Mod!Challenge inspirations: Spoiler 1. Your TV trope is: Dance Party Ending 2. Your random word is: Hiraeth - def: homesickness for a home you can never return to, or never was. 3. Your picture prompt is: Candles lined the edge of the stage, their flickering luminescence giving the ampitheater an ancient, esoteric feeling. Some of the beings in the crowd weren't even sure what those bits of material with flames on the end were called. Candles are not typically part of spacefaring peoples' everyday experience. But then that's why most beings came to Khorissan's Festival of Love and Light, to experience an ancient celebration that purportedly stretched back to the early days of civilization in the Galaxy. The musical troupe known as Alloy was happy to contribute to the festival's unique ambiance. Its members had travelled the Galaxy for decades, gathering wisdom and music from countless cultures. They had participated in the festival many times over the years, each time bringing a new twist on traditional sounds. A being in the audience checking tonight's program notes would see that this performance was titled "Hiraeth", with a note explaining the word was from an ancient tongue, and had no direct translation in Galatic Basic, but meant roughly "a longing for a place you cannot return to, or has never exsisted". Quiet strains of a viol floated into the night air, the crowd hushed as they strained to hear the notes. A second viol soon joined the first, their harmonies intertwining. Spoiler As the music swelled, a third viol joined, a adding a low drone to the chords as the first viol flew high, reaching toward the heavens with a keening sound of loss and yearning. The song faded to stillness, and a light slowly focused on one of the viol players. She was Mirialan, her green skin adorned with black chevron-shaped tattoos. She wore a long dress that floated in the slight breeze. Her black hair hung loose down her back. "Home." She spoke softly, her words amplified so all the crowd could hear. "It is a word that all languages have, but contains within it endless connotations and variations of meaning." The Mirialan continued. "Home to me used to be my parents, my Community, that raised me and taught me right from wrong. Then they betrayed those teachings for radical idealism. I wandered, lost and confused, longing for a place to belong." The light faded, and another song began, this one with a quetarra, and a voice, singing with a longing, searching tone. The program notes gave a translation of the lyrics, they spoke of love lost, of tears shed Spoiler As the song faded, the light came up on the quetarra player. He was Ryn, his dark brown fur and tan hair beginning to speckle with grey. "Home was my mother and father, my sister, my cousins and uncles and aunts. Traveling the Galaxy together." He recounted slowly. "Until the clan was torn apart by slavery. Our families were scattered, my father killed, my mother and sister later lost to the cruelty of our masters. Even after I was rescued from that life, I was still lost and hurting." The light faded, and a third song began. It was played on the quetarra like the previous song, but the style was different. The song was slow and sad, it had a feeling of a journey, of seeking something. Spoiler As the music faded, the spotlight came up on another Ryn, he was smokey-grey colored, but younger than the first Ryn, by perhaps a decade and a half. He finished the final note on his quetarra and looked up at the audience. When he spoke, his accent was slightly different from the other Ryn. "I had a home, and people that raised me. But I never really felt I was home. I longed for a place to belong, with people who understood me. I ran away, and searched among the stars for my Home." The light faded, and from the shadows another voice spoke, gruff, but feminine. "The Empire destroyed my home. Scattered my family to the stars." And another voice, masculine, clipped and precise. "I thought I had found a home among the regimented ranks of military might, until I saw the atrocities that my brothers-in-arms were committing." And yet another, and another, their voices overlapping into a chorus of pain, loss, and longing. Suddenly a wind blew from the stage, snuffing out the candles. From the darkness a voice spoke; the cultured tones of upper-class Coruscanti Basic, but softened by the influence of speaking many languages over her years. "We were all wanderers, searching for a place to belong. Longing for a home we had left behind, or had been taken from us, or had never truly exsisted in the first place. And together, we created a new Home for ourselves." Soft music began, a viol and keyboard, a voice singing of Hope. Spoiler Then the chorus began with a flood of brilliant lights, illuminating the stage, where a full band played instruments of many cultures and places. Across the stage, a Ryn girl danced and played the viol, her happiness and exuberance palpable to anyone who watched. As the next song began, one even more upbeat and exciting than the first, the audience couldn't help it, one or two at a time, then entire sections, stood up and joined in the dance. Because everyone can find a home in music, even if "hiraeth" visits your heart sometimes. Edit: (A few notes) Spoiler Readers of my other Itanno Clan/Alloy stories will probably recognize Danyal, Jess, and Sennah’s voices, and the Ryn dancer (Sennah & Danyal’s daughter Wenna) appeared briefly in a @Findswoman story. The others are some characters I haven’t really introduced yet, but hope to be able to get to where they enter the saga soon. One of them was a character whose voice I created just today.