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A Fool's Bucket - Ch. 8.2

by ExOmelas

A/N: Does this ending work? I feel like too much may be going on but I'm trying to build a thematic thing.


This time, the path brought them down towards the front entrance of the palace. The tall, arched double doors were lying wide open. And out of them streamed a long, straggly queue that spread out into a crowd, who were milling around in the courtyard. As Buck clambered down from Victane's back, he wondered if perhaps he'd got the wrong day and Myal hadn't wanted to see him until tomorrow. But as soon as he stepped past the low stone wall, into the courtyard, several people turned around and cheerily waved him over.

Buck walked up the man who had brought them the note. He was just to the side of the door, chatting to someone in the queue. He tucked a wisp of light brown hair behind his ear as Buck approached.

“Ah, hello,” he said. “Glad you could make it so soon. The name’s Holyon, by the way. I’m a steward for Princess Myal.”

“I… okay,” Buck said. He blinked, trying to put together what was going on. “I thought I was meant to be meeting her?”

Holyon nodded. “Indeed, indeed. Come this way.”

Buck stuttered but luckily Victane stepped in and said, “The Princess isn’t occupied with whatever’s going on here?”

Holyon looked around for a moment, then gasped and said, “Oh, I see! You don’t recognise your own audience, eh? Come along, Myal will explain all.”

He turned around and tapped the shoulder of the person in the queue level with the door. This person moved aside, then let all three of them through with a smile. Buck hadn’t got famous this quickly even in Resador City.

There was a sharp draft at Buck’s neck height just as he passed through the entrance, but this was soon overwhelmed by the sheer body heat of so many people crammed into the lobby. Chatter bounced around off the stone walls and light streamed in through the thick glass windows. Holyon shoved through the crowd for them, though most of the people seemed to step out of the way once they recognised him. Several clapped Buck on the shoulder as he passed too.

When they reached the main hall, Myal was once again sitting on the stage. However, her throne was pulled up much closer to the stage’s edge this time, and she was leaning over to talk to the people at the front of the queue. For the queue had gone through the lobby, wound along a corridor, and now stretched the entire length of the hall, right down the middle.

Holyon led Buck and Victane up onto the stage and tapped Myal on the shoulder. Buck glanced at Victane as Myal turned around to talk to Holyon. Victane smiled, putting a hand on Buck’s shoulder. Buck nodded, turning back to face the long, long line.

“What exactly is going on, your Highness?” Buck asked. “I got your note saying you wanted to see me but you seem, er, occupied.”

Myal waved a hand and pushed Holyon out of the way. Buck worried slightly for his dignity, but he just laughed and hopped down off the stage, immediately beginning a conversation with the nearest citizens.

“Oh, you know how news spreads,” Myal said. She stood up and ushered Buck towards the back of the stage. “I did, in truth, intend to approach you first about a permanent position as my first official court singer, but, well, I made the mistake of telling Holyon. I really should have just told Raddig – he always does what he’s told with not a grunt more than is necessary. They really are the oddest pasture partners.”

“Huh?” Buck asked, unsure how the conversation had once again found its way back to Raddig.

“Oh, they share a pasture, and both work for me in the palace. They take turns doing each – gives my court a greater range of characters, you know?” Myal smiled at him and took his hand in both of hers. “How would you like to expand it a little more?”

“I – of course,” Buck mumbled, hoping he wasn’t stumbling into a role too similar to his role at Pires’s court. He still needed for Erson not to recognise him.

“Wonderful,” Myal said, leading him back to the front of the stage. She gestured towards him and gazed down on the citizens below. “Welcome, everyone, to the preparations for the first concert performed here since… well, since before I was born. You all know Buttane now – make sure you do your best for him. Let the auditions commence!”

Buck gaped at Victane, but Victane only shrugged and spread his hands wide. Buck figured this was what he’d signed up for after all, even if it had only been thirty seconds ago. He turned back to Myal with a smile.

He rubbed his hands together. “Let’s get started, shall we?”

They made it through the first ten auditions before stopping for lunch. As Buck took some bread and meat from a platter at the back of the room, he winced at how many audition slots he still had to get through. The queue itself had dispersed, as people had been given scraps of cloth with numbers etched onto them, but the room still felt full as people drifted around. Still, at least this might mean there was some hope yet, for the first ten auditions had not gone well.

“So what do you think?” Buck said to Victane, leaning against the side wall near the back of the room.

Victane scratched his ear. “I don’t know, Buttane. They seem different, somehow, from last night.”

“I know how,” Buck said, watching as the next singer got set up on stage.

“You do?”

“We were drunk,” Buck said, “Now we’re just hungover.”

Victane chuckled. “There’ll be alcohol at the concert, no?”

