Chapter 15: The Beginning, Part I

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

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Comments: 1

"Hold my breath and keep on searching
For a life I haven't found
'Cause I wanna know the truth so tell me now"
- Where Do I Begin, Sick Puppies



Lance woke up, and for a fleeting moment, he was at peace.

Then he realized he was not in his room, not in his home. Memories crashed against the surface of his consciousness, forcing him to quickly sit upright, the bed sheets falling off his upper body and crumpling onto his lap. He tried to block out every thought that came to him.

But he couldn't run from his life; what it had been, what it was now...

Even still, Lance didn't want to think. He didn't want to revisit the past, so he looked to the other side of the room, catching sight of his reflection in the mirror. For a single moment, he wanted to laugh. His hair was incredibly messed up.

A memory played.

"Nice bed head. Didn't know you liked me enough to copy my style."

Lance hunched himself forward, bowing as his hands found his face. He sighed, trying to block out the memories. Trying to think of something that wasn't so painful.

How did his life get like this? How did he end up so alone?

Music caught his ears. An instrument; something with strings being plucked. Sounded like more than one... Like there was a bass instrument being played as well.

He stood, remembering Zidane was here, too. The present moment caught up with him, and he swallowed back the fear. He had to get on friendly terms with this guy, if they were going to continue on like this.

If there's even these cells in me in the first place. I still don't really have much proof.

But the way his eyes brightened when he saw that picture. That feeling in his chest...What was that, then, if not those cells?

He shook his head, dismissing the question. He couldn't figure it out, wouldn't be able to. He could only walk forward, pad his way into the hall, and follow the music guiding him into the main room.

Whatever instrument Zidane was playing, it wasn't something Lance had heard before. The feeling it brought him was strange, too. Almost a state of elevation, of bliss. This emotion steadily increased the closer he got to the living room, and upon reaching the very end of the hall, Lance stopped in the entrance way.

Zidane was sitting on the couch, one socked foot resting against the edge of the coffee table, something like a guitar in his lap. Quickly, Lance figured out it wasn't anything he had seen before; even double-necked guitars had their fretboards parallel to each other. This instrument's upper neck was tilted, and the crossbreed's tail was wrapped around it almost like a third hand.

Lance found himself moving closer, completely transfixed by the instrument. That blissful feeling was getting much stronger, too, each note rippling the emotion into him all over again.

He stopped off to the side of the armchair, hands in the pockets of his hoodie and eyes continuing to sweep along the instrument's body. It was scythe-like, a narrow triangle allowing a place for the ridiculous amount of strings and then sweeping downwards, the curve passing under Zidane's bent leg and then tapering off into a nasty looking point near the opposite side, almost creating a full circle. Definitely scythe-like. The inner curve was jagged with teeth of varying lengths. Lance suppressed a shudder, unable to be truly freaked out with the serene atmosphere the instrument was creating.

Lance flicked his stare to the crossbreed's face, noticing his eyes were still closed and his hands were still continuing to move. His right hand shifting into chords Lance hadn't seen before—the fingers were so spread out it nearly looked painful. There were a hell of a lot of strings on this instrument; Lance quickly estimated there had to be at least twenty—ten on each fretboard. The strings were fairly close together, too, and there had to be a meticulous amount of precision in placing the fingertips of the fretting hand solely on the strings that needed to be played. Lance figured that out quickly, judging from the clawed position Zidane's hand went into when closer chords were formed.

The upper fretboard seemed to act like some kind of bass; that must've been the sound he heard before. With how flat and straight the crossbreed's tail was pressing against the strings, only barre chords could be played. Lance found himself both fascinated and a tad freaked out by the way the tail slid along to different sections, creating different pitches triggered by a flick of the thumb. Lance held down a grimace; he'd probably never get used to that tail...

The notes began to slow, continuing to ring out with that emotion hovering inside of Lance's chest. When they'd stopped completely, a silence echoing out, Zidane's eyes opened. The brightness of the instrument faded as well, nearly matching the shade of Zidane's irises.

The crossbreed's stare suddenly flicked up, and his eyes lightened slightly. The instrument, however, turned a medium shade of yellow.

"Hey! I'm glad to see you're awake."

"Yeah, morning," Lance replied absently. "What the hell is that thing?"

"Oh, this?" Zidane looked down at the instrument, then shot Lance a grin. "This is something called an Ekelno. Basically the Spiro version of a guitar." As he spoke, the instrument's color became a light green.

Lance stared, eyes wide. "The... It just changed..."

Zidane nodded a few times, looking over at the upper fretboard as his tail unwrapped from it. "That's part of what makes Ekelnos so unique," he began. "They pick up on the user's emotions and transfer it to whoever's listening."

"Transfer it?"

A short hum confirmed the question, and with the Ekelno's body a deeper shade of green, Zidane's fingers moved again, plucking a few notes. The sound was much different than before; nearly that of a harp. The low, beautiful sounds faded and Lance was left with the emotions they shot into him. A deeper sense of peace. More grounded, in a way; like he was deep inside the middle of a forest.

