Callia was nervous as hell, it would be her first performance in front of a crowd, but she knew what she had to do. She looked beautiful. She had worn her personal treasure, jet black silk gloves that came to her elbows, which stood in stark contrast to the deep crimson of her flowing low cut dress. Her long dirty blonde hair was brought back into a tight bun. The black pearl earings and dark makeup accentuated her striking gray eyes and the flawless curves or her face, a beauty her father always swore she got from her mother. Her skin had a sandy glow, a surreal and natural feel to it that might be seen with a perfect sunset. She knew she was ready, she had waited her entire life for this chance, though she had hoped for it to occur under different circumstances. Her parents had sacrificed everything for her. Her parents...
Callia missed her parents more than words could describe. They had been her life, her hope, her everything. And now...
She fought back a tear as something she heard brought her back to the present. There was mild applause to welcome the next performance.
“What did he say?” Callia quickly looked around her seeking an answer from one of the other performers waiting to go on. She was offered only smirks and a couple faint chuckles.
“I say again, Callia of Eddeiya!!” Callia turned beat red, and began shuffling towards the stage from behind the curtain which had concealed her. She attempted to force her walk to look natural, making an even more awkward show of it. When she reached the host on stage, he gave her a sharp glare. “I’ll take this out of you later. Your bribe did not cover embarrassment, peasant.” She gave him a cool grin and a subtle wink. Confused, he left the stage.
The amphitheatre was massive. The cool fall breeze played over her exposed shoulders, the torchlight seemed brashly insufficient, and the tough granite of the high walls seemed to stair down on her, waiting. She couldn’t see the clouds overhead, but knew they are there. It smelled of rain. This amphitheatre, the same one she had walked by countless times as a child, had always seemed a thing of her dreams.
Now nervous, beat red, and practically stumbling over herself, Callia centered herself on stage in front of the Church leadership. The crowd at this point was actively snickering and poking fun at her obvious discomfort.
Callia took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and began to sing.
The crowd went silent in an instant. Her voice was as silken as her gloves, a gift no mortal should posses. Her clean notes carried effortlessly throughout the amphitheatre. No words were required, her voice told a story of its own, a story of untold sadness. The shock was visible in the crowd, yet Callia did not see it. She was one with her song, pouring her soul into it, giving it life. She swayed gently with the sound of her own voice, the crowd forgotten. This was her escape. The singing continued for what must have been a turn of the glass, but her songs were never planned. She allowed the song to come into her, and this one was not finished. The unsaid tale of love, sacrifice and sorrow reached it’s final note, and slowly faded to nothing.
She was finished, she had done her best, there was no applause. She silently dedicated the song to her parents, and waited. By the flicker of torches surrounding the amphitheatre she could barely see that the crowd was still present. But something was different, everyone before her was on their knees.
One man rose from the audience, and slowly walked towards the stage. As the man came nearer, she hid her recognition. Cardinal Avidan was on the stage. Callia struggled to maintain composure, she couldn’t let him see her true feelings. She fell to her knees, scuffing her dress.
His voice commanded great authority, and boomed throughout the amphitheatre. “Arise, my child.”
Callia glanced up as he beckoned her to stand, veiled the hate in her eyes, and slowly stood. Cardinal Avidan turned to address the audience. “What you have witnessed tonight is truly a miracle. Nobody can doubt this. This young lady has a gift from heaven, you are honored by her presence.”
As one, the crowd threw their faces to the ground, quiet prayers could be heard throughout the gathering. The torchlight danced between those present, enhancing an eerie sense of wonder that had already captivated the environment.
Callia looked to the Cardinal in feigned awe, she had no words for this man. The Cardinal took her hand gently, “Come with me my dear, you have quite the future before you.” She shuddered at hiding the revolt of his touch on her hand, the silk glove that had been her mothers.
Her parents had been right, she was destined for greater things. She was destined to avenge them, avenge their murder by the Inquisition.