The Greenbelt Company
A quick-witted, silver-tongued minstrel with a heart of gold.
_Taken from a excerpt from The Book of Beron Dook_:
Beron. What was the woman thinking, naming me that?
The halfling sighed gently, his feet padding along the dimly lit cobblestone path. His eyes wandered around, never settling for very long, always in motion.
How fitting. My sleeping mind fits the rest of me, too. Just a half-man, walking. Always walking. Never settling. Beron Dook. She thought it was a portent, a promise of great things. That the gods would look down and raise up one with such a ridiculous name. No, this name’s just hung over me all my years. Mocking.
Beron shivered, the night chill cutting through his light trousers and linen shirt. He pulled his cloak tighter around him, warding off the chill while adjusting the bow stave in the case on his back.
Well, I guess I can’t hold it against her too much. She’d barely named me before that fire caught her. The gods know where dad was. Or who he is, for that matter.
Funny, walking usually cleared his mind, never muddling it with maudlin thoughts. I’ve got to let that go. It’s been years now, and besides, I was young. I’ve made my own way, I can keep on making it!He cleared his throat and began to recite a piece he’d been working on, a rather sordid stanza about the town mayor and his fondness for the herds of sheep he kept with pride:
A sheep’s a fine thing,
you know what they say;
Warm wool, fresh milk,
and a lamb chop one day.
We take all these gifts,
but they’re not enough;
for Lord Mayor Kilean
when he’s in a rut!
Ok, so it could use some polish. The idea’s gold though! People around here hated the man, so they wouldn’t need much in the way of wit to start the tips flowing. Or the drinks. Through the magic of Byron over at the Lustre Pearl, though, one pretty much meant the other.
His hand brushed against the strap of the bow case, and his thoughts ventured back. Not as far back as the red-tinged suggestions that were the only thing he could dredge up about that fire, but not the clear, restless memories of taverns, roads and rivers traveled. He remembered the caravan that had taken him in, a young boy of the constant traveling. Days hiking over trails between Issia and Rostland. That didn’t happen much these days. Trouble brewing and all that madness on the borders.
The bow was the last thing he had to remind him of those days. He’d learned to shoot the bows the human boys used, and gotten to be a damn good shot, Beron thought with pride. Not much cause to use in in a city, though, but it did lend him a mysterious air. That was good for tips, too. Take the tales folk grow up with, bend and shape and mold just a tad, act out some of the more thrilling escapades, sing a ballad of heroes long gone and legendary loves lost. Folks loved that stuff.
What tale will I spin this eve? Lustia? No, too foreign. Sharon and the Seven Halflings? Maybe, people love to mock my folk. No. I’ll not be the butt of that particular joke. I need something, something….stirring. The Breaking of the Blue Sun? No, too maudlin. Tleoh the Tongue-Twisted is too quick for these simple folk, though it’d be great in New Stetven….
Ah! Gavin the Gutless and the Great Hunt. Classic, and it stars an everyman. It’s comfortable. Gods I need to get out of here.
Gathering his memory and his wits, Beron Dook mingled towards the Pearl and slipped inside. Within minutes he was seated in a chair near the mantle with an ale in hand.Though his voice was low, those nearby paid close attention to the tale, and as stillness spread to neighbors the whole tavern listened with rapt attention as the halfling grew in stature. Before long, it wasn’t Beron the Halfman who stood before them, it was an avatar of Gavin Himself, a farmhand who went from being left for dead, a sword through his stomach after a farm raid, to single-handedly finding and slaying every member of the bandit gang that did it.
When he finished, a flourish of a broomstick splitting the bandit king from his head, the crowd burst into applause. Beron made his way through the crowd, accepting handshakes, tips, backslaps and smiles as he angled for the bar.
It’s surprisingly tough for a man of my size to climb a stool. Bemusement flashed on his face, which then split into a wide smile as Byron slammed another mug in front of him. As Beron took it and turned around to the people returning to private conversations, his eyes caught a yellowed piece of parchment tacked next to the door. From this distance all he could see was the word REWARD in large letters.
Reward. I like this notice already…what’s gone wrong now? Expedition….mhmm…south…mhmm…opportunity…forge new land…vast wealth and accolades…new land…new…land.
Wait, a new kingdom? That can’t be right. Well, the crown could use some space at the moment. Those bandits are not going to be simple to clear out, are they? I’ll need crew members, preferably ones I can trust. Supplies, gear. Good thing they’re kitting us out.
A slow, eager smile began to grow on his young face as Beron spun back to the bar. As he slammed back the last of his pint, he was working out what kinds of people he’d need to make his new venture succeed. Noting Byron’s puzzled look, Beron’s grin widened even more.
“Farewell, noble barkeep! I’m off to build a nation!”
And with that, the giddy, possibly drunk Halfling strode out of the Pearl, perhaps for the last time.
“Now what should I name my new land? Dooky? Too juvenile. Beronia? Too feminine. Graf! No, too brutish…”
His conversation trailed in his wake as Beron sauntered down the road. No dark butt lingered in his mind; instead for once his future had a glimmer of possibility.