The Curtain Drops

The Black Pistol Inn, Maestro’s Quarters, Midnight.

Maestro Bastione sits at an elaborately carved roll top desk. He drops his quill into the near empty ink well and peers over the gold and black ink of the handwritten song before him.

With tired arms he reaches for his best guitar and sets it gingerly in his lap. He tunes the instrument to perfection and strums a chord that rings throughout the room, beautiful and clear. He repeats it again, sips a dark drink and ponders his creation.

His thoughts are interrupted by a knock at the door.

“Comme dans.”

A shabbily dressed Capacionne man enters the room holding a book and quill.

“Are you ready to make your decision, Maestro?”

“I am, Theodore. My thanks for making the trip so late.”

“It’s unusual, but your affairs sounded important.”

“They are indeed. Are you ready to begin?”

“At your word, Monsieur.”

“I would like you to write up the papers for my new Taverness, Daciana. I have discussed a hiring bonus for her which will be included with your fees. She is to be given full control of the day to day of the Black Pistol Inn. I shall remain it’s owner, but in all other ways I want her wishes made writ.”

“Very good, monsieur.”

“I want you to arrange travel for me for the dates in this letter.”

Bastione hands the man an itinerary.

“I will go by my own horse but will need lodging at those stops.”

Theodore looks over the dates and times. “Good, several months to sort your affairs in Stragosa. Will you be scheduling a return before leaving?”

“I will. My affairs have been in limbo long enough and I must set a few wrongs right. Then I can return, and things can return to normal.”

“My word it will be done as you say.”

“In case anything should happen to me on the road, I want you to arrange for my small fortunes to be paid upon my death, but I worry very little.”

“Better safe than sorry, I always say.”

“Truer words. I have written my will and testament here. I charge you to keep it in good safety.” Lastly, you must send word to my wife that she may not find me in Stragosa should she come. I will send word on my return that things are safe here.”

“Tis a personal concern but you two are separated. Why should she come?”

“Just take my orders, monsieur. I will attend the next forum unless something comes up but I ask you let my friends know I will return in a handful of forums.”

“Very good. And your apprentice?”

“Lev is to remain here and train, both he and Daciana are given free room and board. That completes my wishes as of now.”

Theodore makes a quick set of notes before collecting the various papers.

“I’ve a room setup ready for your, Theodore. No need to ride out tonight.”

“My thanks. The air as a shrill chill that cuts to my old bones.”

“The next forum shall be worse I have no doubt.”

“Likely. Good night, Maestro Bastione.”

“Good night.”

Black Pistol Inn Seeks Tavern Keep

Announced by criers and posted in locations around Stragosa is a simple sign that reads.

Black Pistol Inn seeks Tavern Keep. Interested parties should enjoy music, theatre and a celebratory atmosphere. The Black Pistol Inn is located at 27 Nemesis Way, just passed the Butcher Shop.

If you are outgoing, charming and regularly witty, the Black Pistol needs you!

Inquire in person at the Pistol.

~Bastione Montcorbier, Proprietor

Imaginary Roses

Maestro Bastione Montcorbier sits on a tavern stool in the Black Pistol Inn just before sunrise. On the bar before him is a ledger accounting for the tavern’s expenditures. He looks over the blocks of numbers, rubs his eyes and begins to draw musical notes in the margins.

“Good morning, Maestro,” a Gothic boy says. A broom over his shoulder.

“Bonjour, petit homme. How are you, Lev?”

“I am well. I had a strange dream as I slept.”

“Had you? I have strange dreams when I’m awake.”

“In the dream, I was your age, and everywhere I went people threw flowers at my feet.”

“What kind of flowers?”

“They were red. I played a guitar like yours and my feet were buried in red flowers.”

“How did they smell?”

“Like lemon, and cloves.”

“That sounds very nice. And the petals?”

“Thick, like velvet. I laid in them, pet them. It was an odd dream.”

“It sounds wonderful. I’m proud of you.”

“What did I do?”

“You described the scent, the way the petals felt, even their color.”


“From your mind you created beautiful things.”

“I suppose I did.”

“Will you make me some coffee?”

“Wait, was that a lesson?””

“With cream. Thank you, Lev.”

The Highwayman and the Quill

The Black Pistol Inn.

The bells struck twelve as former Highwayman Bastione Montcorbier agonizes over a small drop of blue ink. To compound the problem he realizes his wrist has smeared it over the last stanza. He spears the quill back into the pot in frustration.

“Lev! Bring me a rag, please.”

In moments the boy arrived with a handful of them. “This be enough Maestro?”

Bastione regards his assistant with a smile. “Quite enough monsieur.”

