For almost a year, every month surrounding a full moon, young girls have vanished without a trace from their homes in their small town and its surrounding farms. Just before the next child is set to disappear, a young stranger arrives. Only, she too is a young girl, a strange traveling musician who holds a bond closer to her fiddle than to any human being, and those who hear her say she wields an otherwordly power when she plays.
He’s got his horse but makes me walk. I glower at him something sour, Fiddle, but I’ve discovered my unhappiness brings him joy. I’m glad something does. The street’s asleep. The good people of this world are snug in their beds. His horse is a proper dumb thing like him, I’d wager, not thinking of what it was like to roam the hills and is happy to have the bridle in exchange for a lick of salt.
There’s the song again. It’s louder when we’re away from the buildings. Can you hear it?
“Stop doddling, girl.” Leonard snaps and his horse butts me with his head. “What’s that sound?” Even he hears it.
I begin to hum. Don’t do anything stupid, Fiddle. Leonard will smash you or the townspeople will burn you, and then where will I be? The sound of the voices of women calling, inviting, so I begin to sing. It’s hard to keep the rhythm out of my head. I know old songs, Fiddle. You’ve no idea how I want to learn this one. You’ll teach it to me later. I wager you know all about this sort.
Leonard’s horse deviates from the cobblestone path, and I see you’re loose in his hands. Even the horse is tranced. Old magic, Fiddle. I pry you from his gloves, and the horse stumbles off the path, but not enough to jolt either of them out of their stupor. Leonard almost comes out of it when the horse trips over a garden’s rock perimeter, but they’re not even calling him and they’ve taken him over.
I call out, singing louder, and his eyes clear.
“What are you going on about, you simpleton?” Leonard snaps, and his horse nickers. “Stop your noise. You want to wake the world?”