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Childermas Surprise: (Come One, Come All)

   
Underwood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
“Jack-of-Crows!” He smiled, doffed his hat, and bowed to what was probably the correct degree. “Good evening, merry Childermas, and happy Birthday – and thank you very much for your hospitality. The Freehold of Hudson’s Rest sends its deepest regards. I’m J. T. Underwood, Serial Number 6311438, your Winter Court Envoy and roving reporter, and this is Mr. Herringbone, our very own Tenebrous King of Autumn.”
"My Birthday has drawn quite an assortment of ghosts and ghouls, I see. I would have it no other way. Mr. Herringbone, Mr. Underwood, welcome to good old London Town, where the rich feed upon the poor and the poor feed upon the rich. Literally, on occasion." The Jack-of-Crows said, and he smiled at Underwood. It was the kind of smile that looked as though it had been carved in his face with a knife, a bloodless gash, sinister and yet weirdly charming despite that.

"A dog eat dog world, I see." Herringbone said, and he smiled as well, a bone-dry smile of shadow and suggestion. "A pleasure to meet you, Jack-of-Crows."

"Call it rather a self-cannibalizing Ourobouros." The Jack-of-Crows said, and he leapt, his black wings flaring. The Jack-of-Crows must have cleared a good fifteen feet vertically, coming down behind Underwood and Herringbone, grinning that slasher smile. "To eat and eat and eat until we are left with corpses and ashes."

"Not yet, I trust, or else I shall have to cut my vacation soon." Herringbone said, taking a step to one side to look at the Jack-of-Crows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
“Found this in a hollow off of 50th and Madison: it must’ve been there for a long while. Think it might’ve been a rehearsal tape for The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show at one point – only in most of the episodes, the puppet doesn’t snap and murder the rest of the main cast with a flensing knife.”

He chuckled slightly. “It’s still pretty hilarious, though.”
"A kingly gift to one no longer a king." The Jack-of-Crows said, running his long, slender fingers along the side of the tape-players. He grinned, a madcap grin, and snapped a finger. "To my treasure trove it goes, to sooth me to sweet slumber, and cheer me when I am lost in Winter."

At the Jack-of-Crow's command, one of the many scarecrows that hung crucified and splay-limbed behind his throne came to life. It was a hideous thing, seven feet tall if it was an inch, and there was more than straw stuffed into those old farmer's clothes. A corpse, perhaps, or just a mannequin of patched cloth, impossible to say. But it took tape recorder from Underwood in its huge, shovel-like hands and placed it reverently on a nearby table, the first of many gifts, and one of the proudest.

"Thank you, Mr. Underwood, and thank you, Mr. Herringbone." The Jack-of-Crows said, and he fell silent for a moment, running a long finger along one of the seams sewn into his cheek. "Thank you, and welcome to New Jerusalem."

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

Lauren

Oleander winced as Lauren introduced him. It could have been worse, he supposed. She might have called him Lesley Titching. Even so, he offered a brave smile as the Marquis de Carabas and at Mary Mack.

"I am a self-appointed Marquis. It turns out that the London Freehold had no Marquis de Carabas." The Marquis said. He sighed, though there was a hidden quirk of the lips when he did so. "Obviously, this was a gross violation and could not be allowed to stand, so I rectified it fortwith."

"His name's Othello." Mary Mack said quietly, explaining her odd accompaniment for the evening. She'd been humming to herself quietly, ever since Lauren and Oleander had spotted her.

"Giving away all of my secrets, young miss, is not proper etiquette." Othello -- The Marquis de Carabas -- said with a wag of a finger. He winked at Lauren. "My many apologies, of course, but she is young, a mere sixty-nine years old, and she does make mistakes sometimes."

Mary Mack rolled her eyes and offered Lauren a small smile.

"A fetch-wolf, by the way, is to a wolf what a fetch is to a human." Othello explained. "Our Noble Host procures a twigs and twine and wolf-gut and candle-wax and bits of shadow, and he wraps it into the rough shape of a wolf, and then he takes a true wolf and slays it, and puts its soul about the new fetch-beast. They are not wolves, but automatons and constructs that act like wolves, cruel beasts that obey the Jack-of-Crows implicitly. He has a little over half a dozen of them, I do believe, and they pull his hay-cart when he chooses to travel."

