Subject: The grin under the mask turned to a frown.
Posted on: 2017-07-20 13:48:41 UTC
"Is something the matter?" He leaned back a little, resting on his cane. "I hope I haven't offended you, madame."
Subject: The grin under the mask turned to a frown.
Posted on: 2017-07-20 13:48:41 UTC
"Is something the matter?" He leaned back a little, resting on his cane. "I hope I haven't offended you, madame."
It is now the Twentieth of July in the year 2017. You, like several other people, received an invitation two days ago, written in elegant, loopy handwriting:
I am hosting a masquerade this twentieth of July in celebration of my birthday. It would be simply wonderful if you attended! Be sure to dress up for the occasion, should you come; the preferred (but not the only acceptable) colors are black, white, and red - but then, you already knew that. After all, when do I ever change?
Having decided to accept your friend’s invitation, you enter the grand manor you were given directions to all those months ago when invited to the Christmas party (a much less formal affair, but memorable all the same) - you know by now that this is not Calliope’s home, per se, but that she is entitled to it all the same. Perhaps it belongs to a relative?
Upon entry to the house, you note the interesting number of other guests already present, and you think you recognize several friends in the crowd, but knowing Calliope she isn’t out mingling just yet.
What do you do?
((Hello, all! Welcome to the Boarder Masquerade! This is a roleplay for, well, a masquerade. From the intro, you may have guessed that it's because it's my birthday. (I hope it isn't too pretentious of me to hold a party, but I did want to do this. I think it will be interesting!) The setting is an AU where we all have access to one another and also to classy clothing. Do keep in mind that this is a masquerade - you've come in a mask, and your identity is thus concealed. Come up with a name or title that isn't your regular Board name and have fun trying to guess who you're talking to!
Also, because I am a very weak woman, there will be Plot Shenanigans. If you did not receive something special from me, don't worry - I haven't forgotten you. Everyone who participates has a part to play; some of you just needed a little... advance warning.
The Hostess had forgotten how much she hated that clown. He had just opened her Doom trap - without even looking at the riddle, mind - and then displaced it. Right where she was. Good thing she had poison immunity of her own.
Focusing, the Hostess painstakingly finished reforming her body an stepped through the Void door on the left staircase.
((Boom! I'm back, darlings!))
He spun around quickly, flames dancing around the edge of his cane, ready to lash out...
Then he saw who it was. "Oh, it's you. Gotta say, you look rather good for a corpse."
"Oh, you do know how to make a girl blush. But if you look over there--" she gestured to where her decaying corpse still lay. "--you'll see that I'm not a corpse at all."
"I'm still trying to figure that out, actually. Clone? Illusion? Long lost evil twin who fell victim to a tragic curse that gave her a strange attraction to spears? Nah, that's too logical." He crossed his arms, glancing back at the clown for emphasis. "Still sad we didn't get candy."
"Does this help?" she teased.
Getting a little more serious, the Hostess said, "The body is in fact mine. That particular one is a little on the older side - hence the decay."
"Well, if you're gonna have a pinata, might as well have candy." He was curious, though, about how she managed to do a body swap like that. "I have to admit, I was not expecting to see you again this soon. Still, better than the crazy clown. I was assuming you wanted us to solve the mystery of your death, but since you're still alive...You have some other kind of fun planned for us? An invasion of imps prototyped with cheese, perhaps?"
"Resurrection would have taken longer if not for that--" she said something in a grating language that was obviously highly uncomplimentary. "--deciding to crash another party of mine. I knew he was coming, but I forgot how irritating he can be."
She blinked. "By the way, have my secret codes been getting through alright?"
"Were they supposed to be burnt into our eyelids?" He glanced at the clown again. "As long as someone's having fun..."
"So it did work! Yay."
She looked over the Wolf's shoulder at Spanky and glowered. "Remind me why he pulled out a piano? And turned my balcony into a mirror?"
Wolf shook his head. "I'm not gonna go there. Not again."
"Again?" she echoed. "Now I'm curious about the first time."
"I am nowhere near drunk enough to tell that story. You'll just have to live with the suspense."
She tilted her head towards the Wolf. "But I'll let it stand. Everyone needs a few secrets - they make mysteries more exciting."
"Like the mystery of where you got these cards." He reached into his hammerspace and pulled out the witch card. "I am intereted/worried about using these. Should be fun."
"I'm glad you're interested, Wolf. But if you could give the Ghast their Rogue card back, that would be appreciated."
"He gave it to me, though..." After a moment, he relented. "Alright, I'll pass it back to him once he heads over here."
"Now, then - what have I missed in my absence?"
He tapped the cane on the floor. "Well, you got killed, we formed a team for exploring, opened a door, and murder fog appeared. We broke it and closed the door again, then your mesages started showing up. And finally the clown showed up." He crossed his arms. "Still not sure I get what his deal is."
"As close as I've been able to piece together from the last time he came in, though, he just wants to have fun." She rolled her eyes. "He thinks that messing with me and my guests is fun. I should never have giv--"
The Hostess froze. Her eyes widened. If she hadn't been trying to hide her pause, she would have clamped a hand over her mouth. "--given him the time of day when he first popped up."
"Okay, so you clearly made some terrible mistake that's going to have far-reaching negative consequences for all of us. You might as well tell us now so we can work together to fix the problem, rather than keeping it secret as long as possible in such manner that makes things worse and harder to fix later, only to reveal the actual problem at the last possible dramatic moment. Agreed?"
Completely ignoring Time, she strode forward and up the stairs, moving purposefully towards Spanky. When she reached him, she spoke in a cold, hard tone - "Why have you broken my party, Clown?" Her body language spoke volumes of hostility; the air around her seemed to crackle faintly.
The Hostess was not happy.
"Why Callie, dear!" it exclaims, returning to its cheery persona. "I was wondering where you'd gotten to! Can't go abandoning your own party, naughty." It rolls off of the piano to stand in front of the Hostess, and lightly swats at her masked nose. "As for why I'm here, well, your parties are always so lovely, I couldn't stay away! Besides, what party isn't better with a clown, especially one with a funhouse as fun as mine!"
"All of them, Dicebag! And don't call me Callie, this is a masquerade. I have a mask on. My identity is concealed. You can't prove I am who you say I am."
The Hostess then promptly realized what Spanky was doing. The crackling of the air intensified and spread outwards a little, and her eyes went... strange. If the Hostess had been unhappy before, she was clearly angry now.
amusement. They kept a safe distance from the proceedings, but still, it was rather funny to see their Hostess so worked up.
"Oh, you are such a joy to bother, Callie dear!" it said, continuing to laugh. "Besides, the prizes I give would make all this so much more interesting, wouldn't you say? After all, there's nothing boring about the power to reshape reality!" It then looked at the Ghast, strode over, and claimed a mouthful of cake as its own. Which it then promptly ate, not bothering to remove its moving mask.
The Hostess reaches into her own chest and drew out a pink-tinged halberd, which she proceeds to grip in a manner that indicates many hours of practice. The ground around her for several feet becomes slightly sludge-like, though she does not sink - anyone else standing there sinks perhaps an inch or two, and has a bit of trouble trying to pick their feet up.
Those able to see her eyes might notice that said eyes are no longer green; instead, they seem to be swirling with pink, black, bright blue, and a significantly too-dark green. None of the colors are actually mixing, either. How peculiar.
((Oh, and yes, the colors are actually moving. Have fun thinking about how that looks.))
Attempting to walk a few more times with no success, it pulls a miniaturized cane out of its pocket, which is shaken to full size. The clown plants the end of the cane into the sludge, attempting to dislodge itself, to no avail. "Well, Callie, it seems you've got me in quite a jam, as it were." Its masked expression briefly morphs into one of thought, before returning to a mischievous grin. "But you should really know better than to think that this would hold a clown of my caliber for very long. Ta for now!" Upon concluding, it once more reaches into its pocket and pulls out a miniaturized mirror. With the flick of a wrist, it assumes its full size, which is a rather impressive three-by-three foot square. The creature tosses the mirror into the air and assumes a diver's pose, with the mirror landing face down on top of it with a faint splat! as it strikes the slime, while Spanky disappears into it. Barely a moment later, the door to the Funhouse swings shut of its own accord and shatters into thousands of tiny fragments which are absorbed into the mirrored balcony, the wooden door revealed unchanged in its place.
"Uh... so... what the hell was that all about?" they asked, slowly flapping down from the safe vantage point they had taken. "Cal, um... your eyes were, for lack of a better description, swirly. Would you mind explaining?"
"The Aspect symbols tried to appear in her eyes, but because she was channeling more than one, I'm guessing they started fighting over which ones got which parts."
She tightened it so much, in fact, that the halberd snapped, becoming a sort of shiny pink stuff that reabsorbed back into her body. Stepping forward, unhindered by the sticky goo, the Hostess picked up Spanky's escape mirror, stepped out of the ring of sludge, placed it face-up on the balcony, and proceeded to stomp on it in her heels until it was very well shattered. After that, she raised her hands and spoke in that sibilant language - a swirly white thing appeared and the shards also lifted. They then coalesced and exploded outwards, peppering everyone on the balcony (Hostess included) with tiny bits of glass. Thankfully, all of them missed people's eyes.
After she was done obliterating that mirror, she turned back to the circle of sludge, waved her right hand, and - oh, look, the sludge is gone, leaving a plain balcony in its wake, save for the boots partially sunk into the flooring where Spanky had been forced to abandon them. No symbol this time, just more strange eye stuff.
Then, without answering Sapphire's questions, she stalked over to the door Spanky had appropriated and began to mess with it, muttering all the while.
A barrier of fire appeared, trying to melt as much of the glass as possible. Hot was infinitely preferable to sharp.. He extended it a far as he could to try and cover everyone else. Then he lowered his staff and sighed. "That was...surreal. Almost like the painting incident." Then he casually converted the barrier into a fireball, and blasted the remains of the boots.
It also sticks to things and can potentially light them on fire.
What did the Ghast ever do to you, Wolf? Their nice outfit is burning. And it's all your fault. You monster, they're going to be roasted alive, with all the glass that hit them!
The Musician is also on fire. Except it's her hair instead of her clothes. Geez, this is not a good night for this group, is it?
Wolf flash stepped over to the punch. He grabbed the whole bowl, and flash stepped back, dumping it over everyone. "Sorry sorry sorry...was just trying to blunt the sharp edges." He was trying very hard to ignore the fact that he'd been pelted just as much, and that his mask was amplifying every bit of the sensation. "Also...oww."
