A Trobadour in Ferike
by Angelo Ventura
Author e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spoilers: Wraeththu histories and chronicles. Set after Ghosts of Blood and Innocence.
Canon characters: Panthera, Zack, Calanthe, Caeru, Pellaz
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: Not mine. These characters belong to Storm Constantine. No copyright infringement is intended.
A Trobadour in Ferike
As autumn regaled its lavish colours on the forests of Ferike, Loven was torn between the desire to wander in the woods of Castle Jael, feeling the carpet of leaves gently crushing under his feet, and the desire to roam the castle library. Jael’s was one of the largest in Ferike, comprising old volumes from the human era, even some centuries old .It was thus he learned of trobadours.
His hostling Panthera didn’t know very well what they were.
“They were singers, I think.”, he answered one golden windy morning, leaves whirling outside the òiving room of he castle.
“Oh, they were more than that. They composed their own songs and they had a juggler who played an instrument, like a banjo or ukulele…oh, yes, a mandolin”
“Well, that would be very interesting”, said Panthera, who had never heard of those things. “But for now you’ve got to go to school”.
“Will they ever teach me how to play mandolin?”
“I doubt it.”
“Well, tell my preceptors I want them to teach me that, instead of that impossible “meditation technique”. It makes me fall asleep”
“Shh, don’t tell that to your grandfather .And hurry, now!”
“But will you give me a mandolin?”
“We’ll see, Loven. Now you go!”
Panthera was puzzled. What had Loven been reading?
– – –
Meanwhile, Zack was busy with psi-Othernet, the information network that utilized the seven hidden dimensions as a form of conduit…at least so it was said in the instruction manual.For what he was concerned, the seven dimensions weren’t the only things hidden, there.
“Who’s put another ghostly messenger in my agenda?”
On the psy-screen, in melting letters, there was the message “You can run, you can hide, I’m coming to get yoooou”
Then he saw Goscreve har Perlevin and sighed “I knew it was you, you rascal!”
“Who, me?” said Goscreve with an air of pure innocence, the same he had when he was found out.
“You got no proof”
“Either you cancel this thing, or I return you to the Uigenna splinter I saved you from”
“Why can no-one be nice to me?”, complained Goscreve. But he set to work to the psy-console.
“Why should you be so twisted?” asked Zack. You’re such a beautiful, nice har…apparently!”
“We hara began as lost boys, you said to me. Well, I’m the lost har”,said Goscreve.
– – –
They were all in the castle laboratory, watching an instrument Panthera had recovered and polished.
“But that’s not a mandolin”, said Loven disappointed at the banjo he was given.
Zack smirked, making Panthera snort in irritation
“Well, that’s what we have now. If you don’t like it, tell that to your father Zack. He’ll make one for you”
“Come on, Thea,don’t be angry”
“Well,who’s shown him that book on musical instruments? Not only he was obsessed to find a chatelaine to sing to- he also wanted the exact thing in the figures!”
And Zack put his hands on Panthera’s shoulders, and stroked him gently. “I’ll make one for him, don’t worry.” And to Loven:
“We have no more chatelaines. We are two sexes in one body, but you can sing to a person you love. We’re a different species in many aspects. But love is an universal song, the song of Nature, heard both by humans and to us.”
At this Goscreeve entered saying ”Beautiful words indeed. I wish I heard this song when I was born”
And Loven was transfixed by the sight of this har forlorn and fair. He smiled at him, saying
“I’ll sing for you…if you wish”
And Goscreve, taken aback, couldn’t bring himself to answer sardonically. Loven’s smile was so warm and sincere, it commanded respect. “I’d be honoured” he said.
Loven sang in the garden, at Cosgrove, they were sitting on a bed golden fallen leaves.
“If they were to say what’s the more precious thing
Many hara would say riches, gold, what power would bring
A magnificent palace
A garden terrace
But of none of these I will sing:
A lover’s embrace,
A soul full of grace, an har that you love
Well ranks all above
“What do you think, Gosh?
“Maybe it’ll need some refining”, said Goscreve, ”But I’ve understood perfectly”
“I’ll not be satisfied till you say you love it”
“Till I say I love you”
And Loven blushed.
“You know, I’ve never saw an har as gentle and lovely as you”, said Gosh.
“And I never saw an har like you. They tell me you’re cynical and sarcastic, but when I see you, I see a beautiful thing who needs to be loved”
Gosh smirked “Really?”
“Isn’t it so?” ,said Loven, coming near to Gosh and caressing his silky blonde hair.His long,pale hands played with Gosh hair, whilst Gosh bent to kiss Loven.
No sharing of breath was ever so deep: Loven was strawberry blossom and forest sunlight, Gosh was wild honey and prairie grass..and the hint of suffering, beneath that.
