonder, pity, and greed. Pity road high in Mistress Polly's voice. "Surely that's enough. Don't give him another, Bolivar. The poor girl's back."

Bubber kept his hand up to the actor who stood with two books in hand. They were thick short books full of myths and legends picked up on their travels. Bubber knew this troupe well over his years. He and Bolivar had even worked together when Bolivar's voice was still high and Bubber was pitched to the aged, dying roles. "Another book, Bolivar."

He kept his eyes on the little tyke. He remembered his youth better than last week. Many days in his boyhood his master had pushed his body like he pushed this little girl's. Her hands flat on the wood of the stage, her feet backwards with toes against the wall, and on her hips the heavy weight of books pushing her back even further, stretching the muscles of her stomach and contorting the curve of her spine.

Bolivar finally gave over the book. Bubber placed it on top of the others. He saw the little girl wince. Saw her bite her bottom lip to keep from letting the tears turn into a cry. He remembered those times, too.

"She's so thin." One of the troupe members, a new one, young ingenue, whispered to her companion. "She can't be more than three, can she?"

Three. Could be four, Bubber thought. The past years had gone by so fast. She helped him every day earn the coin and scraps of bread for their meals. The bright eyes, wild strawberry blond curls, and impish smile lured the people in. They gave more, but not much.

It was enough to keep her. Enough to keep training her.

He saw her right arm shake. "Strong now. Strong and flexible like bamboo."

"That's enough." Mistress Polly stomped her foot. "She's going to get fed now."

"No." He barked and looked away. "No, she will earn her meal."

Polly wanted to argue, but she was getting no support from Bolivar or the others. Nobody wanted to add another mouth to feed. Bubber, knew that and counted on it. He was the only one willing to do so. He was the child's master.

When a tear finally broke away from the eyes to drip down and soak fast in the aged wood, Bubber removed the books. The little girl kicked her legs back over and landed in a crouch.

With a big grin and wrapping her up in a hug, Bubber rocked her in his lap. "That's my little one. Good, good for you." He ignored the redness of bright green eyes that wanted to cried behind a big proud smile. "Now then, time for studies. We will watch Master Bolivar and his company practice their performance. Let's listen to their stories while we have an apple."

The little girl sat in his lap while he sliced an apple, one slice for him and another for her, and they watched the troupe prepare for the evening's play.
_________________
Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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Lirssa Sarengrave
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 735
See this user's pet
Jobs: Performer
Can Be Found: Rhydin
38982.98 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You need to stay with Marie, little one." Bubber gave a smile while the guards snapped the manacles around his wrists. They weren't tight, but they would hold him. His bones were too brittle for a fight anyway.

Lirssa struggled against Marie's tight grip on her shoulder. "But I wanna go with you!"

"We can arrange that. One street bum and one street rat." The lupine smile of the guard haunted over Bubber's shoulder to the girl.

"Leave her be. She has a place to stay. She's no trouble to anyone." The last he had sent to Lirssa more than the guard. She was not the trouble.

It was just that time of year. The heat and stink made people worry about disease more. Those that lived on the street, the aged like him where people wondered how much filth they carried, meant a clean sweep. A few nights in the jail, a good scrub down, poking and prodding at his teeth and his body like he were a mule for hire, and he would be free again.

He hated that he had to leave Lirssa in the care of Marie, but at least the lady kept a clean bordello. Few fights, most of the customers behaved themselves, and Lirssa would get fed. "She'll earn her keep, Marie." He added.

Marie's bold red lips pulled back to show teeth yellow, but unusually straight. "You bet she will." Something in his eyes made her laugh and she added, "Not that way, you old man. We've got washing to do day in and day out, cleaning and scrubbing."

The guard gave a shove, "Enough of that, then. Get on with ya." And pushed Bubber into the jailer's wagon full of other rank street denizens. He heard Marie scold, "Come now, you. He'll be back. No sense a frettin' about it now. Let's get you cleaned up and show ya where you'll be sleepin."

Bubber looked past the barred window and saw the copper head struggling against being pulled inside until another girl came -- blond as sunshine -- and crouched down coaxing with words unheard to the child and they disappeared inside.
_________________
Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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Lirssa Sarengrave
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 735
See this user's pet
Jobs: Performer
Can Be Found: Rhydin
38982.98 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"She will mend, Bubber," Mistress Polly snapped at him. With her hands to her hips, fingers drumming in a roll, she captured a great deal of the shrew she played on the stage.

Bubber counted up the days, the meals, the scrimping even more. What good was it to him? "She's no good to me broken. Not even the arm, those lungs of hers. Weak as can be."

The drumming of Mistress Polly's fingers stopped, curling into the cloth, gripping it tight. "She has a cold, you old doddering fool. If you had not made her perform in the rain."

