Home Riot Creative Contest 2017 - Narrative

[COMPLETE] The Songbird - Sona

Offline / Send Message

The Songbird

            For as long as Sona could remember, the birds had loved her music as much as she had loved theirs. Swooping outside the window was a lovely blue songbird, trilling its love to the world. With each beat of its wings a new verse spilled forth and Sona could not help but mimic it back, her fingers strumming the chords of her etwahl without thought. The bird flew higher, its aria crescendo-ing as the light glinted off its golden wing tips. Sona felt her magic resonating with it, pulsing at her fingertips to be free to shape the world’s symphony. And she was unable to stop it, swept away in the music of the world as she watched the songbird soar higher and higher, the world seeming to stop as it reached the climax of its song. There it hung, wings shadowing the sun, before it dove with a strident cry at a brown bird barely within Sona’s line of sight. With the bird’s cry the music’s spell was broken, and Sona, her fingers suddenly clumsy and unsure, slipped on her strings, producing an unnaturally loud and dissonant note as her magic slipped out of the tenuous control she had on it.

            “My darling, is everything alright? Your sforzando seemed a bit too loud, and that’s not like you at all,” Lestara said, looking slightly pained. Sona, nearly dropping her etwahl in her haste, signed back “No, I mean yes, everything is fine, the birdsong just startled me. I think I need some air.” Unable to keep Lestara’s gaze, Sona quickly secured her etwahl in its case and made for the door, thoughts filled with the sudden bloodlust of the songbird.

            “Dear, if you change your mind; you can always talk to me, about anything.”

            Sona’s hand hovered over the doorknob for the briefest of moments before her eyes caught a small jagged cut in the doorframe, still radiating with the chords of her magic. If she’d been facing towards Lestara…

            Horror shining in her eyes, she yanked the door open and fled the music room.


            Sona’s feet tapped a steady tempo, a stark contrast to her thoughts, as she walked back to the music room. As she was about to sleep she’d noticed her etwahl was no longer in its case. It had never gone missing before, but she couldn’t help but feel that it had to do with the magical furia of that morning. Panic surging within, her tempo accelerated, feet barely touching the floor as she looked for the music room, but in the pale moonlight every hall and door looked the same. Her heart beat incalzando as her panic grew and her eyes searched desperately for the right hallway. She knew deep in her soul that if she didn’t find her etwahl soon something horrible would happen.

            And then she hears it, the quietest bisbigliando she’s ever heard, but unmistakably the whisper of her instrument. Following the sound, her footsteps became slower and softer, afraid of what she might find with her instrument. Turning a corner she saw it, her etwahl, floating in midair at the height she would normally play it, unmoving.

            The sheer strangeness of the sight was enough to stop her in her tracks, but, as if that was the cue it had been waiting for, it began to move, gliding steadily forward. Sona could only follow. The slow movement of the air over her etwahl’s strings created a sognando like sound that was nearly hypnotizing. Sona felt her heart and mind slowing, soothed by the comforting sound of her etwahl despite the strange circumstances. When they reach the open doors of the music room, she had almost forgotten why she’d felt so panicked about the instrument being gone in the first place, but then she saw Lestara’s back.

            The etwahl was completely silent now, like a predator stalking its prey, unwilling to give even a hint of sound that might alert Lestara. Sona immediately tries to run forward, that horrible panic welling back up, the terrible thing she knows will happen but isn’t sure what it is lurking in the back of her mind. But her legs won’t move, her feet feel glued in place and her arms won’t rise, only her fingers allowed movement, but completely out of her control. She opened her mouth, tried to force a sound from her throat no matter how futile she knew it would be, but not even a whisper of air left her lips. She could only stare, completely powerless, as her instrument moved forward. Her forefinger lifted from a sordino position, no longer inhibiting the string’s vibrations, and then struck forward.

            A staccato of noise. Air tinged a brilliant blue as it strikes. Blood splattering her face and gown. Lestara fell forward and suddenly Sona is shaking and on her back, heavy sheets constricting her as hands pull her forward into a comforting embrace that is so achingly familiar.

            “Shh, shh, it’s okay my little songbird. It’s alright, I’m here.” Lestara’s voice is calming, reassuring just by existing and Sona clutched her tighter, afraid that if she let go Lestara will disappear. When she is finally calmed, she looked up and saw Lestara’s disheveled hair, her night gown and her tired eyes. She brought her hands up to apologize but Lestara stopped her before she could.

            “Sona, when I adopted you from Ionia, I knew that you might have magic.” Sona’s breath caught but before she could do anything Lestara continues. “And I accept that. But you’ll need to learn to control this song inside you. Demacia would not approve, but they didn’t approve of a noble adopting outside the country either.”

