4 (2) – 5
The young violinist was called Victor.
The flutist girl was called Finne.
The drummer’s name was Dieter, the oboist was Otto.
As for the young lady who didn’t have an instrument, the group’s singer, her name was Verrat.
All five of them were Blume natives and childhood friends. They had been born to relatively well-off households, so they had some knowledge about the arts and entertainment that were popular in the royal capital.
And that had led to this.
Once a curious mind gains knowledge, it only made sense to want to put theory to practice. They themselves wanted to become musicians, as taboo as it was in Mohnton to do so.
All five of them had acquired instruments that they had taken an interest in, learning together through trial and error in this dingy cellar.
They had no teacher nor performances to watch and copy, so their performances which had relied purely on their own readings of the sheet music they had acquired had eventually become the source of the rumoured awful noises over the course of the past few months.
“I was the one who found this place. This place used to be a diner that my parents owned, but after that business went under it has been abandoned for some years, so…”
Still bowing his head down low as he sank down on his knees, Victor spoke. As Klaus listened to him, he glanced at one of the pieces of sheet music by his feet.
“Over there is the first instrument I got, my first violin. We left it on the shelf. The strings broke so we can’t use it anymore. There were other instruments I didn’t really understand, so that’s why I reached out to everyone else to join me.”
In the beginning, they didn’t have any grand plans of truly playing music. They had just been curious about these instruments they had never seen before, making all sorts of strange sounds.
But, things had changed three months ago.
Victor had proposed to the girl he loved, a young lady in town. Apparently, she was the daughter of a craftsman whose work his family greatly valued. Even though there was a difference in social rank between the two families, he had still somehow managed to gain the permission of his parents and all that remained was to wait for the day they would be wed.
“Everyone said they wanted to play a marriage hymn for my sake. In this town, hymns are only permitted when one gets married, after all.”
“…That is the only time a hymn is allowed?”
Camilla couldn’t help but interject as Victor spoke despondently. There was something strange in what Victor said.
Strange… Because Camilla had just heard a hymn like that above ground.
“Are hymns now allowed to be sung at the church? Because in fact, I heard it just a few moments ago.”
“Ahh, that hymn is a little different… It’s one dedicated to the royal marriage. Between Prince Julian and Lady Liselotte.”
Camilla’s shoulders stiffened, as she turned around to glare at Alois, who avoided her glare. She knew it after all. Maybe he thought he was being kind in his silence, but she could only see it as being coddled again.
Victor didn’t notice Camilla scowling at Alois. Not knowing that Camilla was, in fact, Camilla, he continued as if nothing had happened.
“Since their marriage is taking place in the new year, they’ve been practicing at the church for a while now. To lift the spirits of the town and bless the royal couple.”
Although it was said to be a blessing, it wasn’t a lively song by any means. It was more of a quiet prayer for the prosperity of the royal family, as well as the health of the town and the church.
The same could be said of Mohnton weddings as well. It was not to be any sort of grand and jubilant celebration, instead, it was focused on the ceremony itself. With the centerpiece being the couple swearing their vows in public before God. There wasn’t any singing or dancing, no grand or humourous speeches, merely a muted occasion to be quietly enjoyed amongst family. That was Mohnton’s matrimonial tradition.
“Everyone wants to play a wedding song for my sake, it just so happened that one of the scores we found is like that.”
Klaus expressed that he got the gist of their story as he kept looking through the musical scores littered by his feet, then exhaled slightly in amazement as he finished.
“It’s old, but it really like teach’s scores. Maybe there was a guy like him back in the day?”
“That may be… Ah, right, when we close the door up there, it mostly keeps in the sound. We usually try and make sure that it always stays closed, but… Maybe when people are leaving and going, the sound might have leaked out?”
Victor sighed, a note of depression creeping into his speech.
“Maybe it’d be best to quit after all. It’s a bother to everyone, and it’s dangerous too…”
Klaus asked him that. Judging by Victor’s still pale face, that danger didn’t seem to just be limited to the burning of their instruments and scores.
“…Mister Klaus, you’ve been away from Blume for a while now, so it only makes sense you haven’t heard about what’s been going on in town recently.”
As Victor raised his head, it was as if he was searching for someone. He looked at the faces of Klaus, Alois, Camilla, and Nicole in turn, then made sure there was no one else hiding. He even seemed hesitant to speak at all.
“You don’t have to tell us if you’re that afraid, y’know. I mean, it’d have to be something serious, if you’re coming all the way here to play in a cellar.”
“…Right. You’re right about that.”
Victor nodded timidly as Klaus tried to reassure him, yet although the fright hadn’t yet drained from his voice, he spoke up.
“Recently… There has been a vigilante militia established in town. Originally there was a vigilante group established by the young people in town, but this group is something completely different. Nobody will say it, but it’s an open secret that they are being led by the Lörrich family.”
“They’re much harsher than the group from before. It’s not just music and dancing and such either, as well. If you’re caught criticizing the way that the Lörrich family is doing things or even openly speaking well of you, Mister Klaus, they will drag you off the streets.”
His quiet voice echoed through the otherwise silent cellar. Surrounded by those cold stone walls, Alois and Klaus both crossed their arms almost in time. This must be giving them both a lot to think about.
“This doesn’t happen as often, but I’ve seen it… Sometimes, when people are caught, they’re given a severe beating right on the spot. Usually, they do it in public, like out in the plaza. They give an excuse about them ‘resisting’, but really I think it’s just making an example of people.”
Victor’s hands gripped into fists on his knees, still sitting on the ground. Despite his fear, there was also a boiling sense of anger and revulsion behind the young man’s expression.
“If we are found out, we’ll surely be dragged away as well. Not just us either, both Mia’s… My fiancée’s family will be in trouble, as will mine. Since this was all started for my sake and we’ve put so much effort in, I want to continue, but…”
Victor’s voice trailed off before he could continue. His pale face somehow seemed even more drained of colour. His four friends were the same as well. Their fearful eyes all gazed towards the stairs leading above ground as one.
And from the top of the stairs, there was a creaking sound. The door to the cellar that had been left open closed with a slam.
Then, there were the sounds of footsteps on the stairs.