Event The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

The Winter Revelry, where mystery is key and caste is forgotten

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The westernmost tip of Kalea, Wind Reach is home to an amazing group of people and their giant eagle mounts. [Lore]

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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Red Daghul on January 17th, 2019, 4:01 am

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Moving to the bar the Endal watched as the smaller framed woman seemed to take a avid interest in the drinks being made. It made Red smiled as he was pulled towards the bar so that Yora could speak with one of the bartenders who was looking particularly pretty tonight, though he wouldn't be surprised if that is one of the reasons she was chosen to work this night of all nights. It was a nice sight though.

Drinks were being handed out like feeding time for the young Wind Eagles as their mother drop pieces of meat in the nest. People reached over others, and hands grabbed at drinks that were left idle for to long. It was kinda a exciting things to watch as the tenders did their best to keep up with the numbers that were coming for drinks. The red headed people weren't known for the desire to wait for others, or to even think that their actions might offend another. It was kinda funny to watch how much they were alike to the Wind Eagles some times, of course Daghul would be amused at the thought.

“How do you plan on holding all of those at once? Unless you plan on making your partner hold some for you.” the voice next to him drew his attention away from the sight of scrambling people and back to his counter part for the night and her conversation with the bartender. With out thinking Red through up a smile to the two with out knowing what they were talking about, and started to listen.

“Sorry, Daghul.” her smooth voice said as she looked at him with what Red could only describe as a playful look that almost was looking for trouble “What do you desire?”. The question was phrased oddly, desire seemed to be a bit strong, at least as far as he knew in common. With out skipping a beat he laughed a bit and nodded to a blue drink and answered in Nari.

"I'll have that one" he winked at Yora as the blue drink made its way over to him as well as her orders then switching to Common "thirsty" he gave her a playful grin and looked around to see if they could find a place to sit for a minute and added "there is a table if you liked to sit". The Endal figured they could start by talking for a bit and trying their drinks before finding something more adventurous to try. The more and more time he spent learning the more he might figure out about the mystery in front of him.

As he navigated through the people streaming in towards the bar or heading to the dance floor he found that it took some skill to avoid bumping into the others. Even more so trying to keep your drink from spilling, and after a few steps he knew he had already lost more then a few drips, but at least nothing landed on his white clothes. Finally finding his way to the table he swept his hand to offer her a seat before he would settle in next to her.

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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Solstice on January 30th, 2019, 8:10 pm

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Although Lani was not a skilled Aurist, on this night in particular something seemed to resonate with her. Did her heart match the rhythm of the beat pounding through the stone walls? Did the mix of shadows and light, noise and song, somehow hone her talent to a fine point? It was hard to say the exact reason it was so. All that was known was that as she turned her Aurist focused gaze on her partner in time to the rumbling bass, his Aura was revealed to her with a picturesque clarity.

The man in the Owl Mask was content here. His emotions did not writhe and froth in the way of those frenzied dancers currently flooding the dance floor, but it was undeniable that here in this setting and under these conditions, he thrived. The gold rimmed eyes from behind the mask that looked at Lani carried a bubbling curiosity in them, playful, friendly, and kind. Surely his curiosity in his new companion matched Lani's own, and she would find no hostility from him here. Even as Lani's concentration broke and both her morphed eyes and her focus on the aura faded, that friendliness never left.

When Lani named him, he laughed. Deep and booming, nearly loud enough to pierce the din surrounding them. “My!” he said. “An honor bordering on blasphemy! I'm delighted.” The newly named Eywaat, smiling playfully at her question. “Many,” he told her. “A great many.” A Keen gaze spotted the woman's newly black eyes from behind her mask. But his mouth said nothing.

When she pulled him to the bar and she grabbed at the drinks and shoved one in front of him, he grinned and tossed a handful of pinions on the counter and pointed something out to the bartender behind the counter. The bartender, a muscular man with a winning smile, winked and handed the pair two bracelets, decorated with flashy yellow and red glass beads. Eywaat handed one the bracelets to his partner before donning the bracelet himself. A moment later he had downed the drink in one swift glup. Before the enlivened Fox could drag him out to the dance floor, he stopped her with a small, polite movement of his hand. Taking momentary control of the wild child, he led Fox over towards the one of the alcoves where the musicians played. The thundering music was deafening, but Eywaat gestured to one of the musicians who stopped in his music for a moment to lean down as Fox's partner spoke to him. In the din, Fox could only see her partner's mouth move, but could make out no sound. But the musician pulled back, grinning like a fool, then approached his fellows with a few emphatic gestures of his hands. The music faded for a moment as the group discussed. But soon, they had returned to their places and a new song swelled among them.

