Open Salon

Merriwether Fawkes moves about the rooms and small garden of her townhouse that shall be open for guests shortly, double-checking decor and refreshments with a critical eye. Foxfire candles are lit and set about in elegant wrought-iron candleabra, twined about with wickerworks of dried reeds (alas, there is little else easily available here). Mushroom cakes laid out amid drops of Prisoner’s Honey and Greyfields 1882 and bottles of Madam Gebrandt’s Superior Laudanum. For the more temperate of her friends there are full coffee and tea services, of course, with frozen puffball creams and toadstool sorbet (bless the urchins for their enterprise and generosity!).

Esther and 6 of her numerous nieces and nephews are liveried for service, looking entirely too serious and formal but they’ll relax once the guests arrive and the real work begins, she’s sure of it.

Music… she cannot be sure whether the Commodore will return in time for his show, which in all cases is most preferable; but, if he is not returned, then it seems best to have something to fill in the odd moments of silence that will happen even in the most successful of events.

She catches her reflection in the glass of an interior doorway — not a mirror, too many Fallen Londoners have nightmarish associations with them — and studies it as closely as she has done the setting about her. A midnight blue gown, perhaps the loveliest she’s ever owned, tinting her eyes with blue like… topaz, she supposes, just a touch… moon-pearls in her hair, an elegant coiffure… and a new moon-pearl and diamond necklace, tastefully understated, adorns her throat and décolletage. That is what is what can be seen. What cannot makes her smile mischievously — it is her party, after all. She’ll play if she so wishes!

.-*-._.-*-._.-*-.

Be welcome, gentle guests and dear friends. Leave your cares at the door, enter, and be merry!

As opposed to being Merri, of course. I am she, and that’s likely quite enough for the city to be going on with, at the moment.

If you have not been here before, it may take me a moment or two to make your presence known, but fear not! You may be a new friend here, but rest assured you are a dear, delicious friend — we adore you already!

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233 Comments

  1. Henrik Paulsen said,

    July 31, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Henrik will arrive early, of course — early enough that it’s clear he’s appearing for her sake and not necessarily for the sake of the company. He wears a tailcoat that looks almost painfully new and has an earnest, freshly-scrubbed look to his face. When one of Esther’s nieces shows him in, he stands about looking awkward until he catches sight of the hostess.

    He has never felt less dangerous.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      July 31, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      Merri has been prepared for this, of course; she’s beem doing little in her spare time other than preparing for it. She has her best smile ready for him as he’s shown in, but is plainly impressed — and touched — by his sartorial elegance. Even if it’s not for her sake.

      “Henrik, dear man, you’re early and most welcome. Do come in, will you have some tea?”

      • Henrik Paulsen said,

        July 31, 2010 at 3:12 pm

        “Tea, yes.” He tugs at his collar a bit. “It’s been years since I’ve been to a formal gathering. I’m out of practice; if my manners appall you, do have the grace to pretend I’m a stranger.”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          July 31, 2010 at 3:23 pm

          “Don’t be silly,” she tells him, then turns to say, “honey and cream” to the girl pouring the tea. “I’m touched that you went to the trouble, dear man. You look quite elegant, dressed so, and must cut quite a swath through the actors’ hearts when you’re spending time in Veilgarden!”

          • Henrik Paulsen said,

            July 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm

            “Ah –” He laughs a little as he takes his tea. “I’m afraid you’ve caught this suit on its maiden voyage, so to speak. That is the term you use for a ship’s first venture, isn’t it?” It is, he hopes, innocuous dock-slang rather than the saltier sort.

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              July 31, 2010 at 3:38 pm

              “Then I’m doubly flattered,” Merri assures him, gesturing Astrid to hand him his tea (which she does) before touching his elbow to lead him to a small grouping of chairs. That “confoundedly British” reserve is firmly in place, which makes this ever so much easier for her.

              “Before anyone else arrives, I wanted to tell you that I’ve heard more news of Randall Ross. He is a Surfacer. How he got access to the Flit, no one seems to know. Harry and the urchins also discovered that he is not following me, in his own person; he is merely spreading around quite a bit of surface currency to have my activities monitored.”

              • Henrik Paulsen said,

                July 31, 2010 at 3:46 pm

                “Monitored by whom? Players in the Game?” He remembers well their conversation from earlier in the day about their respective reasons for leaving the Cheesemonger’s service. “Or simply free agents?”

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  July 31, 2010 at 3:53 pm

                  The question causes her to reflect a moment, it was a possibility she hadn’t considered. “I don’t know,” she confesses thoughtfully. “Not that anyone would know, necessarily. I am still well-connected among some of the other pawns, I shall make inquiries toward that question. In honesty, I can’t think what interest I could possibly be to anyone with any influence in the game. I am a nobody, less than a nobody, in those spheres.”

                  • Henrik Paulsen said,

                    July 31, 2010 at 4:04 pm

                    “But a nobody who thinks that she can simply refuse a commission; it does taste of over-boldness.” He shakes his head, freeing one hand from his cup to tug at his collar again. “I don’t mean to imply that your pursuers would necessarily be players of the game; for all I know, you’re being watched by the Knotted Sock or the Starveling Cat. It simply seems … logical? … to conduct our own pursuit by working upward toward Ross through his employees.” There is no hesitation whatsoever in that ‘our’; he never imagines for a moment that Merriwether might be alone in this.

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 4:33 pm

                      Merri smiles a genuine smile at that “our,” and leans over to pat his knee gratefully. “I think you’re quite right. It’s something I plan to pursue when I’ve quite recovered from our revels here. But look,” she says, glancing up at the new arrival. “It’s Israel Salvador — I believe you’ve met?”

                      She arises… –>

  2. Israel Salvador said,

    July 31, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Israel has managed to dig up a dignified old tailcoat for the evening, a little ragged but very clean. He had intended to go in his ratskin suit, but his Trusted Advisors had told him it would be a bad idea.

    He’s kept the goggles and scarves, of course, but he looks presentable enough not to have the door slammed in his face.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      July 31, 2010 at 4:34 pm

      “Israel! You did come! I am so pleased, I did not think you would!” Merri arises from her seat near Henrik Paulsen and approaches her new guest with both hands extended. “This is your first visit to my home, so be welcome, please! What will you have to drink?”

      • Israel Salvador said,

        July 31, 2010 at 4:40 pm

        Israel gives a slouching little bow.

        “To drink? Oh, anything Readily Available! Well, anything Readily Available that’s tea, anyway! You have a very very well-kept home, Mistress Fawkes! Very Hygienic!”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          July 31, 2010 at 4:51 pm

          “Well,” she laughs, “one tries. That credit goes to my housekeeper, I’m glad you find it agreeable. Honey? Cream?”She asks, gesturing to young Astrid, who tends the tea service like a nervous nanny.

  3. Asher Wilsford said,

    July 31, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Asher is shown into the room by Esther and nods his thanks, having chosen to go bare-headed for the occasion. He can’t remember the proper exchanges used with servants that he was taught by his lady-patron when he was a boy. He is much more used to interacting with them on the same social level, but he supposes a polite nod will do.

    He is wearing his nicest suit of clothes, though they are still a bit tattered, and has tried his best to tame his unruly mop of brown hair. He would have felt much more comfortable in his loose breeches and boots, but he desperately wanted to look presentable for Ms. Fawkes.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      July 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm

      “My goodness! Mr. Wilsford!”

      Merri’s delight at seeing Asher is just as profound as it has been for the previous two arrivals. She extends a hand to him, leaving one in Israel’s general proximity for the moment.

      “You’re looking quite debonair, dear fellow, do come in. Tea? Wine? You know Messirs Salvador and Paulsen, don’t you?

      • Asher Wilsford said,

        July 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm

        Asher blushed at Ms. Fawkes warm welcome.

        “Yes, we’ve met. I ‘ope it’s not too early for wine, eh?”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          July 31, 2010 at 5:50 pm

          “Never,” she assures him, smiling at another young man in livery. “I’ve even got laudanum to lace it with if you like, though it might be a touch early for that.

          Asher is handed his glass and Merri takes one from the tray as well. “Thank you, Thomas. Come in and join our small company, dear boy.”

  4. Israel Salvador said,

    July 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    “Both please,” Israel chirps, “And please do remember to pass my Compliments to the staff!”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      July 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm

      “Pass them yourself, if you like,” Merri grins. “Astrid here may blush at the attention, but she’ll speak her own thanks, I’m sure. You know Mr. Wilsford and Mr. Paulsen, do you not?”

      Astrid hands him his teacup on a saucer, with a blushing little curtsy.

      • Henrik Paulsen said,

        July 31, 2010 at 5:12 pm

        At what seems to be a re-introduction, he stands and offers, politely, “I fear we got off on the wrong …” and he can’t remember how that expression is supposed to end. “Well. No militancy from me tonight. How do you do, Mr Salvador?”

        • Israel Salvador said,

          July 31, 2010 at 5:23 pm

          “Very well, Mister Paulsen! So good to see you, and no militancy from me either! Not even cavalry, and I like horses! How are you? Have you met any soul-shepherds yet?”

          • Henrik Paulsen said,

            July 31, 2010 at 5:27 pm

            “Not one. In truth, my dear friend Mr Gylden has been teaching me to catch cats, and the project has me very occupied.” And somewhat clawed at the hands.

