Actions

Work Header

A Chaotic Halloween

Chapter Text

Disclaimer- None of these characters are mine. I’m just using them to entertain myself and others with.

 

A Chaotic Halloween

 

H’earring was at a loss for words at the sight before him. Standing on the front steps of his home the goblin bunny looked up at what he assumed to be a human, standing in front of his home.

 

Just minutes prior the scout had been sitting in his favorite chair eating fresh fungus out of a green fruit bowl that had chips around the edge, reading from a new book that he had gotten. Books were rare in the Underworld and being able to read was even rarer. Unlike in Kiru city where there was a library for the public to use the citizens of the underworld didn’t have that luxury. Luckily for H’earring learning to read was one of the few pleasures he had from his time as a scout for Chaor, the goblin bunny even had a small library in his house.

 

H’earring had already settled in to a peaceful evening at home when a knock and a voice that sounded an awful lot like his human friend Kaz shouted “Trick or treat” from outside. A buzz of irritation went through him as he shut his book and got out of his comfortable chair to investigate. But on opening his front door and stepping out on his front steps he was met with the baffling sight of a strange human standing outside his home.

 

If this was indeed his friend then he was dressed very weirdly, Kaz typically dressed in his opinion more stylish. This Chaotic player stood as straight as a board and almost had a stalwart touch about him. He wore a long pair of deep black pants that folded over top a pair of shiny black shoes. An emerald green vest was buttoned tightly over top a crisp long sleeved white shirt. The kid’s hair was red and oiled back out of his face, finally a glittering green mask came across his eyes and the bridge of his nose with only two openings for H’earring to see the player looking down at him.

 

“Is that you Kaz?” The scout asked. Pulling back his mask over his slicked back hair the friendly face of his human friend Kaz appeared and he smiled down at his green skinned friend. “Hey H’earring.”… The Underwolrd player said cheerfully. “What’s with the puzzled look? Did you not recognize me?”

 

The little green imp’s expression melted to one of confusion and relief. “For about ten seconds I didn’t. Whet is with the disguise? You hiding from Chaor?”

 

The teen snerked at the jest. “Why would I have to hide from Chaor? We get along just fine….” Seconds after stating that the confidence in his voice zipped away and a more concerning tone bubbled up. “Why should I hide? Is there something I need to know about?”

 

The gremlin rabbit burst into laughter at his friend’s dropped bravado. “You’re as intimidated by the great lord of the underworld as I am.” The look on Kaz’s face was out right annoyed. “At least I have the chestnuts to stand up to him when I have to.” The teenager replied proudly.

 

H’earring still had a huge smile on when he spoke. “That’s till lord Chaor breaks those shells, ha, ha, ha, ha. Anyway why are you dressed so differently?”

 

Smiling again Kaz looked down at his attire. “Oh will most of this is from my choir uniform. The pants, the shirt, and vest are all part of my choir outfit but the mask and bow tie are all things I picked up at a costume shop. See there’s even a button on the back of the bow tie that lets it light up with little orange lights. See all demonstrate for you.” Kaz then reached underneath the tie and pushed on a button that made the ends of the bow flicker on and off with orange lights.

 

The little green underworlder oohed at the decoration. “A costume shop?” he said questionably. “Yeah it’s for Halloween.” Kaz replied enthusiastically.

 

“Halloween?”

 

“Yes I told you about it last year.” Kaz reminded him. “Well if it was last year then I probably don’t remember.” H’earring replied. Casting his eyes down he noticed the stuff at kaz’s feet. The kid’s book bag, the one he took with him every time he explored Perim was on one side of him and on the other what looked to be a large berry. It was half the size of H’earring with the same orange color as Kaz’s hair and a green wick like stem sticking out of the top. “What’s all that for?”

 

Kaz made a big smile before grabbing the bag and the berry and moving closer to H’earring’s front steps. Kneeling down he opened up his book bag and pulled out a huge role of gray parchment covered in words in black ink. Laying it out on the stone steps he placed the orange thing on top of them. Still curious the scout placed his knuckles on his hips and asked a bit more sternly about what his friend was doing.

 

His concern became more prevalent when he saw his human friend pull out a long silver blade with a wooden handle from his bag and place it on the paper right next to a metal scope and a pencil.

 

“Kaz, Kaz, what are you intending to do with those?” the green creature asked. Rolling up his sleeves the chaotic player answered. “I’m making a Jack-o-lantern.”

 

Raising an eyebrow in confusion H’earring pointed to the berry. “Is this a Jack-o-lantern?” as he watched Kaz turn the thing around in place inspecting it.

 

“No…” he answered. “This is a pumpkin. A type of vegetable that grows in my world, it’s in the squash family. I’m going to make a Jack-o-lantern out of it.”

 

“How?”

 

“By carving it.” Then he picked up the pencil and started sketching something on the surface of the gourd, on the side he liked the most. When done he placed the piece of wood down and grabbed the wood of the knife handle next.

 

H’earring cringed at the sound the blade made as it went thought the top of the pumpkin. Goose skin rippled up his arms as he listened to the hollow sound that echoed as Kaz bobbed the knife up and down around the green colored stem.

 

“Refresh my memory, Kaz. What’s Halloween again? And tell me more about why you’re murdering this vegetable to make a lantern for.” Pulling the knife, now covered in pumpkin slime away from the gourd, he sat back on his feet and placed the knife down. Grabbing the stem Kaz lifted the top of the pumpkin off taking some of its still attached innards along the way and sat it on the newspaper beside him.

 

Adjusting his glasses he looked up at his friend. “Halloween is a holiday or festival that is celebrated by many countries around my world…”

 

“Countries?” H’earring raised an eyebrow.

 

Rephrasing. “ Tribes, do you remember when I told you that humans are multi tribe. Anyway the holiday has been around for thousands of years and has many traditions. Some of those traditions have changed over the course of centuries.” The boy then picked up the ice cream scoop and reached inside the pumpkin and started scraping against the walls. The scout wrinkled his nose at the wet noise he was hearing. “If it’s a festival what do you celebrate?”

 

Sticking his other hand inside, Kaz fondled them around and scratched on the inside of the rind. “The dead.” He then pulled both hands out of the hollow gored bringing with them handfuls of the slimy, slick, pumpkin insides. He dropped the mass of seeds and pulp on an empty newspaper sheet and reached back into the squash for more.

