A gray night pierces the sky and horizon with looming clouds above the world. So untouchable, so unreachable. You cannot touch the sky, only the realms of reaching within your grasp is within your possibility.
A mysterious calling beckons for you. In this sullen, gray night. You take 'it' and go. The woods are a maze, trees sprouting at random places, here and there. You take your sweet time, breathing in the surrounding air. You wish to fly, but there's only one thing preventing you from doing so.
No, that is wrong. It is precisely what keeps yourself from doing it in the first place. The only thing you wouldn't give up. But still, you long for the air that feels light, brushing your cheeks softly. Noises are made nearby in the forest, but you go on. The chatter of small youkai and the incessant scampering of young ones make a melody to your ears.
You pass upon a traveling bard. He nods your way, but you choose to ignore his recognition. Rather out of spite, you feel a small sense of pity to him. Music was perhaps his choice, a way of living you can say. But you chose to be, and that is how it came to existence. Music was your last thread, hanging onto dear life. It was you. You were the music. But you trade glances with the bard anyways. He smiles a smile, a weak one, yet all knowing. He probably has lived a tenth of yours, but that gaze of his showed a wisdom far greater than yours. Probably.
You part ways, both of you not stopping for anything but a glance between you and him. The gray night darkens to a sheer black, only the moon and stars guiding you to the place where you must go. And you have no idea of where you are going to, but you are sure you have to go there anyways. A calling, or maybe an urge.
A naive man once told you that talent was meaningless, if there wasn't a musical discipline to them. He also said the musical notations and sheets were the heart of the compositions. Out of spite, you lashed out of him. These emotions that you conveyed then are the emotions that convey music. Staves, bars, chords...they were all nothing to you. Music is whatever the hell it wants to be. So it will be what it will be. Theory of something is useless if you've already mastered it to the point of it being second nature.
You check 'it' – it's still beaten and worn to use. Perfect. You let yourself go, for this is the right spot. You feel your serenade coming to a start. You perform the opening to your impromptu melody. A preamble to the art of music. The sights around you start to fade away, as the sound of 'it' is the only thing you can hear and feel right now. The world goes to nothing. No distractions from 'it'. But a small voice is heard, like it is unsure of whether to start or not. You keep playing. The voice musters up the courage to sing wholeheartedly. You keep playing. The progression of the voice fits in harmony with yours. You keep playing. But the voice stops suddenly, almost throwing you off beat. “Hey...”
The sudden stop of the voice willed you to do the same. But it's been quite a long time since you had actually stopped in the middle of your typical calling serenades. Only the distant crickets resound and rustling of the forests resume. You don't feel the music within them anymore though. So you place 'it' back in its dirty wooden case. You sit down on the soft grass hill, the moon on the edges of the watery horizon. The sea calms, no ripples disturbing the dark blue.
A petite girl with a most peculiar hat rests on a nearby tree. Her posture seems timid and meek, quite the contrary you were expecting of her. The voice was a strong willed and clear in confidence. But she who was sitting before you had nothing of the voice's traits. “U-um...” she trails off. She brings her hands up, as if to defend herself. “T-thank you...” There was nothing for her to thank you about. Music was music, nothing else. But you nod curtly, and stand up from the top of the hill, motioning that you were leaving.
The girl let out a small squeak. “Ah, w-wait!” she says in a small voice. You did not like this voice, it was a big contrast to the one you enjoyed before. “Will you be here again...?” You turn your head, but keep moving. Her eyes looked naive and full of innocence.
You yourself do not know if you will. Only the calling can answer that. Your body will follow wherever it calls you to be. So truthful you shall be. “Only time will tell.” Your voice seems a little lower than before. But it has been quite a while since you spoke to anybody. Or rather, anybody spoke to you. The voice emanating from your throat seems different than one that you thought yours would be. You turn your body back forward to face the road. You leave the girl in a puzzled state, not sure of what to make of the answer.
Sometimes, it's better not to go about it at all. You feel a smile. 'Welcome.' it shows. 'Fortune has brought you upon here, and you shall choose one or none at all. You should feel lucky right now.'
The 'three' materializes before you, hoisted onto each of their own platforms. The smile returns. 'Choose wisely. Look, I even showed you what they are. Let's hope you pick the one most best in your interests.'
With only 'it' as your guidance, you begin to play nonchalantly. But it knows. It has all the patience in the world, and so do you. The smile never ceases. You allow music to be your crutch, your adviser. The hollow feeling you had from before decreases. And in its place, music flows. The sound of strings calm you, but nothing led you to anything. Music has failed you. For once, and most likely only for once.
But you aren't sorely dependent on music. But you shouldn't choose with the utmost carelessness. 'The tragedies you choose will only be because of yourself.' Serious smile. It knows. You know. So you will choose.
(For pronominal clarity, a male protagonist has been assumed. (I flipped a coin.))
> [ ] Choose knowledge
This option is painfully out of character. The protagonist, in his arrogance, has already chosen willful ignorance -- being already convinced of his own perfection and mastery, he has chosen to learn nothing of music theory, nor of others' music.
Most likely this stems from laziness and rationalization: I suspect the "naive man" he speaks of neither said nor meant anything like the sentiments he attributes to him. It's more likely that, chafing at being expected to actually work to better himself, and refusing to accept the concomitant implication that he was not, in fact, more gifted than the aggregation of three thousand years of musicians before him, he willfully chose an interpretation of the man's words which allowed him to justify disregarding them in toto.
He will, of course, continue to treat all offers of teaching and/or assistance with the same scorn:
You pack 'it' back in its case, and step up towards the last of the three platforms. The smile wavers, but keeps on grinning. 'Very well.' Its nonchalant tone drops immediately. Music is the only thing fitted for you. If you didn't have it, you'd rather choose nothing at all. The gift of knowledge is but a mixture of a blessing and a curse. Knowing is half the battle, but you choose not to involve yourself in these skirmishes in the first place. Why prepare for battle when you can avoid it? Smile. 'You're derailing from the original statement.' The leisurely voice returns.
Power is in the same way. With power comes the inclination to battle, something you'd rather not do. Conflicts can always be avoided. The power also includes corruption. The temptation to abuse such resources. 'Always with avoiding. What will happen if you're forced into a situation, hm?'
So, nothing it is.
The nighttime quickly leans over the day, and the sun begins to set. It so happens that you're still in this place, no calling of the music pulling you to someplace else. The hushed silence over the woods calms you down, only the occasional rustling of leaves and animals to be heard.
You find yourself playing along with the night, an ensemble between you and it. The voice joins you and the night, harmonizing quickly to the notes. The clear voice melodically goes in tune with your playing, improvising to make up for small mistakes throughout your playing. By the time the two of you are finished, the sun had already bid its farewell and left. You continue playing softly, allowing the presence of the girl. Upon closer look, her pink hair and dress stand out from the dark of the night. Why you haven't noticed this before is troubling. Perhaps you were immersed too much in the melodies.
“Oh, um, thanks for returning again. I really liked how you played with your harp. I thought it sounded really good...” She looks up, possibly looking for words to say. “S-so! What brings you here? I haven't seen you around.” She fidgets a little, looking quite nervous. It's hard to believe she can sing so eloquently when she is so easily distracted.
You eye her questionably, continuing to play simple notes on it. “The music called to me.” you say curtly.
“Ah, I see.” But the clouded look in her eyes shows that she doesn't see at all. But you won't bother correcting her. You wouldn't expect her to understand. The conversation cuts short. You have nothing more to say. But she struggles to come up with something to keep on talking. “Ah, you're a music youkai right?” She looks up with profound admiration. “I'm just a lowly night sparrow, but I want to learn more about it.” By the end of the next sentence, her face glows with embarrassment. So easily flustered. “C-could you, um, teach me? How to play the harp, I mean.”
You think about it. But the face of the naive man appears in your thoughts. Teaching was just a waste of time, right? You had learned nothing from it, so you, of course, was right. Right?
I could probably write up a big post detailing just why we should pick this option, but I would be misleading everyone. I just want more Mystia, and will be terribly upset if we do not see more of her.
Of course you were right. There was no other choice than that. But still....what are these lingering feelings of self-doubt? That was unacceptable. Upon second thought, you realized that teaching was not a waste of time. But only if you were the one teaching – that was when you were the teacher. That's it. No other exceptions. Especially not from that man. Contemplating on it, you decide to agree. You'll show the world that music can come from talent and emotions. You felt like you were using this girl, but it's a necessary evil. You must do this. Besides, it's a waste of a good voice for you to not teach her. Yeah, that's the reason. Of course.
“I will. But you must follow under my instructions. If I ask for you to do or not do something, you must oblige.”
Her eyes light up in pure joy as she nods her head with energy. “Okay!” But her face contorts to worry. “But how will I practice? I don't have a harp...”
You hand her 'it.' She stretches her hand slowly, as if somebody had handed her a great treasure. She grabs it by the strings and almost drops it. “Be careful, this harp is my only possession. I don't want anything bad to happen to it. Here, let me show you how to hold it.” You hoist the base under your arms, as if caressing it softly.
