The Ball was in full swing past the golden archway of its entrance. Guests chatted freely in false forms, suited or gowned, yet always masked.
Castle Aurora was not a place for truth. It existed for merriment, for enjoyment, for indulgence. Dancing on the ballroom floor, patterned black and white to signify neutrality, in a sense. In another sense, the clash of colors signified conflict, but either way, no one owned the dancefloor. The only etiquette required was that which would be expected.
Do not stomp on your partner’s feet, it is rude. Do not harass other guests, it is rude. Do not be overly boisterous and loud, it is rude. Keep your clothes on, it isn’t the place for that kind of thing.
Simple rules, easy to follow, basic etiquette.
There was, also and of course, do not steal. In particular, do not steal another’s fiance. It happens enough for a rule to be made and a punishment to be decided. Thieves and cheats may be together all they wish, so long as they dance for the crowd.
Special shoes are selected for such an occasion. Red shoes, heated to sear.
A cruel punishment for a cruel action, as scorned hearts burn particularly bright and the guests do love a good waltz. It is entertaining to see how long they can last.
New guests wear the masks of lambs, unless they have a patron. Patronage is important. It allows for new guests to learn the rules before it becomes a problem.
The hosts are not particularly cruel to the new, but neither are they particularly forgiving for ignorance. Etiquette must be learned ahead of time. Rules are meant to be followed and failing to understand that has led to many a painful demise.
The Pig does not particularly like executing guests. He is a humble host, there to relax and make merry and eat, on occasion.
Pigs are not hogs. They are domesticated. They understand the reality of a farm, their existence as food, maybe not directly but in their nature. Things that are prey have that concept, but a pig is not simply prey, no, it is omnivorous.
There is a failure in many circles to understand that the world does not have binaries, not truly, not really, the magic number is 3, not 2, it should be obvious. Pairs exist, certainly, suns and moons, winters and summers, but those definitions fail to comprehend realities.
A sun is far bigger than a moon, they are not true equals, and seasons mix and molt depending on where they exist. Is Early Summer and Late Summer truly the same season? Are the hottest days at the end not in their own position? What of Spring and Fall, who have a binary all their own? What of Monsoon, a season of storms?
Balance is an illusion conceived by those who want structure to be simple, but there are ever threes and thirds, and the pig enjoys three course meals as a rule. Appetizer, entree, dessert.
As host, it is only proper to offer one of each to him, a minor morsel, simple and easy. Feed the pig then feed yourself, a simple rule, a simple thing to follow, though he is something of a stickler in some respects.
He may not mind choices made, slight changes, but he does have a proper order to things and expects it to be followed. It is a ball and there is a buffet, and atop one of the tables is a truly massive pig.
Not a boar, there is no wildness to this hog, it is domesticated, no more of those old days, those savage days, where it lived as lord and the flies beckoned to its call. He is defined, decided, he is a hog. Perhaps a sow on some days, when it feels right, but a pig nonetheless and a hog all around.
Not to say he hogs all the food, the food is simply his, and he readily shares.
The massive pig across the tables is not made of meat, it should be noted, it is not there to be eaten, it is a statue, the same as the frog, though if you were to take a knife to its hide, you would find succulence all the same.
A richness that melts in the mouth, a deliciousness that compels further devouring, a drive for meat that could leave a fool eating with no chance of satisfaction for taste and hunger and famine are all intertwined in curious desperation.
The pig watches with a garnet eye and accepts offerings readily as a king unto subjects, a god unto worshippers, though it would laugh at the suggestion of answering prayer for that was not its place. He already lost the once, allowed the younger to rise instead, wearing the pelt of Her mother, and laughed when Her failures in turn came to roost.
He is uninterested in dichotomy though, always preferring triads to couples and offering suggestions of indulgence quite readily. Temperance had overtaken him once but in this place, in this land where pleasure is king, he finds new success.
Bonnie nodded along, as she was wont to do when dealing with older gentlemen who prattled on, and passed a grape to the bronze statue of a hog stretched across the center table. She noted the servers wore the masks of flies and wondered for a moment if Strigoi could hide among the people here, before discarding the thought.
She was not here to hunt for them, she was here for information. A chance at an Enchantress, and perhaps at a Hound if she were able to. She did still want to help Goldie out.
She said her goodbyes to the man in the boar mask and moved along. The steak was good and she gave another slice to the hog on the table. The statue had garnet eyes, which was a curious sight. She thought back to the statue of the frog at the front and wondered if it had topaz eyes. She could have sworn there was a yellow shine there.
The pig was not prone to eating guests. Not unless they were unforgivably rude, and that was rare.
The pig was generous, so a lapse, a forgotten offering, could be forgiven. It did not mind for it ate well of the indulgence. To know others enjoyed the food it provided gave it more pleasure than the taste of flesh ever did. Gourmet, Gourmand, it could claim either title, it did not mind.
The pig was unlike its children, those beasts the hunters called hogrels, with the bodies and arms of apes and the heads and hooves of boars. Birthed in bile, they ravaged and ruined, eating eagerly, feasting on fallen and brutalizing those unable to defend themselves. It may have been like that once, but not now.
He was retired. In a sense.
He liked playing host better, and he was delighted as the new girl in the black wolf’s mask made sure to feed him a chunk of chocolate. Such kindness! Such generosity! Such adherence to etiquette!
He wanted to eat her.
The pig knew restraint, of course, and knew he could not own a cake he had eaten. It didn’t work like that, much as it led to arguments between him and his froggish friend.
The pig saw little appeal in preserving entities of interest in gold once molten and the frog disdained the act of devouring that which enticed. What the frog ate, it kept, and what the pig ate, it ruined. Such was the nature of collection and consumption, and yet, friends they remained.
The pig watched the young lady move along, its fancy passing as ships in the night. He likely would not have succeeded had he tried, and that presented a portion of interest all its own, for the young lady who walked with the changeling sisters had a mouth on her heart. One with sharp teeth, hungry and yearning.
If he had tried…would he have been devoured? Strangely, curiously…the idea appealed.