The Masque of All Souls

As you approach the grand old manorhouse that is Cl0ckw0rkings it is immediately apparent that it has undergone a rather distressing… change. The well-kept wrought iron fence which fronts the house is now rusted and festooned with cobwebs, the open gate itself hanging precariously askew upon its hinges. A coffin stands upright against the low fountain wall, not quite sealed. From within emerges a ghastly glowing radiance and sounds which surely could not come from a human throat. Cats and rats and bats can be seen skittering, fluttering, slinking about the grounds, the shadows seem alive with them.

From the house itself, sickly green and blue illumination can be seen from most of the windows on the upper floors, whilst the lower emit diabolic reds and oranges. The whole facade seems thick with spider webs, mosses, and fungi, with an overall air of disuse and decay which is quite unlike its usual state. There is however a small orchestra playing within, some macabre jig or other, music to which the dead might dance. Also within might be heard voices, human voices, raised in conversation, laughter and song as the living celebrate Life and honour the Dead.

Welcome to the Masque of All Souls. You’ve arrived just in time.

The housekeeper takes whatever outerwear you care to surrender. She’s in what must be her usual livery, but her face, hands, and hair are made up to look as if she’s spent a few weeks in a grave before returning to her duties. The foyer and staircases to the upper levels are entwined in black vines and draped in grey mosses; the only illumination is fitful, and provided by foxfire candles. Just within and to the right is the spacious parlour. Cobwebs, low-lying smoke. Bats rustling eerily in the corners. A full skeleton sits in one chair, head resting in a bony hand, teacup in the other ; several skulls bedeck the walls, shelves and mantel. The music is muted here, it’s a perfect place to sit and talk with friends. Two servants in a black robes, wearing two plain white-face masks (one over the face, one over the back of the head) stand by to refresh drinks and offer small finger foods for the guests who choose to spend time there.

The conservatory and garden at the rear of the house are the heart and center of the night’s celebrations. A small orchestra is on stage at one end of the room, in formal attire, faces painted as skulls. Servants garbed much as the ones in the parlour move about with trays of drinks for the guests. Along one wall is a long buffet table with hot and cold foods and features both Neath cuisine and surface fare. A half-dozen or so performers are also here: A tall “mortician” walking about on stilts, two dancers twirling ribbon-wands, a juggler in full harlequin regalia who juggles skulls and jewels with equal facility, lastly a slender contortionist who is doing things with his/her body that no mortal human being should ever countenance.

Come in, introduce yourself to your host (Gabriel Morgan) and hostess (Merriwether Fawkes) for the evening and your fellow guests. Let the revels begin!

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352 Comments

  1. cl0ckw0rks said,

    November 1, 2010 at 4:59 pm


    This is Merri’s gown, blue-black surface Raven.


    Merri’s and Gabriel’s masks, black leather stylized Raven.


    Gabriel’s costume, blue black surface Raven

  2. catastronaut said,

    November 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    You hear him before you see him, an uneven gait weighted down with heavy boots, accompanied by a strange scratching, scraping, clicking sound. Then you see him, clad in dusty rags, bent forward at the waist into a sort of hunching bow. One hand reaches forward, searching, grasping for a support or guide that is does not find. The other wields a narrow cane, which sweeps and searches the ground ahead. The entire top half of his face is wrapped tightly in bandages,nearly grey, and stained here and there with something you sincerely hope is not real dried blood.

    The scarring on his forward-reaching hand and his neck reveals that this is Anthony Call, come to a masque attired as a blind man.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

      “Oh welcome, dear man! Welcome indeed!” Merri’s laughing, moving forward to greet him with a rustling of raven feathers. “That is quite a disturbing costume. Sincerely. If it hadn’t been for the distinctive patterns on your hand, I’d not have known you.”

      • catastronaut said,

        November 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm

        Anthony turns his head, following the sound of Merri’s voice and motion.

        “Good evening, dear lady. From what I hear, I think I’ve reason to hope I’ve won a prize of Mr. Morgan, though I cannot be sure. Are those feathers?”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm

          She squeezes his hand. “They are indeed, my friend. You guessed it correctly, almost right away.”

          • catastronaut said,

            November 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm

            He grins, saying, “I do love riddles. I admit that I mightn’t have guessed the riddle alone, though. Knowing its answer had to be suitable for a Costume rather narrowed the possibilities. Still, I look forward to Mr. Morgan’s prize. I nearly dare to hope it will be as good as the riddle.”

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm

              Scarlet slips over, smiling. “You did say you enjoyed riddles – I should have known that after that chess game, you would be spot on about the costume.”

              • catastronaut said,

                November 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm

                “Perhaps not… A riddle’s answer is never known for certain till it’s revealed by the riddler, no matter who the guesser is.”

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 5:49 pm

                  “I always wonder whether it is truly the riddler has control of the riddle, or if I might be perfectly happy with the answers I see in the riddle.” She waves her hand before his face,”Can you see out of that at all?”

                  • catastronaut said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

                    “Not a bit. It was a sort of joke, on my part, and perhaps a poorly conceived one. But I can get about rather well without the benefit of sight.”

                    • Scarlet O said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm

                      “That must come in quite useful. I don’t think it is poorly conceived at all. It is a poignant jest, one I appreciate.” She squeezes his hand.

                    • catastronaut said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm

                      Anthony returns the squeeze, briefly.
                      “For the sake of my jest, I shall miss seeing all of the delightful costumes.”

                      He smiles ruefully, “Or perhaps I should say, I shall see the costumes rather differently than other guests will.”

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm

                  “Perhaps you’ll consent to run a game of riddles in the parlour later,” Merri suggests. “Do you know many?”

                  • catastronaut said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

                    He laughs quietly.
                    “I’ve forgotten more riddles than I can count. But I suppose I could attempt to compose some. The best riddling games are those of creating riddles, even if they do not make for the best riddles.”

                    • cl0ckw0rks said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 5:56 pm

                      [See your DMs on Twitter, if you would please.]

            • November 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm

              “I was terribly impressed! It should be quite a nice prize, if you will speak with Merri for just a moment in private…”

              • catastronaut said,

                November 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm

                “I am very pleased to have been able to impress you, Mr. Morgan. Now, might I ask, which of you is Thought, and which Memory? Or have you dressed as a pair of ravens with lighter burdens to carry?”

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 6:07 pm

                  She claps, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that, but Hugin and Munin are very apropos!”

                • November 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm

                  “Mm, judging by our personalities, likely I should be Memory, but I wonder upon whose shoulders we would sit and whose thoughts and memories we would carry?”

                  • cl0ckw0rks said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm

                    “I’m happy to be Thought to your Memory,” Merri tells him, smiling softly. “And perhaps we should ask the Great Bear for perches upon his shoulders?”

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm

                  Merri laughs. “I had meant to ask Gabriel this, but ran out of time. Odin’s Ravens, indeed!

                  “On the matter of your prize, you have a choice, dear sir: a bundle of First City Coins, or if you’d prefer, some well-earned “gifts of admiration” from us, when the next opportunity to send them arrives.”

                • catastronaut said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 6:16 pm

                  Anthony hesitates, but only briefly, at the mention of the unusual coins.

                  “Though the First City intrigues me, this question is not nearly so difficult as the riddle you posed, Mr. Morgan. I would, on any day, prefer to have the approbation of my friends over wealth of any kind.”

                  • cl0ckw0rks said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 6:26 pm

                    “Then you shall have it, with our thanks and best wishes,” Merri smiles happily.

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:10 pm

      “Well, at the end of the night, everyone removes their masks, so you may yet still see everyone, perhaps a bit more drunk and disheveled. I’m glad you came.” She smiles, even though he cannot see it.

      • catastronaut said,

        November 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm

        “There is that, I suppose. I’m glad I came, too. I think it likely I spend too much time at work and not enough at play.”

        Something is beginning to wear away at Anthony’s cheerful mood.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm

          She places a hand on his arm, “Would you dance with me, Anthony? I’ve a mind to dance with everyone this evening – there are so few chances to do so in the Neath. Do not worry about the blindness,” she chuckles, “for I know well how to lead as well as follow.”

          • catastronaut said,

            November 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

            Anthony starts, an invisible tensing that would have gone unnoticed but for the hand upon his arm. But the invitation has brought him out of whatever reverie he’d been about to drift into.

            “A dance?” He begins to smile. “It would be a privilege.” He sets his cane against the wall, and stands up out of his forward-slumped posture. Thus robbed of his ability to “see”, he stands carefully, waiting.

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

              She slides her hand into his, lifting it as she places his hand on her shoulder, followed by her hand moving to his hip. A pause to wait for the beginning of the phrase, and she leads him into a simple waltz, her body communicating an easy to follow lead.

              A soft inhale, a memory passing through her eyes, and then to stare up at her blind partner. “So, my dear Seer – what is on your mind this evening?”

              • catastronaut said,

                November 2, 2010 at 1:15 pm

                Anthony follows Scarlet’s lead easily enough. He’s done this before. He seems to rely on his natural grace more than any real talent for dancing, though.

                “On my mind? Blindness, I suppose. No surprises here. And you?”

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm

                  “Truth, honestly. And I suppose the blindness that is created by seeing only the masks of people.” She maintains that softness that is part of her ‘costume’ although with clarity of tone. “If you wish to join the rest of the blind, we could remove your mask. Or, I could be your eyes – describing the other apparitions to you.” She executes a turn, noting how easily he seems to follow her.

                  • catastronaut said,

                    November 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm

                    Anthony’s motions are at once impressive and laughable. Laughable because he is in truth following Scarlet’s lead; he does not move with her, but rather after her. Impressive because he can do so quickly enough to avoid missteps, and stay with the music.

                    “I’ve chosen this blindness, for the evening, and I won’t abandon it here. However, it would be truly excellent to have you serve as my oracle: the voice that sends me visions, gifting me with second sight through its whispers. So speak to me of truth and seeing.”

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

      [starting a new thread for this longer post]

      To try and aid him in moving with her, she applies a bit more pressure at his hip just before she is about to take a new step, signaling to him as best she can; in truth, she’s only done this with individuals who can still see. But if anyone can read her signals, it is him, and she relies on his heightened perception.

      Amusement fills her voice, obviously in consent to his romantic allusion. She begins to describe them. “Well, certainly you know that Merri and Gabriel are ravens – both surface ravens, with lovely plumage. They both wear black leather masks that are cut to be a raven with its wings in mid-flight, wings raise to the apex of their stroke.

      “Narcissus is the sun in spring, with a Carnevale mask with large golden points, as if the cresting over the horizon. He is clad in the purity of white in the Renaissance fashion of a doublet and breeches, ornamented in gold. His blond sunlit hair is free as if a ray of sunlight stretches to highlight his back.”

      • catastronaut said,

        November 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm

        Anthony sighs. “It seems we all aspire to higher things, to flight and sunlight. Our guises, as our gazes, turn to loftier heights tonight.”

        For a moment, in mute acknowledgment of the guiding pressure, Anthony steps into the harmonious motion of a paired dance. He /has/ done this before. One measure, two, three. And then, he lags again. Just a fraction behind, following the steps that Scarlet reveals, rather than moving to discover them with her.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm

          A moment’s pause, and she moves an inch closer, to give him more to follow. He cannot know what she is thinking, or that her expression has turned curious rather than amused. Instead she continues to describe guests.

          “Sevashke is a bear – wearing a large bear head over his brown tweed suit, becoming the animated jest he entertains – that he is a living bear rug.

          “Also there is another individual I have not met, although others appear to have. He seems to be a businessman of some success, his black and gold mask – like Midas’ nightmare – unable to contain his bright smile.”

          Her gaze seems to be drawn somewhere, because her voice’s source begins again slightly muffled. “The Commodore is beyond amazing. He towers over us without a shirt- yes, a bare chest, with his lower half glamoured to be legs of a faun – a satyr, Pan himself. If you could see it, you would not be able to tell that it was not real – causing him to be, in essence, altogether naked as Pan may be deemed to be. Crimson and silver mask with towering horns cannot hide his gleaming mirthful eyes, and his muttonchops work well around that mask, giving a feral authenticity. The addition of panpipes dangling from his neck, a flask of spirits at his hip, and a sword of a ravenglass seems to conjure the Commodore – to my mind – to the fore of this mythic creature.”

