At the outer reaches of Tierney Ríocht, music ceased to flow. Without it, magic began to fade, and its leaving meant the undoing of the realm. The edges crumbled. and the beings that called it home were forced to flee or be long to eternal silence and unending darkness. Creatures of both light and shadow retreated from the crumbling areas, and neither side was without its losses.
The people of the inner regions took notice of the migrations of the fauns and the fae, the elves and the satyrs, and even of the mysterious beasts that once resided in the depths of the earth and the water. The descendants of Moss ventured out to learn what had so many different creatures fleeing, and trembled at the sight of their world crumbling. They turned around and made haste to seek out the wisest members of every race that could be found.
There was one being with the greatest wisdom of all, one who had lived since more the Tree of Life had made Moss. Only one of Moss’s descendants had the strength and resolve to find her, though many sought her out in hopes of hearing her counsel. That one man stepped into the temple of the Fae Oracle and knelt before her. She heard him speak of what he had seen, and she understood the peril that had befallen Tierney Ríocht.
Whatever had first broken the harmony of the realm had been made worse by Moss’s death. The cracks in the world had opened wide, and magic flowed out faster than it could be remade. The Fae Oracle explained that magic had made Tierney Ríocht, and that magic came from music, from song and rhythm, and that only the creation of new music could heal the cracks in the world.
Just as Moss had found his beloved Ciara on Earth, so too would the beings of Tierney Ríocht find new instruments and learn new songs. Every music found would help repair the world, but none alone could fully heal it. Not until eighteen new instruments came to the world, and eighteen new musicians taught, each helping to create a song to bring hope and glory, would Tierney Ríocht become whole again.
“The Oracle…” I whispered as I listened. “Brom, that was you who found her, wasn’t it? I remember you mentioning an Oracle during one of my other visits.”
He nodded. “That was indeed me. Her divinations led me in the direction of where I would find my new home. As I mentioned before, it was different for me than it was for everyone who followed. The house I found looked old and worn, so covered in vines that I could hardly see it. But there was a lot more magic around the house, and that got me to explore the area. When I got to the front door and pulled aside the vines, a sigil on the door began to glow, and then I heard the click of the door unlocking. Light flowed out in lines from there, until it eventually surrounded the house.”
“It pretty much announced to anyone else nearby that you were there,” I noted.
“Right you are. The house stands at the top of a hill, overlooking a village. I don’t know how many of the villagers were paying attention, but if they were looking at the hill, they probably would have noticed something happening to the house. I wasn’t thinking about that, though. I went inside, and the vines began to pull away from the windows and other doors, as though they’d been trimmed that way over the years. The dust retreated a little as I explored. I should add, my home isn’t as large as Jean-Marc’s, seeing as how it was the first and never meant to house all eighteen of the musicians.”
“It’s still a lovely house,” Tobias reminded him.
“It is. I never intended to find a home of my own when I set out to find the Oracle and help our world. Before then, I’d been living on my father’s estate and helping him run things.”
“The difference,” Aubré said, “was that your father’s estate didn’t have a gateway to Earth anywhere on it. Your manor does.”
“So… you didn’t have to find the key to get into your house?” I asked. “Jean-Marc says the keys are really important.”
“I don’t know what it was about me that the house recognized or detected,” Brom replied, “but I myself was the key to getting into my house. As far as the gateway to Earth, the key was waiting for me in the music room, along with the next part of the ballad.”
“Oh, so it wasn’t all written at once,” Larsa noted.
“That would have been impossible,” Brom replied. “The magic by which it is written can predict a good many things, but not enough to predict all eighteen Terrans hundreds of years ahead of time.”
“If we could do that,” Aubré added, “it would also know the fate of our world, and whether they would be successful in repairing the damage that was done when Moss was killed.”
“And the damage before that,” Nikolai said, his voice weighed down by the gravity of his words, “which caused the Tree of Life to create Moss.”
“Wow, Leila,” Larsa said, looking to me in amazement, “there are supposed to be eighteen, and you’re only the eighth? And this has been going on for hundreds of years? Do you know what that means?”
“Well I’m sure it means a good many things lad,” Killian told him, “but which o’ those things are ye tryin’ tae point out for us right now?”
Larsa grinned at him. “Well, that means that there are ten more musicians, and if they’re really spread out, it could take a thousand years to find all of them, and then– well, that’s the future!”
“Your mind is racing again,” Stefan noted.
“Isn’t yours?” Larsa asked him.
Stefan smirked. “I guess I can’t deny it. You’re just way more excited about it.”
“Of course I’m excited”! Larsa replied. “Some of the instruments that they’re going to bring here haven’t even been invented yet!”
Stefan looked doubtful. “There are plenty of instruments on Earth already that they could learn.”
Larsa thought for a moment, then looked to Tobias and Aubré. “Do you think your people will learn only traditional instruments, or can they learn something new, too? Something that uses technology?”
“We can’t be certain,” Tobias admitted. “The technology that you know was a new thing when Morrigan was old. The advances you’ve made have been so rapid in recent years.”
“The technology you’re referring to is heavily the work of science,” Aubré added. “Our world is a magical one, so we have yet to determine how much it can tolerate instruments that rely on science. For now, you’re better off focusing on the parts of the ballad that discuss the eight of us.”
“Eight?” Stefan asked with narrowed eyes. “You mean Leila’s in the ballad, too?”
“Non,” Jean-Marc said. “Not by name. But there is a great deal it has to say about the eighth Terran to visit Tierney Ríocht.”