Dark night. New Moon, see? What better excuse to have a party in the woods. The blackened skies offer no illumination: no doubt that people are getting lost in the woods, trying to find this certain part of Snake Creek -- the abandoned adventure park that used to be a scout camp. With no real signage, the only way to -find- the place is to follow the cryptic directions that have been passed around like a dirty rumour, and hope for the best.
That, and listen. The music is loud: bass booming through the woods, drawing people closer to the main event.
Smoke is on the air - acrid and smelling of tyres - and soon enough flames can be seen through the trees: barrels of burning who-knows-what around the edges of the camp, and a pyre in the centre. People are already gathered -- dancing, laughing, chattering at each other and passing around joints. Some guy is walking around with a mini keg on his back, passing out cups of what is hopefully beer and not ... something else? Must be heavy, but judging from the broken horns on his head, the Ogre is used to hard labour.
Huh. There are humans here, sure - but there are quite a lot of Changelings too; drifter types, familiar strangers, an Ogress with a dead arm goading some bug-eyed mortal into leaping over the pyre.
Oh! Is it a fire jumping contest already?
The music thumps, shaking the branches of the trees. The birds must be furious.
When one thinks of parties, they think of Cerise Hodgson. Okay, no they don't. Most people thinking about her linger on books, charts, research, and Cat-22's soup of the day, but even so when the mortal heard rumors of a party in the woods, she set out to find it with the type of determination that only she has.
Finally entering the clearing, the mortal woman gives a cry of joy and accomplishment, "Found it!" and then starts wandering through the crowd until she manages to grab a cup of something from somebody.
A lovely lady looking for booze? Stumpy Keg the Ogre slows down, and drawn to Cerise's joyous accomplishment like a shark to chum, he ambles off in her direction, advertising his goods to all gathered via shouting: "Two bucks and it gets ya fucked!" ... okay. It's that kinda party. He's already filling a red solo cup with something horrible, and gyrating in Cerise's direction. Oh. There's a money bucket attached to his belt; it jingles with loose change. He's been doing good business. Bad business? Keg's been doing business.
Stompy boots are not precisely ideal for hiking, but Cardinal don't care. The silver-clad, redheaded moonbeam is rather determined to be the brightest damned thing on this darkest of nights, all shiny shoes and silvery dress and delicately luminescent skin. To those who can see it. Those who can't? Well, there's some shimmer powder all the same so that she might catch the firelight once she finds it. Though her trajectory of approach is different, she's not too far behind Cerise and most certainly not above clapping her approval for the stranger's accomplishment, bracelets all a riotous jangling. But there is BOOZE! Of unknown sort and origin! Without hesitation, she reaches down to her hip--nevermind that there are no pockets on that dress of hers--and pulls forth a pair of singles to tuck into that cash-cup at the ogre's hip. Should those dollars not be there later, well. Probably fell out, right?
Alas, Cerise is a chump who pays with real money. She reaches into an interior pocket, pulls out some bills and stuffs them into into the Ogre's bucket as she reaches for the cup. she already seems pretty proud of herself for even just taking it, and before she drinks, she lifts it up in a salute towards both the Keg bearing guy and the newly arrived Cardinal. "Hey!" She greats, "This is great, right?"
Somewhere not far from that dead-armed Ogress, in the shadow of one of the big trees stands a tall, thin man difficult to distinguish from the mottled darkness around him. Especially with no moon. Dross watches Uschi goad that bug-eyed mortal over the fire without a word or even, though of course there's not much light to see by, the hint of an expression on his sharp features.
Coming up from the darkness is another figure, clad all in black. The coat he wears swirls darkness around him, like his hair. He is alone. He is silent. Why would someone like this come to such a raucous affair? Perhaps it's because someone needs to watch. Someone needs to be sure that no real harm is done. That someone is vervanE, apparently.
He sticks to the shadows, and he approaches no one. His eyes glow a strange color in the darkness, a sort of deep lavender. They turn to follow Dross, and to watch Dross watch Uschi. But the others here, like the silvery Cardinal and the mortal Cerise, don't escape his gaze, either.
Ink arrives with his glowing eyes wide as he takes in the party going on around him. He's a recent arrival that has pledged to the freehold and started to learn more of the local lost. His entire form is made of from an inky black substance that seems to absorb light instead of reflecting it. Both eyes glow like twin moons in the dark sky of his features as his head swivels from side to side to take everything in. He's dressed for the outdoor party in a simple leather motorcycle jacket over a crimson shirt, dark pants and a pair of sneakers.
The darkness and shadows seem drawn to Ink, moving and flickering as some of that inky darkness seems to drip from his body from time to time. "I got two bucks to get fucked! Wait. I mean in the ... Just give me a drink!" Paying the ogre he takes the drink and moves off to explore before he can embarrass himself further.
