The Midnight Masquerade

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 18, 2009

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Submitted: August 18, 2009

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She walked gracefully across the edge of the dance floor, her midnight blue, silk dress reflecting the dim light in the room. The orchestra began another song; a waltz. She reached up a slender, gloved hand to adjust her mask and a hand caught hers.

"May I have this dance, Mademoiselle?" asked a low, musical voice. She looked around and saw a pair of dark black eyes glinting between the glistening black feathers of his mask.

Before she could reply she had already been swept onto the dance floor and twirled well into the midst of the dancing throng. She looked in confusion at her partner. She knew she had never seen him before in her life, but yet he seemed so familiar.

"You look stunning, Mademoiselle. But yet, you always do, don't you? That's how you made it where you are; your face and your voice." He raised the corners of his mouth in a small smile.

"Do I know you?" she asked staring into his face, a face she knew she had never seen, even with his mask she knew she would have remembered this face. It was nothing particular about it that made it so memorable, it was not even a very handsome face, but there was something about it that made it unusual. His large, crooked nose and high cheek bones and thin cheeks. The pony tale of long, glossy black hair that was thrown over one shoulder and those piercing, black eyes, that seemed to peer into her very soul and bring out all of her hidden secrets.

He laughed at her question. A small, sad laugh, that had no humor in it. "Yes. And no. In some ways you know me better then you know anyone else and in others I am a complete stranger to you. But I know you, much better then you know yourself."

"What do you mean? Who are you? How do you know me?" She asked.

"You aren't yourself tonight. Where are all those witty comebacks?" he said smiling slightly. "You don't really expect me to reveal all of my secrets at once do you? Surely you, as 'The Mistress of Secrets,' should know all about keeping things hidden to your chest. Always hiding from who you really are, changing so you can fit in with society. Always laughing off questions about who you were or flirting them away. And that's because you don't know who you were, do you? It's the question that lingers in your mind, the one you could know the answer for, if only you would let it come to you."

"I'm afraid I don't quite know what you mean sir." she said coldly. "I've always been quite open about my past; I was a poor girl who sang in the streets to earn my bread, until Baron Manque found me and took me in to tutor me in voice. I have been with him ever since."

"You know perfectly well what I mean, Lus'. That's the past that you've convinced yourself you've had. But what did you do before that day that you were singing on the street and Baron Manque found you? How long had you been singing on the streets? Where did you sleep? What did you eat? Those are questions you try not to think about, because you know that there should be answers, but there aren't."

"How do you know my name?" she asked. With ever word he spoke she could feel herself getting more unnerved, all she wanted to do was run in the other direction, but something in his gaze kept her dancing with him.

"I know your name better then you do, Luscinia. I have known it for centuries and you have only known it for ten years. But ten of the longest years of my long life." The last part he said more to himself then to her. With more sorrow in his voice then she thought she had ever heard before.

Before she could make any reply a low voice spoke from behind her. "I beg your pardon for disturbing you my lord, but my I draw your attention to the time? The hour is almost here. . ."

"Remember, Luscinia! Please remember." He said staring at her pleadingly.

"My lord, I must insist! The time!" said the voice again.

"Remember!" He whispered to her and then walked swiftly past her, and away, vanishing into the throng of dancers, just as the clock began the first of its twelve chimes.

Luscinia stood still in the middle of the dance floor while the other dancers twirled around her. The waltz softly came to a close and the rest of the dancers split apart, laughing and talking. She heard several people saying her name but the rest of their words didn't penetrate her mind, which was in a swirling confusion.

She walked blindly off the dance floor and towards the large glass doors on one end of the room, the sound of her footsteps absorbed in the chatter of the guests.

She opened a door and slipped out onto the large, stone, porch. She walked to the wide railing and placed her gloved hands on the cool stone. The door closed softly behind her, blocking out the sound of the orchestra beginning a gavotte.

What had the mysterious man wanted with her? How had he known all that about her? How could he possibly know that she couldn't remember her past? No one knew that, not even Baron Marque.

And why had he seemed so familiar? She knew she hadn't ever seen him, but yet. . .

She sighed and rested her head on the cold stone, she could feel a throbbing beginning in her temples. She closed her eyes, her mind drifting, letting random images float through it.

She saw a room. There was an old, hunchbacked woman in tattered rags standing in profile to her, laughing maniacally. A strange, half man, half bird, knelt in front of the woman. Black feathers were molting off his face and wings were drooping off the arms which were clasped in front of him.

"Please no!" he entreated the woman in a broken, cowing voice, "Please don't take her away, please! I'll do anything you ask," but all his pleas did were to make the woman laugh louder.

The woman turned towards Luscinia, pointing a crooked finger at her and Luscinia began to feel a strange sensation all over, a tingling, prickling sensation, as though her entire body had fallen asleep, and then, nothing.

