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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 14th day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 58 > Articles > Beyond the Music: Branston the Eyrie

Beyond the Music: Branston the Eyrie

by geovii

NEOPIA CENTRAL - He's never written any songs. He's never performed at The Tyrannian Concert Hall. Yet without him, the world of music just wouldn't be the same. And while he himself is not a conventional musician, he demonstrates the pinnacle of a musical art as old as rhythm itself. He is Branston, Lord of the Dance Floor. This is his story.

Full of style, grace, and himself, Branston the Eyrie has carved out a career from a line of work not fully appreciated by the musical world. Though now a multimillionaire who hosts gigantic parties at his palatial NeoHome, Branston, like many true stars, had to work his way to the top. As a child, Branston loved music. But while his peers would admire the vocals of a particular singer or the unequated skill of their favourite guitarists, Branston was drawn beyond all that. His passion was music in and of itself, and the idea of expression through it. He felt music should have style and flair, something one had to see firsthand to experience fully. Possessing little talent in singing or playing an instrument, Branston opted to choose a different path: dance.

"Dance," he says, "is really the truest form of self expression. It requires no special equipment, no previous training, and no talent (although talent certainly does help, I can tell you). Sure, I've got good looks, lots of money, and the biggest medallion collection in all of Neopia, but that's not why everyone loves me. It's because I've mastered the ultimate form of artistic expression. They come to see me because I have turned myself into a living, breathing masterpiece. I am poetry personified, the muse made flesh."

Branston's choice of hobby branded him for the rest of his youth. Throughout his childhood he was looked down upon as "that freaky dancing Eyrie". He made few friends, and was shunned as an outcast by most of the more popular kids. This, however, served only to strengthen his resolve. In a bold and daring act of pluck, Branston joined his high school dance club, where he was eagerly welcomed. Uni Tina Saltiero, now retired, was instrumental in helping to bring out Branston's full potential.

"I remember the year Branston joined the dance club. There weren't too many boys in that year. In fact, I don't remember there being any year where there were many boys. But Branston... well... he had to be one of the most involved students I've ever had. He was always out there, right there in the middle of all the action. Never a wallflower, that one. The other dance students took quite a liking to him, as I recall. He was very charismatic, very 'in charge', you know? When that boy was around there was never a dull moment."

During his time with the dance club, Branston learned to develop his skills and utilise his talents effectively. At every performance, Branston stunned the school with his incredible footwork and rhythm. Suddenly, he was no longer ostracised but idolised. People actually wanted to be friends with him. "We used to think he was weird," a fellow student remembers. "I mean, dancing... come on. We all thought it was ridiculous. But then we saw him perform. Those of us whose jaws weren't by our feet decided to shut our mouths pretty quick."

But Branston's real break didn't come along until late in his junior year at the Neopia University of Performing Arts. He had entered a local talent show at the encouragement of Saltiero and his fellow students, who were confident he could score himself a trophy. As chance would have it, the show was being monitored by several talent scouts, their various employers eager for a new star. It was a fortunate turn of events for young Branston, as his manager, Ronald Stevenson the Nimmo, explains.

"That particular year was pretty stagnant for the entertainment business. It was one of those transitional times, when all the old stars were starting to fade out, and we needed some new ones. It happens once every few years. Naturally, we were ready for it. Our agents were out early searching for something fresh. When I saw that Eyrie up on stage I knew he was just the thing we were looking for. Most of the other scouts ignored him, they wanted 'music'. Well, I used to manage a disco and funk group before Branston came along, and I understood that 'music' is more than what you hear. So did Branston, and that's what really made him perfect for the dance business."

With Stevenson as his manager, Branston got his first taste of the big time. Starting out with minor dance roles in various musicals, he early on proved himself to be more than just another pretty face. Within months Branston the Eyrie had accumulated a fan base of over 100,000. His smooth, fluid dance movements coupled with his natural stage presence made him a force to be reckoned with on the dance floor. By the time he had spent a year on-stage, he'd attracted the attention of several noted musical talents, and was asked to make appearances in several music videos. One of the most famous of these was Branston dancing side by side with Michael Jetsam, formerly of the Jetsam Five, in the music video for his song "I Just Want to Dance".

