By: Wouter van de Zandschulp
Genre: Fantasy, Humor
The story of the clumsiest and most unlucky bard alive.
For those of you who have been subscribed to the mailinglist for some time, the Jonathan Saga will be familiar. Every now and then (usually every three months), our very own Alcarin.com columnist, Wouter, wrote a short part of the Saga for the mailinglist (see the mailinglist or columns). For easy reading, these parts have now been filed together on this very page. Enjoy reading.
Arjan Wardekker (webmaster and mailinglist editor-in-chief)
The old man
The un-hearable bard
The powerful voice
On his own
The hard life
Jonathan the Goat
The clumsy goat
Jonathan, the hero
"The old man" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 15)
Jonathan is a bard of a pretty large adventurers party that once wandered around in the Forgotten Realms. He is an artist and he likes the attention, he likes the people that cheer and admire him. He loves the glory.
Long ago, he was just training. He was poor at that time and an old and wise bard was a mentor for him.
He came to Jonathan's house a long time ago, just wandering around there.
Jonathan was a growing boy then, in the uncertain ages where he isn't a child anymore, but has not become a man either, but just tangling between those, able to go so many ways that choosing is real hard.
Being the youngest of the family, Jonathan always had everyone to look up to. Being quite a clumsy and modest lad, Jonathan did. A lot of time he spend on the roof of his home, just sitting there, so no-one can see him, and writing some stories about adventures, dragons and heroics, not knowing if he will even see this for real.
His father and mother expected that their son would just stay home for a long time. Too clumsy to do something useful around, too shy to go out in the hard out-side-world. They honestly did not know if there would ever become anything of their son.
One day an old bard with a large beard walked passed Jonathans' home. He saw the boy sitting on the roof, thought for a while and decided to take the path to the house.
"Hello!" he shouted.
Jonathan looked up, surprised, and saw the man standing there.
"Are you... are you...? " Jonathan started mumbling.
"O no... don't say it..." the man called back.
"Gandalf?" Jonathan couldn't resist asking.
"I AM NOT GANDALF! ME AND GANDALF ARE NOTHING ALIKE. ONLY BECAUSE I HAVE A BEARD DOES NOT MEAN THAT I AM GANDALF!"
"Hello sir-that-is-not-Gandalf." Jonathans' father said, who just came walking outside.
"Hello sir-that-also-is-not-Gandalf." the old man said. "Is that your son up there?"
Jonathans' father looked closely at the stranger. It did not seem like he had a large object in his hands he could hit him with. He did not have pieces of broken glass or so in his beard either. The man did not even look all that angry. He decided to risk it this time.
"Yes, that is my son." he said.
"Can I speak with him for a while?" the man asked.
"Sure." Jonathans father proclaimed and he went to work.
The old man climbed on the roof in a way so surprisingly handy that Jonathan would not be able to do himself. He looked at Jonathan's surprised face and laughed.
"I'm not that old yet. So, you sit here on the roof, don't you?"
"Well... yes" Jonathan said.
"Interesting." the man said. "What are you doing?"
"I am sitting on the roof."
"I am writing some stories. I don't know why, really. That moron from the newspaper won't even print them."
"What's it about?" the man asks.
"Heroes, sir. Big time heroes with shiny teeth, big swords covered in blood, all protecting the innocent and getting loads of money and stuff. But oh well... it's just fantasy, you know. But it seems to be all I'm good for. I cannot do something really useful because I am a clumsy idiot."
"Hmm..." the old man says. "But you can imagine you are a hero right?"
"That I can."
"Well, than you are one. You have got the spirit, right there."
The man points to Jonathan's chest.
"There?" Jonathan asks. "In my chest? In this particular part of my chest? Right here, so that if someone will cut this out it will be gone?"
The man sighs. It's never easy talking to special children.
"You seem to be a thinker, Jonathan. Maybe you shouldn't be locked up in this place. Maybe you should go out there with me. I can train you to be a bard, like I was. Then you can join a adventurers party and sing about their heroics and maybe even become a hero yourself."
Jonathans' eyes start to glitter.
"Is that possible? Just going out there, having adventures? People looking up to me? But I'm not really all that good in performing, sir."
"You are what you imagine to be, Jonathan. If you come with me I will train you."
"I will have to ask." Jonathan thought.
"Dad!" he shouted. "Can I become a hero and fight dragons and so?"
"Sure son." his father answered.
"Cool!" Jonathan shouted and fell down the roof.
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all." the old man said to himself.
"The un-hearable bard" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 18)
After the old man had taken care of Jonathan, they traveled together through life.
The old man tried to teach Jonathan a lot of the trade.
"Look Jonathan, do you see that man in his shiny armor? That's a paladin, a brave hero. Do you want to be like him?"
Jonathan saw all the positive attention the man got and nodded.
"Wrong answer, Jonathan. We are not here to be heroes and save the day. We are entertainers. We make fun of those hero's and of the bad guys too whenever we can. We have no principal, no laws, and no friend. Get it? We just make fun of them."
Jonathan nodded again, impressed.
The old man has done loads of performances in many cities. In most of them he was well known and they asked him to perform. Although he was quite old, he was very popular. He made fun of everyone and when someone threatened to get mad, he just sang a nice and moving song to make him or her forget easily.
The power of performing was overwhelming. Easily the old man put some commercials for beer or politic party's into his performance and the effect was notable immediately.
Wherever he came, people cheered.
The old man and Jonathan went along. They wanted to go to a city further on. On the way to there, they had to camp out in the wilderness, one night.
This night, they sat together at their campfire.
