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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: September 6, 2020      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 39 of the book The Piper
"The Piper, part 39" 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 Previous Chapter
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.

Chapter 39

A wasp hesitated in her travels, antennas tingling to interpret the code and the rhythm of this new irresistible urge. She turned, her wings gathering speed as she plummeted toward the swarm amassing nearby. A buzz of excited communication increased as other wasps merged into the ranks. Message conveyed. Objective determined. One in instinct and purpose. 

Piper gulped when he saw the buzzing ball of insects flying in their direction. They really are coming. He kept the flute near his lips but paused the melody mid-measure. "Master Crescendo--"

"Keep playing. They are responding just as we discussed. Now is not the time to be timid. They will sense it."

Piper took a breath and continued with the next musical phrase. The swarm approached and stopped to hover a few feet in front of him as he continued to play. I hope Crescendo is right about this. A slight fluctuation in the tempo was met by the sphere edging nearer and an increase in the intensity of the buzzing.

"Steady, Piper," Crescendo said in a calm, soft voice. "Focus on what you want them to do, not what you fear they might do. I don't fancy being stung any more than you."

Piper kept one eye on the swarm and the other on Crescendo. Keep the rhythm steady. Count.

Buzzing started to mimic the cadence of the flute music lending a strong timbre of bass to the duet. Individual insects dashed about as if they were desperate for a way to escape their confines. Occasionally, a stray insect broke formation but immediately returned to the swarm.

Perspiration beaded on Piper's forehead and started to trickle down his cheeks, but he didn't dare stop playing to wipe at it. He gave a furtive look at the music master, but Crescendo wasn't paying any attention to him.

"Excellent," Crescendo whispered as he admired the wasps. "Most excellent."

Piper's left eye began to twitch, something it only did when he was extremely anxious. It was becoming harder to concentrate with each stanza, and he was taking deep breaths even when short ones were required for the music. Come on, Master Crescendo. I can't keep this up much longer.

"Piper," Crescendo whispered, "you've done a great job calling the wasps to you and keeping them under control. Now it's time to send them on their way. As we discussed, let's take it step-by-step. First, try focusing on that tree across from us. It's just a few feet away. Let's see if they will move toward it. You may also want to change to a more serene tune."

Piper nodded slightly. What were those two pieces Redd-Leif said held special power? He began playing the melody he performed at his grandfather's graveside. Buzzing intensified and wasps darted about more quickly within the sphere, but the swarm moved a few inches away from them and toward the tree.

"Good, Piper. It's working. Focus on the tree and your music. The wasps seem to be responding as expected."

The buzzing mass continued to inch away. Once it reached the tree, Crescendo picked another location further away. When the swarm reached it, he had Piper pause for a few beats and decrease the volume of his playing. Gradually, the wasps dispersed and went their separate ways.

Crescendo grinned. "I think we can call that a very successful first attempt."

Piper let out a relieved sigh. "Master Crescendo, may I ask why we had to start with wasps? Why not something less threatening like butterflies or even ants? At least if something went wrong we could get away from them."

"What could go wrong? Besides, why take baby steps when you are capable of so much more? Of course, I encourage you to practice with ants and any other insect you wish and let me know how it goes." Crescendo put a hand on Piper's shoulder and softened his tone. "Frankly, I don't think you appreciate how easily music comes to you, my boy. It is time you had a challenge, stretched a bit, put some real effort into your musical performance."

"I see." Piper resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "So why the wasps instead of your bees?"

"You need to choose your subjects methodically and consider the consequences to them as well as yourself and your surroundings. A bee can only sting once and then it dies. A wasp, however..."

"...can sting many times and still live." Piper gave an exasperated sigh.

"Exactly. So if something did go wrong you would not be killing an innocent. Besides that, fewer people visit this location than my garden. We were less likely to bring harm to anyone else if there were problems."

Piper considered the High Mage's words as he wiped at the perspiration that still poured from his forehead. "That makes sense." He was silent a moment and then continued. "But why my flute? Why not a lute so I could play and ask questions at the same time?"

"Precisely so you couldn't play and ask questions at the same time. You needed to concentrate." Crescendo studied Piper for a moment. "You did well, but you do look a bit drained, my boy."

"I admit I feel like I've run a mile at top speed."

"Perhaps we should call it a day. Let's pick up the instruments and head back. Hand me the lute and the lyre and you can bring your flute and the drum." Crescendo took a few steps toward the path and then waited for Piper to catch up. "Smile, my boy. You should be proud of your work. I know I am. You've shown a great deal of promise today."

Piper grinned back, well aware that Crescendo didn't give compliments unless they were deserved. "Thank you, sir."

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.



The book continues with The Piper, part 40. 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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