Book V Chapter 27: Chapters in Motion
Laps-du-Ment Grande Ballroom
"Quite the turnout this year, isn't it? I think this is the biggest ball we've ever had," Nefirian said, sipping casually at his wine as he leaned against the banister.
"The biggest what?" Bastion gasped in shock, his eyebrows rising high.
Nef only shook his head.
"So many good costumes, too. That guy over there is obviously a gargoyle. Check it out, he's got little vines trailing after him and everything."
The two chapters watched the dancers and partygoers with eager eyes, their feet stepping in time to the lively waltzes Didier hammered out on his piano.
A lithe fellow in a suit with metallic skin made his way across the ballroom floor, coming to a stop just before the balcony staircase and peering up curiously.
"Oh, hullo. Amazing costume-- you're an automaton, ri..."
Nefirian's voice suddenly trailed off as Bast peered out over his shoulder.
"ELLIOT!! Elliot, you're here! At MY ball!" he squealed with delight, coaxing a snicker from his husband.
"Beep beep. Hello, Doctor Bloodhawk. I'm sorry I didn't make it last year; Id've risked being devoured by ghouls if I had left my office," she said, smiling warmly beneath her metal mask.
Nef and Bast exchanged glances.
"But I'm-- oh. Ohhhh," Bast said, tapping his monocle.
Nef bowed with a flourish, grinning from ear to ear. "Tell me-- has technology in Gier advanced to such a point that their automatons can dance?"
"Beep boop, verifying proposition," Elliot said in her best robot voice.
"Confirmed," Nef laughed.
"Proposition accepted. Dance routine beta test initiated, boop beep beep."
Leaning over to peck Bast on the cheek, Nefirian led Elliot out to the ballroom floor.
"Will Ba--..Nefirian mind?"
"Oh, goodness, no. He'll be making the rounds himself, I'm sure-- I saw him eyeing someone up not two moments ago.
Well, we might've been doing it together," he admitted. "That's no matter, though.
Shall we, my little robot?"
"Beep boop, affirmative."
Hand in hand, they began to waltz across the ballroom floor, feet stepping in perfect time.
Glancing up into Elliot's eyes, Nefirian caught her looking down a little too far; she squeaked, her cheeks flushing a soft pink.
"Ah, Elliot?" He murmured, grinning sheepishly.
"Oh! Oh, Doctor Bloodhawk, I'm sorry," Elliot gasped, embarassed. "It's difficult not to-- I'm so sorry. It's horribly inappropriate, isn't it?"
"No, no! It's alright. It is sort of, erm... right there, after all."
"It is," she admitted. "I'm afraid I can't help myself. It is rather..."
"Big?" Nef finished, stifling a laugh.
"Er... yes. I'm so sorry, I hope I haven't offended you--"
"Of course not," he said.
"You can't let these things bother you, I've found. Why, everyone's going to stare and gossip anyway... and if I'm perfectly honest, that's half the fun," he grinned.
Gathering her nerve, Elliot let go of Nefirian's hand and prodded his belly.
"Sorry! It was kind of a once in a lifetime chance," Elliot explained with a grin.
"Well, then! Now that that's been established," he laughed aloud, "the dance appears to be over."
"Pity," she sighed. "It's a rare day when I get to enjoy myself, anymore."
I'm absolutely flattered to be the highlight of your day, even sans-shirt, but the dance is over, not the Ball. Promise you're not going to run along home now?"
"Oh, no. Not yet, anyway.
But, Nefirian-- I suppose I should ask you something, since we're face to face for once."
"That's only fair; I'm always asking you in dreams. This is your ground, if we're perfectly honest. What is it?"
Elliot sighed. "A few weeks ago, I discovered Cazwell had secretly made an appointment at a Firm here in Laps for a surgical sculpting back into a human. I only just managed to stop the procedure before it began. Do you know anything about that?"
"...you mean to say that he didn't have permission to book that procedure? With family money?" he whispered.
"Elliot, Swanheart is the only Cosmo Firm in Laps, and I direct it personally. Being as though you're the primary owner of the Christoph accounts, I can get you the paperwork surrounding that case and a full refund for everything but the processing fees. I'm--"
"I'm not concerned about the money, not really," she insisted, "but Caz has been getting more and more desperate about his... condition."
She wondered if referring to being a leupak as a condition wasn't somewhat insensitive.
"I'm terrified that I'll look up one day and he'll have gone to some greater extreme... and there isn't much more room left for that, after attempting to go in for surgery. I know it's a stretch, but if you have any advice or anything you could possibly do to help..."
"I'm running a tight schedule lately," he murmured, "but... after the Ball is over, try and get a hold of him for me, alright? I'll make a house call.
"But you can't--"
"I'm the damned Dreamwaker, Elliot, and your brother needs help. What I can't do is sit idly by.
Send me a lodica when you get home."
Without warning, Nefirian pulled her into a tight hug and squeezed her hand. "Until then, you're not allowed to worry about it anymore.
Now, go and enjoy yourself. And thank you for the lovely dance," he added with a hesitant smile as he turned to wander off into the crowd. "Beep beep."
"Beep beep," Elliot sighed, spying Selarion wandering into the ballroom not far away.
Nefirian made his way slowly through the great clusters of people laughing, dancing, and enjoying the festivities, shaking hands and complimenting costumes all the while.
Finally, he spied a curious stranger with long, silver hair in an ornate harpy mask and matching feathery blue shawl.
"That is an absolutely beautiful costume," Nef breathed. "Did you craft that yourself?"
"Thank you," the stranger replied, smiling ever so slightly beneath his mask. "As a matter of fact, I did."
But Nef's ear twitched; he squinted a bit. "Your voice is so familiar... have we met?"
"As a matter of fact," Kelan said, lifting his mask away from his face, "we have."
Next Chapter: Book V Chapter XXVIII
Category: Book V | Story