It’s been so long since Soul could hear his own music. Even longer since he cared, after what music did to Wes and his family. But when his childhood friend Maka returns like a tempest to Death City and demands he accompany her in an upcoming competition, Soul must decide whether the pain of reclaiming his sound is worth the rush of playing with her again. A Your Lie in April AU.
Warnings: Depression, major character death, some gore, some suicidal ideation
Also, huge thanks and love to both of my artists! Holy shit did they outdo themselves. Jo’s digital art pretty much made me weep, and listening to Amber’s voice acting scene was a little like bliss. I could not have wished for better partners, and I’m so glad they both could join me on this crazy journey. Many hugs and yelly tags to each of them.
Darkness coats the inside of his eyes, slithers down his throat, runs tar-like through his veins. He can hear it catching up to him, long, crackling, inexorable footsteps beating a measured counterpoint to his frantic heart. Small hands materialize from the shadows to grope at his face and shove fingers down his throat, choking him with the taste of ash and dust.
Sprint. Jump. Duck. The world is reduced to spurts of action as his thoughts scatter like birds from a field, even as the ear-wrenching sound of squealing wires gets louder behind him. Terror propels him through rotting skeletons and over piles of dead crows, every instinct screaming that if he doesn’t move faster, he’ll meet a fate far worse than death.
He’s always too late.
Bursting from a thicket with bleeding clefs for leaves, Soul runs to the edge of a sheer cliff, small rocks skittering into the inky abyss below. The world goes quiet, the kind of sharp silence after a gunshot, and then he’s being strangled by hands with piano keys for fingers, black sludge leaking through the spaces between them.
“Why?” the voice whispers hoarsely, as it always does. “Why me, but not you?”
Scrabbling in vain against the ivory hands that hold him suspended, Soul cries, “I don’t know! I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!” Despair shoves the terror out of his system and he goes limp in the creature’s grip, will to fight back trickling away at the sudden realization of who it is that hunts him so methodically.
“You abandoned us,” it rasps, carrying Soul to the edge of the cliff.
The world yawns below him as he’s dangled over the cliff face, panic coursing through him while he squirms and twists so he can make one last plea. “I didn’t mean to! Wes, please!”
Maggots skitter through the exposed bones of Wes’s cheeks, empty sockets leering where blue eyes once regarded him so gently. Jutting between the tendons in his neck is a violin bow, the one pictured in the papers on the night he won the Death City Symphony Competition, and Soul has to swallow another sob because that was the photo they used in his obituary, too.
Flies buzz around his face as Wes says, “Sorry isn’t good enough,” and drops him.
All Soul can hear is the low growling roar of a huge waterfall, and suddenly he’s plunged underwater, choking as liquid pours into his lungs. Except it isn’t water, not really, and it’s only with his last bit of consciousness that he realizes he’s swimming in blood as black as the dark side of the moon.
As a follow up yesterday to my question about TWOW, do you want to take a crack at predicting the broad strokes of the book (if you haven't already)?
I’ve done so a couple times, but I don’t mind, especially as I talk to other people about it and my take on things shifts.
Stannis takes Winterfell from the Boltons, through a combination of Bran telling him about the tunnels into the castle and the Karstark soldiers telling Ramsay Stannis is dead and giving him Lightbringer. Ramsay writes the Pink Letter just before Stannis springs the trap.
Mel brings Jon back from the dead, most of his persona intact thanks to Ghost but affected emotionally and metaphysically by the transfer and his assassination. Much introspection ensues as he goes about confronting Bowen Marsh, escorting Team Stannis to their king at Winterfell, and dealing with Hardhome once and for all. Finally, he learns R+L=J, I think from Benjen, although Bran and Howland Reed are certainly possibilities.
Davos (along with Wex?) finds Rickon, Osha, and Shaggy on Unicorn Cannibal Island, and sets out with them for Winterfell. They might end up in White Harbor again, but I’d love if they washed ashore directly south of Skagos on Karstark turf so GRRM could bring back Alys and Sigorn. I go back and forth on whether they actually make it to Winterfell before the Others show up.