“Ah, but that's not how you usually held it when you played it before!”
Sharp eye, girl. “I know. But do not question my methods, please.” Still, it pleased to know that your student caught that. You didn't let it show, though. You hand the harp back to her.
“O-okay...” She imitated your posture and tried to hold the harp like you did. “L-like this...?”
“No, not at all.” You push her elbows in to hold the harp better and straighten her shoulders. “Yes, that's better.” Just by looking at her, you could clearly tell she was uncomfortable in such a position. But she never once complained. A diligent student, you can feel the greatness that will come out of her soon.
As soon as you felt that she could hold the harp with ease, you thought of what to advance on next. “Well then, let's proceed. This string furthest inside the harp is the lowest, and the string most outside is the highest in that order. Be sure to memorize the initial sound, as it has to be tuned often.” Except yours, but that is another matter. She plucks the strings slowly and carefully, concentrating on the sound that vibrates softly from the strings. “As you are plucking the strings, I would like to tell you to properly play it. It differs to every melody, but how hard or how fast you pull them contributes to the 'theme' of the song.”
Her eyes, concentrating hard on your semi-lecture, are focused on both the harp and you. She occasionally plucks the strings a different way, trying out how to formulate a theme.
“And lastly, the type of harp you are playing right now is fairly small and few in strings. But the most powerful way to play effectively is to use your emotions to help you convey these themes. They are closely connected to each other.”
“Then is that why whenever you play, it's always forlorn and sad?”
“...Okay, lessons are over.” You look over the night. The slowly reddening night gives way to the rising sun, barely peeking out. “It's late. I will be going.” You reach for the harp in her hands, and you put it back in its case.
She reaches out for you, but doesn't actually touch you. “A-ah, wait!” She becomes a little hesitant. “I know you're new here, so where are you staying?”
You were actually going to rest on the trunk of a tree, but you decide not to tell her that. “Nowhere. I wander often.”
“I see...” She looked a little dejected. “W-well, good luck!”
...Good luck? You turn your back. Luck is a trifling thing. She probably waved to you. A good student, that one.
You feel like you must go somewhere once more. Out of this place. The calling comes back. But still, you feel like you have an obligation to that girl. However, the calling hasn't been wrong about anything. You feel a sense of betrayal if you denied it. Even so....will you be able to come back once you follow the 'calling'? The delicate-looking girl, holding the harp too big for her arms to fully carry. Something about her makes you want to protect her. Or maybe she has something that you never had.
This is a bad feeling. Someone such as yourself shouldn't be dwelling on these things. But they come into your thoughts nonetheless.
[ ] Follow the calling. Go right now – it beckons for you. [ ] Stay here, for now. It's only to teach a potential candidate. Nothing else. [ ]
[x] Stay here, for now. It's only to teach a potential candidate. Nothing else.
For what may be the biggest moment of your life, you decide to quell your instincts and answer against the calling. To reject it is a jarring experience. You felt dizzy for a second, but steel yourself and calm your resolve against this. This is what you want right now. To teach the girl. The calling can be quite wild and unpredictable. Look at where it led you right now. You haven't the slightest clue where you are, except from the girl and sparsely populated villages. To lose such a willing and participating student is your loss – as well as any true music teacher.
...Enough about that. You should find yourself a place to sleep. You haven't slept since those 'dreams' of yours. You don't feel that tired, really, but you'd rather not spend your day lagging around when you aren't playing. So you wander around the small villages, hoping to find a place to stay – or something to eat. You noticed you haven't eat for a while either. After checking a few closed shops, you sigh with exasperation. You haven't had the money to afford it anyways. You could always use your musical abilities to sway some people, but that's just extorting money through 'persuasive' talent. Begging is out of the question. Never. Absolutely not.
The rising sun enters the village, small rays of sun trickling through the air. You wait patiently, seeing the people around you starting to run about and to their jobs. The places open and the small groups of people move through and out the center of the village.
A salty smell comes across, lingering through the air. The delicious smell just taunts you. You decide to walk towards one of the stands that produce the scent. The girl stands before you, smiling. More specifically, that girl. She takes orders from customers with a confident and high voice. As soon as she spots you, her smile quickly fades into a worried expression, mouth slightly agape. The awkward moment between teacher and student quickly fades, as she returns the smile. “W-welcome. Would you like to try some lamprey eel..?” But her voice was like that of the lessons: small and shy.
“I would be happy to, but seeing as I have no money, I don't think I can.” The hunger pangs in your stomach continue to rise, but you don't want to risk looking lowly in front of your student. But you'd wish she would just offer some to you.
“Okay, if you put it that way.”
That really wasn't what you expected. You felt hungrier than ever, now that you were denied a meal.
“Heheh...Just kidding!” Her quiet voice was filled with mischief. She hands you a plate, filling up to the whole platter. “I could never let a fellow musician down in need, could I?” For the first time, you saw the girl's smile. She giggles, presumably at your shocked face. Was your distress that evident?
“S-such wickedness.” But you were still grateful for the food. You resumed conversation with her, while you finished your food. “Thank you for letting me have this meal.”
“No problem at all...” Her smile was still showing.
“Is my face that funny...?”
“N-no! Not at all! I just thought you act a little more normal when you're not practicing or teaching...” Indeed, you did feel more relaxed after the previous nights.
Her shy nature returns after staring at your face too hard. “And you look less sad whenever you're not playing music.”
“...Okay, lessons are over.” You get ready to leave.
“P-please wait! We weren't even having lessons!” You remain sitting on the stool, but are poised to leave. “You still haven't found a place to stay, right..?”
For such a shy girl, she seems to be hitting all the bulls eyes. You try your best not to look dejected. “Yes, why do you ask?”
“U-um well, you could stay over at my house until you find somewhere.”
And she said it so bluntly, too. But you probably won't be finding a play to stay anytime soon. You'd rather not impose on your student, however. It's the lowest thing a teacher could do. Seeing as it is, you have a few options.
[ ] Lie about not having a place to stay [ ] Be honest about probably never finding somewhere to stay. [ ] Have her help you. [ ] Other
[x] Be honest about probably never finding somewhere to stay. -[x] Have her help you.(As in, gratefully accept her offer) I-it's not like... god damn it we're a tsundere harp. Someone says this every vote.
Yeah, I was planning to meet the Prismriver sisters, assuming other choices would've been picked, but the opposite happened. It'll probably center around Mystia now. Should I ask IRC the next time I update to move it somewhere else? If so, then which board would be best fitting?
[x] Be honest about probably never finding somewhere to stay.
...Your student so graciously gave you a choice. Now it's the matter of whether declining is more rude or imposing on her. You'll think about it, but you should give details first. A teacher giving out false information isn't the greatest method of mentoring. “To be fair, I probably will not find a place to stay for as long as I am here, short as that may or may not be. And I'd rather not stay over at a student's house the whole time that I must lecture them. But my personal preference is crossing over my dignity, which is at an all time low. I will leave the choice up to you.” You decided to give the weight of the options to her. She should decide by herself – you feel like you would get too biased on how to approach this situation.
“Okay.” How quick and unhesitating. She seems to catch you off guard more often than not. How staggeringly unpredictable. “...It's the least I can do to my teacher.” She smiles sweetly. So you bow courteously to her.
“Thank you. I could not ask for more. You gave me a place to stay, and a satisfying meal.”
She reverts back to her usual self. “A-anytime...” Her wavering voice returns. But this time, you don't feel angered at all. It still feels different, but now more of a far-off tune than an annoying voice. It was slightly refreshing. Slightly.
Having nothing else to do, you wave your hand behind you, saying good bye – not waiting for a response. You take it upon this chance to explore the town around you and its outskirts. You walk across the various regions of the village. By chance, you came across a purple-haired girl. She seemed very familiar.
So you call out to her. “Excuse me, Miss..?” She stops. When she turns around, she drily smiles.
“Ah, hello. Sorry, but I am in a bit of a hurry right now.” She immediately goes the other way and walks forward. But you recognized that sarcastic smile.
“Mind if I accompany you, Child of Miare?” You say it quietly enough that only she could hear.
“H-huh? You know?” She almost breaks into an outburst, but tactfully restrains herself. She leans closer, squinting. “Ah, so you came back, oh youkai of the harp.”
“So you remember, yes?”
“I always remember everything.”
“You still seem young as ever.” You have especially noticed that she hasn't grown – in fact, had shrunk even.
“Reincarnation does wonders for maintaining youth. Now quit your bickering, I have yet to record you into my records.”
“I would greatly prefer to remain my anonymity, Hieda no Anana.”
“It is Akyuu now. I am not exactly the same person you last spoke with. Or I am, but many others included.”
“Don't be so stiff. How is life treating you? Do you still play the harp so elegantly? Tell me, do you still enjoy it?”
“I'll answer those questions another time, I must do something.”
