Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 108,522,844 Issue: 217 | 18th day of Storing, Y7
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Link to the Keys


by digital_microwave

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The Shadow Zafara watched enviously as her elder sister, a Royal Cybunny pressed the piano keys, her fingers skipping across the white and black and her foot tapping in rhythm. Her face was scrunched up in concentration as she attempted to put together a C major chord and soft tinkling notes so that it would sound more like music instead of a sound clash. She failed, and hit the piano keys viciously for a few times, to which the Zafara replied with a cry of shock. How could anyone treat an instrument that way?

      She walked up to the Cybunny and said, "Rai, why did you do that?"

      The Royal pet gave an arrogant toss of her head. "Humph, I hate it when that happens! You have no right to lecture me!"

      A stocky girl rushed out from the kitchen suddenly, spattered from head to toe with batter. "Girls! Don't fight!" she reprimanded. "Rai, don't bang the piano keys when you're angry. It's expensive, you know. Why don't you ask for help next time?" The Cybunny hung her head in shame, and quickly muttered something about homework before dashing off to her room.

      The Zafara, who had been an innocent bystander all this while, spoke up. "Yanna, can I learn the piano too?"

      The owner shook her head, thinking of an excuse to ward off her pet's protests that were about to come soon. "Leba," she began uncertainly, "there is no right way to tell you this, but you're too young and too small for the instrument. When you're older, I might consider it."

      Leba mimicked the girl, shaking her head dejectedly. "No piano?" she stuttered.

      "No, you're too little," Yanna stroked her head, with fur as dark as night, comforting her. Then, she strode off to the kitchen to resume her cake-baking.

      Leba stared at her skinny arms, and her long fingers at the end. The perfect fingers for the piano, she thought wistfully, her eyesight suddenly becoming blurry due to the sudden flood of tears that had made it to her violet orbs. Slinking off to her room, Leba thought that the world was horribly unfair.

      She shoved the door open, and was greeted by hundreds of posters of the Neopian Philharmonic. But her favourite was the one of a Wocky, seated at the piano with a smile on her angelic face. Ever since she had been a tiny tot, she had heard the honeyed surge of notes that emanated from that very piano when Yanna took her to the Concert Hall in Tyrannia. Instantly, she had fallen in love with the heavy percussion instrument, saving up her neopoints mainly for those tickets. Leba heaved a sigh. Why couldn't she play the piano? Why couldn't Yanna see it from her point of view?

      ***

      Leba tossed and turned in her bed, her eyes still wide open, even though it was already 12:07 am NST. In her head, the dulcet tones of the piano whipped around, like the crashing of the waves, only sweeter. She gritted her teeth in anger as she remembered Rai hitting the keys harshly. It was unnatural! How could she, a mere Cybunny, deface, or in this case, de-sound such a wonderful instrument that had existed before her, which did nothing but produce sweet, lilting music which brought peace and tranquility at once?

      Although her eyelids were beginning to feel heavy, the muddled feeling of drowsiness could not curb Leba's yearning to play the piano. Maybe she could play a soft chord, or a simple melody, or just even just a solitary note. It finally got the better of her, and the Zafara crept down to the hall, being very careful not to step on anything, feeling her way with her spiky tail.

      She had reached the hall at last, and flicked the light on. The piano, with the mellow light shining on it, looked more tempting than ever. With a tiny squeal of glee, she seated herself on the leather seat and opened the cover. But as soon as she did that, worry passed her face. How was she going to make music if she didn't know what the keys were called? She had heard Rai sometimes say "High C", "G Major", and even "B flat", but she didn't know what they meant. So, she opened a chest of drawers nearby and rummaged through it for some help. She sighed with relief when she found a book that read, "Piano for Beginners".

      Propping it up, Leba turned to the first page. It showed the most basic of notes-middle C. Her finger landed, and the low sound echoed through the empty house. Uh-oh. She had better find a way to conceal the sound before Yanna and Rai woke up. Seeing some pedals at her legs, Leba pushed one randomly and struck the note again. This time, middle C was even louder. Leba winced slightly, and pressed the one next to it. Ah-this was good. The sound only came out as a muffle, as long as her foot was there.

