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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream: The First Night

What is better at the end of a long, laborious day than to sink into the arms of a deep and refreshing sleep? What better reward than several hours of blissful rest, while the mind journeys on fantastic adventures in the land of Dream? A rash of mysterious deaths has swept the city of Arx, people of all ages, all social classes have been dying in their sleep.

Some look peaceful... others? Do not.

************************************

The opening gambit of a multi-session horror PrP, open to volunteers. There will be gore, violence and disturbing imagery, be forewarned. The Risk level is going to be variable, but for this episode it will be relatively low. It will get more dangerous as the plot continues. If you participate in one session you do not have to participate in the following ones, and if you can't make it to one (including the first), that's totally ok. Please @mail me if you would like to attend this session. I'm hoping to limit it to 6 or fewer.

Date

Oct. 29, 2019, 8 p.m.

Hosted By

Reigna

GM'd By

Reigna

Participants

Ian Fortunato Kenna Liesel Nurie Zoey Ailith Rysen

Organizations

Location

Outside Arx - Crownlands near Arx - The Field

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Kenna before departing.

Ian gets ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf from Oiled leather bag.

Ian drops ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf.

Ian gets ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf.

Ian puts ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf in Oiled leather bag.

Winter has come to Arx and with it those frigid nights, blankets of snow and the inevitable spike in deaths. The elements, malnourishment and age are all contributing factors. Some rumors swirl about people looking frightened when found, their faces a mask of terror. This, the healers assure the public, is simply the contraction of muscles from the cold. Besides... what is to be done? A body has to sleep after all.



The music begins, alien in the shifting beat, odd minor key and peculiar cadences. Still, the backbone of the melody is a classic 4/4, the perfect for dancing. And that is what is happening right now. The couple of Zoey and Ian sail out first, the mist swirling around their feet, their movements in perfect synch as the song plays, turning in time to the rhythm as the ballroom around them clears. Ailith and Fortunato are next, their clothing a study in contrasts. Fortunato in black with touches of gray, and Ailith in white edged in the same blended hue. The source of the music is not clear. It seems to come from within them, the beat measured in pulses of the heart, the timbre bending as their bodies do in elegant bows to either side.

Kenna and Nurie are the next pair, adding their touches to the music that pounds the air around the room, the crystal chandeliers shivering to add high notes to the mix. And then, then there is Liesel, alone, as she steps out upon the floor. And for all that she lacks a partner, sher movements are as exquisite and precise as any others. The song throbs coming up to the climax, as all the dancers spin and twist, bowing from the waist, parting to spin alone, before they all come to a choreographed stop as the music cuts abruptly.



The air is chilled, but pleasant. There are scents of food and wine and flowers, the sounds of idle conversation echo through the room. A party. A grand affair, one of those gatherings that happens all the time in Arx. ...But what are you all doing standing in such peculiar postures in the middle of the room?

Fortunato checked dexterity at difficulty 15, rolling 5 lower.

Ian disengages from Zoey as soon as he wrests control of himself from the music, looking far less weirded out by being capable of dancing than one would expect. He makes a slow turn, looking around himself, taking in the surroundings. He looks up at the sky with a resigned, even defeated expression, like he's waiting for an inevitability, an inevitability he's not looking forward to. It's not an expression most people would ever have seen Ian wear. He doesn't even make note of the people around him -- more than simply ignoring them, he seems to be putting up a mental and emotional wall between himself and all of them.

Fortunato is no dancer. He must dance better here than elsewhere, for the beat throbs within him, and it is a strange beat, meant for strange places and strange things. But although his foot-falls and his bows come at the right time, each time, perfect time, his feet are never in the right place. Even here, never in the right place. It is a kindness that his stiff-soled boots never land on Ailith's feet. When the music stops, he stays in the position he was led to by momentum, and asks Ailith, sotto, "How did we get here?" As if she might know.

Kenna stands there as her arms fall from Nurrie and just.... blinks. "I don't even //like// dancing?" That's said aloud as the Iron Guard attempts to get her bearings on the situation. She'll focus on Nurie and instead, "Are we suppose to be doing something?"

Liesel's eyes go wide as the music stops, arms retracting and her feet returning to a neutral posture. She glanced around, a nigh-offended look on her face as she tried to understand what was going on. As the cold bites, she brings her cloak over her left shoulder, keeping her right arm free and ready.

Nurie wears the same wide eyed and curious expression here that she does in most other places, and seems to be at home finding herself in the middle of a dance, though she blinks a little at finding it's Kenna that she holds gently in her dancing stance. Of course, her skirt is very twirly, and she makes the most of it alongside the other dancers and the strange compulsion to spin and bow. If she can, she looks about her, seeking to put some order and sense into what she sees and smells. By habit, she curtsies to her dance partner, though Kenna's words give her pause. "Why--I'm not sure, my lady. Do you remember anything about an invitation?" She shivers, just a little.

