While the willow was silently blooming in the cool summer breeze, the sound of the busy city of Ramrok were silently starting to stay afloat in the rising sun. It was one of those days were the dwarves would gather around the town square to enjoy the feeling of warmth spreading all around there fragile little bodies. The younger dwarves would play around in the water while their parents would enjoy some cold and bitter ale. Despite the summer atmosphere settling over the town the Oaktree pub was quiet as there were only ten guests spread over the abundance of oaken chairs and tables. A bard was quietly humming a melody while tuning his sitar. It was a nostalgic tune known as the ‘weeping of gods’. It’s text had never really survived throughout the ages and as the words had been forgotten the dwarves had filled the gap with a melodic humming and some dramatic sounds scattered throughout the song. The windows of the pub consisted of a mosaic representation of an Oaktree and due to its clever design reflected the light hitting it and transformed it into dark and atmospheric colors. The last thing noteworthy about the pub was the abundance of smoke due to the different hookah’s scattered around the tavern -which were almost all occupied by the regulars in the taverns-. Dokal was quitly smoking one of these while calmly weighing the words of the story he would tell that day. Dokal was a trained poet and a philosopher which were both rare and neglected skills among the dwarven race. It was almost an offence to practice such impractical skills as the dwarven race mainly focused on secondary and primary jobs which consisted of gathering resources and make them into a product they could trade -among the other races in the world-. You could imagine how people looked the other way for someone who practices art’s and follows their minds instead of their hands, as the mind only is able to produce goods for the soul, not for consumption nor for trade let alone anything of any economic significance. But somehow Dokal managed the integrate into society by writing down letters, trade agreements and recording the history and music of the town and it’s many outposts. Oh how he dreamed to visit one of these outposts instead of writing down there tales for the future of dwarvenkind. Recording a history is one thing but actually living it is a completely other tale and one he desired more than anything else in life. The bartender walked over to him and refilled his cup.
“Hey Hun, you’re up in about two hours. So what tale are you going to tell us today?” She whispered almost sensually in his ear. His cheeks turned a bit red and he quietly thanked all the dwarven gods he could think of for blessing him with such a big and thick beard which covered his blushing cheeks. “It would be a shame for the story if I spoiled the main plot to you wouldn’t it?” he replied rather playfully. “Ah come on Dokal for a free round on the house!” she said with a cheeky smile. “I’m not sure you would get the moral of the story before hearing it as a whole.” He explained “So you think I’m too stupid to get it you brute?” He cursed his own stupidity and hastily apologized to her. “Don’t worry Hun, I was just messing with you! I’m looking forward to your story tonight.” She smiled gave him a wink and walked off.
The hours flied by as the sound of the sitar wailed throughout the tavern. The raising son had already reached its peak and was slowly starting to settle. This short cycle was due to a phenomenon known as the short day. Some elves claimed it had something to do with a mass shift on the surface of the sun due to the god Arikon fighting a massive battle over the cosmos. An explanation Dokal didn’t believe in but wrote about quite often in his poem. Something about a battle amidst the light and deciding fates of huge systems struck a bit of a lyrical cord within him.
His cup was about to be filled up for the fifth time that day when a sudden surge in visitor’s arrived. Among them he recognized a few familiar faces he met while travelling through the land a few years prior. They were part of a travelling nomadic group simply known as Yourest. It was a fairly strange group because of two reasons: for starters they were very heterogenic when it came to their composition, all races over the entire world –as far as his knowledge went- were represent. You had a dwarf which went by the name of Koling, an orc called Rak, a sly creature which he never saw before and was always silent as far as he could tell, an elve called Thorn and a Forest Ent which solely communicated via mind communication. The rest of the group they were travelling with he had never seen before. The second strange thing about the group was the outrageous and absurd views they had about lives. It was a mix between some kind of religious cult with some sporadic elements of science ,psychology and ingenuity.
He was about to stand up and go greet them (as they were not strangers to each other) when he felt a slight tug on his shoulder. It was the bartender again reminding him that he was due to go on stage in about five minutes. He quickly drank his ale, cleared his throat, took a final peek into his notebook and walked down the bar to the lonely seat in front. As he sat down he felt like a thousand of piercing eyes were gazing right through him but he had learned to control the fear that arose from this feeling by looking at the back of the tavern. He paused, sighed and began in talking in a deep and mesmerizing voice.
When after an hour he closed his story with the sentence “When the man with the great ivory tusk comes around you realize there is nothing left to slay for he committed a sin far greater then any before namely killing himself a long and dreadful night before.” There was a slight murmuring around the pub followed by a long and agonizing silence. There were no claps, no booing, no laughs just a silence. Or perhaps a silence is not the exact term to use it was more than a silence it was an inaudible judgement. Dokal quickly stood up and averted his gaze from his audience. His legs felt like a heavy bag of sand while he strolled away from the chair and made his way through the door. As soon as the door had close behind him he heard how the tavern quickly sprang back to life and how cheerful laughter resounded throughout the building. He even heard how some people did a satirical interpretation of his story. He fought against the feelings that started to well up inside of him and quickly wiped away the tear that was slowly starting to make its way over his cheek.
He felt absolutely miserable and dragged himself throughout the abundant network of roads and alley’s. Despite of contrary believes among the other races, dwarves didn’t prefer dark nights over days, more correctly they were almost frightened of the dark and the horrors that could be lurking somewhere within. Something which is quite a paradox seeing that the primary economic source of income stems from mining. However the mining industry was almost entirely composed of slaves, prisoner’s and other social outcasts. Something Dokal feared he would become fairly soon if he didn’t find a way to entertain the dwarves better. For as the saying goes “ A dwarf without a strive is not worthy of a dwarven life” Jokes on them he thought bitterly ‘I’ve never even wanted a dwarven life to begin with’.