Light flickered across the corners of the room, dancing in time to the beat of the drums. The lamps’ glow blazed up from underneath the musicians alcoves, casting huge dancing shadows against the walls as they played, danced and sang. The song was heavy on melody, dominated by singing violins and a quieter, steady beat. The flickering shadows dazed and awed, and many of the masked patrons stopped in their activities and stared slack-jawed at the spectacle. Then, as if one, a frenzy overtook the dancers and they returned to their dances with ten times the intensity.

Many of the people chatting and drinking at the bars were seized by the fervor and raced onto the dance floor, soon engulfed in a wave of moving bodies. Hundreds of bright colors flashed amidst waves of white. Bodies undulated to the rhythm and song. Hunger, fear, anxiety… all that mattered were melody and dance. Daghul would find himself entranced in the song, interest in conversation fading, and drinks forgotten. The lull of music would be irresistible to him and without thought or knowing why he would find himself drawn in the direction of the dance floor. Yora and Fox would feel the serenade of song pounding through their bones, but the temptation to resist was not beyond them. That said, Yora's partner would already be moving towards the dance floor and Fox's partner was also on his way, grinning like a fool with his hand intertwined with hers.




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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Lani Stranger on February 19th, 2019, 1:41 am

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Beads the color of sun and fire were placed into her hand and Fox took what was offered to her, twisting her fingers around and wiggling her wrist until the beads were able to slip over and nestle on the bridge of her hand. It didn’t occur to her that she had no hesitation on taking this gift, nor suspicion about it. Lani’s aversion to jewelry and gifts did not apply to Fox, and so she admired the beads for a tick before she felt the pull of Eywaat, bringing her to the stage. Now Fox was unable to ignore the burning curiosity in her. She wanted to have a careless night of fun, and although Eywaat seemed comfortable enough here, he almost seemed to have no interest in finding the nearest drug and experimenting with the night. She tried to stop herself from leaning in, focusing on the glint of her newly adorned beads in the dark while she tried desperately to hear was Eywaat was saying.

Before too long though, the spectacle changed. The music went from being the background of the night to the main show. Suddenly the musicians were putting on a visual as well as audio performance, and to Fox’s astonishment, every single person in the room reacted quickly. Dancing became the only obsession, and anyone who hovered too far on the outskirts crowded their way into the center of the cavern, creating a single writhing creature of music and a million arms. All the white that was required of them seemed to blend and mesh together, imperceptibly different. Putting two and two together, the halfblood looked at Eywaat, a curious expression on her face. She realized he could not see her expression to know that she wanted to know what was happening. Regardless, she did not miss the knowing and mischievous grin as he intertwined their fingers and walked her into the dance floor as well.

Fox embraced the close swaying of bodies, spinning her head to watch the people around her and mimic their movements with her own. It was not difficult because the beat of the music helped, something made it feel stronger now, as though it was the only thing in the cavern that night, and they were all simply puppets of its power. She could feel the flush of heat in her veins from the alcohol and realized it had been a long time since her last drink, making her tolerance nearly nonexistent. Her head was not yet fuzzy, but her movements and lips had definitely been loosened. Trying not to break the dancing or appear as if she was not as entranced as the rest of the cavern seemed to be, Lani grabbed his other hand with her own, walking two fingers up his forearm, then his bicep, and then smoothing over his collar bone before placing a single finger on the cheek furthest form her to guide his ear down to her mouth. She used the freckles on her fingers to focus her auristics on him once again, feeling his aura as best she could. She had already guessed he didn’t have anything to hide, and she wanted to make sure that assumption had not changed.

