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Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc.
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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Piņatas From Space!: Crazy Games With Cards And Dice

by Jeromy Henry
Stormcastle: And Other Fun Games With Cards And Dice

by Jeromy Henry
The Tooth Fairy War and Other Tales

by Jeromy Henry
The Wizard's House

by Jeromy Henry
The Dreaming Fire

by Jeromy Henry

Orchestra of Bones

by

Jeromy Henry



A violin scraped a lonely lullaby before a tardy musician put the instrument to bed in its crib.  Hermann tucked a strand of thin red hair that dangled in front of his eyes and laughed.

He felt dizzy from the rush of conducting his masterpiece.  It felt as if something in the top of his skull would fly away into the clouds and take the rest of him along for the ride.

The faces of the cheering, clapping crowd still filled his vision.  The door creaked open as he put his shoulder to the wood and careened down a narrow flight of steps.  He stumbled down the street, reliving the moment, his mouth smiling so hard it hurt.  He hummed the crescendo of the second movement, the violins racing like a storm only to halt abruptly, when the voice of the horns took over and spoke long and low.  After tonight, the music lovers of Gherent all knew his name. He would go down in history as one of the great composers!

He tasted a bittersweet thought and his smile dimmed.  Did he crave the cheers of the crowd so much because he had nothing else?  Memory conjured up a vision of his father's small estate, the plague signs scrawled on the door.

And why had Mark and Kelly never written back when he invited them to tonight's opening?  Was he truly so caught up in his work that his last tenuous friendships from his youth had snapped?  He knew he spent a lot of time wandering, humming under his breath.  He forgot birthdays and weddings and dinner invitations all the time.  But at least Peter...

The shock of running full on into something jolted him out of his reverie.  He sat on the cobbles and blinked at the person sitting opposite him.  Inky black robes covered by silver moons adorned a thin, angular body.  A face as harsh as winter glared at him, pale gray eyes narrowed in anger.  A thin beak of a nose jutted over thin lips disfigured into a snarl.  A thin straggle of gray beard wafted between his chin and his waist, blowing lightly in the warm breeze.

"You oaf!" the stranger shouted, bounding to his feet.

"I'm so sorry!" Hermann scrambled to his feet.  He had to crane his neck to look up at the stranger.  "I just left the music hall and... my apologies, good sir... I..."

"Spare your pathetic mumblings.  Music hall?  I despise scrapers and fiddlers and tweeters and their noise!  I am Aberen the Great, you piece of dung!"

Hermann stepped back.   His heart beat loudly in his chest.  He gasped as he realized exactly who he'd run into.  The Necromancer of the North.

Suddenly, Aberen smiled.  He stroked his beard and said, "I know what to do with you."  He pointed a bony, long-fingered hand at Hermann.  A stream of harsh words broke past those thin lips.

"AUCHLERE!" shouted the wizard, ending his strange chant.  He waved one hand and Hermann saw a beam of black radiance rush at him.  A weight hit him in the chest, and he fell against the rough stone of a nearby house.  A sharp point of rock dug into his back.

"No town will keep you.  You will wander the roads and wild places.  When you pass a crossroads, the dead there will get up and follow you to the end of your miserable days!  Musicians."

Aberen spat the last word.

His shape twisted and elongated, and an ebony stallion reared in the place of the man.  The animal glared at Hermann with red eyes the same color as the nearly dead sun, and then snorted and galloped down the street.

Hermann grabbed a stone in the wall behind him and levered himself up on shaking legs as the sound of clopping hooves faded away.  He stepped forward, thinking to go to his tiny house nearby and curl up in his cot.

But when he reached his house, he walked on by.  Desperately, Hermann tried to turn.  But his legs refused to obey.  Hermann slumped as he realized what the curse meant.

No towns... he could never conduct an orchestra again.  He could never feel the music pulsing in his veins and vibrating in the air.  Tears coursed down his cheeks.

