Thiel stroked the strings, leaned into the handle, and filled his boxy, dry chambers with music; chords that were choppy and listless and solemn. His practiced fingers of a subdued talent purposely played the most basic of rhythms.

Nursery rhymes.

Ones he remembered hearing as a little child; decades before his work as a healer, before King Leck and the entirety of his reign, before he had crippled and tarnished his prospects as an advisor to the queen. When the land had been very green and clothes hung out to dry in constant warm light. Before he walked into a glass web of broken pin-like shards and lies. He played these tunes constantly; refrains he turned sad because happy ones didn't fit the dreary setting of his dreary, windowless room, and what he felt he deserved. He plucked out a refrain about a child finding a hat too many sizes too big for themselves and having a marvelous time, and another about picking apricots from a plum tree to sell at market. Most unfortunately, he only knew the right strings to play, not the words; just the title and maybe the plot. Thiel had the experience to add his own ideas to the songs he'd forgotten how to finish.

Thiel plucked and played harder, when with a flash of resentment and muddled fury, he recalled a memory.

He'd maybe been around fifteen. Runnemood and Rood always four months younger and still always better looking. Runnemood had mocked Thiel's odds of ever taking up the harp and advancing with such a useless skill.

"It's a daft idea. Unnecessary when you could be focusing on the turn of the medical age. Think of the help we could bring to the kings court. I insist you come with us out,"

Thiel had politely declined, Runnemood had persisted, trying to convince him anything otherwise, but when Thiel had put his foot down, his friend had weaned off to his attention, to focus on medicine and a few selectwoman he took fancy to. And that made Thiel follow through with learning the harp. When he began to progress uncommonly fast, Runnemood learned to be supportive and later even apologized when he and a number of Thiel's friends could sit and listen to him play the harp, relax after a days work. Until they all became professional healers, he played tiny personal concerts and even taught Runnemood a few simple notes.

It payed off…Thiel had thought bitterly, yanking harder and harder on the strings in aggravation and misery, not caring unless it was to make a strong enough sound with his instrument. He now had enough skill to play revised cradle rythms.

So he played on, not knowing why it made him so angry and so depressed at the same time.

Deep into the night, unmethodical fury seized him. Still composing, he would have knocked over his harp or thrown it, but instead, he grabbed a stool and threw it at his mirror, eyes stinging and tears streaking down his face.

Theil's mirror shattered. Red came from his arm, too much for him to ignore. It would need to be bandaged.