10 weeks, 5 authors, 1 story. In To Be Continued… I asked 5 authors (self-published and traditionally published alike) to write a story together based on my prompts, without knowing about each other. They each had 2 weeks to write their part before I forwarded it to the next person to continue. Each part is somewhere between 500 – 1000 words long. So, are you ready to continue the story?
If you didn’t read yet, I recommend starting your journey with Faye by reading Part 1 by Tyler Hayes!
Faye went up to the mountains to banish a discord. On her way back she accidentally dropped her ocarina which left her unprotected. We’ve left her facing a decision: to go back to the conductors, face her shame and get a replacement for her broken ocarina or do something else?
The story is To Be Continued by:
Victoria Corva writes things and reads things and reads things out loud, and sometimes she gets paid for that, which is nice because it means she can feed her cat. She lives in Wiltshire with her partner and her furry familiar and as many books as she could fit in her small flat. She is anxious and autistic and doing just fine. To find out more about her and read more of her work, visit https://victoriacorva.xyz
The New Sound – Part 2
The long trek to the city passed quickly in spite of the rain weighing her fur and the treacherous climb down. Though she was not as nimble as the conductors wished the ideal harmonizers to be — ‘light and lilting as the most playful soprano’ — she was steady and endurant and no slipped step or rocky terrain could wear her down. And then she trudged along the wide muddy path through the city gates.
She pushed through the crowds as humans and foxkin scurried past, hoods up or holding their packs over their heads to shelter from the deluge. Children pressed up against the mud-streaked walls of the buildings, waiting for the rain to stop so that they could again tear through the streets. She hoped, perhaps, for the tell-tale flash of black and white, but as ever she was alone. There were only a handful of pandakin in the city, and barely more than that in the wider kingdom.
It never ceased to amaze her that even in the shadow of a discord that could rip the city apart, life went on. People trusted in the harmonizers. Believed that they would keep the world’s melody in tune. It was that faith that had first drawn Faye to the harmonizer’s path, but now, after so many years of training, after watching so many discords blot out the sky and fill the air with their terrible buzz, she thought perhaps it was more than that. If the world might end tomorrow, there was nothing these people could do. So they pushed on and acted as if there was no threat hanging over them. They didn’t let fear paralyze them or interrupt their lives.
If it was her belief in harmonizers that had first set her on this path, it was her belief in people that kept her on it. She wanted to reward that bravery, that commitment to life and harmony under discord. She wanted to keep them safe, even if it meant scaling a mountain to face shadows with only an ocarina to defend her.
She didn’t pause at the familiar tavern, or offer more than a smile to the curious children that emerged from shelter to pluck at her sleeves, eyes wide and ears pricked. She kept her gaze fixed on the tower and bridges of the aqueduct. Old, crumbling stone, but strong and functional and dominating the skyline.
From the base, she gazed up at those stone arches. She could hear the water even from here, a muffled burble underlaid by a watery drone, as if the rain had increased in sound but not volume.
She found the small iron door at the base. Not locked by anything more than combination, she turned the handle this way and that until she heard the familiar click. Her mother had worked here, years ago. She remembered heaving herself up tall steps on stubby legs and her mother’s hand gently ruffling her ears. She remembered how tall the tower had seemed, the stairs spiralling ever upward, the walls wide to either side.
Now, her fur nearly brushed the walls of the narrow stairs, an ascent clearly built for a narrower body than her broad shoulders and round shape. The steps seemed small to her, the journey less of a climb and more of a plod. But the smell of the water and the growing melody of its movement was just the same as it ever was.
When she crested the stairs into the small maintenance room, she breathed deeply. The sound of the rushing water bounced off the stone walls, wrapping her tightly in its music. She remembered playing in here while her mother checked the pressure valves and tested the water. She remembered heaving herself up onto the side of the wide trough and leaning forward to dip her short, furry fingers into that icy cold stream.
Now, she lowered herself onto the edge of the trough, sitting half-twisted so that she could watch the water rush past. As a cub, she had sung along to the water’s melody, adding her hoarse, deep growl to its symphony. She’d been too young to understand that she was ruining it. She’d thought she’d been a part of it, and her mother had always smiled and told her what a lovely voice she had.
Later, she had brought her ocarina here. Had learned to harmonize it not just with music but with the world by playing along to the tune of running water. Years and years of practice which had earned her a hard-won place training beneath the conductors.
She felt the leather pouch at her hip where the ocarina usually rested. If only she’d put it away the moment she’d defeated the discord, she might still have it now. But the pouch was flat and empty.
She raised her hands and mimed playing it in the air, as she’d done as a child before her mother had scrimped and saved for the instrument. But her imagination failed her now. There was no phantom fluting melody playing over the ambient water. There was only utter, mocking silence.
She lowered her hands, now trembling. Something hard and sharp formed in her chest, growing and growing. She clenched her fists, threw back her head, and roared. The stone walls took up her cry, echoing and amplifying it. The water seemed to rush louder, driven by the bitter, frustrated sound.
As her cry faltered into a broken whimper, the shadows in the room began to move. Shift. Something thick and sinuous coelesced in the air, oily black and steaming with darkness shot through with sparks. Thick jaw, jutting teeth. A small, hideous, eel-shaped discord, playing back the echo of her roar with every twist of its awful body.
It was small now, but it would fast grow. Faye’s hand went to her empty pouch. She was utterly frozen by the sight of it. Discords were born in the bowels of the earth. So she had been trained. Yet she had watched it form here and now it mocked her with her own ugly voice.
And then it did something utterly unthinkable.
To Be Continued…
If you’d like to get in contact with Victoria Corva, you can find her on social media:
Victoria Corva entered her debut novel Books and Bone, first book of the Tombtown series into SPFBO 5 and made it into the semi-finals! You can read my team’s reviews of it here. Victoria also submitted a tale for the Asylum. If you want to read her book – which I highly recommend – get it on Amazon!