As part of my apology for having not updated for such a long time, I am throwing a little holiday extravaganza. Please read, review, and enjoy!
It was a party unlike any other they had ever attended.
They had all received the same mysterious letter in the mail inviting them to attend a grand ball to celebrate the many seasonal holidays. Intrigued by the invitation, and feeling that a party was in order with the season, they all decided to go.
It seemed as though everyone had been invited. People and creatures from all over the world, nay, from all over the universe were in attendance. They hailed from nearly every country, species, walk of life, and moral standing. Heroes, villains, antiheroes, mice, dogs, cats, birds, princes, paupers, knights, thieves – all came from far and wide to attend what they had been assured would be the party of the century.
And it was certainly the party of the many centuries. Joss Aaronson and Mavkel had time-jumped and flown in from Australia with Lisa and Refmol especially for the occasion. It had been Mavkel's first time on an airplane, and he was eagerly talking to Joss about the experience. "The food and drink that was provided was of questionable taste," he sing-songed as he bounced beside Joss, "but the view from the window was quite wonderful."
"That's pretty much all of plane travel, Mav." Joss replied.
Across the room, Dr. Watson and Irene Alder were talking to a rather diverse group of pilgrims who had been travelling to Canterbury, and were just about to hear the knight tell a rather interesting story about a certain Arcite and Palamon when Sherlock Holmes walked up to them.
"Ah, Watson," Sherlock eagerly greeted his friend, "I'm glad to see that you're enjoying yourself. I deduced that by the glass of wine in your hand and by the way you were laughing just now."
Watson turned to him. "Holmes—"
"Ah, I see you have a question, Watson. I deduced that by the way your voice increased in pitch at the end of your statement—"
"Holmes." Watson's voice was flat and blunt. "I'm begging you as a friend. Please, for once in your life, just shut up and enjoy the party."
Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett had arrived from London town, accompanied by Toby, Johanna, and Anthony Hope, and being followed by Judge Turpin and Pirelli, both of whom had their own agendas. Also from London was Mack the Knife, accompanied and followed by Polly Peachum, Lucy Brown, Jenny Diver, Suki Tawdry, and Jack Brown. Also with Mack was his gang of ruffians and crooks. Mack the Knife was generally nice in an oily sort of way, but Sweeney had decided that if Mr. the Knife looked at Johanna one more time he would find himself in desperate need of a shave.
From Paris came the Friends of the ABC, led by Enjolras, who had decided that the party would be an excellent opportunity to recruit more people to his cause. Marius Pontmercy had brought along Cosette, and by extension Jean Valjean, with Javert in hot pursuit. M. and Mme. Thenardier had snuck in with Azelma, and Eponine had tagged along with the Friends of the ABC in order to be near Marius. Also from Paris was the young lady Joa, who, though still a little weak, had recovered enough from her illness to attend. She was soon followed by Jade, Opal, and Amber. Accompanying Amber was Elyador, who was much shyer in this situation than his girlfriend, and accompanying Opal was Adrien, for whom the situation was the opposite. At the end of their group was Death, who had taken the day off to attend the party, looking quite lovely in her long black dress. In addition, Quasimodo had come with Claude Frollo, who himself was following Esmerelda, who in turn was following Phoebus, who had actually received an invitation to attend. Pierre Gringoire had also tagged along, but more to be with Djali than anything else.
Christine Daae and Raoul de Chagney had arrived from the Paris opera. Andre and Firmin carried Carlotta in after them, with Mme. and Meg Giry following behind. No one was quite sure when Erik had arrived, but he too was present, lurking in the shadows or standing in the corners, silently watching Christine.
The Phantom of the Opera was not the only one to arrive masked. Rorschach, clad in his usual bloodstained trench coat and pinstriped suit, was in attendance, and V, wearing his long cape and tall hat, was wandering through the crowd with Evey on his arm and that same, creepy smile frozen on his face.