“Sure, sure,” Buck said, “But I’d need the princess to show up wrecked from the start.”

Buck sighed and pushed himself up off the wall. He swallowed the last of his lunch, then headed back towards the stage. At least this musician, a broad-shouldered woman with rough red cheeks, seemed to know what she was doing as she tuned up her fiddle.

It was only as Buck clambered back up onto the stage that he remembered he’d been supposed to have lunch with his mum. He felt a sudden itching urge to go apologise, but just at that moment the singer began to play. Buck found that finally, he’d come across someone with such talent that he couldn’t draw himself away.

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Tue Feb 18, 2020 6:19 pm
JabberHut wrote a review...

Bahahaha the setup for this is awesome. I was just as confused about the commotion as Buck and Victane were and almost went back to see if I misread something before the narration/characters acknowledged my confusion. XD

Holyon must not have been there long, seeing as Buck and Victane left right after receiving the note. I also continue to kind of like his character. I can tell he's got personality, and I hope we see more of him. He's got a lot of positive energy around him, and he continues to be just as sociable or pleasantly chatty.

omg they were his audience from the previous night ?? NOW EVERYONE WANTS TO SING

he should totally recognize someone, like some drunkard attempting to sing later in the night or maybe one of the people that were fighting that Victane and Hilene had to break up

You really did a great job describing the scene here, with how crowded it was and the structure of this queue. I appropriately felt overwhelmed, in awe, and even claustrophobic when they were making their way to Myal.

The fact that Holyon just laughs when Myal pushes him aside makes me love him AND Myal more, like... she feels really respected and even well-liked ?? Or at least, Holyon has such a light-hearted facade and I just. it made me smile, that's all.

HOLYON TOLD EVERYONE AHAHA. omg holyon. okay yes, I believe he will be a great side character. I wonder if he did so because he is a chatty kathy who can't keep a secret or if he is a chatty kathy who didn't think this was a secret to keep or if he'd think it was funny to see Myal deal with this scenario. I DON'T KNOW BUT I FIND IT FUNNY NONETHELESS.

"Raddig - he always does what he's told with not a grunt more" <== PERFECT DESCRIPTION OF RADDIG, AND I HARDLY KNOW THE GUY.

omg okay did Buck just become, like, Myal's entertainment advisor? Now Buck gets to provide for a newly-planned concert and HE'S BASICALLY SETTING THE TONE FOR MYAL'S COURT. This is so huge for him, and I think it puts him in a really solid position for his mission with Pires. but yeah, his concern about being too obvious for undercover work is real and I hope this works out okay.

these auditions are going to take forever. they only made it through ten before lunch. Hopefully that means that was simply how it worked out in the schedule, that Buck arrived close to lunchtime. I still do not envy them because that's a looot of auditions. @_@

The drunk/hungover explantion made me snort loudly. And his needing the princess wrecked from the start made me lol.


The ending kind of felt unfinished, but I feel like the chapter was building up well otherwise. I can see that this fiddler was someone significant for at least the concert, but she was kind of glossed over until the VEEEERY end when Buck stopped worrying about missing lunch with his mother as a result of her music. I feel like a better ending would be after her performance, perhaps leaving Buck reveling in the talent he had just witnessed. Then the next chapter would be about the audition's outcome.

Though now that I think about it, perhaps this was meant to just end with Buck being engrossed with his new position, finally finding that there's salvageable talent here. Hmm...

But I do think you were building up to this moment pretty well despite the abrupt ending (could be a .3 segment still idk), with a solid explanation of what's going on, how Buck is now involved, and how Buck was already kind of over all the bad auditions only after just ten performances. It's just a matter of where this is headed, who this woman is, and what Buck's new perspective is after having heard this fiddler. Is he going to take back everything he said to Victane just now ?? Or is he simply awed by this woman's performance ??

ExOmelas says...

Yay, I'm glad so many notes struck well in this :D I remember being kind of hungry when I wrote it? Which always takes me out the flow. Anyways, yeah I kind of meant apologies that .2 ends here, there is indeed a .3 to come. I guess I don't really need to worry about that in terms of the novel as a whole, I just didn't have time to make the ending of this week's chapter as satisfying as I'd have liked. I would have fact liked to end after the performance, now I gotta do like 4 things in .3.

Which will hopefully be up soon (tonight?) :P

JabberHut says...

Bahahaha excellent! I had a feeling that might be the case. I LOOK FORWARD TO READING IIIIT!!

ExOmelas says...

oop not tonight. got about 400 words done. will try and do the rest... thursday? I mean it's going to have to be. I'm going away at the weekend. So yeah, Thursday at the latest xD dear christ this is a busy week haha

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.
— Willie Nelson