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| Category: || Fantasy Fiction |
Posted:|| February 11, 2017 Views: 475|
Chapter 12 of the book The Piper
The Cave -- Y.A. Fantasy
"The Piper, part 12"
Piper is a young musician whose grandfather has passed away. After the funeral, Piper returns alone to play his flute at his grandfather's grave, and a Fae appears--a creature considered swift, strong and deadly--and compliments Piper's flute playing. Captain Burkehart comes to the rescue and escorts Piper back to the castle. During the next few weeks the Fae approaches Piper on several occasions and says he has some secrets he needs to share, but each time they are interrupted by a vigilant 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 and his friend Rupert missing.
End of Previous Chapter
The knuckles of Braun's hands turned white as he gripped his staff to steady himself. In a low controlled voice he said, "Are you giving up on finding them before we even start a search, Captain?"
"No." Burkehart bent down to examine a patch of blood, pausing a moment to examine the position of the leaves and to turn over some twigs. He didn't bother to look up at Braun when he continued. "No. I have not given up, Master Braun, but I am realistic. There is always a chance the boys escaped, however, it is slight. If the wolves have them, they are dead. And I hold little hope they are safe if they are in the hands of the Fair Folk."
"You're a bit hard on the Fair Folk, aren't you?"
"Have you ever faced one of them in battle?"
"No, you would be too young to remember the wars. So you have no idea what they do to their captives, do you, Master Braun?"
"Do you, Captain?"
Burkehart turned his gaze on Braun, an angry glint in his eyes. "Unfortunately, yes."
Piper's eyes fluttered open. Flickering light from a fire illuminated the cave's ceiling and walls with an other-worldly glow. Rough formations transformed their shapes and textures erratically as the variable lighting flitted across their surfaces. Faint groans from somewhere close by echoed in Piper's ears. He rolled his head to the left, squinting into the gloom as he tried to focus on something moving in the dim light. "Rupert?"
A large shadow suddenly loomed across the cave ceiling and wall, blocking the light from the fire. Piper's eyes widened. The shadow shrank when someone knelt next to him. "Ah, Piper, my boy, you're awake," a deep gentle voice said. "Good. I was getting worried. How is your head?"
Piper touched the swelling above his temple and winced. "Ouch." With a determined effort, he raised himself to his elbows, then sat up. Even in the dim light, Piper could make out the white hair and pale blue eyes that gazed back at him. "Redd-Leif?"
"Yes, my boy?"
"Is Rupert alright?"
"Where are we? How did we get here?"
"I brought you here."
Redd-Leif put up a hand. "Hold on, Piper. I'll answer all your questions, but first I need you to do something."
"Tell me the last thing you remember."
Piper closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I saw Rupert ..."
"No, look at me while you speak. I need to see your eyes."
A groan drew Piper's gaze to the left side of the cave. "Is he alright?"
"Piper, I know you are concerned about your friend, but try to concentrate."
He looked back at Redd-Leif. "I saw Rupert standing in the forest, holding the wood he had gathered, then a wolf attacked him. It bit his arm, and ..." Piper gulped. "And he screamed. Other wolves closed in and started attacking. I saw one jump toward me, and someone ... you, I think ... caught it in mid-air." Piper stared at Redd-Leif. "You ... you saved us. Didn't you?"
Redd-Leif smiled. "You seem to have your wits about you. That's a good sign." Shifting to a sitting position, Redd-Leif nodded toward Rupert. "Your friend is hurt badly, but it could have been worse. His thick leather clothing protected him from most of the bites, especially his lower legs where the wolves concentrated their attack. When Rupert dropped his bundle of wood, it frightened the wolves off, either because the noise startled them or because the wood hit them. Unfortunately, the wolf you saw attack him broke his arm. I've done what I can to stop the bleeding and administered herbs to help ease the pain, but he needs a healer and soon."
"We have a healer in Braun's traveling company," Piper said. "If we could get back to the troupe, he could help."
"I'm afraid that is not an option. For safety, the troupe moved on after the attack. Trying to locate them might take too much time. He is in danger of losing his arm if we don't get him help and soon."
"No, don't say that. Rupert is a musician; he needs both hands. He couldn't play lutes, or pipes, or ... so many things ..." Piper's brow furrowed. "Where can we get help then?"
Redd-Leif let out a deep sigh. "Piper, what I am about to propose requires you to be very brave, but it is the only thing I can think of to give Rupert a chance."
"I'll do whatever I can to help him."
"I know." After a slight pause he added, "Rupert is lucky to have such a good friend." Redd-Leif ran a hand through his hair then let one finger come to rest on his chin. "I know an Elven settlement where we can seek help. They have several excellent healers. I need to get him there as soon as possible."
