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Page created 14th November - Sometime in Arcadia

Why don't you get the music (1.7Mb) {store in c:\stuff\mp3s without renaming to autoplay}

Sildana's Story Told

You don't know where you are.

Everything is different

The colours are brighter, the sky is bluer, and the paths don't go where they should. You panic. You start running. The trees change, starting to look like people. Old people. The sky turns greyer, though still shot through with blue. Thorns start to grow. The path fades to nothing.

You're lost. There is no way out. Short figures with long arms start to skitter around, but you can't see them clearly. A cold wind comes from nowhere cutting through your clothes and leaving you freezing, but the mist seems to get thicker. You sprint. You want to get away. You catch your foot and a branch with a sharp snapping noise, and fall forwards. You get up, bruised, and notice a thorn has pricked your finger. Blood wells up, a vivid red, and drips to the ground. The figures are circling now, chanting, a sussurating insinuation belwo the threshold of comprehension. You look at your finger, somehow shocked by this small wound. You stand there for minutes, frozen, unable to act. It isn't worth it. There is no way out. The mist is so thick you can see nothing except the slow dripping of your red red blood. The chanting and shuffling closes out all sound, all thought.

And then you realise. Your wound is not healing. Your blood drips away. The figures circle, slightly closer. You will die here. There is no hope. But part of you refues to give up. The chant is holding you somehow. You try to break it. Shouting, screaming an incoherent call, an expression of hope.

But it does nothing. You are still held. There is nothing you can do. Your whole finger now feels dead- you can't feel it. You fall to the ground, despairing. You will die here. The figures circle ever closer, the time is almost come.

And then a shaft of light comes through the mist. It dances. You look towards it and hear music. A song of hope, of joy, of light. It is not over. You can move. you get up and stumble towards the light. The creatures flee from the light. You can see their gnarled limbs and expressions of despair, and menace. A wave of revulsion passes through you, but the music wipes it away as you look back towards the light. You stagger away, and once more everything changes. You are on a plain, stretching as far as the eye can see. Standing there, in front of you is a person with a harp, and then you look again, and realise there is something strange about her. Her golden hair frames an angular face, but the eyes change colour in time to the music you can still see, the light still on your face. She wears a simple white robe, but it and her hair seem to float, moving almost as if they were drifting underwater. You hear her smile and see her say in tune with the music that she still plays softly on her golden harp "I saw your song of despair. I helped. I am glad you are well."

But something is very strange here. You can't quite figure out what - your mind is still fogged by the music, and by the joy of your sudden reprieve. And the music stops, and things start to make sense again. You gasp out a reply, "Thankyou, lady. What is this place?".

"You have stumbled into Arcadia. It is rare that a mortal makes it this far. The sounds of this place tend to be bad for you, unless you are very careful. But some of this place is glorious, truly alive and in concert like nothing back there. Perhaps you would like to see my home? I am Sildana, Lady of music."

As soon as she says the word Arcadia you realise your peril, you have stumbled into the land of the Fay, capricious, sometimes cruel, and never comprehensible, or so the stories go. But she did rescue you, and the stories say the fay look far less human than this woman. Besides, she can't mean any harm, surely? You give your name, wondering how one such as she came to be at home in a place like this. Too late you realise that you said it aloud.

But she does not take offence, but smiles once more.

"Very well, it will make a good story for the journey home," she reaches for her harp once more, strumming a soft counterpoint to the story. Entranced by the tale and the music, you can do nothing other than listen. Before she starts she thinks, humming absently to herself, as if trying to recall something almost forgotten.

"I was born in your world, in Russia. I cannot remember where, or the name of the village. It was under the sway of a magical being, Ritual, who ordered the place to his desire. We followed his ordering of the place, living lives day in day out the same. Eternal sameness. Terrible. But something within me stirred against this, and I started to teach myself to sing in secret. In my songs I could escape the grind, the monotony. In my songs things were alive. One day I was caught singing. My family just stood there, unable to act when someone was found not to be following the order. I knew I had to escape, and suddenly I was the song, and the song was freedom.