 

“You celebrate the dead! Why would you do that? Their dead there are nothing to celebrate over that. Once you’re gone, you’re gone. Why would your people have a party for that?” H’earring gasped out.

 

Kaz turned up one corner of his mouth as he continued to pull pulp out of his pumpkin. “It was believed since ancient times that on Halloween night that the door between the land of the living and the land of spirits would be unlocked and open for the dead or other supernatural beings to cross through.”

 

The gremlin rabbit’s expression brightened at this information. “So for one night out of every year the dead can come back to visit the living, like friends and family.”

 

“Or the spirits of old enemies.” Kaz added. The chaotic player looked inside the vegetable to make sure he’d gotten as much as he could out before dropping his scoop on the ground. Among the essential for pumpkin carving he brought with him he also had a role of paper towels and a plastic grocery bag to put all the dirty newspapers in when he was done. Wiping his hands off he’s reached for the knife again.

 

The kid began cutting into the rind again. This time on the side he’d been doodling on. Once in awhile he’d remove and orange choke of the flesh and put it with the rest of the discards. Looking at the pile of slimy yellow and orange pumpkin seeds and flush H’earring couldn’t help but feel a little curious about what the stuff felt like between his fingers especially after seeing Kaz grab handfuls of the staff. Coming closer he stuck a finger into the mess and pulled out a strand from the goop. Bringing it to his face he gave it a sniff. It didn’t smell bad or rotten, more like fresh and ripe.

 

Feeling a bit more daring he opened his mouth and stuck it inside. The texture left something to be desired but all in all the pumpkin mess tasted sweet. Plopping down on the stone step right in front of his friends holiday operation, the underworlder began to joyfully gorge himself on the new weird treat he’d found.

 

Kaz raised an eyebrow as he watched his friend happily gulp down the slimy mess he had dug out of the gourd. But compared to the Dractyl scales and other weird things he’d seen H’earring eat, watching him scarf down pumpkin guts was a little less stomach turning by comparison.

 

“In the past some festivities required sacrifices to be made of living animals and people. Nowadays people celebrate by wearing costumes going to parties and going trick or treating.” Kaz continued to educate.

 

H’earring paused and a lewd smile came across his face as he looked at Kaz. “Trick or treat. Sounds like something one might say when heading to the red light district to pick up a prostitute.” He chuckled afterwards.

 

Kaz made a dirty look and sent it into his friend’s direction. Putting his knife down, he wiped the pumpkin off with a paper towel. “The tradition of carving lanterns out of gourds has been dated back almost thousands of years. But it didn’t become what it is today tilled a couple hundred years ago in Ireland.”

 

H’earring licked his lips and rubbed his gut. The pumpkin innards now packed inside his innards felt nice in his full belly. At the call of his name the scout looked in Kaz’s direction. “Do you have a candle? If so can I borrow it?” H’earring didn’t really want to get up on a full stomach but he wanted to help his friend and a never before used candle was sitting on a small stand on the other side of the door. Fetching the light he handed the white waxed stick to his friend. “Now what are you doing?’ He asked.

 

Kaz reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a small pack of matches. “Putting on the final touches to your Jack-o-lantern.”

 

“You knew you never told me anything more about that. What does it do?” the scout inquired.

 

Flicking the match across its sandpaper strip he held the candle in his other hand and brought the flame to its wick. Once the candle was lit he shook the match dead leaving only a small whisp of smoke behind. Dropping the little piece of wood Kaz carefully put the candle inside the pumpkin and laid its top on securely. A satisfied look came to his face as the warm glow from the flame lit up his face.

 

“It helps protect you from the dead.” He said just before he placed both hands on the squash and turned it around so H’earring could see what his human friend had been working so hard on.

 

A face cut out from the pumpkins flash glowed back in the underworlder’s direction. Not ugly or funny but rather fierce stared at H’earring in an otherworldly showdown. There were two eyes carved into triangles and in between the triangle nose and jagged teeth turned up into a wicked grin the flickering light of the candle could be seen from inside.

 

The scout shot a disturbed look at Kaz before speaking. “Is it supposed to look like this? How in the pits would it protect me from the spirits of the deceased? Is it like some kind of talisman?” Kaz was already busy cleaning up the mess. Putting the carving utensils away in a plastic baggie and crunching up all the dirty newspaper into big balls that he crammed into the grocery bag. Once he was done he hoisted his filled book bag onto his shoulders and looked at H’earring.

 

“Something like that. In times past Jack-o-lanterns were made out of turnips or other types of squash before settling on the much larger pumpkins. It was believed that on Halloween the dead could pass into our world. Both the good and bad could visit for the night, now that may sound cool but an evil ghost could be dangerous. Jack-o-lanterns were believed to frighten away evil spirits and keep homes safe. So many people carved them to place in front of their doorways or window seals so their home would remain safe.”

 

H’earring looked a little lass horrified by the decoration on his steps now that he knew what it was for. “Why are you giving it to me?” he said drawling his eyes up from the pumpkin to his friend.

 

Kaz smiled lightly. “I just thought you might like it. You don’t have to keep it if it frightens you, which is probably a sign that it’s working, since Jack-o-lanterns scare off not just ghosts but imps and demons as well.”

 

Something about that last sentence put H’earring off just slightly. Pulling his mask back down over his face and readjusting his glasses over top, Kaz removed his scanner from his pocket. “Well I’m porting out. There’s a Halloween party in Chaotic and I wouldn’t want to miss it. I’ll see you soon H’earring and have a happy Halloween.” And with that said Kaz disappeared in confetti of code.

 

H’earring for some unexplainable reason felt left out. Taking another look down at his Halloween talisman, at its frightening face a creepy feeling that even though it had no true eyes to see with and no tongue in its mouth it felt like the face was looking at him and was about to burst into laughter. The feeling of discomfort felt like ice around the back his neck, sticking his foot out H’earring turned the thing around till it was facing the street in front of his home. He then walked back into his house shut his front door and locked it. The new barriers between him that thing made him feel a little better. Heading deeper into his home he decided to pick up where he had left off. With finishing the new book he’d gotten from a friend who would transcribe stories from the human world into creature dialect. The one H’earring he had just started reading was from a human called Lovecraft. H’earring sighed in relief. A good romance would be a great distraction from all this talk of ghosts.

