NOTE: Just a forewarning, this is not a new chapter but something I wrote on the side some time ago and thought I'd share over here on FFN! Please enjoy!
The Mystical Songstress
"Welcome adventurers, one and all! We hope you're all doing well in these trying times in the battle against the Demon Lord!"
Arthur only kept a sideways glance on the beautiful older woman, dubbed the Divine Songstress, standing atop the makeshift stage. It had been a surprise to walk out of his room at the Guild to find that a good number of adventurers had gathered in the mess hall rather than set out for quests. As it turned out, a famous Opera company had strolled into town, and offered their voices to serenade the adventurers of the guild. Guild Girl had described it as a surprise for their adventurers in hopes of keeping morale up while the war waged.
Arthur could understand that. Bill used to describe how the army would now and again bring in performing girls to entertain the men. Help get their minds off the constant killing.
"Oh, man~! We're really lucky, huh?!" Arthur felt a hand slap against his shoulder, letting out half chuckle as Spearman plopped into the stool next to him with Witch sitting on his opposite side. "It's rare to see the Opera Company come to a little place like the Frontier!"
"I've never really been into operas. They popular?" Arthur asked, somewhat surprised that Spearman was making a big deal of it.
"Quite a… bit. They are famously known in… the Capital. It is quite… difficult to see a… performance without buying… ahead of time." Witch explained, drawing out her pipe from her bust as lighting the tobacco with a quick spell.
"I've always heard how the singers are like angels, and the main girl, the Mystical Songstress, is a real beauty to behold!" Spearman grinned ear to ear. "I guess this is one of the benefits to workin' at this place during the war!"
"The crowd outside certainly seemed to agree." Arthur laughed. When he had taken a peek outside, a large crowd had gathered around in hopes of seeing the performance. Unfortunately for them, it was private and only being held for the adventurers of the guild. And of course, they weren't taking any new ones for the day.
"Hey." Arthur drew his gaze up, Goblin Slayer approaching with Priestess close behind. "Goblins. Do you want to come?"
"Come on, Goblin Slayer! Can't you take a load off and enjoy the opera?" Spearman scoffed, leaning on his elbows as he stared at the fully armored adventurer.
"Goblins aren't resting. Neither can I." Spearman clicked his tongue, ignoring Witch as she stifled a quiet giggle into her hand.
Arthur looked at the stage, somewhat interested in seeing a live performance like this. "That depends. Think you'll need me?" Arthur might have wanted to watch, but he wouldn't turn a job down if it clearly needed his attention.
"Not likely. Signs describe a small nest in an old ruin." Goblin Slayer held out the paper to him. "You can stay if you want."
Arthur took the parchment, not wanting to be too neglectful. But examining the information given, Arthur knew he was right. "Hm… I think you'll be fine without me. Plus you've got Mastiff to help you out. I'll relax for today."
"I see." Goblin Slayer gave a short nod.
"We'll be fine, don't worry." Priestess gave a half smile, her eyes drifting to the stage now and again in interest.
"You can stay too." Goblin Slayer clearly hadn't missed it, but Priestess shook her head fervently.
"N-No, I'll be fine! They said they'll be performing again tonight and tomorrow, so I'll just wait until then!" Despite her words, Priestess's voice clearly longed to watch the opera.
"Do what you want." Goblin Slayer grunted, turning around to take his leave.
"H-Hey! Don't leave without me!" Priestess scurried after him, and Arthur could only shake his head in amusement.
"Man, can't that guy take off for just a bit?" Spearman grumbled, leaning back on the bar.
"I don't blame him. If those goblins are left unchecked, who knows what'll happen." Arthur shrugged. "I probably woulda gone if it were somethin' bigger."
"You're lettin' that guy become too big of an influence on you, I swear." Spearman was given a mug of ale, quickly taking a swig before letting out a satisfied gasp. "You know… I hear that Mystical Songstress is lookin' for a man."
"Of course you heard that." Arthur rolled his eyes, sipping on his own drink.
"I did! Apparently after the show, she looks for someone in the crowd and gets a drink with 'em!" Spearman grinned eagerly, his cheeks reddening. Arthur held back a smirk when he saw Witch silently blow smoke with rather forceful puffs. "It'd be real interestin' to be able to have a drink with a lady like that!"
"Aren't you sweet on Guild Girl?" Arthur asked with an incredulous brow raised.
Spearman stiffened at that, looking to the side sheepishly. "W-Well, yeah, but… it'd just be a drink! Nothin' wrong with that, righ-" Spearman began to cough when one of Witch's smoke clouds happened to blow in his face, Arthur letting out a loud laugh. "H-Hey! Watch where you blow that smoke!"