          • catastronaut said,

            November 2, 2010 at 2:29 pm

            “Glamour. I’m sorely tempted to cheat and have a look myself. But it would not be… well in any case, perhaps it is better to remain mystified in this. Still, I regret not seeing Pan in all his splendour. Though your words do much to mend the deficiency of my ears in absorbing the wonderful monstrous sight.”

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm

              Her voice turns back towards him, closer to his ear. “It is indeed monstrous.”

              “You are not the only one seeking truth this evening. Asher arrived as a constable, with the longest moustache one might imagine curling off to the sides of his mask – rows of buttons gleaming on his uniform.

              “Then, Theodore du Hart arrived as the Hanged Man, the Twelfth of the deck,” her voice conveys her smile,”looking as if he clutches after ephemeral reality – or the unknowable truth.

              “Then the Phantom of Truth arrived, and struck fear straight through me. Saffron, mustard, jaundiced grave-wrappings it seems layers of them such that no person is discernable – complete with gloves in similar hues with the remnants of bloodstains – as if it had clawed its way through the chests of liars. A truly eerie mask is pale with a single marking – a symbol of the Correspondence – on its brow. It moves with ghostly facility. I danced with him, once I recognized the voice of Lamont.

              “Cassius arrived also bedecked in feathers upon their cap, brightly colored silks easily denoting the strutting bird that does not fly, but believes it soars above the others in its peacock pride.

              “Finally, Anthony Faulkner revealed that fiery spirit that allows him to remain confident even in a dress. He is all but a spirit of fire, his hair even dyed a conflagration of burning colors, a gold mask that twists like the licking flames about his visage.”

            • catastronaut said,

              November 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm

              Anthony laughs again, as they arc across the floor.

              “I suppose I am very nearly lost in the riot of color and costume. It all sounds quite impressive. I shall be certain to make sure I can see, if I ever attend another masque.

              Now, you have spoken to me of Vision, but not of Truth, and this dance is nearly over. Answer me these two questions at least. First, which of these apparitions do you like best? Second, why haven’t you deigned to describe your own dress to me? I admit to some curiosity.”

              • Scarlet O said,

                November 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm

                She is quiet, guiding him through the dance with a focused air of intention and thought. She lowers her voice and speaks near his ear, such that it is only between the two of them, giving an intimate air to their dance.

                “I do not know that I have a favorite of all the apparitions. They are almost all truthful in their way, as if the person beneath each of them is really the mask, and the costume is the brief window to their souls. In this way, they have decorated themselves with the meanings they hold dear, aspects of themselves that want notice, and even the aspects they fear. In this way, each person hopes to be hidden and revealed in one, exclaiming loudly the innuendo or warning they wear.

                “I find each one very interesting, truly.”

                “As for myself, I was looking about me, and not at me – which also is likely saying much.” Her tone is openly rueful. “So I did not think to include myself in description.”

                Her voice returns to the hushed softness of the quietest hour after sunset. “I think I come as myself. I thought to convey Twilight, The Violet Hour – my silk dress fading from darkest purple hue to the lightest violet, nearly white, with a touch of rose about the edge, as if the sun had just sunk beneath the land. I wear pearls in my hair, to evoke stars, and my mask is as dark as my curls, the falling night upon the horizon, which is my hem.

                “But truly, I think I am merely a lady of the night; I carry a black rose – seeming to symbolize a distant memory of the flower of youth. I sought to be a moment of beauty, a breeze of romantic nostalgia through scent and muted colors – a time long past.

                “It is less a costume, and more a memory, I think. I am whatever someone wishes to remember at such a moment when the sun faded away and night was falling. Afterall, that is what people seek in me- a recollection of something lost: innocence, love, hope, friendship, courage, strength, affection. I would be whatever they remember most, that which has left a hole inside to fit me into.”

              • catastronaut said,

                November 2, 2010 at 4:43 pm

                “You are a poet, dressed as a poem. I imagine it is striking enough, but you do yourself an injustice. You are more than a figment, Scarlet. You are a person.”

                A brief smile flashes across what you can see of his face.

                “But I suppose my case is unmade, since every person is at least in part a collection of figments.

                In any case, thank you for this dance, and for being my sight.”

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 2, 2010 at 4:52 pm

                  Her voice holds a smile. “You did ask for truth. Thank you for the dance, Anthony, and for helping me to see.” She completes the dance, curtsying with her hand still in his, so he knows what she is doing at the final chords of the waltz. “At the end of the night you will be able to remove your blindfold, and see if my visions match your perception.”

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm

              “Oh, and also Israfil, who came as what remains after a hanging…she removed her scarf and has let the wound show with a rope added to punctuate the stark reality. It is an easy leap to her violent nature and vengeance.”

              Her tone takes on a finality.

  3. Narcissus said,

    November 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Where Narciso’s from, masques are for Carnevale, not for All Souls Day, and his costume evokes Venice in the spring more than any English city in the fall. His mask is golden and ornate, points radiating around it like the points of a crown or a jester’s hat, and he wears a white doublet and breeches with bands of shining yellow.

    Tonight he is the sun, when it shines underground; his hair falls behind him as sunlight.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      Merri laughs again, moving to her new guest with both hands extended. “Though I should not stand so close — even a raven’s wings will burn, too close to such brilliance!”

      • Narcissus said,

        November 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

        “That’s why the raven’s wings are black, they say,” he says as he clasps her hands. “But here in the Neath we wouldn’t know the difference, would we?”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 5:40 pm

          “Only in stories and song,” she agrees, smiling at him. “It’s a lovely costume for a Beautiful Boy. It reminds me much of Italy, and Carneval.”

          • Narcissus said,

            November 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

            “Of true festivity, then,” he laughs. “Not that the rest of the world doesn’t do its best. The way this place has been transformed — !”

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              November 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm

              “A labour of love. Scarlet’s help was invaluable,” Merri murmurs, drawing him into the room. “I wanted something macabre without being depressing. I think we’ve achieved it.”

              • Narcissus said,

                November 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm

                “You need never worry about that — macabre is the fashion, here. Oh, and you’ve a contortionist!”

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 6:43 pm

                  “Indeed we do — watch him, or her, for long enough and it will give you all kinds of ideas,” she replies, giggling softly. “I never knew a body could do any of that.”

                  • Narcissus said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 7:05 pm

                    “I did. But think this calls for a second look and moreso –“

  4. Sevashke said,

    November 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    There is also a bear. That, or a brown tweed suit with a roaring taxidermied bear head over the shirt collar. If you look inside the mouth, you can just barely make out blue eyes and a nose.

    The bear shuffles up to Merri in oversized boots and asks, in a muffled voice, “I’m a bit too early, aren’t I?”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      She presses lace-gloved fingers to her mouth for just a moment, then bursts into joyous laughter and runs to embrace him. “No, you’re fine, you’re just fine!” Merri tells him, clearly tickled deeply by his choice for the evening.

      • catastronaut said,

        November 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm

        Casting his head about, Anthony takes a few steps toward the bear, cane and open hand preceding him all the way.

        “I hear a rather muffled voice, but I do believe it’s one I do not know. If I may ask you to abandon your incognito so far as to introduce yourself, I shall be glad to place myself at your service.”

        • Sevashke said,

          November 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm

          “Oh, that’d be my fault if I’m a stranger,” says the Bear, a gloved hand taking Anthony’s in a firm handshake. “I keep oversleeping and missing Merri’s salons. Name’s Sevashke. No surname. Friend of the family, kind of.”

          A pause, literally the blink of an eye, and then– “Agh, that’s right, you can’t see ANYTHING with this dang head on. Hold on,” he says, and breaks the handshake to pull the bear head off, shaking out red hair in desperate need of a haircut. The head rests under one arm, and his free hand smooths some unknown miscellaneous bits out of his beard.

          “Incognito is hard to breathe in,” he says, grinning.

          • catastronaut said,

            November 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm

            Anthony returns the grin.

            “It certainly can be, sir. Sevashke… that’s an unusual name. Might I ask how you acquired it?”

            • Sevashke said,

              November 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm

              “Some from my parents, some from Gabriel,” he says. “‘Proper’ name’s Sevastian, but my family all called me Vashka. Gabriel never could get ‘Vashka’ right, so he turned it into ‘Sevashke’.”

              • catastronaut said,

                November 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm

                Anthony seems quite pleased with this answer, though it’s hard to read his expression under the bandages.

                “I’m glad you like this appellation well enough to have taken it for your own. It is a good thing to find a fitting name.”

      • Sevashke said,

        November 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

        “Thought I was here before everyone else,” he says, hugging her very tightly, “but god, I can barely see in this thing. I’m in a bear tunnel.”

        • catastronaut said,

          November 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm

          “Then we have something in common, sir. I cannot see at all for my costume.”

          • Sevashke said,

            November 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm

            Having taken off his bear head, Vashke sees Anthony’s face wrapped in bandages and his grin drops to a faint shadow of what it had been: he had not actually SEEN Anthony well enough on to note his costume until after taking the bear-head off.

            “Not even a crack in the bandages?” he offers, as close to sheepish as he ever manages.

            • catastronaut said,

              November 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm

              “Not at all, good sir. But I’ve quite a bit of practice in navigating blind. In any case,” he pauses to extend a fairly elegant leg despite the cane, “Anthony Call, at your service.”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm

          “You are the Bear leading the Blind, then,” Merri laughs at them both happily. “Which hurts my brain, if I think about it for too long.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm

      “Ah, my love,” he says a bit tiredly. “At least it isn’t a flat bear.” Gabriel takes one of his hands — thankfully not covered in paws — and kisses it warmly. “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”

      • Sevashke said,

        November 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm

        “I told you it’d be all right,” Vashke says, lightly gripping the hand that Gabriel took, “I’m here, like I said I would be.” There’s a warm concern in his voice.

        • November 1, 2010 at 6:46 pm

          “I know,” he says quietly. “You always are. And I hope most truly you always shall be, for I think — know — know how I need you.”

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:26 pm

      “Sevashke? Of course – who else would it be? Is that bear head…real?” For a moment, her hand reaches to touch it, but then seems to think better of it. “My heavens, sir, you are a sight for my eyes…I’ve missed your joviality. I hope you are well.”

      • Sevashke said,

        November 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm

        He laughs. “Ah, don’t worry, it’s a masterful fake. The real thing would cost half my rat collection and smell EVEN WORSE.”

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm

          She laughs. “Then I am eternally in your debt for avoiding the noisome option. But…in the morning, will you merely be a rug? Who is your hunter, to take your skin?” She grins at him.

    • L.S. Cassius said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      And while they wait for Mr. Call to answer, they turn to Sevashke. “Am I finally getting to see the amazing Living Bear Run in the fle–fur?!” They have to grin, now more at ease. “Marvelous~”

  5. Scarlet O said,

    November 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Scarlet is quiet, sliding into the room without words, holding a black rose.

    Scarlet’s dress is a confection of violet hues, dark at the top and lightening as the dress falls to touch the floor – the slightest touch of rose at the hem. It is shape hugging in the natural form style, silk draping such that it looks as soft as the quiet hour after sunset; the fragrance of roses rises almost like a memory. Her hair is swept up into a pile of midnight curls, striking a balance between wild and control, bits of glim and moonpearl like stars peeking out between dark clouds in a night sky. Her pale moon of a face wears a midnight black mask, dark eyes gazing confidently behind it.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

      It causes Merri to catch her breath for a moment, exhaling it in a long, appreciative stream. “You… are a vision of loveliness,” she murmurs softly, smiling in genuine affection at her love. “Oh well done, darling. That is… an incredible work of art.”

      • Scarlet O said,

        November 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm

        Her calm visage cannot help but smile widely at Merri, eyes widening with delight. “Oh Merri! You look positively…amazing in feathers. I wish I’d thought of putting you in them sooner.” The level of seriousness to her tone conveys a sincerity of some depth. She kisses Merri on the corner of her mouth, whispering, “You both look magnificent together.”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm

          Merri squeezes her hands; Scarlet can feel her excitement. “I’m so glad it’s finally here! I just hope everyone enjoys it.”