 

The End.

Chapter Text

Arthur’s note-trick or treat

Dear readers think you for reading this story and enjoying it. I’m writing this Arthur’s update to let everybody know that I’ve not abandoned this story I plan to update and finish it very soon. The story is going to be a total of four chapters with the next two already in production. Like any other writer my plans for my punctuality on this story got thrown out the window. I wanted to have it completed by the New Year but life had its unpredictable affect on my scheduling. In November I had to leave to visit my aunt who lives a three hour car drive away and doesn’t always have Internet. By that time I began to catapult into mike gift making projects. I crochet, it’s my favorite hobby. It got me through some hard times and ever since for the past four years I’ve been crocheting Christmas presents for the entire family. I had so many to make that I was still working on them after Christmas. In early December there was a death in our circle of friends and there was a funeral to attend a week later. Not to forget all the holiday ups and downs and wants and to dos there were. But now that the presents have been finished the movie day marathons are over and some of the chaos has died down I can finally get back to a normal writing schedule and get some of my writing projects back on the role. Please be patient with me as I take my time to write a good story.

YoungTakinom thank you for reviewing my fanfic and leaving a review that really showed that you had read through the entire chapter before you wrote it. I hope you enjoy the chapters that are coming next and can appreciate the research I did to enrich them.

Sincerely, Master of Gray.

Chapter Text

The lights were in the sky again. A dazzling blaze of sea green, turquoise blue, and even the rare ribbons of purple and yellow all lit up the night as bright as a harvest moon. The trees on the far side of the lake swayed with the wind. One of the windows to my pavilion was open, clasps at the bottom and the top of the frame allowed me to adjust the decorative glass into a slant allowing the air inside.

It was the breeze that had enticed me from out of my study chair to come to the window, warm and soothing but there was a chilled sharpness to it to show that winter was on its way and that left me feeling a little invigorated. I stood enjoying the tranquility of the moment when unusual movement caught my eye. Looking down to the walkway that led to my castle I saw a figure materialize out of a shower of blue confetti.

A chaotic player without question and this one moved fast up the path to my castle doors. A young male from first glance dressed entirely in black with a red sac slung over his right shoulder held closed by the drawstrings in his hands. I couldn’t see the player’s face that well just the tips of the nose or chain as he walked, a hat very much like the one Nebres typically wears except much bigger shielded much of him from view.

I kept my eyes on him till he stopped in front of my doors. For a moment he stood there motionless and I wondered why he was here. I wasn’t a hermit or shut in like so many of my overworlder kindred worried that I was, but I made no secret that I didn’t always enjoy entertaining visitors. I worked for a living for those who believed it. There were duties and obligations that I jugged and it was time consuming to get it all done satisfyingly. To add to that I had my own projects, despite my time on this world there were still things I wanted to accomplish, so my time wasn’t something I liked to squander.

Feeling a tad bit suspicious as of why the player was here I gazed at him more sharply. Suddenly the dark hat the youngster was wearing tipped back revealing the bright eyes and smiling face of Tom Majors. The muge inside was surprised. I knew that Tom visited every once in awhile but the sight of the player still stunned me. Probably an insightful signing of just how few people came knocking at my door.

I saw my human friend step back a few passes and wave up at me. “Hello. Najarin you up there?”

On reflex I politely waved back and had to fight off the urge to shout down curiously to the kid at my doorsteps. Without me having to ask he shouted up cheerfully. “I have some stuff to give you. Can I come in? Please.” At least he was polite.

Snapping my fingers on my left hand the front doors to my castle and all the ones that led up to my study opened inviting the player inside. It took a bit for him to get to where I was, I saw him come through the archway a bit out of breath but still bright eyed. I forgot that spiral staircase could be a workout.

The player jogged up to me and stopped just a few feet away. Looking at him from this close range one could really see the size difference between us. Tom was short by creature standards but probably almost only a few inches away from being full grown. I recalled when Maxxor was his age and only a few marks away from my height and still growing.

The bag that he had brought with him, he now held in his arms. In a cheerful tone the boy said. “Najarin. How have you been doing? It’s good to see you again.” It was nice to know that the art of good manners hadn’t completely gone extinct.

“May I, Tom, not can I. May I come in.” I said in an unjudgmental voice, correcting his earlier error to grammar. Tom’s dark eyebrows pulled together and he tilted his head slightly to the side just like a confused toddler would before he understood what I was referring to and a friendly grin returned to his expression.

“What brings you to my domicile this evening? Tom” I asked. Still beaming he looked up at me, “Oh, this.” with that he moved over to a nearby table, one that was round with blue decorative rings circulating around it and covered in books and scrolls.

“Do you mind if I use this table?” he asked as he started moving the clutter on top to a nearby chair that was primarily used for comfortable sitting. I didn’t respond, just watched as he cleared the service and gave it a quick wipe with the sleeve of the jacket he was wearing.

Speaking of his jacket, I could see the attire he was wearing more clearly now. Chaotic player’s all dressed differently from one another but what I saw Tom wearing now was completely unique. It was black from pants sleeves to coat sleeves. And not just black but a beautiful depth of the color, not dingy or pale and not tainted with another color, just an elegant black. It made him look debonair and refined as well as made him look taller and leaner in his physique. There was some color to as cloths. Just at the top of his pants where the belts would have been a beautiful crimson silk scarf was tight around his waist and hung down his left side. Embroidery of green vines and lavender flowers were decorated around the collar and the buttonholes of his jacket. The buttons on his chest and wrists were round with something stamped into them and either were gold or brass. Although his jacket was closed I could see a matching vest underneath as well as a white shirt closed at the caller by a matching red scarf tide into a charming bow. Finally there was the hat, which he now removed and hung from the spiral point of a nearby chair. It matched his outfit in color and embellishment, and although it appeared thick and heavy on closer look the material woven to make it was quite light.

Tom caught me examining his clothing and said. “Do you like it? It’s my day of the dead mariachi costume.” The only thing that I truly caught from that sentence that stuck was dead. My eyebrows arched and a morbid dread wisped through me. So caught up in my curious observations of Tom’s getup and sudden macabre feeling I didn’t notice that the boy had emptied the contents of the sack till he side jubilantly. “Done.”

