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  • Writer's pictureScott Bryant

The Minstrel of Femindale

Updated: 20 hours ago

The Minstrel of Aria by Scott Bryant
Background photo by Wiriyah Ruechaipanit via

The sun had just begun to rise over the mountains as Lyra O'Flute descended the narrow dirt path that led to Femindale. She had been walking for hours, her feet aching and her throat dry, but she was determined to reach the village before the day was out. She had heard rumors of a community of women living in the mountains, free from the constraints of patriarchal society, and she had come seeking refuge. How these women would accept her was another thought on Lyra's mind, but she knew she brought unique, almost magical qualities with her musical talents and free-spirited personality.

As she approached the village, she saw a woman standing by a small fire, her gaze fixed on the road ahead. The woman looked up as Lyra came and greeted her with a warm smile. "Welcome to Femindale," she said, extending her hand. 'My name is Amara. Are you in need of assistance?'" Lyra took Amara's hand, grateful for the warm welcome. "Thank you," she said, "I need shelter and food. I have been traveling for days and have nowhere else to turn." Amara nodded sympathetically. "You are welcome to stay with us. We are a small community, but we have enough to share. Follow me."

Making her way through the village, Lyra couldn't help but notice the sense of peace that seemed to permeate the air. The women went about their daily tasks with quiet efficiency, their movements choreographed in their precision. Lyra felt a pang of envy. She had spent her life on the road, never fitting in anywhere, always searching for something she couldn't quite name. As they approached a small hut, Amara turned to Lyra. "This is where you will be staying. It's not much, but it's dry and warm." Lyra nodded her thanks, feeling a sudden sense of relief wash over her. "Thank you," she said softly. "I don't know what to say." Amara smiled. "There's no need for thanks. We take care of our own here in Femindale."

Lyra played a soft melody on her lute, and the women gathered around her, their faces wreathed in smiles. They swayed to the rhythm, their bodies moving in time with the music. Lyra's voice was like honey, sweet and soothing, and for a moment, all of the tension in the air seemed to evaporate. All of the women, that is, except for Amara. She remained apart from the group; her arms crossed tightly over her chest. Lyra could feel the weight of her disapproval, which made her uncomfortable. The women began to disperse as the music ended, returning to their daily tasks. Lyra approached Amara, hoping to break the ice. "Did you enjoy the music?" she asked tentatively. Amara's face remained impassive. "It was… pleasant enough," she said. "But I'm afraid I don't share the others' enthusiasm for music." Lyra felt a twinge of disappointment. She had hoped that her music might have been able to bring the community together, even if just for a little while. "I understand," she said quietly. "Perhaps I should keep my music to myself in the future." Amara nodded, her eyes fixed on the ground. "Perhaps that would be best."

Toward the end of the day, Lyra began to play again, and this time, the women started to dance and sing along, enjoying the music and the freedom it brought. And as the night wore on, Amara began to feel uneasy. She watches the women let loose, dancing and laughing without a care. To her, it feels like they forget their purpose, the importance of their community, and their mission to protect each other from the outside world. Lyra notices Amara's discomfort and approaches her. "Is everything alright?" she asks. Amara hesitates before replying. "I just worry that we are losing sight of why we are here. That we are letting our guard down too much." Lyra nods, understanding Amara's concern but also feeling frustrated by her strictness. "I understand your concerns, Amara, but I think it's important for women to be able to let loose and have fun too. We don't have to be serious all the time." Amara looks at Lyra, her expression softening slightly. "I know, you're right. It's just hard for me sometimes. I've seen what can happen when women let their guard down." Lyra nods sympathetically. "I know it's difficult, but we must trust each other. We're all here for the same reason, after all." The two women share a moment of understanding, but the tension between them.

