Fantasy Fiction posted June 17, 2017


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Piper awakes, Y.A. fantasy story

The Piper, part 17

by w.j.debi


The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

Previously
Piper is a young musician whose grandfather has passed away, leaving Piper an orphan to be raised by the music guild where he is an apprentice. After the funeral, Piper returns alone to play his flute at his grandfather's grave, and a Fae appears--a creature considered swift, strong and deadly--and compliments Piper's flute playing. Captain Burkehart comes to the rescue and escorts Piper back to the castle. During the next few weeks the Fae approaches Piper on several occasions and says he has some secrets he needs to share, but each time they are interrupted by a vigilant Captain Burkehart. Meanwhile, Piper continues his musical education under the direction of the popular performer Master Braun, including traveling with a performing troupe. A wolf attack leaves Piper and his friend Rupert separated from the musicians and in the hands of the Fae.


End of Previous Chapter
Another lightning bolt lit the sky, and several seconds later thunder followed. So the rain would continue its assault, veiling the outside world from his senses. Redd-Leif turned back to the task of preparing a meal. Noting Sheba's more vigilant posture, he let a sigh of relief escape his lips. Within the cave, the fire crackled, and Piper stirred in his sleep.


Chapter 17
Piper smiled in his sleep and snuggled closer to the warm fur blanket next to him. The harmonious rhythm of the pattering rain outside the cave danced within his dreams. What a beautiful melody. A descant played an octave higher on my flute would create a wonderful duet. I could make it into a ballad. Crowds would cheer. Music masters would be impressed. I might become the youngest troubadour ever. The patter of the rain turned to applause.

A smile, a bow, a deep breath of satisfaction and ... Wait. What is that aroma? Piper's mouth watered. Whatever was wafting on the air was warm and savory. The harmony of the rain faded into background accompaniment as the erratic rumbling of his empty stomach took center stage. His eyes fluttered open.

Piper raised his groggy head enough to make out a figure bent over the fire stirring a pot in the dim light. "Redd-Leif? You're back?"

The Fae looked up and nodded at him. "Well, well, our fair-haired friend has awakened at last. Hello, Piper."

Piper sat up and yawned. "Hello, sir. How is Rupert?"

"You don't waste any time getting to the point, do you?" Redd-Leif grinned. "Well, my boy, the healers had to work a little magic on a couple of crushed bones, but they were able to set the arm. Given time to recuperate, Rupert should heal completely if he follows healer's orders."

The warm fur blanket he was clutching shifted next to him. Piper gave a start, jerked his hand out of the wolf's fur and pulled away, eyes wide as he stared at her.

"Relax, dear boy. If I wanted to eat you, I would have done so already." Sheba rose, stretched nonchalantly, and sauntered over to the fire to sniff at the cooking pots. She smacked her lips in approval. "I hope you are making plenty, Summerstorm. I so seldom get porridge."

"Porridge tastes better if it simmers a few hours. The stew is for midday. The porridge will be for dinner, leftovers for breakfast."

"If there are any." Sheba's tongue made a full circle of her top and bottom lips.

Redd-Leif scowled. "There'd better be." He looked over at Piper. "I'd daresay you are starving. From the looks of things, you didn't eat much while I was gone. Too worried about your friend, or don't know how to cook?"

Piper shrugged, his eyes still on Sheba. "Maybe both."

"The stew will take a while longer, but I brought back some fresh bread. If you look in the pack over there, you'll find it along with some apples and cheese. A pot is sitting just outside the cave entrance collecting rain water if you are thirsty."

"Thank you, sir." Piper got up and went to the pack Redd-Leif had indicated. He rummaged through the contents, retrieved a hunk of bread and an apple, then found a place to sit near the fire opposite Redd-Leif. After taking a few bites, he asked. "Rupert's never been away from his family before. Was he alright being left alone with strangers?"

Redd-Leif nodded as he continued attending to the cooking. "Oh, yes. He seems to enjoy being the center of attention. Probably the performer in him. I'd say he is as fascinated by the Elven youths as they are by him."