”Are you going tell me what you done?” She asked, letting his face go to give him time to reply, grinning under her mask in a way that crinkled her eyes so that he knew she was not entirely serious. And she wasn’t, honestly. But Lani’s curiosity was a powerful thing and overrode any of Fox’s wild intents for the night, despite the alcohol. She had noticed something, and now she had questions.
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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Oresnya Cacao on March 1st, 2019, 12:59 pm

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Oresnya’s greed had stemmed itself, and she had decided on the yellow one. So drinks in hand, she and Daghul wandered to a table on the outskirts of the Inclement Weather, dodging the flood of people along the way. When they finally reached the table and Daghul offered her a place to sit, Oresnya noted with a smile that he had managed to lose half his drink along the way. Proudly, Oresnya took a sip from her still full drink and was met with a rush of pineapple and coconut. It had been a while since she had last tasted those down on the southern tip of Falyndar, but the flavors brought good memories, some in which she was just getting to know the crew and some in which she knew them well enough to call them family.

She was about to ask him how his drink was when the club suddenly changed. There was a lull in the music, arousing in a way, suggestive of something better yet to come. And then that something better arrived. The music changed, its melody dominating and becoming something more driven, and in its rebirth, its draw grew a thousand fold. Light itself seemed entranced by the rhythm and swayed, flickered, and danced to the new music that swelled to ceiling and reverberated from the floor.

Laughter built inside Oresnya, and before she was aware of it, it burst from her mouth but went unnoticed beneath the music that drowned out any conversation she might have been able to have with Daghul. Her curiosities would have to wait, and for the moment, Oresnya had forgotten them completely. As bewitching as the song of the sea, the music called to Oresnya, beat in time with her heart, and begged her body to move in synchrony with it, and Oresnya wasn’t about to deny it. Standing to her feet, she saw Daghul had risen with her, and she made a sad attempt to move her hips and shoulders and limbs in time with both the melody and the beat. It was a ridiculous display, and Oresnya laughed at herself. She was pretty sure she heard Daghul laugh at her as well before the pull of the music drew him toward the center of the room.

You must not leave your partner.

Grabbing his hand before he could get too far away, Oresnya laughed again at this perplexing power the music now seemed to have and at the instruction from the choosers. She had no intention of leaving her partner for the night.

That was until she saw what they were headed into. The center of the club had become a single, writhing mass of bodies that seemed to understand the music better than she did, or at least moved to it better. Waves and ripples emanated from its center with each beat. It would have been a thing of beauty, if it wasn’t such a deadly place for a Symenestra to be. Her bones were too fragile to enter that fray. Her ribs would crack. Her limbs would snap. She would fall and be trampled or suffocate due to her injuries.

The beat of her heart that had danced with the music now sped to a rate she was certain no musician could match. Panic, pure and raw, clawed at her insides, told her to run. To that end, she put on the brakes, but her fingers were intertwined with Daghul’s, and he would not turn away from the dancing. Desperation forced her hand, and she stepped into his path. The music’s sway seemed too much though, because he spun her playfully as if dancing and continued them on their way toward the mass of dancers. A second attempt to free herself from Daghul’s hand proved futile. He didn’t understand. He didn’t know. In his mind, she was sure, he thought he was doing his part as her partner to keep her close and not abandon her, but where they were headed was dangerous, if not fatal, for someone like her.

They were getting too close to the crowd now, and Oresnya’s panicked mind changed strategies. Instead of trying to keep them from the mob altogether, she attempted to shift their course, so they ended up on the outskirts of the dancers, rather than charging straight into their midst. It worked, at least partly. They still ended up on the edge of the crowd but not where Oresnya had hoped they would end up. There were places where she could escape, places closer to walls if necessary, but those were all far out of her reach.

“I can’t be here, Daghul. This is too dangerous for me.” She tried to yell that in his ear, but among the crowd and the music, her voice was lost.

Oresnya had to escape. The racing of her heart was so swift now that she felt her breath catching in her throat, unable to make it in or out. She needed to get away. Turning back toward the way they had come, the Widow saw more people flooded their direction. She had to leave. Now. Black nails dug deep into the flesh of his hand until they broke skin and drew blood. His hand flinched in a spasm of pain for just a moment, but that was all she needed. One sharp pull, and she was free.

She turned to run for the bar and ran directly into one of the newly arriving dancers. The impact didn’t stun the other person, but a sharp pain ripped through Oresnya’s ribs before she was suddenly engulfed in people. It should have been enough to bring her to her knees, but she knew that would have meant death. She wouldn’t survive more than ticks on the ground. Oresnya turned back for Daghul, only to find he’d been lost in the crowd.

She was alone.