Looking up I saw the dark wooden table in front of me now covered in a display of oddities and curiosity I’d ever seen before. A large smooth sheet of fabric that was black with a dark blue sheen to it was draped over my furniture. The elegant textile had fascinating things covering it. Starting with a rectangular picture of a young woman, human and fair skinned, dressed in a robe that covered her head and went all the way down out of view of the image and was the same color as my cape. Finally her dainty hands were held together in front of her and she had a thoughtful far off look on her face.

The portrait had no frame but it did have a hard paper border and backing. The illustration stood higher than everything else on the table, mainly because it perched atop a stack of hard bound books that belonged to me hidden just underneath the beautiful black fabric. On either side of the lady in blue were two brightly colored morbid figurines. One was I assume male and the other female. They were skeletons, a pair of bleached white skeletons. The male was on the left was dressed in an outfit just like the one Tom was wearing. Black with embroidered flowers all in bright colors and in its hands was some sort of large brown musical instrument. The female counterpart also was dressed to impress in a scarlet gown that was long enough to hide her feet with frills around her caller and at the base of her sleeves that ended at her elbows. In her long bony fingers she held a closed fan and on her head she wore a hat much like Tom’s except woven out of straw and was bright red with flowers, beads, and fathers decorating it.

In front of those four ceramic bowls two dark green and two cream colored were placed. One bowl had what looked to be a type of fruit in it, a bright crisp green thing with a stem at the top, another had smaller round fruit that looked like it had a thick peel on it and was orange. Soft wheat bread in the size of dinner rolls was piled in the third bowl and the fourth had small round hard pieces in it that were striped in red and white. Everywhere else around the display small white candles were lit sitting inside glass jars that had images of skulls and the lady in blue on them, as well as ropes of beautiful sweet smelling yellow and orange flowers laid everywhere.

I was in awe. This was quite a sight. I looked to my guest and watched him for a moment. He held the bag from the bottom and gave it a couple of good shakes, trying to get any possible debris that was inside out. Only a few flower petals fell on the marble floors before Tom turned the bag right side up again and began stuffing what I think was garbage, see through wrappers and paper boxes into it, yanking on the drawstring when he was done.

“It looks like a shrine?” I commented.

“It is a shrine.” Tom replied back.

“Is it?” I asked curiously. He nodded his head for an answer. “May I ask for what?” Tom looked up to me before replying. “It’s for Dia de Muertos.” My eyebrows kitted in confusion at the foreign words. “And what is that exactly?”

“It means Day of the Dead.”

“Day of the dead?” I pondered openly. “Your societies celebrate the dead?”

“While most societies in my world do, or at least have a version of it.” The youngster said quite matter factly. He’d been admiring the display when he side it then he looked up at me and sew my puzzled expression. His mouth fell open for a moment and he ran a hand through the back of his hair realizing sheeply that he might have to do some explaining first.

“Here let me start at the top… no at the beginning. Oh what did Shinwan say Glinda side?”

“Glinda? ” I said still curious. Tom answered “Oh, Glinda is the name of the good witch of the north from the book the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It’s what Shinwan want dressed up as for Halloween. That’s part of what I’m about to explain to you about and Shinwan told me that Glinda side (“That the best place to start is at the beginning.”) So that’s where I’m going to as well.”

I nodded slowly still a little confused but looked to the boy confidently as he stared in my direction brightly.

“OK do you remember a few months ago we were talking about different cultures from my world?” he asked in a bit more serious tone.

I didn’t have to think back hard before replying. “Yes, I remember you telling me that your people as a mass had many, many different cultures.”

“Well many of these cultures, not all of them grant you, but many practice celebrations or holidays where they not worship the dead but help remember the lives of the people that are no longer living.”

I nodded my head in deep thought and stroked my beard right where my chin would be. Perim didn’t have any holidays or events like that, at least not in its modern society.
“Some of those celebrations from around the world are the Japanese festival of Obon where they lit lanterns and float them on water. The Chinese have a holiday in summer called Qingming, it’s where they wash the tombstones of dead ancestors and leave them food offerings, and they also have another festival called the Hungry Ghost Festival where family’s set extra chairs, plates, and glasses at their tables to feed the spirits of deceased loved ones. In the tribal where I’m from we have Halloween and in Mexico they have Day of the Dead.”

I listened with keen ears as Tom gave me a history lesson on the diversity of his kind’s practices. When he finished I looked him in the face and gestured with my left hand. “Is this the dress and the practices of your tribes ways?” pointing to him and then to the shrine.

He looked himself up and down and replied with a no.

Smiling and pointing his thumb at himself he said. “My tribe celebrate a holiday called Halloween. For one night every year my people dress up in costumes and either go to parties or if you are really, really young go trick or treating. About two months ago the code masters agreed to let all the players have a Halloween celebration in Chaotic for everyone. That’s one reason why am all dressed up like this for the party. But for a more direct answer my homeland is occupied by many different societies, some of them in the majority and others in the minority. One of those cultures are the Mexican. Day of the dead is the celebration they practice to remember lost loved ones.”

I nodded again.

“A couple of years back while in school during Halloween. A kid I knew who was Hispanic came to school on Halloween day with a painted skull on his face. His parents had come from Mexico City to America to live and still practiced many of their traditions. After that I got curious and read up on it and have wanted to practice a little bit of it ever since. And thought the partying in chaotic would be the best opportunity to do so.”

All the different information on the diverse holidays in Tom’s world made my head feel clustered but I knew I could sort it out later. Instead I walked up to the table and placed my hand on the smooth silky fabric that was draped over it. Darting my eyes back and forth between the decorations and the food I finally looked back to Tom and asked him about it. “Pray tell if this is a shrine. Then who are we worshiping?”

A thoughtful look on his face as he came up to stand beside me and said. “Anyone you miss. This is a holiday about remembering past loved ones.” My heart warmed at hearing that. “Here I’ll tell you the names and means of everything on this table. Would you like that? Would you be OK with that?”

For a moment I debated whether this culture lesson was worth any of my time before nodding my head and replying with a yes.

The boy smiled brightly as if being given a great honor before looking back at the table. “Will then how about we start with her.” He pointed to the young lady at the center of the table.

