April 7th, the year 751 BC
It felt like a party invitation from a hated rival one must act kind to in public. I wasn’t intending to go. I’d never heard of Lemot Sediam Juste or his new play “A Heart in the Ground” but as I went around the Port, I noticed the fliers on bill-boards. The advertising manager clearly did not care, many of the fliers were covered.
As for wearing this silly handkerchief in public, there was no chance. Who’d be foolish enough to advertise such from a mysterious source? It’s called making yourself a target. I’m no target, I’m a critic. We’ll see how many horse jokes I get tonight though.
Funny that even arriving today I quickly learn no one’s been seen working on the theatre. When was it renovated? Who’s working there? The troupe apparently’s been staying behind closed doors. Everyone thinks it’s a publicity stunt. How curious, sounds dangerous. Suspicious.
I dressed in my finest robe, wearing my hair up for the occasion. I chose a shawl of lacy white, a precious gift from my great grandmother who wove it from horseback. It’s also said to protect the bearer from fire. I would simply die to lose it but it will be a beautiful accompaniment with me tonight, especially as I come unescorted. Quality men are rare in this world.
I arrived just a moment early. A few were standing in wait. The doors hadn’t yet been open but I could hear the wagons arriving. As two doormen opened the theater, a small few headed in quickly. I wondered if I should warn them about what a tragedy they were headed into, but certainly they’d only think I was speaking of the play. That wouldn’t make sense to anyone, considering I hadn’t seen it yet. How could I have written a critique already? Why, because it was obvious this was all going to go down in flames.
Had I but known!
With book in hand I was taking notes, writing these very thoughts! Feel the softness of the paper, delicately crafted and bound here. With pen in hand I bring a darkness to the virgin white and its knowledge shall blemish all innocence of ignorance. Yes, I’m already that bored. The mixed attendants entering were a combination of servant and high class, most well attired for such an opening. There was the occasional oddity however.
A Rashemi dwarf with a large waraxe (and an aqua blue handkerchief) came strutting forward in some long, leather armored overcoat. Now that makes a statement! I didn’t see any Mulan… He was stocky, thick of body like most of his people. The hair’s either dark brown or black, braided like his beard and likely his pubes too. Shave once in a while, really. He does look somewhat distinguished though… His shoes appeared newly polished. Called me pretty.
I saw the bustle building inside and after nearly 15 minutes of preparing myself for the absolute insanity I’m sure I was walking into, I walked in. A marvelous chandelier of cut glass decorated the ceiling of the foyer. Straight ahead was the ticket booth, to either side a pair of double doors, presumably leading into the theater proper. Outward again were roped off stairwells for the balcony. A coat room to the left, as well as the men’s room, and women’s and a foot table to the right.
First things first, a ticket. I noticed then a woman with a handkerchief of green. She wore a fox (poor thing) fur shawl and heels of gold. Her hat was wide brimmed with golden hair beneath. The indication I got was youth. Flighty. Moving around a lot.
Of course there’s the dwarf, taking forever and asking questions. I mean took forever. You think he was concerned he wouldn’t be able to see the stage? Finally he moved on and headed for the drinks and food. Good luck to those poor, poor servants. They have no idea what’s going on. On later investigation, they really don’t.
There’s a Valachan man here with “his girl.” I don’t like it but the tall, jet black skinned man clearly owns the girl in some way. The man is in rather drab attire, but that’s typical of his people. The six emerald studs in his left ear, however, that means something. The girl is probably only 15, short at maybe 5’ with a frail physique and alabaster skin. Adisolf Shemain trying to get at girl.
Oh look, finally I’m at the front. I say hi and announce myself, Ellelana Vorgan, fully well expecting these daft servants won’t know… And of course, this Master Ran, nice as he might try to be, doesn’t know whom I am. There’s nothing set aside for the critics? Honestly, what’s wrong with this Lemot and his crew? Thankfully others know whom I am. I might be Nova Vassan but at least we know what’s going on in the world. Too much time on their asses and not enough in the saddle I’d say. Front row? Now that will do nicely. I flirt and thank Mister Ran for my K1 ticket. Lemot’s due out later. That’ll be interesting.
