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 then continue with Part 2 by Victoria Corva and Part 3 by Justin Lee Anderson unless you want to be spoiled below. I warned you.
Part 1: 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?
Part 2: Faye decides to go to the aqueduct where she spent a big part of her childhood, dreaming to be a harmoniser. But then suddenly another discord appeared and spoke.
Part 3: The discord threatens Faye who is unable to defend herself without her ocarine. But then an unexpected ally arrives to save her and turn her world upside down.
The story is To Be Continued by:
Devin Madson is an Aurealis Award-winning fantasy author from Australia. After some sucky teenage years, she gave up reality and is now a dual-wielding rogue who works through every tiny side-quest and always ends up too over-powered for the final boss. Anything but zen, Devin subsists on tea and chocolate and so much fried zucchini she ought to have turned into one by now. Her fantasy novels come in all shades of grey and are populated with characters of questionable morals and a liking for witty banter.
The New Sound – Part 4
“You know what they are?” Faye said, with the sense that the world was spiraling out of control around her. “But even the conductors don’t know.”
“Oh, they say they don’t know.” The old pandakin said, a chuckle lodging in his throat and needing to be dispersed with a thump of his furry fist. “Like they say you need to play the right tune and use the right instruments, but it’s no more true than the idea that the sun is eaten every night and reborn every morning. A tale told to children to keep them from getting scared of the dark.”
Faye thought of all the people going about their lives out in the city. People who trusted the harmonizers. Believed in the harmonizers. Smiled and laughed because of the harmonizers keeping them safe. The lies keeping them safe.
“Who are you?” she said, eyeing the old pandakin as he polished the pipe he had pulled from his pocket on the tails of his shirt. “And how do you know so much?”
He gave her a look all too pitying. “Did they tell you, your great and wise conductors, that once a member of the Conservatoire always a member of the Conservatoire? That even if you lose your breath or you fingers cease to work or your can no longer sing you are still a part of the family.” He spat the word with bitterness, his pipe squeaking so tightly did he hold it while he polished it now.
They had said that often. And there were old members, members too weak and worn out to play to protect the people anymore, and they were revered. “Yes,” she said, when he seemed to be waiting for an answer, but she gripped the edge of the trough, afraid of what he was about to say. Afraid she had already guessed his meaning.
“Well, they ought to have an addendum to that. So long as you don’t ever disobey, don’t deviate from the path, don’t question or test things or do anything but walk your route and play your song, you can be a member forever.”
Faye’s heart hammered so hard in her chest it was louder than the rush of the water behind her. Question or deviate or test? What did he even mean by such things? The feeling that the world was off balance only grew and she put out a paw to steady herself against the wall. “You… you were a conductor?”
“I was. Here, listen to this.” He set the pipe to his mouth and began to play. It was a strange song, not like anything taught at the Conservatoire, but its bittersweet notes seemed to tug at her heart as though with strings. Everything slowed, the rush of the water and the inhale of her own breath becoming sluggish things. Faye lifted her paw and even that moved slowly as though through treacle, though the old pandakin’s playing had not slowed at all. In fact his paws were moving unnaturally fast over the surface of the pipe as though he were in a hurry to be done, the tune he played speeding away like a small bird flitting restlessly about the space.
The moment the last note faded away, everything snapped back. The sense that she had woken from a dream came over Faye, and she blinked, surprised to find she could do so at a normal speed. “What was that?”
“Cause and effect, little one,” he said. “The truth the conductors don’t want people to know. If I want to be fast then someone else has no be slow. If I want to be warm then someone else has to be cold. Music is the fabric of the universe. It is a gift from the Great Composer, who sang the world into life. It can be used to control everything. Anything. But there must always be balance.”
Faye shook her head slowly, disbelief sticking all the words she wanted to say in her throat. Her paws shook and more than anything she wished she hadn’t come, wished she had gone anywhere else. This was too much.
“You shake your head, but think about it. The discords are never done. Never sated. There are always more of them. That’s because—” He jabbed the pipe at her as though it were a long metal finger, “when you harmonise a discord, you are bringing peace to a rip of fear, but you aren’t making peace, you aren’t creating it from nothing, you are drawing it away from another place. Another place that tears open, forming another discord. You make the discords. You put the people in danger even as you save them.”
To Be Continued…
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Devin Madson‘s first traditionally published novel is We Ride the Storm, first book of The Reborn Empire series! Go and grab it on Amazon by clicking on the cover: