Although I spent most of the day thinking on the matter I couldn’t quite come up with a strategy.
I might be just a tad traumatized from the Orc incident, but I don’t really know how to deal with larger opponents. When he was moving around outside the arena he didn’t really seem hindered by his large size at all, so I can’t hope for an advantage in skill any more than I normally would. With the sheer mass behind his hits, however, there might be a real issue if I get hit.
I eventually give up and go to sleep.
“Maaaanoo, waake up~” I hear as I snap awake in my usual fashion
Along with the whining, I’m greeted with a feeling of pressure on my chest. I open my eye to see Mana eagerly waiting for me to wake up.
“Yay! Mano, come play with mana!” She cheers as she notices me stirring below her and gets down from her position on top of me
Hmm, I haven’t really had the chance to play with Mana since we entered town. Even though the princess has been looking after her, maybe it’s just a tad cold never to do so myself. I seem to be pretty stuck in terms of thinking of a strategy anyways so it might serve as a nice change of pace.
“Sure, what do you want to do?” I say as I get up
“Really?! Yay! Let’s go see the music!” She cheers as she practically jumps about the room
“The music?” I let out in surprise
After basically being dragged by Mana’s monstrous strength through town I finally stand before a building smaller than a typical house.
“This is where the princess takes you to listen to music?” I ask dubiously as I stare at the small building
I expected some kind of theater or auditorium, but what kind of places has the princess been taking Mana?
“C’moooon they are about to start!” Mana whines as she begins to tug again on my arm
I suppose even if it’s some kind of shady place there is little to worry about. Mana seems to be able to handle herself anyways. Maybe I should be more worried for the princess.
As we go through the door to the small building all that I can see is a staircase that descends into unbreaking darkness, but before my caution could stop us again Mana pulls hard on my arm and drags me down the staircase in the almost full sprint she is descending. It takes everything I have not to fall as she pulls me along.
Due to the darkness of the staircase, and the speed we were moving, when the darkness finally breaks it happens too suddenly and I’m left blinded for a moment.
“…Woah….” I let out as the image of my surrounding comes into focus
A damp brick tunnel extends forward lit primarily by torches. Despite that, I can only describe the atmosphere as cheerful and excited as I see the crowds of people lined up around small stages listening to preformers play. The juxtaposition of the atmosphere isn’t the only thing that takes me aback, however.
“Is that… jazz?” I ask as I listen to one of the closest bands play almost familiar instruments
“Jazz?” Mana responds in confusion with a tilt of the head
Perhaps it’s just similar, but several of the bands seem to be playing a type of music quite similar to swing surprisingly. I had expected to see a few bards and singers at best when Mana said she wanted to go listen to music, so to suddenly hear jazz has all but stunned me.
As we begin to walk through the odd tunnel I look on in wonder at all of the fantastical and strange instruments. Some look quite similar to ones I’m familiar with, such as a saxophone, but others are difficult even to describe. What’s more, I hardly understand how a few of the stranger ones work.
One, in particular, catches my interest. It looks incredibly simple and yet the music coming out of it has such an incredible range of sound. To describe it, it is simply a crescent stick with a gem attached to one end, with a string strung between the gem and the other end. The man playing it is dragging a bow similar to that of a violin across the string, and somehow with every motion, the sound seems to change to fit the tune at hand.
Before I can unravel the mystery of the instrument, however, Mana has begun dragging me away yet again. Eventually, the tunnel opens up into an incredibly large auditorium, with a stage centered towards the opposite end, with an array of brightly collards gems lighting it.
The stands that surrounds the stage are packed with people that bustle about as they wait for the band already preparing on stage to begin.
With the first stir of sound, the entire room goes deathly silent. Even the hallway to our back has gone quiet in hopes of hearing the music.
One of the members on the stage sound their instrument sharply. The sound is projected through the room as if over some kind of speaker, but I see no microphones. When listening carefully however I can even hear the footsteps of the people on stage. Perhaps the stage itself is amplifying the sound. The band does not immediately start playing however, it seems to have just been a sign that they are about to start. The room is silent, all except a subtle thumping sound.
When I investigate the source of said thumping my eyes are drawn downward to see Mana sprinting at full speed towards the stage.
