Mikyla was nervous, there was no doubt about that. Still she smiled and faced her audience of four confidently. After the initial introduction, she began singing. Her older cousin sat quietly sketching. The strange bespectacled man was smiling, but he seemed to smile at everyone. The final judge was inscrutable in his hooded cloak. His spokesman scowled thoughtfully throughout the performance.

As she finished the song, Mikyla beamed at each of the judges. She wasn’t terribly surprised when Michael shook his head and said, “She’s my cousin, so I can’t say whether she’s in or not. That wouldn’t be fair.”

“She’s in as far as I’m concerned,” the hooded judge said softly. “Maybe my spokesman can cast a third vote. He knows musical skill when he hears it.”

“She seems skilled enough,” the man said. “I say we give her a chance. As long as Michael doesn’t cast any deciding votes, it should be fine.”

“I agree,” the bespectacled judge said. “Perhaps we could get a different judge for the next round?”

“That sounds like a plan,” Michael said softly. “I’m just here to say whether I could draw the artwork that would go with the videos and album covers.”

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