• Michal

Excerpts from the diary of Elise Sinko

Soon-to-be criminal Elise "Lise" Sinko starts keeping a diary when she and her brother Eobard go on the run.

 

After yesterday, I convinced Eo to find us a therapist. I went first. She suggested keeping a diary to keep track of the whirlwind of stuff happening to us, and I figured, fuck it. Why not? I can’t talk to Eo about any of this. It’s not like he’d understand how it felt from my side, given the fact that Dad

I crossed it out. I don’t think I’m ready to talk about that. Ever.

Eo’s going tomorrow to see the therapist, maybe she’ll help him handle…his part in what happened. I found this diary in a garbage can outside the library, not sure who would throw out a book like this. I like the cover.

°

Eo came back from his appointment covered in blood, a scary look was in his eyes. When I started crying, he told me not to worry, that most of it wasn’t his.

I guess therapy’s over.

°

On the streets for a week now. Eo is really good at stealing food. I’ve got a good voice, so I distract them with music questions while he sneaks up to the stalls. Except, he’s acting weird. Sometimes he brings his knife with him. I don’t know why. We can steal perfectly fine without hurting people. Maybe it’s just to keep me safe. He does that a lot. And I can’t exactly fault him for wanting to protect me. I wish I was stronger.

°

Someone Eobard fought was stronger than him, tore up his left arm pretty bad. I practiced a little healing magic with Mom, but I was never good enough at it to fix anything, so I couldn’t do anything. Eo let me wrap it, but didn’t tell me anything about who he fought. I’m worried. Maybe he just ran off to pick a fight, maybe someone attacked him. But worst of all I worry he didn’t have a reason to at all.

°

Eo’s wound got infected. He’s got a pretty bad fever, and I have to help him walk. Nobody wants to help a couple of homeless kids on the street, which means no shelter, no supplies. Barely any food. I’m hungry, and I hate it. I’m a terrible big sister.

You’d think he’s the older brother, the way he takes charge sometimes. He’s ten. He still has trouble reading sometimes. And he’s a foot taller than me. But he’s still a baby. And when I have to take charge, I barely remember how to do it.

°

Someone took pity on us. I was singing for coins in the street and this man came in, he dropped more gold than I’ve seen in my lifetime in the tin. I showed him Eobard and he offered us a place to stay and medical treatment, in return for me singing for him some more. Seems fair enough.

I gave Eo some medicine, should help bring the fever down. I don’t have anyone but him left. I’m not letting anything bad happen to him.

°

I killed someone today.

I’m sorry.

On the plus side, we now have a roof over our heads and more than enough money for medicine. Eo can have some of the leftover. I’m nice like that.

°

Guards ran us out. Eobard actually faced off against one of them for a minute there. Still got hurt, but not nearly as bad as before.

He looked like he was having fun. I don’t know how to feel about it.

°

A new community stage opened up in F district a few weeks ago. There haven’t been a lot of shows lately, so I’ve taken to dragging Eo there when we don’t have anything else to do. He surprised me today. He showed up holding a piano book. I guess we’ll see how he plays, since he isn’t a fan of anything on a stage. I swear he shrinks a foot when he sits at the bench.

°

Eo’s actually really good at this. Asshole just needs to sit up a little straighter and he’ll give the Muse Troupe a run for their money.

°

Ohmymezzo Vaelyn heard me sing!! He flew up to me and Eo while we were practicing, I didn’t even know he was here. I saw the sparkle in his eyes when he asked us to keep going—he liked it! After a minute, he made Eo scooch over on the bench and gave him an impromptu lesson. And then he asked me to sing My Muse, and taught Eo how to play along. Eo picked it up so fast, by the end Vaelyn looked impressed.

He told us we have talent. Real, raw talent that not everyone has, and that he’ll be back tomorrow to give us another lesson. I swear my heart skipped a beat. Even Eo seemed genuinely happy—no one’s ever praised him like that before, not even Mom.