It seemed like hours before Hermann came out of his funk and looked around again.  Night blackened the foliage that loomed around him.  Moonlight silvered the road and the tops of the trees, but left most of the scene a secretive blur.  It reminded him of some pictures he saw at a gallery once, black canvases with only the barest of highlights drawn with faint silver lines.

He turned his head partway and froze.  Behind him lay a wide X where two roads crossed.  He had passed it without noticing.

The wind picked up.  Rusty iron slats groaned as they ground against one another like teeth.  Chains squeaked.  Hermann turned around all the way and cast a nervous glance at a cage filled with bones that guarded the crossing.

The skull raised itself from the ribs and the empty sockets looked at him.  A skeletal hand reached out and opened up the cage door, and a bony foot dangled down and planted itself on the road.

Hermann backed up, breathing heavily.  He glanced around wildly and spotted a stick.  He snatched it up and held it between himself and the bone man.

Hermann backed up some more.  His boots scraped over the dry soil, and he nearly stumbled when his heel hit a rock.

The skeleton stepped forward.

Hermann stepped back.

The skeleton stepped forward.

Hermann wheeled 180 degrees and sprinted up the road.  A whimper crouched in his throat but couldn't quite get free.  He felt the jar as his thick-soled boots slammed into the earth. His sore muscles stretched, and he gulped air. Then, hope rushed over him- surely he could outrun some flimsy construct of bone!  A grin split his face as he thought about putting one over on the enchanter and beating his curse.

But when he looked back, the grin vanished.  The skeleton ran behind him, only a dozen paces away.  He slowed, and the skeleton slowed.  The moon's eye winked out and left them wrapped together in night's ratty cloak.

Hermann walked, scowling, for he knew not how long.  He heard the skeleton's bony feet shuffling in the dust behind him.

He could barely see anything in the black.  He used the stick as a blind man used a cane, so at least he kept on the road.  When he heard squeals of rust and the groan of an iron cage up ahead, he knew he'd passed another crossroads.

He heard the creak of a cage door opening, and he heard the rattle of bones.  He walked some more.  The scratch of the dead men's feet hoeing the dry earth followed him.  He guessed from the sounds that two more of the dead had joined his company.

The moon emerged from its cloudy blankets again.  It limned the oak trees that lined the road on Hermann's left.  A fence ran along the right side, and he saw the thatched peak of a whitewashed cottage and the neat furrows of a field.  A rust-red barn and a stone silo squatted beside the house.

He could see the three skeletons behind him now.  Scraps of brownish flesh and a few strands of hair clung to one of them.  Though the breeze carried most of the scent off, he still smelled decay.  He twitched when he saw that one of his followers carried a shattered sword, with only a thin icicle blade above the cross guard.  Another carried a rusted spear.

His thoughts turned over, rather like the way fresh earth turned over and waited for seeds.  But no thoughts planted themselves in his tired mind.

Another crossroads came and went.  Three more skeletons joined his army.

Hermann yawned and swayed on his feet.  He sat against the rail of a nearby fence.  His followers mimicked his posture.

Chills crawled up his spine whenever he looked at his unwelcome companions.

"Why don't you lot go home and leave me be?" Hermann asked.  "Go home!" he shouted.

The skeletons shook their heads and clacked their teeth.

Hermann's shoulders slumped.

"No town will keep me... well, I guess we're all in the same boat.  You all can't go home either, can you?"

The skeletons nodded.

He felt a surge of sympathy for the dead.

"Come on, then.  We'd best go in the forest.  The king's men will shoot me on sight if they see you lot," Hermann said. He briefly thought of sprinting to the barn and locking himself inside, but knew it for a fool's hope.  The skeletons would surely wait outside, and the farmer would find him at dawn.

Dry leaves and branches cracked sharply as he forced his way through the oaks.  A few minutes brought them to a grassy clearing.

Herman lay down on the grass.  He wished for a cloak or blanket.  Cold seeped through his thin tunic.

