The Royal Lute

UP: Europa

   Falamar made his way down the twisting staircase. The crowds were already gathering outside, waiting to be let into Britain’s Conservatory of Music. The sound of hundreds of people, a merry gathering, was the very reason Falamar had first chosen to become a musician.

Twisting a large bronze key in the lock, he was surprised that he did not hear the familiar click as the huge lock released. The door swung open, and a gasp escaped his lips as a scene of disarray opened before him. At the centre of the main storage room, the glass display case was missing.

The crowds outside grew quiet as the mighty doors opened. It was the 10th anniversary of the King’s band’s first performance, and the atmosphere was buzzing with an air of excitement and expectation. However, instead of the usual chorus of music which would traditionally begin as the doors opened, there was an eerie silence. Whisperings began to circulate among the expectant audience, before a short plump man strode confidently from within the Conservatory and cleared his throat before addressing the crowd.

“Ladies and Gentleman, there has been a grave discovery. The royal lute has been stolen!”

A stunned audience listened on.

“The Lord has decreed that whomever finds this instrument shall be rewarded 250,000 gold pieces! The festivities shall begin soon, but as you all realise, these unfortunate events have cast a negative light upon the proceedings. It has been decided that once the lute is recovered, there shall be another grand ceremony, a celebration!”

Falamar listened on from within the music hall. He could feel the atmosphere change; disappointed folk were already beginning to leave. Most had travelled many days to see the splendid instrument being played; superstitious folk even believed it had the power of healing.

The king’s guards were already fussing about the scene, scrabbling on the floor and inspecting every item in order they may find a clue of some sort. It was Falamar’s duty to clean the most precious instruments, and see that they were always in immaculate working order.

“What if they think it was me? Everyone knows I’m the only one who holds a key.” He could not help but fear the worst, and as one of the guards strode towards him he tried to hide his fear, lest it cast a guilty light upon him.

”Hail Falamar. I am Greeth Furloner, second lieutenant of his Majesty’s Royal Guard. Might I take a moment of your time?”

“Certainly, sire.” His voice trembled, despite his best efforts.

“Excellent. Then let us begin. When you first entered the storage room, was their any evidence the locks had been broken?”

“Aye sire, the door was unlocked.”

”You left the door unlocked after your last visit?”

”Nay! I would never be such a fool milord, it is a duty I carry out with the utmost diligence.”

The guard nodded.

“Tell me of the room, did you tamper with anything after you made the ‘discovery’?”

The guard’s tone annoyed Falamar, his loud and patronising manner caused him to forget the nerves which stirred within.

“No sire, I went and told the head musician immediately of my findings.”

There was a long pause, the guard not taking his eyes from Falamar for a single moment.

“Very well Falamar, go on your way, this is all I need to hear from you... at this stage.”

“Aye, sire.”

Falamar, angered by this cold treatment, walked home at a brisk pace. His mind was racing; if he were found guilty of this crime it would mean life-imprisonment, or worse. “Don’t be a fool, you are innocent, justice will prevail.” However much he tried, his mind didn’t seem to agree with his heart. The grave realisation came to him, unless someone could discover the lute’s whereabouts, then Falamar would have no peace.

”I’m sure someone has the wisdom to follow the correct path.” He mumbled as he reached his tiny home. “Someone, somewhere.”

From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online