The Apostrophes

Chapter One

"…What is this?"

"It's a song," replied Cadrevios. "I wrote it for you," he added almost as an afterthought, turning away to get back to… whatever it was that he did.

"But…" Karien protested. "Wait just a minute! These little dots and things seriously mean nothing to me, so why don't you… take your song back and give it to someone else?" he suggested, holding the pieces of paper out to Cadrevios. "Like Cardiern! You like Cardiern, don't you? Give it to him, not me! He'll know what to do with it."

"I can't," was the response. "I wrote it for you, not anyone else."

"But… why?"

"You felt like you needed a song," Cadrevios shrugged. "So now you have one."

"You're weird," Karien informed him. "I have now decided that out of all of Zan's children, you're the weirdest. You're weirder than Jascien, and she was weird. And I mean, weird with capital letters."

"…Thank you," said Cadrevios, moving as though to walk away.

"Hey, wait! You can't leave me with a song I can't do anything with!"

"It would be very sad if nobody got to hear your song," Cadrevios agreed thoughtfully. "But it is, after all, your song. You have to want to sing it."

"And I do!" Karien assured him, although he wasn't sure if he did or didn't. "But I can't!"

"Why not? You can sing, can't you?"

"I don't know, I've never really tried," the Tauriel admitted. "I'm not sure I know how."

"That is very sad," Cadrevios informed him solemnly. "Cardiern could fix that. Come, we must ask Cardiern to help you."

"You are weird," Karien told him again. "You're really, really weird. I mean, I'm all for getting Cardiern to teach me how to sing or at least read music, but I just wanted you to know that you're weird."

"So I've been told," was the response. "We must go."

Cardiern was in the process of tuning a piano (yes, a piano; he had lots) when they appeared, but he was happy enough to take a break to find out what they wanted. "Apparently you're teaching me how to sing," Karien said to Cardiern, who waved his hands in response. "Oh no…" Karien sighed and tried to concentrate. "I'm really bad at this whole sign language thing, okay? But I'll try… let me see… the purple fish won't let you…?"

Cardiern threw his hands up and turned away. "You have offended Cardiern," Cadrevios informed Karien (oh my God! So many K-names!) in a terrible voice, and Karien shrank back.

"I'm sorry! Please don't hurt me!"

Lifting a hand slightly to get Cadrevios' attention, Cardiern made a gesture that even Karien understood; if he had had to say exactly what it meant, he would have said, "Something along the lines of 'stop that'." The siren added something else that Karien did not understand, and the two musical people wandered a short distance away for a chat, apparently, leaving Karien alone to recover from what had quite possibly been a near-death experience.

There could be no doubt that Cadrevios was a very strange person; Karien hadn't taken much notice of him during the relatively short time the boy had been living with his actual family, but he'd been able to deduce that much about him. The youngest of Zan and Siren's children had always been a dreamer, although none of them could say if that was still a part of his nature as they hardly knew him. He was probably the same height as, if not slightly taller than, Jascien, which made him possibly the tallest of the five incredibly weird children; at the very least he was much taller than Marziac, but so was every other adult in existence.

What was it about Zan's family and long hair? wondered Karien, taking advantage of his exclusion from the conversation to study Cadrevios. Out of the males involved in that family, Marziac probably had the longest hair, but Eron kept his hair long and so did Cadrevios. (Mind you, Eron had also been possessed by a girl.) …Maybe the Author had a thing for guys with long hair, Karien mused, playing with the silver streak in his own hair, also long. Cadrevios had kind of greyish hair, although it was less silvery than Eron's, and scary eyes. It wasn't just that one of them was green and the other one was blue (…all right, 'emerald' and 'sapphire,' then), but… well… they were… scary. There was a kind of intensity about them, a bit like Madi's, which was impressive, considering Cadrevios was related to her via a long and complicated in-law thing but not by blood. …Unless there was something that somebody wasn't telling them, always a possibility in the soap opera that was the eitaK Crew Series.

Cardiern and Cadrevios finally finished their little chat about whatever they were chatting about and wandered back over to him. "You'll have to learn my sign language at some point," Cardiern informed Karien, "just in case I randomly hypnotise you. Oh, and I apologise in advance for doing exactly that, because I probably will."