He lay rigid.  He expected bony hands to close around his throat at any moment.  His own hand tightened on the stick.  Instead, he heard the clack of bone on bone.  He turned his head and saw the dead men lying in a row, a dozen feet away.

Hermann shrugged, and felt the taught ropes of muscle in his shoulders saw at his bones.  He took a deep breath and tried to relax.  The skeletons had not harmed him yet.  He couldn't outrun them.  Surely they could climb trees, if he tried to get away.  Unless he chanced upon a powerful wizard to undo the spell, he would simply have to trust to fate.

He closed his eyes and listened hard.  An owl hooted, and the wind caressed the oaks.  Twigs snapped and something rustled by his ear.  The bones lay still.  Hermann's head felt lighter and lighter, and finally he passed out and knew no more.

A thread of light woke him in the morning.  He yawned and stretched.  Then he nearly jumped as he heard something rustle the tall grass.  His entourage rose to their feet.

"Well, you did not kill me in the night.  I don't suppose you'll leave me be?"

The skeletons shook their heads.

Hermann groaned and rose to his feet, shivering.  He sniffed a few times.  Sleeping on the ground in summer was bad enough, he thought.  What about fall?  Winter?

His stomach growled at him like an angry beast.  Hermann sighed and looked around at the forest.  He knew nothing about foraging in the wild.  How could he live?  Then it hit him-- how many farms had he passed?

"Alright," he told the skeletons.  "I intend to go back to one of the farmhouses we passed last night.  I know the curse makes you follow me.  But... just try to stay out of sight, OK?"

A few skulls nodded.  The rest just stared at him with empty sockets.

"Come on, then," said Hermann.

The grass rustled underfoot.  His cold limbs warmed up and felt less like clumsy clubs, and more like proper appendages as he swung them.  It took only ten minutes to come to the lane and walk to the farmhouse gate.

He pointed.  "Look, see those haystacks?  Can you all creep over there?  I hope no farmhands are about yet."

Whistling a bit too loudly and shakily, he ambled towards the farmhouse door.  As he neared, he spotted a thread of gray smoke curling from the chimney and smelled hot ham.  He quickened his pace and knocked loudly on the door.

A thin woman in gray homespun opened the door.  She dried a teacup on her white apron slowly as she looked him up and down.  It felt as if her watery blue eyes focused on every grass stain and wrinkle on his tunic.

He bowed.  "I am a traveler to Gherent who lost his way.  I have coin for breakfast, if you can spare a plate.  If you could point out the road, I would be grateful as well."

She snorted.  "Two coppers.  You can sit by the fire.  And then you be on your way.  Head south on that road, take the next three left forks."  She jerked a thumb back the way he'd traveled.  "We don't hold with no city folk here." She held out a veined palm.

Hermann felt through his pants pocket.  He closed on the smooth, warm disc of gold that the concert hall owner had pressed in his palm the night before.  He smiled.  It was enough to feed him for months!  He finally located two thin copper pennies and dropped them in the woman's palm with a clink.

She eyed them for a minute and then waved him in.

Hermann sat at a rough table.  A beagle looked up at him with a sad face, then resumed chewing on a bone.  The woman dropped a plate full of steaming ham, fresh eggs and buttery biscuits in front of him.  She thunked a rude wooden cup of water next to the plate.  It sloshed on his sleeve.

"Eat up.  And get out quick or I'll set the menfolk on ye."

She turned towards the fireplace and grabbed a skillet, whether to bake something or to protect herself from evil city folk, Hermann did not know.  The plate occupied all of his attention.  He grabbed a thick slice of ham and chewed on it, closing his eyes in pleasure.

A man's hoarse baritone shouted, "Black magic!  Run!"

The woman shrieked and dropped her skillet.  Hermann turned around and saw a skull peering in the window.  He heard more yells, dog barks, and the sound of pounding boots.  The woman whirled, banged open a door, and zoomed out of the room.  The beagle whimpered and raced after her.

