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Oct 20, 2019 4:06 PM
it was jean, in the howling mountain, with the terrible plan
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Ketea doesn't go to this kind of party.

For one thing, she isn't the sort of person who gets invited to this kind of party. But even if she did get invited, she wouldn't go: they're frilly and gossipy and the food comes in stupidly tiny amounts and the music is obnoxiously bland and somehow they're always scheduled to coincide with the part of the day when the toddler is cranky and resisting being put down for his nap. If she did get invited, she'd feel vaguely smug about turning them down as bluntly as she pleased, and then she'd go home and get to spend some time with her family for once and not have to wear those ridiculous shoes that one woman is (how does she walk in those?) and it would be altogether superior.

She doesn't get invited, of course; but work is work, and unfortunately her particular work involves being at this sort of party from time to time, if thankfully not as a guest. So she's hanging about on the sidelines, being invisible in the way that is absurdly easy to do around fancy rich people when you're the help, keeping an eye out for anyone who's making trouble or gatecrashing or getting entirely too drunk, or doing anything else warranting their eviction from the premises.

At this point Ketea's almost hoping one of the frilly upper-crust ladies will take it into her empty head to go do one of those things. At least then she'll have something to do, in the form of ushering them firmly and if necessary forcibly out -- while (and this is for some reason important to these sorts) simultaneously being female herself, so that the process doesn't involve a man's hands on those gauzy bodices.

Unfortunately, nothing of the sort seems imminent. Which means she gets to continue trying not to bang her head against the elaborate plaster molding to get that stupid, obnoxious, repetitive music out of it.

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There is a sudden clap of thunder, and the charming view of the sunset out the enormous windows lining the ballroom is obscured by a sudden torrential rain.

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Charming.

Also: not her problem, except insofar as she knows the guy who mops the floors and he is going to have a hell of a time if everyone ends up tracking mud in and out.

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People are only just starting to mutter uneasily when a bolt of lightning strikes the window, melts a hole in it, and deposits a large scorch mark and a tall man in archaic formal wear on the floor beyond, thereby removing all doubt about whether this is a visit from the Lord of the Howling Mountain.

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Yep, that's him all right.

Well this is terrifying.

 

She really fucking wishes she didn't owe Jiath as badly as she does.

 

Ketea starts making her way in that general direction. Staying on the sidelines. Fancy people don't notice the help, and he is definitely fancy.

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Wherever he looks, people freeze and/or sidle away.

 

And now he is looking at her.

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...looking at her, nope, he must be looking at the wall behind her, she is invisible, see, uniform, doesn't count as a person, probably just clearing dishes or something.

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Oh good.

 

Well. It was inevitable.

 

She takes a deep breath and then a step closer to him.

"Sir. I'm going to need to ask you to leave."

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"Are you really?"

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Yes they all think they're so clever.

"You're not on the guest list, I'm afraid. I can direct you to some good restaurants nearby, if you haven't eaten."

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"You know," he says, "I really can't think of a single thing that would make trying to throw me out of a party look like a good idea. It's just not coming to me."

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"I need to talk to you anyway, and this is what they pay me for. Might as well try for a raise."

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"I suppose there's a kind of logic to that. And what do you need to talk to me about?"

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Also this way if he kidnaps or possibly just murders her, her girl and the kids probably get a decent payout from her employers, since it's technically 'killed doing her job' not 'randomly decided to go strike up a conversation with the Lord of the Howling Mountain'; but she doesn't feel like elaborating on the point.

"Friend of mine wants to get in touch with you. ... Well. I say friend."

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"Interesting priorities your friend has."

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"No shit. So. Here."

A letter, sealed with a monogram pressed into wax, and a locket, of the sort that encloses a small portrait.

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He takes the message. He raises his eyebrows at it.

"What's your friend trying to do, flirt with me?"

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"Fucked if I know. Just told me to give you those and tell you where to find him."

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"And where do I find him?"

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"This time? Theater down Lakeview. Big ugly building with the pink facade, can't miss it. You can catch him after the performance. Or during, I guess, given."

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He snorts.

"It's been fun," he says, and a bolt of lightning takes him neatly back out the hole in the window, vaporizing some rain along the way.

 

Up in the sky, high above the now-dissipating clouds, he opens the letter and the locket.

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The locket contains a miniature of a young man, either very pretty or vain enough to choose a very flattering painter for his portrait. He's smiling somewhat askew at the viewer, hair tousled, looking like he's been caught in the moment of repose between one burst of action and the next.

The letter, written in a fine calligraphic hand presumably belonging to the same, reads:

To the Lord of the Howling Mountain -- my best regards.

I do apologize for the unconventional means of contact; you will perhaps be unsurprised to learn that the post will not deliver to your address. I would take it as a personal favor if you were to leave the messenger unharmed; she has (should you be the sort of man with whom such matters carry weight) small children.

As an alternative (and should you take proposals on this matter) let me put forward myself. I am, at the time of writing, under thirty, attractive, well-read, and a tolerable conversationalist; and can sing, dance, and juggle flaming torches beside. Further qualifications, and testimonials, can be offered at your request.

I presume that it is not a matter of great difficulty for you to find me, should this missive reach and interest you. In case I err in my guess of your capabilities, I have asked the bearer of this letter to give you my address, should she know it; failing that, I do have some little repute, and you may be able to find me by asking after me by name.

Yours affectionately,

Jiath Imesa
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Uh-huh.

He pockets the letter and the locket and turns into a gust of wind and goes looking for Jiath Imesa.

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He is on stage at the theater down Lakeview Way! Cursing the heroine for her faithless affections while perishing dramatically from a mortal wound.

(He is a very good actor. It is quite convincing perishing.)

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Perhaps he should've put that in his letter.

 

The gust of wind hangs around to watch.

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