          • Scarlet O said,

            November 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

            “It will be perfect. It already is perfect, with just you and Gabriel. Now, don’t waste time on me. Your guests have need to see your beautiful face.”

    • Narcissus said,

      November 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm

      Beneath his mask Narciso smiles slow and glad and gleaming like the sun he pretends to be. “What’s this? Is it the Violet Hour?”

      • Scarlet O said,

        November 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm

        “You might never meet me, as you are the full sun, and I only appear after you’ve slipped away. You are ever outside of my grasp, my dear.” She embraces Narciso with a sly smile. “Again…we play to our strengths, and my Helios is here so that in night I can dream of day even while I am the beginning of night.”

        • Narcissus said,

          November 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

          “We’ve already blurred the boundary between the female and the male this week — transgressed, traversed, and reversed them.” He returns the embrace, whirls with her as though in a dance. “Why not go on to blur night and day?”

          • Scarlet O said,

            November 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm

            She laughs softly – indeed, everything about her seems soft this evening, hushed, but still alive, teeming with a dark heartbeat. “Blurring the edges together…when the whole rest of the world falls away.”

            • Narcissus said,

              November 1, 2010 at 6:24 pm

              And truly, that softness makes this moment possible, for the brash sun would never allow anything but full light and stark shadow, but with her he is the dream of the sun, its warmth and laughter, as the night falls. “I would kiss you for that,” he says, simply, “but it would end in a clattering of masks.”

              • Scarlet O said,

                November 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm

                “Ah, but that is ever the truth, is it not? My mask is close – I could steal a kiss in darkness and remain unknown, but your mask…it is bright, brazen…and defies my secrets stealing.” Still, she lifts his hand to her lips, placing a kiss fondly there.

                • Narcissus said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 6:49 pm

                  “And you’re always the wise one.” He turns her hand in his — it’s only a matter of reversing the boundaries — and raises it to his own lips to kiss. “Female or male, morning or twilight –“

                  • Scarlet O said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 8:09 pm

                    She smiles, “And you ever the wit, my dear. Oh my…” she tilts her head softly with an inquisitive look, and then says, “I think I hear the sound of boundaries being washed away…”

                    • Narcissus said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm

                      “What shall we do? Make a wish on the first star?”

    • November 1, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      “Darling lady… But for the color of your eyes we’d think Hell had sent their most bewitching siren in your place to seduce us and leave us as little more than a pile of lustful cinders! ” Takes her hand and kisses it an even more lingering fashion than usual. ” Well met indeed!”

      • Scarlet O said,

        November 1, 2010 at 6:38 pm

        She smiles up at his towering person, utterly astounded. She gazes up at him coyly as he kisses her hand. “Who says I am not the nymph to tempt you!” She laughs. “Commodore – you are the vision of pandemonium I’ve ever dreamed of experiencing!”

    • November 1, 2010 at 8:39 pm

      He smiles slowly, taking in the hues of her clothing. “I painted violets for a while, copied from a botanical. The shapes of their petals, the different colours… they say they are so common on the surface, but I found them fascinating. And they say the edges of the sky, or the clouds turn these colours at sunrise or sunset… Eventide. You look beautiful, darling.”

      • Scarlet O said,

        November 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm

        She cannot help herself; Scarlet places a soft kiss on his cheek at his sweet words, at the intensity in her chest that she believes to be her heart – she is never quite certain. “You flatter me as no one else can, Gabriel, as if you see inside me first, and then the outside. Thank you.”

        • November 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm

          “I will give you one of my paintings. They are small things, not like the extravagant ones commissioned at court.” He makes a roughly 6″x4″ shape with his hands. “The costume contest was entirely unfair I know, since you helped Merri. You should receive something for you trouble, and for helping with the house! Dear God, I can’t believe what you all accomplished, on top of everything you have been through lately.” He embraces her tenderly and returns the kiss to her cheek.

          • Scarlet O said,

            November 1, 2010 at 9:24 pm

            She returns the embrace. “I enjoyed helping. I need no prize for such things. Ever you and Merri aid me. I would see the utmost happiness for both of you in all things,” she says, her smile mischievous. “It was Merri’s masterful plan. I merely did as she told me, and all turned out well. I wish all things worked out so easily.” A flicker of sadness passes through her eyes, but she still smiles, genuinely.

  6. Shar d'Ney said,

    November 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    “Ah the Masque of All Souls is finally here, and I do declare-” fresh flowers flourished and Merri’s hand was lifted to lips, “-you and Mr. Gabriel have truly outdone yourselves. It’s divine.”

    The man who had entered the salon was none other than Shar d’Ney, an individual among the smoothest businessmen of the Flit. His face may have been hidden by the black and gold half-mask, but that dazzling smile could belong to no other. “Ah, I’ve brought a token of my appreciation for your invitation.” To Gabriel, Shar offered a bundle of Mr. Wine’s finest and a treat of candied mushrooms. “It’s hardly enough, but I hope you’ll find it to your liking.”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      “Delightful as always, Mr d’Ney,” Merri replies, lifting the flowers to sniff them appreciatively. “That’s a wonderful mask, I must say.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      Ah, Sir! We’re much gladded to see other professionals descended from the bad altitude to attend this lovely event! We’re quite sure we’ve done business with you at some juncture, if only indirectly perhaps. How fare you this evening?

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

      Scarlet inclines her head gently, offering her hand. “I do not believe we have met. I am Scarlet. And you, bedecked in black and gold, as if you were Midas’ dark dreams of riches – you are?”

  7. November 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Trailed by strips of mustard-hued fabric, the next guest for the masque defies easy identification at first; wrapped in swathes of threadbare saffron, muslin that nears translucency twisted in voluminous folds that leave it difficult to tell even the precise lines of his form. If it is, indeed, a he. The hands that emerge from gaping sleeves are finely gloved in canary-yellow stained with disturbing red-brown in spots, and beneath the heavy hood of the garment a pallid mask is worn. Upon its brow, a single symbol of the Correspondence has been carefully drawn so as not to immolate the mask.

    No feet can be seen beneath the ground-dragging hem of the many-wrapped robe, and he walks as softly as if floating, drifting like some saffron spectre into the masque and spreading gloved hands as if in welcome to the gathering.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:14 pm

      Merri blinks several time. “That is extraordinary… but I don’t know who you are, or what you are, I must confess!”

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:23 pm

          “Along the shore the cloud waves break,
          The twin suns sink beneath the lake,
          The shadows lengthen
             In Carcosa.”

        “I do forgive you if you haven’t read the play, my dear…” A sweep of one stained yellow glove requests her own hand after the soft song is sung, the pallid-masked visage lowering in a bow of his head,”…few have, after all. I am the Phantom of Truth. As for who… well. That would be telling before the unmasking, would it not?”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 6:28 pm

          “The `Phantom of Truth’? Then is Truth slain, dear sir?” Merri asks, smile flickering at the corners of her mouth. His voice is tantalizingly familiar…

          • November 1, 2010 at 6:33 pm

            “Perhaps. Who am I to say? Can you say that you have seen it alive – a single fact that you can say beyond any doubt or argument is true?” A turn of the masked visage looks across the hall, a soft chuckle whispering to its silken material, “Perhaps it waits to be raised from Tarterus once more.”

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              November 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

              “Not a fact seen, but only felt, Ghostly Sir,” she smiles. “And I should be fool indeed to argue it overmuch with one such as you. Welcome to our revels — I look forward to your unmasking in particular!”

        • November 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm

          This is the thing that troubles me,
          for I cannot forget Carcosa,
          where black stars hang in the heavens,
          where the shadows of men’s thoughts
          lengthen in the afternoon,
          when the twin suns sink into the Lake of Hali,
          and my mind will bear forever
          the memory of the Pallid Mask.

          • November 1, 2010 at 6:56 pm

            “Ah!” A bark of laughter from behind the mask, “A gentleman and a scholar, I see… or merely a man with an interesting taste for the theatre.” Gloved hands lift, come together in soft applause, “Bravo.”

            • November 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm

              “I have never been able to forget it since I heard it, but perhaps that is the point?” He smiles slightly.

              • cl0ckw0rks said,

                November 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm

                “With a recitation like that, perhaps I’ll ask you to read it for us in the evenings,” Merri said softly. “Or you and this Phantasmic Truth-monger may take turns reading it for us!”

                • November 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm

                  “The first act only, my dear,” suggests the Phantom of Truth, “The second can be… quite much for mixed company. I remain uncertain if it has ever been performed.”

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm

      Scarlet tilts her head, examining the being with reservation, her thoughts slipping to her knife.

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:41 pm

        Then the saffron figure turns with a whispered rustling of fabrics towards the violet-gowned beauty that watches him warily from afar – as if drawn to such reservations and thoughts of vigilance. “…and of course,” he says as if continuing another conversation entirely, offering her one hand, “The truth must ever dance with temptation. My dear?”

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm

          Having seen the others speak with the eerie saffron creature, she pushes away the nightmares of her afternoon nap – dreams of a beleaguered king – and smiles with intent to introduce herself.

          Then he sweeps to regard her, she stops in place, momentarily taken aback by the creepiness of the movement. His hand raises, and that voice…

          Tension melts away and her smile becomes genuine. She takes his hand, “Whoever you are,” she murmurs, “you would know that Truth and Temptation are often one and the same.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 7:19 pm

            “Are they? Perhaps, then, our dearest hostess is entirely correct… that Truth is dead, and what remains is defined by our urges and whims. That all the world revolves around not a Word, but words…”

            The hand’s taken, and the figure in yellow drifts closer, voice dipping low, “…and you, I suspect, could even make me believe that the last place Truth is to be found is in your eyes.”

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm

              Her breath catches, and she gazes at him sideways, a warmth filling her eyes, “Tempting to believe that, is it not? Whereas your voice convinces me that my greatest Temptation is to know Truth.”

              • November 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

                “A dangerous proposition,” murmurs the saffron shadow, gaze glittering like fire in the night behind his pallid mask, “Truth is not something easy to accept… it is what it is, despite all of one’s desires to change it. To draw too close is to dance with madness.”

                A step away as the music changes, though he holds her hand still, “Will you dance with me?”

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 7:57 pm

                  “My dear, I think it would not be prudent for me to deny Truth his dance, for I am ever so often dancing around him.”

                  • November 1, 2010 at 8:09 pm

                    “Well, then…” As a blizzard of threadworn yellow he is upon her, hand in hers, his other dropping to the womanly curve of her hip to sweep her away in a dance as the music’s strains lift, a spectre come to spirit her away to an afterlife of haunting waltzes, “…let us dance once more.”

                    • Scarlet O said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm

                      A blissful smile sweeps across her mouth; she has the distinct sense of finishing a dance from long ago, conjuring imagery of an ancient pact between a devil and the night itself, when all manner of sin may cavort. Her hand slides easily to his shoulder, bypassing propriety to a more intimate embrace.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 10:52 pm

          She leans in closer, “Darling – you are Truth? I do not recognize the reference…nor the Correspondence symbol on your head, although it is hard for me to look at for any length. I’d thought you something from one of my nightmares.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      Stops and considers this figure before him… “Now that is downright disconcerting… even for the neath. Good show!” He laughs heartily “And to have the bollocks to wear a bit of the master’s fire right there on your brow? Oh so delicious indeed! Let us hope Mr. Pages is not in attendance, shall we? Hah!”

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:29 pm

        “And how would we know, good Commodore?” A smile in the hushed voice, if not visible through the mask, “Any of the Masters could walk amongst us unknown… at any time, not only this eve. Tonight especially any you speak with, touch, dance with, or see in the fire’s light like a fever dream could be one of our Masters… to whose tune we all must dance.”

        • November 1, 2010 at 6:56 pm

          “Well put, mysterious friend!” Chortles mirthfully “Well put indeed! And a pleasure to have another silver tongue to spar with over the mysteries of our sunless city! Come and be welcome – share our host’s wine and make friends of our friends eh?”

  8. November 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    The Commodore is forced to stoop through the doorway as he enters l. He is strikingly bare-chested and his legs are… not the legs of a human being! Instead he strides about upon reverse-jointed haunches and cloven hooves of a goat. Strikingly realistic… How /did/ he do that? His red and silver mask adds large horns to his forehead that increase his height still further. From his neck dangle a set of sparkling silver pipes and a rather oversize flask is belted to his hip along with the longest ravenglass blade you’ve ever set eyes on.

