Hega Perdugal lived in Old Seamoore, a section of town which, as the name suggests, resembled the city as it was before it divorced the world beneath it. Unlike those of her neighbors, Hega’s home was made of stone, because she was a dwarf and even though she’d never been part of dwarven community, some things are just a part of you.
It was a small home, but large enough for a woman who lived alone and who rarely had company these days. Just before the thin stone path leading from the street to her door was a mailbox, which looked like an ordinary mailbox, except that it had the words “I’m not interested” carved in the side. Donovan Allman was inspecting it when Hega spotted him through the window one morning.
“Magic business not working out for you? Turned to stealing mail?”
“I was going to deliver this.” He held a fine black box in his hand, which was too long to have even fit in the mailbox.
“Couriers aren’t expensive.”
“Neither is walking.”
“Glad to see you’re alive.” A pause. “I suppose.”
Donovan held the package out to her. “I want you to have this…there’s an explanation inside.”
“You’re right here,” she said. “Explain. But if this is some kind of grand gesture, save your energy. I’m not interested in someone who plays at whatever childish games you’re up to. You can have my friendship, and nothing more.”
“Of course,” Donovan said, looking at the ground. “You’re right to say so. I’m not in the proper head space for anything of that sort for the time being – and I’m not saying that expecting any kind of pity. No, I came here merely to make amends.
“I realized something. When we saw The Wolf Gang some weeks back, I said that you must not enjoy concerts because you appeared distant and annoyed. But I misread you, I understand that now. It was more like jealousy, or longing. You used to play.”
Hega was impressed. She eyed him curiously.
“So I asked around to see if anyone knew what you played, and well. Here.” Donovan opened the box to reveal a violin made of fine, dark wood. Its shape was strange, loosely resembling that of an anchor, and its make was serviceable, but amateur.
“This is how we made them in Dera, where I grew up. It’s…not perfect. But Nestor’s enchanted it so that it plays music of its own accord. Or rather, your own accord. You have to attune to it, just spend some time with it, it’ll make sense. It might not be the same exactly, but…”
“Donovan.” The dwarf smiled. “Thank you.”
“It’s the least I can do. Sorry for being an ass.”
Hega shrugged. “It happens.”
“Let’s get drinks again sometime. As friends.”
“We’ll see. I’m a busy woman. I’ll let you know when I can pencil you in.”
The two shared a smile, shook hands, and wished each other well.
That evening, as Hega sat in her rocking chair with the violin in her lap, she closed her eye and let her mind wander. She felt a strange presence in her brain, like a new muscle, and as it flexed, memories brushed against her like a gentle breeze. Her father giving Hega her first violin as a birthday gift, three days late; her first public display after months of practice, at which she embarrassed herself; her second public display after years of practice, after which she had her first intimate encounter; the feeling and sound of bow against string, the joy of creation, the despair of its loss.
A phantom limb twitched.
As memories played themselves on repeat in her mind, this newfound muscle grew stronger and stronger, until its use was nearly natural. At this time, the bow lifted of its own accord, and it began to play. It wasn’t very good, but dear Sol, it was divine.
At the same time, beneath Odd & Ends, something shifted, and something grew.