"Elves are fascinated by Rupert?"

"Of course. Not many elves your age have seen a human before." Redd-Leif stopped stirring the cooking pots and smiled at Piper. "It is admirable you are so protective of your friend. Right now though, he's much more comfortable than you are. Which reminds me, how's your head?"

"Better. It doesn't hurt as much and the swelling has gone down." Piper raised a hand to his temple and winced.

"So I see." Redd-Leif smirked. "How about I look at it after I finish here, maybe make a poultice?"

"Might be a good idea." Piper continued to munch on his food as he watched Redd-Leif work, glancing sideways at Sheba occasionally. As long as the wolf concentrated on sniffing the food in the pots he supposed he shouldn't worry too much about the fact she was licking her lips continually.

Redd-Leif stoked the fire, then reached for a rabbit. He examined it briefly then started to skin it by putting his thumbs under the skin of the rabbit's back ankles and working his way up the legs. Less than a minute later the skin was removed in one piece. He set the pelt to the side, then twisted off one back leg followed by the other. Bones snapped and joints popped.

Piper gasped.

Redd-Leif looked up. "What's wrong, Piper? Haven't you ever seen anyone dress game for cooking?"

"Yes, sir, plenty of times." He paused to take a breath. "But usually they use a knife." A puzzled looked filled his eyes. "It's just ..."

"Yes?"

"Well, it reminded me of something Captain Burkehart said."

"Captain Burkehart?" Redd-Leif raised an eyebrow. "What did he say?"

"That he ..." Piper swallowed. "That he'd seen Fae ... tear men apart ... with their bare hands."

Redd-Leif cringed and the color drained from his face. He looked down.

Piper followed the Fae's gaze to the torn rabbit and the blood on his hands.

"Sometimes," Redd-Leif said softly, "Fae forget how fragile humans are."

Raising his eyes, Piper noted the tightness in Redd-Leif's jaw and the slump in his shoulders. Piper stiffened. "He didn't mean you, did he?"

Redd-Leif closed his eyes, took a deep breath and tilted his head upward.

Out of habit, Piper reached to touch the flute that normally hung at his side to reassure himself, but it wasn't there. His eyes darted to the bedroll. The flute was nestled safely among his things. Not wishing to make a sound, he resisted the urge to retrieve the flute. Instead, Piper stared at Redd-Leif. The Fae was every bit the stuff of legend--all muscle and sinew, swift, strong, and deadly. He could tear me apart as easily as he did the rabbit, if he chose.

The fire crackled. The rain pattered. In the distance, thunder rolled.

"Dear boy." Sheba's serene voice made him jump. "If that's all Burkehart told you, then you only have a small portion of the story. The fact is ..."

"It's alright, Sheba," Redd-Leif interrupted. He looked over to meet Piper's gaze. "So Piper, you're curious; you have questions."

"Yes, sir."

Redd-Leif nodded. "And I have much I've been wanting to tell you. Let me finish preparing the stew, and then we will talk."

~~~~


Recognized


Cast of Characters

Piper = A musical apprentice, just turned age15.

Rupert = A musical apprentice. Piper's friend, age 14.

Grand Master Raymond Acker = Head of the music guild. Piper's grandfather. Recently deceased leaving Piper an orphan under the care of the music guild.

Captain Burkehart = Captain of the Guard at Castle Welf

Redd-Leif Summerstorm = A Fae

Master Braun = Troubadour recently promoted to the rank of Master in the music guild at Castle Welf

Sheba = an enchanted creature in wolf form

Fair Folk = Refers to non-human races sometimes considered magic such as elves, Fae, brownies, sprites, gnomes, dwarfs, etc. Also called elementals.

~~~
Thank you to GaliaG for the use of the artwork "Music Abstract"
Pays
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by GaliaG at FanArtReview.com

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.


© Copyright 2017. w.j.debi All rights reserved.
w.j.debi has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.