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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,612
New Zealand
JA short story about an unfortunate musician and the worst fan you could ever have.

The Banshee and the Musician

Ebenezer Humbug stepped through the curtains onto the stage. It had taken a lot of work to persuade the theatre to let him perform this last week, and it had taken even more to create an audience. But wasn't that a good sign? Only the most discerning of listeners deserved his talents, after all. It didn't matter this particular theatre was awaiting settlement of a sale.
He looked over the faces of the crowd. They seemed keen enough to see - or hear - what would happen. Unfortunately the rich seats were practically empty. But Ebenezer didn't need lords to tell him he was good. He was sure he could do better than any court musician anyway.
He held his violin up to his chin, and began to play. The crowd looked curious. Then intrigued. That was a good start. Now that he'd warmed them up with noises that didn't actually mean anything, what to play? Ah, yes, "The Charge of Lord Jacques". He'd been in Bretonnia recently, and had developed a fondness for the place.
Then everything went wrong. The audience began to stand up and leave. Some of them were polite enough to stay, but they clearly looked bored. Well, by Sigmar, they clearly didn't appreciate his art. More fool them. He'd travelled the Old World, been thrown out of every pub and tavern from Couronne to Kislev He didn't care if a few peasants didn't like hi music. Maybe he'd go to Sylvania next. Surely the immortal lords' tastes were so out off date they wouldn't mind a refresher.

In the end, only a small number of people remained. One figure in the stands caught Ebenezner's attention. She appeared to be a young girl, with flowing dark locks and a sweet smile, sitting all the way up the back. She was the only one who ahh smiled all this time. There was his discerning audience!
When it was time to finish, Ebenezer bowed. Then he looked at the girl. "Young lady, would you come to the stage?"
The girl nodded, then came down the stands. She didn't so much walk as seem to drift down. But Ebenezer didn't care. She liked his music. Everyone else could go to the Wastes far as he cared. When the dark-haired girl with the smile appeared on the stagee - he barely noticed she hadn't stepped up, just appeared - he smiled at her.
"Do you like my performance, really?"
The girl nodded, drifting forwards. She looked at his violin inquisitively.
"Would you like to play it?"
The girl nodded.
Ebenezer laughed. "As you wish." He handed over the violin. And then immediately wished he hadn't. He wished he were still in the land of the Lady, with the lords who knew culture and chivalry. He wished he were in Nordland, where one ahd to fight every day against Norscan raiders. Anywhere but here.
The moment the girl took the violin she wasn't a girl anymore. The human form shed, revealing a sickly looking, pale green translucent old woman with stringy hair and burning witch eyes. It began to play the violin, which was bad enough. Then it opened its mouth.
Ebenezer had never heard such a sound in all his life, and never wanted to again. It hurt. On levels he hadn't know existed. Blocking his ears didn't do anything. Worst of all, the ghost woman's mouth was open far wider than it should have been able to. The remaining audience were writhing in pain. This wasn't fair! He finally found someone who liked his music, and they were some horrible beast! Where were the witch hunters when you needed them?
No witch hunter were here now. But that didn't matter. Anger rose in Ebenezer Humbug like never before. To be rejected was one thing. But for a monster to steal his violin and mock his art? That was unforgivable. Doubled over from pain, he nonetheless stumbled towards the thing and wrestled for his violin. It was strong, and had no physical form to lock or subdue. But Ebenezer was angry, and with that anger came strength. Finally he pulled the violin away, clutching it to himself. Then he played the most important song of his life. "The Fall of Vlad". It didn't matter he'd just made it up. It didn't matter there might be some child of the Vamprie Count in the audience. This monster had to go, and somehow he knew a song would banish it.
The creature clutched its head and dived through the nearest wall, leaving Ebenezer frozen on the stage.


Ebenezer woke to cold water over him. He felt great heat, and saw a fire beside him. Then eh felt a slap.
A figure clad above his bound form - he was bound? oh dear - looking as if he were something a cat had dragged in. The man was gruff looking, with a heavy cloak, a silver necklace and an impressive beard. And a certain sigil hung from that necklace.
"Ebenezer Humbug. I have a few questions for you," said the witch hunter.
"Fine. But I want my violin first."
 

Unas the slayer

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 1, 2017
1,105
Northern Italy
Intriguing story, i like it.
It's also interesting the concept that a certain kind of "mundane" music can repel a sensible undead.
Or was it just the banshee that was feeling a sort of betrayal from the bard? That insensible human that took back his violin and played a horrible tasted tune?
 

Disciple of Nagash

Oldblood
Staff member
Feb 12, 2008
27,732
A curious short story - why did everyone leave? Was it because of his choice or because he was so bad? I wondered if he was so bad and that's why the banshee liked it?
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,612
New Zealand
Yes, the idea is he's tremendously awful but doesn't realise, and the Banshee liked it until he stopped cooperating. Somehow.
 

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