This place isn't right, and Zoey refuses to be caught off guard. Once the music stops she takes her bow in her hand. She scans her surroundings closely without leaving the group.

When the realm of the misty touched ballroom sharpens in clarity and the fuzzy measure of clasped hands focuses, the intensity of her sky blue eyes widen in slight alarm when Ailith faintly arches her brow inquisitively at her dancing partner, Fortunato. Muttered, far too low for the other dancers, in a rehearsed maneuver of their vast height differences and in observation of his foot-falls, the Legate is near able to bend so her words reach the Whisper's ears. "Remind me not to sip mulled wine before bed." Calmly, she winks and separates to glance about their surroundings, absorbing details while her hands casually rub across the risen gooseflesh along her arms. Chilly. "The simplest and logical conclusion is often the right one -- we're dreaming. It's the best way I could explain us," a gesture between them and being in the center of the ballroom, right in the heart of a celebration, eyes on them and the other dancing partners, "being out here instead of," she gestures to a corner, away from the main mingling sections.

It seems, if gradually, to dawn on Ian that whatever darkness he was expecting to see close over the scene, it's not going to come -- at least not yet -- and as he makes this realization, his features settle into their usual flat expression. He pushes his hand through his hair. "Shit. It's this again."

Servers wind their way through the room, silver trays held atop palms, a variety of little bites available to be sampled. Each person is offered some of the goodies, little chunks of braised meat on herbed crostini, a dollop of sauce, a spring of chive. Slices of cheese paired with thin ribbons of cured sausage. Glasses filled with red wine. The servers all have pleasant expressions and equally pleasant features. There is something a bit doll-like about them, surely. Too perfect, too groomed. Smooth. There is a cluster of people over by the buffet table, fans flutter like butterfly wings, obscurring features and muffling the sound of that chatter.

Kenna shakes her head at Nurie's question. "No mistress. I am fairly sure that no one in this company was at that haze hall the Iron Guard visited last night." Kenna's tone is annoyed. Ailith's words have her glancing over, then to Ian. "This again? Want to fill the rest of us in Lord Ian?" She steps back away from the people who are offering up food. "There's no chance that isn't dangerous, is there?"

"I don't much care for it," Fortunato says. And, accepting Ailith's theory that this /is/ a dream, he opts to ignore all the food and drink, with the occasional murmured and unnerved refusal as he feels prompted to make an actual refusal. He folds his arms loose around himself, remaining in the lee of Ailith's height, looking around. "Sometimes I think I must have made a mistake. Taking the Whisper mantle. Hating parties. Wanting to let the servants loose in the streets, haha!"

"Dangerous my lady?" The server blinks at Kenna, his eyes the color of a summer sky, so clear in color she can see each striation as if it were painted in. "Of course not! These are mere treats from the buffet. May I offer you this one? It is truly exquisite." He points to a small skewer of meat paired with a creamy looking cheese. "It is divine."

Nurie is more used to being the server than the served, and it makes her a little hesitant at the offers, though she does inhale quietly, admiring their beauty and presentation. She does, however, accept a glass to hold in one hand, the oldest party trick in the book to at least look like you're not refusing everything! Each presenter is thanked in turn though, with a smile that reaches her eyes and soft words. She cradles her wineglass, swirling it about and then inhaling the aroma. "There's always a /chance/!" Nurie says quietly to Kenna. But the passing servant's words draw her attention again. "I'm so sorry," she tells him shyly. "But with all the lovely things here I've quite forgotten the occasion for the party!"

Ian angles his head towards Ailith. "She's right. It's probably some kind of dream... magic... monster... demon thing." Okay, he's not totally clear on the details. "Last time this happened, there was a, uh... Actually, I'm not totally clear on what it was." His hand naturally finds the hilt of his sword, magnificently bejeweled in thirteen rubies -- the natural instinct to seek out a weapon suggests that the whatever it was 'last time' required stabbing.

Liesel warily eyes a server, wordlessly putting up a palm at some offered cheese, but then requesting a glass of wine. She steels herself with a sigh, and makes her way to any table in which she can sit down, eyeing the others that seemed to be in their peculiar positions. She pushes her cloak aside, landing herself onto a seat, eyes glancing down at her peacebound sword. She was clad in her usual gear, the only clothing she owned, something that might have her stick out from any others wearing more formal attire.

