Some questions got answered in this fragment. That's very nice! I feel like I've been given more solid ground to stand on in terms of plot and backstory. Still, I feel we need to know more about the magic in your world in earlier sections to fully grasp Tambour's story -I tried my best to describe my issues with that scene, but should you have any doubts, let me know!. Other than that and a few technical issues here and there, I loved this scene. Great Job!
They say you can discover a lot from an individual’s personal space, and Jane hoped to do just that. But, her first glimpse of Troubere’s office served only to remind her of how displaced she was from her own time – it was like stepping into a museum recreation. There were musical instruments, the likes of which Jane had never seen, lining the walls. A large desk cluttered with papers and writing supplies sat in a far corner in front of an equally large bookcase full of books. A pianoforte filled the center of the room. Jane’s eye immediately went to the music sitting on it, a hand-printed copy of music by Domenico Scarlatti. Domenico Scarlatti! Only one of the most important men of the Baroque era, next to Bach of course. (Italics here maybe?)Jane fought the urge to sit down and play it. Instead, she turned her attention to Troubere who sat at his desk, busy with some unknown task. After a moment he looked up, thanked Tuner for delivering Jane and excused him.
Jane stood waiting for Troubere to invite her to sit down, but he sat at his desk and studied her. Jane studied him in return. She noted, again, how out of place his vivid white hair seemed framing a face not lined with wrinkles. He looks stressed out, though. She began to feel uncomfortable as she continued to stand there. Just when she was about to invite herself to sit down, Troubere broke eye contact. Ha! I won. He seemed to remember his manners and came around the desk to offer Jane a large stuffed leather chair. He pulled up a small, wooden one with a cushion for himself. He cleared his throat and fidgeted, then tried to find a more comfortable position in his chair. Jane could see he was uncomfortable, and not from the piece of furniture he sat upon. His unease was beginning to rub off on her.
Troubere’s head snapped up.
“I wanted to thank you for taking me in, for your hospitality.”
“Oh, of course,” he said, nodding. “You are most welcome here.” He seemed relieved that the silence had been broken. “You did not ask to be here. It is the very least I can do to repay you for being plucked out of your own element and conveyed through time and space to be here with us in our moment of need.” Jane thought of Mistress Quaverly’s statement earlier, that she was “needed,” and her brow furrowed.
“What is it you need me to do?” she asked. Troubere looked down. Jane filled the silence with more questions.
“When will I be going back? How do I get back? Why me, out of all the people in the world?” (Just the sort of reaction I expected from her since she travelled back in time. Nice!) He cleared his throat again. “I will answer your questions, but first, let me tell you a story.” He leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers in front of him.
“There once was a woman who dreamed. Hers were no ordinary dreams. They were a source of inspiration for her; they facilitated her work. These dreams were fashioned and shaped from the enigmatic power of her music; a gift that allowed her to see things others could not. The dreams allowed her to help others. Perhaps warning of a coming storm, or of an impending visitor, or even of a hole in a fence where the cows were about to escape. Whatever they revealed, it was always something practical or useful, and the woman felt a sense of pride and purpose in using her dreams to help others.
One day, however, the dreams became nightmares. They were so frightening she didn’t want to see them anymore. She tried to avoid them by hiding herself away and refusing to participate in music of any kind, hoping she would never have to endure another nightmare again. However, as you well know Miss Picardy, music is everywhere. A bird singing in a tree, the hum of a bee, or the steady tick of a clock on the mantle; we are surrounded by music. It is truly unavoidable. And so, the nightmares continued. The woman had to do something about the horrible visions her dreams had become or go mad. She constructed a talisman that could channel energy in a similar manner a funnel delivers water through the narrow neck of a bottle. The talisman could gather its own energy, random energy, and store it for later use. When it was finished, she charged the talisman with as much energy as it could hold. Then, she set events in motion that would enable the talisman to do a very specific and important act; indeed, to accomplish the very reason for its creation. It was to be activated at a specific time by a specific person to bring her to us from three hundred years in the future.” (There’s a nice mystical sense to these paragraphs. I also like that it reveals more about how Jane came to be where she is –which is something I’ve been wondering for some time now- however, I feel they need some polishing. First of all, being a bit more specific at the beginning would help lots; perhaps telling us the woman was a student/teacher at the institute or that her powers were unlike anything seen before or after, so we know it’s not a story about magic itself but a tale to help clarify the situation. Also, I’d say giving us a bit of an introduction to how the magic-music system works would make this part easier to understand; for example, the relationship between the talisman and her nightmares/dreams. Finally, two or three sentences near the end of the second paragraph only explain the obvious –such as the ‘to accomplish the very reason for its creation’.)
Troubere stopped when he saw Jane’s eyes widened in realization. “Yes, you Miss Picardy,” he said, peering at her with blazing intensity through brilliant, slate-blue eyes.
“The woman was Tambour?” Jane asked, though she already knew it was true. Troubere nodded. “And the talisman is the baton,” she said. “But, I still don’t know my purpose in all this.”
“Tambour’s nightmares were of a crea–” Troubere stopped, seemed to reconsider his words, then began again. “She saw the destruction of our kind, those of us who have realized our full potential with music and its power. However, along with our destruction, she also saw a way that we might save ourselves. The key to our salvation is music. Music is power. You have experienced it personally in a few small ways since your arrival. However, our music, the music we have presently available to us, is limited. Music in our time is not sophisticated enough for our needs. We must have a more powerful type of music that the muses have yet to inspire. More plainly, it has yet to be created. But we know it will be. (Hmm based on your story, I’d say your aiming for the Classical and Romantic periods, rather than modern times themselves – along the lines of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Verdi, etc.- because I can’t seem to fit, say, rock or rap into your story. Throwing some clues –maybe even ideas from Jane- regarding the meaning of ‘more powerful type of music’ would be great!)
Jane thought she understood where he was going. As a music major in college, she studied the history of music and understood that music slowly evolved through the ages. It began as simple melody lines sung by monks in monasteries, then slowly progressed into more and more complicated compositions with more than one melody line going at once, the polyphony eventually creating harmony. Later, instruments were invented that could be played along with a sung melody and the harmonies became thicker in tonality. As more and more instruments were created people discovered that a sung melody line was not a requirement for a beautiful composition. The symphony was born. The harmonies became even more complex and intricate, using chords and instrumentation not thought of in the past. Music continued to advance, reaching the sophisticated works of Jane’s day, and still continues to move forward. (The paragraph sounds a bit like a college exposition. Try to make this as compact as possible or substitute some parts with Jane’s thoughts instead. You can jump over most of the info, from ‘simple melody lines’ to ‘the symphony was born’.)
“You need music from the future,” Jane said matter-of-factly, “music from my time. Which means… you need a teacher?” she asked. Troubere gave her a sideways glance.
“A teacher, huh?” She stared at him as she thought about it. A slow grin spread on her face. “I’ve always wanted to try my hand at teaching. I suppose it wouldn’t be too hard.”
Troubere returned with a tight smile and Jane wondered at it.
“Are you volunteering for the task?” he asked her.
“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.