"The opera is… beginning…" Witch didn't pay him any mind, her eyes focused on the stage. The lounging area dropped to a whisper as several young women took to the stage. Arthur leaned back in his stool, watching as the women stood in a line. They soon let out a low tune with matched pitches, their voices escalating in depth. They slowly stepped to the side as another woman walked on stage.
Arthur guessed that she was the supposed Mystical Songstress that Spearman mentioned, because she was indeed beautiful. She wore a scarlet red dress cut low at her thighs with black stockings on her voluminous legs. She wore a strange armored corset around her stomach, which surprisingly complimented her style. Or perhaps she was just beautiful enough to pull it off? Her eyes were a dazzling emerald that sparkled from the spotlight, her hair silky and brown, flowing down her back and chest. Her skin was fair and her lips were covered in a ruby red paint.
As she took the stage, murmurs began to erupt from the crowd. Arthur spared a look at Spearman, the man's jaw hanging low as he seemed to swoon. Arthur let out a low chuckle but said nothing. He could understand his awe. The Mystical Songstress lived up to her reputation. Now it was time to find out if her voice did as well.
"In time's flow~... See the glow of flames burning bright…
On the swift river's drift~ broken memories alight~!"
And to Arthur's own awe, her voice well surpassed his expectations. What murmuring had gone on in the mess hall had ceased completely, and the only sound to be heard was the chorus. And the Mystical Songstress. Not a peep was made from the crowd, allowing her to complete her song without fail. It was only when the singing ceased that the adventurers began to stir from the mesmerization.
The silence was then replaced by applause, the adventurer's guild showing their admiration of her singing. Arthur clapped, joining in on the praise. He had heard a few good singers in life, but nothing like the woman who stood atop the stage, dazzling like a star as she smiled and bowed.
"Thank you, thank you. I'm glad I was able to brighten this place just a little with what I am capable of giving." The Mystical Songstress's voice was almost as enchanting as her singing. "We want to show our appreciation for the adventurers and the guilds who have been fighting in these trying times along with the rest of the Frontier. And I hope that our performance will bring light to those who need it now, more than ever."
Another applause met her words, some of the adventurers wooting and cheering. Arthur hoped they would end soon, because he would rather hear the music begin.
The performance went on for over an hour. Barely anyone moved from their seats, and if anyone did, it was out of clear need. Arthur felt he was among one of those starstruck fools, fully enticed by the woman's serene voice and her graceful movement. Though he didn't let that take away from the others, as he soon found that the rest of the opera, especially the Divine Songstress, had hypnotizing voices of their own.
It was almost disappointing to the crowd when the music came to an end and the opera singers did a final bow. The guild showed its appreciation with a thunderous applause, standing from their seats. Once again, Arthur joined the club, happy to give his honest admiration for the performance. Once the cheers winded down and the crowd began to settle, a good number of patrons began to leave, while Arthur returned to his seat with Spearman and Witch.
"Man… That was mindblowin'! She was incredible!" Spearman prattled, leaning forward on the bar and grinning like an idiot.
"I gotta admit, I wasn't quite expectin' that. She really was amazin'. All of 'em were, but she… It'd take someone more elegant than I to describe it I think." Arthur chuckled, sipping on his beer again. It had gone lukewarm after being left untouched throughout the performance.
"I was… quite taken… by her voice. As well as her… beauty." Witch admitted, no longer looking sour over Spearman's previous remarks. Even she wore an expression of admiration.
"Right?! Even you can see it!" Spearman laughed, sitting up in his seat. "Well, think I should try my luck? See if she's up for chatting with a dashin' hero like myself?"
"If you wanna embarrass yourself, sure." Arthur rolled his eyes, shaking his head. "Knock yourself out."
"Ah, what do you know?!" Spearman waved him off humorously, leaning on one elbow. "If you think you've got a better chance, why don't you go and chat her up?"
"I never said I would. You're the one goin' on about botherin' the poor girl." Arthur laughed, shaking his head. "Besides, lady like that's probably into handsome knights, ridin' on white stallions. Not ugly mugs like me."
"Ugly… you say?" Witch tilted her head in wonder. "Whatever gave you… the idea that you… were ugly?"
"The mirror." Arthur retorted, looking at the mirror that hung against the tavern wall. He was face to face with himself, and he felt a small bit of hate bubble in his stomach. "What an ugly bastard."
"Sounds a little mean to say to yourself."
