Chapter 2: Masters of Music
"And who are you?"A woman asked as we assembled ourselves at the top of the ladder. Below us, the valley floor spread wide and welcoming. Atop the precipice, our vulnerable position was made more acute by the stern look of the woman before us. She did not need to stand tall to reveal power, she did not need to carry a large weapon to demonstrate she was in complete control.
"I'm sorry," we responded "we were brought here, in the hope you might train us."
"That remains to be seen," she responded. "Still, I can see a few among you that bear the unmistakable signs of promise, and the undisguisable marks of potential." She continued, scanning our number. "I am Professor Hildegard von Bingen, as I'm sure Orlandini told you. No doubt, he has poisoned you against Meteora already. I applaud you for casting him away and proceeding here in spite of him."
This was not quite right, but we held our silence.
"Hildegard!" Called a man with a calm manner, and easy confidence. "Have you brought us new pupils? Well done, indeed!" He ambled our way, with a good-natured smile. "I am professor Tomas di Vittoria, and I would like to welcome you to the Quadrivium at Meteora Conservatory."
"The Quadrivium is where music is taught as it should be." Hildegard cut in. "Doubtless you have heard many falsehoods about music. This is where you will be taught aright. Do not fear."
"Well, Professor Bingen is not wrong. The world is a bit odd at the moment, no? All these 'sides' and eternal 'wars.' We appreciate you desire to seek the truth, and are happy to share that knowledge with you." Professor Vittoria continued. "That, ah, wizard who was accompanying you -- he did not harm you?"
A few of us shook our heads, a few merely stared.
"Well, ah, you should know from the start..." Tomas di Vittoria stalled slightly. "He was once a teacher here, and caused this institution grave harm. We would request, well -- um -- require, that if you are to study here, that you--" here he looked at Professor Hildegard, and then seemed to change course, "demonstrate your aptitude for music. You have already demonstrated your strength, and cunning, in removing such a wizard from our valley."
Again, though his assumption was not correct, we did nothing to correct him -- or to clarify our relationship with the wizard Orlandini. Frankly, his relationship with us was not entirely clear--and our willingness to follow his lead was equally unexplained.
"Tomas -- this is too large of a group to process. The year should have begun already, and here we are with late recruits. Call the others so we can begin to catch these students up."
"Hildegard, it is easy to call the others. You divide them into appropriate groups."
"Very well, four should be plenty."
without explanation, or discussion, Professor Vittoria walked into the building behind him. We were alone with Hildegard von Bingen.