Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Moon Man
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Moon Man Resident Pain Therapist

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Eugene Esposito

Eugene walked with the group, entering Wilde Hall. The chilly, night air was replaced with a warm interior. The dark sky, with bright lights. He took the time to admire the corridor they were at, observing each of the portraits hung up across its pristine walls. Generations upon generations of the Wilde family staring down at their guests for the night.

“Captain Khaki, isn’t it? Do you often attend these functions?” Mrs. Copper said distracting Eugene’s admiration for the paintings. He took note that she did not address their new companion by his proper title.

“I’m afraid it is Corporal Khaki, ma,am. I…” Corporal Khaki seemed caught off guard and quickly corrected himself and her for that matter by reminding her of his position. However it seemed as though he was about to say something else before switching topics. “I confess that this is not entirely ‘my scene’, so to speak. The three of you seem far more at home”

“I speak for myself but while I do enjoy a good party, something as…” Eugene pursed his lips and snapped his fingers as he thought about what word to use. “Something as grand and formal as this event is definitely new to me” Eugene’s throat felt dry and he realized that between his last drink and everything that happened, he was quite thirsty. “I’m actually quite parched. Shall we hurry along? After all what better way to meet and mingle with new friends than over food and drink.” He said with a smile.

“I feel you have read my thoughts, Genie. Yes, let’s have that drink!” Mrs. Copper replied with enthusiasm before marching onwards.

After the rather awkward exchange and Mrs. Copper’s apology, an exaggerated laugh filled the air followed by a clap on one’s shoulder. “Whatever the case, you’re in better company now, my friend!” Mr Violet said to their new companion, causing the corporal to flinch slightly. After giving him a couple more pats, their loud friend led the way forward before their walk to the party was interrupted by the last painting.

A grand portrait of the host herself, Avery Wilde. Something about the way she was painted was captivating but also powerful. An aura of power shone in her eyes that seemed to put all the previous heads to shame. How intriguing. Eugene thought to himself. If I manage to get her in a one on one interview I’d be able to get some juicy information. I can’t blow my cover though so I need to pick and choose my words carefully.

Mr Violet spoke first, though the tone of his voice was a lot less jovial than usual. “Our host for the evening looks like quite the woman.”

Eugene turned towards Mr Violet and smiled. “Certainly does and we’d best not keep her waiting.”

“I doubt anyone keeps her waiting,” Came Mrs. Copper’s reply.

Following the group, the hallway they were in opened up into a massive room. Music filled the air, seemingly from all around them and upon closer inspection, the source was a large group of musicians standing underneath the tall windows of their venue. “Well, the party has certainly started.” Eugene commented as he took note of the men and women dancing along to the jazzy tune.

One particular area caught the journalist’s attention the most. It a huge staircase to their right, going up and beyond into the dark expanse of Wilde Manor. It was probably where their host would make her grand entrance. He needed to find a way up there but using that specific staircase would be too obvious. Perhaps he could sneak away in one of the later hours and wander the hallways in search of a way up. For now though, it was time to mingle and blend in.

“Now this I could get used to!” Said Mr. Violet, the enthusiasm in his voice returning.

Looking over at his companions excitement, Eugene laughed. “You and I both, my friend. Now where can a man get himself a drink?”

With perfect timing, a maid appeared out of nowhere presenting Eugene and his group some champagne. It was either perfectly planned or simply a coincidence. Probably the latter. Before he could even respond, Mr. Violet eagerly picked up a flute and started to take a sip. Not wanting to seem too rude, Eugen followed. Only this time he didn’t drink right away, he swirled the alcoholic drink around and took in its aroma, trying to find any sort of inconsistencies. But he couldn’t figure anything out except for the fact that it was of the highest quality.

Looking back up at the maid, the journalist noticed something off. She was fidgety, frequently glancing to the side as if afraid of something. Eugene followed her gaze and his eyes locked on a man. If the people around them was like the sea, that man was an island. The guest flowed around him as if he wasn’t there, as if he was invisible. That wasn’t all, a strange fear gripped his heart. Somewhere deep with Eugene’s consciousness he was praying that this man wouldn’t turn and pay him attention. Something about this guest was dark. Darker than his hair and suit and Eugene hoped he would not be the one to find out what happened when darkness takes notice.

He quickly shifted his eyes and took a sip to quench his thirst. As the champagne flowed down his throat he let out a satisfied sigh so as to seem perfectly fine. A sent a quick glance to each of his companions, lingering on Mrs. Copper’s just a split second longer before saying. “Exquisite drink, don’t you all think so?”

“Quite exquisite,” Mrs. Copper replied, agreeing to his statement before giving out a friendly word of advice. “Though one must pace oneself.”
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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Archangel89
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Five Hours Till Midnight

The defined features of Avery Wilde softened slightly as she smiled again.

"Then I look forward to it, Mister Silver."

Catching sight of something over Jayce's shoulder, Avery's smile faded, before she turned back to Jayce.

"Now, I am afraid, you must excuse me. I will leave you in the capable hands of Mister Black."

With that, she was gone, lost in the shifting crowd, and the rest of the room seemed to rush in around Jayce, as if it had been holding its breath. Mister Black was at his shoulder again, the too-wide smile, the prickling on the back of Jayce's neck, the smooth voice.

"You certainly made a good impression, my friend."

"Did you have any doubts Black?."

The smug satisfaction that now seemed to be permanently attached to Jayce's face shown like a beacon to any and all that could see it. He could see the eyes of the faces of the other guests as they glared at him in a mixture of disgust and envy, he couldn't get enough of it.

"So Black, give me a run down on this dinner. Is there anything that I need to know cause I need to be prepared to deal with any possible outcome, the Silverhand name is riding on this dinner."

While his mouth spoke volumes about his goals, and they were still there, he couldn't help but feel like there was something more that could come of it. He didn't know but all he knew is that he could not wait to be in her presence again.

Mister Black smiled at Joyce’s confidence, clearly enjoying the preening of his companion.

“I am sure your social graces are without question, my friend.”

Suddenly stepping closer, the broad smile of Mister Black did not falter, even for an instant, but the man’s voice dropped lower.

“A word of warning though, if I may be so bold. The close circle of the Wildes is as much the great and good of Arkham as it is a nest of vipers. Choose your friends wisely.”

As quickly as he had moved forward, Mister Black stepped back. His voice was louder now, almost exaggerated in the way he raised his voice to be heard above the whirling music.

“If you are to be joining Lady Wilde for dinner, then I believe I should make some introductions!”

Dark eyes scanned the room, before seeming to find what they were looking for, and turning back to Jayce.

“That is, if you can continue to bear my company?”

"Of course, Black. You are my guide this evening, and I need to have names and faces straight if I am to be a permanent place here."

Mister Black smiled again, thin lips pulling back to reveal an unnerving number of polished teeth. Not for the first time, Jayce couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something sinister in that smile, but for better or for worse, he shook it off.

“I admire your ambition, my friend! I know of just the man to introduce you to…”

Before Mister Black could continue, a figure stepped out of the crowd, catching Jayce’s arm. Her clothes plain compared to the opulence and grandeur that moved about them, it took Jayce a moment to even notice her. A maid, plain features, mousy brown hair tied up, but her eyes.

“A drink, sir?”

