The Mythic Ball, Part 1: Dragon’s Blue, Black and Gold Masquerade Gown with Flame Underskirt

A black velvet masquerade gown with a square neckline, long sleeves and a large, bell-shaped skirt. At the neckline is a gold band in a stylized flame pattern, with a large fire opal surrounded by rhinestones set in the middle. The sleeves have blue ruffles at the shoulders and at the wrists, with iridescent blue-green highlights and shades of purple in the shaded areas. There's a bit of golden lace above each ruffle. A pattern of golden scrolls runs down the length of the sleeve. The bodice has a long, triangle-shaped area from the neckline to the waist patterned with shiny blue and purple dragon scales and bordered with delicate gold lace. At the waist is a gold band with a stylized flame pattern, set with three fire opals surrounded by rhinestones. The overskirt is open at the front and edged with a blue iridescent ruffle and golden lace. A golden pattern of a stylized dragon breathing flames is on the edge of the skirt. The underskirt appears to be made of fire. There's a light blue tail curling over the edge of the skirt and light blue wings at the shoulders, tipped with golden horns, and there's a small black velvet mask decorated with golden scrolls.Every year on Halloween, a certain kind of idea or story takes form, gets dressed up and throws a great party, called the mythic ball. These ideas prefer to be called “archetypes” (and you use the term “monster” at your own peril). For example, Dragon here isn’t a particular dragon; she didn’t make Saint George a legend, she’s never guarded the vaults in Gringotts and she doesn’t make a habit of burninating anything. Rather, she exists as the idea of a dragon, a force created by human culture and called upon when someone needs something large, reptilian and powerful for a particular creation.

It’s the night of the mythic ball; Dragon is holding court in her glorious dress. She was the queen of the monsters’ ball last year; those rare times she doesn’t win, she’s quite gracious about it, knowing as she does that the title will pass back to her sooner rather than later. Certain parties are known to hum “Puff, the Magic Dragon” behind her back, and there was a great fuss last year when Kraken made a snippy remark about her archetype being based on majestic giant squids and Dragon’s being based on cute little frill-necked lizards.

“I suppose you’re all just as popular as ever?” Dragon asks the group of archetypes surrounding her. She’s trying, without success, to keep from looking smug. Her courteous nature doesn’t allow her to directly bring up her own triumphs, but should someone happen to return the question to her, she would bring up how very pleased she was by that handsome and very popular young man voicing one of her newer representations, and how she had actually figured in several very popular cultural works lately. As a matter of fact, these days representing her archetype could be said to constitute its own industry. Not that she had calculated the salary of all the CG renderers, motion capture specialists, character designers and fantasy artists and authors who made up her most devoted fanbase, but she was sure it would be a most pleasing number. They feed their families and expand their portfolios thanks to the world’s desire for her; she grows as if nourished not by a hoard of gold but by a wealth of stories and artistic works.

Incidentally, there’s a second dragon archetype enjoying the party; this one is older than she is, and, she knows, more powerful. How much of her desire to be the center of this event stems from her jealousy, I can’t say.

Happy October, a month which you may know I like to celebrate as the most important time of the paperdoll year since it includes Halloween, a holiday that just begs for fanciful costumes. Those of you who have been reading for a while may remember this dragon-themed masquerade gown from 2010, and the promise of similar dresses to come. It never happened, because I finished that dress — still one of my favorites — and realized I’d never top it in time. (I think that’s also when I first noticed my wrists having problems.) Well, now that I’m doing digital coloring and shooting for one dress a week, it’s time to revisit the mythic ball…

Who will we meet next? The contentious Kraken mentioned in this installment, perhaps? Or another of the many archetypes attending the ball? Come back next week to find out! In the meantime, don’t forget that you can now download combined color and black and white PDFs of all of my 2014 dolls and outfits for free! Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for sneak previews, paperdoll thoughts and fun reference images of dresses. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

Ruqun in Black with Fire Colored Sash

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

Diane won my last contest, for guessing that I had 1,040 visitors on September 12th, and she wrote:
I’d like both the skirt and jacket in a shimmery black, and the trimming and belt on the jacket in a kind of “fire-colored” orange and red iridenscent type fabric. The jacket could also have some simple red-gold embroidery on it (nothing big). And the little dangly charm (I’m not sure what it’s called) could be of a gold thread/cord, with the circle ornament of green jade.