Uschi the dead-armed Ogress has, indeed, been goading on that bug-eyed mortal. When she claps him on the back and starts to back off, he practically falls over -- but a second later, he's gearing up for a running jump and just, /just/, about making it over the pyre. Oh sure, the kid botches the landing and ends up face first in the dirt on the other side, but at least he's not on fire, eh? Just hollering about his teeth or something.
Uschi is laughing - sounds like boulders cracking together - but she almost seems disappointed. The Moon finishes her cup of Keg's Horrible Homebrew and drifts through the crowd. She's got no shoes and what is most certainly a wild hare hanging off the back of her belt. Wait; did that thing just kick? Is it dead or alive? Uschi doesn't care - she's walking around the shadowy edges, passing close to Dross but not quite acknowledging him - just watching the crowd. Who's that shadowy stranger with the lavender glow? Maybe not a stranger, from the way Uschi stares at vanE, and slowly upnods in his direction.
Meanwhile: Cerise gets her solo cup of horrible booze, and so does Cardinal - they will find it tastes like warm alley cats smell. No conversation from the Ogre though. Keg is on the lookout for more sales. Whistles are made, and chants of "Two bucks! You booze or lose!" Does that even make sense? Who cares! Ink's getting served the bad stuff next!
All around music thumps, people jump, booze is drunk.
Wonderful! Darkness absorbing party-goers will only allow Cardinal to shine all the brighter, the slender moonbeam undoubtedly grateful for such a service. With an eager nod of her head to Cerise, she signs something to the woman, eyes wide and closed lips unmoving. OH! But then there's booze being deliver. She turns a bright--closed lipped--smile to the ogre, lifting her red solo cup in silent toast. Before taking a big swig of that piss like it ain't no big deal. Well, maybe a little bit of a deal. She pulls a face when the cup comes back down. And then she goes back in because there's no way she's working up the courage twice. All of it. Right down the hatch. To start the party off right. It leaves her a little wobbly-eyed as she drags her arm across her face and looks around at the other party goers. Like she's picking a target.
Cerise takes a sip out of the cup and she quickly makes a face of distaste, "This is /awful/!" She's probably louder than necessary as she says that, but blame it on the crowd and the noise. Still, she takes another sip and looks around, only then spotting Dross. A hand lifts up in a cheery wave that doesn't seem to match the man's general demeanor at all and she goes bouncing off in his direction, looking over her shoulder at Cardinal, "Hey, come meet my friend Dross! Hey! Dross!" What she doesn't seem to notice is the guy who just landed face-first in dirt, or that Cardinal was just signing at her. That can also probably be blamed on the crowd. Whether Cardinal follows her or not, she heads over in the man's direction.
Cerise's friend Dross seems... Kind of hard to find! He hasn't moved; hasn't taken a step or lifted a finger, but... The shadows surrounding him just seem to be... Sort of deeper and darker. He /is/ still in there somewhere, isn't he? He must be, though he doesn't say anything to help Cerise or anyone following her locate him. He does look at each new arrival, however, taking his time to inspect each of them. When vanE appears, a brief, difficult to decipher expression flashes over his face.
Stumpy Keg doesn't seem to mind that everyone finds his homebrew disgusting -- hell, judging from that shadowy mantle, maybe he's /hoping/ they do. With the newcomers well boozed up, he goes about his tour of the grounds -- spreading boozy delights and hopefully not botulism or something.
Over by the pyre, Bugsy is trying to insist to people that he can take another go at fire jumping even with a split lip and a chipped tooth. Obviously he's had a fair amount to drink. Other folk are also jumping -- including one fellow with fox ears who goes high, like /real/ high. Seven feet? He must be wearing Wyrd shoes!
The music is not deafening, but it's loud enough to shake ribs: some intensely bassy psytrance or something of that ilk. It's enough to get people pumped up -- maybe too pumped up? Two guys who've been dancing now seem to be hugging? No. Fighting? They're shoving each other, while their friends laugh or shout and dither about intervening.
It's not even that late yet.
vanE sticks to the shadows: arms folded, leaning up against a tree. He may very well have caught Dross' gaze and returns it. No one really knows him or notices him, otherwise, and he seems fine with that. He watches. Watches closely. Madness? Bedlam? These things in and of itself are not necessarily bad. It's what you do with them...