"That's… okay, I guess, but please don't," Karien replied. Eyeing Cadrevios, he added hurriedly, "Not that I'd mind too much if you did. I mean… I don't want to cause offence or anything…"

"Don't let Cadrevios bother you."

"Oh, he bothers me," Karien confessed readily.

"He means well," Cardiern shrugged.

"Yeah, well, he's on your side," Karien retorted, meaning that of course Cardiern wouldn't have a problem with him. For his part, Cadrevios didn't seem to mind that they were discussing him while he was there.

"Moving along," Cardiern said, "Cadrevios wrote you a song you can't sing, and you want to be able to. Does that describe the current situation?"

Karien nodded. "I've never really done any singing before. I can't read music or anything."

"You don't have to be able to read music," Cardiern shrugged. "Could I see the song, please?"

"Sure." Karien handed the bits of paper over. "Why don't you just sing it?"

"No," said Cadrevios instantly.

Karien tried, "I mean, just to show me how it – "

"No," Cadrevios repeated in that scary voice he'd used before, and Karien took an involuntary step back.

"People can't sing songs that were written for other people," Cardiern explained, "according to Cadrevios. I could play the vocal line on the piano, though, and teach it to you," he suggested, glancing over at Cadrevios as though to check that this were acceptable. After a slight hesitation, Cadrevios nodded. "I'm not quite sure what to do in this situation," Cardiern confessed, looking over the music. "Cadrevios only writes for me, so I haven't had to teach anyone something like this before. …In fact, I'm not sure I've ever taught someone with no musical experience," he added thoughtfully.

"You didn't teach Cadrevios?"

"By Maethalyne, no. Nobody teaches people like him. Let me see… I guess you don't have much of an idea as to what your range is like, do you?"

"…Huh?" said Karien.

Cardiern sighed. "Something tells me that we're going to be here for a long, long time."

Fortunately for all involved, Karien had a good voice and a decent range. Unfortunately for him, Cardiern's attempts to teach the Tauriel how to read music were a disaster, so they gave up on that. Teaching him about dynamics and phrasing went a bit more smoothly, although it still took a while before Karien got the hang of it. It was pretty easy stuff, but involved a bit of discipline, and that was something Karien definitely did not have.

On one of their breaks, Cadrevios presented the Tauriel with a number of copies of the piece, although there was a distinct lack of vocal line. "Um… pardon?" Karien asked him blankly, which wasn't really a correct thing to say, but he felt it suited the situation.

"It needs a guitar, at least," Cadrevios replied, arms folded. Something about his stance reminded Karien strangely of Jascien. "Preferably bass as well, and it definitely needs percussion."


"Why don't you find some musicians to play those parts?" Cardiern suggested.

"Thank you!" Karien exclaimed, demanding of Cadrevios, "How come you can't just say things in a way that other people can understand? You're so weird!"

Cadrevios said nothing.

"Uh, should I go and find some musicians now?" Karien asked Cardiern.

The siren gave a shrug. "We may as well stop for today, anyway, so you can if you want to. The sooner you give them the music, the sooner they can practice."

"But I don't know any musicians!" Karien protested, and Cardiern laughed.

Counting on his fingers as he said the names, Cardiern pointed out, "Well, there's Malmaisen, Siren, Madi, Imania, Emilyn, Gemma, Azrine, Jascien, James, Eddie, Valora, I think Zan can play things if you let him relate it to mathematics, who else…? Oh, and me, I suppose, and Marselline."

"What about you?" Karien asked Cadrevios.

"I feel my lack of musical ability very deeply," was the solemn response.

"Oh-kay. I'd… best get going," said Karien quickly and disappeared.

"You're starting a rock band?"

"Apparently," Karien shrugged. "Wanna join?"

Kaolyn laughed. "No, I don't think so."

The two of them were lying on their backs on the floor in one of the living rooms on the second floor. They were taking a bit of a risk, but the house tended not to change rooms its inhabitants were currently using. It had noticed that, when it did change rooms that people were in, the cute little things became terribly upset. Besides, Karien liked taking risks.

