The song trader

The following filecase was stored in a shelf storing information on members of the Library. It contains several official documents and newspaper reports, and was entitled "Song Trader".  

Official report: Gallery incident

Event date: Thymmer 15th, 5432   Report date: Thymmer 17th, 5432
Estimated time of event: 15th quadrant, 16th rotation
  Location of incident: Second Circle, Third layer  
Event description: A manuscript retrieval mission was organized and led by Researcher Marius Kirkengraph, from the General Musicology Institute tribe. Expedition was authorized and accompanied by three members of the Common's deep exploration crew.
Upon descending into an unmapped but expected pit, abnormal darkness engulfed the group. The expedition gathered along a cliffside, when Marius claimed he heard a music coming from the depths. The researcher repeatedly complained about the music increasing in loudness and changing in melody, althouh no other member could hear it. Marius declared he was called by the music, and tried to pursue his descent. Attempts at restraining the researcher were made, but failed and ended up in explorer ████████ falling deeper down. Marius escaped into the darkness.
After an unknown amount of time, the expedition managed to climb back to the top of the pit, in a place of relative safety. Although the pit appeared no deeper than a few dozen steps before it was engulfed by darkness, it took several rotations of constant pulling to get explorer ████████ to safety. After that extraction, the rope they were attached to was ██ times longer than it intially was. The explorer is physically healthy yet mentally scarred, and is currently under close psychological supervision.
by Pouaseuille
by Pouaseuille
Total casualties: 0 dead, 1 missing   Final status: Case closed due to any follow-up judged impossible  
Among other documents, you find a Librarial identification card.
Marius Kirkengraph's portrait
by Pouaseuille
  Name: Marius Kirkengraph   Species ██████   Physical description: ████████████████   Birth: Winter 29th, 5395   Tribe and known associated organizations:
  • Born in the Librarial Institute for Education;
  • Studied in the Institute for Theoretical Musicology;
  • Researcher in the Deep Musical History tribe.
  • Status: Unknown

    Little South Street Days: incident in the Festival

    Tricksters spoiled street chants by spreading unplanned songs; crowd movements ensued.

