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| Category: || Fantasy Fiction |
Posted:|| January 31, 2021 Views: 111|
Chapter 41 of the book The Piper
"The Piper, part 41"
Recently orphaned, Piper is a young musician being raised by the music guild at Castle Welf. A Fae (Redd-Leif Summerstorm) approaches Piper on several occasions and says he has secrets to share, but each time they are interrupted by the vigilant head of the castle guard, Captain Burkehart.
Meanwhile, Piper continues his musical education under the direction of the popular performer Master Braun, including traveling with a performing troupe. A wolf attack leaves Piper separated from the musicians and in the hands of Redd-Leif Summerstorm who discloses that Piper is half-elven and Piper's elven mother (Melodica) is alive and wants to see him. Redd-Leif then leads Piper into the faerie realm where Piper begins to learn about his heritage and the magic he wields in the music he plays.
End of the Previous Chapter
He sat with his head bowed, the flute in his right hand, and his arms wrapped around his knees, panting. When he looked up, Falcon was standing in front of him with Blue Jay and Robin flanking him on each side. Piper gulped. He'd only met this trio of teenage elven hunters once before, and they hadn't exactly parted on friendly terms.
Robin smirked. "Well, if it isn't the Changeling Prince."
"So, it would appear." Falcon stood for a moment observing Piper, a menacing glint in his eye. Then he put one foot on the fallen tree trunk, leaned forward, put his elbow on his knee and his chin on his fist. A grin spread across his face as he gazed down at Piper. "Hello, Flute Boy. Need lessons on hunting butterflies, or are they hunting you?"
"Eat my faerie dust!" Jasmine teased, upsetting the flight of a woodpecker as she zipped under his right wing to avoid Peck's pursuit. Unruffled, the bird instinctively adjusted the angle of its wing to account for the unexpected puff of wind and proceeded to his favorite tree to search for bugs. These things happened in the faerie realm.
Too quick for any but the most observant elemental eyes, Jasmine and Peck raced through the forest, zipping, diving, flipping, somersaulting, zooming, spinning, downward, upward, backward, and through, their gossamer wings a blur of speed.
"I'll catch you yet," Peck shouted as he dashed after her, both of them giddy with glee. To any astute enough to be listening, their shouting and laughter tinkled in the air like tiny bells.
Suddenly, Peck pulled up short and hovered mid-air. He signaled to Jasmine who performed an expressive loop in the air and zipped to his side.
"What is it?"
Peck pointed to the glen. "Look."
"Are they playing a game? And..." Jasmine's eyes grew wide. "Is that Lord Summerstorm's long lost son, the one they call Piper?"
Peck shrugged. "Could be."
Jasmine clapped her tiny hands together. "Let's go see."
Off they zipped, leaving a faint translucent trail of sparkling faerie dust in the air behind them.
"Toss it over here," Blue Jay shouted.
"No, here," Robin waved his hand.
Falcon tossed the flute to Blue Jay, who tossed it to Robin, who tossed it back to Falcon.
Piper followed the flute as it moved between the young elven hunters. Chasing back-and-forth between them was useless. Even if he were able to get hold of the flute, he wouldn't use force to get it back. He couldn't risk damaging it. But this was his flute. His grandfather had given it to him when he was six. He'd played it every day since then. If they hurt it in any way... His throat constricted at the thought.
Falcon dangled the flute in front of Piper. "Want it, Flute Boy?" When Piper reached for it, Falcon tossed it away.
Piper headed for Robin who swung and stabbed with the flute in mock swordplay. "Please, be careful. It's an expensive instrument."
"Then why do you have it, apprentice?" Blue Jay jeered.
Robin tossed it to Blue Jay.
"Please, Blue Jay. Give me the flute."
"Why? You going to play a tune so we can dance?" Robin taunted.
The three young hunters burst out laughing.
"Make sure you get the cadence right." Blue Jay danced around and twirled the flute in front of him. He tossed the flute to Robin, who tossed it back. Then it went to Falcon. They kept this up for several minutes until Piper stumbled and fell to the grass.
"What's the matter, Flute Boy? Getting tired?" Falcon smirked at the other two hunters.
Piper raised his eyes to meet Falcon's. "My name is Piper."
"Oh, that's right," Robin said. "Piper . . . what was that surname?"