"No, no thanks." Kenna steps back another pace and shoves her hands firmly into her pockets. Said pockets make her blink dow as she looks at herself and the pink-pleated-pocketed gown she's wearing. Huh. Haven't worn ~that~ in a while. Refocusing on the servant she falls silent to try to hear the answer to Nurie's question.

Engrained propriety as one who frequents Crown functions, the Legate of Concepts kindly declines every offering with a gentle smile and shake of her head. "Shall we opt for a turn around the room? The dancing has left me slightly warm," she declares aloud to Fortunato, glancing toward the outer tables of faceless faces. "We can admire the party better and permit the other dancers space upon the floor. Aside, it'll give you an excuse to mingle more comfortably." She exchanges a few whispered words with him, then espies particular people in the crowd -- people with clearer expressions, even a greater familiarity. Ian. Zoey. Even Kenna. A few gestures and she suggests gathering off the dancing floor.

The weeks of pregnancy-induced anxiety dreams make it impossible for her to be anything resembling relaxed here. The way her eyes dart make it obvious that she expects the nightmare to begin at any moment. "What do you remember from last time?" she asks her husband, on the off chance that this dream isn't hers alone.

"Must I?" Fortunato answers Ailith's whisper aloud, resigned at best. He, too, looks to the clearer faces, but as Ailith is already beckoning, he does not repeat or reinforce her gesture. He starts examining the walls, the floor, the milieu, with a skeptical and perhaps slightly hostile eye. He keeps shifting his arms, as if the chill particularly discomfits him.

Ian seems inclined to follow Ailith's lead, and moves to lead Zoey off the dance floor, unless she seems like she's going to object. The way he moves is nothing like Ian's normal careful walk. He paces the dance floor with a grace and casual certainty that can't help but betray its lethal nature. Like a predatory animal, not a party guest. At no time in his life has Ian ever blended well in polite society. He picks up the narrative as they walk, his voice bearing none of the distraction involved with walking and talking, normally. "Last time, there was a beach, and I started out alone. I don't think this is going to turn out the same way."

As Kenna rejects the treats, the server pauses, a line forming on his brow, his lips pulling downward. He stares at the tray as if trying to understand the resistance. "Is there something here not to your liking? I can fetch you something that you like? What do you like?"

Kenna raises an eyebrow at Ailith when she notes the woman seeing her. She doesn't move off the dance floor though, since there's conversation to be had with this server. She swishes her skirts just a little like she's trying to settle them in a more comfortable flow about her hips. "I haven't gone to a party since I married into Acheron quite on purpose. Do you have directions to the exit? Because that's all I want right now." Just go for blunt. "Or for you to answer the Mistress' question." She points at Nurie.

Liesel nurses her glass of wine, still watching over the scene with skeptical eyes. She taps a foot as she takes a moment to relax herself in her seat, offhand resting at the peacebinding on her sword's sheath, thumbing the knotwork idly. Her eyes look down to her wine for a moment, swishing it in a circle around it's glass, before resigning her suspiscion of the liquid. She'd already taken a few sips, anyways.

Nurie looks down at her glass, studying the liquid within, especially where it clings to the sides of the glass with the occasional swirl. And it must be said, she can't help but smile and breathe in a little more deeply at the scent. Her eyes lift though, at Kenna's question of the server, and she looks from the Acheron lady to the servant, studying his expression intently, though sidelong.

Ian continues to pretty well ignore the staff like a particularly snooty noble (or a guy who refuses to treat dream figments like people because clearly that is ridiculous). He lets himself fall into the background for a moment while he adjusts the peace bond securing his sword to its scabbard.

The feeling of the room abruptly shifts, whereas a moment ago it was much like any party, the atmosphere jubilant, relaxed, with the continued demural, it is as if all things stop. Even the conversation at the buffet seems to end, anticipation floods the space, sharp as a knife's edge. All are waiting for Kenna's answer, breaths held. When the reply comes the room darkens noticeably. There is a shiver through the air, a frission that sends a plummeting sensation in the belly as the shadows darken, thrown up upon the walls making the servers appear mantled in darkness. "You are being," The server's voice turns ominious, dark, even as his form starts to lengthen, as if he were growing taller. Perspective tricks, clearly, "Rude. You are not being any fun at *all*." This last bit is spoken almost petulantly.

Zoey allows Ian to escort her from the floor, though she is in just a little bit of shock and has been watching him walk since he began to approach her. She takes her cue from him and ignores the figments as well. Her heart starts to race when the temperature drops. "Now it begins."

".... Rude." Kenna will repeat that word with her eyebrows drawing together in irritation. She draws herself up to her full height and stands like she does when she's acting in her role as an Iron Guard. "Rude is insisting your guests eat when they do not wish to, or not allowing them to leave when they wish. I think you will find yourself quite in the wrong here." Some of her assurance is ruined when she glances around at the darkness and the way he seems to grow taller and she is forced to look up at him.

