• Published 26th Jan 2012
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The Wizzard and the Pony - Parchment_Scroll



While his apprentice deals with the leaders of Unicornia, Starswirl the Bearded explores...

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Chapter 13: Musical Numbers and Other Harmonic Effects

The effects of a strong Harmonic field upon soundwaves passing through it has been touched upon, briefly, but further exploration of this concept is, at times, merited. Among those times are those times when a large group of sentient, sapient beings within the effects of such a field begin acting en masse. At such times, those beings, be they hominid or equine, may find themselves acting in a choreographed manner. The accepted term for such events is a Musical Number.

The reason for this is not entirely known, particularly because one of the effects of a Musical Number is that those participating in it are, by and large, unaware of a Musical Number as an event in and of itself. The exceptions to this rule are those who, for one reason or another, are largely resistant to Harmonic effects.

One such person, Lord Havelock Vetinari, found himself wondering at the way the normal sounds of Ankh-Morpork were forming new patterns. Rhytmic patterns, in point of fact, with an underlying melody. When his companion for the past few days, Arch-Chancellor Mustrum Ridcully, opened his mouth to speak, the words that came out followed the same melody.

"A week of freakish weather,
"Has put us in a funk!"

Vetinari, frowning, found himself compelled to follow in suit, his own words twisted slightly to fit the rhythm, meter, and rhyming pattern of the Musical Number taking shape throughout the city.

"I hope this plan of yours will work,"

he sang,

"It seems a load of bunk!"

Ridcully nodded, acknowledging the Patrician's concerns, and replied.

"If the information that I have
"Is as true as I've been told,
"A party will be just the thing
"To drive away the cold!"

The two of them turned their attention from each other to the streets below, which were just beginning to fill with revelers, the citizens of Ankh-Morpork brought out of hiding partly because of the promise of a day of celebration, but also because of the influence of the Harmonic field and ensuing Musical Number.

"The streets are filled with snow and ice,
"But that won't slow us down!
"Some ale will make things warm and nice,
"And take away that frown!"

Some two miles from the Turnwise gate, Rincewind's estranged companions galloped not only into view of the city, but into the field of influence of the Musical Number themselves. Conina opened her mouth to speak, not noticing that her hopeful tone of voice had been modified into a musical equivalent.

"We're almost there, I see the gate,"

she sang,

"We'll all be back together then!"

"Oook--"

sang the Librarian, and Nijel nodded in grim agreement.

"Before it's too late!"

he caroled.

Celestia, heedless of her native companions' concerns, picked up her pace, one thought on her mind and lips.

"I'll see Luna once again!"

Meanwhile, on the grounds of Unseen University, the students and faculty, aware of the less-publicised purpose of the All's Fallow celebrations planned that day, began to file out of the University and into the streets of Ankh-Morpork, talking -- or, rather, singing, amongst themselves about their hopes for the event.

"Thaw Ankh-Morpork,
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Windigoes, we'll drive away!"

The general goodwill and cheer was doing its part in helping alleviate the chill that permeated what should have been an almost oppressively hot Summer Two midsummer's day (or All's Fallow, as it was more properly known, the one day of the year when witches and warlocks stayed inside). Cheered by this evidence of the plan's viability, the wizards got to work in earnest setting up decorations and preparing for the festival to get underway.

"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!"

they sang,

"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!"

As they sang, they helped usher the people of Ankh-Morpork into the large market square outside of Unseen University's massive, octiron gates. There, a stage had been prepared where various performances would help to keep the people's cheer up. At least, such was the plan. It remained to be seen if such a thing would actually come to pass.

In the meantime, the wizards sang on.

"Melt away the snow and ice,
"It has no business here!
"To help to make things green and nice,
"We'll fill the streets with cheer!"

Swept up in the celebration, as well as the rhythmic drive of the Musical Number, the people helped to prepare for the coming celebration, unconsciously joining their voices with those of the wizards.

"We'll celebrate,"

the people sang,

"'Til we can no longer stand!
"With fun and games..."

Immediately Turnwise of the great octiron University gates, a curtain was drawn, revealing a once well-known, now mysteriously forgotten trio, who lifted their instruments triumphantly and caroled,

"And a heck of a band!"

As the trio, whose names for some reason* eluded the memories of those present, accompanied the ongoing Musical Number, the wizards of Unseen University resumed their choral discourse, as well as their preparations.

"Thaw Ankh-Morpork,
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Windigoes we'll drive away!"

As they began to apply decorations, the people of Ankh-Morpork found themselves cooperating to an as-yet unheard of degree. They also found themselves singing along,

"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!"

* The reason was, in fact, that the forces of Narrative Causality had all but struck them completely from the Disc's history. Echoes of memories of the Band With Rocks In and their signature music style still lingered, but the memories themselves did not fare so well.

The decorating party spread out from the market square into the streets in general as the people sang out instruction to each other.

"Decorate the streets and homes
"With ribbons and balloons!
"Get ready, all, to celebrate!
"We're going to party soon!"

The merchants of Ankh-Morpork (particularly those from the Morporkean side of the river) were eager to not only join in the festivities, but to cash in on them as well.

"We'll sell our wares,"

they sang,

"like mead and pies..."

One merchant in particular proved particularly shrewd when it came to merchandise to offer, and his voice carried out in the sudden silence after his fellow merchants trailed off. Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler grinned avariciously as he held aloft a rather ratty, barely cohesive example of cold weather clothing, his heavily Morporkean-accented voice calling out,

"And these winter coats!
"You'll see with prices low as these,
"I'm cutting me own throat!"

As Dibbler's well-known catch-phrase rang out over the crowd, they resumed their decorating frenzy, all of them now participating not only in decorating their town from the costliest mansions in Ankh to the deepest, darkest corners of the Shades, but in caroling out the chorus begun by the wizards,

"Thaw Ankh-Morpork,
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
Windigoes we'll drive away!
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork,
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!"