Ilkin, Ben, Deb, and Spike

"The fae truly know how to throw a party, don't they?"

The man that said this resembled one Jack Clements, except he was no longer completely human. He was naked, but not indecent. Brown fur covered his body from the waist down, hiding anything that would otherwise be considered scandalous. Of course, at a fae party, Mr. Clements could very well have shown up fully nude and nobody would've thought twice about it.

A pair of curling ram's horns arced back from his forehead and his ears tapered into soft points. He looked a little scruffier all around and both his legs ended in hooves. He flashed a cheeky grin at the party, then at his companions. "What do you think?"

His companions were as motley a bunch as one would find at a fae party. Deb wore her flight suit, a padded olive green full-body covering that did nothing for her figure but did great things for her impressiveness. Not many people here could claim ownership of a helicopter.

Then there was Spike. The skinny young man didn't look himself. Ben worked some magic to help Spike figure out a really "badass" costume. So Spike was no longer the wiry young street kid. Patches of tawny-colored fur sprouted on his forearms and torso. His face had been transformed to look bestial and lupine. His hair darkened to a rich, auburn brown and his face became scruffy and pointed. Claws sprouted from his fingers, sharp and wicked. He'd forgone a shirt and wore slightly ripped jeans and his favorite hiking boots, still intact. All told, the young man looked the very picture of a movie wolfman. He'd been very pleased with the results when he surveyed Ben's handiwork in the mirror. The whole transformation made him feel quite the badass.

The last of Ilkin's companions was a bear. A large bear with pure white fur and a soft, gentle gaze. Ben's bear form was a hit with some of his fans among the supernatural community. At first Ben resisted coming as the bear, worried about his lack of clothing when he had to resume human form to eat, drink, and socialize. But Ilkin reminded Ben that this was a fae party and at least ten percent of the guests wouldn't be wearing clothing. Ben reluctantly agreed, but extracted a promise that Ilkin attend in the nude, too. It was the sort of deal neither of them would have made with anyone else. But Ben and Ilkin had been friends virtually since birth, so they got away with things other people wouldn't be able to do.

"So," Ilkin said, extending his elbow to Deb. He'd spent some time with her practicing how to walk on hooves both with and without her on his arm. He'd finally gotten to a point where he could manage it well. "Shall we? Spike, don't go too far. Or if you do, don't make any agreements with anyone unless you talk to me first. You never know here when you'll get trapped into an oath just because you made an offhand comment."

The bear whuffed and nudged Spike. Don't worry, bud, I'll stick with you, it seemed to say.

From what Michael had learned about Jack-of-Crows after being invited to his birthday shindig, he had thought wearing black would be a good way to go. So he’d dressed in a nice black shirt and matching jeans and shoes. At home it had looked great, simple but stylish. When Michael arrived, however, he learned that he had made a huge mistake - there was so much black all around that he looked like a disembodied head and hands floating around. Not exactly the look he had been trying to achieve. Given his light skin and hair, he looked like a ghost who hadn’t managed to fully manifest itself in this world. Which, given the tone of this party, might not be such a surprise.

The invitation had been something of a surprise - not to mention, for Michael, non-optional. He had known for some time that he was being trained as the secondary Pack Ambassador, to take over the role from Tiffany when the time came. That wouldn’t be for a long time - either until she died, or left the Pack. And since she would never leave and was only middle-aged, that wouldn’t be for a long time. But Gabriel was sending Michael out on his first solo diplomatic endeavour. Well, semi-solo; he was the “plus one” of an old friend of the Pack, a man named Bo. He’d known Gabriel for a long time, and he was a supernatural too - though Michael didn’t know him all that well. To tell the truth, he wasn’t sure how to get to know someone who’d lived dozens of lifetimes already.

