The Whimton Musicians
I used to live in a town called Whimton. It was a really run-down place, only a few miles away from the Haunted Woods. Maybe that was why it could seem so creepy sometimes. A lot of the buildings were empty, and they were all the same dull gray color. Occasionally I saw patches of color on the houses, but they were always surrounded by the gray. When I was a kid, I thought that somebody came in the middle of the night with a huge bucket full of boring gray paint and spilled it all over Whimton.
There was a Wall on the west side of Whimton that separated us from the plains between the town and the Haunted Woods. It was that same gloomy gray shade as the rest of Whimton, and nobody really knew why it was there. It couldn’t possibly protect us from anything. It didn’t even come anywhere close to wrapping around the entire town. It was really ugly, too. I often wondered why the mayor of Whimton didn’t just take the thing down. The only thing it was good for was shade.
I was using it as shade on the day the musicians came.
Where was I? Smack dab in the middle of the Wall, eating my lunch. I was just a teenager. My parents thought I was out with my friends. I was alone. For all of the bad things I said about the Wall, deep down I really liked it. Nobody dared to come anywhere near the Wall, so it was pretty quiet. I liked to go down there and just think when things got too hectic and chaotic. I sat there at least twice a week.
But on that one day, my silence was disturbed by those five pets. Had they been anywhere else, I wouldn’t have known that they were connected in any way at all.
The first one was a Lutari, who was either from Mystery Island or, more likely, Lutari Island. He wore a feather headdress and had smeared paint through his fur so that it looked like he had white and red designs all over his body. He had a big grin and bright, alert eyes, very different from the pictures I’d seen of the savage natives of Mystery Island. Underneath the feathers and the paint, he had blue fur. Just like somebody I’d seen at the market last Thursday. The Lutari had a drum in his paws.
The second pet to come was a Kougra from the Lost Desert. Her face was covered and she wore a long, flowing dress dyed with rich cobalt, crimson, and violet shades. Around her neck was an abundance of golden necklaces decorated with all sorts of symbols from that exotic land that wasn’t really so far from Whimton. If you walked long enough in the southwest direction, you’d be in the desert country... but it still seemed so far away. In the Kougra’s paw was a flute.
The third was a native of Shenkuu. He was a yellow Aisha with the typical Shenkuu robes and the little bamboo hat. He had the longest beard I’ve ever seen. It was like he had a big, fuzzy carpet taped to his face. The Aisha walked slowly and carefully, lifting his head high. If I hadn’t known any better, I would’ve thought he was the Emperor himself. He carried a violin.
The fourth was from Altador. I knew because the Korbat was wearing a white toga. He was wearing a gold bracelet on each arm. Both bracelets had elaborate designs and fancy script carved into them. He had a very youthful face, and an olive leaf tucked behind each ear. He carried a harp, just like the pictures I’d seen of all of those figures in the old Altadorian statues.
At this point I was wondering what was going on, and considering getting up, but the last one made me stop, completely out of fear.
The last one was from the Haunted Woods. I knew it. He was a huge, hulking Lupe with dirty, matted brown fur. His green eyes seemed to glow even though it was the middle of the day. He had long, black claws sharpened to a point and pure white fangs to match. His limbs were twisted and disfigured, his ears torn up and drooping.
I nearly screamed. I wanted to bawl. Everybody hated the inhabitants of the Haunted Woods in Whimton. We knew of everything that went on in the Woods. We didn’t want them in our town. Mom and Dad had always told me never to go into the Woods. There were ghosts there, as well as monsters, and a witch who would throw me in her cauldron and make a soup out of me.
I stared at him, but he took no notice. Seemingly out of nowhere he produced a cello and began to drag a bow across its strings.
I wasn’t expecting that. I had to bite my lip to keep from shrieking.
But it wasn’t a horrible sound; in fact, it was quite pleasant. By now the rest of the musicians were scattered along the Wall. Now they all walked past me and joined the Lupe. Each one began to play their instrument. The Lutari tapped on the drums. The Kougra lifted the flute to her lips and blew. The Aisha took his own bow and played his violin. The Korbat plucked the strings on his harp.
It was all rather strange and surreal. I considered running and finding the mayor and telling him to get these lunatics out of Whimton. Instead I sat there and listened. It was a mournful sound, but then it became happy. It was a happy sound, and then it became angry. It was an angry sound, but then it became calm. The song seemed to skip through each emotion one could possibly feel: hurt, disappointment, friendship, hope, surprise, excitement, love... there were many more, of course, but those were the ones that stuck with me.
They played for maybe forty minutes. I sat there the entire time and listened. Nobody else walked by the Wall; nobody ever did. I was the only one who heard their song. I loved it. I wanted to share it with the rest of the world, but I didn’t want to leave my place sitting here and enjoying it. I could’ve missed a good part.
At the same time, it felt kind of secretive. Nobody else knew about the musicians or their song. It was a secret that we shared that day, and when they reached the conclusion and put down their instruments, it was like we had made an agreement to keep silent about this. There was a minute of silence. None of us moved. I think I was waiting for more music. I figured out that they were done, and I gave them as much applause as I could before my paws got sore.
They each nodded their head in thanks, and then walked down the street as one group. Each one was from a different place in Neopia. Each one had their own instrument. Each one made their own sound.
I never saw any of them again.
And I never thought of the Wall the same way ever again.