    “Marvelous eve and well met, dear delicious comrades!” He cackles brightly and joins the fray!

    • catastronaut said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      “Is that you Commodore? Your show has made your voice unforgettable to me, but I admit you sound…. taller than usual.”

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm

        Gazes somewhat down on him with a smile twisting his face every which way.

        “Ah! Anthony, lad!” Slaps his back merrily “Yes the effect of our costume is somewhat more looming than we expected when commissioning it. We meant more to release our Satyr spirit upon the party, but the foreboding effect is almost as appropriation for the holiday, neh?”

        • catastronaut said,

          November 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm

          “I confess, you have me astounded and confused. Your feet… In any case, from what the others say I imagine I’d be no less astounded if I had my eyes to aid me. But it is delightful to hear you, though I may not fully bear witness to your transformation.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm

            Raises an eyebrow. “yes… It occurs that self inflicted blindness may not have been the most brilliant decision for a night such as this one… but we wish you luck with that nonetheless!”

            • catastronaut said,

              November 1, 2010 at 6:42 pm

              “I’ve already had occasion to regret, or at least reconsider the decision. But, when one cannot work such transformations as yours, I must attempt to make my own costume noteworthy through parlour tricks like this one, even if it comes at my own expense.”

              Here, Anthony’s mouth takes on a sly grin.

              “And the blind see what the sighted do not, as the prophets of this age and the last have shown. Perhaps I’ll gain by my blindness some insight into the mechanism of your transformation.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      “Ah, Commodore…” The yellow-swathed figure turns as the towering goat-legged man enters, gloved hands clasping together, his voice a hushed note beneath the mask, “…fabulous. I must find out how you did that…”

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:44 pm

        His eyes glint somewhat at the fellows eagerness. He adores having someone there fully cognizant of the sheer /value/ such a spectacular effect much carry.

        “Indeed. ’tis not such a mystery when one contemplates it far enough… but the secret is marvelously simple if somewhat scandalous to reveal. To quote a popular phrase in the Neath: Are you quite sure you want to know this?”

        • November 1, 2010 at 6:49 pm

          A soft laugh whispers like a cough on funeral wrappings, the pallid mask inclining slowly as the eyes beneath it gleam darkly in amusement. “…there is little that I don’t wish to know, my good man,” he confesses, “My own vice, perhaps. I have read pages of the Liber Visionis and willingly stalked that place behind mirrors in search of more. Surely, a matter of legs is no worse.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 7:07 pm

            Takes him aside to a shadowy corner away from the music.
            and lowers his voice a bit.

            “Not worse, no but it pays to maintain theatricality among one’s public. In truth it’s a simple bit of infernal glamor that we had some friends over at the Embassy cook up for us. We weren’t exaggerating about the cost though… especially for something that won’t last beyond the evening.”

            • November 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

              At that quiet revelation, he exhales a throaty chuckle. “I hadn’t even thought of that… I should have known. I have friends of my own that walk the brass floors,” he confesses, the silken mask shifting under his breath, “I didn’t even think to ask them what they thought of the season.”

              • November 1, 2010 at 7:34 pm

                “Ah, As we understand it, they generally regard it as true drunkards regard the festivities of new years eve… a night to rest and let amateurs play at what they do year-round. We only just barely talked them into lending us their illusory brilliance when they knew it was for All Hallows. But strings were pulled and bribes were paid and here we are for a few stunning hours” He prances about a bit as if to demonstrate.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:14 pm

      Merri’s eyes are the size of saucers, and her fingers are covering her mouth again in abject disbelief.

      “That… would explain much, wouldn’t it…” It’s not a question, but what is less clear is whether or not she believes it! “Commodore… you’ll have to tell me how you’ve done this — but not tonight…. Dear god protect us all,” she grins weakly.

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

        “Merri, darling friend!” He Adorns the hostess’ hand with yet another kiss. “A truly top-notch spectacle and such wonderfully inspired music to match! Our compliments on the entire experience sincerely! It should be a night to remember!”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm

          She laughs ruefully, shaking her head at him. “I await only your show to have the music ceased. Will you be leaving us to see to it, or shall the poor orchestra be forced to play all night?”

          • November 1, 2010 at 7:09 pm

            “Hm. With the brilliant sounds that meet our ears here we’d be almost tempted to take the night off… but we shall see. The night is young!”

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              November 1, 2010 at 7:16 pm

              “It is indeed.” She takes another look at him, blush creeping up her cheeks again. “You are either a forbidden fantasy or a nightmare, garbed so, and I cannot decide which! If I drink some laudanum, will you fade away?”

              • November 1, 2010 at 7:28 pm

                He cackles with mirth and mischief. “Drink all you desire, gentle lady. Naught but our inhibitions and modesty will be vanishing this fine evening!”

                • cl0ckw0rks said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 7:34 pm

                  “You mean to say you had any to begin with?” She asks, frankly disbelieving, but smiling anyway.

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:22 pm

      Scarlet has maintained her soft presence until this moment, when her delight bursts in laughter, sweeping over to him. “You tower over everyone, dearest Pan. The size of those horns!” She covers her mouth with the back of her hand, trying to still her laughing.

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:38 pm

        He regards her with his eyes sparkling and takes a long sweeping bow, taking a long time to lower the tips of his horns to touch the floor at her feet.

        “Your mirth alone is enough reward for the effort it took to make us so, sweet lady! May it please you to join us at dancing later in the evening, we will prove our graceful footwork to be fully intact!”

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 6:44 pm

          “I…most certainly, I welcome a chance to see you use any appendage you may have armed yourself with. I cannot say that I know how to dance the steps with such legs, but I will give it my best efforts, as always.”

  9. lscassius said,

    November 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Shuffles up to the gate, their nerves are very high tonight. These are people they know as close to friends, the line becoming more blurred each day. They didn’t want to make real friends in this d—able place. This was work…well vengeance…but calling it such just brought back some of the half-numbed pain and such emotions fog the head…They had been well taught for investigating and undercover work. Tonight they aren’t hiding anything per-say, but this d—able costume is Scandalous! Several of the guests had got up to much more recently, but people always have made them uneasy.

    ‘Well, we are here now! Go in you git.’

    They release a small bat out to join the others, and slide though the gate. The place is magnificently decorated and Cassius cannot help but grin. ‘*bah* I won’t be the most odd dressed here.’ They decline to Esther to remove their outer jacket. A battered & heavy wool thing to keep out the damp. A few neatly sewed-up bullet holes and tears add to its character. Cassius wraps it closer around them, the bottom showing a hint of long bright green silk skirt. They have a very ornate feathered cap on, made to look like a peacock, the tinted glasses hiding their eyes a tad.

    They originally went for this costume for the cap. It was gorgeous, and L.S. simply must have it… Then the seamstress proclaimed it was part of a set and that they must not be separated. So after much prodding and fussing and adjustments–the seamstress cackling all the time; they were sold a very lovely feathered head-cap and what may be a brightly coloured silk dress. If they would unfurl the wings of their coat, it might be visible.

    [I drew a picture :O]

    • lscassius said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      They catch sight of what must be Merri & Gabriel with other’s clustered around them. They are the hosts after all so matching costumes is fitting! …Feathers… Well that is something this peacock has in common then! It is well that Cassius wore their own boots, for even dress shoes pinch. They shuffle over, the boning is rather uncomfortable after wearing suits, but at least it was not a corset. How Narciso managed those things… The coat makes them feel more at ease and looking more arou–IS THAT THE COMMODORE? They are almost speechless. What the H—?! They shake their head a bit–the feathers comically wiggling. Looking behind themself they see that they have no arrived alone, a mysterious tophatted man…A Special Constable? And a hanged-man? Have they come together as marching costumes? A bit morbid that…

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm

      [If you email it to me, I can upload it and send you the link so you can include it in a comment!]

      Merri’s head tilts, and she approaches this new guest with a welcoming smile. “Well met, delicious friend. I am not sure I know you, but I’m sure I will know you better after this evening’s done. What a lovely costume!”

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:49 pm

        [I’ll upload it to Twitpic, as I am not sure your e-mail D: You’ll have to save it there lol {http://twitpic.com/333pol}]

        Extends a hand, “You may already know me, though how well, I do not know for sure~” A nervous smile. “Thank-you, yours is very lovely also!” The mask is most lovely. “A raven? …It has been a long time since I have seen one of such a colour.” They guessed as much when Mr. Morgan gave a clue the other night, but chose not to voice it.

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

          “Ah, by your voice and manner, I think I do know you,” Merri smiles. “But I shan’t give away your incognito, dear. Come in, enjoy yourself. There are many here you may know, already!”

        • catastronaut said,

          November 1, 2010 at 7:01 pm

          Anthony’s head snaps around at the sound of the diffident voice.

          He nearly shouts, “Is that Cassius? Ha, I’ve a promise to you I intend to keep.”

          He seems overtaken with a very childish abundance of energy.

          “Cassius, I promised you a fishing game, and you shall have one. I cannot play, but I imagine there are at least a few here foolish or brave enough to try it.”

          Anthony barks out a laugh, and turns to Merri.

          “Milady, may I trouble you for a deep dish, or a shallow basin, something wide, that may be set on a table and not upset too easily.?”

          • cl0ckw0rks said,

            November 1, 2010 at 7:06 pm

            She starts, but nods willingly enough, smiling to a nearby servant to see to it. “Of course, dear friend, one shall be brought right away.”

            • catastronaut said,

              November 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm

              Anthony very nearly /giggles/, and finds a suitable surface to play on. For the first time this evening, he nearly trips in his haste.

          • L.S. Cassius said,

            November 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm

            “I am..glad…that someone recognised my voice, Mr. Call! I possibly could have disguised it, but thought better.” smiles “A fishing game? Here and now?” and then is a bit flustered “….Surely…not as Ms. Scarlet had mentioned? I do not think that would be in taste for here!” But calms a bit as he mentions just a small basin and on a table. They smile. “This should be fun, but I was rather joking dear sir.” They laugh but try to follow-along.

      • lscassius said,

        November 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

        [Er I got it uploaded to mine now :) lol]

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      Cassius’ costume.

      • November 1, 2010 at 7:13 pm

        “My word,” Theodore breathes, “That hat!” He claps his hands together. “Marvelous, marvelous.”

        • L.S. Cassius said,

          November 1, 2010 at 7:15 pm

          “It certainly is! I am afraid I did not care for the matching costume, but the cap was marvelous~” they grin.

          “And I do not know your voice, perhaps we have not met before?”

          • November 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm

            “A bit bright for this sort of holiday, I will grant,” Theodore answers, then sketches a fairly elegant bow, marred only by having to reach up and adjust the rope around his neck as it slides.

            “I do not believe we have met at all. I have been away for a time, and not about lately; many are the new voices, even if I had faces to put them with!” He taps the side of his mask with a wan smile. “What would you have me call you?”

            • L.S. Cassius said,

              November 1, 2010 at 10:55 pm

              “I go by Cassius here in ‘The ‘Neath’, no mister, no missus, just ‘Cassius’.” Their tenor accentuation the ‘i’. I do recognise your voice on thinking, but I have not spoken to you personally before tonight. Have you been at a previous salon by Merri? What may I address you as this evening in any case?” they offer a hand.

              • November 1, 2010 at 11:09 pm

                “Cassius. Very well, Cassius,” Theodore replies, taking the offered hand. “I may have stopped in, but it would have been some time ago, I must confess… Theodore DuHart, at your service.” He looks about. “Which way to the refreshments? I think she’s taken a turn for the dryer, outside, and I could stand for something to sip while we talk. Perhaps you the same?”

                • L.S. Cassius said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm

                  They point to the table and nod. “Yes, I am myself in need of something for refreshment. I expected it to be more like Autumn for the calendar date, than it has been.”

                  • November 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

                    Theodore moves towards the table, still talking as he acquires something to drink, almost at random. “I’m rather glad for the costume being what it is,” he says, gesturing at the battered rags he wears. “Something heavier would have been oppressively warm, especially after a few of these!” He lifts a glass and takes a sip. “Our hosts have, as always, impeccable taste.” He nods to the nearest servant approvingly.