            • Israel Salvador said,

              July 31, 2010 at 5:39 pm

              “Cat catching? Quite credible! If, ah, scratchy. I spent a lot of time doing the same thing when I first came to London! Well, that and bashing people on the head. Cats do seem very, ha, well informed down here!”

              • Henrik Paulsen said,

                July 31, 2010 at 5:41 pm

                With a broad grin, he replies, “Better-informed than I might have credited, on the surface; if my sister’s cats kept secrets, they declined to share them with me. And yourself, Mr Salvador — you seem a very knowledgeable fellow.”

                • Israel Salvador said,

                  July 31, 2010 at 5:50 pm

                  “Oh, knowledgeable is very much the wrong word for what I am, though it is flattering! Well, assuming knowledgeableness is something to be admired, because sometimes people get very indignant when I know something they don’t want me too, really that’s like objecting to the wind blowing in the wrong direction, and ah, sorry, I’m rambling!

                  “At, um, any rate, I just like knowing little facts, big facts too but they get very heavy!”

                  • Henrik Paulsen said,

                    July 31, 2010 at 5:54 pm

                    “A man after my own heart. If your facts ever become too heavy, do unburden yourself to me? Secrets are easier with two to bear the load — less secret, perhaps, but it could be that this is what lightens them.”

                    • Israel Salvador said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 6:02 pm

                      Israel grins, showing a mouthful of crooked (but very clean) teeth.

                      “That’s very Decent of you, Mister Paulsen! I may have to, ha, take you up on that someday soon!”

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 6:06 pm

                      Henrik’s teeth are somewhat less crooked, but two are chipped where the crooked corners protrude. He has evidently met a few very hard objects face-first.

                      He is about to make his reply when he hears Merriwether making Anna’s introductions, and he turns so as not to seem rude.

  5. Anna St. Grey said,

    July 31, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    As a fairly new resident of Fallen London, Anna’s resources were sadly limited. Fortunately, with the help of some turgid — and in her opinion, frankly terrible — poetry, she was able to afford a decent scarlet dress. It wasn’t really her colour, but it would do for the time being. Blonde hair seemed to be co-operating, staying neatly in place within her coiffure, and what few tresses escaped bondage were acceptable. The velvet choker at her neck was a simple affair, but enough to compliment her attire and make her presentable.

    In spite of how things had turned out, she remembered her manners. Time spent at boarding schools on the surface rarely came in handy for her exploits in the Neath, so it was a pleasant enough change of pace to employ those skills once more.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      July 31, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      “Oh my….” Merri’s eyes light up at seeing her first begowned guest come through her doors. “Miss St. Grey, well met indeed.” She moved to take Anna’s hands, clearly delighted. “Do come in, be welcome, you are so very lovely in that gown! Will you take refreshment first, or shall I introduce you to my other guests?”

      • Anna St. Grey said,

        July 31, 2010 at 5:48 pm

        Anna had been greatly surprised to have found friends so soon after her arrival — it made her regrets far more palatable, and to say nothing of the disastrous rattus faber infestation of her cottage. The diplomatic approach hadn’t helped; a well-placed shotgun application seemed to be in order. A shame, really. She had rather liked rats.

        “Quite,” she replied with a faint smile. “Thank you for your gracious invitation.” And how long had it been since she had been complimented on her appearance? She had to fight to keep a blush down. “Ah, thank you.”

        She could do with a spot of tea, but manners first. “I believe introductions are in order.”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          July 31, 2010 at 5:54 pm

          “Of course, as you wish. Gentlemen,” Merri said, raising her voice to be heard over theor conversation. She had Anna by the hand gently, leading her in. “A lovely and intelligent newcomer to our life here in the Neath: I present to you Miss Anna St. Grey. Miss St. Grey, meet Mr. Henrik Paulsen, Mr. Israel Slavador, and young Mr. Asher Wilsford.”

          • Anna St. Grey said,

            July 31, 2010 at 6:21 pm

            Each guest was awarded a proper — if somewhat stiff — curtsey. Anna carefully suppressed a frown; has she really been out of practise this long?

            “I am delighted to make your acquaintance, gentlemen.”

            • Henrik Paulsen said,

              July 31, 2010 at 6:48 pm

              Henrik bowed to her, with a smile at her stiffness — she looked rather the way he felt. “Ms Fawkes has charmed us here with promises of tea and parlour games; has she promised you the same?”

              • Asher Wilsford said,

                July 31, 2010 at 7:13 pm

                “Ah, ‘ello,” Asher gave her a somewhat awkward bow. He was much out of practice and had almost forgotten when it was appropriate to use such a gesture. He took another sip of wine to calm his nerves a bit.

                • Anna St. Grey said,

                  July 31, 2010 at 8:03 pm

                  Anna gave them both a faint smile. At least she was feeling much less awkward now, and her smile was far less strained than it had been. In fact, things were already a sight better than what she’d had to endure on the surface.

                  “Well, it was rather persuasive. Good tea is so difficult to come by.”

                  • Henrik Paulsen said,

                    July 31, 2010 at 8:24 pm

                    “She’d turn the Orient upside down to please her guests — she traded with the urchin-gangs for cream for my tea, simply because I’d expressed a fondness. Ms Fawkes is such a remarkable woman!” He realized that he might have been over-effusive there, and he checked himself. “But I haven’t yet had the chance to remark upon your charms. Do tell me about yourself, Ms St Grey?”

                    • Anna St. Grey said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 8:46 pm

                      She couldn’t very well say that she’d abandoned her aristocratic surface life and come to the Neath to ruthlessly track down someone. But lying seemed so crude, which meant a little creativity was in order.

                      “I’ve only recently arrived, I must admit. Though the opportunities to be found here were simply too enticing to ignore.”

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 8:52 pm

                      “Your motives were purer than mine, I fear — I’d come to –” But then Narciso and Theodor burst in, soaking wet, and he didn’t get a chance to say that he’d come to avenge his brother.

  6. cl0ckw0rks said,

    July 31, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Merri squeezes Anna’s hand warmly, nods to the servants at the refreshment table who seem ready to requite any gustatory desire she might have, then addresses Israel quietly.

    “My dear man, I believe I may owe you something of an apology. Your manner is so open and friendly, I’ve been presuming a greater acquaintance than we have and calling you by your first name. Do forgive me, I intended no slight,” she concluded, smiling most apologetically.

    • Israel Salvador said,

      August 2, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      Israel, who has been deeply preoccupied wondering where the ice for the various fungoid desserts comes from, gives a little start, then grins.

      “Oh, no trouble there, Mistress Fawkes! I’m not very particular about how I’m addressed!”

  7. Narcissus & Theodor said,

    July 31, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Narciso (at times called Narcissus) and Theodor arrive together. Whenever the two are seen together, one can expect that it is after Narciso has persuaded Theodor to the folly of prize-fight or an adventure in the Forgotten Quarter, or after Theodor has persuaded to Narciso to sobriety and a serious discussion of philosophy or mythology at a cofeehouse. This time, one might have a guess: the both of them are soaking wet and Narciso’s arm is draped about Theodor’s shoulder, while Theodor supports him as well he is able, glasses askew and dappled with water.

    “My friends!” calls Narciso, throwing out his free arm in the manner of an orator. “My dear, delicious friends! We have been drinking such a quantity of liquor, and making such poor decisions — !”

    “No, you,” Theodor interjects, “you and your team have been honey-sipping and drinking, carrying on and making poor decisions while I only endeavored to stay dry, which none of you would allow me –”

    “Oh, but it was brilliant! You’re a dry wit, sir, but my element is water and I must be by it or falling, flying through it — ! The dream-rapids were as crisp and white as paper –”

    “I do apologize, madam, for his conduct,” Theodor says, “and for myself — I did not wish to arrive in such a state. But if you’ve coffee or tea ready and would convey us to it, I would be much obliged.”

    • Henrik Paulsen said,

      July 31, 2010 at 7:45 pm

      … and this will be Henrik choking on his tea trying to avoid laughing — he claps himself hard on the chest, coughs a bit, and then dissolves into laughter anyway. “Dear God, Theodor, what’s he led you into?”

      • Asher Wilsford said,

        July 31, 2010 at 8:00 pm

        Asher stared openly at the two dripping gentlemen as they burst into the room. Was it raining? Surely not. Asher was not even sure it rained at all in the Neath. He downed the last of his wine – probably in a completely ungentlemanly way – and moved to greet the two men. Narcisso he had met, but the other man he had only seen in passing.

        • Narcissus said,

          July 31, 2010 at 8:24 pm

          “Asher, my dear — !” Narciso cried, most ungentlemanly. “May I call you Asher? You do cut a figure in a suit, but I do hope this one isn’t too stiff for you.”

          • Asher Wilsford said,

            July 31, 2010 at 8:38 pm

            Dear? Good god, the man was drunk, and Asher hardly knew how to respond to him when he was sober.

            He decided to respond with a smile, hoping that he was not blushing, “Course ya can. I’m not quite accustomed ta bein’ a mister, anyhow.”

            • Narcissus said,

              July 31, 2010 at 8:57 pm

              “No, no — we’d have to put you in a hood and teach you to speak in a high-pitched, rattling voice. And what would you put taxes on? Yours seems to be more of a freely given, freely taken sort of business.”

              • Asher Wilsford said,

                July 31, 2010 at 9:26 pm

                Asher laughed at the idea of his being a Master of the Bazaar. “Taken? I’ve been doin’ more o’ the taking lately. The Fisher Kings ‘ave the most unique way to lighten a mark’s pockets.”