She opened her eyes with a jerk. She remembered. Remembered who the man was, remembered who she was.

She lifted her head from the balustrade, opened her arms wide and felt herself transform.

She took off, feeling her wings catch her as she leaped from the balcony and feeling once again the joy of flying. She soared high above the manner, the air beneath her, glorying as the wind swished around her, ruffling her feathers.

She circled over the forest letting her memories come trickling back. She was Luscinia, the Nightingale Queen, and the man was Corvus Corax, the Raven King, rulers of Mundus Phasma Phasmatis, the Sprit Realm. And tonight was the night for the final meeting between them and the witch, the night of Winter Solstice, when the deviding line between the Spirit Realm and the Mortal Realm was weakest.

She circled once more, searching for the clearing, the place she knew he would be, the place where the link between the Spirit Realm and the Mortal Realm was strongest. she spotted it and dove, streaking towards the gap in the trees.

Breaking her flight just before the tree tops, she fluttered down to land softly on the pine needle strewn ground.

The man was already there. Corvus, the Raven King. As in her memory, he was half transformed. His feather mask blending with the black feathers on his face, his nose half beak, wings half formed from his tuxedo.

"You never could morph cleanly. You should stay a raven, you're much more handsome that way." Said Luscinia teasingly.

"And you're far more beautiful as a human then in your drab bird form. We make the worst pare don't we." The expression in his eyes belied his words however, as he stared at her, smile evident even on his feathered face.

"Has she come yet?" Luscinia asked, smile dropping from her face.

"No. She is waiting until the precise moment. I am very glad you have returned, my queen. I would not have been able to withstand her alone."

Before she could reply, a loud cackle of laughter rent the air.

"Look at this, the Raven King and the Nightingale Queen. Together at last. Isn't that the sweetest thing? I think I'm going to cry."

The hunchbacked woman from Luscinia's memory come stepping out of the shadows, a wide grin across her face.

"Not." she finished. and let out another cackle of insane laughter.

"Why Lamia, what a pleasant surprise. I never expected to see you here. It's been what? Ten years?" Luscinia said pleasantly.

"Hardy har har, Lus. You are just so funny." said the woman, sarcastically. "But I'm afraid I'll have to suffer without your wit from now on, peaches. You and Monsieur Corax are no longer going to be the Gods of Mundus Phasma Phasmatis any longer."

"I don't believe we ever held that title, Lamia. But supposing we did, what makes you think that we no longer will?" Luscinia asked, still pretending politeness.

In reply the old crone lifted her arm and pointed a finger at Luscinia. A burst of lighting come shooting out of it, just as Corvus threw himself at Luscinia knocking her to the ground so that the lightning shot over them both.

"You wont take her from me again, Lamia." said Corvus, raising to his feet, his voice full of hatred. "The time has finally come, our battle of the last five hundred years has come to an end, and you are the one who is going to lose."

"We'll see about that." Lamia replied, again raising her arm, this time pointing it at Corvus. She shot another bolt of lighting at him, but he raised one wing-arm and swept it to the side.

The two began to slowly circle each other, both throwing lighting and insults back and forth.

Luscinia began to slowly rise to her feet, watching the pair of fighters all the while. She moved slowly around, trying not to attract the old woman's attention.

Corvus's eyes met hers, and she raised a finger to her lips, she saw understand flicker in his gaze and he stopped circling, keeping Lamia's back to Luscinia.

"We cant go on like this forever, Corax!" Lamia called at him in her cracked voice. "We're too evenly matched. This fight would last eternity and beyond. Why don't we stop this, we could do amazing things together, Raven King. Just think of it!"

"I have." replied Corvus, "And so I know that I would rather spend eternity fighting you, then ever take part in what you consider amazing things!"

Lamia let out a roar of rage, and raised her hand to smite Corvus, but before she could, Luscinia began to sing, and everything froze at the sound of her voice, the rustle of the pines in the wind, the lapping of a near by brook. Lamia turned slowly to face Luscinia, moving as though she did not realize what she was doing.

Luscinia stood with her eyes closed, her shoulders back, head high, mouth open wide as the beautiful, bewitching sound of her voice filled the forest.

Lamia began to hunch in on herself, her body freezing in her position, as the sound of Luscinia's song began to change.

Now instead of peaceful the spoke of change, of things growing and molding into new forms. The trees began to rustle again and the brook to gurgle. And Lamia began to change too, her skin became harder, her clothes twisting around her and forming into hard wrinkles.

As Lusinia's song spun faster and faster Lamia began to change more. Her arms stretched up and her head bent down, until, when the last notes of Luscinia's song faded away, a small tree stood in the middle of the clearing where Lamia had been, bent and gnarled, just as the she had been.

Luscinia opened her eyes and saw Corvus smiling at her. "Well done, Lus'." He whispered. He bent foreword, and kissed her.



The End


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