The Musician clapped a hand to her cheek where a burning chip of glass had torn a bloody gouge. Staring at the Wolf she raised her hand as though she was going to say something, but only blinked and blinked again before turning it into a helpless shrug.
She was, to put it politely, a mess. She had not dressed with the expectation of encountering fire, molten glass, or punch - her hair was still smoking slightly, her dress was saturated with fruit-smelling punch, and glass had burned a good dozen holes through it. Adding insult to injury, the punch had been strawberry. The Musician was allergic to strawberry.
"Just." She said. "Stop? Please? This was supposed to be a party..."
"I can regrow hair or heal injuries, if anyone's interested," they offered, "though it's my first time using magic, so... I'm just not sure how good I'll be at it." They had miraculously escaped unscathed from the rain of molten glass, and was quite grateful for that fact. It did not look pleasant.
She also failed to respond to her own fiery issue. (That being her mask.) Finally deeming the door at least acceptable, she passed through it without issue.
Said door was no longer dark; it was made of some light wood or another. You wouldn't be able to tell which one without coming closer.
There was a gust of wind as they circled the room repeatedly, moving quickly enough that they managed to dodge the punch. Thankfully, both the wind and the material managed to put their dress out very quickly, and they stopped approximately where they had been, glaring at the Wolf. When they heard what he said, they sighed, deflating. "It's alright. I'm okay, at least. You, Musician?"
She made a low growling noise as she stared at her Board. Where was her helper? Granted, he would be an awfully powerful variable, but at least that would be something!
Realizing her shoulderblades had gotten pushed out, the Hostess straightened and tried to calm down. She most certainly didn't need more Streets, thank you very much.
At the thought, she allowed herself to spend a few minutes arguing with herself about which Street she would even get. Anger? Impatience? Something from the L/O/L glitchpile? Restlessness?
...probably that last one.
Agh! She was getting distracted again! Stupid dead apathy, making her not care about staying focused... how long was resurrection going to take, anyways?!
On this Board were several different types of pieces - chess, checkers, Monopoly tokens, D&D figurines… each piece represented a person or force within her Party.
With a soft hum, she reached into a box of figurines and pulled out what looked like a miniature clown. “You’ll do,” she murmured as she placed him at the edge of the Board. After a moment, she picked him back up and moved him closer to the center - Spanky would be rather powerful, after all.
Just as soon as he joined in.
After consideration, she moved a few other pieces around - the White Queen, the Black Knight, the Iron, a wooden bell… it was hard to tell whether this affected anything or was just her way of keeping track.
Once she was done moving the pieces around, the Hostess took out a deck of cards and looked them over. “Not bad,” she muttered grudgingly. “I do have to give you some credit.”
Finally, she put the cards down and began to pace. Being ‘dead’ was boring. She wanted to be out there meddling, not observing! Okay, sure, she was still meddling. But she wasn’t out there, dropping more clues, talking to her guests… just sitting in her void, keeping her Board up to date and looking at her cards.
Being passive was so dull.
They can, however, determine that there is not nearly enough stuff on it for the dead Hostess to have put up much of a struggle. So there's another point in the "she was already dead" category.
Sapphire took The Musician's hand to land smoothly and blushed at the compliment. "I... I... Thank you, Miss Musician. Your costume is lovely as well; I mean it." They looked at her bashfully. "You really don't think I was being cowardly?"
Suddenly, a feeling of... wrongness trickled down Sapphire's neck. A feeling of being disturbed. Watched. A cold feeling, like a tiny sliver of ice lodged in their spine.
They turned to The Musician with eyes wide behind their mask. "Did you feel that? That horrible... foreboding? I... I could've sworn I felt a pair of eyes on me. Not friendly ones."
"Someone's rearranging the parts in the other room, or worse," the Musician said. "I don't like what that could mean..."
"And, really," she continued. "If you can't magically wave a problem away, keeping yourself from being a victim of it is a good move. That could have been a lot worse, if more of us had been caught by it."
"Thanks." Sapphire smiled at The Musician, "I guess that's a good way of looking at it." They looked up at the banister where the Ghast was. "I'll head up there and join the Ghast now, if you don't mind. Seems like a good idea." They walked up the stairs and joined the Garnet Ghast at the railing.
The Musician followed, still not entirely over the feeling of being watched. I mean, it stood to reason that if Calliope wasn't dead that she was somewhere, and if she was somewhere, she'd probably be keeping an eye on the party...
"It looks like whatever corpse she used was already dead," they said. "Other than that, though, I can't find anything else. I think we really will have to go exploring."
"Do you guys reckon there's another door we could check out on the right-hand staircase?"
"We can at least check it out." They waved to everyone else to follow, then started towards the second staircase.
It has a C worked into its back. Do you pick it up?
They straighten and look at the White Wolf. "Hey, would you mind grabbing this one?" they call.
He shrugged and walked over, scooping up the card.
Flipping it over, though, you see it has text spelling out Rogue.
He crossed his arms. "Rogue and Witch. Too many classes, not enough aspects. Oops."
They started walking towards the other balcony. "If necessary, we can see what we can do with them, but I'd rather keep them in reserve so that we don't start cursing having a Witch of Doom instead of a Rogue of Doom at some important moment."
He shrugged and tossed the card into his hammerspace. "So, Should we try another door? I'll knock this time."
They paused. "Okay, so, maybe not a good idea, but the best idea we have, is what I mean."
"My knocking is better than dealing with what happened last time again." He blinked. "Wait. Wait. Wait." He closed his eyes. "Am I the only one seeing words of blue fire when my eyes are closed?"
Words wrote themselves across their eyelids, blue fire forming in an elegant cursive script. "You're not the only one," they said, before pulling out the pen they had used earlier and a notepad from a pocket. They wrote down the words and bit their lip. "A code again. Let me just..." They pulled out their cell phone and entered the first code, which didn't take that long to translate. "Madame Who? Oh, no, wait... Could it be?" they murmured to themself. They did a little more, then nodded. "Right, that makes sense." They pulled up something else, typed again. "What? What did- Wait, did she...?" They opened a menu, scrolled down, selected something. "Right, okay- Crumb. This is not good." They looked up at everyone else and sighed. "Well, I may or may not have accidentally killed us all. I am so, so, so sorry."
He didn't like the thought of seeing a magic code inside his eyelids. He kept watch around the group while the Ghast and Wolf had their eyes closed.
...some of the more aware members may notice a door on the back wall. The door is green, but that's all you can make out at this distance.
He stares at it for a moment. He turns to look at the rest of the group. He looks back at the door.
"Well, submitted for your consideration, it's another freaking door, you guys. Do we dare mess with it?"
"If it means I get to knock this time, sure." He walked over to the door to knock. "Any objections?"
...you see another code. Of course.
Zvok wew sogj dlpriuy dlc Jfsvx Kjdgg Uysp?
He looked up at the ceiling. "Is this revenge for the seduction comment the other day? If so, I'm sorry." His apology made, he walked up to the door and stroked his chin under his mask. "Hm. If I'm right...I'm WW, the holder of the classes." He tried to open the door.
The door shudders and jolts. From its bottom, a green ooze begins to seep onto the balcony floor, before covering it in entirety. After a mere moment, the ooze is absorbed into the very being of the flooring, and takes on a reflective sheen. Within the mirror's depths, a figure begins striding to the surface before emerging into the material plane, still walking up the very wall itself for a full two meters, at which point it falls towards the ground. Before striking the surface, however, it arches its back, rolling into a reverse somersault, then propels itself into the air in a double flip, landing with its back to the group and arms raised above its head. Upon realizing it's facing away from the group, it turns and re-emphasizes its pose.
The clothes the figure wears are an odd sort. The left side is a dull bronze in tone, while the right is a vibrant purple, both richly patterned, and a linen shirt below. The pants feature the same purple as the coat, and the same patterning as well. Upon its face is a brightly patterned mask, twisted into a manic grin. Its build is thin and whip-like, with long and lanky limbs. Also long was its hair, gathered together in a high horsetail, with a darkened appearance.
"I see that somebody wants to get into Spanky's Funhouse!" the being exclaims, seeming almost to flow towards the group, the mask moving as though it were the thing's own face. "You've got the wrong door, though! It's over here, you see." It sidles over to the door on the rightmost wall and opens it, spilling out a cloud of noxious fumes. "Oops!" the creature yelps, quickly shutting the door. "Wrong door!" It waves its hands towards the door, and the surface takes on a mirror sheen. The door is reopened, revealing a brightly lit room with vibrant coloring, and a cheery, jaunting tune with no readily discernible source. "Ah! Here it is!" It gestures for the group to enter, contorting its entire form into the motion. "Come now, and let's have some fun!"
((And so enters Spanky the Clown, at long last! For the actual appearance of the clothes, he's wearing Sheogorath's outfit from Skyrim, and for the mask, he's wearing this lovely little piece: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/mardi-gras-mask-beads-1699285.jpg. As for the music being played in the Funhouse, it's this nice little tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axUhLTD19xo. Hope you guys have some fun with him. [insert sinister chuckle here]))
"This is not good," they muttered, trying to pull everyone else away from the door and the... Clown... thingy... person. "Let's not go in there. It seems like a very, very bad idea." They were twitchy, seeming ready to bolt away from anything that might be thrown at them, sleeves rustling in a pattern that might be familiar to someone who had been observing them earlier.
"I'm not so intent on exploring the house that I need to deal with this." He raised his cane, readying his magic in case something happened. "I'm very tempted to follow the traditional solution. If you say I should, I definitely will." He started backing towards the stairs.
"Picking fights at a party?" The Musician asked. "Doesn't sound like the best of ideas."
"Such a pity." The clown said, then reached into its back pocket and pulled out a miniature grand piano. With a flick of the wrist, the instrument assumed a more regular size and thudded to the balcony floor, at which point the creature vaulted to lie upon it in a pose that was obviously meant to be seductive, but most certainly wasn't. "Ah, well. Probably for the best. I suppose you wouldn't be able to make it through, anyways. After all, if my dear thief of a friend couldn't, how would you be able to?" The creature moved to examine its fingernails, a grotesque expression of exaggerated disappointment on its masked visage. "It truly is a shame, though. After all, there are such lovely prizes for anyone who can make their way through."
The Musician walked over to the piano, and reached out to play a sad tune for Spanky.
"I am curious," she said, "but you know what happens to curious cats."
"Perhaps we should get moving while we still can. There has to be another doorway somewhere. Or we could brave the Clown's lair while he's distracted. I can always incinerate him if he tries anything." Wolf spoke a little too calmly about that. Then again, he didn't like clowns at all.
