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At The Ball

Guest dustbunni3

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Guest dustbunni3

Before the story begins, I'd like to appoligize for leaving you all hanging on this one.


on a lighter note, here it is! (updated) it sort of turned into a murder mystery while i was gone.....


It was remarkable how much attention could be attracted, merely by an invitation. No one knew who’d sent them, but they all knew where to go and when to show up; and they all assumed that they must’ve been sent by someone of great importance, to not even put their name on the envelope. Indeed, there was no return address either, just a time and a place and the full name of the person that it was sent to. And they all planned on

showing up, for a person would be a fool to not attend when you were invited by

someone important. It was to be a masquerade ball, and it was to be held at 55 Tenclep Street at 10 o’clock next Sunday night. On the lower right hand corner of each invitation was a scented drawing of a rose, and the lettering was done in fancy gold script. There were only one or two invitations sent to each town, and when someone received one they were the talk of the entire county.

“Did you hear?” people would say, “My father’s mother’s brother has a step niece who’s best friend’s cousin is going!” and there would be shouts of congratulations and cheers and “how very exciting” and then people would be quite content with the gossip and they’d go and tell every one they knew; and so word of the event got around rather quickly.

Chapter 1

Although at first glance you would not know it, Nicholas was actually very spry. He was a tall young man, with an athletic build and a talent for sneaking about. It was about 11 o’ clock, Sunday night and guests were still arriving late to the social event of the century. Nicholas had not been invited, but he really never was invited to this sort of thing. No one really knew who he was, in fact. Nobody ever cared to ask, either. He loved attending fancy events. It was the sneaking in that annoyed him; it was such a hassle. Currently he was slinking into the shadows and up against a wall in an alley way down the street from the event, to let a late arrival pass without seeing him. She was speaking animatedly to her guest, waving her feathered mask around in the air so that the tip of the feather just barely brushed Nicholas’ face.

“That was too close,” he thought, “oh great-” He pinched his nose to keep a sneeze at bay, but to no avail.


“Bless you” said the dignitary.

“But Martha, I didn’t sneeze.” Said her guest. Martha, who feared that she was hearing things, responded, “Oh, but you’re such a wonderful person, really, bless you bless you.”

“Oh. Well, thank you very much.” Said her guest. And they went on chattering down the street.

“Hah-choo!” sneezed Nicholas again, rubbing at his nose to make it stop. He sniffed, “Much, much too close.” he thought. When the coast was clear, he stalked along with more care, and if he heard anyone coming he’d scamper off to a side street to let them pass. It was a chilly night, just cold enough to get his blood running and keep him awake. As he arrived at the gala, he noted the security at the door; he was holding a list of names, assumedly those of the invitees, and checking people at the door. He scanned the castle, for indeed the place seemed to be a castle, for any means of entry aside from the main door, but was disheartened when he saw that there wasn’t any.

“Damn… Well I guess there’s always the next time.” Nicholas sighed aloud. In the back of his mind, though, he thought, “Yeah right.” Just as he turned to leave, he saw a young woman on a bench, she was sobbing into her hands behind some shrubs. He walked up to her.

“Excuse me, but are you going to be alright?” he asked. The woman sniffed and then replied, “Yes, it’s just… never mind, I don’t mean to be a bother.”

“No, it’s not a bother. Why are you crying?”

“My guest just left me,” she said between tears, “and if that weren’t enough now there’s no one to show up with to the masquerade and I’ll be the laughing stock of the town if I don’t have a guest.”

“I’m sorry.” Nicholas replied.

“It’s nothing you did.” She said, brushing her hair from her face.

“Is there something I could do?” He asked.

“No, I shouldn’t be keeping you, though. The person that you arrived with is probably getting anxious.”

“Do you want to hear something funny?” Nicholas asked. The woman looked at him.

“I’m not here with anyone either.” To this the woman looked at him quizzically.

“You don’t mind showing up alone?” she asked him.

“It’s not that.” He said

“Then what is it?”

“I’d rather not say.” Nicholas responded. It was the truth, he didn’t want to tell her the reason that he’d come alone, but she got it out of him eventually.

“You wouldn’t mind coming to the ball with me, then, would you?” asked the woman.

“Not at all. It would be my pleasure.” He said, “Might I ask your name, though?”

“Oh, yes. I’d nearly forgotten, my name is Rosetta. And yours?”

