Release that Witch - Chapter 713: A Better Performance
“Mrs Lannis, please wait, Mrs Lannis!”
It took her quite a while to realize that it was referring to herself. When she turned back, she saw a girl, aged 17 or 18, running toward her.
The girl’s hair was tied up like ram’s horns, and her cheeks had gone red in the freezing wind, but her cotton-padded clothes and leather boots were brand new with good quality. If it were two years ago, May would have imagined the girl as someone’s daughter from a rich family. But now more and more civilians could afford new clothes, it was not such a safe bet to judge a person’s status from one’s appearance anymore.
The girl ran to May’s side and handed May one of her two salted fishes while gasping the cold air.
“Mrs Lannis, this is a little token of my gratitude. Please do accept it.”
May was stunned and then asked, “A token of gratitude?”
“I’ve always wanted to meet you. If my father had watched your show, he would have been very gratified!”
“But I don’t know you or your father… Can you tell me exactly what this is about?”
It took the Star of the Western Region half an hour to roughly understand the whole story.
The girl’s name was Jasmine. She was on her way back from the Convenience Market when she happened to recognize May from behind. Giving May fish was only a hasty decision to express her gratitude.
Jasmine’s father was a former soldier of the First Army who was accidentally killed during the battle against the church and left Jasmine and her mother behind. The generous compensation from City Hall and the recruitment priority policy relieved them from worrying about their livelihood. Jasmine grieved for her father’s death for quite a long time. It was not until the staging of the new play “The Hero’s Life” did Jasmine pull herself together.
In the play, all those soldiers who bravely sacrificed their lives for protecting their families and the kingdom were bestowed with the title of Hero by His Majesty.
“Mother said that father used to be a common hunter. She never expected him to gain such an honor after death. She told me to thank you if I ever got the chance to meet you.” Jasmine deeply bowed to May. “Now people call me the daughter of a hero, which makes me feel that father actually didn’t leave me. If not for the rule that the First Army doesn’t take in females, I’d have carried a flintlock and fought against those hostile enemies.”
“…” May remained silent for a while, then asked lightly, “But you might be killed on a battlefield. Aren’t you afraid of death?”
Jasmine nodded, then shook her head. “In former winters, every family in my area would migrate toward Longsong Stronghold. Many people died on the way there and had their bodies were cast into the Redwater River. Every sound of something dropping in the water meant a person had died. When we reached the slum, death became more frequent. After heavy snow, the streets were always filled with frozen bodies. At that time, I often shivered out of fear. I feared when I closed my eyes, I could be the next victim.”
“Since I don’t want to live like that again, there needs to be people to stand out and fight for a new life,” she said word by word.
That was a line in the play.
Suddenly, May felt that something soft, deep in her heart was touched.
She reached out her hands to touch the girl’s hair. “Even if you’ll lose everything?”
When this line of narration sounded in the theater, May vaguely remembered the whole square was in silence, the audience were holding their breath and waiting for the impersonator of the hero to answer.
At this moment, Jasmine’s answer was as powerful as the “Hero” in the play, “Because it is worth fighting for.”
“I accept your gift.”
“Mrs Lannis, please take care!” The girl waved her hand happily, turned around and then ran toward another street.
May stared at the heavy salted fish in her hand and recalled the time when she consulted the drama master Kajen Fels when she played in the grand theater in the former king’s city.
“What’s the best performance?”
“To firmly attract the audience’s attention on you and make them think that you’re the character you play. What they’re watching isn’t a drama, but your whole life… If you can achieve that, it’ll be the best performance.”
To that end, May practiced hard at acting, thought over the character’s mood and manner, put herself into the story in the script whole-heartedly and tried to present every detail flawlessly. When she was 25 years old, her hard work paid off, she became an actress known to all. As a person from the western region, she gained a firm foothold in the king’s city. During her prime time, even the famous actors in King’s City’s Grand Theater could not overshine her.
However, her opinions changed.
When “The Hero’s Life” was shown, was her performance perfect? Not at all. His Majesty’s script came out so fast that the actors and actresses only had two to three weeks to rehearse before putting the show on stage, during which, remembering the lines took her one week. Very often the crew had to improve themselves during the performing process. For example, when she played the Hero’s wife, she sometimes forgot her lines or used the wrong facial expressions. And it was not a love story in which she excelled in acting, so she had to conjecture many things, making the show far from perfect.
But was the response to the play not good?
Judging from the audience’s applause, “The Hero’s Life” was nearly as popular as “The Memoir of a Prince’s Search for Love”. When the leading actor said the line “because it is worth fighting for”, the audience’s shout of agreement almost shook off the snow covering the mountain tops.
“Maybe that was the best performance…” May thought, “In King’s City’s Grand Theater, such a scene would never appear. Nobles might drop tears for the characters in a play, or clap out of joy, but their focus was on her, an outsider’s life. But here, the audience saw themselves through the characters, through the play… People see the future they want.”
When May returned to her residence, she coincidentally met Irene and Morning Light.
“Ah… May, you’re back right on time.” Irene instantly stood up from the chair and grabbed at May’s shoulder. “I was just asking Lord Carter to preoccupy some good seats for us. Let’s go and watch together.”
“Go to where?”
“What’s the problem? Why everybody is talking perplexingly?” May rolled her eyes, pushed away Irene’s hand and put the Bird Beak Mushrooms and salted fish in the kitchen.
“The cannon exercise, of course,” Irene followed her and said impatiently. “I heard this exercise will be the largest scale exercise since the establishment of the First Army. There is already a long line in front of the City Hall. Aren’t you interested?”
“Not at all.” May shrugged. “If I had that time, I’d rather read my script a few more times.”
“How about just accompanying me… will you?”
This little girl was really sticky, but May could not bring herself to scold Irene, because she knew, different from others, Irene showed her affection to others out of genuine emotion. May had learnt that when they were in the Longsong Theater.
May intended to refuse the invitation, but she swallowed the words she was about to utter. Indeed, she did not like things related to fighting and killing, but fighting and killing were not always terrible and unbearable. Maybe taking a look at it would help her to experience how the soldiers truly felt and she could better put herself into the next play?
Of course, she definitely did not agree with Irene for her begging.
“Okay.” After a moment’s hesitation, May sighed. “If you insist.”
“Haha, really? Wonderful!”
Looking at Irene full of spirit, May shook her head helplessly. “Alright. I’ll just take it as a sacrifice for a better performance.”