Even as she spoke, her eyes burned into Jayce. Dark pools, Jayce could feel the breath catch in his throat at the intensity of them. Her manners and speech were polished, but her eyes, her eyes were screeching a warning, even as she held a tray of champagne flutes towards him. Her eyes unsettled Jayce, there was something disturbing and pleading within them. If he were to spend any length of time staring into them he thought that he might lose himself in them. As he remembered his place he quickly took a flute of champagne and tried to carry on with his mission.

"A...ah yes, thanks."

For a moment, it seemed as if the maid was going to speak, but then the dark eyes flashed across to Mister Black, and then dropped to the floor. The curtsey that followed was robotic and stiff, and then she was lost, disappearing into the shifting crowd. By the time Jayce had turned away, Mister Black had reached his apparent target. A lanky man, standing a few inches shorter than Jayce and wiry, fine dark suit practically hanging off him, thinning white hair. Mister Black had a quick, hushed, conversation, and then he turned back to Jayce, smiling broadly and gesturing him over.

“Mister Silver, allow me to introduce Mister Cobalt.”

As Jayce reached the figure, this Mister Cobalt, he was suddenly struck by a realization. He recognized the face behind the white and gold mask, he knew the piercing blue eyes. He couldn’t place the face, not yet, but he knew him. His chest suddenly tight, Jayce couldn’t help but wonder if Mister Cobalt would recognize him in turn. Even if he had wanted to change his course, it was already too late for Jayce, and a thin hand was thrust in his direction. A thin smile danced beneath the carefully maintained moustache and white and gold mask, but it was a smile that never reached the man’s eyes. The voice that spoke had a Chicago drawl.

“A pleasure to meet you, Mister Silver.”

The voice, the moustache, everything screamed money and affluence and he knew that there was something to him. He knew that Silverhand Chemicals had some sort of dealings with him but for the life of him he couldn't finger who or for what he did. The drawl struck first then followed by the hand, there was a part of him that didn't want to deal with him but social policies and his own drive to make a reasonable impression here amongst the Wildes' social circle drove him to meet this person head on,

"The pleasure is all mine Mr. Cobalt. What a privilege to see you amongst such high society."

A frown crossed the older man’s face at Jayce’s introduction, piercing blue eyes narrowing slightly as he looked Jayce up and down for a second time.

“Forgive me, do you know me, man?”

"Haven't you had dealings with Silverhand Chemical in recent months?"

At the mention of Silverhand, the piercing eyes of Mister Cobalt narrowed, as if he was properly looking at Jayce for the first time. There was a heartbeat of silence, before the thin lips parted, as if Mister Cobalt was about to speak, but before he could, another voice interrupted him.

“And who is this dashing gentleman, darling?”

Turning towards the speaker, Jayce will find himself all but face to face with another guest. An older woman, with the unmistakable air of grace and dignity, expensive blue dress flowing around her and dark eyes framed by a white and gold mask that was the twin of the one that Mister Cobalt wore. If Jayce had been fumbling to place the face of Mister Cobalt, the face of this newcomer struck him like a lightning bolt. He knew the face. Suddenly, he was a child again, finally allowed to attend one of his parent’s lavish parties after months of begging and pleading. The suit he wore was scratchy and uncomfortable, but he had been lost in the colors and the music, faces blurring past him as he clung to his mothers skirts. One of those faces had paused, leaning down to coo in the young Jayce’s face. The same face that was now looking back at him from behind a white and gold mask. Amelia Harris. And with that name, the face of Mister Cobalt finally clicked into place. William H. Harris. With a slightly uncomfortable revelation, Jayce realized that the man that he had been conversing with was one of the great magnates of the American East, driving force behind the juggernaut that was the Harris Oil Company. The whirring wheels of Jayce’s epiphany were finally interrupted by the drawling voice of Mister Cobalt.

“That is the exact question I was about to ask myself, my dear.”

Three pairs of eyes were fixed on Jayce, and he became increasingly aware that a suitable answer was expected of him. The boring gaze of all three people dug deep into his soul and psyche in what felt like an attempt to pry something out of him. As seconds drug out into what seemed like hours, Jayce pulled on the years of social training his father beat into him, pleasant but not ignorant.
He reached for Mrs. Cobalt's hand and lightly kissed it in a display of gentlemanly humility,

"Ah, this must be the radiant Mrs. Cobalt, I am Mister Silver. I represent Mr. Damian Brennaman who was unable to attend this evening."

Mrs. Cobalt watched Jayce with a raised eyebrow, but she seemed to quickly reach a decision, nodding her head towards Jayce and smiling warmly.

“Well then it is a pleasure to meet you, Mister Silver. I am sorry to hear that Damian will be unable to join us this evening. It has been too long since we visited Boston, has it not, darling?”

The question was clearly directed towards Mister Cobalt, and it seemed to jolt the older man out of his contemplation, gaze finally leaving Jayce as he glanced across at his wife.

“Yes, of course, my dear.”

The next voice to speak was that of Mister Black, the lean man stepping forward and taking Mrs. Cobalt’s hand in his own, mirroring Jayce’s actions from just a moment before as he raised it to his lips.

“Please allow me to echo the sentiment of my good friend. It is a pleasure, as always.”

Mrs. Cobalt watched Mister Black, her face a mask of polite indifference. “I am sure it is, Mister Black.”

Her hand returned by the aforementioned Mister Black, Mrs Cobalt turned her attention back towards Jayce.

“How are you finding your evening so far, Mister Silver? I am sure this little soirée must seem old-fashioned to someone accustomed to the styling's of the Brennaman family, but I assure you that we are all quite friendly. For the most part, at least!”

"Heh, yes the Brennaman family can certainly throw one heck of a party, but I must say that I've quite enjoyed myself this evening. I've been able to see the finest in Arkham gather in one place, I've made some wonderful new friends," gesturing between the Cobalt's and Black,"and have even met the illustrious Lady Wilde. I must say that I rather enjoy old fashioned if parties happen like this."
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Hidden 8 mos ago Post by Alkanet
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Debora White

Drink in hand, Debora turned her attention from the lipstick stain on her glass back to the maid. She inclined her head towards the windows. “Tell me, regarding the band, perhaps I’ve heard them before. Were they engaged for this evening of do the Wildes retain their own musicians?”

It seemed an effort for the maid to take her gaze away from the man in black. With the girl’s focus on her, Debora realized she was far younger than she had assumed, and Debora wondered at the circumstances that had led her to Wildes. The maid rallied from her shock and answered with polished politeness.

“The band… Forgive me, ma’am. The band play for the evening, and then return to Arkham.” She looked between the group and Debora nodded; her lips pursed behind the veil.

Mister Violet stepped forward, dismissing her with a smile. “Thank you. We won’t keep you any longer.” The girl curtsied and disappeared back into the crowd. Then disconcertingly, Mister Violet grew serious, and his green eyes took an earnest light, as he spoke in a hushed tone. Debora edged closer to catch his words.

“I think, perhaps, we should all be careful what we say.”

The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end.

Mister Violet then looked to his right and left before straightening and resuming his carefree persona. “I say,” He boomed, drawing the attention of nearby guests, “I wouldn’t mind a breath of fresh air after all this excitement.”

Debora nearly winced.

Turning on his heel, Mister Violet began to retrace their steps back towards the entrance. To all appearances, it seemed he meant to rendezvous with another party.

“Of course, take care Mr. Violet and I hope to see you again later in the night.” Genie wished him well and then began to take his own leave. “I might head off as well. The trip here took… far longer than expected and I need some time for myself. I hope fate brings us all together again later.”

