5216/A Gleaming of Shadow in the Smile

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A Gleaming of Shadow in the Smile
Date of Scene: 16 February 2021
Location: The Dungeon - Hellfire Club
Synopsis: Mardi Gras preparations at the Hellfire Club earn a stamp of approval!
Cast of Characters: Sebastian Shaw, Zatanna Zatara

Sebastian Shaw has posed:
It is the night before Mardi Gras at the Hellfire Club, and the entire club is shut down. There is extensive decoration work being done by a veritable army of workers. Florists, construction workers, electricians, sound engineers, videographers, caterers. You name it, they're here preparing for tomorrow night. One member of the Club who is in full preparation mode is Sebastian Shaw. The man holds a clipboard, and is flipping through a checklist of his own, looking at how the Dungeon -- his pride and joy club in the larger Hellfire complex -- is being transformed from gothic horror to gothic revelry. He walks over to the stage, and then looks up at the lighting arrangement, counting the lights. He is that kind of anal retentive when it comes to this sort of thing.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Too many people with fingers in so many pies is bound to cause an incident of some manner. Possibly a squabble, a kitchen on fire! At least that could be an expectation of an outsider unaware of how these sorts of established organizations work, falling back not on years but decades of party planning. Rulebooks created in the first American empire period, when those Hanoverian kings realized they needed heirs, certainly give excellent directions on the minutia of every aspect, each precise detail.

The Hellfire Club wouldn't be living up to its name without those arrangements orchestrated by a maestro, probably in a suit, standing at the heart of it all. Which makes it possible for Zatanna to know where the heart of power lies as she probably ends up under escort by someone already heading into the Dungeon. Possibly with someone working on doing nothing than steering celebrities and vaguely important someones this way and that. She's no Superman, exactly, but these days who is? Certain privileges might be forgiven for peeking in.

And for the rest, the fishnet brigade know their power.

Sebastian Shaw has posed:
Sebastian Shaw is absorbed in his work, so much so he barely notices the flash of fishnets as they first appear nearby. Perhaps he mistakes the beautiful legs covered in them for those of one of the dancers? He turns a couple of pages on the clipboard, and calls out, "We have the coolers fully stocked of the whites, correct? We were missing a few earlier." The bar staff returns their answer in the positive, and he checks something off his list.

It's then that he notices Zatanna standing nearby, and for a moment it seems he's a bit confused, before he smiles a genuine smile and holds out his arms for the magician. "My dear Ms. Zatara, what a welcome surprise. I did not think I would see you until tomorrow evening. Though, I have been looking forward to it for as long as your RSVP has been up on my board." Of course he keeps a board of all the most important -- or attractive -- guests who will be making an appearance at his events. Helps keep their names in his head.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Fishnets, and in keeping with winter, the appropriate necessity of taller than usual boots. The rest is a little more sedate, a buttoned up black trenchcoat with enough style to the collar to frame a lovely crimson gem hung on black spiderwebs in a filigree. A nod to New Orleans' dark, baroque culture matched with those Creole and French collisions of culture. Zatanna tilts her head, that loose black wave sliding off her shoulder and framing her face with a smile. "An inside view of it all," she murmurs lightly. "You can hardly blame me for a little sleight-of-hand to enjoy the behind-the-scenes view?"

For this she offers to Sebastian with all the legendary aplomb someone needs to stride on the boards in front of an audience or brave the displeasure of someone who can rescind membership with a stroke of a pen or a sneering look. "My father would have been impressed. So many moving parts operating smoothly is a rarity, I assure you." Her smile shines in that dark, and she is in no hurry to get in anyone's way. Adjustments to move around them rather than vice verswa are telling in that sense.

Sebastian Shaw has posed:
Where Shaw stands, it is fairly docile, and empty of workers. People seem to know to avoid running into the boss. Or being near enough for him to issue them commands. At Zatanna's comment, he grins and then says, "Had I known you wanted a sneak peek, I would have sent a car, and had you escorted to me," he says, slipping one of his arms slowly around the woman's waist, tugging her over to him a bit. The thousand watt smile seems to be working. Or, is he flirting with her?

"Thank you for saying that. We are a very practiced club in these sorts of things, and I have recently contracted with a young new planner, a woman named Viola Fiore. She is spectacular, I cannot recommend her services enough. All of this is her idea, I just provided the capital and the laborers." He motions along the walls to the neo-gothic designs. The dungeon looks VERY turn-of-the-Century New Orleans. Bright, garish, almost too loud, plastered over a Victorian veneer.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Who wants to be the one to be found wanting against the boss' yardstick? Discovering a sense of stage fright or a fumbling step when those harsh eyes watch is beyond bearing for some, perhaps. They can be forgiven, considering the consequences. Cushy job and great benefits down the drain, a heavy price to pay for eavesdropping.

"Would you? Next time, perhaps," Zatanna offers. The slow trail of movement that brings her to Shaw's side is, perhaps, a dance. She rotates a little on those narrow wedge heels that in profile might resemble a stiletto. An open gap runs arrow-straight over the vamp to the knees, lashed by fine, thin laces that echo a corset, recalling her stage garb. Facing him at a more elegant angle keeps the conversation personable, aswirl in possibilities. "Is it not more enjoyable to have the unexpected happen? In the midst of all this buzzing activity." A flash of her fingertips and there's suddenly a slender card between two fingers, edged in black and embossed in gold. "An experience unseen."