"Do you float? Please tell me you don't float . . ."
"Alas! The curious cat indeed met misfortune, though how was she to know the shark was hungry?" The clown exclaimed, hamming for all it was worth. "And woe is Spanky that he cannot float! Climb walls, yes; walk within the mirrors, yes; bend reality itself to his will, yes! But floating yet eludes him!" A single tear begins to form in the eye of its mask. "Oh, if only Spanky could award brave party goers with fabulous prizes! That would make him truly happy, yes! But alas! He cannot, unless they can make it through his funhouse. But they do not, and so Spanky must consign himself to be a sad clown, with a sad piano, and a sad funhouse, and a sad funhouse is no fun at all!" As if to confirm that the funhouse itself was sad, the jaunting tune began to warp and slow until it jangled discordantly, and the brightly painted walls began to gray.
Just as Rod reached the top of the banister with the rest of his group, he stopped as a twisting feeling of foreboding shot up and down his spine. He whipped around and glanced over every corner of the room he could see, checking for anything that seemed . . . changed. The chill settled around his heart.
Something was wrong. Something dangerous. Room for one more, honey. Rod shook the thought away. That was just some line he remembered from an old TV show . . . wasn't it?
"There's always room on the gallows for more to swing..."
It's right next to his ear, he can feel someone there - no, no, that isn't right. There's nobody.
Nobody at all.
"Ahaha." Ow. Okay, trying to go corporeal is still a bad idea. Sufferer on a two-wheel device that hurt.
((Note: I am, in fact, not there by now.))
This time, instead of the lights coming back on like the flick of a switch, a fog dissipates from around the fixtures. Once things become visible again - which was about half of the normal light level - you can make out the figure of a body, a female. When the light returns to normal, well…
That… that cannot possibly be right. She was just doing a circuit of the room, wasn’t she?
Wait, no. She was dragging the Cryptographer to the Garnet Ghast.
Or was she laughing at Sapphire?
No, she was messing with Mister Turkey.
No, wait, it was Yatagarasu.
Oh gosh. Where was she? She couldn’t have been in five places at once. It just wouldn’t have been possible.
But you look around and you don’t see her anywhere save for over the railing of a balcony, not only hung but impaled on a spear of some kind. The lights couldn't have been obscured for that long... and you heard nothing.
So what happened?
He tried to learn what he could about the situation without butting into any important conversations; after all, it was shaping up to look like a whodunit, and he didn't want to interrupt anyone's concentration.
"Codes, Homestuck references, space warping... Guess she really outdid herself this time," he muttered. Seriously, who sets up their own death on their birthday?
He hadn't noticed anything untoward during the party, and hadn't noticed Cal trying to talk to him. On the other hand, he hadn't been paying much attention. Certainly much less than he should have been, considering the decaying body on the floor. At least people weren't going off in pairs to find the murderer.
She also snickered at the idea that people weren't pairing up. They were so pairing up and she would be disappointed otherwise.
Besiiiiides, it's not like this was murder or anything. Just a little impalement. And a hanging.
He had only just learned of how bizarre Cal's parties could get in a recent conversation, and he certainly wasn't expecting things to go this way so quickly. He had watched the body get moved to the floor, and start its rapid decay, and simply didn't know how to react.
Finally, he turned to look at the balcony she had been hanging near. Rod hadn't noticed any party-goers up there before the lights went out, but that doesn't mean it had been empty. The group he had been chatting with had, unfortunately, moved on without him while he had stood processing the apparent murder.
Rod started looking for a way up to the balcony, alone.
She noticed Rod going alone, and hoped he in turn noticed the two staircases curving along the sides of the room.
Might as well do it like reading a book: Rod started up the left staircase.
Going alone was an awful, awful idea. Granted, he was in a room full of people - but that hadn't stopped her little death scene, now, had it?
But regardless, as Rod advanced up the staircase, he noticed a small door set into the wall. It had neither knob or keyhole.
He glanced up again towards the balcony. Really, though, what were the odds of finding a clue in plain sight up there? A door might reveal something previously hidden.
Except the door didn't appear openable, at least not from this side. Rod gave it a push right in the center.
It was a poke he would have recognised anywhere. He would have known it without sight, in a totally pitch black room, no way of visibly perceiving anything at all. It was Cal's poke, and it was very fitting that he would have known it in a pitch black room because the room turned pitch black the very second he turned to respond. And then she was gone. And then there was a commotion. And then Mister Turkey wandered over with a raised eyebrow and looked at the source of the commotion, which was Cal. Except not the poking Cal he was so familiar with - this was a completely new Cal, nicknamed (for lack of any better suggestions) 'dead and mysteriously decaying Cal.'
'Cal!' Mister Turkey howled, placing his hands to his face. He looked frenetically about himself. 'Is anybody else seeing this?! She's dead! Cal!' He pointed. 'She's bloody dead!! Is anybody else seeing this?!' He ran his hands down his face, not entirely sure of what to say next. 'I really liked her, you know! She was really nice! She got us a party and everything!' He blinked twice. 'Is anyone else seeing this?!'
She paused beside Mister Turkey, looking over at Cal's body. "I totally called this," she said. "I knew someone would end up dead; just knew it. I didn't expect it to be Cal herself, though." For the third time, she sipped her cider by reflex and began coughing immediately.
'I didn't know you got invited.' He blinked, looked closer at the body. The mood of the party seemed somewhat dampened. He hoped flies wouldn't start appearing. 'I like your dress.'
She tugged at the skirt, smoothed out a few wrinkles. "Thanks. Decided against a waistcoat, I see?"
He took his eyes off the body and looked sidelong at the disguised figure he had definitely not immediately recognised on sight as Alleb. 'What is even that distinctive about me?!' he openly wondered, distraught both about the death of a good friend and also at his terrible talent in disguise.
'Begh, nice to see you anyway!' he said, grinning. And the grin instantly fell apart when he remembered the corpse that was in front of them. 'Er, considering the circumstances.' His grin was in a state of flux, forming and reforming, appearing and unappearing. It was having a hard time. Murder did that.
She looked at Cal. "She'll come back pretty soon, I'm guessing. I mean, she wouldn't kill someone--particularly not herself--off for good, you know?" She glanced around the room, then lowered her voice to a near-whisper. "It's only an RP, after all. She's fine." She hoped she was allowed to get that meta in this particular RP. After all, Cal could kill her off in the short term, and that might ruin her dress.
Furthermore, it might endanger her secret.
'If you aren't killing them for good you could probably just tie them up and gag them,' he said, rubbing his chin. Admittedly, the image of a tied-up and gagged Cal, struggling awkwardly on the floor and bumping against table legs and knocking cups down, probably would have created a very different atmosphere than the one they were currently in. He glanced around. The other guests were moving about, peeking at things, pointing, investigating. There was industry, suddenly, in the room.
'What now, you think?' Mister Turkey said, scratching his nose. His personal suggestions would have been 'bury' or 'mourn' or some combination, but he was beginning to think that there was a bit more to this all than those would have helped with.
"I think two things. One, I'm getting that strange, crawly feeling you get when you've annoyed something way bigger than you, and I don't like it. Two, dang I need some coffee. Come on, let's find the refreshments table. Can't solve a mystery without fuel." With that, she turned and started back across the room, trying to watch in every direction at once.
...you notice a rather distinct lack of coffee.
Right. Cal hates the taste of coffee, and isn't exactly fond of the smell either.
There is also, however, a lack of tea. There's quite a bit of hot chocolate and chocolate milk, as well as ice cream (which could become ice cream soup, which is sort of beverage-ish), lemonade, and apple juice. Alright then.
You could try to find the kitchen, since the owner of the house might be a little more coffee-inclined.
"She knows I'm on a diet, doesn't she," she said, glaring at the ice cream and chocolate milk. "And she knows I'm gonna eat this anyway because goshdarn it, this is a party, I'm allowed to have ice cream." Angrily, she picked up a bowl and dug herself out several scoops, using unnecessary force. This done, she seized a spoon and plunged it into her bowl. "Delicious," she growled around the bite. "Rocky road with marshmallows, my favorite. Actually, no, Phish Food is my favorite, but whatever. Close enough. Feen, you want anything?" she demanded, turning to her friend.
He looked up, inserted the spoon into his mouth, and pulled it out perfectly clean. It looked like it had just been forged. It caught the light and glinted. He placed it to rest in the bowl.
'I like this part of our plan, Leeb,' he said, vacuuming down a segment of his cup of hot chocolate that left his lips boiling hot and steaming, not that he even seemed to notice. 'As much as I like the "mystery solving" part of it and getting murdered and pulled into alternate dimensions and stuff, I think we should try to extend this section of the plan as long as possible. For, erm.' The spoon entered his mouth with a globule of ice cream on it and exited empty and shining and disinfected. 'To give the mystery solving bit better integrity to stand on. For that reason.'
The Hostess - no, she wasn't the Hostess right now. This was too sweet for that.
Calliope had to smile at her guests when they were genuinely enjoying themselves, as Lady Red and Victory were so obviously doing. Granted, Lady Red was all huffy about her diet (those things always struck her as a little silly, anyways, but she'd never had reason to seriously consider one so she was probably A Little Biased and Lady Red might have been on one for a good reason and okay now she felt a little bad), but she was certainly enjoying the ice cream!
Calliope was a little sad nobody got the joke with the ice-cream cake though. Oh well, someone who did would show up sooner or later. Preferably sooner, but given his other concerns, it would be a while.
"I'm getting the strangest feeling," she muttered, "that someone else just said something, but I can't hear them. Argh, that's uncomfortable. You feeling that, Feen?" She chuckled. "Feening that, I guess? Er, what's your RP name, anyway?" She blinked. "Did I ask that already?"
'It's not meant to be the animal, it's when you get three strikes. In bowling.' He gestured sadly around his head. 'Bowling theme. Get it?' He did not want his horrible choice of name to be the topic of conversation and nearly immediately steered it away: 'Wait, so what's your mystery hidey-name, then?'
"I wanted something sort of cool and every other thing I thought of sounded off. I'd never heard of a turkey in relation to bowling before." She ate another bite of ice cream, still glancing around her. "Want to head back to Calliope's body? I want to take another look at it."
Lee- The Crimson Woman had just suggested they abandon ice cream to go look at a corpse. He looked at her like she had said something mad (because she had said something mad.)
'Iiiif you want to?' Mister Turkey said, draining the rest of his hot chocolate, considering grabbing more for the journey.