"So, Jonathan, when do you want to perform?" the old man suddenly asked.
"Me? But you do so great... why would I..."
"Do you think I train you to just stay and watch?"
Jonathan thought for a while.
"That would not be all that logical. On the other hand, you are an artist, so logical is probably not what you..."
The old man sighed.
"You are an artist for sure, Jonathan. But surely, you must have some ideas about an own performance."
He looked at Jonathan, who holds a bench over the campfire. The bench caught fire and Jonathan managed to get his hand on fire, after which he threw quite much of the water the old man had preserved over it.
"I mean... you must be good at something... I guess" the old man said.
"Autch... well... I did think of a song not all that happy as yours are. Something about how lousy I feel in the morning, when you rude wake me up. Autch. And what about... that feeling of uncertainty, like there is a big destiny for me yet to be found... autch... and then I thought of some jokes about the stupidity of Orcs, but in such clever words they will not be offended because they will not be able to understand it. I wrote it all down! And what about a sort of role-play, in which I will play both characters arguing with different voices... it can be based upon how you wake me in the morning... some sort of cross-over with the song!"
Jonathan got so enthusiastic that he put his hand directly into the campfire.
The old man was satisfied. Jonathan had thoughts enough.
Next morning, Jonathan heard the old man arguing. He tried to open his eyes and he saw another old man with a beard.
He wondered if maybe this one really was Gandalf. He heard his old man say: "I have found a pupil too, he will show the audience what a performance is!"
"Yeah?" the other replied. "Sure. You looked for years, thinking you would find some guy 'meant' to be great. And now you have settled for some loser, while you are to old to teach him right. My pupil has learned all from me. He will steal all the audience away, leaving yours to sweep the floor afterwards."
"My pupil has his own ideas. You know, originality and stuff. We will reach the next village in a short while. Let's go to: 'The Inn That Really Should Have Had A Name But Sadly Did Not Because Of The Lack Of A Good Idea' and have a little contest."
And so it happened. Jonathan woke up and the four of them walked together to this pub. The old rivals together and the pupils went after them. Jonathan really got annoyed by the 'I'm-Better-Than-You-Behavior' of the other pupil.
In the Inn the bartender was more than happy to have a contest. The long 'name' of his bar caused lots of people NOT to go there, because they didn't like to say the whole name while suggesting it.
That night, the first pupil wiped the audience away. His jokes, songs and other effects were great and all chairs thrown by displeased audience missed him.
"You can beat him, Jonathan," the old man whispered to him. "He has exactly the same performance his instructor always had. You have fresh and original ideas from yourself. You are enthusiastic about them. Go for it!"
With all the confidence the old man pushed Jonathan on the stage, when it was his turn. The audience was pleased and gave him a fair chance. Jonathan saw everyone looking at him and got scared of ruining it all.
He realized he had to start with something, so he tried to start it of with some funny remarks. But when he tried to talk, his jar seemed jammed shut. He tried to produce some sound.
"This is my first performance" he tried to say. The audience started asking one another: "What did he say?"
Jonathan was so nervous that he only could mumble some nervous words; probably hoping no one would hear him. The first chair that got thrown knocked him down immediately, luckily ending the performance, so the people could get back to their beers.
Ignoring the remarks of the other bard, the old man helped Jonathan up.
"You are much better then them and you will beat them some day," he said. "But you are not quite ready, you have some large troubles ahead of you. You need to find confidence... and be hearable by the way. For the last part I have someone that can help us..."
"The powerful voice" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 21)
The old man had taken Jonathan to a big castle, where a friend of him lived. It appeared to be the mighty Elven king Indoral.
When they arrived, people immediately shouted: "IT'S GANDALF! GANDALF IS VISITING US!!" and let them in.
"Fools... I'm not Gandalf..." the old man mumbled.
When they were inside the castle, the old man said: "Jonathan, you stay here, and do not touch anything. I'm going to find someone that will make you able to express all that creative thinking of yours."
Jonathan heard the Elven king shout: "Ahh... welcome, mighty Gandalf!" while the old man walked in.
A bit later he heard the Elven king shout a bit unpleased, probably figuring out what the man actually wanted. He suddenly heard things like:
"The impersonating of me riding a goat was NOT FUNNY! I don't care about your intentions, and..."
While this conversation was going on, Jonathan was just walking around a bit. He saw the big door, when open being a bridge over the river made around the castle and the big chains that kept it closed.
"Wonderful" Jonathan thought, "so difficult to open from the outside, and yet so easy to open from here, you just have to take the tension of the..."
Immediately Jonathan heard a very hard sound. The way he thought the roll that held the chain was enough to automatically unwind it. Now the bridge was falling down quite hard.
Unfortunately, at the same time a group of enemies of the king was just walking around the castle, looking at means to enter. When they saw the bridge getting opened before them, they found that pretty convenient.
Jonathan just stood there when he saw the evil group storming towards him. In a split second he knew he created a disaster once again and was good for nothing. He knew he at least had to do something, so suddenly he shouted with all he could:
This caused the defenders of the castle to come out of their rooms quickly. From a strange tower, a bit higher than the others, a nice looking young woman came out and looked very wondered at the person that called that loud.
A tough battle was fought, but the intruders had flown. King Indoral very quickly understood the cause of them braking in.
"NEVER I WILL HELP THAT... THAT... BOY!" he shouted.
Jonathan had a strange feeling this might have been regarding to him.
Suddenly he saw the beautiful princess from the upper tower running towards her father.
"Father... father... may I... may I help him?" she asked.
"But..." her father said.
