[Gift] A Linguan Orchestra
Tap tap tap.
Seven heads turned in interest, towards the source of the crisp sound. Looking suddenly awkward, the baton-wielding Paralogos, known affectionately as Music, seemed to falter. They were a curious sort, covered in soft black and white skin, with musical instruments seeming to sprout from their very core. Their metronome-tipped tail swished slowly -- but in time with some internal beat -- before they finally found their nerves and cleared their throat to speak.
“As you all know…! We only have a couple more practices left before the Dress Rehearsal and then the Big Performances! I’d like everyone to put their best effort in for today’s session so we can be sure to be ready on time.” The emphasis placed on the terms could practically be heard vibrating through the air. While Music glanced nervously around the pit, the other Paralogos nodded in agreement. They all looked determined, or at the very least ready to play their parts. And really, for a community theatre project, that was beyond the best that Music could hope for.
“Do you really think we’re ready?” A black-tipped paw had risen in the air. The normally bold gray-skinned Paralogos Coma looked a bit nervous at his own daring in asking the question. A few of the others in attendance nodded and looked uncomfortable, looking at their own feet, their instruments, or away from Music’s eyes in general.
Music gazed across the entire pit at this. They were a ragtag and unconventional group, true, but it was one they wouldn’t trade for a heartbeat. Each member here, sitting in their squeaky and ancient chairs, deserved their spot.
From gigantic Pastorale, sitting proudly in the front row with a comparably tiny violin (though still big to a Paralogos!), to Akogare with her beloved samisen, to the gentle Laguna, seated gracefully behind her harp -- THIS was a true group of musicians, come together at the call. They would do wonderful! They just had to!
Music gripped the baton with determination, before proudly looking Coma directly in the eyes.
“Of course I do! We’ve all worked so hard for this, and everyone needs us! Everyone, especially the actors, relies on us to do our part and make sure we set the scene and mood. Without us, where would those dramatic flairs be? Those beautiful solos--” They paused, and nodded in acknowledgement at Oboe and Bilha. The two exchanged grins before returning their attention back to the conductor.
“--the queues for the actors, the mood setters, all of it!” Music threw their fists up into the air in triumph. “We’re the backbone of the whole show, and they’ll be shouting our names for years to come!”
The small group cheered, awkwardly holding instruments so they could clap for the short speech. They had worked hard for this, by golly, and they were gonna blow the socks off of every Paralogos, companion, and human in attendance! Even if they were only average, the fact that they had come together to create beautiful music was surely reward enough.
Music raised their baton again with a grin, gently tapping the stand in front of them again. “Alright everybody -- from the top!”
The stage lights blazed strongly overhead, illuminating the the plentiful rows of cushioned chairs, the heavy wooden stage, and even the orchestra pit set deep into the ground at the foot of the performer’s home. Despite their intensity the heat wasn’t too intense to the little creatures made of light itself -- though Music still tugged nervously at the bowtie and collar of their suit, occasionally checking the clock at the back of the theatre area.
They nearly jumped out of their skin when a soft black hand touched their shoulder gently. “It’s alright, child.” Juniper said in a slow tone. Music’s senior caretaker had offered to join the group last-minute as a pianist when it was discovered no Paralogos-sized instrument could be located for this performance. “Pastorale left the studio with me, so he should be here soon.”
“Still,” fretted Music. “The theatre is going to open seating ANY minute now, and he’s not here yet and--” At this, she broke off. Bilha had just fainted clean off her chair at the energy in the room, and her own rising anxiety transferred from her bandleader. Akogare swiftly caught her clarinet before it hit the ground, and Oboe began waving its hands over Bilha’s face, looking worried.
Music hopped off the podium and rushed over, falling to their knees at Bilha’s feet. “Is she okay? I didn’t mean to excite her so badly…” But even as they spoke, Bilha’s eyes fluttered open and she looked a bit embarrassed.
“Sorry about that, you know how it is sometimes,” she gently waved Oboe’s paws away, and sat up -- almost too quickly. “Whoops!” She gratefully took her clarinet from Akogare’s hands, patting her hands like a loving grandma. “Once Pastorale gets here and we can all begin I’ll feel much better!”
Loreto, who had mostly been quiet in rehearsals, stepped forward and nodded in agreement. “We’re all a little nervous, Bilha. Don’t worry -- no harm done to you or your clarinet, so everything should be ready to proceed once we’re all here!”