"How far away is it?"
"If all three of us travel together it would take about a week."
"A week?" Worry crept into Piper's voice and pleading into his eyes. "Can he make it that long?"
Redd-Leif remained silent for a moment while he studied Piper. "I doubt it. But with luck, and if the weather holds, I could make it in three or four hours if I carry him." Redd-Leif reached over and put a hand on Piper's shoulder. "It would mean leaving you here alone until I could get back. I'm sorry, but it's the best solution I have at the moment."
"Then go! Hurry!"
"Slow down, Piper. We need to take time to prepare." Rising to his feet, Redd-Leif continued, "At the moment Rupert is sleeping more peacefully than he has in hours. Before we leave, I want to make certain you are taken care of." Pointing to the other side of the cave, he said, "I've stacked enough dry wood against the wall to last several days. Keep the fire going at the mouth of the cave and animals should leave you be." Redd-Leif reached over and picked up a satchel. "There's enough food in here for several days: dried meat, dried fruits, a few carrots, and cereal you can make into porridge. " He pulled a small round pan out of the bag. With a slight smirk he held it up for Piper to see. "This is my favorite traveling pan. Take good care of it."
Next, Redd-Leif picked up a water skin. "I'll leave this for you as well. It should last you two or three days if you are careful."
"Thank you." Piper looked anxious. "What about you and Rupert?"
"Thinking of your friend." Redd-Leif smiled. "Good lad." He pointed toward his packs. "I carry a spare water skin in case the one I have springs a leak. Usually it is empty, but I took time to fill it when I gathered the wood. I'll take it with us. We shouldn't need food until we reach the Elven settlement. The lighter I travel, the quicker we can get there."
"It sounds like everything is covered."
"Almost. I need to make a sling to carry Rupert. His cloak should work. That way I can leave you my blanket. Fortunately, he is a small lad so he weighs next to nothing. The tricky part will be protecting his injured arm while we travel."
"What can I do to help?"
"How is your flute?"
A puzzled look crossed Piper's face. "My flute?"
"Yes. If you are up to it, play some tunes while I work. It will help all three of us."
Piper reached to his side where the flute normally hung. It wasn't there.
"I placed it with your satchel just above your head." Redd-Leif nodded to a position behind where Piper was sitting on his bedroll.
"Thank you, sir." Piper turned over from his sitting position onto his knees and reached toward his belongings. He removed the flute from its traveling case and unwrapped the sheepskin covering he used for extra protection. To his trained and careful eye, the flute appeared to be in good condition. He played a few notes to confirm it was unharmed. Then he reached for his satchel and checked its contents, including a case containing a fife he had brought along as his second instrument. Everything seemed to be in order.
Piper stood and began playing the tune he had played at Braun's ceremony.
"Ah, that's nice, Piper. When you are alone, you should play your flute if you are feeling threatened or nervous. Not only will it give you something to do, but it will charm the animals so they don't bother you."
Piper paused mid-tune. "Really?"
"There is more power in music than you imagine, Piper."
"More power?" A gleam came into Piper's eyes. "I've always thought that, but ..." Piper's fingers caressed the finger holes of his flute and he placed the instrument back to his lips.
While Redd-Leif prepared Rupert and himself for the journey ahead, Piper continued playing his flute. At first the melodies were slow and thoughtful, but then Piper turned to brighter more cheerful pieces.
After a few minutes, preparations were completed, and Rupert was safely cradled in a sling for the journey. Redd-Leif stood at the mouth of the cave. "If the weather holds and I don't run into any trouble, I should be back by tomorrow evening. If I can send help before that, I will. We should select a password so you know the help comes from me. How about 'Rupert?'"
Piper nodded. "That should work."
"'Rupert' it is then." Redd-Leif started forward, then paused and turned to look at Piper. "If you feel threatened or hear odd noises in the forest, play your flute. I recommend either the tune you played at your grandfather's grave or the one you played the night of Braun's ceremony."
"Those tunes have deeper magic. One day you will understand their power. For now, use them to your advantage."
Piper looked down at the flute in his hand, and was about to ask another question, but when he looked up, Redd-Leif had disappeared into the night.
Story of the Month contest entry
|The book continues with The Piper, part 13. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
Cast of Characters
Piper = A musical apprentice, just turned age15.
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.
Fair Folk = Refers to non-human races sometimes considered magic such as elves, Fae, brownies, sprites, gnomes, dwarfs, etc.
Thank you to GaliaG for the use of the artwork "Music Abstract"
and 2 member cents.
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