I hope you like it! I always like doing fire-colored things…

No one has won the next contest yet, so it’s still on!
What’s my favorite book?
Rules as always:
1) If you’ve already won this year, please don’t enter. (Music contest winners are OK to enter a black-and-white coloring contest though.)
2) One guess per person per day.
3) If no one gets the exact book by noon PST, September 17th, I’ll pick the closest guess.

Here’s your hint for the day: it was both written and set in the 1800s.

Flame Colored Gown

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

This skirt is not intended to conform to the realities of fabric. Paperdolls 1, real life 0.

In any case, it reminds me of poor damned Linnetta, possibly because of the pale vermilion and sunburst yellow. (How impossible is that dress, too? Paperdolls 2, real life 0. Still one of my favorites, improbable or no.) In my imagination, she and her sisters are still bound to the Devil, and he’s never short of jobs for them. She can wear this, then, but I doubt it would give her much pleasure anymore.

Oops! I forgot to note down the colors I used for today’s dress, and yesterday’s too, and now the pencils are all put away… Let’s see — black, pale vermilion, poppy red, sunburst yellow, yellowed orange, cream, non-photo blue, Copenhagen blue, dark umber, bronze. I think. Forgive me, I am still out of practice…

Halloween Masquerade Costume Series #7: The Cursed Sisters, Part 6

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.
The buzz of voices around them grew so loud, and her partner seemed so tense, that Linnetta squeezed her eyes shut, wishing herself anywhere else.

“Whoever that one is, she’s gone too far,” he said quietly, and she forced her eyes open and found the cause of the commotion: at the top of the stairs, a newcomer in a black and orange gown. “This must be unbearable for you,” he continued. “Or do you know her?”

“I don’t,” she said uneasily. “It’s someone’s idea of a joke…”

“Perhaps,” he replied. “Or perhaps not.”

As they were talking, the strange women Linnetta had been trying not to notice all night had gathered at the base of the stairs; the other revelers had given the five of them a wide berth, and they stood motionless, staring out at the dance floor.

“I think you do know who she is,” her partner continued. “I think you’ve known each of them since you saw the third one; possibly the second.”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. Wisps of hair fell out of her updo, sticking to her face. “It must be some kind of joke. A trick, to try to scare everybody.”

“I’m afraid not.”

“But how? How is it even possible that they’re…?”

“They have made their own pacts,” he answered lightly. “There are other powers than those you have dealt with, you know.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Liar,” he replied, with an indulgent smile. “I know all about the bargain you made… Almost all, anyways. Was it that you were already sick, and you traded their lives for your own? Or was your illness part of the ruse, so you could avoid suspicion?”

“I — I could never do such a thing,” Linnetta whispered, but it was unconvincing even to her.

“And so you were able to possess them, and manufacture their deaths one by one. But Georgiana has been seeking her revenge ever since the night you directed her off that cliff. Did you think she could let such a thing rest, even in death?”

Linnetta turned reflexively towards the woman in the black spangled dress, and her eyes were so captivating that she didn’t even realize the queen of the ball was being announced. Her partner had to give her a little push towards the center of the dance floor; a crown was placed on her head and everyone started applauding. She smiled graciously and waved, but faltered when she saw her sisters. Why had no one else noticed they had taken their masks off? While everyone else was clapping, they stood motionless, their hands linked, their faces mangled and ghastly; the only face she could bear to look at was Lenora’s, bloodless and as pale as her gown. Panicking, Linnetta turned back to her dance partner, and while he still wore his mask there seemed to be no difference between it and the skin beneath. He reached for her hand; the embroidery on the cuff of his sleeve pulsed as if stitched with blood vessels, and the bright lining of her gown was setting her skin on fire.


I hope you enjoyed my little Halloween story… In the end it really was just an excuse to do some creepy masquerade gowns, but it was fun to write too. Thanks to my husband Brian for brainstorming the original idea with me and editing it.

No thanks to Brian for writing a Python script to vote automatically for fairies 20 times. That’s right, the proper fairy vote count ought to be whatever-it-is-minus-nineteen… That means it looks like literary characters get next week, probably, since I doubt he’s going to try a stunt like that again.

You know I had to do this poll… vote for your favorite masquerade costume!