Tag Archive: Vanni


“Any plans after we reach our destination?” Sen asked Vanni softly as he stood at the bow of the airship watching the scenery.

“I’m not sure,” he replied, after a moment. “I figured… I thought that I’d explore. I’d like to… see the world.”

“The world’s a big place,” Sen pointed out. “The road gets mighty lonely. Might you want some company?”

“Maybe,” Vanni replied. He looked out over the bow of the airship and smiled. His father had always warned him about trusting strangers. The woman might have an ulterior motive for her offer; but she might just want company on the road.

“Where are we going?” Oliver asked, joining them.

Vanni spun to face them and waved a hand toward the horizon. “That way,” he declared. “After that… who knows.”

Longer Ways to Go

Vanni bounded up the gangplank of the airship with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. He carried a violin that he’d purchased with the money he’d earned at the little inn. On his back was a pack full of the provisions that he’d forgotten in his haste to leave home. He wore more serviceable clothes now, instead of the finery he’d worn when he reached the inn.

“Vanni Galiano?” the steward said as he reached the deck. “You’re one of three musicians on the ship. I’ll take you to your room as soon as the others arrive. For now, feel free to explore but try not to get underfoot.”

“Yes, sir,” Vanni said. He stepped over to the side, out of the way of a passing airman. Then he looked out over the bow of the ship. Before him lay the great wide blue of the sky. The world seemed to stretch out before him, beckoning him forward. He felt the freedom of the open road and chuckled, as he had to shake his hair out of his face.

“Might want to cut that,” an androgynous voice said wryly from behind him.

Vanni spun to find a buxom woman of dark complexion standing behind him. He pushed his hair away again and nodded. “Might be a plan,” he agreed. “Vanni Galiano,” he added. “I play violin and piano and sing tenor.”

“Sentina Cole. My friends call me Sen. I play harp and guitar and sing alto. Classically trained or self-taught?” she asked, not taking his hand.

“Classically trained,” Vanni returned, tucking his hands behind his back. “And you?”

“I have formal training,” she replied, offering her hand now. Vanni frowned but shook it as she added, “Sorry, a lot of folks set themselves out as bards when they really don’t have a claim to the title. Being able to pick out a few folksy songs, does not a bard make.”

Vanni grinned and looked away, sharply reminded of his music teacher. The maestro had thought only those educated in music should pursue it as a career. He’d only learned music to please his father and, later, because it was fun. It had never even occurred to him that he could find a career in music until the barkeeper had asked him about his skills. The juxtaposition of the two ideas was intriguing.

“Are you saying that those who learned in a more traditional manner have no business being bards?” another voice said.

Vanni looked up to find a fair man who appeared a few years older than he was. “If so I fear I must disagree. After all, going back to our roots music was largely a structureless endeavor. It’s a more recent addition, actually.”

“The only musicians I know are largely untrained and they’re… fun to listen to. They have a sound that’s all their own,” Vanni pointed out. “I suppose because they don’t know how music is ‘supposed’ to sound.” He turned his gaze toward the horizon. “Like when I first started, I figured that I should only play the few folksongs I knew. It wasn’t until later that I began using my more classical music with a less classical audience. I was pleasantly surprised when they liked it.”

“Just because something is different doesn’t make it bad. It can make it all the more interesting. Variety adds spice to life,” the young man agreed. He held out a hand and said, “Oliver Montgomery, pleasure to meet you.”

“Vanni Galiano.” He took the offered hand and smiled broadly. “Are you the third musician that they were waiting for?”

“I am,” Oliver replied. “I play flute and harp. I sing baritone… trending toward the lower end of the register.”

Vanni nodded and added his own vital information. As Sen made her introductions and the ship set out, he gazed out at the horizon. He had a long way to go before he went home again but he thought he would enjoy the journey.

Setting out from home was always a scary proposition for Vanni. His father had made a lot of enemies and he’d been raised to be wary and cautious. However, he also felt like everyone around him was controlling him. His life wasn’t his own any more.

Thus he found himself on the road, heading out of town. He realized as he walked that he hadn’t planned things very well. He had no food, no provisions and his clothes and shoes were not made to be traveled in, but to be seen in. He was dressed too finely to be walking along the dusty highway.

He paused. He hadn’t gone far. He could turn back. He could go home and let everyone else decide what was best for him. Then the Galiano pride kicked in again. There was no way he was quitting. He turned his back on the town that he’d grown up in and walked.

Eventually, feet aching, legs tired, he came to a small inn. He slumped into a chair and frowned at his purse. Again, a lack of forethought hit him jarringly. He had about enough money on his person for a night’s stay. Moaning and running his hands through his long blond hair, Vanni slumped back in the chair.

