A Remarque-Able Party

Wine glasses.
Sticky piano keys.
Broken strings.
Shards of glass.
A cry erupts from somewhere in the crowded hall.
Drunken, delighted heads turn to see a drunken, delighted figure flying up into the air.
The tiara glimmers.
The wine flies.
The rapier glints.
Well, who else could it be?
The group of Bohemians catch Oscar as he comes falling back down, shaking with giggles and a slight bout of nausea from the unexpectedly high journey into the sky. Who knew artists and poets were so strong?
“Thank you, darlings, thank you,” he says, stumbling away from the group before they can launch him again, unsteady in his odd shoe combination of one crystal slipper and one riding boot.
The room is packed, filled to the brim with dancing actors, drunken painters, flirting poets, singing prostitutes. The bohemian lower class of London have flooded the rented-out ballroom, more and more of Veilgarden’s resident population abandoning their posts at pubs, galleries, streetcorners, studios, to gather together at this month’s big party, just as they had last month, just as they would the next month.
This month it seemed to be Oscar Remarque’s turn to give Veilgarden a reason to drink and shout (other than tradition), and damned if he wasn’t doing a good job of it.
Gypsy songs play from the corner of the room.
Attendants shout, sing, careen, along.
Jars of honey pass their way around the hall.
Random commencements of independent songs burst out in various places, delightfully dissonant from the band’s melody.
Somewhere, a group of rather drunk and rather lost scientists get inspired by Oscar’s flight and fling Benthic’s prize student so high into the air he begins to develop plans for a sort of aeroplane.
It’s a hell of a party.

(A party! In celebration of one year on the forum ((a slightly late anniversary for those of you in the UK)), I’ve decided to host a bash. Characters of any sort are invited, from zailors to Fingerkings, and new RPers are encouraged to come and introduce their characters - after all, what way more stylish to enter London than at a party? Arguments, honey-hallucinations, brawls, and attention-seizing is encouraged, but do refrain from doing anything to completely halt the party, and be polite towards your fellow RPers ((though don’t hesitate to throw some fists)). Have fun!)

Florence is only a little bit tipsy, but she gleefully joins in on the scientist-tossing action.

Dirae Erinyes strides in, arm in arm with Evensong. Evensong thinks they look dashing, most of the attendants would go with &quotfashionably acceptable.&quot The night cut frock helps off set that concealing mask, and salivating gloves. Despite that, they are confident – striding in without any of their usual slouches. Which is why they keep having to dodge the low hanging light fixtures.

Evensong is more nervous, despite actually being well-dressed. It may be because of a lifetime of training in the Great Game has ingrained fading in the background as second nature. To dress so you are instantly forgotten. Training at odds with the irrigo dyed parabola gown, the amber tiara crown, or the many jeweled accessories. Each time this happens, she promise to never let Dirae Erinyes pick out her outfit. A promise she knows she will break, as she has every time before.

&quotDon’t look so stressed, love. Hopefully everyone will get drunk fast enough that you can snack on the candles in peace.&quot

Jimmy Casket enters the party wearing a simple brown cloak, simple pants. He’s carrying a bloody knife, and blood seems to be on him as well, although there are no visible wounds on him it is clear he has been murdering. He scans the party, looking for his quarry.

Lord Gazter is content with his fill of wine. He travels along the outer edges of the hall and along the way he passes a group informing each other about the current fashions, a rather distressed gentleman in a honey addled state shouting something about bats, a duelist regaling others with tales of her exploits, at least a dozen of the empress’s “cousins”, and a number of guests in various states of undress. It is quite the bohemian affair.

A group recognize the nobleman and invite him over. A few questions are asked about infernal fashion and current art. A rather raucous gentleman among them shares a bawdy joke and rather portly gentleman among them tells a joke about a cat, a snake, and a bat, or was it a bat, weasel, and a rat? Lord Gazter finishes up the pleasantries with the group, and continues on his way through the hall.

Lyndon helps his escort out of the hansom. For the occasion, she has let her dark hair loose, and she wears a simple, but elegant dress. She looks uncharacteristically feminine, almost charming. A far cry from her usual androgynous and tough look.

“Who knew you could actually look like a woman?” he jokes, as they walk down the short path leading to Remarque’s mansion.

He feels her icy glare on him, made even colder by her deep blue eyes. “Is that an insult, Sergeant?”

“Quite the contrary, I’d say. I almost feel bad to call you Sinbad when you look so charming.” He turns to meet her gaze. A playful smirk appears on his face. “Maybe you could tell me your real name, eh?”