"Even if we wouldn't be technically dead, I want to avoid being murdered, and the best way to keep oneself safe is to have all the facts." She nodded to herself; yes, that had sounded nearly as good out loud as it had in her head. She finished off the rest of her ice cream and left the bowl and spoon in what appeared to be the proper receptacles. "C'mon, Fee--Mister Turkey, there's something strange happening. Let's go poke it with a stick." With that, she set off back towards Cal's corpse, filled with determination and several more Doctor Who references.
'And in order to do that we will stand next to the corpse and poke it with a stick,' Mister Turkey said, nodding. 'Instead of staying here where it's safe and eating ice cream.' Mister Turkey nodded.
'Let's go,' he said, continuing to nod. 'This is a great plan. I don't have a stick but I can probably use my finger.' And he nodded away as he walked, wistfully thinking back to the refreshment table.
"Don't worry, I have a stick," she said, patting her left glove. "Knew that'd come in handy. Hey, I don't supposed you've happened to read everyone else's--ehrm, ahem, I mean, watched what everyone else has been doing? Because I'll freely admit, I have no idea what's been happening." They were nearly to Cal's body by that point, and the Crimson Woman pulled something that looked like a metal pen out of her glove. She grabbed the end of it and pulled; the thing telescoped out, becoming a sizable metal pointer. She held it up straight in front of her, grinning. "Even has a magnetic point," she said. "Never know when you might need that."
'Looks some conspiracy nonsense, to me. Voids opening and magics getting learnt and mysterious cards about the place and all that dopey bollocks. Normal stuff for a masquerade party. Er.' Mister Turkey paused and considered. 'I think. Never been to a masquerade party. Probably because everybody who holds them ends up dying halfway through.' He stood by Cal's body, looked at the body, looked at the stick.
'So you're going to poke it, now?' he asked, scratching his forehead and wondering how this was going to help anyone other than the local telescoping stick salesmen.
"Now that I think about it, that'd probably be really disrespectful," she muttered. After one last, longing look, she shut her pointer and slipped it back into her glove. "Okay, so... What now?" She stared at Cal's body for several seconds. "Should have been a mystery writer," she sighed. "Any ideas, O Master Turkey?"
'What do you normally do when a close friend mysteriously dies?'
"Feen!" she hissed, clamping a hand down on his shoulder and pointing at Spanky. "Clown! Scary clown! Bad clown!" She immediately drew her finger pointer and extended it, holding it like a rapier. "If he asks you if you want to see a magic trick, say no!"
...if one were close enough, one could see a grin. This was, of course, the grin of the Hostess, who was of course not currently dead. She was grinning and occasionally cackling like mad (which she probably was) at the party she had orchestrated.
"Tip go the dominoes," she sang, making a flicking motion.
Then she scowled. The Crimson Woman had a secret and it was proving frustratingly elusive. Was this to be the balance for her nigh-omniscience of the Party?
((By the way, for those of you not in voip yesterday: if you brought any weapons or magical doodads, DM me and let me know. If you would like to have brought some, do the same thing. As of right now, I've yet to veto a single thing, though I have had to renegotiate one. And we are assuming that you know your way around whatever weapon or magic you bring.))
"Sorry," she said, adopting a more somber and concerned expression almost instantly- realizing that laughter at what appeared to be a crime scene would probably be in bad taste. "It's just- how much do y'all want to be that the butler did it?"
Then they started giggling to themselves. Goodness, Cal. What on Earth do you have planned for us? And what the heck are you doing? they thought, and then quickly sobered up as they answered their own question, No doubt it will involve a good deal of death that is a lot more real than whatever just happened. They sighed and wondered why they ever agreed to coming to the party; this was clearly going to be one wild night.
Oh boy. This was bad. Really bad.
The birthday girl shouldn't die on her birthday. Sure, people should end off on a high note, but this was just wrong.
Overcoming his fear of dead bodies and excessive amounts of blood, he made his way over to where Calliope had fallen. Who in their right mind would put a spear right where the birthday girl would fall? That's some bad interior design, right there.
She looked around, a black butterfly mask on her face, neck hair standing on end and prickling as her long brown curly hair brushed against them. A white dress with black in the front and chest featured white gemstones, so small they looked like snowflakes in the black cloth. Black high heels completed the look. Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh HELP was all that was running through her head in this moment, aside from the fact that their hostess was dead. What was this, a sick reenactment of CLUE?
"Very funny, Calliope," they said, before vanishing and reappearing on top of the balcony. Their sleeve rustled, then a sword slid out of it. With a quick slice, Calliope's body was falling. They vanished and reappeared beneath the falling corpse, holding their arms out to catch her.
Unlike the original scene, it did not dissolve. The mouth does open slightly, and... um. Somefin about this looks wrong somehow. A little more decayed than it ought to.
The Musician was not an expert in dead bodies, but she did know her way around a gawking crowd. She was in the front in short order, looking down at the Ghast and the now former-Hostess.
"That can't be natural," she said. "Doesn't it normally take a while for decay to set in?"
"Either this is a fake corpse she's had for a while, or else she killed herself a while ago to use this, or she's doing something weird, like warping time. I wouldn't put any of them past her."
"Is this... normal, for her parties? Should I be worried about ending up a corpse myself?"
"I don't know if this is normal. I haven't attended any of her parties before, but I'd be willing to bet that we'll all be corpses a couple times over by the end of this party."
"Sorry," the Musician said, "I'm... this is not what I expected from a birthday party, you know? I came dressed for dancing, not... repeat homicide."
"She really likes this kind of thing. Don't worry too much about it, though. We'll all walk out okay. That being said, it does hurt, so you probably want to avoid it, but we will be alright, if maybe psychologically scarred." They reached out to give the Musician a reassuring pat, realized they really didn't know her that well, and withdrew their hand.
"What should be done now? I'm... not entirely sure I'm comfortable without people watching my back."
"The White Wolf and I had been planning on seeing if we could gain a few extra allies, and start exploring this place. You could come along, if you wanted." They paused, then added, "Although, I do have a few questions for you, if you don't mind answering them."
"Although I will probably not be terribly helpful. I was expecting a party, not a murder!"
They looked around and made sure nobody could overhear. When they were sure, they leant in and whispered, "What did your message mean, and why was the cipher for your message Woman Who Watches?"
The Musician leaned in as well, and shook her head gently to set bells and chimes singing. Inside the bubble created by their protective noise, she answered Garnet's questions.
"I received a few hints with my invitation," she said. "Which are now spent. The first was regarding costuming, the second was to 'seek the Woman Who Watches', and the third was to find friends. Because apparently our dear departed Hostess believes me to be Twilight Sparkle, or some such. As far as I know, the message was merely a status update, and perhaps a warning that- well, that was going to happen soon."
Sapphire hesitantly waved at The Musician and The Ghast. "The White Wolf said that you all were going to go exploring, and he invited me along. Is that okay, or am I interrupting something?"
... joined them. "Oh, hello!" they said, smiling beneath their mask. "Yes, I was just asking the Musician a few questions, but I think we might be ready to explore now, if you both are and the Wolf is?"
The Musician reached up and grabbed a chime, silencing the instruments in her hair. She patted a few key locations on her dress, as though doing inventory on hidden pockets, and nodded.
"I think that waiting here for events to happen to us is a bad plan. I'm in."
"Sorry to awkwardly pop in to the group, but uh. There's a door on the left stairwell with a scrambled code on it, aaaaand since I already know Garnet is good with codes, I . . . figured I would . . . point that out to you guys? If you feel like looking?"
"Sounds like a good start. Ghast, you're our best codebreaker. We'll watch your back, I guess?"
"Well, then, I'll see what I can do!" They took a step towards the staircase, then stopped. "Wait, this has to be appropriately dramatic," they said. Their sleeve rustled, then a flaming sword shot out of it and into the Ghast's hand. "For Rome!" they shouted, before charging towards up the stairs and towards the door. They made sure they were being slow enough to be followed, but it was still something of a run, because the Ghast was, at heart, a very dramatic person. When they reached the door, they withdrew their sword and pulled their phone out of their pocket. They stared at the door, typed into their phone, frowned behind their mask, typed some more, frowned again. This went on for some time, and really wasn't all that interesting to watch. Finally, though, they gave a triumphant cry. "I got it!" they said, turning to look at everyone else. "I think I can get it to open. Is everyone... relatively ready for whatever might be on the other side?"
"I'd decipher it myself, but if you've already got it..."
She thought for a moment and then rang three bells and a chime, letting a gentle aura of fortune and protection wash over the group.
But they nodded anyway. "Yeah, I'm... kinda ready," they sighed, "Okay, not really, but since this is Cal, I doubt anyone could be ready." They fingered the cards in their pocket. "Also, I have some magic powers, and I think that if any of the rest of you do, you should tell us, so that we'll be slightly more prepared. I can revive each of you from death once and heal wounds. I can also temporarily infuse my body with strength and create extensions to it, such as wings."
"You're right. We need to be honest about this so we know we can rely upon each other. I can use fire. And my teleporting, of course." The wolf tucked his violin back into the hammerspace he'd pulled it from, then pulled his cane back out.
"Thanks for telling us. I'm sure that that will come in handy. I... uh... really appreciate that you shared it, even though you didn't really want to."
Or at least, it doesn't if the thick black fog spilling out is any indication.
Where is it even coming from, anyways? It almost looks like it's just phasing through the door.
The Musician backed up a step, and then a second. She hushed her bells and then rang four more, calling up a gentle but insistent wind to blow the fog across the stairs and away from the group.
Please work please work I wish I'd brought more significant tools please work...
"Yeah," The Musician said. "I've got... assorted skills. Mostly environment manipulation."
"Towards the stairs, everyone! I'm about to open it up, and the further away we are when that happens, the better!" They waited for a moment, stepping backwards slowly, sword held in front of them, ready to jump out of the way if something came barreling through. Finally, when they could wait no longer, they shouted, "A coffin!" Their mask made sure their voice reached the door.
However, it exploded inward, towards the room it had been sealing off. In turn, more of the black fog rushed out, completely enveloping the Garnet Ghast and coming quite close to taking the Musician.
Inside the fog, the Ghast could see, hear, or smell nothing. They could hardly feel their feet on the floor. What they could feel quite clearly, however, was cold.
That didn't do it justice. That made it sound like you had walked outside during winter, or touched an ice cube. This was more like the fog was leeching all the heat from your skin without seeming to warm up in the least.
"RUN!" they shouted at the top of their lungs, mask amplifying it so hopefully those outside the fog wouldn't be caught. After that, they tried to figure out how quickly the fog was leeching the heat from them, and exactly where the way out of the fog that didn't lead through the door was.