                • Narcissus said,

                  July 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm

                  “Oh, I’ve heard — ! I’ve heard. Fishing-lines –” It makes Narcissus laugh, too, spontaneous and warm. “I confess I’ve never seen it done, but that’s the point of it, isn’t it?”

                  • cl0ckw0rks said,

                    July 31, 2010 at 9:36 pm

                    “It’s something of a rite of passage among them,” Merri adds with a secretive smile. “Once you prove your worth at it, you’re something of an honorary member.”

      • Theodor said,

        July 31, 2010 at 8:07 pm

        Theodor adopts the put-upon expression of a ruffled cat — either he’s spent too much time among them, or he’s always been like this. “Folly and misery. He invited me to a meeting with antiquities scholars from his expedition, but he did not tell me that we were to meet in a honey-dream, he did not tell me that it would be aboard a raft — the diversity of things he did not tell me –“

        • Henrik Paulsen said,

          July 31, 2010 at 8:15 pm

          “He’s a scoundrel,” Henrik admits readily, “And you’ve already forgiven him, I know you have. Oh, if only I could have joined you! — but let’s get you dry, shall we? Merri, might we use your hearth?” He seems a different person, with Theodor: less reserved, more full of ready mirth.

          • Theodor said,

            July 31, 2010 at 8:36 pm

            “I should like to be dry,” he mutters, and neither confirms nor denies anything about Narciso and whether he’s yet merited forgiveness.

            • Henrik Paulsen said,

              July 31, 2010 at 8:42 pm

              The servants that Merri’s summoned will surround Theodor to dry him, and Henrik will step off to give them space. “Did you enjoy yourself, at least?”

              • Theodor said,

                July 31, 2010 at 9:27 pm

                He gives his apologies, his thanks, clutches the towel like security. “It may have been worse,” he allows. “We had a moment to sit on the bank in conversation, which I enjoyed in spite of their carousing. I had forgotten how sunlight looks on water. And … he is right, the rapids were crisp and white as paper.”

                • Henrik Paulsen said,

                  July 31, 2010 at 9:32 pm

                  “You must take me there, one day — in a dream, or when we return to the surface.” He pauses. “If you want to go back, that is; we can sit on the bank, if you’d prefer.”

                  • Theodor said,

                    July 31, 2010 at 9:43 pm

                    “I would prefer it. But it is almost a law of human behavior,” he says in frustration. “Any one of them might have jumped straight into the river — if I would allow any one of them to do it, which I would not— but the more reluctant I was, the more amusing they found it to goad me.”

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 9:48 pm

                      As Theodor is speaking, though, Henrik is watching Narciso charm the entire assembled gathering — he has to laugh under his breath at that. “They’re all going to fall in love with him, aren’t they. It’s what he does.”

                    • Theodor said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 10:02 pm

                      Ah. “He hasn’t had as much to drink as his behavior during our arrival would indicate.” It’s said like a criticism.

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 10:03 pm

                      “He seldom has.” It’s said with immense affection.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      July 31, 2010 at 8:00 pm

      Merri looks up at the boisterous entrance, eyes widening at the sight the two present. Esther, behind them, wrings her hands in dismay at the water dripping on the floors and rugs. TOrn between bemusement at her dear friends and sympathy for the attitude of the woman who worked hard to keep her home clean, Merri opted for humor — as she always would, given a choice.

      “Did you leave any of the Colorado in the riverbed?” She teases Narcissus (or whatever he’s calling himself now). “Esther, bring some towels for these gentlemen. Astrid, some tea for Mr. Gylden please and…” She eyes Narciso speculatively. “Some coffee for our inebriated friend, here, who still knows how to make an entrance.”

      • Narcissus said,

        July 31, 2010 at 8:21 pm

        “It was incredible — but thank you,” Narcissus adds to the help, so earnest he might be believed. “Truly, thank you. Merri, you would have loved it there — I will never tire of it, the places one visits in the imagination –“

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          July 31, 2010 at 8:23 pm

          Merri takes the coffee from Astrid and presses it into his hands with a subtle wink. “You and I still have a date for Karakorum,” she reminds him. “I’m very nearly over my loathing of the Forgotten Quarter, so it must almost be time.”

    • Anna St. Grey said,

      July 31, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      That was certainly a lively entrance. Anna’s eyebrows raised ever so slightly, taking in a measured sip of her tea. On the one hand, it was a rather amusing display, but on the other, she was certain the unfortunate carpets would require a thorough scrubbing.

      And what ever had they been doing? Falling into the Unterzee?

      • Theodor said,

        July 31, 2010 at 8:33 pm

        Theodor could not have been more aware of how much they were dripping on the carpets, how utterly unsuited for polite company they looked — he did try to comport himself with dignity. But perhaps, while looking around the room to judge whether people were staring, he met Anna’s eyes then dropped his own immediately. “I do apologize,” he repeated.

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          July 31, 2010 at 8:38 pm

          “No harm done,” Merri assures him sincerely, moving a little aside so Astrid can hand him his tea. Then she sees Esther and one of the boys approaching with dry towels and stands up and out of the way completely.

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        July 31, 2010 at 8:35 pm

        “Honey dream,” Merri murmurs, having drawn back while the servants surrounded the two dripping men with dry towels and hot drinks. “They’re quite vivid, as you can see. Have you had the pleasure yet, my dear Miss St. Grey?”

        • Anna St. Grey said,

          July 31, 2010 at 8:55 pm

          If the carpets had been hers, Anna would have simply waved it off; she preferred the excitement. But her upbringing demanded some propriety, and hid a ghost of a smile behind her teacup.

          “Ah, I fear that mine are not quite as rich,” she confessed. The weeping statues were not a terribly pleasant memory.

          • cl0ckw0rks said,

            July 31, 2010 at 9:00 pm

            Her hostess’ clear grey eyes twinkled outrageously. “Perhaps we’ll have to attempt to change that,” she suggested. “If you’d like to consider it, of course. “Some say it takes a bit of practice, to cultivate an enjoyable honey dream. I suspect there may be something to that line of thought.”

            • Narcissus said,

              July 31, 2010 at 9:02 pm

              “The most incredible thing,” Narcissus starts to say, making a toast to Merri with the coffee he’s been given. “The most incredible thing is to share a dream. To be taken not just through the places of your own imagination, but into the imagination of another — to create a world together — ! It’s an experience not to be missed –“

              • cl0ckw0rks said,

                July 31, 2010 at 9:27 pm

                “Perhaps we should try it,” Merri muses. “Lord knows, I’ve enough honey just now to move to Hollow St. and open my own Honey Den, lose myself in dreams until the way to the Marvellous clears again.”

                • Asher Wilsford said,

                  July 31, 2010 at 9:30 pm

                  “I wasn’t aware that ya could share honey dreams, at all.”

                  • cl0ckw0rks said,

                    July 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm

                    “You can indeed,” Merri assures him with a smile. “Just be sure you entirely trust the person with whom you do so.”

                    • Narcissus said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 9:46 pm

                      “I fell quite in love with the first person I shared a honey-dream with. Then I proposed to him, then he believed me, then I escaped out a window.”

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 9:51 pm

                      “As I just said,” Merri drawled, trading her empty glass of wine for a fresh one.

                    • Asher Wilsford said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 10:16 pm

                      Asher nearly choked on his second glass of wine. “P-proposed?” Narcissus had said “him,” had he not? Asher was not so naive to deny that there were those with different inclinations, but he had not known anyone to be so open about it.

                    • Narcissus said,

                      July 31, 2010 at 10:30 pm

                      He should have seen Narcissus in his emerald gown; different does not begin to describe his inclinations. “I know, I know,” he says and laughs, as though Asher is only shocked that anyone should want to be married. “He was the most fascinating character — a jewel thief, they said — and when we dreamt together we’d dream of drinking wine in the bower of a garden and discuss pleasantries. All nothing compared to things we might dream together, I’m sure!”

  8. July 31, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    The Commodore wanders past the salon on the street many hours later. His garb is dusty with travel and a large sack is thrown over his shoulder. The party has long since disbanded and the window candles have all gone dark except one. Catching Merri’s eye, he favors her with a tired grin and a tip of his overly tall hat. He then trudges onward in the direction of Moloch st. And the Brass Embassy. His sack clinks with each step, emitting a low mournful moan.

  9. cl0ckw0rks said,

    July 31, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Amid the sounds of general merriment around her, Merri glances up to where her housekeeper stands by the room’s entrance, apparently waiting for a chance to catch her mistress’ eye. With a murmured “do excuse me a moment, my dears,” she makes her way over to the older woman who, upon closer examination, is somewhat perplexed. In her hands is an envelope, which she hands over with a somewhat distressed explanation.

    “It was a gentleman, my lady. I suggested he come in, as it was an open salon, but he refused. Spoke a little funny, he did, wasn’t an Englishman, I’d stake a year’s pay on it. Anyway, he said he’d be pleased to call another time, and handed me this for you.”

    “I see. Thank you, Esther. Please see if Mr. Gylden or Narcissus needs more dry toweling, if you would.” The words are distracted, she’s already opening the envelope before her housekeeper moves off. She withdraws a folded letter of heavy cardstock which opens in the style of a book and reads what is within, her expression growing more absorbed by the moment.

