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This story was first told to me when I was a neonate, newly studying in the Crystal Tower of Sumurset. I was admiring the famous animal pens of the Tower when I was approached by an older student. The fellow who told me this tale seemed very trustworthy at first, but, as the reader will soon discover, the tale is very dubious indeed. Of course, I have told it since to other neonates of the Tower in the same spirit.
I offer the following for your august consideration, gentle reader.
Many, many years back, a talented but poor bard was passing through Sumurset, looking for work. He could sing, he could dance, he could act, but no one had any use for his performances. The poor bard was lugubrious, but he still visited the taverns and palaces, day after day, begging for a chance to showcase his talents.
One day, dejected from more bad luck, he was approached by a tall elf in a long robe. A Magister of the Crystal Tower, in charge of the animal pens. The elf tells the bard of the white ape they made a cell for at the Tower, how it had died en route. There was a royal party from Firsthold visiting who had been promised a glimpse at the rare white ape. The Magister had a costume for the bard if he would deign to act out the part of the ape for the visitors. The bard had promised himself to take the first part that came his way, no matter how minor, so he agreed. The elf promised that the charade would last no longer than a fortnight, when the visitors left.
For the first several days of the masquerade, the bard did nothing more than sit in the back of the pen. He was afraid to move and show the possible imperfections of the ape costume. In time, he became bored and began walking around. He suddenly noticed that the royal party was watching, fascinated. Happy that the ruse was working, he decided to enliven the act.
Soon he had both a performance and a crowd. Instead of dancing a traditional elven jig, he would swing around the cell with every acrobatic trick he knew. Instead of singing a ballad, he would roar a roar he imagined a rare white ape might roar. The crowd loved it. The party outside his cell grew larger and larger every day.
One day, he was performing for the crowd—his finest work to date. He swung himself round and round, roaring and bleating. His hand slipped and he went flying through the bar and into the cell next door, where a Snow Wolf was in residence. Hackling its back and growling, the Snow Wolf began to inch toward the bard.
Seeing no other way out, the bard screamed, "Help! Help!"
The Snow Wolf whispered, "Shut up or you'll get us all fired."