Once upon a time there was a young man who started to write a story. This writer had, in another man's story, been a knight whose fate was to be slashed in half because he could not protect his prince with more than words. The young writer, however, changed his destiny thanks to a duck transformed by the storyteller into Princess Tutu, and together, the writer and Princess Tutu gave the old storyteller's tale a happy ending. The prince defeated the monster raven with his princess by his side, and the two departed for the prince's kingdom. The writer did not die as intended and destroyed the machine the tragedy-loving storyteller had used to write so he could finish his town's story himself. Princess Tutu returned to being a duck, but she was not alone as she had always thought she would be, for the writer vowed to always remain by her side. But, although the young writer had started writing new stories, the tragedy-loving storyteller's characters still remained in the world, ready to unintentionally start their stories again…
An old man with long, crazy white hair, wide eyes and dressed in a red traveler's coat and wide-brimmed hat chuckled as he watched the image of a young man writing a story from a spot near the lake in one of his story's gears.
"Now, now, you foolish Knight," he murmured with a wry grin, "don't grow so confident that my tragedy is through just because you destroyed some hardware! Yes, I can no longer write…but my stories are still out there, either ready to be continued or yet to be adopted into life…they but need a tiny action to jumpstart them…and the characters I've created won't make it easy for you to change their tragic ends!"
No one ever heard Drosslemeyer's laugh as the gears of the story of life started turning once again.
Act 27: Another Story
(((The Pastoral Symphony)))
It was February, a little less than three months since Prince Mytho and Princess Rue left Fakir and Ahiru for Mytho's kingdom and Fakir had started an almost-era of non-magical stories. The sky was beautifully clear considering that the dying brown blades around the icy-cold lake were still tipped with frost. Birds flew around each other and the clouds in a type of casual, love-filled ballet that only true artists could appreciate.
Ahiru the Duck turned to look back at Fakir sitting in his chair on the edge of the lake, writing as usual.
To anyone who hadn't watched Fakir writing, one would think that he was really engrossed with the story in his lap. Ahiru knew better, though; the focused look on the writer's face was due to his determination to make sure no one suffered in the end of his or her story.
'The men of the books almost cut Fakir's hands off because they were afraid of his power,' thought Ahiru. 'Drosslemeyer-san used that power to write horrible stories, and they were afraid Fakir could do the same, even if he may not have meant to. It's like Aotoa said…making stories reality may have casualties…what happened to Fakir's parents was proof enough.'
Although Fakir merely guided the stories he felt himself writing toward a happy ending as he had with the story of the Prince and the Raven, that alone took a lot of energy and could go seriously wrong if written poorly, even without magic or talking animals.
Sometimes if Fakir was worried about a certain story's ending, he would even ask Ahiru to look over it to make sure no character was left out of a happy ending. Ahiru never knew, however, that Fakir always blamed himself that there was one happy ending he couldn't make himself write…hers.
Fakir looked up from his writing at Ahiru and forced himself to smile at her. The duck gave her version of a smile in return, before returning to swimming around the lake, and Fakir's smile left his face.
'Ahiru…' he thought sadly. 'No matter what I do…I can't seem to guide your story to a happy ending…no matter what I do, your story just won't start up again so I can finish it! And if I write your story from scratch…if I create a conflict and story to do it, as Drosslemeyer did, I could seriously hurt you… or worse…'
Fakir massaged his temple with the hand not holding his quill, feeling frustrated. 'I know I said, down in the lake of despair, that we should return to our true selves to end The Prince and the Raven… but…'
Hearing voices, Fakir looked up and turned around, worried someone might get nosy as to his activities. Fortunately, the noise only came from a couple walking together on the path through the trees, and they had no interest in him or Ahiru. The man led the woman in their walk past the lake as he talked with her, the woman laughing happily.
'Why can't I write you a happy ending after how hard you worked to give everyone else one?' Fakir asked himself, looking at the couple with what he didn't realize was slight envy. 'You are a duck…but I can tell you're not happy this way…even though I can't understand you anymore, I still know. You were sad just thinking of giving up the last piece of Mytho's heart and your human form…I can't imagine how sad you must be now…what's more important…letting you be your true self…or making you happy?'
Fakir tore his eyes away from the laughing couple at last, scolding himself. 'Baka…thinking useless things like that…'
Fakir snapped out of his thoughts to find Ahiru had gotten out of the water and had walked up to him on the lakeside. Her blue eyes held concern.
"Quack quack-quack?" Ahiru inquired, which Fakir took to mean something like "Are you alright?"
Fakir forced a smile. "I'm fine."
