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It all started so innocently.

I was entertaining at a small club in Cauldron, The Broken Drum. I had a simple act and the public loved it. Dancing lights sent multiple colors throughout the club, light cast on a large stone sent rays of pale sunshine to every corner. Ghost sound allowed me to make the music.

And what music!

The primal beat beat beat
of drums and feet
The collective chant chant chant
of cries and pants
The high-pitched whine whine whine
of a siren mind

The dancers’ bones vibrate to the writhing bass lines
Their muscles contract and relax to melodic tracks.
Together we cheer, together we call, together we dance one and all.

Exhausted and exhilarated after one session, I was collecting my gear when a tall, thin, pale man approached me. He introduced himself as Lyenuss. He said he was opening a club in the small town of Hollowsky, a half day’s ride SE of Cauldron. He wanted to hire me as the main performer.

I’d seen Lyenuss in the club before. His serpentine movements on the dance floor were so fluid and graceful. I knew he was a true fan. He offered room and board at a modest level, but better than I had currently. Lyenuss was gracious, and it was easy to move my act to Hollowsky.

The first few shows went well. Lyenuss had a great set-up in a basement of a large house. Guests could enter directly to the basement, and he had small tables for food and drink.

Then the troglodytes started to attend. And Lyenuss asked if I’d be willing to have a dancer join my act. I’d still remain the main attraction of course, but on the stage would be an interpretive performer, a young woman named Marina looking to make her start. Certainly I could support a fellow performer. And he offered me a bonus.

The club became more crowded as word of Marina’s and my talent spread. Some nights, there was only room for the people to stand as they listened to my music and watched Marina dance. And the synergy between us was captivating.

Beautiful stature and poise
of a young woman amidst noise
She turns to the crowd and with a simple nod
all eyes are upon her.

Captivating rhythm and rhyme
of building meter and time
The music gives energy to the dancer and
all eyes are upon her.

Then Marina left, and Lyenuss wanted a replacement. He was pleased with the increased attendance, and the growing troglodyte clientele loved the show. I gained a bonus, and Lyenuss expanded my room to a suite. We had a grand re-opening when Gryffon came to dance.

I recognized Gryffon as someone that had come to The Broken Drum back in Cauldron. A decent dancer, and never without a partner on the dance floor. The crowd was chanting for him, and when I started the music, he put on a great show.

The second night, only troglodytes were in the audience. They offered Gryffon tips to encourage him to dance later into the evening. Gryffon took off his shirt to relieve the heat and this made the tips greater and the troglodytes cheer louder.

The tanned dancing man stamps and canters
above loving droves of those who
know to throw gold tokens of woe

See the light reflected in their slitted pupils
the glisten of color on their perspirated brows
They focus on the dancer as he twirls above them
but it is the music that drives their thriving lives.

As the nights went on, Gryffon seemed less enthusiastic. The energy between us wasn’t as strong as it had been between me and Marina, but Lyenuss and the troglodytes loved him. One night, Gryffon stopped dancing. I was deep in the thrall of my music and didn’t notice until shouts from the audience caught my attention. Gryffon stood on the stage and the sneering faces of Lyenuss and the troglodytes surrounded him. They threw coins on the stage. A few troglodytes got on stage, stripped Gryffon of all his clothes except a pair of short leather pants. I stopped playing. Gryffon stood there, blood welling in scratches on his arms where he had tried to fend them off.

Silence.

And then, Lyenuss said, “Dance, boy. And Dyskko, more music.”

I know where my paycheck comes from, so I re-started the act. Gryffon must have remembered too, because he re-started his dance.

Smooth moves for vicious brutes
Calms the beasts slowly.
Music speaks to mortal souls but
Only if you have one.

After a few minutes, Lyenuss decided he’d had enough and cleared the club. Dismissed, I retired to my rooms.

After that, Gryffon was only allowed to wear the leather pants. And they were much shorter. Lyenuss increased my pay. And a regular guest, Kazmojen, started to make me offers to leave Lyenuss and return to Cauldron with him at his club. The pay he offered was greater than what Lyenuss was paying, and I was tempted.

The last night I played at Lyenuss’ club, the place was losing its allure. Lyenuss was paying me regular good money, and I started keeping it in a locked box under the stage. Just in case I needed to make a quick escape.

Good thing too. The regular troglodytes came to the club and muscled their way to the front. They called to Gryffon to dance and when he didn’t start right away they scratched him. Gryffon started to put up a fight, and the troglodytes wrestled with him. They stuffed him in a closet and Lyenuss bounced them out just as the back doors to the club burst open.

I don’t know where those people came from that raided the place, but their timing was excellent. Lyenuss and his body guards turned to face them. I got my gold and left through the alley door. Expeditious retreat indeed.

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