Sighing, he shoveled a giant spoonful of eggs in his mouth and bundled the biscuits and ham into the rough white napkin by his plate.

He grabbed a small iron pan off the wall and stuffed his bundle into it.  He spied a thin, sharp knife by the ham, its blade scratched and worn down, yet honed wickedly sharp.  He cut a big slice of ham and threw the knife and ham both in a nearby empty pot.  Skidding on the rushes on the floor, he stepped over and added half a dozen biscuits from a wicker basket on the counter, and threw the tinderbox from the fireplace in with his other loot.

Sighing, he juggled the pot and pan around and reached one hand into his pocket.  He pulled out a couple of silver pennies and threw them on the table, and then hit the door with his shoulder.

Outside, he saw the several running forms in homespun dotting the far fields.  The skeletons stood around.  One sat on a hay bale.  A couple brandished their rusted weapons at the fleeing farmers.  One lay on the ground, arms by its sides, staring up at the clouds.

"Couldn't you lot have let me finish my breakfast?  Didn't I ask you to stay out of sight?"

A few skeletons turned to him and shrugged.  Two of them clacked their jaws and shook their weapons as if to say, "We showed them!"

"Oh, nevermind," said Hermann crossly.

He spied a fiddle in an open case on a chair by the door.  The bow lay half a dozen paces away in the dirt.

Hermann smiled and cradled the instrument.  He caressed the smooth, worn white wood and plucked a string.  It rang sweet and true.  He felt in his pocket and placed two more silvers on the chair.

"We'd best go before they come back with scythes and pitchforks," he informed his silent companions.  "Does anyone want to carry these pots and pans?"

No one moved forward.

"The violin?  Didn't any of you play a fiddle?"

At that, a yellowed skeleton walked up and clacked his jaws at Hermann.  He held out his hands.

Hermann carefully put the bow in the case and clicked the worn brass latch closed.  He held it out to the bone man.

"Thanks."

Hermann set a brisk pace, almost tripping over his own boots as he half ran to the forest.  His muscles relaxed a bit when the shaded canopy cut off the sun.  Surely the farmers would not follow in the woods, he reasoned.  They traveled for what seemed like miles.  Hermann let the call of birds and the crackle of leaves lull him as he tried to come up with a melody.  He whistled a few notes, and then stopped and tried a different variation.  There.

At noon Hermann groaned and sat on the stump of a big oak.  The skeletons looked at him as if wondering why he stopped.

"You may not need to rest, but I do!" he panted.  He wiped a sheen of sweat off his forehead with one sleeve.  He opened his pot and grabbed his half-eaten breakfast.  Then he lay in the soft grass and stared at a sliver of blue sky through the leafy blurs of the trees.

"So how well do you play that thing, anyway?" Hermann asked the skeleton with the fiddle.  A bony shoulder shrugged, then the skeleton unlatched the case.  He stood for a moment examining the bow and playing a note or two.  Then he launched into a fast-paced ballad that Hermann recognized as "One beer, two beers, three beers, four!"

"A bit ribald, but you play well," Hermann told the fiddler.  "Here, I'll play one of mine if you like."

Hermann wiped the grease from his mouth with the napkin.  He took the violin and bow, careful not to touch the bone man.  His lunch churned in his stomach at the thought.

He tucked the violin under his chin and played a slow, mournful tune, closing his eyes.  He could almost forget his exile, almost forget the curse.

When he played, he felt a funny feeling in his chest, as if some black skulking creature like a fox shifted in its den.  The curse doesn't like music, he thought.  He filed the odd feeling away to examine later.

When he opened his eyes, he found the skeletons sitting on the ground in a half circle.  One or two clapped their bony hands.  It sounded like the clack of wagon wheels on cobblestones.  The two troublemakers who scared the farmers had even laid down their weapons.

"Well, thanks," Hermann said, grinning.  "You know, since we're all stuck together and there's nothing else to do..."

An idea hit him.  He laughed out loud.

