Opposing Forces Page 2

Aroma and Music have been in conflict since the world began. Those who follow the guidance of Aroma shall find plentiful food and drink, and lead fulfilling lives. But the forces of Music tempt weak minds with the promise of a united people, living in harmony.

It is a false promise, of course. If it were true, why would they so regularly wage war? But it is a promise that too many people are desperate to accept.

Your master guides you to the dining hall. This is your first official duty – now that you have become a full-fledged Aromatic, you will be taking a shift in the kitchen. One of the most fundamental lessons is that smell influences taste, and this is where you apply it.

You follow your master in, and she points to two tables. Each one has several plates of pasta.

“From your meals, you know well that we have not been able to purchase sauce from the outside,” she explains. “To simulate the experience, it is necessary to channel aroma through the meal. For the plates on this table, you must channel the smell of marinara sauce, and on the other, the smell of alfredo. This should be a simple task after your training.”

It is indeed. It takes a while – you find the marinara scent more difficult to work with, for some reason. Perhaps it is that alfredo is your own preference. But even with that complication, in fifteen minutes you have infused the appropriate smells on all the plates. You celebrate with a plate of alfredo-scent, and it is even more satisfying to know that you did it yourself.

Still, even a meal this good cannot ease your fears completely. The Score Corps is bound to launch an attack soon. Perhaps even tonight.

You have just finished your training with the Score Corps. You’re hardly an expert musician, but you’ve practiced enough to wield a guitar and a flute simultaneously. You’re also an adequate drummer in a pinch.

And you’re worried. The commander has been trying to negotiate with a nearby Aromatic monastery, and it’s been going even worse than it usually does. The Aromatics believe good food is more important than a harmonic existence, and they’re rarely inclined to share.

Relations are fraught at the best of times. But when food is short outside of Aromatic stockpiles, everything tends to get worse. Rationing hasn’t gone into full swing yet, but it’s starting and you’ve heard plenty of the other recruits grumbling.

So when your sergeant got a message right after approving your certification, and told you to come with him immediately, well, you couldn’t help but be worried.

Your sergeant mounts his hound and you follow on catback. You don’t even know where he’s taking you.

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To the hill across from the monastery, from which you can surveil the valley.

Shoot, and it looks like Melody is already here.

You’ve got a spy on the inside. We’re setting off the noise bombs tonight.