Lights filled the stage, bringing forth a shining angel up front and center. A burst of cheering erupted as music blasted from the speakers, filling the arena with a peppy melody.
Blond hair danced in the air, and emerald eyes swept across the crowd as the girl on stage started moving to the rhythm of the beat. Long priestess robes, in the traditional style of a Sanshiro priestess, wrapped around her upper body, while the lower half had been trimmed at the knees to allow for movement. Unlike a normal priestess though, various bright-colored patterns decorated the garments, which glimmered from the spotlights.
The girl brushed her hair back, revealing a set of long ears. A loud shout echoed through the arena, but not one of fear. There was no one who would mistake such a blessed appearance for that of a demon. Her ears made her unique in this world, the only elf living here.
But as she brought up her microphone and the first notes flowed to the crowd’s ears, no feeling of loneliness was conveyed. The people loved her, cheering and waving around glow sticks in the air.
She was the divine songstress of Sanshiro, the Electi of Luck, Lady Chrysanthemum. And she was holding a concert for the people here.
My jaw was still slack from the sheer amount of people around me. Though I had front-row tickets to the event, I continued to look around as the large arena was slowly packed with people. By the time the pre-show events started, I had long lost count of how many people had arrived.
There were likely thousands, not only the locals. Specks of Sistina and Macali clothing dotted the area. People were coming from all over the world to view the budding girl before me, who had been shy for most of the time I’d known her.
Right after she had sung divine melodies that empowered the human army against the demons, Chrys quickly became known as a divine songstress. The godly energies that she channeled through her singing were as worshiped as the Lady Oracle herself, and many took it as a sign that Sanshiro was returning to the glorious days of old.
As her powers seemed to shower those within earshot with vigor, Chrys decided to spread its effect by essentially adopting the mantle of an idol in this world. After only a few months, she had become a worldwide sensation, earning enough money to pursue her real dream – owning a bakery.
“Be crazy for me! Make me shine on you!~~𝅘𝅥𝅯𝅘𝅥𝅯”
I couldn’t help but smile despite cringing slightly inside. Many of the songs that she performed with were influenced by the ani-songs that I recalled. But with her natural talents, Chrys was able to string just about any lyric into the melodies, making the songs her own. I could definitely appreciate such efforts. And so could others apparently…
“GO, GO! LET’S GO! LADY CHRY-SAN-THE-MUM!”
Katalina and I looked on in awe at the large man straddling the barrier separating the crowd and stage. Despite being a man of few words normally, Oni-ma cheered more heartily than all those around him. Several glow sticks traced arcs in his hands, and some were even strapped to the sides of his head. The man was going all out with his adoration of his nation’s idol.
“Well… Oni-ma gets super passionate about certain things. That’s just the way he is,” Wen Zhi commented as he saw us staring blankly at him. “Best to just go with the flow and enjoy the night.”
After our duel, Oni-ma finally snapped out of his surprise from learning that he was fighting someone he admired. I felt a bit conflicted after the pummeling that he inflicted upon me, but I was relieved to find out that he had only been looking out for the interests of Chrys and Yi Long.
Oni-ma had known all about the Samyang and Nissin clans aggressively scouting Yi Long and how it bothered his favorite idol. So when given the offer by Wen Zhi to go ‘protect them from any foul play,’ he zoned in on me approaching the two of them.
Apparently, the scent of the kitchen still clung to my aura, so he mistook me as a member of the mana-enhanced cooking clans. Never had he expected to approach the one that started the craze in the first place.
At least, I could forgive him on that point. I was a bit glad that people still sensed the chef within me.
Afterward, we grabbed lunch and exchanged tales of our adventures, and before we knew it, evening approached. Chrys had to prepare for her concert, and since we all had tickets, that was where we ended up.
“Say… come to think of it, where’s Wen Lu? He didn’t come?”
“Brother isn’t big on music. He’s fine with listening to it once, unless there’s a purpose to it. So he ended up on guard duty with Mistress Kaguya,” Wen Zhi replied with his hand dismissively in the air.
“Guard duty? You mean alone time, right?”
“Tch. It’s fine. Gotta share after all. As much as Lady Kaguya insists, it’s too damn strange for Bro to be there when we… never mind.”
“When you what?” I squinted at him teasingly. His face had turned slightly pink from his verbal snafu.
“How ‘bout you keep your thoughts with your own missus!?”
Wen Zhi playfully decked me in the arm, and the two of us returned to watching the girl on stage change up to a new song. Katalina grabbed my hand and raised it up in a cheer for Chrys, so we spent the next several songs basking in the atmosphere. There would be time for chit-chat later.
Soon enough, the hour-long concert ended, and the crowd started to filter out. But I knew that the night was far from over. With every concert, there was always… the after party.
We all raised our glasses of non-alcoholic mixed drinks for a toast. The bubbly elven girl was still in her concert outfit, radiating with joy at the large attendance that had come for her. And she had delivered on their expectations.
Our small group – Katalina, Wen Zhi, Oni-ma, Yi Long, Chrys, and I – found a small bar to celebrate the success of the concert, and strange enough, this one had a karaoke setup. That made me shoot a glance over at Katalina, whose eyes darted momentarily away from me. But then, she glanced back with a knowing gaze and an impish smile. It was so darling that I had to give her a kiss.
However, I wondered what songs would even be loaded onto the contraption, but as I scrolled through the listing, it was obvious. They were mostly songs performed by Chrys.
