Thursday, December 20, 2012

Heartstring Harper - Chapter 2: The Instrumentality of Faekind

When I came to in Arcadia, I was hanging from a wall; apparently, someone had decided that, even if I didn't know the way home, it was a good idea to make sure I couldn't try to run anyway. Surprisingly enough, though, that wasn't the first thing I noticed – that was my new Keeper, an androgyne made
of ice, without even a set of eyes or a single strand of hair on her head, whether real or not…

"So, then. You're awake," the ice-person commented quietly, her voice sending a chill down Anriella's spine that was every bit as real as the one caused by the frigid wind, and the snow that it was blowing onto her. "Lure says you can play. I don't know if I believe her, though… She's been getting rather desperate for someone new to talk to, and I wouldn't put it past her to have brought you here just because she's lonely."

The strange – impossible, really, or at least that's what everything the musician knew was telling her – person turned away, snapping their fingers as they did, at which the manacles binding Anriella clicked open, dumping her in an undignified (and uncomfortable, for that matter) heap on the cold marble floor.
As the androgyne walked off, a massive hand settled on her shoulder, lifting her effortlessly, and with surprising gentleness, then began to guide her after them, eventually, after more twisting corridors than she could count, and, once, a room filled with people on pedestals, ice forming on their clothes and skin, though, somehow, they were still alive, to a small chamber with instruments hung on the walls, and a few – harps, and others that were too large, or otherwise unsuitable – on the floor, in recesses just large enough to hold them and their player.

"Well? Choose what you would perform on, mortal," the Shaper of the Ice said, voice soft, but with a clear tone of command in it, as she turned to face the human woman. "If it proves you do not play as well as I hope, it is Lure who will be punished, not you."

Hands trembling, both from the chill and her nerves, she stepped forward, and pulled a strange guitar, nine-stringed, from its hook, and took a seat on the only seat in the room proper, a stool at the center, then began to play, a haunting melody, composed on the spot...

As the waitress, a tall woman with ashen skin, and fiery red hair, which shifted to true flame at the tips, set Heartstring's glass down, the musician paused for a moment, carefully examining the Hunterheart she was talking to.

"Clearer memories than I'd have expected from a Spring," he said dryly, a faint, resentful, snarl in his voice. "I was under the impression that your court was primarily for dilettantes."

"And I thought Summer was for those too worried about keeping themselves safe to think about what kind of life they're protecting," she shot back, glaring venomously at him for a moment, before looking away, and taking a long pull from her drink. "Now do you want to hear the rest of my story, or would you prefer to trade insults until one of us leaves?"

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