"I've got it!  At nightfall, let's hit the road and pass as many crossroads as we can!  Who knows where the nearest town is?  One with an instrument maker?"

The skeletons looked at each other.  The fiddler stepped forward.

"Right.  I think we'll make this clearing our base.  Anyone want to help me rig a shelter?"

No one volunteered.

"I'll play more songs before we set off tonight."

The two troublemakers stepped forward.

"Right, you cut some vines with your sword.  You, help me find longer branches in good shape.  A lean-to might work for the moment.  Any of you know how to thatch?"

He turned in a circle.  There, under that big tree, he thought.  He'd construct a lean-to.  A flat patch of grass on the other side of the glade caught his eye.  He imagined a hut rising from snow drifts, smoke curling from a chimney built of river stones, mud caked between boards to keep out the chill... well, he had all summer to figure out how to survive.

Night found Hermann on the road with thirty more bone men, waiting on the outskirts of a town.  He searched the signs of the main street and finally found what he sought.  A swaying sign marked with a viol and a horn.

"See that sign?  We go in.  Find all the violins you can.  We'll need cellos and basses.  And horns.  Everyone grab an instrument or two!"

Hermann breathed deeply when he entered the dim shop.  It smelled of sawdust and varnish.  He picked up a violin case from a shelf and stepped over to a desk in the center of the room.  He uttered a pleased grunt and pulled a stack of parchment from a cubby.  He slid a bottle of ink into his pants pocket and hoped it wouldn't break.  He snapped open the violin case and threw in a couple of new quills.

A clang made him jump.  He turned to find a tuba on the ground.

"Careful!" he said.  "Let's leave."

The skeletons filed out of the shop ahead of them.  The moonlight in the windows speared the group and turned their shadows into horrible, fun house shapes of trolls and goblins.  Hermann fingered the warm, buttery disk in his pocket for a few moments, then sighed and thunked it on the desk.

"It won't cover all your losses, but this will pay for a few of them.  Sorry," he muttered to the absent shopkeeper.

A police whistle blew outside.  A deep yell of terror followed.  A woman shrieked.  Dogs bayed.  Hermann ran out of the shop, hastily tying the napkin from breakfast across his face to hide it.

He ran through the moonlight, surrounded by the running dead.  He risked a glance over his shoulder and saw a crowd of villagers in nightgowns and caps gaping at them.  Soon, the cool shadows of the forest hid them from sight.

Hermann grinned and chuckled softly.  So Aberen-- and the curse-- hated music, did they?  He'd give them music!  More music than they could stand.  He hummed a dark and somber melody.  In his mind's eye, he cut the notes into stone with a dagger.  And the notes dripped with blood.  The curse arched its back and hissed at him, and he hummed harder.

#


Hermann shuffled the sheets in front of him and tapped his stick on the rough wood podium.  Two skeletons stopped puffing on their bellows, and the horns attached to them with tubes stopped yowling like amorous cats.  He felt a surge of pride at his brilliant idea.  How else could men without lungs play woodwinds and horns?

The curse in his chest paced around.  He could feel the damned thing's fear, as if it were a cat with ruffled fur, watching him warily from across the room.  He smiled devilishly.  Oh, how the curse fought every time he practiced.  He felt sure his plan would work.

"It's time," he told his orchestra.  His fingers tightened on the sheets on front of him. Symphony after symphony, movement after movement, all scored and honed, lay copied neatly in the stack before him.

"If this works... you know that the magic that holds you together will fall apart, right?"

The skeletons all looked at him.  Most nodded.  Hermann wished he could have a real conversation with his silent army.  Only one or two could write, and asking them to scratch words in the mud with a stick took forever.  He couldn't spare precious ink and parchment.  Then again, he supposed their choice wasn't that hard to understand.  He'd choose the unknown country of death over a half-life as a bone man any day.  He felt a surge of guilt for using the curse to bring so many to life... but it was the only way he could think of to end the magic.  He hoped.

