An Unexpected Interlude
It had been a few weeks in the making, and while Megane had been initially very enthusiastic about the opportunity, she was becoming worried that the show might actually hurt her. Not that she did not feel confident in her own abilities, but a majority of the other musicians and performers did not seem to either be as competent, or even take it as seriously as she did.
Drawing inspiration from her mentor, Aurore D’Euterpe, she tried her best to find tricks to motivate them, to push them in the right direction, and it seemed that in the end, they got into the proper spirits. As the beautiful room began to fill, she could hear that her efforts had paid off as the musicians performed in perfect harmony.
Megane tried to read the room to adjust her performance, going low key during the introductions of guests and while discussions were actively ongoing; and ramping up her act as alcohol flowed more freely and most of the guests seemed to have gone from their usual political games into a more relaxed attitude. She was really feeling it tonight! Barring anything going wrong, this evening should definitely push her career in the right direction. As she was just on the edge of getting into one of her favourite parts, the element of shock and surprise she intended to bring to her audience came instead from the veranda’s glass exploding under the impact of what seemed to be a large rock violently thrown into the room.
Megane stopped in her tracks, as did her fellow performers. She heard a few screams, and then noticed a few wounded from the glass debris. Her eyes trailed to the cannon ball now lodged in the opposite wall. A mere few seconds passed by before similar objects were catapulted into the room. Megane ducked while looking for any kind of cover on the stage while the thundering of cannon balls continued to wreak havoc, accompanied by more terrifying screams from the guests.
“We’re going to die!” whimpered one of the musicians, holding himself up against a small table that would likely offer no protection if it was hit.
“We could run through the back door” Megane suggested. “Or not” she added quickly as she spotted four red-coated figures diving through gaps in the wall, heavily armed with rifles and pistols, and now standing too close for comfort to said door and, by extension, her and her fellow artists.
Thankfully, one large black-haired man dressed in fine clothes rushed aggressively towards the attackers on the stage, with the apparent intent of attacking the intruders. She spotted a second man, though more slender, with blond hair and a handsome face, sneaking carefully around the side of the room and avoiding the attention of the red coats. The large man seemed to laugh as the most forward red coat shot him, as if it had simply tickled him despite what seemed to be some drops of blood appearing on his fine clothing.
“I should help them somehow” the singer thought “or we might be next”. Trying to think quickly on her feet, she attempted to recreate the voice of their host, the Count Solrayon, as if he was hiding behind the door. “Hopefully they might be interested in him. He owns this place after all”.
As the two guests attacked one man each, two of the intruders seemed to buy her little trick. The next thing she knew, curtains were coming down on one of the other men as swords were swung around. Finding herself in a rather unfamiliar environment, Megane watched quietly as she tried to see how she could be helpful. Recognising the large man as a noble who seemed able to handle himself in battle, she hesitated to help him in any way in case he might take it as an affront. “He seems fine for now anyway” she mused.
What she noticed, however, was that one of the men she thought she had tricked seemed to have seen something of great interest, as he strode purposely forward and raised his musket at the crowd. The singer instinctively reacted by focusing on his raised arm and calling forth fire. Small flames started engulfing the sleeve, but the marine soldiered on and shot!
However, his expression turned sour and, as Megane looked with sadness and shock at the body of a dead noble, her eyes caught the sight of the Count only a few steps behind the fresh corpse. Could the shot have been meant for him? No… There were too many wounded, too many deaths already! And if the Count also died, then all her efforts for tonight would be lost. The sudden realisation that she was thinking of advancing her career when some of these people would never see tomorrow again made her feel immediately horribly selfish.
“I need to be more useful then stupid fake voices and useless burning of clothing” she thought shamefully, her eyes falling on the powder pouch on the waist of a marine who had yet to fire his weapon.
“That would at least prevent him from refilling his gun” she thought and focused her next flame on the leather pouch, almost interrupting her spell as the large man transformed into a living battering ram, knocking his opponent off his feet. She still managed to succeed her attempt. Her satisfied expression quickly turned into a look of horror as the pouch exploded, severing the body in two. Both parts fell gruesomely to the floor as blood and organs poured onto the stage. Megane’s stomach turned and she felt faint for a few seconds. The only thing keeping her from letting her feet take her far away from the scene, was the previous shooter now running into the crowd, probably chasing after his target.
For a second, she considered going after him… but then what? How could she stop a trained marine? He would just skewer her to death with his sword.
“No”, she thought, “the large man and the handsome man would be better, but they’re still busy”.
