The Music Box
"She really is a beaut."
Elon sat quietly in the Moltarian team base as he watched Vere Polnicek look over his music box. She had her back turned to him as she moved maractite gears around and fiddled with the springs. Broken parts were gathered in a neat line on some white cloth. She clearly cared about her work.
It had taken Elon by surprise when she had come knocking on the Maraquan locker room right after the team had finished the match of the day to casually invite him to, well, "hang out" was the term she had used.
Elon wasn't sure how to respond before Tonie had accepted on his behalf and shoved him out of the locker room. She'd grabbed him by the arm and led the way. Elon had no choice, but to follow.
So that left the two of them where they were now.
Whatever that meant.
"Do ya mind if I ask ya something, Black Hole?"
Elon dragged himself out of his own thoughts and turned his attention back to the purple Yurble. She had turned around and was wiping her hands on a different piece of cloth. Elon couldn't even remember the last time he'd been in a situation like this.
"I suppose so," he mumbled, "what is it?"
Vere Polnicek picked up the water Kyrii and held her up.
"What's the story about this girl?" she asked. She actually sounded genuinely interested. "How come she looks so bummed out?"
Elon thought about it.
"Well," he began slowly, "She's the main character of a Maraquan ballet called The Folly of The Prima Donna.’ " He'd never expected to tell a surface dweller about this.
Vere Polnicek's eyes grew wide. "Ballet?" she asked, "I've never heard about Maraquan ballet before!" She turned the Kyrii around in her hands. It sparkled in the sun.
"It sounds like a gloomy story, though."
Elon shrugged. "It's from a time when all literature and stuff in Maraqua was pretty gloomy." he said trying to rack his brain for all the information he had to sit through as a child learning about it. The ballets were the only ones of any interest to him.
Vere Polnicek grinned at him.
"We had a similar literature period in Moltara, too!" she said with a laugh, "it was a pain to analyse!"
Vere Polnicek picked up the Hissi and looked him over as well.
"So how does the story go? Like what was the folly?"
Elon straightened himself up. "It's a pretty famous ballet," he began, "But it hasn't been shown in quite some time.” After a pause, he asked. “Do you want to hear about it?"
Vere Polnicek put away both of the figures and clapped her hands together once before beginning to stare at him intently. Was that her "I'm listening?" face? This was a different kind of attention than the one he was used to. He took a deep breath. Then he began telling the story.
In a little farming village, there lived a water Kyrii who was very vain. Every morning instead of helping harvest the seaweeds she would pick flowers to put in her hair instead. During the day she would rather play with her Arkmite than help with shepherding the petpets. During the afternoons she would drag the others in the village to humour her instead of helping with dinner and at night she refused to go on patrol and much rather stay in bed.
The Kyrii fancied herself a princess and would often bully those younger and weaker into doing her duties for her. The only one she loved was herself.
One day, however, she caught the eye of a maraquan Hissi out in the fields. She thought him handsome and she decided she wanted his attention. Yet the Hissi paid her no mind when she called him over, much to her annoyance.
Later she found out that the Hissi had a loved one. One of the younger girls the Kyrii liked to boss around. When she learned this she decided to play a little prank. She would pick some poisonous flowers from the fields and put some of them in the girl's food. If she was busy with a stomach-ache than the Hissi would have no choice, but to come to the Kyrii for company.
What was supposed to cause a simple stomach ache ended up becoming so much worse.
It ended up taking the young girls life.
The Kyrii was shocked at what she had done. The village learned of her actions and banished her. The Hissi named her a monster.
The Kyrii left in anger and shame. Refusing to accept all guilt she wandered by her lonesome, for year after year after year.
As time passed by the Kyrii became very sick and required medicine. In a cruel twist of fate, the cure for her affliction was the very same flower she used to commit her sin so many years ago.
She wandered back to her village and went to the depths of the ravine where the flowers grew, however when she arrived the flowers were all gone.
She searched and searched, but to no avail. A call forced her to look up from the dark depths and up at the very same maraquan Hissi who had condemned her all those years ago. In his hand was a single flower. The very same flower she needed.
The Kyrii called out to him, struggling to move as her illness strengthened its hold. The Hissi merely looked at her in silence as she withered in pain. With a desperate hand she reached out for him, but he did not take it.
Realising none will come for her she perished in the dark depths of the barren flower field, a reminder to all of what becomes of the vain and selfish.
"That's so sad!"
Elon stopped talking as Vere Polnicek cried out. He hadn’t expected that kind of a reaction.
She looked like she was on the verge of tears. "Why did he just let her die? Sure, she messed up, but that was years ago!"
She continued to rant on as Elon looked past her and at the figures on the table. The Kyrii looked full of sorrow, but so did the Hissi. He knew that ballet like the back of his hand, but...
"It's odd." Elon remarked out loud. Vere Polnicek stopped her rant and looked at him. "What's odd?" she asked as Elon jumped out from his little corner and approached to figures.
He picked up the maraquan Hissi.
"Why does the Hissi look so sad when he clearly didn't like the Kyrii to begin with?" he asked no one in particular. His treasure and the story it was based off seemed contradictory.
