|Group type:||semi-annual gathering of obsessive eccentrics|
|Location(s):||Barnett, Klansmen Confederacy|
|dancers:||46 at height|
|Founded by:||Gregory Finch|
|Status:||destroyed and now considered a cult|
- "Welcome all, as we introduce the very eligible Miss Harrow! She is ready to emerge in society and meet you all!"
- ―Part of the speech introducing Sophia Harrow's debutante party
Originally a one-off event to celebrate new wealth, The Antebellum Ball became an obsession amongst it's participants, leading to whispers and mob action. Afterwards it would be rewritten as a dangerous cult along the lines of The Children of Dixie.
The first ball was held in June of 2178 by Gregory Finch, a Barnett merchant, to celebrate his newly gained wealth. Finch would invite his friends & family as well as business partners, and told them the theme was 'pre-war.' While most thought that he meant before 2077 in general, when asked about it Finch said before the Old War, and pointed to a burned book that mentioned the Civil War. Several of those invited would be skeptical about his interest in the period as opposed to drumming up business for his textile shop, but would acquire appropriate clothing regardless.
When the guests arrived at Finch's home however, their suspicions were dispelled by the ballroom and parlors he had converted from his living and dining rooms. All would have an enchanting time and were saddened to leave, with several asking him to hold a similar celebration next year. Finch promised to think about it, but didn't mention it again for a year. To the delight of those who experienced the previous one, Finch did announce another gala, and would expand his list by several names.
This second gathering prove as popular as the first, and became a topic of some conversation around town, especially if there was to be another. Finch, despite his own enjoyment, didn't have any plans to three-peat the event but after several discussions with his wife, would hold a debutante ball in 2180.Coinciding with his daughter Macy's birthday, the ball prominently featured the young woman, who was ready to mingle with society. The novelty of this 'reveal party' entertained most guests, though some found Macy's talkativeness improper.
No one would get the chance to see if Finch would host another, as he died in March of 2180 of a heart attack. His funeral attracted a good-sized crowd, and many offered their condolences to his family. Grief stricken, his wife Rachel would spend much of her time in his study, looking over his textbooks, especially the sections dealing with the galas and balls. Macy, hoping her mother would work her way through her grief, encouraged this. Rachel instead organized another Ball that fall, and had a bust of Gregory made and placed in the ballroom.
It was an odd memorial dance, with Rachel wearing a black gown and thanking all for their sympathy. Despite the hostess, most enjoyed themselves as always, and Rachel seemed to improved. Within two months however, she would be discussing changes and improvements for the next dance with her friends. Not reading much into it, the other ladies would give several suggestions, which Rachel would write down. The next Ball in 2182 was a masquerade, and while a few thought it odd, most had a fun time, and insisted her next would be more impressive.
Rachel now seemed obsessed with the events, spending less-time watching over her husband's business and more dancing by herself in the ballroom & parlors. Macy grew concerned, but none took her serious. Over the next four years Rachel's galas would become a fixture in the lives of it's participants, and a small committee formed around Rachel as others were absorbed with it. By 2188 the Balls had become so popular amongst the guests that many started requesting several a year, which began in 2189, when a spring gala was put on in April, a debutante ball put on in September.
This added strain on the Finch Family's already struggling business would threaten to stop the festivities, but after becoming aware of this by a despondent Rachel, each committee member would contribute some of their own wealth. This greatly increased the extravagance of these events as well, and enjoyment rose accordingly. Rachel Finch died in 2194 and donated her home to the committee, leaving only some jewelry to Macy who was fortunately married. The seeds of the Ball's destruction would be spread in 2200 at a celebration of the new century.
A passing drunk happened to glance through the picture window and saw the masquerade in progress and mistook them for a cult. His words were disregarded by almost all who heard them however, though they would be remembered. It would be a similar misunderstanding in 2211 that would bring about the end of the Ball, when a party-goer purchased some cheese from a local farmer.
When the woman payed, her sleeve pulled back and revealed an infected rash, which the farmer took to be a mutation. This prompted the latter to gather the local militia, several of whom were already suspicious of the dancers. That night the militia approached the mansion and surrounded it, opening fire. Many of the Party-goers were killed in the opening shots, and the rest were killed trying to flee. Torches were then thrown in, leaving only a burnt-out husk by dawn. Despite some relatives demanding an investigation, none were forthcoming, and the group was written off as a cult.
The Ball was originally designed and arranged by Gregory Finch, who planned it as a one-time event. When he died his wife Rachel would take over it's planning, but formed a committee after several years to help fund it. The Ball was originally held once a year, but later became a semi-annual event.
Activities & Interests
The goals of the Ball was simple enjoyment, which continued for it's lifespan. There was standard gala activities such as dancing, food, drink and conversation, but also the chance to show up one's rival with a more elaborate costume, and for a discreet rendezvous in one of the bedrooms.