Story for the Day: The Opera Continues Part 2
Here is the next part in the new Haanta Series novella: Tales from Frewyn: the Opera. Enjoy!
|Cover to the new novella by Twisk!|
The opera endured, fair Boudicca and the shirtless prince joined the armed forces, and the closer they came to revealing their interpretation of the Den Asaan the more disconcerted and tremulous the company grew. Actors entered in fear of their lines, dreading every new song that brought his revelation still closer. Some of them even changed their speeches, much to their director’s chagrin and much to their king’s comfort, but the sight of the snarling beast as fair Boudicca entered the Amene garrison could not be avoided. The mask over the actor’s face was misshapen and hideous, the jaw was underhung, the teeth protruded, the eyes glowed red, the falsified muscles shone a dark violet, slatternly furs screened his immense form, and the baritone voice to accompany this contrivance grumbled and garbled every word in imitation of the giant’s foreign language. It was a horrendous exhibition of mistakenness and incivility, showing Rautu as a pathetic fool with a colossal sword, unable to speak Frewyn’s language with any capability and forcing him to lumber about, following fair Boudicca toward the fray with all the strength the actor’s legs tied to stilts could muster.
Most of the party was rapt in a silent horror, but while the commander and Alasdair laughed to themselves, Martje cackled aloud. This was all the vengeance and glorious reckoning she was desirous of seeing. All her mirth and felicity was in the notion that at last someone had seen the giant as she saw him: as an unsociable and selfish monster whose only object was to slaughter and devour everything in his path. Her hilarity was checked, however, by the odd tranquility of the Den Asaan. He had seen his counterpart- she knew he must have seen- and yet he seemed wholly disinterested. She peered over to see the butter biscuits in his lap and conceived that there must be the source of his serenity. She sighed that her revenge was halved and was content to think that she was now not alone in her perception.
Rautu was infuriated by the representation, especially when he, an Amghari and Den Asaan of Sanhedhran, had trained incessantly, had warred with Thellis his entire life, had learned every language of the mainland, and had become Den Endari at such a young age. He was a man of sense rather than elegant speeches, and he would be silent through his budding rage. The affront to him, he was aware, was the fault of the director, whom he was silently scheming to hang at the end of this performance, but the only insult that could make him stand and stop the play was one given to his mate. He had borne many horrific descriptions of himself before, and though this was by far the most erroneous, he had never seen such an ignominy of his beloved woman. Fair Boudicca could barely lift her swords, leapt about the stage as though she were afraid of the war and afraid of him, he whom she had defeated to coerce him into saving their kingdom’s borders, and here she was a shaking, trilling dabchick, unable to do anything but force her breasts back into her armour, sing flat notes, and appear dismal and disheveled. He ate the remainder of his biscuits in teeming odium, savouring the last buttery morsels of his treats while contemplating the director’s most deserved demise.
The first act was to close with Frewyn winning the Galleisian War: the stabbed and dying Galleisian soldiers pined over their defeat and the Frewyns rejoiced at Alasdair’s coronation as king. Allande’s death and the destruction of Westren seemed to be completely forgotten in this iteration of the kingdom’s history, but the greatest inconsistency was the invitation the Den Asaan had made to the commander. The now-clothed King Alasdair asked fair Boudicca to be his queen, and while she sang her near acceptance, the monster shambled over to her and pleaded for her to return to the islands. She was struck with such a choice and could not choose between them until the Den Asaan chose for her. He took fair Boudicca into his arms and began dragging her off against her will until brave Alasdair leapt upon his horse, chased the beast to the docks, and challenged him for the right to claim fair Boudicca’s hand.
“I certainly don’t recall you making such a challenge,” the commander laughed.
“I don’t think I would be alive now if I had,” said Alasdair.
The commander looked to her mate for an addition to the commentary but he could not add to her japes; his biscuits had done and so had his persistence with this piece. The empty box was crushed in his hand, his lips were taut with roused fierceness, and when the Den Asaan on stage had been defeated by King Alasdair, whose clothing had been torn off in the midst of the duel, there was the end of the giant’s silence. Observing fair Boudicca fawn over the fallen creature and agree to return to the islands out of pity for his loss was the image he would retain in his mind to fuel his rage once the act should be over and his violent retribution begin.
“Did any of this really happen, commander?” Nerri asked as fair Boudicca began her woe’s reprise.
“You mean did my mate force me to oblige him and steal me from an arrogant, weak and shirtless king who sings like a warbler?” The commander grinned and raised her brows. “Somewhat.”
Nerri laughed with her hand covering her mouth.
“I had no idea of our king being able to sing and fight at the same time, however.”
“That bit was brilliant,” exclaimed Alasdair. “Only in a play will I challenge Rautu and win.”
“And have your clothing vanish at the same time.”
“Your king cannot defeat me,” Rautu’s voice rumbled.
“Oh, but he has, Iimon Ghaala,” said the commander with a keen glint in her eye. “And now the poor damsel shall pity the beast who loves her. I am astonished that you have commanded yourself thus far, but your pacifiers have done and I believe your leniency with their mockery is quite over. You may trounce as you see necessary. Alasdair shall not stop you.”
Alasdair agreed, and once the orchestra ceased its playing, the royal party stood from their seats to address the director. The company of actors quieted and scattered, the curtain was dropped, the members of the orchestra vanished, and Tilney was left to brook the expressions of vast discontent. The director had not stood from his seat. Instead he wondered at where everyone was going. His actors absconded, the royal party slighted; he had not expected so disastrous an outcome and could not understand the apparent outrage of Rautu, who was charging toward him with his sword raised.
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