Perhaps she could help them again, while avoiding powder pouches.... Averting her eyes from the bloodied mess by the back door, she focused on the large inertia noble.
“Blast his pride, he needs to help the Count, not be stuck on the stage”, she whispered under her breath.
The stage… she was kneeling next to one of the lanterns used to illuminate the performers. Perhaps she could direct it in the eyes of one of the marines? Would that be enough? She reached for it, just as the baron tried to slap the marine, who ducked just in time.
Megane struggled a bit with the lantern. It wouldn’t enough, she was thinking. What else could she do? More fire? She felt that burning the sleeve had been useless.
“What could be more efficient? His blouse? No… Oh, what about his hair, that should definitely be harder to ignore!” she concluded, focusing this time on what was actually a very handsome coiffure. The performer felt a hint of regret about destroying such well-kept hair, but the regret quickly faded away as she remembered the deaths and suffering they had imposed during what had been a perfect evening. The hair caught on fire much more easily than the clothing did. Way more easily, actually, and as Megane managed to also direct the light into the marine’s eyes, she noticed that it was for nought as his whole head just burst into flames. If anything, it brought even more focus on the inertia’s punch pulverising the skull of the fancy marine just before his body hit the floor. The disgusting smell of burned hair and flesh soon reached her nostrils and she heard gagging from her fellow performers, as she herself could barely keep her own stomach from betraying her while she stared in horror at the second man killed by her own tricks tonight. Sobbing could now be heard from the collapsed remaining marine and the svelte man broke her spiralling thoughts as he addressed her.
“Could you tie him up?” the blond man asked, hardly giving her time to reply as he followed the inertia into the thinned crowd.
“Oh dear” she whimpered, and warily moved toward their crying defeated opponent. Part of her wanted to comfort him, to apologise for what she had done. The other part wanted to hurt him for what he had done. Struggling with herself and her surroundings, she tried to breath as seldom as possible and avoided as best as she could the man’s previous colleagues as she warily moved towards him. He seemed hardly a threat at this point and did not even resist as she reluctantly wrapped the curtain’s rope around him a few times in what she hoped would be enough to keep him there until others could take over.
Thankfully for Megane, and to her relief, guards soon came into the room and took over the newly-made prisoner. She hurried off the stage, but everywhere she looked, she could only see more blood. The voice of Count Solrayon startled her, and it took her a few seconds to realise he was actually inquiring about her well-being.
“I fear I’m quite shaken, milord” she admitted with a weak smile, suddenly finding herself invited by the noble along with the large inertia for a generous glass of brandy. Megane attempted to refuse, but the Count was quite insistent, and she didn’t want to upset him. It was around that time that she noticed the handsome blond man from earlier, standing near the large man who turned out to be a baron. He seemed to stay a little to the side and was pretty much ignored by the Count. “A servant? A bodyguard? He was skilled in battle earlier…” the singer pondered briefly, her attention soon back to the Count and the Baron as they raised their glasses in unison.
After a toast to the Emperor, she knew she had to take at least a sip, which looked very modest compared to the large gulps the two other men took. The liquor was strong and burned its way down her throat as the two men discussed what had just transpired among themselves. Perhaps the alcohol was what gave her the courage, or foolishness, to interrupt them as they paused.
“Forgive me milord, but I think one of them seemed to be after you. I’m quite certain he was aiming for you.”
The Count looked surprised. “At me?! What for?!”
“Perhaps the prisoner might know,” she ventured.
“Ah, yes, we’ll interrogate him! But enough of all this. How about we salvage the rest of this evening? Could you sing us a few patriotic songs?” the Count asked, though to Megane it felt more of a command than a request, while he motioned for a servant to top her glass and theirs.
“Ah, hmm, the stage is a little… well…” she hesitated.
“Of course, of course. Give my people five minutes to clean up!” the Count said with confidence, ordering some of his servants to go take care of it swiftly while the prisoner was finally being taken to the back room.
Megane almost felt like laughing as the ridicule of the situation dawned on her. Dead bodies were being dragged away, the room was in shambles, remaining guests had their wounds being tended to, but the Count wanted to keep the party going! The show must go on, as she had heard some say. Then again, there was a part of her that felt pride that, even after that treacherous attack, they wouldn’t let those cowards ruin what had been a successful evening. They were Domirians after all!
Feeling light-headed, the singer focused back on what she knew best as a way to please her current employer, push away the horrible memories of a few moments ago, and hopefully cheer up the survivors. Megane sang with her heart, for those who could not longer hear her, as the remaining nobles and guests seemed to simply brush aside tonight’s events and enjoy their drinks with a beautiful sunset.