by Percy Peters
This is my entry to the What a Character Competition.
|Word Count: 2000
Ugh, Halloween, Monty hated it. The constant knocking of his door. Up, down, up again. All to give children cavities from sweet rolls and chocolate. Children dressed up, pretending to be what he was, a monster. No one knew of course, if they did he would be Halloweens main attraction, burnt at the stake for everyone to see.
He just couldn’t understand how people could seek reward as they pranced around under the guises of the creatures they feared. The creatures he protected them from. Last year lil’John was dressed as a horned goblin when three weeks before that Monty had to round up the men of the village and charge headstrong into a cave and save the same lil’John from a Cave Troll. Halloween was madness, ugh, Halloween.
A knock on his door took him away from his thoughts. It was probably Judith, the village community leader. “Engaging with each other, is how we come together.” Is what she would always say, with that silly smile on her face. She’d been a pest to Monty for weeks. The village of Thonren held the Halloween Ball in high esteem. Monty, being the village Wizard was expected to take part, put on a show for the people, tell them ghost stories, the full works, they wanted their resident retired demon, living under the ruse of the village wizard, to play the role of clown, for their Ball. Monty always obliged, the village was his home, it had been for as long as he could remember, and the people were his family, even lil’John, who kept getting himself into all sorts of trouble.
The door was knocked again. Monty grabbed his staff.
“Ok! Ok, hold ya hell hounds will ya! I’m coming. I’ll tell you right now Judith if its about the stories again I swear to the gods you worship that I’ll curse you. Good luck giving birth when I make you barren.”
Monty swung the door open. It was Trevor, Judith’s Husband. A tear rolled down Trevor’s cheek, he took his flat cap from his head and held it to his chest.
“It’s Judith, Monty. She’s really sick. The Doc isn’t sure what ails her. Can you help?” Trevor said.
He began to sob as he tried to hold himself together. Monty rushed to grab his cloak and donned his traditional wizards hat. He shut the door to his shack behind him and began to walk with Trevor towards the village hall.
“It’s this way.” Trevor said.
He led Monty to one of the small function rooms, opened the door and pushed him inside. Monty stopped in his tracks. The village elders were sat around a circle of tables. Judith, was stood in the middle, right as rain, she handed out leaflets to everyone around her. Monty felt another shove in his back as Trevor pushed him forward. Judith’s smile beamed as she noticed them both.
“Ah, Monty, here for the Halloween planning meeting? This is, unexpected,” Judith grinned. “I mean, you never attend my meetings?”
Tricked. He had been tricked by these conniving little life forms. Monty’s thoughts flared inside his head. For a moment he considered a return to the game, to un-retire his demonic tendencies and enslave them all, retake his true form. That was the old him, the new him, burst out with laughter.
“Curse the lot of you.” He said “Tricky little bastards.” He turned. “Trevor, you cried? Tears of the Crocodile? I’ll remember this, I’ll get you back!” Monty promised.
Monty sat down in a free seat and rested his head in his hands. He yawned, it was an attempt to portray how bored he was about to become, with hope that it would infuriate Judith. Instead she just glared at him until he took his elbows off the table, it was considered rude. Monty leaned back in a huff.
“Now that out delightful old Wizard is here,” Judith smiled her usual insincere smile, “We may begin.”
Monty pulled a face back at her. He listened as Judith was meticulous in her description of the Halloween festivities that would take place from sun up to sun down five days from now. One of the older elders had to be hit awake to sign off funds for the decorations. Monty chuckled as the old man snored away, he wasn’t the only one bored with this nonsense, a part of him wished lil’John was outside, in some kind of trouble, so he could be excused. But alas, wishes are for fools.
The best part of three hours were, in Monty’s eyes, wasted. They would have been better spent in his study, the world of magic won’t unravel itself. Instead he was given instructions on who he should help at Halloween, what time and where.
When the meeting finished, Trevor caught Monty at the door.
“Hey Monty, wait up, I’ll walk back with you.” Trevor jogged towards him. “I hope you weren’t too annoyed by being fooled into attendance, it was Judith’s idea.”
“Was it now. Well, Trevor, you were the accomplice, I’ll dust off an old book, speak a few words, light some incense and by the time I’m finished, well, good luck locating your penis!” Monty said.
Monty shuffled forward as fast as he could and bolted for the door with little strides. He turned back, Trevor’s eyes were wide, he had turned a ghostly shade of white and froze on the spot, his body shook.
“You… you, can do that?” Trevor said.
Monty creased with laughter. He couldn’t hold back the tears of joy.
“Got ya!” He said.
Trevor’s nervous giggle sounded feeble against the noises Monty made, as he struggled to regain his breath. They both walked side by side back to Monty’s shack. Trevor made small talk about the weather, on occasion, Monty caught him mid-adjustment, as he made sure he was still intact. It was typical of a human male, you threaten their seeds in anyway and they folded. Family ties and reproduction were a human weakness, not a demons. The hunger for power, and knowledge, that was a demons struggle, oh, and the joy of death and destruction. In his younger years Monty loved a bit of that.