"He just yelled with a very powerful, impressive voice. It would be a shame if he would be keep using it in the pitiful way he now normally does. And..."
"But... he is dangerous... and... and..."
"I have the qualities to help people using their voice to, father. And I find his voice very interesting, and..."
"You are not going to stop about this ever till I give in, are you?" her father sighed. "Well, you may, if his guardian accepts and is willing to keep him here for a while... AND... if he not uses the me-riding-a-goat-act anymore..."
"I will not use it any more... or any less..." the old man said.
"EVER!" the king shouted.
The old man looked at Jonathan and sighed.
"Okay, okay... you'd better become a very good bard, the things I do for you."
Later that day Jonathans' guardian, the old man, left. Jonathan knew he would miss him terribly and kept wondering why anyone would go through so much trouble to help a good-for-nothing person like himself.
"Performance" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 25)
The young lad Jonathan feared to be good-for-nothing. He didn't really had the competence, power or attitude of a hero. He had some creativity and fantasy, but was failed as a bard. Now the old man, his mentor for some time, was traveling without him, while he received speech-lessons from the beautiful Elven princess.
She once heard his voice while shouting and was convinced of the hidden power in it, which was merely hidden because of all Jonathans defeats in live.
"Why did that boy grow up to be so low of confidence and timid?" she asked herself, while Jonathan entered for his lessons.
While entering, Jonathan knocked over some of her candles. He quickly tried to pick them up without putting out the fire first, so he terribly burned his hands.
"Ah, now I get the idea" she said.
Jonathan's clumsiness had caused a serious lack of confidence inside of him. He had become someone who agrees with just about everyone, who tries to please the others and sees himself fail time after time.
The wise princess noticed this and treated him with patience and friendliness. She encouraged all his ideas and he brought in more and more to each lesson. They seemed to match pretty good and enjoyed each other's company.
With various voice-exercises, while putting as little pressure on Jonathan as possible, she taught him how to use his voice as to be better hearable. While sometimes talking to guards and other people in and around the castle, Jonathan noticed them taking him far more seriously because they could hear him better. It made a world of difference. Jonathan's confidence grew along with his voice. Now all the times he had to explain what part of the castle had had accidentally demolished he quickly and funnily could tell where it has, how big the damage was and how it had happened against his will.
The king however pressured his daughter a bit to hurry, since the cost of repair took quite a bit out of him.
After some time Jonathan happily went to his speech lesson. He sat down with the doorknob in his hand.
"Hello, that doorknob already was loose for a while, I guess, since every time I tried to open the door it simply..."
"Jonathan, would you like to have your first performance for an audience next week?" she asked suddenly.
"Well, I did perform before, but I was knocked down with a chair quite sudden, and..."
Jonathan suddenly got quiet. This was a real new chance! Probably for quite important people, even!
"It's for the big party next week, in honor of..."
Jonathan did not hear any more. He was too thrilled. He could perform!
That night he was dreaming of fame and thinking of his big new performance for all those important people, and mostly, his princess-teacher.
"A letter for you" a man said to him.
A letter was pushed underneath his door.
"Fanmail in advance!" Jonathan thought happily. "Or a letter from..."
He accidentally totally ruined the envelope while getting the letter out.
I have heard from the Elven king that you're lessons are about to come to an end. Please do not do anything stupid before I will pick you up, so that you will have to leave the castle before I'm there, or I will not know where to find you.
Jonathan tried not to do anything stupid, but his love-filled mind kept getting back to the charming princess.
That night loads of important people were gathered. The princess was in the middle of the attention, but strangely everywhere accompanied by an annoying man. Jonathan performed with great success. Everyone laughed at his jokes, liked his stories and even danced with his songs. He knew the castle and a lot of people around real well by now, which gave him a safe feeling. He was under the impression he could do anything, because of the nice surrounding and mostly to impress her.
She seemed to see how he was doing real well, but she also kept giving attention to that other man.
Jonathan's irritation about that grew along the night and his success gave him a feeling of power over the situation. That's how the warning words of the old man started to fall from his mind.
"Ladies and gentleman, now, before all of you, I would like to tell one thing. I love the princess and I will do anything for here. And just looking at her I know she must feel the same."
Jonathan looked at the crowd. They were all completely dazzled for some minutes. Their mouths were open. The princess looked totally shocked. The first one to move was the king, who called for his guards.
Only minutes later Jonathan was rudely thrown out of the castle. His suitcase was thrown after him, on his head.
"Like it was all that obvious it was a wedding-party" Jonathan mumbled to hide his grief. "I never liked her type of clothing anyway. Were should I go?"
Jonathan just followed the road away from their, without a home or mentor.
"Confidence" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 28)
'Entering Marandriel. If you are a bard, you might walk AROUND this town.' a sign said. The young bard Jonathan, who had been walking for several days, nonchalant was reading this. He had been all alone and quite depressed, walking to a place he did not know anything about and being hungry. He had been kicked out of a castle he was staying and was not welcome to stay anywhere near for a while, so to survive he had to find some other town where he might get to earn food or a place to stay. The old man, his mentor, probably would not be able to find where he was, so he was as alone as he could be.
He did not feel like walking around the town now he finally found one, so he just walked on. He could always pretend not to be a bard, as long as he could eat.
He walked along towards something that looked as if you could buy some food there.
A large group was inside this place, making a lot of noise. To Jonathans' big surprise, an unlikely group was in there. A Gnome, a Dwarf, an Elf, two humans and one big Orc.
