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Nissa and the magic lute

Eldon sat in the dim glow of the magical lights that outlined the performance hall of the academy.  Around him, there was a murmur produced by the audience as they shuffled into there seats and conversed with those around them as they waited for the lecture to begin.  Eldon knew that his wife, Nissa, was waiting back stage mentally replaying her lecture notes and performing the works she had incorporated the evening lecture.

The evening lecture was meant as an outreach to the faculty and students of the academy that were not part of the performing arts.  She hoped she would be able to rouse interest in new people to participate in or at least attend performances as observes.  Eldon knew that Orren, who was now in his third year of training, would not be at the lecture that evening since he would still be training for the day trying to improve his swordsman skills.  However, upon actively searching the room, he did see that Orla was lurking in shadows.

Orla could have entered the academy this year; however, to the dismay of Eldon, she had chosen not to officially enroll.  Even though she hadn’t enrolled, she seemed to be on campus more often than many of Eldon’s students.  At the beginning of the year, Eldon hadn’t seen much of her, but after randomly running into her in the library, he had been keeping an active eye out for her.  He found that she had been lurking around, attending lectures, conversing with students and professors, and in general behaving as if she was enrolled.  While he hadn’t caught her in the act, Eldon knew that she had been taking books from his office when he was either out of the room, or too intent on his reading to notice that she had snuck in.  However, when he noticed them missing he knew her well enough to find where the books were hidden.  Her ability to hide and convince others that she was supposed to be there was actually quite impressive.  While he was sad that his daughter had chosen a path in life he wouldn’t have agreed, he was proud of the way she was progressing as a self-taught rogue.

As he sat and pondered on the course his children had chosen, the light in the room dimmed and the chatter began to stop.  After the audience had settled into their seats, Nissa walked out onto the stage holding her lute in her hand.  Upon seeing her, Eldon’s heart quickened, he could feel his spirit lifting as the sight of his beautiful wife.  She walked to the center of the stage and sat down at a chair that had been placed there.  Without saying a word, she began to play. Listen 1.

While she played, Eldon could feel the inspiration flowing over him.  The melody seemed to pull at him as the harmony pushed the song along.  Not only was the music inspiring, but he also knew that Nissa was instilling magic into the very notes the audience was hearing.  Everyone seemed to be pulled by every note, following along her every finger movement as she plucked the strings.  As he felt the music wash over him, he found himself envious of his wife.  How much easier would it be to teach if you could start your lecture by drawing your students in like this.  While there are spells that compel people to do things, there is nothing like the song Nissa was playing in that it inspired the listeners to become more focused and excited to learn.

“Welcome everyone!” as the song ended Nissa bounced up and greeted the crowd cheerfully.  “I’m happy that you are here to experience how music can be used to help you inspire your students and teach them the subject areas you work in.”  With the lingering affects of the song she had just played still on his mind, Eldon knew that everyone would be focused on her words.  “In our lecture today, I will begin by sharing how music can be used to affect students, some techniques for achieving your desired goal and showing you examples of how I have used music within the classroom.”

Nissa began by going over some music theory.  She talked about how playing notes at different intervals led to different emotions.  Playing notes a fourth or fifth apart will lead to a feeling of emptiness and leave the listener desiring to fill that hole.  If you filled in the interval with the appropriate note you could then turn this longing into a feeling that called to action or further drove the listener into despair.  In particular, if you played a note a major third above it and a minor third above that (or a fifth above the original note) it would make the listener feel happy.  Whereas, if you played a minor third followed by a major third, the listener would feel sad.  Furthermore, if you played to minor thirds, the listener would feel a great sense of pressure and unresolved tension that would leave them unable to decide what to do.  Nissa then talked further on how, if you played multiple of these chords together, you could create and resolve tension in such a way that you could instill any emotion you desired in the listener.  She then played a song to demonstrate how you could grab you students attention and then resolve it in such a way that they would feel comfortable and relaxed.  Listen 2.

As she played, Eldon was pulled back to the first time he had met his wife.  They were both just students at the academy back then.  Eldon was in the library studying because he was having difficulty with his charm spells.  He couldn’t seem to compel anyone or anything to do what he wanted.  Because of this, he had searched out a book on music theory that explained how music augmented the effects of charm and command spells as it helped to create a sympathetic link between the caster and the target.

