"Sometimes I wonder about that. Whether, for example, things could have been better if the library of Alexandria hadn't been burned. But... that's why the idea of a time machine is terrifying. Because we can't know until things are already changed."
It's nighttime, but the city still glows with all kinds of light, and shakes with the noise of honking, shouting, music, the clinking of glasses, all blending together into the cacophony and symphony of the city.
Melpomene looks around. "Well, we're back... Right where I started."
-- there was something charming about a sentient bar, and the cheery chatter that was different. But she wouldn't admit she wanted to go back, not ever. She didn't keep a calendar, and she didn't go over to that bar she'd stepped through that one time into another world every Friday just to see if it would do that again.
But the one time she wasn't trying, it happened, and without even a breeze. She stepped through.
She's immortal, but her heart has never raced, or throbbed, or ached. She's never had one.
She pretends she's whole without it.
That fools no one, least of all herself. Often, lately, she stops pretending, and remembers (too well, Mother, you drag me in)-- it is a dull pain, a long-lasting twinge in an organ she's never had, that never screams but murmurs softly in her ear, the Chinese torture of myths. Can't rip it out; it's already gone.
Lately, sitting at the window is torture, too. Knowing that she cannot throw herself down through the glass fall with the wind in her brittle hair let it all go jarringly into darkness peacepeacepeace the world goes ticking on--
The problem is, no god can be an atheist. She has no choice but to believe.
The windows she passes are filled with colorful lights and laughing families, putting ornaments on the Christmas tree together or cleaning up after their pot roast dinner, as if posing for a portrait. Outside, Melpomene shivers under her trenchcoat, hurrying home with a pack of cotton candy bubble gum from the drug store around the corner.
They don't remember, she thinks. It should be a smug thought, but it's mostly desperation. It's just gift certificates and satin ribbons to them, isn't it?
She's about to turn down the dark street which, after a few more twists and turns, will lead her home, when she decides instead to go to the bar. It's not a pastime she's particularly ashamed of, and a tequila might sooth the sharp sound of laughter echoing out onto the street...
So, tucking the pack of gum into her pocket, Melpomene reaches the door, which jangles with overflowing holiday cheer, and pulls it open. Inside is something she's not expecting - Ho, ho, ho.
Outside, neon lights flicker, blurred to watercolor by the dirty rain-- small flyers and twigs fly against the window, battered by a belated gust of March. Taxis (actors trying to make it big on Broadway, they'll live fast and die unknown) greet her in a harsh, chaotic symphony.
Melpomene turns, and strolls to the bar, leaving splotchy mud-prints on the ground. "Tequila. Tall. On the rocks."
Suddenly, as if a great dam has been released, she can see them all-- the colorful thoughts streaming by as they pass, the rough edges of anger and the dark, dripping colors of depression. The bartender is worried that his wife is having an affair. She sees it behind her eyes, sees the sickly green panic rise--
and then it's gone again, tamped quietly down.
Melpomene turns her head, sharply, against the bright color that's been gone for so long. Takes the tequila, heading quietly to a table to dry. On the way, she leans over the shoulder of a young man garbed in faded black and sporting a lip ring. A glance at the page, and a whisper-- "Give up the bloody swan feathers, or it give up altogether."
Several minutes later, Gary's scribbled out every mention of swan feathers in his poem--the best part-- and he's damned if he knows why.
The sudden overpowering ring of the bell cuts off the sound of any lagging voices, and tolls solemnly.
The note vibrates sweet and low throughout the ballroom, twelve deliberate times, making the glasses at the bar shake gently on their shelf.
After the last note has died away, one voice rings out in the silence, dark and rich. "The time has come to reveal your true self-- remove the masks, and cast off the lies. It is a new day, and it is time to discover the truth."
The voice is echoing from the top of the grand staircase. Melpomene moves to remove her mask, and shake her dark hair free. "Come, now is the time to revel in the beauty of who we really are, not what secrets we may be hiding behind the feathers and silk."
The silence is not momentous-- it is ponderous, if anything. After a moment, the harpsichord begins to play a sweet and simple song, and the dance goes on.
[ooc: please go first to the Through the Door thread. Thanks.]
ETA: As of this thread, all new threads in the masquerade are now after midnight [the links below are now re-linked to after-midnight sub-threads]. React at your leisure.
The ballroom itself is a burst of dazzling light. Hanging from the vaulted ceiling are two gold-wrought chandeliers, both of which glow brightly over the occasion, and tall lanterns shine throughout the room.
The grand staircase descends with a flourish and opens onto the main ballroom. A balcony, which providing a clear view of the goings-on below, runs all the way around the edge of the room. It can be reached via any of the four spiral staircases in each corner of the ballroom.
Below, the wooden dance floor flickers gently in the light from above, and musicians in the side room play soft, classical music. Meg Giry, the dance mistress for tonight, is on the floor with a microphone in hand.
A low, wooden bar in the corner provides hors d’oeuvres and drinks to revelers; small tables for two sprinkle the area.
… Through the door and into a place quite different from the casual warmth of the bar.
Deep cherry velvet carpets the antique wooden floors of the balcony that surrounds the ballroom; the grand staircase is about five paces from the door, directly before the doorway.
To the left of the staircase is a small, freestanding and solemn sign, pointing to an open doorway further down on the left, reading ‘Mask Room.’ Billy Batson, dressed to the nines in polished black, stands by the banister to give directions and general assistance.
From here you can see the revelry below.
[ooc: fyi - There is an actual Grand Staircase thread to be found here. The banister thread is for those not yet ready to make their entrances. Sorry for my terrible vagueness.]
She has a bottle of tequila by her bed, and she's seeing how many cards out of 52 she can flip into a hat-- not because this relieves any of the stress, but because it's something to do. A force of habit.
Mel wonders, for the thousandth time in this century alone, what is wrong with mortals. Why they always have to misinterpret things, skew things so that it's the fault of the person who has to deal with it for a thousand years. It's no stone on their back. She growls, trying to ignore the pressing voice in her head that's going it wasn't his fault, you're the one that sounds like a whiny child. Continues flipping cards and sipping tequila.
After about a half an hour of this, she slams down the half-empty bottle and storms over to her desk. No choice.
Parker-- she begins to write, pen smudging on the page.
... then she goes down to the bar, hoping he won't be there.