Book I Chapter 5: Porcelain
I've always loved music; I had plans to become a legendary violinist from the moment I first laid eyes on the instrument.
Play with orchestras at night, and spend my days seeing the best the world had to offer-- it was going to be grand, and I was going to be at the heart of it all.
And then life turned around, laughed heartily at me, and turned me into some kind of freak.
(I'm not being derogatory, I promise; I'm just a staunch believer in calling a spade a spade.)
Kids do some stupid things growing up, especially when they grow up as unruly young boys with nothing better to do than go poking around places they don't belong with their best friends. It just happened that we both lived in the horrifying mutagenic shit capital of the world, and the place we didn't belong had the mother of all power-grade miracrystals hidden within it.
I don't know what happened to my best friend-- I haven't seen him since the accident, since our parents decided it was best for everyone involved that our friendship be rendered null and void through harsh and accusatory words and the age-old tradition of moving halfway across the globe.
But I know what happened to me, and most famous violinists aren't... mutants.
They have flesh and blood and and and and and souls and genders. They aren't life-sized, walking porcelain dolls, you know?
I figured my career was over years before it'd ever begun, if not my life.
Naturally, once we'd moved away from Chimre, people were terrified of me. My parents had no idea what sort of horrors they'd exposed me to in trying to get me away from the Gaunthiers; I'd lost a friend and the place I had grown up, and gained only the suspicious glances and derisive jeers of everyone I met.
I'd lost who I was, too, and I didn't have anyone to confide in, besides.
I couldn't trust them with my feelings. How could I?
I only played my violin alone then, as far into the woods of Axl I could safely go. The most I could hope to aspire to were odd jobs on the docks, making a pittance for manual labor that cracked my skin more often than it kept food in my mouth.
When work had run scarce or ended for the day, I played for the setting suns and the hidden creatures of the wood.
I was too frightened of trying to sell my talents to a world that was so unfriendly to people like me— people who were rarely even considered people anymore.
And then one night, I got caught.
I'd always figured eventually someone would hear me playing, and I'd have to find a new hiding place. I wasn't interested in what other people might think of my music any longer, as I knew they would never get beyond my appearance before they decided I was a pitiable mockery of an Aeneski.
But when the tiny faerie boy appeared at my side out of thin air, his golden eyes burning like molten stone as he gazed up at me, I threw myself from the old stump I sat upon at once. I was horribly frightened of him and those fiery eyes, but he paid no mind to my own appearance-- he was too busy lovingly cradling a wooden guitar in his arms as he looked expectantly at me.
He'd been listening to my music for many nights, he said, and wanted to play along.
I reprimanded him harshly for approaching me, for thinking I would ever play for another living person-- and for staring at me with those horrible eyes that seemed to look through me.
He laughed and sat down upon his knees, letting his hair fall over his face.
“What-- haven't you ever seen a blind dragon before?” he asked glibly. “Shut up and play.”
And in the absence of any better option (and still very much afraid of him), I did.
Firewing Base Camp
Whimsy Forest, South Dreamsong
“Harl, do you mind if me and Cami head out?" Lyric'Ai asked. "I hate to leave you hanging like this in the midst of all this...excitement, but they're not doing too hot. I wanna try and find a place they can relax a bit.”
“Oh, nah, Lyri! Go on-- I'll be okay here. Lissen, I'll be through for the next practice, huh?”
“Got it. And hey, don't worry about Giers. He just got a promotion at his other job, so he'll probably be too busy thinking about that to fuss too much.”
“Thank Bapa for little miracles,” Harley grinned, bumping fists with the comparatively tiny Aeneski. “Take care, you two. Feel better, Cami!”
Cami gave her a silent nod, and the two elves beat a hasty retreat into the woods. As they walked, Cami glanced worriedly up at the sky, a purple haze eating into the stars from the west.
“Ugh... Lyri, that's coming from Chimre, isn't it?” they gasped, pausing to lean against a tree and close their eyes, pressing their palms against their face.
“Yeah,” Lyric replied, chewing his lip.
Sitting down in the leaf litter, he hugged his knees and arched his back, letting his wings burst forth and spread around him. It was a small gesture, but it helped to ease the overwhelming buildup of mirajin energy tormenting him somewhat.
It would have to do for now.
Cami sighed, closing their eyes. “... will your father be alright?”
“Hah, you're sweet, Cam. I'm sure he is-- he's not the suicidal type.” He shook his head, his crystalline wings folding neatly against his back.
Cami tilted their head, taking a moment to consider his words; understanding, they decided not to press.
“When we first met, I thought you were just some crazy mutant. Your eyes scared the shit out of me, but that was the strangest thing about you, other than the fact that you wouldn't go away... well, that, and the “hey, I'm a dragon” declaration.
“Still, I was really no better than the people I hated so much-- I wanted to be treated like I had when I was a normal Aeneski, but I reacted to you with fear and loathing when you were strange, too.”
“Yeah, I'm kind of an odd guy, huh?” He laughed softly. “Tiny vagabond bard Aeneski who also happens to be the blind first son of the Dreamwaker and sire of the entire damned Boralion dragonflight. And fierce on guitar, too. You've just got all the luck.
"I wouldn't worry about it, though. You learned your lesson, hey? Don't judge the covers on books and all that. Or... something.”
“There are so many things I've always wondered about you, Lyr. Most of all... look at who you are, what you are. Why run away from home? Why hide that? You've always said you adore your father.”
Lyric pursed his lips. “I adore him as a father, yeah. He's... well, you don't fuck with Nefirian Dreamscar's family, ever. He was good to me, and he always has been. I knew I was safe from the world growing up with him, and that sort of... affected my method of thinking, in a way.
“I was the worst kind of brat as a kid, you know. Well, not even a brat-- I was a terror, and I don't think he ever really knew. I watched my ass at home, but I took and did whatever I wanted when I was off on my own.
"I... did a lot of fucked-up things, Cam, and I started some ripples that are still affecting things in the world even today. Eventually, things built up so much that I knew I had to stop, and I just... took off to try and atone. It's why I'm a pacifist now, and why I choose to live my lives around mortals, to learn more about them and appreciate the fact that the people with the least power in the world are still people with lives and families and friends and dreams.
"It's why I write music, as well-- something to try and ease the pain, and to remember the people I hurt back then in my childish games.”
Cami frowned. “What could you have done that was so horrible, Lyri? ...don't answer that unless you really want to,” they added.
“We all have our demons, I guess. I still can't think of you as anything other than incredibly kind. Well, and completely vain, but kind, too.”
Lyric'Ai fell silent for a moment, staring at the earth. “...Have you ever heard of a place called Grenadienne?” he began.
Nefirian's voice bubbled up from the depths of Lyric's mind; he froze, perking his ears.
The ritual was sabotaged. I'm going back to the Reverie to save Opus.
His heart began to race; he barely took notice of Cami's concern, lifting a finger to ask them to wait.
...Sabotaged? Save her? he replied, his telepathic message laced with dread.
Save her from who?!
Next Chapter: Volume II - Book I Chapter VI
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