    • November 1, 2010 at 7:02 pm

      “Cassius! Our illustrious compatriot and steadfast friend! Is that truly you?” He grins in welcome. “Marvelous you could make it! This will not be a night to miss!”

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        November 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

        A wide smile at the Commodore, their intact and white teeth showing their more upper-class upbringing than their Lodgings of Spite would show. “My magnificent ally, dear Commodore!” They have to gawk again at his…goat legs…They recognise it as Pan, but are the legs mechanised? “Your costume truly is a sight to behold! I am at a loss for words sir!”

    • Narcissus said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      “That cap — !” Narciso can never disguise his admiration for exceptional headwear, never bother to — he beams it. “It’s a thing of beauty, truly, and what’s more you bear it beautifully.”

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        November 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm

        “I had to have it, I hope some day to take it with me back to Frampton’~ The costume is…not as nice as the cap however. But yours’ is wonderful Narciso! The sun?”

        • Narcissus said,

          November 1, 2010 at 7:55 pm

          “The very same! Would the proud peacock care to deign the sun a dance?”

          • L.S. Cassius said,

            November 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

            “Ah perhaps, though it is with regret I do not know any of the modern formal dances…Nor how well I can what I do know. But if you shan’t burn my wings, then just perhaps.” They smile and await.

            • Narcissus said,

              November 1, 2010 at 9:30 pm

              “Not to worry, my peacock — everyone has their talents, and I shall adjust my lights to compliment yours.” He offers both hands for them, to pull them to the dance floor.

              • L.S. Cassius said,

                November 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm

                Allows themself to be pulled, trying to gracefully follow him. Unsure how this will go, but trusts Narciso in this. Grins at him.

                • Narcissus said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm

                  He winds them together with the ease of winding together two ribbons, indicating that a hand should be here, an arm bent like so — not the formal position for any dance, but something to facilitate close movement and harmony. And he moves them not with any formal steps, but moves them nonetheless, not too fast, not leaving anyone behind, just feeling for a rhythm. “Now, let’s see.” He tilts his head, to hear the music, and take in the mask in front of him. “What is this song saying to you?”

                  • L.S. Cassius said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm

                    They lean in, trying to play the more feminine part. Drawing in close to take in his mask, the lens of their own making it a tad difficult. They have read about Narciso in the papers, but their head is swimming a bit. It has been ages since they danced a partnered dance, and it wasn’t so…formal. They whirl around and expertly place their feet, the boots again having been the most preferable option. Not really dance steps, but the ‘dance’ of jumping rooftops and running The Flit.

                    • Narcissus said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 10:31 pm

                      Narciso smile grows in real delight with every step, every turn. There are no steps, only improvisation, hurling one’s self into the dance as across the rooftop to catch that last dangling rope — but Narciso is nevertheless learning, following even as he leads, coming to understand this Flit-dance they’re making. What he is learning is Cassius, their subtlety and skill, and it’s a lesson well-appreciated.

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        November 1, 2010 at 11:33 pm

        They let it go on, almost no longer hearing the music, but more concentrating on their footing and how delighted their partner looks.

        They do not know how long it goes on, or when it ends, but they are almost breathy. They grin at Narciso and almost burst-out laughing. “Thank-you dear Narciso~” and they steady themself.

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm

      “Lovely” Scarlet breathes at the costume, uncertain as to the person beneath it.

      • L.S. Cassius said,

        November 1, 2010 at 7:44 pm

        “And you as well Ms. Scarlet~” a grin.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm

          “Wait…that voice! Is that Cassius?” She angles herself to look at the figure from another angle. “Oh my! Cassius!” She smiles brightly, although she speaks softly. “What a marvelous costume! I had no idea!”

          • L.S. Cassius said,

            November 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

            “Yes. It is I.” ‘The Cassius’ part actually is in fact their surname. They turn a bit, opening the coat a tad. There is a bit of padding, boning, and a small bustle but it is mostly their own shape. “You will have to send thanks to a pushy seamstress of Spite m’dear. Though I hope you find this flattering?” They have to suppress laughing.

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm

              She grins, “Oh quite – it’s remarkable and even bustled! And that hat!”

              • L.S. Cassius said,

                November 1, 2010 at 11:23 pm

                “The hat is the best bit.” and they wink, but it is not as charismatic as some. “I wore my best boots though, the shoes were too cramped.” They offer a foot out from under the skirt. “Dresses seem to be the fashion, in any case.” They smile, and it reaches their eyes.

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 11:32 pm

                  “Dresses definitely seem to be cropping up more in our midst!” she laughs. “But there is nothing quite like a good hat. I lost one long ago that I still mourn. You should pay to keep the hat. To keep the entire costume!”

                  • L.S. Cassius said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 11:36 pm

                    “I’ve never been one for wearing hats, and I doubt the applications for a peacock in everyday fashion, but I am -certainly- keeping it.” The frown a bit. “I am already the ‘proud’ owner of this colourful dress, the alterations needed have seen to that.” They have a think on the Moon Pearls it cost. “What kind of hat was it?”

                    • Scarlet O said,

                      November 2, 2010 at 7:14 am

                      “Proud enough to strut, I imagine!” She chuckles. “Oh, it was lovely – spring green velvets, with ribbons and rosettes, feather – high and back on the head, such that it revealed the coiffure.” Scarlet looks wistful – an expression rarely – if ever – seen on her face. (http://bit.ly/a7idXS)

  10. Anonymous for now said,

    November 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    [In the spirit of the masquerade, this character will initially go unnamed.]

    The man entered the salon and tugged at the front of his tailed coat followed my a quick swipe of his hand down the row of silver buttons to ensure that they were all fastened. He wore clean navy blue pants and his mirror shined shoes. Above his white mask was a simple top hat, but it was what lay below the mask that first caught the viewer’s eye. Attached to the mask, which ended immediately below the nose, was a fake, but extremely strong, mustache.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      His hostess’ eyes widened momentarily, but then she laughed lightly and approached, hands held out in welcome. “Well met, delicious friend,” she began, clearly trying to discern who this might be, below such a mighty mustache. “Welcome to our Masque, how should you like to be named, this evening?”

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:46 pm

        Asher attempts to keep his face very serious during Merri’s introduction, but he only lasts a few seconds more before a grin breaks out under the mustache.

        “O’ course ya wouldn’t recognize me as such an upstandin’ citizen,” his voice and speech immediately betraying his identity. “It’s me, Asher.”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

          Merri laughs uproariously at this. “Oh well done, dearest Asher! Well done indeed. Come in, come in — we’ve quite an assortment here this evening!”

        • L.S. Cassius said,

          November 1, 2010 at 9:00 pm

          Recognising his voice, they look. Cassius for various reasons is very fond of Asher. His quick wits, street smarts, his fine balancing of both sides of the ‘law’, and his innocence despite it all. The fact that it is he who is dressed as a Special Constable has them beaming. “Ah, Asher! Where did you procure such a moustache? Have you come to trail me over that d—able box again?” They grin.

          • November 1, 2010 at 9:07 pm

            “Oh no, but I do ‘ave another box for ya, if you’d like,” he laughs. “Ah, this?” he twists one end of the mustache in his fingers. “From the Fisher Kings. Not sure where they got it though. As for the rest o’ my outfit,” he pauses to give a sly grin, “I stole it right off a Special Constable.”

            • L.S. Cassius said,

              November 1, 2010 at 10:02 pm

              Uproariousness laugher, not very suiting to their dress. “What kind of box is this Asher? The maybe-spider-maybe-cat kind? I fear I may regret saying so, but I will take it off your hands…as long as this is not another trap?”

              • November 1, 2010 at 10:20 pm

                Their laughter is catching and Asher joins in. “‘Ow could it be a trap, if even I don’t know what’s inside? I’ll send it along, and you can decide ta take the risk or not.”

    • Narcissus said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      Narciso crows laughter and claps. “What, a raid already? The night’s barely begun to deserve it –!”

      • November 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm

        Asher falls into a serious, mocking sort of tone – one that he has perfected from years of mocking the keepers of the law as a boy, “Constables do not simply wait for trouble ta ‘appen. No, we go out on the streets an’ arrest innocent people ‘fore they can even think o’ doin’ wrong. More effective that way, see?”

        • Narcissus said,

          November 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm

          “Of course, of course. People are improved by punishment, and why should only the worst of us merit improvement? Why I’ve never had an impure thought in my life.” He offers his wrist, teasing. “You can manacle me, if you like.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm

            Asher laughs, “If I could trust that ya wouldn’t some’ow slip out o’ them and use ’em for some dev’lish game, I might.”
            Asher pauses to take in Narciso’s outfit, “And what are ya dressed as? I feel like I might go blind if I look at ya for too long.”

            • Narcissus said,

              November 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm

              “That’s what surface mothers warn their children, anyway,” he says — even if he was a surfacer once himself. “And remember what happened to Icarus.”

              • November 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm

                “Ah, the sun,” Asher exclaims. “Well, ‘ow nice o’ you to grace our fine Neath for the first time.”

                • Narcissus said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm

                  “I’d never been invited! I was beginning to think Neath-dwellers all quite rude.”

                  • November 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm

                    “But ‘ow could we invite you, when we’re the ones who’ve fallen into a dark pit without light ta ‘elp us out?”

                    • Narcissus said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm

                      “All the more reason to manacle me, I suppose, so I don’t escape you. Do it for the city, my dear constable!”

      • November 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

        Asher laughs and displays empty hands. “Alas, I sold my New Newgate manacles ages ago, and I didn’t think ta steal a new pair along with the rest o’ my costume.”

        • Narcissus said,

          November 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm

          “A shame!” He laughs, leans close. “You’ll have to find some other way to restrain me.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 8:56 pm

            Red tinges Asher’s earlobes at that. “Uh, but can it really be called restraint if a person is willing?”

            • Narcissus said,

              November 1, 2010 at 9:08 pm

              Success! “Would you prefer it if I struggle?”

              • November 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm

                “I, ah,” Asher has begun to forget what they had been talking about at the start, “I’d prefer if I didn’t ‘ave ta restrain you at all.”

                • Narcissus said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 9:24 pm

                  “Quite the egalitarian approach. Come,” he says, and takes Asher by the arm. “My dance-card is disappointingly empty. If you can’t chain me to the earth, you’ll just have to fly with me.”

                  • November 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm

                    Asher doubts that Narciso is lacking in dance partners, but he follows the man’s lead, nonetheless. “Well, I ‘ope I don’t weigh ya down,” he gives a slightly nervous laugh.

                    • Narcissus said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 10:02 pm

                      “What, have the papers been lying?” he teases. “The spore-hopping column say you soar from cap to cap! Or at least, they say it of a gentleman of about your size who’s not a constable.”

      • November 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm

        There is a glimmer in his eyes now. “Oh, I can fly. That kind o’ flyin’ I can definitely do. It’s the, uh, flyin’ o’er the dance floor that is a bit more troublesome.”

        • Narcissus said,

          November 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm

          Narciso grins in appreciation for that glimmer. “Are they so different? It’s all matter of reacting readily and gracefully, yes?”

          • November 1, 2010 at 10:31 pm

            “They aren’t so different, but ya can’t ‘ave skill in one then immediately conquer the other. The problem is practice,” here he grins, “and motivation ta do it.”

            • Narcissus said,

              November 1, 2010 at 10:34 pm

              “Let this be your practice. Let this be your motivation.” He arranges them to dance. “Lead me.”

              • November 1, 2010 at 10:43 pm

                Asher blinks. “Me?” He had expected Narciso to take the lead, being the more experienced dancer. Asher allows himself to feel comfortable in the position and begins to move. He begins with simple steps, trying to get a feel for Narciso’s own way of moving. As he begins to feel more comfortable, Asher adds a few turns into the steps.

                • Narcissus said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm

                  He lets Asher lead so that he can better ease himself into this, watching him with laughing eyes but still attentive, still receptive, the amusement borne of fondness far more than mockery. And when Asher begins to turn, he is already turning with him, smooth as clockwork, as possibility, and saying, “Good, good –!”

