Hi there, readers! Remember Eclectic Alli’s story blog parties? There’s another one going on right now, loosely centered around April 1 and “things are not what they seem.” Last Halloween’s story about the masquerade ball was an early exploration of a larger story, and for this event, I’ve got a short snippet continuing where I left off. But wait, there’s more! Check out Alli’s post for a crossover snippet with her character, Taliana. Thanks, Alli!
The Masquerade crowd had thinned. Solstice tradition demanded that reverlers move from house to house, keeping themselves awake and checking on their friends. New guests were arriving at every moment, though, delayed by the long walk from town, but not for long enough — no one Sesen asked remembered a woman in a devil costume. She could’ve joined any little group of people and disappeared an hour ago, and each new guest made it harder for Sesen to keep track. He wasn’t even sure how to describe her, now that he wore her red devil mask himself. But he still had the sense that he shouldn’t leave, that answers were somewhere in this house…
He turned, and came face to face with another demon. No, two of them — a tall man in orange with a bushy beard underneath his mask, and a woman behind a purple sculpted devil’s face. He’d swear he hadn’t seen either of them in his circuit of the crowd.
“Good evening,” said the woman. “We’ve been looking for you.”
How had they recognized him in his borrowed mask? Or did they think it was his? What if wearing it was some kind of signal? We mustn’t forget who we are on Solstice Night. That will protect you, if you come looking for me. Was it a warning, to go unmasked? Why couldn’t she have given him more instructions!
“Are you… friends of Leae’s?” he asked, hating the quaver in his voice.
“You could say that. We’re here for you,” the man intoned. “Come with us, and we’ll show you how to see through the veil of night, into the other side…”
Sesen straightened his back and nodded. He could leave now, but he had no choice, not really. He had to know.
The devils moved to either side of him and escorted him to a small side door. Anyone looking at them would assume they were a group of friends headed out for some air, or moving on to the next party, but the two stopped him beyond the door and moved away. Sesen turned in place twice, trying to get his bearings in the light — a small side porch, dripping with candles for the holiday. Nothing but shadows beyond. He whirled to look behind again, but the two devils were closing the door.
He straightened, let his breath out slowly, and drew it in again. “What do I do?”
The two looked at each other. Did they even know?
“Take two candles,” the man said, and Sesen went to the railing to find them.
“Hold them out to either side, and turn in a perfect circle.”
He did, and when he came back around to look at them, the woman was laughing. “Now cluck like a chicken!”
“What?!” He set the candles down.
“Oh, come on,” the man said, taking off his mask. The woman followed suit. Sesen knew both of them, Dani and Henrietta, a builder and a merchant from town, a couple he’d spent time with and liked.
The woman rolled her eyes and smiled to Sesen. “We thought you’d laugh as soon as you saw us. What’s going on?”
Sesen just stared at them blankly. He thought he should be angry, but of course he knew them… Why hadn’t he recognized them? He just felt drained, like he’d been here for weeks instead of hours. He found a bench and sat down.
“I’ll tell you everything, just give me a moment…”