I looked to her then back to Tom. “Her name is the mother Mary. In many cultures including this one she is seen as a spiritual guide.” That was sweet, to think of a mother as a spiritual guide.

Looking up to me before he spoke on. “Before we go on let me explain to you about Mexican day of the dead and the different language the people that practice it speak. Do you remember me saying something about some of the different tribes in my world speaking different languages?” I nodded. “Well the Mexican have a language called Spanish and I will be identifying things by their home language as well.”

Again I nodded to reassure him that I understood.

“The Mexican…” He started. “Celebrate a holiday called Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos in their language. It’s a holiday where family and friends come together for three days to pay tribute to loved ones that have now passed. It’s practiced during a season called fall. You have something similar in Perim, you know when all the leaves start falling off and everything becomes dormant, to sleep through the winter and wake in the spring. During that time of the year Die de Muertos is celebrated. That and Halloween.”

I watched and listened as the boy explained the topic to me, using his hands to help explain.

“The holiday is celebrated across three days…” he held three fingers up to show this. “The first happens on all Hallows eve and coincide with my people’s holiday of Halloween. The second day is called de Dia de los innnocentes, also known as the day of children or the day of the little angel. It’s where everyone celebrates the souls of children who died before they could know the joys or burdens of adulthood. The third and final day is called all souls day. We’re the celebration reaches its peak and climax. We’re currently at the first day of Day of the Dead.”

Tom looked back to the table and did a secular motion with his hand over it right over the head of all the object that were on it before continue. “The shrine or alter is called ofrendas. It’s where family and friends setup private altars for lost loved ones and decorate them in flower, candles, food, and other things, oftentimes to more personalize of the altar adding stuff like toys, cloths, and so such.”

He then pointed to the lady in blue, the mother Mary.

“The Spanish sometimes call her Virgen Maria or Lady of Guadalupe. And truthfully she is taking up the spot where a picture of a loved one would be or some tape of memento. But I didn’t know if you had any of that so I brought her to fill in instead. She’s a very important figure in the lives of a lot of people. Some people do put her image up alongside family members on the altars during the holidays.”

I looked to her then back to Tom, a warm feeling spreading through my chest. “That’s very charming Tom. Something about how people look to a new mother for guidance is very charming.”

He nodded and continued. “So you would put something that belong to someone that you loved at the top of the alter. The ofrendas would then be covered in things that had day of the dead important or meant something to the lost loved one. You see all these flowers.” Tom picked up gently one of the orange frilly ropes and hold it up just slightly so I could see what he was identifying.

“There called the Mexican Marigold. Or cempasuchil. The Mexican believes that this bright orange and gold flower could attract the souls of the dead back home and to the offerings on the altar where there would be everything from bottles of alcohol to the favorite dishes of the returning home souls. Flor de Muerto are what the Mexican call them nowadays it means “flowers of the dead” they’re the most popular flower used to decorate the altar with.”

The Marigolds were gently laid back down and the boy tapped on the glass of one of the soft glowing candles. “Candles are used to light the way and guide spirits back home to the land of the living, that and dog statute placed up as well.” He then quickly told me. “Dogs are a type of animal in the human world. We keep them as pets and they are known for being loyal.”

I was fascinated by all that I was hearing. But before Tom could keep going I interrupted him to ask a question. “Tom. The skeleton, the ones those are so finely dressed. Do they stand for anything or are they just part of the decorations?”

He reached out and tapped the head of the male and left his fingers on the head of the female. “She is called La Calavera Catrina or “the elegant skull.” Many years ago a man, I think Mexican called Jose Guadalupe Posada created this image of a female skeleton in beautiful Spanish upper class ladies clothing and ever since the figuring has been associated with day of the dead. The goddess La Muerte is sometimes associated with them. The male figuring in the mariachi uniform was probably made to be a counterpart to the lady skeleton. So they could be a pair if anyone wanted to put them together.”

“Skulls and skeletons are a big part of this holiday.” He added on.

With my right hand I pointed to the four bowls. “And is this food for the alter?”

Tom nodded. “Yes. Many different types of food are served at day of the dead. The food I brought with me is not really accurate but it is as close to it as I possibly could get.”

From left to right Tom pointed to a bowl and labeled the contents inside for me, starting with the green fruit. “These are called apples. They come in different sizes and colors, red being the most favorable. But I picked these up instead. These over here…” He moved his hand to the next bowl. “Are called Oranges, like the color.” He picked one up showed it to me than tossed it up in the air and caught it as it fell back down with the same hand before putting it back with the others. Tom’s hand moved to the next bowl. “These are just average bread rolls for dinner. On day of the dead a pacific type of bread is served called Pan de Muerto also known as “bread of the dead.” It’s sweet and sometimes decorated with sugar icing and molded to look like human bones. During the three day holiday celebration, the bread is put on the altar and both the living and the deceased eat it. In spirit the deceased eat it.” He added.

Finally the last bowl. “The red and white striped palettes are a type of candy called peppermints. Although all sorts of different types of sweets are served during day of the dead the most common and famous inside the culture and outside of it is a type of treat called Calavera. A skull made out of cane sugar or chocolate. A small human skull I should mention typically decorated to be eye catching and festive, usually with brightly colored cake icing and beads and feathers. The candy skulls are edible and are very popular during day of the dead and homes and alters are some time heavily decorated with them.”

He drew his hands back to his sides and what quite. I looked to him expecting more but he only looked brightly at me. I then looked back to the table, to see if he’d missed anything. Reaching out my hand I grabbed the end of the black sheet that was draped off the edge of the table and hold it up and asked. “What about this?”

“Oh, that’s nothing but some pretty fabric that I got at a local store to use as a tablecloth…” He replied. “Something to put the decorations on, that’s all, I mean it could have further meaning. Maybe something I have yet to know of. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t and I just brought it to put everything on.” I let go of the end I was holding.

Everything was silent for a moment.

Suddenly Tom thrust his arms out above the shrine and shouted in an enthusiast voice. “This is Die de Muertos the Day of the Dead. Andale arriba.”

I raised an eyebrow at his outburst and the last part. Looking up at my perplexed expression the boy laughed bashfully and said. “Sorry was that too loud? Andale arriba, I think it means “hurry up”, or “go on up up.” It’s a quote oftentimes used by Speedy Gonzales, he was…” Tom paused for a moment and had a look of deep thought for continuing. “He’s a famous children’s Mexican idol.”

