The Seeress With the Birds

Music can be a wonderful source of inspiration.

The first time I heard “Seersken” by Valravn, I got an idea for a scene with a scene with a seer, which evolved into an idea for a whole novel. I’ve given up the novel (at least for now), but every time I hear the song, I still see the seer in my mind’s eye just as I imagined her that first time. Even if I never write that novel, I promise myself I will write something, which includes her one day.

The lyrics first in Danish then a translation in English:

Det er seersken med fuglene
Der griner når vi ter os
Det er seersken med fuglene
Der hvisker slip lænkerne løs

Se ham i øjnene
Grøn, brun og blå
Se ham i øjnene
Se iris, se dig, se mig,
se selv

Det er seersken med fuglene
Der skærer illusionerne
Det er seersken med fuglene
Der går rundt i sneen og skriver gåder

Attarinarina attarina attarina…

Se ham i øjnene
Grøn, brun og blå
Se ham i øjnene
Se stående, værende,
gennem det der sker


It is the seeress with the birds
Who laughs when we misbehave
It is the seer with the birds
Who whispers let go of the chains

Look him in the eyes
Green, brown and blue
Look him in the eyes
See iris, see you, see me,
See for yourself

It is the seeress with the birds
Who cuts the illusions
It is the seer with the birds
Who walks around the the snow, writing riddles

Attarinarina attarina attarina…

Look him in the eyes
Green, brown and blue
Look him in the eyes
See standing, being,
Through what is happening

The Bard And The Magician


(Credit: Wizards of the Coast, this from The Sha’tar EU)

The notes branched out from the bard, some ending in fantastic flourishes, some spiralling down until they were just on the verge of hearing, then, surging back up, they soared above our heads and vanished in the clouds. We half expected phoenixes to appear, to dance around him and nest in his music.

But then the Magician arrived.

She always warned us about beauty. It always comes from pain one way or another, so she told us, and there is no one in this world who can produce beauty and who has not at some point used it to manipulate another and caused pain by doing so. We knew then and still know now that she only wants to protect us, but we were sorry to see her so soon that day.

We stepped back to let her pass, and she strode up to the bard, her robes billowing behind her, leaving a scent of lilac. She looked him in the eye with a serious expression in her face, and the bard smiled and nodded at her and kept playing.

Then she opened the electric blue eye in her forehead, the eye that sees only truth, the eye that sees straight into the heart, mind and soul of a being, and the bard trembled, but kept playing.

She closed her electric blue eye with a sigh.

‘I know,’ she said to the bard in a low voice, ‘I know about,’ and she whispered something we could not hear, and the music withered and died.

67 Playing the Melody


(Credit: Oleg Shuplyak,

“Do you hear that?”



I’m playing,

Not listening,


With your heart,

With your mind.


Let it happen.”


“Is that a piano?”


“Piano strings, heart strings,

I play them all.

I’ll give you wings,

To fly

Into a wall,

To lie

To you about and let you fall

Off a high building.

Metaphorically of course,

But we are in your head.”


“You’re going to kill me?”



Oh no,

I would never


My hands with your blood.

It wouldn’t be clever,

And it would cause me pain

To see that red flood,

Deliciously real, not merely ostensible, pain.”


“So you… care? For me?”


“I love you!

As the vulture loves his feast

As beauty was loved by the beast

Before he tore her to shreds.”


“I think we’ve heard different versions of that story.”




Let yourself go,

And I’ll let you know,

Let me win,

And I’ll tell the story you are in.”




Swaying to the flute and the breaking waves and the voices of the invisible singers in the branches.

I am not sure what made me begin, but it feels right to sway, like a reed nudged by a gentle breeze.

And the slate coloured sand wash away into the grey water which mingles with the iron sky and I think that I too could be part of it all, of something greater, if I just let myself. As the cold water seeps into my shoes I shiver, but it is not long before the numbness comes and some large hand is already smudging all the remaining contrasts into uniformity.

Flute Music

(Marsyas Enchanting the Hares by Elihu Vedder)

(Marsyas Enchanting the Hares by Elihu Vedder)

If you go deep into the forest, you might find a man playing a flute. He can play tunes sweet enough to make computers feel compassion, and if he turns it up a notch, it’s like syrup encasing your ears before it claims the rest of your body in a large sticky ball. He can also turn it the other way and let the notes jab from every direction and produce a bitter taste of dissatisfaction on your tongue. I have seen a few people cry tears of happiness when they heard him, but no matter what he chooses to play, remember that the breath behind the music is rotten.

