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The Song of Yendor: Chapter 2

Yendor had finished his chores, more or less, and had found himself a secluded area not far from camp. Everyone thought the life of a traveling musician was a romantic, drunken celebration that never ended, but only went from town to town. Still technically an apprentice, Yendor knew that this was a myth. There was laundry, and squabbles, food to be prepared, wagons to be repaired, and endless travel. The troupe Yendor traveled with was a large one, and Yendor’s mentor, Waters, was an elder of the troupe and expected Yendor to behave like a grown up for as long as he could remember. Now, nearly an adult, Yendor was still treated like a child. Not that he had any ill feelings toward the grizzled old man, indeed Waters had been Yendor’s only real family since birth. His parents had apprenticed Yendor to Waters as a babe, which it turns out is fairly uncommon. Aparently, his birth parents had wanted to get rid of Yendor imediately, although Waters would always chuckle, shake his head and claim it wasn’t like that; but he would never elaborate. Which wasn’t like Waters at all. Waters was a born storyteller. This was something a traveling musician needed to be. It was also something Yendor was not. He was a skillful player, and had a good voice. But Yendor struggled to write songs that connected to people.

Lately, Yendor had had to face a new problem. His instruments would not behave. They would go out of tune, sound loud or vibrate uncontrollably. It had something to do with Yendor’s emotions. His mood, his ability to control his own temperament seemed tied to his ability to control his oud, the stringed instrument Yendor was most adept at. Waters had never seen anything like it and many in the traveling band of performers, dancers, singers, mummers, fortune tellers, acrobats, actors and other miss fits thought Yendor should be left behind, because they thought his bad luck might be contagious.

Waters had finally said, “Sometimes a problem is in how you look at your problem. You got to ride this thing out. See where it takes you. If you can’t squelch it, maybe you can harness it. You can’t stop the wind, but you can make a sail and travel the seas with that wind at your back.” Waters stroked his scraggly beard, which had, like the hair on his head, gone white.

Yendor’s ouds had been breaking, so he made one more solid. The belly was just a kind of way to make the music carry, and Yendor seemed to be able to make the strings vibrate louder even without the hollow body. Slowly, Yendor had found ways to coax the music back into his oud. He could use the oddities to his favor, creating a more expressive sound than traditional musicians could do.

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