Miss Hannah runs the cabaret and acts as the MC. Hannah comes from a theatrical family. Her father and mother used to be on the vaudeville circuit for some years before some troubles convinced them to take their two girls, Hannah and her paternal twin sister Shira, and settle down in the isolated town of Lost Hallow. Apparently a few other members of their troupe decided the same thing as they all moved to Lost Hallow together and on occasion would still all meet and gather in the basement of Hannah’s parents. During these meetings Hannah and her sister would be told to stay upstairs.
Sometimes, far out on the horizon of the desert one can see a travelling carnival moving across the landscape. It is a caravan with banner and flags and long carriages you can just make out if you try. Rumors abound regarding the caravan, but these rumors are only told in whispers. If you want to hear the entire saloon go quiet in a just a few seconds, bring up the carnival.
Most folks say the carnival has never actually come to Lost Hallow, and that’s how it should be kept. Some other folks say that while that’s technically true, the carnival did come to the town that stood on this spot before Lost Hallow. You can ask what that town was and what exactly happened to it, but you’ll find the conversation ended by the time you could spit out the question.
A few folks say the Carnival is attracted to Lost Hallow like a lustful man to a pretty, enticing girl he spies sitting all alone in the park. It cannot forget the town, and though it may move on, it will always come back. Most everyone agrees it cannot ever be invited and it cannot ever be allowed to arrive.
If you’re having this conversation at this point, you are not in the saloon. You’re likely at a fire on the outskirts of the town, or one of the underground leisure rooms in bewteen the gambling basement and the opium basement, a stretch of underground rooms offering certain vice activities which are owned and run by Han-Mi. One would assume you could get to this underground stretch of illicit nightlife through the saloon, but you cannot. Han-Mi can, there is a secret entrance, but it is secret and not open to the public. Instead there are two entrances in the rear stormceller of two of the storefronts. This is where you can engage in narcotics, gambling and to a degree prositution. It is assumed that Han-Mi runs a prostitution ring in addition to the gamlbing and opium den, but you should try telling this to her face. She will give you a piece of her mind on this one, but to sum it up for you, she does not in any way shape or form condone or support prostitution. All girls who choose of their own volition to hang out in the vice cellars and offer their sexual services for money are independent operators and not associated with Han-Mi.
Probably the reason that Han-Mi is assumed to be runnig them, other than the fact that they’re operating in her basements, is that every now and then some sneering knife man comes along and decides that pimping is a pretty good career choice. Han-Mi, whose knife skills are legendary and according to Dawson Calico who has seen them first hand, deservedly so, has been known to gut pimps. And by gut, i mean if you’ve ever seen someone’s stomach sliced from side to side so their guts spill out, you already know what the verb “to gut” means. It ain’t pretty. Lost Hallow does not have pimps and if it does, it is for a very short time.
Han-Mi states she is a dedicated libertarian, and if a girl has an uncoerced desire to pick up a few bucks by offering a service to a willing, uncoerced client, than she is free to do so and it is none of Han-Mi’s business. She will not stop it, she will not condone it, but she will gut herself any self styled pimps who pop up to leech off of it. But hang on you say, what about them girls needing protection from a rowdy client? Oh hell son, if you think getting gutted is bad, just try getting violent with a girl down in any of Han-Mi’s places of business. Just try it. I’d even say try it and then come back here and tell me how it went, only i know damn well you ain’t coming back here.
Anyway, getting back to business, all i’m saying is that there are certain taboo topics where the only place you might get a slight bit more conversation about, is down in the vice cellar. And even then, no one likes to talk about the carnival. But you might hear something along the lines of it needing to be fed in order to be kept away.
There is a line of thought that states that you should pay attention when the carnival starts getting seen on the horizon. Someone will always go. Someone might go missing, someone might decide to leave by their own decision, but someone ALways goes. The carnival gets fed and it leaves for a time. They say most of time someone willingly runs off to join it. Someone whose will is on the weaker side, or who is… susceptible to the siren song it silently sings which maybe only they can hear. Maybe there’s been a time or two where no one has gone willingly and the carnival starts circling ever closer to the town and it’s been necessary to… send someone less willing. A little sacrifice for the common good. Maybe. If this has indeed happened it’s certainly very rare and who knows if the mayor knows about this or not, although it’s kind of hard to see how she’s wouldn’t be in on it. But hey, tough decisions need to be made sometimes for the common interest.
There are however other lines of thought.
Feena O-Kelly, the town tarot reader is not a frequent visitor to the vice cellar. She certainly does not like to gamble. But she loves her some of the wacky tobacky and on occasion is known to indulge in stronger stuff. Usually she gets said stronger stuff from Sophia Suarez’s herbal talents, but every now and again she comes down to the opium den, claiming there are certain specific visionary insights that are best achieved with opium.
When Feena is high as a kite, before she’s had enough opium to render her incapacitated, she is a gawdamn hoot, and a mind blowing one at that. Let her talk long enough and i guarantee you she will say something that will make your brain explode with one of them “Holy fuck” moments. Anyway, she has an interesting thought or two about the carnival.
She says the carnival does have a lustful tie with Lost Hallow, but that it runs both ways. The carnival not only comes sniffing around of its own accord, it gets called, however unwittingly by unsuspecting residents. Sometimes the one who called it will run off to it, sometimes not, and sometimes it is far, far more than a single resident sending out a beacon attracting it. She tells you to think about whether carnival sightings went up or down after Miss Hannah’s Cabaret got started. You in reply will note that carnival sightings went down. She will in turn will give you that subtle little “uh huh” look. If pressed, you might wring out of her that there was a big series of discussions between her, Miss Hannah, Sophia Suarez and the librarian (what IS her name. I swear it’s on the tip of my tongue…) which culminated in the agreement that Miss Hannah running a cabaret in Han-Mi’s saloon was in fact a very, very good idea.
Last thing Feena’ll tell you is that Hannah herself would probably have some extra thoughts on it on account of what happened to Shira… but Hannah isn’t likely to say much outside the cabaret itself, so make sure to get out and check it out next Saturday night.
After that…. Well damn child, shouldn’t you be getting to bed? How long have you been down here? You found out what you wanted. You don’t need no opium, you got stuff to do tomorrow and for heaven’s sake you do not need to throw good money away at the gambling table. And don’t even think about a prostitute. I didn’t bring you down here to get all sleazy and i’m sure you can do just fine on your own for free. You just get goin’ now, and i’ll see you next time.