Cardinal is a follower. Sometimes. Tonight. It's a curiosity, really. One might wonder if she actually heard what Cerise said. She simply noticed that look, the movement, what seems to be invitation. There's a look this way. Then that way. Then she's following right on behind the mortal toward that shadowy place. Nevermind the warm breeze which follows in her wake, that late night, late spring promise that blossoms around her. Surely nothing. Except, well, there's a pudgy blonde who'd been sort of loitering on the outskirts whose eyes have now grown wider. Like an idea has dawned. Like the world seems a little more like hers to take. Hardly a madness, really, that which moves and motivates and stirs life in the hesitant. Only that the girl will be stuck with that lack of 'let's not' for a full month, right up until the next new moon. Who needs limits anyway.
Poor, poor Dross. Cerise spots him anyway and goes ambling in his direction with a red solo cup in one hand while she waves emphatically in the other. When she finally reaches the man, she says, "Hey Dross! I didn't think I'd see you here, and you /definitely/ shouldn't be hanging out here all by yourself. This is ..." She turns to gesture towards Cardinal and realizing that she doesn't remember the woman's name, ends lamely with, "Someone I just met."
When vanE looks back at him, Dross makes a slight gesture in his direction. An invitation to approach, maybe? It looks as if it might be, to those who can see through the heavy shadows. Then Cerise pops up with Cardinal in tow. "Cerise," he greets her, blue eyes flickering over the energetic mortal and the drink that she's waving around. Gaze cuts to Cardinal, then, whom he studies at length, never having seen her before. He holds his hand out to her after a moment, though he doesn't introduce himself, since Cerise has made it plenty plain just what his name is.
Downing the terrible brew, Ink grimaces and tosses the the cup out in the nearest trash can or area he can find. There is a shake of his head as he moves through the party, already loosening up a bit from the strong /ale/. There is a light bob of his head to the beat, a smile as he watches the fights break out and then a pursing of his lips as he looks over to the fire and those jumping it. He's a little wobbly, a little tight muscled and not warmed up at all but it looks like he's gonna give it a go.
Slipping out of his jacket, Ink puts it aside and looks to the flickering flames to try and judge distances. Shaking it off he gives himself space for a running start and then pushes off to rush the fire at full speed ahead. He jumps at the last moment, and just barely clears the pit to land on his feet on the other side, wobbling for a moment as if he'd fall back into the pit before catching his balance. A huge sigh of a relief follows until he turns and laughs, pointing at the fire, "Should I jump back to get my jacket? Or ... Just walk?"
vanE stares back at Dross, noticing the gesture. he does not move, at first. But after a few moments of standing there longer, he moves, coat billowing. Those who see him give him rather a wide berth. Eventually, he ends up somewhere in the vicinity of Dross' elbow, though he doesn't greet him. Nor does he greet the ladies near him. His eyes wander briefly to Ink at the fire, taking in his moment of derring-do.
Cardinal signs something short, sweet, indecipherable to those who don't know ASL. To those who do? Red-bird-C. It's a name. And it's followed by a cheerful wave. Nevermind how her attention is drifting back over the crowd, watching the chaos, the commotion, the utter glorious revelry of it all. It takes her a second to notice the extended hand. When she does, her eyes go wide, though she's quick to accept. Her hand's small, her fingers bony. And calloused. Girl does some manual labor. Her bracelets jangle while she shakes. Looking between those gathered over here, she signs... whether they understand or not, though the arch of her eyebrows surely indicate a question. <<Anyone wanna dance? I think I'mma dance. Or maybe fall into the fire.>> Jump over. Not fall in. Silly moonbeam.
Uschi and her possibly dead wild hare aren't making much of a scene -- not in comparison to the fire jumpers, heavy drinkers, and various madmen going about their revelry...
Seriously, those two dudes over yonder have gotten into a proper fist fight. Their friends have stopped trying to intervene - if anything, they're cheering them on. Pow, right in the kisser. One or two people are screaming, but is it delight?
...meanwhile the Moon Ogress is lurking around those super popular shadows. She drifts beyond where Dross has been ousted by Cerise and Cardinal, and lumbers towards vanE, although she doesn't look at him. Not directly. Not that it's -easy- to tell where she's looking. "Taurus." Oh, is that a greeting?
Uschi grunts, examining the contents of the cup. This far out, lip readers or near by revellers might be able to decipher what she's saying. It's not -too- far from where Ink's found himself, really. The Darkling could hear the Ogress croaking, if he wasn't too wrapped up in his jacket situation.
"Up north, s'a place beyond a hoop under a bridge, a gate through to where milk and honey flows. 'holders there got fatty chattel, what they keep fed on them pastures. S'holders down here, they gonna check it out soon, reckon." A beat. Then Uschi looks up at the blackened skies. "You bet they gonna fuck it up, when they go investigatin' the northern freehold?"
In the background, a wild eyed mortal girl with blonde hair picks up a camp chair, and hurls it into the pyre. Their next act is to start dancing. Who knows wha the mortal's third will be.