You allow her to sing while you play your harp. Her confident voice is brimming with energy and exuberance. The melodies, however, are dissonant. Though you wait until the ensemble is done to question it. “Your cheerful tones are quite out of place in this piece.”
“You admitted that your tones are somber.” Her jabs at your questionably slight darker tones hit hard.
“They are not.” You thrust the harp at her. “Now, let us return to our practice.” She plucks the harp softly, the reverberation humming softly. The simple piece consisted of less than 10 measures. However, it made up for it in its style. Clearly talent. It lacked in straightforward notes, but subtly had another simple melody behind the first. “A well-played solemn tune. It felt dismal and heartfelt. How did you improve so fast?”
“I, um...I copied the tones off of you.”
“I see.” You chuckle softly. She looked surprised that you did. “Lessons are over. Should we depart?” She hands over the harp, and leads the way. Her body floats over the ground, but you stay planted firmly down.
“...hm?” She looks over you curiously.
“I am unable to fly.” You state nonchalantly. You had given it up ages ago. She then glides herself down to the grassy forest. She walks in front of you, not saying a word. You saw a glimpse of her warm smile.
“Yes, Hieda, I do believe I still enjoy it.” You allow yourself to smile to nobody. The darkness of the night hides your face to nobody but nature.
Your student had gone to sleep. She had offered you her bed, but there was no other reason but for you to sleep on the floor. Your meager dignity still had to be preserved. You brought your harp along the edges of the house borders so you wouldn't wake her up. You played softly, and attempted to make a light tune. But every time, the feeling of despair held on so tight within your melodies.
….Why can't you do this? What do you play for?
[ ] For your redemption. [ ] For your hope. [ ] For your own ideals. [ ] Other
I'm waiting to update. If there are no objections, I'll go with "[x] For your own ideals." Unless some want to vote change into the newer vote. But that's only if the newer one surpasses the old vote in number.
…That's right. You play for your own principles. Where you have nobody to depend on, you have your set goals to guide you forward in desolate times. You can take care of yourself. No matter what happens, you'll make sure that you will persevere until the end. You cease playing and whisper to the night. You touch the light strings of the harp. The minutes pass by, then an hour or two. The tunes hum quietly in the brink of dawn. The small trills of nearby birds chirp along with the melody, notes in sync. The notes transcend the flow of life, of existence. Deep down, you felt like you were okay with this. Hiding behind your begrudgingly unaccepted fate, you actually knew you were satisfied all along. The tone of the song changes into a slow piece, leaving a nostalgic and lingering feeling in the air.
Her voice hums along to your melodies with an equally slow voice. The vibrato between you and her was perfectly timed. As you bring the symphony to an end, she comes out of the trees nearby. She nods delicately. Moments like these wanted to make you cry. To let out your emotions and just be rid of this chained existence. You felt like you were being dragged down. But you kept them in check, and refused to let anything out. This kind girl. This student of yours. You knew you didn't have what she has. Maybe it is compassion, maybe hope. Of course you knew why you refused the calling. Because you wanted to teach the person that you could never be again. So you smile and rub her hair. You perfectly knew.
You left without saying a word, perfectly knowing that she was probably going over to let you eat some breakfast. But you don't want to feel more comfortable than you already are. You wander over the town, taking in new sights.
Going around the whole place thoroughly, you look around for every detail. While you are scanning the sights, a few children gather around you.
“Heyy~” one says. “Mister, could you play us a few tunes?” He grins big, with the smaller ones tailing behind him.
“Sorry, kid.” But you unpack your harp from its case. It appears that the biggest one noticed too.
“But ya already got your thing out of its holder!”
“Okay, okay. I'll do it.” You feel more relaxed here, with only the children mobbing around you. It puts you strangely at ease. The notes come out lively and upbeat. At the song's conclusion, an applause erupts from everybody, laughing and shouting. After all the kids are sent away, a familiar face appears.
“See, you enjoyed yourself.” Hieda appears from the back. You didn't need her to tell you. “So I take it that you're currently residing with Mystia?”
“...Who is Mystia?”
“The night sparrow youkai. One who used to trick humans via her night-blinding powers. She's on good terms now. Not that you would've known this at all.”
“Yes. And how did you know?”
“From the girl herself. I have talked to her a few times, namely after she stopped tricking humans. Beforehand, she was such a bother to try to negotiate with.” She chuckles a little. “Remember when you first met me, err my previous incarnations? You were so different.”
“That was a long time ago, where the oni had still resided above ground.”
Sonnets and ballads and the rest were your playthings. You tried mixing all into one formation of a song, but it managed to garble the overlapping harmonies of each segment. This was frustrating...
You were about to try it one more time, but a piercing shriek knocked your beat – and you – off balance. You hurry over to the origin of the voice. A woman with purple hair was being attacked by an oni. Um, you weren't really sure what you should do. So you proceeded with what you thought was to be the best action at the time. A drop kick to the face. You hit him square on the jaw, sending him flying. “Ah, hello there miss.” You pick up your hat from the ground. “It seems you were being attacked so– grk!”
The oni tackles you, pushing you to the ground. Eyes wild, he attempts to pummel you into oblivion. Just before he sends the first punch, which probably would've knocked you out in the first blow, you reach for your harp. You strum a few notes, the musical impact exploding on contact. He flies smack through a tree. “So anyways, nice to meet you.” You turn back to the woman, panting.
She giggles. “A weird one, aren't you?”
“Well, you've obviously sobered up quite well.”
“Time is a harsh woman.”
“And what happened to your hat?”
“Who knows?” You pick yourself up and bid your farewell to Hieda. You look back on her words. You had changed from the past. But you're still that weird person from a long time ago. You just didn't have the heart to act like him anymore. But you know one thing for certain. You were tired. When was the last time you had slept?
You weren't really sure, but you didn't want to be awake right now. You go through the forest path and back to the house again. The mat laid down on the floor was still neatly folded and ready to sleep in. You grant yourself a reprieve for the day.
Something's heavy. And quite possibly on you. You open your eyes. The girl– Mystia was on top of you. The sun is still not up yet, and the bed next to you has its sheets ruffled. Thus, that meant she fell on you. Still, her sleeping face makes her look more vulnerable than already is. You don't know why she invokes this feeling to you.
[ ] Ruffle her hair [ ] Pinch her cheek [ ] Leave her alone [ ] Pick her up back onto the bed
Can moments like these never change? Will things always stay the same forever? As a musician, you'd have to say no. Change is what music is, and what life is. To cease changing means to cease life. You strongly advocate this in your mind. But why you do nothing still puzzles you. And as uncomfortably settling this position is, you should move her back Your hands just don't seem to be responding either. Nor the rest of your body. So you guess you'll just stay this way. You don't particularly have any other option but to do so. But you feel so wrong. Because this is actually nice. But still very wrong. But her rhythmic breathing slowly lulls you to sleep, and at this point there's no use even thinking about objecting to anything.
A slight stirring puts you out of your slumber. You groggily open your eyes to find the gir– Mystia clinging onto your arm. She blinks a few times, but soon jumps out of the spread out mat, her face all hot and red. You wipe your eyes with your hands and sleepily sit up. “Good morning...” you drawl.
“G-g-g-good morning! I feel very rested! I-I'll think I'll make some breakfast! Okaywaitonemoment.” She dashes off towards another room. Still not quite sure of what happened, you lay back down on the mat. Then you realize. You immediately regret not doing anything. Why did you leave her alone? Feeling guilty, you decide you would apologize.
But what's there to apologize for?
No, it's just cordial manners to apologize.
But you truly feel bad.
Should you even be feeling guilty?
This indecisive mind of yours is killing you. You don't want to act the way you do this whole time. But you don't want to bring about unnecessary emotions. Mystia then brings you a plate of simple cut pork and steamed rice. You thank her, and then proceed to eat in silence. She talks about singing, how the harp interests her, her other friends in the forest, and possibly everything on her mind except what had happened just recently. You nod politely, and then excuse yourself from the table. Balancing yourself between teacher and a non-paying tenant was a difficult experience.
...In the end, you never got to tell her you were sorry about the whole incident.
The day in itself was a jarring trial. You never felt like yourself. You didn't bother to chide a passing bard that he was playing in the wrong tune. You weren't even sure you could find your dignity. But you go to the open plains and start a slow tempo melody. At least one thing didn't change. Music. Irony and satire are tormenting you, as the only thing you can find solace in is the very thing that changes the most in itself. A far off chorus of laughing echoes in the wind. You find Mystia, and a few others hanging around a single looming tree. You felt a little bit more at peace now that she was more at ease. But the subtle changes in your piece told you otherwise. Melancholy washes through the notes. And for once, you don't understand why.
You now know that your music isn't changing. It's you that is changing. But change is supposed to be good, right?
[ ] That is wrong. [ ] Not all change is good. [ ] You cannot run away from change. [ ] That is right. [ ] Right in.
If so, then what are you going to do?
