“Drat it!” The woman yanked her pen back, but only succeeded in drawing the impaled parchment along with it. She waved it in the air fruitlessly for a moment before throwing her head back and crying, “Zut! SOLANDRAAAAAAAA!”
For a moment, nothing. Then a scuffling sounded from somewhere close - and a figure in black leapt neatly through the open window, avoiding the blood red curtains that billowed out in the cold night wind. Her face was hidden in beneath a silver plague mask - the beaklike nose protruding inches out from her face, sharp and thin as a needle, transforming the agile woman into a gothic, macabre phantom.
“Did you do that again?” A light, muffled voice echoed from the confines of the bestlike visage. “Next Christmas, I’m buying you a book on anger management.”
“It’s not anger, it’s excitement,” the woman replied, shifting impatiently. “As you should be - why aren’t you dressed yet?”
“Oh, this and that.” The plague woman waved a gloved hand vaguely, stepping forwards in dark leather boots and taking hold of the steely, fatally sharp pen delicately before wrenching it free of the thick, creamy parchment. She held both out, and the woman at the desk rose, clad in a sparkling, flowing dress a thousands shades of red and blue. It looked as though either stained glass or sequins had been woven into a form fitting fabric that spread in all directions in an elaborate train - glimmering indigo melted into navy and cyan in the back before being swept up into rose and carnelian and crimson and blood red in the front, ending on her thin shoulders. Threads of silver and gold sparkled like fire throughout the fabric, and, combined with the gleaming black stiletto heels, the entire attire seemed more like an exquisite artwork than practical garb. The dress made a faint slithering sound as the woman stepped lithely forwards, a noise not unlike a snake slipping down a rope.
“Are you ready?” her voice was low, an urgent murmur, but a squeak of excitement at the end belied her true anticipation.
“As I’ll ever be,” signed Solandra, tugging at her mask. She unfastened a buckle there, a clasp here, and tugged it off her head, revealing swirls of deep chocolate skin, sage-green eyes, and curly mounds of delicately coiffed raven hair.
“You’re not happy.” The woman noted, toying with a lock of her own hair - as silver-blonde as snow.
Solandra let out a long sigh before meeting her eyes and responding.
“This is…. risky. Are you sure you actually want to do this? Every time I think of a dinner party in a mysterious house at night, all I can think of is disaster, doom, death… shall I go on?”
“For someone who doesn’t spill words for a living, you’re quite expressive.”
“This isn’t a joke, Mad! What if something goes wrong? No one’s ever tried something like this before…. No one’s ever taken that… that thing without actually earning it-”
The venom in the woman’s black eyes startled Solandra into silence.
“I would have gotten it soon enough,” she hissed. “And I’m trying to help them. If you don’t want to be part of it-”
“Someone needs to keep the sanity,” Solandra murmured. “But I’m just saying - what if they don’t want it?”
“Then I’ll take… appropriate measures.” Both women glanced towards a corner of the darkened room, towards where the only light source besides the lamp near the desk rested - a flickering lantern, illuminating a dark-wooded chest in shadows and light. Even from a distance, it seemed to echo with words, senses - magic. The woman shivered with a strange, obsessed glee. Solandra sighed.
“I still think-”
“Hush,” The woman suddenly flew past her companion to the window, peering out into the wild night. The wind tugged incessantly at her white-blonde hair, but the severity of her ‘do kept it firmly in place.
“Mad, I said I’ll do it, but you have to let me speak-”
“Get into your costume, Solandra.” The woman’s voice grew higher with every word, her eyes darker and wiser, until where moments before a giddish girl had stood, now there lurked a powerful, mysterious plotter. Her ebony eyes blended into the night as she peered out at the approaching characters, alighted from within by a flame of mania and wickedness. Her true life was beginning tonight, and from now on, she controlled the strings.
“Solandra. They're here.