Reven watched trunk after trunk of pilfered items float their way into the small apartment he shared with Liam in Ajana. Workmen carried each lacquered wooden piece as if it contained a sleeping infant, each of them eyeing Liam with concern. The thief-taker eyed each of the workman in turn, glaring at them with a silent warning to be cautious – or be dead.
Reven opened his mouth once or twice to ask a question, but thought better of it. He sat in a corner of the apartment, instead, staying out of Liam’s way. Some of the trunks were locked up tight, while others had a latch that bobbed up and down as it was moved. It was one of those that Reven chose to focus, silently peeking over the top trunk to the room before him before sinking back down into his corner unseen.
The trunk was rather large with well-oiled hinges and a latch that appeared to have been snapped off. The tirsai lifted the lid and grinned at what he saw inside. Rich fabrics and tiny pouches of velvet or worn leather; polished wood cases, a few gems, and something that made Reven take pause. A violin, the bow slightly bent but still in working order, and the body of it in need of a good polish.
A Little Attention
It took hours to get all of the trunks stuffed into the apartment. Liam barked orders and drank several bottles of wine while Reven hid in his corner with the trunk full of fabrics. He held the violin in his lap while laying out each of the wooden cases on the floor beside him. One held a polished silver flute and another held another woodwind instrument that looked similar to an oboe but with a double reed.
All three instruments tickled Reven’s mind with something that wanted to be a memory. He knew the instruments, knew their names and sounds, the fingering to produce just the right notes or how to tune them properly. The lilting notes of various songs echoed through his mind until he hummed softly to himself.
The violin held his attention the most. It was in need of repair, tuning, attention. He dug through the trunk before him for wax or extra strings but found neither. He made a face of annoyance and set the violin aside. Another trunk that was within his limited corner also had its latch snapped off, allowing him to dig through it freely. The pouches inside jingled and he came up with a wooden recorder that he placed beside the other instruments.
“Well,” he sighed, speaking quietly so that his voice did not carry beyond the wall of trunks that surrounded him. “I suppose it can’t be helped. Perhaps there will be new strings in another trunk.”
He lifted the violin up, placing it carefully beneath his chin. His hands and ears worked in tandem, tuning the instrument as best he could under the circumstances until it no longer screeched like a dying cat.
A New Song
With the violin tuned to its current best, Reven brought the instrument back up to his chin and placed the crooked bow on the strings. He shut his eyes and let his fingers do the rest. Some of the notes did not sound quite right, so he paused to adjust the strings, then started over.
The song that emerged was both haunting and inspiring, something dug out from a deep well inside of him. He played with eyes closed, played until the song finished then played another, and another, and another. He played until he felt he might weep, finally letting the violin down from his chin with a shutter.
“That was beautiful.”
Reven looked up sharply from his spot behind the trunks. Ajana and Liam watched him. Ajana had a radiant smile on her face and tears in her eyes while Liam eyed him with suspicion and annoyance.
“Did you write it?” Ajana continued, ignoring the duende thief-taker.
“I… don’t know,” Reven answered honestly. He still did not remember anything before meeting the beautiful cantari woman.
“Don’t know or don’t wanna say?” Liam barked, leaning over the trunks to peer at Reven. The tirsai man merely swallowed hard and set the violin back into the nest of fabrics in which it was found.
“Leave him be, Liam,” Ajana scolded, slapping the thief-taker on the shoulder. “It was beautiful. I would love for you to play again.”
Liam arched a brow, peering harder at Reven. The look made the poor tirsai shrink further into his corner.
“Might be use fer ya, yet, Master Bard,” Liam smirked. “Now get up outta there an’ come help unload these. Ya ain’t got no audience to play for yet. An’ don’t take nothin’ what’s not playable. Got it?”
Reven sighed but nodded, glancing one more time at the violin that would become his way of life.