I’m so happy about Vaelyn, but…when I think back to him talking to us, all I can see is the light on Eobard’s face. I missed that smile so bad it hurts.

°

I got a cold. Fuck me. Now I have to sit on the side while Vaelyn makes Eo into a little mini human him. Eo actually had the AUDACITY to look back at me and smirk.

Fucker. I’m gonna choke him in his sleep for that.

I forgot what a bed feels like. That’s normal, right?

°

We’ve been training with Vaelyn for a while now, and somehow it only just came up that we don’t live anywhere. He actually, honest to Mezzo, squawked, and practically paraded us to his place where he and the Muse Troupe stay. He had one of his guys throw a few pillows and blankets in the piano room, and told us the password to get into the hideout if we ever need to. I’m not writing it down because I’m not a fucking idiot. It feels like a home in here.

His bassist suggested she train me to fight. I might as well be able to keep up with Eo.

°

Wow okay swords are fun. I get it now, Eo. At least, a little.

°

Eo keeps practicing his progressions in the middle of the night and getting yelled at. What do you expect, dipshit? Two in the morning and you’re practicing Dusky Waters at speed? He’s lucky I’m good at sleeping through anything, otherwise I’d suffocate him with a pillow.

°

I’m actually pretty good at swordplay now! Eo and I sometimes spar when we’re not rehearsing or performing or practicing. I don’t see him as much lately. Something about him and Harriet practicing stage performance. It’s been working though! He’s already talking and laughing more, and he sits up straight at the piano now. He’s more confident. Having more fun and coming out of his shell a bit, so I can’t blame him if he doesn’t stay in the piano room with me anymore. And his smile doesn’t feel as genuine anymore. It’s always stuck on his face, like he’s forgotten how to stop.

It’s kinda lonely in here.

°

Vaelyn says we’re ready for a real performance! There’s a big concert coming next weekend, and he wants us on stage with him!

This is it. I’m ready. WE are ready.

°

It all happened so fast. Eo and Harriet were practicing on stage and Eo…I’ve never seen it like that before. He was gaining so much ground in the fight, and it seemed like it was time to switch the choreo so Harriet was in the lead, but, Eobard changed things up. He just kept going, and going, and going, just to prove he could. Harriet got scared, yelled at him to stop, and so he killed Harriet, right in front of everyone.

Vaelyn kicked us out. On the street, without anything. I’ll never be the performer I want to be. I’m trying hard not to cry anymore.

Eo won’t explain why he did it. I told him to get away from me, but he wouldn’t go. He let me cry into his shoulder, even though I punched him a lot. I don’t know when he got strong enough that I can’t hurt him anymore.

We should have stayed in therapy.

°

Eo says he has a plan to get us back in Vaelyn’s good graces. I don’t want to believe him, but he’s my brother. He would do anything for me. I have to believe him.

°

I’m writing this entry from…somewhere. I don’t know exactly where we are, we’ve been running for hours. We finally lost the guards.

Some newbie guard let us go backstage at the concert. A pixie, I think, that stuck out to me. I don’t know how we convinced him.

Eobard killed Vaelyn. That was his plan. He didn’t ever plan on getting Vaelyn to forgive him. He just wanted to have the last word. Vaelyn was nice to us. I don’t know why Eo would do this to someone so nice. I don’t know anything about him anymore.

Eo just told me to stay put for a bit. He says he has something else to handle. But I’ve seen what letting him go on his own gets us. I have to follow him.

°

My brother might be horrible.

He went to the Muse Troupe studio and burned it down, with everyone still inside it. Anyone that came out, he either killed, or had them join him. Nobody was near the fire, so nobody but me saw. Dozens of accomplished, beloved musicians, idols, heroes of the people, gone, in a night. And I just watched.

