Branda spread her fingers carefully along its length, took a breath, and blew into the mouthpiece. The deep, melodious note seemed to vibrate against Lissa's body, making her gasp at the unusual feeling. Branda paused to breathe, but the note continued, deep and long, until it drifted away on the breeze. She played a higher note, and it too took on a life of its own. All conversation in the arena faltered. People returned to their cushions.
A series of chords followed, so precise and clear that Lissa could easily distinguish five separate notes. That wasn't Branda's only trick. While her next chord played, she sucked on the mouthpiece and moved her fingers. A second chord joined the first, each distinct yet harmonizing perfectly.
Branda continued weaving an ever more complex melody, its melancholy pace so haunting that Lissa felt it tearing through her soul. She closed her eyes and let the music flow over and through her, until she lost track of the real world and imagined herself floating in a gently undulating ocean of sound. Time had no meaning. Had she been adrift in the melodic void for moments or days?
Eventually, the tune ended on a single, perfect note that wafted away like a final sigh. Lissa scanned the audience. Even the rowdiest of the drunken crews sat silent and mesmerized, shaking their heads as if awakening.
Without the music, Lissa felt a deep loss stab her heart. Tears streamed down her face. Perhaps others felt the same, because a long moment passed before a ripple of applause began. The clapping rose to a crescendo until everyone was on their feet, pounding their hands together, whistling and cheering.
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