He nodded to them, and Debora lifted an eyebrow behind her mask. The solemnity of his farewell was striking, but not wholly misplaced. “Until then, Genie,” She said.

As she’d predicted, one by one their group was splintering away. Or most of them were. Debora eyed the soldier. She could not shake the association her mind had pinned on him with Professor Green, and so she had no desire to remain alone in his company.

“I should see about checking my coat before getting too far along,” She observed, and dipped her head, “Good night, Corporal.”

Leaving the crowds behind, Debora trailed Mister Violet back through the corridors towards the entrance. He veered off and passed through a doorway close to the portrait of Avery Wilde. He seemed to know his way around the Hall. And Debora assumed he had come to this room to meet with someone. Was the other party already inside? Or still behind? Or perhaps she was the intended party?

Debora had done her best to observe the other guests as she left, but in the massive press of people, that had proved impossible. Even Corporal Khaki had been lost in the crowd. She did not trust Violet, but she could not overlook his remark about watching their speech. Did he know something regarding her circumstances for attending the Ball? Or was he merely bluffing?

The night was wearing on, and Debora needed answers. She steeled herself and followed Mister Violet. Passing through the same doorway, she dropped her hand into her pocket, fingers brushing the revolver.

As she pushed through the door, Debora was met by cold air and the dark outdoors. She drew a breath in surprise and took her bearings even as her eyes adjusted. The door had led out to a patio with a low retaining wall, beyond which lay the encroaching darkness of the Wilde Woods.

Mister Violet seemed to be studying the wood. He turned and gave her a once over when the door shut. He did not seem surprised by her presence. Debora noted that his bearing was more present now, less smothered by the jovial persona. He nodded, and Debora wondered at that motion. Had she passed some mental marker he’d laid out for her?

“The other two not with you?” He asked, voice the most direct Debora had ever heard it.

She raised an eyebrow beneath her mask at his remark. “Did you expect us to remain in company?”

Mister Violet shrugged, “No. No I suppose not.” He glanced past her towards the Hall.

“Besides, who knows how much the Professor managed to get his talons into the poor Corporal.” He mused, seeming to share Debora’s own suspicions in that matter. She cast a quick look further afield when he mentioned Green, but Mister Violet’s scrutiny quickly grabbed her attention again. He’d straightened and his green eyes seeming to bore into her for a moment.

“Let us be frank, Mrs Copper. Am I right in assuming that your reasons for being here this evening are not entirely social?”

He was fishing for an honest response, Debora knew. She recalled his attempt on the carriage to glean the same and was cautious in her reply. “The longer I am within these grounds, the more I doubt anyone attends a Wilde Ball for purely social reasons. And yet I doubt this is your first time in attendance, Mr. Violet. You certainly seem to know your way about the Hall.”

“Very good, Mrs Copper. Very good.” Mister Violet smiled. He complimented her on drawing the conclusions she had but did not elaborate on them. Patting his jacket pockets, Mister Violet pulled out a silver cigarette case from somewhere inside his coat, a box of matches seeming to materialize in his hands. With deft hands, he flicked open the case, and held it out towards Debora. “Do you smoke, Mrs. Copper?”

Perhaps he meant for their talk to be lengthy, perhaps he wanted a visual alibi for their presence out of doors in case anyone came looking for wayward guests.

“Socially, yes,” Debora answered. She selected a cigarette for herself, the sixth from the end, and loosened her veil on the right side of her face. Implied was that she was shedding a barrier and would be more open. She watched to see if he would be influenced to do the same.

“If no one attends a Wilde Ball but to satisfy their own goals, it begs the question of what exactly our hosts gain from them.” She mused darkly.

Mister Violet lit their cigarettes, the burst of light cast flickering shadows across the man’s black and gold mask. Debora took a drag on her cigarette, grateful for the warmth as she waited for him to respond. Mister Violet took a couple of puffs before his eyes found hers again.

“Gain, or take, Mrs. Copper.” He said, “I can only hope that neither of us have to find out the answer to that particular riddle.”

While his answer did not shed any new light on the real motivations of the Wildes, it set another layer of dark implication on Debora’s foundation of the same. Then the green eyes settled on Debora again, and the intensity came rushing back into them.

“Speaking of riddles, perhaps it is time for us to…”

The door swung opened behind them.

Footsteps sounded on the path. Taking the cigarette from her mouth Debora turned, exhaling as she did so. As a part of her had expected and dreaded, Professor Green made his way towards them, smiling widely. His wide build was framed for a moment by the light of the house, before the door swung closed again. But there was no mistaking the thick red hair, spilling out from the edges of the ornate mask or those eyes.

Professor Green's ruddy cheeks creased. “Please, don’t stop on my account, Mister Violet.”

From his words, it seemed he or another had been listening to them, or at least Professor Green wanted Debora and Mr. Violet to think so as he bade the other man to continue. Debora took another drag on her cigarette, but the flavor seemed to have soured. He crossed towards them without waiting for a response or invitation, cane tapping before him.

He glanced between Debora and Mister Violet. “I am glad I was able to catch you both. I hope you’ll forgive my intrusion?”

Catch was the optimal word, Debora thought and the smoke she exhaled wavered slightly. The Professor appeared to be alone, without any of his henchmen. Whatever he planned, he must be confident he could achieve it on his own.

“You hardly need beg our forgiveness for travelling where you wish here, Professor Green. Mister Violet and I were simply indulging our vice away from the jostling crowd.” Debora answered and flicked ash from her cigarette.

Professor Green settled his gaze upon Debora as she spoke, the wide smile unfaltering. “You are too kind, Mrs. Copper. Yet, I am afraid that I come to take you back to that jostling crowd.”

The man allowed his words to hang in the chill air for a moment, seeming to enjoy the power he held, before he continued, absentmindedly tracing the tip of his cane across the patio as he spoke.

“I felt obliged to tell Lady Wilde of the unpleasantness that occurred earlier, and she insisted that both of you join her for dinner this evening.”

Debora took another drag on her cigarette and exhaled, her heart lurching at the Professor’s words. Implied in each of them, and his superior air in delivery, was that the dinner invitation could not be refused. In such case, it would be better to agree and go willingly.

“What an honor the Lady bestows for such a small inconvenience,” Debora murmured. But dinner! She cast a glance at the night sky. Had so much time passed when she’d made so little headway? Debora gritted her teeth. Damn Red for putting them under this man’s scrutiny! Of course, the Texan may be enduring a worse fate than that now. A chill went up Debora’s back.

Professor Green glanced around the patio. “The invitation was also extended to Mister Genie. Is he not with you? Does he not share your vices perhaps?”

He asked after Genie, but not the Corporal, Debra noted. Likely her and Mister Violet’s assumptions were true, and the man was under the Professor’s control already.

“Mister Genie? Oh, we separated some time earlier.” Debora answered, and she felt a defiant pleasure that Professor Green had been inconvenienced in that matter. She hoped Genie would keep clear, but with the Professor and possibly other Hall staff on his tail, it would only be a matter of time before he too was being ushered into the dinner party.

Professor Green shrugged his massive shoulder slightly. “No matter. I am still glad I was able to share the invitation with you both personally.”

From somewhere within the house, the ring of a gong echoed, and Professor Green glanced back over his shoulder.

“And not a moment too soon. One strike means dinner!”

Turning back to Debora and Mister Violet, Professor Green bowed, the overly theatrical gesture looking thoroughly out of place.

“It would be my pleasure to accompany you both. I would hate for either of you to get lost on the way.”

