Led by the attendant, Joshua passed through a corridor that had oil paintings lining both sides of its walls…
The theme of the paintings surrounded the depiction of war, with clashing blades alongside blood-soaked bodies and dried bones being commonly found in most of the paintings.
The paintings made Joshua feel like he was in a war memorial instead of a performing theater.
The corridor was not too long, and soon, he had reached the end of it. The attendant stopped at a door before he turned around with an inviting gesture.
If the theater manager’s office was behind the door, then the attendant should have gone ahead and knocked on the door to inform the manager. Yet, the attendant did no such thing.
It was because there was noise coming from behind the door, and even if the attendant knocked, he assumed that no one inside would hear it.
“You can give me the highest offer you want, but I will never sell this theater to you!! You bunch of scoundrels! Get out of my sight!”
“Sir Weissenasche, your repertoires are outdated, and no troupes are willing to perform here anymore, so why don’t you just make one last big earning and retire?”
“The classics will never be outdated! This theater will continue to open even if there is one last audience member left! If you don’t leave now, I will resort to using force!”
The yelling behind the door made it awkward for the attendant, and shortly after, two men in black suits came out of the room. They only glanced at Joshua, then at Ciri and Hyrlan before they left angrily.
Joshua properly sorted out his clothes since he would be going into a business meeting, and the person he would be talking business with did not seem to be in a good mood.
“Please wait for me here,” Joshua said to Ciri and Hyrlan before he opened the door and walked into the room.
“Marlone, didn’t I just say, no matter… Wait… who are you?”
There was only one person in the room, and he was sitting behind a wooden office table at the center of the room. He had a slightly portly figure and was wearing a rather gaudy… costume. The most striking part about him was that he had blush on both sides of his cheeks, and his lips seemed to have a ruddy gloss to it.
It seemed like the rather effeminate fat man was the owner of the theater, Sir Weissenasche.
“A collaborator who can save your theater.”
Joshua pondered for a bit and chose to portray himself as a collaborator. After all, Joshua did not have any troupe, he only had a crew, a behind-the-scenes crew composed of demons and the undead.
“A collaborator? You did hear me yelling just now, right? You scummy businessmen will never get an inch of this theater off of me!”
He was still a little emotionally agitated and was not in an accommodating mood. He pressed the bell on the table, and two large… spellcasters walked out of another door in the office.
Sir Weissenasche, already boiling in anger, was ready to chase him out.
He was dealing with a person who was totally lost in anger, and Joshua felt that it was impossible for him to get Sir Weissenasche to calm down to talk business. So, Joshua could only pull out the badge that the Duke of Bones had given to him.
Joshua held the badge with an unknown insignia in his hand. Sir Weissenasche had good eyesight, and he quickly caught sight of the insignia. His expression froze immediately like that of his attendant earlier, and fear immediately replaced his anger, but he quickly calmed down.
The two casters whom Sir Weissenasche had summoned in were about to toss Joshua out but they were immediately stopped by him.
“What are you two doing?! He’s a guest! Get someone to make a pot of black tea, now!”
The Duke of Bones’ reputation sure was something.
Joshua watched on as the two casters hurried into the other room. In place of them, a female attendant quickly pushed out a dining cart with a teapot as well as several cups on it.
Joshua simply sat down on the chair before Sir Weissenasche’s table.
What the Duke of Bones gave Joshua was not only her prestige but also Sir Weissenasche’s life. When Joshua got close to the somewhat portly aristocrat, he noticed that the mark on his left hand reacted.
Sir Weissenasche seemed to have remnants of the duke’s magic in him… but he did not look like an undead creature.
“You… Did that person send you here?” Sir Weissenasche asked in a fearful tone after the female attendant served Joshua a cup of red tea and left the office.
“No, I’m her friend.”
While Joshua did indeed call the Duke of Bones “Her Grace”, and the Duke of Bones referred to him as “His Highness”, Joshua and the duke were of equal position. After the duke became a fan of “Beauty and the Demon”, Joshua and the Lord of Liches even became more like friends.
He appeared to realize how terrifying Joshua’s true identity was and wanted to stand up to bow, but Joshua stopped him.
“I mentioned earlier that I’ve come here today as a collaborator, Sir Weissenasche. You don’t need to be so reserved.”
“A collaborator… Sir, please spare us. This theater was once a distinguished institution in Norland. You must have heard of these two plays, ‘Girl of Sionagle’ and ‘The Great Revolution’. I wrote and performed both of them.”
He used a pleading tone to speak to Joshua and seemed to regard Joshua as a businessman who had come to buy his theater out.
“Sir Weissenasche, you mentioned ‘was once’, right?”
Joshua purposely emphasized “was once”, and at the same time, he glanced at the painting behind Sir Weissenasche. It was of a young girl in armor, and she was holding a flag. The entire composition of the painting was reminiscent of the French painter, Eugene Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People”.
“It is still the same now,” Sir Weissenasche tried to explain.
“The same? An empty theater is a glorious moment in this distinguished institution? Is my understanding of the word glorious different from yours, Sir?”
With such a flawed excuse, Joshua had countless ways to poke holes in his logic and render him speechless.
“Relax, Sir Weissenasche. I’m not here to buy your theater. I’m here to save your theater.”
Joshua watched on as Sir Weissenasche’s neck reddened, and his pale face was finally ruddy now. Seemingly afraid that the latter would suddenly die of a heart attack or something, he went straight to the point for his visit.
“Save?” Sir Weissenasche stopped giving excuses and waited for Joshua to continue.
“That’s right. I have a show with me, a show that could bring your theater back to its glorious days, perhaps even far beyond that.”
Joshua had absolute confidence in “Beauty and the Demon”. A film that could move someone was definitely a good movie. It was a movie that made the Duke of Bones shed tears of soulfire, and Joshua did not believe that humans with developed tear glands would not be affected by it.
“A show? I’m sorry, Sir… I didn’t know that you’re the manager of a troupe. Can you tell me the name of your troupe?”
Joshua’s answer delighted Sir Weissenasche. He originally had two troupes under his wing, but all of them had been poached by that damned Norland National Theater. So, he was preparing to assemble the manpower needed to rebuild one, but if Joshua was a troupe manager, then Sir Weissenasche would not mind allowing his troupe to give it a go.
“I’m not a troupe manager, and I don’t have a troupe either.” Joshua shook his head, indicating that he was not someone from that sector.
“Then…” Sir Weissenasche was confused.
“My show is here.”
Joshua tapped his fingers against his suitcase.
“It’s a show… that could kick-start a whole new era.”