I saw some guards come to put the fire out, and I saw one of them aim a crossbow at Eo, he wasn’t watching his back. They were going to kill him. I freaked out, ran to them, yelled “STOP” and they all just. Stopped? They all turned to me, completely hinged on my every word. I freaked out even more, I didn’t know what to do, and so I told them to run into the fire. They did. They didn’t make a sound as they burned, just looked at me for their next orders.

I guess I’m just as horrible as Eobard is.

°

The Muse Troupe has changed. It wasn’t a gang when we joined, but that’s what Eobard seems to want from it. There’s only about a dozen members, but all of them are loyal to him and me. Or maybe they’re just scared of him.

There’s a couple familiar faces. Styrre’s been around since before we joined, and he and Eo are on the same wavelength. He barely waited a moment before siding with Eobard after the fire. And Sosie’s been the drummer for, what, two decades? It doesn’t seem like her thing to be here, but she was always nice to me. Maybe she’s more loyal to me. Or something.

Eo explained the plan to us. To put it mildly, we’re going to take over the music scene in Treble Town. Eliminate or absorb all opposing bands, and make this city a place where music is the only law. Said if we do it right, we’ll live like kings. He didn’t give a reason, but every one of the Troupe was hooked anyway. Honestly, I don’t know who taught him about public speaking, but when he said it, it sounded badass.

And we’ve never lived like kings before.

Well, whatever. It’s not like I have anywhere else to go.

°

Eo put me in charge of the band, permanently. Says he’ll handle the criminal activity while I focus on making us a musical powerhouse. I’m flattered, but management isn’t really my thing. He’s insisting though, and though I know he would never hurt me, I really don’t think I want to get into another shouting match with him. I told him I would set up some rehearsals and quit the second I stopped enjoying it. He just gave me that weird smile again and said he didn’t see it happening.

Dick. I’ll show him.

°

Okay, I hate it when he’s right. Styrre plays such a mean bass, I almost forget my favorite bassist was burned to death by my brother. And when Sosie starts drumming, I swear my heart skips a beat. Eo sat at the keys and somehow, knew exactly what to play, when to play it. It was so natural, I almost lost myself. In a good way. That jam session was absolutely fucking boppin’.

°

Eo and a few members led a raid of a nearby music hall and killed the performing band. I guess he was serious about that “eliminate or absorb” thing. I’ve got rehearsal soon, I’ll try not to think about it.

°

Eobard just asked me to plan a concert. I can’t deny the little thrill of excitement I got from the idea. There’s so much to go into preparing it, and Mezzo knows we need a venue that will let criminals perform. But I wonder how it’s going to go?

°

I never want to do anything again in my life if it’s not on a stage.

The feeling that came over me when I stepped out, pulled the mic from the stand, and started singing? It floored me. Rocked me to my core. I thought the people would hate me, but I guess my voice was good enough that everything else about us fell to the wayside.

People threw me flowers and screamed my name. Eo looked so proud, and try as I might, I can’t hate him for getting me on this stage. If this is what his plans get me, I am all for it. I’ll be a muse. I’ll be whatever performer he needs. I’ll be a voice that will make Vaelyn dance in his grave.

°

Three more bands down this month, two of them absorbed. We’ve actually gotten a handle on part of G district right now, and our numbers have quadrupled. The guards don’t mess with us here—well, except for a few assholes trying to shut down our concerts. I swear, nothing is getting in the way of me on the stage, and for once, Eo and I are in agreement.

°

Kissed my first boy today. He was cute. I think his girlfriend was jealous. Well, she can have him. I’m not exactly looking for a stable relationship right now.

I’ve been getting a lot of letters from admirers. It’s sweet. Some of the other members look jealous. It’s their fault for not being as sexy as I am.

°

Just got back to the hideout after the kidnapping. Context: I guess my being better than them pissed off some P-Pop chicks from G district, so they fucking spiked my drink at a bar and kidnapped me. Was in some dank basement, tied up. They gagged me after I started singing and one of the kidnappers almost let me go. They beat me over and over, and tried to make me promise to never perform again, but obviously I didn’t say shit. It was both terrifying and infuriating, I wanted to sing, to scream at them to tear their own throats out. I HATE being silenced like that.