      Tediously, she worked into the morning, playing and practicing the C major scale and some simple pieces. She was delighted at her progress, but a glance at the clock made her shut the piano in a hurry, and she ran back to her room, her eyes craving for some rest.

      ***

      "WAKE UP!" Rai shouted eagerly, shaking Leba until she felt that her ears would fly away any moment. The Shadow Zafara slumped even lower down the pile of fluffy pillows that she owned, and mumbled, "Go away, mum."

      "I'm not mum, I'm Rai!" the Cybunny explained, and shook her sister more and more until she made her sit upright, yelling her head off.

      "Wake up! Wake up! Is that what I have to do everyday? Ughhh!" Leba then proceeded to do a horrible rendition of the famous Twisted Roses song titled "Sleep", her voice almost shattering the delicate Amira stained glass window that let the sunlight filter in with rainbow colours.

      Rai stepped forward. "Whoa there!" she exclaimed, covering the long floppy ears that framed her face. "What's with you anyway?" She stepped forward to take a look at Leba, and cried out in shock. "Gosh, what happened to your eyes? They're all red and watery! Haven't you had any sleep last night?"

      Leba stood up abruptly, her arms folded and grunting grumpily. "Never mind you," she said quickly, and dashed downstairs, leaving Rai to ponder over the confusing matter. What was wrong with that curious Zafara?

      Things didn't go too well at Neoschool either. Ms. Preena looked over her textbook through her thick glasses at the dozing pet, and ordered, "Leba! Stop sleeping! Go and wash your face now!"

      Enduring the taunts and jeers that she received from her fellow classmates, Leba, surlier than ever, began to trudge off to the washroom. It was all because of that horrible piano, she thought, a grudge beginning to form. But not for long. As suddenly as it materialized, the resentment in Leba's heart began to disappear, for she now remembered the music that she had played the night before. Though simple, it had certainly deepened her love for the instrument and encouraged her to go on. With those happy thoughts in her mind, Leba started to do her sums quietly.

      ***

      "Whooooooo," the long drone of the Weewoo sounded, eerily creeping into everyone's hearts, bringing out lost passions and fears. Leba had once again stolen down in the dead of the night, playing the piano again, her face wearing a happy expression. When she was with the beloved instrument, all her worries would vanish as the music took control of her mind, all the wonderful, harmonious melodies would swill into her head, taking her into a magical land that was free of evil. Leba knew such a land wouldn't exist, but it could, in her imagination.

      She had improved dramatically since that night a few weeks ago. She was beginning to realize that she had talent for music. Although it was only three weeks into her self-learning program, she had learned until a quarter of Grade 3 piano. All these while, whenever something had upset her, she would wait until her inquisitive owner and sister were gone before she would play, as a source of comfort and solace. She found the music oddly beautiful, even though the muffling pedal was pressed. But she had to pay a price, and that was losing hours and hours of revitalizing sleep.

      ***

      A rather sulky Leba walked hastily with Yanna by her side, who was wearing an expression that stated firmly, "You're going to be in big trouble, missy." Leba just moved faster and faster as Yanna's lips went taut and her eyes narrowed when she was angry.

      Skulking outside the dreaded door that read "Principal's Office," Leba hesitated as Yanna pushed herself inside. However, soon a hand reached out and whisked her in too.

      The principal, an old Lenny with feathers that were grey with age said in her thick voice, "Leba's grades have dropped to extremely low points. Some of her teachers even reported that she was sleeping during class!"

      Yanna went into shock, gaping. "Tell me why, Leba," she said, staring into the Zafara's eyes with her own amber ones. Leba stalled, not wanting her owner to know that she had been secretly practicing the piano by herself. Yanna looked at her pleadingly, and she finally consented, her heart melted by the sincere expression.