“I’m Nicholas. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The inside of the palace was even more impressive than Nicholas had imagined it to be. The walls towered high above the many couples dancing on the extensive marble ballroom floor. There were tall, decorative, pillars placed at strategic intervals around the room to support the ceiling, which was a painted replica of the sky. This room was indeed crowded with people; all dressed appropriately for the occasion. The men wore elegant jackets and cloaks trimmed in gold or black. The colors were mostly dark blues and greens aside from the classic black, but there was a splash of maroon and sapphire along with an occasional emerald scattered throughout. The women all wore long full gowns and satin gloves. They dressed more vibrantly in golds and reds and metallic blues and luminous yellows. All wore beautiful masks, some were rather sleek and elegant and others were flamboyantly decorated with long feathers and glitter and embroidery. Others still fell somewhere between the two with shorter feathers or fewer long feathers and just a touch of glitter if any at all.

“Shall we dance?” beckoned Rosetta.

“I’m not much of a dancer, really, I don’t know how –”

“Oh, you can’t be that bad.” said Rosetta, grabbing him by the wrist and pulling him into the middle of the room.

“No, really, I can be.” Nicholas insisted as he was being dragged away.

“Then let me lead.” Rosetta said gently, and he did. Rosetta was a very graceful dancer. Nicholas stumbled around a little, but he really wasn’t that bad.

“Sorry,” he said, half embarrassed half apologetic.

“It’s alright, it’s ok; you’re really not doing such a bad job.”

“Really?” he asked.

“mm-hmm.” She nodded, giggling.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, nothing.”

“No come on, what is it? I’m really awful, aren’t I?”

“No, it’s not your dancing. It’s just that you’re so self conscious. It’s kind of cute.” She said. Nicholas blushed.

“You really ought to lighten up on yourself, though.” Rosetta added. Nicholas blushed harder.

“You’re a nice man, Nicholas. I hope that we meet again after tonight.”

Nicholas sniffed, “thank you, I hope to see you again sometime too.-excuse me” Nicholas turned his upper body to the side lowering his mask, “Aaachoo! *sniff* achoo!”

Nicholas sniffed again, “Sorry,” he said, raising his mask back to his eyes “I think it’s all the feathers in here *sniff* I’m allergic to them.”

“Hmm.” said Rosetta thoughtfully, “It’s a beautiful night. We might go outside.”

“That’s a good idea; but I’m not sure if we can leave yet *sniff* people are still *sniff* still arriving he-hachoo! *sniff*”

“Are you sure you’ll be alright?”

“I just ha-have to blow my nose. Ha-hachoo! *sniff* would you *sniff* excuse me for a moment? Heh…”

“Yes, of course.”

“Heh- thank heh-heh- thankyou, huh! Hah-choo!” Nicholas managed as he got out his handkerchief.

“hhh-hchu!” he sneezed again, this time slightly muffled. Nicholas felt awkward as he blew his nose afterwards. He never liked doing it in public, especially not in front of someone as beautiful as Rosetta, but she didn’t seem to mind.

“Is that better?” she asked concernedly.

“Yeah,” Nicholas sniffed and cleared his throat, “yes, thank you.”


At this point in the evening, a man appeared on a round balcony near the top of the room. There was another balcony nearby, a bit to the left of the first one. It remained unoccupied.

“Welcome,” said the figure in the balcony to the right. He was wearing a long lilac coat, a deep blue tunic, a gold neckerchief, and lilac pants to match his top. “How are you all doing this evening?” Everyone in the room remained silent, all looking up at him.

“No, really, starting on the right, I’d like to know. (Rather than the ahem ‘traditional’ de-masking.) What’s your name sir?” he said gesturing to a man wearing a dark blue cloak and jacket ensemble, with a violet mask, specked with silver.

“Zachariah” he said, “I’m quite fine, thankyou.”

“That’s very good. Now then, who else is here? You there, tell me, how are you this evening?”

“Having a marvelous time, sir. Might we all ask your name though?” asked the red haired woman that he just called upon.

“You first” he replied.

“Sarah.” She said

“Thankyou Sarah, for attending. My name is Charis Fialeane. What about you, sir? How are you this evening…..”

“What is it Nicholas?” Rosetta asked, for Nicholas had suddenly gone a little pale.

“What? Oh, nothing I’m fine. I used to know someone named Zachariah, that’s all.” he replied. “I think we ought to go outside now. It was a good idea.”