“Oh, Gosh, what they’ve done to you?” said Loven when they had finished.
“What Uigenna do to prisoners”, said Gosh.” Oh, don’t look so shocked and sorry, It’s all over now”.
“Let me make you forget, said Loven. Soon It’ll be feybraiha for me. I want it to be with you”
Another, more languorous sharing of breath took place, and Gosh sank deep in Loven’s kind,
They were embracing, entwining their bodies, with no need of words to say.
When they returned to the castle, it was nearly dusk. Panthera smiled, seeing them. He was waiting at the door.
“Come, Zack’s made a proper mandolin, and wants you to see it. Maybe you’ll be able to play, when Cal will come”
“It seems we do nothing except wait for Cal, around here”, said Zack appearing behind Thea. Well, we’ll see how the rascal has changed. That first visit was a thing ogf the past, and now Cal, after the Ponclast more definitive banishment, was planning a more informal visit.
“But you’re talking of the Tigron!”, said Loven, appalled.
“Oh, I remember him”, said Gosh. “His name’s trouble”
“I am the first son of the Archon of a little village in Morass. This Archon- my father, was, I’m ashamed to say, a pompous bore, who behaved as if he was Tigron or something, instead of a petty chief of a village. He wanted me to have, as my feybraiha initiator, the very rich son of an asbolutely stupid har, coming from Mojag. Yes, you’re right to groan. All those muscles take all the room, leaving none for the brain. The family was rich because of the hostling who was Emunah, by the way. What he found in that oaf beats me. Well, the day before Feybraiha came, and I was in a state of quiet desperation, pondering my fate as I returned from work, and here comes this wandering stranger, blond, sinewy and beautiful and forlorn. It was love at first sight, as you undoubtedly won’t be surprised to hear. I understood that har should have had a sorry time, whit what ragged clothes and an haunted look in those haunting eyes. I hopened my heart to him, and invited him to my father’s castle. My father was absent, and my hostling was a bit suspicious, but Cal could won his heart, appearing so needy and so sorry to be a nuisance, but he was hungry, and desperate, and could he work for a loaf of bread and some water?
He was so vulnerable and lovely…took my virginity that same night, and, oh, what a night! I entwined my body with Cal’s. our hearts beating in unison, and the whole world exploded! Another thing that exploded was the barn door, as that mass of muscle of my would-be initiator intruded screaming of betrayal, followed by my father. He’d been, apparently, spying us. Cal managed to escape, some saw him run the in direction of the nearest town, Fallsend. As for me, I practically suffered pelki by that brute, with the sanction of my father, outraged that I disobeyed his will! I ran from home the following night, and was soon caught by an Uigenna wandering splinter of a tribe, who wanted to ask asylum in Maudrah. They never arrived there, ’cause they attacked a Ferike convoy escorted by you, Zack. You were cognizant of Uigenna tactics because you were Ui…”
“Shut up!” said Zack. “Must you remind me those things?”
Panthera laughed. “Interesting story. Cal alluded to it in his memories, but he wouldn’t expand on details”
“I can imagine why”, said Lowen. “My poor Gosh, How you must have suffered!”
“The Mojag and the Uigenna were bad enough…but I wanted Cal so badly. I hated him for leaving me such a predicament!”
And Zack sighed” That’s Cal, I’m afraid.”
It was two weeks after Natalia. All was ready for the arrival of The Whole Triad, Pellaz Cal and Caeru. Darquiel was perfectly capable to hold the fort in Immanion. So many years had passed from Cal’s first official visit…
Cal had been amiably formal, and Panthera reacted with quiet courtesy, silencing the beatings of his heart. They also shared breath afterwards, on a private meeting, and Panthera conveyed Cal his forgiving.
“It was I, after all, being proud and stubborn”, he said to Cal “Hope you’re feeling good with Pell and his Tigrina”
“Yes” smirked Cal, “expecially now that Pell’s given birth. I bet you could have heard his screams when he bore little Loki’s pearl to light…at least, that was my impression”
“Little Loki is such a good mannered, quiet harling…one doubts he’s your son, really” said Panthera mockingly. Then saw Cal’s face turn pale “It’s something the matter?”
“Oh, nothing, I’m not accustomed to Ferike’s cuisine any more, that’s all. All those spices…”, said Cal with forced joviality .”Loven is a beautiful harling, too”
Zack sensed something awkward, and caught the occasion to change subject: “Thanks, I hosted Loven. It’s not been an experience I’d repeat often, but I was very happy afterwards. Pellaz Har Aralis wasn’t accustomed to be hostling, I gather”
And Cal laughed “You bet! He even wished he was still human, in his ravings. I was trying to calm him when Sheeva, our surgeon, helped him.”