-[ ] Change yourself for the better. -[ ] Let yourself be who you are, changed or not. -[ ] Accept everything and let change go its course. -[ ] Write in.
[x] That is right. -[x] Change yourself for the better.
The first step to making any sort of improvement is realizing it. Sure he's been living his life, but I wouldn't say he's been happy in it judging from his sad music. For him to grow as a musician he needs to learn music with tones other than sad.
[x] Not all change is good. -[x] Change yourself for the better.
No, that's not always true. The way you changed yourself wasn't necessarily a good thing. Hiding your emotions while playing is the musician's greatest sin. But music changes too. Not waiting for anybody, it will flow through the world without stopping for anything. This is the concept that many fail to grasp, therefore not recognizing the true form of music. Technique can be perfected and mastered, but it is nothing without the knowledge to truly understand what it is. It can be cruel at times.
You stop playing your harp. Change can work both ways. However frail a thing such as change it, if you grasp at it hard enough you will surely reach out and touch it someday. You will take change by the hand, and influence it enough to change yourself. You know the way you are living right now is horribly wrong, but one day, maybe you can change it to be better. No, not maybe. You definitely will change your lifestyle from what it is now. Your music may not express it now, but you don't need to express it through music. Music may be a musician's lifestyle, but that is not his everything. The sudden realization of this makes you feel as low as that naive man from so long ago.
So you will take change one step at a time, starting from here. You gaze upon the landscape. The flower beds start to sprout, but will grow surely to bloom once more as the seasons pass. Right, you had forgotten. A musician needs to enjoy life too. You lay down on the soft grass, looking up at the partially cloudy sky. But changing so quickly back to the person you once were isn't going to be easy.
...But one step at a time.
You bring the harp back to your hands and sit up once more. You let the harp do all the work, expressing the scenery around you. The quiet strings of the harp play a serene piece, with nature in the background. The world is different from yesterday. The world was ready for you. It was you who wasn't ready.
You continued on with your lessons. Mystia had started to get more intricate with her playing and was able to master the pronunciation of the harp's tone in relative ease. If you had no prior knowledge of what she was, you would assume that she was a music youkai. You felt a strange sense of pride in your chest.
Still, the times when she fumbled around the harp, clumsily plucking the strings had made you laugh.
Of course you knew what this feeling was, you just didn't want to admit it. Or accept it right now. So you push it aside and end the lessons for the day. So you ask for an ensemble.
“Do you want to sing today?”
“N-no....it's alright. I just want to rest for the day. I've been feeling a bit tired from work. Sorry, I'm really sorry.”
But her facial expressions told you different. She had something going on. You presumed she wasn't good at hiding her emotions. Like you.
[ ] Press on about it – it's probably important. [ ] Leave her alone. If she wanted you to know, she would've told you. [ ] Tell her that something is up, but don't ask further about it.
“Mystia.” It was the first time you had actually said her name. “You're hiding something, and I can tell you're hurting. It's obvious that it's been bothering you.” Easing up a little, you speak in a gentle tone. “Now, could you tell me what's ailing you so much?”
You can almost see her mental shields break down. But still, she doesn't give in. “Really, I'm fine! Today is just an off day. I'm fine...” She trails off in the end, the last word barely an audible phrase. It's painfully obvious that she isn't fine.
“It's my duty as a teacher to a student...no, possibly even as a friend, if I can call myself that to you, to let you confide in me. You're holding something you don't want to, and you covering it up so transparently isn't helping either. So please...” You stop to drop down your harp. “Could you tell me?”
“I'm alright!” She screams loudly, surprising you. She looks quite surprised herself, then looks down. She looks up back at you, trying her best to hold in her tears. A few droplets trickle down her cheek. “I'm....okay.” She wipes her eyes. “S-sorry for yelling at you, I didn't mean it. But I'm well. Honestly!” She tries her best to smile sincerely. Maybe a fool would think nothing of it and move past it. But not you. However, you didn't want her to suffer more than she already is right now, whatever the cause. So you drop it for now.
“I understand. If you ever want to talk...” You leave the harp and its case near Mystia, who has slumped to the ground.
She chokes in a few sobs, but says in a small voice, “Believe me, I'm okay...”
...What had caused this? Just this morning, she seemed full of energy. Or at least wasn't so emotionally distressed. Had something happened while you were gone? Or was it because you did something?
Either way, you wanted to solve this dilemma. Because she was your student. You can't have your only student be so depressed. Right. But how? You weren't quite sure of that either. From what you have gathered, it seems to be mostly emotional or to a spiritual degree. You got that much. The rest left you with too many questions to ask.
As you were contemplating these things, you seemed to have wandered into a alcohol serving cafe of sorts. There were marginally less oni than you had last remembered. By marginally, you had meant none at all. You order a drink for yourself. You were fully aware that drinking won't solve your problems, but you paid no attention to that.
“Drinking again? Are you going back to your old ways, or are you disappointing me? Hopefully, it's the former.” The purple-haired one slips some money to you. Before you can say anything, she stops you. “Why would a ten year old be here in the first place? I wasn't here.” She says playfully, like she was caught by a parent.
“Get yourself together, okay?”
...Suddenly, you didn't feel like drinking anymore. You pay for the first drink, and leave the extra money as a tip.
You go back towards Mystia's house, but stand before the door without opening it.
“I see. 'Get yourself together'...huh.”
You had to approach her.
[ ] Reprimand her, you need to hear what she has to say. [ ] Leave the house until she gets herself together. [ ] Comfort her first, maybe she'll talk to you when she's more stable.
>>25117 That's what I was going for. Or at least trying to go for.
Possible bad end to the story, depending on what choice you guys make. Don't worry, it's only a 1/3 chance. But choose wisely.
[x] Leave the house until she gets herself together.
I told you guys. I told you about prying!
No, but seriously, she just needs time to cool down from whatever is troubling her. We'll come back after a short interval, and we can either pick up where we left off, or she'll be comfortable enough to tell us then.
[x] Reprimand her. You need to hear what she has to say.
The other options seem too easily going for a bad end. We need to do what we should be doing. Not what we want to. Comforting her feels like an empty choice. Not sure about leaving either... it seems like we're going back to our old ways, which is running from our problems.
[x] Comfort her first, maybe she'll talk to you when she's more stable.
You open the door softly so as to not so much make a noise. The hinges gently give way, and you go in without a sound. You spot Mystia on her bed, with the covers over her whole body and head. It would've set a comical tone, if it weren't for what had happened a little while ago. Her eyes are red and full of emptiness. You didn't really know what do really do right now.
But you'll comfort her. She might be able to tell you what's wrong. Maybe not now, but surely when she's ready. You just hope she'll be ready soon. But you're still not so sure on how to comfort her exactly. You shuffle closer. “Whatever it is, it'll be all right.” You wanted to sound convincing, but it didn't really feel so powerful when you said that. She sits up from under her sheets. Her head and chest stick out from the covers.
“...No, it won't be all right.” She looks down on her bed. She admits it, but won't tell you what it is. But why...? Why wouldn't she tell you? Instead of feeling angry like you usually would've, you felt like you were being stabbed in the back. “I realized,” She pauses. In a smaller voice, she whispers. “that it won't be all right at all.”
“No, it will be all right, because I'm going to make it better. So please, stop crying.” Her tears stop flowing down her cheeks. But her eyes are void of life, and her face retains her sad, sweet smile. “It would be nice if that was to happen...” She says nothing more, but you know the words she left unspoken.
'But it won't happen, will it?'
You're doing your best not to try to snap her out of it, but you realized that you have to let her know that it'll be fine before then. She needs to reconcile with herself before doing so with you. So you lean in closer and embrace her. You weren't really sure how to make her feel better with words...but you'll make do with actions. She starts sniffling again. But you still hold onto her, not saying anything else.
“Things won't always stay the same forever, will it?” She asks in her quiet voice again. “Eventually, times like these will wither away, won't they...?”
“Of course they will. Everything must change in life. Music is exactly like that. You, as a musician, must be fully aware that things will never stay the same forever.” You pull her away from you, your hands on her shoulders. “But that is exactly why we must play! To embody the moments that may not ever happen again. Everybody knows what happened in the past will never be relived again! That is precisely why music needs to be conveyed! And so, you need to change. And for the better. I ask of you to do this for me. It'll bring me peace.”
She looks at you with teary eyes again. “S-so was I singing for all the wrong things then?”
“Of course not. You have to sing for what you stand for. To ask me if you were singing for anything would nullify the purpose. You were singing for the right things. But you have to keep in mind that nothing will fully exist forever. Even immortals.”
“A-and....ah. I f-feel much better thank you.” She turns away, looking a little red. You take your hands off of her shoulders. She sighs a little and begins to look more relaxed. “But thank you. I really needed that.”
You smile. “It's what I needed to do. Oh, and I'm sorry for what happened in the morning in particular.”
But she starts to turn red again. “N-no, I should be sorry! I-I-It was all a misunderstanding. I don't know what happened...I just woke up on the floor.”
