Velvet Blue - The Droste Box

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Description: Jace stumbles into a haunted house with a sinister secret and runs into... Velvet Blue? Can the two manage to outmanuever the house and eachother?

This old house, two-storied and multiroomed has been an eyesore on the area it exists in. The facade of the building is crumbling, but what remains of the architecture is servicable with some tender loving care.

A car pulls up to the outside of the house, and a young man approaching his thirties like a cannonball arching for the broadside of a battleship steps out. He offers a quick thanks to the driver and then begins walking up the driveway towards the house. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a phone. He dials a number quickly and lifts the phone to his ear, "Hey Skeeter. I'm at the house now. It's definitely a fixer uppper."

The man seems confused for a moment, but he continues up the drive, "You know... For that reality TV series where I put on a tool belt and a hard hat and pay people to renovate a house?"

He makes it up to the door, and reaches out, finding the door open, "Hey, there's no lockbox outside, but the door's open. I'm gonna' go inside and start checking it out."

As he first enters the house, he notes the atmosphere is immediately set with a sense of foreboding. The air feels chilly and thick, and a dim, eerie lighting casts long shadows along the narrow corridors. The creaking floorboards beneath your feet add to the unsettling ambiance, "Needs a new floor."

The walls, he notes, are adorned with faded, peeling wallpaper, and the faint scent of mustiness hangs in the air. The occasional distant sound of something moving with the drafty air sets a haunting melody to a spooky soundtrack of the house. Dust particles dance in the dim light, creating an otherworldly effect as he steps through them, "We've definitely gotta' get the place checked for mold."

The house may have been an art museum at one time, but that had long since gone by the wayside--a lot of the furniture had been removed, or carted off to some more auspicious location. There were however a bunch of old covered paintings in each room--with what looked like yellowing dust cloths. Of course, every so often, one might find a set of footprints in the dust here and there, as if someone came in, walked around the room, and left... Or did they do a circle, and then seemingly never leave the room? If Jace is paying attention to /that/ fact (and perhaps he isn't) it might spark a question of... well, just where the hell did they go?

The paintings themselves were of a variety of things--surreal landscapes, dogs playing poker, there was one bar scene that looked like it was straight out of the Maltese Falcon... and another that looked like a picture of the very building Jace now stood in. Restored to it's former glory, anyway.

Jace, for his part, is certainly not paying attention to the footprints circling the floor in the dust. He is firmly with his ear in his phone, narrating his walk through this portion of the house.

"New floors. New roofs. New appliances. New cabinets. I think we can film a whole season in here just rebuilding the house from the ground up."

Every so often, he reaches out to a wall to pull back on the dust cloths to take a look at the art, "You know, there are paintings all through here. I wonder if they come with the house. We can definitely look at incorporating them. People love..."

His voice trails off as he look towards a painting of the building in its prime, approaching with narrowed eyes as he completes his statement, "Dogs playing poker. Regardless of if they have no thumbs."

He totally gets the point of the painting. Totally.

He looks at the painting of this house closer, considering the painting carefully as he comments, "There's a painting here of the house in its original condition. Let's reach out to the producers. We can use this as maybe a springboard for what to do with the house. Restoration?"

He then comments, "Oh! That's what we could call it. Roundhouse Restoration."

As Jace begins to croon into the smartphone--the world slowly revolves around him--perhaps unknown to him--as the cellphone signal cuts out.

The room is now subtly different at first, though he will perhaps catch on pretty quick--it's the same room, but... it's already had it's renovation, in fact it's never let the cruelity of time dig gouges out of it's grandeur--the furniture that was missing is replaced, expensive wooden oak sideboards, coffee table, chair--rug rolled out as if new, uneaten by moths. The painting meanwhile remains the same--the door lightly creaking open, revealing a finely furnished parlor that now dominates the large open space just outside.

What Jace might have not expected to see is the figure sitting on the parlor sofa right across from the room--one with long dark hair, svelte features... black suit...? with fur collar around the shoulders. Their head is turned away from Jace at the moment.