“Are you sure? This is beginning to get interesting.” Rosetta said, “Unless you’re still not feeling-”

Rosetta was cut off by a piercing scream.

“Oh dear. That sounded like it was coming from the gardens. I hope they haven’t found another snake, ugh, that would be dreadful.” Mr. Fialeane said casually. More to himself, really, than to anyone else. Just then two young women bustled into the room, shaking, with another one bringing up the rear. They did not match the rest of the company. The brunette in the front and the red head next to her were wearing, respectively, pastel purple and light green dresses, and the blonde in the back, who was the most shaken, was wearing dark pink. They babbled, constantly cutting each other off.

“In the garden-”

“He was just laying there-”

“It was terrible-”

“We were just walking-”

“There was so much blood-”

Finally, Mr. Fialeane cut them all off, “What!?? –is going on in the garden, ladies? If you talk over each other, I can’t-”

“He’s dead!” shrieked the blonde before falling sideways into her sisters, fainted. The entire ballroom gasped at once.


“Did she say he’s dead?”

“Who’s dead?”

It was complete pandemonium until.—

“Silence!” came a thunderous shout from some where towards the front of the room. A slender man emerged from the crowd. “I’m detective Marcs. Do not panic. That is the worst thing to do in a crisis. Now, nobody is to leave this building until we find out what has happened here.”

He turned to two sisters on the floor, trying to revive the third.

“Now ladies, I want you to tell me exactly what happened. What did you see?”

“He was on the floor-”said the brunette

“It was near the trees, the nice trees-” the redhead sobbed.

“And he was just laying there-”

“Only they weren’t nice trees anymore, because he was near the trees-”

“There was so much blood-”

“And he was dead-”

“When Mirabel, our sister, saw him-”

“It looked like he’d been in a fight-”

“She screamed and nearly passed out-”

“But he was dead-”

“Ladies.” The Detective Marcs interjected, “it is very hard to follow you when you’re talking over each other.”

“Why?” asked the brunette, “were not going anywhere.”

“Yes, my sister Carmen is correct. We’re not moving, so there’s no need to follow us.”

“Gabriella and I would never leave Mirabel alone in this state.”

“We’d never leave her alone in any case.”

“Yes, yes I realize that. What I mean to say is it’s difficult to understand you when you speak at the same time.” Marcs explained

“Why didn’t you just say that, then?” Carmen said.

“Sorry.” He said, “I still need to know what you saw.”

“Alright, who goes first?” Carmen asked.

“I think Mirabel should go first, she saw him first.” Gabriella replied.

“But Mirabel’s not awake yet.”

“So then I should go first.”

“Why should you go first?”

“Because I asked him if he was okay.”

“He was dead, he couldn’t hear you.”

“It doesn’t matter; it was the thought that counts”

“But I said we should go tell some one.”

“But weren’t we going to tell someone anyways?”


“Yes we were.”

“Then why did you ask me?”

Detective Marcs walked over to Mr. Fialeane. “Which way is the garden?” he asked

“This way.” Mr. Fialeane replied.


Nicholas sensed that something wasn’t quite right with Detective Marcs, he just couldn’t place his finger on what. He most certainly did not trust him. So when Detective Marcs left for the garden with Mr. Fialeane, naturally he followed them. After leaving the rather crowded ball room, they were fairly easy to tail. It didn’t hurt that the corridor leading to the courtyard garden was fairly straight and absent of doors. Nicholas arrived at the entryway just after they did, and stood next to the door frame on the inside to listen to their conversation. He barely saw them from this angle. Detective Marcs was crouched next to the victim, apparently examining him, and speaking:

“It looks as though he was stabbed.”

“Stabbed? But why? Who would want to stab someone at a masquerade ball?” Mr. Fialeane wondered aloud.

“Well,” the detective said as he stood up to face Mr. Fialeane. “A masquerade is a very convenient place to hide. Everyone’s in disguises, the place is full of people so there are a lot of suspects. Also, seeing as this is a rather large estate, there are plenty of places to hide the murder weapon.”

“Oh.” Said Mr. Fialeane in a way which clearly indicated that he felt a little stupid.

From what Nicholas could see the victim was a man with short brown hair, wearing a rich gray jacket trimmed in what must have been a sparkling white, though it was now dull from garden soil. His cloak was no where to be seen, and he was lying face down at the base of some trees.