Hailing from Tortall were King John and Queen Thayet. Thom, Coram, Alanna, and George Cooper accompanied them with Alan and Aly, who had brought along Nawat. Veralidaine Sarrasri and Numair Salamin were also in attendance, holding hands and laughing with each other while Tkaa and Kitten walked beside them. Keladry arrived with Tobe, and Rikash followed in Daine and Numair. Emperor Orzone and Duke Rodger followed the party in, acting courtly but meaning them only mischief and harm.
From Summersea, Lady Sandraline fa Toren came with her friends. Trisana Chandler, with Little Bear at her side, Shriek flying above her, and Chime on her shoulder, followed Sandry in. Daja Kisubo walked with her, her trader staff in her hand, the living brass on her hand glinting in the warm candlelight. Briar Moss walked beside Sandry, the inky vines and flowers tattooed on his hands twisting and twining around his fingers, daggers hidden in his sleeves, at the back of his neck, and slipped into his boots. Behind the four, Rosethorn and Lark walked together followed shortly by a laughing Frostpine and the extraordinarily well-dressed Niklaren Goldeye. After the adults, Pasco entered with Evvy, who was carrying Luvo.
Beka Cooper entered after the Summersea group, bringing with her Rosto the Piper, Kora, Akini, Goodwin, Tunstall, and Lady Sabine.
A black cat with purple eyes was the last of the group to arrive. It wandered briefly between Alanna and Beka, before breaking off and walking towards a group of seven strange beings that no one had seen enter the room, who introduced themselves as Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium of the Endless, respectively.
To the left of the door and very close to the floor was a set of much smaller doors. It was through these doors that most of the animals entered. A door in a mouse hole opened to allow in the Mousekovitz family, who were rolling in with them a large wheel of cheese, and accompanied by Toni Toponi and Bridget, who were holding hands and laughing. Tiger entered through the larger cat door next to the mouse hole, followed shortly by Thomas O'Malley and Duchess, who had also brought Marie, Toulouse, and Berloiz, who were involved in a petty argument as to who would go through the door first. Wilbur entered with Charlotte and Templeton on his back, and Boxer entered last, walked up to some of the other guests, and struck up a conversation.
Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Bullseye, Slinky, Hamm, and Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead arrived with the other toys from Andy's room. Buzz soon hit it off with Joss and Mav, while Woody began talking to the Lone Ranger and Annie Oakley.
Hundreds of people and other creatures came to the party, each arriving in their own way and with a group of companions. As the last of the guests trickled in and broke off into small conversation groups, one question was on everyone's mind: it's a lovely party, but where is the mysterious host?
As if following that cue, two girls descended the grand staircase and stood on the balcony between the two sections of stairs. The guests were for the most part oblivious as the two scanned the crowd, their eyes eager and their mouths set in wide grins.
The girl standing on the left was five-eight, with shaggy red-brown hair just short enough to be impossible to pull back into a ponytail. Not that she would have wanted to in the first place. She had green-hazel eyes scattered with flecks of gold and a somewhat olive complexion. Her dress was so out of character for her that she herself was astounded by it. It was floor-length, strapless, bright pink, and the top was covered in bright, sparkling sequins forming an almost impressionistic picture of flowers. The dress, however, despite its loudness, still looked remarkably classy and elegant.
The girl standing on the right was slightly shorter, with somewhat longer black-brown hair done up in a sleek and stylish chignon. Her eyes were a rich, dark brown composited of red, hazel, and black in varying amounts. She wore a beautiful black and gold Victorian ball gown with white elbow-length gloves, positively exuding a quirky kind of grace and class.
The two girls looked at each other and grinned. They then each took a deep breath, nodded to each other, and sang out in unison to the crowd. "Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?"
