“Ooo, a performance!” The warrior laughed delightedly. “Break a leg!”
“Or don’t,” the mage advised, and then the two disappeared into the gently rustling stalks of grass.
The bard rummaged through the mage’s bag for another moment before finding what she had been searching for – a crumpled, worn piece of paper. “Here we go . . .” she muttered under her breath, unfolding the paper and squinting at the words scrawled across it in purple and black ink. “Oh, yeah. This is perfect.”
What she held in her hands was not a spell of any kind, though a grimoire would certainly have been helpful (the mage would be a lot more useful if he had a way of guiding and expanding his talent). It was a sonnet of her own making from before she knew much about the form. Thus, it was certainly not the best she had ever written, but she believed – or at least hoped – that it would properly enrage the giant Oswalt.
At that point, Oswalt was quickly drawing nearer to the bard. When the warrior had originally caught sight of the man, he had been perhaps 500 yards away; now, the distance had shrunk to 100 yards. The bard realized that she did not want to face Oswalt on level ground. Projecting her voice would be easier from an elevated surface . . . and the man wouldn’t be able to step on her and squash her like a bug. So, she kicked her and her companions’ supplies into the grass where it would be hidden and set off down the path the way from which they had come, searching for a cluster of rocks she’d seen a few yards back.
Once Oswalt the Enormous Viking Man had finally caught up to the bard, she was sitting crosslegged on a medium-sized boulder that reached above the man’s shoulders. The bard gave him a bored look as if she’d been waiting for a long time. “There you are. I was beginning to wonder if you had gotten lost.”
The man stared at her flatly from the shadows of his helmet. In a voice that was nearly subsonic, he growled, “Where are they?”
“I think I know who you’re talking about, but you might have to be a bit more specific.” She imagined that the warrior would be rather proud of her for being sarcastic even in the face of this terrifying giant, who looked as though he could snap a full-grown tree like it was a twig.
“The one who can throw light and the golden one with the sword and the attitude.” Oswalt shifted from foot to foot, much like a bull would before charging. “Tell me where they are.”
“Oh, yes. They wanted me to give you a message.” The bard rose to her feet and shook out the piece of paper she held to unfold it. “Of course, being a bard, I had to take some creative liberties. So be aware that while the words are mine, the meaning behind them is one hundred percent from my two companions.”
“I have no time for this,” the man thundered. He took a step back, shielding his eyes with a forearm; the bard had wisely positioned herself so the sun was at her back. “I am not interested in your games.”
“This isn’t a game,” the bard retorted, seeming rather offended. “One might even argue that it’s a work of art. Just let me read it to you. Then I’ll tell you where they are.” She held the paper up, and in a clear, strong voice, read out her fighting sonnet.
“Good sir, I must ask: dost thou wish to fight?”