As I took the stage, the hall began to buzz.
A dancer’s garments are, in essence, not that different from what you’d expect to see a hostess wear. Since a woman who happens to be her hero candidate is wearing something like that, of course the audience will react.
There are people who are amused by the uniqueness, those who look away uncomfortably, and those who are genuinely excited when they see my clothes. I’ve got Melia beat in the volume of the audience’s voice at least.
I moved to the center of the stage and took a deep breath.
I will be showing off the commoner’s dance (polka) for my performance. Commoners dancing in circles inside taverns. There are many kinds of dances, but commoners know only this one.
Even if I were to try and appeal to the nobles with the noble dance (waltz), it’d just end up drawing the ire of the people in the crowd, and it’ll be harder to get a reaction if I do a dance nobody knows.
I have no fighting ability. Therefore, I have no choice but to flatter and butter up the commoners who make up the majority of the population.
There is no special effect with the commoner’s dance. It’s just an ordinary dance.
Normally the tavern would have the necessary instruments for the commoner’s dance, and the manager would handle the musical accompaniment. However, there is no such thing in this place. After all, we are in a hall meant to show off magic and martial skill.
Already prepared to get severely burned, I started the silent commoner’s dance while playing music in my head.
There are no lyrics to the song, but some people who are in a good mood begin humming the melody. Here and there some token applause was raised.
That alone helped my body get into the rhythm. My feet felt lighter and my hands more supple. The audience’s attention is focused on me. Just knowing that was making my heart beat faster. It is a dancer’s long-cherished desire to be seen by other people.
My excitement was causing me to hear things. There was a piano accompaniment that complimented my dancing. However when I spun around in my spot and looked towards the stage behind me, I realized I wasn’t going crazy after all.
Heath had begun playing a piano he had brought in. It’s a famous piece that works for a folk dance. The excitement in the audience is heightened by the piano’s tune.
Near the end of the commoner’s dance, Heath suddenly changed the song’s tone.
Before it was a song meant to celebrate the annual harvest, but this is so much more fierce and passionate like a man staggering from being bit by a poisonous spider.
It’s nostalgic. He is playing Tarantella. My grandmother often played it as a rehearsal song when she gave me dance lessons. It is more intense and fervid than her playing though. I’m amazed the color can change so much depending on the one performing.
I matched my steps with the piano accompaniment and put everything into the last spurt. The audience was gone. I am the only one here. A space just for me to dance freely.
Lean back and hold my pose until the final chord finished reverberating off the walls.
The venue was silent, but gradually noise began to return. The audience looked excited while I was dancing, but after all, I’m still a dancer. Nobody applauded.
Nobody, except for one on stage who’s clapping rose above all the other noise in the venue. When I turned around in surprise, Lily Ruhuna, the first seat, was clapping her palms together over and over again.
The other hero candidates were looking at her quizzically. This was a folk dance. In other words, an abomination to children of the noble class and commoner mages who dream of becoming an aristocrat in the future.
So everyone else is looking down at me condescendingly. Melia is giving me a small wave, but it seems like it is hard for her to clap with all those eyes around her.
But, Lily Ruhuna taking the first step gave Melia the room to start clapping herself. Soon it grew to include Heath, the moderator, and the rest of the staff.
It wasn’t the entire audience that ended up applauding me by the end, but I was able to leave the performance hall with it being amount half applause and half boos mixed with insults. I didn’t expect to get any applause in all, so that’s pretty good. I’ll have to thank Heath and Lily Ruhuna when I can.
After changing clothes and returning to the stage, Heath ended with a final farewell to the audience. All the candidates gave a bow, and the ceremony came to a finish.
However we were quickly gathered and shepherded to a certain room immediately afterwards. The room was large, capable of accommodating hundreds of people rather than just the fifty of us. There were chandeliers and small paintings arranged on the high ceiling, so you could spend all your time gazing up.
I only turned my attention down when my neck started hurting. Evenly spaced round tables were draped with intricately crafted tablecloths, and fine detailed candlesticks provided the light.
Besides the candidates and staff, there were also reporters in the room looking for a good stories to spread through the nation after the day is done. There are fifty-one of us, so you might think you’d want to stand out, but it’s probably better to not say anything that might provoke the public.
There is a chef in one corner preparing the food and serving drinks. It wasn’t until this moment that I realized we were being served a buffet under the guise of a social gathering.
After entering the room, the hero candidates were divided into two groups.
The first was those born to aristocrats. They are people accustomed to places like this and act as if this kind of thing is an everyday occurrence. The other group were the commoners. They were the ones restlessly looking around as soon as they walked into the room. Naturally I belong to this group.
Two groups that would never mingle if not for an opportunity like this. And because we’ve never had a chance to intermingle before, nobody feels comfortable stepping forward, so it’s almost like the opportunity hasn’t happened at all. So almost as if it was natural, the right half of the room was taken by nobles while the left side was left to the commoners.
Sadly, a ranking formed even amongst the commoners. With me at the very bottom.
“Oh my, it’s the legacy addition. Everyone, please stay clear. If you don’t keep a wide berth, she’ll end up seducing you with her dance.”
Someone with a lot of extra pride released a bit of sarcasm about me into the crowd. A beautiful face says nothing about what you’re like on the inside.
The people who agree with her are just those kinds of people, so I ignore those who laugh at me and go get some food.
“Ah! Lily-chan! Over here!”
Melia called over to me with a plate full of food in one hand. There was a girl standing next to her who had a face very similar to her own.
“Lily-chan, let me introduce you. This is my little sister, Peony. Peony, this is my new friend Lily-chan.”
So she’s Melia’s little sister. If you’re going to tell the two apart, you would need to look at their hairstyles or body shape. There faces are so similar I think they have the same number of freckles in all the same places.
But Melia has a huge chest and shoulder length red hair. You can tell Peony apart because she is short, has no chest, and hair tied into twintails.
“It’s good to meet you Peony-chan”
“Hah…..Onee-chan. There’s no point in getting along with someone like her. It’s already decided someone in 51st place as a legacy addition will drop out right away.”
Peony looked back and forth between me and Melia with a frightening look before saying that. Apparently she wasn’t just lacking in the chest department.