Cerise only glances at the guy leaping over the fire, giving him the barest of her attention. Most of her attention is on Dross in front of her, and occasionally on Cardinal, although there's never much comprehension for the woman's signing. That last signal though? Yes, Cerise knows that and she gets a sudden grin, giving Dross a little shove, "Go dance with her! That's what you need. Dancing! Lots of it! And some drink, maybe."
vanE watches Cerise shove Dross, his look somewhat incomprehending, like: why would anyone do that to Dross? But the Moon Ogress, her greeting, and her words have his attention. "I've heard of their journey," he mutters, in a voice that's rich and musical and resonant. Even when it's quiet, it's hard not to notice. And how has he heard? Why, it's because he's in the Freehold, Uschi. perhaps against all odds. "They may very well fuck it up," he continues. "It depends on what their motivations are." A beat. "Will you go with them?" He glances to Dross, as well, like he expects the put-upon Darkling to attend this mission as well.
Neither Cardinal's original invitation, whether he understands it or not, nor Cerise's shove get a reaction from Dross. He doesn't even step back to make himself harder to push. He does look down at Cerise and tell her, voice just as level as before, "No," however. His gaze pauses on Cardinal and all of her silvery, firelight-catching shimmer before moving over to vanE. "If Logan asks," he tells the Winter. Then glances over at the fire and the stranger who's just leapt over it.
The little slip of silver lifts a finger to Cerise, shaking it side to side, at Dross' firm refusal to dance. Cardinal will have no hesitant partners. The redhead then takes a step back, bends at the waist in a dramatic bow, then turns on heel as she straightens, moving right toward the fire... no, not to fall into it or jump over it, but to dance about it, a sparkling riot energy willing to share her joy with any and all. Should there be more chaos in her wake, well? One should be careful who one kisses at things like this. One falls into synesthesia wonder, delighted, tonight, at the way color and sound and contact all collide. In the morning, when the effect hasn't worn off, there might be worry. Give it a few days. It'll pass. But oh, what a weird few days they'll be! Another takes to stripping after kissing Cardinal, though it seems far less to do with any carnal interest than just a desire to be free beneath the dark sky. It's warm enough that he'll survive a few nights of cage madness, unwilling to dress, to go home, to find any roof over his head. He's a wild thing, will always be a wild thing! Until the madness fades and he wanders home, tail between his legs and feet utterly filthy, maybe a few rashes he can't quite identify. It was one helluva party, alright? But the moonbeam? She just danced through it all, happy. At home.
Uschi grunts, following vanE's eye-line to watch Cerise lay hands on Dross. There is no visible shift in her expression - but Uschi's expression is so often hidden under the mottled Mantle of Moon. The grunt though? Flat. Emoting is not the dead-armed Ogress' strong point! At least she's not staring up at the sky again.
"Depends on what their motivations are." Uschi croaks back. Wait. Is she agreeing, being cheeky, or trying to figure out what those words mean? She's just talking shit about the Freehold with a Freeholder, after all -- asking vanE to bet against his own horse. Oh. Maybe she's being rude on purpose? Or stupid? Moons, man! Ugh! She snorts and spits into the dirt without a blink, but doesn't look over to Dross when he adds his two cents.
No. Uschi doesn't add anything -- she just... Sort of drifts off? Towards where Stumpy Keg is.
RUDE. Moon's are fucking rude.
vanE's gaze meets Dross and he nods, once. He gets it. He must know Dross well enough, then. Then he looks over at Uschi -- and laughs. He has a funny laugh, louder, somehow, than one would expect from the quiet Darkling. Pronounced, and maybe a little mad. Cardinal's not the only Moonborn floating around here tonight.
For whatever reason, he takes this as his cue to turn back into the darkness -- though he raises a hand, as if to say: I'll return. I need to attend to something.
Ink slips around the fire and past the moonbeam taken to grab his jacket and slip back into it. Letting it settle on his shoulders he looks to his watch then nods, slipping out of the party and back into the night to head back home.
Cerise watches Cardinal slip off into the crowd with a sigh, and then back to Dross. Sure, the changelings are talking about some mission or another, but Cerise seems stuck on the whole dancing thing. "Dross, this is a /party/." Yes, that is Cerise chastising someone for being uptight. A moment later she's turning on her heels to march off into the crowd herself.
Dross watches Cardinal, Uschi, and vanE each slip off: Cardinal into the firelight and the other two into the shadows. At Cerise's admonishment, he simply raises an eyebrow, as if to ask: 'Therefore?' He makes no immediate move either to follow or leave. But some time after the doctor marches off to improve her party experience, anyone who looks, no matter how closely, will find the shadows by the tree where Dross used to be standing completely empty, with not a footprint or any other sign to show that anyone had ever been there.