I took deep breaths, in and out. I could feel my heart pounding, slowing its rapid movements, slowing to a state of calm. Even though I’d experienced numerous concerts by this point, I still got nervous each time. There was just something terrifying about doing something in front of hundreds of paying viewers – something terrifying, nerve-wracking, and yet strangely addictive. And that was just from standing behind the curtains, out of sight of the audience. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much more intense the fear – and the excitement – had to be for Rosalind, the woman who drew the attention of everyone in the hall.

I shook the distractions from my mind and focused on the task ahead of me. I placed a hand on the large spherical Resound Jewel before me and infused it with my magic, chasing down its connected trail to the other Jewel, installed in front of the stage. I took hold of my magic and pulled, retrieving the visual information that the secondary Jewel was recieving from the scene on the stage. I manipulated the thread of magic, circulating it within the primary Jewel and channeling it into the other path, the path that connected this Jewel to all the other Jewels in the various branches of the Serene Ezov around the country. The visual information would be collected from the Jewel on the stage and sent to the Jewel under my hand, from which it would be projected onto the air in all the branches of the Ezov around the world, allowing audiences to watch her performances even without being in the concert hall. It was a massive commercial success, with revenue numbers almost tripling on concert days. I confirmed that the flow of magic was properly established, then turned my attention to my primary task – the visual information would continue to circulate as long as I provided mana to the crystal, allowing me to focus on other things.

Rosalind reached the middle of the stage and turned to the audience. Then a single light appeared, illuminating her and her dazzling turqoise dress, the fabric speckled with tiny, glittering jewels, undulating and dancing as Rosalind twirled on the spot.

A field of stars

illuminates the night.

The shadow of doubt,

banished by the light!

From the orb of light above her head, countless other orbs burst out, spreading across the entirety of the hall and bursting into light, painting the previously dark hall with a warm glow.

A fire burns,

a life so short, yet bright!

Burns away the darkness,

Burns away the fright.

The moment she said the word “fire”, all the orbs instantly changed to a bright orange colour, flashing twice before disappearing. Elysium, standing behind the curtains, began to play a musical interlude on her violin. Waves of dim, blue light appeared around Rosalind as the light above her faded into nothingness. She looked around the stage, miming fear and unease. The blue light settled around her like a mist, and patches of deeper blue lights cast wolf-like glows amidst the mist of light, prowling around slowly.

A thousand shadows, lurking near, enemies abound.

A constant fear distorts my ear – I jump at every sound.

Elysium suddenly played a jarring note on the violin, and Rosalind jolted, miming desperation.

I don’t know when they’ll come for me; I don’t know where they hide!

This shadowed mist that plagues my days, Why won’t it leave my sight?!

Elysium’s music increased in intensity as Rosalinds’ movements became more erratic, more fearful. Then, as the music reached its peak, Rosalind collapsed to her knees, with the light mist covering her and obscuring her from view. Then the music cut off, leaving the hall in silence for three seconds. Then, concurrent with Elysium’s resuming the melody with a more hopeful tune, a sword made of brilliant white light emerged from within the blue light mist.

A blade of light cuts through the dark,

The shadows start to flee!

A single knight steps through the mist,

extends her hand to me.

In tandem with the lyrics, an armored figure made of pure light appeared out of the mist, holding the sword. Long strands of hair made from light billowed out behind her helmet. She held a glowing hand out to Rosalind, which Rosalind grasped, pulling herself upright. Then she and the figure began to dance together, Rosalind’s an elegant, graceful dance, while the figure danced with the sword, slashing away the blue mist.

She leads me through the darkened night,

She claims a path for me.

But when at least we leave the mist,

She crumples to her knee.

The figure knelt on one knee, supporting herself with her blade. Rosalind, her face a picture of concern, rushed forward and held the figure’s hands in her own.

Her power spent, she fades away,

unheeding of my plea.

Yet when I asked her for her name,

She prompted me to flee

Her armor shattered as she fell,

her face was plain to see.

She had my eyes, my lips, my nose,

The armored knight was me.

All at once, cracks appeared in the armour of light, and then the armor disappeared, leaving behind an image that was an identical copy of Rosalind. The image lingered for a while, then faded away. Immediately, the blue mist reappeared, the darker figures within it emerging once again.

The sword of light fell to the ground,

the darkness rushed back in.

I reached my hand out to the sword,

to cleanse the land of sin.

The moment Rosalind’s hand grasped the manifested light that formed the sword, Elysium changed the melody on the violin, switching from a slower, more emotional melody to a faster melody, filled with vigour and life. Meanwhile, Rosalind began to brandish the sword, dancing around while striking at the blue mist. As she moved, an armor of light began to appear across her body, covering all of her, up to her neck.

I am the blade that cleaves the dark. I am the blade that rends the night.

I am the blade the shadows dread. I am the blade that conquers fright.

I am the blade of light that sings. I strike the sins that hide from sight.

I am the blade destined to die. Come and face judgment by my light!

Elysium played a musical interlude while Rosalind continued to move through the stances and slashes, fighting off phantoms hidden in the deep blue light. As she fought and turned, the armour of light spread further and began to cover her head, until she was completely armoured, the spitting image of the earlier armoured figure. Finally, as the last of the blue light was dispelled, she fell to a knee, supported by her blade, just as the knight had done. Elysium switched back to a sombre melody, matching the one that had opened the song.

A field of stars

illuminates the night.

The shadow of doubt,

banished by the light!

A fire burns,

a life so short, yet bright!

Burns away the darkness,

Burns… away… the fright…

Rosalind’s head slumped further down as she sang the the last line, her body sagging forward. Then, when she had uttered the last word, she pitched forward and lay unmoving. The armor and sword vanished, and the hall was bathed in complete darkness.

A few moments passed, then someone in the audience started applauding. Then came another, and another, until there was a wave of applause rolling through the crowd. I created another orb of light above Rosalind, who had since stood back up, and she bowed to the audience whose applause continued to increase in intensity. She glanced toward me and winked, to which I responded by giving her a thumbs up, before wiping off the sweat that had pooled during that entire sequence.

Creating an image of Rosalind, while maintaining a sword of manifested light, while manipulating a different-coloured light to simulate darkness, while manifesting the armour of light, while subtly controlling the light in the hall to render the scene visible – it was ridiculously tiring, but somehow we’d managed to pull it off.

I shook my head clear of distractions – this was only the first song, we still had an entire concert to get through. I turned my attention to the stage, where a wave and smile from Rosalind had elicited an even greater amount of applause from the crowd. Then I dimmed the lights, and the next song began.