- The Piper, part 50by w.j.debi
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Follow the Piper
The Piper
: The Piper, part 50 by w.j.debi

see Author note for synopsis of the story so far
Wasps were buzzing with frustration, zipping around within the confines of an invisible bubble. Sporadically, one left the swarm and aimed for the figure curled into a ball next to the canyon wall. Burkehart kept his hands covering his face, but flinched at each sting that found a chink in his thick leather clothing.
Piper frowned. I almost feel sorry for you, Captain. But you did try to kill me, and my father, and Sheba. You almost succeeded, too.

The sound of deep gravelly voices drew Piper’s attention to the side. Three trolls were waiting to take Burkehart into custody. One was so short he only came to Piper’s waist. The second was about the size of an average human male. The third was twice that height, towering over everything except a few trees on the plateau. The tall troll nodded at Piper then dropped his gaze to Piper’s side.

Serein faced the crowd gathering behind him. When Melodica had left to check on Redd-Leif, Serein begged to stay with her brother. Piper knew it was more about holding his “alive” flute than a sudden fondness for him. Still, it was the first Serein had wanted to be with him. From the corner of his eye, he saw her wave then curtsy.

Piper smiled. There’s a bit of the  performer in you, little sister.
“Are you listening to me, Piper?”

Piper turned to look at Master Crescendo. “Yes, sir. I’m listening.”

“Wasps spend their nights inside their nests doing repairs and taking care of the larva, but do not fly around during the night. It is nearing dusk. You need to release them soon.”

Piper nodded. “Sorry, I thought the charm would wear off and they would just go on their way.”

Crescendo gave Piper a patient smile. “What made you think that, Piper? When we practiced with them before, we took even more time to release them than to call them, didn’t we?”

Piper sighed. “Yes, sir. I guess I was in a hurry to help Sheba.”

Master Crescendo appraised his student for a moment. “It must have been frightening being attacked by that soldier. It was good thinking to call the wasps to protect you.” He put a hand on Piper’s shoulder. “You look tired, Piper, but we need to take care of this.”

“I understand.”

Lynx came bouncing up to them, eyes shining with excitement. “You going to disperse the wasps now? Papa and Mama say not to wait for them. The healers are still seeing to Papa’s wounds.”

“I’m glad you’re here,” Piper said. “You need to watch Serein.”

Lynx stood straight, standing at his full ten-year-old height. He had his bow in hand, quiver of arrows at his back, a slingshot tucked in his belt. “I’m used to keeping her safe.”

Serein gave Piper a hopeful look. “Can I go with you?”

He squatted down so he was eye-level with her. “I’m not sure what the wasps are going to do with such a large crowd. I don’t want you to get stung.”


“How about you and Lynx stay with me?” Master Crescendo asked. “I’ll be following Piper so we’ll be close to him.”

Serein smiled at the music master.

Piper put out his hand. “I need my flute.”

Serein looked reluctant to give it away, but handed it to him. The flute cooed as it passed hands. Serein grinned. "She likes me."

"Yes, she does." As he rose, Piper gazed at the crowd. “Word travels fast in the faerie realm. Where did they all come from?”

“They’re just curious,” Crescendo said. “Everyone has been wanting to meet Lord Summerstorm’s lost boy. We were planning a concert a bit later, but looks like it will be an impromptu performance now.”

“The wasps, how are they going to react? We’ve only done this in private lessons.”

“I’ll speak to the crowd before you begin. You concentrate on the wasps. Now, just as we did in practice, pick a spot for the swarm to move to. Envision them doing it. Once they reach that spot, pick another. Keep repeating until you get them down the plateau and near their nest. Envision them dispersing to release them. I’ll be near in case you need me. You remember the tune we used in practice?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good, let’s get started.” Master Crescendo turned to the crowd, motioning for silence. “Everyone. Attention. Attention, please.” Once they were quiet, he continued, “Thank you. I appreciate that you’re all curious, but there isn’t time to explain at present. What you do need to know is that these wasps need to be moved to another area. We need your help. Please, be as quiet as possible so you don’t disturb the wasps, and so Piper can concentrate. Also, please stay back so he has room to work. If you’re like me, you don’t want to get stung. Piper will be directing the swarm away from this area and releasing them.” 

“With music?” someone asked.

“Yes, with music. I know that is a bit unusual, but Piper has this under control.”

A murmur went through the crowd.

Crescendo raised his arms. “Now, everyone, silence please.”

Piper turned to face the wasps, putting the flute to his lips. You ready?

Eager. Let’s work some magic with our music.

Piper began playing the tune he’d used during practice with the wasps. The swarm continued to be agitated. He attempted different rhythms and phrasing. The buzzing didn’t change. It’s not working.

It’s not the tune we used this afternoon.

You’re right. Maybe it must be the same music. Piper played a trill to change the modulation, then began playing the tune his Grandfather Acker had taught him.

Master Crescendo gave him a puzzled look then nodded.

The buzzing calmed. The swarm took on the soothing rhythm of the melody.

They’re tired, Piper.

Yes, and thirsty. We need to release them as quickly as possible. There’s a pond near their nest. We’ll release them there.


Piper turned to looked down the plateau for a place to direct the swarm. There was a slight catch in the melody as he realized the crowd blocked his view. What can I do?

You didn’t have a destination in mind when Burkehart attacked. The wasps stayed between you and Burkehart. They also contained the captain as instructed. Maybe they will just follow you. 

