Composers: Mozart, Strauss
Setting: Enchanted Opera Island, the forest
Elvira woke with a stabbing pain in her neck. She rummaged around for a moment, her heavy skirts making everything more difficult, and cursed her decision to drink that wine the night before. Red wine, sinuous and warm, was wonderful at first, but punished her body the next morning.
She massaged her neck as she opened her eyes, peering through strands of her hair, and realized that she couldn’t understand the place around her. Trees were all around her and she’d been sleeping on twigs and dirt. She reached up into her hair to pull out a few leaves. There was no one in sight. Not even a carriage or her maid.
Maybe I drank more than I thought.
She stood up, brushing the forest’s remnants from her dress, and attempted to look presentable. Then, after a moment to collect her thoughts, she stamped off toward the morning sun, heeled boots leaving a deliberate path in the underbrush.
She hadn’t gone fifty feet when a young boy ran across her path, his once-white stockings smeared with dirt.
“Hey, you!” she yelled and the boy stopped, turning with incredible agility to face her. He stepped closer, watching her with wide, blue eyes.
“Have you seen anyone around here?” he asked, his voice cracking on the last word.
“No, only you.”
“Who are you?”
“Donna Elvira of Burgos. You?”
“My name’s Leon but everyone calls me Cherubino.” He gave a little bow and continued, “You’re from Spain? So am I. But this doesn’t look like Seville to me…”
“Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
The boy shook his head vigorously, shifting from foot to foot and pulling on his powder-blue coat as he answered,
“No. But I’m afraid for my godmother. I need to find her!”
“I’m looking for someone, too,” Elvira replied, steel in her words. “Maybe we should stick together.”
Cherubino looked up at her, thinking for a moment, and then decided,
“Ok. Let’s go, then. I think—“
He stopped, listening to something.
“What is it?” Elvira asked.
A high-pitched, maniacal laugh rang through the forest.
“And I hear a crazy lady,” Elvira said.
“Maybe we should hide and watch,” Cherubino suggested. “Who knows who it is.”
They ducked into nearby bushes, sitting quietly as the pound of horses’ hooves came closer. The laughing started and stopped again, disjointed and shrill. A woman’s voice, words loud yet indistinct, filled the space between the bouts of laughter.
Finally, two white horses cantered into view. A young man, handsome and dressed all in white, sat on one horse and a crazed woman with long, dread-locked hair and rags for clothes sat on the other. Cherubino, encouraged by the young man’s fashionable clothing and flashy entrance, stood up and waved, yelling,
“Hey! Over here!” Elvira, seeing no alternative, stood up beside him, putting on her best no-nonsense face.
“Hello there!” the young man said, leaping off his horse. The woman stayed on her horse, looking down at them with a crazed look in her eyes. As the young man approached, Elvira found that he and Cherubino looked strangely alike. A shiver of strangeness raced up her spine, but she tried to push past it to deal with the situation at hand.
“What are you two doing in the forest?” the man asked.
“I think we could ask the same question,” Elvira answered, sounding a bit more hostile than she’d intended.
“Wait, is there a town nearby?” Cherubino interjected.
“Of course,” the man answered. “Just that way a few miles. Vienna.”
“Vienna?” Elvira repeated. “But I was just outside Seville last night. How could I be a few miles from Vienna?”
“Lots of strange things are happening,” the young man replied. “And I’m sorry, but I haven’t properly introduced myself. I’m Count Octavian Rofrano. My travelling companion goes by the name Elektra. We’re both looking for some people that we seem to have lost.”
“As are we!” Cherubino said.
Elektra started laughing again. She looked straight at Cherubino as she screamed,
“AND WHEN I FIND MY MOTHER, I’M GOING TO KILL HER!!!”
Elvira instinctually stood in front of Cherubino, shielding him from Elektra’s view.
“Do you think it’s safe to be travelling with her?” she whispered to Octavian. He seemed to consider this.
A woman’s scream, frightened and pained, came from nearby.
“Godmother?” Cherubino asked, starting to run into the woods. “Godmother, is that you?”
“Where is he off to?” Octavian asked.
“I don’t know,” Elvira said and chased after the young boy, pulling up her skirts in order to keep up.
She followed the sound of his voice as he shouted for his godmother. Why he was so obsessed with finding her, Elvira could only guess. She had bigger fish to fry, but she couldn’t just leave that boy in the woods by himself.
Elvira finally caught up to the boy. He was helping a woman from the ground, directing her toward a tree stump nearby.
“Dear godmother,” he was muttering at a thousand miles an hour, “are you hurt, dearest? What happened? Where have you been?”
The woman didn’t answer. She seemed dazed, her eyes wandering all around instead of focusing on one thing. Cherubino kneeled in front of the seated woman, taking her face in his hands and forcing her to look at him.
“Tell me what’s happened.” Then, examining her face and neck, he found a scratch on her cheek. It wasn’t much, but he seemed horrified by it. He touched it gingerly, tracing blood across her jawbone. “How did you get hurt? Has the Count been around? Did he do this?”
The woman shook her head, then focused her gaze on Elvira. Cherubino turned, noticing Elvira for the first time. He gave her a quick smile and said,
“This is my godmother, the Countess Almaviva.” He turned back to the Countess, saying, “We have to clean that up.” He tore cloth from his lacy sleeve and started to dab at the cut. The Countess began to speak, her voice gentle and quiet as she said,
“I just woke up here, in the forest, and I was so afraid because I have no idea how I got here. I’m so glad that you’ve found me. You always seem to be able to find me, Cherubino.”
As she said this, Cherubino kneeled there, unmoving, captivated by her voice, by her words. When she finished, he leaned close to her, leaving a kiss on her cheek.
“I will always find you,” he whispered.
Elvira, both touched by the moment and embarrassed that she was intruding on it, said,
“I think we should get out of the woods. We know there’s a city nearby. If we go there, we can take care of your godmother correctly.”
“Right!” Cherubino said, jumping to his feet. “Come, let me help you up.” He extended his hands to the Countess, taking one of hers in one of his and stabilizing her waist with the other.
“It’s this way,” Elvira said, pointing.
“Then let’s be off!” Cherubino announced. And so they began the journey to what they believed to be Vienna.
Author's Notes: I hope you enjoyed! I just wanted to kickstart this project with this sort of fic. You don't have to do what I did - you can take any approach you want. Come back soon for OperaTeen's chapter! :)