“I had no idea what was going on at the time, so no need to feel too bad.” You were confused, and was half-asleep at the time. So you weren't quite sure as what had happened. But her being all flustered must be a good sign that she's feeling better about the situation. “But anyways, may we go to sleep? I feel tired.”
...That was a bad lie. But you wanted her to get some rest after talking to her. She seemed really tired, but as of now, she keeps tossing and turning in her bed. You would go out to play your harp, but that would risk waking her up.
The light of the moonlight was fading, and the tinges of the sun started to shine through the windows. But you had noticed that Mystia was getting up. She had walked towards the door quietly, and was probably being careful not to wake you up. Too bad you were already awake. Waiting a few seconds after she had closed the door, you creep outside. It seems she traveled to where the two of you normally go to practice: the woods.
You look over towards the usual spot where Mystia would start playing the harp, and sure enough, she was there. She appeared to be singing. Upon getting closer, you noticed tears were in her eyes. It seemed like she wasn't singing at all. Or you couldn't hear her. But you call out to her.
“I see. Was this your problem?”
She seems taken aback by your sudden arrival. “Y-you found out?” She seemed to be on the verge of tears.
“It seemed I had figured as much.” Though you had no clue until now, you didn't want to to realize that.
“I-I see...then I guess we can't practice anymore.”
“I can still teach you the harp.”
“No, that's not the point! You played the harp with me, and taught me all because I had sung! You had cared about my voice the most, right?”
-[ ] “Everything changes. Including my reasons.” -[ ] “I genuinely care for you, not just your voice.” -[ ] “It wasn't your voice. It was your persistence and tone when singing.
The choices are marginally easier this time. Or it should be. Congratulations, you guys managed to avoid the bad end! To spoil it, it was the choice to reprimand Mystia. Because forcing a change was not wholeheartedly good, which was not a change for the better
The bad end varied on what choices you guys made in >>25083
Also, once this ends, do you guys want to see more Harpanon with Prismriver sisters, Hieda, or Mystia (albeit Harpanon)?
[x] “Yes, it's true.” -[x] “I genuinely care for you, not just your voice.”
I think I don't want to see harp youkai at all. Not to be a huge asshole, but your pacing is ridiculously bad. I honestly don't feel like I am reading about the same characters you wrote just a few scant updates, and nothing monumental has actually happened to force these changes. I feel as if I am reading a bad soap opera, where things happen for no rhyme or reason except to draw a reaction from the crowd.
Well, that's just how I feel, my two cents, as it were.
Well I really enjoy it. There are few running Mystia centered stories on the board right now. I'd love to see more of it. Pacing is probably going to get better now too, though it never bothered me until now.
[x] “Yes, it's true.” -[x] “Everything changes. Including my reasons.” -[x] “I genuinely care for you, not just your voice.”
Did you really only care for her and teach her because she had sang that night? Honestly, would you have offered to help her if you didn't know that she could sing phenomenally? You want to tell yourself that the true answer was to say no and that it was her you had cared about. But that would be a blatant lie. If she had never sang on that particular night, you would've gone about your usual antics and went off to the next calling. So you should tell her the truth – a lying teacher is a fool and always will be a fool. “Yes, it's true. What you had said was obvious.” But before she could cut in, you stop her quickly. “However! You're still missing the point. The true nature of music is to change in ways, shapes, forms people imagine it to be. That's why everything changes – my reasons included. I won't deny the fact that the reason for me to teach you was for your voice. But that was only my initial way of thinking. I may be a failure as a teacher, but I have to say this...” Intimacy with any student is a bad step for a teacher – he may be a fool as well. “I genuinely care for you, not just your voice. So please, cheer up and feel better.”
She looks up at you with tears still in her eyes. “T-thank you...”
“Don't thank me.” You give her your case, harp inside. “Be ready for lessons around sunset.” You knew it. You knew what you were.
You had sent Mystia off to do her thing for the day and left for the same hill where you had once played before. It looks different today – the lone hill in the center of the plains seemed like a stage for one. But you climbed on top of it and laid down, looking over the now yellow sun. A young girl sits next to you. “For a young one, you sure know where I always am, Anan- Akyuu.”
“I'd have imagined you to be in a place like this. Assuming you hadn't changed, that is.”
“Of course I had changed. Nothing in this world cannot change.” You retort back.
She has a knowing smile when you look back at her though. “And yet you're still here...” She reclines back, looking over the sky. “Do you ever reminisce about the good times from so long ago?”
“Not at all.” You'd prefer not to think about it again.
“I see. I guess you're not really a nostalgic person then. I guess I'm not either. But I wonder why I still long for the days when everything was chaotic and, well, fun? Do you?”
You offered no response, but you shook your head sideways. “We can wish to go back to those days, but it'll never happen. The best we can do is just remember it had happened once before.”
The two of you just look over the world on top of the hill.
“Hasn't this happened once before a long time ago?”
“..Shouldn't you be doing your work right now?”
“Ah, right. I forgot. I was too busy searching for you.” She stands up quickly and waves to you while running off.
You sigh. Staring over at the clouds, you remind yourself what you are again and again.
Hours pass and you finally got off that lone hill, shaking off your tired muscles. You stretch violently, reworking your limbs. You seemed to have dozed off for a while.
...You should really get going now. Back onto the path towards the forest and into the flower beds, you meet Mystia with your harp in her hands. As she played, the notes came off clearer and crisper than before, giving off the sense of a renewing song. As the melody comes to a close, she smiles widely.
“Good job. You are doing well progressing through my class. Just keep playing like that and soon I won't have enough to teach you anymore.”
“Thank you. I feel as though playing the harp is like another form of singing. It makes me feel at ease.”
Seeing her so calm eased some of your tensions. But you didn't want her to ease your tensions you wanted her to be better. Because...because you can't leave your student in despair.
“But for your next lesson, you will need to sing.”
Her eyes go wide at the sight. She looks at you the same way from when she had sang in the morning. “Why...?”
“Because you can't avoid your problems forever. You will have to face them someday.” This was true, and you resolved to do the same. But you adopt a lighter tone. “Now, you don't need to sing well, just sing as you want to. Put some emotion in, like this had never happened in the first place.”
Her tone changes a little, as she gets ready to sing. But when she opens her mouth, a faint sound can be heard, like a small whisper in the night. But she coughs a little and stops. She smiles faintly, like she had failed an important task. She starts to sweat a little, small droplets forming on her forehead. She wipes it off quickly.
“Okay, that'll be enough for today. I can see you're pushing yourself right now.”
She retains the same smile. “Thank you. I think I saw you in a different light today. Just do what you think is best for you too, okay? I can trust you on these decisions, I think.”
She leaves earlier than you, leaving you to think for yourself.
You know that you are foolish. The ways that you sought after yourself may have been wrong in itself. Music is only an interpretation at heart, and you had forgotten this for so long. Not only is it the manifestation of change around the world, it is subjective and only subjective. How you had reprimanded the once naive man had felt so right at the time, but you realized that you were in the wrong. It wasn't that he was right – he surely wasn't one hundred percent correct. But that assumption had led you to believe that you were right if he wasn't. In fact, you were just about as wrong as he was. So that had made you as much of a fool as he was. Music isn't meant to have a set path – it paves on for itself.
But fools can play music too. The best musicians were fools at heart. And so you shall be. Your ignorance of what you had known the most surely had made you one. But whatever the case, you want to continue the time that you spend here in this place. You pick up the harp where Mystia had left it. You play a light piece, adding in the feelings of what you feel about this place. A touch of melancholy and nostalgia are in the lingering notes, but it conveys a blissful attitude, somewhat carefree but nevertheless interesting. You reprise the notes into a happy melody. A few wilted flowers regain their vitality and lift back up again.
You wipe a small tear in the back of your left eye. There was something bugging it. Your right eye, too. Must have been something in the air.
You arrive back at Mystia's house, closing the door softly behind you. The lights were off, and the house was all dark. However, a small singing voice was heard in the vicinity, though you couldn't see exactly where. You creep slowly, careful not to bump into anything. The voice – it was different from when she had sang the first day. It was the same voice when she had stopped singing. It was timid, and unsure of itself. It quivered in the rooms of the house. You were searching for her, but you had bumped into something. It squeaked and suddenly, the rooms were well lit. Lying on the floor under you was Mystia.
“Sorry...I couldn't see really well until I had bumped into you.”
“I-It's okay...But, ah, um...” She stammers a little. It looks like she's trying to find the right words to say. She blushes a little. “Could you, um, get off, please?”
“Ah, sure.” You were still a little shell-shocked from the sudden vision and bright lights. You get off of her. “By the way, what was the exactly?”
“Ehehe...It's my ability. I can make people night blind with my singing.”
“I thought it was fine before?”
“Well, it was but...” She trails off.
“I see.” You don't press her about it. She comes off as really fragile to you right now, even more so than before. The last thing you would want to do is to worsen the situation. She seems to be improving though. She would at least attempt to sing, instead of doing nothing at all.