    “Dear God,” she whispers as she finishes it, swiftly tucking it back into its envelope. It’s in her to throw it into the fire, but she restrains herself, signaling Esther over with a request to place the envelope on the desk in her sitting room, then to lock the door behind her. As Esther nods and leaves, Merri schools her demeanor into something more pleasant and rejoins her guests. The young lad Thomas approaches her with a fresh glass of wine and she waves him off. “One without laudanum this time, if you please, Thomas,” she requests, listening carefully to determine what she’s missed.

    • Theodor said,

      July 31, 2010 at 10:42 pm

      Theodor is dry, at least, even if this is not the impression he wanted to make on a room full of people; he lets himself hope that whatever impression he left, it has passed, due to Merri’s grace in the matter. Now he delicately drinks his tea, and attends to the conversation around him like a cat to secrets.

    • Henrik Paulsen said,

      August 1, 2010 at 6:40 am

      Henrik catches sight of Esther moving toward the sitting room and then locking the door on her departure, but not of the envelope that occasioned the caution; he gives Merri a quizzical look and keeps his silence. As the evening has worn on, he’s taken coffee over tea.

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        August 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

        She merely smiles at him reassuringly, then redirects his attention back to the doings of the room. There is a slight tension about her carriage which she is clearly doing her best to dissolve and is content to remain in the background until she can relax and enjoy her guests again.

  10. L.S. Cassius said,

    July 31, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    [[I know you have just popped-off, so maybe I will be around to get caught-up tomorrow :) But I was invited so I decided to visit briefly~]]

    They follow the servant woman into the main room, nodding and thanking her genuinely. Cassius is dressed in a simple & somewhat baggy dark brown formal frock coat assemble, that though is of quality, upon closer inspection is not of the more fashionable Veilgarden variety. Bright auburn hair has been slicked back but not with oily pomade so that though still neat several pieces have sprung out.

    They walk to the lovely hostess and nodding extend a hand in greeting. “Good evening! It was very nice to to have been invited my dear. I do believe that this is the first time that we have met in person, but again many thanks for the assistance with those rumours. And also our correspondence about the Fourth City. …It is a shame that our mutual associates; honourable Tobias and the good doctor could not be in attendance…” Looking around the room at the guests with no familiar faces. “I am afraid that I am rather at a lost to who the other guests are…”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      “Oh, I am most pleased to meet you at last,” Merri says, smiling a pleasant welcome. “You’ve come in good time, and even though Tobias and dear Dr. Mason could not attend, I think we’ll have sufficient diversion to satisfy you as we may.”

      Saying so, she takes his arm and makes the round of introductions of all who remain in the room [[and we do hope they’ll speak up, if they’ve chosen to stay!]], concluding with, “and this is Mr. Cassius, who’s Christian name I am afraid I do not know.”

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        August 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm

        “I hope so!” Also a smile that turns more serious. “I regretably cannot stay very long, but hello everyone! No need for ‘mister’; ‘Cassius’ will be just fine.” A nod in greeting. “And only the university and myself know what the ‘L.S.’ stands for. I have found that names are optional in such a place as The ‘Neath. Where it isn’t, I have found that initials sufise.” There is a slight lighthearted grin with the last bit. Their voice is a tenor, which has such a quality to it that it makes it hard to tell just what gender they are. The suit and the manner with which Cassius carries themself lead to that of a man, but with their choice of ruffled up-collared shirt with acsot, it is hard to be certain. The baggy suits also offers no clues. There is a slight edge of annoyance to their voice & expression, not at anyone in the room, but they have been in a rather foul mood after anaffair with that d—able iron box. Not angry about being set-up-as such things are want to happen in London-but angry that they themself were chosen. The Fence had come asking for Cassius in particular, and though they had assumed it was because of their connection with the criminal element and somewhat rising reputation, they now highly suspect that they were set-up. Assumptions are unwise. Several days of laying low and having every move watched by special constabulary from around corners has left them disgruntaled. “You may have heard of my work as a detective.”
        [[I see it is still active! I am still feeling rather ick, so I might not be around much. Thank-you again :)]]

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          August 2, 2010 at 10:38 am

          “If it is any consolation at all,” Merri offers, handing Cassius a cup of tea, “it happened to me, too. In fact I just had a rather unpleasant visit from two unfinished men, who’d come to reclaim it.”

          • L.S. Cassius said,

            August 2, 2010 at 4:43 pm

            “Thank-you muchly.” takes the cup from her. “I didn’t actually manage to take it into my possession, but perhaps it is good that I didn’t for just being seen in the area has had me under suspicion for days now. I even considered venturing into a Flit rookery for a few days to let it blow over. Luckily I have such a good friend as honourable Tobias.” Takes a sip of tea and is glad that it is not laced with Prisoner’s Honey as some parties tend to be known for. “I really don’t know why the special constabulary keep such moustaches…It really makes them stand-out…that and their rather new boots and bright eyes. Lovely tea m’dear~”

  11. Narcissus said,

    August 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    “Now, then,” Narciso announces with a grin. “I’ve been looking forward to this for days! Weeks! The parlour games — for what’s a salon without parlour games? I think we should start, at least, with Forfeits, and I’ve given some thought to how we can play it and involve all the company …

    “Forfeits, if you aren’t familiar, is played like this. Each guest who wishes to join gives up some small item on their person, and I will being collecting those items here –” He takes off his hat — made of iron and mercifully dry, now — and sets it down upon a table. “And drawing them out at random. The custom is to say, ‘Here is a thing, and a very pretty thing; what shall be done by the owner of this very pretty thing?’ But I might skip right to the entertainment. To have your item back, you see, you are compelled to play a forfeit — to fulfill some amusing task devised by the rest of us. Only harmless mischief, of course! All in the name of diversion.”

    He next draws out a notepad — how did that stay dry? — and sets it beside the hat. “Any guest — playing or not — can suggest a forfeit, and I’ll be collecting those here, and giving them out at leisure. That way old guests and new can leave items and suggestions throughout the salon, and take forfeits when they will, mingling and making acquaintances as they do. Well, what do we think?”

    • Narcissus said,

      August 1, 2010 at 12:48 pm

      The hat to leave items in is here.

      • Henrik Paulsen said,

        August 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

        Here’s a pipe, and a very pretty pipe; it goes into the hat.

        • Narcissus said,

          August 1, 2010 at 5:19 pm

          “What shall be done by the owner of this pretty thing?” Narcissus twirls the pipe between his fingers, and leans over to read the last forfeit to be written. “Be posed as a statue by the other ‘sculptors’ in the room. Well, shall we convey you to a pedestal?”

          • Henrik Paulsen said,

            August 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

            It would be that one — he gives a little shrug and makes himself available in the centre of the room, arms out. “I’ll be posed for your sport, but I could not crush Ms Fawkes’s tables in good conscience. The floor will do; pose me, sculptors.”

            • Narcissus said,

              August 1, 2010 at 10:55 pm

              Narcissus laughs, runs a hand over one outstretched arm. “What willing marble! I’m at a loss, friends — how shall we shape him, and into what? A conquering Achilles, a proud Adonis?”

              • Henrik Paulsen said,

                August 2, 2010 at 4:41 am

                “Nonsense; I’ve never seen Adonis or Achilles posed in a tailcoat. You shall have to make me one of your ministers, to scowl over your streets stiff-legged and keep the peace.”

                • Narcissus said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 8:58 am

                  “There’s an inspiration,” he says, lays a thumb along the side of his mouth as though to mold it. “Give us your most stern and disapproving expression.”

                  • Henrik Paulsen said,

                    August 2, 2010 at 9:23 am

                    He tries, obediently — although it is hard to look stern with Narcissus’s hand at one’s cheek.

              • cl0ckw0rks said,

                August 2, 2010 at 8:49 am

                “A dancing Shiva, I think,” Merri offers mischievously. “Know you the pose?”

                • Narcissus said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

                  “Not at all, but it sounds perfect — ! Come here, dear sculptress, and show us how it’s done.”

                  • cl0ckw0rks said,

                    August 2, 2010 at 10:35 am

                    “I shall do my best, with this most willing clay,” she assents, pausing to eye him with the affected air of the sculptor, judging the fitness of a piece of marble.

                    Nataraja, I believe he is called. The Lord of the Dance. Do you dance, dear Henrik?” She asks idly, taking his right arm and bending it at the elbow. “You haven’t enough arms, so we will have to improvise a bit, here.”

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 10:50 am

                      “Not this sort of dance,” he replies; he is as pliant as she cold wish.

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 11:09 am

                      “Just as well, you should dance us all to our destruction if you did.” She’s not smiling as she says it, but rather concentrating on turning his right hand up, a 90 degree angle from the wrist, fingers together, thumb upright but gently curved.

                      Merri tilts her head to examine it critically, then nods and moves behind him, hand trailing across his shoulders. She reaches around to grasp his left arm, extending it across his chest, moving ’round him again, trailing her palms along his sleeve, eyes focused on his hand. She takes it in hers, extends each of the fingers in turn, then adjusts the arm from the elbow until it is pointed as something of an angle, toward the floor.

                      “Now, for the steps of this dance,” she murmurs artlessly. “It is not proper for a lady to touch a man’s legs, of course, even fully clothed. Shall I ask your permission for an impropriety or ask dear Theodor to be my assistant in this?”

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

                      “I leave the propriety of the matter to your discretion,” he answers stiffly. The angle of his palm to his wrist is not terribly comfortable, and he can’t help feeling that this is quite an intimate game to be playing before an audience.

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 11:32 am

                      “My goodness,” she drawls mildly, “our clay is already hardening. Theodor, would you be a dear and attend on your friend in his hour of need? His expression must remain quite stoic, even as he dances. Do you know the leg positions, or shall I describe them?”