During the tourney in the Vale, Littlefinger pulls off what is basically Purple Wedding 2.0 (with the wedding taking place after the death this time). Sweetrobin succumbs to sweetsleep, Littlefinger frames Lyn Corbray, and Ser Shadrich takes advantage of the chaos to try and kidnap Sansa. I don’t think he succeeds, but Sansa’s identity gets exposed in the process, and she improvises ably from there, winning the Vale knights more to her side than Littlefinger’s or even Harry’s. The marriage takes place, they set out from Gulltown, and in her last chapter, arrive in White Harbor to find a complicated political situation quickly rendered somewhat moot by the Others.
Speaking of the color weddings, Red Wedding 2.0 goes down in Riverrun. Jaime makes it out, Brienne probably doesn’t.
Arya killing Raff proves the last straw for the Faceless Men. She’s forced to run for her life…before running slap bang into Justin Massey and Jeyne Poole. Hearing the latter referred to as “Arya Stark” will bring Arya’s identity arc to a head, and she’ll reclaim her one and only name. She heads back to Westeros with them, though I wonder if she might somehow end up in the Riverlands instead of the North first, given the location of Nymeria and her wolfpack. (I envision her encountering them in the final moments of her TWOW arc.)
In Meereen, Barristan and Victarion between them annihilate the anti-Dany coalition…only to both be immediately undone. When Barristan returns to the city, he finds that the Shavepate had Hizdahr and the cupbearers massacred. (We’ll probably also learn that he poisoned the locusts at Daznak’s.) A distraught Barristan goes for the Shavepate’s throat, but is overwhelmed by the Brazen Beasts.
Victarion ends up blowing Dragonbinder himself at the battle’s conclusion, and it’s revealed that the dusky woman is Euron’s agent; the horn works for the Crow’s Eye instead of Victarion, Rhaegel is ensorceled, and flies west to his new master. Victarion burns from within.
In response, Moqorro finds Tyrion and helps him ride Viserion. (I still semi-think Bran might also get involved here.) If Dany does return to Meereen, it’ll be at this point. Otherwise, the meeting point will be in Volantis, as she turns Drogon and the Dothraki against the Old Blood. There, she meets with all her various counselors (including Marwyn), is advised to go down any number of paths, and ultimately follows Tyrion’s advice: tear down the “mummer’s dragon.” She flies to Pentos to confront Illyrio about Aegon, kills him, and turns the city over to the Tattered Prince, before taking wing for Dragonstone.
Arianne joins Team Griff at Storm’s End and is increasingly convinced they can take the throne, especially after Randyll Tarly turns on Mace and bends the knee to Aegon. But it’s above all her desire to pre-empt Quent that leads her to pledge Dorne’s spears to Aegon, and the combined army marches on King’s Landing. There, Cersei and Margaery both win their trials. Cersei sends Robert Strong after Margaery, the Sand Snakes kill Tommen and Myrcella (assuming the latter ain’t poisoned, that is), and the High Sparrow throws open the city gates to Aegon. Arianne becomes Queen.
Bran learns a shit-ton about the Children, the Others, earth magic, etc. In his last chapter, the Others invade the cave, Bloodraven, Jojen, and Hodor all die, and Bran, Meera, and Summer run for it underground, via Gorne’s Way.
In Oldtown, Sam’s studies are interrupted by the apocalypse (though I’ve no doubt he comes across an intriguing nugget or two about the Others first). The machinations of the archmaesters, the Hightowers, and the Faceless Men all give way to Euron. He shows up on his stolen dragon and all powered-up from his blood sacrifice on the open water, steals what turns out to be the Horn of Winter from Sam, blows it from atop the Hightower, and thus brings down the Wall and lets the Others in.
Now…where I’m really most uncertain is the pacing in King’s Landing. I could see GRRM resolving things with Jaime and Cersei as well as Aegon and Dany in TWOW, or pushing both off to the first act of ADOS.