"She wanted to do it." Bubber defended himself. The rain had been thick, but they needed the coin. The audience could sit under the porch and drink their warm beers and warmer ciders. The girl had to perform out along the slick railings.

She did not have to fall. "She should have stayed on her feet."

Polly's hand was up and swinging only to be stopped by Master Bolivar. "Polly, it is his."

"We treat our trained animals better than he does that little girl." Polly jerked her hand free of the grip and stalked off.

Bubber was glad to be free of the meddlesome woman. It was better to talk with the head of the troupe. "You can find something for her to do. She can earn a keep with you. Me, she's reduced to begging." It was what he was once more reduced to as well, with the broken thing no longer able to perform.

A scratch to his chin, the company captain was chewing over something he wanted to say, but shuffling sounds and a rackety cough stole his attention. It took Bubber's attention away, too.

When he turned, she was standing there, pale as a snow owl's breast. "I'll get better. I can perform. Tourney tomorrow. I can do it." A coughing spit to the ground. Something she probably picked up from him.

"One armed?" Even Bolivar doubted it.

"I can do it. Don't leave me." Her eyes went up to Bubber, but it wasn't pleading -- it was determination.

Bubber was not going to have there be any sort of melancholy nonsense. "You listen to me, girl, people leave all the time. Someday I'll be gone, but you'll be alright. You've got a way to earn your keep. You can make it as long as you keep to your feet."

He reached out a hand to set on her head and steered her on to their humble lean-to of a camp. Tomorrow, he'd have her out -- shouting and playing with the customers around the tilts. He would be sure she got a warm meal after.
_________________
Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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View user's profile Send private message
Lirssa Sarengrave
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 735
See this user's pet
Jobs: Performer
Can Be Found: Rhydin
38982.98 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The shadows beneath the tree were cold as was the stone of the wall behind him. It ate into his bones through the few scraps of clothing of use to him. In an hour or so, the sun would be gone. Its rays unable to climb over the park walls. But the park offered a place to rest and to hide. Shrubs gathered court around trees in that corner of the park. Bubber could hear the squeals and laughter of children at play.

Play. His little Lirssa had never really had play, not like he listened to -- carefree, exploring her own imagination. He pounded the literature into her brain; the poets and playwrights of multi-ages. She was made to climb, twist, bend, fall, and land as an act. A struggled breath pained his chest as he wondered if what he had done for her was enough.

Had it been for her? It had been for himself. He had needed her to earn the coin, so he taught her. It was business. Even now, she was working. Going to the infamous Red Dragon Inn to show what a little girl -- maybe six could be five year old -- could do for amazement and coin.

The crack and crunch of autumn leaves beneath a light foot and Lirssa arrived where he lay with his coat, her coat, her motley, and the scarf she had found wound about him. Her cheeks were pale and pinked at the apples with the coming chill of the season. Hair a wild halo of strawberry blond that had slipped from the careless braids. She fell to her knees as his side. She was reed thin, but strong. Strong like bamboo. He closed his eyes so he could not see the shadows under her eyes or the defined collar bone at the neck of her tunic..

“Killer good tips today,” she said. He could hear that beaming smile of hers in the glow of her voice.

Bubber coughed out a chuckle. “Amuses them to see a little child serve them their drinks of oblivion.”

“And my speeches, too. Quoting poets with big words. They like that. Their eyes get so big!” She started to giggle, and then the giggle paused. Her breath caught, and he heard the soft sound of when she tried a new phrase. “Stupid f----”

His eyes snapped open and hand snaked out from the covers to strike her cheek. He could not pinch anymore. His swollen knuckles would not allow it, but he would not hear such coming from her. The crook of his finger with its dirty, broken nail jerked at her surprised face. “Don’t. Those are common words. Don’t ever remind them.” There was no energy to keep up the anger. His hand fell back, and she tucked it beneath the covers once more.

The place he struck was a garish pink now. He saw the soft movements of her tongue working something around in her mouth, and he remembered she had a wobbly tooth. It was likely free now. Did she tuck it into her cheek? Is that what he just saw? Likely she’d try to sell it. She tried to sell everything she could spare, but he did not want her to fall into the trap of her station. He had put too much work into her for that. She was his legacy.

Sitting back against the corner, Bubber closed his eyes again, the sudden strength of his rebuke gone, drained. “Don’t ever remind them that you are common. That you come from the cabbage leaves and dog piss of the streets. Let them see a discovered angel. Let them hear wit I’ve poured into your brain.” He coughed into the scarf, spattering it with yellow and brown mucus. His lungs burned. “Make something up if you have to. Don’t be common.” He rattled out on a breath. “You have to try harder for them to see value in you.”

He did not watch her go, but when she came back there was butter and bean soup, a half loaf of bread, and some water. As she poured out the soup into a wooden bowl for him, a little spilled on her hand, “Butter and beans,” she swore, licked at the hot soup from her thumb, and then served him.
_________________
Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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