Seeming quite please with himself for finding his concept, canvas, and a title in one fell swoop. He continues to talk as the world swirls around him, detailing the concept of his vision to Skeeter even as the cellphone signal cuts away.

Maybe it's the change in lighting, or the feeling of actual servicable flooring beneath his feet, but he turns with a curious look on his face. The roof gets a glance from the man, then the floor, then the rest of the room, and finally the figure on the sofa.

His lips purse for a moment, his left eyebrow arching as he asks the person he's on the phone with, "Skeeter. Do you recall me experimenting with drugs?" He pauses, then looks at the phone, "Skeeter?" Finally, he hangs up on the call and puts his phone back in the pocket.


"No skeeter here, honey," Velvet turned their head to face Jace, their yellow cat-like eyes seeming to glow faintly in the darkened corner of the parlor, with Vel intentionally using a much more masculine voice for his greeting than he might otherwise. Yes, the figure he's seeing is real--whether he believes his eyes or not, however, is another thing. Long ribbed bat-lke ears rise up out of the hair on both sides of the head, and there is a long blue leathern tail visible as the dark-suited figure rises from the sofa--if Jace had mistaken them for a female, they would have been for a rude awakening, to be sure.

"Then again, I have been told people see weird things when they look at me... or this place," Vel shrugs.

"I'm Velvet Blue, and I'm about the only shot you might have at getting out of here."

Jace pauses, and then begins to correct out of what seems like a rote action, "Skeeter is a proper noun. It's short for--" He blinks, taking a longer look at Velvet Blue, "Maybe that's not important right now."

"Well, " he says, after regarding Velvet Blue, "I can confirm, but I'm still trying to work out if drugs were involved, or the Underdark, or--" He then tilts his head, shooting a questioning look to Velvet, "Drugs?"

"Where are we, and what happened to the shack?"

There is an edge to Jace's voice as he asks, and it's very clear that he doesn't seem comfortable with his unexpected change of circumstances.

"Fraid not," Velvet turned and went to one of the parlor windows--drawing the shade. Outisde was... not the world outside the buildings windows that Jace had seen, rather the view was instead of the room inside the house that they had been standing in. They were in the house... inside the painting of the house, a picture recusively appearing in itself.

"Y'see, the place you went into? and I went into--is haunted. Or well, maybe it's better to say parts of it are... cursed," Velvet raised a brow at the seemingly hapless man.

"Don't tell me you're afraid now, are you?" Vel tilted his head, moving back to sit on one of the arms of the sofa, crossing their legs. Vel of course was wearing those long platform heeled boots--with a starfield pattern on these, the soles chunky and gray. Was Jace any safer with this strange creature, or left to the whims of the dark magic at work here...?

Jace's eyes follow Velvet Blue to the parlor window, and watches as he draws the shades aside. He takes a few steps forward, looking out the window and into the shack. He takes a deep breath, and releases it in a long sigh. He says, in a resigned tone of voice, "There's the shack."

He then looks back towards Velvet Blue, "Is there's an active presense or, or is this more of an effect that happened as a result of another's action? One would be a haunting, the other is a curse."

He punctuates his previous statement with, "I've watched people play D&D online."

He seperates from the window and then shakes his head, "Perturbed is more appropriate. I once did a show in the deep south. Half way through my set, someone started playing the banjo song from Deliverance. This paint-by-numbers with notions is going to have to up its game to shake me."

"Also, not for nothing? You're the worst tripsitter ever. You are getting two-stars, tops."

Velvet is making kind of a grinning incredulous face at Jace, "Yes... kind of like that," at least one of them is finding this amusing--though even Vel can't seem to process just how blase Jace's reaction turns out to be.

"...You are aware if there's no way out of here, right? If I'm stuck here, honey--you definitely are," Vel moved to poke a tapered black nailed finger at Jace, as if making a kind of accusation. Maybe it was at the sudden overwhelming sense of ego--half-fae like Velvet could sense emotion, but this was something a little different~

"And I've already thought of destroying the painting... no idea if that'd trap us or help us," Vel leaned forward and sort of... sniffed the air around Jace.

