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Dec 15, 2019 3:42 PM
Lacey has a questionably bad time
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The capital is boring.

Why is the capital boring? It's the capital! It should have interesting people in it! But noo, everyone she's met so far has been an idiot. Mostly not even an entertaining idiot, just a boring idiot who thinks she should be impressed by their whatever, like, no, in order to impress her you can start by not being an idiot.

On the plus side, the party has free booze, so that's nice.

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It's been a couple of years since the last time the Lord of the Howling Mountain crashed a party in Oroshe; he shouldn't be due for another year at least, probably more.

Of course, the Lord of the Howling Mountain is not exactly known for keeping to a consistent schedule.

A bolt of lightning from a clear sky strikes the roof of the manor with a flash and a crack, somehow extinguishing every lamp and candle in the building. Then a pillar of flame roars up from an open spot on the floor, and when it subsides, Serik Tanaikon is standing there, surveying the crowd with a slight, amused smile. The lights in the ballroom come back up one by one, starting with a quick spiral around the chandelier above his head and ending a few seconds later with the farthest of the wall sconces.

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Now that is impressive.

...That is also the Lord of the Howling Mountain, she should probably be terrified. On the other hand, it's not like he's known to kidnap entire partiesful of people, there's lots of pretty girls here, and when else is she going to get a chance to see something so gloriously dangerous? Yeah, okay, positive feelings approved. Positive feelings and blending into the crowd as much as humanly possible.

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He strolls around the room. People edge out of his way, or freeze in place when he looks at them. His entrance was dramatic enough that no one's had the courage to slip out a side door yet.

There's a pair of guests near him, a man and a woman who were dancing when he arrived, standing frozen with their hands clasped between them. When Lord Tanaikon steps closer, the man lets go of the woman's hands and turns to face him, stepping in front of her as though to shield her from that smile.

Lord Tanaikon leans in and whispers in the man's ear for half a minute or so, then straightens up with a laugh and passes them by. The man collapses into the woman's arms, trembling visibly.

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Rude. 

She does not in fact want his attention like at all so she'll keep as still as the people around her and not tell him off even a little bit.

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Someone near the edge of the crowd sidles toward a door.

"Ah?" he says, looking in their direction. They stop moving. "Thank you."

He's getting closer to Siva. No one seems to have caught his eye yet, although he pauses a few times, looking at this or that guest.

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She squeezes her eyes shut on the grounds that this is much better for Blending In than actually looking at him with any plausible look on her face.

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Then it might take her a few seconds to notice the crowd thinning out around her as Lord Tanaikon draws closer, until at last he is standing in front of her and the nearest other guest is five feet away.

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...Oops. 

Okay, whatever, playing the frightened little mouse was getting old fast. At least if he takes her he probably won't take anyone else.

(Ironically, only now is she actually starting to be scared.)

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"Good evening," he says, smiling down at her and offering his hands. "May I have this dance?"

(The music has stopped, of course; the hall is nearly silent, except for a few frightened whimpers here and there, quickly stifled.)

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"To what music, milord?"

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He chuckles.

"Take my hands and find out."

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She gives him an assessing look, then decides "fuck it" and takes his hands.

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There is a moment of - dissolution, a transition from being a solid and embodied thing to being a part of the air, a perspective without a presence, sense without form.

As soon as the air has her, it twists away and flows out an open window to spiral up into the sky. The lights of the city glitter beneath her like golden stars.

And then she's solid again, and so is he, standing on thin air almost level with the peak of the Howling Mountain to the east. Lord Tanaikon is laughing. The wind swirls around them, whistling some thousand-year-old song. The air under their feet supports them as firmly as stone. The amount of magic he's wasting on this must be outrageous; no wonder he's rumoured to be a god.

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Amazing. She laughs in delight. If he does kidnap her to torture for the rest of her life she hopes it doesn't make her forget this, this is so beautiful.

She does not know this song but she is good enough at dancing to improvise.

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He is an excellent dancer and seems entirely, genuinely delighted to dance with her in midair to songs sung by the wind. When the first song ends, another starts, and then another; he leads her through more and more intricate steps as he gets to know her skill and style. Finally, he's tired enough to let the music fade, after spinning her into his arms one last time.

"Well?" he asks, a little out of breath, letting go but not yet stepping back. "Was the music to your liking?"

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"That was glorious."

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"I'm glad you think so. What's your name, my dear?"

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"Siva Jialo. And I'm not your dear."

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"No? My apologies," he says. "I hope I haven't ruined the moment."

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"Nah."

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"Good."

He steps back slightly, to make enough room between them that he can offer her his hands again.

"Would you like to see my castle?"

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"Is that actually a question, because I don't really like when people play silly buggers with me."

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"I assure you," he says, "it's a question to which I genuinely want to know the answer."

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"Fair enough. I don't know, it's a hard question to answer. Before tonight, the only thing I knew about the girls you spirited away was 'nobody ever saw them again'. Now I also know 'The Lord of the Howling Mountains dances beautifully and will sometimes deploy his powers to delightful effect,' but that still leaves me with a spectrum of options ranging from 'you only take girls who are genuinely worse off otherwise, like abuse victims and such, and all the awful rumors are completely false' to 'you are totally a demon who will rape and torture me for several millennia before devouring what's left of my soul, and the fancy dancing is just a method of temptation and I'll never see the like again' and I rather suspect that the answer is somewhere in the middle, but it's rather hard to give your question an informed answer without knowing where in the middle it is, and all an uninformed answer would tell you would be--how I was weighing the probabilities against each other, I suppose, but without knowing how I was doing that I still expect it would be splendidly uninformative."

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He chuckles.

"Well, fair enough. Let me rephrase, then. I haven't decided what I'm going to do with you, but my castle is beautiful and I want to show it off to you because I think you'll appreciate it. Leaving aside the question of what happens afterward, does that sound like a good use of your time?"

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