Ahiru didn't seem to believe him, but nonetheless took it as a satisfactory answer and gestured curiously with her wing to the word-filled papers in his lap.
"Quack quack-quack quack quack?"
Nodding understandingly, Fakir reached a hand down to Ahiru; the duck climbed onto his hand and Fakir lifted her up to his shoulder so she could read the story he was writing.
Once upon a time there was a middle-aged lord and lady who longed for a child. Sadly the lady was unable to conceive, and the couple despaired at the thought that they would never know the joy of loving of a child of their own. One night, the lady wished on the brightest star in the sky that someone would allow her to take care of a child, and a kind, wise warrior from a distant land heard her melancholy wish and, taking pity on the lady, came to the castle to speak with her. He told the lady that she could give her a child to take care of, but only if the lady vowed to release the child into the world when the child reached nineteen years of age. Eagerly the lady agreed, and the warrior allowed the lady to adopt an orphaned baby girl whose family had died in a war he had fought in, whom the lord and lady named Celia.
The young Lady Celia grew older, and as she grew, she became a most exquisite singer. People from all over started visiting the lord and lady just to hear their daughter sing, and upon being dismissed, they returned to their countries and raved about her angelic voice. At last, word of her talent reached a young bandit called Tier, who disguised himself as a servant so that he could sneak outside Celia's room and hear her sing himself. Tier, who held a secret passion for music, doubted highly that someone could have as lovely a voice as the people claimed. He was greatly surprised, however, upon hearing Celia sing the rainy morning of her nineteenth birthday. Tier noticed, however, that her song was full of longing to explore the unknown. "I'm nineteen," her song said. "My birthday's today. A big girl, a woman…a lady, they say…" Hearing her sadness made Tier's heart ache. He had fallen in love with Celia, and, out of love for her, Tier decided to
"How is it?" Fakir asked Ahiru.
Ahiru quacked positively.
"I'm wondering whether or not to have Tier take Celia away or not," Fakir admitted, looking down at his work while eyeing Ahiru discreetly for her reaction. "She was born a lady, and she shouldn't run away from what she is…but she would be unhappy trapped in her parents' home forever."
Ahiru pondered this, before pointing with her wing to the warrior's written conditions. "Qua…quack quack-quack quack quack qua."
Fakir took to mean that Ahiru was pointing out that the warrior gave the lady the chance to have a child while assuming that one day she would one day set her free, and he inwardly admitted that the duck had a point. He felt slightly disappointed, though, because part of him had been hoping Ahiru could indirectly answer his questions concerning them by helping him complete the story of the lady and the bandit. Pushing that disappointment aside, he gave Ahiru a smile and continued writing.
Visit the lord and lady and ask them to set Celia free. Unbeknownst to them, Celia was listening to the discussion outside the grand meeting room, and she was amazed that Tier knew of her unhappiness. Even so, she felt grateful that someone cared enough about her to ask her parents to give her the freedom she longed for.
The lord bristled at Tier's request, saying that the bandit was in no place to tell him what to do, and ordered him to leave the castle. Tier, furious that the lord wouldn't even consider how lonely and sad his daughter was, unsheathed his sword and pointed it at him as to intimidate him. At seeing him being threatened, Celia ran protectively in front of her father, and Tier stumbled back, not wishing to hurt the woman he loved. Celia pleaded with Tier not to hurt the lord; Tier told her he wasn't meaning any harm toward either of her parents, for he only wanted them to understand that they couldn't keep her trapped in their home. The lady stood up abruptly at the bandit's words and snapped at him that she loved Celia more than anything, and that she knew what was best for her: keeping in her in the palace with her away from pain, heartbreak and suffering. The lady's words prompted a loud creak from the opening doors, and the warrior from so long ago entered the throne room. He was much older, of course, but he still looked as powerful and skilled as he did nineteen years ago.
The lady quivered, afraid that the warrior would be angry with her and would use his skills against her, and pleaded with him not to make her give Celia up. The warrior, who was very wise, understood the lady's angst, but calmly explained that in order to give Celia a chance to be happy, she would have to be given the freedom to make her own choices and mistakes. While there was pain, heartbreak and suffering in the outside world, the warrior said, there was also love, happiness and hope. Finally the lord and lady were given enough reassurance to allow their darling Celia to leave the palace for the first time. Tier promised the lord and lady to protect her while on her trip out, and while spending so much time with him, Celia fell in love with the bandit. The happiness in her eyes convinced the lord and lady to allow their daughter to do as she wished for the rest of her life, happily ever after.
Fakir headed the story with the fancy title The Lady and the Bandit, and a scrawled number of "71" in the left corner to mark the chapter of the tale of Kinkan Town, before putting his quill pen down and heaving a great sigh.