Had Bastione been half as decent as the boy before him he would’ve never struggled those years in Cappacione. If he’d had a patient and tolerant teacher what could he have accomplished? He was exhausted and a tremendous yawn escaped his lips. Bastione wiped the ink from his wrist, through away the ruined manuscript and started fresh.

“Since you’re here, Lev. Would you mind going to the bar for me? I’m falling asleep without something to chew.”

“Course. Want a cake?”

“Do you?”

“I wouldn’t mind…”

“Two cakes then.”

“Yes, Maestro!”

Lev sped from the room and seemed to float on air. Bastione, for his part turned his attention back to his work. Taking up a rule he traced several staves, and clefs onto the parchment on his desk. He rinsed his quill and, dipped it in red ink and with painfully slow movements began a new illuminated manuscript. If his father could see him now. A far cry from the life the two led well into Bastione’s thirtieth year.

“Discovery…” It was a subject that intrigued the Cappacione Bard, in another life he would’ve liked to have been one of those people who dig up old castles, and find pottery. But for now, the man is content with his work. He fought back another yawn and slapped his face. “A single stanza before bed…”

His first letter T was absolutely beautiful. Well balanced, steady, bright. If he kept it up the whole manuscript would be stunning. The quill snapped in his fingers.


He tossed away his second quill of the late evening. Luckily the break wasn’t a catastrophe. The page remained unmarred.

He pulled another feather from his desk, drew a small pocket knife and began to shape it. His fingers were built for playing strings, the delicate task of calligraphy was still foreign to them.

It was then that Lev burst through the door causing Bastione’s knife to hack the feather in half.

“Tue moi maintenant!” Bastione tossed the halves on the ground.

“I brought the cakes. You look like you could use two.”

“Ah, no. Just one. Wont you tell me a story while we eat?”

“Me, Maestro? Tell you a story?”

Bastione took his cake and began eating. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Lev took a seat on the floor, Bastione joined him.

“I can make something up,” Lev offered.

“All the best one’s do.”

“In the land of Cappacione there lived a man who by his birthright roamed the less traveled roads, robbing those he came across. It was said the man was a gentleman in all but title and that he had always made an effort to demand his tax without bloodshed. It happened one day that a poor wanderer crossed the gentleman’s path.

“Stand and deliver!” the highwayman commanded. He drew a pistol and leveled it plain at the beggar.

“Please sir, I haven’t two copper to rub together and I’m awfully tired. Surely you can let me pass?”

The gentleman approached the old man, with his pistol still aimed. “If you have no coin to pay my tax, how do you expect to cross my path? Turn around and come back with coin.”

The old man looked surprised at the demand. “Sir, I have heard you are a gentleman of the road, that you are fair, and shed no blood in your acquisitions. The man I see before me seems a brigand. Are you not the man I have heard of?”

The highwayman lowered his pistol and smiled. “Look sir. If I let you pass untaxed, words gets around that anyone dressed in rags can travel my roads without compensating me. You see the position that puts me in.”

“It’s your reputation that concerns you? You must be feared, as the cutthroat that sails the seas from Hestralia?”

“You’re catching on, sir.”

“Well I have no coin but if you must charge me, will you take this?” The beggar pointed at his temple and tapped.”

“I’m not following, sir.”

“I am poor in coin but rich in wisdom. If you must charge me for my passage I will pay with that.”

“What wisdom do you offer? I know how to live off the land, hunt, shoot, rob and speak with annunciation. I know how to ride horses, and I know the location of every cave within twenty miles. I ask again, what wisdom can you offer?”

“I know the secret of immortality.”

The highwayman laughed. “And you can teach me that secret?”

“I can. It is more valuable than any coin, don’t you agree?”

“Well of course. Well, let’s have it then.”

The old man reached for the feather in his cap, plucked it held it to the sun. “It’s a fine feather, isn’t it?”

“It is very fine, yes. And?”

“Do you see the lichen, growing on that tree there?”

“Will you start making sense, sir? No, I didn’t notice the lichen.”

The old man walked to the tree, gathered a handful of the vegetation and peeled bark from its trunk. He placed the lichen inside and then, began to micturate into it.

“What are you doing, sir? I don’t approve.”

“Let it ferment. I’ve given you the secret to immortality. An ink and quill.”

“But I don’t know how to write.”

“Then accompany me to the next village and I will teach you the alphabet.”

“You’re comfortable traveling with a highwayman, sir?”

“I can think of no better protection than a man who can hunt, ride a horse, fire a pistol and knows every cave within twenty miles. Shall we?”

Lev nodded as if to bow and noticed that Bastione’s head drooped at his chest. The Maestro had fallen fast asleep…

A Moment in the Conservatory

One time highwayman, Bastione Montcorbier sits upstairs in the Black Pistol Inn’s music conservatory. The room is lit only by a small crackling flame in the hearth and a handful of floral scented candles throughout.

