Title: Evensong Characters: OC Timeframe: Saga-OT (1 BBY) Rating: PG Genre: Vignette Summary: A man ponders certain matters while sitting listening to music. Note: Written for the OC Revolution Autumn Challenge. The challenge in question: "Write a story in which your character's feelings, choices, and/or actions are influenced by the experience of either hearing or making music (e.g., singing, playing, etc.). Please note the following: - This is distinct from a songfic in that the music has to be taking place in-universe. - The influence has to come from the music itself, not just the words of a song, though lyrics and melody can work in tandem. - Descriptions of specific characteristics of the music (things like volume, instrumentation, tempo, etc.) are highly encouraged but not absolutely required." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thirty minutes past midnight and Paurilis was no closer to finishing the onerous task of grading assignments than when he started two hours ago. Seventy first-year students had written various interpretations on the topic: the influence of Xim the Despot upon the development of galactic commerce. He wasn't sure of the connection between the economic principles of a Pre-Republic era warlord and the current Imperial regime after reading thirty-four (or was it forty-four?) vidscreens drawn from the minds of young beings fulfilling a general education requirement. There were the unifying qualities of corruption and avarice that bound the past and future in an imperfect union. Maybe it was a ridiculous idea for a term assignment, but Paurilis needed to continually justify his fascination with the ancient ways and days before the idea of a unified galactic society was even possible. Paurilis ran his hand over his eyes. It was too early and too late to dwell upon politics. But it was yet another thing he brooded over recently. It was the anniversary of Maiena's death, and Nalieza's birthday was next week, but she was on Lacace and couldn't get back home in time to celebrate. It wasn't much of a stretch to say he was more lonely than usual. He reached over and took a quick sip from the mug. Three-hour-old Jimicia Green Mountain kahve was unpleasant; cold, with the lingering bitterness of ground long settled on the bottom. Maybe he needed a fresh cup, or perhaps it was better to reach into the back of the kitchen cabinet and indulge a dram or three of Whyren's Reserve. Maybe it was too late for the distilled refreshment and he should just settle for brandy instead. A mellow jatz-inspired tune emanated from the wooden music player set upon the right side of a bookshelf. Paurilis had set the channel for a streaming broadcast from Ultraia. It was a regular and steady connection to his birth planet. The song currently playing was a contemporary version of a traditional ballad, one of those antique tunes about lost love composed in Old High Ultraian. Paurilis struggled to remember what little he ever learned of the ancient language. What his ears could pick up was the timeworn tale of a woman yearning for a man who traveled far away in search of adventure and fortune. The singer's voice called across the vastness of space to the gone but not forgotten love, and stirred within any listener to yearning for someone lost yet perpetually remembered. The melody was slow, casual, and suggestive of dreamy afternoons on beaches and evenings under the twin moons and billions of stars. Yet the song was also melancholy, suggestive of lost dreams. That was typical of Ultraia's flavor of jatz. Lyrics focused upon romance both loving and gloaming paired with smooth noted rhythms characterized the genre. It first became popular during the last decade of peace, and was a mainstay by the time he entered university. His mother used to play every famous tune from Sindra Kinera and floo horn player extraordinaire Aval Getz. The songs interwove themselves into his unconscious, to the point where they influenced his view on love. He almost felt doomed from the beginning when he first saw Maiena sitting on the concourse one morning. Love was meant to be wonderful yet tragic, at least that was how the songs influenced him. Maybe the pale sadness of his parents' marriage also predisposed him to such a grim perspective. Either way he realized upon first sight he would fall in love with the dark-haired girl who often smiled and seldom cried. He pushed the datapad aside and leaned his elbows on the desk. That balmy afternoon occurred twenty-three years ago. It took seven days before Paurilis was able to call up the nerve to speak with her, and that was only after he found she was enrolled in a drama class. He wasn't terribly fascinated by fictional drama, unless it was on the vid. But he realized the only way to make contact was finding his way into the class and strike up a conversation while surrounded by her favorite environment. From the perspective of later years he realized it would have been easier to walk up and say hello. But the younger version of him was introverted, so it made sense to sign up for a class just to meet her. No matter how convoluted the method of introduction, the end result was more than he could have imagined. A first exchange of words occurred when they were chosen to demonstrate a scene from The Vioceni Merchant. Paurilis made a valiant attempt to portray Iano, the ardent suitor in pursuit of Nanthe, the merchant's daughter. Once he got over the initial stuttering it became easier to immerse him in a fictional conversation. A real conversation took place after class. In so many ways his life expanded once he got involved with Maiena. He transcended all his self-imposed limitations, including the fear of leaving home. Another tune came from the music player, an upbeat tempo paired with lyrics about Carnival Season. The abrupt shift caused Paurilis to call out "Off", forcing the office into sudden quiet. He didn't need reminders of happier times...not tonight, fifteen years after Maiena chose the permanence of Oblivion to the persistence of life. The young woman filled with light hid a lingering melancholy underneath that smile. For years she channeled that torment by assuming fictional people. But real life was always more tragic than anything born from imagination. Paurilis sighed. Fifteen years had come and gone. He could have returned back to Ultraia with his daughter and lived in the same house where he grew up. It might have provided Nalieza and him with comfortable stability. But when he received the offer to fill a vacant position in the Department of Pre-Republic History, it felt easier to move to yet another foreign world and start the third phase of his existence. He was an outsider no matter where he lived, even the planet where generations of his family lived and died. That was a common quality that bound him and Maiena together, and made it easier to follow her to Lacace when her acting career commenced. It was the lack of belonging that propelled him toward Aeithera with a toddler and seven packing cases filled with mementos from the other two parts of the life he sometimes could never call his own. But he lived in this flesh and possessed the name given to him at birth, and every decision made came from his mind… He stood up. It wasn’t too late for Whyren’s after all.