When she had sufficiently recovered, Rosalind deftly unfurled the bundle of papers that had been left on her chair and brought them to the counter, signing them with an elegant hand. I spoke up, surprised.
“You’re not going to read it?”
She looked at me and smiled – the tension that had existed between us had dissolved. She rolled up the papers and handed them back to me as she answered.
“Nope. I trust you.”
“…Thank you. I’ll make sure not to betray that trust again.”
“Please don’t. I’d rather not have to forgive you a second time.”
With that, she began to sing, causing the space around us to clean itself up. I played with the documents, idly tossing the bundle in the air and catching it as it fell, as I waited for her to finish; when she was mostly done, I casually made a remark.
“Oh, we’ll need to get you down to see the seamstress sometime this week.”
“Hm? What for? Three dresses are more than enough, really. I usually wear the same one, anyway.”
“Ah, but it would be good to get you something fresh for your first concert. We’re planning to hold it at the end of next month, after all.”
She blinked at me, seemingly uncomprehending. Then her face lit up.
“Wait, next month?! Isn’t that a little soon?!”
“Oh, no, not at all. I discussed it with Bainel. This is the most effective timing. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s always possible that the excitement surrounding you will die down – already we’re seeing signs of slightly dwindling crowds. We need to hold a concert quickly, both to keep the flames alight, and to rekindle those that are beginning to dim. A month and a half should provide more than enough time to complete our preparations – with the money and name of the Bainel Trading Company behind us, it should be a non-issue to secure the items we need. Bainel’s leaving later today to head to one of the cities to send out a messenger to send orders for the merchandise and the Resound Jewel – and in the meantime, he’s also agreed to help us spread the news that you’re holding a concert. Most of the preparations will be completed on his end – on our part, I need to handle the venue and ticketing, but your main job is to rehearse.”
“Rehearse? Can’t I just do what I normally do?”
“No, no, no!” I shook my head testily. “This is a concert, your first concert! It’s far bigger than any performance you’ve put up before. You need to do something special, something new! A new song, possibly, or maybe a dance?”
“A-A dance?! I’ve never danced in my life!”
“That’s a lie. I’ve seen you dance at festivals.”
“T-That’s different! I don’t think I can concentrate on both singing and dancing at the same time! Besides, who would be my partner?”
“Hm? Well, back in my world, performers like yourself danced solo, so I guess a partner would be unnecessary?”
“You want me to dance alone?! No way! That’s too embarrassing, any way you spin it!”
“Eh, I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
Rosalind shook her head vehemently. I sighed.
“Fine. But at least come up with a new song.”
“We’ll work on the details of the concert closer to the date. For now, you just need to work on the new song, and probably find some free time to practice. I’ll work on the stage, the venue, and the post-show events.”
“Post-show events? What do you mean?”
“Don’t worry about it~ You’ll find out in due time~”
“…That worries me. Greatly.”
Despite her apparent reluctance, Rosalind nonetheless did not pry further and adjourned upstairs, leaving me alone in the shop to make my plans.
That same day, I went to meet Bainel at the Ram’s Head and showed him the signed documents, sealing the deal with a handshake. Then, after receiving a sum of funding from him and a note of guarantee, he left, and I began my preparations in earnest.
The next few weeks were a flurry of activity. The very next day, Rosalind and I went to visit the seamstress, whereupon we imposed on her to create her most stunning dress yet. The seamstress, like many in this town, was a fan of Rosalind’s as well, so she was eager to help. She offered us a discount, which I, of course, reluctantly accepted out of due respect and acknowledgement for her goodwill. When asked about the specifications of the dress, Rosalind requested something with black as the dominating colour, which I found to be a rather questionable decision, but we had previously agreed that she should be allowed to decide the design for her dress, so I held my tongue.
For the duration of the preparatory period, I left more of the shop’s management to our three young employees, such that I had more freedom to move about during the day, without affecting our business operations. So it was that while Rosalind was busying herself with singing in the shop, I was flitting around town, negotiating with various people and running various errands. I even took a two-day round trip to the nearest city, Kroenlig, as our little town did not possess a printing press. There, I ordered for the printing of three hundred and fifty tickets, along with several hundred flyers advertising the concert date, time, location, and the information that tickets could be purchased from the Ezov starting from the week before the concert. It was particularly hard trying to think up lines that could sell a concert when nobody even knew what a concert was, but I ended up just pitching it as a “novel, one-of-a-kind performance. Come listen to a bard who performs not for the nobles, but for the common folk.”
I hired several children to help me spread the flyers through the city, before finally departing in the early afternoon with the receipt for the tickets in tow.
I further managed to secure the use of the Town Hall as a concert venue, which was a task more arduous than I had expected. Even though the cost to rent it was a fixed price and thus needed no negotiating, and the legal framework for the rental was established, I was literally the first individual who had bothered to exercise this option. Accordingly, I had to suffer several hours of waiting for various bureaucrats to decide who was supposed to be in charge of the whole thing, then had to wait several more hours as they scrambled to either find or recreate from memory the documents which were required to authorise the rental. By the time everything had been settled, the sun had set and I was unable to do anything else that day. Needless to say, I was rather annoyed by the end of it.
Bureaucracy aside, the rest of the preparations went smoothly. I made another trip to Kroenlig to hire some mercenaries for security – I could have probably done it myself, if necessary, but I preferred not to divide my attentions too heavily. I gave them their deposit – half the fee – and the travel expenses. They were a bunch of earnest young lads. They looked like decent fighters, but nothing extraordinary. Still, they were new to the trade and had a good reputation for being reponsible, so they would do. This trip was also when I collected the tickets I had ordered from the printing press, and I dropped in to a couple of taverns to see how my attempts at advertising had went – what I heard was encouraging. Most people were curious about what a concert was, and several of them, especially those who knew people staying in Monspiere, had already made preparations to travel to Monspiere to purchase a ticket.
When Bainel returned to Monspiere, he brought with him a large, polished, oval-shaped Resound Jewel. We installed it in the middle of theEzov, but draped a cloth over it – we would unveil it the week before the concert. He also assured us that the production of the wooden carvings made in accordance to his description of Rosalind was proceeding smoothly. I was a bit worried about the quality, but I decided that in the worst case, I could just refuse to sell them – or, even better, I could use them to egg on aspiring artists to try and create a more flattering portrayal of Rosalind – artwork I could then buy and use as the basis for new merchandise. Since the idea of copyright had not yet emerged in this world, that meant that I would not even have to pay royalties – perfect!
Preparations on the part of all three of us continued to proceed smoothly, and in the blink of an eye, a month had passed, and we found ourselves with a week left before the day of the concert.