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Friday, October 28, 2005

The Troll, The Flute, and The Forbidden Music - Part 2

Continued from part one ...

As for the troll, without the treasure, he had no means to buy passage on a Viking ship. His long held dream of distant shores spoiled in the same manner that most dreams are, because of a single encounter and in an instant of time. Realistic about his options, but far from dejected, he returned to the clearing in the wood and his circular, mud hut amidst the tribe, slipping back with nary a troll noticing he had been absent from their presence.

At home, he was content to hide the flute in his cupboard, taking it out when he was safe to admire it alone for he was wracked by paranoia and obsessed with protecting his prize from wanton eyes.

But, the flute would not be ignored and placed a strong burden on the troll, tormenting him in mind and spirit and affording him no place of refuge, till she be filled with the breath that gave life to her notes once more, till she subdued another soul under her spell.

Seeking a private liaison with the flute, for he wanted to share her with no one, our troll snuck to the banks of the Red River under cover of night. There, with gusto and abandon, he made music under the stars, undetected.

Or, so he thought.

Now, the Red River was treacherously deceptive for it looked calm on the surface but below, deep currents ran swiftly. Lore had it that the river was named for the amount of blood spilled into the river from hapless victims who were dragged down into the miry, river bottom by hungry crocodiles to feast on. For the waters were infested with those terrible lizards and many villagers told the tale of a loved one who had gone to the banks of the river for a picnic or to collect the excellent spearmint that grew there, and were never to be seen or heard of again.

And, on the other side of the river, arose a cliff high into the sky. On top of the cliff, overlooking the river and wood below, was a snug, little home with a high tower, all made of stones.

In the tower lived a bride, fair to look upon.

She was the wife of a farmer who lived his life pragmatically and void of passion as he found tremendous comfort in the familiar and peace of mind in temperance. He was gentle and spoke softly, treating our fair lady kindly but failing to treat her well. For, he regarded her as somewhat of a mystery and lived in constant fear that she’d break somehow. And so, he kept her at a safe distance, a place she abhorred.

Now, it was pure folly for that troll to believe he could send forth music from the flute and contain the magic through isolation. That flute was endowed with all the wicked proclivities of her maker the witch, and the spell was her spirit. The music would certainly not return void, but accomplish it’s purpose. And, it’s purpose was simple and unrelenting. First, master someone, and then everyone, and then everything.

Alas, folly is common to both man and troll.

As soon as the notes left the flute they sought out our bride’s silent soul and began igniting a fire within.

“Do you hear that, husband?” She was drawn away from the bed where they’d already retired for the night, to the window overlooking the river and the wood beyond. The unmistakable sound of music, a gay and lively tune, was visiting their abode.

“Hear what? What is it?” The farmer strained to listen, but could hear nothing.

“That.” The lady insisted. “Why, it’s so lovely it makes my feet want to dance!”

The farmer cocked his ear towards the window and furrowed his brow, trying very desperately to hear what his bride did.

“It’s nothing but the wind moaning over the river, my dear.” He finally concluded.

In a flash of enlightenment, she realized that she owned a connection, a strange and wonderful fellowship with this music, her husband was incapable of sharing. It was as if this flute took care to serenade her alone. No, it was as if it were speaking to her alone. Her vanity immediately allowed her to indulge her feelings of privilege.

“Yes, it is as you say,” She said, practicing deceit for the first time in their marriage. “Silly me, I have overreacted, I’m sure.”

“Of course you have.” The farmer agreed. “Now, come back to bed, dear heart.”

“But if it is all the same to you, the crisp air calms my stomach. I will spend a few moments here at the window.” She continued in her deceit. “Do not fret over me, husband. Go to sleep.”

In the silver light cast by the full moon, she was like a pearl on a string, beautiful and refined. Her hair cascaded down her back like rose petals tinged gold at the tips and her shapely figure was outlined in iridescent, moon glow. The farmer gladly drank in the sight of her by the window and so did not object. He watched her till his eyelids closed with heaviness and slept, her body filling his dreams.

She listened to the wind delighted at the secret it held for her. The music rose and fell, rose and fell, the notes swirling and chasing each other in a language she understood.

Why? The music asked.

Because. Her soul answered.

Why? She toyed back.

Because. The music bantered.

What a queer, and most brilliant flutist, she thought, who can hear the music of my soul without me having to make a sound. Within the magical melody they shared, her strangled soul breathed again.

