Have an Ice Halloween!
It was Halloween on Terror Mountain.
Well, it was Halloween everywhere, of course, but the point is, our story begins on Terror Mountain. Snow-covered jack-o-lanterns were displayed outside each house, and all the trick-or-treaters were trying to figure out how to make their costumes look good over warm coats and hats.
Even in a place like this, the magic of Halloween was in the air. Patches the Christmas Bori may have been more inclined towards magic of an icy nature, but she could still feel it swirl up the mountain from the Haunted Woods, and it made her restless.
Her much less magically inclined family was rather surprised when she stomped down the stairs and called out “Who wants to come to the Haunted Woods with me?”
“I’m not going anywhere when there’s a Ghoul Catchers marathon on,” her brother Max said, eyes glued to the TV. Patches didn’t think he had even registered the mention of Haunted Woods.
“No way,” their owner, Christy, added. “Besides, I just sat down with this popcorn.” She shoved a handful in her face to prove her point.
Patches’ older brother Six looked at her curiously. “You’re referring to the legend that spending Halloween in the Haunted Woods will enhance a witch’s magic for a year, correct?”
“It's not a legend,” Patches said impatiently. “I can feel it calling me. It’s true.”
“Isn’t that dark magic stuff?” Max asked, now paying attention. “Like Edna’s turn-you-into-a-Mortog kind of magic?”
“No! There’s just a reason why so many witches live there, is all. It’s a good source of power.”
“The Haunted Woods isn’t safe,” Winter, the youngest sibling, piped up. The Faerie Xweetok fluttered her wings nervously. “There’s the Ghost Lupe, and…” she trailed off, not wanting to think about it.
“What’s a dead Lupe going to do to us?” Six pointed out. “I’m an alive Lupe with a sword, and she’s a witch. I think we’re pretty safe.”
“You’re coming with me?” Patches asked, smiling at her brother.
“A proper adventure sounds more fun than watching TV all night. So yes, I’m in.” Six leapt to his feet.
“You two be careful!” Christy called as they ran around preparing. She said it through a mouthful of popcorn, so it sounded more like “utoby cuffle”, but they understood.
“Seeya!” Patches called to Christy and the two Xweetoks as she and Six dashed out the door, nearly trampling several trick-or-treaters. She wanted to hurry up and get there before the holiday was over.
It was dark by the time they reached the Haunted Woods. Then again, it was always dark in the Haunted Woods, so that didn’t really mean anything. They arrived in the Deserted Fairground, which was surprisingly un-deserted for once. Countless pets dressed up in costumes were wandering around.
“Are you supposed to be a witch?” a pet of indeterminate species asked, looking Patches over critically. His entire body was obscured by a white sheet in an attempt to look ghostly. “It’s a nice effort, but the purple hat looks stupid and the rest of your outfit doesn't match it.” He turned to Six, unimpressed. “And you’re not even wearing a costume at all!”
“My apologies,” Six said dryly. “I wasn’t aware that the costume criticizing committee would be here.”
“This isn’t a costume either,” Patches added, a frosty tone creeping into her voice. “Too bad for you.” She extended a hand, and the pet was immediately frozen solid. “And for the record, this is an authentic replica of Rasala the Bright’s hat. She wouldn’t be impressed to hear you call it stupid.”
“Don’t you think that was a bit excessive?” Six asked, eyeing the new ice sculpture in the middle of the Fairground.
“Nah, he’ll thaw out in an hour or so. Besides, he called my hat stupid,” Patches muttered, reflexively reaching up to touch the brim. The hat meant a lot to her. It signified that she was not just any witch, but also a member of the Order (well, an unofficial low-ranking member, but they let her fight for them at the Obelisk, and that was something). Plus, it was stylish. She never went anywhere without it.
“Don’t you have to go deeper into the woods?” Six asked, looking past the colourful tents to the darker part of the forest.
“Yeah, but not yet,” Patches insisted. “Let’s play some games while we’re here.” She could feel the woods calling her, but she also wanted to win some prizes.
“You know these games are all rigged, right?”
“Stop asking all your smug questions! I’m going to have some fun.”