Sapphire swooped down and desperately started beating at the fog with their wings, trying to clear it away. "No, no, no!"
It was, however, moving quite slowly. Honestly, you could probably out-walk it.
She wanted to curl up around her twisting gut, she wanted to hide from the freezing, burning aura pouring off of the fog, but there was someone in there.
"Everyone back!" she said. "If you can blow this stuff away from us, do so!"
She took one of her larger bells out of her hair, and then rang it - a single cutting note, piercing into the fog like a beacon.
"Out here!" she called.
Face up, resting on your foot, is a card labelled Knight.
Clearly, something was going on here. The Musician bent down, still holding the bell aloft, and picked up the card. "Knight" was an interesting message- she'd have time to investigate it further when Garnet wasn't getting eaten by empty nothingness. She tucked it into her pocket next to the other one...
It felt like she was getting torn in half. It felt like she was standing beside herself, the universe pouring through a gap torn in her soul. It felt like she was falling- burning- she couldn't even scream, it was so intense- and then she was filled with light where she had never noticed how empty she was.
She picked herself up off the floor - apparently she'd collapsed without even noticing it, planned and coordinated tones from her bells replaced with a discordant jangling. She didn't notice it, but she was glowing, slightly - although that faded quickly.
You feel light suffusing your being. You feel more certain of your path.
You feel as though you could slice through the darkness.
There. It had to be her. Or, well, it didn't, but they had to take the chance. They Stepped towards her. Once. The fog grew colder. Twice. Even more so. Three times. It was freezing. They stopped. The fog started rising to its earlier temperature. Okay, so trying to get out of it was a bad idea. They closed their eyes, feeling the earth beneath them, and slowing their breathing down. It had started to speed up once they had realized they were basically trapped, but hyperventilating was probably a bad idea. Slow, calm breaths were better.
They would probably remain conscious in the fog for an hour, at this pace. And said fog wasn't slowing down or thinning out at all; on the other hand, neither did it continue to expand.
A twirl of the cane, and the dragon's maw glowed. Then, a burst of fire was launched out, into the room. He wasn't sure it would do anything, but it might. Then, he tapped the cane on the ground, projecting a light. "Regroup on the light!"
The Ghast had gotten out of the way just barely enough, and the fire missed them almost entirely. They got mildly warmed as the fire shot into the room, prompting a new spilling of fog.
Oh great. Now the Musician was halfway enveloped.
The Musician backed up, or rather down the stairs, trying to get clear of the spreading fog. The bells on her head chimed again, until she remembered them and put them to use. Four notes later, the wind rose at her call again- and then she reached for her new abilities too. What did it take to burn off cold fog? Light.
She had thought she was full of light already, but now she understood it was only the dawning, the first glimpses of a greater day to come. A new glow poured out of her and into the darkness, the warm brilliance of a summer day. All she had to do was point and the light focused, intensified, a wave of illumination racing into the fog.
In moments, a good half of the stuff had dissipated, freeing the Ghast and ensuring the Sapphire wouldn't join them in their prison. That only left what was beyond the door, which reassembled itself with some rather strange sounds. Really, if you had to make a comparison, it was like the sound of it exploding in reverse.
That's probably exactly what it was, now that you think about it.
"Thank you, guys," they said, voice trembling a little. "I - Well, I thought that I might be ending up as the night's first casualty."
"Sorry if you got a bit singed. Tried to take out the source, but the fog made it a bit hard to aim. I know it passed closer than I'd like." He tapped the cane on the ground. "So what's our next plan?"
"I wasn't singed, and even if I had been, you were only trying to help." The Ghast traced the lines on the hilt of their sword as they thought. "I'm not sure. We could try to go exploring, since I'm pretty sure that's what she wants us to do, but it's only going to get more dangerous from here..."
"I was going to suggest trying a different door, but if that's the case..."
The Musician focused for a moment, two deep breaths, as she let go of the light she had called up. It faded away, although she was still faintly luminous.
"What did the message on the door say?" she asked. "Was it a warning of black clouds of doom?"
"I guess that was a terrible idea . . . Should we maybe check out the top of the banister, where Call seemed to be hung from?"
"Sorry, guys. I wasn't really very helpful." They fidgeted nervously. "I... I guess we should follow Rod's idea; it's the best we've got."
The Musician offered a hand to stabilize Sapphire as she set down.
"That was scary stuff- and you got out of its way. That's not the wrong move. Want to go check out that railing?"
"Your wings are lovely, by the way," she added.
They weren't sure there was anything there they hadn't seen before, but then again, they hadn't looked all that closely. On the way there, they felt a shiver run down their spine, as if... something had happened, or someone was watching them. They looked around, but couldn't see anyone. It was probably the Hostess, doing what she did. Again.
Sapphire panicked. Black and blue feathered wings erupted from their back and they soared towards the ceiling. "Sorry, guys! I... is it alright if I stay up here? I'm too-," they sighed audibly, "I'm too scared."
In barely-neat writing is the message:
Vfp hmsv io rxzoh uk dz, dmocdns.
"Not in your ability to stay dead or not kill us, at least."
He appeared next to Ghast, curious. "I found one as well. Less fancy because it just says witch."
"Really? You gave one to him?" they grumbled. Then, they sighed. "It's a Homestuck Class. I'm not sure what it means if she hasn't given you an Aspect, though."
Blaring up at you is a black skull and poison-green text:
You suppose she might be sullen at you.
"You're just mad I solved the cipher, aren't you," they said before reaching down and picking up the card before putting it in a pocket. "See, she's not staying dead. Maybe we should go find whatever body she's inhabiting now? Or we could try and find out why this one is rotting."
"If I were to guess, I'd say she's watching us from somewhere." He glanced up at the balcony, wondering if it was worth it to look around.
"Yeah, she probably is. Even if she's not around here somewhere, she probably has cameras set up."
Cautiously, they step back from it, then pick up their sword and gently prod the body with its tip.
"Whelp. Only one thing to do at a time like this." He pulled out a violin and started to play a sad tune. Ok, sorta sad. It wasn't rapidly turning into a happy song. That's just your imagination.
Face-up this time, it has blackened text in loopy letters:
He wondered why it said what it did. Oh well. He considered it payment for a song well played. Or not.
He looked at the body. "Pity no candy came out," he muttered. "Anyone have a clue what happened?" He inspected the body more closely. "Huh. Definitely dead."
After slipping away from the Crimson Woman, the Hostess maneuvered expertly through the crowd, never touching a single person. To anyone bothering to keep an eye out, she seemed to be making a clockwise circuit around the room, not that you had any idea why she would be doing this… unless, of course, you received something.
On closer inspection, said suit was a very patchwork of silver and black. The man was also holding a red mask.
Once he'd come close to The Hostess, he said "Sorry I'm late. Making this suit takes a while."
"It's wonderful you could come," she said, surreptitiously slipping a small piece of paper into his hand as she released him. "The outfit is gorgeous! Which name shall I call you by this evening?"
"Or The Cryptographer, if you're feeling formal.", he said, leaning into the hug.
He then took the paper and slipped it into his pocket surreptitiously.
"And how are you this evening?"
"People seem to be enjoying themselves, and I've barely brought anything out! I look forward to seeing people's reactions to the proper challenges."
Knowing Cal, 'the proper challenges' will be deadly. Heck, the so-called 'easy mode' codes took over an hour to solve in some cases. You really wouldn't put it past her in any fashion.
"That being said, I'm afraid I don't know many of the people here. Could you introduce me to someone?".
Scanning the crowd, she picked out the Garnet Ghast. Perfect! Taking the Cryptographer by the arm, she dragged him over with at least some semblance of grace.
Their sleeves seemed to ruffle slightly, and they shifted back a few steps. "Uh, hello," they said, wondering what the Hostess was planning.
"I noticed you looking for companions - something about not wanting to walk out without an army, I believe? - and thought you might like a tick of assistance." Her smile was in no way comforting.
Their sleeves did not stop rustling. "I beg your pardon, and yours as well, whoever you are, but the fact that you're the one offering reinforcements isn't exactly inspiring trust."
"I'm Pads.". He stuck out a hand, looking for a handshake.
"Well, it's good to see someone here knows what they're dealing with. But if nobody bothers to step out of the first room, well, most of the party has gone to waste!" She tipped her head forward, her voice lowering in pitch as it did when she spoke seriously. "And I so hate for my efforts to be wasted, darling."
Well. If she wanted to deliver veiled threats, she was doing rather well.
The Musician had gotten to the party on time, indeed, with time to spare. Her carefully-laid plan to be the perfect socialite had lasted for the time it took her to make two key realizations: One, that she'd completely misunderstood the concept of "fashionable lateness", and two, she knew the chamber orchestra's cellist. The two had talked, griped about composers and divas, and the Musician had completely missed the start of the party proper.
Now, as she stood and took in the crowd, she wondered if she hadn't underdressed.
The Musician wore a simple gown, white silk dropping from a high Empire waist almost to the floor. Her jewelry was similarly simple, a silver treble clef resting in the hollow of her throat and, for those with quick eyes, a matching silver bass clef on a chain around her ankle. She was accompanied by her own music; an array of silver bells and steel chimes hung from her braided and coiled hair and sang in key with the orchestra. Eyes the color of violin strings sparked behind a simple dove-gray domino mask; while most of her face was clearly visible some art or artifice obscured her identity and left her familiar but anonymous.
He is dressed simply: black slacks and socks, black shoes with no laces, a white dress shirt with tiny black pinstripes. (He doesn't do red.) A pocket watch hung from a fob in his shirt pocket, but the glass was cracked, and the watch stopped at an odd hour. brown hair which . . . really should have been cut before the party was the only part of his head visible, as his face was entirely obscured by an ugly miser's mask.
Exactly like this.
Seeing the Musician nearby, he stared for a moment, gulped, and approached her. "Hello, there," he said lightly, hoping he didn't come off as creepy. "I'm a bit late. How has the party been?"
"So," the Musician continued, "perhaps you are precisely on time for its beginning?"
The Musician smiled, amused, and offered her companion her hand.
"For tonight," she said, "I am known as the Musician- although I will also answer to Melody, if you desire a more conventional name."
"Nice to meet you, Musician. Um, just call me Rod, I guess. I . . . had a feeling you were into music, from your jewelry. I heard an orchestra playing as I approached the house. Tell me, in your opinion: are they good?"
"Now we're in trouble," the Musician said, laughing. "You've only just met me and you're asking me to judge musical ability?"
She listened for a moment, and then nodded.
