Twilight Melodica Item in Requiem | World Anvil
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Twilight Melodica

Written by Occasional Anvilite

The Twilight Melodica is an ancient tradition of the Uskar, a threefold ritual that has evolved over the generations, reaching back into the very depths of time.

Firstly, it is one of the many complex rites that maintain the culture of ancestor veneration so ubiquitous in the tribes of the Silent Plains.

Secondly, it brings together the tribesmen in the ritualistic ceremony, a key part of what is know as the Way of the Plains, the extraordinary method by which these violent people are kept in a state of surprisingly robust peace.

Thirdly and finally, it fortifies the strength of the shamanistic Alshririn class whose firm grip on power in the Silent Plains can be kept only if the Ushkar as a whole continue to believe in, and more importantly need, the wisdom and religious fortitude of these otherwise powerless figures.
by Microsoft Copilot

By appearance, you would not think a Twilight Melodica was enough for all those purposes and many more. A thin tube, maybe a foot and a half long, with various slight dials and knobs of thick, rusted metal, almost in a barbaric parody of the flutes of more civilised nations. At its end, a thin pipe extends, whitling down to a point as fine as that of any blade, and on the back is a thin series of holes where a skillful player can perfectly manipulate how much air goes in, and which way it goes from there. Forged from a greying yellow crystal unrecognisable to outsiders, but instantly obvious to any Ushkar worth his armour as Aiquastel, or spirit stone.

It is a curious material, Aiquastel, strong yet malleable, sonorous yet stoney, but its main function is altogether more curious. It holds memories, and, when applied the perfect pressures, these memories can escape...
— Lamnas the Wise, in his celebrated paper On the Ushkar

And this brings us to the heart of this rite. The Spirit Dancing. A shaman begins his chant, weaving his way between the keys, skilfully sending out the golden threads of memory ingrained in the ancient stone and crafting them into something coherent, as a seamstress on her loom, lives for his thread and the Melodica his tool.

The Aiquastel begin to chant, a slow, solemn dirge, as a lament for the departed, yet these departed were yet amongst them in the threads of memory lost. The threads begin to converge, dancing amidst the smoke of the smouldering fire, twisting and turning, and beginning to form into something just visible, just almost there, yet at the same time somewhere further away that any mortal mind can comprehend, somewhere deep in the lonely halls wandered by the soul-kept dead.

by Microsoft Copilot

They converge. They form something of the memories of the dead, the few memories that remain in a dead soul no matter how many aeons may pass. A child's first steps. The first glimpse of true love. The bond between parent and child. Acts of kindness, both big and small. All these scenes and many more begin to play out, as the spirits are called forth by their memories, gifted by sacred rite the chance to relive their tenderness memories one last time. It is strange, many philosophers of the so called civilised nations have claimed, that it is so rare for a memory of greed or achievement to become an act in the dance of spirits, but to the Ushkar the answer is clear. Though in life many may lust after glory or gain, in death all souls realise the truth the Ushkar have known from the very beginning. These things do not matter. All that matters is connection, love, humanity, kindness.

However it is put, it can be seen in the dance, a testament to the enduring power of such memories. The spirits dance beneath the moonlight, their memories flowing from the Melodica, filled with the unhindered joy of one last night of life. They dance through the night, the assembled tribes watching on in a mix of silent pity, and awe, undented by the many hundreds of times they have seen it all before.

But when tye light begins to filter through the cracks in the haven walls, the time has come for the ceremony to end. Dismayed spirits call out in anger and rage, desperately trying to maintain what grip on the world of mortals they have had for on glorious night. The shaman calls upon each spirit in turn, anointing and blessing them, letting them leave in peace for the oblivion of the void, no more to wonder the halls of the dead in misery.

"Leave with the blessing of the Silent. Leave with the blessing of the Light. You may go forth to the void, to leave your endless wandering forevermore. You shall go to the darkness in peace and contentedness, for the embrace of the night is not so dark after aeons in the Halls Below.
— A Section of Alshririn Chant

Then the spirits begin slowly to fade, going quietly into the darkness to remember no more...
by Microsoft Copilot


All Dates Are Aproximate

300BGF The first of these sacred instruments was created in around 300BGF, during the end of the Nomadic Period of Ushkari history, around the time they settled in the Silent Plains. It is believed they had discovered small amounts of Aiquastel before that, and possibly even forged several primitive instruments, but it was not until they began to settle in the Havens that they excavated larger quantities of Aiquastel, and began to play more sophisticated pieces which fully called the dead to the surface. The amount of Aiquastel in the Silent Plains is believed to be a result of the amount of death that has tainted the Silent Plains over the years.
by Microsoft Copilot

250BGF Over the decades, Melodicas became more and more sophisticated until they were more in the manner of a machine than that of a pipe, but still they maintained their traditional roots. The Alshriri remaining an inferior class to the warriors and crafters, because there was no ceremony, no ritual in their power, merely Magick and a little harmless necromancy, things Ushkar put little stock by, but soon this would all change.
by Microsoft Copilot

100BGF A radical shaman came to power amongst the Alshriri of the Northern plains. Indmai was his name, and he was a champion of the new way, a plan by which the Alshriri could become the dominant class. By many he was dismissed as mad or renegade, but his plan was cunning. The Ushkar are a ritualistic people, following in the footsteps of their ancestors in everything they do. Indmai understood this well, and played it to his advantage. What was once a simple word and a spell was now hours of ceromony, chanting, speeches and, most importantly in his eyes, worship, not of the ancestors as before, but of them ...
by Microsoft Copilot

5BGF And thus the Melodica grew to be a pillar of the new order of Ushkari society, an order where the Alshriri have moved up and above the warriors and crafters, defying the time forged Ushkari ideal of a casteless society. Few have resisted this change, for those who do end up dead. The only sucssesful resistance against the Alshriris power are the Alshriri themselves, though this fact is little known to outsiders, and even other Ushkar.
by Microsoft Copilot

75OER Although this newfound power was put to good use by the Alshriri, the impact this new order had on the Ushkar society is yet to be found, it can be safely assumed to be negative. The shift of power away from warriors, has led to the Ushkari armies being commanded by shamans and priests with little military experience. The shift away from craftsmen has meant that orders of production now come from someone who has never held a hammer, never forged a blade. The full impact, thought, is still untold.

