An Invitation to a Curious Salon

So, I don’t see a lot of these and I’m not quite sure how all this works yet, but here’s the premise: a salon about the zee, flesh, clay, and life in general, hosted by my main, Phiri Ulfur, and the Pirate-Poet. Ignore the torrid romance, if you please. Feel free to drop in and join whatever’s happening, just please be respectful. I haven’t done this before so I’m relying on others’ expertise. Please tell me anything I’m doing wrong or any feedback at all either here or by messaging me through the forum. Have fun!

Curious dark blue scraps of paper litter the streets. They clog the gutters like Surface-leaves, urchins gather them to sell as kindling, and some have been folded into boats and float down the Stolen River like sickly ducks. Should you be curious as to what the paper would say, this is what you would read:
An Open Invitation to Any and All Persons to a Salon about Clay, Flesh, the Zee, and Life in General
Hosted by Phiri Ulfur at the 9th Zee-Znail’s Zhell on Ladybones Road
Arrival times from 8am-11am December 13th and ends whenever there are no longer attendees
Refreshments will be served
No RSVP necessary
Guest speaker: The Illustrious Pirate-Poet

“Do you think anyone will come?” asks Phiri worriedly, staring out the small window in the sitting-room of her zhell.
The Pirate- Poet rises from her seat and places her large hand on Phiri’s shoulder. “I told you, this is a perfectly respectable way to get people’s attention. I’m sure people will come.” It had been the Poet’s idea to scatter the invitations around London and Phiri was still unsure that it had been a good idea.
Phiri turns from the window and surveys the room for the umpteenth time that morning, making sure the tea and nibbles were appropriately laid out and that there was enough seating.
The Poet gently squeezes Phiri’s shoulder. “It’ll be fine,” she assures Phiri, but Phiri is sure there’s uncertainty in her voice.
Phiri sighs. “Whatever happens, I just hope we have enough tea.”

Jolanda shows up covered head to toe in a velvet cape. her salt weasel is wrapped around her like a stole, and still she shivers a bit. “Ah, the cold! So glad to be inside!” She hands the hostesses her gift: a slim volume of Saphho’s lyrical poetry, wrapped in raw silk. “Thank you for the invitation. A zee-salon, what a brilliant idea!”

August knocks on the door and as it opens, he is clad in his usual attire, but wearing a rather heavy dark overcoat on top of it. He is covered in Lacre that falls from the roof of the Neath like a snow storm on the Surface. “Terribly sorry about coming after saying I wouldn’t. But I brought this!” He said cheerfully as he pulls out from under his coat a small bag of clear cut diamond, Ostentatious Ones, the bag itself is rather unassuming, but the inside is lined in Whisper-Satin. “I do hope I’m not too late to the party.” He said with a cheerful smile as he walks in, taking off his overcoat and walks into the main hall with a jolly smile on his face. “Should I have brought wine and honey?” He said pondering aloud.

Phiri beams as her two guests filter in and graciously accepts their gifts. She directs them towards the refreshments table and discreetly flips through her notes again. The Pirate-Poet is actually smiling, and helps their guests settle into chairs and takes their coats. “Two people is better than none!” she whispers to Phiri, who snorts. Gifts! She could not believe that they had brought gifts! And such thoughtful ones too. She had seen the Poet eyeing the poetry(understandably) and the diamonds were just…incredible.
She returned to the sitting room and clasped her hands together, unsure of how to start the conversation. “So,” she began. “Have any of you been to zee at all?”

Maria runs in, in a cheap looking black leather longcoat, with a similarily inexpensive red suit underneath. As she storms through the door, she hands over a bottle &quotWodka.&quot she wheezes &quotSurface.&quot she adds witha clipped tone, waving at Jolanda as she sees her &quotNow, see… why are we talking about sightseeing? I mean, there are many sights in London, but all of us saw them, unless you mean the surface ones…&quot she pulls out her pamphlet, before facepalming &quotZee. Right. English. So…&quot she looks around for a seat &quotI suppose it is the one down here? English still makes me confused, see?&quot she adds, in her heavy polish accent, smiling widely, before looking in her bag for more gifts &quotWait… had more books somewhere…&quot

August waved at Maria as she came in, albeit fashionably late. “The Zee… Yes I’ve been there, sailed in every direction, North, South, East and West. A place of beauty and a place of terror at the same time.” He mused softly. “I used to frequent the route to the Court of the Wakeful Eye lately.” He said sparking life into the conversation.

A black landua rolls to a stop outside the premises, and a well dressed gentleman steps out of it. The gentleman examines the shell and looks to his driver with raised eyebrow. The driver merely nods and rubs his gloved hands together to give them some much needed warmth. The gentleman adjusts his spectacles and walks up to the door knocking on it with a gloved hand.