“Problem?” the barkeep said.

“Not really,” Vanni replied. “Just realizing how sheltered I’ve always been. I’m… short on funds,” he admitted.

The barkeep frowned and stepped over, eyeing him critically. “You could get a job. Got any skills?”

“Skills?” Vanni asked. “I can sing, play piano and violin and speak three languages. Math and literature… some magic, that’s more knowledge than skill though.”

“There are some bards in town, maybe you can hook up with them,” the man suggested. “Try it out. We don’t have a musician right now. Piano’s over there. Music brings in the custom.”

Vanni nodded and, weary though he was, he headed over to the piano. In moments he was going through his repertoire. He played the folk-songs he knew. The kind of things that got people tapping their feet. Stuffy chamber music was not on call in this venue.

He was surprised when a small blond man tapped him on the shoulder. The man was grinning and handed him a mug of cider. “Take a break,” he said. “I’m sure you could use a drink.”

When Vanni reached for his purse the man shook his head. “You’ve earned it,” was all he said. Vanni grinned as the man walked away, sipping the beverage. It was the first time he’d worked for something and it felt good.

Vanni frowned and looked all around him.  It was dark.  There was no moon and the streetlights were too far off to light the cemetery.  He didn’t like it.  He felt like anyone could sneak up on him.

 As if the dark thoughts had summoned up trouble, Vanni was surprised by strong arms around his chest.  Another hand covered his mouth.  He was half-dragged, half-carried over to a ditch that the autumn rains had filled with water.

 Suddenly, he was pushed beneath the water.  He struggled to get away; to hold his breath in.  In the end, he could do neither.  Air escaped in fat bubbles, quickly replaced by murky water.  Vanni’s struggles eased as cold filled his chest.

 Then he relaxed.  Suddenly he was warm.  He sat up in shock and looked around frightfully.  “Giovanni,” a familiar voice greeted.  “It’s too early.  You have to go back.”

 “What?” Vanni looked around and found that he was still sitting in the ditch.  Not far off a man was running away as two other ran toward him.  He recognized them immediately as his father and godfather.  He looked for whoever had spoken and found a girl standing not far off.

 “Giovanni, you have to go back,” she said, pointing to where his father was kneeling on the ground over a lifeless form.

 Suddenly, Vanni recognized the girl.  “Lissa?” he said.  He stood and took her hands.  “Lissa, it’s you,” he said.  He leaned against her and smiled.  “I’ve missed you.”

 “I’ve always been there but you need to go back.  I’ve waited for you for a long time.  I can wait a little longer.  Your father needs you.  Go.  I’ll wait,” she promised.

 Vanni nodded and suddenly a force caught him up and he was cold again.  He was coughing, gagging and vomiting up the water that he’d swallowed and inhaled.  Strong hands rubbed his back and soon he relaxed.  “Dad?” he whispered hoarsely.

 “Thank Gaia,” the older man said.  “Are you hurt, son?”

 “I think I’m alright,” Vanni replied.  He rolled over so he could look at his father.  “I saw Lissa.  She said… she said she’d wait, that it wasn’t my time yet.  She said you needed me.”

 Suddenly he was caugh in a bone-crushing embrace.  “I do need you, son,” his father murmured.  “I don’t say it often.  I don’t say it near enough.  I take you for granted but I can’t imagine what I would do if something happened to you.”

 “I love you too, Dad,” Vanni whispered.

The Dead are Gentle to Us

Vanni looked out over the cemetary with its rows of stones.  His brothers stood not far away.  His father stood further back.  “Well, we’re altogether,” he said softly.  “Just like you wanted.”

 “We’re finally a family again,” Philippe added.  He took each of his brother’s hands and smiled gently between them.  They were a most unusual family.  Vanni was a human mage.  He was a vampire and Patrice was somewhere in between the two.  Still, there was no doubt that they were related.  All had their mother’s coloring.

 “The question now is: what will Cris do?” Patrice said.

 “He’s had no problem raising you all these years,” Vanni pointed out.

 “He gave me treatments to subdue my vampire side, Vanni.  Those treatments won’t work for Philippe.  He’s too old now.”

 The youngest brother looked at their mother’s grave.  “She wanted us to be raised as brothers.  Father will respect that.  He may be anxious about Philippe being a vampire, but he’ll honor her wishes.  He will always love her.”

 “True,” Patrice agreed.  He reached over and took Vanni’s hand and smiled.  They’d be fine now.  They were a family.

Monica Ferris

an author with many hats

A Land of Curiosity

From the files of Shynian Intelligence

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tales from the enchanted gardens and shadow hollow

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