Tuesday, December 09, 2008

As Regards Organs

Mechner followed the sound of organ music; distant, but growing closer. He walked carefully along the narrow stone corridor, watching the floor warily; then he paused. Kneeling, he held his index finger and thumb half an inch apart; between them was a black line, a trip-wire nearly too thin to be seen. Mechner nodded. He pulled from his cloak a walking-stick, and with it prodded the ceiling; a small strip of wood crumbled, revealing the glint of metal. Mechner nodded again.

He prepared to step over the trip-wire, evading the trap; then he paused. He drew his leg back, carefully so as not to spring the trip-wire, and extended the stick. Where he prodded the floor, it too crumbled away, revealing an endless abyss of empty air beneath.

Mechner considered.

He put the stick away, and began to walk up the wall. He positioned himself perpendicularly, two feet on one wall, two hands on the other; then he began to "walk" along the corridor. His arms had begun to ache by the time he reached its end; still, he drew his walking-stick out once more (leaving himself supported by only one arm) and prodded the floor to make sure it was stable before allowing himself to descend. His shoes, padded and velvet-soft, made his movements nearly silent.

Mechner noticed that the organ music, which had been intensifying in strength as he progressed, was now reaching a crescendo.

He looked around. The corridor through which he had passed ended in a graceful arch; beyond it was a tremendously large room, filled with ornate arches and buttresses to support its progression towards a narrow cupola high above. From the heights of the room descended a set of burnished silvery pipes, clearly the source of the music Mechner had been following; Mechner followed the pipes with his eyes as he had their notes with his ears, and found at last their source, a vast mechanism perched atop a high dias, before which sat a lady all in green. Beyond the dias stretched a canvas of stars; the designers of the room had not deigned to build a fourth wall.

The organ music built in intensity; then faded. Mechner watched the lady's fingers play skillfully over the keys.

Without apparent provocation, then, the lady spoke: "I would appreciate if you came over here," she said. "I do not like to raise my voice."

Mechner started, surprised; the lady faced away from him, and he did not think he had made any sound loud enough to carry. Still, he walked across the length of the room to the dias upon which the lady's bench sat, admiring the decorative friezes upon the walls as a means of distracting himself from his nervousness. (For some reason, he did not think he needed to watch for traps here, in this room.)

As Mechner reached the foot of the dias, the lady spoke again, still having not turned around. "How did you find out about this place?"

Mechner coughed nervously, thinking his answer through before he spoke. "I hired a mystic, who raised the architect's spirit from the grave. We spoke. I feel that he was quite affronted at your... actions towards him, those resulting in his present condition."

The lady nodded, playing the organ mezzo-piano. "How did you secure entrance?"

This question Mechner answered more readily. "I realized that the spiral stairway was a trap; so I ascended the guy-lines, dropping from the balloon into an opened window. From there I proceeded through the corridors, eventually arriving here."

The intensity of the music began to rise. "Did you have any difficulties, once inside?"

"There were some environmental hazards. Spikes primed to spring out of floors and walls, deadly blades in the ceilings made to drop by the triggering of a trip-wire, false floors leading to a miles-long fall. Still, I am here."

"And why are you here?" the lady asked, something in her voice suddenly razor-sharp.

"I-" Mechner began to speak, but was cut off. The music began to rise towards a second, larger crescendo.

"I am not a prize," the lady said, her voice chill and brittle as ice. "I am here for a reason; this is a place of my making. I am no princess to be rescued by you, the valiant prince; I am my own person, and your arrogance in invading my privacy is an insult beyond bearing!" She paused, her finger suspended over a key, abruptly ending the music a moment before the peak. "Do you have any defense?"

Mechner was silent for a moment, his face downcast. Then he spoke.

"I am sorry. I heard of you; the lady in the floating castle, who hides herself away because of love lost, waiting for a man to reach her and prove himself worthy as - that other - was not. It was a false tale, I see now; perhaps I should have known. I had hoped, beyond all reason, really. I thought you to be a kindred spirit. We both have loved, and been betrayed..."

"But the tale was false, and I have only brought more injury to you, when I meant to heal and help. I apologize for all injuries I have done you, by my presence and by these too-coarse words; and I will leave."

The lady's finger still hung suspended above the organ keys. She said nothing.

Mechner turned half-away; then, compelled by a terrible curiosity, turned back. "If I do not do further damage by asking... why were you playing the organ?"

After a moment, the lady responded. "The music of the organ summons my protectors, who I have trained to respond to this song. Upon its completion, they will all swarm in at once and devour any interloper."

Mechner blanched. "...I notice they have not done so," he said as steadily as he could manage.

"I have not - quite - completed the song," the lady told him, something odd in her voice.

"Well, then," Mechner said, backing away and bowing as he went, though the lady's back was still turned to him. "I will be going, then?"

"No," the lady told him. "I think you will stay."

Mechner froze. "What?"

The lady arose from her bench, reaching to put away the sheet music. "It is perhaps perverse, stranger, but something in your story touched me. I do not know you; for all I know, you may be a liar or a chartalan, trying to trick me into false sympathy. There are those who can decieve so well as to be snakes in human form... but for some reason, I believe you. And perhaps you were not wrong in thinking us kindred spirits."

"So," Mechner said, fumbling for words. His mind was all awhirl. "You wish me to stay, then? Here, upon the castle?"

"Yes," the lady told him. Her eyes were like emeralds.

"...you will be turning off the traps, then?" Mechner asked, still somewhat at a loss for words at the rapid turnabout of the situation. "So that I can get about the castle without being skewered by spikes or killed by falling blades..."

The lady closed the cover over the organ's keys, turning fully to face Mechner. She smiled. "No, of course the traps will stay on. We wouldn't want to make things too easy, would we?"

1 comment:

Calvacadeofcats said...

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that was so cool, but i am jelous of you becuz you have a hot gf