The Show Begins

12th October - Blackthorn Imaginarium - Evening

The crowd were flooding into the Blackthorn Estate now. Music and mayhem filled the snowy grounds as the denizens of Dusk came out to play. Pickpockets plied their trade while con men and conjurers moved amongst the stalls dazzling the gullible with their arts.

The distant sound of machinery grew louder as did the din from the giant circus of tents and structures that surrounded Blackthorn Hall. The cobbled began to shake and snow fell from the tops of tents to dump unceremoniously onto the heads of their patrons. Squeals of chilly shock and peels of laughter soon died down as the cause of the shaking became apparent. The Elesians had arrived.

A great horn sounded "Ahoooooon" and lights shone down from above. Someone screamed as the visage of a great Elesian airship loomed out of the snowy mist to hover over the grounds. Two great armored vehicles rumbled up to the gate entrance before coming to a halt. Then came the soldiers and the Tin Men. Great hulking mechans, armed and armored. The crowds shifted back as they marched into the grounds forming a corridor leading to the main hall.

Another great horn blast "Ahoooooooon." and Ines Valkarian entered the gates on foot. Was accompanied by a single Tin Man. A huge machine, metalic black from head to toe with wicked looking blades extending from its arms. She strode forward and waited just on the inside of the gates. Complete silence.

The crowds, over their initial shock began to shift forward to get a better look at the woman who had taken over their city. She was dressed in a sheer white long coat trimmed with fur at the collars and cuffs. Her long white hair was dressed up and adorned with silver and pearls. She looked more a queen of fable than a regent of Dusk.

There came a trumpet blast from Blackthorn Hall and the doors were flung open. Music filled the night air as a brass band marched out with acrobats and clowns weaving through their ranks. Fireworks were set of to burst above the heads of the people and then from the very rear a great white chariot pulled by two white horse trimmed with gold came cantering forth. Barnaby rust stood upon the carriage cracking a twin tailed whip high above his head. The whip ends caught and sparked with each flick of his wrist and as he approached yet more fireworks were released but this time from the chariot itself.

The crowd watched in stunned awe and Ines smiled and clapped with delight until the chariot came at last to a halt before her.

"My Lady." Barnaby called down from the chariot, "May I escort you to the show?"

"You may indeed." she called back up to the showman. "But first a show of my own."

She raised her hand and once again the horn sounded from above, "Ahoooooooon." pointing towards the distant airship all followed her gaze. There was a collective gasp as figures jumped from the ships sides and then another as behind each individual wings seemed to spring out and beat against the air. Then wings spread these things of wonder began to circle and glide towards the ground. As they grew closer they were clearly people and they were wearing what appeared to be mechanical wings.

Round and round they circled until at last they were swooping low enough to see their faces. Two of them landed lightly either side of Ines and with a sharp click to a panel on their chest the wings retracted and came to rest behind their backs. They were both women, their hair braided back tightly and their eyes covered by strange black glasses.

Ines raised her hands, "My angels." she smiled with clear pride for her little show and Barnaby raised his own hands in applause which the crowd joined in a roaring show of appreciation. The other "angels" began to land as Ines and her two companions joined Barnaby on the chariot.

"My Lady that was impressive." Barnaby said as he bowed and kissed her hand.

Ines simply smiled and waved to the cheering crowd as the horses were turned and sent cantering back towards the great hall. The show was about to begin.

***

Eris watched from the shadows. The Clockwork King had forbidden her to intervene. Lucas Eli would do their work for them, or so he said. Her master was cautious, and slow. She knew it was what had kept him alive for this long, but keeping alive was not her primary concern. She felt the need to act, to have an effect upon the world. Her hatred for the Skyborn was innate, part of her construction she supposed, but to stand and watch... it was not her way.

Something brushed past her in the crowd and her arm snapped out plunging through the back of a woman who had just snatched her purse. She grasped the spine and squeezed. There came a muffled scream and then a thud as then woman fell forward into the snow. Eris did not look back. She wiped her bloodied hand on the inside of her jacket and disappeared into the mass of flesh.

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