"Yes," ruefully quips Ailith to Fortunato as her lips faintly quirk. "Starshine recommended the best way to ease into a gala event is through casual mingling. Often, she'd remark that the true life of the party is--" Silence. Even her words dissipate by the unexpected turn of events. The darkness looming accompanied by the voice lends to the hairs at the back of her neck to rise. Again, lips quirk and she dares to say, "Wine if you must. It's not good to bottle up your emotions." Puns. Party. It's apropos. And her smile blossoms despite her own inner groan while her eyes linger where the others are standing.

"As long as we don't start getting funeral music," Ian says absently while he fusses with the peace bond on his sword. When he's done it looks, uh... still tied? The knot looks quite secure. Then, looking up, he sees what's going on with Kenna and the waiter/fun police. "Excuse me," he says to Zoey, before moving towards that little group of people with the stalking step of someone who's about to walk into a fight. But... he doesn't walk into a fight. Instead, planting himself subtly between the fun police and Kenna, he extends his hand to the latter. "Can I have the next dance?" It sound a little more like a military demand than an elegant question.

Fortunato glances at Ailith, allows her a whisper. Then he moves away from the wall. He is a slight man, dressed in dark finery that murks among the shadows, and there is nothing remotely threatening about his bearing. But as Kenna speaks to the lengthening server, he moves, his eyes on the man. He says, "If you may assist your guests. What would be fun for you?" Three beats and, "I paint for a living and for entertainment. I could paint. With charcoal and fingers."

Walking cautiously into the ballroom, Rysen's grey eyes look swiftly over the area in an almost paranoid fashion, before resting on Kenna and the server. "What was that noise?" he asks, as he tries to get his bearings, glancing back over his shoulder, a bit bewildered, like an animal released into from some dark box into a new environment. "Please stay there!" he calls to whoever was in the room he left.

Liesel is initially unaware of the change in mood, and gives a token smile to a servant as she takes another sip. As she begins to take notice, however, her offhand comes up from her peacebound sheathe and onto her lap, eyes scanning for a knife on the table, perhaps. After a brief glance at the table, she'd down the rest of her glass, and plant the glass down onto the table with minimal force. "Bit more wine, please?" she asks gently to a nearby servant.

The baseborn lady's maid doesn't seek to overshadow when Kenna draws herself up to her full height and stands her ground, instead Nurie's demeanor softens, and she seems to diminish her own willowy height, her dark eyes sympathetic with the servant, with just a twinkle of mischieviousness as she attempts to draw away and perhaps even soothe the rising ire in the room. "It's been such a very long evening, before we entered this lovely party, messere," she says to him, wide eyed. "And as my lady says, it's been quite some time since there's been a party such as this. I know it's terribly rude of me to ask this of you but I think it would help my lady, and certainly myself as well, if you don't mind sharing what brings everyone here tonight!" She even blushes, just a little, as if she is so horribly sorry to put him out.

"No, thank you." Kenna tries to modulate her petulance and tags on, "Lord Ian. I do not enjoy dancing." She bows just slightly to him before her eyes flick back to the server again.

Nurie checked charm + manipulation at difficulty 15, rolling 90 higher.

The tenor of the room hovers on that knife point, the anticipation builds and builds, all the guests seeming to hold their breath as if waiting to see what happens next. When Ian asks Kenna for that dance, with Ailith cracks a joke and Fortunato offers to paint, that sense of impending decision sharpens. When Liesel is asking for more wine, the server smiles, a sharp sort of smile, one might expect his teeth to be filed to points, one might swear they are so, but eyes tell a different story. Perfectly normal teeth there. He steps away from Kenna and Ian, moving to Liesel's side as he takes a bottle from a passing tray, "But of course!" He moves to pour the glass, the liquid thicker than before, a faint *plop!* of sound before he moves away. When Kenna denies Ian the dance, his glower comes back.

"Neither do I," Ian says without hesitation to Kenna. "But still, I must insist." Now he's definitely not asking anymore. "Special occasion."

Liesel gives a gratious nod to the server as she's poured another glass, eyes glaring down for a moment at the glass of slightly-thicker-wine. She forces a smile to the server. "I must remember to let my wine breathe. Awful habit of mine."

The role of the wallflower is not one Zoey would typically adopt in such a setting, but with her husband returning to the floor to intervene she takes the opportunity to watch the rest of the attendees. She rests one hand protectively over her middle.

Zoey checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 16 higher.

