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 then Part 3 by Justin Lee Anderson and finally Part 4 by Devin Madson 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.
Part 4: Faye learns about the true nature of the discords and the lies the Conservatoire was feeding her in all her life.
The story is To Be Continued by:
T. Frohock has turned a love of history and dark fantasy into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. A real-life cyborg, T. has a cochlear implant, meaning she can turn you on or off with the flick of a switch. Make of that what you will. She currently lives in North Carolina, where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
The New Sound – Part 5
Faye stared at the old pandakin as the implications of his revelation washed over her. “Then the discord that I harmonised on the mountain—”
“Caused an even deeper discord somewhere else.” The old pandakin touched her shoulder. “And this happens because we destroy discords rather than resolve them.”
Faye gasped and pushed away from the trough. This was heresy. Although they were alone, she glanced around the room, because now she knew why the old pandakin’s song sounded so different. “You are one of the Seven.”
The Seven were a group of renegade harmonisers that sought to bring the discords into the world. The Conservatoire would reward her greatly if she informed them of the old pandakin’s presence. They might even overlook the clumsy loss of her ocarina and grant her a new one.
She stood to go, but the old pandakin caught her wrist with surprising strength. “You’re right. I am the heretic known as Number Six. But hear me out.”
The old pandakin’s earnestness caused Faye to hesitate. He must have interpreted her pause as interest, because his words tumbled over one another in a hurried whisper. “Think, Faye! Discordant notes are a natural part of the musical spectrum. Why does the Conservatoire seek to obliterate them?”
Faye jerked free of his grip and hurried to the door. Her paw was on the latch when Number Six’s words stopped her cold.
“The Conservatoire buys a false peace with each discord it sublimates. Without resolution, the discords propagate and resurface, more numerous each time. To vanquish disharmony without discovering the root cause only makes it grow. The Seven have discovered the secret to subverting the discords.”
“And that is?”
“Social unrest causes the discords. Somewhere in our world, members of our society are downtrodden, neglected, even enslaved. We must bring peace, not by destroying their pain, but by recognizing it, acknowledging it, and finding ways to remedy their injuries. We must find these injustices and the people they affect, and if the people cannot sing, then we must lend them our voices and cry out against their injustices. Once they find their own harmonies, we must stand back and provide their chorus.”
“Will this eliminate the discords?”
He shook his head sadly. “The elimination of the discords is the Conservatoire’s lie. Discord can never be vanquished; it can only be managed through diligence and listening and understanding.” Stepping forward, he pointed to his heart. “That is why the Seven sing from our hearts—we manage discord with compassion and empathy. Not with force.”
Faye frowned at her paws as she considered Number Six’s words. “But just now, you vanquished a discord with your song.”
“That discord was sent to kill you.”
Faye gasped and whirled. “What?”
“Number Three was killed last year. The Seven have been searching for another harmoniser to bring into her role. We listened for harmonisers whose voices had the most heart. Yours is our first pick. I was sent here to find you, but apparently someone else also thought you might be chosen. Think about it, Faye, why would a discord suddenly appear where you keep your spare ocarina and so soon after your defeat of another discord? It wanted you to find it, and it wanted you to be too weak to defeat it.”
Faye shook her head and paced between the door and the trough. “This is all too much.”
“I understand, but our time is short. I need a decision. Will you help us? Will you become Number Three?”
Could she? What if this was a trap? What if the old pandakin was really a spy for the Conservatoire, seeking traitors?
She glanced at Number Six from the corner of her eye. The dust in his fur said he’d come a long way. An undercurrent of anxiety cut a sharp angle behind his sanguine stance. The scent of his fear tingled in her nostrils. He was a heretic standing too close to the Conservatoire’s shadow.
Her decision would have been easy if Number Six’s explanation was less coherent, but everything he said smacked of the truth. Faye touched the empty pouch of her broken ocarina and realized that no real acceptance awaited her at the Conservatoire. There, she would be berated, probably even cast out. And then what kind of difference could she make in the world?
Number Six offered her way to use her skills to heal the discords, and to be a part of something, rather than apart from everything.
Faye nodded to herself. “I will come with you, but if I find you are lying to me, or that you’re not what you say are, I will turn my song against you.”
Relief washed over Number Six’s countenance and he bowed low to her. “I accept your conditions.” He held out his paw in friendship. “Come, Number Three. I will teach you to sing from your heart, and together we will diminish the discords for lasting peace.”
Feeling more comfortable with her decision, Faye placed her paw in his. “Together then. For lasting peace.”
If you’d like to get in contact with T. Frohock, you can find her on social media:
T. Frohock is the author of the Los Nefilim series which includes 3 novellas and 2 novels as of now. Jen and I reviewed Where Oblivion Lives and Carved from Stone and Dream on the blog. Go and grab them on Amazon by clicking on the cover(s):