The chatter slowly died to a low buzz, before stopping altogether. The girl on the left continued. "Thank you everyone for coming to this little get-together. We would like to introduce ourselves. I am Zari of Anthemoessa, and this is the esteemed Lady Verity, who so graciously offered up her home for this party. We are your hostesses, and we hope that you all have a wonderful time."
"Now," Lady Verity picked up where Zari of Anthemoessa had left off, "we just want to lay a few ground rules before the party starts." There was a low murmur as some of the guests expressed discontent at this development, but Verity dismissively waved off the mutterers with her hand and continued. "First," she began, her mouth set in a somewhat devious smile, "party games are mandatory. No ifs, ands, or buts."
"Second," Zari interjected, "if we ask you to perform at any part of the night, you will be required to do so." She smiled. "Don't worry, we won't ask you to do anything too embarrassing."
"That's right, it will just be something small, like a song or a dance," Verity turned to Zari, "I'm pretty sure that's it, is there anything else?"
"Just one more thing," Zari sternly looked at the crowd, and began to speak very slowly and clearly so as to make sure she got her point across, "There will be no fighting under any circumstances."
"What? No fair!" Goku had just met a number of very powerful fighters, including a hyperactive ninja dressed in an orange and blue track suit, and was eager to challenge them.
Zari smiled at Goku. "Don't worry," she said, "there will be fighting and fencing tournaments later." A few surprised reactions could be heard from the crowd. Lady Verity put her hands on her hips. "Really," she said, "we told you this party would have everything. When we wrote instructions on some of your invitations to make sure you brought your swords, what did you think we had in mind?"
Next to Mrs. Lovett, Anthony Hope muttered sheepishly "Carving pumpkins?" which sent Mrs. Lovett into a small giggling fit before she recomposed herself.
"Oh, and one last minor detail before we begin," Verity pointed up at the ceiling. The crowd's gaze followed her hand, up towards a beautiful and expensive-looking crystal chandelier. She continued, "That chandelier has been very firmly bolted to the ceiling."
Opal, who was standing near a corner of the room, distinctly heard someone behind her curse under his breath. When she turned to see who it was, however, she only saw a tall man in a black tailored suit with a white mask covering the right side of his face looking attentively at the hostesses. Opal mentally shrugged her shoulders and turned back towards the balcony.
"So," Zari and Verity looked at each other with a last giggle and a wide grin, "so," Zari continued, "without any further ado, let the festivities begin!" Right on cue, the band on the stage in the upper right hand corner of the room began to play, and the crowd soon returned to their chatter.
In the crowd, Dracula had just begun to chat with a few charming fellow vampires, Alucard and Arcueid. The hostesses, he had been pleased to discover, had been kind enough to offer a multitude of blood types in the beverage choices, and he was just about to take a sip of an excellent vintage AB positive when he felt someone tap his shoulder. He turned around and saw, to his surprise, Zari and Verity themselves, Verity dragging a frightfully pale teenage boy with topaz eyes and a shock of copper hair by the ear. Verity, still holding their captive by the ear, smiled up at Dracula. "Excuse me, sir, but would you and your friends here perhaps be willing to help us with something?"
A few minutes later, Dracula, Alucard, Arcueid, Zari, and Verity were standing with the struggling teenager atop an outside balcony on the second floor of the mansion, overlooking the beautiful property, surrounded by…
"What is that?" Dracula pointed towards the outskirts of the property, where a throbbing mass of bodies could be seen striving to break through some invisible barrier, without success.
"That?" Zari looked at Dracula. "That would be the fangirls."
"Ah. Them." Dracula had had experience with fangirls before. He found them to be a bit silly. Not generally very tasty, either.
"Fangirls?" Arcueid, having been asleep for most of the previous century, had limited experience with the term. Looking out at the massive crowd, however, she got the general sense of what they were all about. "Weird." She looked over at the squirming redhead. "And just who is he, anyway?"
"This," Verity replied, a look of disgust on her face, "is the famous Edward Cullen, the supposed vampire from the Twilight series."