This time, it was Mister Violet that responded. Debora couldn’t help but notice that the edge that had crept into the other man’s persona since they had stepped outside was gone again, Mister Violet entirely the jovial and flamboyant party guest once again.

“Capital, old chap. Please, lead the way.”
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Archangel89
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Five Hours Till Midnight

The dark eyes of Mrs Cobalt did not leave Jayce’s face as she spoke, and the older woman smiled warmly at his words. For all the coldness of Mister Cobalt, and the air of unease that seemed to cling to Mister Black like a cloud, Jayce couldn’t shake the feeling that the woman in front of him was the closest thing to a friend he had made since he had set foot in Wilde Hall. Sure enough, it was her voice that spoke.

“You are too kind, Mister Silver. I confess, you intrigue me. I wonder if you would accompany an old woman for a little while? I have no doubt that these two would rather discuss business, and I am afraid I will find that dreadfully dull.”

Mrs Cobalts head gestured towards Mister Black and Cobalt, both men apparently taken aback by Mrs Cobalts invitation, although neither challenged it. The warm smile not faded, Mrs Cobalt extended her arm towards Jayce, the dark eyes still not leaving his face. The warm and inviting invitation caused a moment's hesitation in Jayce. As he prepared himself to arrive this evening he steeled himself into dealing with hardened business folk who were prone to keeping themselves and their secrets at a certain distance, but Mrs. Cobalt's warm nature was definitely something that he wasn't used to.

"Of course, Mrs. Cobalt. I would relish the opportunity for more time in your company."

Mrs Cobalt let Jayce take her arm, before leading him away from Mister Cobalt and Mister Black. The crowd of guests, which seemed to ebb and flow all around them like the tide, parted in front of the unlikely pair. Whether it was the warmth of Mrs Cobalt herself, or simply the distance that he had managed to put between himself and whatever it was that lurked behind the dark eyes of Mister Black, Jayce couldn’t help but feel a weight lifted from his shoulders.

“I’m afraid you must forgive my husband, Mister Silver. He can be a little… cold these days. But I assure you, he means no offense.”

"It's alright Mrs. Cobalt. I am all too familiar with the world of business and those that inhabit it. If it wouldn't be too forward of me, what seems to have Mr. Cobalt so perturbed?"

Mrs Cobalt watched Jayce’s face for a moment, before smiling again, and patting his arm.

“All in good time, Mister Silver. All in good time.”

The far wall of the room suddenly loomed before them, but Mrs Cobalt did not break stride, her hand reaching out, and pushing open a door that was almost invisible against the wood paneling. Where Jayce may be a stranger to Wilde Hall, Mrs Cobalt was clearly not.

The doorway swung open slightly, giving Jayce a glimpse of the room beyond. In fact, the room was more of a corridor than anything, barely more than a few paces long, the space lit by a single golden lamp above their heads, another wooden door at the other end.

Mrs Cobalt hesitated, turning back to Jayce as the pair of them stood on the threshold.

“Would you care to join me for some air, Mister Silver?”

Mrs. Cobalt's blase composure took Jayce by a bit of surprise. The only person that he expected to be so comfortable traversing around the Wildes' Manor were the Wildes and their staff. As he followed in suite his confident gait echoed among the cacophony of sounds in the party hall. '

"Of course Mrs. Cobalt. I must admit that as much as I enjoy a good party I believe that it needs to be balanced, as all things should be."

Mrs. Cobalt's face lit up in a broad smile at Jayce’s agreement, and she was quick to lead them forwards. As they moved into the corridor, the door behind them swung shut, and almost at once, the noise of the party was reduced to barely a whisper.

For a moment, Jayce was uncomfortably aware of the fact that he was now alone with a woman that was little more than a stranger. Mrs. Cobalt was smaller than he was, and a good few years older, but she clearly had an intimate knowledge of their surroundings, which Jayce certainly did not, and they were not cut off from the other guests behind them. As if sensing Jayce’s concern, he felt Mrs. Cobalt squeeze his arm.

“We are birds of a feather then, you and I. I hope that…”

They had reached the end of the corridor, no more than a few paces in truth, and half-stepped through the door at the end when Mrs. Cobalt trailed off, the warm smile appearing to falter for a moment.

The chill of the air had been immediate, and Jayce saw that they had stepped out onto a modest porch, hemmed in by waist height walls of weathered stone, but otherwise open the night air. And they were not alone.

It was this fact, Jayce suspected, that seemed to have derailed Mrs Cobalt, although any derailment was only brief, the smile returning with almost visible force.

“Madam Blue. Forgive me, I did not realize… It is good to see you.”

As Jayce’s eyes adjusted to the half-lit porch, he took in the two figures before him. Both stood at around Mrs Cobalt's height, and both wore masks. The woman, although as he looked at her closer, she appeared to be little more than a girl, wore an elaborate, and no doubt expensive, dark blue dress, and dark eyes flitted between Mrs Cobalt and Jayce from behind a silver wrought mask. The boy, and this time, Jayce was sure that the figure was far from being a grown man, all lanky limbs and blemished cheeks, wore an ill-fitting suit, and a simple black mask, but the blue eyes burned with defiance all the same.

It was the young woman that spoke first, presumably the Madam Blue that Mrs. Cobalt had addressed. If Madam Blue was at all surprised by Mrs. Cobalt's arrival, or put out by her greeting, she certainly did not show it, returning the older woman’s smile with a pleasant one of her own. Her voice, when she spoke, was soft and almost sing-song.

“There is no need to apologize, Mrs. Cobalt.”

Jayce noticed that this Madam Blue had not returned Mrs. Cobalt's niceties, but it seemed to do nothing to dissuade Mrs. Cobalt as she took a step further onto the porch, her grip on Jayce’s arm half leading and half dragging him after her. The door behind them swung closed with a faint thud.

“I don’t believe I have met your companion, Madam Blue.”

“And I don’t believe I have met yours.”

Jayce was suddenly aware that a pair of dark eyes were watching him, expectantly.

"Hello, I'm Mr. Silver. I am Mrs. Cobalt's companion for the evening."

He extended a pleasant hand in greeting Madam Blue. Madam Blue looked down at Jayce’s offered hand with a mixture of curiosity and surprise, before taking it in on her own and shaking it.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Mister Silver.”

Releasing Jayce’s hand, Madam Blue looked back towards Mrs Cobalt, her head tilting to one side slightly.

“So Mister Cobalt is…”

“Inside. Now, who is this gentleman?”

It was the turn for Mrs. Cobalt to grab hold of the conversation, and the focus once again swung onto the lanky figure that lurked at Madam Blue’s side. Madam Blue opened her mouth, as if she was going to introduce the boy, but she was beaten to it as the figure stepped forward, dipping into an awkward bow towards Mrs Cobalt.

“Mister Blue, ma’am.”

Mrs. Cobalt smiled warmly, and lowered herself into a curtsey in return.

“It is good to meet you, Mister Blue. May I say, you have an excellent choice of companion.”

The defiance in the boy's eyes was gone in an instant, his face falling.

“I’m not…”

Before Mister Blue could continue, Madam Blue was at his side again, linking her arm through his and smiling politely.

“He certainly does, Mrs. Cobalt. Thank you. Now, I am afraid we must be getting back inside.”

Mister Blue opened his mouth to speak again, but before he could, Madam Blue was already moving him towards the door. Before they could teach it, the young woman paused, and glanced back towards where Mrs. Cobalt and Jayce still stood, her dark eyes meeting Jayce’s.

