Book Two: The Lone and Level Land
Tiberio in Cauldron

Berrona Umberselunday

While Tiberio and Swampjaw are walking the streets of Cauldron, looking for an armoursmith who specializes in barding (ha-ha), he notices a Finbell and the Boddyjons poster - it seems they are in town and playing a gig this afternoon! What does he do?

I am filled with nostalgia upon seeing the poster, however I wish to remain as unnoticed as possible. I will go to the venue, but I will only linger briefly outside - catching strains of the music and reminiscing.

Tiberio goes to the venue, "Rude Eruptions," a little early and are surprised to see a line a group of bards outside, doing scales, warming up and practicing on their lutes, mandolins and lyres. Although most of them are awful, some of them are truly awful. Swampjaw begins to whine. There seems to be a line up going into the front of the building.

As Tiberio approaches, he hears someone bellow in an unmistakable Gnomish brogue, "You look like an Otyugh in a bikini - what do you weigh, 400 pounds? And was your singing supposed to sound like a kobold yoddling? You're killing me," a pause, some mumbling, and then the shouting started. "SONNY BOY WE ARE DESPERATE, BUT WE ARE NOT "YOU" BLOODY DESPERATE! NEXT!"


Tiberio casually approaches Finbell and say "Sir, if you are desperate, perhaps my humble talents would suffice?"

The crowd of bards at the front of the queue Tiberio just jumped make some disgusted sounds and passive aggressive comments. After the past weeks, however, the Zularean bard looks as rough hewn as he feels, and none of these soft city-slickers dares follow through with the threats they are imagining.

Finbell does not lift his head from his hands and slumps with an animated sigh, “Tell this fine young Wop, whoever he is, that I’m too exhausted to hear another maudlin Zularean lament, Groaner.”

Groaner, the one-eared bass vocalist and crank-pipe player, nearly jumped out of his seat when he saw Tiberio, but he regained himself quickly. Sniggering, he gives his erstwhile band-mate a wink and says, “You heard the man, boy, give us a Zularean lament.”

Tiberio plays whips out his lyre, de-tunes all the strings to the most atonal intervals possible, and warbles in his best nasal whine:

O Zulary Zulary Zulary
How I lament for thee
O Zulary Zulary Zulary
I miss the old country

O Zulary Zulary Zulary
Of your beauty I cannot tell
O Zulary Zulary Zulary
For it would irk vain old Finbell

Finbell’s head remains resting in his hands a moment after the last strains of Tiberio’s broken melody thankfully drift away. One of the bards at the front of the queue whispers, “Damn, he’s good.” Groaner is doing everything he can to contain his jolly mirth.

A moment passes, and Finbell starts to chuckle from beneath his hands.

“I’ve only ever met one man who could sound that bad on purpose,” still he doesn’t lift his hands away, “Tiberio, lad, I don’t want to lift my hands, because if it’s not you my heart will simply crack in half.”

Groaner looks at Tiberio expectantly. After several more silent moments, Finbell peaks between his fingers and lets out a great whoop!

“The Boddyjons are back, Groaner! We’re back!” Finbell rushes forward to hug Tiberio’s legs, tears streaming from his eyes. Groaner finally gets his well-earned release and pounds the table, roaring with laughter.

After complaining loudly how gaunt and skinny Tiberio looks, Finbell orders up a round of honey butter meads for the three old band mates.

The meads arrive and there is a quick round of toasts, and lots of back slapping and laughing. Groaner is humming “O Zulary, Zulary, Zulary.”

“Groaner, lad, get out there and tell that sorry lot of talentless hacks auditions are over,” Finbell beams as flecks of creamy foam drip from his ridiculous Gnomish mustachio, “The Boddyjons are back.”

Tiberio can see that Finbell, having regained his composure with the honey butter mead, is now holding his tears back. From the look on his face, however, they are not tears of joy.

While Tiberio is glad to be back with the lads, he wonders what is causing Finbell such grief. "I am happy to see you old friend. What is it that is troubling you so?"

Arek in Cauldron

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