That was perhaps more terrifying than the sharp pain that racked her ribs on every inhale. The crowd swallowed her up, and even so surrounded, she was utterly and alarmingly alone. Several glances in every direction told her she was lost. She didn’t know which way was the quickest way out of the mass. The press of bodies only seemed to push her deeper in.

A prayer escaped her lips, swallowed up by the noise around her. “Viratas, don’t abandon me. Save me. I’m not finished here. For the sake of my family-”

A drunken reveler cascaded off course and crashed into her, his elbow driving into the muscles over her ribs along her back. This pain was too much. She fell to the ground, gasping for air which refused to come. Curling up as small as she could, she held one arm out, trying to push away each leg as it stepped toward her.

Unless someone noticed, unless someone cared, she would die here, alone and forgotten. No one would care for the passing of Widow, of Oresnya, of Yora. She tried to push herself back to her feet, but the pain that tore through her chest forced her back down, made her tighten in on herself.

Her breath finally came, and her next prayer went out without an intended recipient. “Goddesses, Gods, anyone, help me.”

A heel swung backwards and caught her shoulder. This time, she felt something break. The sea of legs continued to roil around her. All anyone had to do was look down.

oocI decided to go ahead and make a post to get this moving forward. Red, if you pop back in, I can always edit this if the thread hasn’t moved forward. If it has, I’m sure we can figure out a way to meet back up later in the thread.

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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Solstice on March 27th, 2019, 7:25 pm

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The shadows and the light played a monochrome spectrum of pattern against the walls. The curves of the cavern were molded just so that the vibrations of the echoing music resonated with unparalleled perfection. Indeed, it was unlikely that any place in the whole of Mizahar could carry music quite the same way that Inclement Weather did. Perhaps it showed in the manner in which the residents of Wind Reach threw themselves into the flurry of dance and song. The center point of the cavern was a melting pot of bodies all weaving in tandem to the beat of the music.

Dagul vanished amidst the swarm of dance. Meanwhile, Eywaat and Fox were engulfed in the undulating bodies. They were pulled not quite to the dark center of the cavern, but still found themselves deep among the throng of bodies. Within that center, it was hard to tell one body from the other. The smattering of white robes and bright and colorful masks blended together into a whirlwind of color. It was fortunate that Eywaat and Fox found themselves connected, for otherwise they likely would have lost each other. It was loud there amidst the throng, and Fox's attempt to guide his ear closer to hear her voice was necessary to be heard admist the noise. Eywaat leaned down towards her to hear her words, and a grin once more flashed across his features. He leaned forward so his own mouth lay parallel with her ear.

“Why, I haven't done anything. It's all them, Fox. It's magnificent isn't it?”

Eywaat turned Fox towards the musicians with a gentle turn of his hand against her waist. The performance of violin, dance, and shadows still painted eerie pictures against the cavern walls. The performers were elevated on their platforms so even amidst the mob, their theatrics could be viewed from every corner of the room.

“Have you ever heard of Bards?” the man said in her ear. “Men and women, marked by the God of Music. They can do extraordinary things with song.” Eywaat gently squeezed Fox's hand and grinned at her once more. “During the day, the people of Wind Reach suffer and starve. But on nights like these they can come here. The Bards help. They...inspire, so to speak. And in doing so, they forget their sorrows. Inclement Weather is the most charitable place in Wind Reach. Especially during the Winter Revelry, when starvation and cruelty is the worst and caste can be forgotten. So enjoy yourself, Fox. Tomorrow you suffer, but tonight nothing matters.”

The man's aura thudded to the beat of the music. Within it, Fox could sense not the slightest trace of deceit or dishonesty. Here, the man was supremely content and as one with the nature of this place.

The swarm threatened to engulfed the Symenstra calling herself Yora. The beauty of the song and dance was lost to the Symenstra as she was dragged down, and her pale white body assaulted by abuse that an Inarta wouldn't even flinch at. And as a terrible end loomed ahead, with the woman forgotten amidst the trample of uncaring feet, a single hand reached downwards and grasped Yora by the hand.

