So the evening had gone to shit. The thing that had gone worst was obvious, but everything before that had gone just as badly, if not quite so spectacularly. Charis could have blamed Lisbeth for setting everything up, but in retrospect that really wouldn’t have been fair. Lisbeth might have brought them all and even set up the date with Lance, if it could be called that, but she had kept all of her promises. No this night wasn’t Lisbeth’s fault, it was all her own. Well her’s and that asshole Chuck. Seriously how did he even get in? Same way they did, Charis figured, connections.
Anyways, things started out ok, if a little bit awkward. Lisbeth ran off to take her phone call, and Seth and Nerissa watched her go intently and neglected to pay any attention to the rest of the group. Krista then mumbled something incoherent and ran off to one of the many tables full of drinks. Amy looked uncomfortable until an elf dragged her off to the dance floor. Charis might have tried to interfere but Amy seemed happy enough to go, and it was hard to see the elf as a threat. It was one of those really androgynous ones where you couldn’t tell the gender without a hands-on inspection, although considering the type of dancing going on it wouldn’t take Amy long to figure out the plumbing.
This left Charis, Nerissa, Seth and Lance standing around awkwardly, since none of them really knew each other. Seth continued to ignore the rest of them and watched Lisbeth, which was a little bit creepy since Nerissa had apparently given up after losing sight of her. Lance, as it turned out, did not live up to the reputation he had been attributed in the magazines. Or rather he did perfectly; he smiled was attentive and laughed at all of her jokes, but he also apparently didn’t have hidden depths that the magazines had promised or he was faking it. “Faking it” seemed likely after he laughed at a not-very-funny story about her pet dog, but didn’t matter that it was fake, the laugh still sent her heart racing and made her tingle in all the right places.
Even if Lance was just faking his interest, as seemed likely as he payed close attention to a meaningless story about her sister, he was still paying attention. This attention got Charis very breathless and put her on something like autopilot, resulting in a stream of consciousness about her past, desperately hoping to earn some kind of approval. Nerissa was no help, just by being there she made things worse. She was the kind of girl who Lance should be with, absolutely beautiful and a telepath, so she could give Lance what he wanted not this vapid shit she was currently spewing. She started to resent Nerissa just for being there, looking perfect, having the twin’s numbers, and all the other promises Lisbeth had made concerning them. Nerissa got all of that for free whilst Charis would have to pay, one way or another.
As the evening wore on Lisbeth never rejoined their group, although Charis did see her a couple of times. The first time she was talking to a bunch of dwarves wearing holy symbols, later she reappeared on one of the balconies overlooking the main hall, with a damned high priest. Lance said it was customary for a high priest to show for the first event of the academic year. No wonder Lisbeth had wanted to come, Charis even saw her trade business cards with the dwarf as they drank from a very expensive looking bottle. Lisbeth certainly knew her networking and had high ambitions, the man could cast holy magic, the twins were probably the only ones in the building that could match him in power and versatility.
Krista was easy to keep track of, she was in the middle of the loudest drunkest dwarves and humans in the room. She was playing drinking games, if they could be called that, which mostly consisted of her taking shots and the crowd cheering every time. Money would change hands every time the person taking shots with her was unable to continue, she managed to beat at least two dwarves with military medals that Charis saw. The military medals weren’t uncommon for the dwarves; they were required to wear them at religious functions, and military service was one of the few ways for a dwarf to go to college off world if they were disadvantaged. By the time Krista stopped drinking she had made a great many ‘friends’, though it helped that she didn’t seem to mind when one of her new ‘friends’ felt her up. Amy was harder to keep track of, since she’d disappeared down some side hall with the androgynous elf, whose perfect ass would have made Charis question her own sexuality if she had any idea about the elf’s gender. Amy probably knew by that point, so it should work out.
About the same time Krista stopped drinking, Nerissa, managed to lure Seth off with her, that bitch. Charis watched as they made their way to the peripheries of the drunk group were Seth started introducing Nerissa to some jocks. Charis was able to pay attention to Seth and Nerissa because Lance had stopped paying all that much attention to her. It happened when Seth stopped watching Lisbeth, as soon as he did Lance apparently took over the duty. Why were the twins so obsessed with that small blond anyways, she clearly wasn’t a good person. Lisbeth clearly was after Charis’ power and had been willing to blackmail her into coming to get it. Then Lisbeth hadn’t even had the decency to stick around, instead leaving to go schmooze with the priest.
This was the point in the evening that brought everything to a crashing, terrible end. It started with an argument, as these things tended to do. The arguing parties were naturally among the drunkest crowd, humans and jocks, since you wouldn’t catch a dwarf getting unruly at one of these things. The two jocks were identified as such by their team jerseys, one with a basket ball and the other with a football. Whatever the argument was about didn’t matter, what did matter was that the football jock swung first. Football jocks were almost exclusively strong arms with the occasional reflex thrown in. The basketball jock, who most assuredly wasn’t a reflex, took the hit to the face and went flying back. Nerissa gave a frightened and hurt scream as the jock crashed into her full-on. The jock got up seemingly unhurt, also apparently a strong-arm, he took one step towards his assailant before Seth got involved. An unseen force propelled the two jocks into each other with a sickening crash before forcing them both into the ground in a heap. The force could be felt as winds ripped through the room destroying the decorations.
Seth didn’t even watch his handy work, he was paying too much attention to Nerissa who was in a heap on the floor. Charis looked up at one of the balconies to see Lisbeth looking down at the scene. Lisbeth looked suitably shocked, horrified and angry, but for a moment Charis saw something else she recognized. It was the look that Charis knew from her past. She had seen it the day daddy had gotten drunk and found out mother had been cheating on him. The look passed from Lisbeth’s face quickly but Charis knew she hadn’t imagined it, and it terrified her.
Everything after that went very quickly, Amy and Krista were apparently forgotten about. Seth picked up Nerissa with no apparent effort and carried her out, not giving the jocks a second glance. Lance fell in behind his twin and Charis had no choice but to follow along, and Lisbeth caught up to them by the time they reached the stairs out. Nerissa was protesting that she didn’t need to be carried and she was fine, until Lisbeth told her in a surprisingly authoritative tone to let Seth do what he was good at and shut up. The tone didn’t last long as Lisbeth quickly went back to being worried and fluttering around Nerissa worriedly. When they arrived back at Mind Hall the four of them entered leaving Charis outside, alone, in the cold.