Jonathan now was really hungry and so he tried to ignore the unlikelihood of all of this and just stand in line. The big adventurers party was standing before him. Jonathan noticed the possibility to grab a plate and get your food at a buffet as you walk along. Jonathan saw some great looking potatoes coming up before him. He waited for the Orc, who emptied the plate completely, leaving Jonathan with nothing. Jonathan disappointed moved his attention to the next plate, some delicious looking slices of meat. Again the Orc finished all. Some plates later, Jonathans' hunger got the better of him. Before he had just enough common sense left not to insult a big Orc, but now the combination of his hunger and the empty plates got wrong.
"Excuse me..." Jonathan said.
The Orc furiously turned around and said: "YES???" with a real dangerous voice.
"Few, what a smell. Say, have you read about some good DIETS, lately?"
The Orc looked at him, not understanding.
"You might... well... NOT eat twice your weight... especially when you are THAT big."
The Orc looked not understanding at the Dwarf before him, who turned around to watch.
"He's insulting you," the Dwarf explained.
"GROWL!" the Orc yelled and threw his plate away.
Jonathan quickly moved for outside, but the Orc was quick to. In panic Jonathan realized that his hunger had driven him to do something very unwise and he looked for a place to hide. He ran towards a bar. The Orc was right behind him. Quickly Jonathan jumped on the stage.
"Hey, is that a bard?" someone in the room yelled. "We don't like bards here anymore, and..."
Jonathan saw the furious Orc looking around and some people around him running away in terror. The Orc ran towards his stage and he had nowhere to go, all was closed in with people. The Orc jumped for his and Jonathan quickly moved aside. After this he was making all sort of funny movements on stage to keep from physical contact with the Orc. The public looked quite surprised.
"This is amusing" they had to admit.
Jonathan saw the aspiration for success, so he started talking with the movements. He immediately realized he was much better hearable since the last time he was in a bar, thanks to the Elven princess who had trained his voice.
"Ladies and gentleman, here is the great Jonathan and his pet Orc again. As you can see we both can dance. Get me some music!"
A man, sleeping behind a harp, woke up at the word 'music' and quickly began to play at the rhythm of their movements. The audience started clapping and having fun.
"We really have to change our policy against bards" people said.
Jonathan felt real proud about himself. He was a performer and it felt great! He saw the Orc getting all tangled up in his movements and all of a sudden he quickly jumped of the stage under a table. The Orc stood surprised, but the music was still playing and the audience yelled: "We want more! We want more!", so the Orc danced along for a bit.
Jonathan escaped out of the bar, feeling great. He had changed the opinion about bards in this town and that of Orcs even more so.
"I am great," he said.
"So great you get kicked out of castles. So great I might have known to find you in the one place where they like bards the very least."
It was the voice of the old man. He had found him!
"You seem to have lost sense of modesty," the old man continued, about Jonathan saying he is great. Jonathan looked at a way to excuse himself, after which he felt great pain and lost consciousness.
Later he woke up on a bed and saw the old man looking at him.
"You should know better than to mess with Orcs. If they didn't mistake me for Gandalf I would never have been able to get a room to aid you in."
Jonathan, with a great headache, said: "I was avoiding him quite successfully, until I got distracted."
The old man looked at him in a curious manner.
Jonathan and the old man where reunited, but something had changed.
"On his own" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 31)
On a marketplace, people gathered. They heard it from miles away. Jonathan the Bard and his old assistant were moving in their direction! They all stood by the road and cheered as much as they could.
"JONATHAN! JONATHAN! JONATHAN, WAKE UP!"
Jonathan awoke. The old man called him.
"We have to make some money today. We will go to the market-place, over there, and do our Magic Act of the Disappearing Coins."
Jonathan sighed. The old man thought it was only because he was still tired.
"LADIES, GENTLEMAN AND THAT PERSON" the old man shouted, while pointing at one person. Everyone laughs, but that person, who walks away angrily. This method works most of the time to get a laugh.
"Do you want to meet up with the Big Mystery?" the old man shouts with a mysterious intonation in his voice and a mysterious look in his eyes.
The people got excited. "Big Mystery... Big..."
"Yeah... Big Mystery" Jonathan softly said, not convinced.
"You watch this boy, you will learn" the old man whispered to Jonathan excitedly.
"Again?" Jonathan whispered so that only he could hear.
"ALL WE NEED ARE SOME COINS... *cough* cough*"
The old man started to cough when shouting lately, which worried Jonathan a bit. This was a reason why he was quite gentle with the old man and why he didn't tell him about some of his recent irritations about their performances.
"COINS... DON'T YOU WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT THE BIG MYSTERY IS?"
People got afraid that no one would throw coins, so that they would not find this out. So they started throwing some.
"Thank you! Thank you! *cough* Thank you! Now you all will..."
The old man paused for a bit, watching if they wouldn't throw more coins than this.
"Now you all will find out the mystery... but I'm not sure there are enough coins for it... Jonathan, will you go by the people who want to give more coins?"
Jonathan reluctantly went by the people, collecting their coins. The old man thought he was not quite enthusiast enough. But he couldn't whisper to him, since he was in the crowd.
"Thank you, Jonathan, we might have enough now for the Big Mystery" he said, when Jonathan put the coins with the rest. "Cheer up, please!" he whispered to him, but Jonathan felt like doing nothing of the kind.
"The Mystery of the Disappearing Coins will start... now!" he shouted and he and Jonathan started tap-dancing and singing some kind of magic trick above the coins. While doing that, they gently kicked the coins as much and as fast as they could under the carpet, while distracting the audience with their smiles and dance-methods so that they would not see it. When the old man in this highly difficult and precise exercise felt the audience was not distracted enough, he whispered to Jonathan: "Distract them somehow."