Eo and Sosie found me after a few weeks. Eo hugged me so hard when he got in my cell, I barely even noticed the blood on us both. He told me never to leave him again, that he was terrified of losing me. I haven’t seen him that scared since Mom died. I cried a bunch, passed out in his arms like a loser. Apparently he carried me back, and there was a wave of applause in the streets when the people saw I’d returned.

Sosie explained to me that as soon as I didn’t come back, Eobard went ballistic. He systematically wiped out gang and band activity around the area I’d disappeared in until he found me. He was on the warpath, for me. Half of G district is ours, for…me.

I’m out of action for a while after this. I can’t speak, can barely walk—they didn’t feed me much. Singing will have to wait.

°

Eo’s been taking out all of Vaelyn’s old apprentices in his spare time. I guess pretty soon we’ll be the only ones left.

°

“Lise of the Muse”, they’re calling me. I like it.

A shame I’m the older sister to the newly anointed “Eobard the Slayer”. Makes it hard to get a date in this town. Eo’s keeping his profile low from here on out, so I’m getting most of the blame/credit for everything he’s doing. Most of our concerts are free, the crime side keeps us up and running.

°

Met that pixie guard again. I’d almost forgotten him, but from the look on his face, he couldn’t ever forget us. I barely made it out of that alive. He’s got a good team, and they’re a solid threat. But there’s like, four of them, and hundreds of us. We will win.

While trying to stab my neck, he introduced himself as Lieutenant Beepiam Ward. For a short little dude, he sure has a presence about him. But like hell am I going to let him intimidate me. If I can handle Eo, I can handle Beepiam Ward.

Still, the scale of our crime is starting to be a serious threat to Chime. Maybe we need some way to make it harder to catch us. I’ll talk to Eo, see if we can figure something out.

°

He did it! I don’t know how, but Misdemeanor works! Eo tested it during a concert when the guards tried to shut us down, they couldn’t prove any evidence even with a lie-detecting spell cast on us! Chime won’t stand a chance. We’re going to teach it to all high-ranked Troupe members, the law will have nothing on us.

We’ve already got a foothold in F district, despite the efforts of Lt. Ward and his cohorts. It’s only a matter of time before we reach High Street.

°

Styrre tried to get Sosie to go with him on a lunch date. Her answer was to dip ME into a kiss so low I almost hit my head on the floor. Styrre almost hacked up a lung, laughing or choking, I don’t care. Guess we’re a thing now?

I can accept that. She’s sweet. She’s made of rock though, kissing baked clay is weird, but she’s also gorgeous and funny and an absolutely bombastic musician. Not a bad catch, if I do say so myself.

°

Well played, Ward. Well played.

°

Seems the bastard has a new moniker after our last interaction. “The Wind of High Street”. He’s getting to be a real nuisance, and Eobard’s getting twitchy. I think we need some other plan to get the guards off our backs.

°

They’re calling F and G together “the Muse District” now. I like it.

°

Sosie’s been leaving more often, for longer periods of time. I don’t know where she goes, and she won’t tell me. The pet market has never been this time-consuming—she missed a whole week of rehearsals. I hope everything’s alright.

°

Folie had a great idea. His record is clean as a penny whistle, so he’s going to apply to the Chime Guard Corps. He’s really good at covering his tracks, and knows some manipulation spells, so as long as he’s in there, he should be able to help us destabilize them from the inside. Eo approved, I don’t think he likes Folie much so I wouldn’t be surprised if he thinks Folie’s life is worth the risk. He’s enlisting today. Let’s see how our beloved saxophonist handles this.