"I just don't get it," Karien complained, picking up some sheets of music to look at them. "Why in the world would the boy write me a song? …Do you know any percussionists?"

"Emilyn's a percussionist, is she not? Maybe he thought you'd like it," was Kaolyn's suggestion.

"What a strange boy."

"Well, do you?"

"It's a nice song," Karien shrugged, "as far as songs go. I still don't get it, though."

"The song, or the reason?"

"The reason," he replied, looking over at her.

Kaolyn stretched, rolled over onto her side to face him. "Well, maybe there is no reason."

"I'm not sure Cadrevios is the type to do things without a reason."

"Who can tell? I don't think I've ever spoken to him before."

He reminded her, "You often don't talk to people, Ice Queen."

"Shut up, ferret," she shot back, good naturedly rather than angrily. "Maybe he has a crush on you."

"Now there's a scary thought. I really don't think so. Where would I find a guitarist?"

"Uh… ask Madi," Kaolyn instructed him after a long pause. "She knows these things."

"She is wise," Karien nodded thoughtfully.

"When it comes to music, at least."

"I'd say she's pretty wise in everything," Karien argued.

"Well, wiser than Katie, at least."

"Yeah, but I'm wiser than she is, and that's really saying something about her."

"You're streetsmart rather than wise," Kaolyn decided, capturing the silver streak in his dark hair.

"What do you mean by that, exactly? Are you saying I'm not wise?"

"Well, you're definitely not stupid, but you're not wise, exactly," Kaolyn tried to explain, winding the strand of hair around her fingers. "And you're not as smart as Zan."

"Is anyone as smart as that boy?"

"Probably not. Ha, now I've got you!"

"What are you talking about, girl?" he wanted to know, and she gave the strand of hair a gentle pull. "Oh. …Aaargh, I've been got!"

"That's better. Any other musicians you need?"

"Hmm… he said it needed guitars and percussion, and that was about it," Karien answered, "but I think I'll make Cardiern join too. He can keep an eye on Cadrevios. Wait, but if Cardiern's in it, Cadrevios will definitely come along… but he might anyway, if he decides to write more songs for me… and in that case, it'd probably be better to have Cardiern around to protect me. And anyway, he's a good musician."

"To protect you?" Kaolyn echoed. "Protect you from who, Cadrevios?"

"Uh huh. He is weird, Kaol. I mean, weirder than Jascien."

"That's not possible," she replied derisively.

"You haven't spoken to Cadrevios, remember? He's weird! You can go find out for yourself, if you don't believe me!"

"No, I think I'll take your word for it," she assured him. "I mean, if he's freaked you out…"

"And anyway, he'll have to protect me from the groupies. Cardiern, I mean."

"Groupies? What's a groupie?"

"I'm not sure. I think they're just fans."

"Should I be a groupie?"

"Possibly," he answered uncertainly. "Sure you don't want to be in my band?"

"What would I do, stand in the front and look pretty?"

"That's basically what I'm doing."

"You're the lead singer!" she chided, giving his hair another pull.

"Yeah, well what if everyone hates me?"

"They won't hate you! Even if they don't like your voice, everyone will fall in love with you anyway."

"See? I'll just stand in the front and look pretty!"

"No, you won't, you'll stand in the front, look pretty, and sing."

"I'm only doing this because I'm pretty sure that Cadrevios will get me if I don't," Karien admitted unhappily. "I really don't think I'm the best person for this job."

Shaking his hair free of her fingers, Kaolyn sat up to look down at him as she asked, "What's this? My brother, losing confidence?"

"Shut up," he muttered, looking away.

"You do know that nobody can make you do this."

"But Cadrevios will get me!"

"If he tries, he'll burn. Or possibly freeze," the Elementress said thoughtfully. "I guess it depends on what I feel like at the time."

"He's Zan's son," Karien reminded her. "Are you sure you could beat him?"

"Hah, you didn't see me wipe the floor with Jascien."

"You what?" Karien exclaimed, sitting up.