"Lord Ian." Kenna repeats and she firmly steps away from Ian also now. Her hands ball in her pockets and she totally is ruining the lines of her dress by doing so. "No. You may insist all you wish, but I do not want to dance, nor snack, or exchange small talk. I have work in the morning and should be asleep right now so that I can fulfill my duties." Stubborn is Kenna.

"Lord Rysen," calls out Ailith, easily noticeable in a crowd given her height, "would you care to join us? Your delightful poetry would be entertaining as our talented painter and Whisper prepares his canvas. I believe over here," a glance toward a corner, away from the main tables and able to see the entire ballroom, "be suitable for all?"

Rysen blinks when he notices Ailith and Fortunato. "Legate Ailith," says Rysen slowly, and his hand retreats from the hilt of his weapon, and he takes a deep breath. "Fortuanto... I... would be happy to share some poetry," he says to Ailith, glancing a last time behind him, "there were some ladies who were asking, and..." he smiles a bit as he steps closer to Ailith though, and he bows reverently. "It is good to see you," he says sounding relieved. He reaches up and rubs his head, and says, "I swear I heard something strange a moment ago."

Ian steps closer to Kenna and lowers his voice, reaching out to take her hands as he does so.

Nurie watches the server retreat for a few moments, but then turns to look at the rest of the room, and the less definied figures within, as if to gauge the mood of the rest of the room as well. She shakes her head slightly, hiding another smile, and steps back just a little, to give Ian and Kenna privacy, her wineglass still held gently to hand.

Zoey's eyes grow wide at a realization and she returns again to the dance floor, not daring to speak her revelation as loud as she would need to from where she stood. She goes to Rysen, leaving Ian to deal with Kenna. Once she is close enough, she speaks in a soft voice that is almost a hiss. "The other guests only have three faces," she says.

Very very deliberately Kenna steps back a nice big pace from Ian, pulling out of his grasp. The, "No," is all that is audible before she forces her voice down. Red has risen up in her cheeks as she flushes with anger.

"In that case, stay close to me." With a resigned expression, Ian turns away from Kenna and puts himself directly between her and the waiter/fun police, no longer making any effort to disguise that he's doing this. The whatever-it-is is going to have to go through him to get to her, and his placid, set expression suggests that he doesn't intend on making this easy to do.

Her brow furrows when Ailith faintly smiles to glance in the same direction as Rysen. Then awareness strikes with a soft chuckle and a reply. "Were the ladies gossiping about olives, again? The last time, the Courts were in a titter when olives were greatly taken out of context. It was very," she lifts her eyebrows to the hint, "rousing. That would be very strange to briefly eavesdrop. What poetry would you suggest for this evening? I had considered the theme of light and dark in recognition of the upcoming Masquerade of Mirrors. Hm. Perhaps, we need another opinion." And there's a wave over to the lady's maid of House Tessere, "Goodwoman Nurie, you have impeccable tastes. Would you care to assist us in our selection of poetry?"

Liesel swishes the liquid in it's glass, now doubly suspicious at the more viscous liquid. She continues to do this, occasionally taking a whiff in order to seem like some kind of wine aficionado. She flags down the servant again. "I just realized my craving for a bit of meat. Would that be any trouble?" she asks with a smile.

Fortunato looks over his shoulder at Rysen. "Ah, ah! Sir and Lord. Now would be an /excellent/ time to perform." With this, he goes through his ever-present bag. He does not have his easel with him. It is too cumbersome, he can't get his head around having it, but he does have a bit of canvas-bound board and the promised charcoal. And, holding his board high for the sake of an audience, he begins to sketch. Rapid and smeared, but skilled. It is a man, sharp-edged, sharp-jointed, with a long face and a crouch in his posture.

As if some signal was given, the guests by the table peel away, moving in pairs and tryptiches, even as the music swells again. This time there is no visceral connection to it, while the source is still unseen, it flows through the air like weather, thrumming and pounding, shifting the air pressure as if it carried the force of giant wings. The guests begin to move in unison, the dance as elegant and dramatic as the one performed earlier. There are a few differences. There are far more of them, and as they turn to pose, their faces are revealed. Blood stains their lower faces, their eyes are as dark and blank as any dolls. There is a sudden, profound realization that none of them are alive.



The buffet is revealed, several raw carcasses decoratively laid upon the table, one of which is a young man, who, despite having several large pieces that have been cut away, appears to be alive. Or at least moving.

Lower his head to listen to Zoey, and hearing her words, Rysen turns to face her, with a curious expression on his face. He raises his head and glances over the room again, seeing Ian speaking to Kenna, and then turns listening to Ailith. A slight tremor of nervous energy flashes through the fingers of his left, but Rysen smiles to Ailith and, to Fortunato says, "Ah, yes - in that case, let me see - here's one you might enjoy:



Sing, Muse, of Lagoma!