He pushed his doubts aside.

"We'll play the one in A-flat, then the two in C- the short one first, then the D minor, then the F and the G minor.  Ready?"

Skulls nodded.

His stick cut the air.

The violins started, slow and sweet.  The cellos roughly broke in, and the violins sharpened their tone, as if arguing back.  The bass and drums spoke, and then came a sudden lull.  The woodwinds murmured, starting their refrain.

The curse paced around his chest.  He saw black light limn his hand.

Three years is long enough, he thought.  Three years of practice, of teaching bone men to play, of enduring the dark thing pacing in his chest and the smell of death all around him.  He would end it tonight.

The first movement rolled to a close.  He could feel the curse hiss at him and arch its back and tremble.  He waved, and the horns started the second movement.

Something angry yowled in his mind.  He imagined a pair of red eyes and white, sharp teeth.  His hand shook, but he frowned and pointed at the cellos and basses, gesturing sharply up.  Bows sawed and deep tones shook the trees.

The black light brightened.  He could feel something wrapping around his wrist, hairy and slimy, like a dead and uncured wet skin.  A voice hissed in his head, so loud that for a moment it drowned out the violins.

Hermann strained his arm and he felt the thing loosen.  He waved at the brasses, and the horns spoke a hunting challenge.

The thing cowered back, trembling in a corner of his chest, whimpering.  Hermann waved energetically.  The drums rolled, and the first symphony trailed away in a triumphal and brassy fanfare.

"Next," called Hermann.  He pointed at the violins again.  A rollicking, country fiddle air rocked the clearing.

The curse sprang up wildly.  Hermann almost felt gnashing teeth and a wail of despair.  A thin line of blood trickled down his wrist from punctures like teeth marks.  Black fire erupted all over his body, towering into the sky.  Something slimy wrapped around his arms, his torso, and his legs. The horns fell silent, then the violins and woodwinds.

"Play!" screamed Hermann.  He strained, as if trying to lift an anvil over his head and throw it.  His stick inched forward to wave at the orchestra.  He saw black flames lick above the bone men now.

"Play!" he screamed.

A violin hesitantly scraped, a drum beat, a clarinet blew.  And the bonds fell away and the flames flickered and died. He felt the curse limp over to a corner of his chest and lick its wounds.

The first movement finished.  The second, the third.  As the notes thrummed through Hermann's body, he felt stronger and more alive than ever before.  He could feel the curse tossing and twitching, like an invalid fighting the grip of a fever.  The echoes of the last, hanging note from a violin broke.

Hermann wiped his forehead.  His sleeve came away dark.  He grabbed a cup of water on the podium, almost knocking it over with his trembling hands.

The third symphony began with a whisper of strings like the wind through the trees.  The woodwinds spoke and the horns buzzed in muffled, funereal tones.  The curse twitched less and less.

"Is it over?" Hermann asked himself.

He raised his hands and brought down his wand.

The curse surged to its feet with an agonized yowl.  Once again, it wrestled his hands.  Through the first movement and the second, he fought every second to move his stick and keep the time.  The black fire roared in the air once and he felt suddenly as if he stood next to an open oven.  He gasped and almost fell over his podium, but struggled to his feet and held on.

The violins sawed furiously like a tossing ship, sailors scrambling to adjust sheets and ropes.  The deep waves came, cellos and basses in a complex dance of whitecaps and rollers, and currents unseen beneath the dark seas.  Drums boomed like thunder.

Then Hermann heard an unearthly scream that filled his brain and drowned out the music.  He could see the white, maddened face of Aberen.  The wizard fell back, and Hermann felt a pain in his chest, as if he slipped inside the enchanter's skin for a second and felt his black heart explode.

Hermann fell, the stick tumbling from twitching fingers.  Horns clanged and bones rattled.  Strings jangled as they hit the grass.  He wiped the hair out of his eyes and looked up.