"Well… she wasn't in the peak of her power at that time and she didn't take her gloves off, but I still beat her," said Kaolyn defiantly. "She doesn't cope with elements very well, except darkness, as I discovered. Probably because she's a Prophet, so she could kind of see in the dark. Stupid Prophets. …Wait, I'm a Prophet!" Kaolyn and Karien both had some measure of control over Prophecy, but not enough to really do anything with it. However, they sometimes saw things that the Black, White and Silver Prophets didn't, those people being Makalius, Imania and Rainmirah, respectively.

"Why were you fighting Jascien?"

"To see if I could. It was just after I came back."

"Oh, so you'd learned your element things and you wanted to try them out on someone?" Karien wanted to know.

"Something like that, yes."

"…Why not Zan?"

"Because Zan would have kicked my ass."

"Okay, why not Siren?"

"Two reasons. One, because she would have kicked my ass as well, and two, because she doesn't like me."

"Doesn't she?" Karien asked, and Kaolyn shook her head. "Oh. …But Jascien does?"

The Elementress gave a shrug. "Jascien's been mostly indifferent to me for all her life. And all her death, I suppose."

"…Does she like me?"

"I don't know, does it matter?"

"Yes, it does!"

Kaolyn rolled her eyes. To a considerable extent, both of them did exactly what they wanted, but the difference was that Kaolyn really didn't care what people thought of her whereas Karien needed to be liked, preferably by as many people as possible. "Probably, yes. I don't know. Wasn't she indifferent to just about everyone in the saucepan?"

"Except Marziac," Karien reminded her.

"Yes, she hated him. I can't see why."

"I can," muttered Karien, who was often the target of Marziac's practical jokes. "Well, I'd better go find some musicians before Cadrevios hunts me down and demands to know why I haven't got any yet."

"Scary," Kaolyn commented, stretching. "Do you want me to come with you?"

"Of course I do," he replied airily, getting to his feet.

"Hey, maybe Kali would like to be in your rock band."

"No way! Even if I asked him – which I wouldn't – he would only accept if he could see a way to kick me out of it and take it over."

"I really don't see why the two of you don't get along," Kaolyn commented, as though she were oblivious to the fact that she was what tended to cause tension between her brothers. "You really are very similar."

"Oh, thanks! Makalius is a nut and an idiot."

"Yeah, and so are you."

"Am not!"

"Are so!"

"Oh, shut up," Karien said darkly. "Are we going or what?"

"Let's go," Kaolyn shrugged. "Where to first? Malmaisen?"

"Why not?" Karien agreed and transported both of them to Malmaisen's house.

"…Hello!" Malmaisen greeted them. "I know you."

"Yes," Karien responded. "We're your great-grandchildren, I believe."

"Are you?" questioned Malmaisen, sounding surprised. "Oh, I remember you! It's so lovely to have you here. Sit down, make yourselves at home! Would you like a drink?"

"No, thank you," Karien replied. "Would you like to be in a rock band?"

The curly-haired Creation considered this. "Excuse me, I'll just ask Crystal," he decided finally and wandered off. A few moments later he was back, smiling happily. "Crystal says yes, I would. What's a rock band?"

"Ask Cardiern about it later," Karien suggested. "What would you like to play?"

"What do you want me to play?"

Consulting the music, Karien said, "Um… the… guitar?"

"I can play that," beamed Malmaisen. "Hooray, I can play the guitar in a rock band!"

Kaolyn demanded, "Are you ever in the same Plane as anyone else?"

"What?" was the response.

The Elementress sighed. "That answers my question."

"Here, have some music," Karien said, handing over a copy of the piece.

"Thank you. Gosh," said Malmaisen, looking at it. (Gosh was another expression that the Creations had picked up from the Humans. Very few of them had any idea what it meant.) "I see Cadrevios wrote you a song."

"How can you tell?" Karien asked. "Has he written you some songs, too?"

"No, he only writes for Cardiern," Malmaisen replied, "but I've played some of his songs before, and you can always tell if he wrote it."

"Why does he only write songs for Cardiern?" Karien wanted to know.

The permanently bewildered Creation gave a shrug. "Maybe only Cardiern has the right voice to sing them."

"Then why is he writing me songs? I can't even sing!"

"You must have the right voice for this kind of music, then."

"That could be true," Kaolyn said thoughtfully. "Cardiern's more of a ballad singer these days. I don't think he does rock very well any more."

