First things first, I love that things are being explained to us across this section. It's really helping me to understand the plot and the world you've built, which is something I always enjoy when reading fantasy. Now, the POV jumps here feel a bit unnecessary and I think it would actually be enhanced if we experienced the whole thing from Jane's POV. That way, you could leave Troubere's thoughts/intentions a mysery and use them afterwards; give him some abiguity as to his true agenda. You could get rid of some parts and insert others, maybe have Jane try to decipher Troubere's body language so we are pointed in one direction -the right or the wrong one even. Otherwise, great job! I'm getting a clearer picture of things now :)
“Volunteering?” she snorted. “I think I missed that opportunity when I was brought here.” Troubere looked down. She got him on that one. But she didn’t like to see his discomfort so took pity on him. “Yes. I’ll do it.” It’s good to finally know my purpose here.
Troubere let out a breath of relief. His respect for Jane increased ten-fold at her willingness to help. His feelings of shame increased ten-fold as well. After what happened to Tambour, Jane deserved to know exactly what she was getting into; that a creature called a Mordant is lurking out there somewhere, waiting. But he dare not tell her the whole truth. If she knew, she surely would refuse to help them. Who in their right mind wouldn’t? He felt ashamed of his omission, but his need to protect his guild and everyone in it overrode his sense of obligation to her. To assuage his feelings of guilt, he decided that, when the time came, he would do what he could to protect her. (I feel this could offer the reader a great bit of mystery regarding Troubere’s intentions and his true character, which is why I think you should not clarify his thoughts on the matter but rather leave it up to the reader to find out what he’s really up to.)
He watched her as she sat thinking. Who is this woman with such generosity of spirit? Such talent in music? Jane is exactly what Tambour had said she would be; perfect. He was completely unprepared for how perfect. He was going to have to be careful. (I’m not quite sure she’s demonstrated this perfection of hers… so maybe ley the story unfold so Troubere can come to that conclusion afterwards and, perhaps, even the readers too.)
“Miss Picardy, thank you,” he said finally. “You will be a very competent and capable teacher, I am sure.” He paused. “There is another matter.”
“You will have the singular title of both teacher and student,” he said. Jane looked puzzled. “There has never been a student at our music guild who was also a teacher, yet it must be. You must first learn control.” (I like this part, it alludes to how special Jane is without taking it over the edge just yet) Troubere rubbed his backside. “I am feeling the effects of your handiwork from yesterday.” Jane suppressed a smile and Troubere responded with a begrudging half smile of his own.
“You’re right about that,” she said. “I really have no idea how I did that to you.”
“I suspect much of the responsibility lies with the baton itself,” Troubere replied. “As I said before, it is capable of gathering its own energy, which is half of the battle when conducting vibrations. However, the other half was purely you. No one explained it. You seemed to know instinctively how to manipulate the baton to your will.” (Another excellent part)
“You know, I’m completely overwhelmed by all this…,” she flung her hands up at a loss for words, “…magic. Before yesterday, I would have told you there’s no such–.”
“Just a moment,” Troubere interrupted. “What we do here is not magic. That we leave to stage performers doing card tricks and slight of hand. What we teach is real – a viable, workable power.”
“Fair enough. So, having never witnessed this… power before, sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind. I mean, everyone has fantasies of being able to make things happen by a simple wave of the hand. But that’s all they were. Fantasies.”
“This is no fantasy.” He hummed and swirled his finger, and a sheet of manuscript paper floated in the air doing lazy somersaults and twirls before landing gently back to its spot on the table.
“I’ll never get used to that,” she said, shaking her head. “So, when do I start?”
“Almost immediately. I will call for a convocation to introduce you to the students and inform them of your position here.” He pursed his lips, thinking. After what happened to Tambour the other night, there was really no time to spare. Now that a Mordant had made itself known, they would need to begin without delay. “I wonder… Jane, would you consent to performing for us? It would give the students a suggestion of the power you hold.”
“Power? I don’t hold any power.”
“If you learn nothing else here with us Jane, you must learn that music is power,” he said, “and from what I have witnessed, you know music.”
He was right. If Jane knew anything, she knew music. She had spent her life pursuing it. These people have no idea the music that will be coming in the near future. She, however, did know, and she was going to knock their socks off! (Nicely done here!)
“I think I see what you are getting at,” she said. “Yes, I’ll do it.”
“Most gracious of you. Might you be prepared as soon as tomorrow?”