“Your son is doing very well Trevor. Alfie is taking to alchemy much faster then any of the other kids I’ve taught.” Monty said, as he unlocked the front door of his shack. “He’ll be read for some incantation work soon.”
Trevor’s nervous giggle returned. “Nothing too dangerous I hope?” he said.
“Bah Trevor! All magic is dangerous, but my students are safe.” Monty said.
Trevor coughed under his breath. “Tell that to the ghost of Fred.”
“I bloody heard that. Fred wasn’t my fault, no good little brat going into my study, touching things that shouldn’t be touched. Like I told his parents, if you touch the bones of a Mishkara with out the proper wards, of course you’ll burst into flames. It’s common bloody sense!” Monty said.
“Will we see you in the Tavern later for a drink?”
“Unlikely, I’m close to a breakthrough. In fact, let Alfie know that if he wants some extra merits, he can assist me.” Monty plotted.
Trevor nodded and walked away. Monty shook off his cloak and hung it back in its rightful place, much like every item in his shack, everything had a rightful place. He made his way to the study room, it was as he left it, immaculate. The alchemy station bubbled in the corner, as regents fermented, the left wall was made of wooden bookshelf that brimmed with scripture from the bygone age. Pushed against the window was an ornate desk of black stone, dragons, angels, monsters and demons were caved into the top of it, a pain of stained glass covered the artwork.
Monty swirled, with the mutter of a spell, a fireball crackled above his palm, in a stance ready to attack. Alfie held his hands up in the air.
“Don’t shoot?” he said, with an inquisitive shrug.
“Alfie! How nice to see you boy.” The ball of fire dissipated. “I’ve just been tricked into your mother’s Halloween meeting. We have work to do.” Monty said.
People of the village were in joyous laughter, drinks were being poured, drunk and then refilled at a merry rate. The children and young adults of the village danced as the Halloween Ball came to life.
Monty sat at a table of elders. He rested off the weary ache of the long day and treated himself to a tipple of whiskey. Judith danced with Trevor in the centre as they chaperoned they party. Monty wouldn’t accept it, but it was an enjoyable atmosphere, he caught himself a few times, tapping his feet to the live music. It was loud enough to blank the snore that emanated from the the elder next to him, the same old man from the meeting five days ago.
Monty made his way to the long table full of nibbles and buffet food. The table circled around the largest pumpkin pie Monty had ever seen. He picked up an orange tart and poured himself a horn of fruit punch. Judith walked up to him and watched as Monty bit into his tart.
“You’ve been very helpful today Monty, you’re normally back in your study by now.” She said.
“I was at the meeting remember. I knew exactly where I was supposed to be, and what time.” Monty smiled, an insincere smile.
Judith nodded and curtsied at him. She was then pulled back to the dance floor by a rather drunken Trevor. Monty jumped, someone tapped him on the back.
“Alfie! Stop doing that!”
Alfie was holding a small, wooden box that was held closed by a silver latch. He opened it. The bed of red silk held bone chalk, a glass orb, multiple regents and rolled scroll. Monty grinned. He went through the items to make sure they were all there.
“Right, you know what to do Alfie.” Monty said.
Alfie nodded and took of, he ran with a spring in his step. Monty sat back down and took a sip of his punch, surprised at the hint of off season strawberries.
The items in the wooden box fell to the floor as Alfie tipped it upside down. He broke the wax seal on the scroll. He used the bone chalk to draw five runes on the floor behind the music stage. He used the heavy curtain as cover. With the regents placed on each rune, Alfie placed the glass orb in the middle, and began to recite the incantation written on the scroll.
The air around him grew cold. White light flickered before him, as the last word of the incantation left his lips the light flashed with bright white and blues. Grey smoke swirled inside the orb on the floor, Alfie picked it up, the moment he touch it, four ghosts floated before him, disfigured from the wait, their faces hollow and eyeless and their jaws fallen and drooped downwards. Alfie swung his arm towards the dance floor, he grinned.
The ghosts flew upwards and howled, everyone froze in horror.
“Ghosts!” Everyone panicked and fled, their screams of terror filled the air. The spirits flipped the tables and threw chairs across the room, smashing them against the wall. Alfie broke down with laughter, he commanded the ghosts through the orb and got them to pick up the food. They began to throw it everywhere. All over everyone.
“Monty. What is this?” Judith’s hair dripped, she had been covered in punch. Monty looked up, two of the ghosts had picked up the pumpkin pie above her, it dropped. The cream and pumpkin covered her for head to toe.
“Never trick a Wizard Judith.” Monty said. He laughed and chugged his punch. Alfie’s ghosts continued to fly around the room.
A Watchmen sprinted into the village hall.
“Monty! It’s lil’John, he’s…”
“Oh for Fu…”