                  • November 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

                    Asher flicks his eyes up to meet Narciso’s and returns the smile, feeling a bit more confidant from the praise. He is very conscious of their close proximity, but he reminds himself that it is necessary for the dance.
                    As the song nears its end, Asher adds in a few more complex steps. Satisfied with himself for even remembering them, he watches Narciso’s face for signs of enjoyment.

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm

      Scarlet laughs, her thumb and forefinger sweeping along the loooong line of his moustache. “My dear man…It wasn’t me! I swear! I was otherwise engaged at the time.”

      • November 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm

        The only evidence of a blush is shown by a slight red tinge to his earlobes. “Ah, I’m tempted ta think ya could convince a constable of your innocence after committing a crime right in front o’ him,” Asher laughs.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 8:23 pm

          “Asher! You may well be right – but you would know better, now, wouldn’t you?” She chuckles, embracing him lightly.

          • November 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm

            Asher returns the short embrace, if a bit awkwardly. “You, ah, you look lovely, Scarlet.”

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 2, 2010 at 7:17 am

              “And you look dashingly handsome, even with your clothes on.” She smiles, touching his arm lightly to mark that she jests.

  11. November 1, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Theodore shuffles through the door, wearing tattered rags. A prisoner’s mask perches on his nose — and a heavy coil of dockyard rope dangles from his neck. He drags one leg, and cocks his head at an off-angle whenever he stops to think of it, or if someone stares at him too long.

    He stops, and blinks, affecting an uneasy, unsteady look, hands grasping at the air, twitching once.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 6:37 pm

      “Oh, perfect,” Merri breathes, stepping over to him with a wry chuckle. “The mask hides your identity well, dear sir. Welcome to our masque — how shall we call you, this evening?”

      • November 1, 2010 at 6:44 pm

        His head rolls slightly upwards, as if to divine an answer from the ceiling, before snapping forward to look the hostess squarely in the eyes. “Why,” he declares, “Call me the Twelfth.” He smiles, a bit too proudly for a moment, before winking behind his mask. “What would you have me call YOU?”

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          November 1, 2010 at 6:49 pm

          “I believe I was tagged as `Huginn’ earlier, from the old Norse,” she chuckles, gesturing him in. “It’s good of you to come, Mr. Twelfth.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm

            “After such a charming invitation, how could I refuse?” He enters, looking about. “Is there a Muninn, then?” He shakes his head. “And someone on whose shoulders you both shall sit?” He cocks his head, considering possibilities…

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              November 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

              “The former would be Gabriel Morgan, whose costume matches mine,” she smiles fondly. “As for shoulders, well, they’d need be broad indeed, to house both of us this night!”

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm

      “Dear sir…I do not believe we have formally met. And even now, I’m not sure who I am meeting.” She offers a hand, “I am Twilight, Evening, the Violet Hour, Scarlet. And you are a hanged man…and…?” She leaves the question open for him to supply a name.

      • November 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm

        “A hanged man, Twelfth of the deck, and, on occasion, they call me Theodore DuHart.” He bows over the offered hand.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 8:38 pm

          She nods, “Oh I had not put together the tarot reference. Quite esoteric!” She dips in a proper curtsy in return.

          • November 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm

            A smile, a bit too proud by half, at the compliments. “I would suspect anyone who would come to this house to be caught up in some manner of esoterica. This IS the Neath, after all! Come, Lady Twilight,” he asks, “What interests YOU?”

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

              Her smile becomes sly, “Oh, Master Twelfth, a great many things interest me! But ever, secrets…secrets that the Hanged Man might find – he seeks truth and wisdom through his sacrifice. I would be the ending day as he hangs from Yggdrasil, stealing the last of the light from his remaining eye – to contemplate the darkness and the denizens of the night. As a lady of the night, I would visit him and trade him secrets for comfort.”

              • November 2, 2010 at 7:39 pm

                “Secrets are, now, the dearest of currencies,” he replies, inclining his head. “But something tells me the comfort would be well worth the price,” he adds with a smile, holding out one hand, palm up.

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm

                  “Oh, most certainly, for it will be the revelations he gains in darkness, in blindness, that will bring a new day of understanding to him. Without the darkness, the Hanged Man is merely a victim: the submission to darkness brings him the light.” She smiles, placing her hand in his.

  12. November 1, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Slightly easier to avoid taking up too much space —

    http://anthonyfaulkner.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/the-masque-of-all-souls/

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm

      “Oh lord, Fire has arrived!” Merri laughs indulgently, moving to offer him her hands and welcome him. “That is a most striking costume, indeed!”

    • November 1, 2010 at 7:16 pm

      “Anthony?” For a moment Asher questions himself – it’s the hair that throws him off. “You are…on fire?”

      • November 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

        “Not on. I am at least meant to be representative of the element itself, though God alone knows when my hair will be a natural colour again,” he says with a grin.

        • November 1, 2010 at 8:22 pm

          Asher laughs, “Oh, o’ course. For a moment, I thought you might be dressed as an avid Correspondence scholar.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

      “Radiant, dear Sir. Positively /radiant/! We’ll no doubt see you covered in a conflagration of young maidens by the nights end, eh?” He laughs uproariously.

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm

      Scarlet catches sight of the bright colors and slides over to the engulfed man. Her eyes take in the entire costume with appreciation. “Such fire…might set a number of people here ablaze.” His green eyes peeking through the mask, her smile widens. “You remind me of a dream I once had of eyes staring at me amid flames…”

      • November 1, 2010 at 7:38 pm

        “And you, the evening. Shall I provide your light?” he says smiling. “I do hope it wasn’t a terrible dream.”

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm

          “Indeed, I shall be lost in darkness unless I’ve the sun, or a fire to light my way. And well…the definition of ‘terrible’ has been quite redefined, so no…it was not a terrible dream. Just a mysterious one.”

          “I think several of us cheated, dear man. We came as ourselves.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 9:20 pm

            “Sometimes the best fiction is the truth. And how often do they get to see the truth?” He brushes a kiss against the edge of her mouth, landing on her cheek. “I’m thinking of keeping the hair, though a little less wild, a more solid mixture. I find the natural colour of it extremely dull.”

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 1, 2010 at 9:33 pm

              She leans ever so slightly into brush of his lips to her cheek. Her eyes flicker to his hair, and then again to the whole of him. “It certainly suits you, inside and out. You shall be quite easy to see from a distance…a flame-headed man with green eyes like a cat’s,” and she grins slyly, “with a similar ego that requires deft stroking.”

              She looks around her, and then back to Anthony. “Save me a dance this evening?”

              • November 1, 2010 at 9:39 pm

                “Some of us are not meant to suffer the colours nature bestows upon us,” he comments wryly. “I feel much more like myself as a fiery feline creature that requires a great deal of stroking.”

                He steals another kiss and says, “You may have as many dances as you wish. There are a suspicious lack of maidens vying for my attention.”

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 9:52 pm

                  “Perhaps it is because I am too near, scaring them all away. Such kittens you might seek out are quite skittish.” Her finger drags along his cheek, a grin blossoming on her mouth. “I could leave you to prowl like a tomcat, seeking an evening’s diversion.”

                  • November 1, 2010 at 10:05 pm

                    One side of his mouth quirks. “Kittens may still have claws but they are not particularly interesting. They are clumsy; they know very little about the world around them. If I am to prowl, I would rather seek something on my level. The cats in Spite and their hierarchy — with this colour of ‘fur’ I would be fairly low on the list, but I wager some of the secrets I know are a great deal more intriguing than the ones the ginger cats told me.”

                    • Scarlet O said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm

                      “I wager they are…but I think your feline nature makes you more a tiger…and the labyrinth you wind about in…” She smiles, “Perhaps it is an appropriate time to dance, my dear.”

    • L.S. Cassius said,

      November 2, 2010 at 6:27 pm

      Cannot help but stare. “Mr. Faulkner?? I see you have come ablaze, …though thankfully less gruesome than the real deal…” They shutter a bit remembering the hearty philologist… “Your hair is magnificent most certainly~” They grin as it is even brighter than their own.

  13. catastronaut said,

    November 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Upon the arrival of the dish, Anthony addresses the room in a clear voice that carries well over the ebb and flow of the conversation.

    “Delicious friends, if you’d care to compete in a competition of dexterity and nerves, or to witness the nimble courage of others, do gather round, and I shall introduce you to the game of Snap-Dragons.”

    From somewhere in the depths of his ragged half-cloak, Anthony produces a large leather wallet and a heavy-looking flask, rather too large to carry about comfortably, very nearly the size of a small pitcher.

    He empties the flask into the dish, which contained brandy, by the smell of it. From the wallet, casts a few handfuls of raisins into the pool of brandy. The constant skittering motions of his hands as he encounters and manipulates the objects on the table is at once entrancing and disturbing. It almost seems as though he were petting an animal, small but complicated in shape.

    “As I said, this is a fishing game, and the object is to fish the raisins from the brandy. But this is hardly a game requiring courage and skill. The challenge arises from this. The winner of the game is the one who manages to eat the largest number of raisins…”

    Here, with a flourish straight from a conjurer’s act, a sulfur match appears in Anthony’s hand.

    “…Before the brandy goes out.”

    He “looks” about, turning his head blindly around to the onlookers.

    “It is not so dangerous as it seems… so long as you snap your mouth closed about the raisin very quickly, the flame will be snuffed out before it has a chance to burn you. At worst, you’ll singe your fingers.

    Are we ready to begin?”

    • November 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      “My word,” Theodore says, watching for a moment, before raising a hand. “I am game for anything, twice.”

    • L.S. Cassius said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

      […I first saw this on “Oz and Hugh Drink To Christmas” and D:]

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      Scarlet’s jaw drops a moment before she snaps it shut, eyes wide. “I should not, but I cannot possibly resist something so completely…” For once, she’s without words. “I’ve a feeling I’ll be covered in brandy before this evening is over. With my penchant for being set aflame, this is pure folly.”

      • November 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm

        Theodore extends one hand to Scarlet. “Well, then. You, and I — and now we need two more, to keep the master of the game from having to participate…” He smiles and nods his head at the blinded man.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm

          Takes his hand with a friendly nod. “Good luck! Please put me out if I catch on fire?”

    • catastronaut said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      Come, now, shall I have to enter this competition myself? We’ve the Sun and Fire himself in attendance, and yet none will brave these pale flames? The dish is large enough for at least four Dragons….

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        November 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm

        “I should like to see a blind oracle enter such a contest,” Merri grins, “except a blind oracle is likelier to win it than anyone I know.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm

      Alright then, Count us in for this delightful nonsense!

      • catastronaut said,

        November 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm

        Anthony laughs.

        “Very well, then, is it to be the Satyr, the Hanged Man, and the Violet Hour, fishing the Lake of Fire? It sounds very much like one of Madame Shoshanna’s direst predictions. I am content to play the Blind Prophet presiding over this affair.

        On the count of three, then. One…”

        He strikes the match.

        “Two…”

        The match burns down, until he can feel the heat of the flame with his fingers.

        ‘Three!”

        The match flutters into the dish, creating a rather eerie puddle of flame.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm

          Scarlet’s hands have been burnt so many times in the past week, she easily reaches through them to the raisins. But since those fingers are still quite sensitive to heat, her smile quickly turns to a wince, popping a flaming raisin into her mouth.

        • November 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

          It’s a moment’s pause that leaves Theodore trailing behind, but he reaches out to try and snatch up a raisin. If his costume burns, what of it?

        • November 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

          Falling swiftly into a crouch on his newly found hooves, the Commodore launches himself in a lightning quick dive straight through the flames above the dish, Narrowly missing the other participants but nonetheless scooping a handful of raisins. He comes out in a neat tumble.

          “Hah!”

          He coils for another pass…

          • Scarlet O said,

            November 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm

            Seeing the Commodore leap through flames as a satyr, Scarlet leans back, holding a flaming raisin still in her hand as she watches him in awe. Then she curses, dropping the raisin to the floor. “Damnable fire!” and sucks her brandy-covered finger with amusement dancing in her eyes.

            • November 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

              Theodore is momentarily distracted by the Commodore’s acrobatic display before remembering the game he was playing. “Ah!” He reaches back in to try and scoop up a raisin or two and stuff them quickly in his mouth, holding up two free fingers to mark his score.