There are some good looking men here, not the least of which is a somewhat shorter (5’6”) gentleman in shined leather boots, black wool pants and a decorative belt in three pieces. I like his buttoned jacket and the rolled cuffs. The gray vest is quite nice while the ruby, silver leather amulet is interesting. I might have gotten those details wrong, I was spending more time down below. He has bedroom brown eyes – my favorite – and soft stubble. Crimson handkerchief. Tried to stop Adisolf. It’s Arden Valois, or Ardent as I see it!
I was checking my shawl for safekeeping when I started hearing a commotion on the other side of the room. Damn hats, I can’t see anything. Well I paid my five silver pieces though I shouldn’t have had to. I’m sure their protection of my property is well worth it. Something is still going on…
So here’s Adisolf Shemain, some minor noble’s son here in the Port, trying to get at the girl from the Valachani. Adisolf may have a sword, but I don’t put it past the Valachani to beat him to the ground. Quite a crowd is gathering. Crimson handkerchief on the guy I noted earlier. Oh it’s Arden Valois, another native. He’s telling Adisolf to stand down as words are growing to action. Pompous dolts. This will only cause trouble as Arden notes but I drive home. Here’s the first horse lord joke, that’s not going to get him any favors from me. His boys seem less interested too as I imply the boy’s not right for studding. He backs off but I follow. Yep, just as a I thought he wanted a ride with the girl.
There’s Lemot. In loose, ill fitting drab clothes of tan. A bunch of pages in hand and he looks like he hasn’t eaten in weeks, what a gaunt fellow. Crazed hair? Why, probably because he’s nuttier than a minor noble with a twitchy sword! (and a rapier) I’d love to speak to him but I have to relieve myself. Also, this perfume is lovely!
Many are seated but I’m going to find out more from these servants now. I want water but on second thought I’m not going to drink it. I can’t tell if they don’t want to talk or they just really can’t remember, but I think it’s the latter. These servants don’t even say how long they’ve been working. Ghostly slaves I think! Mister Ran, still nice, basically repeats the same odd confusion and encourages me to take my seat.
This is after the fact, now that I’m in my seat, but I just passed by the dwarf and Arden speaking Vaasi. They’re speaking of suspicion and handkerchiefs. Let’s see if I can give them a clue. I sneeze as I walk by. No one offers me a handkerchief. How impolite but the dwarf says I’m pretty, so noted above. Arden says that means that someone is talking about. That wouldn’t surprise me really.
I’ve gotten my seat. It’s really quite lovely, nicely velveted and ample in space. All the same, I want it clear I’m not to be touched and make glances as to the truth. That’s when I grabbed my book again and updated the last thirty or so minutes. Here I am writing about the past I was writing about. Confusing but hilarious.
Lemot returns to the stage, which is quite beautiful, but he is an arrogant bastard. A work of art that great? He’s disdainful and charming both, likely only tolerated for the eccentric artist persona. He demands our constant attention. Well, he won’t get mine. You’d be insane not to think he isn’t. I need to see how people are responding after all…
We begin with an older gentleman on a farm calling after his dirty wife. The set is beautiful but the performers are likely the best I’ve ever seen. Where are they from? Beyond the grave maybe? People seem enthralled as I look around… Interesting… The dwarf’s in the back, strange, and has an empty seat. The balcony looks quite full too.
Apparently this rubbish is about a woman who’s lost a baby but believes if she buries it in the corn field, which is clearly magical because the moon pulls the corn up (insane), but she’s distraught. There was another dead baby before. Oh and her brother the Sheriff wants the farm given to her. The husband’s not happy about that. Thankfully he loves her.