"In my opinion, they are a skilled group, and experienced with playing together," she said. "Their director sounds inexperienced, they aren't controlling the emotions of the piece well. And I have... issues with whoever arranged it. That part belongs to the horn, not the cellos."
"But you say some of the instruments are off? Is there, like, a name for that in music, when the emotion is wrong?"
"I was complaining about the arrangement, which is which instruments are playing each part, but there aren't good words for how they're playing it."
"But enough shop talk," the Musician continued. "What of you? Your choice of costume is interesting."
"Pretty much just dress clothes I already owned. The watch and mask are models of props from a TV show, but I'm not giving it away!" He crossed his arms. "You have to guess on your own."
As she dodges the Musician, she drops a small piece of paper. She smiles at Time before continuing on her way.
"Oh dear, some litter!" He bends and scoops up the paper. "I'd best go find a trash can. Do enjoy your evening, miss!" He gives a little wave and moves awkwardly away.
They nodded at the White Wolf, then started walking off, assuming the Wolf would either stay there or follow them. They saw a man standing alone, and so approached him. "Pardon me, but if you're not busy, could I have a moment of your time?" they asked, managing to avoid showing surprise when they got a good look at the mask. It was... not something they had expected to see. Then again, everybody had different tastes in costumes.
"Oh, yes! Certainly!" He fumbled the paper in his hand a bit, as though deciding whether to put it away or leave it in the open. "I'm—Uh, call me Rod, by the way."
"A pleasure. I'm going by the Garnet Ghast tonight." They smiled, although admittedly, it was rather hard to tell through their ever-smiling mask. They noticed the piece of paper, and asked, "Ah, did our hostess give you one of those, too?"
"Ye—" he started to say, but stopped to glance around them. Leaning in closer, he whispered, "Yes, but I can't read it. It's in some kind of cipher. What did you get? Is yours in code, too?"
They made sure nobody was close by, except for the White Wolf, who was busy making his way through the crowd and sometimes exchanging a few words. They also leaned in, and whispered, "Yes, we got one, too. I was able to decipher it using my phone, and if I can see yours, I can see if I can decipher it for you. It might not be the same code, but it's worth a shot."
"Interesting conversation?" The White Wolf settled into the group easily, leaning slightly on the cane. "We cracked the code once at least."
"Very," they said, looking over their shoulder at the White Wolf. They put their phone away, wrote a quick translation on the scrap of paper with a pen they'd pulled out of a pocket, and showed it to the other two. "What do you make of this?"
"Oh my gosh, this . . . the Musician was the person I was talking to when I . . . when I took the . . ." He mask-palmed. "This wasn't even for me! Thank you for the help, guys, but I need to get this back to the Musician. She's probably got her own puzzle she's trying to solve, and I got in the way . . ."
((Sheepishness is true out of character, also.))
Moments later, you hear the clacking of heels on marble, and feel a sharp tug as space seems to rearrange itself. A spotlight comes on, shining at a balcony connected to the main floor by two staircases, one curving along either side of the room.
In the center of the spotlight stands a woman in a suit - a white shirt covered by a deep red vest, with black slacks and a black suit jacket (though the cuffs were the same red as the vest). She also wears what looks like it could be a small red cravat, tall black boots, gloves - white at the fingers, less opaque the farther up they go - and a mask. This mask is black with red trim below the eyes, and has a smattering of garnets towards its top which glimmer a bloody crimson in the spotlight, but is otherwise rather plain. It does, however, leave her bright green eyes unconcealed.
What surprises you more than anything is her hair. Gone was the long, mostly-straight hair you had seen for the past six months; now, the chocolate-colored hair is cut just short of her shoulders, and is more wavy than anything. You also take a moment to notice that she decided that bright red lipstick was a good idea... how typical of Calliope.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” she announces after a moment, “welcome to my birthday masquerade! I thank all of you for coming, though I do realize that we still have a few guests still on their way. Please, enjoy yourselves.”
Her grin at that point unsettles you. The lights come back on, but you barely notice.
"After all, parties don't last forever."
"Happy birthday!" she said, smiling. "I'd sing, but, er, not my forte. Ha, forte. Music joke." She coughed. "Ehrm. Anyway, I like your party. It's very, er, red and black and white, in a good way." She blinked behind her mask. Then, in a much smaller voice, she said, "I like your outfit."
"I like your outfit in turn. Quite red, and I like red." She arched an eyebrow. "By the way, my lady, you might work on Fellowship. I know I'm the talk-y person and all, but really - you're in no danger here!"
She stepped away to speak with further guests, leaving the Crimson Woman behind without a chance to answer.
She looked left and right, hoping someone would come talk to her so she could be saved the potential awkwardness. Parties are weird, she thought, kicking at her skirts.
At least her secret remained unknown.
"Quite the event," The Musician said, appearing from among the crowd with a pair of glasses of gently bubbling pear cider. She offered one to the Crimson Woman, and then raised her own in salute.
"Duuuuude, your hair is awesome!" she exclaimed, accepting the glass of cider. Then, realizing that this wasn't quite the level of decorum expected at such an event, she coughed and said in a more even tone, "I meant to say, yes, it is quite the event. Your hair looks beautiful." By reflex, she sipped from her glass and, having forgotten it was alcohol, proceeded to cough violently.
"Your dress is equally incredible," the Musician said. "I spent some time trying to come up with a similar design before giving up and opting for this instead."
"I may or may not have spent an embarrassing amount of time in Google Images," she said, glaring at her pear cider as if it had slighted her. "But thank you, er... What should I call you? I'm the Crimson Woman, though I think several people have already figured out who I actually am." She tugged at her gloves, wondering if it was okay to admit that at a masquerade ball.
"Or Melody, if you want a more conventional name."
The Musician smiled once more, sipping at her drink.
"I don't believe my identity has been discovered yet," she said. "But that's the fun of it all, isn't it? What good is a secret if you don't risk it on occasion? Although I must admit, I do not have a guess as to your identity."
She leaned forward a little, peering at the Musician. "I don't think I know who you are, either," she admitted. "Don't suppose you'll give me a hint?"
"Although, if you must know..." she said, "it is possible that I am none other than the Nameless Admin, here to keep an eye on this... dangerous gathering of Discordians."
She smiled, and took another sip of her cider.
"Or I'm just messing with you. I have been known to do that on occasion. It makes the evening more fun, doesn't it?"
((Of course, if you read between the lines, I've already dropped a few hints...))
"Yeah, hey, hi again—" He saw the Crimson Woman. "And hello, also, at you, hi there! Um. Okay. So, Musician! Um, you remember—okay, hang on. You, you dropped this, earlier. Okay? This is yours, that you dropped. By accident. And then I found it . . . by very accident, also . . . and kept it, but for you, because it was an accident, my taking, of the thing that is yours, that you dropped, wholly accidental. But now it's back, to you, yours again, where it should be, and always should have been, because you shouldn't have dropped it, that thing, that happened. So, here!" He held the slip of paper out to the Musician, watching the Crimson Woman out of the corner of his eye holes.
"Are you sure you're all right?" The Musician asked, taking the note. She glanced at the code, and then back at Time.
"How mysterious," she said. "I don't suppose you happen to know what this is about?"
"Wait, it this a murder mystery masquerade?" she interrupted. She glanced around the room, shifting from foot to foot. "Because considering the setting and the, er," she coughed, "authorial resources, shall we say, that we have at our disposal, utter realism isn't quite out of the question, if you know what I mean."
To the Musician, he said, "I don't know! It's addressed to you."
Rod turned to look at the Crimson Woman as she spoke. "Gee, I hope not . . . You have a frighteningly good point. But the Hostess wouldn't do something like that, would she?"
"Considering the fact that she could resurrect us just as easily--who knows?" Once again, she sipped her cider by reflex and, once again, began coughing violently. "I'm the Crimson Woman, by the way," she croaked after her coughing fit was over.
The Musician looked around, and then back at her companions.
"I've seen ciphers like this before," she said, "but I could use some space to spread out papers for the decipherment. Could I get you to accompany me? I'd... rather not be sitting alone and distracted in a quiet corner."
She nodded towards a well-lit but only sparsely occupied corner of the room, and the tables therein.
It has a C worked into the back. Do you pick it up?
He was a tall and imposing figure, with a simple black and white tux adorning his lanky body, making him look elegant and poised as opposed to awkward. The only defining features were a bird mask with a long portruding beak covering the upper half of his face above his mouth and a long, almost comical, top hat. An obnoxious grin was clearly displayed as he walked, pausing once as if searching for something in particular before continuing further into the room.
An intervention was clearly called for here. That, of course, meant walking up to him and booping his nose. Or, well, his beak.
She tugged at the silk of her dress, her self-consciousness easing slightly as she saw the myriad of fancy costumes in the room. She'd worried she'd overdone it, with the ballgown the color of wine and the silver tracing the bodice and down to the hem in a curlicue pattern. A black, satiny mask covered the upper half of her face, and was touched with the same silver pattern as her dress. Her gloves, too, were black and satiny. Her dishwater-blonde hair was pinned back (with ruby pins, no less) so it fell in a waterfall of curls down to her shoulder blades.
She had a secret.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped further into the party, looking for any familiar faces in the crowd.
He tapped his cane on the ground, trying to get the woman's attention. "Good Evening!" He crossed his arms, tucking the cane under one elbow. "I must admit, I really like your dress. Very...noble."
She turned to the White Wolf, trying to look poised and elegant. "Thank y--" her voice caught, and she coughed. "Ahem. Thank you. I like your cane." She pointed at it. "It's, er, a dragon. That's... that's cool." She remained in that pose for a moment, slowly dying on the inside. Finally, she lowered her hand and seemed to shrink in on herself, looking down and muttering, "Well, bang goes this party."
"Is something the matter?" He leaned back a little, resting on his cane. "I hope I haven't offended you, madame."
If she could somehow manage to not mess up horribly, this conversation could be saved. "Oh, no, not at all," she assured him. "I'm just a touch nervous. I've never been to a party like this before--well, there was my friend's birthday party, but that was different. Mostly." Actually, that had been a masquerade too, now that she thought about it. "Why did you decide on a wolf?" she asked, desperate to stave off awkward silences.
"I've always liked wolves. And the mask was the most interesting one I could find." He grinned a little, glad she seemed a little less nervous. "What about you? You seem to have gone all out for the occasion."
"I don't get to dress up like this often," she admitted, smoothing the front of her gown. "Figured I'd make it count."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. Haven't had an excuse to break out my cane in months. Shame too." He twirled it easily, taking care to make sure it wouldn't hit anyone.
