First- I write for myself, not for you. I write what I want to read, and since I have ADHD and poor memory formation, that works for me. In a year or so, this will be all new to me. Anyway....This is a musical fantasy revolving around four young elves chosen to protect their world from a hungry god intent on pulling all life into a void. Dragons, faeries, goblins, oh my, yes, the whole she-bang plus a pile of instruments and sorcery. Takes place in the world of...i don't know yet, ok?
"Do you remember the garden?" her mother began. "It has been thirteen years now, Vilina. I want you to think about this before you make your decision."
Vilina nodded and opened the blue front door, stepping out into the failing sunlight. It was time to go back and remember why she was at this crossroads in the first place. She headed down the cobbled road toward the Overture Gardens, thinking back.
Of course she remembered the garden. It was a memory that stood out brighter in her mind than those formed yesterday. She had been four years old when she stood at the silver gates, excited and afraid. She grasped her father's hand and hugged her mother's leg tightly before she entered alone and began her journey. Like everyone else on their side of the garden, she had started down Garnet Way, listening to faint voices calling her name, urging her on. She stood at the first crossroads- were the voices calling her toward the stringed instruments? Was she to walk the path her family had trod for generations? She paused for only a moment before taking the Opal Road down the path toward the strings.
It was then she became confused- the violin was down Diamond Path to the left, the cello down Ruby Road to the right, but she walked on. Surely not the bass or viola? But she passed Citrine Way and Spinel Path, listening to the voices urge her on. She sighed with relief thinking it must be the harp she was meant to play, but standing before Emerald Circle she heard no voice, so she walked on, growing nervous with the increasing darkness.
It seemed she walked forever, passing path after path. She stood excitedly before the Ajaeng statue down Sapphire Walk, but a small voice said with excitement that it was not for her, and she followed other voices deeper into the garden. She passed statues of the Dahu, Violotta, Harpsichord, Erxian, and Sarangi before she began to cry, wondering if the voices would lead her out of the garden with nothing as her brother had teased they would. When she could no longer see due to the darkness and tears, she sat on a bench beside a statue of Hobe Ergay and his Banjo and buried her face in her hands.
"Hello, Vilina," a small voice said.
Vilina peeked through her fingers and saw a bright golden-brown light hovering in front of her. "Hello," she said with a sniffle.
"This isn't the place for you, dear," the faerie said gently.
"I know- but, I don't want you to lead me away!" the little girl cried.
"Why are you frightened? The place for you is further on- you are meant for greater things!"
"But it's so dark. I can't see! Why couldn't i play the violin?"
"Look around-" the faerie said. Lights began to pop up everywhere as faeries came out to light her path. "The violin is just one instrument, Vilina- you will see. When you reach your destination you will understand. You are meant for greater things!" she repeated excitedly. The faerie flew away from her. "Follow me!" she cried.
Vilina stood and began to run, her little feet pounding after her winged escort. The small voices around her were getting louder, urging her on. The multi-coloured lights were everywhere now, making her blink as she ran past flowers, bushes, and trees packed full of faeries. The path of light brought her down Jade Ending before going out, leaving her panting in the dark before some unknown statue.
She blinked up at the darkness, trying to adjust to the stars and moon as her only source of light, and then she noticed one star was bigger than the others, floating toward her.
"Hello, Vilina." It was another faerie, but one who glowed like the moon, silvery-white. "I am Ylida, you're new partner. Can you tell me whose statue you stand before?"
The little girl looked up at the huge statue before her, a magnificent creation made of marble, beaded in jade and glinting in the moonlight. The sapphire eyes seemed to twinkle down at her from the most beautiful marble-white face she'd ever seen.
"Ma named me after her," she said. "She's Nahh Vilina Rhaily. I am Vilina Maebhe Rook. She is the Goddess of Music!"