Sinbad’s stern expression mellows a bit. “It depends. Will you tell me yours in return?”

“Why? Don’t you like Bertrand Lyndon? It has a nice ring to it. And it’s the name that fits me best anyway.”

Sinbad shakes her head, pretending frustration.

When they arrive at the mansion, the feast has already started, and they exploit the general confusion to slip in unnoticed. Many guests seem too busy enjoying the food and liquors or exchanging pleasantries to pay attention to them anyway, and Lyndon prefers to avoid prying eyes as much as he can, even at a party. Especially at a party.

Unfortunately, despite his high hopes, most of the guests seem rather… unremarkable. In a corner of the room, a Fading Artist is speaking about the merits of the Celestial school, but his audience seems more bored than anything else. A Mirthful Functionary shares a drink with a Wary Diplomat not too far. At the other side of the room, a Rueful Singer leans on a Charming Youth while lamenting the loss of a loved one. Nothing worthy of his attention.

However, there are a few known and remarkable people. Two are especially notable: the hulking masked man and their companion are there. Even in such an unconventional party, that gargantuan, slightly awkward figure sticks out like a sore thumb. The Sergeant considers greeting them, but decides against it. He would have little to tell them besides bland platitudes, and their attention might prove harmful to his interests.

“Why are we here?” asks Sinbad, interrupting his flow of thoughts.

“To enjoy ourselves.” answers Lyndon. He makes a wide gesture encompassing the whole room. “After all, this is a feast. And even I need to relax every once in a while.”

“As if I’d buy any of that. You might very well be the only person who hates this kind of things more than I do.”

“Well, maybe I know that some notable personalities are attending this particular party. The kind of people whose acquaintance could prove beneficial to our interests. And a bohemian-style revel is the perfect occasion to loosen even the most discreet of tongues. Who knows what secrets we might learn from this evening?”

Sinbad snorts. He isn’t telling her the whole story, but that’s the most she’ll get out of him for now. “As you wish. Just make sure you won’t be the one whose tongue becomes loose.”

“That’s why I brought you with me, Sinbad. To save me from myself.”
edited by Bertrand Lyndon on 4/24/2017

It’s a matter of moments.

As the hand touches him, Lyndon’s own hand darts for the other man’s neck and clenches it in an iron grip. He has seen him coming, and there’s probably no need for that, but it’s a matter of principle: approaching him from the back is a bad idea, even if you don’t mean any harm.

The Sergeant studies the bearded man for a moment to be sure of his assumption. He has changed since his retirement, but there’s no mistake: he’s in the presence of the Antioch himself. Or, rather, the man who used to be the Antioch. Just a few years ago, it would have been an honor to meet him in person, but the man before him had forfeited his office and his contacts long ago. He probably still has the skills that made him great, but the power? Most certainly not.

The Antioch babbles his apologies for startling him and Sinbad’s hand grasps his free arm lightly. That is enough. The message has been sent. He lets go of the bearded man, and listens to his offer. A work. As expected, people who used to have a position as high as the Antioch never truly cut their ties with the Game. Not even when it would be sensible to.

“Oh, you haven’t startled me. I just don’t like to be touched by people I’m not acquainted with,” says Lyndon casually, as if he had just given the man a dirty look instead of almost strangling him. “but now I realize I overstepped the bounds. I apologize.” Lyndon pauses to light a cigarette. He offers one to the bearded man.

Knowing who the Antioch is, there’s no doubt about the nature of the work he’s offering. A removal of some kind. Not that he minds: it’s what he does. But people, especially those who used to be information brokers themselves, turn to a Canon for help only if they’re desperate. And, obviously, no Canon worthy of their name admit what they do in public if it can be helped.

Let’s play dumb for a while, and see just how much he wants to hire me. How much he’s desperate.

“And yes,” he continues, puffing out a huge cloud of smoke right in the Antioch’s face. “I’m always looking for work. But I wonder what kind of service a poor, retired soldier like me can offer to a gentleman like yourself. Maybe you want to hire me as a bodyguard?”

The Sergeant’s gaze moves to the teenage girl who is currently swooning over a mustachioed officer. “I could understand that. You have a beautiful daughter: if I were you, I’d worry constantly about her. London is far from being a safe place, especially for a young girl.” Lyndon’s eyes move back to the bearded man, and stare at him through the smoke. A cold, steely look. “Yes, a strong arm is always useful down here.&quot
edited by Bertrand Lyndon on 5/5/2017

(OOC: This is E. M. Canning’s very first RP appearance! Feel free to approach her, or her daughter - but note I might not always answer very quickly since I’m also busy with writing for the Shade-Hunt.)