[Sildana and Kerias]

This is Sildana (the female) and Kerias. (58K)
Credit to Don Mait

I ran. I cannot say for how long. I was utterly unprepared for the world outside, but reveled in its brightness, its mutability, its colour. But even then I sensed something was lacking. I was saved from starvation by a travelling minstrel, Varian, who decided to teach me to play after hearing my voice. I travelled with him for a time, and learnt the craft of the minstrel. I soon realised that my music had something which other players lacked. When I played I could reach out through the music, project myself into others through the song. I was Varian's equal after a few short years. But my true joy was in the invention of new tunes - I could see the music before I even played the first note, and it would unfold, a perfect creation of emotion and colour. He also taught me the rudiments of swordfighting, to protect myself. But he was an old man, and the life of a travelling songster is not for the frail. Spirits of cold invaded his lungs and stole his life away.

From then on I made my own way as a bard, until I came upon a strange inn, some of which could not be heard. I soon discovered it was the dwelling place of changers of the ether, those whom you call magi. Things were interesting around there, and I liked that. Occasionally things happened that were so harmonious that I thought I had found my true home.

But still, part of the tune was missing. It was bright and bold, but lacked depth, lacked counterpoint, the fingerings of true colour which mark a true life. But I thought myself happy, until there was an accident of magic. I was thrown into a realm of grey, of no colour, of groaning and discordant sounds. But it was not reality, even of that realm. It was like Order's land - an imposition, a falsehood, and I would not accept that in my music. I saw the hidden notes, heard the colours, strangely percieving because normal perception was not possible. And the music saw me, and entered me, and filled my soul and kept going. In all the shades of the rainbow, layered and curled, one a perfect contrast to the other and yet all a symphony they overwhelmed me, and I stove to become the music, and the music strove to become me, and I was on the verge of understanding. And then it pulled back, and I was pulled back, and I would never be the same again.

I returned to the inn, and knew it was no longer enough. I tried to make the inn more interesting, to live my true song there, but it was a place of different melody, as I quickly realised. And noone seemed to care about my flawed composition. My flawed self. They worried about me, but did not try to help, and realised that their way was not mine, and I did not know how to play mine.

And then Kerias came. The first thing he did was loved me. Showed his own music in counterpoinbt to mine, and accepted me, however I chose to be. The second thing he did was showed me colour, showed me how I could be what I chose. But I was not sure. I accepted him, and loved him, and would never let him go. But I was not sure if I could face the true music again. It had nearly destroyed me the first time and I knew it would at least leave me something other than human if I heard it and was it again.

So I waited, and worried, and was worrying, and noone but Kerias cared. There songs were not mine, and mine were not theirs, and the only other choice was Kerias'. and still I was not sure. Until once again events were triggered by my travels with the magi. We travelled far to find out the nature of a threat to the whole of Russia, and were captured by it, and it was a song the liek of which I had not seen before. It kept me so I could play for it, and I did, for there was no other choice. It's outwards appearance was that of a man, but it was occupied by a spirit, and when I reached the spirit and heard its music, something else prevented it from hearing mine. And I knew that my symphony was approaching some finale. The colours of the music ran close in that tent, as I played, striving for the true, music, knowing at last that it was the right way for me. But it was not enough to take me to it, not there, not then, not with this creature about to act. And then Kerias arrived, and helped me, and I went with him, and now we play here, and our songs are one forever."

You blink, and realise the story is ended, you look aroundand see you are now in a clearing in a forest, but a shaped one, not made, but merely the right shape, intended as a living place perhaps. A tall man turns from a lute he was crafting and looks at you. You are struck by the gold of his eyes, the lightness of his step. He is dressed in the finest of clothes, yet still allowing himself free movement. He reaches down and picks up a glass of what looks like wine from somewhere.

"Guests are always welcome here. Please have a drink and eat, and then listen to us play."

Charmed by his friendly manner, you take the wine and drink. Sildana extends her hand to Kerias, who brushes it with his lips and then pulls her towards one corner of the clearing. They choose their instruments, settle themselves against each other, and start to play and sing. You have never heard music of such beauty, musicians of such skill, or singers so in tune with each other, perfectly attuned. You lean back, appreciating the music and drinking your faerie wine. You pick up an apple from the ground and start eating it, listening to the music all the time. You vaguely recall worrying about the dangers of Arcadia, but you can think about that more once the music stops. You relax, close your eyes, and start to see the symphony.

You may be here for some time.

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