The goddess warm and bright,

Whose flame that dance and changes,

Defies the Queen of Ice!



Her adherents in their labors

Are the cherished pride of Arx:

Sister Sophie, honored Mercy,

Has when th' outcome looked most dark



Pressed against a sickness

That had an unknown cure.

Herself soon was afflicted,

Yet dauntless she endured!



And with Rukhnis she labored,

'Gainst time and cold despair,

And with Marquessa Keaton

Brought hope when none was there.



O, dance flames of Lagoma!

You shed the warmth of life!

Against the cold our surest shield,

The foe of stasis' blight!



The feelings you engender,

With every season's change

Fills with everlasting hope

Those who seek to learn your ways!" Rysen's voice is steady, but his eyes continue to pass over his surroundings as he chants in his resonating, melodious voice.

Nurie checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 5 higher.

Fortunato checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 5 lower.

Liesel checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 3 lower.

Zoey checked composure + performance at difficulty 20, rolling 30 higher.

"Do you want to go see about some poems as well, my lady?" Nurie asks Kenna gently, after curtsying in response to Ailith's invitation and smiling warmly in response. There's a bit of protectiveness that enters her own stance as she sees Kenna's rising anger. "It will give us the opportunity to talk with some of the others too, even if there's no dancing. I think I'm going to head over there now." The tangible push of the music stops her and turns her attention back just as she reaches the group, and she watches the dancers, her brow furrowing slightly, at least until they've turned enough for her to see their faces. One hand lifts to her lips, the other one almost drops her glass, and her skin takes on a nauseated, greenish cast. She turns her sight towards the buffet as if to escape it, and when she sees the young man there tears spring to her eyes, her hand lowering to clench into a fist. "No!"

"I am reminded," Fortunato says as he continues to smear charcoal. The sharp-man is now crouched in a mess, a mess of messy pieces, blood and flesh, and although his expression does not change, his voice shakes. "A story. In the deep catacombs, one may find corpses that do not rise, but yet they dance. After a fashion. Writhing. Seizing." He looks at the young man-maybe alive, and asks him, "Are you alive or seizing? Are you enjoying yourself?" He smears the mess darker on his canvas. To Rysen, he directs, "Perhaps if you sing Lagoma again, you will heal him! Haha!" The laugh is inappropriate. It has no humor in it. Of course.

The deft care of a priest, one of Ailith's hands had slipped into a satchel, usually hung at her hip, to rub fingertips along a vial. As Rysen harkens by his voice in song and praise of the Goddess of Flame, the Legate carefully brushes her slightly dampened finger along Fortunato's wrist, a whisper followed. She repeats the measure when Nurie is drawn closer, a greeting by hands. Together, she encourages listening to the poet. And upon his ending, she repeats the brush of her dampened fingertips with Rysen, clasping his hands to praise his feat. "What a beauteous melody in honor of Lagoma. I must have it inscribed to accompany my hymnals."



That is when the thrumming and gradually unweaving of the dream descends to the madness depicted. The smell of the rot churns her stomach, her nose twitches and she contains herself -- as though experienced by the horrific display. Calm, her voice cuts through the tension. "Our gracious host has inclined to entertain us. The playwrights would sing praise of the suspense and reveal."

Ian gives a quick, light tug of one end of the "very secure peacebond" securing Ashfont and the knot and string come away like the weakest granny knot, allowing him to draw the shining diamondplate sword. Still trying to keep Kenna close to him, where he'll be able to defend her, he holds the blade at a lazy angle. His electric blue eyes move, constantly move, following the movement of the dancers as they close ranks. He looks, as well, at Rysen and Zoey who are, I think, standing near-ish each other? The significant look he gives to Rysen might be a request.

Liesel nods as the buffet is revealed. She gives a deep sigh, setting the glass down and moving her cloak to the side. She doesn't let her eyes linger long on the bodies, obviously fairly shaken at the display, and instead occupies herself with untying her peacebinding as succinctly as possible. She'd use a knife or other cutting instrument if possible, but if not, elected to simply go through the knotwork. "Time to go," she hums to herself, trying to keep herself at least passably calm and sane through the ordeal.

Kenna shakes her head at Nurie. "No," she doesn't have much more time than that before everything changes. The dead courses have her gagging and stepping away. "Go protect Zoey Ian, I'm fine." Kenna's not actually sure about that as she presses a hand against her mouth to keep from throwing up.

