Author’s Note: This was just a short little ficlet that came to me after hours of listening to Josh Groban’s divine voice and rereading the Book of Magic and the kids’ encounter with the Triad. Remember how the Triad used a song to try to take over the kids’ bodies? This fic came out of that one scene. Please enjoy and review.
A Simple Song
By: Silver Spider
Score, for all his insistent to the contrary, didn’t like being bored. He wasn’t overly fund of risking life and limb fighting power-hungry wizards, but he didn’t like doing nothing either. Nothing was precisely what he’d been doing for the past few weeks when Pixel and Jenna announced that they were going on a vacation to some planet on the Outer Circuit. It was understood that it was a trip only for them, and for once,Score didn’t invite himself along. Who wanted to sit around watching them make moon eyes at each other, anyway?
That didn’t change the fact that he was bored out of his mind. So when Helaine had suggested getting out of the castle to explore Dondar, he was more than happy to agree. It was ridicules, she reasoned, to live on the planet for almost five years and not know what was more than ten miles away from the castle area. They packed a few essentials and headed out the very next day. The trip turned out to be rather fruitful. Along the way, Score and Helaine discovered many other inhabitants of the planet, including dwarfs, faeries, and many other creatures that Score didn’t know the names for.
After a few days of travel and sleeping under the stars, they came across an old inn, and remembering that warm beds were a good idea, decided to spend the night. The innkeeper was an odd sort of creature, too large to be human and too small to be a giant. Score wasn’t sure exactly what he was, but there were no other humans in the tavern. It came as little surprise, of course. The only humans who could reach Dondar were very powerful magic-users, and as far as Score knew, there were no others aside from him and his friends on the planet.
As they entered and took a seat at one of the open tables, the commotion of the tavern stilled as the creatures regarded them with curious, slightly fearful glances. Humans were the only creatures in the Diadem who could manipulate magic, and most magic-users tended to be selfish, concerned with nothing but power. This did not endear them to any other species. After a moment, everyone went back to their drinks, probably hoping that he and Helaine were not their to start trouble. That suited Score just fine.
The tavern itself was clean enough. The bottom level was a bar while the second floor had rooms for the guests who wished to spend the night. At the head of the bar was a stage that Score guessed was probably for singers. Kareoky night on Dondar, he smirked to himself. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a small pointy-eared creature on the other side of the bar get up and slowly make his way towards them. It was probably one of the local elven species, though certainly not the most attractive of them. He shifted from foot to foot, nervously wringing his hands together. When he reached their table, the elf looked first at Score, then at Helaine.
“Beggin’ your pardon, my lady,” the creature looked flustered as if something was on the tip of his tong but he just couldn't bring himself to say it.
“Well?” Helaine asked, her brow creased with impatience. There was a slight hint of annoyance in her voice. “Spit it out.”
“I'm dreadfully sorry, ma'am... it's just that...” he was really nervous now, “You look... you look terribly like the Lady Eremin.”
The tavern went absolutely silent. Customers of all species sat very still, staring at Score, Helaine, and the silly – probably soon to be dead – little elf who had dared to utter the name of one of the Triad. For his part, Score felt sorry for the poor creature. Helaine was sure to retaliate, for this was the only name she still feared. Granted she would never admit to it, but he knew better. The only thing in the entire Diadem that scared Helaine was the shadow of a woman who had been dead for more than two decades. He saw her hand go for the hilt of her sword, and for a split second Score honestly thought he would have to intervene to prevent her from doing something in the heat of the moment that she would later regret. Helaine was not a killer, but she did have the tendency to let her temper get the better of her.
Helaine’s jaw was set tight, and Score could feel the tension rolling off her in waves. His own fingers began to tingle with the flow of magic, ready to step in between the two as soon as needed. But after a moment, Helaine relaxed, and her hand drew back to her side. “I’m sorry,” she finally said. “You must have me confused.”
That didn’t help much. The elf, though clearly not the bravest of souls, was very persistent. “Yes, ma’am, I understand that,” he said, still nervous, “It's just that... the Lady Eremin... she had the most beautiful voice in all the worlds. With your semblance, I was simply wondering if you would honor us with a song.”
That caught both Score and Helaine completely off guard. The young woman’s eyes widened as Score's jaw dropped to the ground, and he did a double take. “You want her to sing for you?”
“If she would be so kind.”
Slowly a smile spread over Score's face that turned into a full blown grin. “Well go on, my lady,” he gave Helaine a slight nudge towards the stage. “Dazzle us with your amazing talent.”
“Score, no,” she hissed at him firmly.
“No? What do you mean, no?” he looked offended. “Are you telling me your only talent is in hacking things to pieces and bossing people around? Come on, just try it. I promise I won’t laugh. Too much.”
Helaine rolled her eyes at him, but swallowed the lump in her throat and headed towards the stage. She was doing this only to prove him wrong, because she and Score clearly lived to argue with one another. Never mind that her hands were shaking. Never mind that Helaine never sang a single not in her life.
She glanced over the tavern through long lashes and saw their faces, anxiously waiting for her to start. Helaine took a deep breath. Here goes nothing, she thought. Not letting the fear take over again, she lifted her voice and began to sing. She wasn’t even sure where the song came from. Some of the words were in a language she would have sworn she didn’t even know, but singing it just felt so right.
It was just a dare, Score thought, but he couldn’t pull his eyes away from her. The beautiful music filled every corner of the tavern, and any other commotion secede immediately. Words he couldn’t quite make out flowed from her, lighting up the dreary place like a sparkling stream in the middle of a desert. All, including Score himself, were completely entranced. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Score realized that there were no instruments. Everything, the song as well as the music, was coming from Helaine.
He tried to make out some of the words, but most of the lyrics were lost on him. All Score could catch were fragments that sounded something like a poem.
“I sing to life and to it's tragic beauty.
To pain and to strife, but all that dances through me.
The rise and the fall; I’ve lived through it all.”
The song ended, and the tavern fell completely silent for a few seconds before everyone broke out into applause. If the creatures feared them before because of their humanity, they greeted Helaine with open arms as she walked down from the stage, a bit self-conscious of all the pats and clasps on the back. She sat back down at the table she shared with Score, who stared at her, dumbfounded.
“What the hell was that?” he demanded when he finally got his tongue back.
“Was it truly that bad?” the girl asked, sheepishly tucking a stray lock behind her ear.
“Bad?” he did a double take. “Helaine, that was... that was the most amazing thing I’d ever heard!”
She blushed at the compliment. “Thank you.”
“I’m serious. Where’d you learn to sing like that?” he asked.
“I didn’t,” she confessed, taking a sip of the drink she’d abandoned on the table. “It just sort of... came to me.”
Score simply nodded, saying nothing aloud. Both knew it wasn’t just a simple song that passed through. The implications that came with her newfound voice made Helaine uneasy at best. She shifted in the chair uncomfortably.
“Well,” Score finally broke the ice. “Looks like she left you something good after all.”
It had to be said. Tonight had proven that Helaine couldn’t avoid her past forever. Whether she liked it or not, Eremin had left many of her own qualities in Helaine. It was just that in the five years that she knew about her past self, Helaine hadn’t discovered anything positive about them. She nodded thoughtfully at Score’s comment, then looked up and saw that the young man was once again grinning from ear to ear.
“What?” she wasn’t sure she was going to like his answer.
“Oh nothing,” he shrugged casually, leaning back in his chair. “I was just thinking about all the money we’d make if we put you on American Idol.”