Hallowe'en Bonus Story
Part One

This story does not take place, but if it did, it would be on Hallowe’en of the current (Fifth) year of the Addergoole School.

‘Lisha was in a mood again. It seemed to Vlad that, more and more, his life could be defined by ‘Lisha’s moods, snits, and tantrums, with the rare shining moments less and less being her good moods and more and more being nights, like last night, where he escaped her temper to go drink with his friends.

Today it was Hallowe’en. Last year, the whole faerie thing had still been shiny and novel for her. She’d still been enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling that came from having a boyfriend, even if it was Vlad and not someone pretty, like Taro, she hadn’t found out yet that she was pregnant, and her new wings were still fun.

This year, nothing was right. She still hadn’t lost the last of the baby weight, or so she claimed – to Vlad’s eyes, she looked perfect – and nothing she thought up for a costume looked good enough. He wanted to ask her who she was trying to impress, but knew that would only start another fight

It was only at the fifth costume – each skimpier than the last – that he realized she wasn’t trying to impress anyone as much as she was trying to get a rise out of him. He looked over the latest one – a harem girl outfit that could make a hooker blush – and, mustering some spine and borrowing some snarkiness from Shiva, told her, “That looks really good – if you’re planning on staying in purdah.”

She faltered in mid-triumphant-smirk. “What?” Her mien fell quickly into that kicked-puppy expression he had such a hard time resisting, but he stayed firm. He liked Hallowe’en, damn it! He was going to enjoy it this year!

“Don’t leave your home without a male relative to escort you,” he continued, sounding far harder than he felt. “In this case, don’t leave the suite without Cassidy, Taro, or Conrad, and don’t be outside the suite without them.”

She pouted at him – Shiva’s crew was throwing a party tonight, and it was supposed to be a massive, multi-suite, in-the-halls affair. “What about you?”

“I’m going over to Melchior’s; we’re going to watch The Blob and play Tekken 3.” And probably drink heavily, but there was no need to mention that.

“Aren’t you going to take me to the party?” She was in full sulk mode now. He was going to pay for this later.

In for a penny, in for a pound. “You’ll have more fun there without me.” It hurt that he knew it was true, but screw it. If she was determined to be miserable with him, let her. Maybe she’d find someone else to make miserable while she was at it.

Before she could talk him out of it, before he could talk himself out of it, he walked out of the room. Min was still too young to appreciate trick-or-treating, but next year, he’d take her out. And this year…

Lost in thought, he nearly ran into Anatoliy, who was tromping through the corridors with a dour look that Vlad recognized well. “Oh, hi,” he said with a weak smile.

“Hi,” he responded, equally half-heartedly. He glanced up at the giant for a moment. “Hey,” he added, in a momentary feeling of camaraderie, “why don’t you come to Melchior’s place? We’re playing Tekken 3 and drinking,” he added, feeling a little lame as he did so. Anatoliy was in Agatha’s crew, and they would be throwing the other end of Shiva’s party; what would he care about a bunch of geeks in a corner?

He was startled and a little gratified when Anatoliy grinned – a frightening expression on a face that big! – “Yeah, sounds good.” He reached into the deep pockets of his trenchcoat and pulled out two bottles – whisky and rum, neither of them cheap stuff. “I’ve got party favors, too.”

Vlad felt his own face cracking in a grin. “Great! That’s better than drinking Wild Turkey!”

“Eww…” Tolly’s face twisted.

The air cracked with a heavy, ear-popping KAPOW, and Shiva fell out of the air in front of them.

“Can’t talk now gotta go find a torch or a fireworker or maybe just a thousand lighters zoOombies!” she gasped. Her ears were flat to her head and her arms were covered to the elbow in black goo.

She looked them over, her eyes wild, and shook her head. “Green Man. Giant. No, no help.” She slapped them both across the thighs with her tail, and was gone, leaving behind her a thick cloud of sweet-smelling smoke.

“Zombies,” Anatoliy laughed. “Someone’s getting into the spirit!” Vlad, still stinging from the “No, no help,” just nodded.

