The gods of Nevre: The Jester – Before

Being a jester isn’t a terrible profession, the man thought to himself. I can lose my name and my past and just be the funny man I am. Sounds like a great vocation.

The jester sat down after his most recent performance. He was tired and sore, but he had entertained the crowd. That was what he wanted in life. The first time he performed it was to lose his name and his history when he put on the clothes. He had been confronted with that past at one point, and those he thought he had wronged thanked him for what he’d done for them.

“You did cause a fire that destroyed the house, but you also helped save our children and helped us start over. The others in our village hate you still so I wouldn’t go back there if I were you, but you actually turned my life around. I have become a better man since. I thank you for that.”

The words often played through his head. Along with the parting words from the man.

“My fate was redirected to a better place thanks to you.”

– – –

“Jester! Jester, are you back here?”

The jester awoke from his post-performance nap. “Wha? Yeah, I’m here. What is it?”

A small boy appeared under the tent flap. “The prince is here to see you. He says he’s searching for a new court jester.”

“Well, tell him I’ll be right there! I’ll just change into something less flashy.” He turned and started sorting through his costumes for something less flamboyant than his event clothes. “If I can find any.”

“I’ll let him know you’re on the way. He said he’ll be at the mayor’s house all day.”

Nodding the jester pulled a new set of clothes from the pile. “Ah, more muted and yet still clearly jester clothes.” He turned to face the boy. “Yes, tell him that. Thanks.”

– – –

The jester walked into the mayor’s house wearing a brown and grey costume, considerably less flamboyant and flashy than the one he wore during his performance. “The prince wished to meet with me.”

The guard at the door eyed him and checked a list posted next to the door. “Jester is it?”

“Yes.”

“Real name?”

“Is it required?”

“No, not in your case. He’s in the back room. Just have the guard at his door announce you.” The guard motioned him forward.

He moved toward the back room and nodded at the guard as he approached. “The prince wanted to see me. I’m the jester.”

The guard nodded and stuck his head into the room. “Jester’s here.” He turned back to the jester. “Enter.”

The jester entered the open door and it closed behind him. He bowed to the prince and was surprised to see Emyr, the king’s advisor, with him. “M’lord prince Amir sent for me?”

“Yes, Emyr and I enjoyed your performance. Especially the delicate way you handled the topic of my father’s supposed cowardice.”

“M’lord I never-”

Emyr cut him off. “We know, you made it clear that the king was trying to foster peace among the three kingdoms.”

“Thank you, m’lord.”

“Sir is fine, I’m not royalty.”

“Yessir.”

“So,” Amir began, “I’m on the look for a court jester. Would you have any recommendations for me?”

“Well, the town jester is a fine man and tells some great stories and performs wonderfully. He performed before me.” The jester knew the question was a trick but he also knew he would answer it the same if it weren’t. “I also think that Anja is a great joke teller if you’re up for breaking tradition and having a female jester. She performed in the show as a side act today, I believe you were present for it.”

Amir nodded. “That’s what I expected. No hesitation to talk highly of others. You could tell the question was meant to direct you there and not sell yourself, but your answers seem genuine. What do you think, Emyr?”

Emyr took a few steps around the jester, looking at him from multiple angles. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“Probably. I’ve been quite a few places.”

“Ever done something you regretted?” Emyr took a close look at his face.

The jester looked him in the eye. “Not that I haven’t been forgiven for.”

Backing up to his original position next to the prince Emyr nodded. “I know who you were. I also know you speak the truth. Your previous identity is of no matter to me. Your persona is synonymous with the jester.” He looked at the prince. “He is trustworthy. Never been wanted, I just know him from a few rumors. He has been forgiven and even thanked for those regretted actions.”

“What did he do?” Amir looked curious.

“I used to be very clumsy m’lord, but hopefully my performance shows that I’m not anymore.”

“That it does. You’re hired. We leave tomorrow. I’ll have some of my men help you pack and sell your tent. You won’t be needing it anymore.”

– – –

The jester had performed as the king’s procession settled in from the trip to the castle. He made many laugh when he wanted them to laugh, and groan at the stupid jokes he wanted them to groan at, but now he watched in awe as he got a front row seat to history. The king’s sorceress put the last piece of the gem into place, and as she did so he sneezed softly into his handkerchief. He didn’t hear her mention how lack-luster the event was, but he did get pressed up against the wall as he saw three-quarters of the court disintegrate into a golden dust that seemed to seep into the survivors including himself. He felt calm as Simisola, the prince’s chief physician, went around to the survivors offering help. He too stood up and started giving comfort where he could. He refrained from telling jokes, wrong time for jokes, and started humming a dissonant melody, voicing the feelings of the survivors.

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