Story for the Day: The Opera Continues
The next part in the new Haanta Series novella: "Tales from Frewyn: The Opera"!
|Here is a peek of the book's cover! By Twisk ^^|
The first scene to grace the stage was the prospect of a very vibrant and neat little farm, furnished with two painted cows and some pretty chickens pecking about the verdant downs. A flute played to signify the trilling of birds, a paper sun was let up behind the farmhouse, and a woman suddenly immerged from within the barn. She was small, thin, and heavy-breasted for her size, her lips were trapped in a continual pout, her blue eyes glittered with the tinge of innocence, and she sang in a shrill and trilling voice of the misfortune of being a farmer’s daughter.
The commander understood from the depiction that this was meant to be an image of her life before the war, and she did her utmost not to laugh too loudly. “Well, at the very least I’m well-groomed,” she snickered. “I daresay I never looked half so shining in all my life. Only painted chickens can be so forthcoming. If they knew what vicious creatures hens were, they should never have placed me beside them with bare feet.”
“I think that’s meant to signify your poverty,” Alasdair whispered.
“Is it? Then I shall disregard the crisp shirt and handsome overalls I’m wearing.”
The party laughed, making the actress on stage instantly nervous as conveyed by her inconstant notes, and they contrived to be as quiet as was possible until the intermission should arrive, if there was one to be had at all.
The first song had done, and once the fair Boudicca had finished recanting her woes of privation, the sets changed, the farm was done away, and a troupe of tenors dressed as Galleisians entered. They pillaged the farm, wheeled in cardboard fires, and began to sing of their happy destruction of Frewyn’s countryside. All now seemed accurate, until two Galleisian soldiers entered with the fair Boudicca in hand and took her toward the painted Church to being having their way with her.
Alasdair sighed and rubbed his brow. “By the Gods,” he swore, gawping at the fair Boudicca singing for help as she was rived by the men.
“I do wonder,” the commander said smirkingly, “how my losing my father and fighting off his assailants translated into my personal violation.”
“That didn’t really happen, commander,” said Connors in a questioning tone.
“No, Connors. I would have remembered if it had.”
Most thought it a ridiculous prospect, to have a woman singing so gaily about so horrific an atrocity, and though they laughed it off, there was one amongst the party who could not laugh at such a catastrophic display: the Den Asaan, though able to regard the skill in the sets, remark the quality of the costumes and the bearableness of the previous aria, could not condone his mate being portrayed in such a manner. Her violation by the Galleisians was not only a falsehood but it was so debase a deception as to incite his fury instantly. His eyes flared in simmering wrath. He placed his hand on his sword, nearly stood, and prepared to roar his disapprobation, but a hand on his wrist stopped him and drew his attention to the box of butter biscuits at that moment being opened. His indignation did not cease, but seeing his mate’s smiling countenance while offering him a treat suggested his sitting down again. Sampling the smoothness of the chocolate and the mellifluousness of the toffee persuaded him to defer his retaliation at least until the end of the first act. With his eyes on his mate and his mind contemplating the salty sweetness of his treats, the giant was appeased, but the Frewyn Players could not be so easy, for they knew that what was to come next might be far more offensive to the Den Asaan than seeing the commander’s representation abused could be.
With the unpleasantness over, fair Boudicca escaped from her captors and fled to the painted Church, but not without receiving her share of wounds. A wooden sword protruded from her side and she soon began to sing of her future as a barren and useless woman while crawling up the Church steps.
“My injury was far more gallant than that,” the commander scoffed. “The violation at least would have been pleasant would it have been you, Iimon Ghaala, but to stab me when I’m already debilitated shows an inaccuracy I cannot forgive.”
“But it shows how you overcame so much misfortune,” said Teague, trying to suppress a smile.
“And now that they have declared me as useless with my farm and my ability to have children stricken from me, only then may I be of use to my kingdom? I joined the armed forces to avenge my father’s murder and was injured saving a certain king’s life. I should think that is tragedy and heroism enough for this play.”
Teague simpered to himself and looked about at the rest of the party. Expressions of restrained anger, mild bemusement and aversion were all he descried in the dimmed light of the front row, excepting the Den Asaan, who though still sitting with his hand on the hilt of his blade, was inclined to give his attention to what he was eating rather than what he was watching.
Fair Boudicca then fainted and the orchestra played in the Reverend Mother who opened the door of the painted Church to find the defiled farmer at her feet. She called to have Boudicca taken inside where she was pampered to life again with song by many of the Sisters fluttering about her. Birds and woodland creatures crooned to rouse her, and when fair Boudicca sat up, she was revived with uproarious conviction. She was to go into the armed forces, she alone would save Frewyn from destruction, and the Church was whisked away to reveal a garrison littered with bare-chested men singing of the drudgery in training. Fair Boudicca wandered into the bewildering world of the army, terrified by the clash of swords and the grunts of exertion, and when she reached the conscription table was finally greeted by a handsome, straight-smiled, muscular and slender-waisted soldier who introduced himself as the Prince of Frewyn.
“I would never have done that,” Alasdair protested defensively. “Vyrdin was the one who reintroduced us, and I certainly wouldn’t have said hello to you if I had been undressed at the time.”
Carrigh gently hushed her husband and placed the finger pointing to the half-naked tenor back into his lap.
“It would seem that the illustrator of the invitation and your darling wife have done better to dress you than the costumer has done for your counterpart,” said the commander. “Would you have pageanted yourself about the garrison in such a manner, Dobhin should have plagued you even more than he already did.”
Alasdair rolled his eyes and chuffed. “Well, I hope at least to have a few fantastic fights and come out just as pristine as I look there. Otherwise I’m inclined to believe that this whole play is hopeless.”
They had heard him. Over the din of the muted orchestra, the Players had heard the king’s aspersions, and they began to worry. They looked to their director for assistance, hoping that he would reassure the royal party that the subject and content of this opera was all his idea, but Tilney did not move from his seat. The complacent smile and upright posture as he urged them to go on conveyed his pride for the piece. He showed no regard for the impropriety he might be inflicting. Even though he was incurring the royal parties’ injurious looks, he maintained a wistful aspect while prompting every actor through his speeches. The more they portrayed the king as a boastful and overly valiant character, the more discomposed Alasdair grew and the happier Tilney was.