Michael was waiting for his companion by the tables, watching the wolves opposite Lauren and Oleander. He’d given them a brief wave, but his attention was mostly on the wolves. They fascinated him utterly, even as they unnerved him. Watching them was also an excuse not to interact with the other party guests. As pleased as he was in the Alpha’s faith in him, Michael didn’t feel like he was ready to represent the Pack yet. But it was too late - he was here, it was too late, he’d given his gift. It was a gothic painting by… someone. He forgot the artist, but the man had assured him that it was a famous one. Michael hadn’t been quite sure if he was telling the truth, but he’d bought it anyway. It was spooky and yet beautiful at the same time. It had caught Michael’s attention immediately… and besides, he knew nothing about this Jack-of-Crows. So he tried not to worry too much about it.

So he watched the wolves, waited for his companion, and tried not to do anything that might screw up relations between his Pack and the rest of the supernatural community.

Quote:
"I am a self-appointed Marquis. It turns out that the London Freehold had no Marquis de Carabas." The Marquis said. He sighed, though there was a hidden quirk of the lips when he did so. "Obviously, this was a gross violation and could not be allowed to stand, so I rectified it fortwith."

"His name's Othello." Mary Mack said quietly, explaining her odd accompaniment for the evening. She'd been humming to herself quietly, ever since Lauren and Oleander had spotted her.
"Othello." Lauren grinned. "Would you prefer Marquis?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Othello
"Giving away all of my secrets, young miss, is not proper etiquette." Othello -- The Marquis de Carabas -- said with a wag of a finger. He winked at Lauren. "My many apologies, of course, but she is young, a mere sixty-nine years old, and she does make mistakes sometimes."
"If she's young, what does that make me?" She returned Mary's smile. "Though, can I ask, is 'Mary Mack' a nickname? When Othello introduced you, it reminded me of the children's rhyme."

Lauren nodded through Othello's explanation of fetch-wolves, eyes bright and fascinated. They certainly looked real to her. If anything, it spoke of the amount of power Jack-of-Crows possessed.

Considering the fae nature of the party, one would expect Melek Tawuse to go all out with some sort of costume transcending the boundaries of good taste in ways that would border upon the obscene. Nudity perhaps in a complete flaunting of the social mores of dress and attire. Or maybe a Peacock ensemble calling to mind Bjork's swan dress.

Instead he had gone for something actually far more subdued, a Victorian undertaker's suit in black and gray. After all, sometimes the best way to flaunt expectations was to be traditional. Which was of course, apparently the same tack his companion was taking.

Though in his mesoamerican companion's case, traditional was the attire of an Aztec warrior, ready to go out and capture future sacrifices to keep the world working. But still, very traditional.

Seth smiled, dark glasses hiding his eyes as he leaned against his date, a box in hand wrapped in black and white wrapping paper, and tied off with a particularly funerary looking bow.

Bo

A man like Bo Kyungban had many, many acquaintances. He knew Vincent Moon, but he also knew Gabriel Law. He was old friends with Civitas, and recently associated with the Jack-of-Crows and the new fey monarchs. While he had no official position in the Freehold hierarchy, the Korean did develop a solid relationship with them. That kind of relationship got him invited to things like the Jack-of-Crows' birthday party.

He'd talked to Gabriel about it. The Pack could use some allies and while the fey were capricious, they could make excellent allies. After all, Bo might not be around forever, as ironic as that sounded. It would be helpful for future generations of the pack to have some long-term allies. This wasn't an incredibly formal mission -- it was just a party, after all. But it would get their foot in the door if Michael did his job.

"Evening!" Bo greeted as he approached Michael. He was dressed in a manner almost unfitting for the party. He wore a traditional Korean silk robe and pants. The robe was bright sky blue, the pants a rich silver color. He had an assortment of wooden beads hanging on a necklace. He wore a black, wide-brimmed hat with a very flat brim. A pair of pheasant's feathers stuck up from the sides of the hat, one on each side.

"Did you just get here?" he asked, "I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long. This is a hell of a party, isn't it? I haven't seen anything like this for years."

Daphne simply stared at the tigerish man's grin with piercing lavendar eyes before addressing 'Mr. Morozov.'