    by Pouaseuille
      Last Soulday marked the third and final day of the famous Little South Street Days, biggest yearly musical event in the district and one of the longest of the city. Festivities were in full swing, and rhythmic chants filled every street. Here and there, an additional pipe, a hammercord, or some drums accompanied and enhanced the chants.   At the end of the 40th rotation, an unexpected music started to spread through the crowd. Though it was not included in the official schedule of the festival, nor was it arguably a part of the Southerner chanting music tradition, the song quickly caught on. The phenomenon lasted for one to three rotations varying on the streets, effectively derailing the entire night.   Eye - or rather, ear - witnesses seem to disagree on the nature of the chant, although most agree on the fact that it had a similar rhythm to that of more traditional chants, and that once sung, it produce a dramatically different effect than that of the previous musics. Most interrogated witnesses claimed the melody was still stuck to their head. However, most couldn't distinctly sing it when asked, and the few extracts that were sung to our investigation teams didn't match with one another.   To the dismay and the frustration of the festival's organizators, the exact origin and perpetrators of the disturbance remain yet unknown. While a few witnesses mention they noticed a few entranced singers first humming the odd song before most of the crowd, nothing points at a single person starting the debacle.   As of yet, the Merinian Guard did not comment on the situation. The festival's organization comittee, however, did unprompted. Kolios Archon, schedule supervisor, noisily voiced how "symptomatic" the Guard's behavior is. To quote them, "Had a cultural event from the Sheherp village or Minastershire that had been disturbed in the way the Street Days was, thrice as many Wooden would have been dispatched, and the place would be swarming with private detectives!".
    — Extract from the Merinian Household - Summer 1st, 5498
      The next document stored appears to be a transcript from an interview. No date or authors clearly indicated.  
    ... Okay. D'you really think it'll help if I tell you everything?  
    Eh, it depends. It'll help me, for sure. Would it help you? That I don't know. Some find it somewhat... therapeutic.  
    (scoffing) How would telling some random detective about a traumatic experience from eight years ago be therapeutic?  
    It might?  
    Ah, fine. How do I start?  
    You can answer this question: What caused the Little South Street Days incident, eight years ago?  
    I'm... Not sure of what actually caused it. By the spirits, I'm not even sure of what I saw.
    I was setting up near a small pub in Sparusan avenue: I was to start playing from the 40th rotation on, was pretty excited for that (chuckles). I mean, who wouldn't be? It was my first Street Days, and, well, every drummer knows that being allowed in the festival basically means you're officially recognized.
    I didn't notice them until I was ready. They were sitting in a poorly-lit table, and were staring intently at my instruments, almost unmoving. I'm not one to notice much, quite frankly. They were Human, fairly tall, long brown hair. Black eye-liner, black lipstick, neck covered with music notes tattoos. Male presenting, so not a Southerner either: we don't really have that here. Still, plenty of foreigners were around during the festival. What struck me a bit, though, was that it seemed they had been watching me for quite a bit, and didn't look like they planned to stop.
    When the clock rang the 40th rotation, the previous chant stopped to a halt. I stood up behind my drums, ready for the start. Unexpectedly, my silent stood as well, and produced an instrument, a sort of pipe of their own making. It caught me a bit off guard, for sure, but eh. You want to play along? Sure. As long as you follow the rhythm, Street Days are a time of communion and sharing.
    As the first notes reached us and we started to play, I was pleasantly surprised. My surprise co-musician was, in fact, pretty good. The pipe was producing a light, yet warm and round sound. They definitely knew the melodies, and perfectly lined with my rhythm. A bit relieved, I let my self sink into the music.
    After a few quadrants, I had gotten really used to that pipe player. I adapted my drummings to let them take their deserved space. Noticing they were still watching me, I turned my own gaze upon them. I really, really wish I didn't.
    It was like music had transfigured them. They still looked human, sure, but there was something... very, very wrong about them. That gaze of their, I've never seen something quite like that since. It was like... hunger. And delight. I tried to look away, but I found myself transfixed.
    I think that was about the time when the music started to change. It was small, at first: a few notes, here and there. An additionnal silence. A riff to complement the main theme. Then, it got further away. Some people started to sing along the piper, like they wished to follow their melody. I myself was following their rhythm.
    As more people sang along, the music shifted further. The song of the piper was darker, deeper. It was compelling. Besides, it played with your senses: I could've sworn that as I watched them, my own surroundings were changing. As if the colors, and the lights themselves were dancing along.
    Soon enough, the struggle between the scheduled music and that of the piper was over in our street. Every choir, every drummer had been entranced, and were playing along that awful, dark melody.
    (sigh)   I don't know what happened after that. My vision was blurred, shifting in the music itself. When I found myself again, I was in my bed, dehydrate, and it was Builday. Since then, well... I got fired. Had to move north of town to get hired in a workshop near Middel door. Doesn't matter, really. I don't want to have anything to do with music anymore. Not like I can, anyway.  
    What do you mean?  
    I've... not been able to appreciate music ever since that day. Pinching a cord, tapping a drum, blowing a pipe... All just noise to me, now. Repetitive, annoying little noise that you want to scratch away.  
    Have you tried to play again?  
    'Course. Countless times. It all just sounds the same to me. It's like I don't have it in me anymore! In fact, there's only one melody I can still sometimes hear... That of the piper.  
    I see... Thank you for that, Skafos.  
    Just so you know, that wasn't therapeutic. Not even a little bit. But, well - I still hope it'll help you.
      The last document you find consists in a series of scribbled notes.  
    Personal notes on the creature known as the Song Trader Merinos - Spring 42nd, 5507   I had a hunch a monster tied to music was lurking around for a bit now, though I wasn't looking for it: I had been rather busy. When I saw that article from the late nineties... Well, let's just say it changed my priorities. If such a creature could derail an entire music festival eight years ago, who knows what it might be capable of now?   According to medical reports of the time, the Little South incident was followed by many instances of people suffering from tinnitus whenever music was played. During the following two workdozes, hundreds of people reported persistent auditory hallucinations, music fragments they kept hearing days after the end of the festival.   No real source of the disturbance was clearly identified at the time, though, and I was losing hope I'd ever get a proper description of the monster. That is, until I met Skafos. Hearing them recall their story made me S̷̡̏e̶̜̊ë̸̞́ what they saw at the time. I don't feel great about it, but it did help in my researches.   Following the breadcrumbs trail, I found a few other instances of the manifestation. Though on a smaller scale, the pattern was the same: some individual was tricked into playing with or listening to the monster's music, which entranced them. Over the course of the music, the victims lose themselves to the music. In the worst cases, they purely disappear melting away in a blur of senses and emotions.   In most cases, though, they manage to escape, and remain scarred: victims typically lose memory of most songs they heard in the past. They also often lose the ability to understand new musics as such, though this loss often proves temporary.   Manifestations of the monster in public reports or news events seem to have stopped abruptly about five years ago. However, I doubt it is because the creature stopped its activities. On the contrary, I fear its power is still increasing. In fact, it seems it is already becoming tied to an urban legend in musical social circles. "The Song Trader", they call it. Concerning.  
      Merinos - Spring 48th, 5507   I pursued searches regarding the identity of the monster. I had a hunch that it was related to the Library: I mean, people always say they come from here, don't they? In any case, I found some stuff. A researcher, who disappeared more than 75 years ago. Portrait looks just like the one I E̵̝̔̈́x̸̬̅͂t̵͕͛̎r̶̨̽̎a̸̤̍c̵̝̏̓ţ̶̡̉̓ẽ̸͙͋d̴͓͛ from Skafos.   The following morning, I was greeted with an "instrument" dropped in at my desk, as shown below. It was accompanied with the words:  
    "L̷e̸a̴v̵e̸ ̷m̸e̵ ̸a̷l̶o̶n̶e̸,̶ ̶D̵e̷t̴e̴c̴t̷i̴v̸e̴.̷ ̶."
      I don't know what to think of this. I don't know what to do. I don't even know why I keep being called "Detective" like that.   I just - If it comes to that, I hope I'm strong enough to take that one on. Or that - if I'm not - I won't have to listen to its song for too long.

