Ludovico listened to the fiddles play, their cheerful music echoing throughout the Old Palace, as the Palazzos celebrated the Badb’s burning the Leonais’ siege engines. It was good to hear. Like most of them, Ludovico had been trying to convince himself that they would win this battle against the Prince, and now--now, suddenly, it seemed possible--even probable.
And that was a glorious thing.
He leaned back in his nook and tried to shut his eyes, but a particularly loud bit of foot-stamping destroyed his efforts at rest. It was of course, the downside of being a Palazzo--if your fellows were in particularly uproarious mood, you weren’t going to sleep that night.
Well, unless you were like Arturo, and could sleep through anything. Though on reflection, Ludovico was certain that the old man was among those celebrating on this night.
“There he is!” said a familiar voice. Ludovico turned to see Ippolita and her sister Rosa standing over him. “Ludovico! Ludovico, you must come and sing for the company! They are playing, but they want to hear a man with a real voice!”
Rosa clapped her hands. “Oh, do, Ludovico! You know no one else has your voice!”
“Of course they do not,” answered Ludovico groggily. “Voices do not change possession. I and I alone own mine--this is the typical way of things, and one which I have no objection to.”
“You know that isn’t what she meant,” muttered Ippolita.
“I may have some vague inkling in that direction,” said Ludovico, as the sisters pulled him upwards. “Still, I’d prefer to rest it. It’s not only my voice, after all, it’s my livelihood.”
“Well then, if you’ll sing now, we’ll pay you oodles of coins,” said Rosa. “Which we most definitely have.”
Ippolita nodded. “The victory has put men into… a celebratory mood.” The expression that stole over her face was not a smile, or a frown, but managed to partake of both. “Celebratory… and generous.”
“Ahh,” said Ludovico. “Indeed.”
Rosa looked at him pleadingly. “Please? It’d make us happy.”
Ludovico gave a bow to the sisters as the small group entered the Old Courtyard, filled to the brim with merry throngs of Palazzos. “Very well then. You know it is my rule--anything to make a lady happy.”
“And we’re close enough to count, eh?” said Ippolita, as they escorted him to the center of the Old Courtyard.
“Oy, oy!” shouted Rosa. “Ludovico’s here! Ludovico! The street-singer! He going to sing for us! Sing us a song to celebrate the Badb burning those Leonais bastards all to hell!” She clapped her hands as she and her sister headed back among the crowd. Ludovico looked at all the eager faces, of those listening for a tune to enjoy, of the musicians waiting for a him to give them a tune to play, trying to think of the song that fit…
And then it came to him. He cleared his throat, and began. “Oh, Douma Dalkiel’s a very fine lass,” he began, smiling as the fiddlers began to play the old standard. “With a pretty face and a shapely… leg,” he sang, performing that amusing little wiggle with his leg that always made people laugh. “And by your door, she’ll come to pass, but she will never beg.” Ludovico clapped his hands together. “And it being so, when with her I go, I’ll be in good cheer. For we all go, to the dark below, and so, why should we fear?”