• Closed • Congratulations! You're a Winner!

Maxine humors a mysterious note.

31st of Vhalar 722

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Congratulations! You're a Winner!

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31 Vhalar 722


Early in Vhalar Maxine had the strangest experience. She was at her usual antics, half begging and half surveilling as an unassuming pauper, when a heavy coin finally plopped into her bowl. She'd still been a drunk and a fiend then. It had taken her a moment to recognize the sound beside her before realization struck her. By the time she raised her chin the stranger had vanished. More perplexity took her when she discovered the coin was wrapped inside a note.

"Congratulations, Maxine!

You may already be a winner! On the 31st of Vhalar, at the corner of Green Street and Onyx in the Outer Perimeter, you have been selected to begin your journey through the wondrous chaos of Emea. Travel on a round-trip flight to the Red Moon, for a single night's stay at wretched and marvelous Santa Maledicia. There, you and one guest will be treated to the local atmosphere, the excellent drinks and terrible foods and of course various debaucheries of the Carnival of Calamity Square! Enjoy the Nightlife in Club Jinx, where you can wager luck against talented gamblers and opponents, with the chance to hit it big as a JACKPOT WINNER.

At the end of the day, perhaps a meeting with the mayor himself, Tio Silver, will be in the cards. You never know who you may meet, at SANTA MALEDICIA."


The bystander that served as her translator scoffed at the words Maxine could not decipher. "Poppycock" and "Nonsensical ramblings" they'd called it. The Rusalka could hardly argue. She'd never heard of Santa Maledicia and she knew of no way a moon of any color to fly her anywhere. At the time she wasn't looking for a free trip either. Max was too taken by her task at hand. The invitation for a free vacation was wasted on her. Talk of the "wondrous chaos of Emea" was a phrase she selectively ignored. Maxine had been torn asunder by Emea more than once. Only a fool would search for another round.

But Maxine wasn't the smartest person in Idalos.

Only the boldest.

So Maxine was there at Green Street and Onyx on that peculiar date denoted on the letter. Her back was against the wall. Her fingers itched for a vice that Kasoria had just begun to deny her. She'd snuck some sniffs and puffs here and there in the rare moment she escaped his supervision. Each time was the last time...until the next last time. Before long she'd be at sea and there would be no one to refill her stores. She pitched the finished joint to the cobbles and mashed it under her heel. A smooth exhale released the smoke she held on as long as she could have. A final savor.

She didn't know what she was waiting for. She didn't even know why she was here. Maybe that's why she'd picked up the Ambrosia that evening, to indulge and sort out like the answers were rolled up inside the paper she ignited. The end of her vendetta against the Dorricks left a void. She'd tried to fill it with the rope Kasoria had thrown her, and though she'd grasped it like her life depended on it, the emptiness remained.

The purpose she sullied herself to was finished. It had not fixed the cracks and fissures inside her. It widened them and added to the collection. Maxine was always losing in this battle to break the cycle of same that had devastated her life. She had no one to blame for the barren remains of it except herself.

Escapism. Perhaps that's what this was all about. The Rusalka felt there was little luck left to change her from this path she walked. The narcotics she used to disappear and forget were soon to be confiscated from her. The last thing she wanted to do was be confronted with what laid within, especially sober. A complimentary evening of fortune, drinks, food, and debauchery sounded pretty damn good right about then. Everything in the note sounded too good to be true. Maybe it was. She found herself here knowing it was just as likely she was walking herself into a trap. That was okay too.

There was only one way to find out.


word count: 729

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As Maxine stood on the corner, awaiting either a trap or an invitation of some sort... or any sign that this message was on the up and up, she felt a tug on her shoulders. The broken chains of Famula's curse still clung to her skin, and rattled from time to time as the curse intermittently was suppressed of a day or reactivated at night. But now, on Red Moon's Night, the chains felt as if they were itching. Chaffing her skin like they'd begun to collect rust.

Then there was a jingling of chains, as if being dragged across the street. Before too long, a carriage burst out from around the corner, metal chains dragging from the back of it. It looked cloaked in colorful silks, linens, and burlap. An odd mismatch of colors and fabrics, to be sure. But then, so was the driver, who was nearly covered from head to toe in all manner of fabrics. Underneath the muffled voice, he brought his oxen to a stop before Maxine, and turned his well-wrapped head in her direction.

