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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: June 21, 2020      Views: 298
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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 38 of the book The Piper
Music Lesson
"The Piper, part 38" by w.j.debi

Piper is a young musician whose grandfather has passed away, leaving Piper an orphan to be raised by the music guild where he is an apprentice. 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 (Redd-Leif Summerstorm) 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 separated from the musicians and in the hands of Redd-Leif Summerstorm who tells Piper he 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 in the music he wields.

End of Previous Chapter
With a defiant frown, Lynx turned on him. "Why did you tell them your name was Piper Strauss?"

Piper took a step back. "It's my name."

Lynx balled up his fists. "Maybe in the human world, but not here. You're a Summerstorm and you should be proud of it. We are the last of the Fae, and people respect us for it. Brownies insist on cleaning our house for free. People visit to pay respect to Papa and honor him because most of the Fae died protecting them in the Human-Elemental War. We are descended from the oldest elemental race and we have a responsibility to honor the Fae and the Summerstorm name."

Piper was quiet for a moment. "I didn't know. No one ever told me."

"Well, I'm telling you now. You may be my older brother, but you have a lot to learn."

Piper nodded, a sheepish look on his face. "I guess I do."

Lynx's jaw tightened in a manner that reminded Piper of Redd-Leif. "And your name is Piper Summerstorm, you hear? If Mama hears you say anything else, it will make her cry." With that, Lynx stalked away.

Piper stood stunned as Lynx receded into the night. Piper Summerstorm? I hadn't even considered . . . Piper took a big gulp of air and called out, "Lynx, wait!" and ran to catch up.

Chapter 38
Burkehart watched the faeries flitter through the air, zipping to-and-fro, leaving trails of light behind them in the darkness. Was it faerie dust or blurry vision? He blinked. One faerie hovered to look at him. Obnoxious little insects. If only they would come close enough for him to swat. He grimaced in frustration. Maybe the pain in his hand was getting to him.

Slowly, he unwound the bandages on his two damaged fingers. Layer-by-layer the throbbing intensified. Dried blood made the last two layers of cloth stick together--and to the wounds on his fingers. He closed his eyes for a moment then yanked the bandages off of both fingers at once. He clenched his teeth to keep from groaning, took a deep breath, and braced himself as he reached for the potion he had made from herbs and oils. This was going to sting. With a trembling hand, he coated the forefinger and middle finger of his right hand liberally then wrapped the fingers in clean cloth. Panting, he collapsed against the tree he was sitting under and curled up to let the potion take effect as he drifted off to sleep.

Piper trudged up the hill, his trusty flute at his side, a lute, lyre, and drum slung over his back, and bells in his hands. He paused to catch his breath, raised a jingling hand to block the sun from his eyes, and looked up the trail. Master Crescendo was continuing his steady pace up ahead.

"Keep up, Piper. We are almost there."

"Yes, sir." Piper ran a sleeve over his forehead to remove the perspiration, took a deep breath and muttered, "I don't understand why I have to carry all these instruments up here."

Crescendo reached the top of the ridge and turned to look down at him. "You'll soon understand the purpose."

Oops. I forgot about elven hearing. "Yes, sir."

Piper topped the hill and took a moment to survey the plateau. To his left, a peak rose into the sky and blocked off the view in that direction. The rest of the plateau was formed by trees and foliage surrounding a small meadow. He heard a roaring stream in the distance somewhere below them. If he was correct, that particular stream fed the falls that marked the passage into the faerie realm. Piper walked over to Master Crescendo. "Is it alright if I put down the instruments now, sir?"

"Yes, of course, Piper. You can put them there." Crescendo indicated a spot in the shade near them.

Piper stifled a sigh and tried to keep the impatience out of his voice. Remember, you are lucky to be taught by the High Mage of Music. "I still wonder why we had to come all the way up here for lessons. I mean, it's a nice setting, but so is your garden."

Crescendo smiled. "There are several reasons. First, as you stated, it is a lovely setting. Second, you know the charm your music has on the birds, but do you have any idea what your music is doing to my bees and the plants in my garden?"

"Your bees? I suppose they stop and listen like the birds do."

"Yes, and it is disturbing my garden and my honey production. Besides, up here we can test your skills and experiment freely with the plant, insect, and animal life."

"And not be interrupted?"

"I'm not certain about that. This is a popular meadow. We could easily be joined by others." Crescendo took a deep breath and sighed. "I'd forgotten how lovely it is up here." He turned to Piper. "I don't think you understand just how talented you are, my boy. You have a natural ability to do what most musicians, including most high mages, only dream of doing. Nature is charmed by your music. I think it's so natural to you that you haven't taken any notice of it, have you?"

Piper looked a little sheepish. "No, sir. It never occurred to me."

"No reason it should have, but I suspect with some training, you may be able to control some elements in nature and do much good. Come; sit next to me on this log. Let's test your skill, starting with the lyre and the grass directly in front of us."

Burkehart woke to the sound of voices. He cursed the faeries for not leaving him alone, but when he opened his eyes, he couldn't see any of the little pests, just daylight filtering through the trees.

He stirred himself to a sitting position and peered through the bushes in front of him. In the nearby clearing were two people. He caught snatches of conversations, laughter, and music. They were certainly enjoying themselves.

"Piper?" he whispered as he leaned forward. Yes, it was Piper and an elf in master robes. Musical instruments surrounded them. The elven master was nodding and saying something in tones too low to be heard at this distance. A music instructor of some kind? Of course, lure Piper into the faerie realm and charm him with something exciting about music. That would be the best way to trick him.

Piper put down a drum and began strumming a lute. Burkehart smiled to himself. Piper was good. The lad had mentioned he played many instruments. Still, it seemed odd to see him playing something besides a flute.

As the music flowed, two flowers pushed their way out of the soil and grew taller, centimeter by centimeter. Leaves unraveled to the harmony. Buds nodded in time to the rhythm, shyly exposing their blooms one layer at a time, each petal blushing open as it was enticed by the melody.

"It worked!" Piper's eyes were bright with excitement. "Master Crescendo, it's amazing. It really works."

Crescendo chuckled. "Good job, Piper. I was hoping you could charm the plants into growing. It doesn't appear to matter which instrument you play, drum, lute, bells, or lyre. As I suspected, the magic is coming from you." Crescendo grew thoughtful for a moment. "I do wonder, however, if you use your favorite instrument if it would make any difference, perhaps be more powerful." Crescendo got a glint in his eye. "Shall we give the flute a try?"

Piper put down the lute and gave an enthusiastic, "Yes!" Flute music instantly filled the air.

From his hiding place, Burkehart attempted to eavesdrop on the music lessons, but he only caught snatches of the conversation due to the distance, or so he told himself. The music kept distracting him. Jaunty tunes had him tapping his finger on his knee and the serene melodies lulled him into musings. Twice he caught himself nodding off to sleep. He tried rolling his shoulder and stretching as silently as possible to keep himself alert.

When Piper and his companion packed-up for the day and headed for the trail, Burkehart snapped to attention as they passed. The words of the music master were clear.

“We'll come back tomorrow and see how the insects behave."

Insects? What does that mean? Burkehart took a deep breath and relaxed as Piper and the music master disappeared down the path. Back tomorrow. He leaned back against the tree trunk and grinned. Piper was within reach.


Book of the Month contest entry


The book continues with The Piper, part 39. 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

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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