"A little false vaneer, a little sleaze--maybe some faded glory," the half-darkstalker grinned.

As Velvet Blue explains the situation, Jace takes some time to look around the room they are in. He turns to look towards Jace scoffs and then gestures around, "I've seen a lot of the world. Does this look like a southeast Asian underground EDM club?"

He doesn't wait for an answer, since it clearly doesn't, "That's the only place I've ever seen without a way out. We'll probably be okay."

Jace's eyebrows knit together as he turns to Vel just in time to look down at a finger pointed at him. He tilts his head and then shakes it, "Invictus, actually. It's sea notes, grapefruit, mandarin orange, and some other stuff that grows in the ground, but sure... Call it faded glory."

He then asks, lifting a hand to point an index finger downwards. His voice takes on a saccrine sweetness as he asks facisciously, "Not a lot of designer cologne wherever they sell those ankle-breakers, eh?"

"Not really the decor for it," Velvet sighed with a shrug, looking around. The way the place had been setup was honestly pretty sumptuous... but one had to remember it led nowhere, it was still and dead as a tomb.

Vel's eyes however widen as Jace retorts, and it appears the gauntlet has been cast.

"I'm familiar with an old spice when I run into it, dearest..." Vel is grinning, though it's a too wide grin to NOT be a little pissed off. Jace has just done the equivalent of insulting a drag artist's honor--he's /insulted his outfit/.

"These boots aren't as busted as someone's about to be..." there is bound to be a squabble here, in complete irreverence of whatever chilling supernatural shit is happening--the two seem oblivious to it now!

With a quick shake of his head, Jace comments as an aside, "It's really not set up for it, no."

He's then back in the mix again, grinning as Velvet Blue takes the gauntlet that was cast straight to the face and fires back a retort that keeps Jace clearly on his toes.

He leans back, tilting his head with his eyebrows raised, as if challenging Velvet Blue to prove that this wasn't the best he's got, "Really? You call that an insult?"

He takes a step back, spreading his hands wide, "Look at me, jackass. Perfectly symmetrical features, flawless bone structure, voice of an angel, great skin, and deep emotional depth. You really think I have all that going for me and somehow don't have a body chemistry that can't make soap smell like a million bucks?"

With an assertive point back, Jace punctuates, "You must do yoga to get your head that far up there."

He takes a step forward and shoves his hand in his pocket, "You wanna go, we'll go, but..."

He yanks, pulling out what looks to be a piece of paper. Unfolding it, the text is pretty clear:

OMG, call me! 555-819-1212 -Katie

With a rip, the number two is unceremoniously torn off and shoved towards Velvet, "Take a number. You're behind the nutjob that came up with this place. I'm about to find them and kick them so hard that their flight is gonna be altered by the Coriolis effect."

Velvet's eyes peer at the number just long enough to realize what it is before darting them back to Jace, they are wide open eyes--not narrowed in some sort of malice. But this are easily recognizable as excited, angry eyes. Jace has the seeming performer turned paranormal investigator here pretty tuned up.

All of a sudden, Velvet sucks in a deep breath, before releasing it, as if all the anger floods out of them. He saunters just past Jace, as if he's not even there.

"Nope--nope, where I come from we're taught to have a certain level of decorum in our behavior..." Jace will notice however, that spaded tail of Velvet's...? Yeah, it's doing that thing cat's do where it's waving up and down intermittently. Every so often. It speaks of rage. Murder.

"Just one thing Jace, dear...?" Velvet half-turns, and Jace might feel that tail wrap around his ankle.

"We're not where I come from right now, are we?~" the faded glory man may then feel his leg being pulled out from underneath him, trying to throw him to the ground!