                    • Theodor said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 11:52 am

                      His cheeks color, rather, reaching to adjust his glasses and disguise the blush and finding himself at a loss. “I-I have a notion of them, but no notion of how I should begin –“

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 12:03 pm

                      Merri chuckles a little, then raises her hands, palms up. “Oh dear. Now this has gone beyond play and is in danger of losing its note of revelry. Let us have done with it — Narcissus, I say our Henrik has deported himself as a statue admirably well. Return him his pipe, ’twas prettily done.”

                    • Theodor said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm

                      “It is quite within play — you are right, it would be improper to expect from a lady, but there is no reason I should not –” But he is blushing. He tries to will himself not to — why must involuntary reactions be so stubborn? — and rises to stand behind Henrik, placing a hand lightly above his knee. “You were attempting the position earlier, were you not? So you know you will want to balance on this leg, but bent, like so –“

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm

                      Overruled for the moment, Merri is content to reclaim her seat and watch the proceedings from a safe distance.

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 1:53 pm

                      “I was, but I fear I only have the most general idea — you must guide me, it seems.”

                      [And here we see why Henrik snapped so badly at Merri’s and Theodor’s greater knowledge of foreign cultural artifacts and praxis …]

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 2:05 pm

                      [I was dying to have M explain each of the postures and what they signify, but I can’t justify HER knowing any of it!]

                    • Theodor said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm

                      Theodor endeavors to use only the suggestion of pressure, easing Henrik down and telling him, “It needn’t be an exact reproduction; just be certain you can stand on it –” He sets another hand on the outside of Henrik’s thigh — there is nothing improper about this, nothing at all — after a moment’s hesitation. “This leg will have to cross the other. If you’ll allow me?”

                      [ahahaha.]

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm

                      “Of course I’ll allow you. Be as efficient as you would in doctoring me; I’ll have as much faith in your hands.” If he can rhetoricise it as medical, then it cannot be improper.

                    • Theodor said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 2:55 pm

                      “Not as efficient — I am far less accustomed to sculpting than to doctoring,” he says with the thinnest smile and the driest humor. “But if you will assist me — you will have to maintain your balance and the stoicism of your expression –”

                      Removing the hand from above Henrik’s knee, he turns to stand in front of him, still holding his thigh and settling on a firmer grip from the back of it so that he may slowly lift with it. That done, he touches the lower leg, and curves it across into a position that if not forced, might be graceful enough to symbolize release from illusion. Of course, that means it is not, not even a little, but for a parlour game statue it will have to do.

                      “Is that supportable?”

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm

                      “Eminently so. You are a veritable Renaissance master of the human form.” He smiles at Theodor, trying to reassure him — but then quickly schools his face to sternness again. “Have you finished?”

                    • Narcissus said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm

                      Narcissus has been watching from the side with much amusement, resuming twirling the pipe back and forth between his fingers. “One more touch, then,” he says, comes to draw an arm over Theodor’s shoulder, and offers Henrik the pipe to take by hand or teeth. “Merri is right — you have deported yourself admirably well. Is there a man more pliant and patient on or under this earth? Are there sculptors more skilled or inspired? A good show from all of you, I say!”

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 3:22 pm

                      He takes it in his hand — shame on Narcissus for even implying that he might take it in his teeth! — and goes to sit again. Only when he is safely stowed in an armchair does he redden.

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm

                      Merri joins in the general approbation, arising after Henrik seats himself to fetch him fresh cup of coffee. She hands it to him as if it were a prize trophy, or perhaps a peace offering.

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm

                      Henrik takes the coffee gratefully in one hand, and with the other, takes her hand and kisses the back of it. “Well done, my artist.”

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm

                      She smiles genuinely and squeezes his fingers. “Well done indeed, to take a man and make of him a god. Though without Theodor we should never have managed it at all, should we…”

                    • Henrik Paulsen said,

                      August 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm

                      “You would have done as well, had you thought it proper.” For a moment longer than is strictly customary, he keeps her hand folded in his own. But then another guest is standing to pay a forfeit, and he lets her go to watch.

                • Henrik Paulsen said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 9:21 am

                  He does have a vague idea, having had somewhat more contact with Subcontinental cultural artifacts than with others of Asian origin. He does as well as he can, arms raised, one leg up and bent. More than that, he cannot recall.

      • Asher Wilsford said,

        August 1, 2010 at 1:38 pm

        Asher rifles through his pockets for something to add to the hat and pulls out his Horsehead Amulet then tosses it into the hat.

        • Narcissus said,

          August 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

          To be drawn out later, and held aloft by by a smirking Narciso. “One secret,” he reads from the list, “amusing or useful. The aim is not to appall. But if you have something to scandalize, I for one would not object –“

          • Asher Wilsford said,

            August 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm

            “My secret is ‘at I can recite the whole o’ The Kraken by Tennyson. In proper Queen’s English, too.”

            Asher moved to the center of the room and began,

            “Below the thunders of the upper deep,
            Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
            His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
            The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
            About his shadowy sides; above him swell
            Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
            And far away into the sickly light,
            From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
            Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
            Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
            There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
            Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
            Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
            Then once by man and angels to be seen,
            In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.”

            Asher smiled and gave a small bow, his face heating up slightly. That was probably the most he had spoken all night.

            • Henrik Paulsen said,

              August 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm

              Henrik is positively transfixed by that recitation, the cadences of the lines and the resonance of Asher’s voice, the echoes of a deep world of sea and shadow; it takes him a long moment to recollect himself, but when he does, he applauds wildly.

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              August 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

              Merri joins in, clearly delighted. “Oh bravo, my dear friend! Well done indeed! Such hidden talents you have!”

            • L.S. Cassius said,

              August 1, 2010 at 8:41 pm

              “Absolutely wonderful my dear sir!” Claps enthusiastically with a smile that does reach their eyes.

            • Narcissus said,

              August 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm

              “A secret worth sharing — ! The accolades are pouring in already, and I must offer mine among them — well-recited, my dear.” He presses the amulet into Asher’s hand.

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        August 1, 2010 at 3:40 pm

        Merri withdraws one of the moon-pearl pins from her hair and, holding it for but a moment so all can see, drops it in the hat.

        • Narcissus said,

          August 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

          A very pretty thing! All the pearls gleam waning gibbuous in his hand. “Let’s do a traditional one, shall we? Choose from the company a partner for a quadrille, and perform it blindfold.”

          • cl0ckw0rks said,

            August 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

            Her grey eyes flicker, chin coming up as if to accept the challenge. “All right then. Blindfolded, you say? I’d best choose a partner who knows the dance, then, and two others for a quadrille takes four to dance.

            “My lady,” she says, turning to Anna St. Grey with an enigmatic twinkle in her eye. “Would you consent to be my partner? I regret we must be blindfolded for it, but perhaps we’ll find our way by touch instead.”

            • Anna St. Grey said,

              August 1, 2010 at 9:21 pm

              Anna’s smile was equally enigmatic, though admittedly she was a new face.

              “I would be delighted, my lady,” she replied, standing and curtseying as she did.

              • cl0ckw0rks said,

                August 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm

                “Thank you, I’m honored,” she said, taking Anna’s hand gently, then looking around at her guests.

                “I am to choose two more, but I have no idea if any of you know the quadrille?” Then she leans into the other woman’s ear and mock-whispers, “but never fear, my friend — if we cannot find another pair, perhaps we will give them a credible waltz instead?”

                • Narcissus said,

                  August 1, 2010 at 11:05 pm

                  “I would volunteer myself, of course — but a waltz-in-blindfold does have a certain enigmatic poetry to it.”

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

                  “There’s one, conditionally,” Merri says, smiling at the irrrepressibly charming man. “Do we have another? Or shall it be the blindfolded waltz?”

                  She grins at Anna. “Perhaps we will set a vogue for the city — the Blindfolded Waltz, to be danced only by those of the same sex. I should think even the Duchess would find some enjoyment in that.”

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm

                  Waiting a respectable time for the last volunteer and finding none, Merri laughs a little and bows to Anna.

                  “Well then. The Blindfolded Waltz it is. If two of you gentlemen will apply the blindfolds whilst a third winds up yonder music box, Miss St. Grey and I will do our best to entertain you with blind grace.”

      • Anna St. Grey said,

        August 1, 2010 at 4:14 pm

        Anne removes one of her gloves and, extracting a simple jade ring from her finger, places the ring into the hat.

        • Narcissus said,

          August 1, 2010 at 5:22 pm

          “What shall be done?” he asks as he draws the ring, and holds it cradled in a palm. “It will have to be another one from tradition, for you — one for getting to know new acquaintances. Give an honest ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to three questions from the company.”

          • Anna St. Grey said,

            August 1, 2010 at 9:27 pm

            The forfeit is met with a faint smile and a hand curled under her chin.

            “Nothing too scandalous, I should hope. A lady must keep some of her secrets.”

            • L.S. Cassius said,

              August 1, 2010 at 10:54 pm

              “Well m’dear how about an easy question? ‘Have you ever worn a ridiculous hat?’, and I must say that your gown is very lovely~”

              • Anna St. Grey said,

                August 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

                “Thank you, good sir.” Accepting compliments seemed to be coming a little easier now.

                Her smile is mysterious, but as much as she would have liked for that to have been true, and made things a little more interesting, the things had made her stand out too much in all the wrong ways. “No.”

