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Dec 23

A Wintersday Gathering, In Three (And a Bit) Parts

Chapter 6: Part 6 - Volunteers
T'chok's Wintersday Adventure

Wintersday2015Header

PART ONE

Inside a small wooden room, somewhere behind a tavern in Divinity’s Reach, two asura are standing beside a trestle table. One is arranging plates of food with exacting care; the other has her arms folded.

AMBER

Are you sure about this, Darr?

DARR

Absolutely sure. Who doesn’t like a party?

AMBER

It’s not the party that concerns me. It’s–

There’s a knock on the outer door, which opens before anyone can answer it. A norn steps inside, shaking snow off her cloak.

ERIN

Brr! I’ve never seen Divinity’s Reach so cold. Anyone would think we’re in Hoelbrak!

DARR

You see? People are arriving already. It’s going to be a great success.

AMBER

If you say so…

Another knock on the door. Erin answers it, enveloping the newcomer in a snowy hug. There are muffled noises from whoever she’s greeting.

CAOLINN

[muffled] Erin! I can’t… breathe…

ERIN

Oh! Sorry. Come in! Have some food.

DARR

There’s plenty for everyone!

AMBER

Just wait until Erin gets started…

The party-goers converge around the table and start reaching for their favourite delicacies.

ERIN

[Around a mouthful of food] This is really good!

AMBER

Don’t sound so surprised.

DARR

[Ignoring Amber] Thank you! I made it all myself. These little berries come all the way from the depths of Orr, and the shrimp–

AMBER

[Looking dubiously at the berries] From Orr?

CAOLINN

I didn’t know you could cook.

DARR

Oh, absolutely! I enjoy nothing more than whipping up a few masterpieces in the kitchen. Cooking takes time, you know, and patience, and a good eye for detail, exactly the sort of qualities asura are–

AMBER

And plenty of free time.

Silence falls around the table. Erin, apparently oblivious, continues to eat. Darr goes very pale.

DARR

If you’re implying I haven’t had much time on set lately–

AMBER

Which you haven’t.

DARR

–-by mutual agreement with the producers–

AMBER

You’ve been sidelined, basically.

DARR

–-and is, I can assure you, only a *temporary* state of affairs.

Another silence falls, this one distinctly strained. Amber puts her half-eaten berry slice back on the table.

AMBER

Well, this is a *great* party.

Erin opens her mouth to speak, but there’s a commotion outside the door and it swings open, spilling a crowd of people into the room. There are shouts of greeting and stamping of feet to dislodge snow as the room becomes crowded.

CAOLINN

[To Darr] How many people did you invite?

DARR

[Looking pleased with himself] Well, everyone!

***

PART TWO

A plethora of individuals of all races gather around the table. There are calls for drinks to be poured, and appreciative noises about the provision of food.

DARR

Thank you, thank you! Please, help yourselves!

ERIN

[To Amber] He’s not much like his character, is he?

AMBER

Not in the slightest.

Food and drinks are passed round. Another asura approaches Amber and hands her a glass.

AMBER

I haven’t seen much of you lately.

ZURRA

Oh, we’ve been moved to another set.

AMBER

What’s it like?

ZURRA

The climate’s preferable to anything I’ve worked in before. The catering’s terrible, though.

AMBER

[Nodding] That’s what you get for trying to do everything on the cheap.

A human interrupts them, flinging an arm around Amber. He already seems to be half drunk.

BLAISE

Amber! I haven’t seen you in months!

AMBER

You were dead, remember?

BLAISE

A minor technicality. I’m sure I’ll be back for the big finale.

AMBER

[With raised eyebrows] Really? You’re *sure*?

BLAISE

Well, the producers haven’t said anything, but how can I not be? I was a major character, you know!

AMBER

Yes, but you’re *dead*.

ZURRA

That hasn’t stopped Flikk.

FLIKK

[From across the table] Oh, I’m just here for the food.

A charr shoulders her way past Blaise, shrugging off the greeting he tries to give her.

SPARK

[With nods of greeting] Amber. Zurra.

AMBER

Spark! I didn’t think you’d be coming.

SPARK

[Belligerently] Why? Because my contract hasn’t been renewed?

AMBER

It… hasn’t?

SPARK

Of course it hasn’t. I thought everyone knew by now.

ZURRA

I knew.

AMBER

I *didn’t*. I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything. The producers have probably just been busy–

A second charr joins the gathering. He, too, appears drunk.

BLAISE

Weir!

WEIR

Blaise!

AMBER

Where did you come from?

WEIR

[Gestures] Over there somewhere…

SPARK

She meant what are you doing at the party, idiot.

WEIR

You know me –- can’t resist a good meal. And this food is excellent.

DARR

[From across the table] Thank you!

AMBER

Don’t encourage him.

SPARK

[To Amber] So how are things? Been getting into trouble without me?

AMBER

Um…

SPARK

That’s a yes.

AMBER

I suppose so. Don’t look at me like that. It hasn’t been *that* exciting. You haven’t missed anything–

ZURRA

Except Vonn.

AMBER

[Hissed, to Zurra] Will you *shut up*?

SPARK

Who’s Vonn?

AMBER

No-one, no-one–-

ZURRA

He’s Flikk’s son.

SPARK

[Growls across the table] You have a *son*?

FLIKK

How should I know? I’m just here for the food, remember?

AMBER

You see? Flikk only had one scene and he’s quite happy–

FLIKK

I’m not sure *happy* is quite the word.

AMBER

[To Flikk] Not. Helping.

SPARK

[Folds arms] You know, I think some of us are getting a poor deal in this production.

AMBER

This isn’t really the time or the place for a discussion–

SPARK

[Loudly] A very poor deal. There’s been too much attention on a certain *asura* and the rest of us just have to get out of the way.