A party like this draws all London’s most dissolute residents, so of course Eva May Canning (E.M. to her friends) is here, too. Not because she’s dissolute herself - well, a little maybe - no, but she is always interested in studying the dissolute. Since her wife was unable to pull her head out of a half-dozen books once again, she’s accompanied instead by her daughter, Eva Louise (commonly called E.L.). This combination might prove problematic over the course of the evening, since their interests in attending this party - as well as in almost everything else - couldn’t be much further apart.

Mrs Canning is a woman about 40, and clearly an academic: her dress code is too relaxed, her brown hair too mussed to be anything else. However, there is a liveliness and fire in her brown eyes, and a perpetual half-smile around her mouth, that suggest she’s not the kind of scholar who spends all her days closeted in libraries.
Indeed, ever since finishing her theological studies at Benthic College - a thing unheard of before - she’s been one of the most talked-about scholars in London. Her publications have aroused equal measures of outrage, confusion and adoration; only the latter of which makes her uncomfortable.
An American with a past as an anthropologist on the Surface, her writings are a crude blend of pseudo-science, religion and superstition - at least, that’s what her critics say. According to her acolytes, she’s a ‘visionary’.
There is talk about her heading a heathen cult or coven, from which she derives a - not wholly unwelcome - aura of mystery that has already gained her several invitations to notable salons.
She is here mainly to observe, and maybe to find inspirational conversation with open-minded guests in various states of sobriety. After a quick survey, she is already delighted with the variety of people on display here. Several scholars of her acquaintance seem to be having an unusually good time over in a corner.

E.L. is a good deal taller than her mother - especially in those heels - and cuts a striking figure in her red dress. Her blond hair is woven into a single long, elaborate braid, suggesting she doesn’t want it to get in her way while dancing; suggesting in turn that she intends to do a good deal of dancing. However, what the mother might lack in beauty, the daughter seems to lack in mirth: pursed lips unused to smiling, icy blue eyes distant and calculating.
Not much is known publicly about E.L. except that she sometimes accompanies her mother to parties or salons; that she is uninterested in academic discourse; but very partial to honey, wine and other distractions.
She nudges her mother’s elbow and nods in the direction of two gentlemen who seem about to have an altercation. &quotSpies, both of ‘em. One’s the Antioch; dunno what the other’s called.&quot She lets her gaze wander lazily over the assembled guests. &quotSeems like this event has all sorts. Not that I’m surprised - ol’ Oscar always knew how to have fun.&quot

&quotYou know nothing makes me happier than you having fun,&quot E.M. says without any detectable hint of sarcasm. &quotI just hope that for once you’ll opt for a version of fun that does not end with you in a cell at the local constabulary.&quot

&quotBut mom,&quot E.L. grins mischievously, &quotthose are the best kinds of fun!&quot
edited by phryne on 5/1/2017

Oscar stumbles free from a pair of lips.
Stumbles into another.
Happens across a mirror and finds himself covered in lipstick.
Turns to go delve into a honey dream with the delightful chap on the sofa and bumps into a brick wall.
The walls here aren’t brick.
The bohemian scoops up his fallen tiara from the ground, situates it firmly atop his golden head of hair, and looks drunkenly up at the portrait of Dirae Erinyes.
He grins.
&quotDarling!&quot he cries, flinging his arms around the large figure, &quotHow delightful to see you!&quot
He has, of course, no idea who the person before him is. It’s possible he’s met them before, of course, but then, Oscar Remarque’s memory is not his most celebrated trait.
&quotYou’ve made it to the party!&quot he says, voice buried in Dirae’s large mass, &quotOh, how splendid! And you’re so delightfully odd!&quot
He giggles madly, detaching himself from the figure and lurching for balance.
&quotEveryone here’s so delightfully odd! And you’re even odd by their standards! You gorgeous thing!&quot he cries aloud, and embraces the figure yet again, &quotOh, I could love you, darling!&quot
He detaches again and looks up at them with delight in his eyes.
&quotWould you like to dance?&quot

“I would love to, Oscar. But I have a guest to meance. Would you like to join in? He’s the man over there, in a bloodstained shirt.” Dirae Erinyes gestures with one gloved hand. “At first I thought he was simply at a Knife and Candle player. However with the game on indefinite haitus, that seems unlikely. A Jack would’ve already struck. I don’t who he is looking for, but I’m afraid he might ruin the party. This is the sort of gala where we die of liver failure, not a knife in back. What do you think?”