Jonathan felt he had done quite enough at the old mans' commando.
"Dumtiedumtiedum" he said.
"Come on, try harder!" the old man whispered.
"YOU TRY HARDER" Jonathan shouted. "What am I, your puppet? Is all I am good for collecting money and following orders?"
Jonathan forgot his gentleness and ruining the act did not care to him right now.
The old man was baffled.
"I can perform on my own, you know!"
"You are not ready yet!" the old man shouted back. "You have become arrogant, since I met you again. I have gotten you speech therapy! I got you of the roof of a house! Is this the thanks I get?"
The both were quiet for a moment. The old man continued:
"You are not ready yet. You have not got the skills; I haven't educated you enough. You have got talent, but not enough ground under it yet."
"But I am loved by the audience! I can be successful... but you always perform your way. I've got my own style" Jonathan says, moved. He was quite moved by the confrontation, but did not want to let it persuade him to forget his own objections.
The audience looked quite interested.
"They think its part of the act," the old man whispered. "Let's play we make up and get out of here with the money."
"You have learned me so much" Jonathan said and cried.
"You have taught me things as well, Jonathan" the old man said and hugged him.
This had the expected result on the audience. They cheered and even threw more coins.
"Is that Gandalf?" a small boy asked.
Later the old man and Jonathan divided the money.
"Are you sure?" the old man said. "I stay with my opinion that you need more guidance to become a bard."
"And I want to try on my own" Jonathan said determined.
"Well, we will see. I will be in this bar this day next month, let's meet up then and see how it went. But I myself think it's a waste of your talent. You could become so much..."
"We will see how it goes" Jonathan said and decided to leave quickly so that the old man could not persuade him.
The old man looked after him. He had a tear in his eye and gave a big sigh.
"The hard life" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 34)
Jonathan the bard was on his own. And this was the way he liked it. No one was slowing him down or telling him what to do, or, more important, what not to do. Because the last was something he particular could not stand. After he and his mentor had decided to go on in different ways for a while, he decided this life-style suited him best.
Finally he had escaped the fear of what people would think of him, just by keeping them at a distance. No more hurt feelings, just inner peace and doing everything his own way.
He liked it. He liked clumsily putting the fire on all wrong and burning himself, because he found that he himself was the only one to blame and was the only one that suffered from it, so there was no problem. Others who only did see such a thing always made Jonathan feel that they were judging him or were disadvantaged by his actions. Now he did not care about it at all, since he himself was the only one to even notice.
Yes, adventure was everywhere and he could face it all his very own way, with the whole world ahead of him.
The SECOND day after he and his mentor split up, Jonathan came walking into a village. The people here saw a unwashed, unshaved man with clothes which were very wrinkled and stained, who walked very tired, in a way which implicated he suffered from various diseases and hadn't eaten in a week.
"Who are you?" a man by the road asked.
These words where a bit too much for him and Jonathan fell down. He woke up a bit later by the sun that was shining on his face. He saw the man that spoke to him on the street, sitting on a chair next to him.
"Ah... a bed... and some food!"
Jonathan saw some food net to him.
"You are very kind to me."
"No problem" the man said. He was busy molesting a piece of wood with his knife.
"No really... thanks... just what I needed..." Jonathan said.
He ate some and watched his room closer. He also took a look out of the window, by holding some conveniently placed out-of-the-window-look-handle-thingies. Outside a beautiful city was to be seen into the sun.
Suddenly, while watching the people moving around, Jonathan lost his grip in a clumsy and spontaneous way which only could have happened to him, and he fell down. He looked at the handles he was holding, and while his head banged the floor he suddenly got an idea in his head.
"IS THIS A PRISON?" he shouted.
"Yep" the man on the chair said, without looking up.
Jonathan got himself together.
"Why am I in this prison?"
"You are a tramp, aren't you?"
"No, I am a bard."
"And what's the difference?"
"YOU CAN'T LOCK ME UP! I AM A PERFORMER! I worked with the guy that... well... the one with the beard."
"Nononono, the old man. A traveling bard with a beard."
"Ah. He did a very BAD impersonation of me riding a goat."
"You too?" Jonathan said. "Err... I meant... ah...."
He had nothing to bring up anymore and sadly got quiet. Suddenly a big bang was heard outside.
"IT'S THAT STUPID GNOME AGAIN!" the man shouted and he sprang up from his chair. Moments later he came back in, holding a very small person that was trying to get loose very hard.
"LET ME GO! I WAS JUST... JUST TRYING TO..."
The man threw the gnome in the cell and quickly pulled Jonathan out.
"I can't let you get in this cell with that crazed pyromaniac gnome. But you must get a job or you'll get back there again. I know a place where they need someone that can perform. I trust you CAN perform a bit?"
He gave Jonathan the location and sent him out.
"I'll just set fire on this cell too!" the gnome shouted.
"Quiet Fombel!" the man replied angrily.
Jonathan arrived at a factory that distributed goat milk. He had followed the instructions because he did not quite manage getting enough money to keep himself alive yet with performings and he did not wanted to end up in jail again. So he bought out and his career in advertising began...
"Jonathan the Goat" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 37)
A nice couple was walking on the street. The man was a big shouldered, macho kind of guy. His girlfriend looked white and fragile under his enormous arms.
Suddenly a man in a sort of goat-costume jumped them from the bushes.
"Buy..." he started, when the strong man, without any hesitation, launched the 'goat' of the ground, held him in the air and hit him again.
'... goat milk..." Jonathan, dressed in the goat costume said.