“I hope to see you again, Mister Silver.”

With that, they were through the door, and gone from view. Once again, Jayce found himself alone with Mrs Cobalt. A glance towards the older woman would show that she was looking towards the door herself, seemingly lost in thought.

"Well, that was an interesting encounter. Are you alright Mrs. Cobalt? You seem much more distant now?"

Jayce walked back to his companions side and stared with interested intent. The Blues had rocked Mrs. Cobalt with something wicked which gave him the inclination that they knew each other. It would certainly be an interesting story if he could get it out of her. Mrs. Cobalt didn’t seem to hear Jayce at first, her gaze still fixed on the door, but as he stepped nearer to her, she shook out of the trance. The warm smile returned, and Mrs. Cobalt patted Jayce’s arm.

“You are a sweetheart, Mister Silver, but I assure you, I am quite alright. Now…”

“Dinner, at last! Shall we?”

One arm gestured towards the doorway back inside, while the other hand clasped Jayce’s arm.

"Absolutely I am famished. I hope Mr. Cobalt won't be too jealous that I've monopolized your time so much."

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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Moon Man
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Moon Man Resident Pain Therapist

Member Seen 4 days ago

Eugene Esposito

Just before the maid was about to leave, Mrs. Copper asked her a question. “Tell me regarding the band.” A glance towards the musicians follow suit. “Perhaps I’ve heard them before. Were they engaged for this evening or do the Wildes retain their own musicians?”

The query seemed to fall on deaf ears for a moment as the maid was found quite distracted. She was looking at the tall man in black, the same one that gave Eugene the heebie jeebies. When she realized what had happened, her eyes widened in surprise for a moment before composing herself and replying politely. “The band… Forgive me, ma’am. The band play for the evening, and then return to Arkham.” She answered, looking around the members of their group.

Interesting, so I’m not the only one who had noticed that strange fellow.

Mr. Violet, with his friendly and extroverted nature stepped forward with a smile. “Thank you, we won’t be keeping you any longer.” He said, allowing the maid to return to her duties. Though she didn’t leave right away, and instead seemed to study Mr. Violet’s face for a mere moment before dipping into curtsy and leaving.

The smile quickly faded as he turned around and addressed them. The jovial attitude from before gone and replaced with a seriousness that had Eugene, Mrs. Copper, and Corporal Khaki all leaning to listen to him. “I think, perhaps, we should all be careful what we say.”

Almost just as quickly as it entered, the seriousness left the man. Mr. Violet straightened up and looked around. “I say, I wouldn’t mind a breath of fresh air after all this excitement.” His booming and jovial voice attracting the attention of nearby guests. Whether it was an act to distract others or not, Eugene would probably never know.

Although their trip was and time spent together was rather nice, Mr. Violet seemed to be the type of person to be two faced. Able to switch between masks rather easily which was a rather handy ability to have. Especially in a place such as this.

“Of course, take care Mr. Violet and I hope to see you again later in the night.” Eugene said, raising his glass as a way to say goodbye to his companion. Taking it as the cue to split off, the journalist finished off his drink and placed it on the tray of a passing servant. “I might head off as well. The trip here took… far longer than expected and I need some time for myself. I hope fate brings us all together again later.”

“Until then, Genie.” Mrs. Copper said to him as he nodded his farewell to them and walked away.

Eugene moved through the shifting crowd, eyes searching for another servant that could hopefully lead him to the nearest washroom. An effort made by his part to hopefully explore more of Wilde Hall. His eyes settled on another young maid. He walked over, managing to grab her attention as she lowered her gaze and dipped in curtsy. “Good evening, pardon me for interrupting your work but you see I’m not too familiar with the layout of this mansion.” He said with a nod, his voice smooth and calm. “Would you be so kind as to show me which way it is to the washroom?” Just like servant before, the journalist would study the young woman, trying to see if there was anything off or out of place about the way she carried herself.

She replied with a smile of her own. “Of course, sir. If you’ll follow me, I’ll be more than happy to show you.” Turning around, she began to make her way through the crowd, leading Eugene to his destination. Unlike the previous maid who was quite clearly uneasy, this one seemed far more relaxed and at home. Either she was someone low in the food chain who didn’t know anything, or was had a bit of power and was more experienced amongst the servants.

To his surprise, she led him towards the wide stairs, Eugene following without a question. Just before descending however, he felt the urge to look back and upon doing so, locked eyes with a familiar face. Professor Green. It was only for a brief moment as he quickly shifted his attention and with all the guest milling around one could say that he had simply glanced but Eugene knew. The professor was staring right at him. A chill ran down his back before continuing down the stairs after the maid.

As Eugene climbed down the first flight, the maid was already around the corner, and he instinctively picked up his pace, not wanting to be left behind in unknown surroundings. The music faded behind him, and suddenly he was at the foot of the stairs. The room he found himself looking out on was positively cozy, a handful of worn and deep armchairs gathered around a roaring fireplace, a billiards table dominating the room. It certainly caught him off guard and he found himself staring a bit longer than expected as the maid’s voice called for his attention.

“Sir?” She said, head tilted to one side as if she was curious about his reaction. “Just this way, sir.” A hand gestured to a room at the foot of the stairs.

“Oh, thank you very much. I’ll be able to find my own way back. You may go ahead and return to whatever it is you were doing.” He said, hoping the maid would leave which would allow him to snoop around the place. Regardless of her answer, he would enter.

Stepping through the doorway, Eugene found himself in a narrow room, little more than a closet, or cloak room judging by the row of heavy winter coats that hunt from the rack to his right. At the end of the room was another door. Beyond that, Eugene was greeted the most posh bathroom he’d ever been in but knowing that he was here for a job, he couldn’t really take the time to admire the place. After taking care of his business, Eugene washed his hands then took off his mask to freshen up, using the cool water to wash his face before drying it off with some paper towels. Eugene looked long and hard into the mirror, staring into his own reflection. The night was still young but already so much had happened, the incident in the carriage followed by the scuffle immediately after arriving, then Mr. Red’s sudden mood shift. He’d have to be on guard especially against Professor Green, that man was… powerful.

“Okay buddy.” He said taking a deep breath before putting donning his mask once again. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” It may seem weird but that was a bit of reassurance for him. Saying that to his reflection was an indication that he’d make it through the night. Finally exiting the bathroom, he would finally pay attention the hallway leading up to it. “Weird place to put the toilet, especially one as lavish as that. I can’t imagine why they’d put a closet in the way.” He’d say, glancing over at the all the coats but never really putting much thought into it. Rich people were weird anyway.

Leaving the place he’d return back to the maid and say. “Right, I’m ready to go back now. Thank you for the assistance.”

Eugene’s words were met with silence, the maid that had escorted him here nowhere to be seen. Perhaps she had been called away by someone else but that shouldn’t explain her leaving without a word. Either way there was nothing he could do about it now. Looking around the room, he can make out no less than five doors leading into the unknown, not including the one he has just stepped through. And then of course there is still the staircase leading back upstairs.

Paying no attention to the larger doors in the room, he turned around to go up the stairs before something catches his eye. A smaller door that was just beside the staircase, parallel to the bathroom. The journalist bit his lower lip as his gaze lingered, curiosity beckoning him forward. He glanced up the stairs, light and sound filtering in from the party above and suddenly recalled Professor Green. That man rubbed him the wrong way and he knew that Eugene had gone down here, if he took too much time then… No, nevermind. It’ll just be quick and besides, Eugene knew how to talk his way out of confrontations. For the most part at least. Turning towards the other door beside the stairs, Eugene gripped the handle and opened it.