Rysen stares at Fortuanto for a moment with his lips parted, unable to think of a response. He is trying very hard not to look at the young man still moving on the table, but his own recitation, and the words and touch of Ailith seems to ignite something deep within him. His eyes meet Ian's and beneath his mantle, his left hand releases the peace-tie securing his twin swords. He takes a step in front of Zoey, and gives the slightest nod to her husband.

The faces, she expected. The blood in their mouths, she could handle. The young man man on the buffet? That gives her pause. She takes up her bow that has been on her back every day since the crows incident and leans beside her bed every night.

When Rysen moves to protect Zoey, Ian turns all of his attention to any threat to Kenna. He doesn't seem inclined to listen to her any more than she was inclined to listen to him. He's also keeping Nurie in his peripheral vision, as least as long as she stays close. "Any of you have any idea how to wake up?" He asks in a general sort of way.

Rysen is overheard praising Ailith: Mighty indeed is the Shield of the Faith.

Zoey wields Dawn's Light, an alaricite bow.

The dancers continue to spin and bob in their mirrored dance, their feet leaving bloody footprints in their wake. They are, however, getting closer in their spiraling, turning and spinning path. The room is getting smaller, darker, the music growing louder with each measure that passes. There is a door leading out, the movement of the dancers a herding thing, taking up all the space in the shrinking ballroom. A sound pierces the sounf of the music, a high pitched wail, "Jamie be CAREFUL! HEEEEEELP!"

Ailith tsks at Fortunato. "Your jest lacked a pun. Points lost. And I beg to differ. They're more the corpses of the ruins. Don't you see that their posture is all wrong -- not enough bend and twist of the bones." Her words aim in distraction for her friend and as she turns, a droplet rolls off her fingertip to leave a faint wet mark on the tip of her slipper. When she stands at her friend's side, her hand falls upon the hilt of the blade always worn at her side. Words echo, a call either to blade or else, "By light and faith, darkness waits. Heed not the madness and steady yourselves by friendship and might through our Gods' holy light." She arches her brow at Fortunato.

Fortunato lowers his smeared artwork as the room constricts and the corpses herd. He looks back over his shoulder, and back to Ailith. Back past Ailith to drawn weapons and loosening peace bonds. "I'm feeling a bit cramped. We can pinch ourselves as we move." With this, he's moving toward the door, wanting to get there on his own impetus. He is small, after all, and liable to get bumped and knocked about. As he moves, he recites, flat, "I've seen real corpses seize, certainly realer than these. I was never much given to puns. Didn't find 'em particularly fun." He does, at least, remain more or less by Ailith as he moves. Where possible. "Madness is a light cousin of mine. I am hardly comfortable with only the divine." Doorward, doorward.

Liesel unsheathes her messer with the peacebinding gone, standing and reaching for her shield, where it would normally be, on her back. Alas, there was no shield-- dancing with it on and flopping about would have been difficult, after all. She sighs, making her way in short order towards any others taking up arms. Reorienting herself, she keeps a hand up and at chest level, sword in front of her and extended past that. "If this was a dream, I feel like we'd have a little more control, no?" she asks as she begins breathing in measures, eyes scanning the room repeatedly as she readies herself.

Liesel wields a simple steel messer.

The greenish cast to her face doesn't abate, her eyes wide and still luminous with tears as she studies the moving feast upon the table. Her expression is one of empathy, even a twinge of guilt, but she remembers to breathe in again as Ailith touches her wrist, even if it's at least half in the shape of a sob. "Will he suffer for very long?" she whispers, mostly to herself, trying to will herself back to calm. "I don't know," she says, of how to wake up from a nightmare. "I'm better at waking up other people up, especially when it's cold. If you dump a bunch of cold marbles in their bed it does the trick every time!" Her voice is strained. She reaches up to slide a long and sharp set of hairpins from her hair, allowing dark waves to tumble messily around her shoulders, taking on a ready stance.

Nurie wields a steel and red gold serpent hairpin with sapphire eyes.

"Yeah..... no. But I am all for doing that." Kenna pats at her hips for her weapons, but generally she doesn't wear them when going out dancing. So she's totally unarmed at the moment. "I could pinch you." See, trying to keep it together. She's going to lean forward and pinch Ian, JUST in case it helps.

"Nightmares are always at their worst right before you wake," Zoey says softly. "And this is not a normal dream."

Ian understands fighting, and it's clear that he's playing that role and that role alone right now, looking to the others, those with more occult and religious knowledge, to make sense of things and come up with a plan while he, as much as he can, keeps Ashfont's gleaming blade between the dancers and his charges.

Fortunato checked dexterity at difficulty 25, rolling 18 lower.

Zoey checked dexterity at difficulty 25, rolling 2 higher.

Kenna checked dexterity at difficulty 25, rolling 13 lower.