I nodded. I honestly didn’t know what or who Tom was talking about but I stroke my beard and thought over everything I had learned.

Humans had interesting ways of expressing mortality and keeping the memories of loved ones alive in the present. I gazed over the table and its beautiful morbid display. The lady and gentlemen skeleton, the food, the lady mother, and all that the boy had told me. Casting my gazes on the bowls of food I wondered briefly on what to do with them. I couldn’t eat all this by myself. It would go bad long before I would have enough time to finish it. I would at least try one of everything, Katarin would visit soon I would ask if she would take any of it home with her. The bread would probably go stale first. When that happened I could just toss it out for the birds and fish to eat. The fruit I could just keep out of the sun to make it last longer and the candy if I liked it I could eat a piece a day till the bowl was empty.

Despite the macabre outer feel of this strange celebration and the displays ghoulish undertow, the notion of never letting time or death let you forget loved ones had certain admiral quality to it, a determination if you will to prove that love and memory lasts forever.

My eyes continued to look over the shrine still dazzled at the otherworldly display. Soon my gaze fell on the Mother Mary. A sudden tender sympathy came over me as I looked at this maternal figure. A kind morning one would get when they knew that they weren’t alone in their sadness washed over my thoughts and soften my mood for some reason. A feeling of enticement of wanting to know a little more grew strong and without taking my sights off the alter I asked if there was anything else he could remember.

Tom stroked his cheek thoughtfully as he spoke. “Alters are usually much bigger and more elaborate than this one. I could only bring what I could find and afford, sorry. Some families build the shrine right inside their own home and even pillows and blankets are provided for the dead loved ones to sleep on after there long journey from the afterlife. Other families actually build the altars around their lost ones tombstone and even sleep around them during Dia de los Muertos. They sing and dance, play music, cry and laugher, tell stories about the past and the people they’ve lost. And that’s Day of the Dead.”

I inhaled softly then looked up to the chaotic player, a feeling of longing swelling up inside me at the devotion of the people of his world put into their family. It reminded me a great deal of the efforts both physically and spiritually I had invested myself into when it had come to my familyhood, a sadness washed over me at the thought of my family. A deep heart sickening guilt swelled up in my conscience. It had been ages since I had last thought about them. For better or worse they had slipped out of my everyday thoughts and now only came to my fourth mind when something triggered the past and it guilt riddled me to thank that for them to always be a part of the present and future they always had to be remember, and I had forgotten. There was a time that my heart thought about them every day, my lost love and son. To the point that there were days I couldn’t even work, study, right, or do anything. Just patiently wait for that day to be over with and hope the next was more livable than the last. Much time was spent like this before the livable days became more and more, and the longing for my lost possibilities became fewer and fewer. But the grief for what I had lost still surfaced once and awhile.

“Najarin.” I heard Tom say and it woke me out of my melancholy.

“I don’t mean to talk and rush but it’s getting late and I’m pretty sure the party has already started in Chaotic and I wanted to meet up with my friends for the event. So if it’s all right with you I’d like to please go.” Tom asked politely, looking up to me with a thoughtful expression. “Everything here is yours…” he said, waving his hand over the shrine. “I brought it all for you and you can eat the offerings and use the candles to study by.” He said, happily. For a moment he stood there as if waiting for something. Then it hit me he was waiting on me to excuse him. It was old fashioned, but polite.

I stood up stalwart, feeling as much as hearing the pops and groans as I pulled my shoulders back. Once I had returned to an authority like posture and swept my cape back behind me. I was in the mood to be a little dramatic.

I looked to the boy and nodded my head in approval. “Yes Tom you may go. I hope you and your friends have a good time and get home safely afterward.” Beaming a bright smile he took a few steps away from where I was before pulling out his scanner and disappeared in a burst of blue confetti leaving me alone again in my tower.

I sighed the feeling of melancholy still pinging in my heart. I felt a little surreal. As if lost in some dreamy state, but my mind soon came back to me. Looking around my study, more out of habit then suspicion to make sure there weren’t any other surprises before I turned my attentions back on the altar.

The beautiful black table cloth swayed to and fro gently in the soft breeze that was coming in through my still open window as my gaze went back and forth between the lady and gentlemen skeleton. I looked at the robe of Marigolds on the table and thought of picking one up and putting it over my head and around my shoulders like a necklace but decided to leave it where it was.

The feeling of loneliness felt hollowing inside me as my eyes shot here and there on the items on the table. Finally my sights got caught on the image of the mother Mary. Looking at her peaceful face I remembered what Tom had side about how day of the dead was practice. In memory of loved ones. Turning around were I stood I walked to a tall set of cabinet doors that were behind my grand wooden desk. Reaching out my hand and opening the seventh drawer from the top and pulled out what was inside. One single object occupied this little private space and that was a small rectangular box made out of plane wood. Taking it into both hands carefully I moved back to where I had been standing just seconds before in front of the shrine.

Once I was there I gently opened the box with my left hand and with a delicate touch took out what was inside. A small scroll of aged parchment farad at the ends was inside. Sitting down the box, I gently unrolled and gave it a good look at. The writing on it was clear, will polished with practice, and thought out. The ink a little faded but the letter they spelled out was not. Extending my arm forward I placed the open scroll against the picture of the Mother Mary then pulled my arm back to my side. Next to my memories this was the last memento I had of my son. Afjak.

I stared at the piece of paper, my right hand on my chest trying to remember in vivid detail my son’s happy face. I had always had hopes that I would see him again and we could be a family once more but after the fall of Dranikus Threshold that hope drifted away. And now all I have our memories. My heart still doesn’t consider him dead just gone from me. Taking in a deep breath I tried to exhale some of the sorrow that was in me. In all the time since his departure I never once set up a marker for his grave. Not even beside the old hut that he had been born and raised in. I never truly grieved. I just always held onto the possibility that we’d see each other again. I never celebrated his life because I never acknowledged the possibility he was truly gone.