"Well, I ain't really-" Arthur turned to the new voice, half thinking it was Padfoot Waitress. But much to his shock, he was met with Mystical Songstress, the diva standing there with a gentle yet amused smile on her face.
"Huh?" Spearman's jaw hung low as he realized who it was, Witch staring with wide eyes as well. A small crowd of adventurers who had remained stared at Arthur enviously from behind her. But Songstress stood there without acknowledging it, either naive to their presence or uncaring.
Arthur spared a look at Spearman before looking around, seeing if there was anyone else more interesting at the bar.
"I was talking to you, yes." Arthur's gaze snapped back to Songstress, the young woman letting out a soft giggle. "Would you care to buy me a drink?"
Arthur couldn't help but feel flustered. He hadn't been approached like this before, at least not from a woman this… he didn't even know what to compare her to. All he knew was that he wasn't on her level. "I… I'd be happy to, miss, but I think you'd find some better company else-"
"Good! Then I'll take a cup of wine." Mystical Songstress didn't hesitate to take a seat next to Arthur, sitting on the side opposite of Spearman. Speaking of, the famed adventurer's jaw still hung low, but Witch decided to shut his jaw with her fingers.
"We should… be going… now." Witch said, grabbing Spearman's collar and pulling him along. "You have… fun now… Gunslinger."
Arthur opened his mouth, half tempted to beg them to stay. But he hesitated, not sure how much his pride could take if he couldn't at least talk with the woman next to him. He'd been with several women in his life, this shouldn't be much of a problem. Even with the nagging voices of doubt at the back of his mind.
"Gunslinger, huh? Unique name." Mystical Songstress said, leaning her forearms on the bar. "How'd you get that title?"
"Well… it's on account of… of…" Arthur spared a look over his shoulder when he felt peering eyes, sneering when he realized they were still being watched by some of the other adventurers.. "Oh for goodness sake-don't you all have quests to be goin' on?! Get out of here!"
The young men and women clumsily clambered away, eliciting a laugh from Songstress as she watched them go. "You certainly command a bit of respect, don't you?"
"Nah, they're just a bunch of fools." Arthur laughed, waving off the idea. "But if you wanna waste some time talkin' to me, I must question if you're one or not, miss."
"Maybe I just have an eye for odd men? Some girls do love a challenge, after all." Songstress shrugged carelessly, deflecting his words with ease. "Now. How about that drink?"
Arthur stared at the woman for a moment before shrugging. "Ah, what the hell… If you're set on it. Hey, can we get-"
"Hey, Gunslinger~!" Arthur looked back to see Padfoot Waitress skipping over to him. "Did you see the whole performance?! That Mystical Songstress had an amazing voice!"
"Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the show!" Songstress spoke up before Arthur could. Padfoot Waitress stopped cold, eyes bulging out of her head when she realized who was sitting next to Arthur. She gawked for a moment, her eyes slowly drifting to Arthur. He could feel the intensity build up as her eyes narrowed.
"What?" Arthur asked, trying not to let a smile crack in amusement.
"... Someone's popular, huh?" Padfoot Waitress huffed, sticking her hip out.
"I got no idea what you mean." Arthur chuckled as he motioned to Songstress. "The lady here just wanted to enjoy a drink with somebody that won't drool all over the place. Speakin' of, could you get the lady a cup of red wine? And another ale for me."
Padfoot Waitress stared for a moment, eyes momentarily drifting to Mystical Songstress. The diva simply met her gaze with a smile, eliciting a small huff from her. "Coming right up~! By the way, the price is double right now since we're running low."
"Since when is that a rule?" Arthur complained, but Padfoot Waitress skipped off without another word, sticking her nose up in the air as she left. Arthur let out a sigh, turning back to the bar.
"She was cute! Old girlfriend?" Songstress teased, leaning forward next to him.
"Nothin' like that. She just likes to mess with me." Arthur shook his head.
"Here you go~!" Padfoot Waitress was quick as ever, nearly tossing Arthur's cup in front of him while gently placing down Mystical Songstress's. "I hope you enjoy! I gave you one of the top shelf bottles, Mystical Songstress! You were really great on stage!"
"I'm really happy to hear that. I hope you'll be around for the next performance tomorrow!" Songstress's smile was brilliant, and Padfoot Waitress couldn't help but squirm under her gaze.
"I will, definitely!" Padfoot Waitress grinned ear to ear. Before her expression fell the moment she looked at Arthur. "Make sure you pay for her drink."
"Don't you have customers to tend to?" Arthur laughed as Padfoot Waitress stuck a tongue out at him, turning around and taking her leave. "Honestly, I think she was jealous that I'm the one who got to drink with you and not her."
