It starts normally enough: some thirty-five years ago, Erhart Scholde met Jin-ho Park while she was studying abroad in his hometown of Graz. They fell in love enough to work through the social and cultural barriers present for an interracial couple in 1970s Austria, marriage happened, and five years after they met, they had a girl they named Luka. Four years after that, they had a boy they named Matthaus. They got by pretty well--Erhart was a successful lawyer and Jin-ho taught at a university.
When Luka was eight, Jin-ho died of cancer. Not surprisingly, this unhinged the surviving members of the family for a little while. Luka and Matt already had to deal with being visibly different than their peers; now they had to contend with loss as well. In the end, though, after a rough year or so, they all managed to pull together fairly well. Erhart found solace in his children and the prospect of passing on Jin-ho's memory and culture to them (he even made sure their last names were changed from Scholde to Park-Scholde), Matt found new stability in Luka's support, and Luka...Luka found Frau Lischka and through her a new world.
Elfi Lischka was the new music teacher at Luka's school, and when she found a forlorn Luka listlessly toying with the instruments in her classroom, she took it upon herself to teach the girl something that would pull her through her grief. It clicked, and music became Luka's life. Not only did she come alive during class, she also began taking violin lessons after school from Frau Lischka. In her bond with the woman and in the music itself, she found something to live for again. She determined that through music, she would find ways to express her memories of her mother, especially to Matt, who had barely known her; she swore up and down that when she played well, she could feel her mother's spirit smiling on her. Instead of leaving flowers at her mother's grave, she took her violin there and played each new song she mastered. She took care of Matt and played him songs that reminded her of their mother. She began to grow up into a kind and sensitive--if occasionally impulsive--young woman, who saw ideals of human communication in her music and who wanted to be the best for her family.
This worked out pretty well until she finished secondary school and her father expected her to go to university. Despite her kindness and her love for her family, she was a flighty, spirited teenager who was also in love with music. She wanted to busk her way across Europe and maybe even North America for the next couple of years, finding herself, so she could come back better and more able to express herself through music than ever. The expected big argument ensued, many nasty accusations were thrown back and forth, and Luka came away from it alienated and more determined than ever to do the opposite of what her father told her. This was when a charming and attractive stranger approached Luka and told her that if she came with him, she wouldn't need to worry about university or pleasing her father; in fact, she wouldn't have to worry about anything but music ever again.
If not for the tempestuous fight she'd just been through with her father, Luka would have at least hesitated. She didn't have the best judgment (she was a teenager, after all) but she wasn't stupid. But, still simmering, she was too tempted. She said yes. She only realized something was wrong when, after leading her down an increasingly strange and wild path, the man told her to leave her baggage--including, to her horror, her violin--in the thorns, because she wasn't going to need it anymore.
Here's the inevitable reveal: the charming and attractive stranger was actually a Fae known only as the Fugue, a creature made of pure music. The catch was that he couldn't create any music on his own, and he needed it to sustain himself. So he collected human souls to serve as both instruments and musicians in his otherworldly lair, where he eternally basked in the strange music they produced. Now he was going to make Luka into one of his musicians.
That's the short version. The long version is actually more horrifying.
The Fugue's realm was L'Orchestre du Ciel, a grand assemblage in the skies of Arcadia, a great chandelier of bells and chimes, upon every level of which balanced a myriad of alien objects that, for all their weirdness, managed to unmistakably be musical instruments. Every one of these instruments was once a human being. Countless zephyrs played these instruments, shaping themselves into ethereal mouths and hands as necessary, or simply blowing through the pipes or strings of each one. Every one of these airy beings was once human, too, and the transformation process wasn't pleasant.
At the bottom of the orchestra hung a vast array of glass chimes, and the Fugue hung Luka from the center of it. Great winds that hadn't been human for a very long time tore at her, pulling pieces of her away bit by bit. The chimes clashed together and against Luka, and every so often one would break; then the shards of glass would slice through Luka, tearing away more of her, leaving only air and sound behind. This went on until the last chime shattered and shredded the last of Luka's human body and, some might say, soul. Then the Fugue reassembled the chimes for their next victim and took what was left of Luka up into L'Orchestre du Ciel.
For a long while to come, she would play his tune.
It was a daunting task, even for a thing of wind. She could feel the pain of the instruments she played, and she learned the hard way that playing the wrong note might mangle or shatter them. Even when it didn't, it would send the Fugue into a rage, and he would blast them all with violent discord, or he would whirl out to soothe his injuries by acquiring new toys. The slightest misstep, then, meant either more suffering for the thing that was once Luka and her fellow captives, or the prospect of more victims being added to their ranks.
But the Fugue had not lied to her. All she needed to worry about was the music. And first gradually, then swiftly, she lost herself in it. Nothing mattered but producing the most perfect sounds. There was a joy to this, too. It confirmed, even if bitterly, that she had always been meant for the music.
