Storyspinners, scalds, and minstrels gather in the Cat and Cauldron to ply their trade, raise a mug, and chat with their fellow entertainers. A minstrel widely known as Crazy Jorgen sauntered in, wearing a proud smile and carrying a second-hand lute.
Two scalds exchanged knowing glances. Jorgen’s smile dimmed. “What?” he demanded.
The older of the two scalds nodded toward the lute. “Planning on settling down, I take it. Giving up the road.”
“You never heard the stories of a man setting off for adventure and glory, a lute on his back?”
“Heard the stories. Never met that particular breed of minstrel, though.” The skald paused to slurp his ale and dash the foam from his mustache. “I’m betting you haven’t, either.”
Jorgen frowned. “Now that you mention it.”
“Good reason for that. For starters, lutes are damed awkward to carry. And they don’t like the weather. Any weather. The tuning pegs pop out when it’s dry, the gut strings soak up the damp. Either way you’ll spend more time tuning than playing. The good news? You won’t have to keep at it for long. That wood isn’t much thicker than parchment. It’ll crack if you look at it wrong. But let’s say you get where you’re going with the lute in one piece. The sound doesn’t carry far outside, and it won’t be heard in a noisy tavern. The lute’s a fine instrument, if you’ve got a room that’s small and warm and dry and quiet, but it’s not meant for the road.”
The minstel slumped into a chair. “Then where do all the stories come from?”
“People got to sell their old lutes to someone, don’t they?” The scald winked and signalled for another round of drinks. “But enough about the lute. Let me tell you about this fine old pair of self-patching boots….”