Wednesday, May 20, 2015

City of Curses: Lily


Life is best when one gets to wear a new, beautiful dress.  Silk, vibrant purple and enchanted just right to echo along with music, I felt ready to my job as a Diva.  I strode out of the Grand Bazaar, bedazzled and ready to face the City of Curses.  I was Diva, ready to help others hear the Singer's Song.

The bell chimed when I entered the establishment.

"We don't serve yer kind."  The barkeep immediately retorted at me.

I looked back at the signs on the front of the tavern's door.  The glass had been painted with the words,

'The Storm's Last Call, bar and restaurant.'  Underneath it had been written an additional phrase as well.

'Humans Only.  No halflings, Fiendbloods or Tinkers.'

I sniffed.  "I'm a singer of the song-"

"Aye," the one-eyed barkeep agreed.  "And yer a twins-damned fiendblood too.  Or didya think yer pretty horns wouldn't give it away?"

I sighed.  No point in pushing the point.

I walked back outside.  Sometimes I forgot my heritage, the years at the orphanage and truly thought I could walk away from my blood.  I walked outside.

More of the usual stares.  That other part of my job kicking in.  Divas sing the Singer's Song.  And we

Divas are beautiful.  It's a requirement.

So I found a street corner in Old Crux instead.  A bit of improvising, and I found myself atop a wine
barrel.  Weaving magic and music together, I sang for a time there.  Fog and smoke cleared.  I let the
music escape me, I let the singer sing.

"En tha uills ze wold cill zis nhama,
Zhames! Ly lova ot ly hartzi!
Zhera notola fet un lama,
No uni fet wif-hola zhama."

Slow, yet quiet.  I closed my eyes.  I tried to have my voice hit the soprano notes of each foreign verse.

 I felt the rhythm.  Melody and harmony.  I didn't need music, just my voice.

When I opened my eyes, I opened them to a crowd.  People of every stripe, all crowded around my barrel.

Of course, they also were blocking the doorway into the Storm's Last Call too.  My performance seemed to

have the incidental effect of reducing the racist's business.

"Oops."

I gave a brief bow.  Applause greeted me.  I loved that.  But it was part of the job.  Divas perform music, tell stories, provide entertainment- all to enlighten their audiences.  The Singer of the Song teaches that art provides insight.  Divas grant that insight to anyone they can.  We make the world better.  People hear the tales.  They live the lives of others.

The crowd dispersed.  I hopped down from the barrel.  I would be gone before the barkeep could come out to give his piece.  My fiendblood still lingered.  Tieflings were unfairly discriminated throughout the City of Curses, along with Androids and Ursyklon.  I wished my music might help teach those without fiendblood to open up, even if only for a bit.

The song had been Zhames's Call.  The main character was Zhames, a father whose tiefling son dies to save them from danger.  It was in ancient salish, but the undercurrent still was there.  Potential for empathy.

I continued my walk up the street.  The Old Wall stood in the distance, marking the middle depths of Old Crux.  Smoke and fog made buildings blur or hide.  I kept an eye out for carriages and horses, but navigating the streets, smoke and traffic wasn't a problem.

I learned to ignore the stares at my horns.  At my forked tail.  I had tied a dark purple bow around it, unafraid to show it.  Maybe that had the air of arrogance to it.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Divas never show fear.  Beauty.   We master beauty.  Beauty always kills one's fears.

"Let me go."  The faint voice made me flinch.  Young.  A child's voice.

"Boy, fiendblood ain't welcome here.  You Orphans think you can wander around here?"  A gruffer voice.

My feet shifted and moved.  Without a single sound, I moved toward it.  Soon I had started down a dark alley.  Behind a collection of taverns and restaurants, angled downward.  I stepped through a pillar of smoke.

A tiny tiefling urchin cowered in the grasp of a much larger man.  The man had the look of the perpetual drunk I'd been accostumed to in this part of town.  His blood probably had more alcohol than saltwater in it.  Brave enough to corner a urchin child whose rags barely covered his feet.

"Excuse me."

The drunk blinked and turned his head to me.  He looked me up and down.  Then, after spitting at me, turned back to the urchin.

"Drek off."  He grunted.  Up this close, I could smell the moldy stink on him.  Yuck.  Couldn't even be bothered to take a twins-damned bath.

"Let the child go, and you won't piss yourself."  I calmly explained.  I paused, then remembered.  "Please."

The drunk would-be-urchin-beater squinted at me.  He curled up a fist.  Then he opened it, slowly grabbing a pistol.  He fingered it and pushed at at the urchin.

I sighed.  Idiots think guns make them immortal.

I grabbed the pistol.  I yanked backward.  I threw my body into a flip.  It didn't matter that I didn't finish it.  The drunk's arm wasn't built for it.  He tried to pull the trigger.  It fired into the air.

Too slow.  Too drunk.

Divas know how to fight.  Champions of our faith, we know the music of combat as well as the music of the soul.  The dance started in theatre tricks and fake combats, but ending in blood and mutilated bodies.  We don't advertise it.  Most people see us as free entertainment.  Or they see the Church of the Singer of the Song as pacifists.

We know how to fight as good as any Paladin or Fighter.  We also fight beautifully.

Bones popped.  Then cracked.  I stood on my head for a moment.  I heard the gun clattered to the ground.

The drunk couldn't speak.  Only the stink of urine came from him.  I'd broken most of the bones in his arm.

I rolled away from him.  Just as easily, I stood up.   The drunk fell over.  He clung to his arm.  Crying.

"Not as easy if one knows how to fight."  I told him.  He flinched at me.

I turned to the tiefling urchin.  "Hello.  You okay?"

He nodded.  Wide eyed, he looked up at me in awe.  Impressed by violence.  Ugh.

Sometimes I succeed only to dig things deeper.  I sighed.  Then I walked over to the crying, urine-stinking drunk.  I grabbed his broken arm.

I whispered a small song.  Its golden tone turned manifest, healing the drunk fool.  The bones knitted themselves.

The drunk ran away after that.  I guess healing him must've been the last bit he needed.

"Why?"  The urchin asked me.

"Why did I heal him or why do they do such things to us with fiendblood?"

The urchin shrugged.  "Either.  I just- uh..."

"Thought to pick his pocket.  He surprised you, and you didn't know how to get away."  I explained.  I remembered my own youth.  The years spent stealing coin for a quick taste of Burn.  "I healed him because that was the right thing to do."

"But dumb, he could just get some friends and come back-"

"No one said the right thing wasn't hard."  I looked over my dress.  I hadn't managed to stain it.  Good.  Ruining it the day I bought would've been a waste.

"Ok."  The child processed that for a moment, then added, "I kinda know they hate us.  We're monsters."

I shrugged.  "One's monster is another's hero.  Don't let hate define you."