Stepping through the door, Eugene was immediately struck by the change in decor. While the room behind him had been lavish and warm, here the walls were bare, the floors uncarpeted and the wood beneath his feet worn and marked. Not only that, but where the noise of the party had once been, now there was the clatter and bustle of people at work. This place certainly seemed like the rooms and hallways that servants use to travel around the mansion… and the perfect place to pick up some gossip. There was no doubt that the help had heard juicy stories and rumors so this would have been the perfect place for him to snoop around. Mumbled voices at the far end of the hall enticed Eugene. Softly closing the door behind him, the journalist sneaked his way towards the hushed talking completely ignoring the door to his immediate left.

Eugene makes his way down the corridor, passing two more doors on his left before he reaches the source of the hushed voices. Heat, sound, and light spilling out into the corridor. Staying close to the wall, he looked into the room beyond, and found himself looking into a kitchen. A thick set woman with a shock of white hair stood in the centre of the chaos, half a dozen maids and other cook staff milling around her, like a conductor in the heart of the orchestra. None of them seemed to notice the sneaky eavesdropper in the doorway, all of them focused on their task of seemingly preparing a fine dinner.

Just the kitchen then. Eugene thought to himself. I should probably head back now. I spent too much time here. Turning around he would make his way back to the room he came from, quietly opening the door to exit the hall before turning to go back up the stairs.

When he exited the corridor, the journalist froze for a moment as the room was not as empty as he’d left it. A man stood with his back to Eugene, across the room, seemingly fascinated by one of the paintings hanging on the wall. The door swung closed behind Eugene before he could think to catch it, the thud suddenly sounding like a cacophony.

The stranger turned to look at the newcomer, but if he was surprised to see Eugene, the pale face didn’t show it, and he quickly turned back to the painting. The man was soft around the edges, dark suit straining in some place and hanging loose in others, and shorter than he was. When the man spoke, his voice was thin. “This was painted by Avery, you know. All of these were.” He lazily gestured around the room, and for the first time, Eugene properly noticed the dozen or so paintings that hung around him. They all looked to be landscapes, but as he looked closer, he could see that shadows seemed to creep in from every edge, and every last painting was dominated by water. Lakes. Rivers. Ponds.

Eugene carefully watched the man. At the moment it looked like he wasn’t in trouble but he couldn’t shake off the unease. In that brief moment where the stranger turned to look at him, the journalist could make out pale skin. Swallowing some saliva, Eugene straightened up and decided to humor him. As much as he wanted to avoid this, there was nothing else he could do. “Lovely pieces. I take it she’s quite fond of water?” He casually mentions.

“He lets me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…” The man trailed off, as if he had been reciting the lines to himself. Seeming to remember his surroundings, the man turned to face Eugene properly. The pale face was clearer now, as was the thinning dark hair, and the hooded eyes behind the simple white mask. “I don’t believe we have been properly introduced.”

In that instant, it clicked. Eugene knew who he was. Tony Blackwell. The king of Arkham’s newspapers. He had inherited a failing Arkham newspaper from his father, and in only a few years, had turned it into an empire. In fact, Eugene remembered the countless articles holding up Tony Blackwell as one of the great successes of post-war America, and here he was in the flesh.

Not wanting to seem rude, he walked forward a couple steps and offered a handshake. “Genie.” He said. “A pleasure to meet you Mister…?”

“Mister Jade.” Tony ll said, crossing the room to reach Eugene’s offered hand, his gait loping and unsteady. He had expected the great Tony Blackwell to be in much better shape but you could never tell with people unless you met them yourself. Eventually reaching Eugene, he shook hands. “Would that be the same Genie that witnessed the… unpleasantness outside?”

He gave Mr Jade a tight lipped and apologetic smile. “That would be me. I’m sorry you had to witness that, I didn’t expect that person to be cause such a scene in front of everyone else.” Implying that Mr. Red was just as much trouble during the carriage ride as he was outside. Changing the topic, he said. “I take it you’re a fan of literature Mr. Jade? That line you just said, was it piece of poetry or prose?”

“Psalm 23. Although I can’t claim to be the most religious man.” Mister Jade did his best to straighten up, although he still stood a few inches shorter than Eugene. He looked to be about to say something further, when the ring of a gong, somewhere from the floor above, echoed down the stairwell. The general hubbub of the party above died down in a moment, and when Eugene looked back at Mister Jade, he saw that a slight smile was on the other man’s face. “Dinner, at last. I insist that you join me, Mister Genie. I feel we have much still to discuss.”

The smile seemed to be genuine enough and if the two journalists were anything alike, they could not resist the allure of getting a big scoop. Perhaps this would be a good idea to try and find out some information. Eugene thought. Returning the smile with one of his own he replied. “Of course Mister Jade and please, just call me Genie. Now then, shall we?” With that being said, the two began to ascend the stairs.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Alkanet
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Member Seen 2 mos ago

Debora White

Professor Green grinned, before turning on his heel, and striding towards the grand house. Looking back at the pair of Debora and Mister Violet, the Professor gestured for them to follow. “Come, come. I assure you, you won’t want to miss a moment.”

Mister Violet risked a glance towards Debora, shrugging slightly, and walked towards Wilde Hall himself.

Debora put out her cigarette and reaffixed her veil before following the two men into the hall. The scene had stilled. Guests vacated the main room, disappearing through doorways and down the staircase.

Professor Green led them to its head, his fast pace at odds with his hulking build. He glanced back over his shoulder at the two of them before descending. Debora’s apprehension rose as she neared the top of the stairs.

Mister Violet paused and waited for Debora to walk beside him. As she had expected, he offered a bit of advice, delivered almost inaudibly through the smile still plastered on his face.

“Keep your eyes open.”

Debora’s mouth quirked in disbelief, and though her eyes remained open, they rolled slightly. “My blindfold’s in my other pocketbook.” She hissed back. For this, he risked Professor Green’s scrutiny! It seemed absurdly elementary.

She felt another coming and turned to find none other than Corporal Khaki appearing as if from the shadows. He caught her gaze and offered a stiff emotionless nod. She noticed a sheen of sweat on his brow and his chest pumping beneath his uniform. One hand was tucked deep into his right pocket, unmoving even as the man began to make his way down the stairs.

Debora’s mind instantly went to Red. The Texan had been carrying a weapon in a similar way. Had he run to fetch a gun? Whatever he hid in his pocket must be treated with caution.

Debora resisted the urge to put a hand into her own pocket. Accepting that Mister Violet’s advice might hold something more besides the base meaning, Debora glanced around her.

She noticed another two guests approaching the staircase. An older woman and younger man with their arms linked. There was something about the mismatched couple that gave her pause. Perhaps because it was easy, with the masks, to envision others in their place. What occurrence in their lives had led them to this moment? Did attending the Ball feel like a triumph to them or a burden? What awaited them in the future?

The last words of the dying man resurfaced in Debora’s mind.

“Be careful going down,” She urged the two when they neared, “For all the elegance of mask and veils, one can feel like a horse in blinders.”

“Thank you for the warning, my dear. I only hope that my companion will keep me steady.” The woman spoke, voice all carefully rounded edges as her dark eyes watched Debora from behind a white and gold mask.

