This month would mark his 195th birthday, if he were still alive. (He is dead, isn't he?) So we celebrate with this fittingly-themed collection of party-goers. Since neither ravens, black cats, nor beating hearts make an appearance, there is theme enough left if we want to celebrate the 196th next year.
Monty has spared no expense in preparing an extravagant masque to celebrate the birthday of a long-dead author. He has invited all the pillars of high-society, he will ply them with luxuries until they are drunk one and all, and then he will poison his arch-rival Lord Prospero. He has told noone of his plan-- not even his wife-- but the long preparations for this night have made him lax in his other duties. There will be time to worry about all that after Prospero is dead.
Lenore watched for years as her husband spun grand schemes but then failed to execute them. Bored with his nattering, she has taken a series of lovers. The latest is Valdemar Prospero, a handsome man with real prospects. During her husband's tedious masque, she intends to distract Val from the dance floor long enough for a tryst in one of the back rooms.
Valdemar is the darling of the court. He sets the agenda among nobleman and shares the beds of noblewomen. He realizes his position is a precarious one, however, and he plans to leave the Capital. At Lord Amontillado's masque, he will announce his intention to retreat from court life and accept a permanent ambassadorial position in a distant land.
Red (as her friends call her) attends costume parties for snacks and conversation, but at this masque she senses an atmosphere of genuine ill-will. It's putting her in a bad mood, and she may just have to kill everyone before the night is out.