“And the Tigrina?”, asked Panthera.
“Oh, was Caeru hysterical! He couldn’t cease to giggle. We had to ask him to go away. But he insisted to remain, saying that he wanted to be a spectator, for once. He’d given birth to Abrimel, not to mention that horrible incident”
“Did you catch who did it?”
“Ponclast’ s been exiled, all his accomplices captured, dispersed or disposed for. Poor Caeru…at the end, he remained silently at Pell’s side with a knowing smile, and helped to nurse Loki’s pearl. But he said to me he’d got even with Pell. I don’t blame him, really”
And now the Triad, after the strange Freyhellan accident, and the return of a mellowed Thiede to Immanion
will come to Ferike, like the Three Hyenamas who brought gift to the Dehar Solarisel. Gaspharhar, Malachar and Baldurhar. Strange names, one said that they belonged to an ancient human legend. Well, Pellaz Calanthe and Caeru were very real. Neither Zack nor Panthera ever saw Pellaz or Caeru in person, and they were very curious, so were Loven and Gosh.
Loven was now good at the mandolin, and sang with a fairly acceptable tune. He was so adorable, when he sung, with his big dark eyes sparkling with love at Gosh, that one gladly pardoned his inexperience. So he’d been permitted to sing at the Royal Triumvirate- or Trium-har-ate.
He and Gosh were chesnari, now, and one night after Natalia, when it was snowing in big, white snowflakes and they were returning home holding hands, they decided to celebrate their love in the fullest.
In their chamber, as the snow didn’t cease to fall, Gosh kissed gently Loven’s cheeks, playing with his long, dark hair.
“Let me be soume this night…I want to feel your gentle loving fill me with warmth.”, Gosh said.
“And I want to engulf you in my love, I want you to feel loved more than anyhar else”, said Loven.
“But are you sure you want to host our son? Why not me?”
“I want to take you in the full, to have you in me entirely…hosting your son will do that.”, said Gosh.
They embraced, then they shared breath. Their lithe bodies entwined in the bliss of love, and their souls mingled. A shaft of moonlight managed to break through the thinning clouds as Gosh cried and a new har was created. They called him Selen, from the Greek name of the Moon.
To Caeru, Castle Jael seemed a place from a fairy tale, His lithe turrets first appearing in the light snow, at the center of the pine forest. He felt very cozy and warm in his silver-fox imitation fur coat, between haughty Pellaz and smiling Calanthe. They had come on sedu, and now they were walking without pomp toward the castle.
“So, I get to see this Panthera of yours”, said Pell ” I seem destined to encounter your ex-lovers wherever I go”, he said with a sigh.
“There’s also Zack ,the har you were so eager to be informed about at Saltrock. Face the inevitable, my love, and enjoy the fact that now I’m only yours”, said Cal in a gently mocking tone. He blew a kiss to Pell, who managed a tight-lipped smile. Caeru rolled his eyes. Those two were absolutely insufferable to travel with.
“Oh, stop bitching, you two, and ruining this holiday with your inane chatter. Look at this forest, so primal, so poetic in his simple beauty!”
“Yes, the Ferike are very good gardeners and such skilled tamers of Nature. You won’t want to be in a really primal forest, with wolves and all, Caeru, I assure you!”, said Cal
“Wolves. Our son Darquiel’s been dancing with harawolves, though. I couldn’t for the life of mine!”
And Cal laughed “They weren’t Hara-wolves, for Aru’s sake! The Nezreka only donned wolfskins on their backs.”
And Pell sniffed. “A very peculiar habit, not fit for civilized hara, surely. By the way, wasn’t their Archon another of yours…”
“Oh, for Agave’s sake! I’m going to meet them first, and you can bicker as you like!”, said Caeru exasperated, making his Sedu trot briskly.
“Now, see what you’ve done”, said Cal
“But was he?”, asked Pell, plaintively.
“I’m not going to answer you!” said Cal, hurrying to rejoin Caeru.
Pell was left alone in the snow,flabbergasted. When I’ll ever learn?, he asked himself.
Shrugging, he made Peridot join the othervtwo in a second.
“I’m sorry”, he said to Cal. “Will you pardon me?”
“Certainly, my sweet. Loving you means always hearing you say “I’m sorry”
Pell was puzzled, he never saw “Love Story”, but accepted the offering of peace.
And so they shared breath, till Caeru said: “Act regal, we’re here”
And Castle Ferike,with his azure turrets and golden and magenta banners was before them.
And even Pell was awed. Truly a fairy-tale castle.
Panthera was the first to meet them, Pell benevolently regal, Caeru flamboyant and genial, and Calanthe, his ironical majesty.
