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While I tend to heavyweight most of my 1x1s and do most of the plotting and NPC-ing, I like my partner to have equal input so we both enjoy the plot, and if they have a great idea, it can be incorporated. We also each have our "assigned" main characters, then share the NPC-ing of everyone else. Sometimes, it's just easier to switch off some of the heavier NPCs, especially if one partner has multiple MCs that need to interact with them while the other doesn't at the moment.

Example: I have a 1x1 Nightmare Before Christmas AU. My main characters are Lock, Shock, and Barrel, my partner's are some of their monster OCs to play off of them. Depending on the scene, we share characters like Jack, Sally, Dr. Finklestein, and the witches, since they're heavyweight NPCs that our main characters end up running into often, and then the rest of Halloween Town as in-general NPCs as needed. Sometimes it's just easier for my partner to take Jack so LSB can play off of him, or I'll take Jack and Sally because more of their monsters are in the scene, but LSB aren't, or if it's a big crowd scene, we'll both play various Halloween Town citizens and switch off Jack as needed depending on what's easiest to keep the flow going. Just whatever needs to be done, we both have the power to do it instead of relying on one person playing this one NPC all the time.
[Collab with the GM.]

Salvatore woke up to the sounds of laughter erupting from downstairs. After working long hours the night before, he was exhausted. Struggling to get out of bed, he looked at himself in the mirror. “Dratts!” He exclaimed, picking up his pocket watch to look at the time. Their party was starting soon and he was nowhere near presentable. “Damned If I had known he was bringing girls home I wouldn’t be so out of it.” Mumbling and cursing under his breath as he got ready for the soirée.

The night before, Salvatore drank almost two bottles of brandy mixed with blood. More than his usual intake. After all, someone of his stature had to indulge in the pleasures of the gambling and prostitution lifestyle. His and Lochlainn’s business had been growing these last few months. Businessmen, aristocrats, and investors were flocking nightly to gain some sort of business deal with two of the wealthiest men in London.

Hearing the sounds of glasses clinking while voices from the lower room got louder and made their way to his room. Salvatore, an Italian nobleman who stood at 5.7. He had a statuesque jawline that appeared to be chiseled by the Nordic gods. His hypnotic gray eyes could make any female faint without saying a word. His beard was neatly groomed almost to that of a five o’clock shadow and had dark wavy neck length locks that he kept pulled back into a ponytail. Tonight he decided to wear a pair of black suit with a tail coat.

“Here’s to hoping this night doesn’t have anything unexpected. I rather sleep than entertain.” He said as he grabbed his violin case and cane sword. The cane sword was custom made. A gift from his mother when she gave him the title Duke of Kent.

Outside the started to get cold, rain was coming. Salvatore descended the stairs as his eyes fell on to his vampire sibling, Lochlainn. “I see you’re ready to entertain brother. Ladies.” Acknowledging the guests his brother has brought home. “Breakfast or desert?” His eyes wandering over them hungrily.

“Guests should be arriving soon. No matter, I need to speak to you alone. In private.” Salvatore pulled Lochlainn to the side. "Something is in the air tonight. I can feel it. But I don’t know what. We must be on our guard for the unexpected.” Salvatore did a once over throughout the house making sure everything was clean and set up to their desires. Time passed and guests soon started to arrive by horse drawn carriages to their city home in Mayfair. One by one members of high society came in, all of whom were personally invited by Salvatore and Lochlainn.

“Oh look Earl Harrington is here. That will make for some interesting conversation. Is that Diedre Monaghan, I heard scandals about him and her being his mistress. He wasn’t on the guest list, unless you invited him?” He said to Lochlainn as they watched everyone walk in. “Well, in that case, it would be rude of us to kick him out. This might work in our favor after all. Miss Monaghan is looking for a new employer from what the other girls gossip about.” Salvatore was curious as to why such a couple would show up without an invite. Supposedly, word got out. It wasn’t a big deal. In fact, he had heard so much about Earl Harrington but never actually met him.

