Wonderland, Scene IV (Daphne, Erin, Underwood)

   
Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"You ever try out for lady wrestling, kid? I know a guy who can set you up…"
Mary Mack looked at Underwood, and then she laughed suddenly, a short, hoarse sort of laugh. Mary had the strangest voice, rough and unsteady, the voice of someone who gargled moonshine instead of the voice of a pretty young woman. "You do? What's he like?"

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

Into the tunnel you went. It was, despite Underwood's worries, not actually very dark. That wasn't to say there was lighting. You certainly didn't see any. But it somehow never got terribly dark, because stories never talked about the valiant heroes stumbling over outstretched roots and falling nose-first into a puddle. So, it stayed at a kind of darkened twilight, hard to see, but not impossible.

The tunnel stretched on, with twists and turns and odd little gullies, though nothing you couldn't surpass. Mack lead the way now, on the reasonable grounds that if there was anything that needed killing, she was the best at. Reynarde had retired to the role of rearguard, and was licking her fingers from Erin's present of liver. The fox-wife still sent suspicious glances at Erin, but at least she wasn't looming quite so closely anymore.

Then you came upon the voices. This happened when it was late. Then a little later, you came upon the voices. This happened when it was later. And a little after that, you came upon the chamber. This happened after you'd walked for nearly all day and what, had you had a working watch, you'd have thought was a fair bit of the night.

The chamber was not very large, but it was large enough, and it was not very decorated, though it had plentiful clocks about it, and there was a beautiful table set out, with dishes of delicious food and pots of tea and an entire, double-layered cake of chocolate and icing. The smell was absolutely beguiling, and there was something for everyone. Joints of meat and bottles of ink, roasted livers and delicate flowers, and a beautiful bowl of black pudding, so rich and fluid as to be nearly a bowl of crimson blood.

All of this was on the ceiling. Upside down.

Also on the ceiling, and also upside down, were the two feasters. One was a woman, with olive skin and feverish light brown eyes. Her shortish, brown-red hair looked like it had been struck by lightning several times. She wore a hideous plaid vest (orange-ish), a brightly colored dress shirt (yellow), and plain slacks and dress shoes . All of this was topped off with a fur-trimmed coat that was covered in stitches (blue). She had multiple piercings in her ears, with chains running between a few of them, and rings on every finger. A long, jagged scar ran across her nose and under her eyes, completely bisecting her face, and she smoked an antique Calabash pipe. She wore a hat, a crisp, pure-white Panama hat, and she was drinking tea. Upside down.

Equally upside down was her companion. He was tall, with skin that was so pale as to make Mary look well-tanned, and short, black-brown hair that failed to conceal his long, black rabbit's ears. His eyes were completely black, and they were hourglass-shaped, like a goat's. He wore the clothing of a late 18th century courtier, a robin's egg blue doublet with a ruff, and white stockings and blue knee-britches, and silver-buckled shoes. He had a heavy signet ring on one finger, and he had a sword strapped to his belt, a semi-transparent creation of crystal and cold. The pitcher of juice nearest to him had iced over. He did not wear a hat, and he was having a slice of cake. Upside down.

"ERIN!" The wild-haired woman shouted, her voice loud and raucous. She waved from the ceiling. "You're just in time! I have tea! I even have cake! I have tea and cake!"

Erin looked up.

"Hello, Maestro!" she greeted, sounding surprised. Perhaps pleasantly so, perhaps not. "How are you this day?"

The moth walked over to one of the cavern walls and, cautiously, put one foot on the wall. This, by itself, was perfectly identical to what happened in the real world. Erin then, more cautiously, put her other foot on the wall. This left her standing sideways, parallel to the floor. Less normal.

Erin, seemingly pleased, had no further issues, walking calmly up the wall and onto the ceiling. She waved down at everyone on the floor, beckoning her friends to come upward.

"It is fancy to meet you here. We were just passing through," Erin explained, as she reached the table. She didn't sit yet. "May I introduce to you Mr. Underwood, Ms. Pleasant, Ms. Harte, Mr. Morozov, Mr. Zmeyevich, and Ms. Mack?" Had she caught Daphne's last name? Crumbs. "And may I introduce in turn the Magnificent Maestro?"

She gave a little half bow to the ice-rabbit-goat-thing. "Good evening. I do not have the pleasure of having met you."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Mack
"You do? What's he like?"
Underwood smirked. "Promoter runs fights for the King of Summer back home. Nice guy. Poor sap got sucked in in '84 and spit out in 2001, though, so he missed most of the basic cable boom. Still makes a decent buck: he's got this underground lucha-something ring; some off-brand MMA... Even roller derby. You're over in the City sometime, and I'll put you in touch."

