“She is…exquisite,” Lord Ricard Dafaar spoke, almost in a whisper. His hand reached gently, reverently forward, before finding rest on the cool marble statue that stood before him. “Never have I seen such mastery in stonework; it is almost as if she were alive.”
Baeyn smiled lazily and gave a slight bow to the aged, portly man, the bells woven into his long tangled hair jingling lightly at the motion, his ribbon adorned horns dipping. A human gesture, but one he had adapted to with little effort. He approached the man slowly, his cloven hooves clicking against the stone floor.
“My people sing the song of stone, “he said, his voice a strange, melodic harmony, “our talents passed from generation to generation. Masters of masonry and sculpture, our works beloved and demanded by kings and priests and all great men.”
Baeyn paused, and turned his square pupiled eyes towards the masterpiece that stood before them. She truly was awe inspiring – every detail, every curve, every feature a mark of perfection. An illusion so expertly wrought that the coldness of her stone betrayed the warmth in her image.
“But yes…she is a masterpiece even amidst masterpieces. Lady Aileen Dafaar…an ancestor of yours, yes?”
Lord Ricard nodded but did not turn his head. His eyes felt unable to blink, his mouth agape but speechless. Again, Baeyn smiled.
“She was not easy to obtain. The mountains are more dangerous than ever, the caverns of my people infested with dark things I shudder to mention in such…refined company. It was a costly expedition, in more ways than one.”
The human lord’s mouth closed, his stance straightened. His awe, though it had not completely vanished, was shadowed by his greed. His eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly as he cleared his throat.
“I am sure we can come to an arrangement. What is your price?”
“Can there be a price placed on such a piece?” Baeyn replied. “Could you place a value on something so perfect? My ancestor, blood of my blood, shed that blood, and tears, and sweat, to capture her likeness. Wars have been waged over lesser works than she…”
Lord Ricard’s face hardened. He’d heard such tactics before.
“Come now! Don’t play games with me, satyr – your kind always has a price. Name it and stop this foolishness.”
Baeyn’s horns tingled, skin flushed. He forced a nonchalant chuckle.
“For anyone else, she would be beyond price. But you? You can have her for a song.”
The lord’s face collapsed into confusion.
“Yes,” Baeyn answered, “a very specific song. Sing it, and the Lady is yours. No further price.”
Try as he might, Rickon could not conceal his glee. He made sure that he was known as a patron of the arts, and prided himself on his knowledge of all the popular tunes, which he loved to sing. Badly.
“Name it then!” he cried. “Name it and I will serenade you more sweetly than any lover has ever been serenaded!”
“Sing me the Song of Shattering,” Baeyn said, his voice low and suddenly mirthless, the music gone.
Lord Rickon frowned.
“I don’t know tha…”
“You know the song,” Baeyn interrupted, “It’s been sung to you many times.”
“With every brick that was laid in your courtyard, it was sung. With every stone that was placed in your manor, it was sung. With every rock and stone and sculpture you’ve commissioned, it’s been sung.”
Lord Rickon’s face paled, trembled. Had he? He tried hard to recall. He’d hired plenty of satyr stonesmiths over the years, and yes, they were always humming in their strange double voices, but the song…what was the song?
“I’ll remind you,” Baeyn said, as if he read the nobleman’s mind. He closed his eyes, and began to sing.
In truth, no one can sing like a satyr can. They are born with two sets of vocal cords, and through them, sing harmonies unimaginable to any other race. They sing with every task that has meaning, with every moment they wish to mark. They sing their histories, their memories, their wishes and dreams.
This song was a memory and a promise. A memory of lands once held by his people. A dream of a better time. An anguish for what his people lost. The bitterness of betrayal, when they sought help from allies that failed to give their aid. Even ancient allies…like the noble line of Dafaar.
Lord Rickon found himself paralyzed by the sound, the voice. His heart pounded, his body shook. He felt to his core the weight of his family’s past, of their use, abuse, and abandonment of the stonefolk who had sought their aid. As the song grew in fury and tempo, he fell to his knees.
And with a final, trilling, mournful note, the marble statue shattered. The flawless image of the matron of his line, a work of art so perfect its like would never again be known, crumbled to dust. Sobs overtook him. He buried his hands in the dust. He felt lost, helpless. He had not realized how much this connection to the past had meant to him.
Until it was gone.
Baeyn left him there, weeping in the rubble. His hooves clicked on the stone floor as he left, beating a rhythm that pleased his ears. A breeze caught his hair, his bells jangled, and a weight lifted from his soul. He sighed in satisfaction. It was a costly vengeance, but it was worth it. This debt had spent a long time building interest.
A tune came to his heart. He smiled. And sang.