The thing is based on one question Rahirah asked on LiveJournal, ah, fiveish years ago: “If Lorne had a daemon, would it be some kind of Pylean critter?“
My short answer is no. My long answer is a little under 900 words and possibly almost as incoherent and implausible than Pylea canon itself, which is no mean feat.
Well, at least I had fun. This is largely an accountability post.
Krevlornswath does not have a demon. Only witches have those, and there are no witches in the Deathwok clan. (Much later, it becomes politically correct to say “daemon”. Lorne’s family never buys into the new-fangled nonsense.)
He hears voices, that’s all — a common curse. Even cattle get it. The trick is not to encourage the devils: you don’t respond. You don’t listen, or you might become the devil’s instrument, head full of devil’s intervals, possibly practicing the devil’s scales.
Naturally, you don’t sing in harmony with the voices.
This is what a lack of fresh air and bracing violence will do to a growing child.
“The witch said I should talk to you, and maybe you’d leave.”
“Damn straight I want to leave, now get us out of here!”
“Ack! You’re visible now? What are you supposed to be, anyway? A chicken? You don’t have nearly enough eyes for that. Or teeth. And what’s with the color?”
“I’ve always been visible. You just tried very hard not to look. But I’m no chicken. And neither, for the record, are you!”
The creature too small to be a chicken made a motion like a drakken beast shaking water out of its fur and became bright yellow. “Much better!” he said. “Razzmatazz, pleased to meet you!” Then he started squeaking like a freshly washed window, apparently just because he could.
“Mutual,” Krevlornswath lied, trying to hold on to normality. “What am I, then, according to you?”
“An oscine. Take your pick. I haven’t decided what kind.”
“That’s not a word.”
“Not a word either.”
“You know what’s not a word? Krevlornswath. I’m calling you something else. How about Krev?”
Once Lorne stopped making an effort not to listen, he heard stuff everywhere. (“Music,” Razzmatazz would insist.) He allowed himself to notice the babbling of the brook. The rhythm of hooves and wheels: almost like a dance, except good. The long, melancholy sounds from some cows, which were much like Razz’s birdsong. (Only later did Lorne realize that most songbirds don’t have a broad repertoire of show tunes and rock hits.)
He heard people, too. A low growling behind and slightly to the left of his mother told him when to stay out of her way (which was most of the time). The arrival of his cousins from a successful hunt was signaled by cheerful barking, like that of drakken or catipedes. He heard it before he saw them and went to share in their happiness.
He’d given up on fighting cheerfully and completely, but the ceremonial joust was good for people-watching. The daemons of some girls loudly complained about the heat. He offered a walk to the waterfall. As their daemons played in the water in otter form, he thought he saw a spark come back to the girls’ eyes. Razz, an orangey red today, said something like fat raindrops falling from a high roof onto tin and then something else with no words, but so persuasive that Lorne definitely agreed.
Maybe his curse could be turned into a gift.
Lorne left home once, but he only found more cabbages and slaughter before getting arrested for travel without a passport. He didn’t know how the interrogation went, because he spent most of it at the top of the priest’s head. There was a dead squirrel there! Or was it unconscious? Did the guy know his animal friend needed help?
Razzmatazz went to sleep dramatically (“Wake me up before you go-go!”), got bored with pretending, and started making funny noises. Lorne thought this song went like rolling something down the stairs and watching it go in a slightly different direction each time.
The squirrel woke up and fixed Lorne with a bloodshot glare. The priest, satisfied with his expression of horror, took Lorne home and collected a fine of three chicken.
He wasn’t eager to investigate the hole in the world, but someone was flying straight into it.
“Come on!” Razz said. “Time to leave your dead life behind!”
What even? But the moment Razz disappeared, Lorne stopped thinking and had to follow.
Best non-decision of his life.
He landed in a dreamlike place: an old building half-hidden in shadows, with people talking just out of sight. Following the voices, Lorne found a courtyard. The sky was pink, and a small group of people were sitting together, passing around a bottle. Their birds were sitting in trees overhead, adding polka dots and curlicues of sound to the conversation. One of the people had a rounded, long-stemmed wooden box that gave pleasant sounds a bit like throwing small stones into water. There were no words to the language of the wooden thing, but the meaning was clear and urgent, just like it is in dreams.
Razzmatazz, wearing all the colors of your basic crayon box, settled into a blossoming branch and said something like a string of jewelry, bright and interwoven, before launching into song (“Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat?”). The strangers took up the song. Their voices wound together like flames in a campfire and took flight toward the otherworld sky. As clearly and easily as the warmth off a campfire, Lorne felt that he was welcome here. At long last, he was home.
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