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Lamothe
"May I introduce to you Mr. Underwood, Ms. Pleasant, Ms. Harte, Mr. Morozov, Mr. Zmeyevich, and Ms. Mack? And may I introduce in turn the Magnificent Maestro?"
"Hi." The reporter nodded amiably at both of them, giving a little wave at the Maestro. "Like the hat."

Underwood watched Erin walk onto the ceiling, appeared pleasantly impressed by the whole business, and followed suit. In his case, this involved a good-sized running start, and the impression that it was only through sheer force of will that he avoided sticking his arms out like an airplane.

Successfully be-ceilinged, the reporter let go of his hat and ambled on over to the table, looking back and forth between the Maestro and Erin. "So. How'd the two of you know each other? And, if you don't mind me asking, how did you and your friend end up here?"

"I used to work for her," Erin explained. "The Maestro’s Tent of the Magical, Macabre, and Marginally Mad. Performances both personalized and public, dreams put on stage, fantasies explored and fulfilled. As good as reality and better. See the finest of plays from all over the world. Write and perform your own production. Take the starring role in your life as you want it. No limits, no consequences." The spiel rolled off her tongue with practiced ease.

"I just fixed the puppets," she added. "The Maestro is the master puppeteer."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"Hello, Maestro!" she greeted, sounding surprised. Perhaps pleasantly so, perhaps not. "How are you this day?"
"Fantastically! Wonderfully! Amazingly!" The Maestro shouted, even though Erin was located about six feet away from her. Volume control was not one of her strong points. She took off her white Panama hat and slipped a hand within it, removing a single hard-boiled egg from it. She set the egg into a little cup.

"We are living in a fantasy." The Maestro said, grinning broadly. She wasn't human. She couldn't have been human. Humans didn't stretch their lips quite that widely. "And our lives are full of wonder."

"And we're wandering in a maze." The Maestro said, looking up -- down -- at the part of the chamber from where Erin and company had come in through. The passageway was missing. "I expect things will be terrific pretty soon."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"May I introduce to you Mr. Underwood, Ms. Pleasant, Ms. Harte, Mr. Morozov, Mr. Zmeyevich, and Ms. Mack?" Had she caught Daphne's last name? Crumbs. "And may I introduce in turn the Magnificent Maestro?"
"Marie Tempest I'm also called." The Maestro called out. With a long, level look at Erin, Sergei began to make his way up the side of the wall. Sasha and Heather followed a moment thereafter. Mack looked at the feast, and then shook her head politely, opting to stay where she was. Feasting and social engagement were not things in which a vampire felt welcomed.

Cinder, meanwhile, crossed her arms and looked on the verge of some pronouncement. But she held her tongue, and with a long-suffering sigh set out to the ceiling as well. The Venatores, for their part, stayed below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"Good evening. I do not have the pleasure of having met you."
"You..." The Pca said, for that was what it was. A goblin, a trickster, who turned into a rabbit or a horse or a dog, as the mood took it. The Puck of Shakespeare was inspired by the Pca. "...haven't."

The Pca had a quiet, whispery voice, and it was the kind of voice that sent spidery shivers up your arm. He talked slowly, and when he smiled -- as he did now -- he showed teeth, and viperish fangs. The Pca put a white-gloved hand into its doublet, and withdrew a fragile, crystalline card. Like glass, but cold to the touch, with a single name carved into it with golden letters. Black Huiarnviu.

"You may call me... Harvey."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"So. How'd the two of you know each other? And, if you don't mind me asking, how did you and your friend end up here?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"I just fixed the puppets," she added. "The Maestro is the master puppeteer."
"Ah, but the puppets, puppets are important when you're a puppetmaster, since without them you're just a Master, and people take that the wrong way!" The Maestro declaimed, dropping her egg on the ceiling. Or floor. Whichever one was above you. It cracked, but the Maestro didn't really notice, as a moment later it fell right back into her cup, now properly cracked. "And such puppets... they're just that right place between lifelike but not so lifelike as to cause the wrong sorts of questions. We'd show all sorts of plays, Rent and Twelve Terrible Sisters and Miss Saigon, and Requiem for the Ripper..."

"I'm actually on my way to another venue." The Maestro said, picking up a bit of egg in her spoon, and then swallowing it whole. "Where are you off to?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
The Pca put a white-gloved hand into its doublet, and withdrew a fragile, crystalline card. Like glass, but cold to the touch, with a single name carved into it with golden letters. Black Huiarnviu. "You may call me... Harvey."
"It is my pleasure to meet you, sir," Erin replied, taking the card carefully, and sounding a little too charmed. She avoided calling him Harvey, however. She was stubbornly refusing to use nicknames, but had to admit defeat on how to pronounce the name on the card.

She slipped the card into the picnic basket, which seemed the safest place for it, where it was least likely to break.