Then one day--she could not have said how much later, because when you are a breeze in an otherworldly orchestra it is difficult to perceive time--the great symphony that fed the Fugue came to a part that stirred up memories in one little gust of wind. It was an echo of the first song she had learned from a woman named Frau Lischka, back when she was a girl named Luka Park-Scholde. It was a fragment of the first tune she had played at her mother's grave. It reminded her that there was a world she needed to go back to--for the sake of her father and the apology she owed him, for the sake of her brother and the memories of her mother she needed to pass on to him, for the sake of Frau Lischka and all she had learned from her, for the sake of the music and its true purpose in her soul.
She found an exit through the convoluted pipes of a strange organ and fled and continued fleeing. She realized after a while that she was seeking out something familiar, a faint warm spot far away. It got closer as she found her way into the Hedge, as a tattered body of air and strings came back to her, until finally she came to a thornbush she had passed a long time ago. Everything else she had left in it was long since swallowed up, but her old violin was there, calling her back. She extricated it from the thorns and reset her sights on the mortal world, and finally she emerged from a tree overlooking her mother's grave.
She tried to play for her mother as she had done before, but her body was too alien and she was too unfamiliar with this human way of making music. That was when she first began to realize that she hadn't come home and never could.
The realization set in with certainty when she learned that (someone calling herself) Luka Park-Scholde was now a thirty-year-old college professor (following in her beloved mother's footsteps!) who taught violin as a mere side project. She'd even maintained good relations with her father and her much-loved old violin teacher, although her relationship with her brother had deteriorated (she no longer made the same effort to teach him of their mother; the music she had supposedly once used to do that lacked a certain spark and purpose now).
But the being that had emerged from the Hedge clutching a battered old violin did not think of trying to go back to Arcadia. She was too angry at her Keeper for twisting the purpose of music, her music, in such a way, and she was too full of guilt over her own foolish choice long ago and all it had led to. So she renamed herself Johanna, because it looked a bit like her mother's name and it sounded right (which was important), and she adopted the last name Sung because it meant almost the right thing in English and it also sounded right, and she began to learn of changeling society.
Over the next year, Johanna began to regain her ability to play at a rapid pace, although she did little else to fit in with mortal society. She found sympathy with her anger at the Fae in the Summer Court. And she learned more about what had become of her old self--her fetch--and those she cared about.
She learned that Matthaus Park-Scholde was in Vienna, estranged from the rest of the family and struggling to make it as an artist. She knew she could not reveal herself to him. Eventually, though, she decided she couldn't stay away, either. She belonged more with him than she did with the remains of her past in Graz. Even if she couldn't be the sister he'd once known, she'd find some other way to help him. So off to Vienna she went.
Once upon a time, there was Luka, a compassionate and devoted but flighty and impulsive teenager who loved music and her family. Now there's Johanna. A lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same.
By human standards, she's still flighty and impulsive. In fact, she's more so. She can't seem to keep a roof over her head and can barely feed herself--all the money she's earned or borrowed since emerging from the Hedge has gone to acquiring a new violin and maintaining it. She whirls off into bizarre improvisations while playing on street corners. She chooses her words more in accordance with rhythm than with grammar or even sense. She stops in wonder at the sound of the wind in the trees, and she goes from silent to chatterbox at random intervals.
But changeling standards are different, and by them, Johanna has sense. When it comes to making judgments about matters of the Freehold and Faerie, pledges and courts, she's cautious and sensible beneath her babbled words and frenzied playing. She still remembers the choice she made as Luka and all its consequences. She never wants to make a mistake like that again. She went into Arcadia as a girl, but she came out of it a woman.
That is, she came out of it a woman who struggles to comprehend things beyond music and the breeze in her hair. Integral parts of human society--employment, social niceties, romance, to name a few--still elude her. But she doesn't care so much anymore. They don't seem so important. What's important is fighting to reclaim music, her music, fighting to take revenge for what the Fae did to her, fighting to protect what's left of her world.
Her keystone emotions are rage and guilt. The guilt comes from the knowledge that it was her own decision that led her to Arcadia and service to her Keeper, and it was amplified over her durance by the terrible consequences of every misstep she made in the great symphony. It's a background emotion, slowing her down, granting her caution and sense, grounding her when otherwise the music and the air would simply sweep her away.
The rage comes not so much what was done to her--she blames herself for that too much--but what was done to the music. It was twisted. Perverted. Made into a means to feed a psychovampiric monster instead of the sacred expression of and bridge between human souls that it was meant to be. She can't forgive that. In the end, under Johanna's anger lies the compassion and sensitivity Luka once had. She wants to reclaim her music and her family and nurture them both, even if she'd deny it if asked, because of course it's an impossible goal.
questions that still need to be answered
1) What have I screwed up about Changeling and Vienna theme here? I'm rusty, after all.
2) What kind of sheet do I give Johanna?
3) What kind of token is her old violin, and what does it do?
4) Probably some other things!