Unbeknownst to Ruby, he was not the only musician in Erosia whose song was alluring to birds.
The other was Erica Xenne, a Muse from the outermost island of Erosia.
One morning, two musicians played a song that channeled Nokoma.
As their music rang into the skies, Erica materialized out of the atmosphere.
She was made of music, not humanity, and was isolated to the core.
White was the color of her soul, as she reflected the hues of the world, but never absorbed them.
After Erica was born, the musicians made love for the first time. They fell for each other deeply and never wanted anyone else.
This was Erica’s first time awakening love, but certainly not her last.
Music wrote itself through Erica, and her voice was considered divine.
She often bathed in sunlight to replenish energy after channeling a song.
Since she was born of the elements, she connected to them easily.
The world aroused her so deeply that her relationship with nature could appear sexual.
She was often found exploring the forest, swimming in lakes and swaying through trees.
There was no tree to high to climb, no stream too turbulent to cross.
She was infused with the force of life.
Wildlife inspired her, and she made friends with many creatures.
Her behavior was instinctual, akin to animals.
Erica had powerful emotions, empathy and urges, but no manners.
The lovelier her dress, the more fun she had making it dirty.
Most humans bored her, and none could tame her.
Their social rituals amused her as much as any group of animals, but she had little interest in participating.
One afternoon, a nymph named Oriana traveled through the outer islands. She was one of few gypsies who could cross the magical barriers that separated the Erosian islands from each other.
She heard Erica singing and broke into dance. Erica watched from up in a tree, and Oriana lured her down.
Oriana had read about Muses in folklore, but she had never seen one before. It pained her to see a Muse isolated on the Outer Islands without instruments and festivals to inspire her.
Oriana told Erica stories of the mainland, sang songs she’d heard there, and bragged about musicians she met there. Erica agreed to journey there with her.
The two took a boat to the mainland. When they arrived, Oriana left Erica to sleep in the woods and visited her favorite lover, Prince Ruby Valentine.
Since Oriana was an avid traveler, she never lingered long enough for Ruby to bore of her. She reveled in knowing he desired her above all others.
After a wild night with Oriana, Ruby took his guitar to the forest to play under the sunrise, and was stopped in his tracks by a hypnotic song. It was a woman’s voice, singing tender, emotional notes mixed with savage animal sounds.
Ruby suspected he was dreaming, but the voice crystallized.
He answered with a gutteral melody.
She howled back with a hot-blooded roar that ripped him at the gut.
He decided to change his tune, to win her trust. He answered with a fragile wail, betraying his longing to hear her song.
Her voice echoed the melody back, punctuated by a growl. She was still on the defense, but he suspected she was hooked.
Finally, they spotted each other on opposite sides of a stream. Harmonies ebbed and flowed, deep into the night.
For three days, they exchanged songs from afar while Ruby worked up the courage to approach her.
The Music grew increasingly savage. Ruby had never been so aroused in his life.
When Ruby finally sat beside Erica, her innocent smile cut into him. For the first time ever, he was afraid. He wanted her more than anything, but could not risk destroying her.
Before doing something profoundly stupid, he bid her farewell for the day.
Quickly, he found someone else to ravage so he wouldn’t explode. Erica stalked him quietly and spotted the House of Love. A while later, she saw Ruby playing guitar on the porch and decided to visit.
He froze, as the lover he drained was still there. Erica peeked in, saw the naked woman and ran away. Ruby was screaming inside, but his guitar remained quiet.
Erica was devastated and wept for days... but soon enough, Ruby’s guitar lured her back.
He was compelled to be near her, and could not let her go. He needed to learn how to love, to avoid ruining her, so he would never lose her.
As they drew closer, they both felt desperate, but Ruby vowed not to touch her just yet. First, he would bare his soul.
Ruby led Erica deep into the forests & brought instruments for her to play.
He watched her, longing to ravage her, barely able to control himself.
Whenever she caught him staring, she trembled with pleasure.
Ruby knew quickly that Erica was the only woman he could love. She spoke the language of passion, the only one that was real to him.
The two were addicted to each other, and made music together every day.
Since Ruby could not succumb to his desire yet, he often dropped to his knees to show his surrender.
Erica could barely breathe without tasting Ruby. Every moment, she imagined making love to him.
She sang by the waterfall every morning, eager to lure him to her.
She could hardly stand being a few feet away from him.
She got as close to him as he would let her.
No matter how she climbed on him, he would not put his hands on her.
Erica tried to tempt him.
She tried to lure him to kiss her.
Ruby burned inside, but kept his hands firmly on the guitar.
He serenaded her all day, but never spent the night with her.
Even when Erica visited the House of Love, Ruby did not bite.
She could not understand why he refused her when he seemed just as tortured as she.
To express his commitment, Ruby brought Erica to the Valentine palace.
As she climbed around, Ruby admired her rawness and lack of social graces.
One morning, Olivia and Magda were playing chess.
Erica sneaked up and watched what they were doing.
She was amused that they took this game so seriously, and mischievously stole the chess pieces and put them in her mouth. She was accustomed to playing with animals this way, but the Valentines were not charmed.
When Ruby was gone, they tied her to a tree and taunted her.
They released her, but left her outside, where she slept and woke up alone.
When the last boats left to the Outer Islands in Late Autumn, Ruby invited Erica to stay for the winter.
Music spilled desperately through them both as they burned with desire.
They played together and also admired each other playing.
They stared into each other, listening to their heartbeats.
He adored her mistakes, like playing the harp upside down.
Unlike Ruby, his relatives were disgusted and offended by the classless guest in their private wing.
Ruby tried to teach Erica games of the elite, like chess, to make her feel more at home, but she couldn't catch on.
Painting and art only left her a mess.
She knew Ruby's family hated her, and worried this was why he didn't want her.
Every sign of rejection hurt more than the last.
Erica tried to make herself more regal & desirable.
She adorned herself to look worthy of the love of a Valentine prince.
But the Valentines still hated her, and Ruby still wouldn't make love to her.
She often visited the waterfall by herself to cry.
She sequestered herself in hidden places where no one could find her, and remembered that she was at home in the wild.
Yet still, she could not stop imagining herself in his arms.
Sometimes, Ruby could not fight the heat anymore, and became cold and distant.
In those moments, nothing Erica did could bring him back.
Her heart was breaking.
She tried to run away, but Ruby played a desperate song to lure her back.
All Erica could do was accept that she was wrapped around his finger, and hope he would change his mind.