The interior is sparse save a broad window which looks out into a night sky , a couple of guitars, two stools, and a Gothic child named Lev. Bastione plays a series of simple chords, and instructs his young student to do the same.

You’ve learned the eight elemental chords in little time. You’ve made your first break through in simple melodies, and I think you’re ready to perform something downstairs, Lev. What do you think?”

“I could, Maestro, but I don’t know what to play. Do you have an easy song I might try?”

“Of course I have, but the point of your instruction is to teach you to write songs and perform them. Happy to offer some guidance, chlapec but the performance is yours alone.”

“But what chords shall I play, and which order?”

Bastione leaned back in his chair and hefted a huge mug to his lips. The water was cold and Bastione half expected it to be ale, which made the first sip off putting.

“Choosing chords, and putting them in order is a song, isn’t it, Lev?”

“Yes, but…”

“G major, A major and D major are good places to start, non?

“I know them well enough.”

“You know them better than well enough. That’s enough for today. You have work to do and I need a drink.”

“I will fetch one for you.”

“Kind. No need, I’m going downstairs to the taproom. Let’s see if we can’t find you some bread to take home, non?”

“Thank you, maestro. Might there be a tart or two available?”


“A sweet biscuit.”

“Oh, yes, a biscuit. Of course.”

The Black Pistol Inn – A Night of Poetry

The Black Pistol Inn rumbles with a bright and cheerful crowd. Poets take the stage and give their best prose in hopes of landing the five silver pay off the Pistol has offered as a prize. A darkly clad Gothic man takes the stage. He glowers at the audience, pulling his hood and veil tightly around his gaunt face. His words are slow, dour, and hold the barest emotion.

“dreary death
shadows morbid in the flame
unrestful corpses are to blame
knife the eyes of pumpkin shell
to ward the gate of those that fell
the ancient rotting people rise
darkness crushes once blue skies
skin to flesh and bones to powder
brains to munch to brainy chowder
drowning sadness boils hearts
tearing bodies rending parts
smile for he who on this day
has no soul for he to pay”

The Gothic man bows deeply, rises, and awaits for an applause that comes in small bursts. The Gothic folk in the crowd just glower back, and he steps away from the stage.

The next poet, a well dressed Cappacian bard, and owner of the Black Pistol steps on stage. “I have a poem to share, though I am fully disqualified from entering the contest, I thought my Cappacian patrons would find it amusing.” Bastione clears his voice and takes on a sad countenance.

“There was a desert in time gone by
Where widowed men went to cry
And as their tears struck the sand
The salty drops drowned the land
And those who couldn’t stop the flood
Began to cry a salty blood
And in this way they died forlorn
And from the muck a wolf was born
The wolf was made of man’s harsh sorrow
It found no leader for it to follow
Along it starved to city near
No food was given out of fear
Its eyes fell on a forest maiden
With ample meat her bones were laden
But something exploded from her hand
As she gave a clear command
“Eat them all!” she screamed with rage
“Show them nature wont be caged.”
The wolf’s back began to twist
Paws stretched to rending fists
Its muzzle shrunk into a nose
And on each foot grew five toes
And that nightmare creature did obey
And that whole town the wolfman slayed.
The forest maiden became a tree
As she cackled merrily.”

The poem does seem to sit well with a number of Cappacian patrons. It is also causes a number of Rogalian’s in the audience to double check that their neck are covered.

Bastione steps down from the stage as a tall, well build Njordic woman greets the audience warmly.

“This is an old song, better left to competitions like this, but its sentiment has been central to my family since our axe’s crushed our foes.” She begins to sing a song, its rhythm aged.

“Ancient Ones, guide my spear so that we may feast
As we drain the blood from the beast
Our foes deceased
Sanctify our souls in the blood of our enemies
The new ways hold no sway
when the leaders bleed from their hearts
your will to be appeased
bring a storm of bloodshed
bring a storm of disease
Bring our foes low, low, low.”

The song inspires a number of patrons to howl, slam their tankards and order more drinks.

Standing in the corner, Bastione shares words with a Njordic man. The Cappacian pats his friend on the arm and wipes a tear from his eye. “Arnorr, marry that woman immediately.”

“So, you’re the new tavern keeper?”

“I am.” the Cappacian offers with a nod. The Bard’s dark blue eyes, shaded by a well worn Cavalier’s hat, scan the bar room. Striding towards the solid cedar bar, he draws a leather gloved hand over its surface. “It’s gorgeous.”

“It is! And this area right over here can be converted into a stage. You can produce all kinds of shows, concerts, readings, you name it. A whole band can fit here, sir.”