What follows is a pretty rowdy kind of tumbling, tusseling kind of fight as Vel would try to fall on him, the coffee table getting smashed, stuff getting knocked over and broken--like that expensive oak furniture--end tables with vases come crashing down, paintings are fall and smash--and all the while the two are kinda... slapfighting? It's a bit more teeth and nails and juventile shit than anything 'serious'.

Jace initially misses the fact that Vel's tail has hooked his ankle, and his foot is yanked unceremoniously out from under him. He falls backwards, landing on his shoulders. He does not land with the thud that one usually would. He coils up as he hits the ground, his knees coming to his chest as his hands land near his head. With a powerful uncoiling, Jace kicks up and bridges his back, a flex of his core bringing his upper-body along for the ride to land on his feet.

"Alright, suit yourself," is all Jace says before he bounds back back into a stance. There's a slight bend to his knees that keeps him nimble on his feet, and his hands come up, balled into fists. His leading hand falls deceptively low, while his trailing right hand remains balled up into a fist that remains loaded near his chin.

As Vel tries to fall on him, Jace leaps back, but doesn't fully commit to the dash backwards, seeming to want to keep this distance in his wheelhouse for the distance. He uses his forward hand in an open fashion, slapping away attacks and then attempting swats of his own.

Just when it seems to piece of furniture remains unscathed, Jace takes a deep breath and tightens his fist. He drops deeper into his stance and shouts, "Enough!" As his word cuts through the air, a palpable wave of pure ego rips away from his skin and into the air.

The wave of energy seems to take the ghostly form of Jace for a moment as it tears away from him and ascends into the air, only managing to hold its shake for the briefest of moments before it disperses on an unseen air. The next words spoken with a single finger raised, waggling back and forth.

"Wait... your... turn."

The house is getting freaked wrecked--wallpaper is torn by both Vel's claws, the star's ego, along with all the furniture getting reduced to splinters and the opulance of the place that is literally getting smashed. Like the richness of it somehow reflected the house's state... it's vigor.

Velvet rears back, his teeth sunk into Vel's forearm as he tries to bite him--briefly distracted by the sudden spiritual doppleganger of Jace as it rises up out of him. Shit--a chi user. That's why he was able to /see/ Velvet's real appearance... Also shit--the light-fixture above was falling down.

"NnhhmmMMMHH!" Velvet yells out a warning, his mouth unfortunately full of arm, at the moment--which makes it mean very little. The half-fae grabs onto Jace's shoulder and twists--with all his might, joints popping and tendons straining as he tries to pull Jace along with him and out from under the path of the brass light fixture--the metal crashing and breaking into the floor!

There is a rumbling in the building now, a groaning--as if the place is audibly in pain from their juvenile wrestling.

Jace has just about seemed to have had enough of this kind of fight, using the leverage of someone purposesfully latched on to his forearm to attempt to wrestle them into a grounded position.

With a gritting of his teeth and a snarl, Jace rears back, his fist raising behind his right ear as he prepares to four fingers of hell on his attacker. Before the fist can fly, however, Jace is thrown away just in time to avoid the falling light fixture.

He lands with a huff, as the wind is knocked out of him. The consumate fighter never-the-less struggles to a standing position again, his eyes looking over towards the smashed light fixture and then back to Velvet.

"You wanna fight until the house falls down on us, or do you wanna get out of this?"

"Pthah--" Velvet makes a sound like someone make trying to get lint out of their mouth, which to be fair, that's more or less what was happening, he'd just been holding onto Jace's forearm with his teeth. Probably hair in there too. Eww.

"Watch out, damnit--the place is trying to kill us, it's wounded!" Velvet tries to struggle up from his tangle with Jace, the adolescent wrestling match clearly over. The place shakes like there is an earthquake going on--but that can't be, since they're in the /painting/.

"C'mon you idiot--and never shit talk my boots again--" Velvet would attempt to lead Jace back towards the painting in the other room--but the floor is starting to give way underneath them, like the crossbeams that make up it's structure are just snapping like twigs.

"Pay attention. That's what I just said!"