    Cover image: by Pouaseuille


    Please Login in order to comment!
    6 Feb, 2022 15:56

    Great article! That was a cool idea to tell the story of the monster through various documents. Really added a lot of mystery.

    Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
    7 Feb, 2022 14:55

    Thank you! It was a bit of work to put them together, I'm glad it works well enough!

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    6 Feb, 2022 20:49

    Nice approach with various reports and investigation describing effects and encounters. We don't know what it is or what it really wants. Scary.

    7 Feb, 2022 14:59

    Thanks! Glad you liked this entry.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    6 Feb, 2022 21:44

    I love this approach to the contest, and I absolutely love that your bard is a monster. That's awesome!

    - Hello from Valayo! Featured work: How to Write Great Competition Articles
    7 Feb, 2022 15:01

    I'm glad you liked it, as mentionned elsewhere! Most of the new articles from the Cylinder's Library take a similar shape, now, to be honest. I am pretty happy with the idea of this character, though!

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    Eternal Sage Wordigirl
    LexiCon (WordiGirl)
    7 Feb, 2022 09:47

    This is very interesting and mysterious. Nice art, and the way you distorted and redacted certain words really put me in the mood of the story, eerie but intriguing! God bless and thanks for sharing this fun little article.

    Have an exuberantly blessed day!!!
    7 Feb, 2022 14:57

    Thank you! The distortion/redacted parts are probably going to be useful/meaningful in the future as well, I hope it does provide the expected atmosphere then!

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    7 Feb, 2022 16:07

    Great article! Loved the different approach and story around them.

    10 Feb, 2022 09:47

    Hi! Thanks for that, glad you liked this style :)

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    8 Feb, 2022 13:53

    Oooh this is really fantastic!! The way you've formatted it has huge SCP vibes, though much better. I'm really into this way of telling a story, and its such an interesting way of talking about a mysterious and horrifying character (monster?) without revealing any of its secrets. I also really love the very unique instrument designs!! I kinda wonder how they would sound... (yes I learned nothing from reading this article)

    Author of Arda Almayed, resident myth nerd!
    10 Feb, 2022 09:50

    Hi! Thanks, I'm glad you like this format! I feel there's quite a bit I could still do to improve it, but that's a start and more will come. As for the instruments: maybe, if you wonder about it strongly enough, the Song Trader will come and play for you?

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    9 Feb, 2022 18:57

    Damn that was good. A monster which "steals" the music out of living beings? Damn, that was good. Now I want to hear what the Detective will do because if you get noticed by a higher being (and I presume it is something like that) then you are one of two things: 1) annoying or 2) a threat.   Great article, job well done!

    You want to hear the voice of fire? I got you covered with my actual entry to the bard challenge: Amara Silverharp.
    10 Feb, 2022 09:57

    Thanks for that! Not to worry, I'm sure more will be heard from both the Bard and the Detective. Or rather, read: you probably wouldn't want to actually hear from the Bard.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    Master flatloop
    Brion Mythew Penndon
    9 Feb, 2022 19:56

    Telling the story in this was was very compelling. It did great things to draw the reader in, feeling like researcher or investigator.

    Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of a lack of wisdom.
    --Sir Terry Pratchett
    10 Feb, 2022 09:59

    Thanks! I'm happy I went in that direction.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    10 Feb, 2022 03:10

    A really fun read! What a mysterious character/monster, I hope they crop up again elsewhere to cause more trouble. It sounds like they burn the music out of people, like a filament having too much electricity pass through it. It would be better to not glow anymore rather than fracture. I also like how open to interpretation Marius is, so much mystery behind them and just enough leads to make conclusions. How do we even know their name, I wonder?