Silently moping around the streets he picked up a familiar sound. It was the sound of a sitar being played on and he naturally found himself wandering in that direction hoping to get a glimpse of the person behind the instrument and familiar tunes. It was quite hard to navigate purely on the direction of a sound and he spend a total of twenty minutes wandering aimlessly through the narrow streets with little to none light guiding his path when he stumbled across a small square. In the middle of the square was a well where the citizens would gather weekly to fill there supply of water. It was however not the main water sources used by distilleries or other craftsmanship as for that water out of the river would suffice. On the edge of the well sat a dwarf and he instantly recognized him as the person who had played in the tavern a few hours prior. He was playing a quiet and poetic tune something you would see in one of the many romantic or intellectual plays who were preformed among the elves. Dokal stopped and for a few moments he tried to forget the misery he had felled and be utterly absorbed in the abundance of sounds that hit his eardrums in a pleasant way. He didn’t know how long the track had lasted but by the time it ended the moon had almost reached his peak in the path it would draw out throughout the night.
The bard looked at him, smiled and began to piece his instrument apart so he could better store it in the case that laid beside him. “Why don’t you come and join me for the night my friend?” He spoke in a calm and reassuring manner which made Dokal instantaneously feel at ease. “I’m sorry, you’re not quite my taste in women. But I suppose I could join you for a beer if you please!” The bard laughed whole heartedly. “Such a shame, I would have been an excellent wife, but If you don’t mine I’d rather just sit outside and look at the night then to confine myself to yet another pub Dokal felt a bit nervous as it was not accustomed to dwarves to wander around at night without any real substantial goal for doing so, let alone for some concept as vague as merely watching the stars. The bard quickly picked up at his unease and said: “ You see that’s what is wrong with your work. You speak of beauty as this untouchable and unimaginable perfect thing, while it’s to be quite frank all around us. It’s like you’re this blind person rambling on about colors without ever experiencing it for yourself. Don’t get me wrong it’s not your fault after all, it’s a dwarven mentality to ignore beauty in favor of more productive and less ambiguous things like crafting shoes or other goods. But you my friend take it to a higher level of hypocrisy for you speak of it but not venture in it.” He felt a bit attacked by that statement as if the man had insulted his believes in a distasteful manner and he hurried in a defensive mode.” Then I take it that such a genius as yourself have found enlightenment in the stars? Don’t fool yourself with deep and profound poetics you know nothing more than me, While it might be true that you experience more than me whilst travelling around from pub to pub or looking at the stars you don’t have the right to be condescending to my way of living. For what I might lack in experience I make up for with reasoning and morals. If you want to go on rambling about fancy semantics here’s a phrase my teacher thought me once: ‘The senses are but a flawed perspective when it comes to anything more than just the upper layers of existence, the mind and powerful reasoning were capable of preforming is the only tool we have of ever coming close to a somewhat more profound layer of the onion which we call life’”
The bard laughed something which annoyed Dokal to the point in which he did his uttermost best not to slap the guy. “An onion as a metaphor for existence? Hardly a flattering and poetic analogy don’t you agree?” the whole absurdity of the statement made him laugh as well and like that the men had come to an understanding which each other. Any type of distance and hostility had melted as snow in the sun. Dokal sat down beside him and together they looked at the stars above in silence. As the hours passed by they shared a few pipes of tobacco together and talked about life in general, politics, poetry and all other passions the two of them had in common –which turned out to be a lot-. While the night had ran his course the two were still caught up in debates and the bard announced that he should go and get some sleep before undertaking the long journey to the next town. As he was about to stand up he mustered up the courage to ask him the question he wanted to ask all night and when he spoke his voice sounded shaky and nervous. “So ehhr, I was wondering… What did you think of my story? Why did no one seemed to like it?” the bard looked at him with a serious gaze and visually weighed his words. After a few moments he spoke in a calm manner. “Don’t get me wrong or anything, I liked your story very much! However there was something missing, something difficult to put into words but quite essential in any form of art be it music, painting or anything else for that matter. It lacked a specific sense of living, it was like a stoic speaking about the future. It felt like you were reading thoughts instead of telling them and that was in my opinion why nobody enjoyed your tale. Surely it had some nice sentences, poetic wording. But sometimes even those cannot account for a lack of something inherently as the life of a story.” His response annoyed our dwarven friend a bit since the feeling arose that this was so vague he didn’t even know where to start to improve upon the story. “Can you be a bit more specific then ‘life’ as a point of critique?” to which the bard replied “No I’m sorry Dokal, but in time you’ll understand.” The bard walked off without any hesitation. The most puzzling aspect of all was the Dokal never told the fellow his name so how could he possibly have known it? Who was he anyway? “How do you know my name? Who are you?” He asked puzzled and confused. “No one in particular. You should go live my friend you’d be good at it!” and about that time the stranger disappeared into one of the alleys . Go live what does he mean by that? Who is he to tell me and go live? Am I not alive at this moment then? Dokal’s mind was racing but before he could think more clearly a stronger feeling welled up inside of him one stronger than any riddle or question. He was utterly exhausted, and while he laid his head on the warm floor he felt at ease and slowly his eyes closed as he drifted off in a long and deep sleep.