As if sensing what you were thinking, she cuts herself off. “Well, I'm going to get ready to sleep. You should too. I think you haven't been getting enough sleep either.” She had shifted the mood and tone so easily. As she enters her room, you look out the window. In contrast to the normal black you see, the sky is full of grey. The clouds loom over the sky, and in no hurry to get out of the way. The moon is nigh invisible, and the first few droplets fell onto the window. Looks like a storm. However, you enter the room, and lay down on the mat spread out in front of you. You just wanted to sleep.
And sleep, you shall have.
A black haze fills your vision. You strain your eyes, but the thick black fog distorts your perception. It seems to be a body of sorts. A small looking girl holding her sisters' hands was looking over it scared. She would go no further, but you looked on at the body. You look at the body. It seems to be a man, but when you try to look over its face, a sharp pain lances through your head. You look behind you. The girl is nowhere to be found, as with the corpse when you turn around again. The ground suddenly plummets from you, only a hole replacing where you once stood.
...You jump up from the mat, a cold sweat beading your forehead. You sigh. 'Because you can't avoid your problems forever.' was it?
Never mind that, you felt a weight against your side. Looking like a lost girl in an alley, Mystia was looking at you with worried eyes.
“...Are you okay?” She had asked.
“Yeah. I just had a bad dream.” You weren't going to lie. But you didn't feel like mentioning any specifics. Except that part if you were okay. “But may I ask a question?”
She nods. “Please go ahead.”
“...Why are you next to me again?”
She looks hurt. “Th-the storm...” As if responding, the sound of thunder cracks in the distance. She tenses up, and clings onto the pillow. She was acting like a little girl. But still, you thought that was funny. “It's shocking that you can sleep through something like that.” She yawns. A flash of white strikes out in the distance.
...You ponder for a moment, then stand up from the mat. You reach for the case on the table. You take it out, and get ready to play. You compose an intricate melody, softly drowning out the sound of the thunder. It was a lullaby of sorts. You play for a while, until Mystia slowly reclines back, closing her eyes. She must have been awake through the whole storm. You continue to play until the thunder passes through. After you stop playing, you peer over to Mystia sleeping on the mat. Looking at her, she seems so helpless and vulnerable. She breathes softly and delicately, her chest rising in and out. You pick her up swiftly and place her back on her bed. You turn off the light and go back to sleep on the mat.
When you wake up, she's nowhere to be found. So you take a guess, and head outside. But for once, she's not around the flower beds where the two of you practice. So you search around the forest. Around the midst of the trees, you look over to Mystia, sitting on the hill near where lightning had hit. The flowers were gone, as if it had never been there, and the ground was burnt and defiled. She had that same expression from when she had yelled at you.
You want to do something.
[ ] You should play your harp. [ ] You should talk to her. [ ] You should sit down next to her.
Damn it. I want to say something to support staying quiet but staying quiet itself is it. Silence is music as well. The most beautiful music. And sometimes you need someone just to be there for you without talking. When two people understand eachother words are unnecessary after all.
You approach her a little pensively, not sure about how to talk to her about the matter, or what the matter was. She was staring through the ground, as if seeking for an answer. You try to talk casually to ease her out of her little melancholic daydream. “Whatever you're looking for, it sure isn't in in this ruined flower bed.”
She turns around, looking shocked that you were here. “A-ah...I guess it isn't.” She relaxes herself for a while, shifting her knees to her chest. “It's sad that the flowers here were destroyed, and the nature around it. It showed me that life can be quick to destroy.”
You are about to cut in but she continues.
“But still, these flowers here were the most fragile, but definitely the most beautiful. But however fragile they were, I would still remember them as beautiful..” She smiles sweetly.
But you felt a tinge of irony. Such a fragile woman chiding the fragile flowers. You had wanted to express it. “By your logic, someone as delicate as you can't be talking about fragile objects like that. It feels so hypocritical just watching you.”
She laughs a little, chuckling at your words. But suddenly, she looks as though she had realized something, and had looked away, red creeping onto her face. Strange.
She had grown a little quiet some time after. You had stared at the waving clouds for a while. Her sudden voice had broken your small reverie. “After our lessons together are over, will we be able to be like this forever? Will these good times last?”
“Most likely not. I was a traveling musician after all. Maybe I'll go around again after this is all over.” Or maybe go to that mansion. She seemed a little disheartened. You immediately regret what you had said. You didn't really like talking, you never really say what you want to say. “But I guess that's why you have to make the most of of your memories...”
“...You can be really wise, you know.”
“I'm more of a fool than you think I am.” You sigh. You had thought you were the wisest of all people. Being brought down from your glory has sobered you up quite well. Or perhaps unsobered you. “But I'd rather be a fool than disdainful, lest I insult another person.” You were referring to the once naive man. “Besides, I usually don't end up following the philosophy I give.”
“Then you should start following them.” She looks down at herself. “After all, everything can change, can't it...?”
Your laugh carries through the flower bed. “I suppose it can.”
“Well...shall we go?” She stands up by herself. As you look upon the destroyed flower bed one last time, she offers you a hand. You reach for it.
You weren't quite sure what you got out of this, but you were glad you talked in the end.
You weren't quite sure why you had arrived back here, but you did. Maybe you were convinced to come back. But you felt better at the familiar hill. It reminded you of things. But the center of the flower bed, void of all existence, had removed that lingering feeling. You weren't really sure why you did it, but you brought your harp out. You let your harp weep for the dead and the wilted. It cries out a melody on top of the hill, resonating through the forest grounds. A small haze flows out from the harp and yourself. You keep playing, doing your best to keep on strumming the harp. As you finish, the death that came when the lightning had struck was gone. Instead, was the renewed flower bed, flush with life again.
'Everything can change.' You laugh a little at the words. Of course it can. The sun is almost about to set. The lessons are ready to begin soon. You sit down alone at the hill, looking at the red seeping through the skies. A single note is played.
Mystia joins you. But you don't hand her the harp immediately. “Now, we're finally broaching onto our more advanced topic. And by topic, I only mean one thing. It's the art of using spells within music.”
Her eyes widen at the prospect. She has obviously never heard of such a thing.
You continue. “The art of channeling spells within a musical instrument is very tricky to use at first, but in actuality very simple.” You pause to point out the harp. “Note that the harp has many strings, or fibers within its center. It is one of the easiest instruments to use as a catalyst for such magic. You can imbue these strings with magic with the right cast. However, fail, and you must start all over. It is like improvising a spell card on the spot with a set time limit. You must end the cast before the strings break fully. Even the sturdiest of strings will break in less than a few minutes. The magic must be contained before it becomes too violent. Have you understood all that?”
Mystia looks at you curiously, but then shakes her head. “N-no, I don't think I can remember all of that in one go.”
“Very well. Maybe you would like to try it first hand?”
She gingerly touches the harp, as if afraid. It was like watching someone go slowly into cold water. “I-I don't know how to go about this...”
“You have to channel all of your energy into the string, like you were writing a spellcard. But you must try to envision it. It has to be abstract. But it also has to have a definitive form.” You rub your temples, trying to grasp a correct way to explain it. “Just....go with what feels right. It can be different for different people.”
She closes her eyes, and focuses her intent on the string. She grips the harp gently, but the base appears to be strained. The strings hum for a while, and shimmer. But one snaps, and she opens her eyes quickly. The harp snaps in half, cracking the base. She jumps back, panting. She looks at you with despair.
You say nothing, but simply hold it softly, and play on the broken strings. Slowly, it rekindles its form and returns back to its old shape.
“That was good. You managed to get very far, considering it was your first time. We shall try that once more next time.”
“O-okay...” She seemed to stunned by the preceding events to answer back clearly. “A-ah, wait! Why..?” She was looking over at the flower bed.
[ ] Choose to answer her. [ ] Say nothing. [ ] Play music.
You take a short breath and start strumming on the reformed harp. It plays just like as it did before, as if it had never broken in the first place. A soft tune hums around the flower beds. Chords flow through the air momentarily before swept away by the gentle wind. The grass shifts gently around the two of you, and the flowers sway from the breeze. As you progress further, and the notes gradually increase in tempo, the wind blows more violently, until you stop mid-measure. The air stops as abruptly as you cease playing.
The sudden stop of the music broke Mystia from her trance. She topples over, falling back on her back. A curious look is plastered on her face. Holding the harp on one hand, you walk over to her, and reach over to her. She grasps it, and pulls herself up. The curiosity on her face still remains. “...Um.” She seemed to have been rendered speechless. “I, uh, um...e-err...It sounded...very nice.” She still seemed quite dazed.
“Thank you. The composition of the song is imbued with magic, but we'll delve into that later. Should we head back?”
“N-no...If you don't mind, can we continue our lessons? Or at the very least,” She says the last few words in a whisper. “can you play that again...?”
You repeat the same song, starting off slow. An unnatural gust blew over the surroundings. As you added in a crescendo, the small gale uprooted a few flowers over the ground. When you had ended the song with a descending tone, Mystia had been floating herself before it set her down on the ground.
