Human Troubadour that recently fled a band of immoral adventurers




Every story has a first line. Every melody has a first note. In my case, the music found me early, though I didn’t fully understand it or imagine where it might lead. I heard it in my father’s hammer, in the clatter of cartwheels on the cobbles outside. I sang along with the birds and beat a rhythm with my feet on the workshop floor. Dad’s carpentry skills began and ended with the manufacture of barrels, but that didn’t stop him bodging together my first guitar. It took him months, but he had it ready for my birthday and it worked well enough for a beginner.

A troubadour drifted through town twice a year, bringing with him songs and stories and an air of exotic mystery. While he was there I learned everything I could, and practiced on my own in the periods in between. Every copper I got my hands on was squirrelled away to buy a better instrument, or invested in books of stories and songs. Life at home was comfortable and safe, but I longed to see other places, meet new people, hear new stories and sing new songs.

I was supposed to marry Dad’s apprentice, or at least it was widely expected that I would and this expectation was shared by the boy himself. Arran was a nice kid, and I’m sure he’s grown into a good man. He’ll be a good husband, a fantastic father, and a safe pair of hands for Dad’s business. I expect he’s building a lovely, stable and secure life for his family. But the life of a cooper’s wife just wasn’t enough for me. Mum took it personally, believing that I was looking down on her just because I wanted something more. Dad got it, though. He bought me an apprenticeship with the now ancient troubadour, and waved me off with his blessing and a brand new guitar.

That guitar is still a part of me. It’s been my constant companion through hundreds of miles and years of disgraceful adventures. Only the gods and my father know how he found the money for it. It’s a gorgeous piece, made specifically for me by a master craftsman. It’s also a connection to my roots, an anchor in a life spent drifting. I often hear my father and his contented, tuneless whistle as I tune it up. Someday I’ll turn the wheel full-circle, return home and sing him the story of my adventures, make peace with my mother and fill Arran’s children with exotic, impossible dreams. Someday.

For now my home is the road and my life is a song.

I’m Alice.

Shall I tell you a story?


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