Autodidact and avid wall breaker, Dan Zubrzycki is a storyteller. His latest endeavour is The Bardic Life where you can find him waxing lyrically on the life of a fantasy writer. You can also find him on Twitter. Rather than list his eight Round Table members, Dan has (of course) written a short piece of fiction.
“Late again.” Nick, Dan’s cousin, gave him a jovial slap on the back. Standing before the massive oaken doors, Nick’s white cloak, signifying him as a member of the round table, fell full to the floor.
“Damn cloak slows me down.”
“This is your ideal world, isn’t it?”
“Ah, suppose you’re right, per usual. You have to admit they’re pretty epic. Let’s head in.”
Nick grinned and pushed open the doors. Seven other men stood or sat in a massive, round, marble room. The sun shone through the opening at the top of the dome, some fifty feet above them, supported by columns while they milled about.
Lively debate criss-crossed the table. Marcus Aurelius was challenging Lord Byron on the subject of Dan’s philosophy, “we must seek to be stoic in our thought, clean and logical.” Lord Byron, smiling, leaned back and allowed the aging emperor his retort.
Nick moved to his seat at the round table. To his right, Eddard of House Stark sat dutiful and attentive. Perrin Aybara next to him, golden-eyed, fingering a locket of his love’s picture.
Dan took his seat between the embattled men and smiled at Tenzin Gyatso who bowed in return. Zhuge Liang was sketching some new battle stratagem with intense focus.
Matthew Zubrzycki walked in the background on his Blackberry, settling a contract with a new client. He saw Dan and gave him the “Gimme a minute, promise I’ll be there in a sec” look he had perfected.
Dan sat at his seat which was no more or less adorned than the eight other chairs that circled the marble table. They proceeded through the pleasantries before Dan said “Let’s begin, shall we?” One seat remained empty. “Dad. Come on, we’re about to start.”
“Look, Tom, I’ll call you back.” Matt took his seat next to Zhuge. “Hey, sorry about that. Tom, you know how he gets.”
Dan smiled at his dad, “What was the topic at hand?” he asked those who he had chosen for his round table.
“Permission to speak, your honor.”
“Ser Stark. We’re all equals here. We don’t need to ask permission.”
“My Lord,” Eddard caught himself, “Dan, we were beginning to discuss your future, broad as that is, and your pursuit of travel and writing.”
“Forward!” Cried Byron, shocking lord Stark, “Forward and onward and upward, that we may live lives as men of the present. Drink, Daniel, drink in the moments and merriments of each and every day.”
“Lord Byron, I protest.” Nick gave Dan a slap on the shoulder, a humored, not-this-again, grin as Marcus Aurelius offered his say. “There is merit, true, to this path, in that it requires your life to accept a certain minimal approach to the material obsession of your culture. Lord Byron’s perspective, however, accepts a far too licentious life. We must seek to align our lives with some benefit to the good of humanity.”
“Your actions,” Zhuge Liang stroked his silky, thin beard, “strategically must align your goals, morals and self. View them each as an army. An army under three separate commands will fail. Unification will see victory gained.”
“Zhuge’s got a point there.” Nick added
“Too aggressive in it’s metaphor. Life is not conquered, Zhuge. Dan, seek to bring those three forces to peace, unify and harmonize.” The Dalai Lama spoke softly, touching both Zhuge and Nick with his eyes.
“Zhuge’s force is not entirely inaccurate.” Perrin’s eyes flared golden, “Force can be peaceful. When I hammer steel to craft a tool I am rather forceful, yet the final result can be rather peaceful. Sometimes we must change our nature to create our future.” Perrin’s hand reached for his locket, “for the greater good.”
“Dan, I’ll support you in whatever you do, yet I’d like you to show me, in exacting plans, how you’ll support yourself.” Matt cycled through files on his Blackberry, sliding it across the desk, “Like this. Show me that you can do it.”
“Dad! Why can’t you just have faith in me?” Dan’s agitation seemed plain, the agitation which can only be ignited between a father and son who read too far into each other’s words.
Nick’s hand grasped Dan’s shoulder. “Dan, think of it as simple empiricism. Create a hypothesis, test it. Write the essay of your future and edit it for efficiency. He doesn’t doubt you, he wants you to succeed.”
“Your future, Daniel,” Byron drank deeply of his wine, “dear Daniel, is a poem. Your future is the clarity of a dark ocean, the mystery of a map, yours is the fire of tomorrow, the stone of yesterday.”
“Metaphors aside, I find myself unsure right now.”
“It would be easier for me to simply get a job, try for the normal life. I’m immensely hire-able, I could work in an office again.”
Perrin and Eddard stood from the table fiercely.
Clinging desperately to his general icy stoicism, Eddard still slammed his fist to the table “I would just as soon see the Targaryen’s Mad King placed back on the Iron Throne than see you abandon this cause, this cause which you pledged yourself too.”
“This is your dream” Perrin continued, “Your largest goal for the past year, to travel, forge the concepts of life, work and travel into one sword, swift and sharp.”
“Dan, it’s true. I wont let you give up on this either. You were meant to grow and evolve, change and expand. This is your path.” Nick smiled, “It always has been, ever since you started reading the Hobbit, since I introduced you to Thoreau and Emmerson when we were young.”
“It is true, Daniel. You accept the rigorous life of constant learning but perhaps this is not enough. You need to don the trappings of the bards and explore this world, a wandering teller of stories. So long as you don’t fall to Lord Byron’s hedonism.”
“Even I’ll agree to that,” Byron cleared his fifth glass of wine with gusto, “I’d prefer if you outlived me. But never forget the wild heart, the wanderlust both internal and external which serves as your compass through these woods.”
Dan put his hand to his chin. “Tenzin, you’ve been quiet. What is on your mind?”
“What need I post? These wizened men are well on their mark. You will be the one to synthesize their often disparate opinions. You are the one to hold their judgement and weigh it.”
Dan smiled, “That settles it then, yes? I will proceed as planned along this adventure.”
“And what an adventure it will be.” Matt said. “Let’s get out of here. First round is on me.”
“All in favor?” Dan posited.
In near unison, “Aye!” while Aurelius attempted to protest.
“I suppose even the font of their knowledge will serve an old man some water,” he muttered as they filed out of the great hall.
If you missed the original Round Table post, check it out here. I’d love to see yours added in the comments there.