Things had changed and maybe viewing my feeling in a different way was needed. Looking at the altar covered in food and candle light I had to admit I liked the way Tom’s people remember the lost. I didn’t always like humans. But this day, this day of the dead was quite enduring. Maybe I’d practice it. Even if only once, even if only for today, today was all I needed to begin the practice of grieving. I’d say goodbye in my heart. It wasn’t like giving up, like I’d spent so many years forcing away that notion. No. It was letting us both rest and regain our strength.

I slid my hand further across my chest and side. “I’ll see you before you know it. Afjak…” The wind still blew softly in my study as I remembered the past. “Happy Day of the Dead my son.”

 

The End

Chapter Text

Chapter three-Sweets

The thing that Wamma liked the most about his relationship with Sarah was there was no drama, maybe a little adventure and trouble now and again, but never anything to stress about. So when he came in to the old storage room in an offbeat way in Mount Pillar where Sarah and he would meet. He felt a little surprised to see her there so late and even more surprising the almost cheerful expression she had on.

Scuttling inside and shutting the door behind him, he saw the player standing in front of a large crate made out of wood from massive roots. She was wearing her usual cloths of red pants and a white undershirt with a black one overtop. Under her left arm what looked to be a large white cloth wrapped together to make a bundle and sitting on the crate by her was a rectangle shaped paper bag with stripes in white and orange and then white handles in half circles on each side.

“What’s up Wamma?” Sarah asked brightly. “Everything still good?”

Stopping beside her the danian replied. “Nothing new, except for maybe one of the battle masters molting. This one gets really insecure when his shell comes off. Apparently his new exoskeleton starts off a shade of pink before turning a dusty brown. But other than that nothing new has happened.”

Sarah giggled a little bit. Looking over Wamma could see something in the bag. Curiosity peeked. He asked. “What you got in there?” one corner of Sarah’s mouth turned up. Grabbing the bag in both of her hands she turned it upside down and dumped its contents on the crate.

It sounded like grain from a potato sack that was hitting the wood but when it had stopped and the danian had come closer to look he saw it was the furthest thing from rice and wheat.

“It’s called candy.” He heard Sarah saw as he examined the stuff on the crate. It lay in a pile in the shape of a small hill. Most of it looked like pellets, round and wrapped in glossy wrapping, but some had sticks sticking out of them and others were square.

Looking to his friend for an OK he reached down to pluck one of the pieces from the pile. Bringing it up to better examine it he looked back to Sarah and spoke. “Candy? Like honey moss or nectar mold? It’s sweet right?”

With a smile still light on her lips Sarah answered. “Yeah, will not all of them are sweet. Some of them are sour or bitterly hot. But all in all it’s pretty good.”

Pulling his shoulders back to stand up straight a sharp curiosity pitched him. In all the time he’d know the human not once had she brought food with her. Oftentimes small objects from her home or traveling supplies for overnight journeys, usually her scanner was the one thing that was a constant presence. So this was a surprise.

Wamma usually wasn’t the inquisitive type, the less you know the less you worried about was his moto but the strange food the chaotic player had brought really caught his attention. “It’s really kind of you to want to broaden my culinary palate but what is all this for exactly? You’ve never showed food off before. And what about that white bundle under your arm? Are you planning something?”

Sarah’s eyes twinkled as she opened her mouth to answer him. “By no means…” She side reassuringly before continuing. “It’s just Halloween and all the chaotic players are throwing a party to celebrate.”

The danian’s eye brows kitted together in mild confusion as if something had gone over his head.

Before he could pepper on about it she beat him to it and answered.

“It’s a holiday that humans celebrate in our realm. You know I told you about the realm I’m from, the one past chaotic where humans come from.” Wamma nodded in remembrance as Sarah continued. “We celebrated worldwide and some of my fellow players precipitated the code masters to have a party in chaotic today.” Sarah side matter of factly.

“Is it religious?” Wamma cut in to ask.

Sarah had a thoughtful expression on her face as she thought for a moment before replying. “No not religious, will not anymore that is. It used to be back in ancient times, religious or more like spiritual. But it’s not practiced that way anymore. Now a days it’s a night where everyone dresses up and get sweets.”

The mandiblor’s antenna flexed to express his need to know a little more and Sarah for once had no problem with indulging.

“So is there anything you’d like to know more about?” Sarah side placing her hands on her hips in a queen bee like fashion.

Wamma nodded his head almost timidly in a yes.

“Is it about food?” She asked.

Twiddling his digits bashfully he replied. “Is there something wrong with that?”

“Mmmm…” Sarah looked thoughtful, as if deep in thought before responding with a smile. “No, no not at all.”

The danian brightened and robbed his large midsection. “You side hand out sweets. What’s the story on that about? I’ve never heard of a holiday that gives out free food before?”

“Well…” Sarah started. “The tradition of handing out food or sweets goes back about two thousand years go. It all started with a holiday we now call Halloween.”

The chaotic player stopped to see if Wamma was still interested. The danian still looked on with a perky expression. “I’m still listening.” He certified.

Picking up where she stopped Sarah want on with the history lesson. “Originally Halloween thousands of years ago was called Samhain. It was a night once a year where the souls of the dead could come back to walk among the living again. I think it was old Celtic Europe.” Sarah stopped to add something first. “Before we continue I have to let you know that I’m only tailing the umbrage version. The history of the holiday is quite long and diverse. And although I’m enjoying playing professor I don’t think I have the time or the patients to be thorough. Can you make it with that?” she asked.

“I don’t mind, just tale me what you can.” Wamma responded.

Sarah smiled. “Samhain was a night where people lit bonfires, wear masks, carved scary faces on turnips, ate food, (Samhain was not just a day of the dead. It was also an end of the harvest, when everything was bountiful.) and finally try and make predictions of the future. Now that was a long time ago and people ended that practice along with it.”

She paused for a second before moving on. “I used to think as a child that the holiday was something invented by the candy companies to sell more sweets. I heard that from movies while growing up.”

Wamma had already leaned the concept of movies and television explained to him by Sarah, although he still had no clue what it was though.

“But I later on learned that that was made up for entertainment only. In truth the history of trick or treating was extensive. Its oldest roots go back to Samhain itself where food would be plentiful from the end of year harvest. As the century’s want on and new believes rolled in the traditions began to change. With the bringing in of Christianity the Catholic Church attempted to merge the two foreign cultures together. What was once Samhain became All Hallows Eve, All Souls Day, and All Saints Day. On this day in the middle-ages children and perhaps some poor adults would go from door to door asking for food or money in exchange for prayers and songs. Typically sung on behave of the souls of the dead. These people were called soulers and what they did was called souling. Along with well wishing the patrons would wear costumes of saints, angels, and demons. This was called guising short for disguising.”

