VM – Chapter 34

Unexpected Ambience

After breakfast, the four girls tried to begin their day anew.  They were able to keep moving forwards, but their feelings had not been so easily dismissed.

Mhyl decided to start the day off with more language lessons with Lwyn, after the incident earlier in the morning with still ongoing language barriers.  Everything had started well enough, but she still had more to learn before she could actually hold conversations.  She was learning slower than she had expected, either due to how busy she was, or maybe her state of mind.  Actually, it might be simply because she wasn’t the same person as her memories, the girl on earth she knew as herself might have simply just been better at learning and adjusting to new things.  She herself would have to find her own pace.

Thanrie meanwhile went to go do some more sparing with Qheria.  They both were in a room setup much like their original sparing room, their weapons set aside.  Thanrie came at her with a right hook, which Qheria went to block.  Thanrie pulled back at the last moment and used her momentum to unleash a kick instead.  Qheria rushed to block it, leaving her flat footed.  Thanrie switched even the kick’s momentum as a spin, getting behind Qheria instead, and threw forwards a left handed jab.  Qheria landed in the dirt.

It was the fifth time in a row that Qheria had been left in the dust.  Her own motions were getting really slow, she hardly looked to be even trying at this point.  “I think we should take a break, you’re not in your game right now.  Maybe go ask Rhyde if he has any ideas about something you could do?”  Thanrie had no idea what Qheria needed, but when Qheria was like this, Rhyde’s guidance had helped before.  She had to trust in Rhyde to figure out something else.  They were two mutual leaders, after all.

Mhyl walked in at that point.  “So I guess things here haven’t been much better.  Lwyn had called the lesson pretty early, and had wandered off to do her own thing.  I had followed her, out of worry she would just go rest, but it seems she’s helping with basic chores around here.  Maybe cooking and cleaning is how she takes her mind off her troubles.”  Mhyl couldn’t help but consider that maybe Lwyn needed some time to herself, to consider everything.  At least Lwyn was doing something again, so this was still good.  She probably just needed time.

“Uh, I know this might sound stupid, but do you want to spar?”  “Huh?  Me?”  “I keep sparing with Qheria, no weapons, just our bare hands.  You never use weapons anyway, though I guess I still have a bit of an advantage.  I’ll go easy on you, just want to have someone to build some routines with.”  Thanrie knew it was a foolish question, Mhyl was the most passive of all of them.  Still, including Mhyl in things was better than excluding her, and maybe helping Mhyl learn a few things to defend herself.. that might help them in the long run.  Being further skilled with that book of her’s would only be a good thing.

“Uh, sure I guess.”  Mhyl was also aware that it was her own physique that could cause the others problems, fixing her own weaknesses would be important.  Languages was one, but this was another.  Mhyl set her book down at the side of the room, near where Thanrie’s scythe rested, and took to the middle of the room near Thanrie.  She then started on a formal Japanese bow, totally surprising Thanrie, and then started conversation in Japanese.  “Thank you for having me.”

Thanrie returned her own bow, slightly slow.  Local formalities was something she was fluent in, but Japanese formalities were something she had generally neglected.  It made the whole thing look like an Aikido competition.  She adopted a ready stance as Mhyl took to the same.  Thanrie, as usual, started her attack right away, but Mhyl wasn’t staying still either.  Thanrie was going through the same motions she had just used on Qheria, starting with a right hook.  Mhyl danced gracefully around it, not even bothering to block.  Thanrie tried to take opportunity of Mhyl’s motion with leading into a kick, Mhyl actually backfliped off of Thanrie’s leg.  This ruined her original spin idea, so she changed plans, setting that foot down and throwing forward her other foot towards the new position of her foe.

Mhyl’s landing was an embodiment of grace, like this whole thing was an elegant dance.  Hardly touching the floor, she was on the move again, Thanrie’s foot passing through the space she was last occupying.  Mhyl’s elbow came up against Thanrie’s back, but had little impact.  It still forced her to stumble slightly, the strike was a very good location.  Realizing that her strike hadn’t been enough, Mhyl kept going, moving with a handspring and a forward spin.  Thanrie herself was getting dizzy, this was getting too much like Aikido.  She lashed out with another kick towards Mhyl, who instead took a low dive and a with a twirl completed a leg sweep against the back of Thanrie’s knee.  This was enough to unbalance Thanrie completely, she landed on her back.

Mhyl landed with a fluidity that moved into a bow, no hesitation.  “Thank you for taking it easy on me.  Maybe next time I would be worthy of more.”  Mhyl was still using Japanese.  Thanrie still couldn’t believe what had just happened.  Sure, she had started with doing things easy, but when her planned routine had fallen apart, she instead switched to taking it seriously.  Mhyl had been almost memorizing with her motions.  It was like seeing a whole new side of Mhyl.

Thanrie then lost the next round, but finally won the third.  Mhyl however looked exhausted, which would have explain why that throw had worked at all.  Her movements had suddenly slowed down, so Thanrie had found an opening, and grabbed her leg in motion.  Mhyl’s defense had been almost perfect, she had been all but untouchable, except for her stamina.  Mhyl’s attacks weren’t very strong at all, but they all went for weak points with elegant precision and speed.