“I guess she’s the only idol in this world for now… Give it a few years, and maybe, there will even be entire groups…”
I had a sinking feeling that this wasn’t going to be far from the truth, given the popularity right now. Suddenly, a hand clapped upon my shoulder. I turned to see Oni-ma looking at me with sparkly eyes.
“Care to sing a round with me, Star Shooter?”
“I… uh… I think I’ll pass for now… I don’t really think I’ll do the song justice. No, you can go ahead,” I said as I gestured for him to take the controls.
It was one thing to sing an ani-song in the shower or in some isolated karaoke room, away from all eyes. I didn’t have the courage, or drunkenness, to attempt such a bold act, especially in front of the songstress herself.
Oni-ma cared not for appearances, immediately typing in one song and clearing the area for his performance by doing a slide onto the makeshift dance floor. He ended it with a dramatic pose, which made all eyes turn toward him as he drew the microphone to his lips.
Before I could wonder what to expect from the man of few words, a silky masculine voice burst out, full of energy as he danced in rhythm to the music. It made me awe-struck. Aside from the fact that he was singing a girly pop song, his motions and timing were on point.
I peeked over at Chrys, who cheered him on.
“I love it!” she cried, amidst the synchronized clapping that the others had fallen into.
I couldn’t help but smile at the warm devotion that Oni-ma seemed to have for Chrys. It really showed how far she had come since she was first summoned here. There were no gestures of hiding her ears under her hair, a previous habit done away with once the people in this world saw her for what she truly was – a lucky girl sent to this world to spread joy.
Each one of us Electi had found a place for ourselves here, overcame our struggles, and became ‘Ascended’. And by doing so, the course for this world finally fell on the right track. At least, that was how we all saw it.
“Yo, Claude. Get up on the stage. It’s your turn.” Wen Zhi handed the microphone to me, much to my hesitation.
“Yo. I can’t sing pop songs. I suck at them,” I replied, trying to pass it back like a hot potato.
“Dear, there is one song you ‘can’ sing…,” Katalina’s voice interrupted whimsically.
“Ha, I doubt that it’s on the-” My jaw dropped. ‘Shit!’ It was there at the bottom. “How did you-”
“It was a rare opportunity, seeing you tipsy and singsongy at our wedding party. Why wouldn’t I record it for posterity? Such a large crowd formed around you and the boys as well.”
A lump formed in my throat. I vaguely remembered that moment. Wen Lu and Wen Zhi were chatting with me, and in our state of intoxication, we had discovered that we played the same video game in our old world. During our nostalgia, we broke out into its signature song.
Suddenly, Wen Zhi started to back away, but I grabbed him by the collar.
“Hey! You started it! I’m not letting you back out!”
There was no escaping from Katalina’s smile of anticipation, so I had already caved in. And Wen Zhi had been the one to push us into that trap.
‘Dammit, don’t tell me that Wen Lu expected this and didn’t come for that reason!’
I could imagine him sneezing in the distance as I sent mental vibes of venom to him. Regardless, Wen Zhi accompanied me onto the dance floor. But then, Oni-ma stepped forward, eyes shining once again.
“Can I join you? Please!?”
I lightly nodded my head, hoping to spread some of the embarrassment, but his excitement seemed to deflect any of that. We would let his voice drown out the crappiness of ours. With the music starting up, there was no other choice.
“Dame da ne, dame yo, dame na no yo!~~~𝅘𝅥𝅯𝅘𝅥𝅯”
We continued to sing badly, aided by the smooth voice of Oni-ma trying to figure out the non-English lyrics. By the time it was over, Wen Zhi and I needed a drink, an actual hard one. The two of us drowned our embarrassment as Katalina stepped forward to sing one of Chrys’s songs.
We watched as the others continued to have fun while we nursed our glasses. After a few minutes, Wen Zhi finally broke the silence between us.
“Yo, Claude. How come you were struggling against Oni-ma? With your powers, you should’ve been able to wipe the floor with him going all out.”
“He’s no slouch, that minion of yours. I thought I could get away with not using the mana and health boost, but I had to in the end.”
“Well, if you had gone full throttle from the start, then he wouldn’t have had a chance.”
I stared at my reflection in the glass. Letting the slightest bit of power course through my eyes, I could feel its effects trickle in. And with that, various thoughts.
“I-, I’m not sure I want to rely on these powers too much. My Critical is my own, but that of Life and Mana? Those feel borrowed, like I’m not supposed to have them.”
“What makes you say that?” Wen Zhi took another swig. “Power is power. You’re sitting here now, king of your domain because of it.”
My finger traced around the rim of the glass, as if I was trying to encircle my thoughts in some attempt to understand them.
“I don’t know. I just keep having these dreams. Scary ones. Maybe, I’m just worrying too much.”
“Or maybe, your dreams are telling ya something. Should go see an expert on that. Lady Kaguya would be thrilled. She seems to have a soft spot for your mug.” Wen Zhi smiled cheekily as he flicked me in the head as a sign of permission to drop in.
“Thanks, maybe I’ll do just that… But after our vacation. Can’t go ruining the fun time with my missus. Especially if it’s to visit another lady.”
“Wen Lu, that ass. Timing such a thing so that he doesn’t have to be here….”
I picked up my glass and held it up in the air before him.
“To fruitful relationships,” I said with a smile.
Wen Zhi sighed and grabbed his cup as well, saying the same before clinking them together.
“No matter how complicated they are.”
The two of us downed the rest of the drink and firmly brought the empty glasses down with a ‘thunk’. Wiping our mouths, we went back to the celebration. It wouldn’t do to ignore the girl of the hour because of our own whining. Even if it meant being forced into more drunken singing.