“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast” or so wrote William Congreve. Many people think it was the immortal bard who wrote that line or think it is about soothing a savage beast rather than breast, but those are not the case. It was the latter misquotation that brought it to mind. Only, in this case, music was definitely not soothing a savage beast. At least, not one kind of music.
I was on my walk around the village, when I came across Hadley, who was coming perilously close to straying beyond the roses. She was tearing Orie off a strip about enquiring after her personal life and her history before coming here. I greeted them both, asked how they were and reminded Hadley that she wasn’t to go beyond the roses without one of us with her.
Hadley said she was fine and that she wasn’t going anywhere. Orie would only admit to things being fine. I reminded him to listen to Hadley’s request about not talking about her or her past. I said there were political matters that he did not want to get involved with. Hadley appreciated, saying “See!” to him in response to my warning to him. He claimed he had nothing to do with politics, but seemed distracted.
So was I. I could smell mint nearby. I was fairly sure none grew where we were, unless some of Helene’s or Dorina’s plantings had escaped, as mint is wont to do. I glanced sideways and thought I saw a familiar shadow. I blew a kiss in its direction and explained a little more to Hadley about going outside the village.
Valene emerged from the shadows, coming to my side where I drew her into a hug. She greeted everybody and melded into my embrace. She claimed that she had managed to elude her guards for a short while so that she could go wandering. It felt good to have her close, but I also felt another sense of well-being from some other presence. I looked round and found Dyisi had emerged from the mists and was cosying up to Orie. I made introductions, as did Orie, surprisingly gracefully. Hadley and Dyisi seemed to already know each other. I felt a moment of concern. I liked and trusted Dyisi, but I didn’t know what her situation in Esterwell was, so I mentioned that Hadley was our guest and under our protection. She seemed only concerned that I was looking after Hadley, which I told her I was, and which Hadley agreed was the case.
Since Dyisi was there, I asked if she knew anything about dolls of a character called Elsa. She wasn’t sure, but when I explained further, she thought she might have seen the character on a poster about the film. Hadley chimed in with some additional information. Dyisi said that she could maybe find somebody who might be able to obtain such a thing.
Nualla and Royce appeared, glaring at me and scolding Valene for straying. She may be queen, but they keep her on a tight leash. She grumbled somewhat, but went with them anyway.
Further conversation was interrupted by a blood-chilling roar and howl, as Gwrgi appeared, upright and apparently angry at something, or possibly someone. His attention seemed to be focussed on Orie for some reason. The guards were already reacting, adopting defensive positions. I reminded them that weapons were not to be drawn unless absolutely necessary. I had a moment of panic when I saw that Wren was very close by to the cŵn, so yelled at her to get inside the tavern and yelled at Hadley to get in the nearest building. Fortunately they were both close enough that guards could get in front of them. For a moment, I wished that Valene had not left us, thinking she might have been able to deal with him.
I confronted Gwrgi, with hands away from my weapons, asking him what he wanted and stating that no violence would be offered him if he offered none. He responded in that most disconcerting voice of his, telling us to stop the music maker, who was not welcome in his woods, otherwise he would kill and eat him and use his violin as a toothpick. I had heard reports from villagers of violin music in the woods, and that Orie was possibly the culprit.
Behind me, I heard Orie unholster his guns and yell at us to stand clear. He shouted that he had come to restore Faermorn, and nobody was going to stop him. I told Gwrgi again that there would be no violence; there was no need for violence. I summoned up all my presence and commanded Orie to stand down, which fortunately he did. Perhaps Dyisi helped, for I felt that wave of calm flow from her, as she also told him to put up his weapons.
As if in response to my unspoken wish, or perhaps she had heard me through our bond, the shadows near me swirled and coalesced into the form of Valene. She looked with sorrow upon the beast and asked how far he had fallen. Her scent surrounded us and she sang, something that sounded like a lullaby. He stopped for a moment. He had looked torn, torn between the desire to rend Orie into pieces and the desire to be civilised, to respond to my overtures of peace. But now, he looked confused, as if memories were surfacing, forgotten familiarities. He stayed focussed entirely on her.
I backed up towards Orie and Dyisi, letting Valene handle her one-time friend and maybe lover. Dyisi seemed to me to be doing the same to Orie, who also looked torn between a desire to fight and the soothing influence of Dyisi. I explained who Gwrgi was, how he had been a cŵn, but was now freed of the Huntsman and a little, I suspected, lost. I thanked Orie for putting up his guns and suggested that maybe we try to find somewhere else to play his music, and maybe, stay away from the woods for a few days, to give Gwrgi time to settle down. He was still staring after the beast, as Valene led him away, but eventually, pulled himself in, muttering “shit” as if scared by what he had almost become.
I left him in Dyisi’s charge, since they appeared to be good friends, and I trusted her calming instincts and went to make sure that Wren and Hadley were ok.
I wonder now, what happened with him and Faermorn. He was part of the effort to rescue her from the sea-monster, so it was likely she had invited him to her chambers to thank him. Had he become elf-struck or otherwise infatuated? Or had he too dreamed of her? I did ask him to come and talk to me about her, but I don’t know that he heard. Perhaps I will get better answers in the Summerlands, perhaps I should try to dream of her soon.