“Wait! What are you doing!” I whisper frantically at her as I try to chase her down
Worried about interrupting the show that everybody is so anxiously awaiting I run as quickly and as quietly as I can manage, but Mana is just that much faster. She arrives at the stage before I even have a chance to catch her and starts waving at the band, her hand only just clearing the height of the stage.
“Hmm? Hey, everybody! The singing girl is back!” A voice resounds throughout the room as one of them runs to the edge of the stage and lifts Mana onto the stage
Unexpectedly a large portion of the crowd begins to clap and cheer. Utterly confused I simply look on and watch. Mana positions herself in the center of the stage facing the crowd.
“In that case, lets get started!” The same member says as he gives a sharp nod to the rest of the band which begins playing a soft, beautiful piece
“The sorrow of the world is gone when darkness falls below~” Mana begins to sing
Just as before the meaning overlays the sound somewhat. It’s as if the song and the meaning are separate in my head, but I can’t help but process them at the same time.
“I love the world and all it’s ways, with all that I have~
I love the sun, the food, the songs, the air~” Mana’s voice is angelic as it fills the auditorium
The tranquil beauty is astonishing. I try to focus on just the song, but the meaning of the words seep into my head despite my struggle.
“Before it was hollow, and filled with quiet despair~
Food without taste, and breathing without air~”
I look for the nearest seat I can find and watch on as I lose myself in the music.
“Loneliness was painful, and so too was its wake~
The feeling of forgetting, as your regret begins to fade~
Where do you place the blame, of times constant flow~
Should you feel contempt as you begin to grow?~
The sullen song makes me begin to wonder about Mana’s past. What was it like living in that dungeon? How did she come to live there in the first place?
“But, life is music full of sound, and tasty food all day~
It’s laughing with your friends as you all play~
Growing might have been scary, but it is for the best~
Growing lets you see the world in shades far from gray~
Growing lets you laugh and sing your old worries away~”
As the music grows lighter and more jovial Mana begins to dance. Even the members of the band playing the music are looking on in amazement as Mana sings with a look of joy plastered on her face.
“To live and love is our greatest gift~
and we give it with such joy~
No matter how you live or grow~
There is no better toy~
So live, and eat, and play and sing~
There is truly no greater thing~”
The music draws to a close and the room fills with silence again, until a torrent of deafening uproarious applause erupts around me. Mana scans the crowd eventually locking eyes with me a few rows from the stage. She looks at me expectantly gauging my response. I begin clapping as well to show her how much I enjoyed the show.
Along with the band, she sang another 3 songs before the performance was over. When the crowd began to disperse Mana jumped from the stage and ran up to give me a hug.
“Well?! Did you like Mana’s singing?!” She asks excitedly as she stares up at me
“I loved it, I never knew you were such an amazing singer!” I say with genuine surprise
I would be upset that she was acting so conspicuously, but how could anybody be upset aftering seeing her enjoy herself so much?
“Are you her sister? Mana talks about you all the time.” The band member from before asks as he approaches
Did Mana introduce me as her sister? I suppose I think of her as a little sister as well, so that’s pretty appropriate.
Although I’m not sure if this world has the concept of a celebrity considering how casually they are walking past him, I give a short bow before I speak.
“Does she sing here often?” I ask still trying to grasp the situation at hand
“She comes by occasionally, but always by surprise. I was beginning to wonder whether she was coming today or not, and almost started without her.” He says with a guilty look
“That’s cause Mano’s a sleepy head!” Mana pouts as her face grows red
“Hahaha! No need to feel embarrassed, we are used to your sporadic appearance. Don’t you usually come with the princess though?” He asks as he ruffles her hair
“I wanted Mano to come! Mano thinks Mana is amazing!” She cheers with a blush on her face
“If I may ask, who wrote that first song?” I ask
I presumed earlier that Mana wrote the song about her past, but maybe the two are unrelated. The other songs seemed to be about all manner of random things after all.
“Well, we had written the instrumentals years ago together as a band, but Mana is entirely responsible for the vocals of all the songs. Thing is, even when we play the same song what she sings is always different. She seems to have some kind of genius-like talent to improvise lyrics.” He says with a proud look as he continues to pat Mana’s head
…Seriously? She came up with all of that one the spot?
Mana smiles at me, proud of her achievement.
My friends are monsters in all kinds of respects, aren’t they?