"One of them, yes. You have been chosen by the Goddess to protect the people here. On your seventeenth birthday you will be given a choice- you can follow the destiny laid out for you by the Silver Lady or you can choose to lead your own life the way you want to. Until that day, i will accompany you and help you be the best you can be in hopes that you will choose the path of the Goddess." The faerie smiled. "Now, what do wish to play?"
Vilina didn't really understand much of what the faerie said that day, but that question came through loud and clear. "Violin!" she shouted excitedly.
"Very well, we will start with the violin. What will be your secondary?" Ylida asked.
Vilina thought hard. She had only just memorized the list of instruments her mother had given her and "secondary" wasn't one of them. "A secondary? My sister and brother don't have those," she said confused.
"You are special. You get to choose your own instruments, and you get two of them- what will your secondary be?" Ylida explained.
The little girl frowned. "I-" she paused. "I like the gayageum," she finished shyly.
"Wonderful! Now, let's go back to your parents!"
The journey back had seemed much shorter, Vilina remembered with a smile. She had finally made it to the garden with her new faerie. She sat down on a bench outside and inhaled the combination of floral scents that drifted toward her through the open gate.
"Do you want to go in?" Ylida asked softly, bringing her back to the real world.
"No," Vilina sighed. "It's a day of worship- I don't want to be around all the people in there." She spread her skirts out around her on the bench. "What do you think the others have decided?" she asked.
"I don't know," Ylida said softly, settling down onto her friend and student's shoulder. "I feel almost certain that Filuta chose a good candidate. His name is Vivace and I hear good things from his faerie, Libba. She says he chose the flute and the trumpet, and is very confident about his abilities. I have barely spoken with Aniko and Inina. The last thing Aniko told me was his companion's name- Subito. Apparently he's a bass. Inina I haven't seen in years and I don't remember her student's name. Percussionists have been known to be a little unpredictable, so I can't say with confidence he will join you."
"Vilina, Filuta, Nerut, and Maridin. Maebhe, Vivace, Subito, and...you don't know," Vilina trailed off, her mind somewhere else. "Why do we have to decide now, anyway?" she cried suddenly. "We have five more years of school, and I've only just begun to learn to heal bones- and what about the fugue I was writing?" She tugged her ear in irritation and stood; her faerie toppled off her shoulder.
"Calm down, Vilina!" Ylida started, brushing off her white rose skirt.
"I told you to call me Maebhe," the girl snapped, but her hand was gentle as she lifted the faerie back up.
Ylida buzzed away, irritated. "You were named after a goddess for a reason. You don't think it's insulting to Her you won't use it?"
"You don't think it's insulting to Her that an elf carries her name?" Maebhe countered. "I think it's impertinent. I don't know how Ma doesn't see that. None of the others are named after their Gods."
"You are more than coincidence," Ylida said. "You are meant for greatness- you will be the best of them all."
"Call me Maebhe," she insisted. "Just let me be Maebhe."
Ylida sighed. "But only a god could be so stubborn," she muttered.
"Come on," Maebhe said, walking away from the garden. "I'm going to be late for lessons. I think we're learning to breathe underwater tonight."
Ylida winced as she followed. "Light faeries and water don't mix," she said. "I'll just go home, nice and dry, able to fly- shall I?"
"Ha. You'll be fine, just sit in a tree," Maebhe said, starting to run.
They made it to Legato Lake and Maebhe sat down on a rock beside a classmate, panting.
"You're late," the teacher said. There was a flash of purple, a splash, and suddenly Maebhe was soaked. Ylida flew off toward the tree full of the other students' faeries, dodging the shower. "Cooled off from your run?"
"Yes, Mistress," she gasped, shaking water from eyes and hair.
"Aw, Maebhe, you're getting it on me!" her classmate cried.
"Sorry, Harper," she said with a wince.
There was a bigger splash and suddenly the whole class was soaked. "Now you're all ready to get in!" the mermaids cried, laughing behind the students fish-tailed teacher.