Suddenly, her tower seemed less a prison to her and her day seemed less interminable than it did before. Instead, daytime was but was a brief prelude to the opera she shared with her invisible tenor, the whisper like flute on the wind. Every night, after her farmer slept soundly, she stole to the window and waited for her music to come to her, and it never disappointed. She longed to be able to give voice to the song in her soul, to sing in harmony with her flute.

My flutist discerns my desire, she thought, and will come to me in due time.

Sure enough, when the fullness of the magic dwelt in her, her desire became manifest, taking the form of a bird with fancy, rose plumage tinged gold at the tips. Her soul emancipated, she left her stone tower and flew for the great beyond, unbidden. Swiftly she soared into the night sky, higher and higher, a crescendo in air.

By the window in the tower, her body still stood, a mere shadow of her former self, hollow and vacant.

“I am no longer sad.” She thought with a giddy twitter. “How light I feel!” And immediately her song, in trill and warble, escaped from her throat and met the flute’s melody in perfect harmony.

Across the river, on a boulder for a chair, the troll heard the quavering harmony and wondered. It was as if the melody of the flute, and this mysterious harmony had met up together in the air, together. Intertwining and cleaving, the two became one.

Suddenly a chill scampered down his spine. Deep calls unto deep, he knew. And this music had sought out it’s own.

Our lady circled high over the land that had just that afternoon seemed her confinement. Suddenly, she was staggered by the beauty of it all. Over the river, once so threatening but now a festive red ribbon tying the green earth as a Christmas present, she circled and swooped, flying ever closer to her flutist until, at last, she spied him through the leaves of a great oak. Seeking a handsome limb on which to land, she waited for our flutist to notice her.

“You’re a troll!” She threw her beak into the air and let out peals of laughter, once his eyes met hers.

“Aye.” Admitted the troll. “But you are no bird.”

“At night, when your music calls me out, I am.” She responded defiantly.

This all seemed mysterious to the troll but he accepted it as so and promptly began playing the flute again. To which our bird joined in happily making beautiful music with him.

And thus, they passed the summer.

To be continued..

by C. C. Kurzeja
2005 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Troll, The Flute, and The Forbidden Music - Part 1

Once there lived a troll, amidst a tribe of trolls, whose nation had settled in a clearing in Moss Wood. They lived in circular, mud walled homes with very steep roofs made out of fronds from the fannywillow tree and were renown for their distinct flatulence that, once expelled, hung in a green cloud about them for hours before dissipating. This was generally attributed to their diet, which consisted almost entirely of brains from the poisonous lizards that populated the bog behind the clearing. This culinary specialty was peculiar to their nation and was as difficult to procure, as it was easy to prepare. Many were who tried to capture these rare lizards but because they possessed limited qualities of invisibility, none but this tribe of trolls succeeded. Due to being genetically endowed with lightning-fast hand eye coordination these trolls found easy what eluded everyone else. They would simply grab a lizard by the tail, and after beating it dead over a rock, shove a straw through it’s nose and suck the delicacy out in that manner. Or sometimes, albeit rarely because it was generally considered more work than needed to be done in order to eat, they scooped the brains into a cauldron of bowling stock to make a delicious stew. Beyond that, little else is known of this troll tribe other than it was considered fact amongst the villagers that lived on the border of Moss Wood that they were gentle folk, living peaceably within the wood and from the wood.

Our troll had a head as round as a cheese wheel and as big as his body by half. With his burnt orange hair, bulging eyes and hooked nose, he was entirely unremarkable. Unremarkable, in appearance, that is but not in wealth. For by trickery and deceit he had amassed a great fortune and by it intended to steal away to the ocean and sail for foreign lands on a Viking ship.

One night, under a full hunter’s moon during St. Luke’s Little Summer, he had his chance and seized it.

“So long, suckers.” He said when he was a safe enough distance from the settlement to escape detection, but not so far that he couldn’t still see the orange glow of the campfire in the distance, small now and flickering gaily. And without sentiment or reserve, he slung the sack of treasure over his shoulder and walked toward the setting sun gladly leaving the only world he’d ever known forever behind him.