Jace fights his way back up to his feet, his voice steadier now as he regains his breath after having it knocked so soundly out of him with the last throw. With a grunt, Jace begins fighting his way towards the painting even as the house is trying to fall on them.

"You told me I smelled sleazy. Shit talk me again, I won't stop at your boots."

As he reaches the parlor window slash painting, he turns back to Velvet, "Next time, just take a number!"

"Hey some people LIKE--gah!" Velvet is pushed over by the frame of the door actually splitting--forcing the half-fae to duck under it--reaching back to try and pull on Jace's arm as he hooks another arm into the painting. The dark-nailed hand doesn't tear into it's surface or rip away at paper--instead this time, it sinks in.

And the two tumble right out of the now visibly destroyed house in said painting. Their shenanigans actually killed the damn thing. Inadvertently freeing themselves and ending the threat. Whoops.

"Ow... my ass..." Velvet winced as he pulled himself up into a sitting position, coughing a little and looking over at Jace. The christ, the look on his face seems to imply--what the hell just happened.

"Are you hurt...?" he'd try to peer over at whereever Jace had fallen.

As Jace lands on the other side of the panting, laying on his back but lifting his head up to take a look around. He is once again in the dilapidated house, and he breaths a sigh of relief regardless of the probable mould in the walls.

He looks over towards Velvet and then shakes his head, shrugging his shoulders. He has no freakin' idea either, evidently.

He rolls over to his front, pressing until he can bring his legs up under him and start to stand up, "Yeah. It's gonna' take a lot more than you biting me, some badly uncooked mushrooms, I'm assuming, and questionable archetecture to hurt me."

He then works his way back up to his feet, restating as if it requires emphasis, "You bit me!" He spreads his hands, "Who does that?"

"To be fair, you did insult my outfit," Velvet pulls themselved up. They're scratched and a little bruised, but that's nothing. He doesn't look like he's had a good time, by the look on his face, however--there's almost something like... shame there?

"It's not my custom to attack a human, even if you are an...? you did something back there. Will you let me make it up to you somehow?" Velvet looked back over at the picture frame, slowly tilting it off the wall and letting it fall to the floor with a clatter. The place was going to get a little fiery disinfectant later.

"What, are you afraid you're going to turn into a creature like me, or something? Plenty wrong with me, hon--but it's not contagious."

Jace is quick to argue that, "No I didn't. I said you did yoga because you had your head up your third point of contact. I was saving making fun of your outfit for when you really ticked me off."

He leans up against the wall, his right hand digging into his pocket to retrieve his cellphone. He uses it to gesture towards Velvet, and when he trails off while looking for a word to describe Jace, Jace is all too happy to provide it for him, "A celebrity. The word you're searching for is a celebrity."

He then scoffs, "Please. Everyone and everything has germs in its mouth. Learning not to bite is basic. Babies and puppies get taught that."

Before he commits to allowing anyone to make up for anything, he holds up a hand and then starts walking towards the door. A number is already being dialed.

As the phone connects, Jace starts talking, "Skeeter, the house'll work. The art has to go, though." Jace stops, seeming to remember something, "Oh."

He reaches into a different pocket, and pulls out a business card. Extending the bitten arm, he offers the card to Velvet, "This is my manager's number. You wanna make this up to me? Explain to me what the heck just happened."

"You said I bought my boots in a place that sells cheap cologne," Vel gives Jace a tired stare. "And for your information all of my outfits are bespoke--they need to be to stay together. No cut-rate clubwear is going to hold up to the strain *I* put it under," Vel flicks his gaze back over to Jace. "I know where you're going to go with that, shush," he sighed.

"I could just heal your arm," Velvet's eyes dart at the card, the still un-burnt picture frame and then down at the floor again. Damn, he really did lose control. And it wasn't due to any shenanigans with the place. He needed to be more careful...

"Fine," Vel took the card, but it sounded like Velvet and him weren't done talking about this. At least not yet.

Log created on 22:09:21 12/15/2023 by Velvet Blue, and last modified on 13:26:17 12/16/2023.