Author : S T Xavier

Katarina sighed and turned back to the show. “Don’t sulk. It’s very unprofessional. At least we can watch the show.”

Arms crossed, Mercault looked out silently from their seats near the royal box. She was right, of course, but these excellent seats in the theater weren’t enough to soothe his anger. His eyes narrowed as he watched his competitor, ‘The Great Jaltonian’, step onto the theater stage and begin his act.

Mercault should have been on that stage, he mused silently. It’s not his fault that he’s human and doesn’t have the extra arms that Jaltonian has! Jaltonian’s tricks were so pedestrian, and his slight-of-hand was so easy to pick apart, even with the extra arms! Mercault was the better showman by far, and he just didn’t understand why the prince wouldn’t choose him. The prince of Laxiton-17 was known galaxy-wide as a connoisseur of fine showmanship, and paid well for it. To lose to such a terrible charlatan hurt Mercault’s pride deeply, even if they still got to watch the show at the Prince’s side.

He watched silently as Jaltonian pranced around the stage, using his extra arms to pull birds from the portal device strapped to the back of his belt while his main arms provided misdirection to the crowd. His knowledgeable gaze picked apart the trick with the girl in the box, recognizing the thin glow of the incorporeality generator spilling from the gaps in the lid. He scowled incredulously when he saw the green glow of the levitation device where it was sown into Jaltonian’s pants, so obvious against his deep purple skin.

The gasps and applause from the crowd only made Mercault’s mood worse. He scowled as his eyes traveled around the theater, looking at the seats filled with the green-scaled residents of Laxiton-17. These overgrown lizards obviously knew nothing of true theater.

His movement caught Katarina’s attention and she smacked his shoulder. “Mercault! Watch the show. Look! I think he’s going to do a quick change routine!”

That caught Mercault’s attention. Quick change was never his strong suit, and it was the one thing he saw Jaltonian do during the competition that he respected. It wasn’t enough to pull him from his sulking, though, so he turned his attention to the showman while slouched deep in his seat.

Jaltonian raised his upper purple arms, holding a large ring. With a flourish, he triggered the button to create a large glowing curtain around it, and dropped the ring over his head. When it hit the ground, the showman’s black tuxedo had changed into a pure white suit with a constrictive snake as a necktie. In mock surprise, the showman removed the snake to the laughter of the audience. Mercault looked for the give-away, but had no idea how this trick worked and was minorly impressed with its flawlessness.

The purple arms passed the ring above his head again, and dropped it to the floor. In his place, there was now a beautiful woman in a silver dress, her green scales glinting a little in the spotlights of the theater.

Katarina gasped and clapped at his side, but this time, Marcault saw the trick. The brief orange flash of the matter transference device not only appeared on stage, but caught his attention at the side of his vision. He turned to the light to see the prince sitting with his attention fully focused on the stage. The prince didn’t see the purple four-armed Jaltonian standing behind him with a large blade in one hand.

For his part, Jaltonian obviously knew that Mercault would see him. He turned to face his rival showman and raised his upper-left hand to his lips in a gesture of quiet. As he did, he flashed again. Now, instead of Jaltonian holding the blade, a perfect image of Mercault was holding the blade as it plunged into the back of the prince.

Mercault turned to Katarina with a sigh. “Time to go, love. Things are about to get tricky for us. I knew he was a terrible showman.” He reached out to touch her face, lightly tapping the teleportation charm in her earring as he did. She blinked out of existence, sent back to their ship as he straightened his own sleeve and touched his cufflink.

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