°

Oh fuck me sideways he’s in Ward’s unit

°

Okay. Getting away from Ward has been trickier than expected for Folie, but he’s expanded our contacts within the guards. You’d be surprised how many of the non-Pelyles will purposely shirk their duties for the right price. We’re planning to have all of F district in our pocket by year’s end.

The only concern here is how close we’re getting to Blibelle. Folie causing trouble in Chime means there’s more opportunities to get on the wrong bitch’s radar. We’re going to have to be careful.

°

If High Street was, like, five feet taller, he might be kinda cute. Like in a grumpy angry uncle kind of way. It’s unfortunate that every time I see him I’m thrown into a combination panic attack and blind fury.

Folie said buying him or his support is out of the question. Guess I’m fated to be constantly hassled by a glorified moth with a knife for the rest of my life. Gah, I need a good concert to get my mind off everything. I’ll talk to Eo in the morning about it.

°

°

°

°

I missed Treble Town so much.

If my therapist were still alive, she’d tell me to try and talk about the last year, muzzled and chained in Hoodwin General, but I don’t want to. I need to move on. I need that concert like a drug. Once Eo and Sosie calm down, we’ll get to planning my big…let’s call it a reunion.

What I WILL talk about is the fact that I now have a debt of gratitude to High Street. And that he apparently got fired? Or “honorably discharged”, or whatever the papers say. It’s kind of hilarious, in a sad way. He did his job so well that Bluhbitch didn’t want him to make the city *too* safe.

Eo was imprisoned too, and he came back a little before I did. We talked for days, laughed and (I) cried, napped together wrapped in our only blanket like a burrito, like the good old times. Eo’s got some new plans for something now that I’m back, but he wants to tell the core Troupe members too, not just me. We caught up on what happened to each other, and in a rare spurt of honesty he told me how that idiot pirate managed to overwhelm him. He also said the same rodent girl that melted my muzzle also helped Eobard get out of his situation. So that’s…fun. And he met High Street too, and the others. They’re an odd batch of Champions, that’s for sure. Damn it, I can’t believe I missed the Melee. I really wanted to go.

Sosie claims she’s met them too, and we agree that the rodent girl is pretty amusing. She thinks Sosie’s a drug dealer? Maybe if the drug is serotonin and puppies. Sosie’s still being oddly cagey about stuff, though. I need to figure out what she’s hiding, if not to take my mind off of literally everything else.

°

Eobard’s plan is absurd.

A mass charm offensive? Using my voice? A charmed concert or a heist is one thing, but this is too much for me. I’m flattered and all, but the image of a sea of bodies completely under my control makes me feel sick to my stomach. Mostly because I keep thinking back to the fire. I keep thinking back a lot these days, to everything bad.

He’s got more details for the plans, though. He wants to mass-produce a means of spreading the music throughout the city evenly. We’ve used speakers for our robberies and heists before, but never on a citywide scale. He asked Sosie to speak to her contact about some starting blueprints, and I swear she went pale. No idea who the contact is. And he didn’t even seem to care about how terrified she looked.

Since we returned he’s been even more closed off and protective than usual. I’m serious, he followed me and Sosie to our date, bought out the diner. I could kill him if I didn’t know it comes from genuine concern for me. I think he’s scared, kind of. Because if Blibelle can catch me without him noticing once, there’s no guarantee she won’t try again. I may be angry, but he’s got a damn vendetta out for her. The violence, disparity and civilian casualties are all ramping up, and I think he’s found who he wants to kill to “fix” it.

I’m fine with her dying. I just think it’s absurd for him to think that the troubles of this city will magically disappear if Blibelle isn’t in charge anymore. But as usual, Eobard Sinko refuses to listen.

°

I fucked up.

Eobard and I had a fight after rehearsal today, and in the heat of the moment he made me so angry that I told him he sounded like Dad. I wanted to take it back the second it left my lips. He went completely silent, everyone was watching through the booth windows. He waited a moment, excused himself politely, and left the hideout without another word. I tried to follow him into the streets to apologize, but he was already gone. I had everyone fan out to find him, no luck. He wasn’t in any of his usual hideouts or haunts.