He might take it or he might not, but the choice must be made in a heartbeat before another palmed gesture and the traces of that card are gone again. "Ms. Fiore, I cannot say we are acquainted." They are, but knowing how is another matter. "Did she come to you, or was it a happy circumstance of the right person at the right time?" Blue eyes direct a look over the revished shapes, the stricken appearance transformed to a century and some past. "Shall you tell me your favourite aspects of it?"

Sebastian Shaw has posed:
He plucks the card out of her fingers quickly, and flips it over in his own grasp to take a look at what it says, though his eyes rarely stray from the woman for more than a moment or two as they continue their sidelong movement through the club. There is only muffled music from the back, where workers are taking breaks, or preparing drink mixes, or having a couple of covert drinks of their own -- the boss is well aware, but knows the value of a ration of rum -- before getting back to their other duties. He squeezes his hand against her hip as he turns her to look at the stage.

"I believe my favorite part of this is the centerpiece of the whole event. The stage. Live music will be played here. Allegra Caradenza -- the musical prodigy -- has agreed to play with the house band tomorrow night for a while, and has developed the musical theme." He leads her a little deeper into the club.

"Upstairs of course are the viewing galleys, which have been done up like the balconies of New Orleans," he makes no comment about if there will be bead throwing, as he continues, "Would you like to come up with me and see for yourself?" he asks.

He is leading her unless she provides a protest to doing so, as he answers her last question, "Her uncle and I do business together. He provides the alcohol for my establishment, and she wished to see the club, so she came with one evening to visit. She enjoyed it, and I mentioned I was considering a party to announce my return to the city and..well..she had experience planning this sort of thing. Kismet."

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
The details on the card are odd: an embossed logo within a circle, two rings enclosing a neat stylized zed with the European style crossbar driven through the letter. How Americans never write it, though additional ornamentation holds a tactile element that doesn't reward sight. It takes touch to fully appreciate the variations in texture, which is probably the point.

The drink mixes might be of interest; no doubt the number of hurricanes, Dark and Stormies, and brandy milk punches might be inordinate if anyone's measuring them. Which they probably will. "I know of Ms. Caradenza. Virtuoso with a violin, isn't she? She was in the news after an unfortunate incident some time back," she notes. Celebrity business is technically Zee's. She acknowledges the choice with a nod, catching glimpses of Shaw's expression and reactions through ebony waves and lowered lashes. Under his hand, the bite of her hip is barely cushioned through the slippery trenchcoat and the pencil skirt. Layers better suited for indoors than the cold, as it would be, though the full sweep of that classic jacket could be a dress itself.

"Are you offering? My loss to turn you down." Easy to sweep past the clientele, allowing him to steer her towards the stairs. "The balconies have their unique charm. It's much nicer to be up there instead of at street-level during Mardi Gras. But I don't need to tell you that. Surely you've been in the crush of partiers?" The vibrant laugh joins the background noise, the buzz absorbing smokier amusement. "Though the costumes and floats up close, that's something else. How wonderful you've done a wholly American take instead of plague masks and Venetian dissoluteness all around."

Now, that's just playing.

Sebastian Shaw has posed:
Shaw's thumb rubs over the card, enjoying the strange feel of it as he walks with her. He tucks it into the breast pocket of his coat as he leads her up the winding stairs, empty of any patrons tonight, just he and her. Notably, most of the workers have made themselves scarce as well. Must be quitting time. Once at the top, he walks her over to one of the 'balconies' which is just what is described, "A little place for some revelry for those who wish to get above the crowd," he explains, before he turns and continues on.

The comment about being in the crush of the crowd, and enjoying the New Orleans feel of the place brings a smile to his lips, "I have, yes. Many, many years ago now. It was...a memorable experience." Perhaps he is remembering certain aspects of the party, as he lets his hand slide from her hip, though it trails along one of her curves for a moment as they get to the booths.

"And, here, is a booth for those who might want a little...privacy during their visit tomorrow night. We do have a reputation to uphold, and there are some clients who...may want to have a little privacy together." He motions her to slide into one. It looks down directly on the club below. Though, there is a curtain that can be pulled to have a little privacy, the back of it is open, so nothing TOO nefarious could happen in a crowded club. But, there's an adult edge there.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
A place like the Hellfire Club, especially in its 18th-century ostentation, has certain unspoken rules. Zatanna tacitly recognizes where they fall, as it's much a part of the stage as the functional elevated platform down there. A quick read over the balconies and the carefully reconstructed view over the bayou city hundreds of miles away suggests particular flavours, new ideas. All bring a certain quirked smile as it all fits together.

Shaw won't quite hold her too long as she executes a turn, fully taking in the whole of the elevated space. Floor to ceiling delights reside in the shadowy recesses, and they need to be fully explored at leisure. She wouldn't be a magician, and him not an entrepreneur, if they lacked for that. The brush of dark silk leaves its mark, the melodies of tea and rum, a trace of steel, lingering in hr wake from whatever perfume abides on skin if not the table. "How nicely you frame it for those who don't feel like the crush of the dance floor is for them. I've always found that dichotomy fascinating." The balcony beckons a lean to better see all the work in progress, but that's resisted for a time. "An air of secrecy and mystery to whet the appetite, isn't there? That takes a formidable level of planning and prop to pull off. Especially knowing full well nothing is private in such a crowded place."

Zatanna winks at Shaw, tapping her fingers against her hip. Not quite sliding into her pocket. "It's very well done. Will you give my regards to Ms. Fiore and your staff? They spared no effort and it shows. If only we had wine." A pause, the brief benediction almost teasing. "A toast for tomorrow's success and today's achievements. May it all come off with breathtaking ease?"