“I was counting on it.” The tavern was already purchased, but Bastione appreciates the man’s enthusiasm.

“I imagine you were sir, I imagine you were! You’ll find all the furnishings to your liking. Three of the thirteen rooms are empty, just waiting to be decorated, as you like. But with supplies you could open tomorrow.”

“And I just may. It’s an interesting location. This South End. Feels right.”

“I know what you mean, sir. I do. Interesting is an understatement. Your clientele will be an eclectic lot, if you ask me. Archaeologists, guards, performers, not far from the Church District. Butcher shop just that way.”

“Harder to get fresher fare than that, no?”

“Yes sir, that’s right. You’ve found yourself a nice investment. Been walking by this place, hoping someone just like you wanted to do something with it. The convertible stage is a real treasure. A fitting addition, considering performing has done so well for you.”

“Performing, and hunting. Honestly, without both avenues I’d likely still be struggling to survive out there.”

“And you’re the Valley Historian. I imagine that’s a real help.”

“It is. I don’t have to worry about food, or housing for my wards. Of course, I could always move them in here.”

“You could, but now you won’t need to. Frees up rooms for rent.”

“I like how you think, monsieur.”

“Would you like a tour of the rest of the tavern, sir?”

“No, I think I’ll just explore.”

“Alright. Did you have any questions?”

“Just one.”

“Ask away.”

“What am I going to name this place…”

An Evening at the Theater

The applause is thunderous as the patrons of the theater stand for an ovation. The actors, each taking turns to bow, are feeling positively ecstatic at the gratitude of the audience.

When the applause finally subsides, the Cappacian Bard Bastione, and his companions offer several ear piercing whistles in support of the troupe. After, they head outside where the crowd has gathered to discuss the performance…

BASTIONE: (In a moderate Cappacian accent)
The quality of performers continues to improve. I have to admit, that play rivaled many I have seen in Cappacione.

HIS COMPANION: (Certainly Hestrali)
It should tour to Hestralia. It is there it would truly find the audience it deserves. The actors were not bad, but can you imagine an entire cast of Hestrali thespians?

I’d rather not.

You jest, but it would truly reach the pinnacle of artistry if it were cast entirely with us. We invented drama!

But have no skill with comedy.

A crude, and false assumption.

La vérité fait mal. I will give you that the Hestrali are some of the most over dramatic of all peoples, but how many are truly funny? La comédie belongs to the Cappacians.

Judging by your face, it is certainly true.

Touche, mon amie. But you should show me some respect. Did you hear? I am the new Valley Historian. Perhaps some little wart of embarrassment of yours finds its way into my reports. Ha! Then who will laugh?

I know you well, Bastione and have no fear. Though why anyone entrusted that job to you, I will never guess.

Is it not plain to see? I am the perfect one for the job, I spend most of my time writing songs, drinking in the tavern, and talking to strange people. I could not be a more perfect fit, monsieur.

Yes, your large nose is a perfect fit for your large head.

This I cannot deny.

So, what do you make of the opportunity to become a citizen of Stragosa? I can’t help but feel there is some sort of ulterior motive to the entire thing.

That’s your Hestrali blood talking. The rewards for taking the oath are impressive. Freedom to travel, my wards are well taken care of, respect. What more could you ask of a burgeoning city? The chance to serve as a true citizen with rights is unmistakably wonderful, don’t you think?

Perhaps. But I could do all of this on my own before without permission! Perhaps not legally…

You are looking at it the wrong way around. Citizenship is not simply about what you get out of it, it’s about all of us coming together for the greater good of our city.

Yes, yes. I know. You are a true believer. I have many questions.

Then ask them of the officials. Do not let stubbornness, or fear detour you from making the right choice.

Yes, yes, Bastione. You prattle on, and on. You are driving me to drink, mio amico. Care to join me?

Certainly, but we go someplace that offers Cappacian wine, I can’t stomach the cheaply made Hestrali stuff. It smells of a musty basement, and tastes like vinegar.

I should slap you with my glove for such an insult.

Duel over wine? I must demur. Your wine isn’t worth dying for. Ha!

Bastione Montcorbier – Gentleman Fencer, Author (Renowned)

Bastione is the master student of renowned sabreur duelist Madame Capitaine Marie du Castellonia, After earning her trust, he became her Second in numerous duels fought from Capacionne, to Hestralia. While traveling with Madame Capitaine he mastered her Art du Sabreur, and is a well known instructor of the style.

He is most famous for penning a manual on the subject entitled Une Introduction élémentaire à l’art du Sabreur which includes instruction on the sabreur, and offers a code of honorable conduct for students, including a set of rules for dueling based on Madame Capitaine’s teachings.

(Awaiting character approval.)