Chapter 47: A Visit
Blackswan Theater's performance ended with a massive round of applause… While the drapes lowered slowly to mark the end of the show, many in the audience stayed in their seats, hoping to catch another glimpse of the Flower of Farucci.
Professor Salinya sat in the VIP area and listened to the thunderous applause. As the manager of Norland National Theater, he was very happy with the performance and also with Blackswan Theater. As expected of the number one troupe from Farucci, the Nation of Arts, everyone was enraptured by the Flower of Farucci's charisma.
"Professor, the coach is ready. Will you be heading out now?"
"Of course, it's time to say goodbye to our old friend."
Professor Salinya raised his wine glass, finished the drink in one gulp, and returned the glass back to the table.
Unfettered by traditional constraints of what constituted good wine, he only cared about how the wine tasted in his mouth. It was with that same approach that he managed his theater. The content and aesthetics of a show were secondary to how interesting and enjoyable it was to the audience…
The way he saw it, it was the only way for a theater to survive. Nevertheless, his old friend failed to understand that as the man insisted on preserving his own pitiful version of performance art.
That obstinance had led to his friend's misery. It was time for him to let Norland National Theater become the only theater in the country.
Professor Salinya opened the door and a few attendants followed behind him. Before he could reach the stairs, a figure at the end of the corridor halted him in his steps.
"Where are you going, Professor?"
"Just visiting an old friend, Ms. Gallolie… You should rest after your splendid performance tonight."
Professor Salinya looked at the young lady who was leaning against the wall in the corridor. It was the girl who shone radiantly on stage earlier that night, the Flower of Farucci. Although her makeup had been removed, she was still in her extravagant long dress.
"Father told me that Norland is the most prosperous city in the world and far more advanced than the capital of my country, Regale. Yet, I have not toured the city properly since I arrived here three days ago. Perhaps you can show me around, Professor?"
The way she spoke and carried herself was graceful and magnanimous, but who knew what the true nature of the talented young actress was?
"About that… Ms. Gallolie… Forgive me, but…"
It should have been every man's honor to accompany the beautiful young lady on a tour of the city, but the purpose of Professor Salinya's trip outdoors was to humiliate someone and not to go sightseeing.
As such, he only needed a couple of burly mages and not the trump card of his theater, the Flower of Farucci.
"Professor, are you saying that you are effectively declining the request of a duke's daughter?"
Despite her unassuming tone, her words brought a chill down the Professor's spine.
Norland National Theater had a very rigid class system. Although he had absolute authority over the theater due to his position as manager, that changed with the arrival of Blackswan Theater.
Their relationship was more like equals instead of manager and employee. In fact, the star of the troupe had an even higher status than the professor.
That was because the Flower of Farucci was, in fact, the daughter of a respectable duke from Farucci. On the other hand, Professor Salinya was only the manager of a theater.
His old friend, Sir Weissenasche was also from Farucci. Only citizens of the Nation of Arts would be interested in managing a theater. Blackswan Theater's choice of his establishment was purely on the spur of the moment.
Just like her sudden request to go outdoors, Professor Salinya could not quite grasp the workings of her mind.
"But, Ms. Gallolie, if someone recognizes you…"
Professor Salinya understood the level of fame that the Flower of Farucci was enjoying in Norland at that moment. It would create a big commotion if she was recognized out in the open.
"I know. That's why I've made preparations." Gallolie produced a mask and covered her face with it.
A mask was not going to cut it!
Salinya felt the urge to warn the Flower of Farucci, but the fact that she was the daughter of a duke made him resist and go along with her idea instead.
It would actually be a great opportunity for her to witness the dilapidated Weissenashe Theater for comparison against Norland National Theater in its full glory. That would convince the prideful Black Swan to stay where she was in his theater.
"This way, please."
Professor Salinya led the way along a corridor known only to him and his attendants to exit the theater.
When Gallolie settled herself in his horse carriage, Professor Salinya heaved a quiet sigh of relief.
It was fortunate that the crowd in the theater had not dispersed yet.
The carriage began its journey toward Weissenasche Theater, and Gallolie drew the curtains to take a look outside.
"Before I came here, Father told me that there were two theaters in Norland."
"Ms. Gallolie, there is only one theater in this city. The Weissenasche Theater that you are referring to has not presented anything new in the last six months and is about to close down. No one has any reason to visit that theater."
"Is that so?"
"I swear this on my own reputation. I also promised your father that you will enjoy the best that Norland has to offer, the same way you did in Farucci. Norland National Theater is my way of upholding that promise."
Gallolie did not pursue the matter further. She shifted her gaze outward, her maroon irises reflecting the city landscape in the dark, dotted with glowing runes.
It took around ten minutes for them to reach Weissenache Theater. Salinya stepped outside and took in the desolate surroundings, which only made him even happier.
"I hope this ramshackle theater will not soil your dress, Ms. Gallolie."
Professor Salinya no longer cared if anyone would recognize the Flower of Farucci there. Even if she got recognized, it would only serve to empty the old theater of its remaining loyal audience.