            • Henrik Paulsen said,

              August 2, 2010 at 4:39 am

              Once she’s finished answering Cassius, he’ll put in, “If I may ask, were you formally educated?”

              • Anna St. Grey said,

                August 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm

                An unexpected question, but not too intrusive. And it seemed that there were a fair number of those just like her. Nothing terribly important would be given away.

                “Yes”.

                • Henrik Paulsen said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 5:26 pm

                  Her reticence makes him smile. “A woman of few words; very well. You are in good company with Ms Fawkes — she is one of the most learned women I have ever had the privilege to know.”

                  • Anna St. Grey said,

                    August 2, 2010 at 6:13 pm

                    Another faint smile. “My life has not been terribly interesting, I must admit. Sometimes, the mystery is more interesting than the truth.”

                    “But I certainly do not disagree with your compliments of Ms Fawkes. I was simply delighted by the invitation.”

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        August 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm

        Pats down several pockets trying to think of what to place in the hat. A hit of remembrance appears on their face and reaching into a trouser pocket, withdraws a crown. Calmly walks up to the hat and drops the Surface coin within before standing back to the side.

        • Narcissus said,

          August 1, 2010 at 7:38 pm

          He twirls the coin up through the air and catches it. “And just as we’ve received new forfeits from an excellent and inventive source! Well, then, my dear lady, dear sir, dear friend — why don’t you tell us tell us the maxim or proverb or aphorism that best sums up your life to date?”

          • L.S. Cassius said,

            August 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm

            Watches the coin be twirled about, and a nod at the ‘dear friend’. It is a heavy think as they walk back to the front. “That is certainly a tall order my friend. One’s life rarely can be fit into such simple words…Just let me think…” Takes another moment of contemplation and fiddling with their walking-stick’s tassel. A smile smile. “Perhaps; ‘If you cannot be good, then be careful.’…or possibly; ‘Revenge is the longest journey.’” Each is recited plainly without much emotion, but with the later Cassius absently touches the simple rings on their left hand. And then a bow.

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              August 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm

              “How extraordinarily mysterious,” Merri murmurs appreciatively.

            • Narcissus said,

              August 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm

              And for the bow, Narcissus will applaud; no one should be allowed to bow without applause. “It should be a cheat, to say more than one — but the stark delivery and juxtaposition are too compelling. You arrange your aphorisms like an artist,” he says, and tosses over the coin.

              “Do you know Ms St Grey?” he adds, and gestures to her place in the room. “You have the chance to — if she wants her ring back, she’ll have to have answer three questions yes-or-no.”

              • L.S. Cassius said,

                August 2, 2010 at 6:23 pm

                A lyrical chuckle escapes as they address Narcissus—that was the gentleman’s name, wasn’t it? They scold themselves a bit for not picking-up that detail clearly. They are still in a foul mood over allowing themself to be set-up. ‘I should have expected that.’ and ‘Why the H— didn’t I see the special constabulary before they saw me? They are so d—able easy to see after all!’. “I don’t believe that that deserved such applause, but thank-you very kindly dear friend!” A small smile. “Yes it probably is unfair that I recited two. It definitely is hard to select just one though! And my life hasn’t even been that long so far…Then I possible could make the point that by making a distinction between my life on the Surface and my life in London could be separated into two different lives.” and the give a grin that may or may not be due to embarrassment or to deflect attention to themself. “Thank-you again.” and they go back to their tea.

                • Narcissus said,

                  August 3, 2010 at 7:34 am

                  “Fallen London does bring out — I shall not say the worst. I shall not say the best. But it does bring out a difference in us, no mistake. Some day you will have to regale us with the tale of your double-adaged life, dear friend,” he says with a smile, easy and assuring, “or if you’d prefer to keep it secret, make one up.”

            • Anna St. Grey said,

              August 2, 2010 at 4:55 pm

              A slight, barely noticeable raise of pale eyebrows. So there were others seeking revenge as well?

              Anna did hope her own would not be as long as events seemed to indicate it would be. She might not return to the surface with its painful memories, but the sooner she made him pay, the sooner she could simply carry on with the rest of her life.

              As she is introduced, she stands long enough to curtsey properly. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, sir.”

              • L.S. Cassius said,

                August 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm

                Being a highly watchful detective they catch the slight raise, and though making note of it, they don’t respond to it. “a pleasure to make your acquaintance to m’dear.” They extend an arm and give a nod. “But ‘Cassius’ will be just fine, no need for a ‘sir’.” and with that an almost smirk. Cassius enjoys seeming mysterious, and makes no confirmation of their gender. They like to leave it up to assumptions. Knowing that assumptions are unwise. Still they play the androgyny up almost as a game.

                • Anna St. Grey said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 6:36 pm

                  How does one address a person of androgynous appearance? Anna isn’t certain, and she decided to play it safe. Things were not quite as strict in the Neath as on the surface, she found, but there could exist some unspoken rule she had yet to learn. Playing her cards close to her chest hadn’t failed her so far.

                  “Cassius, then.”

                  • L.S. Cassius said,

                    August 3, 2010 at 11:57 pm

                    “And you my dear, what would you prefer to be addressed as, as such?~”

      • August 2, 2010 at 9:40 am

        Thorne gently deposits a little square granite god into the hat.

        • Narcissus said,

          August 2, 2010 at 9:55 am

          “Here is a very pretty thing!” Narciso recites when it’s time to bring it out, and hold it as if on display. “And I’m doing a roaring trade in them, so if any of you want a Third City relic of your very own — ! But let’s get to the Forfeit. Compose four lines, in rhyme, about one single person in the room. The subject of the verse gets to name the rhyme scheme.”

          • August 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm

            “In that case, I shall compose upon our unfortunate Shiva-statue – Mister Paulsen, yes? Come sir, what is the rhyme, the mode which I should employ for such an endeavor?”

            • Henrik Paulsen said,

              August 2, 2010 at 2:02 pm

              “Oh — let’s be kind,” he answers, in mild exasperation. “Alliterative verse was good enough for the Muspilli; let’s have it in alliterative verse.”

              • August 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm

                “Alliterative verse? Ah, what’s kind to one is cruel to another, sir! Still, if it’s alliteration you wish, then absolutely it shall arrive.”

                Pausing a moment to gather his wits, Marcus declaims:

                “Statue standing solemnly / bearing with grace
                Prodding and posing / of those surrounding
                The gathered guests / recalling India
                Dance of destruction / or gentle reminder.”

                Thorne frowns, at the last. “Hmm. That could have ended better, really. Still, there it is.”

                • Henrik Paulsen said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 2:34 pm

                  He claps, though, grinning. “No, that was quite good! I was honored to have been its object.”

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm

                  “Oh, indeed,” Merri joins in, clapping appreciatively. “Improvisation is a difficult art. You’ve done it well, sir!”

                • Narcissus said,

                  August 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm

                  “Well-done, well-done, sir! You could not have captured the circumstance more exactly — I will have to commit it to memory and keep it as a picture.” Narcissus smiles and proffers the statue to Marcus with a bow.

                  • August 3, 2010 at 8:00 am

                    Marcus returns the bow and re-pockets the little figure.

                    “I’m honored that you all approve,” he murmurs, before turning to see the next forfeit.

      • Theodor said,

        August 2, 2010 at 9:58 am

        Theodor isn’t involved enough in the festivities, and someone sought to remedy this by stealing his glasses and putting them in the hat. But he’s quite blind, and not helped by reassurances that Narcissus “will take good care of them, very good care indeed.”

        • Narcissus said,

          August 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm

          “As pleased as I am have helped it happen,” Narcissus confides in Theodor, “I’m struck with jealousy. If no-one suggests a suitable forfeit, will you dance the Blindfolded Waltz with me?”

          • Theodor said,

            August 2, 2010 at 7:50 pm

            “If you’ll not return my spectacles to me, I’ll have no need of a blindfold,” Theodor mutters. “Even the dancers are a blur to me now.”

            • Narcissus said,

              August 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm

              “But what a charming blur they must make! Let me see — !” He slides on Theodor’s glasses and laughs. “I was right — like colored lights whirling in waltz-time –“

        • Narcissus said,

          August 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

          “Ah, here we are,” Narciso says, looking over Theodor’s glasses to read the notepad. “Determine which of the other guests is most likely to be a spirifer. Comically bad reasoning is strongly encouraged.”

    • Narcissus said,

      August 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      The notepad to make suggestions on is here.
      [Should you need inspiration, search this for a list of Forfeits: http://www.victoriaspast.com/ParlorGames/parlor_games.htm ]

      • Henrik Paulsen said,

        August 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm

        The forfeit is, one secret: amusing or useful. The aim is not to appall.

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        August 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm

        Be posed as a statue by the other “sculptors” in the room.

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        August 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm

        Tell us the maxim or proverb or aphorism that best sums up your life to date.

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        August 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm

        Compose four lines, in rhyme, about one single person in the room. The subject of the verse gets to name the rhyme scheme.

      • August 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

        Determine which of the other guests is most likely to be a spirifer. Comically bad reasoning is strongly encouraged.

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        August 4, 2010 at 2:30 am

        Compose a simple poem about animate fungus.

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        August 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm

        Exchange a clothing item with the nearest person on your right.

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        August 5, 2010 at 10:31 pm

        Say ‘beer & skittles’ after every sentence you say, until either the end of this salon, or someone else uses it in a sentence.

