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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: March 20, 2016      Views: 576
Chapters:
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 ABOUT
W.J.DEBI 

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."

She is a top ranked author at the #92 position.

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Chapter 6 of the book The Piper
Retrieving the Lute
"The Piper, part 6" by w.j.debi



Previously
Piper, a young musician, risks leaving the protection of the castle and the city gates one evening, and spends the night playing his flute at his grandfather's grave. A Fae appears--a creature considered swift, strong and deadly--and compliments Piper's flute playing. As the Fae approaches Piper, a city guard comes to the rescue. A week later, Piper is approached by the Fae while he is at the open market shopping for a satchel. The Fae says he has some secrets he needs to share and invites Piper to meet him alone, then leaves. That evening, Piper goes with his friend Rupert to a concert in the grand hall. Before the concert begins, Troubadour Braun asks Piper to retrieve a lute for him from the guild's collection. As Piper leaves the grand hall, a figure in a dark cloak follows him. 


Ending of the previous chapter
As he passed an open window, moonlight flashed across his bare hand revealing a slight silver-blue hue to his flesh. The figure instinctively adjusted his cloak so that his hands were not visible and kept his face turned toward the inner wall. It was unlikely in all the hustle and bustle that anyone would notice the revelation made by the moonlight, but there was no sense raising questions if it could be avoided. Not tonight at least.


Chapter 6

"Excuse me, sir. Are you one of the musicians?" A girl of about fourteen with a dreamy expression looked up at the individual who was about to pass her in the castle corridor.

The cloaked figure paused mid-stride and smiled down at her. "No, I came to watch them."

"Oh, I thought you might be Troubadour Braun. They say he is tall, broad shouldered, and ever so handsome. And well ..." She caught herself mid-sentence and lowered her eyes. "I am sorry for disturbing you, sir"

His smile broadened. "Don't be. I'm flattered that you would mistake me for the troubadour, but I am afraid I'm just part of the crowd, little one."

She giggled. "My friends are saving a seat for me, so I better go." She made a small curtsy. "Good-bye, sir."

"Good-bye."

Further down the corridor, several entryways converged into a foyer. Benches lined the walls, offering residents and visitors a place to rest, or pause to listen to the musicians who sometimes practiced here since they worked, studied and slept in nearby rooms.

The cloaked figure positioned himself in a shadowy area, and began to unfasten the laces of his boot. With one foot on a bench, he bent over and continued to fiddle with the lacings for several moments. Anyone glancing in his direction would think he was adjusting the laces to make them more comfortable to wear, not that many people looked his way. Most everyone was in a hurry to get to the grand hall of the castle before the entertainment began.

Across the way, Piper appeared before the door of the Grand Master of the Music Guild. The cloaked figure merged deeper into the shadows, and clenched his teeth for a moment in frustration. Things would be so much easier if you were still alive, Raymond Acker. Piper would believe you. The timing of your death couldn't have been worse.



After returning the key to his pocket, Piper paused. For the first time in his life, he hesitated to turn the handle. The door loomed taller, wider and more solid than he recalled. When did I cease to notice the finely carved panels with their scenes of musicians plying their craft? I was always in such a hurry to get to the other side of the door. The artistry and craftmanship are amazing. Flames from the sconces on the walls flickered and danced in a way that made the characters in the panels appear to move in time to some unheard music they were playing. It is easy to see why some people think this door is enchanted.

Piper reached out with one finger to trace the details depicting a duet between a piper and a lute player. Just like us, Grandfather. He dropped his hand and took a step back. I'll never see your smiling face again. Or hear your admirers call you the First Trouvere, or Beloved Troubadour, or Grand Master of the Music Guild.

A tear had formed at the corner of his eye, and Piper reached up to wipe it away. He swallowed hard to dislodge the lump forming in his throat. Oh, Grandfather, I know the guild will take care of me, but it won't be the same. He took a long deep breath, then released it slowly. Grasping the handle with more determination than he felt, Piper entered the room and walked halfway across it. The light from the sconces directly across the hall flowed into the room and banished shadowy forms to the corners.

Piper stood transfixed as he surveyed his surroundings. Nearly every morning since he was nine years old, he had rushed to get here, but he had not visited these chambers in a week. A sudden chill made him shiver and he rubbed his arms to warm himself. His eyes grew wide. 

Everything is the same. Somehow, I thought it would be ... different. 

