A short story from the parallel universe of Sirkkusaga.
Ansel Caster was queuing at the door impatiently, he’d paid sixty marks for his ticket and judging by the crowds waiting to get in someone was making a pretty penny from this gig. He was a critic for Snare, The Reignweald’s bestselling music paper, on the net and in print! And he had a reputation for sensationalist put downs, The Harvest was a fairly new group formed out of the remnants of Dag Guthric’s old band Bifrost but their secret weapon was a sangestre who called herself Freya and wore a cloak trimmed with feathers like her namesake and was known for going barefoot on stage wearing a white dress trimmed with blue as sported by the Soomi national symbol The Maiden. It was rumoured that she came from that northern land but gossip also said she was an old school friend of the Atheling Ethelflaeda Hardrada herself, possibly both were true but the most intriguing thing about her was that her eyes were a pale lilac colour giving her a most striking appearance. Ansel had heard recordings of her and she was no better or worse than most young girl singers around at the moment but a colleague had insisted that to really appreciate The Harvest it was necessary to see them live, that alone being the reason for the phenomenal sales of their music and she was touted to become the Nation’s Sweetheart replacing Kimberly Lee, who had held the position for years, too many some had said.
So here he was outside the Munford Haell in Laegrecastre, the doors opened and the excited fans streamed in. The band didn’t have support and were renowned for doing a two act performance with the mysterious Freya changing costume several times in the course of the show. The lights went down and a drumbeat started, a single spot came on to illuminate Freya dressed in her feathered cape her lilac eyes thickly lined in black flicked out at the edges, she sang a traditional yoik in Soomilek as Dag Guthric joined in on solo guitar.
‘Definitely from Soomi’ thought Ansel, her voice seemed to have a haunting quality and he found himself thinking of a snowy landscape with fir trees reaching into the distance, he could almost feel the fresh breeze on his face ‘wow’ he thought.
The tempo changed to a fast rock song about loving a waelcyrie and he was taken along with the rhythm, it was the same for every tune that followed, she changed to a doeskin dress and runic headband then he was almost moved to tears by a song about a girl whose lover sailed away to sea and was drowned leaving her to take comfort from the child he had given her.
At the interval he stood at the bar deliberating over his beer ‘what was it she had?’ then it came to him in a trice. ‘Gods, she’s using psionic power to stir emotions in people’ he smiled ‘she’s a reasonable singer but with this trick how can she fail?’ Ansel considered leaving immediately to type his exposé but she was easy on the eye and he was quite enjoying the show so decided to stay till the end.
The band came on again and this time Freya in long black dress sat at a piano and played a duet with Selene the band’s red-haired keyboardist, she stood up and the tune metamorphosed into an eerie lament to the moon, the real Selene. During a musical interlude she disappeared offstage and reappeared in classical robe often mistakenly referred as a toga, it was as low cut as it was short and displayed a tattoo high on her right thigh, Freya danced in a lively way while singing some fast paced numbers then after a few encores the show was over.
Caster went back to his hotel and switched on his atellan. Tonight I went to Laegrecastre to see this latest thing in popular music The Harvest. I specifically wanted to hear this girl singer, of who I had heard so much, for myself. The band contained the nucleus of Bifrost so I had no doubt that the quality of music would be excellent and I was not disappointed. Now to the main attraction, this attractive girl with the striking lilac gaze, I was ready to be very critical but it was fair to say she had the audience in the palm of her hand and I was indeed astonished to find myself taken along with them, how she could do this? And then it struck me… She has talent but something else very rare and unique, a charisma all her own… will I recommend seeing them live? I certainly will.
Ansel looked at what he had typed ‘that would do to start with’ he had intended to reveal how Freya manipulated the crowd psionically but couldn’t bring himself to do it, the audience had lapped it up and it seemed a shame to spoil it, she had invoked feelings in him he didn’t know he had. It seemed he’d taken a shine to the strange sangestre, so feeling a little bewildered he carried on writing in glowing terms.