      The story was gushed out fast. "You wouldn't let me play the piano, Yanna, but I desperately wanted to. So, I went down every night to teach myself. I haven't learned much compared to Rai, but I have been doing this for about three weeks. I wanted to prove myself to you, Yanna." Leba looked sullen again, but Yanna and Principal Kerry exchanged baffled looks.

      "Come, Leba, to the music room," Principal Kerry ordered. The Zafara followed meekly behind as they went into a cozy room, with the curtains slightly closed to create ambience. A big piano was in a corner, and a lacy cloth was draped over it. "Play the D major scale," the ageing Lenny instructed.

      Leba pushed the cloth up, and touched the keys, which emitted sharp tones. Her fingers trembling, she played the scale, which came out a little off-key. "Good. Now, are you able to play some simple songs?" Leba nodded, and instantly played a fast, catchy beat that made you want to dance. But she didn't stop. Her paws moved up and down swiftly, playing the same beat, but on different scales.

      Principal Kerry was astounded. "My dear," she rasped, striding over, "do you not need a book?"

      "It's a tune I invented…" Leba began, but Yanna intervened. "Composed, dear, composed."

      "Right, well anyway, I started composing my own tunes because I found that I could put notes together, like a jigsaw puzzle."

      "Incredible!" Principal Kerry breathed, and even Yanna was smiling with pride at her musical genius. "You did everything by yourself. No stealing from anywhere," Principal Kerry said, suddenly suspicious.

      "No, madam. 100% Leba original!" the young Zafara answered.

      "In that case, would you like to compose a series of songs for the school prize-giving ceremony in three weeks' time?" Principal Kerry suddenly asked, rendering Leba shocked yet excited.

      "Would I ever! Thanks, madam! I'll do my best!" Leba practically shouted her reply, her voice full of enthusiasm. She was ecstatic, on cloud nine. Yanna smiled, and gave a gentle reminder, "I'll let you learn the piano, provided you finish your homework and studies first."

      Leba heard the sentence, but barely had time to absorb the information. Overwhelmed by the sudden proposal, she had her brain whirring straight away. She knew she would make them all proud of her, and her piano. Compose! Wow, Principal Kerry was really satisfied this time.

      ***

      Leba was almost going to scream her head off. Already an hour had passed and still her mind was blank. She didn't know what to compose! And if she didn't, there was nothing to play! Why did all the ideas, which had come flowing to her like streams of water before, suddenly disappear? She cried out in mock anguish, feeling agitated as she let out a howl and twisted her face until it was contorted with madness.

      Rai, who happened to see her sister's weird fit, paused to shoot her a strange glance. "Leba, so what if you're fresh out of ideas? It'll come to you. Fate is kind, and furthermore, you're talented," she consoled.

      Leba calmed down considerably, and sat herself down onto the piano stool. "You're right," she admitted, "I should sit down and clear my head."

      But after she said that, Leba wasn't so sure. There were plenty of distractions like the sounds of a happy ball game coming from next door, Yanna singing in the shower, and even the recurring thought of Principal Kerry's grave face. Stamp, stamp, stamp, which was all the noise did, stamping out her good mood and happy thoughts.

      Wait a minute! Leba's mind started to replay the rhythm. Stamp, stamp, stamp! A marching crowd of pets at a festival, with all the different colours and species, just like a rainbow. A rainbow…maybe faeries would suit it better. Yeah! Faeries that were marching to…a festival. The Faerie Festival, which was held around the end of the year. Leba whooped and punched the air in triumph. Finally, her own idea.

      She opened the piano, and started to play the intro. It had to be happy, and merry. After some thought, she had a cheerful tune belted down. Good. Next, what would come? Leba paused to chew her claw in thought.

      Rai, who was dangling her paws from a high stool, suggested, "You've got the festival. Now you need a queen to supervise it."

      "Thanks, Rai!" Leba instantly began moving from low note to low note to higher ones, creating the impression that Queen Fyora was gracefully descending the staircase to make sure that everything was fine.

