Halzad Kalmalk, Dwarf bard, scald to the Kings under the Mountains, Taleteller to Emperors, and man whose lies about himself were only excused by the truth of his tales, sat on a stool at the Dancing Swallow, watching his apprentice. Badger was one of the few people Halzad had ever cared for – his father was a drunk, his mother absentee, the lot of his brothers either bastards or useless. He’d never married. But the day he’d first seen the girl who called herself Badger – a girl whose real name was hidden even from Halzad – his stony heart had softened just a little.
Thankfully, the girl had never given him reason to regret it, until today. Until now. Now, he watcher her perform one of the most difficult of the Twelve Songs – I Am Her Love, Yet I Love Her Not – and he smiled sadly. A proper performance of the song required dance, singing, and playing the fiddle, all stopping for somber spoken storytelling. Traditionally, it would be performed in Aelfish; that Badger had the villagers eating out of her hand in Thyatian was a further testament to how far she had come.
It would be time to start on her own, soon. As soon as he had a chance to go without her.
He was proud of her, and painfully sad.