High atop the Tower of Art, in the heart of Unseen University, Rincewind the failed wizard* found himself torn between his usual panic and the Harmonic event that had swept across the city. In point of fact, as he was immediately adjacent to one of two fonts of Harmony present on the Disc, and the other was rapidly approaching the University gates in company with the rest of his companions, he was at Ground Zero and had no more chance of resisting participation in the Musical Number than he had of casting an Eighth Level spell**. Instead, he found himself compromising between the two, and giving voice to his numerous concerns in musical form.

"It hasn't been the best of times,"

he sang, an understatement of proportions overshadowed only by his next words,

"I'll admit to fear."

Luna, quite misinterpreting the thrust of his words, shook her mane out and smiled up at him, singing,

"I'm not afraid anymore,
"Now that you are here!!"

Rincewind was baffled. There were quite a number of things, he felt, to be afraid of, so he began to enumerate them.

"But the soldiers and those angry trolls,
"Windigoes out there, too!"

Luna, again grossly misinterpreting his intent, lowered her head and scooped him onto her back. Before he could do more than desperately clutch her mane to keep from falling, she had catapulted the two of them off the Tower of Art, her wings catching the wind and beginning the long (and to him, utterly terrifying) descent to the ground below. As they glided down, she watched her hero*** out of the corner of her eye, singing,

"Rincewind, you're so very brave,
"I owe my life to you!"

* His degree is, in fact, B. Magic (failed) and his hat reads "Wizzard" rather than "Wizard".****
** To say he had no chance at all would be overly generous.
*** As has been noted previously, the Equestrian historical view of Rincewind has been somewhat distorted due to the events in which he participated. It is even more accurate to state that a good deal of this perspective comes from Luna's own views on the man.
**** He has been informed that, due to a service he performed for the school, he can now call himself a wizard and spell it with as many "Z"s as he likes.

Rincewind and the younger of the two alicorns descended into the main grounds of Unseen University just as the elder alicorn and the rest of Rincewind's companions were let in the gate by a group of wizards who were transporting a crystallized butter sculpture of the school out into the market square to be the centerpiece of a massive spread of food ranging from the completely inedible to the merely unpalateable, provided by the University's kitchens. The wizards and citizens continued to sing as the preparations were nearing completion.

"Thaw Ankh-Morpork,
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Windigoes we'll drive away!
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!"

Rincewind, surrounded once again by friends both new and old, was chagrined to find himself the center not only of their attention, but of everyone's. He looked around him, shoulders slumped in permanent defeat as he realized what it meant. It meant that, once again, Rincewind was going to be the much-put-upon cog in the grinding machinery of Life. He gritted his teeth, determined not to give in, but deep down, he knew that if there is a Destiny that shapes our ends, then It bore him some curious grudge for an offense he couldn't remember committing, and would see to it that his days were filled with as many Eventful Happenings as It could manage. He opened his mouth to scream some manner of pitiful defiance at It, but what came out instead was a sort of mournful resignation to his fate.

"It isn't right the way that things
"Always come back to me!
"I want to live a quiet life,
"Not go adventuring!
"What good's a wizard with no magic?
"That's what they always say,
"But I have to help so I must
"Do my best today!
"Do my best today!"

As he slouched his way towards the market square, the crowd closed around him, raising their voices jubilantly. Heedless of Rincewind's mood, the Musical Number's most potent form, the Finale, carried their words aloft, along with a highly concentrated charge of Harmonic energy.

"Thaw Ankh-Morpork,
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Windigoes we'll drive away!
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Thaw Ankh-Morpork!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Day!
"Celebrate All's Fallow Daaaaay!"

* * * * *

High above Ankh-Morpork, a number of entities were on hand to witness the Musical Number. The entire herd of Windigoes had converged on the city and realized too late the meaning of the massive, heart-shaped coalescence rising up to their level from the jubilant crowd. As the charge condensed prior to its final destructive release of Harmony, the Herd Stallion had just enough time to realize what it was and what it boded for both him and his entire herd. His final whinney, before a rainbow-hued wave of Harmonic energy swept him into oblivion, was both untranslateable and very rude, indeed.

Slightly further from the epicenter of the Harmonic blast, another being observed the event through angrily narrowed eyes. Discord, held aloft by a combination of his mismatched wings and a massive concentration of Disc magic, threw his claws up in disgust. His words, though requiring neither translation nor any form of censorship, conveyed an equal amount of ire.

"Oh, come on!"

Fuming, the horribly mismatched creature rolled up nonexistant sleeves. "I can see," he said, "I'm going to have to take a more personal hand in this." With a snap of his avian claws, he vanished in a flash of octarine light.

Author's Note:

I've been trying to wrangle this chapter into some semblance of what it you just read since, oh, Chapter Five or so. I always knew this scene would take place, and certain lines and couplets were prepared months ago, but the final version has been eluding me for this entire time.

Part of the problem was that I once read a review of Elfquest that pointed out that music does not work nearly as well in printed form as it does in an audiovisual medium (such as, for example, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic). As such, I've been second-guessing and third-guessing and fourth-guessing my decision all those chapters ago to have this chapter go this way.

Once I finished the previous chapter, however, I knew I was committed, and I absolutely had to get the lyrics to "Thaw Ankh-Morpork" down in order to continue. Those lyrics have been finished for about a week, and the rest of that time has been spent trying to balance the song with the actions that had to take place while it was being sung. Again, this was something that would work much better in animation than in a story, but I was already committed to doing it.

It is my sincere hope to someday be able to present this chapter in, if not a fully animated form, then at least an animatic.

Until then, just bear with me, as there are still three chapters to go.