Out of the corner of his eye he spotted Lady Ashton, fiancé to Lord Delacroix. Things were going to get interesting throughout the evening. Once everyone was settling in, coats were hung and drinks were being poured, the festivities were underway. For the early part of the party, Salvatore played his violin. The music was beautiful and eerie. As he played, the hairs on his arm stood up, creating chills amongst his audience. Yet, he had no idea what his music had done until the door swung open.

~~~


Another weekend, another droll party. If it didn't mean another night on her back, Dierdre would have rescinded. Then again, she was already wondering if it would be better to let Earl Archibald Cassius Harrington ride her like a prized stallion and let him pretend his prowess in bed was worth what he paid. At least then, she wouldn't have to do much, and could spend the rest of the evening with a good book.

But such social gatherings were a requirement for a man of his standing, and she as his escort - she insisted on that terminology - was akin to a prize gem to be shown off. Her lavender gown was perfectly cut to her body, with black lace trim and strings of pearls to properly accent both the gown and her admittedly boldly cut bosom. She carried a matching fan in her lace-gloved hands. Dierdre sometimes went a little heavy on the powder, but she chose a subtle lip stain to assimilate herself into the upper class. Her dark brown hair was pulled into an updo, with two ringlets strategically hanging on either side of her neck to better frame her face.

Earl Harrington had spotted the hosts. Dierdre simply smiled and played her part, but found herself drowning out talk of business as she noticed Lord Delacroix and his fiance, Lady Ashton. A subtle smirk crossed her face. Dierdre quickly held up her fan.

I bet I'll still see him after the wedding, she thought.

She saw Lady Ashton turn in her direction. Dierdre quickly pulled up her fan and pretended to be interested as Earl Harrington spoke with Lochlainn.

"...while it pains me," she caught Harrington say as she zoned back in, "that I simply haven't the time to run it anymore..."

Dierdre did her best to look pretty and interested. Truth be told, she wanted some champagne, and looked away to hopefully spot a servant with a tray to imbibe from. She could probably get herself halfway drunk and still carry on any necessary conversation if needed. Her pursuit of a servant seemed to garner other attention. It took a moment for her to realize Lady Ashton was storming up in her direction. The young woman pulled up a bright, yet seething smile as she listened for a natural point in the conversation to pull herself in.

"Pardon me, Duke Lochlainn," she said, with a subtle curtsey to show him proper respect, "but I thought this was a party of good taste."

She gave a poised, knowing look to Dierdre.

"It seems a bit of refuse somehow blew in from the streets."

Dierdre kept up her fake, graceful smile as she turned to Lady Ashton.

"How would you know, having never set one pampered foot into them?"

"I know well enough when something doesn't belong," Lady Ashton snapped back, "and a lady of your…station has no business showing her face here."

"Of my 'station'?" Dierdre asked, coyly.

Earl Harrington quickly tried to diffuse it.

"Lady Ashton," he said, "Lady Monaghan has earned her place to--"

"Earned?" Lady Ashton snapped. "Earned? By lying on her back and offering herself to you? You call that earned?"

Dierdre never lost her smile. She hooked her arm around Earl Harrington's and gently patted his hand.

"I offer the Earl good company and grace on the harpsichord," she said pointedly, "as opposed to simply preening in front of a mirror."

Dierdre shot a quick glance to Lord Delacroix.

"I've heard it told your fiance also has an ear for music," she said. Her smile kept its sweetness. Her eyes, however, narrowed in for the kill. "What can you offer him in that regard?"

Salvatore looked over at the two females, his gaze falling on Miss Monaghan more than Lady Ashton. Lady Ashton spoke to the female in a hushed tone. “He does. Tonight we’re here for the glorious summer party our hosts have yet to grace us.”

As she was about to say something snarky Lord Delacroix chimed in.

“Darling, I want you to meet some of my business associates. The reason why he pulled her away was that he didn’t want her stirring trouble. They had managed to fix things when she found out about his scandal with Direfre, but she didn’t trust her one bit.

“My love, a low-life like her shouldn’t be here. You know how the Dukes prize their acquaintances on purity.”