650OER There are only a few hundred Melodicas left across Requiem, and of these around nine tenths of them reside in the hands of Ushkar shamans. The craft of their forging is becoming ever rarer, and few true master smiths are left across the Silent Plains.

The materials used in their creation also become increasingly rare as more and more of the Veliandle Woods are chomped up, fed to the ever ravenous machine of the Eastern civilisation. The Aiquastel is forged into meaningless scepters for petty nobles, the sacred metals hammered into blades that will crash meaninglessly against castle walls, washing clean the slate of knowledge with another wave of blood.
"It is our sacred duty, our glory and our act of kindness to those poor souls who wander the darkness below. We bring them up to our baleful lands and give them one last chance to relive their greatest memories, before we send them to the holy oblivion of the Abyss below.
— Alshririn Lore
Item type
Musical Instrument

Songs of the Silent Peoples

The rituals of the Twilight Melodica are so vast and complex that it is impossible to tell much of their rites here, indeed many shamans spend decades learning these sacred songs. However, a short taster will be given here. These songs are in Vaanimie, the language of the Angels, which the Ushkar use for ceremonial purposes, though Ushkar is a language in it's own right. As a quick authors note, Vaanimie is a fully fleshed out conlang, and I will be writing an article for it soon.

Song of Journey - Parable V, Verses I-II, The Dance of Spirit and Mind
Vaanilë nauro, Eldriin naqu,
Enië meldë, vanya melmë ië,
Thauron silma, sarno estelë,
Vaiyë tirna, fëantëya.
Corma cala, corma melmëa,
Luvariel narna, rautha luhtë,
Vaanilë meldir, enië arquenta,
Rámarë sarno, elen arcalina.

English Translation
Angel wanders, tree beneath,
Among friends, in lands new,
Abyss whispers, wings outstretched,
They journey, destiny awaits.
House of shadows, house of new,
Sky whispers, night calls,
Angel walks, among stars,
Wings outstretched, through the twilight.

Song of The Havens - History XXXVI, Verse I, The Ages in Song
Valaina Vaanilë, aralindë nárë,
Vaanilë cuivië, Corma númenna.
Áranna orta, enië arcalina,
Rámarë fëantë, aiqua meldë.
Lómëa lindir, Corma lúmëa,
Vaanilë melmëa, Valaina márië.
Vaanilë lirë, enië tirë,
Valaina Vaanilë, ná i arquenta.

English Translation
Light of Vaanim, flower blooming,
Angel's creation, house shining.
Castle rises, wings outstretched,
Water flowing, dream's embrace.
Book writing, house peaceful,
Angel's creation, light shining.
Angel's song, through the night,
Light of Vaanim, forever known.

Song of the Fall - History IVC, Verse I - II, The Darkness
Thauron narna, cuivië nauta,
Havens tulta, thauron pusta.
Aldamar curunirë, eldriin thála,
Ortan súrë, írë meldë.
Vaanilë lómëa, tulta tië,
Havens nanquë, thauron sintië.
Lómëa lávinirë, Corma lúmëa,
Vaanilë nauta, Eldriin orqua.

English Translation
Abyss whispers, night falling,
Havens crumbling, abyss calling.
Armor brave, tree standing,
Mountain falls, heart broken.
Angel's tears, falling down,
Havens lost, abyss rising.
Tears flowing, house peaceful,
Angel's light, tree's sorrow.

Tale V - Song IX, Book III, The Coming Kingdom
Corma thauron, Eldriin lanta,
Thauron orta, lúmëa cala.
Vaanilë meldir, enië nárya,
Silmarë meldë, vaanilë sinta.
Lómëa estelë, Corma lúmëa,
Silmarë fëantë, eldriin nauro.
Thauron lantirë, Eldriin fëantëa,
Corma nai, enië lúmëa.

English Translation
Home in Darkness, under tree wandering,
Abyss rises, night silent.
Angel walks, through stars bright,
Sea flows, angel's shadow.
Prophet of hope, kingdom riding,
Sea flowing, tree silent.
In Abyss wandering, Angel's shadow,
Kingdom whispers, through the night.

Song IV, Verse I-II, Alshririn Scripture
Vaanilë néra, vaanilë ilcarë,
Vaanilë melmë, Eldriin síra.
Silmarë meldë, enië lúmëa,
Thauron enië, corma nai.
Vaanilë nauro, Eldriin orta,
Enië meldë, enië nauro.
Thauron enië, Corma arquenta,
Vaanilë enië, ná i estelë.

English Translation
Angel's song, angel's dance,
Angel's creation, tree's embrace.
Sea flows, through stars,
Abyss whispers, house silent.
Angel wanders, tree rises,
Through friends, through creation.
Abyss whispers, house shining,
Angel's creation, forever known.

Cover image: by Microsoft Copilot