“What on Mizahar are you doing down there?” The figure grasping Yora's hand was diminutive in size, but she heaved Yora to her feet with surprising strength. A hand supported Yora's back, and the two of them parted through the crowd with surprising haste until they finally burst from the center of the crows. Gently, the figure led Yora back to one of the tables in the corner and eased her into a chair. “You certainly did a number on yourself, didn't you?” The person chuckled. Yora's savior had the shape of a human, but unlike the Inarta filling the cavern, her hair was a glossy brown. The mask the woman wore had once been white, but delicately painted over the surface of the mask was a rainbow of hundreds of delicately painted flowers. Behind the mask, bright blue eyes shone with concern.

“That looked like it hurt. Are you okay, dear?”


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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Oresnya Cacao on April 14th, 2019, 2:35 am

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It wasn’t until her hope began to fade, hope in the gods and goddesses, hope that she could be rescued, that providence descended. It waited until her faith was on the edge of breaking or perhaps was even already broken before it intervened. Providence didn’t come with a parting of the clouds or with a great shattering of the earth. If it had, it may have broken her fragile body more. No, providence came simply, a hand descending out of the mass of bodies reeling above Oresnya and catching her by the hand she was using to stave off the threatening legs of the dancers.

The person at the other end of the arm wasn’t large. In fact, she was small, even for an Inarta, and her voice wasn’t big either. Somehow, though, Oresnya still heard it clear as day over the roar of the dancers and the music, here where she should’ve heard nothing.

“What on Mizahar are you doing down there?”

Oresnya winced as the woman pulled her to her feet. The stretching of her arm put pressure across her ribs and back, but at least it wasn’t the shoulder that had been kicked. Despite her size, the other woman hauled Oresnya up easily and, with the gentle pressure of a hand against the Widow’s back, guided her safely to the edge of the crowd, then beyond to a seat at the outskirts of the club.

Missing the first question completely, Oresnya tried to curl up into herself only to find the table top was in the way. Her second instinct was to hug her injured arm closer to her with the good one, but doing so pulled the arm at a different angle and only made the pain worse. It took her several moments to find the most comfortable position for every part of her, but eventually she settled and looked back up at her savior in time to catch her second question.

Oresnya shook her head, her words stumbling out in Common. “I’m not, but I will be, thanks to you.”

While she let another twinge of pain subside, she took in the other woman’s appearance. Everything about her was different, not different in the way that Oresnya was but different enough to notice she wasn’t like the rest of the crowd here. The open invitations to the Winter Revelry had stated explicitly that everyone was to wear white, but this woman’s mask was painted in a myriad of flowers of every color. Even those without Oresnya’s symenestra eyes would have been able to tell that she hadn’t worn white as instructed, but obviously, she’d still been let into the club regardless. Oresnya wondered what sort of sway the woman held. Even Endal had been turned away at the door until selected by the choosers. Whatever influence her savior had was through the power of her personality, not any position she held in the city.

Her attire wasn’t the only thing different. Oresnya’s sharp eyes could pick out the color of the hair that tumbled out from behind the other woman’s mask, and it was not one of the many shades of red the Inarta sported. Instead it was brown.

Perhaps the only parts of her that matched the Inarta were her size and the color of her eyes. The bright blue was not uncommon among the denizens of Wind Reach.

“That did hurt though,” Oresnya went on. “I’m a fragile creature. My people all are.” There was no point in continuing to play the game, acting as if no one knew who she was. There was no hiding the fact she was Symenestra, even with the copious amounts of face paste she had plastered all over herself. Her nails and the length of her limbs were enough to give it away. She was too tired and in too much pain to keep pretending. “It comes with being Symenestra. You live life understanding that it is fragile. Death comes more quickly for us than for most.”

Oresnya met the other woman’s eyes, really held their gaze. “I could’ve died in that crowd, but I didn’t because of you. Thank you.”

Letting her head rest on the table, she closed her eyes, trying to hide from her pain the same way she had hid from nightmares and frightening noises beneath her blankets when she was young. “How did you notice me? No one ever looks down here.”

Except the Dek. The Inarta were a haughty people, proud and confrontational to the very last. She had seen it walking the halls of Wind Reach. Every met everyone else’s gaze. No one avoided eye contact. No one ever looked down. But this woman had.