“That, in simplest sense, is magical music. The containment of spells within the very composition of music.”
“So it is almost like imbuing magic onto the strings...?”
“Yes, almost. The caster must be able to control spellcards, which is almost like a catalyst towards it. But no matter how much magic you imbue onto the music, the right conditions must be set. First of all, emotion. The right emotions should be present, and you will have to portray it correctly depending on how you play. Second, you must be in total control whenever you use the spells. Having magical music backfire on you because you missed a few notes could be disastrous regarding specific spells. Lastly, you must have to freely let the spell flow. Trying to contain is as impossible as stopping a river with your bare hands. But you will have to control it a certain to way to activate it. Keep in mind, this last concept is the hardest to grasp. But master it, and you will learn to use magical music. It's very complicated, but I think you'll be able to handle it.”
“I-I really don't think I can...And by specific spells, how broad does magical music get?”
“It can range from changing wind direction to reviving the dead. It's one of the more powerful spells, and only a select few can use such magic. Although, few, if any excluding me, can control it properly. But what is amazing is that humans are able to do it as well as a youkai, provided they are musicians themselves. Potential for magical music stems from sheer willpower and talent in humans. Some have even turned themselves into youkai. However, as the concept of music is very loose, the spells can be easily manipulated. Like other's hearts, minds, or souls.”
“Deep down, you're really a nice guy, huh? I mean, you aren't tempted to use it for your own needs?”
“...” You aren't really sure on how to answer this.
“On the first day, you even let yourself go hungry other than manipulating others. I think that's kinder than most people.”
Of course you were tempted. That's why you'll never make the same mistake again.
“I'm not as kind as you think...”
“Well, at least you're kind to me.”
You weren't sure on how to respond to that either.
“Now, regarding magical music...”
Her eyes light up at the sound. “Are you saying I can try?”
[ ] Yes, you believe she can execute it properly. [ ] No, you don't think she's fully ready yet. [ ] In due time.
“Not yet, my student.” You look at her sternly. “Magical music can be a great ability, but it is also highly destructive and difficult to control, as I have said before. There's a reason why not many have attempted to use magic music and succeed. You cannot afford to make any mistakes on your first try.”
Mystia looks a little frightened. “I can't even make any mistakes? What are the consequences if I do...?”
“With the easier spells, you would be unable to use magic, or music entirely for a set duration depending on how much magic you used. Or worst case scenario, you may be injured severely, inflicting a great amount of damage physically and spiritually.” You pause for emphasis. “And with the more intricate spells, there's only one consequence: death.”
“D-d-d-death?” She hugs herself, scared of the word.
“Yes. But don't worry. With enough practice, you'll be able to execute it perfectly. Trust me. In the beginning though, you may be exhausted for days. I won't guarantee your safety, but I will assure that you won't die in the process.”
She laughs meekly. “T-that still doesn't sound very reassuring...but okay. I will do it.” She has a look full of determination on her face. “Even if I'm a little scared...”
“Then let's start.” You push the harp onto her. “You will continue to work on imbuing the strings with magic. Once you can enchant each one, we will begin on magical music.”
She nods, then dedicates herself to her magical works. She closes herself, and channels her spell onto the string. The harp vibrates a little, but otherwise stays intact. The first and highest string pulses blue, and becomes taut. A gentle humming sound comes out of it, echoing around the area. As she was finishing up, she opened her eyes with a satisfied look. But once she had done so, the string immediately snapped out of its place, crying its last words.
“You were good until the ending of the spellcast. You had immediately stopped sending your flow of energy into the string, which had caused it to snap. You must gradually stem its flow without any abrupt end. Like music, if you will.”
You motion for her to try again. With renewed vigor, she gives it another try.
Over the course of the lesson, she had managed to imbue three strings successfully in a row. She had managed to process fast within the set time frame. “Good work, Mystia. I think we'll be able to finish up in a few days.” The harp fades colors for a moment, and then its strings return to its original state.
“...Ah. The strings returned back to normal?” She seemed a little exasperated by this.
“Yes. As I had stated before, you must complete it all in one go in order to successfully imbue the harp. It's all or nothing.”
She sighs deeply, like all her work had been done for nothing. But she chuckles softly. “Come on, let's go. It's getting really late.”
You stare up over the night sky. The moon has disappeared into the night, replaced with the rising sun not yet fully in view. “You're right. Let's go.”
...As you slip into the covers of the mat, you want to say one thing before going to sleep. “Good night.”
You break out in cold sweat. You thought you had heard something somewhere. But nothing seems to be different. Mystia is still sleeping on her bed, occasionally rolling around. Nightmares, perhaps. Maybe it's because the date is nearing. The date that you just can't quite seem to forget.
You lay down on the mat again, trying to calm down. Your heart seems to be pulsing quickly, as if alarmed by something. You rest yourself for a while, not moving until the adrenaline rushing through your veins cools down. Then you walk yourself out of the door, careful not to wake the sleeping night sparrow. You venture around the forest, until you happen to revisit the grassy hill that you once played upon so long ago.
'With every beginning comes to an end.'
What should you do...?
[ ] Stay like this. [ ] Act upon it. [ ] Run away from it. [ ] Write in.
-[ ] No reason. -[ ] It must be done. -[ ] Why not...? -[ ] Write in.
'With every beginning comes and end.' But does that necessarily mean that the beginning you had set out for yourself here will end now? Ultimately, it is up to you and you alone to decide that ending. The time of the year has come again, that is true. The one time of the year that never changes for you. But you're changing, and so will how you do things. You wanted to run away – be that person that you are, or were. But you won't run away. You'll stand your ground, or even confront it. You'll stay like this. Partially because this sluggish and lazy lifestyle was like a breath of a soothing air. Partially because spending your days familiarly in routine was comforting. Partially because you found Mystia's lyrical and musical talents quite interesting. And partially because you found her character as a whole interesting.
Why? You weren't even sure. It feels right to do this. You weren't even sure how to describe it. Instinct would be too primal of a word. But you had felt that this was right, or that it should be done. And it will be done, to the best of your will.
When? Whenever the date comes, you suppose. You'll reach a final decision by then. For better – and hopefully for not the worse. The mansion from so long ago is still etched into your memory.
You sit down on the peak of the hill. Living comfortably like this, huh...?
A man going through the road waves towards you. It was the same bard you had happened to have met from when you were passing through the village entrance. The two of you say nothing for a while. You then avert your eyes. Before, you had felt pity for him. Then why now, do you feel ashamed...? He reaches out for his instrument – a violin – and plays two notes, one high, and one low. Then he just smiles. You nod. By the time you have stood up, the bard has already disappeared.
You suppose you had some unfinished business to do. Something to put lessons aside today. Mystia seemed a bit puzzled by this, but it was crucial for you to finish it. So you postponed your lessons for the day. It will have to wait until night. You fiddle with the strings idly. You want to answer, but there is no question for you to say your response to. But all in all...
You wanted her to sing. You really did have some unfinished business to attend. But that can wait. However, you don't think Mystia can. You'll face the opportunity to soon enough. You feel uneasiness seeping through yourself. It must be because you partially feel guilt for something. You weren't quite sure what, though. But you wanted to help Mystia, so she can sing again. You persuaded yourself it is because of her voice and musical talents, but even your subconscious was skeptical. Maybe you're just selfish.
Even so, you decide to postpone the lessons. The sake of your student's morale and well being comes into play. You remembered the initial look on her face when she lost her temper. It was a mix of confusion, anger, and frail sadness. You absolutely did not want to see that again. A musician should never have that kind of look...no – nobody should ever have that kind of look on their face.
A lithe hand delicately taps you on the shoulder. The night sparrow examines you for a moment, then sits down next to you on the hill. She lies down, facing the sky. “What's wrong...? You always seem to be outside, pondering about things. Don't you ever sleep in?” She smiles jokingly.
You didn't really want to tell her that you were knee-deep about thinking of her dilemma, so you say nothing. You just trace the clouds with your left hand. But amidst the pretense of happiness, you can slightly see that she's malcontent. But you didn't want to ruin this facade of peace. “Just wondering about the sky.” You give off a relaxed sigh.
“It can be beautiful. Really beautiful...”
“Yeah, I guess so. A lot of things can be really beautiful.” You try to go upon this slowly. “Like music. Just like how the sky is made up of many things, so is music. So, do you care to play a song together...?”
She sits up slowly, but she suddenly averts her eyes. “N-no...I don't think I can do it.”
“It's only a matter of time. You won't get better if you never attempt to progress.”
“But I feel so scared....I can't even control my own powers! What am I supposed to do!”
“Sacrifices must be made for accomplishments.” You signal her in by starting on the harp. She hesitantly sings, but gradually warms up to the idea. Your vision darkens significantly, but you refuse to stop playing. She keeps on singing, until your whole sight is obscured by darkness.
“I can't do it. I can't even control it. It's not even night blindness anymore..”