            Sona smiled, and despite the echoes of her magic lingering in her torn apart bedroom, she didn’t feel daunted by it, only determined. Out the window she caught a hint of movement as the songbird from that morning flies by the moon, an old brown songbird following calmly.


  • SnowGuardian
    So, I thought that I would describe some of my thought process for making this.
    First off, I decided that I really wanted to update Sona's lore. I was really angry when all the other Demacian champions got lore updates but Sona didn't. So I started really thinking about what I would want in a Sona lore and was reminded of her old Judgement for the League. It showed a lot more about how she viewed her magic and her music while also revealing what was either her greatest fear or her greatest regret; the death of her adoptive mother by her own hand. 

    I thought that was a really interesting way to go about it, and a great way to introduce my conflict. But obviously since the League and Summoners don't exist anymore I needed to modernize it. So I looked at how Demacia hates magic, fears and stigmatizes it, and how Sona was not a native there. She was adopted from Ionia into a noble house. And Ionia has very different views on magic, there it is at least accepted, even trained in. And Sona spent a decent portion of her formative years there, learning that Magic was okay and then suddenly moving to Demacia where it very much was not. This would be enough to cause any child to have doubts. 

    But Sona is not just any child, she also possesses her own form of magic, is an orphan, a mute, and a prodigious musician. As someone with magic she would have undoubtedly picked up how Demacia hated it, and in my story I decided that she had only very recently begun to feel and use the magic inside her. So soon after arriving in Demacia she feels her magic and feels the hatred people have for it. But she cannot defend herself or just ask a random person about this, they would have to know sign language and she has only recently started to really use her music to express herself. It's not her go to option yet to communicate. And as an orphan, even a newly adopted one, she is unsure of her place in the world. And she is unsure of her adoptive mother, Lestara Buvelle's love. She can't just go to her about this. Especially if Lestara didn't approve of magic. So she internalizes it, her fear of it and of losing control of it. And in this story that becomes the central conflict, expressed through her dream-turned-nightmare sequence.

    When I read the old judgement I decided that her etwahl acting on its own was more symbolic than factual. That what really happened was Sona's fear of losing control made real. And that is what I tried to express. That she lost herself in the music in the beginning and then when she snapped out of it and tried to control it she was unable to, causing it to lash out. And then in her nightmare, she feels forced to follow her etwahl. She becomes unable to move, unable to stop anything but still causing it with her fingers and her magic and her instrument. And it costs her the person she holds dear, her adoptive mother. 

    But then Lestara, alerted by the sounds of Sona's out of control magic lashing out in her nightmare, destroying her room, rushes to her rescue and lets her know that she will be there for her. That she takes her duty as mother seriously and will support Sona no matter what. While Sona has not gained control of her magic at the end, she has Lestara there to help her towards that now. Which eventually leads to her incorporating it into her music more fully and becoming the famous musician she later becomes.

    I actually really really wanted to include a scene after that with her playing in the music room while purposefully trying to conjure her magic and managing to call forth a green light on her strings (her heal) that she is in control of, then looking up to the window and seeing the blue songbird (symbolizing Sona) flying playfully around the old brown songbird (symbolizing Lestara) and then flying forward as the brown songbird follows. But I couldn't fit that in the word limit I had, so I scrapped most of the scene but kept the symbolization at the end. 

    Also, because Sona likes to speak in music terms in game and in her old lore the music and the sound of magic were very important to how she saw the world, I tried to incorporate that into my story. Which was difficult cause I had to research all those terms cause I don't play an instrument or have any formal musical training. I tried to make sure that every word was defined easily through context, but I may have failed, so I'll define them here.

    Aria- A long song performed by a single voice, often accompanied by an instrument.
    Crescendo- A gradual increase in the loudness of a musical piece
    Sforzando- A part of music that is played with a very sudden emphasis, usually by being louder than the rest. Used by Lestara here to lightly comment on Sona's mistake.
    Furia- A fury or a piece that is supposed to express intense anger. An outburst
    Incalzando- When music gets faster and louder. Sona's heart is speeding up from panic and beating loudly in her ears.
    Bisbigliando- Literally whispering. Specifically a form of harp technique that is usually heard in horror movies when the tension is picking up. You should definitely listen to it. 
    Sognando- Dreamily, music that sounds like a dream. Definitely proud of this one. Basically using this one word to show the reader it's a dream without actually stating it.
    Sordino- Mute or muffled. Normally done to stop the strings from vibrating as much or at all. Imagine Sona's finger laying across the string of her etwahl so it cannot play.
    Staccato- Notes that are brief and detached. In this case the single note that Sona played to cut dream Lestara.
Sign In or Register to comment.