So bring earplugs.

A Song


English: Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris in Lat...

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris in Latin) at Skansen in Stockholm.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The forest smelt fresh and damp after the light spring rain. Birds chirped overhead as a squirrel climbed up a twig covered in large green buds. She planted her feet in the moss and concentrated on the music in her head. A spring tune; lively and growing.

She took a deep breath and began.

As the ear-rending screech left her lips two blue tits, a blackbird and a squirrel fell to the ground. She stopped and looked at the critters. Then she nudged one of the small stiff bodies with her foot.

A thought fluttered around her head that maybe banshees were just not meant to be opera singers.

Inner Music

Crossroads of the World

Crossroads of the World (Photo credit: iwillbehomesoon)

There was rhythm in his steps as he walked across the square. He stopped at the zebra crossing, waiting, tipping his head to one side as if listening for the tune he had been stepping out with his feet. Perhaps he found it in the milling of the crowd around him. With a smile, he took a deep breath as if there were no sweeter perfume than the symphony of car exhaust and hot dogs from the corner.

If it had been a musical, this would be where he burst into song and all the people in the square would accompany him with their choreography.

But it was not a musical, so he crossed the road, the city swallowed him and I never heard his song.

Finding a Clarinet

She uncurls, untangles herself from her hair. She sits up. The red sun is halfway up the sky. She stretches out her arms and soaks in its warmth.

She shakes her head and rises to her feet. Drapes her hair around her shoulders. Takes a step. Looks around the clearing. Turns around. The forest is thick all around her. She takes a step towards the trees. Turns. Takes a step in the opposite direction. A bird whistles and she turns towards it. Takes several steps, but then it is silent and she stops. She bites her lip. Another whistle and she bounds into the forest. Rushes through the bushes. When the silence returns, she could be carved in marble. Her hair as white as her skin.

A bird sings in the bush right beside her and her hand shoots out like lightning, grabs the small body, crunching the bones. She stares at the silent handful of feathers. Her hand slowly lets go and the limp body falls to the ground. More birdsong and she runs towards it.

Her feet bloody, her hair tangled and her leg shaking, she stumbles towards the shill call of a gull. With the next step she leaves the trees behind and steps onto a sandy beach. She collapses, cuts her hand on a shell and winces. She gazes out across the breaking waves. Her eyes moist.

Something red bobs on the waves. She tilts her head and gets up. The box splashes steadily closer. On unsteady legs she walks into the water. She lifts up the box and brings it back on dry ground. Cross-legged she studies it. There is a click, the box springs open and she flings it away. The box lands open on the sand and something like a long black stick with flashing appendages lands beside it. She creeps closer. Pokes the silver appendages. Picks up the thing and shakes the sand from it. It is hollow.

There is something under the box. She tips it and a piece of paper flutters out. On it there is a drawing of a person putting the black and silver thing to his mouth. Beneath that there are straight lines with symbols on. She pins the paper under the black thing.

A strange mechanism is set in the box. Something seems to be trapped in it. She fumbles with it and with a click, music flows out. Lovely floating music. She sways.

Then the music stops, and she frantically pushes everything she can in the box. But nothing happens. She hits it. Bites it. Picks up a stone and smashes it down. With a crunch the mechanism in the box is fractured. She makes several swallowing motions. Hand shaking, she touches the cracked surface.

She picks up the black thing and the paper. Holds it as the drawing does. Nothing happens. She takes a deep breath. As she exhales there is a sound. She stares. She blows into the thing and produces several more sharp sounds. She smiles.

Moving Forwards part 19

He marched back to the mermaids. The Flute Bearer was still playing. The Spiral slithered about gurgling and gesturing, sometimes looking into the sky.

‘Please,’ said Rodger, ‘can’t you make it go any faster?’

The Flute Bearer kept playing and the Spiral kept gurgling. Rodger sighed and marched off in front again.

During the day, the mermaids took turns playing their flutes. Rodger walked back and forth numerous times, but no matter how fast he walked in front of the mermaids and the tree, the tree did not move any faster.