"Well, Ahiru…ready to head back?"
"Quack," Ahiru assented.
She jumped off of Fakir's shoulder, flapping her small yellow wings so she could land gently on the ground. Fakir tucked his story, quill and ink into his leather bag and tossed the bag over his shoulder before he started to follow Ahiru away from the lake back toward Kinkan Town.
On their way, the writer and duck passed the happy couple from before on the hollowed path, and Fakir resolutely forced himself not to look at them as to avoid feeling the "useless" envy he had felt before.
Since the story of the Prince and the Raven had ended, Kinkan Town for the most part had been quiet. Some of Fakir's conclusions to the peoples' stories had caused ripples in the town's life, but none dramatic enough for the People of the Books to peek their noses in. Of course, since Fakir had changed Drosslemeyer's tragedy into a happy ending, the Leader of the group had shown enough gratitude to Fakir for changing his associates back into humans that Ahiru doubted that they would attempt to cut Fakir's hands off again.
As Fakir and Ahiru walked through town back toward Charon's house, they passed Kinkan Academy, the arts school where Rue's, Mytho's and their story began and generally took place.
Ahiru noticed her old friends Pique and Lilie walking through the grounds and talking together, and she felt slight sadness at the thought that they didn't even remember she had existed. Anyone who wasn't knowledgeable about Drosslemeyer's story had forgotten that anything magical had happened, including Ahiru's transformation into a human.
Pique, Lilie and a few other ballet girls saw Fakir walking past and immediately started giggling and talking amongst themselves. Besides Mytho, Fakir had likely been the most popular (and only other talented) male student in the ballet class, so there still remained a "Fakir faction," even after Fakir had left the academy to work on Kinkan Town's story.
"Aw, how cute!" one of the girls squealed. "Fakir-senpai has a pet!"
"I envy that duck," another murmured, "so close to Fakir-senpai!"
"He must look five times as handsome from that close!" Pique commented.
"Maybe Fakir-senpai is so lonely he thought only a pet could love him!" Lilie suggested in her usual sadistic romanticism. "Oh, the tragedy! The heartache!"
The girls burst into giggles. Ahiru noticed Fakir rolling his eyes and smiled.
'Poor Fakir,' the duck thought amusedly.
For a reason Ahiru couldn't name, however, Pique's words echoed in her head.
"He must look five times as handsome from that close!"
Ahiru looked up at Fakir as he continued walking and almost unintentionally felt her feathery cheeks grow warm.
'Fakir is quite handsome…it really is no wonder he has so many admirers…he's loyal, and strong, and smart…'
Catching herself in her thoughts, Ahiru scolded herself in quacks, hitting her head with her wings and flapping around in circles.
'NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! STOP IT! YOU'RE A DUCK! A DUCK! STOP THINKING LIKE THAT!'
Ahiru froze, looking up at Fakir, who had stopped in his tracks at the sound of her quacking and was looking at her in confused bewilderment.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
Ahiru suddenly felt very embarrassed and rubbed the back of her head with her wing awkwardly.
"Quack-quack!" she said quickly, sounding sheepish. "Quack quack qua…"
Fakir blinked, before snorting, muttering "Baka," and starting to walk again, and Ahiru raced to catch up with him.
They walked in silence for a while simply enjoying each other's company, until Fakir looked back at Ahiru and spoke again.
"Do you ever wonder when the next beginning will come?"
Ahiru seemed confused. "Qua?"
Fakir sighed. "The oak tree said…when I first started talking with her…that 'beginnings are coincidence,' and that 'endings are inevitable.'"
"Quack quack-" Ahiru started to protest, but Fakir interrupted her.
"I know it sounds grim…and yes, the oak tree said those things to me when she was trying to absorb me into her bark…but she was still right in the way that all stories are connected. The ending of one story starts a new beginning, and there are many more beginnings before the beginning where one might enter a story…sometimes I wonder…when our next story will truly begin."
Ahiru now understood. 'It is good to think about…our story isn't being written by Drosslemeyer-san anymore…wouldn't Fakir control our story, then? Why hasn't he tried writing it? He's written about me before…'
"Qua quack quack quack-quack quack?" she tried to voice her question, but unfortunately even if Fakir could've understood her, he had seen something that made him freeze right where he was walking. When Ahiru saw it too, she quacked in a mixture of surprise and fear.
A she-bear standing on her back legs and wearing a motherly dress and decorated Easter hat had just left a hat shop, pulling her cub wearing a sailor suit out behind her with a gentle reminder to stay close to her.