"That's enough- everyone change and get in the water!" The teacher pointed to the left with her long purple tail. "Girls over there, boys to the right! You have three minutes before we get started!"
Maebhe and Harper rushed to the left with the other girls. "Mistress Frishka is in a mood today!" Harper muttered as they changed into suitable swimwear. "Ha, look at Viole- I think that's her brother's old tunic!"
Maebhe raised her eyebrows and pulled out a shirt. "This was my brother's," she said. "Why would I waste my clothes in a lake swim?"
Harper grimaced at her. "It wounds me to be the best friend of someone so humorless!"
"Really? You look fine-" Maebhe prodded her in the ribs and ran back to the lake before she got another scolding or a product of Harper's revenge.
"Hurry up, the lot of you!" Mistress Frishka yelled. "We're burning moonlight!"
The class hurried into the chilly water until they were all submerged to their shoulders. "Right, now, who wants to try first? We're going to do this in groups of five- I only have five volunteers here to resuscitate the failures." Two mermaids and three mermen waved at the students from behind the teacher. "Anyone? Alright, I'll choose- Maebhe, you were late, Harper, you annoy me, Geumnin...Erx, you need to bathe, and Bowman. Focus! Find your center, the part of you that is water, and inhale- you might be surprised by the results if you focus hard enough. Ready! Dive!"
Maebhe took a deep breath and dove under the water. She always felt calm in water, but this made her nervous. She held her breath, trying to sink inside herself and find the shining fountain she'd learned existed inside her when she was still a child. It was hard- she was running out of air. She tried to relax, letting bubbles flow slowly out of her nose and mouth as she struggled to sink deeper into herself. When she felt the lake bottom brush her feet, she opened her eyes and panicked. The surface seemed so far above her- she'd learned to see underwater very early, but breathing was another thing and she was out of air. She pushed off from the lake bottom knowing that if she inhaled now, she wouldn't like what happened. She was halfway there when she opened her mouth involuntarily to gasp in air that wasn't there when a slippery hand clamped over it, pinching her nose. Another hand grabbed her around the waste at the same time and she closed her eyes as she sped upward, launched above the lake heaving air into her lungs as she blinked black lights out of her eyes.
"Right. Next group?" Mistress Frishka said as the mermaids hauled the students out of the water.
"Did anyone succeed?" Maebhe croaked to Harper as the next group of victims dove into the innocently glittering waters.
"No, but i swear there were orange scales on my hand when that mermaid pulled me out!" Harper said excitedly. "You were under there the longest- we were all sure that you'd done it- but i guess not?"
"I was so close!" Maebhe said, shaking her head. "I found my center, but then I touched bottom with no air left and panicked."
"It will be better next time." Geumnin had wondered over. "I only got half a breath before I got scared and lost the magic."
"Do you think any of them will get it?" Harper asked, gesturing toward the lake.
"Nah," Geumnin said. "Maebhe always gets it first. Maybe tomorrow night?"
Maebhe winced at him. "I'm not always first!"
"First chair, first in academics, first in practical, first-" Geumnin ticked them off on his fingers.
"Okay, okay," Harper cut him off. "She's terrible in Director Marthon's class!"
"So? A lot of you girls can't do push-ups and stuff- and she's the fastest runner in the class, so she still gets a good grade."
"I don't think they should make us do push-ups- it's really hard on our wrists," Maebhe said darkly.
"Group three- that's whoever hasn't gone in yet!" Mistress yelled. "Hurry up!"
"But there's six of us," a blonde named Pine complained.
"Then I guess one of you will have to be successful, won't you?" the teacher told her with false sweetness, but she went under after them to watch. "Alright, time for round two," she called a few minutes later, dragging the gasping Pine out of the water.
Maebhe, Harper, and Geumnin grimaced at each other. "I thought once was it," Geumnin frowned. "There's no way I can focus this time!"
They headed toward the water. "Well, we came out alright the first time, right?" Maebhe reasoned. "So use that as a confidence booster!"