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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Lani Stranger on April 14th, 2019, 10:50 pm

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Tomorrow you suffer, but tonight nothing matters. Eywaat’s words rung in Fox’s ears and for just a moment she was in soft awe of what he had described. Her hand had moved to rest on his cheek, keeping his head close to hers so that she could hear this stranger, but it softened now as her thoughts were distracted. Of course the hold had never been threatening, she had tried for more seductive than threatening, although with how close the bodies were it was hard to push that intention with closeness, as she could attempt any other time. Her thoughts though began to wander, and Fox forgot of her intent to keep the conversation. She had never paid much attention to music, other than the Konti lullabies her mother would sing to her as a child. And yet how this mysterious Eywaat explained it to be… magic. The God of Music, whoever that was, had this power? And yet he didn’t lie, there was a respect churning through his aura, that she could feel in her hand, and so she was inclined to believe him. To allow herself to be suspended in this time of magic and music, just as he was, just as everyone else was. Except… not quite like everyone else.

She had asked the man what he had done, because all around them the Inarta were drawn to the music like baby ducks, following blindly. Their bodies churned and swept with the motions, and their minds seemed not to care. Everything was so overwhelming it was hard to see much else going on, but Fox could still feel in control of herself. Perhaps it was her past seasons of travel and oppression closing her off to experiencing fun… but she didn’t think it was. Eywaat seemed as clear headed as she did, although not as concerned as she was. Curious to test her theory, Fox reached her other hand out, gently pressing her fingertips on the shoulder of one person, the forearm of another, the lower back of one more. She was testing the movements of their aura, trying to confirm her suspicion with anything tangible to tell her. Perhaps she could not seem to put down her distrust and fear of the Inarta people, even now, when she could blend in and pretend to be one of them. The drink hadn’t helped.

”Well, what do we do?” She asked in Nari, standing on her tiptoes to speak in his ear again, not allowing the stranger to dance again. There was an irresistible urge to grasp the whole situation, to know what was happening without any grey areas or unknowns. It was disrupting her intent to have fun, but then again Lani had never been very good at that.
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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Solstice on April 24th, 2019, 6:33 pm

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Amidst the swirl and swarm of music and light, the corner of the club that Oresenya's savior had led her seemed gentle in comparison. It was almost as if a thin, calming barrier sheltered them from the raucous crowd only two dozen steps away. As the Symenstra girl struggled to find a comfortable position, the woman in the flower mask waited patiently. Her head tilted just barely as the answers came in common, but after a moment a gentle smile warmed its way onto her face.

"I suppose dance clubs aren't the place for you, hm?" The woman's gentle, airy tone made it hard to realize that she had just spoken in perfect common. The woman paused a moment and glanced over the crowd of undulating bodies caught in the thralls of unrelenting celebration.

"I like it here, personally," she said, giving a sideways glance to the injured Symenstra. "Such an unbridled expression of passion. You're new here, aren't you? For many of the Inarta, this is the only thing they have to look forward to. They can let themselves go, and be someone else here. Someone who doesn't have to worry about duty, or work, or responsibilities. They can forget it all for one night. It's...well I suppose it's freeing for them. It's not real of course. Tomorrow they'll go back to their mediocre, backbreaking tasks. But they get to pretend for the night. And the passion they feel...that's real."

Gently, she rested her fingertips atop Oresenya's unhurt hand, the barest a whisper of a touch. The woman's pale fingers brushed Oresenya's long, strange hand. "There's this sense of responsibility on you...it hangs over you like a shroud." The woman's smile grew behind her mask. "It wouldn't hurt for you to lighten up a bit you know?" The woman laughed brightly. "I'm sorry, that's probably an insensitive thing to say after you were nearly trampled to death." Her hand squeezed around Oresenya's. "I'm glad I was able to help. I couldn't help but notice you. My eyes tend to fall in all directions. And I think the proprietor of this club would be unhappy if someone died on the dance floor."

The woman's hand gently reached out to brush Oresenya's injured arm, and she frowned. Her head turned and scanned the room, finally pausing as she made eye contact with a man not far from them, leaning against the bar. His mask was decorated with a giant green tree, it's branches spreading across the face of the mask like spider webs. Catching the woman's eye, the figure in the tree mask nodded and leaned forward to say something to the bartender. The bartender nodded in return, and said something to a Yasi sitting behind the bar, occupied with stringing together beads into bracelets. The boy looked startled for a moment, then sprung to his feet and darted away from the bar and towards the entrance to the club.

