Among the aristocrats, the exotic tales were always popular. The travelers brought to Vienna bizarre clothing, peculiar oddments and most of all, fascinating legends. Monsters, lovers, controversies and foreign ideologies charmed and delighted the whole court. Salieri was familiar with the idea of reincarnation, yet always treated it as another one of oddments brought from the East. Always until that moment.
It was an important evening. It was his first premiere in Paris and thanks to king Joseph’s recommendation he would perform before Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. He hoped that The Danaids will charm the king and the queen of France. Despite the pressure, the composer enjoyed leaving Vienna. Paris was a place where he could finally breathe, free of the presence of Mozart and his ridiculous company.
He straightened his vest and made sure he looked just as he was supposed to. He left his room and walked out to one of the decorative corridors of Louvre. He felt strange, out of place, in the French palace, like he wasn’t supposed to be here. Ignoring the anxiety inside, he sped up his pace. Quick allegro playing in his mind. His song was disturbed by distant laughter and when he walked around the corner he discovered its source. A young man, probably a servant, dressed in an intensely yellow jacket bumped into him. While Salieri’s face was undoubtedly expressing irritation as he took a step back, the young man wasn’t even troubled. He looked at the composer trying to suppress a smile that apparently couldn’t leave his lips. For a split second, they stood confused by each other’s presence and when Salieri was just about to bow quickly in irony and leave he felt a small hand carefully touching his arm.
‘Excuse us, please. My friend did not notice you.’ The sweet voice rang in the air.
When he turned around he saw a girl that he did not notice earlier. She was holding the servant’s hand yet her dress clearly showed that she was someone who belonged in the court, probably a daughter of some lesser noble. Her brown hair was pinned up and curled in a fashionable way and her arms were covered by a decorative shawl that reminded him of the night sky. Salieri marveled her sharp features, her seductive lips, and her eyes. He had never seen eyes so dark yet so filled with light. Then the feeling ripped his soul. They knew each other.
He remembered the weight of the sword in his hand. He remembered the crown on his head and the knights whom he trusted with his life. He remembered the Saxons, Morgana, and Maleagant. He remembered his queen. Her soft lips on his, her white hair and blue dresses. He remembered her betrayal and her love. He remembered that life, the life of a tormented king, and thousands of others. They found each other through centuries. Each time they loved, they remembered. Each time she held someone else’s hand. Their souls were bound by a promise. A promise that died a long time ago.
With forgotten love came buried pain. A pain like he had never felt before. It tore through his soul. It killed off all of his thoughts. It crushed his heart. Salieri looked her in the eyes through his own tears. Guinevere. She remembered. Her hand let go of the man’s hand as if it burned. She opened her mouth, ready to plead, ready to beg. The guilt and the pain visible in her eyes.
‘You promised.’ His voice shook but Salieri was the first to speak. Whatever she was going to say died on her lips. He was not ready to forgive her. Not now. Not here. So he bowed quickly and left. When he leaned back against the wall, hidden behind another corner of Louvre’s corridors, Salieri could still hear their voices.
‘Do you know him, Olympe?’ The confusion in the man’s voice was overwhelming.
‘I knew him once, Ronan. A long time ago...’
It hurt too much. He could feel his legs giving in under him as he fell to the ground. Was he losing his mind? How could it be real? His mind was telling him that it was just a trick yet he knew. He knew who he was and who he had been. After a few minutes of silent suffering, he stood up. He had a premiere tonight. Maybe he failed his kingdom, his love, his destiny. He will not fail his music.