A tall blonde woman entered the courtyard. She was just about the same height as Mr. Fialeane, and nicely figured. Her emerald gown swept lightly over the brick walkway.

“Charis, what’s happening?” she asked.

“Apparently someone’s been killed in the garden, lovey.” Said Mr. Fialeane in the same casual tone he’d taken earlier on the balcony.

“Oh, my dear.” Said the woman, aghast.

“Oh, it’s quite alright, dear, Detective Marcs is on it.” Mr. Fialeane replied.

“But the poor fellow is dead.”

“Yes, darling, I know.” Mr. Fialeane stated, a little sternly; and then in a worn out manner, “Why don’t we go inside for a drink?”

The blonde nodded and followed him to the left, out of the courtyard. Detective Marcs glanced at the body and turned on his heel to leave.

Back in the ball room, Mirabel was just coming to. She was rather pale, and a little disoriented.

“Ooh look! Look, look, she’s awake, Gabby!” Carmen exclaimed.

“What’s going on?” Mirabel asked. Her voice was faint airy

“Oh!” She exclaimed, “The man!”

“There was a detective here.” Gabriella explained.

“He wanted to know what we saw.” Carmen added.

“You saw the most really.”

“There was another.” Mirabel stated, “Did you tell the detective of the other?”

“We saw no other.” Carmen said.

“He was going around the corner.” Mirabel said, “You have to tell him about-”

Mirabel looked up and fainted again.

“Oh, Detective!” Carmen said, standing up. She went over to him.

“Detective, she woke up.” she told him.

“excellent.” He said. He strode over to where Gabriella was still sitting on the floor with her sister. “She’s not awake.” He scoffed.

“Well we know that.” Gabriella said.

“She was awake, though, Detective. She said she saw someone.” Carmen said.

“She said a man was going around the corner.”

“We didn’t see him.”

“That might be the murderer.” Detective Marcs said. “Did she say what he looked like?”

“No.” Carmen said

“She looked all funny again, like she were scared of something.” Gabriella said.

“And then she fainted again.”

“Thank you, ladies. If she says anything else, come and tell me.”

“Don’t worry, Detective, we will.” Gabriella responded.

When the two men had left, Nicholas rounded the corner to examine the scene for himself. It was nice to be out in the courtyard where the air was fresh, and he could breathe freely again. He didn’t see much important, so he turned around to go back to the ball room. As he was about to enter the corridor, he heard footsteps and decided to enter the corridor to the left, where Mr. Fialeane had gone with the blonde, earlier. Luckily, this corridor was fairly different from the corridor that he’d crept down earlier, and it had a corner behind which he could hide quickly. It sounded as if someone was crying over the body. The footsteps began to advance on his hiding spot. He needed to move.

Nicholas leapt behind another corner and through the first door he saw. He closed it gently. Luckily, no one was in the room he’d entered. It appeared to be a ladies’ changing room. There was a sweet scent in the air, like watermelon and vanilla. Nicholas’ nose began to tickle. Usually the scent would not have affected him, but his nose was already irritated by his allergies, and he felt a slight pressure building in his chest. He held his breath and pinched his nose, but the urge was too strong.

“Hcchoo!” he sneezed forcefully, but the tickle was persistent.

“K-choo! Heh…Huh-Achoo!” Nicholas sniffed and waited to be found, the urge to sneeze temporarily faded.

Back in the ball room, Mirabel had awaken again, and Gabriella and Carmen were talking with her when detective Marcs happened by.

To Nicholas’ great surprise, it was not a murderer who opened the changing room door, but Rosetta.

“Nicholas? What are you doing here?” she asked.

“I-” *sniff* “I became turned around, and I heard footsteps coming. I guess everything that’s happened this evening has made me somewhat jumpy.” He fibbed.

“So you decided to enter a ladies’ dressing room?” She asked. Nicholas reddened and looked away for a moment, embarrassed. He cleared his throat.

“I was hiding. I didn’t know who was coming and, there’s a murderer on the loose, and- Wait a minute, why are you here alone?” he asked.

“I, um, I was worried about you, so I came looking. As you said, there’s a murderer on the loose.” She replied, nervously. Nicholas didn’t take notice; he was still relieved that it was she who found him and not someone else.

“Shall we go back to the ball room?” she asked.

“Yes, that’s a good idea. I’d hate to be here when someone else notices we’re missing.” He replied.

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