  12. August 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Marcus follows the serving-woman into the room, and bows to Meri. “My dear lady – thank you so much for the invitation – apologies for my delay, unavoidable obstructions – no, no, they have been dealt with, in a vigorous and, ah, emphatic manner.”

    Mr. Thorne pauses a few steps into the room. Wearing a rather presentable tailcoat and a hat that can only be described as “exceptional,” his appearance is somewhat at odds with his usual, rougher, attire. Still, he wears it comfortably enough. This is his first time meeting Meri and her circle – while he’s seen her (or rather, Clockworks) off in the Flit off and on, he hasn’t interacted with her professionally. Well, in the context of any of his professions. That’s probably for the best, all things considered.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 2, 2010 at 8:51 am

      “Ah! Mr. Thorne, is it? Welcome to our revels,” she says smoothly, moving to meet him at the room’s entrance with a hand outstretched. “I am Merriwether Fawkes, of course, mistress of Cl0ckw0rkings. Tell me, do you know any of the others here?”

      • August 2, 2010 at 9:37 am

        “Mr. Thorne it is indeed – for today, at least,” he grins. “And I know of some of the others here only by reputation, I fear – certainly L.S. Cassius’s name has been heard far and wide! Some recent business at the Docks has kept me from expanding my circle of friends beyond a few certain corridors within the Shuttered Palace, but I hope to rectify that situation.”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          August 2, 2010 at 10:22 am

          Thorne’s grin is an infectious thing, and Merri’s smile metamorphs to match it. “I’m glad you’ve come, then. We are in the midst of playing Forfeits and the our master of revels for this game is Narcissus. The other lady present is Miss Anna St. Grey. The fellow ready to be posed is Mr. Henrik Paulsen and his friend here, seated without his glasses, is Mr. Theodor Gylden. The young fellow there to the side is Mr. Asher Wilsford.”

          She looks around in satisfaction. “Have I missed anyone?”

        • L.S. Cassius said,

          August 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm

          Is actually shocked to hear their name. Though they are aware that they have developed quite the reputation-‘especially among the constabulary-it always catches them off guard when a stranger has actually heard of them. Exactly -what- they have heard is always good to know as well. Is it about their detective work? The rumours that they are not opposed to playing in The Great Game? Their few works of literature? Their criminal contacts? Thorne -did- mention the Shuttered Palace, so maybe that was it? Certainly in such an open salon, one should not be afraid to ask…But still maybe best kept mysterious…maybe later in the evening. “It shall hopefully be a pleasure to meet you Mr. Thorne!” Extends a hand. “I am afraid that I in turn do not know much about you sir~”

          • August 3, 2010 at 8:06 am

            Thorne shakes Cassius’s hand firmly. “The pleasure is mine, my dear Cassius! I believe we have a mutual acquaintance, Mr —-” (he names a Wry Functionary). “He has spoken quite highly of you, as have a few acquaintances at the Constables. Do tell me, have you ever ha…ah, but we should avoid professional talk for the nonce, should we not?”

            • L.S. Cassius said,

              August 4, 2010 at 1:33 am

              So this was -that- Marcus they had heard of! It was rare for a Functionary to use just a Christian name…Something about morbid acts with a fake head wasn’t it? They did not know that his last name was ‘Thorne’… Well he seemed very charming so far, perhaps it was best to get to know him more? It wasn’t the somewhat flattery either–flattery was not something Cassius pays much mind to as people rarely mean it. In fact they themself try not to give it out, except when it is meant. Returning the firm handshake they smile out “So you are the Marcus I have heard about! I should say it is most nice to finally meet you in person. Have I ever ‘what’ now?” A quizical look. “Ah yes maybe not the time, though on occasion it is best -to- talk business in such a relaxed atmosphere~ Makes it easier!” A grin.

              • August 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

                “True, although I fear that of late my business has been…dour. Too much time dealing with wounds. All those bandages, you know…reminds me far too much of the tomb-colonies. I would not bring it to such a festive event as this! But perhaps later, after the salon, we can discuss business.”

  13. Carapace said,

    August 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    From outside comes a barrage of inhuman chittering; and a murmured and presumably human response. The door opens to admit a young, or possibly middle aged person, wearing a long grey coat tailored to flatter any figure. The person smooths a few strands of balck hair away from a painted brown face, adjusts a very purple- but not scandalously purple- scarf around the neck, and steps towards the assembled group.
    “My apologies for coming in so late, and without a proper introduction; but I had heard that this was an open salon?”

    The newcomer extends a calling card to Merri, plain letters on thick white stock. “You may call me Cara, if you’ll accept me into your company.” Cara smiles,an open and enthusiastic smile. “I am very fond of games, of most any sort.”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      With a smile and a good-natured chuckle, Merri nods and places her hand upon Cara’s upper arm to draw her into their gathering. “You’ve come somewhat late to the game, but I am sure we can find a forfeit for you, if you’ve a mind to play. Welcome to our gathering, is there anyone here you know, or do not know?”

  14. Carapace said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Cara smiles, but says “I don’t believe any of us have properly met; I do look forward to correcting this oversight.”

    Cara’s token for forfeits is a plain handkerchief- not silk, but rather rough surface fabric, with some childish embroidery in one corner. “I suppose it’s unimpressive, but I assure you, it is the only one of its kind.Now- it seems I’ve interrupted a dance?”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 2, 2010 at 6:22 pm

      “Indeed dear friend. We will find you a forfeit, never fear — but for now, do please be kind enough to blindfold the lovely Miss. St. Grey — she is the only other person wearing a skirt this evening.

      “Blindfolding me — in an allegorical as well as literal sense — is our dear friend Mr. Henrik Paulsen. Winding the music box is Narcissus. Cassius stands nearby ready to be entertained, as does young Mr. Asher Wilsford. The fellow in the goggles is Mr. Israel Salvador, and the remaining gentleman is Mr. Marcus Thorne.”

      Merri looks them all over one more time, then laughs. “Did I remember you all again? Marvelous!”

      [I’m going to start a new comment thread for the dance, I think. WordPress.com is so unwieldy in its comments, but it has other charms I simply cannot abandon…]

    • Narcissus said,

      August 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm

      After the dance, and after new forfeits have been devised, Narcissus will draw Cara’s handkerchief from the hat and wave it, calling with ritual intonation, “A pretty thing! And rare, too, I’ve heard. What shall be done for it?” From the notepad he reads, “Compose a simple poem about animate fungus. You may have experience in it already, depending on how long you’ve spent in Veilgarden — fungus has been a popular subject for aspiring poets — !”

  15. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 2, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    http://blip.fm/profile/CommodoreCreazil/blip/50186102/Yann+Tiersen%E2%80%93La+Valse+d

    Merri shivers a little as Henrik ties the black blindfold about her eyes, pushing back visceral, unwelcome memories that stretch back beyond her arrival in Fallen London. Her hands reach out and find Anna’s, and she chuckles with unrestrained mirth as the music box’s first strains fill the air in her parlour.

    “If you will allow me to lead, Miss St. Grey, I believe I may be able to dance us about the room without too grave an injury. Perhaps only to our respective dignities, but what is that among friends?”

  16. Anna St. Grey said,

    August 2, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    At that, she allows herself a slight laugh. “Well, I would prefer not to break any of your furniture. It would make me such the Philistine.”

  17. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 2, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    “You could never be so,” Merri assures her. “Furniture can be replaced. You cannot. Shall we begin?”

    She begins the basic step slowly until she is sure Anna is following along — unsurprised to find an astonishing amount of grace inside that red velvet gown — then, if Anna chooses, the steps grow bolder as they begin to trust in each other’s rhythms.

    Merri laughs as they begin to stride into the waltz, turning it properly about the space alloted. She feels her skirts brushing up against chairs and tables and assumes Anna does as well, but reminiscent of how she runs the Flit, she neither slows nor stops.

    “Well?” She asks her partner as they dance, voice full of more happy humor. “What do you think?”

    [Okay, not sure how else to write this… please give us Anna’s experience as you wish to write it. It really is an extraordinary scenelet…]

    • Anna St. Grey said,

      August 2, 2010 at 7:18 pm

      Her amusement had hidden a small worry she harboured: how many years had it been since she danced like this? The grand balls of her adolescence were hazy in her mind, as if they had happened decades ago instead of a brief seven. And the last person she had danced with…

      Anna ruthlessly buries the memory, bringing herself back to the present of the dance. Merri is truly exceptional as the rest of the company had attested; it was surprisingly easy to follow her, and Anna knows full well that even all the mandatory dancing lessons wouldn’t have mattered a whit if she hadn’t had a good partner. Her confidence gradually builds, and she doesn’t have to concentrate so much on not tripping over the hem of her gown.

      And she did have to admit that she hadn’t had much in the way of fun until she came to the Neath… and for her first year within it.

      “I’m exceptionally grateful that I’ve remembered how to dance at all,” she admits, her chagrin colouring her voice faintly. “But this is marvellous.”

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        August 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm

        “It is indeed. We shall have to try it again soon, I think!”

        Cares so very far to seek for the moment, Merri laughs again and whirls them about the room, hearing the others laughing and moving aside as they careen gracefully to the wistfully cheerful notes of the music box.

        It is near the end when Merri, in an excess of joy (or something resembling it) misjudges the position of a chair in her memory (or was it moved?), trips and falls into it with an audible squeak. At the very last moment and to protect the woman from a nasty spill (or something like it), unless Anna resists Merri pulls her into her lap, arms about her securely.

        “Oh dear,” she giggles uncontrollably.