An obvious squeeze of the man’s arm seemed to jolt the handsome figure into life, and he managed a weak smile. His voice too was polished and his mask, molded after a crest, just as ornate. It was evident that they were both well-educated. Or at least, adapt at pretending to be.

“I will do my best.” And the two passed before her.

Debora took a breath before plunging deeper into Wilde Hall. Her main goal for the evening remained her driving force, but the dying man’s warning rang in her mind. Perhaps she had allies, perhaps not, but failing on either front would not be an acceptable outcome.

She tapped her thumb to the ring beneath her left glove, a quick eighteen times and then descended the stairs.

As she picked her way carefully down the staircase with the last of the stragglers, Debora noticed the floor below was comfortably furnished and warmly lit.

There was a fireplace against the wall and armchairs with worn backs scattered around, but the focal point of the room was the games table. It looked like something from a refined gentleman’s club. Intimate and cozy, or as close as one could get in an overly lavish setting.

The mismatched couple were already making their way through a doorway at the far side of the room where conversation and movement suggested that the promised dinner waited.

Debora lingered yet again; her gaze drawn to the walls. A dozen or so paintings hung there, all landscapes dominated by water. These clashed with the room at large. Something about them implied coldness and darkness. Another reminder of dreams and warnings.


Drawn from her morbid study, Debora turned to see a smartly dressed servant standing in the doorway. Dipping into a half bow, the butler straightened and spoke again.

“Madam, if you could make your way into the dining room.”

“Yes, of course,” Debora murmured. She cast another look at the dark landscape painting and then pressed onward.

The dining room was busy, more than a dozen guests already sat around the impressive table and more were moving to their places. Debora’s focus was arrested by one particular figure, a man wearing a pinstriped suit, his mask accented with music notes.

In a heartbeat, Mister Genie’s gaze met her own.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Moon Man
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Moon Man Resident Pain Therapist

Member Seen 4 days ago

Eugene Esposito

A tug on his arm halted Eugene’s ascent. Turning to look behind, Mr. Jade had reached out to stop him from going further. “Forgive me, I forget that not everyone is familiar with Wilde Hall. The party, so to speak, is coming to us.” He says.

“Ah, is that so?” Eugene replies with a smile, waiting for the hand to leave his arm before going back down. The sound of large doors being thrown open caught his attention. A sharply dressed figure, presumably one of the butlers, had opened up a pathway before leaving. Gradually, the muted talking from above started to get louder, signifying that people were headed their way.

Mister Jade was still at Eugene’s shoulder, but he had to raise his voice to be heard. “Come. Let us make sure we can find our seats!”

Giving Mr. Jade a smile, he responded. “It’s clear you know more than me regarding Wilde Hall. Lead the way my friend.”

Mister Jade shook his head dismissively, returning Eugene’s smile with a lopsided one of his own. “Think nothing of it. The place can be a maze for all of us, I assure you, and…” Mister Jade trailed off mid-sentence, looking past Eugene, and back up the stairs beyond him. Following his gaze, the journalist turned to look up the stairs and he was met with striking yet haunting beauty. The blood red dress and dark hair contrasted with the smooth pale skin. It was no question as to who this person was. After all, he had seen her very portrait in the hallway on the way to the main room. Avery Wilde.

The matriarch of the Wilde family was clearly in her element, the guests following in her wake enraptured by her, hanging on her every word. In that moment, Eugene could not blame them. As the group reached the foot of the stairs, Avery seemed to notice Eugene and Mister Jade for the first time, and she smiled warmly. Her voice was soft, but it somehow resonated above the bustle of movement and conversation. “Mister Jade, and…” Eugene was suddenly aware that those dark eyes had settled on him, one eyebrow raised in curiosity.

Her voice was soft but even above the murmurs and whispers of the people behind her, every word could clearly be heard. It was then that Eugene realized, that he was holding his breath. “I am Genie, Lady Wilde.” He answered, dipping his head slightly in a polite bow. At this point he didn’t know whether he was fortunate or not to have met Avery Wilde this up close and personal.

A smile danced across the defined features of Avery Wildes face, and she nodded her head slightly as she spoke. “Then it is good to meet you, Mister Genie.” Whether it is the movement of her nod, a shift in the light, or something else altogether, but it is suddenly as if Eugene is shaken from a dream, and sees clearly for the first time.

As Eugene raised his head from the bow, something catches his eyes. His gaze drifts slightly towards her chest and the object resting upon it. The sound of water flowing begins to hush the crowd, turning their murmurs and whispers into nothing more than a passing breeze. He starts to feel cold. Eugene looks down and sees water. Pitch. Black. Water. An endless expanse of water just like the numerous painting that he had seen. Water that was slowly rising. It was cold and he needed to get away but every form of movement seemed to be for naught as he could barely lift a finger. The only thing he had control over was his eyes and his breathing. His breathing that started to get ragged the moment he noticed another ripple. He wasn’t alone here. There was something el…

“Mister Genie?”

Warmth and feeling begins to rush back, filling his body with intense sensation. Looking up he could see Avery Wilde and the crowd of people staring back at him with a quizzical expression as a gentle tug from his sleeve was brought about by a concerned Mister Jade.

“Are you quite well, Mister Genie?” His newfound companion asked.

“Oh… yes of course. I was simply taken aback my Lady Wilde’s presence that’s all.” Eugene replied to him, trying to sound as confident as possible. Turning back to Avery he once again dipped his head this time in apology. “My apologies for holding up the crowd.”

There’s time for me to think about what the fuck happened later. I’ve already made a fool of myself. Gotta lay low for a bit. Despite his thoughts, a cold sweat formed then dripped down the back of his neck.

The dark eyes of Avery Wilde lingered on Eugene for a moment longer, before the sharp edges seemed to soften, and the thin lips held the ghost of a smile. “Not at all, Mister Genie.”

Though it was only for a second or so at most, the silence in the air was thick as Avery Wilde stared at Eugene’s bowed figure. All of the pressure disappeared as her soft voice announced that there was no harm done, the host walking away and bringing the crowd with her. Eugene glanced up slightly as all the people walked around his figure, his eyes catching a few familiar faces. It was only when everyone else had left that Eugene realized he was holding his breath.

“Come, my friend. A hearty meal will do you the world of good.” He inhaled deeply as a hand landed on his shoulder. Looking over to see Mr. Jade, Eugene smiled and straightened up.

“After that encounter, I’m going need a couple glasses of wine as well.” He joked with a smile on his face as the pair started to follow the crowd. “With the way she carries herself and jewellery she sports. Lady Wilde has… quite the presence.”

Mister Jade smiled at Eugene’s first remark, the concern fading from his face as the two men followed after the crowd. “Well then, you are lucky that the Wilde cellars run deep. Perhaps the two of us can try and reach the bottom!”

At Eugene’s second remark, the smile faltered. Only for a heartbeat, the blink of an eye, but Eugene had been watching for it, and Mister Jade did not disappoint. However, if the shorter man was thrown by the remark, his recovery was remarkable, the smile returning. “She is certainly quite something.”

The two men stepped through the doorway, leaving the games room and it’s haunting artwork behind as they arrived in a dining room. The room itself was suitably grand, almost as large again as the hall that they had left behind them. The space was dominated by a vast table, with space for more than a dozen guests. The table itself was all clean white tablecloth and silver cutlery that glinted in the light of the pair of grand chandeliers that hung from the ceiling above, although a quick glance at the chandeliers would show that the candles had been replaced by flickering electric lights. Lady Wilde had led the party into the room, and she had already made her way to one end of the table, other guests drifting towards other empty chairs. Whether there was an arranged seating plan or not, Eugene could see no sign of one, but Mister Jade was still at his shoulder, and the other man deftly guided him to a pair of unclaimed chairs, on the far table side.

