The Wildhunt – Chapter 1 – The Old Koka

The lute is all that matters. Not the sickle, the rake, or the hammer. People live their lives, hoping to one day follow their dream. To me, there is no dream. Just life. My life is the dream. And if my dream dies, so does my life.

I sat at the very back of the tavern in Castleton after a three day ride from my home. My back was turned to the man I had come to see.

“The old Koka” was his stage name, and he was the best known bard in all the land. His songs had the power to change a dark, dusky place into one of merry cheer and drinking.

Everyone in the room was singing merrily and drinking heartily. It was a great distraction. Amid the chaos of downing tankards, clapping and stopping, nobody would notice one little girl in the corner, by herself, scribbling every note, word, and tone the performer was doing at a frantic pace.

I sat back and admired my handiwork. It was finally finished. Not that anyone else but me would be able to know that. I had created my own system, a way of recording every single note so that anyone who observed would think I was madly writing scribbles.

I left the glowing tavern into the cold night. Drunks stumbled and shouted, homeless lay, and I walked through it to return to my inn much further away in the city, and much cheaper.

I was tired. It was time for sleep.

The next day I ventured out onto the mountaintop overlooking the landscape of the city. Beyond it I could see the famous mountain upon which a city lay. And I played.

The songs weren’t difficult. They were frustratingly simple, and I could play them all within the hour. After that I entered a state of being far from my own, I was one with the valley, playing soothing music to ease the sadness in my soul.

The sadness that told me I was a fake, and a fraud was difficult to bear. But the wealth I would gain through this endeavour, and the excitement from doing so would be worth it.

I wanted a change of scenery while I ate, so I went a slight distance into the forest atop the hill I was standing on.

There was a tree that had grown in such a way to be horizontal, and I sat on it overlooking the stream that entered the lake bellow.

I wouldn’t use the old Koka’s songs forever, just until I could live independently.

I continued playing until my fingers were raw and red, and then more. It didn’t matter.

I filled the woods with music, accompanied by the flowing of the stream, wind of the forest, and animals of the earth.

The notes passed over the streams surface, creating slight ripples as they went. Then I stopped thinking, and my fingers moved for me. It was automatic. My eyes closed, and for the first time I was able to play just by sense.

When my eyes opened, I found that the flow of the stream had reversed, the current was uphill.

A shell was floating on the surface, but it was no simple shell. It was an artfully crafted shell that had been melded into a horn.

Losing the sense of music the forest sounds returned and I went to take a closer look at the shell.

I picked it up, and looked at the opening. It was not hollow, and was instead filled by a slimy ooze that wriggled and moved, until a mouth was revealed.

“Your music is a cure for my cursed soul” it said. Before hardening into a beautiful, glistening shell filling.

It didn’t matter how hard I tried, the creature would not come back. I kept the horn, and later decided to keep it tied around my chest diagonally.

In this way I rode back home, to make my fortune, and make my music. With my newly acquired knowledge, I knew it would all work out.

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