Everyone knows that magic comes from the bones. This is why it is important for all wishing to learn magic to drink one’s milk and get plenty of sunlight. It is for this reason that magic has grown scarce in Ahbon, as the bones of its occupants have weakened over time and through the generations the majority of the magic has been lost to the darkness.
The magic you are about to witness is not that of today’s Ahbon. It is magic that has not been witnessed for tens of millennia; magic so powerful, that it was responsible for the birth of the Overworld, Otum, the Dimmer, Reapers, Valen, Angels, Humans, Triclopses, amongst many others.
Napoleon cradled the skeletal head of his dead horse, that was actually a not a horse at all but a very rare form of horned deer from somewhere long gone. Now it was but a pile of bones.
But even old bones dead and tired can look pretty neat on a wall.
Coda stayed as the others headed solemnly inside, saying she needed to ‘stretch her legs’. This was not the case, but she questioned the deathliness in those old bones. Kneeling down, picking up the head, clicking it off of the spinal cord was she, and the sockets stared at her with blank vacancy at first. She examined the pearly white bone and grinned. Damn, that was a cool looking skull. But then, some things happened as things tend to do:
-Within the sockets came tiny neutron stars of emerald light in the centre of the voids.
-Coda’s palm glowed much brighter and greener.
-A steam of magic wisped around the skull and inside the sockets, around the curly horns and in the cheekbones and mouth, flossing the glowing teeth.
-The Hero let go of the shaking skull.
-The skull stayed exactly where it was in mid-air.
Her jaw dropped in awe, whereas the deer’s jaw dropped because it was no longer being supported by any muscle or any other tissue.
“and just how long have you been parked here?” Asked Ink to Napoleon. Toven was trying to cheer him up with encouraging words.
“Only a couple of hours! I swear! I’ve only eaten one mustard sandwitch since i got here…” It was true, he had only eaten one mustard sandwitch. Strange. Very strange indeed.
“Mh.” Said Ink as Ink tends to do. He closed his eyes again and hoped that nobody would talk about walking anywhere any time soon. On a side note, he had never seen a skeleton of a deer before, and he did consider it quite aesthetically pleasing. When he next got the chance, he would draw what he had seen from memory. Little did he know he wouldn’t have to.
“He was a good horsie.” Grieved Napoleon, sounding like someone cleaning a trombone with a gardening fork. “He was strong, kind-hearted, well-mannered, respectable and noble. I’m a dreadful, dreadful magnificent entertainer!”
“It’s no-not your fault you lost-t tuh-track of time.” Toven patted him on the shoulder, “There there. I’m s-sure he’s in a better pl-place now. Right?”
Napoleon wailed, “I sincerely hope so! But i don’t think there’s any place better than with the monumentally magific… Napole...”
Toven had been distraught upon seeing the bones. He hadn’t had much experience with death in his short life, but the experience he did have was not a very good one.
Meanwhile, Ink was trying to drift sleepily off, but kept getting distracted by just how a deer could possibly be well-mannered.
At about this point, Coda burst in the small door with an excited grin and bowed foreward. Marengo’s floating skeletal head glided over her, wagging its short spinal cord tail and giving of a playful dog-like aura. Perhaps it recognised its master and was excited to see him, or perhaps it simply sensed that he was sad as all good dogs tend to do and bounded through the air to nuzzle the sadness out of him.
“Marengo!” Napoleon cheered, tears still streaming from… Somewhere. “You’re alive! Well, maybe not. But you’re okay!!”
The skulldog tried to lick his face but came to realise that it didn’t have a tongue.
-Oh bugger, what now?- Thought Ink, opening his eyes. He swiftly closed them again, deciding he wanted no part of it.
Coda watched as Napoleon embraced her new companion, Toven fearfully edging away from it.
“Parallax.” She said, “His name is Parallax, stupid.”
“Oh…” Said Napoleon, and his heart sank a little again. “Yes. I… See.” he looked at Parallax, who snuffled at him. “I suppose… You can take good care of him?”
“Huh? Oh, well yeah i sure hope so.”
Napoleon seemed to give a sad smile, though his face was made of porcelain. “Good. Only… Who will pull the Maison de la Musique?” He gestured to the walls.
“Your horse, duh.”
The little man’s eyes shot Parallax a glance.
“You know,” Continued Coda, “Marengo. The one outside.”
“Hmmm??” Napoleon said in excitement. He poked a strange little head out of the hatch in the front of the cabin, and his eyes fell upon the rest of the bone deer horse thing that was standing, headless amongst the spoonwood. “Yiieeee!” Screamed a happy Napoleon.
It was not long before they were off, Mortengo carefully stepping round bugs and rocks alike with such skill that one might mistake him for trotting without a care in the world.
“He’s a sweetie, T! See?” Coda encouraged, petting Parallax between the eyes.
“Y-Yeah.” he replied (Toven not Parallax, as made clear by the stuttering) and Coda guided his hand so that it touched the tip of the dog’s nose. Toven smiled cautiously as he stared into the deep green stars. He came to realise that Parallax was in fact not scary at all, and was certainly more alive than some people in the room...
Ink was enjoying his well-needed nap in the fuzzy lands of his weirdest nightmares when he was awoken by a wooden bump. Thrust into the air by the land, the caravan arced off the small cliff down onto the road which was a grey line engrained several meters into the purplish landscape. The carriage came down with a sound like a riot in an orchestra, instruments simultaneously falling from where they hung on the walls. The accordion screamed, the violins yelled, the acoustic guitar groaned, and the double-bass made pained double-bass sounds. Triangles clattered against bells and tambourines, somewhere, symbols crashed. “Wheeee!” Said Napoleon as the Reaper’s face said hello to the floorboards. Coda and Toven did something similar, yet Parallax was just as floaty as ever.