But along the way he met a witch whose wiles surpassed his own. She had uncovered the truth about his sack through her amazing powers of divination, and determined to have his treasure. While he was yet afar off, she laid a snare. Making haste to a hallowed cave in ancient hills, she extracted ore from which to smelt copper and crafted from this a flute. Knowing that her spell would need to be uncommonly strong against the clever troll, she decided to deliver her magic not through long forgotten languages or potions, but through music. In this way her spell was layered and constantly evolving. The very frequencies of each note carried distinct and focused power, but when those individual notes were strung into a melody they held as many different powers over the hearer as there are melodies to be made. Furthermore, when those notes were combined in harmony – well, the brilliance of this system and the unsearchable limits of it’s power would be fully realized and dully feared when possession over it would, in the distant future, cause kingdoms to war and countless legions to perish, after all.

But, that is not our story.

Upon completion of the flute, the witch made herself into a comely peasant girl carrying a basket of eggs to sell at market and set herself upon a log, not a half days journey from where our troll tread. With her light brown hair pulled neatly back in a gray scarf and her cheeks rosy, she looked the picture of loveliness as she held the flute to her lips and let her fingers glide nimbly over the length of the tube. As soon as the music left her flute the notes traveled in waves, intelligently guided and searching, to find out our troll’s ears.

He was done for even before he recognized the first note. An irresistible attraction to the sound skipping upon the wind pulled the troll toward his destiny. So beguiling was the magic that the troll was convinced he was the one pursuing the music, never fathoming that the music had pursued him. And so, when he stumbled upon the witch on her log, he felt the conqueror and was quite satisfied with himself.

“Ho!” He said, because the witch, in her cunning, stopped playing moments before she let herself be found by the troll and the magic had already worked in him to such a degree as to be made desperate for it’s sound. “Play, girl.” He ordered, with all the refinement of a troll, “Don’t fear. I promise I won’t crack your skull.”

“I am poor.” The witch replied, “And my family goes hungry, even now. I’m afraid I have no time to play my flute as I must take my eggs to market and sell them for profit.” With that, she tucked the flute under her arm, gathered the basket of eggs and proceeded to leave.

The troll became panicked; ringing his hands and breaking out in a terrible, stinky sweat. Suddenly, loosing the music seemed a fate worse than death to him.

“No. Don’t go.” He pleaded. “What can I give you to stay and play?”

“I know not,” the witch intoned, “what you could possibly give me as I will sell my eggs at market for a gold piece each, and you have naught.”

Worsted by desire he slavishly met the witch’s price. Turning his back on her, in a ridiculous attempt to keep her from seeing what she already knew, he opened the sack a wee bit and carefully pulled out one gold piece, glimmering fantastically in his hand.

“Look ‘ere, girl. I have a gold piece. I’ll buy one of yer eggs from you, if you promise to play me a song.”

He thought to himself and was convinced in his heart: I will hear just one more song; Then, I will be satisfied; Then, I will go to the sea and sail for distant shores.

Thus the witch played him, laughing all the while at the dribbling fool her magic had made of the troll. On egg for one gold piece, all night long. And always the troll told himself: I will hear only one more song and then be on my way.

Until, at last, the witch saw her desire fulfilled, and with the last gold piece in her basket proceeded to pack up and simply, cruelly, walk away. But, one moment she was walking with her basket in one arm and the flute tucked under the other, and then in a twinkling of an eye, was not.

“Easier than catching a lizard by the tail.” Said the troll, rapturously. He held the flute up, firmly in his hand, for the witch to look upon.

She did so and was dashed to pieces.

A low hum, a bass noted vibration, permeated his entire body and the troll was imbued with it’s power. At that moment, it was clear to both who held the greater treasure.

“Ahhhhhhhhhh!” The peasant girl shrieked as she reverted into the vile witch she truly was. All the power and magic she possessed was vested in that flute and without it she would be quite ordinary and useless. Quickly, she assessed the situation and realized, quite accurately, that she would not be able to recover the flute. But, she had her wits about her enough to impart a curse on the troll before her magic dissipated entirely. And that she did readily.

“You,” She cackled, pointing a crooked finger at his eye, “will live forever in love with your music. Yet, your death shall come upon you suddenly.” And then she fled into the forest with her treasure of gold; cursing the day she first laid eyes on it.

As for the witch, she returned to the cave where she first mined the ore for the flute, and lived out her days in solitude and regret. When she died, her body was abandoned to decay in the very corner where she breathed her last, not a single mourner to be found for her in all the world. In a cauldron, where once her potions brewed, was the treasure. Every last gold piece she stole from that troll jealously hoarded and worthless to her. For, it seems, that because of the devastating impact loosing her flute had upon her, she was not able to part with anything she owned ever again.

To be continued...

by C. C. Kurzeja
2005 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Our troll had a head as round as cheese wheel... Posted by Picasa