Bones and instruments and empty chairs confronted him.  He couldn't feel the dark stink of the curse slinking in his chest anymore.

Hermann fell on the grass on his back and laughed until his cracked throat stopped making any noise.  Tears coursed down his cheeks.

"I'm free," he whispered.  "I'm free."

#


Hermann tucked the oilskin packet of symphonies under his arm as he approached the gates of Gherent.  The gate guard leaned down from a tower and frowned as he looked Hermann's tattered clothes up and down, but nodded anyway.  Hermann nodded back.  He stepped through the open gates.

He jingled the two silvers left in his pocket.  A bath first, he thought.  Then a trip to the music hall to show Peter his new works.

Even though dawn just touched the cobbles, a few people bustled about.  Hermann almost jumped as a woman hauling a washtub came near.  He trembled when a trio of young men in homespun brown tunics passed, laughing.

The houses loomed over him, like a great crowd locking shoulders, leaning over and hemming him in.  Hermann sweated and almost stumbled to his knees.

"What's wrong with me?" he said.  A young man and woman in bright silks looked at him and smiled, and Hermann flushed.  I can't go talking to myself out loud anymore, he said.  It's not like in the forest, where no one cares.

Up ahead, a swinging sign showed a beaver relaxing in a sudsy tankard.  Hermann almost ran forward into the cool dimness of the tavern.  He slid behind a bench in a corner, as if to put the great table between himself and all the people in town.

Stale beer and the scent of frying bacon filled his nostrils, along with the tang of fresh rushes.  He lay his trembling hands on the table and tried to slow his breathing.

"I'm just not used to people anymore," he said.  He mouthed the words behind his hand so no one would notice.  He looked down at the scarred tabletop to avoid seeing if anyone else shared the room with him, though his ears couldn't shut out the sound of footsteps, and the murmur of two men talking over the crackle of the fire.

He thought back to the cool forest and his small, clean hut there.  A wave of longing rushed over him.

"I'll come back," he promised the forest.

Surely this strange fear would pass.  He used to relish the cheers of the crowd coursing through him like fine wine.  He could learn to love it again.  But sometimes... yes, he decided.  He would go back.  Why not winter in town and spend his time at the music hall, and travel to the forest in summer?

Besides, he thought with guilt, he had to pay back all those people he'd stolen from, especially the instrument maker.

His hands stopped trembling.  What did he have to fear from a few townsfolk after defeating a dark curse and slaying a wizard?  How many composers could boast of that?

Smiling, he lifted his head and raised two fingers to signal the innkeeper.
 


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2013-12-09 15:09:51
As a cuntry dwellwer who hates to go to town I sympathize with our hero as he sits down in the tavern at the end. Loved the descriptions of the music, which is something one hardly sees done well. Thank You for a terrific story!

2013-12-02 14:25:32
Dogpatch to Mr. Henry; Fine tale. The beginning caused me concern of it being 'just' another horror story, but you pleasantly surprised me by doing a piece about the unfairly strickened musician turning the tables on a wicked wizard.

2013-12-02 07:45:25
micheledutcher - laurabeaz wrote: Fantastic story. I enjoyed it from start to finish. Good beginning. I loved your characters. These are some of my favorite phrases: "spent a lot of time humming under his breath." "whimper crouched in his throat." "night's ratty cloak" "surge of sympathy" Very well-done.

2013-12-02 07:43:48
micheledutcher - Mark 211 wrote: This is a very engaging story, both in terms of plot and some well-chosen turns of phrase in various places (mentioned below). I liked the mysterious world in which the story takes place but I also liked very much how you didn’t dwell on the world of the story but simply let the details seep through so that at times it comes across as a 19th century world (the orchestra, the instruments they play) but other times more medieval (the homespun clothes, the necromancer) and at still others the depression Deep South (the biscuits and gravy, the musician at the crossroads). Far from clashing, however, each of these details fit together to form a believable fantastical setting.




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The Dreaming Fire

by Jeromy Henry


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