Ailith checked dexterity at difficulty 25, rolling 1 higher.

Ian checked dexterity at difficulty 25, rolling 5 higher. Ian rolled a critical!

Rysen stays between Zoey and the dancers. His hand rests on the hilt of his weapon, ready to fly free at the first sign of danger.

Nurie checked dexterity at difficulty 25, rolling 12 lower.

Rysen checked dexterity at difficulty 25, rolling 5 higher.

Liesel checked dexterity at difficulty 25, rolling 6 lower.

With the constant press of the dancers, the door is rapidly against their backs. There is the sound of fighting outside, the whimpering and wailing of a small child audible as the door opens up behind the party. The entire room begins to rotate in a smooth motion until it is at a ninety degree angle, sending Fortunato, Kenna, Nurie and Liesel falling out of the door to fall heavily on a hard cobbled road. As for Zoey, Ailith, Rysen and Ian, they too fall through the door, but are able to land on their feet. And a good thing too -- there is a fight underway.



The dark road is at a crossroads, rain pattering down on the blue-black cobbles, a contingent of nine undead creatures are trying to climb up a small tower of wooden crates. At the top are a pair of children, the younger, a small girl in pink pajamas and a slighly older boy, no older than eleven or twelve, armed with a stick, trying to fend the monsters off. The boy is one-handed, his left arm ends in a stump, he's breathing hard, panting, trying to keep his hair out of his eyes as he uses the stick to try to push the zombie off the crate he's climbing. The little girl is the source of the whimpering and crying.

"No!" shouts Rysen on instinct. Instantly his blades are in his hands and he's racing towards the corpses with his black mantle flowing behind him like the wings of a raven.

Rysen wields Moria - a rune-etched bastard sword.

"Whatever you do, don't light them on fire." This last piece of advice, given in his usual level, almost bored sounding voice, is as close as Ian goes to a battle cry before, without a moment's hesitation, he engages with the zombies.

Fortunato falls heavily on his side, scooting on his shoulder. He looks up into the rain and over to the tower and its children. He exhales through his teeth. "To all brave warriors I do defer. Do prioritize due rescue and succour."

Zoey takes aim at the undead beasts closest to the children and starts firing.

Down another darkened hole of the dream. Once her feet adjust to the cobble crossroads, instincts kick in and Ailith observes the others in their group -- verifying for signs of injury -- until her head snaps to the location of where the crying resides. "Over here," she says to Fortunato, nudging to veer to the other side as the group of combatants are making (right side vs left side of a road). "If they make an opening by their attacks with the creatures, we can hurry in closer to draw the children away."

Kenna rolls upon hitting the floor and just lets the momentum take her in the direction it takes her. She's not quick on her feet, but she does eventually stumble to her feet and casts around for something to act as a weapon.

Liesel's eyes go wide again, not with surprise, but rather bloodlust. She immediately grabs her sword, if she had dropped it on the fall, and jumps to her feet, deciding to charge full-tilt at the zombie that the child must defend himself from, messer held in both hands. She grits her teeth instead of shouting some battle-cry. Last she checked, dead men don't feel fear.

Nurie falls hard enough to send her sharpest pin skittering a couple of feet away across the cobblestones, but she grabs for it and scrambles to her feet despite bumped and bruised knees. She watches Rysen and Ian race towards the attacking monsters, her eyes falling on the children. "If they distract them with the fighting, could we get the little ones to safety?" She asks. Pleads, really. Her eyes rest on Kenna with almost childlike faith in an Iron Guard knowing just want to do.

Kenna checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 4 lower.

Rysen checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 8 higher.

Ian checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 3 higher.

Zoey checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 7 higher.

Fortunato checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 1 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(4) at difficulty 10, rolling 11 higher.

Nurie checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 3 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(3) at difficulty 10, rolling 1 higher.

Ailith checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 16 higher.

Liesel checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 14 higher. Liesel rolled a critical!

The undead turn to look at the advancing warriors, their mouths opening, bloody drool dribbling out as several of them shift their focus on the incoming warriors. Spying the incoming adults, the little girl screams a shrill, "HELP US! PLEASE!" Jamie, the young boy focuses on teh zombie he's attempting to pry off the tower, jabbing with his stick and hitting the zombie in the face, the wood getting lodged in there, getting pulled from his grip.

Ailith checked command + manipulation at difficulty 15, rolling 34 higher.

Ailith checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 19 lower.

Liesel checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 25 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + brawl(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

Rysen checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 41 higher.

Liesel brings her messer down with great force, a satisfying slash and crack following her chop. She manages to lop off a climbing arm, her face scrunched up in an expression of fury, but she stays silent nonethless.



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