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  Posted: January 17, 2021      Views: 225
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Favorite saying by Albert Einstein, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

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Chapter 40 of the book The Piper
Practicing Solo
"The Piper, part 40" by w.j.debi

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
A bit disoriented, antennas still tingling from the strange hypnotic music that had summoned her to congregate with the swarm, one wasp headed back to her assigned territory to scout for danger. Two large creatures, carrying large music-making things, were walking down the path away from the area. Even though they seemed harmless, her stinger twitched. She circled them. These intruders were oblivious to her presence, but she could leave them with a memorable warning.

Her body curled in preparation for a quick attack. At that moment, the younger creature lifted a music stick to his lips and an enchanting haze enveloped her. Her stinger relaxed. She hovered. Her antennas longed to decipher the spellbinding code of this ethereal song, but it was too deep, too magical for her understanding. No directive within the music demanded action so instinct overcame her urge to hover and she continued her patrol.

Chapter 40
Piper strode down the hill at a leisurely pace. Since Master Crescendo had released him from his lessons early, no one was expecting him at home for several hours, or anywhere else for that matter. Though the experience with the wasps had been draining, suddenly having the freedom to do as he wished invigorated him. Maybe he should head over to the music school and see what the elven musicians were doing. It would be good to see Rupert and start getting to know some of the elementals. Rupert was ahead of him in that area.

When he reached the bottom of the hill, Piper walked in the opposite direction from the Summerstorm home and the school. He'd never been this way. It would be good to explore. A few minutes later, a small clearing in the trees caught his attention. It was the perfect niche where he could experiment with his newly discovered magic.

Settling himself on the trunk of a fallen tree, Piper pulled out his flute and rested it on his knee. He surveyed the glen. Except for a few birds singing in the distance, the place was secluded, perfect for his needs.

A few feet away, the tops of several buds were barely visible in the surrounding grass. Why not practice with them? Crescendo had taught him all he needed to do was concentrate on the plant in question and imagine it growing, then coax it with an enchanted tune. The action was so simple yet the results were so magical. Why hadn't he known it all along?

Piper raised the flute to his lips and let the music flow. As expected, the buds pushed their way out of the soil and lifted their heads centimeter-by-centimeter. One petal at a time unfurled to reveal the heart of the flower and its precious scent, just as they had when Piper played under Crescendo's watchful guidance a few days ago.

Could he speed up the process? They hadn't tried that. Piper located another group of buds a few steps away and experimented with changing the rhythm and tempo of the music. Maybe it was his imagination, but these plants seemed to respond more quickly.

To confirm his results, he searched out another group of buds. This time he kept the rhythm but increased the tempo and volume of the tune. The buds burst into bloom and their perfume exploded into the air causing Piper's eyes to water at the intensity of the scent.

"It works!"

Delighted, he returned to the trunk of the fallen tree and studied the first group of blossoms. "The flowers are beautiful, but. . . I need something more challenging."

His eyes lit up. "Enticing insects is more difficult than plants."

Why else had Master Crescendo insisted on taking two full days to prepare for calling the wasps, emphasizing the precautions that had to be taken so they wouldn't be stung? First was envisioning how the wasps would respond, the sounds they would make, how they would converge. They'd gone over every detail dozens of times. Then Piper had been required to envision the entire exercise in reverse. The final lesson was imagining how the wasps would disperse from the swarm when they were released. Though he'd been nervous, when it came to the actual attempt, everything had gone as planned. Still, he would pick something less dangerous than a swarm of wasps.

Piper sat up straight and listened to the sounds of the glen. Now, what creature should I try to summon?

A butterfly fluttered by a few inches from his face and lit on one of the nearby blossoms he had encouraged to bloom. Piper studied the pattern of the wings. "What a beautiful creature." A grin slowly overtook his face. "Why not? A single butterfly shouldn't be too risky."

As he had done with the wasps, Piper took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and focused. He pictured the butterfly resting on the flower, slowly opening and closing its wings, and finally flying over and landing on his knee. He ran the image through his mind several times, then opened his eyes. The butterfly was still feeding on the flower. Piper stood, put the flute to his lips, blew a soft six-note trill into it, and began playing the tune he had played for the wasps. The butterfly paused.

Piper's eyes widened. This might work.

In response to the next few notes, the butterfly folded its wings into an upright position. Good. Things were progressing just right.

Now, let's try this. A few more measures of music embraced the air. The butterfly's wings slowly opened until they were outstretched. Piper held the note and the butterfly remained still. Perfect.

Piper paused playing for a moment to enjoy his success. The butterfly went back to feeding on the flower.

He took an enthusiastic breath and let his fingers playfully frolic across the keyholes. Now, come to me.

The tune beckoned and the butterfly fluttered over to land on Piper's elbow. Then it flitted to the end of the flute. Piper grinned. The butterfly floated upwards and lit on his forefinger. It stayed there even as he continued playing. The veins and patterns of colors were fascinating to observe up close.

Sounds of a hushed, gentle drizzle in the distance made Piper turn. The sky was clear. He concentrated on the sound. What a catchy rhythm. He attempted to match the cadence with his music. The hush turned to a loud whisper and kept getting louder. So captivating.

A moment later a swirling mass of butterflies converged from every direction. They landed in Piper's hair, clung to his clothes, and clogged the end of the flute. Help! 

His intended shout came out as a muffled moan. Butterfly wings covered his nose. Piper didn't dare remove the flute from his mouth. He was getting some air through the instrument as he slightly adjusted his fingers over the holes but not much. How am I going to release the butterflies? He closed his eyes to protect them from the insects. Concentrate. Take a small breath and begin the releasing music. A couple of soft notes escaped the flute. If they had any effect, it was imperceptible.

The growing weight of the butterflies caused Piper to teeter off-balance and stumble. When his heels hit the fallen tree trunk behind him, he tumbled backward. The flute went flying into the grass.

Butterflies dispersed upwards en masse.

Piper gasped for air. Quickly, he rolled onto his knees. My flute? 

Frantic, he surveyed the area. There. A few feet away. He crawled over to retrieve it. Shaking, he clasped it next to his chest with both hands.

Worried about the insects, he scrutinized the grass. No traces of crushed wings. He let out a relieved sigh and turned over into a sitting position.

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?"


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The book continues with The Piper, part 41. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
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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