&quotI’m Lord Barnabas Gazter. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,&quot the gentleman says introducing himself with a smile on his lips.
edited by Lord Gazter on 12/12/2018

“You have sailed beyond each corner, August?” asks Jolanda. “Do tell. I did make the journey to the East once… but after that I got scared for my crew. I suppose our hostess, the poet, has a lot of things to share, too.”

A sharp rap announced the next arrivals. &quotProfessor Kan, pleasure to meet you,&quot says the first to step inside. He dusts the lacre off his hat, which is tutting audibly. Dream-light glows from his waistcoat. Behind him comes a woman dressed in swirling apocyan. &quotThis is my associate Ondine.&quot She smiles brightly, offers August her hand. (“Charmed, darling.”) &quotAnd this,&quot the Professor says, &quotis Hieronymus Drake, professor adventurer and captain of the Rostygold Stag.&quot The tall and monocled third member of the party steps in, cradling a bottle of Surface wine. He presented it to the hostess with a bow.

Ondine, with a wink, slips her a smaller bottle, of something hot and red and Elder Continent—and almost certainly not for public consumption.

Professor Kan nods familiarly to the Pirate Poet before turning to the company general. “I am afraid our arrival has interrupted the conversation. Please, do continue.”
edited by Siankan on 12/14/2018

&quotAh no, not beyond the gates, I feared for the lives of my own men, and I know that from the Gate North none return. The others I have yet to open. My hobby on the Zee was wrestling Zee-Beasts, it was excellent training for fighting Fingerkings in Parabola.&quot He said with a jolly smile as he saw the next three people enter. He got the bottle pushed into his hands. &quotThank you for the bottle, but I’m not the host, that honour is Phiri Ulfur’s.&quot He said while pondering over what lies beyond each gate. He got up from his chair to present the bottle to their host. &quotSeems like everyone wanted to arrive fashionably late.&quot He joked with Phiri, his eyes glimmering with joy behind his cosmogene spectacles.
edited by Honeyaddict on 12/13/2018

“Oh, I am very bad at being fashionably late,” Jolanda laughs. “but if our hosts want, I can take a walk around the block and return!”

Sian pulls out a golden pocketwatch. &quotIt is only eight forty-five. The invitation did say ‘arrival times eight to eleven,’ did it not?&quot

Ondine laughs. &quotI may be guilty of fashion, love, but late… late is docking at Apis Meet when the Tree is already in leaf. Or losing them.&quot She takes a bite of fungal scone.
edited by Siankan on 12/13/2018

Maria looks around guiltily &quotSorry.&quot she mutters &quotI… I was blocked off. Was held up in the store. And then that man with carriage blocked my way.&quot she mutters, shaking her head &quotAs to the Zee… I have no idea with sailing. Lived far away from it, in midland. Only boat I was on took me over the channel. Though, I stilll need to test the boat I got. Anyone have a sailing manual?&quot she smiles &quotAlso, I am Maria Konstantynopolska. Hopefully a Doctor soon.&quot she adds &quotYou can call me Maria. That IS pronouncable, right, Jolanda?&quot she bites her lip, shaking her head &quotAlso, if you don’t want the bottle, I can either give it to the host or we could open it. Say, does anyone have some lard and garlic? You need… biteys. For drinking. Not to get drunk quick.&quot
edited by Rysiek on 12/13/2018

August shrugged. “I simply came as fast as I could, and Doctor, while your watch looks beautiful it may need some adjustment to the time down here.” He looked at the other guests, he wondered if more would come. With hope he looked at the Clay Pirate Poet, wondering what she would like to speak about. “Don’t worry about the bottle, it’s a good one. I do suggest we all take a glass to help the conversation as social lubricant.” He offered with a smile, “if you would all kindly wait I shall return momentarily with a bottle of Broken Giant and some Cherries and food. That is if our Hostess would allow that, it would be rude of me to leave for a moment to return later.” He offered with a smile.

A glittering arc ended in August’s lap. &quotYou’re welcome to check it yourself.&quot

The watch face had five hands and no numerals. Six point were marked with Correspondence sigils; other markers (Clathermontian designs, and others unrecognizable) were arranged in concentric circles. The pearl movement was visible and, deep in its heart, a tiny blue sliver of amber. Bespoke ratwork.

&quotI have my man check it when we come back from Polythreme, but otherwise it’s never slipped.&quot

Ondine interrupted the small-talk she was making with Maria. &quotMan? Don’t go calling him that; he’ll be insulted.&quot

&quotAll right, then, Rat. Exceptionally talented rat mechanic with an expense account for cheeses. Satisfactory?&quot Ondine smiled and returned to her conversation.

