DIVA: Tales of the Holy Mountain #4

deucexm deucexm at gmail.com
Fri May 31 05:16:25 PDT 2019

A little piece that turned into an allegory about the healing power of music. 
It's something of a Thing in my life.


TALES OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle 
by Felix


04 - Revel and ruin: first half

The first festival was unplanned; it simply happened.

The rain had not let up for days, and thick clouds blotted out the sky both day
and night.  Either goddess could have simply waved it away, but both had long
since decided to let the weather do what it would without undue interference; so
it rained still.

As the sun set far in the distance - the mountain's peak being well above the
dreary clouds - Shirogami heard the deep beat of a drum from the base of the
mountain; soft at first, then louder, insistent.  At first she paid it no mind,
but it refused to die out; and so the White God let out a sigh of irritation and
descended from the shrine.

The drumbeat grew louder as she came down the mountain, first through gray
cloud, then through the rain beneath; and when she left the cover of the forest,
the rain now splattering rudely against her, she saw the drum, and the drummer,
under a small square pavilion.

"Why do you beat the drum?" Shirogami asked quietly, standing in the rain with
her hands clasped behind her back.

The drummer quieted his playing, but did not stop or even turn to look.  "I
must," he returned, between the notes.  "The music- it calls- I respond."  Even
in the rain and cold, he wore only a chestwrap, kilt, and sandals - and the
White God could see the sweat upon his brow.

"Have you nothing to calm your spirit?"

"My spirit- is most calm- for I need- nothing else," the drummer returned
placidly, still maintaining his rhythm without cease, arms swinging to produce
solid strokes.  "The music- is enough."

"Then play," Shirogami began, pondering for a moment.  "Play me something to
sweep away doubt and sadness, and replace them with fire and passion.  Play as
if you needed to push back the clouds themselves and open up the sky."

The drummer played a quick flourish, and stopped, his arms falling to his sides
as he turned to look at the White God for the first time.  His eyes widened -
but only for a moment, and then he nodded.  "A moment, if you would grant it."

Shirogami crossed her arms, and nodded serenely.

The drummer picked up a small hammer from the wooden floor, and then firmly
struck a metal plate fastened to the pavilion, the sound piercing the gloomy
shroud of mist and rain like a blade thrust through fabric.  Again and again he
struck the plate - five times in total - and then laid the hammer down.

Shirogami merely waited, though the sound was not to her liking.

After no more than a minute or two, a trio of villagers emerged from the shadows
of the heavy rain, each carrying an instrument - a smaller pair of hand drums, a
set of polished shells, a collection of bells and sticks - and gathered under
the scant protection of the pavilion.  Each one wore the same garb as the
drummer, and in their eyes the White God could see the same devotion to their
craft.  If they were surprised at her presence, they gave no outward sign.

"It is time to play the new song," the drummer commanded.  No hesitation in his
voice, no room for argument; the other musicians offered none, simply readying
themselves and their instruments.  With a single glance to ensure all was
prepared, the drummer lifted his drumsticks overhead and struck them together -
one, two, three, four.

And with a single, powerful unison downbeat, the Song began.

The drummer set up a simple, pulsing rhythm that settled comfortably in the
White God's head and spread downward into her body, drowning out the splashing
raindrops until it was the only thing in existence.  Next, the second musician
coaxed forth from the hand drums a softer, faster, whispery sound of skin on
skin that wove between and around the heavy beat of the big drum; and the White
God was filled with the new rhythm as well.

The third musician played a simple, fast melody on the shells with wooden
mallets - then a different melody - then back to the first; and the White God
drank in this sound too.  The fourth and last musician placed their bells and
sticks and other implements before them, and played quick little rhythms that
snuck in between the melody and the drums to fill the open spaces that Shirogami
hadn't even realized were calling out to be filled.

And the Song took her and enfolded her, even as she drowned in the fullness of it.
And the rain hissed to steam as her body ignited, a wreath of flames at her feet.
And the White God danced in the fire as it rose higher and higher.
And the roaring flames devoured the rain and the clouds.
And there was sunlight upon the mountain once more.

The Song came to a close, and Shirogami dropped to one knee, breathing heavily,
her face streaked with sweat.

The musicians said nothing.

She stood, and looked at them; and she smiled a tiny little smile, as the White
God is wont to do.

"It is a good song," Shirogami pronounced.  "And if you play it again, perhaps I
shall come and dance once more.  But for now, I shall rest."

And the White God turned and walked back up the mountain; no clouds darkening
her path, only the clear sky and the sun above.

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