"Er," said Cat. "Are you sure about this? I had those violin lessons when I was small, but I was never very good."
"I thought I was done with this nonsense when I left Caprona." Angelica's glare traveled around the conservatory and settled on Tonino. "You know I'm tone-deaf."
"It's all right," said Tonino. "There's nothing wrong with your sense of rhythm. You can be the percussionist."
Marianne had already seated herself at the piano and started playing, just a scale exercise. Motes of light began to gather in the air around her, growing thicker as she moved to something more complicated and swingy, and sheering off when she hit a wrong note. "It's been years since I've played," she said with a sheepish smile, but beneath the sheepishness she looked pleased, almost electrified. The ends of her hair practically crackled.
"Don't stop," said Cat. Tonino had been right, sadly; this was going to work. And they did need some way to communicate with the creature—people—whoever it was who had summoned him. He just hated performing. There was a violin case on one shelf, and he fetched it resignedly and undid the clasps.
"All of these instruments seem awfully small," said Klartch.
Angelica looked up from the drum kit she was assembling with a wicked grin. "The tuba's about your size." Klartch glared at her. Angelica stuck out her tongue, which was another thing Klartch couldn't do with a beak.
"Try the harp," Tonino suggested.
"I've seen Miss Rosalie do this," Klartch said doubtfully, but fitted his shoulder into its curve all the same, and began plucking at the strings with delicate claws. Somehow, his experimental fumblings fit in with the tune Marianne was playing, and the light in the air grew brighter and begin to take shape. Not human shape, or plant shape, or any shape Cat could give a name to, but shape.
He tucked the violin under his chin and drew the bow across the strings, and felt the magic of the whatever-they-were move through him. It wasn't like the musical magic of Tonino's family, which was a human thing, and involved practice, and discipline, and a certain minimum of talent. This was wild, and came from outside.
Angelica was keeping up a furious beat, and Tonino was singing—Cat's Italian was passable, but he couldn't understand a word when Tonino sang in a formal style like this. Words weren't the point. The point was the shape of the song—
I've been summoned by a song?
The song had its own shape, which Cat couldn't change. But he poured his own meaning into it, drawing on the strength of his friends.
Here we are. How can we help?