Jothan Mwrr sat on a hard wooden stool in the darkened bedchamber. The emaciated man huddled close to the room's only source of illumination, a stubby tallow candle, as he carefully scratched out notes on a thick sheet of parchment. "Stunning," he whispered both to himself and to the room's other occupant. "You're doing wonderfully, Isabella. Just a few more notes and we'll have the second movement finished!" Jothan's eyes glinted with glee, but his face remained stony and impassive as his gaze rose from the page resting on his bony knees.
He looked up towards the large canopy bed in front of him. In the recesses of the violet curtains lay a young girl, her ghostly white skin starkly contrasted against the surrounding shadows. She watched Jothan with terrified eyes, her gray lips gasping for meager breaths. Her large, brown eyes trembled, and an occasional tear would run down her pallid cheek. Every so often, the regular rhythm of her weak breathing would be interrupted by a pathetic rasping cough. The girl winced suddenly, her body thrown into yet another agonizing seizure. Her delicate hands clawed violently at the surrounding bedsheets, and a terrible whimpering moan escaped her spittle-flecked lips.
Jothan mimicked the terrible sound of the tortured girl, picking out its pitch, and humming it softly back to himself. "B flat," he noted with a bemused smirk, writing down yet another scratch on his parchment. "That brings us out of the subdominant, but will introduce the final cadence quite nicely."
Isabella desperately watched her companion's impassioned musings as the final pangs of the spasm died out. She gasped for air and let out a sickly whimper. "Please ... please make it stop."
Jothan fixed his cold gaze on the trembling girl once more, this time his eyes locked in a disapproving scowl. "I said we were nearly done Isabella, my dear. If you cooperated this would be much easier."
Before she could respond, Isabella was seized by another series of painful spasms. Her back arched sharply as her body twisted involuntarily in response to the unimaginable pain wracking her muscles. She shrieked this time, her eyes and mouth splayed wide in agony. Again, Jothan identified the pitches of the girl's horrible cries. "G followed by D ... Excellent!" He scribbled furiously as Isabella's agony continued a mere yard away. "And finally C, which brings us to the root. Wonderful resolution! You're a marvelous musician, Isabella!"
Jothan rose quickly from his stool and strode to a short night-table near Isabella's bed. He picked up a small glass vial from the table, and firmly seizing Isabella's head, poured its contents down her throat. Isabella immediately fell into a heavy coughing spell, gagging at the acrid taste of the blue liquid. The fit passed a few moments later and she finally lay still, panting softly, her fatigued eyes only half open. "You've done very well Isabella," Jothan said with a smile, gently stroking Isabella's damp brow. "You see, the antidote worked perfectly; I promised I wouldn't let the poison kill you. You'd better rest now, my dear. Tomorrow we must begin the third movement."
Isabella looked up weakly at her torturer with tear-filled eyes. "Why?" she whispered between hollow breaths.
"Because music must come from the depths of true pain," Jothan replied. "Every artist needs his muse."
Isabella collapsed back onto the bed, her face buried into her tear and sweat-soaked pillow. "Why?" she cried again. "Why father?"
Jothan stood silently for a while, watching his exhausted daughter. "Rest well, Isabella," he finally managed to whisper. "We have much work to do tomorrow night." With a final glance towards his little girl, Jothan blew out the short candle before slowly and silently leaving the bedchamber. Isabella was left alone, crying in the darkness.