By the time Mister Jade and Eugene had reached their seats, the table was already half filled. At the head of the table, to Eugene’s right, sat Avery Wilde herself. Beside her, and in the two seats beside Eugene himself, sat two figures that Eugene had not seen before. The seat beside Eugene was taken up by what looked to be little more than a boy, cheap seat hanging loosely on a lanky frame that looked to stand a few inches shorter than Eugene’s own. A simple black mask half concealed a face marked with blemishes, blonde hair looking to have been brushed back in a hurry. The boy was in hushed conversation with the figure in the seat directly beside Avery Wilde, but as Eugene shifted his attention to the young woman, dark eyes were suddenly watching him from behind a silver-wrought mask, and the hushed conversation halted.

Whatever the topic of the conversation had been, the two conversationalists could scarcely be more different. Where his clothes were ill-fitting and unremarkable, her dress was elaborate and undoubtedly expensive, all dark blue fabric and black stitching. Where his mask was simple, hers was complex, wrought silver and covering nearly all of her face, save for those dark eyes. Not wanting to come across as rude, Eugene finally managed to tear his gaze away. Five of the six seats across from Eugene still stood empty, but one was taken. While the two beside Eugene were young, the man across the table was old, thinning hair long turned white, thick moustache dominating what face was not covered by the white and gold masquerade mask, dark suit expertly tailored.

The man was in hushed conversation with the figure at the other head of the table, and here at least Eugene had some recognition, although perhaps he wished he did not. The man in black. The man that Eugene has glimpsed across the crowd what felt like a lifetime ago. The man that had struck such fear into the maids heart. Unease gripped Eugene’s throat, his breathing suddenly laboured, and it took all his willpower to tear his gaze away. Mister Jade was still at Eugene’s side, and that gave Eugene at least some little solace, and the seat beside his new companion was still untaken. However, sitting on the other side of the man in black was another stranger, all slicked back hair, expensive suit and unforced ease. Eight guests already in their seats, six more to come, if the laid places were anything to go by.

Eugene took in the scene before him, eyes landing on a couple figures around the table. “Good evening.” He said to those around him, even the man in black before taking the seat next to Mr Jade. Although he did not wish to interact with him, there was simply no choice. It was a social event and they were all sharing one table, it would be rude to ignore one of them after greeting everyone else. Thankfully his greeting was met with nods and brief smiles of recognition. It had been a very eventful last couple of minutes so as soon as wine was poured, Eugene reached out to pick up his glass. He swirled it around for a few seconds, allowing the scent to fill his senses before taking a sip.

The journalist was still reeling from the effects of the vision or hallucination he had just witnessed but the taste of the alcohol helped calm down his nerves. Once he was more or less relaxed, he decided to continue where his conversation with Mr Jade left off. There would be more time to mingle with the others later especially since they all seemed to be busy with their own conversations. Turning to his new companion Eugene said. “Shall we continue where we left off? Those paintings, despite being images of still nature certainly evoked a feeling of life wouldn’t you agree?”

However instead of receiving an answer, Mr Jade asked a question. “You clearly have an appreciation of art, Mister Genie. Tell me, is that your profession, or simply a pastime?”

“Not, not a profession.” Eugene replied, setting down the glass of wine. “Just someone who appreciates it. Now let me return a question. You say you’re not the most religious person yet you seem to have a a verse memorized. Was religion a thing of your past or did you just happen to come across such a passage?”

Mister Jade watched Eugene’s face intently for a moment, before shrugging. “Blame it on an interest in…” Here, Mister Jade seemed to hesitate, as if he was searching for the right word, before finally settling on one with a slight smile.

“… divinity.”

Mister Jade took a drink from his own glass, before turning back to Eugene with seemingly renewed intent. “So, humour a hopeless gossip, the man who caused the unfortunate business outside, did you know him at all?”

Eugene would raise an eyebrow at Mr Jade’s statement but decided to look around to see if Mr. Red was anywhere in the dining area. However, he was nowhere to be found. “We traveled by the same carriage.” He said, eyes still scanning the crowd. “It was clear from then that he had quite the short fuse despite our friendly attempts at conversation. An air of hostility if you will. Unfortunately, it seems like that troublemaker is nowhere to be found.”

His attention turned back to Mr. Jade with renewed interest. “Also… divinity? An interest in any specific deity? Christ? Allah? Buddha? Or perhaps one of the thousand Hindu gods?”

“You say unfortunately, Mister Genie, I say fortunately.” A smile danced across Mister Jades face as Eugene’s questioning continued. “Your interest flatters me, friend. But I am sure you did not come this evening simply to trade stories with a man who spends altogether too long with a book in his hands. Please, allow me to introduce you to some more interesting guests.”

Mister Jade glanced around the table, before settling on the pair that sat beside Eugene, the two that looked barely older than children. Leaning across Eugene slightly, Mister Jade raised his voice to be heard. “Madam Blue, it is a pleasure, as always.”

The young woman, her face almost entirely concealed by her wrought silver mask, turned, dark eyes flicking between Mister Jade and Eugene. “Mister Jade. It is good to see you.”

Mister Jade nodded his head in greeting, before continuing, gesturing towards Eugene as he did. “You do me a service, my lady. Please, allow me to introduce my new friend, Mister Genie.” The dark eyes settled on Eugene, expectantly.

Seeing Mr. Jade deflect the question and immediately change topics, Eugene simply reminded with a smile and a nod. He was an experienced talker that much was true but there would hopefully be more opportunities to continue this conversation in the future. Instead, he looked over at the person his companion spoke to. It was the well dressed lady who was accompanied by the young man, the pair that had been speaking in hushed tones when they arrived. Eugene met her gaze and smiled. “A pleasure to meet you Madam Blue, I am Mr. Genie.” He said with a smooth voice

Whether Madam Blue returned the smile or not, Eugene could not tell from behind her mask, but the voice that replied was almost sing song, rising and falling. “The pleasure is mine as well, Mister Genie. I hope you have enjoyed…”

The dark eyes darted away, and the words died away in an instant. Eugene instinctively turned to follow Madam Blues gaze. In the doorway, dominating the space, stood a figure that Eugene recognised in an instant. Perhaps he had already suspected that the man would make an appearance, or perhaps he had managed to drive the memory of him from his mind, but all the same, Eugene couldn’t help but catch his breath.

Professor Green.

Professor Green only has eyes for Avery Wilde. Crossing the gap between the door and the table surprisingly quickly for a man of his stature, Professor Green practically dropped to his knees beside Avery, taking the woman’s hand in his own and kissing it gently. He leant in close and whispered something into Avery’s ear, quietly enough that Eugene could not make it out, but it caused a smile to light up Avery Wildes face, and she visibly squeezed Professor Greens hand. Behind Professor Green came two more figures that Eugene recognised.

First Mister Violet, and then Corporal Khaki. Both men cast their glances over Eugene as they entered, Mister Violet managing a smile, Corporal Khaki’s face showing no flicker of recognition, before both were ushered to their seats. Behind the two men came another couple, an older woman whose attire was the twin of the older man sat alone, and a sharply dressed younger man holding her arm. Neither of them spared a look towards Eugene. But following them was a familiar blue outfit, their eyes meeting midway. Mrs Copper.
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