My first Eternal Sonata fic! I get so nervous when I post things like this…
I just finished the game for the first time, and I was not pleased with either ending. Too sad, the both of them! So, I'm trying to combat them…
This fic contains the (mis)use of French. I'm not going to translate any of it, because that goes against the theme/challenge of this story: language barriers. Jazz has to navigate not knowing what is happening, and that's how I want you to feel.
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Paris, Oktober 17, 1849
Jazz followed the others through the portal, but when he emerged, he was in a place far different than he had even seen. Large horses clacked and scraped loudly as they pulled carts and carriages around the cobblestone streets. The sky was heavy and dark with pollution and the moist streets and gutters were piled high with trash and smelled badly of sewage. The worst pollution was the noise! The city was insanely populated. Street performers and quack apothecaries tried to entice the strolling citizens with their acts and faux remedies. People crowded around, shouting, laughing, bartering for goods and questionable services. It was appalling!
Everyone spoke in a language foreign to him. Their clothes ranged from foppish garments similar to Frédéric's, to simple, tattered cloth on the obviously poorer class. Many regarded him strangely, some turning to openly stare at him as he passed. He assumed it was his attire. He was quite overdressed for the common folk, even some of the wealthier classes, and the style was very strange in comparison. He supposed it also could be because of his broad sword…
Jazz was never intimated or bothered by what people thought of him, so he strolled along without giving them much thought. Was this really where Legato had gone, he wondered? The people had no sense of fright or panic, just the normal hustle of a busy city. Certainly, no deranged dragon/man hybrid had been wreaking havoc here. Not one person here looked like a hardened warrior or remotely seasoned fighter. No citizens bore visible weapons, and the warrior supposed it was just a matter of time until an authority figure was brave enough to confront him about it.
Jazz considered asking for directions, but it wouldn't help. He didn't know where he was let alone where he should go next. He wandered, searching for the others in that immense number of people.
The streets were a maze, a seemingly endless labyrinth. He tried reading signs in case he had to backtrack later. The language was different, but most of the characters used were the same. One word caught his attention.
He heard it spoken a few times around him in conversation. Paris… wasn't that the place Frédéric spoke of? Was this the "real" world he had explained, claiming that the other world was merely a dream? If this was real, what did that mean of his home world? Jazz shook the thoughts from his head. He would ask the pianist once he found him.
After what felt like hours of walking, searching and eavesdropping, a word caught his ear.
Jazz spun around. Two women were walking past, one a blonde who had spoken, and a brunette with a stern expression. His ears quickly honed into the woman speaking, trying in vain to place the rest of her conversation. Her tone was grave. If it was the same Chopin as his Frédéric, had something happened?
"Excuse me," he said, interrupting the woman. "Do you know where to find Mr. Chopin?"
The blonde stared at him blankly. "Que?"
Jazz relied heavily on gestures and motions and his best facial expressions to convey his meaning. "I'm looking for Frédéric Chopin. Do you know where he is?"
The blonde tried to speak several times, asking him questions and turning to her friend in vain for help. The brunet's expression soured and she looked at him with suspicion. She barked something at him, and he didn't really care to know what she said.
The blonde woman put an arm on her friend to stay her anger and motioned for Jazz to start again. After several frustrating and humiliating attempts to mime his queries, Jazz saw a proverbial light of recognition shine in the blonde's eyes.
"Aah!" she said. She fumbled with her bag and found a scrap of paper and an ink pen. "Ce n'est pas loin. Aller tout droit, puis prenez á gauche." She wrote down key words on the paper, directions or location, and he felt a huge wave of gratefulness fill him at her helpfulness. She gestured when she spoke, emphasizing heavily which words meant east, west and north.
"C'est au nord du Tuileries Jardin. La d'abord maison á droite. Nombre 12 Place Vendôme."
When she finished speaking and writing, she smiled. Jazz bowed, and then shook her hand firmly to help convey his thanks, since she didn't understand his words. She blushed a bit at his handsome smile, then waved and continued walking with her friend.
Jazz carefully studied the paper. He walked north until he came to a sign. Tuileries Jardin. It was a large park with beautiful gardens. The sun had begun to set, and lamps were lit illuminating the park. It must be lovely in the daytime, but the twilight garden had a beauty of its own. Jazz walked with purpose through the garden to the north exit. He could see a tall tower ahead. Another word caught his eye, Place Vendôme. He entered the square and could see many numbered houses. Chopin lived close by.
"First on the right," Jazz muttered to himself. "Number 12, Place Vendôme."
He stood outside the door and carefully made sure all of the characters on the paper lined up correctly. He seemed to have the correct address, but what now? The downstairs was completely dark, but lights glowed softly from the upstairs window. No noise came from within, but someone was definitely home. He could see the shadow of someone near the window. Would he be able to communicate with those inside? What was he expecting? If this was really Paris, would Frédéric actually be here? Part of his was afraid of what was beyond the door.
He braced himself and knocked. The sound seemed so loud on the quiet street. At first, he heard nothing and tried knocking a second time. He heard someone approach, and then an elderly man answered the door.
"Bonsoir. Puis-je vous aider?"
"I need to see Frédéric," Jazz said, near desperate to see someone who would understand him. "Does Frédéric Chopin live here?"
The man's brows furrowed as he tried to understand what the oddly dressed man was speaking to him. "Monsieur Chopin…"
A woman came up behind them. She wore a burgundy dress and had her brown hair styled into a functional bun. She had tired, sad eyes and regarded Jazz curiously.
"Please, I must see him," Jazz begged. He locked eyes with her, so frustrated and anxious. Whatever she saw in his expression convinced her to open the door for him and lead him upstairs to the apartment.