Patches stepped up to the Coconut Shy, where a grinning Quiggle eagerly took her money and handed her a ball to throw. She drew upon all her many hours of practicing Yooyuball (although the technique was rather different) and threw it with all her might. The coconut took a direct hit, but barely wobbled. The Quiggle laughed as he gave her half her money back.
On her second throw, Patches concentrated, letting the magic swirl around her. This time, the ball sent the coconut flying and continued on, ripping a hole in the curtain. She smirked as the no-longer-laughing Quiggle handed her a large bag of Neopoints.
“You really shouldn't be cheating, you know,” Six scolded her as they left the Fairground behind and headed deeper into the woods.
Patches shrugged. “He was cheating first. You said it yourself, the games are rigged.”
They quieted down as they entered the darker, creepier part of the forest. Patches was suddenly quite glad to have Six along. Her brother might be a stick-in-the-mud and a know-it-all nerd, sure. But he was also strong and brave and good with a sword, all great qualities for your spooky forest adventuring companion to have.
“This way,” Patches decided, pushing through the trees.
“Feeeeeeeddd meeeeeee... I’m hungry…”
She abruptly turned around. “Actually, nope. Not that way.” Dealing with the Esophagor did not sound like a fun way to pass the time.
They were so busy heading in a different direction that they almost walked right into someone equally dangerous. All of a sudden, the Brain Tree was looming in front of them.
“FOOLISH MORTALS!” the tree boomed. “If you want to pass, you must tell me- oh. It’s you.” He was staring at Six.
“What's up?” The Lupe greeted him cheerfully. “Oh, I brought you that book we talked about last time…” his voice trailed off as he rummaged through his backpack, eventually producing a large tome. “See you later!” Six called as he grabbed a startled Patches and dashed past the distracted tree, who was examining the book.
“Are you friends with him or something?” Patches demanded once they had gone far enough.
Six shrugged. “He wants knowledge, I want knowledge. So I come and talk to him sometimes. He gets pretty lonely, being rooted to the same place in a creepy forest all the time.”
Patches was now extra glad to have brought her know-it-all nerd brother along.
“Where to next?” he asked.
Patches hesitated. “I’m not sure. I don’t think it matters, I just have to be in the woods.” She took a few steps, then paused. The magic was swarming around her, and it was starting to become overwhelming. “I feel...kind of tired, actually.” She lay down on a clump of grass, unable to resist.
Six shook her arm. “Sleeping in the Haunted Woods on Halloween does not sound like a good idea. Stay awake, okay? Stay…”
Patches didn’t hear anything more; she was already asleep.
When she woke up, it was morning. The woods looked as dark and gloomy as ever, but she could somehow sense that it was no longer night. Six was leaning against a nearby tree, sword in hand. His bright blue and white camouflage colouring stood out against the dark trunk, and he was on alert despite looking tired.
“Did you have a nice sleep?” he asked, sounding a bit annoyed.
Patches grinned. “Yes, actually. I feel… refreshed. Full of magic.”
Six yawned. “Well, that’s great. Can you magic us home now so I can sleep?”
He was joking, but Patches thought about it. “Actually, I might be able to. I’ve never done this before, but I feel like I could, now.” She grabbed her brother’s arm, and he yelped in surprise as the forest vanished.
They materialized right in the middle of their living room. Patches was quite pleased with herself for a second, up until she staggered from the effort of the spell and a disoriented Six tripped and fell into the coffee table. Even worse, she realized that nobody had actually seen her impressive teleportation.
Winter wasn’t even there, likely having gone to bed hours ago. Christy was snoring loudly on the couch, the empty tub of popcorn overturned on the floor. Max looked away from the TV long enough to say “Oh, you’re back,” and then immediately returned to watching Ghoul Catchers. Patches sighed.
Six picked himself off the floor and sympathetically patted her on the shoulder. “Well, at least you should have plenty of opportunities to magically show off in the future, since all went well in the woods.” He yawned. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bed.”
As Six dragged himself up the stairs, Patches skipped happily up behind him to her own room. She could still feel some magic swirling around her, and she was eager to try out some new spells.
Patches waved a hand, and some candy appeared in front of her, teleported up from downstairs. She grinned.
Yes, it had been a pretty good Halloween.