"Well well, it be Red Moon's Night, and you're due for a visit to Santa Maledicia ain'tcha?" The only thing visible beneath the cloth were two pairs of glowing ochre eyes. The individual beneath them, swept his arm into a slight bow toward her, where he was seated upon the driver's seat. "Mind the jagged chains, metal and glass in the back. Or you can ride out front with me. Your choice, doll."

He swept an arm out to his side, and from it a bunch of various bottles of spirits, beers, and wines were present. Even pure proof rum, a special vintage from Almund. "Well, you are coming, and as such I am obliged to offer you refreshment along the way. Unless you'd prefer I bugger off."

If she refused, he would be off, and that would be that. Yet if her curiosity and thirst got the better of her, he'd invite her on board the carriage, in the driver's seat beside him.

And with that, the chains in the back came to life, and began forming a sort of rail for them to drive upon, going all the way toward the moon which had suddenly turned blood red.

The carriage took off without a gentle pickup, just from nothing to top speed at once. It would've been enough to prompt a weaker person to whiplash. But as it was, Maxine felt almost comfortable in her chair, as much as she could. He let her choose from whichever of the drinks she wanted from his cloak.

"So..." He said, by way of making small talk. "You're cursed by Fammy eh? I have a speciall curse from Daia myself. Back from when she were alive the first time, before she were resurrected... or awakened. I forget."

"Yep..." They continued, "I got it from stealing too many washerlines. Daia found me at it, when stealing from some of her dancers, and said... Well if you like clothing, go ahead and have them all!! That's how I got so covered... It's not all that bad in cold weather, but watch out for Saun."

They traveled over the rooftops of Etzos, and as they did the scenery began to shift. Great stone edifices turned to large balloons and awnings and carnival tents. All of them colorful and festive looking. Before too long, they arrived in the thick of Santa Maledicia, or what it must have been.

"Welcome to the Immortal Domain of Tio Silver!" Said the raggy man. "All my friends call me Bags, by the way. But you can call me Anytime." He snickered, and then slapped her on the shoulder. "I got more passengers to pick up... but yeah. This is your stop doll."

So saying, it was her choice whether to leave now or continue chatting with him. Otherwise, all manner of carnival and twisted games awaited her on the streets of Santa Maledicia.
Off Topic
Feel free to enjoy the carnival atmosphere and do your own thing. I'll post after you, but I wanna encourage you to sorta do your own thing on the streets doing games or whatever it is that Maxine would do. There will be Curse Avatars, which are emean constructs that are mostly mischeivous but mostly harmless. They typically have something odd about them, but also something really uniquely amazing about them. Feel free to be creative here. You're in an Emean Domain, and we'll use this to flesh it out more.

I'll post after your next post, regardless though. Just finish your post with seeking out the Club Jynx (But only if Maxine would eventually do that). Then Ill pick back up. Thanks for humoring my flakey moderation!! :D

word count: 812
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Well I'll be damned...

Sure enough, just as bizarrely as the letter was written, the transportation that arrived right on time was equally so. When the wrapped head of the oxen's driver reared her way and spoke, she pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes tight. She opened them and the idiosyncratic scene remained. Better logic suggested her blunt had to have been laced with something potent. Whether she was losing her mind or suffering a robust, drug-induced hallucination didn't matter much. She didn't have the head space to care. It was that complete lack of reason that roused her to get up into the seat beside the quirky driver, clearly accepting this experience and all its strangeness henceforth.

"Wow," Max exclaimed in a murmur of disbelief when the over-clothed man offered the familiar Almund swill. "I haven't had this since..." She knew exactly when. "Nevermind. Thanks." She wasted no time popping the bottle open and tipping it back to her thirsty lips. Kasoria wouldn't be happy, but the Old Man wasn't here now.

The chains created an unnatural rail that the carriage started on without delay. Enjoying the burn of the free offered liquor from an island far, far away, Maxine didn't give enough of a damn to question the ride to a literal blood red moon. The carriage could've crashed and burned for all she cared. With all the fabric, she figured they'd at least burn real quick. Max was getting lost in her mind when the driver immediately identified her as a Famula Cursed. Her head snapped to glare distrustfully at him, but the driver seemed to continue on to diffuse her suspicion with confessions of his own curse. It did little to dampen her paranoia. It was nightfall after all, and her chains were especially heavy.

At least I'm not the only sorry sucker tormented by some Morty Bitch.

Fuck. I'm starting to sound like him.

Max shook the thought of a disappointed father figure from her mind and settled into her seat for the unnatural ride. Before long they must've crossed the threshold of Emea or its likeness. One moment she was ascending over Etzos and the next she was descending upon an eternal party. She peered over the side of the carriage at the balloons, crowds, and general debauchery happening below the racing oxen.