"Maybe you misremembered something?" Vere Polnicek suggested. Elon frowned. He thought he knew the story pretty well. Before he could say anything the Yurble continued. "Though, it does seem odd that you would misremember the whole crux of the story."
Elon kept turning the Hissi over in his hands. Had he really gotten it wrong? He could have sworn that was how the tale went. He could so easily visualise the choreography of the acts in his head. Surely he hadn't just made up the last act?
Elon swallowed hard. There was someone he could ask.
"Miss Polnicek, would you mind if I left? I think I know someone who can help clear things up."
The Yurble threw back her head and laughed. "Miss Polnicek?? No, please call me Vere, but sure." She gave him a thumbs up. "I'm curious now. Tell me what ya find out."
He quickly thanked her as he left the Moltarian base and headed straight for the Maraquan one.
Once inside Elon found Tonie chatting with Oten.
Well, that was awkward.
He slowly approached them, but froze on the spot when Oten noticed him and grinned.
"'Sup Cap'n." He said casually. His call got Tonie to look at Elon as well. "Did ya have a good time with ya new friend?"
Elon's face flushed with embarrassment. "She's just doing me a favour." He snapped to which Oten just shrugged. He even heard Tonie chuckle at him.
Elon took a deep breath. Taking with Tonie was like dealing with an overly complicated puzzle, but he was too curious about why the figures in his music box seemed to differ so much from the ballet.
"Old Koi," he began. Tonie looked at him with curiosity, his hands heavy on his maractite walking stick. Elon grumbled as Tonie just looked at him in intrigued silence forcing Elon to continue.
"House Plessix is in charge of knowing all the Maraquan stories and stuff, right?"
Oten gave Tonie a sideways glance, but the old Koi was fixated on Elon. He'd never asked about something like this before. He probably found it amusing.
"What do you know about The Folly of The Prima Donna? "
Oten leaned back into the chair he was sitting in. "That's the super depressing ballet, right?" he asked, "One would think ya were the expert there Cap'n."
Tonie hummed, so obvious in his amusement that it put Elon on edge. Tonie finally spoke. "Not necessarily so, Oten." He said with a chuckle.
"The ballet is quite different compared to the original fairy tale."
That caught Elon's attention. He walked up to Tonie.
"Is there a different version of the story out there?" he asked.
There was a glint in Tonie's eye and he leaned forward.
"You could say that. The original was called ‘Ocean’s tears bring thee back to me’ or at least that’s the best translation we can get from the Old Maraquan language it was written in.”
Elon swallowed hard as he tried to look Tonie in the eye. Before he could ask Tonie to tell him about the differences, however, the old Koi began talking.
"The Kyrii was a sickly girl in the original. She wanted nothing more than to be able to spend time with her best friend the Hissi."
Elon made his way to the couch; hanging on Tonie's every word.
"One day The Kyrii was bored and thought to humour herself with playing a prank. The very same prank that got blown up out of proportion in the ballet."
"It ends up getting many sick, not dangerously so mind you, but that was time that could have been spent tending the fields. Remember this is a farming village."
"This is where the Kyrii and Hissi have their augment. It ends with the Kyrii leaving the village."
Tonie sighed. "This is where the tale really begins to deviate."
Elon frowned; the story was pretty different already. How could it get even worse?
"As in the ballet, the Kyrii ends up spending many years by her lonesome, hating herself for her childish mistake. Her illness gets worse and worse, but she is too scared to go back to her village for help."
"Meanwhile the Hissi is also feeling guilty for getting so angry at his friend all those years ago and sets out to find her."
"The Kyrii travels to a deep ravine where there is said to be a flower that can cure all ills. However, what the Kyrii doesn’t know is that the flower is also highly poisonous and only people trained properly can extract the medicine."
"She finds the flower and eats it, not knowing of its poisonous nature. Naturally, she perishes in that dark ravine."
Elon decided to Ignore Oten's noise of disappointment as Tonie carried on.
"At the same time the Hissi, on the journey to find the Kyrii, stumbles across the very same place and finds the body of his now departed friend. He weeps over the body and apologises to her over and over again."
"As he weeps a fairy overhears his sobs and with her magic removes the flower stuck in the Kyrii's throat."
Tonie smiled at both Elon and Oten's shocked expressions.
"The Kyrii comes back to life and the two friends make up." His smile turned more sly he nonchalantly added; "The end."
Elon blinked slowly. That was almost the opposite of the story he'd known! Tonie looked quite pleased with himself as he stood up. Before he left his eyes landed on Elon. “I would be wary of stories butchered to appeal to the masses’ need to look down and condemn others, little one.” He said.
“They seldom keep even a speck of the truth.”
The following day Elon had decided to tell Vere about what he learned from the old Koi, but on the way something felt off. It was like everyone was looking at him. He shook the thought away. It was probably just his imagination.
He knocked on the door to Moltara's base and slowly opened it. Ignoring the tension in the air he poked his head in.
"Vere, are you here?" He called out.
Vere was there. Alongside the rest of Team Moltara. They turned to look at him in shock. Vere looked especially horrified.
"Black Hole, I'm so sorr-" she began, but she stopped when she saw Elon's eyes looking at the table.
Right there, next to the neat cloth with all the maractite pieces was a piece of paper.
Filo's last letter to him.
Right there in the open for everyone to read.
To be continued…