"Well, I don't do rock well!" protested Karien.

Malmaisen gave a shrug. "If Cadrevios has written you a rock song, then you can do rock. Cadrevios knows these things."

Karien asked sarcastically, "What is he, some kind of musical genius empath person?"

"Yes," said Malmaisen simply.


"When would you like me to play through it with you?" Malmaisen asked, looking at the music.

"That depends. How long will it take you to learn it?"

"All of today, at least, but I would like to have longer than that. I could be ready by the day after the day after today."

There was a pause as Karien worked this out. "You mean, like, the day after tomorrow?"

"What? …Possibly."

"Okay. I'll have to work hard to learn it, then. I'll see you at Cardiern's house later?" Karien asked, and Malmaisen nodded. "Okay. Bye!" he said, and transported himself and Kaolyn to Emilyn's house.

"Oh, hello," she greeted them. "Is this a surprise visit?"

"Wanna play the drums in my rock band?" Karien asked her, holding a sheet of music out to her.

"Um… okay. Thanks," she replied, taking the music to look at it. "Do you have a rock band?"

"I will soon!" Karien replied proudly. "Currently I have a guitarist, a drummer, and a singer, which is me." He considered for a moment. "And a really weird songwriter."

"What's the band called?" Emilyn wanted to know.

"Hmm? …I don't know. I haven't thought about names yet."

"How about The Fish?"

"Somehow I just can't see that," Karien said thoughtfully.

"What about The Rock n' Roll Fish?"

"That's still not quite it. I'll take your suggestions on board and get back to you when I've chosen something. I think we're going to have a bit of a run through the day after tomorrow at Cardiern's house, which is on the world Fifteen to the Power of Fifteen. Because he's the Fifteenth Creation, dontcha know."

"I did know," Emilyn replied patiently.

"Good. You don't have to be able to play it perfectly or anything, because I probably won't be able to sing it by then… in fact, you don't really have to be able to play it at all by then. Just come along and we'll all sort each other out. Now, where would I find Madi?"

"With Ian," said Emilyn automatically.

"Good point," Karien agreed, and transported himself and his sister to Ian's world.

Madi was sitting in the living room, reading a book. Ian was making something out of paper. They were in the same room, but on opposite sides, and Karien admired their restraint. "Hello!" he greeted them and held some music out to Madi. "Want to be a bass guitarist?"

"Um… sure," Madi replied uncertainly, accepting the music. "Why do you ask?"

"Because I'm starting a rock band, apparently."

"Really? What brought this on?"

"Cadrevios wrote me a song," Karien replied. "And then he told me to sing it."

"And you obeyed?"

"Has he ever made you do anything?"

"No," Madi admitted. "In fact, he doesn't talk to me."

"Exactly. When Cadrevios makes you do something, you do it," Karien informed her. "We're having a meeting or something at Cardiern's house not tomorrow but the day after it to play through it. That reminds me, I'd better tell Cardiern about that," he said thoughtfully.

"Okay," Madi nodded. "Can I bring Ian?"

Kaolyn eyed the blond Creation. "Are you going to be able to concentrate on what you're supposed to be doing if he comes along?"

"Probably not," Madi confessed. "I guess you'll have to stay here, Ian."

"The minutes will seem like years until you return," Ian responded quite seriously.

"Oh, I'm sorry…"

"You go and make it up to him," Karien instructed. "Kaol and I will go and talk to Cardiern about this," he continued on, and the twins disappeared.

Two days later, the musicians and Kaolyn assembled in Cardiern's house to give the song a go.

"Where's your crony?" Karien asked Cardiern as Malmaisen and Madi tuned their guitars. (Oh my God, this band is made up of people with the same letters in their names! Except for Emilyn! Go, Emilyn, go!)

Glancing over at Malmaisen, Cardiern made some gestures. Malmaisen nodded and looked over at Karien. "Cardiern says that Cadrevios had to go and have a lie down."

"Is he all right?" Madi broke in, sounding worried.

Again, Cardiern gestured at Malmaisen, who reported, "Cardiern says it's nothing that you should worry about."