"Are you sure that barrier's gonna hold up?" Alucard, who had been gazing out at the mob of fangirls the entire time, turned around and looked skeptically at the group. "Those girls seem pretty determined to get in."
"That's part of why we're up here." Zari turned to the three vampires. "We have a pretty strong force field there to keep them out courtesy of the Starship Enterprise, but we don't really know how long that will last. We figure we need to throw the fangirls something to keep them from destroying the property."
"And that is where you come in, Mr. Cullen," Verity turned to her struggling captive. "You, my faux-vampire friend, are the perfect bait." She shoved him towards the three vampires and added, "Hold onto him for a moment, won't you?"
"But why me?" Edward thrashed ineffectually, attempting to free himself from the combined grips of the three legitimate vampires.
"Because, Edward, you fit the criteria." Zari smiled. "You are a perfect combination of being specifically not on the guest list and being someone that the fangirls would leave their attempts to get through the barrier behind to get to." A mischievous gleam appeared in her eyes. "Besides," she added with a smirk, "Verity and I thought it poetic justice for you to be thrown forcibly out of the party by the real vampires in attendance."
"It's also a matter of practicality." Verity added with a nod. "Stephanie Meyer did give you the unfortunate character trait of having super strength, so we actually do need the legitimate vampires to do the dirty work of throwing you out."
"Wait, but—" Edward Cullen realized that resistance was futile, and instead tried begging. "But I'm Edward Cullen! I can't be thrown to the fangirls!" But it was too late. Dracula was already picking him up by the collar. He was whipped around three times before being fired off like a stone from a slingshot towards the eager fangirls.
In a twist of luck, Isabella Swan happened to be among those in the crowd, so Edward was not entirely unhappy.
Dracula, Alucard, Arcueid, Verity, and Zari arrived back at the party just as the band began to play a fox-trot. Across the room, Lady Ashley and the Drover looked at each other and quietly joked, "Fox-dance", before stepping onto the dance floor.
Verity and Zari walked around the hall, chatting with the guests and making sure that everything was running according to plan. The fox-trot had soon shifted to a waltz and the Count of Monte Cristo could be seen dancing with Verity, while Zari shared a quick dance with Athos.
Meanwhile, Goku had begun stretching in preparation for the fighting contest. With so many strong fighters around, it would be important to be thoroughly warmed up for each fight. He was glad that he had thought to bring some senzu beans. He had really hit it off with the orange and blue ninja, Naruto, although Vegeta found Naruto to be more than somewhat hyperactive and annoying.
"Why the hell is he wearing orange?" Vegeta tossed the question to Goku, "Really, what is it with you two? No self-respecting warrior would wear such a ridiculous color."
"But, Vegeta, I'm wearing—"
"I know, Kakarrot. That's the point."
Zuko, on the other hand, one of the representatives from the fire nation, had decided that this party, and the tournament in particular, would be an excellent opportunity to capture the Avatar. His uncle Iroh, however, had a different idea.
"Really, Zuko," Iroh patted his nephew on the shoulder, "you shouldn't be so serious. This is a party. Here, try this tea. It's really quite excellent."
"I'm not here for tea, uncle," Zuko replied, "I'm here to capture the Avatar. I need to remember my mission."
"You know, Zuko, you'll never be able to bring home a lady friend if you're so serious all the time."
"Who said anything about bringing home anyone?!" Zuko blushed bright red. "What on earth made you think that I would be at all interested in romance right now?"
"I didn't mean right now, I just meant at some point in the future."
As Zuko and Iroh continued their argument, Zari and Verity returned from dancing, both a little flushed and giddy. They quickly compared notes, and then nodded. The quickly rang a small bell that had been lying on a table. Once they had the crowd's attention, Zari projected her voice to the guests. "Attention, everyone! The fencing and fighting tournaments will begin shortly! If everyone could please make their way to the back gardens, we will be able to begin."