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Amadeo: Cold Music
Amadeo’s dreams were strange and muddled that night. Most of them were dark and bloody, people dying, people in pain. Amadeo shivered in his sleep, curling tighter, trying to escape the dreams. For most of the night, Amadeo was tortured by this darkness, his mind plagued sorely, aching with the pain, shaking with fright.
Amadeo ran down a dark hallway, turning frantically down another, only to be faced by a dead end. He turned quickly, lights slowly going out behind him, one by one. He kept running, though his legs didn’t want to move. He felt as though time was slowing, turning viscous, stopping him. The darkness was catching up to him, threatening to envelop him. Flickering, dancing shadows taunted him on the walls. Shadows of people taunting him, pushing him. The darkness was tangible, a living being touching him, luring him in. Amadeo tried to cry out, but his voice had failed him in his moment of need. He tried to push back the darkness, but his hands were burned by the icy cold.
Suddenly, the boy was blinded by a pure, white light. A silver sword flashed through the darkness, held in steady hands. The shadows retreated, pushed back by the light of the sword and it’s wielder. Blade sliced through shadow, releasing Amadeo from the death trap in which he was locked. As the darkness was lifted, the light shone even brighter, enveloping Amadeo in a soothing warmth, healing his wounds and drying his tears. A pair of gentle hands touched his shoulders, pulling him into a comforting embrace.
“I love you, Armand.”
Amadeo jerked awake as he was kicked roughly in the side. He cried out, scrabbling away. Nikolo stood above him, a candle in his hand. Amadeo was relieved to see that he had no whip.
“Get up, little prince,” spat Nikolo.
Amadeo quickly jumped to his feet, pressing himself against the wall, licking his cracked lips. Nikolo looked him over, taking in the blood splatters, tangled hair, and long welts left the night before.
Amadeo obediently followed his captor, fearful of what would happen if he didn’t. As they reached the main floor, Amadeo expected to be taken to the room with the piano again. Instead, he was taken to a small closet at the end of a hall. Nikolo gave him a fresh, white tunic and a pair of black leggings and instructed him to redress. Amadeo did as he was told, quickly changing into the clean clothes, grateful for their warmth and softness. Nikolo roughly dragged a brush through Amadeo’s curly hair.
“There. That’s at least passably presentable,” said Nikolo, looking his prisoner over once again.
Amadeo certainly did look like a prince. He stood with a royal demeanor, though he was slouched slightly, his eyes averted nervously. He was certainly beautiful, coppery hair curled perfectly over slender shoulders, one eye silver, a dark blue scar running through it, the other eye a dark stormy blueish grey. He had a lean, beautiful body worthy of a young god.
“You look exactly like your father,” murmured Nikolo, running a finger along Amadeo’s sharp jawline.
“I do not. You obviously have never met Life,” snorted Amadeo derisively, a tiny bit of his arrogant, princely demeanor breaking through his fear.
“No. But I have met Death, your father. Your biological father,” said Nikolo.
“How could he be my father? Gabrielle is faithful,” said Amadeo, his curiosity rising slightly.
“Well, nearly 13 years ago, Life went and had an affair with a human woman called Marianna. Gabrielle discovered this and became very angry at Life for his infidelity. They fought. I hear it was quite the blowout. Gabrielle broke down and left for a while. She went straight to Death and begged him to take her, as revenge. Death, of course, didn’t object. Soon after, Gabrielle discovered that Death had impregnated her and immediately went back to Life, claiming that the child was his. That is where you came from, little prince,” said Nikolo, maliciousness twinkling in his blue-green eyes.
Amadeo’s eyes were wide as he listened to Nikolo’s tale. He sagged back against the door of the closet, wincing as the shirt brushed against the recently scabbed wounds on his back.
“I... I... I...” Amadeo tried to think of a response, but all he could do was stare at his feet, his brain blank.
“No need to say anything, little prince. Let us go. We have tarried here long enough,” said Nikolo, taking Amadeo by the arm and leading down through the hall back to the grand hall with the piano.
“You will stay here. No need to play. I shall be back in a few minutes,” said Nikolo, leaving the room and locking the door behind him.
Looking at his surroundings, Amadeo found himself drawn in by a large painting gracing one wall. It was the image of a young girl, maybe 10 years old. Amadeo guessed it was the girl he had met the day before. She had the same quiet beauty. Amadeo was still looking up at the painting when the door clicked open and Nikolo reentered, three young women and a young man following him. The brunette Amadeo had met appeared to be the youngest. She was clad in a dress of pale yellow that clung tightly to her slim body. The next young woman had a cascade of gold hair and a pair of cornflower blue eyes. She seemed about 17 years old, and was very gorgeous. The third girl had the same hazel eyes as her youngest sister, but the same golden hair as her elder. A pair of glasses perched on the bridge of her nose. The young man looked like a younger Nikolo; tall, slim and striking, a fringe of dark hair nearly obscuring his similarly turquoise eyes. Amadeo clasped his hands behind his back and waited for Nikolo to introduce him.
“Children, this is Amadeo. He is going to be our pianist for a while,” said Nikolo.
Amadeo bowed deeply, trying a hesitant smile. Nikolo then proceeded to introduce his children. The blonde was Bianca, the middle sister Andrea, and the youngest, of course, Renata. The boy was Luaro.
“Amadeo, you shall play for us,” instructed Nikolo.
Amadeo nodded, sliding onto the piano bench. There was no music on the stand, so Amadeo frantically tried to remember the songs his teacher had taught him. His hands touched the keys and immediately, beautiful, sad music began to fill the room. The tune was melancholy, and before long, Renata and Andrea were in tears, Andrea dabbing at her eyes with a lacy handkerchief. The song ended, and Amadeo folded his hands on his lap, awaiting further instruction from Nikolo.
“I suppose that’s enough for today. Let us go,” said Nikolo, standing.
Amadeo nodded tightly, following Nikolo from the room. Almost every day for 12 months, this treatment continued. Amadeo forced to play the piano for Bianca, Andrea, Renata and Luaro, being mercilessly beaten after each performance. . .