"That's weird," he breathed, trying to force back a grin because he still didn't trust this guy. "That thing's really weird..."

Zidane nodded a little bit. "Yeah, probably is." His stare went to Lance again, and with a grin, he asked, "You wanna try playing it?"

"Playing it?" Lance repeated, but the instrument was already being held out to him, the coloring now a light purple. He reached forward, wrapping one hand around the bottom neck. Much thicker than he was used to, but what surprised him more was the shade of royal purple that spread a few inches away from his palm.

Curiosity getting the better of him, Lance brought the instrument onto his lap, having to step one leg through the large scythe-like curve in order to comfortably hold the Ekelno. He brought his mind away from the sheer weapon-like aspect of the instrument, paying more attention to the technicalities from a different, more up close angle. Taking note how the strings disappeared into the body of the Ekelno, and when they reached the knife-like headboard that had no tuning pegs, the strings disappeared into the colored material of the headstock.

"How do you tune this thing?" Lance asked, looking to Zidane.

The crossbreed kept his stare on the instrument, eyes sweeping along the bottom neck like he was studying it. "Emotions sort out the right tuning," he replied after a moment. A change in the instrument's color caught Lance's eye, and he looked back down to the Ekelno. The shade of purple lightened a little bit more.

"So it changes based on mood?" he asked, and at Zidane's nod, continued on. "What's purple mean then?"

"You tell me."

Lance tried to keep his own smile down. "Fascination, I guess." He flattened his hand against the strings, running his fingers along them and finding a strange comfort in the motion. The Ekelno turned a soft green.

Lance tried to nod like that was perfectly normal. "Comfort," he commented.

"Do you play?" Zidane asked, and Lance knew what he was referring to.

Raising one hand to casually scratch at his hair, Lance replied. "Yeah, I... Um, used to play guitar. For a little while. Was in a band, too, but..."

Memories broke free, and Lance tried to distract himself by staring at the near-black coloring of the Ekelno.

"What's black mean?" he asked, his voice weak and incredibly distant.

"Loss," Zidane answered, matching the solemnness. "Deep grey in particular means fear and loneliness." He brought Lance's focus to the front of the instrument, where a small line of white streaked along one corner. The mark was jagged, almost like the body had been cracked. "There's something of hope, though."

Lance nodded, bringing his hand to his hair. "Right. The memories can come back..."

"Let's see if we can focus on that emotion," Zidane said, and Lance remembered the whole reason he was holding this thing.

He shifted his hands, positioning the fingers of his right hand along the strings of the bottom fretboard. Just focusing on the bottom six. There was a home-like comfort in the way his hands moved into a basic chord. And with a smile he realized the song he wanted to perform.

It was... strange to play. Almost therapeutic, in a way. His own emotions echoed back to him with every note, and that white coloring came to mind. He watched that line of white began to spread, slowly overtaking a part of the Ekelno's body.

Memories came to him. Being in a garage with friends—some old, some brand new—laughing like idiots at messing up or just messing up on purpose. His mother peeking in on him while he practiced in his room, notes blaring from an amp he'd bought with his own allowance.

The line of white began to close, blackness overtaking it.

Lance tried to breathe right, tried to not focus on the shifting colors or the tightness in his chest.

How did my life get this way? How... I thought that, maybe after I woke up...

I thought everything would be normal again...

I thought everything would go back when I woke up.

The horribly distorted sound left scars inside his mind. He immediately stopped playing, hands running through his hair as he tried to breathe right. Just breathe; don't have a panic attack. Just... Breathe...

He closed his eyes, pulling air in through his nose. Just focusing on that as he felt the Ekelno tip, body lightly hitting the hardwood floor beneath him. Lance wanted to apologize; wanted to say something because just sitting here wasn't doing anything. But he couldn't find the words to.

His stomach hurt, whether it was from the lack of food or the emotional train wreck he'd just created, Lance didn't know.

There was a way to get their memories back—he had to remember that.

"How can their memories be restored, again?" he asked, dropping his hands but keeping his eyes closed.

"I need to combine memories from you with the samples I took," Zidane replied calmly.

"And you need to break through those barriers before you do?"

"Yeah; that's right. I need to visit a friend of mine."

Lance was quiet, opening his eyes to see the Ekelno still balanced in his lap.

"Lance," Zidane began.

He looked up, meeting the crossbreed's eyes. Zidane was bowed forward, hands in front of his mouth.

"The only way Ekelnos work is if the user has at least a little bit of Spiro in their blood."

Lance froze.


He instantly denied it. This... This couldn't be real. He just needed to wake up; that's all.

I already did...

He swallowed, looking down at the black Ekelno. Watching it change to a deeper grey.

"There's a way to get the cells out, right?" His voice seemed distant, even to his own ears.

Submitted: November 11, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


Add Your Comments:


Al Ashcott

Very beautiful chapter! I loved how you introduced and desribed this new musical instrument Ekelno (nice name you invented for that, by the way) :)


Thu, October 28th, 2021 12:06pm

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