      She remembered the march suddenly. She wanted to incorporate it into her piece, but how? Maybe a lot of faeries were approaching…yup, that was a good idea. Striking up an ancient kind of beat, she played the high notes that gave the effect of a thousand marching faeries, giggling shrilly and talking to each other animatedly.

      So…they had arrived, but maybe she could take a few examples of contrasting personalities? It would be wise to start off with the most famous rivalry of all, Jhudora and Illusen. She imagined Illusen surrounded by hundreds of flowers, a crown of them on her head. But then Jhudora would come in to spoil the fun, streaks of lightning crashing and booming around her, looming ominously above her hated archenemy.

      Two more examples to go…how about the Library faerie and the Space faerie? The Library faerie was prim and silent, yet the Space faerie would be sure to make a grand entrance, because she was so rarely seen, and her adventurous spirit was untamed. They were great together.

      Then maybe next would come the Tooth faerie, carefree, with a happy-go-lucky attitude. The Soup Faerie, trailing shyly behind, would be more humble, magically levitating the large cauldron of soup that she was preparing for this joyous occasion. This was fantastic! Leba's fingers were really busy right now, fitting all the tunes together.

      Hmm…there had to be a disruption. What about Dr. Sloth? He had heard that the security would be lax on this day, and he could steal the large stash of neopoints from Fyora's safe! He had his Grundos poised and ready for attack, standing by a large ray gun, aiming at the tower with all the gold.

      Below, Fyora would be tingling all over with magic, sensing that something was wrong. Alerted, all the faeries would stare in horror at the dastardly contraption of the evil Dr. Sloth. The sky would've changed then. From a peaceful blue to a menacing, threatening grey, sparked with lightning, the scene was terrible.

      All the faeries would unite, regardless of anything, even their rivalries. They had to make sure they could thwart Dr. Sloth's wicked plan. Chaos and anarchy would break out, but the faeries, desperate, would fight back with a huge blast of magic. The battle would rage on and on, and it looked as if Dr. Sloth was going to have his way at last. But a stern warning from Fyora caused all the faeries to put forth every bit of their magic, depleting them of energy. It was dangerous, but they had to risk it.

      The magic was getting stronger and stronger, and finally, the cumbersome ray gun gave way, and collapsed into a heap of scrap metal. The faeries could hear Dr. Sloth's cries of anguish, but they didn't care. What mattered was that they were safe.

      Leba smiled with satisfaction as she lifted her fingers off the final key. She was done.

      ***

      "And presenting…the dynamic duo, Leba and Rai! Rai will narrate a story, and Leba will provide the music," Miss Preena, looking ravishing in a strapless pink dress, announced. The Aisha made way for a Shadow Zafara, who smiled weakly at the audience.

      Timidly, Leba sat down, and flexed her fingers. Oh no. This was the first time she was performing in front of a large crowd, and she was suspecting she had a bad case of the stage fright. She squinted, and saw Yanna in the distance, waving a little. Rai was starting already, her clear voice ringing off the soft peach walls. Rai gestured, and Leba's stomach lurched. Now she was on! Trembling, she played the first few notes, and to her surprise, courage began to build up. It was as if the piano had given her warmth. She played away, her eyes beginning to show a sparkle as in earnest, she tried to capture the feeling inside every sound. She was feeling great-on top of the world. Never had she felt so joyful before coming in contact with the piano. It was sensational.

      As the last note quivered in the air before dropping into silence, the crowd went wild. They clapped for the pair, and the thunderous sounds nearly shook the auditorium. Leba had never felt so pleased and shocked at the same time; the response was overwhelming. A creamy-coated Bori whooped and threw a makeshift bouquet of flowers onto the stage, and Leba grinned nervously. Nevertheless, she was satisfied. Finally, she had found her true calling. She knew she had a link to the keys.

The End

Author's Note: Thanks to my sister, lilspot for allowing me to base Leba's character on her. Keep on composing!

 
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