Meanwhile, Fox was in the thick of the celebration. She and Eywaat were gradually drawing closer to the dark center of the throng of dancers, bodies pushing and pulling, twisting this way and that. One did not need to have keen eyes to see the occasional exchange of drugs and drink, even amidst the pressing bodies. Inhibition was a thing of the past as shadows flickered patterns against the walls and music roiled and roused. Fox's deliberate examinations of the auras surrounding her could only reveal the passion in which the dancers now found themselves enthralled by. They were taken in by the song, responsibilities forgotten, possessed by the moment. That said, it was not as if she was the only one not enraptured by the music. On the edges of the club, just barely within sight, a sparse few figures continued to drink and chat, and showed no sign of joining the party goers in the center of the room. Fox was not entirely unique in her lack of thrall.

When Fox brought her mouth back to Eywaat's ear to ask her question, the man's mouth twitched and a playful smile found its way to his features. "Well, what do you want to do, Fox?" he said to her ear. "The night is yours. How do you want to celebrate it?"

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The Beat of Two Thousand Hearts

Postby Oresnya Cacao on May 1st, 2019, 4:11 am

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Much the woman said made sense, but eventually, she came back to the point Oresnya had thought of all along. They get to pretend for the night. Pretend. That was all any of this was. Oresnya thought she would have been used to that by now. Her entire people structured their existence around falsities, subtle lies, deceit of the greatest extent to lead others to their deaths. But she had learned in a brief two years traveling the world that this was not just a trait of her people. It was the common thread that seemed to connect all sentient life. Everybody did it. Oresnya was certain she was no different.

And she despised that fact.

The woman who had saved her reached out, and a touch that Oresnya didn’t expect caused her to flinch. There was nothing malicious about it, nothing violent, nothing harsh. Instead, it was gentle, perhaps the gentlest touch Oresnya had ever experienced. She had experienced the kindness of a chosen sister and the passion of a lover, and neither of those came close to this. The stray bird feathers she had found shed throughout the halls were not so gentle as this. It was haunting.

And comforting.

At the touch, Oresnya opened her eyes and watched the other woman. Everything that followed only assured Oresnya more and more her savior’s benevolence was genuine. There was a smile that shown behind her masked and glowed in her eyes, and her laughter almost seemed to bring light to the world around them. Oresnya could sense that much even though she had already closed her eyes again.

Oresnya laughed with her and opened her eyes, sitting up some to better see the woman who had come to her aid. “Yeah, I suppose dead bodies aren’t good for business. It tends to kill the mood.” She laughed again, realized she was laughing, and smiled through the pain. “Lightening up couldn’t hurt too much, I suppose.”

The touch shifted, and the woman’s fingertips found Oresnya’s other arm, more gently than before if that was even possible. Sensing something, the woman turned away, her eyes scanning the people around them for someone specific, but in the distraction of her pain, Oresnya missed the interaction between the woman, the man, and the boy.

Leaning her head back against the wall, Oresnya felt the tension of angry muscles against battered bones. The stretch in her ribs was an unpleasant thing, but once the pain had mostly subsided, she felt she could breathe easier sitting up. She smiled at the dark ceiling, admiring the gentle details there that no one else in the club would be able to see. “I can’t blame the Inarta for looking forward to this, but I don’t want to be someone else. I’ll take my responsibilities. I will embrace that shroud. Because truth is the most beautiful thing. I wouldn’t forget what I have known for all that the world could offer me in exchange. My life and my friends and my family. I would never rather be anyone but me. Truth is the most beautiful thing. And the most devastating.”

Something odd occurred to Oresnya, and she tried to catch her savior’s gaze again. “I am new here, but if you’ll forgive me for saying so, you sound like an outsider, too. It’s not just the common. You spoke of the Inarta, of everyone here, and the words you used were ‘they’ and ‘them’ and ‘their.’ Maybe that’s just your observant side talking. Maybe not.”

Questions rushed through Oresnya’s head, and she couldn’t decide which to ask the woman. One finally slipped out. “Who are you?”

Remembering where she was, remembering the holiness anonymity held here, the sanctity of remaining nameless, she shook her head and tried to memorize what details of the woman’s face she could see around the mask. “Never mind. Don’t answer that. We wouldn’t want to ruin the fun. Some mystery should remain.”

That was a lie. Oresnya wanted very little more in that moment than to know the name of her rescuer. But lying was what everyone did. She could pretend for one night.

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