        • L.S. Cassius said,

          November 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

          Stands back enough that if there is a mishap, their marvellous headgear will not catch ablaze. Hoping that, well there isn’t a mishap.

          • November 1, 2010 at 8:44 pm

            Asher suddenly spots Cassius and moves closer. Being that this is the first time Asher has seen them in a dress, he stares for a moment before calling out, “Cassius! I certainly didn’t expect ta see you come in a dress.”

            • L.S. Cassius said,

              November 1, 2010 at 9:21 pm

              “I only wish I had seen you in one in return! I heard rumours earlier!” Has to laugh. “But what do you think?” They take the coat all off and does a very silly looking spin. “It seems to have become fashionable to wear one~” It is very flattering to their shape, though there is padding here and there, ‘especially at the front, though it has been very naturally done.

              • November 1, 2010 at 9:47 pm

                “I still can’t believe ‘e convinced me ta put one on,” he says, shaking his head. “It does look lovely…ah, you look lovely in it,” he smiles.

                • November 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm

                  “He is certainly…persuasive. It might be useful to you if you are needing to go undercover however. …For whatever reason.” They think about robbing from balls, spy work, dropping a suspect’s defences. “If only I had been there to witness!” They chuckle. “And thank-you, Scarlet requested I be ‘flattering’ so I am in hope that I managed.” They give a knowing grin, and chuckle some more.

    • L.S. Cassius said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      “Mr. Call, when you promised my a game of fishing, I had hoped for one that…did not involve fire.” But there is a bit of a glimmer-almost concealed by their headgear-in their eyes. “However, if I was not dressed all in silk, I would be happy to take this challenge.” They grin, almost smirking.

      • catastronaut said,

        November 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm

        “I’m sorry to have disappointed you, Cassius. I suppose this wasn’t the sort of fishing you spoke of, but my enthusiasm for games will overtake me. Perhaps I’ll have a chance to offer you entertainments more to your liking. Or at least, those you can avail yourself of more safely.”

        He seems genuinely apologetic, and seems almost embarrassed by his earlier exuberance.

        • L.S. Cassius said,

          November 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm

          “Ah do not be sorry dear sir! I was very…rather mysterious about what I planned to wear.” The unbutton their coat and open it to show the rest of the brightly coloured dress. “This is not my usually attire after all!” They smile as if to try to make Mr. Call feel less badly. “If you cannot get a few more players, I will attempt this feat.”

          • catastronaut said,

            November 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm

            “No need, friend. I’ve been burned often enough to be wary, especially when wearing clothes especially fine or flammable. Besides, three’s a good enough number for this game. A crowd makes the game more exciting, but more dangerous in equal measure.”

  14. November 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    “If the festivities are well and truly beginning, then we would pose a conundrum or two for the amusement of all assembled! To begin, we posit you this riddle:”

    ~What manner of thing may go up a chimney down, but not down a chimney up?~

    • L.S. Cassius said,

      November 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm

      [this was in a book I read once when little and I cannot remember the name D: Though the answer -may- get that d—able song in my head again D:]

      “Dear Commodore, is it a parasol?”

      • November 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

        “Oho! Nothing gets past your keen intellect, dear friend!” He beams hapilly and plays a few shrill notes on his silver pipes for emphasis.

        “Now then… here’s one we find even more amusing:”

        ~If a woman were to change her sex why, truly, could she no longer be a Christian?~

        • catastronaut said,

          November 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm

          “I admit to being confounded by this, Commodore. Would you consent to hold a Court of Riddles, if this riddle should not find its answer?”

          • November 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm

            “Court eh? you’ll have to familiarize us with that one but it sounds intriguing!”

            • catastronaut said,

              November 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

              “A Riddle holds Court for as long as it remains unanswered. After each incorrect guess, the Riddler poses another riddle with the same answer. Ultimately, the reign of any one riddle must end, though there’s little glory in a throne won so cheaply.”

            • catastronaut said,

              November 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

              “Though it occurs to me, some riddles are unsuited to Court.”

        • November 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm

          “This one we might have to concede due to it’s infuriating play upon words. The answer being, of course:”

          ~Because she would be a he(a)then.~

          • catastronaut said,

            November 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm

            Anthony smirks.

            “The play of words is an excellent thing. I rather like that one. I shall have to remember it. I admit to lacking facility with riddles that rely upon such clevernesses.

            Perhaps you’d like to take a stab at a riddle, yourself?

            ‘A moment to open, much longer to close,
            Companion to the thorny rose.’

            I have to apologize if these aren’t as finely crafted as yours, sir.”

            • November 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

              “Ahem, the legs of no few young ladies we’re acquainted with might fit that description… several complete with the thorny personality. But alas we doubt that is the answer you had in mind, dear Sir. On that frontier we are at a loss.”

              • catastronaut said,

                November 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm

                “Very well, then, a second couplet:

                ‘Though it may gape, it makes no sound,
                And when it’s gone its trace is found.'”

                • November 1, 2010 at 8:36 pm

                  “hmph… alas our mind is still further in the proverbial gutter with further clues” He looks about. “Any suggestions?”

                  • November 1, 2010 at 8:41 pm

                    “I’m afraid that he’s stumped me as well,” murmurs the Phantom of Truth, “My thoughts keep returning to the circular, but they get nowhere.”

                • catastronaut said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm

                  “I nearly think additional riddles are making this harder, rather than easier….

                  ‘Created along edges fine,
                  defeated by the passing time.'”

                  • November 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm

                    A pause, and then the saffron-draped figure suggests from behind his mask, “A cut? A wound?”

                    • November 1, 2010 at 8:52 pm

                      “Oh, o’ course!” Asher exclaims. “You’d think I’d ‘ave guessed it what with my run-in with thorns the other day.”

                    • catastronaut said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

                      “You’ve guessed it, sir! I was very nearly tempted to engage in some of the Commodore’s wordplay for the third riddle, but I supposed it would be fairer to proceed more directly.

                      Have you a riddle to preside over the Court, sir?”

                    • November 1, 2010 at 9:01 pm

                      “Let me see…” Stained fingers brush to the pallid edge of the silken mask, eyes hooding behind it, before he speaks quietly, “There are four brothers in this world that were all born together. The first runs and never wearies. The second eats and is never full. The third drinks and is always thirsty. The fourth sings a song that is never good. Name these brothers.”

                    • catastronaut said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm

                      “I haven’t the faintest.”

                    • November 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm

                      The masked figure exhales a soft chuckle, revealing the answer, “Water, fire, earth and wind… a traditional one. It came from the thousand and one nights, originally.”

                    • catastronaut said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm

                      “I’d considered it, but somehow it doesn’t seem to fit. I suppose the earth I’m used to is not always thirsty. Knowing the source, the picture is clearer.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 8:21 pm

            Theodore emits a long, pained groan. “That is a painful one to bear, no doubt.”

          • Scarlet O said,

            November 1, 2010 at 8:34 pm

            Scarlet snaps. “I knew I had heard that one.”

  15. cl0ckw0rks said,

    November 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    After the “fishing game” and the last song. the orchestra falls quiet and Merri steps up to the stage.

    “A moment’s indulgence, dear friends — old and new,” she begins, smiling happily. “My partner in black feathers for the evening has asked for our attention for a few moments. As you can imagine if you know the two of us at all, I’m more than inclined to hear him out.” She looks over at him, standing near the buffet in his typical understated way, arms crossed, a crooked little smile playing at the corners of his mouth. Their eyes meet and he nods once, approaching her with smooth, graceful strides.

    Without preamble, he takes her hand and begins speaking.

    “A light in the darkness,
    an embrace during weeping,
    a hand in times of trouble…

    “We value each other most for how they aid us in our very worst moments — but we should never forget the joy, the light that overfills the heart to bursting, the embrace we wish will never cease, and in the very best of times, a quiet sense of acceptance, a sense of home found in another — I have found a home in you, I have found the hand I wish always to hold, I have found the face I wish to see beside me in the morning and in the evening, I have found the love I wish to forever keep.  Will you be mine, Merri?  Will you marry me?”

    The most observant will see her hand tighten on his halfway through this, and the tears that brighten her clear grey eyes are unmistakable. Before she can clear her throat to speak, she’s already nodding.

    “Yes,” she says, sobbing a little, then laughing. “Dear God. Yes, I will!”

    • November 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      “Gabriel! You sly dog! Now /that/ is how the deed is done!” Laughs heartily and applauds them enthusiastically.

    • catastronaut said,

      November 1, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      Anthony joins wordlessly with applause. His enthusiasm is unquestionable, but he lacks words to mark the event.

    • November 1, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      Again those gloved hands with their ominous stains lift, yellow sleeves spilling away from pale wrists for a moment as they come together in applause. “Well done! Well done… and many congratulations to the betrothed both. May they deserve one another.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      Theodore watches, and his jaw slackens slightly before he claps his hands together. “My word,” is all he declares. Is that a tear behind the mask? Surely just lingering smoke from the brandy…

    • Narcissus said,

      November 1, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      At this moment the sun turns away, the eyes behind his mask quiet and strange, and he seeks out wine.

      • Scarlet O said,

        November 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm

        After her dance with the Commodore, she seeks out Narciso and his wine, reaching for a glass of her own. “Red wine in one hand, and a rose in another,” she says before catching Narciso’s eye as best she can. “And the sun sinking before me.”

        • Narcissus said,

          November 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm

          He is drinking deep, deep — his eyes light when they cross Scarlet’s, but it is difficult to say from where the light come from. “Is this another riddle?” he asks, tone forced high and merry. “I’ve no head for them, I’m afraid! But I do like to watch you lot puzzle them out –“

          • Scarlet O said,

            November 1, 2010 at 9:56 pm

            She licks her lips, and then slowly moves to clink her glass with his, drawing his attention to it. “It isn’t a riddle. It’s what I see.” The rose gets placed aside, her hand to his cheek. “Narcissus – my Helios – the wine will not take it away, nor bring anything back. Stay here with me. Talk to me.”

            • Narcissus said,

              November 1, 2010 at 10:10 pm

              Then she sees what the light in his eyes is … not joy, but welling grief. It reflects just as much. “What shall I say?”

              • Scarlet O said,

                November 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm

                “Nothing. Nothing at all.” She embraces him, and says, “Instead, I ask: what shall I say? Is there anything I can say?”

                • Narcissus said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 10:20 pm

                  “Say that you’ll toast to his memory with me,” he murmurs, in her embrace. “Ognissanti is a day for remembrance.”

                  • Scarlet O said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 10:31 pm

                    She nods, easily, stepping back and raising her glass. “By living, I thought I already was toasting his memory. I’ll never fail to lift a glass of wine to Henrik, but truly, it is love that I lift each day in his honor. Wine’s effects fade too much to be suitable remembrance.” Her hand touches his free hand.

                    • Narcissus said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm

                      “How wise you are!” His hands shift beneath hers, to clasp them together. “How wise and right. ‘Tis not my nature to join in hating, but in loving — that could be his epitaph, and every day you love you toast to him. If I can do the same — ! But first this toast of wine.”

      • Scarlet O said,

        November 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm

        “Yes, this toast.” In reality, that was her toast, but she is toasting to what Narciso wants to remember, and that is just as important.

        • Narcissus said,

          November 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm

          Their glasses ring together and he drinks, and when his eyes raise to hers again, the light is of gratitude. “How do you do it, my evening dove? How do you say all that needs to be said?”

          • Scarlet O said,

            November 1, 2010 at 11:20 pm

            She has no real answer for this question, save to take a sip of wine. “Remaining at a distance allows one to take in the larger scene, perhaps. Or perhaps my mouth so often teases truth that I have become its lover.” She pauses a moment at those words, as they had slipped from her unthinkingly, but she can’t help but smile.

            • Narcissus said,

              November 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm

              Narciso can’t help but smile, too, and even laugh, as though he weren’t a moment ago drinking to chase back tears. “Perhaps, perhaps. The Phantom of Truth is here tonight!”

              • Scarlet O said,

                November 1, 2010 at 11:37 pm

                “That’s a dangerous prospect, certainly. He is so mysterious! But I have ever danced with danger. But I have not yet danced with my better half, the sun.” She smiles slyly at him.

                • Narcissus said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 11:41 pm

                  “Shall we, then? Let’s join in loving.”