All this talk of Cadrevios had apparently reminded Cardiern of something, for he trotted over to a nearby table and picked up some papers, which he gave to Karien. (He wanted to trot, okay? Maybe he thinks he's a horse.) Malmaisen translated unnecessarily, "Cadrevios wrote another song for you."

"Well, thank him for me when he's finished lying down," Karien replied, glancing over the music. "Somebody will have to teach me how to sing this, you know. I think Cardiern should volunteer for that duty… then again, you can both sing, can't you?" he asked Madi and Emilyn.

"Not any more," Emilyn replied with a shrug.

"Yes you can!" Madi argued. "I've heard you sing, you're good."

"It comes and goes."

When everyone was all tuned, they started the song. Karien got lost, so they stopped and ran through his part again, then went through the song with Cardiern playing Karien's part on the piano, which was most helpful. At the end, Kaolyn clapped.

"That was actually really good," she complimented them. "Better than I had expected, if I must be honest."

"Still not brilliant, though," said Karien unhappily. "Why doesn't someone else sing my part? Anyone else would be better."

"You know we can't do that," Cardiern chided him, defending Cadrevios' beliefs while the songwriter was absent. "The song was written for you, and therefore you're the only one who can sing it."

"I don't know what you're worried about," Emilyn called from the drum kit. "I thought that was really good."

"Well… could we change the song to put the piano in it?" Karien wanted to know. "I can sing with that."

Cardiern considered this. "I'll ask Cadrevios, but he'll say no. He objects strongly to people changing his music. I tried once, and he nearly… well, let's just say it didn't go down well."

"He does sound pretty weird," Kaolyn remarked to her brother.

"You don't know the half of it," Karien retorted.

"He is… unique," Cardiern allowed.

"That reminds me, I want you in my rock band," Karien remembered. "I don't care what you play, as long as you're in it. Unless, of course, you'd like to sing, in which case you'd be more than welcome to do just that."

Cardiern laughed. "I'll be in the band if you like, but I can't sing rock. Now let's get this all sorted, and then I'll see how Cadrevios is feeling and maybe we can play it to him."

"But we can't play it for him until it's right," Karien protested.

"Okay, then," shrugged Cardiern. "We wait until it's just right, and then we play it to him."

It took nearly two days to get the song just right, but finally they felt they were up to the ultimate test; playing it to the songwriter himself. Karien felt rather more nervous than he thought he had a right to, but then again, this would be the first time that the currently nameless band had performed to an audience, even if the audience consisted only of one person. (Kaolyn, in the opinion of her younger twin, did not count as an audience.)

"I'm going to stuff up," he confided to Madi as Cadrevios, manuscript pad in hand, settled himself on the couch.

"You will not stuff up," the Grey Witch replied firmly. "You were just fine the last three times we rehearsed and you'll be fine now."

"…Well, maybe."

"You'll do just fine," Madi assured him, looking down at the guitar as she plucked at a few strings to check that they were in tune. "I'm the one you should be worried about…"

"Everyone ready?" called Emilyn, who was responsible for starting the song. She waited until the others gave her affirmative responses before reminding herself of the tempo and beginning.

They did not stuff up, Karien was proud but a little surprised to note. He didn't even forget any of the words. Upon successfully completing the piece, they all looked over at Cadrevios somewhat hopefully. Wordlessly, ignorant or uncaring of their eyes on him, Cadrevios turned to a new page on the manuscript pad, plucked a pencil from the table beside the couch, and began to write.

Karien turned to Cardiern to demand, "So what does that mean? Did he like it?"

Cardiern could only shrug. "Who can tell? He doesn't seem to have hated it."

"Okay," said Karien. "…Um, what now?"

"I don't know."

"Does anyone have anything they'd like to go through again?" Emilyn suggested. "But bear in mind that there is such a thing as too much practice, and we seem to have the hang of it."

"Maybe we could use this time to brainstorm some names," Malmaisen offered, putting his guitar down. "Names are important."

"The Fish!" Emilyn suggested again.

"No, I don't think so," said Madi.

The Enchantress had another idea. "Karien And His Rock Band?"

"That's got potential!" Karien laughed. "No, I don't want it to have my name in it. I mean, I'm not the band. All I do is sing. What about The People Who Play Music Written By Cadrevios?"