"Pleasure to meet you, sir. Call me Daphne whatever anyone else says." She held out her hand to him professionally. If he took it, it would be like wrapping his fingers around bark. It was still as yielding as any hand, but the texture was all wrong. Funny, that. Her skin didn't look exactly like bark. Everyone had tiny, hairline fractures, groups of cells forming the whole of the epidermis. Well, so did she.

"What your friend,"
Wits+Empathy
Dice Roll: 6d10s8e10
d10 Results: 6, 5, 7, 1, 8, 4 (Total Successes = 1)
Daphne glanced between Morozov and Erin, "here says is true. That's why you see the Halloween decor. 'Saw-wen' is the old Gaelic new year, according to some. It literally means summer's end. Dressing up as scary things appeased the evil spirits, and placing a candle in the window helped guide those past to the beyond."

Dice Roll: 7d10s8e
d10 Results: 10, 9, 4, 9, 10, 6, 5, 5, 8 (Total Successes = 5)
just being contrary now subterfuge

"I am Erin," the moth introduced, wings shifting slightly once more. She examined the pretty dryad with a guarded expression, withholding judgement for the time being. She finished coring out the apple, setting a candle inside it. Reaching over to Heather, she pulled a match out of the ether near the other girl's head, striking it with some effort and lighting her ornament.

"Everyone here is all dressed up. Do we feel appeased?" Erin asked, with a fey grin. Candlelight always reflected strangely off her marble eyes. She set the apple down and slid her arm around Morozov's shoulders, stroking his soft black ears. "But tonight is the Feast of Holy Innocents, Childermas - and thus it is our duty to have the fun and joy the martyred children never had a chance to."

The moth waved at Ilkin's party as it came in. It was hard to spot any individuals here, but the Benbear managed to stick out.

Erin, Daphne

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daphne
"Pleasure to meet you, sir. Call me Daphne whatever anyone else says."
"Sergei Morozov." The rabbit-man said, taking Daphne's hand for a moment in his own soft, gloved hand. He stepped back, next to Erin, and he grinned quite unabashedly at Erin stroked his ears. He didn't even try to hide it.

"Heather Harte." The horned woman said, smiling back at Daphne before returning to scan the surroundings. Her eyes were quite nearly bugging out from her head at all the new sights and new experiences.

"Aleksander Zmeyevich." The demonic, tigerish man said. He, on the other hand, grinned at Daphne, and stepped forward to take her hand as well, leaning forward to brush it with a kiss. A lesser woman than Daphne would've felt rather charmed. "A tempting serpent for the evening. You may call me Sasha."

"Watch it, buster." Heather said, breaking from her reverie long enough to poke Sasha in the ribs. "You're not tempting anyone but me tonight."

The tigerish man winked at Daphne, and then slid an arm around Heather's shoulders, a very tender gesture, really. "A reformed serpent, then."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"Everyone here is all dressed up. Do we feel appeased?" Erin asked, with a fey grin. Candlelight always reflected strangely off her marble eyes. She set the apple down and slid her arm around Morozov's shoulders, stroking his soft black ears. "But tonight is the Feast of Holy Innocents, Childermas - and thus it is our duty to have the fun and joy the martyred children never had a chance to."
"I am taking appeasement under consideration." Sasha said, scanning the crowd with a much calmer expression than Heather's excited look. "While we're in a good position to be appeased with food, I think I am going to go and see about picking up more appeasement. Heather, want to come along? Have some fun and joy."

"Sure. Sounds fun." Heather said, grinning an identical, fey grin. Aside from their different Miens, she and Erin looked a lot alike. Heather was perhaps a few inches taller and noticeably more muscular, but that aside, they were two tiny pixies with the same mischievous grins. "You were saying something about tempting?"

"Moth, mind if Heather and I leave you?" Sasha said, nodding to Daphne as well. He regarded Sergei for a moment. "If you get him a bit drunk, I'll drag him out to meet people later, deal?"

Sergei responded with a gesture that in most countries of the world would be considered a fighting insult. He grinned. "Go away, you."

