Filipino: Ang Bahay ng Ikapitong Musika
I woke up the next morning in the biggest bed I’d ever been in; it had to have been bigger than king size. The room was wide and open, with tall windows and two layers of curtains like in the ball room. The heavier curtains had been pulled back, and the gauzy curtains let in just a little light, making it seem like it was overcast outside. I laid still as I took in the rest of my surroundings.
The bedding was thick and warm, a sort of suede, and the pillows were fluffy– and I had several of them. Next to the bed was– well, this is hard to explain– a sort of birdcage, except that it had an open design. It was more like a hanging pod with a perch and its own floor on which straw or scrap paper could be placed to collect droppings. There was a small water dish clipped to the bars of the cage within reach of the perch, which was currently empty.
I sat up slowly and realized that I was still wearing my own clothes. That was a relief actually; I didn’t want anyone else changing my clothes, regardless of the reason. I was alone in the room, which had two exits: a single door leading to a tiled room that I assumed was a bathing chamber, and a pair of doors that were closed. Jean-Marc had mentioned this being a suite, so those doors probably opened onto some kind of sitting area rather than the main hall.
There weren’t any closets, but there were a couple armoires. There was plenty of other furniture around the room, most of it looking like it was suitable for a nobleman. I slid out of bed, grateful for the fur rug; there was a slight chill in the air. the kind that spoke of autumn in the wilderness. I was also thankful that my slippers had been left for me nearby. There was a silk robe hanging on a hook beside one of the doors. I reached for it, hesitating when I realized that it might have belonged to Morrigan, then looked more closely.
“This is brand new,” I breathed, inspecting the cuffs and the collar and other areas that tended to wear out faster. The robe was silk brocade lined with velveteen; baby blue with silver thread, the lining soft lilac. Definitely colors that I liked, rather than the rustic ones that Morrigan had probably been used to.
I pulled the robe on, admiring the plush feel and the perfect fit; my great uncle would have worn a much larger size. Then I stepped over to the double doors and turned the handle slowly, not wanting to startle anyone. The next room was much larger than my bedroom, a sort of living room, dining room, and study all in one. There were floor to ceiling windows with sheer curtains, and doors leading to a balcony in the middle. Opposite that was another pair of doors, those ones ornately carved, and on the last wall, all the way across the room from where I stood, was a single open door through which I could see a bookshelf.
The only person in the room was a young woman– younger than me by several years. She sat on one of the couches, humming to herself as she sewed. She was surrounded by several flittering lights, each a different color.
I took a few steps into the room. “Umm… good morning.” I kept my voice soft, just in case I startled her.
The young woman sat up straighter, only a little startled, then lowered her sewing as she turned to me. As soon as she saw me, she hopped off the couch, set her work on the coffee table, and curtsied to me. As she moved, so too did the fluttering colors around her.
“Oh, good morning, miss!” she greeted me in a voice like a delicate bell. Her eyes shone a bright minty green, and she had wave after wave of hair that reminded me of pink and orange sherbet. “I hope you slept well, miss.”
“I think I did, actually,” I replied; I hadn’t yet taken a full assessment of everything. “I feel pretty well-rested, and nothing hurts, so that’s a good start.”
“That’s wonderful to hear!” she replied, practically cheering. Her hands were clasped together in a way that reminded me of a young anime character. Then I noticed the fluttering behind her.
“Oh, you’re…” I paused; it wouldn’t be rude to point out someone’s race every time I met someone new, right? No, it was called race in Dungeons and Dragons, but really the term should be ‘species.’ I think I’d had a lot of discussion about that with Stefan and Killian.
The fluttering slowed, and I could better see the translucent wings at her back. They were iridescent, like a dragonfly’s. She was still smiling brightly. “I’m fae,” she told me. The she pointed to the colorful light around her. “And these little faeries are my friends.”
So she was a faerie. That reminded me… “I think Brom or someone mentioned a faerie coming here. But… I thought I’d heard a boy’s name.”
“Oh, do you mean Tobias, miss? He arrived here this morning.”
“Okay… I guess I’ll meet him later. Did you come with him?”
“Yes, miss,” she said with another curtsey. “When he heard that Jean-Marc’s new guest was… umm, a woman, Tobias said that I should serve you.”
