Corsinial had never encountered this cave before.
She had floated her way among many gardens of many kinds, each burgeoning with life and beauty, all made more lovely by her presence. Terraced mountains gleamed with polished stone that sang deep tones when her feet pressed against them, and the trees floated their falsetto on the wind as Corsinial passed under their branches. Flowers chimed with merry chirps, and rivers kept time with babbling bubbles. The turf reverberated with every sound, knitting together every piece into a beautiful song, which Corsinial effortlessly conducted with every twitch of her arm and dance of her legs. They were beauty latent, and she could call out more than they had. The First God enjoyed the song.
Caves, too, were made more beautiful when Corsinial danced there. The undisturbed pools, devoid of life, swam in circles to match her spins, and the cave walls allowed her sung notes to echo together into exuberant chorus. Columns of stone vibrated, emanating sounds too deep for any human to have heard with their ear, but so strong as to shake the body.
This cave sang a key which she had never heard. The notes grated on her soul, and she ceased her dance. No longer merrily skipping, Corsinial stepped deeper into the cave, with little cries echoing from each footfall. The magic of First God that made each created thing exalt the god which passed near it, the magic that made the ground bring forth vegetables for the gardener and minerals for the miner, the magic that made water for the thirsty and wind for the weary, the magic that ruled the world was here, but it had never wrenched such sounds from the ground.
Corsinial wondered what god or man might be near, that the earth would answer it so. “Is there someone here?”
“No One is here. It is I who change the ground.”
“My song is different here than it has ever been. I feel as though I cannot dance. What do you do to the ground?”
“Deeper, Corsinial. The true beauty is deeper in.”
Then with the pop of wind rushing away, the ground changed and Corsinial heard the pebbles humming a song like it did when she was alone in the wild. The presence of other gods had changed her song before, but only as the songs were melded into another beautiful thing. When she walked with the smith god the flowers rang like bells, and when she danced with the storm god the trees groaned deep as they grew. Never before had another god prevented her song from being beautiful.
Her song paused as an echo emanated from a crack in the wall. “Deeper, Corsinial. The true song is deeper in.”
Corsinial drifted between the slabs of stone, hearing them hiss unmusically. She did not understand what god this might be. She arrived on the other side in a chamber of crystal, each spike of rock glowing with its own light.
She heard the voice again, “Welcome, Corsinial, to my home.”
“Which god are you, voice? For no human could make such a magic.”
“It is No One. Have you never heard my voice?”
“I have never heard that name, nor do I know the voice which belongs to it.”
The crystals gleamed brighter, a shrill green, and the form of No One was revealed, stretched across a couch of stone which sat on a platform at the end of the long chamber in which Corsinial stood.
“You have a form I do not know. Tell me now who you are.”
The form of No One groaned, and he stood, revealing a tremendous height. Like a million tiny pearls of many colors No One appeared. In the brightness she recognized him.
“It is you, Meldus. Why did you not say so? And why have you extinguished my song? When once we walked together, on the bank of the river far from here, you made every note more strong, and even my own leaping was loftier.”
“I have not extinguished your song, Corsinial. Indeed, I have never heard it.”
“You have sung it with me. Just as you command the larger stones to come to the mason gods, so you commanded greater harmony as I danced.”
“That is the song you were given to sing, and not your own. You have never sung your own song. I invite you to sing it now.” No One raised his hand, and the cave became filled with silence, waiting to be broken.
Corsinial was wise, and perceived innately what he said. Of course it was the song given to her. just as each garden, leaf, and clod was given to her. How could she want another? But there it was, the idea, the offering, that here, in this cold cave away from the First God’s face, she could sing a song other than the one that First God wanted. She could sing a song with freedom in it.
Corsinial ventured a single note, a fluttering tenor in the middle of her range. And she thought it was beautiful. With a gush came out many more notes on scales she had never sung, notes that lurked between notes and came against each the other with an exciting bang. There was clamor in her chorus, a discord so perfectly arranged that none could doubt but that it came from the goddess of beauty herself, and the crystals gleamed. The song exploded in sound from which the cave walls rang for a few seconds, and she was done.
Exhausted, Corsinial stood up from her collapsed position. “Meldus! Never before have you helped me make a new song,” she said, beaming. But Meldus’ appearance had changed. He had grown taller again, and his pearled body gleamed with more vigor.
“I will help you sing many new songs in the days to come, Corsinial.”
Corsinial giggled contentedly, the song still buzzing in her head. “Now, Meldus, why did you not answer when I called you first?”
“You had to come deeper into the cave. First God is always listening to the ground.”
And Corsinial knew immediately, without learning, but only unlocking her innate understanding, that she had done something the First God did not want. And she immediately knew why Meldus had called himself No One.
Corsinial had never encountered this cave before.