Sasha laughed, a full-bodied, ivory-toothed laugh.

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

Lauren

"Othello is fine, now that the cat, as they say, is out of the bag." The Marquis de Carabas said with a cheshire grin. He quirked a brow at Lauren. "Not that this specific cat has ever been in the bag to begin with."

"Do you know the origins of that saying?" Othello said, sidling smoothly around Lauren to regard Oleander brightly. The werewolf didn't quite bristle, but Lauren could see the danger signs. "Or are you buying a pig in the poke?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauren
"If she's young, what does that make me?" She returned Mary's smile. "Though, can I ask, is 'Mary Mack' a nickname? When Othello introduced you, it reminded me of the children's rhyme."
"Miss Mary Mack / All dressed in black / she's got a knife / stuck in her back." Mary recited softly. She was a pretty girl, but there was something ever so slightly off about her voice. It was hoarse, rough, damaged perhaps. It sounded as though she was always speaking in a loud whisper, or that she had hurt her throat very badly. "She cannot breathe / she cannot cry / and so she begs / she begs to die."

"I chose it for myself." Mary said, smiling darkly. She brushed a stray bang from her eyes. "I'm young because I'm always young. Sweet seventeen, forever and ever, till it rots and stops being sweet."

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

Ilkin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilkin
"The fae truly know how to throw a party, don't they? What do you think?"
"You should've seen the boys after a night out on the town." Deborah Church said reminiscently. She was a soft-featured woman of about Ilkin's age, which made her a few years older than most of the others around here, at least physically. She was also only human, to her slight, gnawing irritation. "It's not a party if you haven't burned down a half a district by morning."

"Wow." Spike said, though it wasn't certain if he was referring to Deborah's story or to the faerie party. "Just... wow. And you know everyone here, Mr. Clements? Uh... Jack."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilkin
"So," Ilkin said, extending his elbow to Deb. He'd spent some time with her practicing how to walk on hooves both with and without her on his arm. He'd finally gotten to a point where he could manage it well. "Shall we? Spike, don't go too far. Or if you do, don't make any agreements with anyone unless you talk to me first. You never know here when you'll get trapped into an oath just because you made an offhand comment."
"Uh. Right sir." Spike said, curling his fingers and testing out the new claws he'd so recently earned. They were, in his humble opinion, worth a great deal of putting up with just about everything. He had claws! Like Wolverine! "Sticking nearby."

"Why don't you introduce us around, Jay?" Deborah said, smiling benignly at Spike. She knew what was going through his head, and somehow this made her feel entirely too old. She needed to go fight something and make that feeling go away, or failing that, try some of the cider.


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

Seth

"This will be fraught." Jean LeNoir said musingly, licking his lips. He was dressed in what was probably an outfit he got to wear very little, given that it consisted of a kind of leather kilt, bloody paint, and a jaguar hide. Out of considerations for his host, LeNoir had not brought his macahuitl, which Seth had seen, an obsidian-studded blade that was roughly Seth's size. "If things come to the worst, I intend to hide behind you. And Xico can hide behind me."

The third member of their little ensemble, a fully-grown female jaguar, rubbed herself against LeNoir's leg. Xicohtencatl, the 'Angry Bumblebee', was an even more lethal weapon than LeNoir's sword, but she was allowed to sneak in under the fact that she was technically a pet. Even so, Xico got a lot of looks from the guests, and the fetch-wolves.

"Care to explain how you have a private invitation from the Jack-of-Crows?" LeNoir said, licking his lips again as he looked from side to side.

Ben

Quote:
The moth waved at Ilkin's party as it came in. It was hard to spot any individuals here, but the Benbear managed to stick out.
The white-furred bear nudged Spike and Ilkin, then gestured toward Erin's party. I'll be over there for a while if you need me. Though Erin was right. Even in a party full of changelings, a 1,200-lb. bear stood out. It wouldn't be hard to find him again.

Ben trotted cheerfully over toward Erin's party. If one didn't know better, one might think he was smiling. He nudged Erin playfully with his snout and then sat back on his haunches, looking from one member of the little group to the next.




 

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