Halloween 2020 IF,  Interactive Fiction

Halloween I.F – “Final Call” – Day 7

[Please read the Instructions before jumping in]

No sleeping, Lucien decides, not yet. He’s in a fog, sure, but he’s also riled up, heart going wild in his chest. It’ll be better to clear his head before he sleeps again. If Lord Crow wants to know more about his dreams, better to do it in a way that won’t guarantee the dreams are all about… well, about Lord Crow.

If he leaves now, he can probably catch Katarin or Shuni before they go to sleep. Either will listen; this sort of thing is known to happen to actors. He still remembers Nan’s sobbing laughter when she was returned from the trip that Lord the Endless had taken her on. For everyone else, Nan had been absent one night. For Nan… well. She retired after that, claiming the exhaustion of the aged.

Lucien isn’t sure which of his two costars he trusts more with this story—not that he believes either is untrustworthy, but he has held himself back from becoming too intimate with either of them so far. So the decision comes down to other factors. 

Of the two, he suspects Katarin would be the more sensible one—but he isn’t sure he wants to hear a sensible response. Besides, it’s improper to intrude on a lady while she’s getting ready for bed, even if the lady is an actress. Meanwhile, Shuni will be, he suspects, more receptive to the strangeness of this unburdening, and besides, he lives nearby.

It’s as much direction as Lucien is likely to get, and his mind is strung too tightly for him to think about it any further. He veers off from his course home, taking a few side streets to Shuni’s address, and knocks.

Shuni seems surprised to see him. He’s changed, but not gotten ready for bed—his hair’s a little mussed, and he’s wearing just a loose shirt and trousers, not proper attire at all. “Lucien, you didn’t show up for drinks—” and then he cuts himself off, looking Lucien over again. “What happened to you?” 

Lucien has enough wits about him to push them both inside and lead Shuni over to his own sitting room before he starts babbling. He collapses across a seat as the words flow from him, and Shuni sits across from him. Halfway through, Shuni gets up and pours them both an overly full glass of whiskey, which Lucien tosses back gratefully.

He’s not ready to have run out of words by the time he’s run out of story, and finds himself just repeating the obvious. “So then I didn’t know where to go. So I came here. I needed to tell someone, so I’m telling you…”

“You certainly are,” Shuni says. He huffs a laugh, apparently overwhelmed. “That sounds like a lot. Well, don’t blame yourself if you did eat human. It could have been anything, right?’

“Anything. Human, animal, something else all together. It could be nothing. The substance of dreams…” Lucien finds himself thinking about dreams again and tries to steer his own mind back.

Shuni says, “It’s just meat or the idea of meat, nothing more. Sounds like a lovely dinner date with the Carrion-Eater, really, as these things go.”

Lucien finds that funnier than maybe it should be, and starts laughing. A date. Was it a date? Is he being courted?

Shuni raises and lowers a hand like a conductor, and Lucien quiets obediently. “That said, I’m a little worried that Lord Crow said he’d come to check you out again. We all want their patronage, but you know they can have… effects on people.”

Should he be worried? Lucien wonders why he isn’t. “They are known for that,” he says agreeably.

“Well. If you’d like, you can sleep here today. If you think the whole dream thing might put you at risk, I mean,” Shuni says. He’s sprawled back, thinking, one leg thrown over an arm of the chair, his shirt open to show a pendant worn against his skin. “I’d be glad to have you.”

“Oh?” Lucien asks, looking him over again.

“And… hmm. This next night, for safety, why don’t we switch roles? We already look enough alike that nobody will question it. That way, we can spread the attention out. So long as I show up in your day clothes and you show up in mine, even the costumers won’t be able to tell. We’ll act as each other! I can play Arcane, and you can play Logos. What do you say?”

[Please leave suggestions for Lucien in the comments.]

[Next Day]

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4 Comments

  • Vikarmic

    If Lord Crow wants to see you, he will; see you, that is, and not the role and costume you play. If you’ve truly caught his attention, he may even appreciate the bit of puzzle you’ll give him. And changing roles will let Shuni help you, and isn’t liable to harm him much, and those things are worth something on their own.

    On which subject, do spend the night. A friend’s company would certainly not go amiss at any time, much less after the night you’ve had; it’s a kind offer, and one worth accepting.

    • Boxy

      Yes totally stay the night, but uhhh, is he trying to get a piece of your possible romance? You’re pretty sure you got this handled. Not that you’re saying no, it could definitely be a fun puzzle & playing hard to get is important, but shuni seems more into it than you’d predicted. Maybe you have more in common than you thought?, check him out some more & don’t agree to it without teasing him first.

  • Prince Charming

    Yes, stay to sleep. And switching roles sounds like fun. I think Lord Crow will know you anyway and may like the bit of puzzle.

    What do you two look like?
    And what kind of pendant is Shuni wearing? Can you get a closer look at it?

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