"This isn't a robbery?" the strong men asked.
"It's.. ouch... aggressive marketing, I've learned" Jonathan replied, in pain.
"Cute costume. Can I buy some goat milk?" the woman asked, while her boyfriend looked at her in a bit of a strange way.
Due to the force of the law Jonathan had began his career in marketing with Goat Milk Inc., a company harassed by people asking if they sold ink as well. As such, he was forced to dress up into a goat uniform and force goat milk on innocent passers by. Actually, he just wanted to make up songs, poems and story's to entertain the masses, but due to the intense marketing training he could not find the time for this anymore.
After a while Jonathans' new way of daring to speak out and his performing creativity caused him to make the goat an unique character on his own. Jonathan learned to 'beehh' like a goat better and better each day and he want to several lengths to get into character. Herding made his mouth all filled with grass, but he did all it took.
After a while, the people started to recognise him.
"It's Jonathan the goat!"
"Can I sit on his back mom, pleeeeease?"
"Someone draw a picture of me with Jonathan the Goat!"
The goat got known and loved for his clumsy attitude, his witty remarks and his nice songs. It did not take long till the owners of Goat Milk Inc. realised that much more milk got sold by Jonathan the Goat than by any other employee. Soon Jonathan the Goat merchandise came more and more popular.
After some while, a painter came over to repaint the old Goat Milk Inc. logo. Their new symbol was Jonathan's head with the horns, the ears and the small white hair under the chin of a goat. Jonathan looked up at his face and said to himself, touched: "You've got to be proud of that."
Soon the hype on goat milk got bigger and bigger. Jonathan enjoyed this tremendously. He was now found walking the streets, giving autographs and even signed autographs to anyone who wanted or did not want them.
"Even if you are Jonathan the Goat, that does not mean that you can draw on bag, and..." was heard some day, but Jonathan went on and on signing people and even animals.
"Shall I sing again?" he asked.
An enthusiastic mob gathered round him again.
"Beh, beh, beh, the milk is be-e-e-e-e-tter! Beeeeetter that other miiiiiiilk!"
No-one even objected to the fact that 'miiiiii' is not a traditional goat sound.
"Put you hooves together, ladies and gentleman!"
Jonathan startled for a minute. Inside the audience he saw the old man. His act suddenly did not work out all that well anymore.
"You forgot all about our meeting" he said.
"Ssssshh!!!" angry children shouted.
"Let him! That's Gandalf!" another one shouted.
"I'm not Gandalf" the old man muttered. "So this is what has become of you. A goat. That's your career on you own."
"I am quite popular!" Jonathan called out. "More than we ever were!"
"You have sold out" said the old man. "And what happened to your emotional poems which had creativity and artistic value?"
"I had to take this job. Do you think I enjoy this. But I must not get the name of the company in danger. Got to make like a goat again."
The old man seemed just to leave. But he turned around one more time, with a lot of emotion crossing his stern face.
"You know, for the first time ever I am beginning to think I should not have gotten you of your roof."
Jonathan looked at him walking away speechless and felt like the old man had left him alone for real for the very first time.
"The clumsy goat" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 40)
Jonathan the Goat was a big hit in town. Not only his own town. Goat milk was popular, even among children. They wanted to become just as cool as Jonathan by drinking it.
"I will become just as strong and handsome as Jonathan the Goat!"
The image of Jonathan the Goat rose and rose. The managers of Goat Milk Inc. were very happy. Not long ago they didn't even make enough money selling goat milk to make a second little sign saying: 'We do NOT sell actual ink!' and now a sign with golden letters was put there.
Jonathan was so popular he managed to feel quite good, even though some thoughts kept haunting him. The more the thought about the old man and his betrayal of his creative talent haunted him, the more he swelled in his popularity.
Sure, acting like a goat wasn't always that much of a creative challenge anymore, since the public wanted him to do the same every time, but all the attention he got afterwards hit him at his sensitive spot; the crowd that loved him... or at least... his goat-version.
Time went by and the manager of Goat Milk Inc. convinced Jonathan to participate in a new big advertisement stunt to make the sales of Goat Milk really go to the roof. This was meant quite literarily, since he intended to make the factory bigger by adding another floor on the first one. He therefore made up evening long shows hosted by Jonathan the Goat, where Jonathan could entertain a much bigger audience at once. He would sell tickets and goat milk during the show.
Jonathan had talked to his manager about his own ideas, but the manager insisted on the familiar goat stuff. Before the show Jonathan looked in a mirror and saw his own head disappearing underneath his goat mask again. Happily he heard the audience: "We want Jonathan... the Goat..."
He got a bit sad. He wandered around and thought about old days. He was in a bar with the old man and was not hearable. Later they got to a castle and he demolished stuff with his clumsiness. His clumsiness seemed to have decreased while his confidence was increasing. He looked in the big audience.
"Wow, quite a turn up" he thought, but it did not even make him happy. "Wow, even Gandalf turned up... or Gandalf? Isn't it...?"
He looked again, surprised.
A big sign featuring Jonathan's goat-like head was put up. The decors where put up. The proud manager of Goat Milk Inc. knew the audience did not care about him but was impatiently waiting for Jonathan the Goat, so he cut his announcement short. He was a bit nervous, too.
"Ladies and gentleman, I give you Jonathan... THE GOAT!!!"
Cheers went up. Jonathan got in the picture. Everywhere children with flasks of goat milk where waving.
"I want to be like him!" they told each other.
Jonathan looked at the audience and said: "Hello..."