Ahiru looked around and realized that there were other human-acting animals in town as well. A beaver was carving a wood miniature in front of the carpenter's shop for an excitable group of girls; a fox pickpocket snatched a wallet out of a finely-dressed horse's suit pocket; a turtle shop-vender very slowly placed some change into the awaiting wing of his peacock customer.
'Animals…living like humans…' Ahiru thought in shocked disbelief. 'But…there haven't been any since the end of Mytho's story! Fakir hasn't written any stories with magic since then!'
Fakir looked like he was thinking similarly; his green eyes held a type of angry fear as he looked around the animal-littered square.
"How…how can this be?" he whispered.
As if responding to his question, a cardinal flew down onto a branch on the tree Fakir had stopped next to and looked right at him and Ahiru, extending his leg to reveal a letter tied to it.
Fakir's eyes narrowed slightly, before reaching out and untying the letter from the cardinal's leg and unrolling it.
His eyes widened. "It's from Mytho."
Fakir bent down so Ahiru could read it over his shoulder.
Fakir and Tutu,
Another magical story has started. I don't know how it's possible, for Rue and I saw you destroy Drosslemeyer's machine, but somehow, it's happened. Almost all of the members in my court are animals, and, as you know, there haven't been any human-like animals since the end of The Prince and the Raven. I know not if you've noticed this as well, or if you've done it on purpose while writing one of your stories, Fakir, but I hope that you have some answers to our questions. Rue and I are growing concerned, since you have told me all the stories you have written and are writing have no mention of magic as not to encourage any more stories like ours to spring up.
I hope you both are well. Our cardinal will stay with you until you are ready to respond, but do answer quickly; I am afraid for Rue if Drosslemeyer has started his tragedy again and wishes to recall the ravens in some sort of revenge.
"Mytho and Rue have noticed as well, I see," Fakir murmured. "So there really is a magical story happening again…it must be very important, if Mytho's kingdom is affected as well."
"Quack," Ahiru agreed.
Last time, during The Prince and the Raven, only Kinkan Town was affected by Drosslemeyer's story…of course, in The Prince and the Raven, nothing even lay beyond the boundaries of Kinkan Town.
'But what kind of story could be starting?' Ahiru wondered. 'And who could have started it?'
Fakir clenched Mytho's letter in his fist, looking testy.
"Who did this?" he growled quietly. "Who started the story again?"
Drosslemeyer chuckled as he watched the display of the suspicious Fakir and confused Ahiru.
"Not exactly what you had thought would happen?" he asked in amused scorn. "Maybe the Knight can go back to being useless like he's supposed to be…ah, but what problems will that leave you with, eh Ahiru-chan? Not Princess Tutu, not even a human…can you pull off another lucky happy ending?"
He turned to look at another moving gear that held the image of a Nutcracker being thrown out a window by a mischievous little boy.
"Aha!" Drosslemeyer said with a delighted clap of his hands. "So that's the story that shall sink further into tragedy…that's an old story, back when I was just starting out as a writer…how on earth can your story grow any sadder, Nutcracker Prince? Show me, won't you?"
His chuckles resounded over the clinking, moving gears of his story.
I'm afraid that is all for today. Is a fun story awaiting us? A sad story? Or maybe…?
Name Notes:Celia - comes from the Latin for "heaven"
Tier - term in architecture and synonym of bank
"The Pastoral Symphony": starts at the beginning of the chapter with the cheerful flying of the birds in the sky and by the lake, before moving at 2:15 into Fakir and Ahiru by the lake and fading out into dialogue. As the couple enters, the music at 9:02 (or, for watchers of Disney's Fantasia, the music for the introduction of the female centaurs) plays. As Fakir gets up from his spot by the lake and he and Ahiru head through Kinkan Town, the music plays at 20:40 (or, for Fantasia watchers, the music for the celebration of the centaurs and the wine god Dionysus) and ends at 22:55 after the oboe solo. When Fakir starts talking with Ahiru, the music starts at 23:38 (or, for Fantasia watchers, the music leading into Zeus's appearance), and ends at 24:37 (in Fantasia, when Hephaestus passes Zeus a lightning bolt) when the cardinal lands on the tree in front of Fakir. As Fakir crumples Mytho's letter in his hand, the music plays at 26:26 (in Fantasia, when Zeus shakes his head at Hephaestus when offered more lightning bolts) and fades out at 26:48 (in Fantasia, when Zeus pulls a cloud over himself and falls asleep) to the chapter's end.
The piece Symphony No. 6 In F Major "Pastoral" (or "The Pastoral Symphony") is by Ludwig Von Beethoven.