When night came and the mermaids insisted on stopping, Rodger checked his watch. The Machine would do the next jump in about 37 hours. If it had just been him, it would be plenty of time, but now he was not so sure.

The next day was torture. As the sun raced across the sky, the tree crept forwards at a snail’s pace. He tried to push the Spiral forwards, but it just gurgled and pointed to the tree, and he did not dare touch the Flute Bearer for fear it might leave. It would probably only take even longer if there was only one mermaid to play. To top it off, all through the day his thigh burned and itched in equal measure.

When the sky grew dark and they stopped playing, Rodger went up close to the Spiral.

‘Look, I’m really grateful for your help,’ he said, trying to figure out how he would mime ‘grateful’, ‘but it’s very important that I get there in time.’ He pointed to his watch. No, they did not have those. He moved his hand across the sky from horizon to horizon. ‘So, please,’ he folded his hands, ‘please can we move on?’ He took he Spiral’s hand and turned to go, but the Spiral pulled its hand back.

‘Please,’ said Rodger.

The Spiral gurgled and pointed to the water.

‘Oh, come on.’ Rodger Grabbed its hand, yanked it forwards. The Spiral fell forwards and pain shot up Rodger’s arm as a stone connected with his elbow.

‘Ouch!’ Rodger let go of the Spiral and cradled his arm. The Flute Bearer slithered past him without looking at him, touched the Spiral on the shoulder and moved towards the water. The Spiral looked from Rodger to the Flute Bearer and turned to follow.

‘No, wait,’ said Rodger. The Spiral looked over its shoulder, but continued into the water.


The mermaids disappeared beneath the waves. After an hour, they had still not returned with any seaweed.



Read part one here:

Moving Forwards part 18

‘Oh, come on,’ said Rodger. In three strides he was behind the Flute Bearer and snatched the flute from its hand. ‘I won’t let you ruin my only chance.’ He gave the flute back to the Spiral and glared at the Flute Bearer. The Flute Bearer glared back, but did nothing more to stop the Spiral.

The music made all the trees react at once. They uncurled and stretched towards them. Rodger’s heart beat faster. As they went to the path again, Rodger kept an eye on the Flute Bearer. The Flute Bearer ignored him and instead kept glancing into the sky.

When they reached the border between the stones and the earth, they paused to cut the net holding the earth and one of the trees swam out to them. Ever so slowly.

‘Can’t you make it go any faster?’ Rodger pointed at the tree and jerked his hand towards the hole in the sky. The Spiral saw him, but kept playing its slow tune, and the tree continued at the same pace.

‘You could make the branches move quickly,’ Rodger pointed at the tree and reached out in front of him as if trying to catch some invisible insect. ‘Why not the roots?’ He mimed wading through water with slow dragging steps. The Flute Bearer was studying him intently and with… amusement? It made a small chortling sound and gurgled something to the Spiral. The Spiral stopped playing to cover its face in its hands. The spluttering that followed might very well be laughter.

‘Hey,’ said Rodger, ‘stop it!’

The Flute Bearer looked very smug.

‘And you,’ Rodger pointed at the Flute Bearer, ‘I don’t see you trying to make yourself understood.’

The Flute Bearer looked away.

‘Argh, look,’ Rodger stepped in front of the Flute Bearer, ‘It seems what you want most is to get rid of me. So,’ Rodger picked up a small stone, ‘imagine this is me,’ Rodger pointed to himself then the stone, ‘If you get me up there,’ he pointed to the hole in the sky, ‘I’ll be gone,’ he closed his hand around the stone, let it disappear into his jacket sleeve and opened his hand. ‘Gone.’

The Flute Bearer studied his empty hand.

‘Do you get it?’ Rodger flipped his hand over to show there was nothing there. ‘Gone. I’ll be out of your hair.’

The Flute Bearer turned away from him.

‘If you had any hair.’

It slithered closer to the island, cut some more of the net and loosened the earth with its hands. While the Spiral was still laughing, it began to play.

The tree moved a little faster now, but not much. Rodger waited for the tree to reach the stones then strode off in front. When the music seemed to grow distant, he stopped and looked back. The tree was about halfway between him and the island. He put a hand to his forehead. This could not be happening. He finally found life. He finally found help. He finally found the solution to his problem. Was everything going to be ruined just because his ‘solution’ was too slow?



Read part one here:

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