Lord Delacroix cut her off and looked at her and stopped her in her tracks. “Now, I can either spend the time by myself and send you home, or you can be respectful and be civil. You don’t want trouble in the headlines tomorrow do you dear?”

Lady Ashton shook her head and nodded as she hooked her arm with his. She hated being put in place in such social situations. “Let’s enjoy tonight.”

Dierdre pulled up her fan again, as well as her most innocent demeanor.

"My harpsichord always awaits a listening ear."

Her smile became more genuine as she noticed the pink tint in Lord Delacroix's ears as he quickly pulled his fiance away.


Name and Title: Dierdre Liliana Monaghan, often goes by DeeDee.

Age: 27

Ethnicity: Irish

Eyes: Dark brown

Weight: 176lbs

Height: 5’9”

Appearance: She has a sort of light tan color to her otherwise caucasian flesh and a slew of freckles, which she pales out with powder to better fit in. Dark, slightly wavy hair. A robust woman with a full hourglass figure, she often exaggerates it with a well-situated corset, and often has her dresses tailored to show a bit more of her bosom than most women.

Relationships: To be determined

Hobbies: When not servicing clients, Dierdre often makes and alters her own dresses, as it’s cheaper to do it herself than to pay for alterations for her fuller figure, and she can make them more comfortable and easier to slip in and out of (she will pay top dollar for a good corset, however). She has also learned to play the harpsichord and tries to at least minimally keep up with politics, world news, and some history, as a core part of her services include entertaining a client in all sorts of ways.

Personality: Dierdre puts up with no shit. She knows her worth and has no qualms with putting people in her place. Life has hardened her, so she has a realistic/somewhat negative view of things. While not inherently selfish, she’s a survivor, and will look out for herself first and foremost.

Abilities/Strengths: Having to move bodies and spending years doing laundry and making heavy beds has given Deirdre more physical strength than the average Victorian woman, and maintains it because it’s gotten her out of bad scrapes before. She is fierce and intelligent, and knows her way around both men and women in bed.

Weakness: She’ll put up with a lot (she has to, given her line of work), but when she loses her temper, her mouth often gets her into trouble. While she takes great pains to hide her Irish accent, it comes out when she’s angry. While she has some understanding of sociopolitical norms in the upper class, there are times where she’s, at minimum, tripped a stuffed-up lord, and maximum, threw a punch. She has a reputation for being “difficult” due to it. She also lacks formal education, which will sometimes get her respect as, “you’re intelligent for one of your background,” but it’s also easy to weaponize against her if she pisses the wrong person off.

History: Dierdre immigrated with her mother to England at ten, and learned very quickly how well the Irish were received: not very. For it, she learned to hide her accent. To avoid the long, fourteen-to-sixteen hour days at the factory where she and her daughter would almost certainly find themselves overworked and eventually maimed, her mother found work as a maid for a brothel. While the work was still long and hard, the pay was a bit more decent. Deirdre was able to go to school, but by the time she was twelve, she was coming home and assisting her mother as a laundress and cleaning the rooms after the clientele left. By the time she was fourteen, she stopped going to school to assist full time at the brothel.

Over the years, Dierdre became disillusioned with society’s notions of sex and love, for if it was so special, her place of work wouldn’t exist. While her mother tried to protect her, she became familiar with their more regular clients - a good lot of them married men - and how they treated some of their working girls. She and her mother wore gloves when handling soiled sheets to avoid catching disease when possible, and often tended to bruised and ill prostitutes until they were healthy enough to work again. Her mother at times offered her services as a working girl for a little extra money to both supplement Dierdre’s education where she could and afford a relatively decent lifestyle for them both.