    Kriltch, arcanities not included.
    10 Feb, 2022 10:04

    Thanks! Indeed, more is planned regarding both characters involved in this file. I really like this filament analogy! As for the name, well, I myself cannot jump to any conclusion between the different documents. The only thing I can say is that the name appears both in an official ID document placed in this filecase, and in an official incident report.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    10 Feb, 2022 07:24

    I love it, particularly the transcript, that does a great job of bringing across the effects of encountering the creature, which is very tragic.   The hint at the end that the creature knows its is being pursued by the 'detective' is a wonderful touch, and it is very clear, even in a short work, that he has a passion to find it but feel totally unmatched to the creature.   On a side note, the art in your works is wonderful, I really loved the library illustrations.   Thank you!

    I've written my first challenge entry => #BardChallenge <=, any feedback welcome :)
    10 Feb, 2022 10:12

    Hi, thank you for those kind words! It was great to work on that presentation. I'm glad you like those artworks. To be honest, illustrating is one of my main drives for worldbuilding. More will come, including more of this Bard and the Detective.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    10 Feb, 2022 17:00

    Great article! That song trader is very creepy...   I really love the way you've presented the article through different reports/newspaper/interview; that really helps with making me feel the mystery and looking for clue :D Nice animation you have on the portrait too! And fantastic art as always :p   Minor comment, but in the first report about the incident in the library, at first I was confused about what happened and who I was missing since I thought Marius had been restrained and that it was the other guy who fall down, and it took me few reread before I realised it must be Marius. So I'd just add a small clarification that during all of that, Marius escaped them.   I think I've read workdoze before in your articles, but I forgot what it meant. Is it the weekend?

    To see what I am up to, my latest article is Geography of magic for the River Challenge
    10 Feb, 2022 19:04

    Hi Amélie! Thanks for these comments.   Indeed, I may provide minor edits to clarify the incident report. What happened was the crew tried to restrain Marius, but failed and he escaped into the depths, causing ████████ to fall down. The fallen explorer could be retrieved, but it took much longer than it should have to pull them back to safety using their waist rope.   As for the workdoze, I added some tooltips here and there but did not do it on every single instance of the word: it is the main method of work division in the great city, similar to the weeks in our world. A workdoze is separated into twelve days.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    11 Feb, 2022 03:32

    An evil librarian bard is a pretty cool concept. And I love how it's told through document so we don't know the exact nature of what the monster is.

    The Atsawiya is an ancient underground river.
    15 Feb, 2022 18:31

    Thanks for your appreciation! Glad you liked the idea and presentation.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    14 Feb, 2022 20:08

    This is absolutely fantastic! What an excellent idea of how to write a bard into this terrifying, hard to explain monster. I love it. I think what works so well is the way you go through these documents and reports, ear-witness accounts, and how they tangentially tell us more about this monster.   I really felt for the musician who lost the ability to appreciate music D: That's got to be an awful fate.   Also, as usual, your art is simply a delight! It really adds a fantastic atmosphere to the article. I loved the creepy portrait at the top of the side bar, too! Just excellent, all around :D

    Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    Come explore my competition entry, River Artazia
    15 Feb, 2022 18:34

    Thanks a lot for these comments, Stormbril! Really glad that you liked the presentation. I think this presentation will pop again more than once in the Cylinder! Thanks for the art as well, I really didn't use an appropriate software for making the animated portrait, I'll have to look up how to do it in a better way in the future.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    15 Feb, 2022 16:51

    What a creepy article. I love that everything is still shrouded in mystery. Telling the story through different documents really adds to the mysterious nature of the monster.

    15 Feb, 2022 18:35

    Thanks for these kind words! I have to say, I really like this method of storytelling, even if I have to improve a bit at it.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    16 Feb, 2022 16:18

    I suddenly feel the urge to sign up as a library explorer. This is an outrageously interesting concept that meshes so well with a song-stealing bard. Although he's named a Song Trader, I feel like his victims are worse off in the deal. Were attempts made at conserving the melodies that now haunt his victims? Are they still sought after? I have to say, the artwork is such a perfect fit for your story, it really strengthened the impact of the subtle horror.

    If you have some time, I would much appreciate your feedback on my entry for Adventure April: Carbon Copy Paradise
    17 Feb, 2022 19:51

    Thanks a lot for these words, mashd! I'm glad you liked this entry.   Indeed, I do feel like the name given by urban legends to this creature is a bit... Inappropriate. Besides, a deal is probably supposed to be agreed on by both parties. As for attempts at conserving the melodies, I don't know! Those documents were the only ones found at the moment. However, given how rare sound recording technology is in the Cylinder, I wouldn't be too hopeful.

    With love,   Pouaseuille.   Here's my Bard entry, should anyone be interested in a mess of investigation reports!
    18 Feb, 2022 16:17

    I really like this, it's a unique creation in both the Bard sense and how you laid out the story. It's also nice visually.

    19 Feb, 2022 16:18

    I don't know how i left this for the last day, but you did an absolutely amazing job on it.

    A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.