“Uh, yes, I believe so,” she replied, suddenly unsure. She had no idea what to perform. It wasn’t that she didn’t have any piano pieces in her memory to choose from, quite the opposite. She had a rather large repertoire at her fingertips due to an almost photographic memory. She had only to see something a few times before it was imprinted in her brain. She could still play most of the music she had ever performed in her life. The problem was that she could not decide which one, out of the myriad she had to choose from, she should play. Should it be something slow and romantic; a Chopin Nocturne maybe? Or, perhaps something fast and energetic, like a Rachmaninoff sonata? (Well, I’m not against giving her a privileged memory, but it sounds too convenient and I believe you could pull more from this section if, instead, you referenced the pieces she’s most familiar with. By learning what she’s practiced more, or even what she prefers to play, we could learn about her personality as well, since right now it sounds like she could play virtually anything.)
“I will be your accompanist,” Troubere said. “However, you will have to write out something for me to play as I am sure you will perform a piece unknown to me.”
Jane looked confused. “You would rather I sing?”
“Oh– I simply assumed… You mean there is even more to you Miss Picardy?” Troubere looked pleasantly surprised. “I know you can sing. What else can you do?”
“Well, I am a pianist… er… I mean, I am quite accomplished at the pianoforte,” she said.
“I see.” he said, becoming more animated. “I have a few students who are well on their way to becoming skilled at the pianoforte, but none can say they are accomplished.” Troubere looked pleased. “You have a pianoforte piece you could play for us?” he asked. “Something never heard before?” Troubere was truly excited now. Then he seemed to have a sudden idea. “Jane, perhaps I should be your first pupil. Then, together we could teach the students what you know.”
Jane’s brow furrowed. Troubere’s eagerness to learn the secrets of the future suddenly had her feeling uneasy about divulging them. She had read enough sci-fi and watched enough episodes of Star Trek to realize that changing too much in the past would, in all probability, change the future. What would be the ramifications of teaching these people music that had yet to be composed? (Hmm I like it but do be extra careful when dealing with possible time paradoxes. They’re excellent if properly managed but can easily make a mess of things.)
Troubere began to worry as he sat watching Jane think. He mistook her reticence as an aversion to him personally. She doesn’t want to be my teacher. (Seems like an odd thought for Troubere to have.) Surprisingly, the thought cut deeply. But he shrugged it off. Tis of no consequence. But will she still teach the students? Or is she going to change her mind now? Troubere’s mind raced and his concern grew with every moment that passed without a response from Jane. Finally, he could stand it no longer.
“Have I said something to offend?” Jane flinched when he spoke, as if she had forgotten he was in the room.
“Oh, sorry. No.”
“Is everything all right?” he asked, his anxiety growing.
“Yes, everything is fine.”
She is telling me a falsehood.
“I’m just not sure it’s me who should be teaching. I mean, I’ve never been a teacher before. I–
“Perhaps I have been too hasty,” he said, waving his hand as if to dissipate Jane’s uncertainty. “I prefer that you concentrate your efforts on the students. It is right that you should begin with them first. If time allows, I will come and observe your classes.”
Though his tone was nonchalant, inwardly he barely kept his distress contained. He knew Jane was beginning to change her mind, and he berated himself for suggesting she teach him. The guild desperately needed her so he tried to mend the bridge he almost destroyed. Since she had already committed herself he would draw on her sense of honor and integrity to convince her that she could not back out now. He would do everything in his power to encourage her to help them.
Troubere shot up, took Jane by the elbow, and led her to the door. “It is not my wish that you be uncomfortable, Miss Picardy. You are under no obligation to teach me, however, I am most humbly grateful to you for your willingness to teach the students.”
“What? No, you misunderstand. I think maybe…”
“Thank you for meeting with me this morning Jane. You are going to be a vital addition to our society. I shall see you tomorrow at the convocation, three o’clock sharp.” He nudged her out into the hallway. “You can find your own way back?” he asked smiling, then shut the door.
Jane stared at the door for several seconds. What just happened? She realized she had really gotten herself into something. The old adage of ‘Look before you leap’ came to mind. However, she felt that, rather than having leapt before she looked, she had been blindfolded and thrown bodily! How was she supposed to make an informed decision, when nothing like this had ever happened before? She had nothing to go on to help her. Not only that, she hadn’t asked to come to the eighteenth century. She happened to wave a peculiar baton in the air and suddenly found herself here. Yes, thrown bodily was exactly how she felt.