The carriage bounced along the road from Veras City to Brifton, up until a distinctive snap from its undercarriage was heard, causing the vehicle to lurch and toss those inside the cramped cabin about. As it so happened, all of the passengers were members of the entertainment troop, The Legendary Innabards - a group you belonged to.
You and your performance associates were travelling to Brifton, where you were to make your first ever appearance on the stage at the Inn of the Horny Toad. It was an exciting time, ripe with opportunity, as the Horny Toad was a well known stepping stone that often lead to contracts with the major houses throughout Innabar. Those contracts meant gold in your pockets - the kind of gold that could lead to a pampered life.
Fortunately, your precious instruments survived the carriage’s malfunction, although you were left waiting by the side of the road as the driver wrestled to repair the running gear. That’s when a second carriage came into view, heading in the same direction and also bound for Brifton.
“Need’n a hand, Finn?” The driver of the arriving carriage asked with familiarity.
“I’d be in your debt, Sam,” replied your driver.
Sam climbed down from the perch and slid a pair of worn gloves onto his hands.
What caught everyone’s attention were the faces peering sneeringly out of the other carriage’s windows. It was Albert and his brother Louis, and behind them were the rest of the The Wandering Minstrels.
“Oh, look. It’s the Innabards,” Albert, their leader, said with a smirk. “If it’s the Toad your making for, you really should make haste. You’ll need to clear the stage before bard’s hour - when we are scheduled to appear.”
“And we’ll be performing at Lord Vanch’s wedding on the morrow, too,” Louis, Albert’s doltish brother, blurted.
Albert thwacked his brother on the head, dislodging his sibling’s hat. “Quiet you fool.”
A wedding? Lord Vanch?
It sounded like a problem because it was. Albert and his crew, as infuriating as they were, had taken the show in every bardic competition you had faced them in, leaving you to ever taste the sour flavor of second place. To think they wouldn’t be aiming to upstage you that night would be a foolish assumption. It appeared that your moment in the sun would not only be dampened by the unexpected arrival of Albert and his annoying troop, but any sweet pickings that might result from the night’s efforts, meaning a chance to perform at a noble’s wedding, had already been harvested.
Doubt was difficult not to feel as you watched the other carriage continue on its way…
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