The cursed transatlantic steamer where, in 1853, Samuel McCord first met the love of his life, Lady Meilori Shinseen and his Moriarty, DayStar.
Here is a scene that describes its fabled saloon:
I hushed in a breath.
Meilori chuckled soft. "Indeed, Demeter's saloon is one of a kind, Samuel."
Lady Inari, the fox woman, purred, "Yes, it has been said it is the most beautiful room yet seen on an Atlantic liner."
I had no words.
The place seemed fit for Queen Victoria. White marble vaulted ceiling, a marble dome pierced with scarlet stained-glass, and polished oak walls, adorned with gold-trimed runes and patterns from Assyrian myth.
Long, white clothed tables, lined with plush, thick cushioned chairs. Mirrors, ornate and glittering from the spinning chandeliers, gleamed from the freshly varnished walls. Shelves of liquors, wines, and other beverages dotted the spaces where paintings from old masters left them room.
The room was enormous, at least 50 feet wide and a 100 feet long. The walls I would have guessed to be ten feet high. Their dark, polished wood were lightened by windows, mirrors, and vertical nicello panels.
The white marble ceiling soared up into a long, rectangular vaulting arch, peaking at what seemed about 25 feet. I studied the Renaissance-styled stained-glass windows which curled up and down across the arch.
They depicted much too graphic scenes of the war in Heaven, Lucifer being cast down, and fallen angels having rather a good time at the expense of mortals. Gas lights between the inner and protective outer windows gave them a nightmarish life of their own.
I felt a chill in the marrow of my bones.
At the half-moon of gabled space between the lower walls and the top of the arch was an enclove where a small group of musicians held court with classical melodies.
The sprawling saloon was dotted with clustered groups of the aristocracy of Europe and Britain and the elite of America. I recognized a few from my travels and reading.
Being what I was, I could see the fires of life kindle in hues of vanity, greed, and cruelty around their bodies. I barely gave them a moment of my attention.
My gaze was riveted on the other half of the occupants. The half whose bodies were without one flicker of life-fires.
The undead half.
Meilori saw the look on my face and misunderstood, smiling, "Breathtaking is it not?"
I nodded, not having the proper words.
Breathtaking was certainly the word for how I felt about the view. It made me fit right on in with the flat-eyed predators I was watching. They had stopped taking breaths long, long ago.
Elu had tried to warn me.
This wasn't a pleasure cruise. It was a stocked pond. And I had paid $2000 to jump into the middle of it. Kind of put a whole new meaning to the words : Let The Buyer Beware.
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