Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 196,348,468 Issue: 908 | 24th day of Swimming, Y22
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The Music Box

by eracina


"Are you sure you're not in the mood for food, Captain?"

     Elon just grumbled at Barit and turned away. He wasn't in the mood for anything.

     Filo's letter had not only become public knowledge among the other yooyuball players, but just like the game whisper down the lane, the words in it had become distorted. Not that it mattered. Just the knowledge that that thing was out there in the open was enough to make him want to crawl into a hole and never come out.

     Elon was so angry at himself. Why had he forgotten to take out that darned letter? He should have thought ahead. He should have known that it was too risky to just leave it there, but no. He had been too preoccupied with the thought of his treasure being fixed that he ignored literally anything else.

     He was such an idiot!

     Elon curled up into a ball. If he forced the entire world to leave him alone for two seconds maybe it actually would.

     Barit sighed and sat down on the edge of Elon's bed. Elon waited for him to say something, but he just sat there. Like a weirdo. Then again Elon wasn't much better.

     There was a knock on the door. When neither Elon nor Barit replied it slowly slid open. Oten poked his head in. "Ya got a visitor, Cap'n." he said. Once he laid eyes on Elon on the bed he mumbled something before speaking up again.

     "She said she's finished repairing yer music box."

     Elon's ears perked up at this. Vere was done? So quickly? Someone, probably Barit, patted him on the shoulder.

     "Isn't that great, Captain?" he asked, "now you can have your treasure back!"

     Elon wasn't quite sure how to respond. It was true, of course, but he wasn't sure how he would handle seeing that Yurble right now.

     Before he could think about it he heard footsteps, surface dweller footsteps based on how heavy they were, and what little conversation had been there disappeared.

     "Um, Hi!"

     Vere sounded rather nervous for someone Elon had observed to be rather casual.

     "I brought you your music box. I got the parts much earlier than expected. Pretty good, huh?"

     He heard the sound of his treasure being placed on its spot on the bedside table. Finally, Elon peaked out from his little ball of misery and looked up at her.

     When he did it felt like everything just stopped.

     Vere Polnicek.

     This random surface dweller he hardly knew.

     She hung her head and her shoulders were slumped. She kept looking downwards and as her frame shook Elon realised what was going on.

     She was crying.

     Before he could say or do anything she began to speak.

     "I'm so, so sorry." she said in between sobs. "I should've hidden that letter the moment I saw it. I just took it out and one thing led to another and..." another sob.

     "There's no excuse. None at all. But I, I-."

     Slowly Elon sat up. Years ago he would have lashed out, but now? He just felt sad, empty, and lonely.

     "It's not your fault."

     Elon's voice was barely above a whisper yet everyone in the room could hear it.

     "I should have taken out the letter, but I didn't. You couldn't have known."

     Vere dried her tears with the back of her hand and wiped it on her trousers. With her clean hand she brought out the wind-up key from her pocket.

     Wordlessly she handed it over to Elon.

     He looked over at his treasure. Vere hadn't heard it play before had she?

     He opened the music box and winded it up as he'd done so many times before. It didn't take long for the ballerina to take her first spin and the Hissi moved towards her.

     "The story was different." The words dropped out of Elon before he could stop them.

     Vere sat down next to him on the bed. Her puffy eyes were fixated on the little figurines. "You mean there was a reason the ballet and the music box seemed so different in their portrayal of the same characters?" She asked.

     Elon nodded. "I asked Tonie about it and he said that the main character just made a mistake." he said and after a pause added, "She let it ruin her life."

     He heard a chuckle from the doorway. "That's a bit unfair, Cap'n." Oten said as he entered the room proper.

     "She was scared silly. That Hissi friend of hers didn't do much to help. It was too little too late by the time he got moving."

     Vere watched the Kyrii and Hissi close in on one another. "So she still dies?" she asked nervously.

     Elon shook his head.

     "Yes and no." he said. "She dies, but the Hissi's regret and magic bring her back to life."

     Vere smiled for the first time since she entered Elon's room. She clapped her hands together "Oh, that's much better!" she said, "They get to learn from their mistakes instead of letting it dictate the rest of their lives."

     "That's a much better moral!"

     Elon said nothing as he watched his music box.

     Not letting your mistakes decide what happens in your life, huh. He wasn't sure he could do that. His list was a long one. Few things scared him more than the thought of other people seeing how vulnerable he really was. His teammates were amazing for putting up with him.

     He didn’t want them to see what a mess he truly was.

     The music stopped and the figurines went back to the places on the blue velvet.

     Filo had truly given him an odd gift.

     "What a lovely little gathering!"

     Four pair of eyes turned their attention to Tonie and The Wizard in the door frame. Tonie had his usual mask that looked happy, but who knew what he was really feeling. The Wizard, on the other hand, looked so obviously tired. He walked up the bed and handed Elon an old envelope.

     Filo's letter.

     "Tonie and I were able to hush it down with the help of Leera Heggle. Roo Island's team captain decided to help as well."

     Tonie entered the room proper. "Lamelle is out there cleaning up some more. I think I saw Miss Fiorina with him as well. Hopefully, them being surface dwellers will help."

     The Wizard sighed as he rubbed his neck. "With some luck, this incident won't reach the newspapers."

     A collective sigh of relief sounded throughout the room. Barit flopped onto his back causing the entire bed to wobble a bit. Barit was stronger than he looked.

     "Thank Fyora!" Barit exclaimed. "We don't need to feed those piranhas."

     Elon looked down at the letter in his hands as Vere looked over at Barit. "What do you mean by that?" she asked. "Have the media treated the team badly in the past?"

     Elon tensed as Barit barked a bitter laugh.

     "Honestly? Team Maraqua's life would have been easier if they kept their noses out of our business."

     Vere looked more confused than ever. Before she could ask anything else Oten spoke up. "They have the habit of twisting the truth so it suits their need for a good story." He said. "When one of our teammates, Dorina, quit they went on and on about how she'd been," Oten made air quotes with his fingers "'chased of the team'. She had literally just given birth to a baby boy at the time. She always wanted to be a mother."

     Vere blinked as The Wizard made a sound of disgust. "I remember that," he grumbled, "Never in my life did I want to tear up a newspaper so badly, except that time they...," The Wizard trailed off. He was probably thinking about poor Vitri. They hounded that boy to his death.


     "But why lie?" Vere asked innocently. Elon was still looking at the letter.

     Why indeed?

     The conversation continued on as Elon got lost in thought. He understood why he was a constant target by the media. He was different in a bad way. That was fine at the time. Letting them babble wouldn't bother him.

     Not until they brought his family into it.

     Elon still felt nauseous when he recalled the words.

      Taken his family to enjoy a skiing holiday.

     They might as well have shown up at the Maraquan training grounds and punched him in the gut.

     The fuzzy memory of his family showed up in his mind's eye. He could hardly even remember their faces anymore.

     He hated himself so much for it.

      Be brave.

     The words in Filo's letter rang in his ears as if Filo's had said it all in person. He tensed again.

      Talk to someone.

     "What else have they lied about exactly?" Vere asked with so much frustration in her voice it brought Elon back to reality.

     The words that Elon had tried so very, very hard to silence for so long were pushing their way out of his throat. He didn't want them to know, but it seemed his body had different ideas.

     Before he could stop it he spoke. His words were quiet yet frightened. It didn't sound like his own voice yet it was probably the truest voice he'd ever spoken in.

     "My family has been dead for over a decade."

To be continued…

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