It’s worth a try. He turned to face the wasps again. Leave the captain. Come toward me. Piper’s skin prickled as the buzzing insects moved within two arms lengths. Maintain this distance. 

He turned back to the plateau. The crowd parted to allow him a pathway. Follow me. He stepped forward, concentrating on the music and the path, ignoring the crowd. The trembling hum of the air confirmed the swarm was following him. I am grateful for your help. You will be free shortly.
The wasps buzzed in tempo with Piper’s steady, measured cadence as they moved forward. When he neared the pond, Piper slowed his stride and the tempo of the tune. He envisioned the wasps dispersing. Thank you, my friends. One-by-one, wasps left the swarm and headed to get a drink before going to their nest. When only a few wasps were in the air, Piper removed the flute from his lips.

A wasp landed on his free hand. He brought his hand closer to his face. “Hello, little friend. Time to go rest. Ouch!” Piper gasped. “She stung me.”

The flute chirped in a manner that sound like giggling.

Piper put the flute to his lips. Are you laughing at me?

You must admit, it is funny. Did you expect gratitude? It will probably take them days to recover.

Piper smiled. Yeah, you’re right. But I am grateful they saved us.

Me, too.

Piper began playing a lullaby as much to calm himself as to help the wasps relax.
Master Crescendo appeared at his side with Lynx and Serein. “Well done, Piper. Your impromptu changes worked well. We’ll discuss them at our next lesson.”

Piper smiled but continued to play. Thank you, my friends. Wasps are amazing. He felt their contentment and stopped playing.

When he turned, an eager crowd stared at him. Ever the performer, he bowed to his audience. Clapping and cheering filled the plateau. He grinned, bowing several times. After all, nothing could please a musician more than having his performance appreciated.

Once the crowd quieted some, Master Crescendo motioned for silence. “Thank you. Thank you. I know you would all like to meet and congratulate Piper, but as you can see, he is exhausted. Please allow the Summerstorms a few days to recover. I promise to arrange a festival in Moonbow Valley so you can all meet Piper.” He turned to wink at Piper. “Maybe we can even get him to perform.”

As the crowd began to disperse, Redd-Leif and Melodica came to greet Piper.

Noting Redd-Leif’s bandaged arm, swollen nose, and numerous bruises and scrapes, Piper asked, “Are you alright, Father?”

A big grin enveloped Redd-Leif’s face. “I am now. I believe this is the first time you’ve called me ‘Father.’”

Piper returned a sheepish grin. “Yeah, you’re right.”
Melodica stepped closer. “That was amazing, Piper.” Then she looked back at Redd-Leif. “I thought you were just a proud father, but what you always say is true.”

Piper gave her a questioning look. “May I ask what he says?”

Melodica smiled. “When Piper plays, it’s magic. Pure magic.”

Author Notes
Piper is a young apprentice and prodigy in the music guild of Castle Welf. With the death of his grandfather, the Grand Master of the guild, Piper is assigned to a new music master. Master Braun takes Piper on his first traveling tour. During their travels, a wolf attack separates Piper and his friend Rupert from the traveling troupe. Redd-Leif Summerstorm, a powerful Fae, and Sheba, an enchanted wolf, rescue the boys and take them to the faerie realm.The flute that he has had since he was six comes to life and frightens off three elven youths who were teasing him. Piper wonders about his trusty flute and what the changes mean. Captain Burkehart has made his way to the Faerie Realm and has been hiding. He reveals himself to Piper, tries to poison him, and Piper is saved by the timely arrival of Summerstorm. Burkehart and Summerstorm confront each other. While saving Piper, Summerstorm falls over the ridge. Piper uses his flute to make plants grow to save Summerstorm, and entice wasps to protect him from Burkehart. With the help of the Mage Flute, Piper is able to partiallly heal Sheba.

Free stock photo. Artist = StuartMiles

Cast of Characters
*Piper = A musical apprentice, just turned age 15.
*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
*Melodica = an Elven female
*Master Raven = Elf; master hunter
*Lynx = Ten-year-old son of Redd-Leif and Melodica Summerstorm
*Serein = Six-year-old daughter of Redd-Leif and Melodica Summerstorm
*Master Crescendo = Elven High Mage, First Sage of Music and Song
*Lady Spring = Wife of Master Crescendo
*Falcon, Blue Jay, and Robin = Teen-age elven hunters, nearly always together, slightly older than Piper at ages of 16 and 17 years-old
*Jasmine and Peck = guardian faeries of Piper and his flute

Elementals, also called Fair Folk by humans
*Fae = Oldest of the elemental races. Known as strong, swift and deadly by their enemies. Characterized by white hair and skin that shimmers silver-blue in direct moonlight. Usually taller than humans and muscular.
*Elf = Most numerous of the elementals. Often slightly taller and more slender than humans.
*Pixie = In their normal form they are six inches tall with wings, but they can change size to as large as humans or as small as a faerie.
*Faerie = Vary in height from one to three inches. Wings vary and can appear to be like those of dragonflies or butterflies.
Mage Flute = also known as the Black Forest Fife. Made from the heart of the last Mage Tree from the Black Forest. It chooses who can play it.

Fair Folk = Name given to faerie races (elementals) by humans. Refers to elves, Fae, faeries, brownies, sprites, gnomes, dwarfs, etc.


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