Eleven twenty in the morning, inside the director's office in the Musicians' Association.
"You gotta pick one out now. These are all your good works from the past," said Othello with his eyebrows frowning, "We've been waiting for you for about twenty minutes."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Othello…Can… can I have some more time?" Victor's face had a deadly paleness. His dim eyes had been losing focus for a while, and the musical notes were not making sense at all to him.
Wolf was there as well, sitting right across the desk with Director Othello. A contemptuous smile appeared on his face, "Stop struggling, my friend. Just randomly pick one out, after all, they look pretty much the same to me. Mr. Othello still needs to have lunch with Her Highness later."
"Well…" Othello took out his pocket watch, "The lunch will be at one o'clock. I will give you… another ten minutes. If you still can't make a decision by then, I'm afraid the association might need to have someone else for the concert. Wolf just came back from Ratacia Palace. He should be able to handle this."
Ratacia Palace was the royal concert hall of the Duchy of Orvarit.
Wolf couldn't hold his excitement back, "Victor, I'm sorry to see you struggling. But we, as the musicians in our association, we should regard the interest of our association as the top priority. What do you think?"
Victor did not say anything. After another two minutes, Victor fell back into the chair and pointed at a piece of paper, "That one then."
The three words took away all his strength, but he also felt a bit relaxed. Victor did not want to spend more time and effort pursuing the piece of work which he had been working on for nine years.
"Maybe it's a good thing." Victor thought to himself.
"Good," Othello clapped his hands, "I'm glad you finally made the decision. I have some medicines that may be helpful your to mental state, but they can have some side effects. Anyway, I gotta take a little nap, you guys can leave now."
After they left the office, Wolf threw a bitter glance at Victor, "Enjoy your last chance playing in the Psalm Hall. Don't let your wife down in heaven."
"You…" Victor's face was a bit distorted with anger.
"Me?" Wolf snorted, "It is you who will disappoint your wife, not me."
Then he quickly walked downstairs.
Victor felt very sick and his head became dizzy. Lott, Felicia and Herodotus, who were waiting outside, quickly came close to their teacher.
"Are you all right?" Felicia asked worriedly.
"I'm okay. Just need some rest. We'll start practicing this afternoon." Victor answered in a weak voice.
Lucien was running in the heavy rain.
He had not fully recovered from his injury. Holding the umbrella, the wind was preventing him from running faster, but he had to. The earlier he could get to the association, the better his chances would be to give Mr. Victor the new piece of work before the princess saw the song list.
Finally, he folded his umbrella under his arm, so he could run faster.
He just wanted to try his best, he didn't want any regrets.
It only took Lucien six minutes to get to the association from Victor's place, a quarter of the usual time.
Twelve forty-one in the afternoon. Lucien pushed open the gate, soaked wet, with water drops falling down from his face on the floor.
"Lucien!" Elena approached him in a hurry from the counter, "are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Elena. Where's Mr. Victor?" Lucien asked without delay.
"Should be in his own office. I saw Felicia brought him lunch," answered Elena.
"Thanks!" Leaving his umbrella at the gate, Lucien rushed upstairs.
"What is going on there?" Elena wondered.
It was Lott who opened the door, whose face looked pretty gloomy. Lott did not ask Lucien why he was there. He just nodded to Lucien.
Lucien entered Victor's office. He saw Victor was sitting behind his desk, looking very absent-minded. The lunch tray was sitting in front of him, remaining untouched. Lucien saw Rhine was also there.
"Did Mr. Victor hand in the music list for the concert?" asked Lucien.
Lott, Felicia and Herodotus just ignored him. Only Rhine nodded, "Yes, the third one was from Mr. Victor's past work."
Taking a deep breath, Lucien went directly to Victor and said to him aloud, "Mr. Victor. I wrote a great piece of music! I hope you can give me a chance to listen to it! I'm sure my work can give you some inspiration! Can we change the list afterwards?"
Lucien was too urgent and nervous to select his words. He sounded too direct, almost stupid.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Herodotus was shocked.
Lott walked to Lucien and was about to pull Lucien away from Victor's desk.
Hiding his face in his palms, Victor answered weakly, "No, we can't. Director Othello went for lunch with Her Highness ten minutes ago. The list has been sent already. We cannot change it now."