AMBER

You all knew what you were signing up for–

ZURRA

Actually, I don’t think we did. Some of us were distinctly promised larger roles than this.

AMBER

[Nonplussed] You were?

ZURRA

Yes.

BLAISE

Yep.

SPARK

We were.

Silence falls across the room, broken only by someone’s loud belch.

AMBER

Erin, that’s disgusting.

SPARK

Don’t try and change the subject.

AMBER

I wasn’t–

SPARK

You were. And I think it’s about time a few of us *renegotiated* better terms.

AMBER

You do that–

SPARK

Like now.

Spark reaches into the pocket of her greatcoat and pulls out a pistol, placing it meaningfully on the table beside her.

AMBER

Where did you get *that*?

SPARK

It’s mine, of course. I’m an engineer, remember?

AMBER

Well, I know you are in the *story*, but–

SPARK

And the rest of the time, obviously. [Hesitates, suddenly uncertain] You mean, you’re *not* a thief?

AMBER

No! I’m an actor from Metrica Province! I don’t even own a dagger! And, if I’m being perfectly honest, the sight of blood makes me a little queasy.

BLAISE

Hey, me too!

SPARK

You’re not a ranger?

BLAISE

Of course not! I used to be on the stage in Divinity’s Reach, until I got a little bit too fond of– [Mimes drinking from a bottle] And I hate cats, too.

SPARK

Oh.

AMBER

Anyone else?

ZURRA

Golem saleswoman.

CAOLINN

Artisan baker.

ERIN

Professional wrestler and occasional life model. Actually, this story hasn’t had anywhere near enough chances for me to pose nude–

AMBER

[Clears her throat loudly]

FLIKK

Just here for the food.

Another silence falls. Somewhat guiltily, Spark retrieves her pistol from the table and shoves it back in her pocket.

DARR

[Loudly, and with forced cheer] Well then, if *that’s* out of the way… Can I interest anyone in more wine?

#

PART THREE

Somewhat subdued, the party continues, the guests milling around the table. Much of the food is gone, though there’s still a great deal of drink being consumed. Weir approaches Amber, even more inebriated than before.

WEIR

This is a great party, don’t you think?

AMBER

Spectacular.

WEIR

She doesn’t mean it, you know.

AMBER

Mean what?

WEIR

Spark. She’s not *really* jealous. She just…

AMBER

Has an abrasive personality?

WEIR

Yeah! Yeah, that’s it. She just sorta makes troubles sometimes, without really meaning to.

AMBER

Really. I’d never have noticed.

Spark, who’s been brooding in a corner, pushes through the crowd.

SPARK

Shut up, Weir.

WEIR

[Salutes] Yes, sir. Ma’am. Lady engineer.

SPARK

Didn’t I tell you to shut up?

WEIR

Sorry.

SPARK

[To Amber] I’m here to apologise.

AMBER

Apologise? You?

SPARK

[Growls] Don’t make this harder than it already is. [Takes a deep breath] Weir’s an idiot, but he’s right about one thing: I’m not jealous.

AMBER

Could have fooled me.

SPARK

Well, I’m not. In fact, I’d never done anything like this before I met you, so I’m… grateful.

AMBER

Grateful?

SPARK

Grateful. For giving me a chance to travel. To be part of your story. And to blow stuff up.

AMBER

You can’t have a good story without explosions.

SPARK

Exactly. So, yeah. Thanks.

AMBER

[Graciously] You’re very welcome.

Across the room, someone taps a spoon against a glass and everyone turns. Darr is standing on a chair, yet remains only half Erin’s height.

DARR

I want to propose a toast–

ERIN

Hear hear!

DARR

–-to old friends and new acquaintances–

ERIN

Hear hear!

DARR

–-and to the spirit of Wintersday–

ERIN

Hear–

CAOLINN

Erin, shh!

DARR

–-which resides in us all. I’m sure that’s a sentiment we can all share.

Amber looks at Spark, who raises her glass; they clink their glasses together.

AMBER

To Wintersday.

SPARK

To friends.

AMBER

[Nods] Reluctant friends, maybe.

SPARK

Maybe.

AMBER

And to your contract being renewed. I’ll sure you’ll be on set again soon.

SPARK

[Hopefully] You think so?

AMBER

[After draining her glass] Absolutely.

#

EPILOGUE

Amber and Erin have left the party and are standing in the snow, looking out over Divinity’s Reach.

AMBER

[Grudgingly] That wasn’t a bad party after all.

ERIN

[Hiccups] That was… [Hiccups again] The best damn party…

AMBER

How much did you drink?

ERIN

[After a pause] Lots.

AMBER

Can you find your way home?

ERIN

[Another pause] No.

Amber grabs Erin’s hand and begins pulling her down the slope. They start to recede into the distance, hidden by the falling snow.

AMBER

Just don’t fall over, all right? It’d take a dolyak to carry you, and I’m no dolyak.

ERIN

You’d really suit the ears.

AMBER

What?

ERIN

Dolyak ears. They’d suit you. And the horns–

AMBER

Shut up.

ERIN

And maybe the tail–

AMBER

Shut UP.

ERIN

Have you ever thought about growing your hair? You could have a sort of mane, and then we could strap Wintersday presents to your back and–

Erin is interrupted by the sound of a snowball hitting her, then there’s a louder thump as she falls over.

ERIN

[Laughing] I did that thing you told me not to do. [A pause] Amber. Hey, Amber. [Another, longer pause] Amber, are you still there? You’re not just going to leave me here, are you?

Erin gets no reply. She continues to call for Amber, her voice becoming more and more distant, as the thickening snowfall finally conceals her from view.

Chapter 6: Part 6 - Volunteers
T'chok's Wintersday Adventure
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