You refuse to stop playing. You talk as you go into the interlude. “Keep on singing. You'll know, trust me. Just don't stop trying.”
But she doesn't will herself to keep going on anymore. She puts a hand on your harp. Gradually, your vision regains itself, the dark edges from your peripherals fading away from the corners of your eyes.
“I really appreciate that you're trying so hard to get me back to singing, but I just don't think I can do it anymore. As much as it pains me to say this, I...can't now.”
That's naive. Almost as much as that–– no. Not that man anymore. Now, maybe she was as naive and foolish as you.
So you guess you had no choice. “Let's try it one more time. Let me use the arte of magical music then. If it doesn't work, then so be it.”
With the lure of magical music, she reluctantly nods, waiting for you to start your music.
[ ] Truth – use magical music. -[ ] Tell her it wasn't anyways. [ ] Lie – don't use it at all. -[ ] Tell her afterwards
>>25242 I wanted to add dancing because of that, but I didn't think I execute it well. But I really, really, really wanted to.
Forming the 'shape' of the spells within your mind, you deftly start the music The sounds resonate more clearly than usual, echoing around the plains. Upon this hill, you allow your magic to seep through and into the song. The grass around the hill rustles, as if a calm wind blew through. You peer over to your student. She has her hands tensed up, looking unwilling to start. But you nod over to her, and she takes a deep breath.
She sings with that timid voice of hers...she'll never get better if she continues to do so. So you shake your head at her disapprovingly. You signal her to keep her head up and her voice strong. She stops mid way, and closes her eyes, resting them for a moment. Then, with new found courage, she starts off with a stronger note. The usual darkness doesn't enshroud your eyes, but you feel a small tug within the harp. She looks at you with eyes of bliss. You glance at her, smiling for a moment. You return to playing the continued melody.
The next part was tricky – you needed to think quick on your feet, depending on how the magical music reacts. You weren't even sure on how this will turn out. Worst case scenario, nothing happens, as long as it goes smooth. However, you mustn't alert Mystia, as she needs to continue singing. And you mustn't stop playing yourself, no matter what the cost. And if you do, you might have some trouble. And by that, you mean death.
The tug at your harp was a little greater this time. The notes were getting harder to play. The harp itself was blurring in and out of view occasionally, and your fingers sifted against nothing momentarily. Even so, you needed to keep on playing. And make sure that Mystia finds nothing wrong as of yet. You felt a force push itself into the harp, exerting pressure through the base of the harp and through your arms. The force you had felt was akin to an oni ramming against you directly. But you had to keep the melody intact. The peak of the song was nearing – you had to use the crescendo to fully extend your grasp on the magic. You used the strongest of the notes to end the spell, using most of your power to do so.
When the song ended, you felt very tired. The extent of the spell-induced music greatly sapped your strength. Still, if you had more time to prepare, you wouldn't feel like this. But you ended up doing it on the spur of the moment anyway. But you refused to show it on the exterior.
Mystia looked over the horizon, not looking at you face to face. “Thank you for all you have done...I was able to sing freely again!” Smiling warmly, she turns around. “I guess that's the true power of magical music...”
As you walk down the hill, you lose your footing, but quickly regain your balance. You still feel a little bit weary.
She looks at you worriedly. “Are you okay...? You've been being a little weird ever since we played.”
“No, I'm fine. I just feel kind of tired, is all...” You're still clutching the harp tightly. “Now, I need to talk to someone in the village, so if you will excuse me.”
“Ah, okay. I needa get back to my shop anyhow.”
She waves goodbye, seeing you off. As you walk far enough to close the distance between you and her, you go to the nearest tree and rest for a while. Was it the magical music, or whatever is locked in your harp...? You assume it's Mystia's own doubts and self-doubt, but the specifics aren't too clear.
[ ] This is a burden. [ ] This is a necessary risk. [ ] This is.... (write in)
>>25262 that's the worst part of this story, things are so vague and flowery that making a good choice feels like a gamble. I think there should be a clarification on the votes (as in what "it" is for example)
>>25273 >>25271 Not to say I don't like it, but if one can't make a good choice of the story then it kind of defeats the purpose of having choices, and I feel the vagueness of the choices is more due to lack of experience than intent.
It's hard for a writer to improve if all their fans do is basically kiss up to him.
>>25274 That has to be the most retarded logic I've heard in a while. And it's not so much a matter of safe or unsafe but going in the direction people want. There's been times in the pass where anon got pissed at an author for having choices backfire. DoLF1 is an example (the sequel has very little of instances)
>>25276 I think that's reading a bit much into it, then again some people avoid this story due to how it drips with pretentious in its prose.
>>25281 It's more the few writers that do something similar well and the bunch of copycats that do it poorly in a bad attempt at being 'artsy' or 'cool'. Even then the few writers that do it well have some general hint of direction as opposed to making choices a jumbled gamble.
Just because you see many people doing a bad habit doesn't mean it's okay to do so yourself.
>>25283 People vote for the safe option due to the belief that bad ends increase the likelyhood of the writer quitting the story. I'd imagine it has happened a few times in the past. That or the fact a bad end is a wasted update and given how long most writers take, people don't want that.
With this story, anon's more likely to vote on things to get the best end with Mystia, not so much the matter or risk. With how these choices are, it's much too easy to accidently vote a choice that pushes Harpanon towards a lonely ending.
>>25279 I haven't the slightest clue what's going on. I didn't really mean for it to sound pretentious – but I guess that's just my writing style (aka faggotry). I never even realized I was being that vague. I guess I should look over the replies more. Criticism is more welcome than anything (except votes). I didn't even notice I was using my prose to be some kind of modern-age “writing art” and all that bullshit. Again, criticism is welcome. Not that I'm going to stop my story. Unless it's really that terrible. And I hope it isn't.
Symbolism? What symbolism?
[x] This is a necessary risk.
It was some sort of weight against you...but then again, weren't most options like that? For allowing her to sing, you would be able to hear her voice, and allow another adept musician into the world. Maybe it wasn't really about her, but the issue was for yourself. Selfishly doing these things for your personal glory, perhaps.
The harp wracked your head with pain. Containing it was a problem. The longer it was held, the more violent it would push. Either it was a very powerful curse, or wild emotions. Your guess was on the latter, but it can go both ways. Magic wasn't the picky sort of type. So you do the only thing you really knew: play.
You hold the harp tight, and then compose of series of notes within your head. Then you set off to playing, trying to keep steady while the harp is visibly shaking. After each passing measure, the tremors grow more noticeably passive. Midway through the song, the sealed magic was disrupted completely, effectively 'silencing' it. Although temporary, the reprieve from the pain was a free one.
Yes, it was a necessary risk indeed.
Spending time was Mystia was enjoyable too. You guess having a fellow musician around really opened your eyes. Even though it was to see how foolish you were, and still are, you felt a tiny bit better being around her. To put it simply, it was refreshing. A sharp contrast to...you.
You look over the harp, and examine its features. The methods you used weren't orthodox at all. What you need is something, or someone, that can effectively identify what was inside. Knowing what it was is the first step on how to neutralize it.
...So you knock on the door to the home of Hieda. A muffled voice says to enter. As you open the door, you see Akyuu reclining on a small chair, looking over a few old scrolls and books. She meticulously dips her ink pen and writes on a portion of a book.
“Hello.” you say. You want to get straight to the point. “Do you know any method of cleansing or erasing a contained spell? It's a slightly urgent matter.”
She lays her ink pen down slowly. She brushes her hair with her hand. “Hmm...I'm not really sure on the specifics, but I'm sure I have a few books or records around to aid you. But, I may or may not be able to directly help you.” She smiles. “However, I do recommend the help of that teacher in the village. She's pretty handy with those kinda spells. The manipulation of history – and its erasure.” She flips through a few pages of the book. “Or...you could ask the curse goddess up the youkai mountain. Her cleansing powers can be an asset to you.”
[ ] Ask Hieda. [ ] Ask the teacher. [ ] Ask the curse goddess.
Sorry, I was better a while ago, I was just doing the work that I had missed on the days I wasn't feeling well. Will update...within this week. Hopefully expect an update every two days afterwords. Not too sure, but maybe.
>>25764 Don't bother, someone who can't be bothered to finish a story isn't worth our attention. And he can't be that much of a lurker if he's so glib about doing a half-done story 'just to pass time'. Any REAL lurker would know the last thing they'd ever want to do when writing a story is not finish it.
To be honest I don't have much time anymore. I'd really like to finish this, but I don't have time like I used to. When I get back home, it's usually 10 P.M. or later. I could write, but I'm afraid it won't turn out the way I want it to.
Sorry, but I'll put this on low priority before I can fix my schedule.
>>25769 Bother with what? It's his choice whether he wants to drop the story or not. Really nothing to bother with. I would be sad if this story didn't get a proper ending since I really like it but I don't think I have a say in whether it does or does not.
I did want an update from the writer though since the last time we heard of him he said he was still working on an update.