Benches and music stands still took up one corner, ready for the next practice session to begin. Three quills rested on a stack of parchment paper on the desk near the shuttered window. Last week I sat there to copy and transcribe music for you, Grandfather, in preparation for tonight's concert. Piper felt a twinge of guilt. I should have put the quills away after clipping the nibs. Instruments still decorated the room, grouped in their various categories as usual. Nothing had changed. Still, all the familiar objects seemed out of place and somehow lost.

"Everything alright in here?"

Piper turned toward the door. "Oh, good evening, Captain Burkehart."

"Good evening, Piper." Burkehart stepped forward. "I hope I didn't startle you. I was surprised to see the door open. I thought all the musicians from the guild would be joining the festivities since one of your own has returned to the fold, so to speak."

"Troubadour Braun broke a string on his lute, and I was sent to fetch a replacement for him."

"Ah, yes. That makes sense." Burkehart looked around the room. "I never realized there were so many types of horns and lutes, let alone pipes, or flutes, or whatever you call them." He paused to look at Piper. "Do you play them all?"

Piper shrugged. "You could say that. Some better than others, of course."

"And your grandfather taught you."

The corners of Piper's mouth turned up. "Everyone said he was the most talented musician ever. I was lucky to be his apprentice." Piper's hand wandered to the flute hanging at his side. "He gave me my first fife, and taught me how to read music." Piper motioned toward the other side of the room. "Over at that desk near the window, I learned to write musical notation by copying music for him and the other masters. He also taught me to sing, compose, and how to play nearly every instrument in this room." A sigh passed his lips. "But the pipes are my favorite."

"Yes. I've heard you play. You have every right to be proud, Piper. Of both him and yourself."

"Thank you, Captain."

"You're welcome."

Piper glanced around the room again. "You know, I never thought of this before, but my grandfather occupied the rooms of the Grand Master of the Music Guild for more years than I've been alive."

"He will be hard to replace. Has the new Grand Master been determined yet?"

"Soon, they say. They were waiting for a few of the traveling masters and troubadours to return so the entire guild could meet."

"Speaking of which, I suppose everyone is waiting in the grand hall for your return. Would the two of you like an escort back? I know a few ways to get through the crowds more quickly."

"Two of us?" Piper questioned.

"Yes, you and the tall fellow who was lagging behind you when you entered. I took him to be one of the visiting troubadours."

"No. I'm alone. Everyone else stayed in the grand hall to watch the performance."

Out of reflex, Burkehart's hand went to the hilt of his sword. "Strange." He glanced warily around the room. "I was sure. Perhaps, it was trick of the lighting."

"You're probably right. The flickering light seems to do strange things to the senses." Piper reached toward the lute he had chosen for Troubadour Braun. Over his shoulder he saw a guard appear in the doorway.

"Captain Burkehart, sir?"

The captain turned toward the guard. "Yes, Troy. What is it?"

"Captain." Troy paused to glance at Piper, then back at Burkehart. "You asked to be informed when Duke Welf and his party drew near. They are about a mile from the castle and should arrive at the gates in the next twenty minutes."

"Thank you, Troy." Burkehart turned to Piper. "I am afraid I must take my leave. Troy will escort you back to the grand hall. Have a good evening, young man."

"The same to you, Captain."

Captain Burkehart stepped into the hallway to converse with Troy.

Out of habit, Piper walked over to the window next to his desk and tested the shutters. They were secure, but when he glanced at the desk he noted that there were only two quills resting on top of the parchment. Piper inspected the surrounding area briefly, then headed for the door. The quill could wait. Right now, Troubadour Braun needed a lute for his performance. Piper took one last look around to confirm all was secure, shut and locked the door, and headed for the grand hall with Troy at his side.



A cloaked figure placed a quill into his satchel along with several other items, then stepped from the shadows an instant too soon. He locked eyes with Captain Burkehart across the foyer.

Burkehart glared, and his hand went to the hilt of his sword. His lips formed a silent curse out of the name, "Summerstorm."

The Fae nodded at Burkehart--a taunt. There would be no confrontation. No other guards were within earshot, and there were too many people around. Besides, Burkehart had to hurry to be at the city gates when the Duke arrived or risk losing his position.

Redd-Leif Summerstorm turned to merge into the crowd. His smile turned into a smirk. Well, Burkehart, you may have interrupted my plans, but I have certainly put a thorn in your side for the evening.


~~~

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The book continues with The Piper, part 7. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Thank you to Angelheart for use of the artwork "Cosmic Celebration"
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