Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Chapter 1
The Girl Who Sang
When Maia announced that she would be holding a concert to celebrate Vega's 17th birthday, there was much talk and chatter at the Palais du Louvre about what would really happen when Maia sang for the first time in over fifty years.
Maia was a distinguished and very important member of the Parisian ‘Society des Artistes Independents’ but she had not so much as uttered a note since her disappearance and return from the Underworld. Maia's voice was legendary, and although no living person had ever heard or seen a Halo, as it was forbidden by the ruling Emperor, the older people believed that Maia was some sort of savior. Maia had aged gracefully, miraculously so, to the point that there were mumbles that she had brought back the Fountain of Youth or some bewitched elixir that gave rise to such beauty and youth as she possessed but again this was all mere conjecture. Maia laughed at such tales and enchanted the children with stories of angels with silver wings and dragons with hordes of gold until their parents took them away, shaking their heads and reminding their wee ones that the modern world contained no magic, dragons or angels with such wings.  Still, it seemed entirely unnatural that Maia should possess such beauty and her aura cast a spell over all who came in contact with her that suggested mysterious things were afoot. 
So far, however, in living memory, there had been no mystery, no magic, no angel wings, so people were willing to humor Maia and she even served for a while as part time language tutor to three of the Barnes-Nobles girls, who swore they had seen a strange woman entering and leaving Maia's residence at the Palais after one late afternoon lesson. Maia had remained on good terms with the Barnes-Nobles, who were willing to forgive her oddities in exchange for her extraordinary skill with languages. Other than that Maia had few visitors and in fact even fewer friends as most people were secretly in awe and some degree of fear of her powers, whether they existed or not. 
Maia's only and favorite visitor was her niece Vega, a girl whom many said bore a remarkable resemblance to Maia herself, with her soft blonde curls, hazel green eyes and olive skin. Maia and Vega shared many hours together, behind closed doors, until the neighbors began whispering that perhaps Maia was training her in the Halo and other esoteric acoustic arts. Though they strained their ears to breaking.capacity and the whispers grew ever louder, the rumors could be neither confirmed or denied. 
Maia and Vega shared a love of music. 
"Vega is welcome to a room here anytime," Maia announced to Vega's parents, the Fieldings, one sunny Sunday afternoon in the.village green, in a rather conspicuous spot where nearly everyone could overhear them. 
"That way we can share sigils whenever we need," concluded Maia as if it had already been decided. No one had the faintest idea what sigils were so that sent the rumormongers away with even more to chew on. Maia just smiled quietly to herself. 
Every year Maia had given concerts at the Palais du Louvre and every year people had gone away satisfied, although secretly wishing that Maia would do something out of the ordinary. To be sure, the talent was wide and varied and Maia attracted musicians from all corners of Middleworld. So knowing that Maia was about to sing created exceptional circumstances. 
Everyone pitched in. Rumors of the up and coming concert travelled abroad and in the weeks beforehand strange tents began to be erected all over the village green surrounding the Palais du Lourvre. Even stranger characters inhabited them, and folk that had always suspected Maia of being in league with demons or worse grumbled that this all supported their point of view.
The worst of these was Ava Gripe, now well past her prime and edging on an equally unfathomable age as Maia but not so fair of face. She spoke with some authority because she had known Maia as a young girl and blamed her for the untimely demise of her own mother, Mrs Gripe, the old orphanage owner. Since there was nobody to contradict her, Ava was free to hold forth on all subjects, such as how Maia had inherited the Palais du Louvre, why she really would never sing, what demon company she kept in her bed and all sorts of other scandalous rumors that only a half-witted soul would ever deem worth considering. Ava looked after the orphanage when her mother died and there had only ever been one tenant, a young boy called Altair, who as it happened was on quite friendly terms with Maia and Vega. 

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