– Are you the one they call “Magic Lute”, bard? – The humongous ork, swaying from all the ale in his belly, towered above the human musician. – Aye, you played fair, but you can find four bards like you for a dime in any roadside tavern! Surprise me! Show me the magic of your lute!
Grisier gave a wry smile and emptied his mug in one go. Not even a hint of fear flickered on his tired old face.
– You wish to see true magic? My music can deafen you, big boy. Are you certain?
The orc grinned.
They call me Borgan the Crusher – He roared. – If you think to laugh at me – I’ll crush you like a flea!
Grisier indolently poured himself another mug of wine, made a large, long gulp and stood up from the bench. With an unfazed expression he took the time-worn lute, which seemed even older than its player, and started tuning it. The first string, the second, the third…
The looks of the guests of the “Crazy Bull” tavern turned to the bard. Even Una stopped serving the mugs and stood still in anticipation of the spectacle. The chattering quietened down and turned into hush mumbles. All awaited his act. Once he finished tuning his lute, Grisier straightened his back and placed his fingers on the strings. For a second his impenetrable, wrinkled face lit up with a wry smile. The orc across gritted his teeth. The theatrically long tuning of the lute drove him crazy, as if the human bard deliberately made fun of him. Grisier on the other hand wallowed in the attention. He bowed before the audience at the next table, and then – to the audience behind the bar, slowly straightened up and with a sweeping move brought the lute down on the orc’s head.
The instrument split into pieces. The orc wobbled and then fell on the floor. For a few seconds, the audience froze in silence, then exploded with such laughter that the tavern hadn’t heard before. The bard bowed again before his audience.
– It would seem that our friend Borgan destroyed my lute. – He declared. – In the Vallorian Academy of Music such a play would be deemed highly inappropriate. But for the sake of your joyful faces, I am prepared to break a few rules! Besides, it was long past time to change the instrument. No one wanted to bother fixing it.