Maria arrives, quite late. Her hair short auburn curls, are, as always, quite messy, but at least her dress is proper. Actually, the poor polish girl probably confused the party she wanted to go to, to case a potential burglary site. This didn’t look like the home of Mr. Saint-James-Smythe… oh well. Maybe they had drinks…

Phiri Ulfur shows up with their cousins, the Lady Blackwood making a beeline towards the small gathering of society gentlepeople conversing around a table of fungus-sweets. Vermillion Liminate slouches away towards a group of devils and criminals, and Phiri sighs, knowing he’ll be sent home with devil’s kisses burning on his lips. They wander the crowds, observing but never engaging. They never had a penchant for huge gatherings such as this, but the information they could learn–!

Oscar’s glazed blue eyes turn slowly over to the blood-stained figure in question.
&quotOh, lovely!&quot he exclaims, &quotLovely! Delightful! Red as a rose! We should pluck him!&quot
He giggles madly and pulls out his rapier.
&quotOnly thing I’m good at, you know,&quot he says, casting a raunchy glance to Dirae, &quotBest fencer in the land, they say. If only I knew who they were.&quot
He giggles again, doubling over, then abruptly straightens up, runs a hand through his hair, and smiles at Dirae like a partner about to accompany them to the ball.
&quotShall we?&quot
He stumbles off towards Jimmy Casket.

Who’s that at the door? Of average height and light but wiry build, they would be largely unremarkable in appearance were it not for those green eyes, their stare at once cold and burning. Why, it’s Lionel Anchovies! Certainly not as widely known a name as the fête’s most prominent guests, but one which may be familiar to those who pay attention to the rumors in Veilgarden of affairs at the Shuttered Palace. Not one but two holidays of necessity in Venderbight, and an exchange of genuinely shouted invectives with a particular Barbed Wit? Anchovies’s passionate letters of romance, remorse, and rage, not to mention the readings of those letters at certain salons, had of late enjoyed a place in the discussions of Veilgarden’s less-accomplished romantics. If asked what might be keeping their admirers and enviers from climbing the social ladder with such vigor, Anchovies would likely fault the bohemian tendency to have no blood on their hands and no dust on their boots. One can only learn so much from the fantasies and honey-dreams of Veilgarden. It was in hiding from Hell’s hunting-parties in the Forgotten Quarter that Anchovies had come to understand what it meant for blood to run cold, and in collecting horrid beasts for the Labyrinth of Tigers that they had learned what it meant for blood to boil.

But tonight was about fun, not fear or fury. Anchovies hadn’t had a chance to relax in some time; under the quiet of the Shuttered Palace’s salons was a tangle of social mores and royal demands. Despite their penchant for bending those rules like grain against a scythe, Anchovies’s dreams had become filled with the social mummification of the Palace and the bodily mummification of the Tomb-Colonies combined in a grey, shuffling limbo. At last, it was time for a real party. In contrast to the stiff, uptight salons, the periodically airborne scholars served as living proof that Veilgarden really knows how to have a good time.

Anchovies makes their way over to a group of partygoers discussing the latest styles from Hell, with the intent of correcting some misconceptions - an afternoon on the river with an Affectionate Devil is much more reliable than what is likely a collection of half-baked rumors made up by Londoners to sell scarves, after all. Upon learning that the conversation was just recently host to Lord Gazter, the Lord Gazter, Anchovies instead listens intently to hear what tidbits his Lordship had to share. A gentleman of such stature in the Brass Embassy would naturally have perhaps a dozen or more acquaintances each more influential in the fashions of London’s devils than Anchovies’s fiendish friend. &quotPlaid, you say? I hadn’t heard. How… novel.&quot

[OOC: Connected: Hell of 1,343? By Stone, how long did that take?]

It doesn’t take long for the talk of fashion to become too reminiscent of the salons of the Palace, and Anchovies slips out of the conversation. After carefully sampling each of the hors d’oeuvres (but not the drinks, for it is unwise to start the alcohol too early in the evening), they stock a plate with their favorites and scan the crowd for familiar faces. They recognize a somewhat wild-haired scholarly sort from lithographs in the backs of certain book-jackets, glimpsed in public readings at the Palace salons. Anchovies works their way around the edge of the room to make an introduction.

(Public readings in the Shuttered Palace rarely involve any reading aloud. Guests crowd around a single volume and read silently over each other’s shoulders. There is much awkward waiting for everyone to catch up before turning each page. It is an exceptionally dull pastime, even among the dreadful stillness of life at the Palace.)