“I think that’s enough for now, you need a break.  We should do this more often, Lwyn said she overcame some of her low stamina with practice, maybe we can boost what stamina you have with some good training and exercise.”  Thanrie went back to normal conversation, though she was still speaking Japanese.  Mhyl herself had a nice smile on her face, even though she was so tired and had even lost.  The score was still two to one for her, so Thanrie knew Mhyl had plenty to be proud of.  Thanrie herself would need more practice, to discover a way to deal with Mhyl’s pure nimbleness.  It wasn’t speed, Thanrie was still barely faster, she just had much fewer wasted movements and was exactly where she had to be right when she had to be there.

The two of them went searching for Qheria and Lwyn, finding both of them working with the smith.  Rhyde had said that their expertise could really help with that work, and they were kinda short-staffed for all of that work anyway.  Really, it was also their own idea too, so even Mhyl and Thanrie decided they should be helping out as well.  Lwyn was shaping some wood, while Qheria was sawing some logs.  Thanrie started to even out some sheet-metal with a hammer, while Mhyl begun setting nails to wood.

The repetition and pace of the tasks they all had was starting to have an even tone to it.  There was no other sounds in the space, but Lwyn and Qheria’s sweeping motion over the wood they were working with, Thanrie’s ongoing clanking of metal, and Mhyl’s softer ring of her smaller hammer.  It was almost.. rhythmic.  “Never one to see the wonder, what begun was never more.  Further past eternal thunder, lightning bringing endless roar.  Soaring seas and tidal skies, bearing forth its facial frown.  Never would I see the wonder, till my world turned upside down.”  Mhyl’s rhyming melody was surprising, the lyrics were questionable, but her singing.. Thanrie realized that Mhyl’s elegance with her movement was not unmatched to her singing grace.  If that girl wanted, she could put on a performance that would stun a crowd.  It might need better lyrics, but hey, it was still something.

“Holy cow, Mhyl, that was amazing.”  Even Lwyn looked like light shone through her previous despair.  Qheria herself had stopped in admiration.  Mhyl had a small crowd going on here.  Thanrie, building to the atmosphere, picked up a second hammer, and started going at her work like a percussion drum, with the intention of starting a melody.  It sounded more like cymbals, but the sheet metal at least rang deeper.  Intentionally missing the metal itself gave a fairly low note on occasion as well.  Lwyn, getting into things, picked up a spare log and just started running her scraper against it, in tune with the melody.  Qheria couldn’t help but cut the next log to the same beat, getting into things as well.

Mhyl set her work in front of her like a xylophone, also taking up a second hammer.  Her setup couldn’t yield any form of musical deviation, not being designed for it, but she instead started singing, lost within her own melody.  “Oh, once, far from all and ever.. and once, whichever once was more, like.. once, when I couldn’t but ever.. tell that things couldn’t stay, like they were.. once before.  So once, when everything had turned, and moved.. as everything thing had never before.. but everything was nothing ever.. like they ever were, once before.  Then passing time, oh endless hills, lost begotten.. on endless shores.. of time that never, ever passed.. like it passed.. once before…”  Mhyl’s lyrics made up on the spot had a melody, but no sense of direction.  It really might actually be better for anyone who didn’t know the words she was actually using to sing with.  If you couldn’t tell how awkward the lyrics were, the melody was profound.  Her singing voice was itself amazing, a soft pitch that almost resounded all around.  It all but made up for the lyrics itself.

They completed their task and moved to lunch, the atmosphere gaining a lot more positivity among the four of them.  Lwyn was laughing and telling jokes, Qheria was smiling and joining in.  “So, really, I’m glad you two are finally back.”  Mhyl wiped a tear from her eye, honestly glad how things turned out.  Lwyn and Qheria paused for a moment at that.  “Yeah, you two had us pretty worried there, leaving us so distant like that.  I guess music could be kinda magical huh?”  Thanrie laughed, while Mhyl suddenly turned deep in thought.  “If you thought Mhyl was impressive then, you two missed her in action earlier.  Qheria, since I couldn’t spar with you, I had to spar with Mhyl.  You would have thought that to be one sided, but oh F~~k was she good.  She had dance moves like you wouldn’t F~~~ing believe, and she danced around everything.  Next thing I know, I’m staring at the F~~~ing ceiling again.”  Thanrie opened with laughter, bringing Mhyl back to the current situation.

“Oh, that?  Uh, I don’t know actually, was I that good?  I thought you were just being nice to me.  I tried my hardest to make use of some of the moves I learned from visiting Japan.  Actually, my trip there was why I developed an interest in rhythm and music games.  It was fun singing to the music, and I got pretty good at many of them.  ‘..green, black, and blue make the colors in the sky…’ Oh!”  Mhyl suddenly started singing lyrics to an actual song, surprising herself.  She cut herself off, her mouth pursed closed.