He seemed a bit startled by all of them and walked backwards... into an apparently quite essential part of keeping the decor up, since it came falling upon him. Jonathan tried to get up, thereby destroying a bit of the paperwork.
His totally unheroic appearance startled the audience. They thought it might be meant funny, but it looked a bit to real to be done on purpose.
Especially the child fans where totally quiet.
"Oops" Jonathan said, after which he tried to get himself together off stage, thereby walking into a lever, which made a sign fall on the audience.
"I am sorry... woops... I mean..."
When later a desperate attempt to juggle some balls, put in his hands off stage by an angry goat milk manager, resolved in a lot of audience members that where already hurt getting balls on their heads, the disappointed fans threw their flasks of goat milk to Jonathan and walked outside, to buy some cow milk from the new mascot Mr. Cow from Cow Milk Inc. (we do not sell actual Ink!!!).
Jonathan lay under the remains of the room. The manager of Goat Milk Inc. knew he probably would not even get to increase his production by using the basement, let alone building. Jonathan just said 'Oops' as some sort of excuse. The manager said: "You're fired." He left the building.
The old man walked up to Jonathan. No-one else was left in the room.
"Well done" he said. "I had a feeling you might do this. That's why I came. Come with me now, I've got a plan to get you famous again... but now because of your artistic talent..."
Jonathan looked at him.
"You are the greatest," he said.
They left the building together.
"Success" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 43)
Jonathan and the old man were very busy ever since. They created a Big Plan to help Jonathan upwards. They called it: 'The Big Plan to help Jonathan upwards'.
"Well, it mostly should be done naturally. Your fame should just rise because you perform well" the old man said. "I've got a surprise for you. We will go some place we were a long time ago."
They went towards the castle.
"Erm... old man... there's a real angry king and his married daughter... and I..."
"That's not where we are going" the old man replied.
They walked at a safe distance around the castle.
"This is towards my old home" Jonathan thought.
"That's right..." the old man pondered. "Maybe I should get to that place too... now we are travelling anyway..."
One night Jonathan pondered by the fire. Was he really going to become anything? The old man seemed to have some sort of plan with him. But he was nothing... always had been... or a goat. All his fame fled so fast. The old man himself had been a dreamer.
Once, long ago, he got him of the roof. What was his plan. Putting him back up there because he had given up? Jonathan wouldn't blame him.
Sure, he had made some progress, but always ended with nothing. He probable had to face real fame wasn't for him. Real fame by his own creativity. It was a dream the two had shared. Jonathan meant to become a big bard. It had been a nice dream. He loved the old man and always would be thankful for him to share this with him this far.
But maybe he should just work in some factory or so... if they are really desperate and even hire an artistic clumsy fool...
With still some sort of satisfied grin Jonathan went to bed. His adventurous life had not been all that bad. At least he got to have had one. Now he probably will be grown-up and get married and settle down. He would miss his adventures so very much...
Next day they first walked by Jonathans house. Then to the inn named 'The Inn That Really Should Have Had A Name But Sadly Did Not Because Of The Lack Of A Good Idea', but it seemed to have changed his name into: 'Bert'.
The barman shrugged when he saw their surprised faces.
"Sure beats the old name..." he said.
They couldn't not agree more.
Jonathan saw an arrogant looking old bard he recognised, with a real scary sort of little copy of himself next to him. With a better look he recognised a young bard he once competed against in this very bar. But this one scarily had changed into a clone of his master.
"How are you two doing?" this man asked with an mocking look.
"Oh.. we got separated more then once... Jonathan has been in jail, hit by an Orc and he has been a marketing goat who demolished the scene of his goats big show.. and he pronounced love to a princess on her wedding party where he had his first entertainment gig."
The bard looked baffled for all these unexpected revolutions.
"And now you've given up?" he asked.
"Nope. My bard has proven to think on his own. He has been doing much and now he will kick ass. Not literarily, I may hope, but then again, I never know."
The other bard was at a loss for words.
Jonathan then was forced on stage. As it seemed the old man had arranged a re-match. Jonathans parents came in, he invited them too.
Jonathan had nothing prepared. He used the audience to get a few laughs and tried some songs he had pondered about at nighttimes. And the public loved it.
Late at night, a party was going on because of the great entertainer Jonathan. And he knew to be having the thing actually called: success.
"Jonathan, the hero" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 46)
Jonathan had become a popular bard. People loved him. The old man did all he could to keep the always unsure and unbalanced Jonathan from going overboard in his enjoyment of his popularity. He had thought a great deal about Jonathan lately, since he himself got to the old age when you start to think things over as a whole. He wanted to leave Jonathan all right behind him when his time would come. But Jonathan, after thinking to be good for nothing for so many years, had not much ground beneath his feet. Fame made him think all was perfect and go completely overboard, destined to once ruin it all. What to do when he would be all on his own? Wouldn't he once ruin everything so completely that he would not come through? He did seem to have some talent; loads of creativity, good looks, character and persistence. Maybe he was man enough to keep going time after time.
While the old man pondered, Jonathans career went big. He became some sort of hype. People knew he was funny, sang well and had good looks, so his name became a quality name. Most places where he was staged made the bar or house or yard where he was all fireproof and made sure not much could be broken. He did loads of performances, all successful, but nothing really big. The break that would place him among the big names still had to come. His success was bigger than the old man's was, though.
Then his real big chance came along. Some messenger found him and gave him an invitation to perform at a big festival in a large town. Every year at the big Pumpkin Party the whole town would eat pumpkins and listen to the best bards around. The pumpkin industry was proficient to get the very best. Bards seen there where know to be among the very great.