                  • Scarlet O said,

                    November 1, 2010 at 11:45 pm

                    Scarlet gives the curtsy of a debutante, with all the liquid grace of a fine lady. “I’d be delighted to blend our boundaries in swirling delight of dance…”

                    • Narcissus said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm

                      Narciso bows and offers his arm to her, the image of a gentleman, of a storybook prince. “What better way is there?”

      • Scarlet O said,

        November 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

        Scarlet takes his arm. “There is no better way, most certainly.” She places her hand on his arm, with some attention to how utterly proper she is. It is an interesting juxtaposition: as if sublimely ladylike behavior is a secret she hesitantly reveals.

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      Scarlet watches, aside near a curtain, a rare, sweet smile curving her petal-colored lips. She watches the joy on Merri’s face, the tears threatening to leap down her cheeks to their happy deaths. There is something unfathomable in her own dark gaze, the black rose cradled like a wineglass in her hand – a finger absently rubbing its velvet.

      Instead of striding forward with the others in congratulations, she takes in the distant view encompassing them all, as if she were trying to paint this moment in her mind, engraving it into her memories with her detailed eye. And, should Merri or Gabriel look her way, she has reserved this special smile for them.

      • November 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm

        As Merri and Gabriel make their way to dance, the Commodore catches up at Scarlet’s elbow as she looks on after them.

        “Saw that one coming, eh? Maybe not so soon, but inevitable nonetheless. Oh, and the dancing is begun! Did you not agree to indulge us as such earlier in the night?”

        He smiles down at her with more warmth than he usually lets forth.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm

          She lifts the rose to her face, inhaling its scent, transforming her smile from softness to slyness. “I did promise you a dance, my dear Commodore. It is lovely to follow such a scene by stepping into your arms. Even when…” she chuckles,” you are much taller than usual!”

          • November 1, 2010 at 9:46 pm

            “only for a bit longer, sweet one” The illusion of his height and legs is wearing a bit thing. Though seeing his usual human bottom half still takes a bit of concentration. He lifts her and twirls her neatly about onto the dance floor.

            • Scarlet O said,

              November 1, 2010 at 10:03 pm

              She grins, ever happy to dance, to put her body in motion to music. “I prefer your real legs. I cannot imagine these illusory ones can command the liveliness that your own already possess.”

              • November 1, 2010 at 10:12 pm

                Laughs keenly. “The chaps down at the Embassy charged us horrendously for the glamor, but the impermanence is a delightful feature when you put it that way. We’re much more proficient with our own affairs below the waist… It’s true” He spins her expertly with a signature wildness in his grin.

                • Scarlet O said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm

                  She laughs too, delighting in his skillful dancing. With mock admonition, she shakes a finger at him, “Ah, the devils – they ever seek to steal the best of a person. In some cases, it’s a soul. In your case, it’s your spirit.”

                  • November 1, 2010 at 11:20 pm

                    Dips her amid a tango and pauses long enough to whisper in her ear”Who’s to say they’re not after our soul as well? We’ve not parted with it yet, you know!”

                    • Scarlet O said,

                      November 1, 2010 at 11:30 pm

                      She closes her eyes into the dip, the elegant sweep of her neck allowing her head to fall back into the liquid motion. Her lips smirk at his whisper, and when he pulls her back up into his arms, she whispers back, “My dear Commodore – I have tasted your soul. I know it still resides there…delicious as ever. But with you…soul sound so liturgical. Spirit fits you more…”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      November 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

      [I’m responding for both of us — as most you know know. in real life Gabriel’s having a terrible time physically.]

      He slips a ring upon her finger; tears in her eyes, they embrace, holding each other for several moments while the approbation washes over them. Until finally, with a wave and several spoken thank you’s, they make their way to the dance floor and the orchestra takes up a very romantic tune in their honour.

      • November 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm

        He holds Merri close after gazing at their friends, the joy on his face true but tinged with a bittersweet longing for those who could not join them, and then his eyes are only for her as they begin to dance. His fingers twine in the long ringlets of her hair that brush against his hand as they turn. The words he murmurs to her are lost in the music and the stone on her ring catches the light as she reaches up to rest her hand on his cheek before he leans in to kiss her.

      • cl0ckw0rks said,

        November 1, 2010 at 9:28 pm

        Merri’s shining brilliantly, as anyone with eyes can see. Her eyes, at the moment, are all for Gabriel however, and continue to be so for as long as they’re dancing. And when it’s over, they walk together over to where Sevashke has stood to watch them, the three of them embracing for a long, tender moment. They’re speaking, but keeping what is said among the three of them until finally Merri laughs and reaches up to pull Sevashke’s head down by his whiskers, kissing his cheek fondly.

        Her eyes are suspiciously bright as they turn back to their guests.

    • L.S. Cassius said,

      November 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm

      Has no words for this, all they can do is watch. They feel as if they must have a drink at hand. For a moment their hand goes to the rings on their finger–remembering years ago how their own came about. What would be said of this outfit if Cassius’ was still alive? Of course it would not be in ‘The ‘Neath’, but ‘oh, A***** would look lovely in this cap!’ The thought is enough to bring a smile to their eyes.. But then they think of someone else…wasn’t he who Gabriel was in love with? They had sensed every time he was mentioned the same adoration that Cassius’ themself feels when speaking of their love. Of course they are happy for two such wonderful people to be happy, but they wait to see if anything is said. Until they know, they have entered into observant detective mode.

  16. November 1, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    She steps into the conservatory, gait only slightly unsteady, and looks around blearily. She’s wearing a ragged grey dress, her pale, grey-streaked hair looks like it was put up once but now straggles down around her shoulders, unkempt, as if she’d been in a fight, or in bed. Her skin is streaked with soot in several places; and for the first time ever, Angel Israfil appears in public without the muffler tugged close about her throat.

    The reason is clear, for the skin of her neck is mottled and discolored in a narrow band placed just around where her vocal chords would be. Like Theodore duHart, she also wears a hangman’s noose loosely around her neck, though she has no pretensions for symbolism. For her, this is as literal a statement of her personal history as it gets.

    With an absent-minded shrug, she lists over to where the liquor is and takes a glass from one of the servants, draining it completely.

    • November 1, 2010 at 10:03 pm

      The dark eyes behind a pallid mask watch Narcissus and Scarlet for a moment for reasons obscure, and then sweep to the unsteady approach of the hanged woman within. The threadbare yellow of the figure’s voluminous robes whispers across the floor as the phantom he claims to be masqued as, approaching her ragged form.

      “Ah, Angel Israfil, I was hoping that you would make it, my dear…” One bloodstained glove lifts as if to demonstrate her existence to the world, “You’re looking lovely as ever. I fear that there’s no vodka… ah, perhaps there is. I haven’t looked too closely.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm

      Spots her and emerges beside her to refill his wine glass with some fresh ’82. “Costumes be d-mned eh, Israfil? Where have you been hiding your deadly self all night then?”

      • November 1, 2010 at 10:23 pm

        “This is costume,” she tells him flatly, drinking deeply from the glass he’d poured. “I said I would come as what’s left after a hanging.”

        Glances down at herself. “This is it, best I can remember.”

    • Scarlet O said,

      November 1, 2010 at 11:04 pm

      Scarlet blinks, taking in the gruesome reality of the ‘costume’, and sips her wine. “Good evening Israfil. It is good to see you could make it.”

      • November 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm

        Those eyes close in on Scarlet for a moment, widening just a moment before relaxing back into mildly-drunken euphoria. “Da, though not as good as you. Whoring must pay better in the Neath than it does on surface. Dress suits you!” Toasts her with a half-full glass.

        • Scarlet O said,

          November 1, 2010 at 11:24 pm

          She grins at Israfil in spite of herself, “I wasn’t a whore on the surface – else I might have beenmore prosperous. Thank you for the compliment.” For a moment, Scarlet wonders at the beauty hidden in this brash woman, and what cut it short.

    • November 1, 2010 at 11:20 pm

      “My word,” Theodore mutters to himself. Someone else did his costume — and did twice as well with it, too! His eyes narrow as he studies her throat, but he doesn’t yet approach.

  17. November 1, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    She stares at him blearily for a moment, but something — for someone as observant as Lamont surely — tells him she’s not quite as drunk as she’s acting. She’s peering into his bandages, but clearly unable to discern who he is, or even….

    “How do you manage to drink i that?” The question is characteristically blunt. “If you have enough wine, you don’t miss vodka so much.”

    • November 1, 2010 at 10:21 pm

      “I have my ways…” The pale silken mask shifts beneath the breath and words of the saffron-draped figure, “…I suspect the unmasking will be soon at any rate.”

      • November 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm

        Her raspy voice sounds ghastly when she laughs. “What is that you’re wearing, anyway? Looks like a Tomb Colonist who got caught in mustard pot.”

        • November 1, 2010 at 10:31 pm

          Tries to conceal his laughter at their conversation but is forced to double over a bit at her last comment.

          • November 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm

            “Nice for you to laugh,” she says, turning back to the Commodore and swaying just a little too much. “You’re the one who looks like Hell, tonight.” Her eyes drift downwards in overt appreciation. “Hell never looked so good, have to say.”

            • November 1, 2010 at 11:48 pm

              He straightens still chuckling but with an intrigued look joining the mirth. “oh indeed! Now the angel of death herself pays compliments to our appearance? How delightful!” Nabs his own fresh wine-glass from a servant and moves deftly in to clink his own glass with hers (it being a moving target of sorts) – “To the fires of Hell.. and to cold nights and company to enjoy them by!”

        • November 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm

          A soft laugh against the mask, hooded head shaking slowly from side to side. “A figure from a play… the Phantom of Truth. Admittedly….” He sweeps his arms to either side, glancing down over his tattered garment, “…most of this is from tomb colonists.”

          • November 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm

            “Truth, huh?” Angel captures another glass of wine from a passing servant with more deftness than her apparent inebriation might allow, and hands it to the bandaged man. “Here. Is truth in wine, they tell me. Though they always use some stupid language I can’t speak to do it.”

        • L.S. Cassius said,

          November 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm

          Head still swimming from dancing with Narciso, they can’t help but laugh at the ‘mustard pot’ comment. “Yes!~” and they grin at Israfil, though there is a bit of sadness there. Their keen-eyes seeing that the marks are not make-up. “I am very glad you could attend. I have something for you, but it is in my coat pocket. An apology of sorts for sending a spider, in exchange for a cat.” Looks around for where they left their coat & walking-stick. “And no, it is not an ill-spirited or horrid surprise!”

          • November 1, 2010 at 10:53 pm

            “Yeah. Okay.” Angel’s agreeable nature is somewhat suspect, but she does add, “Nice dress” at the end, as if to make up for anything rude she might ever have said.

            • L.S. Cassius said,

              November 1, 2010 at 11:05 pm

              “I prefer the cap over the dress.” Goes over to get it, the nerves of being in a dress in public mostly gone, though the way it fits, it is hard to forget they are actually wearing one.

              They return offering a small bottle, just big enough to fit the palm of their hand. Their tone is more serious than a moment ago. “Peach brandy. The best rival to F.F. Gebrandt’s Tincture of Vigour, and without the strange dreams that that elixir brings. I brought a shipment in the other night, and offered to purchase several bottles as I often use it myself.” They pause. “Most often recently right after I accept mysterious, wriggling parcels.”

              • November 1, 2010 at 11:09 pm

                “Peach brandy?”

                Clearly the reference to alcohol is in its favor. Her eyes dart up to Cassius’ questioningly. “You don’t have to do that, you know. Was only scratches, not so big a deal. Can barely notice them.”

                • L.S. Cassius said,

                  November 1, 2010 at 11:20 pm

                  “In case it is needed then. Though the taste might be more lighter than you are used to!” They are in a very good mood. Possibly the best they have been in for months. They smile and leave the bottle with her, and go to get a drink with the fake hanged man.

  18. L.S. Cassius said,

    November 2, 2010 at 12:05 am

    [well, I am heading off to sleeps, probably be back tomorrow of course :) Thank-you all for being so lovely, and what-not! I am not the best at this, but I love not feeling judged at it like I did the times I tried D&D! Sweet dreams when you ‘tap-out’ you lovelies :D]


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