I couldn’t find the words to speak, so Stefan asked the question that was on my mind. “You mean Brielle is a vampire now?”
“For now,” Nikolai said. “But Ingrid is young for a vampire, which had a lot to with why even her bloodline’s lord didn’t want her turning anybody. We don’t know all of the details, but what we do know is that when Maël found them, Brielle was on the verge of death. Ingrid was doing her best to feed her, but she was ill-prepared. She couldn’t even get help.”
“Wh– no– Maël– you didn’t–” I stuttered. Then I paused and took a breath. “Did you feed them? That’s why you’re drained, isn’t it?”
Maël gave a slow nod. “I gave Ingrid what I could, and she in turn fed her new fledgling. I helped them travel by night… I got them as close to the castle as I could. I gave them my horse, and they left me at the last inn before the road leading up to it.”
“They…” I couldn’t finish the thought.
“Won’t Ingrid be punished if she goes back to her master?” Stefan asked. “And Brielle could be–“
“No,” Aubré interrupted. “They won’t let Brielle die. We don’t know all the details, but the vampires understand how important the musicians are to all of Tierney Ríocht.”
Stefan sighed and shook his head. “So Maël here managed to make it back from that far-off inn? And you guys trust a castle full of vampires with one of your kind?”
“There were people there who recognized me and brought me here,” he explained.
“As for Brielle,” Brom continued for him, “We should explain what the musicians mean to our world, and that is exactly what the ballad of our world is about.”
Stefan looked down at me. “The same ballad that you got a piece of and that note the other day?” Stefan asked. I nodded.
“As we explained to Lady moss,” Brom went on, “our world is based in magic and music. Your world is one of science. Consider what would happen if all the scientific laws of your world were broken; it wouldn’t be too different from what would happen to our world if all music and magic faded away.”
“But music is sound,” Stefan said, “and sound is based in science.”
“And what about the way that music can move your heart and soul?” Tobias asked. “The way it can ignite your imagination and change your mood entirely?”
“I know there are those on Earth who would equate it again to science,” Aubré went on. “The science of the mind, I have heard it called. You might know about it, you might understand that kind of science, but you can’t tell me that you completely believe in it. You wouldn’t be in my world, talking to me, meeting Sleipnir and Tobias and Evander, if you believed that all there is to music and life is science.”
“Stefan,” Jean-Marc said, “I know you don’t recognize me, but I was there when you played Edvard Grieg in the orchestra recently. I play viola, and I know that you play oboe, and that Killian here plays bassoon. I’ve heard you both practicing; I could even pick you out the night of the symphony. The music you both make is wondrous, it was an honor to hear it.”
Stefan narrowed his eyes at him. “You were in the orchestra?”
Jean-Marc nodded. “I might not be from your world,” he explained, “but that doesn’t prevent me from visiting it from time to time. Playing with various orchestras helps me improve my skills, and it gives me more music to bring back to my world.”
Killian was watching Jean-Marc closely as well. “I think I’ve caught a glimpse o’ ye here and there, but ye’re nae a regular part of our group.”
“No,” Jean-Marc admitted. “Just as your friend was guest oboe, I was a guest viola. My friends and I have assisted symphonies and orchestras the world over for as long as we’ve known how to play our instruments.”
Stefan gave him a dubious look. “I find that hard to believe; people would take notice if there was a faerie joining their orchestra.”
“Right you are,” he agreed. “That is why those among us who do not look quite so human have the ability to change their appearance.”
“You mean like a glamour?” Killian asked.
“Exactly that,” he confirmed.
“Oh,” Larsa exclaimed, “I get it now! That’s why he looks so familiar!” He looked straight at Evander. “That was you the night of the symphony, talking to Leila, but you looked different.”
“It was indeed, young man,” Evander confirmed.
That, of course, had Stefan giving Evander and Larsa a cold stare. “you’ve seen each other before? You met my cousin and went to see Leila on Earth? And nobody told me about this?”
“Stefan, Larsa didn’t know who he was that night,” I pointed out. “Don’t be mad at him. I didn’t know Evander was going to show up; I hadn’t even met him before that night. I still thought this world was some kind of weird dream.”
“Like I did!” Larsa added with a grin. He stuck his tongue out at Stefan when he got another cold look.
“Were we in any danger that night?” Stefan asked, his tone demanding a straight answer.
“Not at all,” Evander told him.
“So if you guys can go to Earth,” Stefan went on, “was that weird guy who bothered Leila at Club Nightshade also from here?”
“I’m afraid so,” Evander confirmed in a regretful tone. “I offer you my most sincere apologies for that having happened. The one who bothered her was a satyr, a creature on the side of darkness.”
“What was he going to do to Leila? He had his hands all over her, and I hate to think about what he would have done if I hadn’t tackled him.”
“I’m afraid we don’t have the exact answer to that,” Brom said. “We have been searching for an explanation as to why they so desperately want to dominate and control the musicians and our friends from Earth.”
“Dominate?” Stefan snapped. “Or silence?”
“They don’t want silence,” Aubré assured us. “They know that if this world loses its music, the magic will eventually fade, and it will undo them as well as everything else.”
“Sure,” Stephan grumbled, still incredulous about the whole thing. “Your world is going to crumble apart if you run out of music.”
“I suppose the human inclination to mock what would happen to us is to be expected,” Tobias noted. “In your world, you have scientific explanations for what can kill your people and destroy the environment in which you live. With a certain level of understanding to it, you even have somewhat of an ability to prevent it. Our world, however, relies on us– the musicians– to be the pillars of music. The best we can do is encourage song and music music, and hope that it will create enough magic to sustain our realm a little bit longer.”