“Wait.” Wamma spoke in quickly. “You wear costumes to get free food?”

Sarah nodded her head and spoke a. “Yeah.” Before continuing. “Wearing costumes and masks for the holiday has been practiced since Samhain and like trick or treating and believing that the dead come back it was one of the traditions that made it to modern times.”

Wamma’s antenna twisted around for a minute before he asked. “Is wearing masks Still being done today? Are all the chaotic players going to get dressed up for the night?”

The blonde haired player nodded her head “Yes. The act of wearing masks and scary outfits is still practiced today and it’s a big part of trick or treating. We all got dressed up for it, the boys and me. Every chaotic player that’s going to the party did.”

“So you’re all wearing costumes?” He adds.

“Yeah, we all are my friends and me. Kaz, Peyton, and Tom, although there costumes are really elaborate. They really went all out the best way they could for today.”

Wamma tilted his head a bit, a bit more curious now. “And you are not?”

Sarah waved her hand in the air dismissively while she spoke. “I’m not that into. I’m a little too old for Halloween. That’s more of a kid’s thing but my friends are getting into it. Tom, Peyton, and Kaz are just having fun with this acting like big kids about it. Unlike them I decided on a simpler costume.”

And with that she pulled from under her arm the white bundle she had with her. Unfolding it Wamma saw it was a white sheet of fabric that was long and had two holes in it only a few inches apart. Pulling it open Sarah toke the ends and in one swift motion had the cotton sheet over her head and pulled it till her eyes could be seen from out of the two holes that were cut into it.

“I’m supposed to be a ghost.” She side from underneath the white thing. “Just a simple quick costume with no serious mess or effort to put in to it.”

The mandiblor stared before speaking humorously. “I never know that ghosts looked like that.”

Sarah giggled from under her sheet.

“Anyway despite that Halloween is in some aspects ancient the tradition of trick or treating is quite new. Way back in the 1900th century Halloween as it is know now was a day that people dreaded. When kids’ usually adolescent boys would pull terrible pranks and damage property by breaking windows and starting fires. Bystanders would even be attacked and sometimes seriously injured by these hooligans. It was almost like “The Purge”, communities just hated this night and lived in fear of the damages they would find the next day. Finally people had had enough community leaders, parents, and law enforcers came together to find a solution. And soon they did. Instead of a night of unrestrained mischief the community would hold parties for these wannbe gangsters as well as parades where everyone could wear costumes. They also allowed the children to go from door to door to ask for treats. Hence “Trick or Treat.” was born. It was a night that instead of throwing eggs and buckets of paint at doors they knock on them and get…”

“Candy.” Wamma popped in cheerfully.

“No not at first. At first things like fruit and money were handed out, alongside home baked goods like cookies, as well as little toys too. It wasn’t till later that candy was given and eventually become the favored treat to get.” Sarah said. “Candy a lot like this.” She add pointy at the neglected pile of the stuff right beside her.

“And is that the end of the history of trick or treating?” Wamma asked.

“And that’s the end of the history of trick or treating.” Sarah replied putting her hand on her waist.

Wamma looked still on the scene before him. At his friend Sarah and the hill of sweets beside her, she had already token off her ghost sheet. He felt a bit more enlightened but still had a craving to know a little more. Making eye contact with the bright colored candies in front of him another interrogation mark poked in his head.

Looking back to her he asked. “Is this the candy they would give out back then?”

“Not quite.” Replied Sarah. “The sugary pieces they gave out then have gone through some changes as well as added some new flavors and types to it.”

She reached out and pointed to the confections and started listing off what some of them were to the danian. Picking up a tiny round cylinder shaped candy that was brightly colored and translucent with a wrapping that was twisted at both ends, she side. “This is a Jolly Rancher. They come in all types of flavors. The most well known are fruit flavors.”

She put that one down and picked up another one that looked a lot like the Jolly Rancher except it was pink and side. “This is a piece of bubblegum.” She then dropped it and motioned with her hands the acted of popping it in her mouth. “You crew it and make bubbles from out of it.”

The next one to be hold up was a round one bulb shaped with a purple wrapper around it and a white stick coming out of the bottom. “This is a Lollipop, a sucker, also knew as a Blow pop.”

After that Wamma watched and listened as Sarah named one piece of candy after the other. There were things like; Gummi bears and worms, Pixie sticks, Starbursts, Candy corn, Twizzlers, Tootsis rolls, and a dozen other sweets that were named off.

For a minute it made Wamma’s head spin and a little bit of that appetite he had earlier subsided. Then Sarah stopped on a pacific piece of candy with a rectangle shaped, could fit in the chaotic player’s palm and sealed in dark brown glossy wrapping. “This is a Candy Bar. A Hershey chocolate bar to be accurate.”

Sarah laid it down and pointed out two others in different sizes. One in a blue wrapper called an “Almond Joy.” And another one in gray wrapping called a “Three Musketeer.”

She went on to say. “That chocolate is the most popular sweet in the world and that it makes up more than half the candy sold and given out during Halloween. There are dozens of different types of candy bars from the three here to others like Snickers, Kit Kat, Butterfinger, Twix, and Milky Way are all a few. There are also three varieties of chocolate commonly used to make sweets. They are milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is my favorite.”

There was a pause of silence, an indication that Sarah was done with her culture lesson.

Never breaking eye contact Wamma asked. “Are you done already?” Sarah replied. “Yeah, there’s more to talk about but it’s getting late and I don’t want to spend the whole night talking your ear off.”

Wamma felt OK with that after all he had already learned so much and he could feel a little of his appetite coming back. But there was still one thing he wanted to try before she had to go.

“Can I try some?” He asked sweetly.

Sarah smiled as her friend. “Sure. It’s why I brought it here in the first place. Which would you like to try first?”

Looking from Sarah to the candy pile Wamma knew what he wanted to choose. “I’d like to try the milk chocolate Three Musketeer please.”

Sarah smiled reached for the chocolate bar and side. “Tale you what, how about we share it.”

 

The End