A quick nod from Laguna, who had quickly -- but gently -- steadied her harp before rushing over to see if she could help. The motherly and kind Para offered Bilha a hand to pull her to her feet, giving her a quick look over before getting her back to her seat.
“He’s right! I’m sure he’ll be along in just a moment.” She closed her eyes in a smile aimed at the whole group, and even Music felt the tension leave their shoulders as they relaxed. Such a good group -- they were surely prepared for anything!
Just then, and not a moment too soon, the side door in the theatre slowly creeeeaaaaaked open, and not just Pastorale stepped through, but Paprika too! Both Paras had their arms laden with delicious-looking treats, as well as Pastorale awkwardly balancing his violin case under his arm. Coma and Loreta rushed forward to help them carry the delectable goodies, taking them back to one of the narrow tables crammed inside the tiny pit.
“They’re for after the show,” explained Paprika, and Coma disguised a motion to grab a cupcake to examine it as an excuse to grab his water bottle instead. While Paralogos didn’t need to eat, sometimes the experience of a freshly-baked treat -- or water to soothe a singing throat -- was too much to resist. “Mostly they’re for your Caretakers, if you have one, and some of the actors, but you’re welcome to sample the tastes made by Juniper’s very own Whiffling Eileen!”
The Paralogos all cheered as Juniper looked bashful, waving away their praise. “Oh, she’s not mine!” she admonished, though the twinkle in her eyes told that she was pleased that one of her dear friends was getting compliments. “She taught herself everything she knows!”
Paprika grinned again, his bright red skin and green tail seeming to glow under the bright lights aimed at the stage. “Now that everything is all settled, though, you can get ready for our first performance of the play!”
Bilha and Coma clapped excitedly, while all the other Paras merely looked determined yet pleased. Oboe actually reached over and high-fived Paprika, using the hand that wasn’t holding its oboe neatly in place under its arm.
“See ya later, pepper man,” it said, a smile plastered over its own face. Laguna nodded, while Akogare absent-mindedly strummed her samisen. Now that everything was settled, everyone was ready for the show to begin!
Music could sense the readiness in their air. Though their magic wasn’t very advanced yet, this kind of performance was practically what they were hatched to do. Music was in their name and their (figurative) lifeblood, after all!
Paprika checked a watch on his wrist -- had that… been there before…? -- and gasped dramatically. Bilha gripped the area of her chest where a heart would’ve been on a non-magical animal, but luckily stayed planted firmly on her feet.
“Egads!” Paprika gasped, earning a soft laugh from Coma. “I should’ve been at the front door two minutes ago to start letting everyone in! I’ve got to run! I’ll see you all at the conclusion. Good luck! Break a leg and all that!” He dashed off, a flash of red and green being the only reminders of his presence in their midst.
“Well,” said Music, turning around. Their freshly-tailored suit rustled with the movements, and Music patiently re-adjusted the tuxedo jacket’s tails with their own tail. “It looks like we can start warming up and getting ready to tune now!”
The Paralogos, and the single human, returned to their seats; Coma stood behind a black microphone stand and grabbed her folder of music from a nearby chair. Each instrument was gripped in ready paws, each of their owners going over last-minute part checks, corrections, and instrument adjustments.
Of them all, Loreto’s proud trumpet stood out amongst the gentle woodwinds and sweeping strings; his folded wings, restrained by the tight pit space, looked like they longed to break free in joyous harmony with the bright tones of his brass instrument.
The conductor stopped looking over their sheet music and smiled to themselves. These musicians had answered the call so bravely and wonderfully, and each of them contributed so much to this small production. They weren’t a conventional symphony, this was true, but they more than made up for it with their own unique energies. Music wouldn’t have it any other way.
Almost much too soon, the faraway chatter of the audience dimmed with the lights -- no longer did their bright glow cast down upon the pit, and each musician switched on their stand lights. Music glanced towards Oboe, and with that look Oboe raised the reed to their lips and played a clear “A” for tuning.
Winds first, then strings (with Coma joining the strings) -- they were all tuned, and ready to begin. Silence fell upon the room, like a blanket whisked over a patterned sheet.
Music raised their baton -- the musicians all raised their instruments -- and the lights fully dimmed right as the baton swished down, and the first melodic theme hit the air. Nothing would beat the magic created by their very own paws and voices.
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