“Thea” said Cal with a smile, “Ever so beautiful! May I introduce you to my closest friends? Tigron Pellaz, Tigrina Caeru, this is my dear friend Panthera of Jael.”
“You’re so lovely”, said Caeru, “I’m so glad to meet you”, said Caeru, admiring the proud and exquisite profile of Panthera. Pellaz smiled, and said “I can see how Cal must have been torn in two, leaving you. Rest assured there are no ill feelings from mine, Tiahaar. We will be glad to meet your family, now”.
And with a wink to Cal, he took the lead, following Panthera.
– – –
At the banquet, Panthera was intrigued by Caeru ,by his apparent frivolous joviality that covered, he sensed, ancient, profound scars.
“Oh, Panthera, you’re so lucky to have so lovely a family! Zack is simply gorgeous, and Loven is a marvel! I wish I had something like this from the beginning…don’t you agree, Pell, my dear?”
And Pell, who was busy exchanging pleasantries with Ferminifex, blushed visibly.
“Of course, Caeru, but aren’t we happy now?”, said Pell with a flamboyant smile.
“Happy as one can be at your side, my love”, said Caeru. “Poor Cal, he made quite a sacrifice leaving poor Panthera behind. How he must have loved you!”
And Cal ceased talking with Zack to address the Tigrina “Haven’t you drunk enough for tonight, Rue? Relax, soon Loven and his chesnari will perform a ballad in our honor. It is not true, Thea?”
Panthera smiled a mysterious smile “Look who’s concerned in other people drinking. Yes, Loven is almost ready. He will play the mandolin, and his chesnari will sing”
Cal was puzzled “The …mandolin? Where did you find one?
“Zack made one from the drawings in a book on the library. He’s quite good in those things”
“I learned those carpentry skills in Roselane. You must be able to do anything, there”.
“Roselane…” intervened Ferminifex. “Haven’t they experienced a coup d’etat of sorts?”
“Lileem and Opalexian found an agreement, thanks to Thiede”, said Pellaz.”Opal’s a bit grumpy, but she’s tamed. Lileem has his way.”
“I’ve heard there’s a new har at court, a certain Amelza. They say…” Ferminifex began, but at this moment the light waned and a siparium opened at the far end of the big dining room.
Loven, more lovely as ever dressed in light green and pale yellow and holding his mandolin, bowed to the public and said:
“My I introduce you my chesnari”, he said gesturing toward an har masked with a mask shaped like a butterfly’s wings. “He will sing to you while I play, and at the end he’ll remove its mask.”
The masked har, the face totally concealed under the wings, began to sing.
I’ve no hope to be ever loved
by you, my lost love of long ago
Dreaming of being with you,
alone in a summer forest near a spring
or on a beach listening to the waves
or walking in the snow holding hands
or to gaze at the stars in a perfumed
Alas, how many seasons passed without you
till the memory of you was but another sore spot
in my grieved soul.
I forgive you, my lost love,
another star makes my eyes shine.
but I still hope to see you again
To finally say goodbye.
And heal my broken heart
Goodbye my love, goodbye
Loven’s skill at the mandolin had improved greatly, and he accompanied the rich, melancholy voice of Gosh with a gentle weeping glissando. When they finished bowing to the applauses, Gosh lifted his mask, staring at Cal, and smiling.
“Oh, my Gosh”, said Cal “How did you…I mean, what’s this, the Fifth Annual Meeting of my ex-lovers?”
Caeru, who was wiping out a tear originated by Gosh’s emo ballad, began to laugh “Well, I’d propose Pell as guest Speaker for the occasion, what do you think?”, and everyone laughed merrily.
And Pell congratulated Loven and Gosh, with a sideway glance at Cal, who appeared now to be totally nonplussed. But as Gosh began to tell the famous scene of the barn, Cal went to Gosh and silenced him with an exquisite sharing of breath.
“Goodbye, Cal, and thank you” said Gosh
– – –
That night, however, he told the whole story to Pell, who sighed
“There’s anything else I should know?”
“Only this: after all is said and done, after having crossed oceans and mountain caves, after having trodden the lowest and highest ways, fought with monsters, braved tricky social situations like tonight, there’s one single thing I’ll say to you, but do I have to say it? After all these years?”
“No, you don’t”, said Pell, laughing.
And to the notes of Loven playing again the mandolin to Gosh in the next chamber, they began to share breath.
“Gosh, was it that painful?”, said Loven.
“Not at all”, said Gosh.” I loved a fascinating vagabond, now I’ve found a diplomatic. Quite an anticlimax”.
“MMM” said Loven. Tell me again of that barn, will you?”