Comosicus got out a fiddle and began to play. It was joyful, lively music. Aishe took my hand and we joined a circle of people, spinning around the campfire. There were kicks and steps involved, but it was too quick. It was all I could do not to trip over my own feet. The stars were out now, and the sparks from the fire rose up like fireflies. Someone had lit torches throughout the camp, and they lit up the ancient stones, highlighting the archeological ruins around us.
Then the music turned darker. Comosicus pulled his bow across the strings slowly, letting out haunting, painful music. It warbled, and sometimes sped up, without losing its tragic quality. It sounded Arabic to me. I pictured Bedouins in the desert. The wail of a bereaved lover or widow. The death of a child. Hunger and famine. Disease and death. I could feel all of these things in the music, almost as if Comosicus was painting images directly into my mind.
I was already captivated when Denzi brought out his flute. When the two instruments merged, the music became magical. The wood flute was rough and breathy. It sounded like a bamboo pipe. Denzi played faster and faster, until I was out of breath with him, panting along with the music as my heart raced. I felt like I was doing cartwheels at the edge of a cliff, and if I took one false step I would plunge to my doom. Together, the fiddle and the flute filled the air with palpable notes. They bounced around the meadow, darting off tents and the canyon walls. Then they returned to the center and spun around the fire, whipping the flames into a fury.
I could see this happening. First the flames of the fire started spinning slowly, like water in a drain, but then the fire doubled in size, roaring as if it were feeding directly on the music. The heat on my face and skin made me sweat. I stood up and took a couple steps back, and that's when I saw the figures in the fire. Faces peering out at us. Arms reaching up towards the sky. What the hell is going on?