That’s all the more clear when he switches the tiny corpse for corn. They’re going to the river to bury the body but oh no, she tripped and- Everyone’s gone strange. She’s shocked, perhaps minorly bruised. He looks shocked. They’ve stopped… The audience is quickly getting restless. I clap slightly to encourage, I am a critic after all and they’ve been doing well, but then… As best I can I remind her she’s in a play if she even knows the truth of that at all. It doesn’t appear so. There’s a scream, probably Lemot. Everyone’s getting angrier they paid for this.
I should have warned them.
Well I clap louder, it’s all done. Meanwhile, I’ve no idea Lemot is starting fires in the foyer and then walking out of the wall at the balcony to start more. I had no idea of the smoke coming up the stairs and the insanity that was growing, but as he gets on the railing I see him. What is the mad hatter hatting at? He throws something down here… Alchemist’s fire?
“Play’s over, time to get out of here,” I encourage, I think. Chaos came pretty quickly, people rushing for the foyer while I went on stage. I thought we could use some of the props to make a ramp and go out the back. There had to be a back way out. More fires and more Lemot coming out of the walls down below. And there’s the handsome Arden firing a gun!
I could hear screaming. People were being trampled and the fire was building. They began to drop from the balcony. I used Ghost Sound, must as I hate to reveal my wizardly ways. Horse Lords aren’t bound to tomes but too bad! I scream for others to come up with me and I get a small group. They’re crowding the halls though and then the Dwarf grows to gigantic proportions. More magic? Lemot gets shot again and looks quite hurt.
Now some details are mixed as it was chaos and I was leading to the back to find a door, a large set of rolling doors into the prop room. I did try to taunt Lemot but I think sweet Monsieur Valois was already pissing him off. The girl from earlier did something, not that I saw, but apparently prayed for calm amongst those heading into the Inferno of the foyer and then healed with a burst of brilliant positive energy so they could run. But many died.
Crushed wind pipes left blushing ladies on the floor, ash added to their rouged cheeks. Their dresses and the men’s coat tails went up easy, some flailing their last few moments before becoming corpse kindling. Have you ever smelled burning flesh? It’s disgusting and considering the plump nature of some of these fine individuals, it got worse. I missed most of the tragic visuals but not the others. Most of those that survived, pulled or running over seats up onto the stage, would now have these sensual delights for years. What’s the true tragedy of the evening eh?
Damn, my shawl was in the coat room.
Lemot let himself plunge into the fires of the orchestra area. It seemed rehearsed to me, like he’d done it before. Maybe this play’s doomed to repeat. I certainly can’t let this happen again. It’s so horribly written and if another lady were to lose another fine shawl, I’d just be beside myself with absolute sorrow.
So yes, there was a hallway and the props room. A stairwell ran down. I hoped we could get through the walls as I produced lit torches of magic to guide us. I tried to encourage everyone trust the giant dwarf but people are sheep; they’re just terrified unless you cajole them along. I checked one locked door; the other was locked too. Forget it. Arden wisely knew this was the far back room.
The fire was coming up on stage but the dwarf and my encouragement sent everyone running down stairs. Arden and the dwarf had agreed we were too low beneath the ground to simply hack our way out. This theater was doomed from the beginning wasn’t it? I know I hadn’t seen any doors outside in the back but I figured there had to be something.
Now the curtain to left was just for a dressing area, but the cage on the right had belongings and expensive props in it. Apparently the young fox-furred girl needed in there for her things. Play my hand as I might I’d cast expeditious retreat and was ready to run down, but instead here I was pulling out my picks to get the door open. I really tried but to no avail. And then, then the tart (I’m sure she’s really sweet, bless her heart) touched me! It was a spell though. The heat lessened around me. So I tried again, but no… Damn locks are made far too nicely. I should be glad it wasn’t trapped.
Fire had run up the curtains so down we went, my lights traveling with me. I wasn’t pushing too hard but I was trying to get ahead. She followed after the last of the people, which was rather considerate of her. We heard the wall fall down with a spray of cinders and light. I just hope there’s not something equally dangerous and tragic at the bottom of the stairs. Hopefully the actors are down there and they aren’t ghosts after all.
Maybe Lemot’s heart is the one underground …