Ahead of them, through the mist, he could see, faintly, a smudge of magenta. “Smoking pink melon leaves? Out here? Better not let Valentina or Valerian catch you…” Callista came into sight, fanning the air with all six of her arms, jingling as she did so. “Oh, hi Vlad, Tolly.” She smiled at them, friendly but perplexed-looking. “What are you – hunh. There’s a hole in the ceil-”

The smoke began swirling around them, streaks of bloody red appearing and vanishing as the circling sped up, wilder, and wilder, the thick, choking stuff tightening around them, blowing in their faces and sticking, almost as if it were solid, clogging Vlad’s lungs and his gills. Callista shrieked, but it was cut short by a hacking cough. He grabbed for her – Ib be dammed, he wasn’t here to take care of his girl, so he couldn’t complain if someone else did - and patted her back helpfully, even though the burning in his own lungs and eyes suggested there was no real help. They had to get out of this smoke.

As quickly as it had come, it was gone, and the three of them were blinking and choking the last of the stuff out of them. It had left a thin sheen on his skin, but, even as he tried to brush it off, that, too was gone.

“Um, Houston, we have a problem,” Anatoliy said, in a whisper that could only be heard three states away. Vlad looked up, only then realizing he was still holding Callista by the waist, and quickly realized what the giant meant.

The Addergoole school was nice, but, wood paneling and paintings and thick expensive carpet notwithstanding, the whole place had a new feel to it, and no matter how wide the halls, always felt a little claustrophobic. This hall – even Tolly was dwarfed by the high sweeping ceilings and the wide, arching stone staircases, and the stones seemed to speak of a thousand years of knowledge. The paintings on the wall were moving, although just a little – the old man in the oil painting nearest them seemed to be snoring softly. Indeed, it seemed to be late at night.

And, creeping towards them in the flickering light that had more to do with will-o'-wisps than torches, three kids in black robes, school ties just barely visible, and pointing sticks at them.

Kids. At second glance, they weren’t much younger than Vlad was. Sixteen, maybe? But the way they were staring at them… well, he got used to staring from new students, they all did, once they dropped their Masks.

“Shit,” he muttered. “Masks.” Down in the school, most people didn’t bother, and up in the real world, most people couldn’t see them. But these kids, wearing robes and pointing sticks…

Wands. Shit.… wands at them, well, they obviously weren’t humans, either, and, just as obviously, had never seen halfbreeds like them.

“You’re a giant, obviously,” the girl said, her wand still pointed at them like a weapon.

Ob- viously,” muttered one of her friends, a skinny redhead, both of them in British accents so thick as to be nearly incomprehensible.

“But you-” she jabbed the wand in Vlad’s direction in a way that made him feel nervous, and, at the same time, feel silly about feeling nervous – “if you’re a merman, how can you breath air?”

“I-” the last of the smoke caught in his throat, and he coughed, wheezing. That stuff was foul!

“Badly, apparently,” her other friend answered snidely. “Do you think they’re really a danger?”

“I don’t even know what they are,” she answered, sounding at the point of tears. “And they’re not answering.”

Vlad caught his breath, and glanced at Callista. She had an odd look on her face that seemed to bode poorly for someone, so he thought it was best to cut her off before she did something he’d regret. “Halfbreeds,” he told the girl. She wasn’t pretty, certainly not in that way that ‘Lisha was, but he liked the life in her eyes and the way she sparked when she got an answer.

“Halfbreeds? So you’re telling me you’re half-mer-man? And I suppose that makes him a half-giant, which makes sense, I suppose, if you look at his height. I mean he’s tall, but he’s not gigantic… but what are you?” She turned the look on Callista, and Vlad winced.

“Half-orphan, half-foundling,” Callista said, with a soft poison that he hoped the kids mistook for shyness. But the girl had a horrified look on her face.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed, casting a look at her dark-haired friend, who was eyeing Callista with frank unfriendly suspicion.

She shrugged, a gesture he’d always found fascinating from her. “Such is life,” she said uncomfortably.

“We don’t have time for this,” the redhead muttered. “I’m sure you’re very nice people, but we have to…” he faltered, blushing.. “well, do something. Something important,” he said significantly, glaring at his friends.