"I do seem to have that affect on people," Songstress brushed her hair back dramatically, spurning a chuckle from Arthur. "So, Gunslinger. I think I've heard of you before! You're a hunter of sorts, right?"
"Somethin' like that. I've killed some big game I guess, but it ain't exactly all I do." Arthur shrugged his shoulders, drinking down a swig of his ale.
"Yes, I think I heard you were partners with the infamous Goblin Slayer. That's why I was a little confused when I heard you were a hunter, too." Songstress tapped her chin in thought.
"We're partners, sure, but we do our own things now and again. Huntin' goblins don't exactly make much money." Arthur explained.
"Ah, interesting. Have you been helping out with some of the quests around the Demon Lord's army?"
"Not much, no. I did a couple of quests that were involved, but not a lot." Arthur admitted. "I ain't exactly one of those kids lookin' to become some gold ranked hero. I do a job, and I get paid. If I help people in the process, then I guess even better."
"I see." Songstress sipped on her wine, her emerald eyes watching him curiously. It was clear that she was waiting for him to continue, as if interested to learn more. But Arthur wasn't planning to brag about his exploits. Many of them weren't pretty, and he wasn't sure how they started talking like this. Still, he did find it easy to talk with her.
"Well, enough about my menial jobs. What about you?" Arthur asked, the ale in his hand helping to loosen him up a bit. "How long you been singin'?"
"Since I was very young, actually. Divine Songstress found me as a child and helped me get into the Opera Company, in fact." She answered, twirling a finger in her brunette locks.
"Guess you're pretty lucky! Musta been nice to find your callin' so early." Arthur offered kindly, stroking the stubble on his chin. "Kinda reminds me of how I was found as a kid by my mentors. Only, they didn't teach me how to sing."
"Oh? What did they teach you?"
"Oh, you know. Stuff I can use workin' in a place like this." Arthur motioned to the guild. It wasn't dishonest, for the most part. "Nothin' too nice, at least. Though… They did teach me how to read. How to fish. Among a few other things."
"Sounds like it wasn't all too bad. It sounds like they meant a lot to you, too." Songstress tilted her head to the side, almost as if trying to see through Arthur.
"Sure… I suppose not." Arthur nodded, trying not to think too hard about Hosea and Dutch. "But before we go any further, I gotta ask… what made you walk up to me of all people? Whole lotta other people you could be drinkin' with in here."
"Is it so hard for you to believe that a woman wants to drink with you?" Her voice had a small hint of wonder as well as amusement laced within. "Sure, I could walk up to just any guy in the guild hall and likely be treated to a nice drink… so I walked up to you."
"Well, sure, I get that, but…" Arthur scratched his cheek, unsure where he should be going with this. "I just ain't the most interestin' person around."
"I thought you were interesting. You certainly don't dress like any other adventurer I've met." Arthur looked down, aware of the fact that he still dressed like the old cowboy that he was. "I thought you were at least worth talking to. Even after you avoided talking about yourself too deeply."
Arthur raised a brow at her awareness, unable to stop a laugh from ringing out. "I guess I wasn't quite so subtle as I thought."
"Actually, I thought you did a good job. But I'm an expert at avoiding the topic of myself." The Songstress gave a sultry smile, leaning her chin into her hand.
"It seems I've underestimated you, miss. Though you did give out a little about yourself." Arthur pointed out, leaning back against the bar as he started to get into the conversation.
"True. I thought I'd at least give you a little bit to go on. Though you'll have to figure out if that's the whole truth or not." She winked at him, and Arthur dared to think that most men would be bewitched by now. "Besides, I was able to learn a little in return thanks to it."
"True, I guess you did that." Arthur conceded, crossing his arms over his chest. "Still, you coulda picked a better lookin' fellow than me."
"Better looking? I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what you see in the mirror. I see a rather handsome man myself." Arthur hadn't been flustered in a long time by a woman, but Songstress's silky voice certainly made him feel like a young fool again.
"If you say so." Arthur coughed into his wrist, trying to maintain a neutral reaction so that he could keep some of his dignity.
"But you know… maybe that attitude is kind of what drew me to you."
Arthur raised a brow, looking at Songstress in wonder. "How you mean?"
The sultry expression she wore fell away for a moment, replaced by a solemn frown as she drew her eyes to the mirror hanging from the tavern wall. Arthur followed her gaze, seeing that she was staring directly into her own eyes.