The future was looking bright for Branston the Eyrie. He had fame, fortune, and a fan club. His life became a whirlwind of excitement in the limelight. From extreme dance parties to being chased down on the streets by hundreds of adoring fans, Branston had it all.

And that was when Branston's whirlwind became a downward spiral.

Cheat! Neopia's most popular card game. High stakes, high prizes, and, for Branston, high thrills. It was during a stay at Neo Vegas when Branston discovered his near career-ruining vice. An innocent game of Cheat turned into a three hour losing streak as Branston gambled away thousands of Neopoints in the largest all-out Cheat binge ever. When the smoke cleared, Branston's losses totaled a whopping 26,915 NP. But that didn't stop him in the least.

"You get that with some stars," said Stevenson with a sigh. "For some, it's outrageous luxuries. For others, it's the stock market. I even had this one guy who did Purple Spotted Shrooms. It's a sad, sad world. But Branston, he really took the cake. I never saw anybody waste so much money! He must have really loved that game, because any sane person would have called it quits well before their fifty-seventh consecutive game. Especially if they lost all of them."

Branston had become a compulsive Cheater, throwing away thousands on a whim. Never content to play the game for less than an hour, he became notorious in many Cheat circles for his reckless plays and careless abandonment of any sort of logic. He played the game any chance he got: on planes, in his limo, in the dance studio, and even at home. And, contrary to the age-old adage that practice makes perfect, Branston's Cheat skills never appeared to improve no matter how many times he played. This did not faze him in the least, however. He made sure that all his performances put him somewhere in the vicinity of a Cheat parlour, where he would miraculously lose every game he played. His friends and family tried everything to get him to stop, but no passionate plea, no impenetrable logic, could distill his fervour. In short: he was hooked.

In a last ditch effort to get him to stop, they sent him to join Cheaters Anonymous. He was kicked out that very same day for causing an uproar when he pulled out a deck of cards and suggested they all get together and play a few games. "A few of the newer additions went into total relapses," one CA member reported. "It was too much for them to handle."

It was at that point that they knew it was a hopeless cause. It was Stevenson's terrible responsibility to give the ultimatum: either Branston stop his compulsive gambling or lose his career. Without their knowing it, this was exactly the wake up call Branston needed. They had unwittingly aroused the only thing stronger than his love of Cheat, and that was his ego. Not willing to give up the spotlight, Branston made a show of depositing his ubiquitous deck of cards in the nearest rubbish bin, and he personally saw the garbage truck off with his best wishes.

"Life has gotten a lot better for me after that," he confesses. "I admit it, that game nearly destroyed everything I've worked for. I don't know what I would have become if I hadn't made the decision right then and there, but I'm sure it wouldn't have gotten me here." He gestures about him, indicating, with a flashing smile, his luxurious, golden walled NeoHome.

Branston still plays the occasional game of Cheat every now and then, but his ambition has dissipated dramatically. He no longer risks losing the money he used to, even though he could probably afford it now. His main concern, he says, is his image, and losing millions is not the kind of image enhancing behaviour he values. Instead, he now regularly throws gigantic parties, where he, of course, is the main attraction.

Just recently, Branston has decided to open up a chain of dance schools in order to pass down his skills to the next generation. He is currently training a select group of talented Neopets to work as instructors of his unique dancing style.

"Nobody lives forever, and I don't want to be forgotten when I'm gone. My fans have brought me so much, and I plan on giving back a little of what I know. It's a gift far more valuable than any old lock of my beautiful hair, it's a genuine piece of Branston the Eyrie, a part of my very soul. I'm going to teach them how to be beautiful on the inside, just like me. Of course, nobody can be as beautiful as me, but they'll be a lot closer than anyone else."

When asked if he would tell us the most important thing he learned throughout his career, Branston had only this to say:

"Good looks and talent can get you far. Most people stick a 'but' in there somewhere, followed by some philosophical stuff about hard work or something, but I prefer leaving it as it is. No sense making things more complicated than they have to be, right?"

This episode of Beyond the Music is sponsored, as always, by the Neopian Times Appreciation Guild. Looking for a guild that's out of sight? For people who like to read, draw, and write? Then The Neopian Times Appreciation Guild is the place for you!

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