Alright, I’ve signed on to the lovely Meg McNulty’s 12 Masque blog challenge. I’ll be around to read the others as soon as time permits.
â€śDo you see anyone you know yet, my dear?â€ť
She looked up at the tall man crooning through the beak fixed below his dark goggles. All in black and smartly dressed he seemed some sort of lord in spite of his bizarre mask. Her hand drifted self-consciously to the white lace affixed around her own eyes, though she sensed everyone would disapprove if she removed it.
â€śI-I donâ€™t see how I couldâ€¦ All these masks.â€ť
â€śAh,â€ť the gentleman practically laughed. â€śYouâ€™re not still trying to look any deeper than that, are you?â€ť
The din of the surrounding revelry was much too loud to think, and yet disturbingly not as loud as it should be for so many people. She felt stifled and isolated at the same time and it was driving her mad. Worst of all, she absolutely could not remember where she was or how she came to be there. Her hands made nervous fists around her practically bridal dress before politely smoothing it back out.
â€śWell, how could I recognize them without looking beneath the mask?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s easy! Here, start with that rogue by the punch bowl! What do you see?â€ť
Reflexively her eyes wound their way through the horns, fangs and other facial facsimiles to the tiger-faced man sloshing the contents of the punch bowl over himself. A flock of bird faced women hung from him and seemed to absorb his inebriation.
â€śA tiger masâ€”â€ś
â€śNo.â€ť the gentleman interrupted. â€śYou already got it. No more than that.â€ť
It was much too hot. She couldnâ€™t breathe. Looking around she was relieved to discover she was already sitting, as she felt quite faint. Clutching at her chest she peered pathetically up at the tall stranger who hadnâ€™t left her side in all the chaos of the masquerade.
â€śIâ€™m so sorry, but where are we? How did I get here?â€ť
He practically laughed again, â€śCanâ€™t you tell?â€ť
She clutched her stomach to keep it from expelling its emptiness. Unable to speak, she simply shook her head as tears damped her mask.
Kneeling to her side the beaked gentleman gently ran a leather gloved finger down her cheek.
â€śIâ€™m sorry, my lady. Iâ€™ve drugged you and dragged you to hell. But do not worry, for it is but a dream, and come morning all will be as it should once more.â€ť
Staring into her own face reflected in impenetrable black goggles the name of a kitchen boy sheâ€™d never paid any real mind bubbled from her throat.
Effortlessly he lifted her from her stupor and into his dark arms.
â€śDance with me? Until dawn?â€ť
She nodded and was swept away into the night.