The Smell of the Earth
by Joan L. Savage
"How much will you wager on your belief?" The wizard tapped her fingernails
beside a puddle of spilled ale on the table and leaned so close that the sweetness of
her perfume only half hid the acridness of her sweat and the smell of sex. "You
Jongleurs say you can affect any heart with music. Will you prove it?"
I tugged on my cloak to cover the hole in my tunic. Why was she talking to me,
she in her jewels and furs? She obviously had riches and power enough to buy
whatever she wanted. Why speak to me, Jongleur, gypsy, outcast.
"Prove it?" I asked stupidly.
"What will you wager? All men desire something."
In a whole lifetime of loss, how many people have a chance to gain what they long
for? Who can discover what he longs for, given a month to think? I had too much
ale in me and her warm, full breasts pressed over her arm on the table until they
blossomed out the top of her bodice and her eyes trapped me on my bench,
demanding an answer.
My mind flitted over the things that all men want. Riches, fame, sex. With her
watching me from the depths of those compelling eyes it was hard not to think
about the sex, but as well ask a star to come down from the heavens and share my
bed. And what good were riches? With my wife and son dead, I had no one to
spend them on.
"I want to be known as the greatest Jongleur who ever lived."