The tray was going around. &quotCare for a candied bolete? They look exceptional.&quot Sian smiled at the host.
edited by Siankan on 12/13/2018

Mr Oathes knew it was a very bad idea the moment his Daughter dared him to do it.
He knew as well that he was going to be terribly late otherwise.
But this d__n shipment of Alchemistical Materials was as late as it was important and it just needed to be handled by him in person. Everything else would have provoked a terrible debacle later on.

&quotBOTH of them? Are you quite sure, Sir?&quot replied his coachman. &quotYes, Duttons, it has to be. Our destination is far off. And it’s Thursday. I can’t stand it to be late on Thursdays, you know that very well. So, yes, both of them. Hurry it up, would you?&quot

Unfortunately he only realised the crux of the dare after they were well on their way: Even if his Obdurate Stallions would agree on a common destination, it wouldn’t necessarily HIS destination.

Fortunately, then again, the horses where fast. Very fast. Despite the fact that the route the Stallions took was almost quadruply as long as the one he would have suggested, the journey took only the time his old and trusty horses would have needed.

Finally, and with squeaking wheels, the carriage comes to an abrupt stop in front of the quite marine location given on the flyer he stumbled upon (very literally) the other day.

&quotThis has to be it, Sir.&quot &quotSharp, Duttons, very sharp. Since there isn’t any other sign of civilisation around here for 14 miles.&quot Shakily he gets out of the carriage and fixes his attire. &quotPlease do me the favour and try to keep the horses at this very spot. Somehow. I woudn’t prefer to walk home.&quot he remarks slightly irritated and proceeds to knock on the door.

&quotLet’s hope that this is going to be distinctly more relaxed now…&quot he mumbles away as the door opens.

edited by Jeremiah Oathes on 12/13/2018

The Poet had opened her mouth to speak when the knocker banged twice on the door. Phiri ran to get it. “Are you here for the salon?” she asked. “The Pirate-Poet was just about to begin her rant on clay rights, even though it hadn’t even been brought up in the conversation yet.” The Poet threw a cushion at Phiri, nearly knocking her into the street. “In any case, welcome!” Phiri laughed, rubbing her shoulder.

August inspected the watch, it was a rather marvellous instruments, certainly a co-operation between many rats and a human. He smiled as he handed it back over to Professor Kan. “Is it one of my Urchins? They might’ve been eavesdropping and come here with a few bottles!” He said hopeful as mr. Oathes entered. “Ah no Urchin, but welcome!” He said cheerily. “Let us start drinking and commence with the more difficult topics of tonight, like Clay and their rights.” He proposed as he sunk back down in his seat with some small bites from the tray. From above an Urchin lowered a bottle of Broken Giant on a rope, they had broken out of the Orphanage again, but he had to hold up his part of the bargain and in return for the bottle placed a bag with some relatively safe Correspondence Sigils on the rope, which promptly was pulled up. “Who wants a bit of Broken Giant? My treat!”

&quotGood Day to you! Yes, I am indeed here for the salon. And I am very sorry to be so terribly late. The false-stars seem to be somewhat off today.&quot he replies.

&quotSir, Sir, you forgot Mr. Kitten and this!&quot shouts his coachman, running up to him and handing him a Grubby Kitten and his Bejewelled Cane. He turns around just in time to avoid a flying cushion. &quotThank you very much, Duttons, I’m not myself today. But please, bring the Cane back to the coach, I don’t think I’m going to need it.&quot he answers as he regards the cushion frowning.

The kitten purrs relaxed and leaves a paw-print of dirt on Mr Oathes rather expensive black tailcoat, who shakes his head.
&quotWell, then let us proceed inside, shall we? It is rather cold out here and I would not like to delay your schedule any further&quot he says, picking up the cushion and handing it to Phiri.

&quotYou must be Ms. Ulfur, I suppose?&quot

He enters and introduces himself (&quotI am Jeremiah Oathes, a dabbler in trade, travels and travesties. I am very pleased to meet you all.&quot), regarding everyone in the room and then settling down into an armchair.

&quotPlease, continue, I really didn’t mean to interrupt.&quot he says, stroking the fuzzy purring something on his chest. &quotAnd yes, thank you, a glass of Broken Giant would be marvellous!&quot

“I will have some too, if you don’t mind!” Jolanda says smiling. “Nice to see you here, Maria! Your name is quite popular in my Surface home, so though I will pronounce it badly, be sure I am always happy to hear it! I believe our hostess was about to say something, though?”