The old man saw the Pumpkin Sign in Jonathan's hand.
"That's... a... pumpkin..." he spoke, out of breath.
"So?" Jonathan said.
"Never... I never thought... are you ready for something THAT BIG???"
"Sure" Jonathan said. "You heard me sing, didn't you?"
"But... the... pumpkin... are you sure? It's supposed to host only the REAL GOOD bards, and..."
"And what am I? A real good garden gnome?" Jonathan said.
"Well, come to mention it, if you put your arm just there, you really would..." the old man started another of his wise ponderings.
"You are just jealous because I look like a great bard and you look like Gandalf" Jonathan said.
"That's ridiculous, just because I've got a beard, that does not mean that..."
While they fight along, we skip towards the night of the Pumpkin Festival. I can do that, since I am the storyteller. Pretty neat, huh?
Jonathan was all dressed up and walking towards the festival. The old man had given him loads of advice and already had gone to the field to get a good place. Jonathan and he where quite nervous. His big...
Jonathan looked up. He saw an orphanage. It was on fire and a child called out for help. Some men where standing next to it.
"It's too risky, the building will collapse..."
Jonathan sighed. He knew what he was going to do. He was a clumsy fool with a big performance planned. He was totally dressed up, costing him all his money. And he was going to run inside a flaming building that was about to collapse.
He ran inside, ran up on the stairs towards the screaming.
He grabbed the child.
"I... cough... can't... cough... go... cough... with strangers..."
"You can go... cough... with me..." Jonathan replied, while running down the stairs. He heard the stairs falling behind him. He jumped outside on the grass with the child, while the building came down.
They both coughed. The men looked wondered.
"That was crazy" one said.
The child looked at Jonathan, amazed.
"You are my hero" she said and hugged him.
Jonathan heard these words and was totally lost. Tears came into his eyes, looking at a life full of failure.
"Well... I... what do you want to do?" he asked.
"Can you guys wait here, while we inform the orphan station to pick her up?" one of the men aside asked.
"Well..." Jonathan hesitated... "I had an appointment..."
The child looked at him.
"Can we stay here and chat some more... I'm scared..."
Jonathan gave in.
"Sure" he said.
"The adventurer" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 49)
Jonathan was walking outside. He was thinking. What was his purpose of being? Was he meant to be an entertainer? Maybe a... hero? He hesitated for a bit, but then thought of a little girl who would always consider him a hero. He couldn't resist some sort of smile.
"Jonathan!" a woman screamed. It was the woman Jonathan hired to take care of the old man, because his condition was decreasing very quick lately.
Jonathan quickly ran inside. The old man sort of was his whole world. He had tried to make it on his own more then once, but had learned to thrust on the old man to guide his career forward. He needed him. Therefore the man could not die. Jonathan had promised to himself the old man would not die. How could he, all of a sudden? He always was the one thing to depend on, so he was to keep alive as his last resort.
As stubborn as Jonathan was thinking this, it all went down when he saw the old man. His condition showed not to be good. The great fear of losing all came along, once again.
"DO NOT DIE ON ME!" Jonathan couldn't help shouting.
The old man shook his head.
"Jonathan... Jonathan... WHY do you think I guided you... cough..."
Jonathan looked at him with tears in his eyes. Somehow it seemed suddenly obvious the old man could die real soon now.
"Erm..." Jonathan said.
"You always were low on confidence. But you have grown... quite beyond my own bard-skills. Do you REALLY think you still need me?"
Jonathan wanted to say: "Yes" immediately. But in the eyes of the old man he saw that would not be the truth, not the truth inside himself. So he went slowly over it again in his head. The eyes of the old man made contact with him in some sort of soothing way.
"You can come real far now... you're training is over. Just promise me to... watch yourself... do not lose yourself in petty fame... write about big adventures."
Jonathan sat and held the old man's hand. He just quietly listened.
"If you had listened quietly all the time... well... it would have been more peaceful... though more boring too..." the old man said with a smile.
Jonathan smiled too.
"Now listen carefully."
The old man looked at him sternly.
"You can fend for yourself, but find you some buddies. Good friends to keep you level-headed at times. You seem to have some heroism in you... why not join one of those adventurer-parties... they have adventurers, heroism, AND you can write about that."
"But... will I... will I..."
Jonathan had loads of questions. Won't that be terrible dangerous? Would they want him to join? What purpose could a bard among battling heroes have?
He saw that the old man was tired and could not face all those questions. He smiled again.
"I just hope... they don't mix me up with Gandalf in the afterlife..."
"That wouldn't be all bad," Jonathan replied. "Gandalf is quite popular."
The old man smiled.
"Bye" Jonathan said.
The hand became weak in his hand.
Some time later Jonathan saw a ship that asked for help aboard. They needed people to defend the ship. An interesting looking elf seemed to reply, even as a strangely familiar looking gnome. But maybe all gnomes look alike. If you see them at all by looking down, of course. They seemed interesting enough company.
A bit later they got asked to leave the ship in a place called Freeport. Some people tried to rob them there. The others started to fight. Jonathan knew he had to prove his worth. In his own way.
All of a sudden, all the people trying to fight an honest fight, suddenly got startled by a strange sound. Jonathan called out: "We were sent by the ghosts!"
He used a bard trick to give the impression of many ghosts circling around them, thereby scaring one enemy back.
In all his adventurers later on with Fombel, Rashnec, Dan the Great and Aragorn, Jonathan often remembered this day as the day he found out the old man had advised him wisely. Especially Fombel became Jonathan's most close friend and a person that could put him back into place whenever needed.
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