Thanrie clued in pretty quickly.  “I’m guessing that’s not exactly how your own singing used to be.  I’m guessing even if you sung the Japanese version, it still wouldn’t be the same.”  Thanrie could tell right away, in that moment, that even Mhyl hadn’t known how gifted her singing voice was.  It probably wasn’t as good back on Earth, here instead she had a lot of still unappreciated talent.  At least, until now.  Playing music was also kinda fun, really.

Qheria and Lwyn were starting to feel left in the dust.  Not only was her singing ability mind-blowing, but the part about her dancing was yet another thing.  Qheria had started with winning against Thanrie, only to start on a losing streak.  Now, she learned that even Mhyl was beating Thanrie, what did that leave for Qheria?  Lwyn on the other hand knew she was always one to stay behind everyone, but was she even needed anymore?  Mhyl had just so effectively cheered everyone up, that was usually her own job.

Thanrie picked up on the direction things were taking.  “Though, what I found cool was how everyone could almost just melody their way though things back there.  Qheria, Lwyn, it honestly was like you two were playing instruments there.  F~~k we all make such a great team.”  Thanrie still effectively turned everything around with this comment.  Lwyn and Qheria recalled how they had gotten involved in this whole incident, they had been a part of it.

“Qheria, Lwyn, you two should do some weapons training, that way you don’t get rusty.  You can try together if you two want, but that would be up to you.  Whatever it takes to get your energy going.  Maybe Lwyn could do some climbing, or Qheria could.. I don’t know, race?  Up to you, I’m not in charge of you two.  But really, do something.  You’ll feel much better for it.  Meanwhile, I should..”  “Thanrie, could you help me out for a bit, I’ll need your help for a while.”  “Oh, okay then.”  Thanrie was surprised at getting the sudden request from Mhyl.  She had been pondering getting her own exercise in, figuring a way to deal with Mhyl’s style too, but that could probably wait.

As Lwyn and Qheria wandered off to get some fitness down, Thanrie turned to Mhyl.  “So, what can I help you with?”  Thanrie’s English got a Japanese reply.  “I’m going to need a translator, I need to talk with Ehryinae.”  Mhyl’s shift in language was obvious, she was plotting something and wanted to surprise Lwyn and Qheria.  Thanrie had no idea what the plan was, but it sounded inspiring.  Thanrie would usually be concerned with translations, it was rough enough translating Izhaethyx with English in her head.  The two were pretty different.  However, come to think of it, even though she’s been using a lot of English, it wasn’t her best Terran language, Mhyl might have a good idea here.

They eventually found Ehryinae, and planned out things before approaching her.  “What do you want me to tell her?”  “Ask her for an opportunity to talk about magic.. I mean the gift.  I have a few new ideas.”  Thanrie turned to Mhyl with Japanese, who caught on to the idea and kept going with it.  Thanrie opened the conversation, which got Ehryinae happy.  “Of course, if Mhyl has some questions, I would be glad to answer.  What kind of things are we wondering about?”  Ehryinae set aside what she was doing and got ready for a sudden impromptu lesson, leaving Thanrie to act as a translator for each of them.

“So, Ehryinae had said that using the gift required a skill much similar to drawing.  Would then.. playing music be also similar.”  “Oh yes, Mhyl is correct.  Creative expression as a whole, it might have a lot in common with the whole concept in general.  It’s the ability to focus on something intangible as an idea, and give it form.  A drawing is the most direct form of this, but even music shapes thoughts and emotion into sound, it’s not far off from the same idea.  You still need to.. envision what you are trying to do, and have it take shape.  Why are we asking about music anyway?”  Mhyl and Ehryinae shared questions as Thanrie translated.  Thanrie was starting to understand why Lwyn didn’t seem to enjoy doing this, the repetition was exhausting.  However, she herself could see where Mhyl was going with this.

“Actually, Mhyl has a good point.”  Thanrie wasn’t translating for this part to Ehryinae.  “We’ve done a lot of practical stuff together, but we keep getting disheartened about things, and all pf us honestly have our own way about things.  Meanwhile, we had just discovered the four of us have at least some.. musical synergy.  It could be really useful as a mental exercise, bending our minds to the beat.  If we can actually achieve something of melodic harmony, Qheria’s self-confidence would rise, Lwyn would be bound to feel her own importance, Mhyl .. well, you should have seen how free she seemed singing and dancing.  Myself, if what I lack is enough mental focus, training to the beat and rhythm of a routine might be the best thing I could think of for solving that one.”  Thanrie then went to translate herself to Mhyl as Ehryinae considered the idea. As the translation proceeded, Mhyl was found to be nodding and watching Ehryinae expectantly.

“Yeah, I think you four should go for it then.  It sounds like a great first step.  If you guys can make anything of it, be sure to invite me, I want to hear how it sounds.  Oh, and obviously let me know if you two figure out anymore more with the gift, there is a lot more to do after that.”  Ehryinae’s last statement had Thanrie pause, Thanrie was sure they had now used the gift twice.  However, none of them had control over it yet, so it didn’t really count.  They needed more practice so that such control would come to them.

Having completed that meeting, Mhyl and Thanrie had returned to the others, eager to pass on their information and to build a plan though the afternoon.  They still needed actual instruments, but this looked like a new ambition they could work towards easily enough.

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