The Lotus Nightclub
Strobing lights flash over the club; music pulses through air and bodies alike; the heavy, heady scent of alcohol hangs around the bar you’re leant at, waiting for your drink. In the centre of the club is the dance floor, where a mass of bodies writhe together to the beat.
One body breaks from the press, clutching something to their head. They pause by the bar, you see that they are an encantado, graced with enchanting, androgynous features. Their ochre skin is darkened by the shadows of the club, and the whites of their eyes reflect the harsh light. The encantado firmly settles what you now see is a hat on their head; more likely out of self-consciousness about the blowhole on top of their head rather than any fashion choice. Someone calls after them, and the encantado stiffens. They glance at you, and then back to the person calling for them. They smile, and reach a hand out to the person. There’s a muttered exchange, the person hesitates, but then gives an excited nod and allows themselves to pulled along by the encantado. You realise that the encantado’s partner will likely never be seen again, they will be taken to Encante; the encantados’ home under the water. Well, they should’ve learnt to be more careful in this city.
An estrie on the edge of the crowd of dancers catches your attention next. She moves wildly, dark hair sneaking a little more loose every second, until it suddenly falls free of its bonds and cascades down her back. The estrie’s form flickers, and her body becomes translucent. Her tawny skin shines a different colour with each change of light; now green, now yellow, now red, now orange. The estrie flickers again, and then in her place is an owl, but only for a brief second as she flickers once more and returns to a human form. She gathers her hair up, tying it back. For a second, her lip curls and you get a glimpse of her delicate-looking fangs. Her ethereal face takes on a predatory look as she turns her head, eyes glinting with something animalistic when they land on a group of men, who are laughing at the bar. She won’t have any luck with them, you think. There’s a gancanagh with them, and he’s far too used to being the hunter to be the hunted.
The gancanagh has sensed the estrie watching him. He raises his eyes to meet hers; his face plain but pleasant. He grins charmingly, and a shimmering mist emerges from his skin, then snakes its way across the club, coiling around the estrie. The challenge is obvious, despite the gancanagh’s relaxed stance with his hands in his pockets. Although you know that now, to the estrie, not a single man could appear more attractive to her than the gancanagh, she remains focused. Estries themselves have powers of persuasion that are not to be sniffed at, and this becomes clear as she throws a enticing smile towards the gancanagh. He frowns, and the break in his concentration allows you to see the gancanagh as he is to the estrie. Your breath catches, and you blush and look away hurriedly. It would do you no good to fall under a gancanagh’s spell. You go unnoticed, however, as the estrie and gancanagh have eyes only for each other. There’s a sudden flurry of movement from both, as though agreed by some silent conversation, they both turn and head for the door.
Your drink arrives, although it doesn’t seem to be at all what you asked for. The bartender’s gaze is absent, a winsome smile at the edge of their lips. In their hand is a concoction which seems very similar to the one you’ve been given. You lift the martini glass the drink was served in to your nose. It gives off a pleasant, perfumed aroma. The liquid is pale green, and resembles mint tea, save for the bright blue petals that have been sprinkled in it. You wrinkle your nose and carefully place the drink back on the counter. Now, you decide, would be a good time to leave. You nod to the bartender, but they don’t look like they notice you.
Outside, the sky is dark and the air is fresh, compared to the nightclub at least. The sounds of the city are muted, and neon signs light the street for you. The glaring cobalt blue sign above the club’s entrance confirms your suspicions of what your drink was; the word ‘lotus’ above an open lotus flower. You make a mental note to yourself not to go back, especially when you notice the spriggan bouncer lurking in the shadows of the club’s doorway. It has folded its crooked, scrawny body into a corner, and you can feel it leering at you even when you face away.
When you turn to begin the walk home, you glance the estrie and gancanagh from before. They’re leant against the wall of the club; the gancanagh’s back is pressed against it, a cigarette hangs from his pale fingers as the estrie appears to press her face against his neck. With a start, you realise she is feeding from him. The gancanagh’s body is still exuding the glimmering mist, and it has mixed with the grey smoke from his cigarette to create a silvery haze around the two. You avert your eyes and quicken your pace: you have no wish to become the estrie’s next meal.