And he could see it. That bubbling hate. That underlying disgust Arthur felt every time he looked in a mirror long enough. Mystical Songstress masked it behind her glamour and beauty, but it was a look Arthur was all too familiar with.
"I see." Arthur's voice was quiet, having the decency to keep his thoughts to himself.
"So you do understand, hm?" Songstress's lip curled up a bit, pulling her eyes away from the mirror to look at Arthur. There was still a hint of malice in her gaze, but it was clearly not directed at him. "I saw it in your eyes, too."
"Heh. I guess I… really ain't foolin' no one." Arthur scratched the stubble on his chin. He couldn't imagine what would make a young woman like Mystical Songstress feel that way about herself. Arthur knew exactly why he hated himself, even now. But he had lived an entirely different life.
"Well, for what it's worth… I doubt you deserve it like I do." Arthur tried to offer in consolation. But if she was anything like him, it wouldn't help.
"That's kind of you to say. I don't really believe you… but it's nice." Songstress pushed a strand of hair out of her face, giving what Arthur could tell was a more genuine smile. "Still, it does feel nice to be around someone who… gets it. Who gets what I'm feeling. You know?"
Arthur had to take a moment to think on that. This was the first person he could really say related to him on that kind of thing. Was it good for either of them? He wasn't sure. But in a way, it was nice. "I suppose so, miss."
A quiet lingered between them as they felt a strange bond form. He drank from his mug while she sipped from her cup. With a satisfied hum, the facade of the Mystical Songstress returned.
"Well, that was a good cup of wine. And as depressing as it got… I enjoyed our talk." She said, turning around in her stool. "I would like to stick around longer, but i do want to get some rest before the next performance."
"Of course. Well, if you're lookin' for more dreary talk, I'd be happy to get you another drink sometime." Arthur chuckled, eliciting one from her in return.
"Careful, now. I may just take you up on that." Mystical Songstress smiled with charm once again. "Will you be seeing the second performance?"
"Maybe. It depends on what kinda work comes in." Arthur said truthfully, stroking his chin. "I'd certainly like to see it, though."
"I do hope you'll be able to attend again. I'd like to see you before we leave town." Songstress gave a curt bow, her lips curled up into a sultry grin. "Thank you for the drink. I'll see you around."
"Good day, miss." Arthur tipped his hat, watching as the Mystical Songstress strutted away. He absentmindedly fished into his pocket shirt pocket for a cigarette, popping one in his mouth and reaching for a match.
"You two seemed to hit it off pretty well." Arthur nearly jumped out of his skin when he realized Padfoot Waitress was close by, a cute pout on her face as she tapped her foot. "Enjoy yourself?"
"It was an… interestin' conversation. Nothin' more." Arthur denied, raising his hands in surrender. "I doubt it was rivetin' enough for her to wanna really talk again."
"You sure? She looked pretty into the whole thing." she narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "I thought you might be a scoundrel after you helped that all-girl team… it looks like your true face surfaces yet again!"
"Oh, give it a rest." Arthur laughed, shaking his head as he waved it off. "Not like I did anythin'."
"If you say so~! And don't forget to pay your tab! And tip your waitress," Padfoot Waitress dropped a paper in front of him, Arthur holding it up and blinking.
"That wine could not have been that expensive!"
"I told you, double price!" Padfoot Waitress giggled as she skipped off, hiding in the kitchen before Arthur could complain. He stared at the door for a moment before letting out a sigh and a laugh, fishing out the money for the bill.
Guess it was worth it. Had a drink with a beautiful lady, and… not a terrible conversation. Arthur put the coin on the bar, standing from his seat. Well, I doubt she'll remember me once they leave.
Arthur hadn't realized at the time, but the impression he left on the Mystical Songstress was stronger than he thought. And she planned to see him again, one day. Sooner, rather than late.
Hey there, guys! I hope you enjoyed that little snip! To those who don't know, The Mystical Songstress is an expy of Dorothea Arnault from Fire Emblem: Three Houses. She's one of my favorite female characters in any medium, and she reminded me a bit of Arthur. I thought it would be fun to set them up for a little drink together and thought I'd share it out!
I had thought about making this a side thing with no relation to the story, but my fans on Spacebattles made compelling arguments to make it canon. I even have a few good ideas for how to tie her back into the story later, too! Why don't you all give me your opinions? Tell me if you want her around and I'd be happy to do so :)
Ah, something to note as well that I forgot to say last chapter: Lenny will no longer be an option for HEA or Guild Girl. After thinking about it, him and Spearwoman make for a fun little couple to play with. Thanks for the ideas on it everyone!