Monday, February 11, 2013

(slightly more than) 30 minutes with the prompt: Write about a party that goes horribly wrong.

   "Do I really have to go through this again?  I've already told the other officers my story, like, 10 times now."
   "Yes.  Now, I believe this all started with a party?"
   "Yeah.  My job as an investigator has me mostly working with the big three communities, you know - Fae, Furry, and Fanged.  But I do a lot of work with the lesser Supes, too, and I make a point of trying to stay neutral and treat everyone the same.  So when it came time to invite past and potential clients to my holiday party, I didn't think twice about inviting them all.
   "Before you start, yes, I know - usually the fairies, vampires, and wereanimals don't get along so well.  And when you throw in a bunch of brownies, trolls, mythological animals, and even the last dragon on the East Coast, you're brewing up a cauldron of unrest.  Except at Solstice, it's not like that.
   "Solstice is the one time when all of the clans have something to celebrate.  The weres are happy about the full moon.  The vamps celebrate the longest night of the year.  Brownies, pixies, elves - all of them are sorely in need of some time off from the toy factory.  Witches celebrate the return of the sun, and even plain vanilla humans celebrate the birth of their god around that time.  And we all know the Fae will use any excuse to throw a party, so they're easy to please.
   "It used to be easier to throw the party when my client list was smaller.  Back then I could rent a ballroom, bring in a blood fountain and a pen of some rabbits, rent a band, hire a caterer, and I was set.  But now it's gotten so big and complicated ... it's really getting to be more trouble than it's worth, especially after this year.
   "As I mentioned, I've done some work for Slorth, and you don't NOT invite the dragon to your party, not if you expect to live long enough to actually attend said party.  But he's so big, and insurance companies aren't exactly thrilled with the whole fire-breathing thing, so my choices for venue are really limited.  When I heard that The Hollow was unexpectedly available on Solstice, I knew it would be just right.  I could rent some tents for the warm-bloods, put up a big dance floor around the bonfire, and there would be plenty of room for Slorth.  Perfect!
   "Nobody at the rental company mentioned WHY The Hollow had become available.  If I had known about the spell the previous renters had left lingering around the place, there's no way I would have chanced it, at least not without hosing the entire site down with a strong anti-magickal salt solution.  But the rental company conveniently left that little detail out ... and I booked the party.
   "Everything started off well.  My guests know to be on their best behavior, at least for this one night, because I won't work for them again if they cause trouble at my party.  For Solstice night, my party is the one true neutral ground in the area - and I won't lie to you, I'm quite proud of that fact.  I've been able to get rather a lot of goodwill work done at Solstice parties, getting warring factions together around the bonfire to work out their differences in a place where no one can fault them for 'talking to the enemy.'  How do you think I got the dwarves to stop undermining the troll caverns in Malvern?  Solstice party, and the liberal application to both parties of some seriously spiked punch.
  "Like I was saying, everything started great.  The humans and witches were having a great time on the dance floor, there was a constant buzz and hum around the food table, and even the trolls were swaying pounding along with the music.  About an hour into the party, it was time for Slorth to light the bonfire.  As he did, I noticed a little shiver in the air near the entrance.  The Fae were just arriving, and there was an audible gasp that spread through the crowd as people turned to see them.
   "The Fae are so beautiful and graceful, they always make a grand entrance.  I didn't see anything that unusual about them - they were wearing almost no clothing, just a few spangles here and there to make sure they were public-legal, but that was nothing new.  I realize now that the salt-scrub I had used to polish my skin before the event probably protected me from the effects of the spell lingering in The Hollows, but the rest of my guests were not so lucky.
   "I've had a chance to talk to some of the survivors while I've been waiting here in the lock-up.  Good call dousing everyone in salt-water at the site, by the way - that probably saved a few lives.  Anyway, it turns out that the Fae had decided to pull out all the stops this year and really glam it up.  And by 'glam,' I mean the actual Fae 'glamour,' the magic they can work to change their appearance at will.  It's not easy magic, and they hardly bother to pull it out anymore, except for special occasions.  So I guess I should feel honored that they gave it a try for my party ... I just wish it hadn't backfired on them.
   "You see, the fairies who are still able to talk told me that their glamour for tonight was supposed to make them more attractive to the other attendees.  Pretty standard stuff, right?  Except this wasn't specific - a fairy would look different to each person, because each partygoer had a different idea of what makes someone attractive.  So a human would see a really handsome man, while a troll would see someone of a more rocky persuasion.  It was ingenious, really, and should have been the hit of the party.
   "Unfortunately, there was that stray spell lingering in the area, and it latched onto the Fae magic and gave it a nasty twist.  Instead of just looking attractive, the Fae appeared to be what each person most wanted, most desired, most craved in the world.  Didn't matter what that was - could be a mate, or food, or a protector, or even wealth or fame - that was how the Fae appeared to that person.  This was a problem - a big problem.
   "Despite the usual detente that reigns at my parties, things got out of control, fast.  Imagine being confronted with the thing you most desire - say, your soulmate.  Great!  So you go over to your soulmate and begin talking with her.  But at the same time, another being sees the same person, and sees them as food.  The other person attacks the Fae, trying to gnaw off an arm, while you are trying to, ahem, get to know them.  Meanwhile, another party guest sees the Fae as a protector, and is trying to hide under her arm.  You can imagine the bedlam that erupted just minutes after the Fae arrived and their spell was corrupted.
   "We might have been able to get things back under control without too many casualties, if Slorth hadn't been there.  Slorth, as I mentioned, is the only dragon left on the East Coast.  Slorth is, apparently, a lonely, lonely dragon.  Every Fae he saw - and from his height, he could see pretty much all of them at once - seemed to him to be a potential mate, and he decided immediately that they would all be his.  He started rounding up the Fae, fighting viciously with anyone who got in his way.  Nobody wins against a dragon, not unless you've got some asbestos underwear and a very, very good plan.  Nobody had either of those tonight, and Slorth laid waste to a huge number of my best clients.
   "And that's how it happened.  Slorth ended up setting the woods surrounding The Hollows on fire, which attracted the attention of the fire department, and then the police.  Your department was quick enough to come up with a way to break the hold of the charm, and once we were all sopping wet and salty, the Fae just looked like fairies to everyone, and all of the fighting petered out.  Not knowing who to charge for the incident, you locked us all up until you could get it sorted out.
   "So, who do you blame?  Me, for bringing everyone together?  The rental company, for not telling me of the rogue spell at the site?  The Fae, for attempting to deceive everyone, no matter how benignly?  Each party attendee, for trying their best to get what they so desperately wanted?  Or Slorth, for the swath of destruction he created as he tried to satisfy his most basic need?"

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