The Crimson Woman had somehow gotten behind the White Wolf and was peering around her newfound cover, hands knotted into her dress. "Well, I should probably find the birthday girl and wish her a happy birthday," she said. She straightened, smoothing out her skirt.
He was squat and round, wide-shouldered and bumpy, padding in awkwardly, bumping against guests and knocking poorly shined shoes against table legs and saying 'Phwor, pardon!' He resembled a bowling ball in both dignity and appearance. This was a fact that he was deeply aware of, and he took advantage of it. The bowling ball theme for his mask, he thought, was a brilliant plan, and the only thing that could possibly go wrong would be a chance meeting with somebody else, or, even worse, a chance meeting with exactly ten somebody elses themed after bowling pins. The havoc would be unstoppable, maybe moreso because he was terrible at bowling. The mask covered his head, went over and around and stopped right at his mouth. He was grinning like he had seen something funny. He was grinning like a wiseguy punk who found many things funny. The jacket was red, the shirt was black, the tie was white. He had seen Billy Joel wear something similar, and it had looked very good on Billy Joel. How good it looked on him was a subjective matter that he, for now, had let slip from his mind. He was still very proud about the 'bowling ball' theme. So he stood there, looked around, and grinned. He knew his friends. He'd recognise them in a second. All he needed to do was wait for all these blithely wandering strangers to move out the way, give him a clear path of sight. That was all. He grinned like he had seen something funny.
The newcomer was dressed in a sparkling blue suit that looked like the night sky, their tie a swirling pink and purple nebula. They wore a matching headscarf that covered their hair completely, and their mask was black and studded with tiny silver rhinestones, and revealed only their mouth. They were gripping a simple black and silver cane nervously.
They approached Mister Turkey and cleared their throat. "Hullo," they said. Their voice was low, but hoarse-sounding, like they were trying to make their voice sound deeper than it normally was. "No need to guess who you are, Larf."
((If the writing style wasn't enough of a hint, I don't know what would be!))
'Laaaarf? Larf? Lllllllarf?' He said the name, glancing side-to-side, feeling it roll off his tongue. 'Larf,' he concluded. He nodded. He looked up to the newcomer. 'Larf? Who the hell is Larf? That sounds like the name of some person who I've never met and who isn't me, despite it being a very honourable and majestic sounding name which I have never heard of, which belongs to a person who isn't me and who I've never met, though he sounds like a very intriguing and perhaps handsome person that I would bloody love to meet,' he inhaled. 'Which is unfortunate because I haven't met him and I've never heard of him and who the hell is Larf?' He grinned his most convincing grin (it wobbled and faltered,) sure for certain that this ruse had definitely worked.
((I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT WITH HINTS AND ALL THAT, WHAT?))
And then giggled. It quickly turned into a gigglesnort.
"Yep, that's definitely you," they said, their voice slipping back into a more feminine range. "Come on, though, let's be honest—it would be really hard to not figure out it was you."
Mister Turkey planted a single finger over his mouth and leant in, glancing left and right. 'Arright, arright, okay! But this is a costume-thing, don't go bloody howling my name and flaunting it around like it's a bloody flag, right?!' he hissed. 'Really hard not to figur... What - what is even that distinctive about me?!' he asked, boggling, bowling ball mask glinting in the light, clumsy figure bumping a nearby table and sending cups rattling, conspicuously short stature catching him in a realm of eye-level torsos and legs. He couldn't put his finger on it for the life of him.
The stranger smiled and held out a hand. "Call me Lights, uh—what should I call you if not your name?"
it was slow, subtle, majestic. In a moment, the clumsy, pottering bowling ball had disappeared, and what remained was mysterious, tempting, esoteric. 'Call me-' And then all the lights went off, and he released a panicked grunt and stumbled somewhere and bumped someone who, also, released a panicked grunt, stumbled somewhere, hit someone else, causing them to release a panicked grunt, until the darkened room was echoing in a chain of panicked grunts and stumbles. He watched Cal's entire presentation, glanced at her red lipstick and thought 'how typical of Calliope!'
And when the lights came back on all the dignified grace he had somehow built up had long dissolved, and he looked up at the stranger and said: 'Uhr, I'm Mister Turkey. But not, bloody, the warbling chicken-thing Americans celebrate sometimes, it's when you get three strikes in a row. In bowling. So it's victory. I've essentially called myself "victory."' He wondered, for a moment, why he didn't just call himself 'victory,' as opposed to a warbling chicken-thing Americans celebrated sometimes. He looked back at the stranger. He grinned, took their hand, shook firmly. 'So what am I meant to call you?'
"Just lights, nothing special." She sighed and readjusted her grip on her cane. "Mind if we find somewhere to sit down?"
'I think the big idea about all this was us all moving about and dancing and such, but,' he nodded again. 'I don't want to move around and I'm fairly certain I can't dance. That works for me, that.' He smiled, and gazed around, looking for an area that fit the "somewhere to sit down" description.
'Erm,' he said to the shifting, quietly chatting wall of flowing fabrics and legs and intertwined arms that had appeared around him. He blinked. Lights was nowhere to be seen. He had just figured out who they were, too, had been prepared to leap upon them with that knowledge and shove it down their throat and laugh mirthfully, exclaiming their real name and flaunting it around like it was a flag. He frowned, scratched his head, shrugged, and began pottering, once more, through the party.
Oh, that was precious. She ambled over and poked Mister Turkey in the arm.
((Whoops, moving this up the thread!))
A teenaged... person (for their gender was indistinguishable) nervously slipped through the doors, clearly not wanting to be there very much. Their delicately cut suit was made of complimentary shades of white and blue, fading into each other where the colors met, and shot through with silver and black. The pants and jacket hung loosely off the person's slim frame, and the shirt was made of a flowing gray material. Their mask was an intricate affair of dark blue and black feathers flowing up from ornately filigreed black metal that covered most of the person's face except for the bottom quarter. The exposed part of their face didn't reveal much about them. Short, fluffy gray-brown hair could be espied on the back of their head where the feathers stopped. Their eyes behind the mask seemed to be all different colors; blue, then green, then grey, even brown. This person, after coming in, found the nearest unoccupied wall space and stood there fidgeting, obviously impatient to be gone.
The man in the plain mask noticed the person fidgeting by the wall and decided to make conversation.
"Hello," he said, adjusting the sleeves of his jacket for the umpteenth time. "Do you, um... have any idea what we're supposed to actually be doing here tonight?" he asked. To his mind, it was perfectly logical to ask the most uncomfortable person at an event what one ought to be doing. This had led to some... interesting... experiences in the past.
The person said, in a low, mumbling voice. They looked down in embarrassment, and then to the side, twitched, and looked generally uncomfortable.
At last, they made a brave attempt at conversation: "Um... so, what's your name?" They cringed slightly, that was a stupid thing to ask, and tried again. "I mean, not your real name, of course. That would void the entire purpose of such an event," they flushed and stuttered, "Just... I mean, what should I call you? If we're making conversation, that is." Their voice began to trail off awkwardly, "Uh... Never mind."
"Call me the Concerned One," the masked man said, before mentally smacking himself. He really should have come up with a better name; what on Earth made him think he could roleplay like this?
"What should I call you?" the Concerned One asked, deciding to shift the focus away from himself.
"S- Sapphire. Just Sapphire," Sapphire said. "I mean, I was going to call myself Cobalt," they continued, gaining confidence slightly now that there was something to actually talk about, "but I like the color of sapphires better, though I do admit that Cobalt would have fit my color scheme more." Sapphire looked up at The Concerned One, "Would you agree, sir?"
"They're pretty similar," he said. "Though Sapphire does make for a better name. Plus, it's a Pokémon reference, right?"
"I hadn't thought of that. I suppose it could be, if one were a Pokémon fan, but I am not."
"I thought for sure you were Iximaz, but they're definitely a fan of Pokémon... ah, well."
He finally noticed the person's obvious discomfort.
"I should probably see what the other guests are up to," the Concerned One said, glancing around at the people who had arrived while they were talking. "I hope you enjoy the party."
They fidgeted a bit more and then said, "Um... I can definitely see why you thought I was Iximaz. From what I know of them, I gather that they're not the best conversationalist either. You're not bothering me, just so you know, I just never really know what to say, that's all." Sapphire glanced around; "Do you think there's a refreshment table anywhere?"
"Refreshments are on the east side of the room - right from the door." She smiles at the both of the guests as she slips by.
"Oh, hi. T- thanks," they called after her softly, "And... um... happy birthday!" Sapphire turned back to The Concerned One, "Sooo... see you around, I guess? Nice meeting you. Uh... bye, then." The blue-suited teen wandered awkwardly away towards the refreshment table.
An adult slipped into the building, dressed in a formal white suit and wearing a wolf mask. His dark hair poked out from the sides of the mask, and he had a wooden cane with a dragon head for a handle. "Tonight should be fun." His brown eyes danced around the room, taking in everyone, seeking someone in particular.
Though you wouldn't be able to tell behind his mask, the man was smiling. He pulled his black cloak close around himself as he entered. Upon seeing the crowd, he decided to move to the walls, where there was less chance of accidentally bumping into someone else.
The lower part of their outfit seemed to be a dress that had several layers to it, each a subtly different shade of deep red. The layers all touched the floor, completely concealing the person's legs and feet, although somehow, it never seemed to give them any trouble as they walked through the room. Not once could they be seen to even pause as if the dress had caught on something. The shirt was also rather feminine, and the sleeves were slightly loose, dangling a little and with frilly cuffs that concealed whatever might be inside them. However, if they were indeed a girl, they were an incredibly flat-chested one, given how the shirt seemed to fit. They wore a mask that completely covered their face. It was of a slightly different shade of red from the cowl that the figure had drawn over their head, which conveniently prevented anybody from seeing the color of their hair, and had a number of silvery-white lines running across it. These lines seemed to run from the mask onto the cowl, and from there down and across the entire costume, giving it the impression of trailing small lines of mist wherever it went. The mask wore a gentle smile that disguised the true expression of the one behind it, and the eyeholes had mirrored, silvery lenses that allowed the wearer to see others with perfect clarity, but did not allow even a hint of their true face through. Not even the figure's hands were visible, for they were covered in red gloves that also bore the white lines of the rest of the costume.
The figure surveyed the room, true opinions hidden behind the serene smile on the mask. Finally, they started gliding along the wall, but before they could do... whatever it was they were doing, they bumped into a man in a simple black cloak with enough force to send them stumbling back a little, although amazingly, they didn't trip on their dress and fall down. "I'm sorry," they said once they regained their balance. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, I'm quite all right, thank you." The figure dusted his black cloak off after getting up. He hoped he didn't have to properly talk to them; he was mostly here for the intrigue of the thing, and to humor the hostess, more than for the sake of actually talking to anyone (a prospect that, frankly, was rather unappealing to him).