“Of course we do, the girl said sharply, “but don’t you remember, you can’t just pop into existence around here? How did they get here? For that matter, what are they doing here? Even if they’re … well, they look a little old for transfer students.”

To their left, in the painting of the sleeping wizard, a star pattern was slowly growing on the wizard’s chest. As it grew larger, Vlad could see daylight through the star. As the star encompassed the entire painting, the red-head and the girl were still arguing. It seemed amicable, though, in a way he wasn’t used to seeing couples argue – fiery and loud but still very clearly affectionate.

Vlad glanced at Callista, who was wearing the smirk she wore to close herself off to the world, and then over to Tolly. The hole wouldn’t fit the giant yet, but it was getting close, growing in an 8-pointed star that now had eaten the edges of three more paintings. As … there, they could all make it through.

“That’s our cue,” he said, and stepped through the jagged hole, guiding Callista through ahead of him. As Tolly slipped through behind her, he heard the girl shouting, “hey, come back, you can’t just leave!”

But it was sunny on the other side of the wall, and they were already through.

He glanced back, but there was nothing behind them but road and, a little way down the road, an older split-level house. Ahead of them was an older-looking mobile home, with a VW bus parked outside of it. The air was chill, the bitter crisp air of late-October that none of them were dressed for, and the sun, low in the sky, was being rushed along by a full moon rising fat in the east.

“I am going to…” Vlad snarled impotently. “… I am going to spank Shiva’s ass pink when I get my hands on her.”

“Sounds kinky.” Callista, in a halter top, all six of her arms bare, was shivering violently. Vlad stripped off his flannel shirt and draped it over her shoulders.

In the rapidly-darkening chill air, a wolf howled, and then another. They sounded wrong to Vlad’s ears, bigger and more malicious than they ought to be.

The lights went on in the trailer, and, a moment later, a woman came running towards them, hurriedly, as if in a panic. She was lean and ran like an athlete; Vlad murmured “mask,” quietly. This time, they all managed to get their Masks up before she got too close.

She faltered, shaking her head as if trying to clear an image from her head – not another one the Blindness of the Gods didn’t work on, please, but even if it didn’t, their Masks should hold – and continued her run towards them. “You have to get out of here,” she said, breathless and panting. “You have to leave.”

“Excuse me?” Even shivering in the cold, even collared and jingling with those stupid cuffs that Ib so loved, Callista sounded regal. “We just got here.”

“Great, and now you have to leave. Look.” She reached into the pocket of her jacket and pulled out a handful of mini candy bars. Pressing them into their hands, she said, “I know you’re too old for trick-or-treating, and I know kids have been saying the house back there is haunted. Great. Come back on Monday, and have at it. Tonight… you have to leave.”

“Haunted?” Callista scoffed, even as she munched on one of the candy bars. “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

The wolves howled again, closer this time.

“But there are werewolves,” Vlad said softly. “Look, miss,” he turned his attention back to the woman, who was amazingly pretty, dark and muscular, her black hair wild, “we’re a little turned around.”

She looked at him thoughtfully, and he wondered if he’d made a mistake with his Mask somehow. Were his gills showing? No, she was looking past him, maybe off into the air. She nodded.

“You need to leave, now. Things are about to get very interesting, and not in a good way. I’ll come with you.” She took his hand before he could say anything, and took Callista’s in her other hand. “Quick. If we run now, they won’t be close enough to notice us.”

She started into a sprint, heading towards the older split-level, dragging them along with her. Vlad glanced over ad Callista, but she seemed to be doing alright; behind them, Tolly thundered along in his ground-devouring stride, which, with his Mask making him look merely tall and not gigantic, looked a lot like teleporting.

She veered off to one side of the house as another howl, and then two more, ripped the air. They sounded closer, dangerously closer. If werewolves did exist –and the pounding pulse of the woman holding his hand was pretty convincing – he didn’t know if he’d be able to get off a Working in time to stop them from ripping his throat out. Weren’t they supposed to be supernaturally fast? And strong? What if they could decapitate him with their jaws? Even an Ellehemaei couldn’t survive decapitation.

The wolves howled again, just as the woman yanked them around the back of the house. “He said it would be back here,”


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