Chapter 1 : Resolution
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Celestina Warbeck sat before the mirror in her dressing room, performing her vocal warm-up exercises. Outside in the amphitheater, she knew it would be loud right now as the opening act finished up their set. Here, however, it was completely quiet other than the noise she was making herself, thanks to the Soundproofing Charms on the walls. She had sent everyone away so she could have a few moments of undisturbed peace to herself.
Sometimes she wondered why she had ever agreed to a troupe of banshees as backup singers.
They had beautiful voices, of course, but by nature, they were a bit high and shrill. Lately, the sound seemed to pierce her ears more strongly than ever. She sighed. Maybe she was just tired. After all, she wasn’t as young as she used to be, and it had been a long year on tour. She had performed nearly 100 concerts this year, and now her annual Christmas tour was about to culminate with a New Year’s Eve performance.
Celestina had never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but she decided that 1970 would not be as hectic as the last few years had been. She would tour less. She would appear at more charity events. Besides, she needed time to write new songs. It was so difficult trying to write while she was exhausted from constant travel and performing night after night.
There was a discreet tap at the door of her dressing room. “Five minutes, Ms. Warbeck,” her assistant called out.
“Thank you, Sam,” she said and reached for a tube of lipstick. She quickly touched up her makeup and hair and then rose from her stool. With one last tug at her performance robes to ensure they were adjusted properly, she turned and went to the door.
Sam was hovering outside with a bottle of water, from which she took a perfunctory sip as she strode toward the stage. The backup singers were already waiting in the wings, and she took her place beside them. She could hear the dull roar of the crowd. They had begun to chant her name, “CE-LE-STI-NA, CE-LE-STI-NA, CE-LE-STI-NA!”
A stage hand signaled that all was ready. Celestina pointed her wand at her throat, said, “Sonorous,” and then tucked her wand back up her voluminous sleeve before walking out onto the stage. Bright lights glared into her eyes, and she could feel their heat. Even after all these years, the initial flare of lights always dazzled her momentarily. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the banshees take their places, their green-tinged skin washed out by the powerful lights. As she stepped up to the front of the state, she raised a hand for quiet.
A hush fell over the audience. Celestina surveyed the amphitheater. So many eager faces were turned up toward hers, lips poised to sing along to familiar songs. She took a deep breath and began to sing, her strong, clear voice ringing through the night.
This was what she had been made to do.
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