Unbeknownst to her mother, Dierdre found a different sort of client: one that sought blood instead of sex. The first time, Dierdre had walked into a room she presumed was unoccupied and needed cleaning. She found one of the working girls moaning with ecstasy as a vampire drew blood from her thighs. The vampire later hunted her down, intent on leaving no witness alive. Dierdre bought her life by promising him a meal, and invited in a vagrant that often harassed the kitchen staff for scraps in for a hot bath, a hot meal, and a warm bed: the last he’d ever sleep in. Since then, Dierdre started her own side business - for a small fee of course - where she’d assist London by getting a few beggars no one would miss off the streets, and ensure the vampire clientele needn’t target the working girls she’d befriended over the years.

At seventeen, her mother caught pneumonia and died from it. Dierdre caught it as well and survived, but paying for the funeral left her in financial straits. Without her mother’s additional income, it became harder and harder to make ends meet. Dierdre in that time had blossomed into a tall, buxom maiden. With the funeral debts having eaten into her savings and no way to get herself back to the relatively comfortable life her mother helped her build, Dierdre made a decision. Men wanted young, beautiful girls to live out their fantasies, and she needed money. After discussing it with the owners, Dierdre used some of what was left of her savings to buy a nice dress and corset to properly show off her assets. She then sold her virginity to the highest bidder. After the owners got their cut, Dierdre was able to recoup the funeral costs. She also started her life as a working girl.

A bit to her dismay, Dierdre found she had a knack for it: not only for her physical prowess in bed, but in the soothing words and forced delight that made her clients feel better about getting her services. She also did well with the vampire clients, as her room adjoined to a smaller one where a sleeping vagrant became a feast and earned her more coin. The bodies would then be dumped on the streets away from the brothel or taken away from the Thames, where it was presumed they died of illness or were just another poor soul unable to afford a proper burial.

After a few years, Dierdre’s luck changed a bit for the better: she serviced a wealthy lord coming in after his mistress fell ill and was unable to perform. He requested her specifically. After that night, Dierdre found herself as the new mistress, and with it, a cushier life for herself, as well as wealthier connections. She was already charging more at the brothel for her services; now she could charge more. She currently longs for the day when she could build herself a big enough nest egg to disappear and live out the rest of her life however she desired.
Barrel shrugged.

"He can, he's just lazy. Same with Shock. I don't mind, though. They got their things, I got mine."

He beamed at the compliment.

"Huh. Never thought about it that way."

Barrel finished off another stuffed toadstool, though this time, he took a bite out of it instead of shoving it in his mouth to give himself a moment to think.

"So. Um. Do you cook much?" he asked, to try to make further conversation, "or do you mostly just help your aunts with potions?"
Barrel grinned.

"Thanks!" he said. "This is the first time I've made them, so. First time for both of us."

His grin softened into a normal smile.

"Lock 'taste-tested' them for me earlier. Jerk."

Barrel chuckled.

"But I guess if they're good enough to steal, they're good enough to serve, right?"
Barrel took his own place and stuffed a whole toadstool in his mouth. He smiled as he chewed and savored the flavors. He didn't blame Lock for stealing one earlier; they were perfect even with his limited array of spices. He looked up to Agatha and noticed her covering her mouth. Barrel quickly swallowed.

"Too hot?" he asked. "I thought I let them cool down enough..."
Barrel nodded and quickly went to the kitchen. He made a quick check of the items in the oven, then immediately went to the pantry to look for the wine. They usually had at best a few bottles at any given time. Barrel glanced to the top shelf and quickly realized he wasn't sure what she liked. Red? White? Would it matter? Did Agatha follow any of the long and complex dinner rules that the vampires allegedly did? He heard horror stories from Lock about how particular they were about using the right fork and which wine went with which food. Would Agatha notice or care? Normally, the trio just picked a bottle to share with a meal if they felt like having wine that night, and that was it.

Barrel decided to go with that tried and true method.

Using another trick he learned from Sally, he wrapped the wine bottle in a wet cloth and put it in the freezer to quickly chill it, then went to actually serve the first part of the meal. He dished out two small plates of stuffed toadstools and brought them back to Agatha.