"Summerstorm. Piper Summerstorm." Piper briefly thought how Lynx would be upset with the lack of enthusiasm in his tone. Good thing his brother wasn't here to remind him to be proud of his name.
"Ooo. Finally decided to embrace your elemental family, have you, Changeling Prince?" Blue Jay mocked.
Piper struggled to his feet.
Falcon held the flute out to Piper again. Half-heartedly, Piper started toward it. Falcon laughed as he continued to keep it just out of the boy's reach.
After several more minutes, Piper heaved a defeated sigh and stood still. The three young hunters tossed the flute between them a few more times, but Piper was too spent to continue chasing it.
Falcon caught the flute and regarded Piper. "I'm getting tired of this game anyway." He grasped the instrument in both hands, lifted it above his head, and brought it down with great force while bringing his knee up to meet it.
"Nooooo!" Piper screamed.
A sudden flash of blinding light and a high-pitched shriek filled the air.
Falcon dropped the flute as if it were on fire. He stared at his hands, the instrument, then looked over at Piper. "I wouldn't really have . . ."
Robin and Blue Jay moved toward Piper, preparing to grab him.
The flute rolled in their direction, picking up speed and emitting a shrill squeal as it approached them.
Falcon shouted, "Watch out! It's enchanted!"
Robin and Blue Jay hesitated. The three elven hunters exchanged glances. Then the flute gave another shrill squeal and, as if on cue, the three elves turned and disappeared into the forest.
Piper watched them go, too stunned to move.
The flute rolled over to Piper and bumped his shoe. He stared down at this strange stick of wood. What had just happened? The flute bumped his shoe again, accompanied by a soft cooing whistle. Was it calling to him?
Shaking, Piper bent toward the flute. When his fingertips touched the rosewood, a tingling sensation went through his fingers and up his arm. He flinched.
"Enchanted." Piper stared blankly at the ground. That was the word Falcon had used. Enchanted. A word that was used to describe elementals and their strange world.
The cooing whistle grew louder, plaintive. A questioning trill followed and another tap against his shoe.
Without looking at it, Piper tentatively and tenderly closed his hand around the flute, then quickly clasped it to his chest and cuddled it with both hands.
He choked back tears. Tears? Really? He'd cried when his parents died. He'd cried when his grandfather died. But for a flute? It wasn't even damaged. He snuggled it closer. But he'd almost lost it. What would he do without it? His fingers brushed over its surface.
The flute cooed in response.
Piper froze. The distinct rosewood scent. The smooth finish beneath his fingers. The perfectly positioned tone holes. The familiar timbre of its voice as it emitted another cooing whistle. It was his same trusty flute. Wasn't it?
Cast of Characters
*Piper = A musical apprentice, just turned age 15.
*Rupert = A musical apprentice. Piper's friend, age 14.
*Grand Master Raymond Acker = Head of the music guild. Piper's grandfather. Recently deceased leaving Piper an orphan under the care of the music guild.
*Captain Burkehart = Captain of the Guard at Castle Welf
*Redd-Leif Summerstorm = A Fae
*Master Braun = Troubadour recently promoted to the rank of Master in the music guild at Castle Welf
*Sheba = an enchanted creature in wolf form
*Melodica = an Elven female
*Master Raven = Elf; master hunter
*Lynx = Ten-year-old son of Redd-Leif and Melodica Summerstorm
*Serein = Six-year-old daughter of Redd-Leif and Melodica Summerstorm
*Master Crescendo = Elven High Mage, First Sage of Music and Song
*Lady Spring = Wife of Master Crescendo
*Falcon, Blue Jay, and Robin = Teen-age elven hunters, nearly always together, slightly older than Piper at ages of 16 and 17 years-old
Elementals, also called Fair Folk by humans
*Fae = Oldest of the elemental races. Known as strong, swift and deadly by their enemies. Characterized by white hair and skin that shimmers silver-blue in direct moonlight. Usually taller than humans and muscular.
*Elf = Most numerous of the elementals. Often slightly taller and more slender than humans.
*Pixie = In their normal form they are six inches tall with wings, but they can change size to as large as humans or as small as a faerie.
*Faerie = Vary in height from one to three inches. Wings vary and can appear to be like those of dragonflies or butterflies.
Fair Folk = Name given to faerie races by humans. Refers to elves, Fae, faeries, brownies, sprites, gnomes, dwarfs, etc.
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