The Unathe (Stories on a Theme – “Magic”)

Athery played a solitary note on his flute.

The smoke at the centre of the room quivered, just slightly. The magic hung heavy in the air, making the smoke from the incense slowly curl around itself in a never ending loop.

Athery brought the flute to his lips and played another series of notes, each one a short staccato. A sharp, instructional sound that made the smoke flinch with every note.

The incense burned brighter, the tips glowing hot red. In the smoke, Athery could just see the shape of the Unathe begin to take form. A creature of music, they normally resided deep underground or in caves, creating haunting tunes from the echoes on the rock walls.

However, this particular Unathe was far, far from home. Trapped in a basement with no echo to call to.

The smoke began to curl around, forming a bat like face.

Athery played another note, this time a set of minor keys. Sadder notes, longing notes.

The Unathe nodded, just once. It wanted to go home.

“I’m here to help,” Athery said gently. He sung the words, the same minor key melody.

The Unathe hovered in the smoke, eyes darting across the room.

“See,” Athery said, gently pointing to the shallow clay bowl on the floor, “this is for you. To take you home.”

The Unathe sung a note, barely audible. A major key. A brave key.

“Yes,” Athery said, smiling. He matched the same key in his voice, lifting the end of the word up a step. Hopeful. Happy.

“Home,” he said.

The Unathe nodded, this time more eagerly.

Athery gently lifted his flute to his lips again, playing a more complex tune. A conjuring, summoning tune that would allow the Unathe to travel on the sound waves and crawl into the bowl.

And it did. Gently, with one tentative smokey paw, it reached out and touched the bowl. Then it suddenly sprang forward, curling up into the smaller space like a cat. It’s smokey, batlike ears stuck out of the top of the small bowl.

“Thank you,”Athery said, taking once of the incense sticks and gently laying it on top of the Unathe. It would keep it warm and calm on the journey ahead back to the cave site where the Unathe belonged.

He hummed a simple arpeggio, climbing up the notes and then down again. A calming note for the Unathe to settle to, as he gently lay the lid of the bowl on top of the Unathe.

“Let’s take you home,” Athery whispered.

In the silence of the room, he could just hear two notes from the Unathe.

Thank you, it said.

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