"I am Erin Lamothe," she said in turn. "It seems we have a mutual acquaintance. May I ask how you know the Maestro?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"I'm actually on my way to another venue." The Maestro said, picking up a bit of egg in her spoon, and then swallowing it whole. "Where are you off to?"
"Hither and wither and wherever the winds may take us," Erin lied casually, or rather, omitted. "A new venue? It sounds exciting, though I hope it is not permanent? I would miss you at Piccadilly."

"Where are you going? What will you be playing?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Yeah Not Even Trying To Pronounce That
"You may call me... Harvey."
"Hi, Harvey." Underwood's reaction to overtly disturbing people -- who weren't attempting to kill him, that is -- was often to pretend that there was absolutely nothing threatening about them, why do you ask. This was one of those times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Lamothe
"Hither and wither and wherever the winds may take us."
Underwood nodded briskly. "What she said."

As Erin had asked most of what he was going to ask, anyway, the reporter was able to focus on somewhere else, briefly. He looked up (down?) at the floor (ceiling?), and gave a friendly wave at Mack. "Hey, kid! No wallflowers allowed, all right? The weather's fine up here."

He pointedly did not look at the Venatores. They could stew down there if they dang well pleased.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"I am Erin Lamothe," she said in turn. "It seems we have a mutual acquaintance. May I ask how you know the Maestro?"
"We met upon a road, rather like this one." Harvey said, his lips quirking into something that might have possibly been called a smile. It wasn't a very warm smile, certainly. "A twilight passing, but we enjoyed each other's company, and thus the Wyrd ensures that we pass again, when we are on the road, and the sun burns down."

"Harvey's in the same sort of business as me." The Maestro stage-whispered, which meant merely normal volume for her. "He makes dreams come true."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"A new venue? It sounds exciting, though I hope it is not permanent? I would miss you at Piccadilly. Where are you going? What will you be playing?"
"Oh, hardly permanent, but my feet itch and I'll be putting down roots if I don't move a bit from time to time." The Maestro said, grinning. She swept her hands heavenward, or possibly hellward, depending on one's point of view. "I'm going West of the Sun and East of the Moon, somewhere behind the Thorns. Past that, I don't know. I expect I'll figure it out when I get there."

Cinder was staring at Underwood now. Translation, please, was what her gaze was saying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"Hey, kid! No wallflowers allowed, all right? The weather's fine up here."
"...okay." Mary Mack said, and then she leapt. Why waste time walking up when one could jump up instead? The change in gravity in mid-air caught Mack momentarily off-guard, but she was a canny sort, and she landed on her feet just like a cat. She crouched for a moment, and then stood, and looked confused a little. So she sat down at the table and waited for something to happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"Harvey's in the same sort of business as me." The Maestro stage-whispered, which meant merely normal volume for her. "He makes dreams come true."
"Oh! How interesting! How does that work? What kind of wishes? Anything?" Erin asked, perking up with interest and smiling broadly at Black Huiarnviu. She was definitely rather taken with the Pca - and when one noted certain distinct similarities between him and the man sitting next to Erin, it wasn't hard to guess why.

"Are they very expensive, wishes?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"I'm going West of the Sun and East of the Moon, somewhere behind the Thorns. Past that, I don't know. I expect I'll figure it out when I get there."
"Arcadia, then?" Erin said, mostly for Cinder's benefit. Then she fell silent. It seemed she and the Maestro might have the same destination in mind. Claiming that their meeting was only coincidence was sheer folly, in a place such as the Hedge.

She still kept quiet on this, however, and the reason they were going. The Maestro still had a gripe with Othello over a lost bet, though Erin had never figured out what it was they'd been betting over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"...okay." Mary Mack said, and then she leapt.
Erin smiled, and tried to make Mary feel comfortable. She never succeeded, but by God, she tried.

"There's a lovely looking pudding, if you trust it not to try anything untoward," Erin murmured to the girlish vampire. One could never trust Hedge food, but it was sometimes nice. "Would you like me to ask if we could have some?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Tempest
"I'm going West of the Sun and East of the Moon, somewhere behind the Thorns. Past that, I don't know. I expect I'll figure it out when I get there."

Cinder was staring at Underwood now. Translation, please, was what her gaze was saying.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Lamothe
"Arcadia, then?"
Underwood glanced sideways at Cinder, and shrugged expressively, gesturing at Erin. Truth be told, he was somewhat bemused that the werewolf had chosen him to be Official Weird Dialect Translator Guy, especially since Marie was talking impenetrably in an entirely different way from how Underwood talked impenetrably. It was like telling a tourist you were from Brazil, and it suddenly being taken on faith that you knew this one guy from Sao Paolo.

Anyway. The reporter nodded at the Maestro. "Some venue. So, you come across this spread here by one of those 'who would have thought this'd be in the Hedge' coincidences, or do you just pack really well?"

He gestured atwell, really, the whole rest of the room.




 

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Blog   Myth-Weavers Status