A breeze passed near the Herald's face as the rustling sound started. When the lights came back on, the Garnet Ghast was standing a fair distance away, and one of their sleeves was moving ever-so-slightly. They exhaled a little, and wafted towards the Herald. "I'm sorry about that. I didn't hurt you, did I?"
A cane tapped gently on the back of the dress wearer. "Hello. I'm very curious about the dress."
They breathed out when they saw who it was, and after analyzing the man, they smiled a little. "Oh, hello! What are you curious about... Perhaps, shall I call you Dragon of the Angel?" They raised their eyebrows, unsure if the other would understand what they was trying to say.
The man shook his head after a moment. "Ok. Better question. Is that magic?"
"Yes, it is. I believed that, given our hostess, having a dress that would make me trip over my own feet would probably be a bad idea." They raised their eyebrows and added, "Do you not recognize who I speak of you as? There are other names I could use, but, well, I'm trying to avoid giving a hint to eavesdroppers." They smiled again and glanced at the crowd around them.
The man nodded his head. "Considering who she is, I can't disagree with a desire to be able to evade or escape." Then he tilted his head. "Unfortunately, I'm not sure I'm familiar with what you're referencing. I'm going by the White Wolf tonight."
"Given her display just now, I think this will come in handy, especially since I do have a task to do, apparently." They bit their lip behind their mask, then, in a whisper, said, "Perhaps... Regent of the Angel of Madness would be a better title?"
"I suppose that does mean good proof. Sadly, The Good Lady was unavailable this evening. I'm sure she would find our Hostess' plans amusing." He smiled a little. "What kind of task do you have? Perhaps it will be easier with some help?"
"Careful, now," they said, almost teasingly. "You wouldn't want anyone to overhear that, would you? But, regardless of that, I've been told to find a watcher. I'm not sure what it means, but I had been planning on looking soon." They raised their eyebrows behind their mask, realized that couldn't be seen, and so tilted their head to the side slightly. "Perhaps you could help me look?"
She dodges around the Ghast, dropping a small piece of paper as she goes, and tilts her head to the Wolf before moving along as though nothing had happened.
It made absolutely no sense whatsoever. They considered just doing it themselves, but decided a second set of eyes might see something they missed. They held the piece of paper out to the White Wolf and said, "Can you make heads or tails of this?"
"Ok. I really hope this is in code. Either that or an animal was given a typewriter." He paused in thought, putting a hand to his chin. "Which, given our hostess, I would not rule out as a possibility, if only to mess with our heads."
Finally, they slapped their mask and grabbed their phone from a pocket. "Alright, let's see..." They typed away, and finally, had an idea. A few searches, a scrap of paper, and suddenly, they looked up at the White Wolf, triumph radiating from them. They leaned in close to the White Wolf and whispered something in his ear, then looked after the Hostess. "It's funny. I was just about to do what she was talking about, if you'll do me the honor of accompanying me."
"Interesting. I think I will. After all, the lone wolf dies when the pack survives." He bowed his head slightly, and rubbed his finger on the snout of his dragon cane. "Oddly, I don't think I've asked your...well, not your name, but what I should call you."
"Then let us explore together and see what we can find. I think you know my name by now, but as for what you may call me... Well, I was going to show up in black and go by the Sable Spectre, but we both know why I didn't, so I'm going by the Garnet Ghast instead." They started walking, although not quickly, making sure the White Wolf was following, and looking around the room.
"Garnet Ghast. I like it. Still prefer my White Wolf, but then again, I'm biased." He shrugged a little, following the walk as he scanned the room.
Their shoes seemed to make no noise, at least, no noise that could be heard over the soft rustling of the dress. "Of course you do," they said as the two walked through the room. "Of course, I can see why you do- but then again, I can see you, if you take my meaning." They didn't see what they were looking for as they walked through the room, and glanced at the White Wolf. "Well, it appears that my role has either not come yet, or may happen somewhere else. What about you?"
((Please don't read the unedited, it has my identity.))
He shrugged. "My role seems to be irrelevant so far. I am more worried than interested about what may occur, knowing our Hostess. It'll be fun either way, but I'm just wondering how much panic I'll be in before it's over."
"There's also outright terror, agony, and potentially repeated lethal injuries. But if it seems like you're irrelevant so far, then I think it means she's just winding it into another one of her plots. Speaking of which..." They sighed and stopped walking, giving the room a last look and shaking their head disappointedly. "I don't think my mission is in this room, and please forgive me for this, but I'm honestly afraid to walk out of here with anything less than an army. Since I don't think we can find one, well... Would you rather see what we can find ourselves, or should we get a little help first?"
The Concerned One entered soon after, dressed in a simple yet formal black suit and red tie, with an undecorated half-mask covering everything above the tip of his nose. His dark hair was shaved on the sides but long enough to curl a bit on top, but no other features were noticeable. He looked around the party scene, clearly uncomfortable for some reason; an observant person could have heard him mutter, "Here we go," before he walked further into the room.
((Here goes nothing!))
Someone slips into the house.
Dressed in a suit the colour of wine, the person's face was almost completely hidden behind an intricate clockwork sculpture that slowly ticked and shifted about. It was quite honestly a miracle how it didn't break the person's neck, based on how complex it was.
He, for he was male, moved to mingle with the crowd.
"Good evening," said the Raven, stepping up to meet the clockwork stranger. "My goodness, your costume is stunning. Might I inquire how long it took you to craft it?"
"Good evening to you too," the Clockwork stranger replied. "My mask was designed two days ago, and I spent all of yesterday constructing it."
After a moment, he leaned closer and added, "The secret is 3D printing and really good bronze spray paint."
After a second of introspective silence, the Raven gestured towards the food table, which was overflowing with many delicious-looking treats. "Well, I'm going to get a drink. If you want to join me-?"
"I'm itching to see if there's any cake," the clockwork stranger said. "What do you think it will look like?"
The Raven sighed longingly, acutely aware of the time of the night and the time of her breakfast that morning. "I haven't eaten since this morning. Gosh, you're making me hungry, now." She looked over towards the food again. "Cake sounds great, but my eyesight isn't the best. I can't see any at the moment."
There are three cakes - a red velvet cake, a cheesecake, and an ice-cream cake. The red velvet is in the shape of the Hylian Shield (and frosted to match), the cheesecake has no adornment but is very large, and the ice-cream cake reads "HAPPY GRADUATION". There are also several trays of cupcakes, several of cookies, and so many dishes of candy.
In fact, you don't see any food that isn't a sweet. Wow. Callie's legendary sweet tooth was not exaggerated at all, it seems.
You do, however, spy two face-down playing cards on the table. At least they look like playing cards. They seem to be from two different decks; one has a capital A worked into the back, and the other has a capital C.
"Wow," they thought, "That's a lot of dessert. Impressive sweet tooth, Cal." Glancing over the table, they noticed the cards and raised an eyebrow, muttering under their breath, "Huh, interesting." Not noticing the Raven and Springs eyeing the cards, they picked both cards up and slipped them into their pocket. The red velvet cake looked appetizing, though mainly due to its impressive frosting job, and so they grabbed a slice of that too, before drifting away to the nearest wall again.
Picking up the cards and putting them together has opened a doorway of sorts in your mind. You feel as though you have gained new abilities beyond what an ordinary human being ought to be able to do.
((Congratulations! You got magics!))
They stopped, eyes widening in shock as they felt themselves grow somehow. The plate of cake dropped to the floor unheeded as Sapphire doubled over, breathing heavily, as magic took root in them. Their thought process ran something like: "This is weird and not supposed to happen. Was there something in that cake? Oh, wait, this is Calliope's party, why am I surprised? Of course weird things are going to occur. Also, I have magic now. This is awesome! I wonder what I can do with it? I guess I'll find out. Darn, I dropped my cake. Guess I have to go get more." They stood up again and tried to straighten their suit unobtrusively, wondering how many people were staring and doing their very best not to look around and find out. Sapphire decided on second thought to not go back to the table, where there were no doubt several people gathered, and continued to head towards the wall.
She had not expected Sapphire to take both cards - or, for that matter, to be so adversely affected by them... well, she supposed, one is usually forced to die to achieve godhood. Good thing I toned it down, or this would get quite messy quite quickly.
That was the price for not having to die, though... reduced power. How annoying it could be.
He tapped his cane on the ground. "Happy birthday, and hello." He took a glance at the table, hoping to find another card. Magic was always fun. Not seeing any, he turned to Sapphire. "The Ghast over there and I are planning a bit of exploring. Care to join us?"
But they nodded, despite that. "Yeah... yeah, sure. I'll join you guys for your... um... exploring. Lead the way."
For all her talk of bad eyesight, she seemed to have a very good sense for things that were out of place. "Hey," she said to her clockwork companion as she snagged a cupcake from the nearest tray, "look, normally I'd grab both of those cards over there for myself, but normally I don't have somebody with me." She finished the cupcake with a messy shower of crumbs, and shrugged. "So what I'm saying is basically- you take one card, I take the other? Knowing Calliope, they're probably important to the plot or something."
"Or, okay, never mind," she said as a gender-unspecific person pocketed both of them. She had a quick mental debate as to whether she should go after them or not, but ultimately decided against doing that in favor of more cake. "I'll see you around, then," she said to her clockwork companion, and wandered off into the midst of the party, nibbling absently on a cupcake.
Springs stood near the refreshments table, crème brûlée in his hand, deep in thought.
He wondered how was it that he ended up eating desserts at an absolutely ungogly hour in this life. What did he do to have the right to enjoy such a rich treat at this time? It was all too overwhelming for him. He needed to find a place to sit down, to figure out what else he could do at this party, other than eating all the food in sight.
((Alright, I'm back. I was occupied for a bit. Time to see what else this party offers!))
The doors swing open, and the diminutive figure of a classy young lady in a crimson Victorian-style dress makes her way into the party. She pauses at the door, adjusting her mask- a black, feathered affair that covers only the top half of her face but does nothing to conceal her mouth or the color of her hair- medium length, brown and spilling down her back in a low pony tail. As she raises her arms, it becomes apparent that a pair of wings in the same color of scarlet, are part of the dress, attached to her wrists- when she moves her arms, they move with her. "Well," she says, grinning. "This should certainly be interesting."
((I'm probably doing this wrong.))