A Note of Thanks and Congratulations!

If you attended the Masque of All Souls last night and participated in any way, I want to congratulate you for helping to make the event such a smashing success and so thoroughly delightful for everyone involved.

I also want to thank you, of course. These things are difficult to orchestrate even when one has thought them through completely, and I had not. There’s always something, isn’t there?

[This time it was me deciding OOC to blip music during the busiest early hours without having thought ahead to what should be played, silly me. Fortunately, Merri thought to employ an orchestra…]

In any case, yes: Thank you all, you’re wonderful, exciting people to know and if you think of it sometime in the next few days, take a moment to thank and congratulate the others who attended and made it so highly enjoyable. Smashingly clever lot, we are!

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!

“… a packet o’ paper, five bottles of ink, a box of small tacks and a half-dozen fresh nibs. Here ye’ are, Miss Fawkes….”

Merri smiles her thanks, and if they are a bit distracted, she cannot truly help it. She would not have left her sitting room at all had it not been Esther’s day off, but she’d run out of nearly everything she needed to continue her work on the Parabola Equation and there was no one else to run the errand.

That’s when she runs into the first of her neighbors, a Mrs. Caravola, who could not wait to ask her about the latest rumors regarding Mr. Paulsen. And if Merri thought she was distracted before she’d left the stationer’s shoppe, what she hears afterward — from Mrs. Caravola, from Mrs. Bennet, from Mr. and Mrs. Carlisle, and a Miss Dewberry, and young Mr. Remington — sets her ears buzzing.

Vaguely horrified — mostly because the rumormongers seemed to think she ought to be horrified and it didn’t take much probing to discover why they assumed she should be horrified — she alters her course and heads toward the bookshop where Henrik and Theodor share rooms.

It perhaps is not the wisest course she could choose, given she’s now as mired in scandal as Henrik, if not moreso, but she’s only two blocks along the way when she spots his familiar figure walking toward her on the street.

[okay, if this doesn’t suit, I shall rewrite however you think best. Cue Henrik!]

Open Salon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insomnia Is Not My Friend

A restless night, sleep was far to seek. Too many unresolved mysteries to ponder, too many questions (asked and unasked!), too much left undone. I haunt the halls of my own home like a wraith, unable to settle in any one place for long.

I checked on Harry. He was curled up in a little ball on the floor beside his bed but seemed content enough to be there. Doubtless he could not be accustomed to sleeping in a bed! He too seemed restless, but I did not wake him. I dread to think that even children must share the same nightmares we do.

I alleviated the danger of boredom by flirting with a small crowd of assuredly drunken admirers below my balcony sometime later. It’s quite flattering, the attention is, I mean. I almost donned my pirate hat to entertain them, but I feared that might be going a bit far.

When the coffee was finally brewed I settled in to make some notes on a new incarnation of my aetheric transcommunicator. Practical use in the field is ever so much more preferable than toying with something in a lab, no matter how sophisticated the lab; while on expedition I had had several thoughts on how to simultaneously widen its field of functionality as well as deepening the capabilities it already possesses. Now I’m much anticipating access to an aethertronic laboratory so I can build the first prototype. Alas, that will have to wait for some weeks yet.

I’ve heard or seen nothing new on Randall Ross, the mysterious fellow who’s been asking after me in the Flit. I assume it’s only in the Flit, but Henrik has said he’ll check into it when he has time and I’m sure he’ll let me know. In any event I don’t intend to let it impede my normal activities in any way. If Mr. Ross thinks to follow me, he’s going to wear out his boots trailing me from one end of Fallen London to the other and back again, all in the course of a single day.

I have heard nothing else about the iron box. I still cannot get past any of the locks.

I have come to the tentative conclusion that while tea is lovely for socialising, coffee is best for working. It’s a conclusion which requires more testing to verify, of course.

The Mornings After

The first salon was a qualified success, I do believe. Considering its spontaneous occurrence and that I was more than a little manic to be back in the Neath, it was well attended and quite diverting. I credit much of this to the guests, and the “Shroomgria,” (ETA: this term was coined by the linguistically adroit Dr. Mason) which was a hit. By the time I closed my doors behind the last of the guests I was exhausted and slept dreamlessly, for the first time since shortly after I arrived here months ago.

Yesterday, inspired by the artistic landscaping I’d done for the Duchess, I planted a tiny mushroom garden on my balcony. Strictly ornamental, of course, nothing medicinal or mind-altering at all (well, I think not, anyway). It’s simply a way to have something lovely to enjoy close at hand, reminiscent of the lovely wildflowers I enjoyed during my recent expedition to the surface.

In other news, I took dear Theodor’s instructions to heart about that silly counterfeit head of St. John the Baptist and placed it by my bed as I slept. I awoke with the knowledge of yet one more thing I probably did not wish to know as well as that ravenous hunger that one only gets from nightmares in this place. The last two times I have come away with this voracious appetite I’ve sought the remedy right away. This time I believe I shall live with it awhile and see where it goes. If any of my, erm, delicious friends would care to share their experiences with me, I would appreciate it greatly.

In the meantime my adventures in learning about the Correspondence Stones continue. After the blood running from my eyes ruined three good blouses, I decided to seek out some expert help. The first antiquarian who thought to decipher them exploded in flames right before my eyes — whyever he thought sleeping with them on his chest qualified as a “good idea” I cannot begin to say — but I have found another who also seems quite enthusiastic about the process. It is an intellectually fatiguing study, one that is assisted by the smooth, ordered, crystalline beauty of a good chess game and the liberal application of laudanum before bed. I hope to have some kind of breakthrough with the Stones before my “day” here is done.

Many thanks to all of you who’ve indulged my most recent chess-playing spree. The insights I’ve obtained have been well-employed, I assure you!