Nissa had come to the library to study for her own music theory exams.  She came in looking for a specific book, but Eldon had hardly noticed that anyone else was in the room as he was so focused on his own studies.  She was a bit of a bustle as she brought a librarian in and explained that she couldn’t find the book she was looking for despite it being logged as at the library.  When the librarian looked at the exact point in the shelf she had, then nonchalantly stated it must be in use, Nissa began to become frantic at the idea that the book couldn’t be found.  It was at this point Eldon looked up.  He was immediately enthralled with this gorgeous gnome and couldn’t take his eyes off her.  Upon discerning the issue she was having, he got up and offered his aid in the search.  He wished he had known a scrying spell so that he could find it easily for her, but he thought he could at least look with her.  When he asked what book she was looking for, he smiled.  It was in fact the exact book he had been reading.

After calming down and getting over the initial anger that he was the one that had taken her book, she accepted his offer to study together.  They spent the entire night in the library together.  While there was indeed an ample amount of studying and scholarship involved, the two quickly found themselves enjoying there time together.  While it wasn’t quite a whirlwind tour to find a cleric to get married, they have in fact been together ever since, which is now some 50 years later.

As Eldon was reliving old memory, Nissa had moved on.  She was talking about the fact that using thirds was a great way to compose and tonal music had explored this thoroughly.  However, there had been more recent tendencies toward music outside the bounds of tonality.  Such compositions, could extract deeper, more primal emotions from listeners.  However, they could often stir the listener into harsh reactions.  She then gave an example, Listen 3.

At the end of the song, Nissa had actually hit the lute strong enough that a string had snapped.  As she sat back the string began to mend itself.  After the mending she played the string and it was in tune despite the ordeal.  “Well, at that point I would thank my husband for the wonderful lute he made for me.”  She then continued with the lecture.

Eldon had indeed made the lute for her some time ago.  Especially because of the enthusiasm Nissa had shown when working with her lute, Eldon had decided to study the physics behind musical instruments.  He studied how string tension and length would change the frequency of vibrations caused by strumming the strings.  He studied how to construct the perfectly shaped body to provide the resonance that a lutist would want.  He then spent a lot of time tinkering with the wood, winding the cat gut strings, and molding the metal for the tuning springs so that he could make the best lute possible for Nissa.  Upon completion, he had spent so much time on the lute, that he had wanted to stave off the effects of entropy so that it would stay as it is forever.  Again, he spent time studying, this time his magic books.  After much time and practice, he was able to take a mending spell and continual flame spell and combine them into an enchantment that he could place on the loot.  While the mending spell was enough to fix the lute, it would need to be cast every time he wanted to fix the lute.  He was instead able to find a way to turn this into an enchantment.  However, since the mending was stopping or even reversing entropy, it required a power source to be able to continue to work.  In order to give it the energy needed, Eldon was able to combine the spell with continual flame.  Instead of creating light, however, Eldon made the spell use the energy that would have been used making the light to power the mending spell.  When he then enchanted the lute, he was able to make it so that any small damage would be repaired.  In particular, the lute was always able to tune itself.

He had presented to lute to Nissa a week before they were married as a wedding present.  The look on her face was more than enough to make all the work worthwhile, but when she picked it up and played it, he could feel her emotions towards him and her love filled him.  He looked at her and said, “How am I lucky enough to have such a wonderful woman feel that way about me?”  To which she responding, as she always did, “Intelligence is sexy and you are the sexiest gnome alive.”

A roar of applause filled the performance hall as Nissa finished her lecture, waking Eldon from his thoughts.  He felt slightly guilty he had dazed out during the lecture, but he had seen it while she was preparing enough that he didn’t feel overly guilty.  As Nissa got up to work her way off stage, Eldon headed to the back room to find her.

When he came into the room Nissa smiled at him and asked, “How was the lecture?”

“You were amazing.” Eldon said as he reached out to embrace his wife.


Note to the reader.  This is part 2, with the first post being First day of training.  I have included links to music that I had in mind while writing this piece.  If you are an Amazon prime member, you can stream this music for free.   

The rest of the story is available here.

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