I haven’t seen anything hurt him like I did by saying that. I can’t even try to compare my brother to the monster he was made by. I’m a shitty older sister.

I hope he comes back soon. I need to apologize. He’s not Dad. He would never hurt me.

°

He came back today. It’s been a few days. He looks back to normal, save for the bags under his eyes—did he not sleep at all?

I pulled him aside and apologized immediately. He was pretty quiet, just nodding along. He said it was okay at the end, and we hugged, but it felt detached. I worry I pushed him too far.

°

Folie got a promotion! He’s the same rank as High Street was. We actually celebrated, it was the first real fun I’ve had since getting back. Eo seems determined to still be weird about things, but I could see he was at least mildly impressed.

°

On the subject of my stubborn asshole protective baby brother, he just barged into my room and laid down a pillow and blanket next to my bed and declared a sleepover. Fuck’s sake, he’s thirty. What the hell, Eo.

Fuck it. I’m tired, he looks exhausted, and my girlfriend is out of town with her “contact” yet again. Sleepover it is.

°

The sleepovers have become commonplace, he barely sleeps in his room anymore. Hell, he barely sleeps. Just plays, rehearses, kills, rinse, repeat.

He used to be such a heavy sleeper. Now he wakes up mumbling about something or other every few hours. I caught him saying something about “lesser and greater”, whatever that means, plus he mumbles a few names that…well, they kind of make my ears hurt. Even trying to write them down is giving me a migraine. And he mutters stuff about witches and cantatas in his sleep, and denies it when I ask. I don’t know what’s going on with him.

I’ve tried to get him to talk to me, but he’s so deflective, he turns every accusation into some flaw of mine or an attack, and I’ve already dealt such a low blow I don’t want to push back too hard. I leave every conversation with him feeling useless. I miss my brother—the one from before all this. The person he was before blood drove him away. The person who let me help and listened to me, and who let me be as devoted to him as he was to me.

I have to fix him. I don’t know how, but I need my brother back.

°

Sosie and I had a big fight over the speaker plan, and in the heat of the moment she told me who her contact is, and…wow. Yeah, no wonder she was scared that Eobard knew. He’s been doing his best to eliminate all Vaelyn’s old apprentices, but Verdun? He’s untouchable. Even Eobard knows better than to try and mess with Aranacia’s right hand.

That’s a powerful contact. She was still pretty cagey, but explained that she and him have an “agreement” that works out for both of them, and she’s going along with Eobard’s plan because Verdun wants it to work. The idea of Rixh Rock’s leadership being okay with Eobard is terrifying. It increases the scale of what he’s doing to so much more than just Treble Town.

Sosie and I are on the same page now, at least.

I have an idea to get Eobard back, and Verdun’s connections might be the best way to achieve it. Hopefully this can work. Until then, I’ll go along with Eobard’s plan too, until I have a better solution.

°

Another one of the speakers blew up, which means someone discovered them. We’ll have to be more careful with their placement. Eo’s starting to have aMused civilians move them instead, then “dispatches” them once they’ve outlived their usefulness. I hate it.

°

Eo tested the speaker setup at the reunion concert, they worked perfectly. Hooray. It’s hard to be upset when the crowd hinged on my every word. I wish I wasn’t in this situation, but my Mezzo, do I love the spotlight. I’ve never felt more powerful.

The Champions showed up for the concert and almost all of them got charmed. Even High Street. He’s gotta stop smiling, it’s so uncomfortable to look at. They came backstage and Eo said something about killing Blibelle to them. Apparently Palmeria gave the Champions the task of “fixing Treble Town”? Fucking amazing. We all had a good laugh at that after they left.

Still. That better solution? I think I’m starting to see it. And those morons may just be a part of it.

°

Sosie sent my request to Verdun. I wonder if he’ll agree.


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