A Night of Disguise
On a dark and windy August night, the city of Moonsfall hosts a party to honor the ancestors. The long dead elders have been guiding the mages of Moonsfall for centuries. A thousand years ago, a group of mages found the city buried deep beneath rocks and lava. It was with their craft and a little help from dark objects possessed by humans, the lava was put off and the city of Moonsfall came into existence. Both factions have been coexisting peacefully since then. Until six years ago, a mysterious cause killed ten humans. Ten skinned heads separated from their bodies were found piled up inside a mystical circle, the remnant of any sacrificial mage spell.
Mages of the city denied any responsibility of the heinous crime and humans were not going to just sit and watch. This fury led to a war between humans and mages. A war that led to extinction of many families of Moonsfall. Mages fled the city and the dark objects once possessed by humans were handed over to the city council to be locked away. The craft of magic was limited to just stories, songs and myths. Everything changed but the party.
Sixteen year old Luna was holding tight onto the invitation in her hand, determined to go to this party. Luna lived with her elder sister Amber in a small cottage house by the end of Celeste street. Six years ago, the sisters lost their parents fighting against mages in the masquerade party. In these six years Amber devoted herself to rid the city of any sort of magic. As the founding member of the newly reformed city council, Amber made sure to keep the magecraft and dark objects away from the people. While Amber was busy keeping the city intact, Luna turned to stories, craft, paintings to feed her curiosity. The little explorer inside Luna would sneak to the restricted library section to steal the books, read them and place them back the next day. When she is not reading, she would look around the old shops down the Ivory lane. One of her favorites was Bell, Books and Candles.
“Amby, it’s just a party. Besides, it’s been 6 years now. I think we are allowed to move on. Find a little bit of happiness.” Luna shouted at her elder sister who was wrapping a beautiful sky blue gown, netted with lace at the edges, back inside its box.
“It feels like betraying their memory Luna. Going to a party that got them killed. A party that celebrates the very reason Mom and Dad are dead.” Amber has never been so infuriated. She picked up the box and shoved it inside her cupboard.
“Once. But not anymore. It’s just a party where we get to wear pretty dresses and the masks I created.” explained Luna in a hopeful tone showing her the two masks she has crafted for the masquerade. The fabric of the masks felt so alive under her fingers.
It was the first thing Luna asked of Amber in the last six years. Amber knew her sister was making sense. Afterall, it has been five peaceful years without any mages or dark objects interfering in the city business.
Being on the council that protects the town against old magecraft had it's perks. Not a single weird thing was reported for five years. It’s like all mages have vanished into thin air.
“I guess you are right Luna. Maybe we can go to the party. Just for a little while though.” She gave in. Luna wiped her teary eyes and hugged Amber.
“Now, go get ready. There is a final touch I want to give to the masks and then we can go” said Luna excitedly.
The acrid essence of paint greeted Luna as she opened the door to her room. She went to her work table facing the window and dipped a brush in red paint and started the final detailings.
“Something is missing,” said Luna, biting the head of her paint brush.
The mask was one of the most beautiful craft pieces she has ever created and she was so proud of it. She got some help from a few books that she took from the restricted section of the library. Why would someone restrict an art and craft book? It made no sense to her. They must have been misplaced.
The fetid paint scent was overwhelming. So to hide it, Luna burnt a lavender sage that she bought from Bell, Books and Candles a few months ago. It was on that day she had discovered how much she loved lavender.
Her curiosity about sages and herbs has always been a matter of concern for Amber. So Luna had to sneak out during Amber’s work hours to explore more hidden shops. She used to tell herself that it’s only for educational purposes. Maybe it was.
She kept the mask near the burning sage and started digging in her box of collectables. The cardboard box was brimming with trinkets, different kinds of herbs wrapped in packets, bottles of paint, fake hair, ancient pocket watches and so much more. She used to call it her treasure box. She pulled out two strands of fake hair. Purple and blue.
“Wooh. It’s like I knew what dresses we would be wearing tonight. I have the exact color strands to go with both our dresses.” The excitement in Luna peeked. She was holding the perfect ingredient to finish crafting her mysterious masks.
She took the strands of purple and blue and attached them to the side of the masks she created. The lavender took over the smell of paint. The skin like fabric of masks contrasted with the hair strands so well that they almost look like real faces.
She quickly got herself in her knee length purple dress. The black embroidered flowers highlighted her neckline. The flair of the dress makes her look like a doll. She clutched her red hair with a golden pin and went out to hand the finished mask to Amber.
“Amby, you look like a floating cloud in the blue sky.” Luna’s compliment made Amber blush.
Luna handed her the mask with blue strands on its side.
“They are beautiful Luna, but sort of creepy.” admitted Amber, twitching her nose. Her fingers grazed the tattoos painted on the mask’s cheeks. It felt like touching a real face with no bones and body of its own.
“That’s how they are supposed to be. There is beauty in mystery and creepy put together" said Luna giggling. She pushed the mask towards Amber.
Amber pulled out the elastic behind the mask and strapped it on her face. Her head rolled over the fragrance of lavender. For a minute it felt like she blacked out and disbalanced herself.
“Are you alright Amby?”asked Luna, concerned, still holding her mask in her hand.
“Yeah I am fine,” said Amber dryly.
Amber looked at Luna’s mask as if trying to figure something out.
“Cool, let me wear mine and we can go,” said Luna as she turned to look into the mirror.
Luna froze as she saw a face that she never painted over Amber’s mask. The mask started sinking inside her sister’s flesh. Rearranging and moulding her face that looked so much like the mage of mystery figure. Luna remembers seeing her in one of the forbidden books. It's one of the ancestors, Agnes.
She turned over to look at her sister and just saw the normal mask that she painted.
The mirror never lies, she thought.
“What happened dear girl?” said Luna’s sister who wasn’t Amber anymore.
Luna knew she could not run as the girl who wasn’t Amber anymore blocked the exit.
“Can I see your mask for a moment Amby?” asked Luna, smartly trying to get Amber’s mask off.
Amber stepped forward, her mask smiled at Luna. She grabbed Luna’s hand, held onto her purple mask, and shoved the mask on her face.
“No....!” Luna shouted as the mask embedded and took root inside the flesh of her face. She clawed at her face but she felt like the mask was her face. Slowly, Luna stopped resisting as if embracing the new person that she was now.
“Welcome back from the dead, Freya!” greeted the girl in blue mask who wasn’t Amber anymore.
The girl in purple mask turned around and looked at the mirror. She looked gorgeous in Luna’s body and her red hair.
“I have always wanted red hair, Agnes,” said Freya inside Luna’s body, smiling back at the mirror.
“Let’s raise the remaining eight and go to the party that these humans are throwing in my honor. Let them know the mages are back and this time we plan on staying in our city!” Agnes who has now completely taken over Amber’s body said.
Freya and Agnes walked hidden behind the glamour of masks and bodies of their enemies. They planned on having a great time at the party.