"That's a bit too long," Cardiern decided.

"True," Karien acknowledged. "Malmaisen, any ideas?

The Creation's response was predictable. "What?"

"Yes, we could be What," Karien agreed teasingly.

Malmaisen looked more confused than usual. "Huh?"

"…Or not," conceded the Tauriel. "Um, A Bunch Of People With Instruments?"

"Again, too long," Cardiern argued.

"Do you like anything in particular?" Madi suggested. "We could be, I don't know, the Carrots or the Potatoes or something… or the Ians… mmm… Ian…"

"Oh, stop that," Karien sighed. "Um, I like… sleeping in."

"The Sleepers Inners?" Emilyn offered.

"No, that's not quite it. I like… I like singing."

"The Singers!"

"We can't be The Singers, Emilyn, we're not all singers," Karien argued.

"The Singer And Co?"

"I quite like that," said Karien thoughtfully. "But no. Um, I enjoy orange juice, but The Orange Juicers sounds a bit strange. What else do I like? I like water… although I guess I shouldn't… I like being around other people."

"The Extraverts?" Emilyn suggested.

"Are you suggesting that I am extraverted?"

"…Aren't you?" Madi asked, having paused in her thoughts of Ian for long enough to hear Emilyn's comment.

"I like shopping," Karien was continuing. "And I quite like the colour green. Oh, and I like board games, but I often lose. And I really like semicolons, for some reason, and the word subsequently, but I think that's some of the Author's tastes being expressed through me. And apostrophes, while we're on the subject of punctuation. I really, really like apostrophes."

"Then we'll be The Apostrophes!" Emilyn decided.

"The Apostrophes," Karien echoed happily. "Yes, I quite like it. Anyone object to being called The Apostrophes?"

"The Apostrophes it is, then," Malmaisen said cheerfully. "What's an apostrophe?"

"It's a flying comma," Emilyn explained.

"Oh, a flying comma," said Malmaisen. "Why didn't you just say? Everyone knows what a flying comma is."

"Yes, it's an apostrophe," Cardiern put in. "That is an excellent word, I must say."

"What, apostrophe?" Karien asked. "…It really is, isn't it? I adore apostrophes. Which is weird, but I do."

"And you say Cadrevios is weird," Cardiern teased.

"Well, he is!" Karien replied. "Weirder than me by a long shot. …Maybe we should just be The Weird People, considering we have a weird singer and a weird songwriter."

"Um," Madi broke in, "should you be discussing how weird people are when the people themselves are in the room?"

"Oh, he doesn't mind," Cardiern replied cheerfully.

"You know what?" Karien began. "I want to enlist Kalell."

"…That is weird," Madi remarked. "Cardiern's right, you're weird."

"Well, I like his name. He shall do something for the Apostrophes!"

"Maybe he could be a publicist," Emilyn suggested.

"Yes!" said Karien. "Kalell shall be our publicist, bwa ha ha! …I'm bored. Does somebody want to teach me how to read music, or something?"

"Why don't the two of you do that?" Cardiern asked Madi and Emilyn. "I tried and failed."

"We could give that a go," Madi shrugged. "I mean, reading music isn't that hard, and if you can teach a percussionist to do it, you can teach anyone."

Emilyn sighed.

"Couldn't resist," Madi said with a grin.

They tried for nearly an hour to teach Karien how to read music, and by the time they gave up, he could recognise F. "F is a lovely note," said Emilyn encouragingly. "And if you know where F is, you can work out all the other notes from that."

"Just because I can see that it's an F doesn't mean that I know what it sounds like," Karien complained.

"That's not a necessary skill, and it is harder than it sounds." Cadrevios, who hadn't been standing, manuscript pad in hand, where he currently was just a moment before, presented him with a couple of sheets of music.

"…Thank you," said Karien a bit nervously, taking them.

Wordlessly, Cadrevios began to collect the second song, the one that Cardiern had given Karien that morning. "…Am I unworthy of that song?" Karien asked in a tiny voice.

"You can sing it if you so wish," Cadrevios responded, "but it won't fit comfortably with your style."

"What?" asked Karien, feeling rather like Malmaisen.