&quotMs. E. M. Canning, I presume? Lionel Anchovies, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Did you know that you happen to be all the rage, such as it is, in certain circles of the Shuttered Palace? I’ve heard much glowing praise for your work in my recent time there.&quot Anchovies tactfully neglects to mention that the guests at the Palace were much better able to demonstrate their enthusiasm for Canning’s work than to demonstrate whether they retained anything from what they’d read. &quotAnd have you sampled the zee-caramels our host has so graciously provided? They’re simply delightful.&quot Anchovies pops one of the candies into their mouth and gestures to their plate to offer one to Canning.
edited by Anchovies on 5/6/2017

Casket continues to scan the party looking for his quarry, he notices two people walking toward him. One of them wielding a rapier. Casket grips his knife tighter, taking a defensive position. Casket continues to scan the party keeping a wary eye on the two potential hostiles.

Dirae Erinyes stands in front of the wary figure of Jimmy Casket, letting their massive bulk shield the rest of the party guests from any sudden attacks.

&quotMister, this ain’t that kind of party. Our host might be a free wheeling sort, but I doubt they would like it if one of their guests got stabbed. And don’t go claiming that it’s some friendly knife and candle game - as an umpire, I would be the first to know if it went off hiatus.&quot Dirae Erinyes glass eyes look down at Jimmy Casket, watching for his response.

Jimmy reluctantly puts his knife away, keeping his combat stance.

&quotRelax, far as I can tell HE isn’t here, I probably won’t be stabbing anyone.&quot Jimmy says with a tone of hostility.

&quotOh, splendid, splendid. I do hate conflict,&quot Oscar bemoans, setting his rapier back in its strap, &quotThat there would be such a quarrel at such a delightful party.&quot
The bohemian sniffles, pushing loose curls out of his eyes and revealing brimming tears.
&quotOh, I could cry,&quot he declares, nodding in agreement with himself, voice breaking as he continues, &quotI most certainly could!&quot
With this, he flings himself onto a nearby couch and begins to weep openly, face buried in a honey-stained pillow, body racked with sobs.
&quotPeople are so dreadful!&quot he exclaims, sitting up after some time and clutching the pillow to himself, &quotLike flowers gone rotten!&quot
The artist rises, cheeks reddened with wine and wet with tears, and flings the pillow away, stumbling off into the crowd to weep onto some pretty thing’s shoulder til he has drained all the melodrama he can come from the situation and decides to be jolly and festive again. A young fashion designer, enamored by the make and fabric of Oscar’s vintage doublet, hurries in the wake of the departing bohemian.

[quote=anarchetype]Jimmy reluctantly puts his knife away, keeping his combat stance.

&quotRelax, far as I can tell HE isn’t here, I probably won’t be stabbing anyone.&quot Jimmy says with a tone of hostility.[/quote]

&quotHe?&quot The voice conveys the raised eyebrow that can’t be seen. &quotIt sounds like you have a story.&quot

[OOC: perhaps, for the sake of setting the scene, we should figure out where each of us is in the party space? For a single large ballroom, here’s a layout which I think is fairly straightforward:

east wall: the Crowded Foyer, leading to the outside
south-east corner: the Woefully Insufficient Coat-Room, manned by an Underpaid Footman
south wall: the Decadent Refreshments in all their sugary splendor
south-west corner: door to the Bustling Kitchens, from whence the Businesslike Caterers emerge
west wall: the Admirable Collection of Paintings hangs on the wall, while the Generous Drink-Servers mill about the floor
northwest corner: door to the Labyrinthine Servant-Rooms, with the Gypsy-Costumed House-Band on a small stage nearby
north wall: the Scuffed Dance-Floor, and many Variously Intoxicated Merry-Makers
north-east corner: the Scholar-Tossing Poets, and the door to the Honey-Parlors and Smoking-Rooms, where at least some quiet or privacy can be had

The center of the room is scattered with standing-tables, mostly in the vicinity of the food and drink but some near the musicians and the edge of the dance-floor. And since this is a Veilgarden party it’s not perfectly organized; some dancers have wandered away from the main dance-floor, servants with small trays of drinks and hors d’oeuvre wander across the entire room, and so forth.

For example: Anchovies was just recently at the Refreshments, and both they and the Cannings are recent arrivals, so all three are probably somewhere in the south-east quarter of the room.

Of course this is collaborative RP, so tweaking or adding to that basic layout is certainly possible, especially for our gracious host.]
edited by Anchovies on 5/6/2017