The serene melody of a violin carried far in the quiet of the night. Elamir listened as the melody seemed to come from every direction and none simultaneously. It was part of Caprica’s legend that some nights in the forest a strange melody could be heard. Elamir had spent a fair amount of his days with only the canopy of trees for cover. Yet never had he ventured to a place like Caprica.
The trees were unnaturally large, with the tops of most, disappearing into the clouds themselves. He had not believed such a place could exist until he saw it for himself. Supposedly the mysterious violinist was actually an old one, an elf who made his home amongst the trees, and the last of their long-lived race.
Normally Elamir disseminated those tall tales, while occasionally spinning ones of his own. Now though, as he looked out amongst the dark trees, he couldn’t help but wondered if, this time at least, he had gone too far. This was the onset of their third week crossing through Caprica. Already a feat unmatched in living memory. In this strange place, the trees themselves seemed to move and sway with the melody. Yet the night air was still as a stone.
Little frightened him beyond holding a shield wall against an enemy formation. Something, blessedly, he had not found himself doing in quite a long time. Looking around his small camp he could see that the unease had not touched him alone. Elamir and his men had climbed mountains, sailed archipelagos, survived wars and seen more of this world than most men ever dreamed. However, the sheer weight of the unnatural surroundings was causing most to lose their color. Yet there was one man to whom the swaying trees and still air did not ruffle. Nathaniel sat serenely as a statue on an upturned barrel. Eyes closed as he slowly began to sway like the unnatural forest.
“He plays to the trees.” Muttered Nathaniel “That is why they dance.”
Everyone in the camp looked at him but none spoke. Elamir had known Nathaniel for years and the man was as fearless as he was talented. He could face down twenty men armed with only a staff and look as though he were but contemplating the weather. Though his talents did not end with staves. His skill at juggling, acrobatics, mind puzzles, and most notably music, made him an invaluable part of Elamir’s crew. The man was the one thing he had found that was as unnatural as Caprica itself.
With dexterous hands, Nathaniel unwound the leather straps of his pack exposing a violin. He checked the strings methodically, then began to play. At first, he copied the somber melody that came from the forest. Then changes began to creep in. Subtle nuances in the flow, each more challenging than the last. Nathaniel followed along deftly not missing a note, and soon the sound from the forest began to grow louder. It quickly became clear that Nathaniel was not just following along, but he had in a way, thrown down an unspoken challenge to this mysterious violinist. At the conclusion of a segment, Nathaniel or the violinist would add a new section of their own. Each time their opponent’s response was swift and sure meeting the challenge and adding a tag of ever-increasing complexity.
Within minutes the trees twisted and shook as though a gale raged against them. Overhead thunder boomed in the heavens, like the laughter of gods, taking amusement in the contests of men. A paradoxical mix of terror and wonder permeated the camp with each new set the musicians played. Yet in all the turmoil not a puff of air ruffled anyone’s cloak.
It seemed as though Nathaniel would not be outdone, his skill outmatching even the legend itself. Then suddenly from the blackness above a blinding silver bar of light streaked from the sky. With a thunderclap, it dashed Nathaniel’s violin to splinters yet left the man himself unharmed. With a final crescendo, the melody receded and the trees became still once more. And from the tongues of frightened adventurers, a new legend was born. The Great Duel of Caprica.
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