At least the building was still sound, the tapestry of its walls and windows, roof-beams and foundation-pillars not unravelled by the basilisk's guards, thought Guilia Dulcet, surveying what had once been the orderly chaos of the Tourmalyne School. Now it seemed it was just chaos, though she knew there was still order underneath. Order in the way that the music was finding its way back into the ordinary lives of everyone in the city; order in the way the most amazing things would come to light - pulled from the wreckage by chance or protected by happenstance, brought shyly out from dusty attics by old men with the memory of even older songs in their eyes, from root-cellars by women whose grandmothers had told tales of secrets hid amongst the ginger-cherries and the green-gage preserves. Music, plays, instruments, bits of scenery and extraordinary costumes; things of mystery and wonder that had hidden from the basilisk's eye and now sought the sun again.
The fabric is sound, the heart is once again beating in true time, but oh, so very much to do before it will be anything like whole. Giulia set her hands to the work, finding the vein of melody that ran through all the discord. Eventually it drew her to the Griffin's Egg and the remnants of the Griffin's Claw - Justin and Nicol and, for a wonder, Hollis. Hollis come from the ruin and rebuilding of Tourmalyne Palace, grime still decorating his cuffs and the hems of his robe.
Shortly they were on the little raised place that stood in for a stage, instruments in hand - picochet and pipe (not the bone pipe, and not in Hollis' hands, but Justin's, and one of the astonishments of the day - a transverse pipe of ebony chased with silver that had stood un-noted in a pot of walking sticks for no one knew how long, until plucked out by a hand seeking to defend the house with whatever might come to hand, and the unexpected shriek of sound as it emerged had set the guard aback enough, just enough, for the household to escape and rally, sally forth and hold their hall unscathed; they were of Iridia, it was discovered, of Reve's own line, the pipe sent ceremonious to the school that the tale and song be sung), drum and harp and viol tuned and ready.
"What shall be the song?" a bright-eyed lad in tanner's leathers called.
"It is a day for bards, and a night for singing the songs of mirth!" Justin caroled back
"Aye! Gi'e us a drinking song!" - a voice from the back, well drunken, "One wi' a chorus to 'im!"
So they sang "The Tipsy Tailor at the Wandering Well" and the crowd raised voice and glass (horn, cup, mug, can, bowl, whatever would hold the beer that seemed to be coming from that fabled endless cask that drew on the wandering well) each time the tailor set another stitch in the elusive brewer's waistcoat, louder with each verse.
(Across the city, in a high, dim room, Reve Iridia sat, listening to the threads of light and dark, sorrow and safety, mirth and birth and magic re-weaving themselves in the interplay of notes, of breath, raven feathers and ruby eyes, glass and gold, all coming together in a tapestry of hope. It was air and fire, wish and will, not yet form; but the shape, the pattern the warp and weft were being laid - set by masterful hands and hearts full of love. It was as if she were inside the music, part of the pattern of spirals and turns and intricate, delicate knots, grand, overarching sweeps and swaths of color and sound.)
They sang "The Song of Mazes" followed by "The Man in the Moon Came Down too Soon" and "Eirene's Lament to the Waves" and school-songs and work-songs, songs that were made up of bawdy words to ancient tunes, and scraps of impromptu poetry set to music made up on the instant. The beer (and cider, apple wine and whisky) never ran dry, and presently, amazingly, mead - a beverage forbidden by the basilisk, yet this was no raw moonshine-mead but an elixir of honey and gold, the very drops of inspiration that fell from the cauldron of the gods, every sip to be savored - made its way to the musicians, in a cup that carried the sigils of all four Houses, carved in gems. It was a wonder even in a day of wonders, and when it appeared at the end of a rousing rendition of "The Alewife and the Magister," an astonished silence fell over the crowd.
"What is that?" piped a voice.
"Looks to be 'The Cup of Concord,' said another in an awed whisper.
"Can't be. It were melted down by him as held no truck with having four, but only one." A belligerent voice, from the midst of the throng "An' even if it is, how did it get here?"
Hollis put down his instrument and knelt to take the cup in both hands. The golden liquid in it shimmered and gleamed. "It is the Cup of Concord," he said softly, and for a moment he looked very like his father, with ravens' eyes and feathered, raven hair. "And the basilisk would not destroy it - it holds too much." He stood, the broad, bright bowl of the cup balanced on his palms. "It is a gift, I think. A Sign, from the dragon-eyed daughter of the one who took it."
"It belonged to all the Houses once, held by each in turn throughout the year." Justin said, taking up the tale. "It would seem that Pellior would have Tourmalyne take up the trust." A smile lit Justin's face and he gave Hollis a little bow, a flourish that did nothing to disguise his very real delight and reverence. "My lord, will you so do?"
For a long moment Hollis looked into the pellucid depths of the mead in the cup. The metal was warm in his hand, and he knew that indeed it had come from Luna Pellior, and not on a whim, for all the Dragon's Egg was but a tavern: it was Berylon in microcosm, and the cup a means to bring the disparate notes back into harmony, the duty of a bard.
Hollis Tourmalyne raised his head, "To Berylon," he said, and lifted up the cup and drank. The mead warmed him to his toes.
The cup passed to all the musicians, and into the crowd of revelers, and every sip saw the threads that made up the fabric of the city and the land grow stronger and brighter, the music that wove through everything like breath become richer and deeper. Presently Guilia took up her picochet and began to play. It was a song out of season, but that mattered not, for it was the right song for the moment.
On the longest night make music
On the shortest day rejoice
For the Sun returns to warm us
And so give spirit voice
With harp and drum and viol
With flute and horn and hand
Shape songs of hope and sorrow
Of moments small and grand
With brass and bronze and silver
With wire, wood and air
Make mirth and lamentation
Mark courage and despair
By ear and heart and sinew
By breath and blood and will
Let fly with inspiration
Sing joy, and need fulfill!
And indeed, the duty of bardship was fulfilled that night and in the days following.