Story for the Day: The Galleisian Singing Hall
The Galleisian Singing Hall
Although High Lord Dobhin had been dividing his time between the home of his good lady and the barracks, he did have the occasion to frequent several of the various amusement halls during the evenings with his recruits, and though he found the chief of his regiment far too young and insipid to appreciate his conversancy, seeing them grow imprudent in their more uninhibited states was more the amusement than the ventures themselves.
There were various beer halls to be visited, but there was too much in the way of tame diversion offered to the young and more animated of Gallei’s monotonous populace to be of any interest to a High Lord of Frewyn. Pleasure houses, gambling halls and many other types of insalubrious gaiety was illicit in Gallei, but this general prohibition to anything mildly entertaining gave occasion to a new pursuit: singing halls were the preferred diversion among the young of the western nation. These halls were made of sectioned rooms dedicated to small parties. Everyone was permitted to attend and request Galleisian songs played by a minstrel in the corner of each room. Though mostly every song was well known to the hall’s attendees, this did not keep those who would sing regardless of form or taste from doing so, much to the chagrin of the sober of the parties.
It was in these hall where most of Dobhin’s regiment decided to spend their free evenings, it was here they hoped to attract a few women to their party with their regimentals and here they hoped to hear their more palatable voices while enjoying their drinking and humming the familiar melodies together with their chosen maidens of the evening. It was here the High Lord discovered where all the hilarity in the damp and dreary kingdom was hiding, for seeing those in his regiment whom he wish he could humiliate during the day have done so to them by their cohorts at night was an endless joy to him. A few hours of this amusement, however, and Dobhin had done. His toleration of the event went only so far as the wine in his glass, and once his drink had done, his patience had equally diminished. He must find a new source of merriment for the evening when his lady remained at the silversmith, and though he could have returned to Frewyn for an evening to enjoy the ruttish musings of his favourite twins, a visit from the commander and Den Asaan would be all his perfect delight.
They arrived in the annex before nightfall with Dobhin to greet them at the entrance to the garrison. They seemed wanting rest and a meal, but Dobhin would have them venture with him to the Eirannean Square, claiming they could eat the remainder of their rations along the way.
“There is a place I will have you see,” Dobhin said with an eager countenance. “This is utterly preposterous. I must show you.”
“Will what you have to show me succeed in making my mate very angry?” the commander said, passing a sly look to the giant at her side while he was occupied with eating the remainder of the cured pork they had brought with them.
“Most assuredly,” Dobhin professed. “And I cannot wait to hear his assessment of this nonsense.”
“May I ask where we are being taken?”
“You may, but my surprise will be ruined.”
“Dobhin, you know how I abominate surprises,” the commander groaned.
“Do have some faith in my taste, MacDaede,” Dobhin pleaded. “Your sense of wryness should suit this type of amusement amazingly.”
“Now, I am terrified.”
“All your fears shall be soon assuaged.”
“Or renewed,” the commander charily said as they arrived at the door of the establishment. Her wariness was due to the screeching she heard emanating from within, and when the door opened, she was met with strident sounds of drunkards bellowing on stage. She instantly sought to excuse herself but her hand was taken, she was being led in, and the impediment of escape made by her mate nearing her from behind proved that absconding from this event would now be an impossibility. She had only to hope of it being a horror as to compel the giant into action.
They were given a small tour of the singing hall upon entering. They passed wary looks to the warbling gentlemen at the center stage, sneered in disdain at the various dissonant howlings emanating from behind the closed doors of individual rooms, and winced in aversion when the rancorous scent of stale ale billowed forth from the latrine.
“This is brilliant,” Dobhin shouted above the din.
The commander and Den Asaan could not share his enthusiasm for the odd and unpleasant revelry and were sat at one of the tables to the side of the center stage where a rather large man was spewing forth a song in a labored Gallaisian drawl.
“May I ask the appeal of this?” the commander said to Dobhin in great confoundment.
“My recruits are so silent during training hours. It’s glorious to buy them a few rounds and watch them humiliate themselves.”
“Is this one of yours?” The commander pointed to a Galleisian in Frewyn regimentals walking onto the centre stage.
“Ah, Galder,” Dobhin said with a prideful smile. “He’s mine, MacDaede, and he’s an extraordinary performer. He sings, he dances, he does everything a troubadour does and more.”
“If he is so gifted with performance, shall I ask why he signed for your regiment?”
“His father is a retired knight and I’m sure he would like his boy to enjoy all the trials of life as he did himself.”
The commander observed the young man: he was thin and graceless when taking his place at the edge of the stage, his features sagged from the effects of inebriation, and when he opened his mouth to sing scarcely a melody emerged. The fidgeted dancing and rasping vocals with which he regaled his audience gained laughter and mocking applause, but where everyone seemed to be diverted at the sight of this gauche creature, the sound of him assailed the commander’s ears. She squinted in mild disgust and hardly knew what to say. She noted Dobhin slapping the table with leaning over rapt in laughter, but the reaction she gained from her mate was something near decided hatred.
“This is insufferable,” the giant growled, his lip twitching with every discordant rasp he must hear.
“It certainly is laughable,” the commander said in an unamused tone. “That does not make it enjoyable, however.”
Dobhin could not agree, as he was too engaged with laughing at his drunken recruit, and was about to order a drink for himself and his two friends when the Den Asaan suddenly stood from his place and began thundering toward the stage.
“Does he mean to sing?” Dobhin asked, wiping the tears of mirth from his eyes.
“No, he means to kill him,” the commander replied.
“I do hope not. He will ruin my amusement for the evening.”
But no sooner had Dobhin made the suggestion than the giant’s hand clasped around the recruit’s throat. The shrill rasps were hindered, the laughter echoing around the hall was silenced, and a quietude prevailed.
“This performance is done,” the giant roared. He pointed to the side of the stage to usher the young man away from the center of the room, and he went without a word in opposition.
“Are you gonna sing, giant?” called a drunken voice from the crowd.
Rautu glared at the dispersed audience . “I do not sing,” he hissed. He glanced at his mate, stepped to the side, and stabbing his finger at the center of the stage said, “Traala, you will show them how singing is done.”
The commander raised her hand to her eyes and coloured in deep mortification. “I do not know any Galleisian songs, Iimon Ghaala,” she said in a worried hush. “Were Aiden’s wife present, I might ask her help in such a situation, but I daresay you shall not-“
She was silenced by the jerk of her mate’s hand pulling her from her chair and taking her toward the stage.
“Woman, if you do not sing, I will punish everyone in this hall for this transgression,” Rautu contended.
“Singing poorly is hardly an offense, Iimon Ghaala.”
“It is when their voices damage my ability to hear.” He gave the minstrel a dangerous look. “You will play a Frewyn song for my mate. She will sing and you will thank her when the song is finished.”
The minstrel began strumming one of the songs of Amene and prompted the commander to sing with terrified features. She sang somewhat in a softened voice under the watch of her mate, and when the song had done, she fled from the stage for fear that approbation of her moderate talent would yield another tune. There was not lauding her talents, however. There was only the oppression of forced silence and the tinkling sounds of glasses being refilled.
Dobhin scoffed at the Den Asaan when he rejoined the table. “You ruined my only source of mockery. What else am I to do now when my lady is working?”
“Train,” the giant demanded.
“Very well. I accept your offer.” Dobhin hopped up from the table and lead the way out of the singing hall to enjoy his demise as a privilege and to laud the commander’s singing as the same.