"Wine's gonna be a moment," he said. "I, uh, forgot to prep it."

Barrel looked at the plate in front of her, and again wondered how to do this. Should he move it, or just set the appetizer plate on top? He suddenly wished he paid more attention when Lock gave him a rundown of dinner etiquette.

Just do something, he told himself. You've got a chance of getting this right.

He set his own plate down temporarily and moved Agatha's dinner plate so he could place the toadstools before her. He then quickly excused himself to get the bread, and to buy himself a moment to regain his bearings. This shouldn't be this stressful! Just serve dinner and apologize. By the time Barrel returned and took his own place at the table, he was more composed, and had more of a plan.

Toadstools, wine, scampi, dessert. Intersperse with conversation. Apologize at some point. Just keep it simple.
Barrel smiled and gestured towards the jagged door at the other end of the lair that lead to Oogie's old living quarters. The living room to the left had their main couch and a stack of comic books on the coffee table, along with a cracked television set that had seen better days. To the right was the dining area, which...immediately looked different from how he left it.

The table could comfortably seat up to six, though it now had plates set on either end for him and Agatha. A few candles lit it up, but the thing that caught Barrel's attention most was the dusty white tablecloth covering it. When did they get a tablecloth?! And how did it...?

Probably Lock, Barrel realized. Shock and Carver were already long gone before he even started dinner, so who else could it have been?

Was he around here somewhere, watching to make sure things went right? Lock never did specify what he meant about "finding something else to do." Barrel quickly looked for places his older brother could be hiding, but so far as he could tell, the little devil was nowhere in sight. Before he could get too involved in his search, he turned back to Agatha.

Fine, Lock. If this was part of a game, he'd play his part perfectly. Barrel walked over to the table and pulled out a chair for his guest. At least the candles gave the table a proper dark, creepy setting perfect for a good, unsettling meal.

"So, um. To start with, I have some bread and stuffed toadstools," Barrel said, before he noticed the chipped wine glass beside the plate. "And uh, anything to drink? We've got cider and swamp water, at least. And I think a bottle of wine..."
Barrel just lied there for a moment and stared at her. He felt his cheeks turn gray as he hoped he didn't just embarrass himself. But Agatha seemed to be okay and wasn't mad, so he relaxed a little and gave her an awkward smile, accompanied with a reassuring pat on the back. Good, things were still going pretty well.

Relatively.

He quickly cleared his throat.

"Um. Sorry."

Barrel carefully pushed himself up and shifted to let her down so he could climb into the lair. Now that the trickiest part was over, he felt better about letting her climb in after him on her own.

Once inside, Barrel quickly gave the lair a once-over to be sure it was as tidy as it could be. His drums were in their proper spot on the roulette wheel, with Carver's xylophone, Lillith's theremin, and Carmilla's synthesizer in their proper places. The guest couches they kept down here were cleared off, with Lock's guitar in its case and gently leaned against a favored beanbag chair. All of their microphones, cords, and other miscellaneous equipment were properly put away, leaving the lair clear and empty-feeling now that Lock, Shock, and Carver were off doing whatever they were doing tonight.

In a way, he was kind of glad Agatha was here. He hated being alone for too long.

"So, uh...ready for dinner?" Barrel asked, once Agatha had joined him.

Don't forget to apologize, he reminded himself. Just get through this, and everything will be fine.
Barrel watched her closely. He and his siblings had been defying undeath since they had the rickety old birdcage elevator, so he was extra cautious with a new guest coming in. Unlike the vampire twins, Agatha couldn't simply turn into a bat and fly right in. The last thing he wanted was a misstep.

When she reached for him to grab his shoulder, Barrel tensed. Was she falling? Oh, Death, she was probably falling! Thinking quickly, he quickly grabbed Agatha's waist and pulled her into the opening with him. He lost his own balance and tumbled backward, leaving her awkwardly on top of him in the opening barely big enough to hold the two of them lying down together
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