Cardiern translated, "The style of this band doesn't suit that song."

"Oh." Turning to Cadrevios, Karien demanded, "Boy, why don't you just talk in ways that everyone else can understand?"

"Boy, why are you so stupid that you never comprehend what I mean?" Cadrevios returned.

Karien started to say something in response, stopped. "…You got that from Siren!" he accused. "At least Zan never says horrible things about people."

"Maybe that's a trait you need to learn," said Cadrevios neutrally.

"I thought you said he didn't mind people calling him weird?" Malmaisen asked Cardiern somewhat unwisely.

"I don't," Cadrevios assured him. "I fail to fully comprehend the motives that drive the actions of people around me, so I see no reason as to why they should understand my motives. I don't mind people perceiving me as strange, as they are strange to me. I do object, however, to writing songs for people who seem incapable of comprehending my speech," he concluded and with that he plucked the pieces of paper from Karien's hands and walked out in a manner that did remind some of them of Siren.

"Bad!" Cardiern assured Karien, pointing at the door through which Cadrevios had gone.

"What do I do?" Karien asked him a bit desperately.


"I can do that," Karien decided and, running after Cadrevios, threw himself at the Senterean's feet. "I'm sorry!"

"Please release me," Cadrevios requested, but Karien failed to loosen the death grip he had on one of the songwriter's ankles.

"Please forgive me! I'll never do it again! I'll change my ways, just don't leave me!"

"Do not mock me, Karien."

"I really don't mean to mock you," Karien assured him, looking up at him. "Please come back and write songs for me."

"If you don't let go, I am going to have to kick you," Cadrevios informed him solemnly, and Karien decided to obey orders this time.

"I really am very sorry," the Tauriel informed him sincerely, getting to his feet, "although I'm also not sure what I've done to offend you. Please could you write some more songs for me?" he pleaded. "They're so much fun to sing!"

"I will consider it," Cadrevios replied and walked off.

"…Right," said Karien slowly and returned to the room in which they had been rehearsing. "He said he'd consider it," he reported to Cardiern. "Do I have to grovel some more?"

"Provided he didn't give you a flat-out no, it should be fine," Cardiern replied, adding cautiously, "he is going to continue writing for you, isn't he?"

Karien shrugged. "I think so."

"Gerende Maethalyne," Cardiern sighed with relief. "I was sure Zan was going to kill me."

"Why would he kill you if Cadrevios doesn't write songs for me?" Karien wanted to know. It didn't quite make sense to him, somehow.

"Oh… no reason…" said the siren innocently. Cardiern did 'innocent' very well, but this time the others weren't fully convinced.

"What was the grovelling about, anyway?" Madi wanted to know, absently strumming a chord or two on the bass guitar.

"Well… Cadrevios is what will make or break you," Cardiern tried to explain. "You really don't want to make him decide he doesn't like you, or he'll just walk off like that. No Cadrevios, no songs. No songs, no band."

"Other people could write songs, though," Emilyn protested.

Cardiern responded, "Other people can't write songs like Cadrevios does."

"Everybody just loves Cadrevios, don't they?" Karien remarked.

"You should," the siren replied. "You're the one he's writing songs for. I'm serious, your musical career depends on him."

"Well, I'm sure Madi and Emilyn can write songs," Karien replied cheerfully.

"Not like Cadrevios, they can't," Cardiern warned.

"And you must be able to write pretty good songs, surely."

The siren shook his head. "That's why I have Cadrevios."

"You don't write your own songs?" Madi asked, sounding quite surprised.

"I did until I discovered Cadrevios."

Karien asked, "What, you got lazy because you'd found someone who could write music as well?"

"No, I felt ashamed at my pitiful attempts at composition," Cardiern replied. "My work pales in comparison to his."

"He's that good?" Karien questioned.

"Better, perhaps, than you realised." The comment came from Malmaisen. "His work is close to flawless," the Creation continued, looking up from his guitar, "and it never seems to take him long to write things. He rarely has to change things, either. It's like he already knows exactly how everything will sound." Malmaisen gave a shrug. "I guess that's what composers do."

It seemed wise, Karien had to admit, and that, for the moment, was that.