"Ludwika," she said and pointed to herself. She pointed at him, quirking an eyebrow to pose the question.
"Jazz," he answered, and bowed slightly. He recognized her name. Chopin had mentioned it before. Was that one of his sisters? Had to be.
He climbed the stairs behind her. Inside the apartment, only one room emanated light, and she opened the door quietly. It was a large room. To the left of the door sat a beautiful piano with pages upon pages of handwritten sheet music scattered about. Scattered with them was a sheet of paper reading, "Comme cette terre m'étouffera, je vous conjure de faire ouvrir mon corps pour je ne sois pas enterré vif."
The old man resumed his vigil from a couch on the right of the bed. On the bed…
Jazz's breathe caught in his throat.
"It's…true," he choked, stunned.
Lying on the bed, sleeping peacefully, was Frédéric. Thinner, paler than Jazz had ever known him in his world, the man looked like death had graced his company.
At first, he was too startled and dismayed to approach. Ludwika took a seat at Frédéric's side and gently ran her fingers through his hair, tucking stray bangs behind his ears. Jazz sat on the other side, nearly collapsing onto the mattress, stricken by the state of his friend.
That Frédéric was able to use magic was already proof his life was soon ending. Jazz figured that illness and unwillingness to accept death had triggered the delusion of a dream world. But here, he clearly was mistaken. Paris existed, so Warsaw must as well. Since Jazz was able to exist here, he surely wasn't just a figment of Frédéric's imagination. But now wasn't the time for an existential crisis. Paris was real, and his friend was dying here.
He took Frédéric's hand into his own. The fingers were freezing to touch, pale as snow and bone thin. Those magical instruments that created such beauty with just the flick of a wrist seemed as though they would shatter like fine crystal if he held them too tightly.
"Frédéric, can you hear me?" Jazz asked quietly. He rubbed the cold hands, trying to coax some warmth back into them.
Frédéric groaned softly, and his eyes opened. He blinked several times to clear his vision. Ludwika gasped and fussed gratefully over him. He looked as though he wasn't fully aware of his surroundings. He looked around cloudily. When his eyes landed on Jazz, they widened and his body stiffened.
"Jazz…Czy ja śnię?" he all but whispered. Ferderic's eyes welled up and he looked away, pained. "Jak okrutny. Ja nigdy nie wiem co jest realne już?"
Ludwika gave Jazz a scrutinizing glance, then spoke to him in the same language. Jazz could tell it was different from the one the Parisians spoke.
"Frédéric?" Jazz asked, trying to reclaim his attention. Chopin turned back to him, a longing in his eyes, as if he never wanted to look away. "I'm…sorry for doubting you. I understand why you wanted to escape your world, why you thought ours is a dream. Please…" He cut off painfully, not knowing what to say. "I'm sorry."
Sorry for doubting him. Sorry for his fate. Sorry he couldn't do more for his friend. Sorry he had no words to make things better.
Chopin smiled slightly, though his eyes held turmoil and he seemed about to cry. Shortly after, his breathing turned ragged. Worry struck Ludwika's eyes and the old man rose from his seat and rushed over.
Fear coursed through them all when the coughs began, small at first, but quickly rising in intensity. Soon he was heaving, convulsing. Blood spattered from his lips as he sputtered for breath. His hands were clenching and reaching. Jazz took one and tried to speak calmly to soothe him. Frédéric gripped his hand with strength his body shouldn't have. He trembled and wheezed, but eventually, the coughs lessened and the fit was over.
Frédéric was even paler and looked even worse, ever closer to death. Chopin's grip on his hand fell limp and for one panicked moment, Jazz thought he had died. Frédéric's breath was thin and starved, but he was alive – for how long, Jazz wasn't optimistic.
The man, a doctor it seemed, took Frédéric's temperate and blood pressure, but did little else. Jazz could tell this wasn't a rare occurrence and there wasn't much that could be done. He gently ushered Jazz away from the bed and towards the door. Ludwika thought the sudden appearance of this stranger had triggered the attack and wanted nothing to agitate her brother. He didn't blame her. As much as he wanted to sit with his friend, he knew there was nothing he could do. In this world, at least…
Jazz held up one finger to ask pause for a chance to say goodbye.
He leaned in; his face hovered over Chopin's and he whispered, "I'll be waiting in the dream." He gently kissed the man's cheek and took his leave.
On his way out, he passed another woman entering. She wore fine clothes and had a dignified air about her. She nodded to him, and he couldn't help but stare. She was so beautiful she could be mistaken for an angel.
As he exited to the street, he could hear the piano begin to play, and a woman's voice accompany it. Heaven would have been envious of the tranquility and beauty of the sounds. It soothed Jazz and he walked on, searching again for the portal back to his world. The song gave him purpose.
He had a new goal now, for this journey. He had been too late for Claves, but he would save Frédéric, no matter what the cost. They would save each other. The wonderful man who inspired so much splendor and strength with his playing deserved a better life than dying young in this noisy, stinking city.
Perhaps this was something he was destined to witness, for as he passed the garden, he saw the portal reappear. He charged for the portal, grin set and eyes fierce.
"Frédéric... This sonata is not over yet!"
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The ending was crap. Haha!
The whole point of this story was to introduce an alternate dimension theory so I can someday rewrite everything so Chopin lives.
And to play with language barriers.
I travel abroad often, and it's so frustrating for the locals and me to communicate when we have absolutely no idea what the other is saying. It turns into an angry game of charades, haha!
The woman singing as Jazz left is Delfina Potocka, a countess Chopin was close to. I believe she is who was present in the game. In real life, Chopin, in his delirium, mistook her for an angel. He had asked her to sing for him before he died. I don't think she was actually present at the time of death though.