"Cool," Max regarded her driver with a nod of lukewarm gratitude. "Thanks, Anytime." A stupid joke she emptily played along with before taking another long drink. She swung her legs over the side of the carriage and dumped herself onto the streets of Santa Maledicia. She gave Bags a final wave and began to navigate the unknown terrain of Tio SIlver, a name she hadn't heard in a long time that knew her for the sins she ran from.

"Boo!"

Maxine turned with a fist and the bottle paused at her lips. An oddball little creature covered in pink fuzz removed the malevolent mask it wore over its tri-eyed face, giggling maniacally with a smug grin.

"Got ya!" the little pink person cheered before putting the mask back on and diving back into the crowd. Max shook her head and blinked, taking in the beings around her for the first time. Some were humanoid. Some were not. None of them looked like anyone or anything she'd seen in the waking world though, and they were the absolute majority of this population. The ground she walked continued to get stranger.

"Where the fuck am I...?"

The Rusalka waded past street vendors calling out the sale of snacks she'd never even heard of. Two she stopped at street corners, seduced by a dice game she knew she could win. The bottle in her hand became lighter, the glow of the city turned brighter, and dare she admit she was nearly elated in this escapism the more time went by. She ate the strange food and tried not to stare at the crazier looking creatures in her midst as they passed her by. Somehow the carnival streets seemed to guide her toward a destination, wooing her with its wonders, games, and entertainment along the way with an odd ease.

Max pushed through the doors of Club Jinx before long. The doors closed behind her and she paused shortly upon entry. Gone were the cackling, cheering monsters outside running amuck through the boisterous, colorful carnival. Inside here was a refined taste in energy as well as wardrobe. Shirts were cleaned and pressed. Pants and dresses were well hemmed, and accessories were carefully chosen for the occasion. A slender, putty-like creature slouched over a piano. Its unsightly, long fingers grew rhythmically from the hand to dance along the keys at varying distances, the melodies upbeat but with an air of class.

"Well would you look at that," Maxine mocked herself. "Underdressed again." She sauntered through the establishment in her street clothes, rum bottle swinging lazily at her side. Her eyes found the stage and out of habit her body slumped into a seat. For a moment her masochists' mind darted to Sabrina as the culprit which gravitated her here. She burned all thoughts of the dancer with another sip of rum.

"Alright, Santa Maledicia. Give me a show..."

As though the parading menagerie of avatars and a complete carnival of epic and eternal proportions wasn't impressive enough.

word count: 916
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Re: Congratulations! You're a Winner!


Santa Maledicia: Club Jinx
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Theme Music


Maxine slipped into the Club Jinx without a hint of trouble. But then, music began to play on the stage. Well really, it was just a whistler, whistling a tune that while catchy could grate on the nerves the more one heard it. And so it did. The tables where people sat, ate, drank and gamed were all set off toward thet sides, giving way to a main event in the very center of the club, for which the performance was ostensibly held.

There, in the middle of the table was seated none other than the Winged Calamity, Delroth himself. He was smiling benevolently at his table partner, receiving his card hand from the dealer. It looked like they were playing a hand of suits, or some variation thereof. Five card stud. Across from the radiantly beaming Winged Calamity, was seated a more low-key figure. He wore a wide-brimmed hat, and smoked a cigar beneath it. Occasionally he'd cought, and let out a raspy voice calling for the dealer to lend him another card, or throwing this or that one away. It looked as if he was down on his luck, and not doing very well against his opponent.

Nevertheless, Delroth was encouraging him, "Oh come now, you can't fold! Show us what you have? Surely it's worth the risk, the reward of my precious little spark crystals?" Delroth smiled, but there was a mocking hint to it as he regarded the hatted figure.

Just as Maxine wandered further in, Delroth caught sight of her, but shrugged and maitnained his attention on the person in front of him.

However, the hatted individual turned, and beneath the brim of his hat, looked to Maxine. "You there? Yes Miss. Come join our game."

It was night, and that meant Famula's curse was in full command of Maxine, unless she plugged her ears really hard or filled them with wax. Even so, his lips weren't hard to read. And so if Maxine's attention was drawn to the face of the mysterious stranger, she'd be able to read his lips. She did, afterall, have very
sharp vision
.

He smirked, as if he knew. Should she sit at the table, she'd be dealt her five cards.

A pair of diamond and spade ladies, a two of diamonds, a five of clubs, and three of hearts.
word count: 406
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