“Oh…” I looked around the room. “You mean instead of Evander? Where is he now?”
Now she looked a little worried. “He is in his office, miss.” She turned to glance at the door on the other side of the room. “Would you like me to get him for you? Oh, I hope it’s okay that I’m here… Evander thought you might like having another girl around…”
I realized then what I’d made her worried about. “It’s wonderful that you’re here, actually. Now that I think about it, they were pretty thoughtful to…” I sighed. “Well, I’m not so sure that I need to be served, but we’ll see how it goes.”
As we spoke, Evander appeared in the doorway; he’d probably heard us talking about him. He crossed the room, walking stick in hand, and bowed to me.
“How wonderful to see you this morning,” Evander said, and he looked genuinely happy. “May I give you both a proper introduction?”
“My dear Lady Moss,” he said, “this is Ilphara, from the land of faerie-kind, Tylwyth. Ilphara, this is Leila Moss, or newest Terran friend.”
“I’m so very happy to meet you, Lady Moss!” Ilphara enthused, looking like she wanted to jump for joy. Instead, she curtsied again and fluttered her wings.
I couldn’t help but smile at her. “It’s nice to meet you, too, Ilphara. You’re actually the first faerie I’ve ever met in person.”
She was grinning, and the tiny pixies around her giggled, though I wasn’t sure why.
“By the way,” I said, turning to Evander, “where did Chopin go? I saw the… the cage, or whatever you call it, by my bed, but she’s not there.”
He smiled warmly. “You care for her more than you let on.”
I gave a sleepy sort of half shrug. “Morrigan certainly seemed to. That was put there back in his time, right? So, does she spend a lot of time with Jean-Marc?”
Evander thought for a moment. “She might, when I am not here,” he explained, “but she does quite like to perch on my horns.”
“She really seems to like you in general,” I noted.
“Well, I suppose that’s because the energy that I share is quite different when compared to what Jean-Marc shares with the world.”
I just about giggled at that comment, and I think Ilphara did, too. “He does have that eighteenth-century flourish to his demeanor.”
“I thought you’d noticed,” he said with atone of pride. “Well, our dear owl friend is asleep in my room.”
“Oh… Okay. Where is your room, anyway?”
“Just through there, milady,” he said, gesturing to the door he’d just come through. “It suits my needs quite well when I am called to service.”
I blinked. “You sleep in the office?”
“Ah, it is much more than it appears to be from here. May I show you, milady?”
I nodded, then followed him to the door, which he held open wide for me. There was the desk and the bookshelf, but further in I could see that his room was about the size of by bedroom back on Earth. The bed, off in a corner away from the door, was much smaller and plainer. The room reminded me of what a butler in a nobleman’s household would have had two or three hundred years ago. Armoire, nightstand, trunk, and a hat stand with an extra walking stick and a couple other hats and an umbrella.
There was a smaller cage with an open design in a dark corner, and I could just make out the owl sleeping inside. The curtains were closed tightly, leaving Evander to rely on the small oil lamp on his desk for light.
“Wow, so you’re never far away,” I whispered.
“Indeed,” he replied, pausing to douse the light before following me back into the main room. “I hope… milady, if it troubles you that I sleep so near to you, I can speak with Jean-Marc and take a different room.”
“Why would– oh, right, I see.” I hoped I wasn’t blushing just then. “It’s completely fine, Evander. I– I’m surprised that I’m saying this to someone I barely know, but I feel like I can trust you. You’re here to help me, right? I don’t think I need to push you away.”
“That’s true!” Ilphara added. “I’ve known Evander for a long time, and he’s a great guardian!”
He gave her a thankful smile. “I must say, I do appreciate hearing such kind words,” Evander said with a slight bow. “Now then, dear Lady Moss, may I show you the way to the dining room? Most of the others have eaten already, but the kitchen staff are always willing to cook for you.”
“Unless you’d rather stay in your room and eat,” Ilphara chimed in. “I could bring a tray up for you.”
“That might be better, actually,” I told her.
Happy to have something to do, Ilphara was soon out the doors, headed for the kitchen. Once she was gone, and the doors, were firmly shut, I looked up at Evander.
“I’m glad you’re still here,” I told him. “I think I’d rather have explain some things for me… without the others constantly adding more before I’ve had time to think.”