Amara hesitates before replying. "I just worry that we are losing sight of why we are here. That we are letting our guard down too much." Lyra nods, understanding Amara's concern but also feeling frustrated by her strictness. "I understand your concerns, Amara, but I think it's important for women to be able to let loose and have fun too. We don't have to be serious all the time." "Lyra, I welcome your thoughts, but as of right now, you are still an outsider, and when I want to gauge the opinions of a traveling minstrel, I will kindly ask you," said Amara, with her voice becoming sterner. "Look, Amara, I don't know what kind of threat you see in me, but it's become clear that you want to continue this resistance all because of some buried insecurities - and taking those insecurities out on all these women." "That is enough, Lyra! Please do not question my authority over this community. You have been here no more than a day, yet do not know anything about what I had to endure to keep this community thriving."

"Maybe I don't, Amara, but all I know is this world needs more music, laughter, and creativity. I can see it in these women's eyes; yes, they feel safe being in this community with other women, but is that enough? Or is this community just a facade to take your trauma out on these women?" Lyra said, trying to hold back her concern and anger. "Lyra, do you think music and creativity is the only thing that will rid this world of the cruelty towards women? These women need to be self-sufficient, a compass so that they can live their own lives without being forced to conform to a patriarchal world that only values women for their bodies. And I will not let a traveling minstrel ruin everything so you can have sing-song playtime!"

"I suggest you go back to the guest hut. Good night," said Amara as she walked off. Lyra felt at home in Femindale, but it had become painfully evident that Amara had some personal vendetta against her and any outsiders. For the first time, Lyra faced resistance from another woman. Lyra felt she needed to leave, but she couldn't; she sensed from the moment walking into Femindale that Amara had cast some strange cloud over this community that even Lyra could not explain.

Lyra spent the next few days feeling conflicted. On the one hand, she was grateful to be in a community of women who were free from oppression and able to live their lives on their terms. On the other hand, she couldn't help but feel frustrated with Amara's strictness and resistance to outside influence. Despite this, Lyra decided to stay and make the best of her time in Femindale. She spent her days wandering through the village, playing music for the women and listening to their stories. She even started to teach some of the younger girls how to play the guitar. However, tensions between her and Amara continued to simmer beneath the surface. Whenever Lyra tried to suggest a new idea or offer a different perspective, Amara would shut her down. Finally, one day, as Lyra was playing her guitar in the center of the village, Amara approached her.

"Lyra, I need to talk to you," she said sternly. Lyra stopped playing and turned to face her. "What is it, Amara?" "I've been doing some thinking," Amara said, her voice softer now. "I realize that I've been too hard on you. I see now that you truly care about this community and want to help us in any way you can. I apologize for my behavior." Lyra was surprised but relieved to hear Amara's words. "Thank you, Amara. I appreciate your apology." Amara nodded. "I also wanted to ask for your help. We have a big festival, and I think your music would be a great addition to the celebration. Would you be willing to perform for us?" Lyra couldn't help but smile at the invitation. "Of course, I would love to. Thank you for giving me this opportunity." Amara smiled back. "Great. I'm glad we can finally work together."

As the festival approached, Lyra spent hours practicing and preparing for her performance. When the day finally arrived, she felt a mixture of nerves and excitement. She stepped onto the stage and began to play, the women of Femindale dancing and singing along to the music.

At that moment, Lyra felt a sense of belonging that she had never felt before. She knew she had found a community of women willing to accept her for who she was, flaws and all. As the festival came to a close, Amara approached her once again. "Lyra, I want to thank you for everything. Your music brought so much joy to our community." Lyra smiled. "Thank you, Amara. I'm just glad I could contribute in some way." Amara hesitated for a moment before speaking again. "Lyra, I know that we got off on the wrong foot. But I want you to know you have a place here in Femindale. If you ever need a home or a community to belong to, you are always welcome here." Lyra felt a lump form in her throat. "Thank you, Amara. That means more to me than you know." As Lyra said her goodbyes and prepared to leave Femindale, she knew she had found something special. She had found a community of women willing to accept her flaws. And for the first time, Lyra felt she had a place in a community where she belonged.

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