Ink probably said something like ‘Bugger!’ or ‘I’m far too tired to knock whoever’s bloody fault this is!’ but it was drowned out by the still erupting chorus of strings. Something heavy and brass hit his head before the chaos simmered down.
Now, they had truly hit the road. Quite hard actually, though the wheels held strong and the group were well on their way to Pier in no time.
There came a point in the journey where the Hero eyed the acoustic guitar again, this time deciding to pick it up. Something about it was familiar, yet different in a way, like a friend in disguise. A single chord rang out terribly over the sound of the ebony rattle of the wheels; it was hideously out of tune. Ink whilst only half awake offered to tune it, as he could not bear to hear any more terrible music, though Coda insisted on figuring it out. Toven didn’t mind Parallax, who was beginning to grow on him. He tossed a small piece of bread across the room and felt rather silly when the dog ignored it entirely - not because it was a skeleton, but because it had fallen asleep mid-air, eyes like windows to absolutely nothing at all.
The Hero struck a small chord, and played a few uncertain notes purely from muscle memory, but then it faded. Not even her muscles seemed to remember much, but the tune was on the very tip of her mind. Dang, how’d it go again?
She doesn’t remember yet, but it starts in A-minor, with three different arpeggios all ending on the note of G - which is left to ring like a tolling bell until the vocals kick in. A simple motif that is repeated until the blistering solo. Perhaps, somewhere in the song, cowbells can be heard.
Perhaps you do, perhaps you don’t. Either way, nobody cares all that much. Back to the story.
It took a relatively short yet uncounted amount of time until the entertainers shack pulled up into the first of the two streets of Pier (most of the town was taken up by the Pier itself) and immediately the scents typical of a beachside town lightly nestled inside every nostril. Barbecued beach ribs, sticky candy floss/cotton candy depending on who you are, sea salt, and a light cologne. People starbathed on the cold sand down by the sea, and a ferris wheel rotated on the very tip of the large wooden street that points aimlessly out into black waters.
A small hustle came from the landward street outside as Napoleon parked on the corner of a public pavement/sidewalk, depending on who you are.
“I think i might set up shop here for a while, you did say that you wish to continue your quest in the morning, did you not?” Said Napoleon, proudly yet without grace or dignity clambering through the small hatch in the wall that was clearly not supposed to be used as a means of getting in and out of the shack-on-wheels.
“Y-yeah, I th-think we have a pl-place to stay!” Smiled Toven.
“Good!” Said Napoleon, “If you wish to join me on my complete tour of Ahbon, then I’d be happy to accommodate for my brrrrrriliant fans on their quest!” he opened the door, “Now get out.”
In the rush to escape before the angry mob came (Napoleon and his apparently indestructible home were well-known in many a town, and for all the wrong reasons) Napoleon tugged on Ink’s tired cloak.
“Excuse me, my boy.” He said, and when he had the Reaper’s attention he rummaged around in a pile of two-century-old, crusty sheet music on a small table that was no longer visible, because of all the two-century-old, crusty sheet music and partly because of the disgrace of a letter that Napoleon dragged out from under a pile of two-century-old, crusty sheet music. It was a glitter-entombed envelope with sequin hearts and glitter-glue writing in the general shape of a name sprawled across the face of it. In a pathetic attempt to further decorate the unreadable writing, a long piece of string traced the name, stuck on with what looked to be bits of prit-stick.
“please tell me you have a baby daughter.” Said Ink, but Napoleon payed no attention.
“Enclosed in this package is a very important document! It must reach its recipient unharmed and in order. No words must be muddled, rearranged or crossed out! Understand, good fellow?”
Ink placed a questioning hand on the envelope, “can’t you just like, deliver it yourself?”
Napoleon hesitated, “No. It… It’s a, uhm… No. But whatever you do,” He said, providing no further answer to Ink’s question, “Do NOT open it! Ever!”
Ink squinted at the name, “Cl… Clums… Chlorine? Clam...dia?” he hazarded.
“It is addressed to Claudia, if you must know. If you see her in the passing, would you mind giving this to her? She lives in the upper regions of Atlantis. See, they have a strict no-Napoleon policy there, likely because the fans get too rowdy for their delicate and very, very expensive streets.”
“Is Claudia… Special to you?”
Napoleon’s porcelain cheeks turned a light shade of pink.
“No! Well, I mean, yes! Of course! B-but that’s a very strange way of putting it!”
“A-are you to n-nervous to speak to her in person?” Toven asked, sympathetically.
“Wow, dude, that is so hilarious and romantic!” Coda laughed. “You gotta let her know how you feel, man!”
Toven looked down at the ground as he stuttered, “Y-yeah, if you don’t talk to h-her then you’ll n-never be able to spend any t-time with her.”
Napoleon sighed and tried to explain: “I know, I just haven’t been able to get a hold of her. I send her a letter every week, but my graceful words never seem to reach her. Not even my constant e-mails have gotten me any closer to seeing her again.”
There were shouts and agitated grumbles from unseen ‘fans’ somewhere out in the streetlights, and it was time for the trio to leave. Ink didn’t know what an e-mail was but he was not about to stick around and find out. He said goodbye, with the promise of delivery Napoleon’s letter, and they left the wee music man behind.
Parallax followed soon after nuzzling a bony goodbye to what used to be the rest of his body, the headless being that had now become its own entity with reigns tied to two of its ribs. (where else are they going to go? It has no head.)
The day was not yet over, but Toven knew where they could sleep for the night when the time came. Now though, the Hero decided that they would explore the Pier itself, and, in her own words, ‘take a load off’.