"Mr. Victor, it's raining heavily outside! Mr. Othello can still be on the way. We still got a chance!"
"No, we don't." Victor murmured like being in a dream. He was not listening.
Being pulled back by Lott, Lucien did not know what to say.
The rest of the students had given up as well.
"Stop, Lucien. We tried, and that's it."
"It's too late. Mr. Othello must be in Ratacia Palace now."
"Even if he's not there yet, it is too late to write a new piece of symphony. We'd better just practice what we have now… it can still be a success."
"……" Lucien took a few steps back, feeling rather tired. Maybe it was the arrangement of God. Maybe it was God who prevented him from going to work in the association today.
"Anyway, it's not my concert, not my business." Lucien thought to himself, and became gloomy as well, like the rest of the people in the office.
However, when Lucien was sitting in the couch, images of Mr. Victor teaching him, taking care of him, and encouraging him for the past several months suddenly hit Lucien's mind. He was reminded of the hard work Mr. Victor, the other students and he had to practice for the concert, and of his effortful running in the pouring rain.
However, looking at these people in the room now, why their efforts couldn't bear fruits?
Lucien did not want to end up like this.
As long as there was still a slight of chance, he couldn't just give up like this and accept the result. As long as they were still there, there had to be something else they could do instead of just complaining. As long as he still had hope and faith, he should keep fighting until the last second.
And this was not the last second yet.
Taking a deep breath, Lucien looked around the office and walked to the piano.
"What are you doing, Lucien?" Lott yelled at him.
Lucien did not answer him. Sitting in front of the piano, Lucien laid both of his hands on the keyboard.
Even Rhine was very surprised. He had no idea what kind of music Lucien, as a new music learner, would present.
However, the first several notes shocked all the people in the office.
The notes were more powerful than ever. Victor raised his head up and turned to look at the piano, looking confused.
The following several bars of the symphony came like an overwhelming storm, fast, intense and fierce. They were like the misfortunes in life, one after another, like huge raging waves in the ocean, like the continuous call to the battlefield, and like countless enemies coming for you.
There were some bars of relief, but they were followed by even more intense and desperate struggles.
However, the fight of the warriors never stopped. No one ever gave up. They kept fighting: Sailors were fighting against the monster-like waves on top of their ships; Soldiers were fighting against their enemies in the battlefield. People died in waves and arrows, in tears and blood, but there were more newcomers following.
The students were shocked. Rhine stood up from the couch.
Lucien kept playing with all his effort.
Why give up? Why?
They still had time. They could catch up with Baron Othello. If it failed, they could still persuade Princess Natasha with the charm of the symphony.
Why give up?
There was still a glimmer of hope. They couldn't just give up!
The first chapter of the symphony grew more and more vehement. Lott and Felicia were shaking with both fear and excitement.
Was it fate that made you give up, or was it yourself?
Was it fate that beat you, or was it the difficulties and obstacles?
The music was asking. The player was asking.
Victor stood up straight. He felt the questioning. The question was addressed to him as well.
Lucien's soul had just been entirely devoted to the music. More thoughts rose in everyone's mind:
"I want to have a peaceful life. I miss my family. But I somehow came to this world and lost everything.
"I saw people here burning a woman to death.
"I went through the sewers.
"I wanted to learn how to read and wanted a better life, but I was beaten by gangsters.
"I wanted to learn magic to protect myself, but being a sorcerer here in Aalto meant I had to risk my life everyday, wandering between light and darkness.
"Did I give up? Do I want to give up?
"I'll keep fighting against the so-called fate until the last second of my life!
"I can change the fate. I can change my life!"
Lucien almost had a heart attack. He just let all his emotion out. He wanted to speak out loud:
"Was it fate that made you lose hope, or was it yourself?
"Was it fate that made you lower your head, or was it yourself?
"Is it fate that decides your life, or do you choose your own destiny?
"Me, Lucien, Xiafeng, will never give in to fate.
"I'll take fate by the throat and beat all the difficulties. I'll never stop moving forward!"
Victor stood up from his chair, both of his fists clenching tightly.
The author: Thank you to my friend, Cheese Cat. It was he who wrote the many questions towards fate in this chapter. He did a better work than I did. Many thanks.