• Motto: ’For in the inflorescence of the white
    chamber, a voice from very far away,
    chanted, and the chamber descanted, birthday of earth
    paddled me home through some dark
    labyrinth, from laughter to the dream.’

    ( Christopher Okigbo: Distances I.).

    It was an unusually warm day, one of the last days of the Time of Rebirth which was the fist month of the Spring Cycle. The marble walls were bathing in the golden light of the setting sun, the arabesques of the offsets and the reliefs glowing like the saints of a cathedral.
    A tall, dark haired young man was sitting on a carved wooden bench in front of the main buiding, his greenish-blue eyes flickering uneasily, his fingers involuntarily fiddling with a worn quill over the piece of parchment which lay on his knees.
    When you want a fuller understanding of your current situation, never be lazy to start from the very beginning, his father used to say. Well, this is what I’ll do…

    - I’m leaving home. – he announced with all the seriousness of a 15-year-old boy. Neither did his mother protest nor did his father forbid him to go: this was the way of life. The same way his father parted from his family many-many years ago to be an apprentice of a furbisher. He would have been happy to see his son becoming a master smith and taking over his forge – but he wanted to be a harpist. And the smith loved his son more than not to let him follow his fancy.
    Long years of wandering came. He wandered up and down in the huge lands of Althe learning from the best bards and harp-players and so his roamings took him to Erinthor.
    Ah yes, Erinthor. The place where the elite of the artists of the Althian Empire lived. The bustling city (the third-biggest in the whole Empire) has made its reputation by hosting the Hall of Dances. The compages of six marble buildings entirely devoted to the training of musicians, singers and dancers, the dream of all youths who wanted to take such an occupation. However the requirements of admission into the school were hard to satisfy, and only a dozen of the hundreds of applicants managed to pass.
    He remembered the day he arrived. He was hungry, tired – and pennyless. Thus, as he did so many times before, he offered his arts in return for food and quarter. Although the city was full of the best bards and harpists, the innkeeper accepted his offer. (To be honest, merely out of generosity.)
    Alnawen, headmaster of the Hall of Dances hardly gave credit to the spreading rumours about a young prodigy. It happened a thousand times to him that he was talked into hearing one or two of them and he did not find any remarkable in their art. However, the townsfolk praised this one so loudly that one night he decided to attend his performance.
    Nîtirann remembered well how embarassed he was when having accepted the invitation he came for an audience with Alnawen. He could not think what the best harpist of the Althian Empire would want from a greenhorn like him, and was even afraid that he might have provoked the wrath of the great musician with his performance.
    His feet trembling, he stood before the high-ranking master of the harps. He was prepared for harsh words and a cold reception, thus, he was really surprised when Alnawen asked him whether he wanted to become a student of the Hall of Dances. And he agreed to stay…

    Oh yes. Insofar it sounds like a fairy tale, he remarked to himself with a rueful smile.

    The school has been his home for three years now. At the beginning of this semester the musical accompaniment of the dancers has already been added to his chores. He was awed to see how the graceful moves intertwined with the music and blended into a momentary completeness. This was his true life. Otherwise he was reserved and often shy and clumsy. When the girls asked him, words often eluded him, he was so embarassed although he would have loved to answer them.
    However, he could appreciate solitude as well: the silent hours of meditation. He was often walking around in the grove surrounding the school, or just sat under a spreading hemlock tree, which stood in the midst of a group of trees but seemed somehow being isolated from them. This place was his favourite from the moment he first found it, for he felt that the tree and him were somehow similar. So he spent his free time there, practising, thinking or just listening to the whisper of the winds, the birds’ songs. And sometimes he could sense more subtle noises: the sound of the growing grass, the smooth rustle of unfolding petals and the tinkling of drops of the morning dew rolling down the leaves… And he perceived them like no one else does in this world: as music. Each and every being, animate or inanimate had its own, individual tune, and together they constituted a great chorus he got never bored to listen to…
    Oh, where he had broken off before he was carried away? Yes… the girls. It was about a week ago. Or was it two? The piece he played then was so tediously perfect that he just could not resist the temptation, thus he slightly altered the tune as the girls leaned back, like petals of a dehiscent red-weed. Now he could see the face of the girl who was standing with the back to him before. Their eyes met, and he was ready to bet his life on that she was smiling, although not with the mouth.
    Later that day, in the afternoon he was sitting in a remote corner of the artificial grove surrounding the school, under his tree. Closing his eyes, he tried to wipe out all thoughts form his mind in order to be able to concentrate on the distant voices: the song of creation he had never enough of.
    However, again and again he saw the girl’s expression with his mind’s eye, the image distracting him from his meditation. That was a moment of eternity – he did not know how to put it better. He wondered whether the girl does feel it? Or does she understand or even know what all this is about? He never dared to ask her – he had no clue how to address her, either…
    However, from this moment on he was in search of something he couldn’t even find a name for. He only felt the absence of it.

    That’s the end of the story. At least for now. And still, neither his understanding nor his mood seemed to have improved. Apart from that, I can give it at least another try. He laid the sheet aside, put down the quill and closed his eyes. The depthless contrabass of rustling leaves. A drop of evening dew hitting the ground with a hollow tink. The vain whistle solo of a bird. He shivered with shock and opened his eyes. Every time I try it’s getting worse. He rose. For a moment he stood erect, then he suddenly snatched up the quill and the parchment, his fingers creasing the lined paper as his fist closed.