  18. Anna St. Grey said,

    August 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    All felt as if it was going splendidly… until she could feel herself falling forward. Panic seized her for an instant; were there any sharp bits of statuary in their immediate path? The floor would be unpleasant and considerably ungraceful, but impaling was more unappealing still.

    Falling into something soft was something she had not expected, much less the securing arms. “Oh dear,” she quipped with a grin. “How potentially scandalous.”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      Still giggling, Merri lowered her blindfold with one hand and hugged Anna with the other. “Only if I kissed you, dear lady — and even then, we have all these fine friends about to help us control the damage to our respective reputations.

      “Well, perhaps your reputation,” she added after a measured moment. “Mine is probably as ruined as they come, already.”

      • Anna St. Grey said,

        August 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm

        Admittedly, Anna only cared about her reputation to get closer to her goal. But the freedom she had found in Fallen London was exhilarating; such a thing — even accidental — would have sent her mother into fits.

        With a light laugh, she shrugged, a fraction of a lift of her shoulders. “It would make for some interesting gossip, I should think.”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          August 2, 2010 at 9:26 pm

          “You must let me know immediately if any unpleasant smirch lingers on your reputation,” Merri told her, grinning and gently pulling off her blindfold. She then kissed her — chastely, mostly — on the corner of her mouth, and urged her to arise.

          “Well, friends? Narciso? Shall I have my hairpin back? I do think Miss St. Grey deserves her ring back too, even though no one asked her the third question.”

          • Narcissus said,

            August 2, 2010 at 9:40 pm

            “Of course you shall! After all, you asked Ms St Grey to dance — and though she did not say yes or no, she did consent.” He holds the hair-pin in one hand, and the ring in the other, with a smile as bright as either. “You made the portrait of grace, my dear ladies — you even fall enchantingly! — and fear not, your friends will be happy to defend you from scandal, or spread only the most delightful rumors at your behest.”

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              August 2, 2010 at 10:02 pm

              “Then as your forfeit, beautiful boy, you may replace the pin in my hair,” Merri tells him, reseating herself and tilting her head suggestively.

              • Narcissus said,

                August 2, 2010 at 10:38 pm

                “You need not ask more than once, my dear,” he says, and combs fingers through her hair before opening the pin to catch it. There is a gentleness borne of fondness to his touch, one that he cannot be bothered to conceal.

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  August 3, 2010 at 8:30 am

                  Shivering a little, for it seems ages since anyone else has touched her hair, Merri waits for him to secure the pin, then turns with a little laugh to capture his hand and place an affectionate kiss on one knuckle.

                  “Gently done, and thank you,” she smiles. “We have more forfeits to assign this evening yet, do we not?”

                  • Narcissus said,

                    August 3, 2010 at 8:53 am

                    Turning Merri’s hand in his own, he raises it to his lips and returns the kiss with a smile. “We have, we have! And I do believe you’ve given the most and the best so far, my merry mistress of revels — or rather my mistress of revels, Merri.”

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

                      “I associate with persons of questionable conduct, which has had a regrettable effect upon my ability to make mischief,” she chuckles, thus excusing her effusiveness in providing forfeits.

                      “But we have Cara and… dear Theodor who have not yet reclaimed their items. Shall we have Cassius and Mr. Thorne devise forfeits for them?”

                    • Narcissus said,

                      August 3, 2010 at 9:43 am

                      “They must, or Theodor will be forced to dance a half-blind waltz with me — and then what will there be for Cara to dance? A quarter-blind tango?”

                    • Theodor said,

                      August 3, 2010 at 9:46 am

                      “You are absurd,” Theodor says, as though this needs to be pointed out to him. “And still wearing my spectacles.”

                    • Narcissus said,

                      August 3, 2010 at 9:47 am

                      “I’m getting used to them — ! As I said, the effect is quite charming.”

                    • Theodor said,

                      August 3, 2010 at 9:47 am

                      “Only you would come from the surface to the cave and declare the shadows ‘charming.'”

                    • August 3, 2010 at 9:51 am

                      ““You are absurd,” Theodor says, as though this needs to be pointed out to him. “And still wearing my spectacles.”

                      Marcus turns to Theodor, distracted from his consideration of potential forfeits.

                      “Well, certainly! Would you rather that he were deadly serious and still wearing your spectacles?”

                    • Theodor said,

                      August 3, 2010 at 9:57 am

                      “I might, if it wouldn’t convince me he was aping austerity to mock me, and thus not serious at all.” He looks up to think through what he just said. “It is, I confess, somewhat paradoxical.”

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      August 3, 2010 at 10:06 am

                      Merri laughs uproariously at Theodor’s answer. “It won’t do, my dear man,” she tells him, blotting her eyes with the back of her hand. “You cannot be as cross as you wish to seem, I won’t allow it. Come, Mr. Thorne — we must devise a forfeit for him at once, for I suspect his good humor would be returned with his spectacles.”

                    • L.S. Cassius said,

                      August 4, 2010 at 12:06 am

                      Is at a loss as to what to think of for a Forfeit for anyone. But cannot help but chuckle at Mr. Thorne’s joke. Clean throat: “Yes, it must be time for Theodore to regain his vison!”

                    • August 4, 2010 at 12:43 am

                      “Well! I have essayed to suggest a forfeit – though it seems a trifle dark in tone. I fear much of my humor is of the overly mordant sort…” Marcus muses, recalling a certain spate of practical jokes with a counterfeit head of John the Baptist he had engaged in.

                      Perhaps a bit dark as well, and the scandal had buzzed about the Neath for far too long – but the horrified looks on society’s faces still brought a snicker to Marcus.

        • L.S. Cassius said,

          August 2, 2010 at 10:22 pm

          Had stode transfixed by Merri’s and Miss St. Grey’s blindfolded waltz, they could feel real laugh bubbling up from their belly. This is -exceedingly- entertaining! But as they watched in seemingly an unearthly slowness Merri hit the chair, a fist came up to their mouth to stiffle an unbecoming high gasping squeak. Their heart is still-much to their surprise-pounding a bit as both the women prove to be unharmed—well perhaps it has harmed their dignity a tad…most definitely the almost meek (but certainly very charming) Miss St. Grey’s. In any case the whole affair has flown the iron box incident from Cassius’ mind! They allow a more relaxed stature; left hand in pocket, the other resting against their walking-stick (must be careful not to lose balance if the d—able knee should lock). A true grin has escaped, and they cannot wait for whatever event will happen next. They certainly do not regret venturing to attend.

  19. Carapace said,

    August 2, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Cara applauds lightly. “I’ve rarely seen better dancing even from sighted ladies. Very well done.”

    It’s true-But such things these Londoners find scandalous! Two women dancing? Back on the Surface– that was a very different life, and rules are different here. One rather hopes.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 3, 2010 at 8:31 am

      “I highly recommend Miss St. Grey as a dancing partner, especially of the blindfolded kind,” Merri declares, in high good spirits. “She is not only graceful, but fearless — one cannot hope to ask for more than that!”

      • August 3, 2010 at 8:34 am

        “Indeed, most admirable qualities for a partner in dance – or any other sort of endeavor! My compliments to the both of you, ladies!”

        • Anna St. Grey said,

          August 3, 2010 at 4:43 pm

          Her laugh was light as she curtseyed. “You are most gracious,” she said to them both. “I’m relieved to hear that I am not quite as out-of-practise as I feared.”

          • L.S. Cassius said,

            August 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm

            “Certainly not! If you are out of practice, than you must take to dancing like a duck to water m’dear!”

  20. Lorrenna said,

    August 3, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Lorrenna did a quick glance at herself in the glass, she dared not look longer.
    She was not stunning but she certainly did hope she hadn’t overdressed with the modish bonnet…oh well.
    She checked her timepiece at her waist, she was late due to that incident with the rubbery men.
    She quickly straightened herself up and knocked at the door.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 3, 2010 at 9:41 am

      An older woman with pinched face and sallow complexion answers the knock, but smiles (in a rather ghastly way) and offers to show Lorrenna in with a politely murmured “This way, of course.”

      The large parlour into which she’s shown is gaily decorated for a pagan revel, though most of the chairs have been pushed close to the walls and the guests are milling about in much laughter. One, with chestnut hair and garbed in a midnight blue gown, turns to see Lorrenna and the housekeeper standing there, and her smile broadens.

      “Oh! A new friend, how utterly delightful! I’m Merriwether Fawkes, how may I introduce you, dear lady?”

  21. Lorrenna said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Lorrenna looked around curiously, until her eyes set sight on the host.
    “It’s a pleasure to meet you, I often go by the name of Lorrenna, But you may call me Lorry if it suits you better” A small smile follows. Her manners were far below society standards, but she did seem to remember a compliment never is wasted.
    “It’s quite lovely here, your taste is exquisite!”

    • L.S. Cassius said,

      August 4, 2010 at 12:09 am

      Briskly walks over–for running would be unbecoming. “My dear Lorrenna!” Taking her hand. “I did not expect you to attend, but it is a very welcomed surprise.” Looking around at everyone. “We are in the midst of a game of Forfeits; would you consider joining?” And a smile.

  22. Lorrenna said,

    August 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    “Forfeits?” a small smile forms
    “well, I would absolutely love to!” she holds up her Shepherds timepiece, smiling.
    “Will this be adequate?”
    She knew she was giving away a very large clue about herself, or so they would think.
    Lorrenna liked to keep her true identity secret and would often lay false clues…


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