It was a warm, sunny day. Nîtirann could hardly wait for his last morning class to finish. The otherwise diligent young man dashed out of the room like a six-year-old schoolboy to the schoolyard on hearing the redemptive bell. Soon they were sitting together in the grass.
- The song you sang yesterday… what was it? – Nîtirann rapped out the question pulling him since he has heard the song for the first time.
- Baallad of the Crimson Moon, first daughter of the Goddess of Songs whom the Evaans consider to be their creator.
- Oh, that’s interesting. Is your mother…er…one of…
- Yes, she is of Evaani descent, but I don’t think it is something thaat counts.
- Of course not. I was only wondering what tongue it was in.
- Oh! – she laughed, relieved – Why are you so interested in it?
- Well… - again, he started fidgeting with his cuff-links. – My mother used to sing a lot when I was young.
- Aand why did she stop singing? – she asked, her eyes widening with childish naivity.
- She…she has… er… passed away. Long ago.
- I’m sorry.
- Don’t be. I said it was long ago. – he replied with an easiness which surprised even himself. They were sitting wordlessly for a while, only exchanging bashful half-smiles. It was finally her who broke the silence.
- I think we haaven’t introduced ourselves yet… - she extended a fragile-looking though sinuous hand. Nîtirann took it unsurely first, the experience being so unusual for him. He has never held a hand of a woman except for his mother’s. – My naame is Ellîmin. – the girl added.
- Mm…mine’s Nîtirann. – he suddenly felt so tongue-tied.
- Nice to meet you, then. – she said with a broad smile. Again, they sat in silence for some minutes.
- It is quite strange for you to be dancer with such a voice. – the young man pointed out suddenly.
- Well, on the entraance exaam I was told to deal rather with dancing for I aam better at thaat. – she said with a melancholic smile. Then she shrugged.
At that night, back in his room, as he lay in bed his eyes following the imaginary flight of the painted seagulls, a languish smile stretched on his face. He felt himself being radiant like a star with the measureless happyness which filled him. He could do it! Yes, he managed to talk to her. And he was suddenly sure of that he will get his answers in time. Don’t be foolish, he tried to sober himself up, such things only occur in tales, don’t they? But he was unable to persuade himself about being cautious. The falcon has already noticed the prey and could hardly wait to be flown at it.
The days passed by, one after the other. Their meetings became regular, their conversations deeper. Nîtirann told her about the gift he possessed and what this meant for him while she explained him how Evaani people (who called themselves ’the Folk of Songs) and she, partially due to her origins, thought about music and the other arts. Nîtirann learned much of these conversations and this confirmed him in his belief that she may have answers for his most biting uncertainities. So one day he came up with the problem.
- And whaat’s he matter with you now? You can’t hear the music anymore? – she asked, the slanted brows contracted.
- I can… but. it’s just… somehow empty since then, you know.
She shook her head with a hint of disbelief, then she looked him again into the eyes intently watching him.
- Well, it has never occurred to me but I think I understaand…or…to put it better, I caan feel it somehow. – she said finally, a faint smile appearing in the corner of her mouth. And he was immensely grateful for that.
Exhilarated by the feeling of the presumed mutual sympathy which tied them together more strongly day by day he wished to do something great, to give her something in return for her priceless compassion and understanding towards him. Maybe he could give her the courage and the chance… Their end-term exams were public, constituting one of the most attractive spectacles of the Great Blossom Festival held on the last day of the Time of Blossoms each year. And it was not rare that there were some surprise performances besides the official program. Yes, that’s what I will do. I will ask her tomorrow, he thought, very content with himself. Having settled the matter he blew out the candle, pulled the blanket over his head and fell asleep almost at once.
- Hey Elîmin, mind the pace, please! It’s the third time we have to stop because of you! – the girl with blond hair (such a rarity amongst these people most of whom had black, brown or red locks!) warned her, a lenient smile stretching on her face while she was still shaking her head.
- Sorry, Aardrin. I’m so light-headed and excited naow. – she excused.
- Oh, it’s him, isn’t it? – she winked mischieviously at Ellîmin, then hooked on to her. – You have managed to arrange another rendezvous with that handsome harpist boy, have you not? C’mon, I’m your best friend and I’m thirlled to bits to hear the details…
- This taaime your famous intuitions prove to be wrong. – Ellîmin said with a languish smile. - It is aanything but aa love affair, I swear.
The auburn-haired, slender young woman crossed the grassy field in front of the great bandstand. She was apparently in a hurry, but there was no anxiety to be seen on her face. She was beaming.
- What if we’d prepare with a surprise performance?- Nîtirann asked at once as she entered the arbour they used to meet in.
- Aare you serious?
- Of course I am! – he answered enthusiastically.
- I…I don’t know. I’m just not sure of… - she stammered – I…well… daancing is okay but singing is… different… I… - her voice tailed off.
- What’s the matter, Ellîmin? – he asked as she began to sob.
- No… nothing…just… you know my… my first aapplication waas rejected… as…a singer… aand…
Well, this explains a few things, he thought, then added aloud:
- Oh, come on! Who told me that singing is something anyone can do?
- These two aare different…
- Are you sure they are? – he asked gently – Did it make any difference that your mother was singing an aire or an ancient Evaani ballad?
- Well … - she blushed – on second thought there waas none as long aas her heart went with it. – she finally admitted.
- Right. I would like to compose something for you. And I would like you to perform it, together with me at the festival. What do you say?
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