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Bêthberry 10-27-2006 08:56 PM

The Veil Lifted
Snap! Spark! Air popped into flame.

The old oil drum flared up into a small fire and shadowy figures emerged from the walls, hands held aloft to warm themselves. Some one or two kicked around a ball, making it dance between their feet and the wall and each other until, tiring, they allowed the ball to roll away into hiddenness in a shadowed corner. Then another pulled a plastic bag out of a pocket, called the others to the fire, and, ripping it open, extracted a small object from it. The bag was then passed around so each figure could withdraw something. They toyed with the object, turning it over and over until it turned into two pieces. One piece was popped into each mouth while the other one was crumpled almost secretively into a small ball and then, one by one, thrown into the fire. All but one, who stayed out of the way, eyes watching the alleyway and the sky.

“See! I told you!” whispered a voice behind the blackened window which gave out onto the alleyway. “They remember the bonfires and the scrolls.”

“Don’t be daft. Men ages ago forgot the old ways. It’s why we never show ourselves to them any more.”

“But they haven’t, not really. All the old habits—they’re still there.”

“Nah, you’re dreaming it. You’ve been reading the old lore books again and they give you ideas. Men live in metal houses now, to keep us away.”

“But watch them, look. They even scan the sky, marking the crows’ trail. And they leave food out for those who’ve gone ahead.”

“Some offering. Plunked in smelly cans.”

“How do you know they smell?”

“I can guess.”

“Guessings no good. It isn’t real. But seeing, now, or touching, or sharing the living and breathing—that’s something to think about. C'mon, let’s come out. They won’t know it’s us. We’ll be just like those others I told you about.”

“What others?”

“You know, the ones I saw last Winter Welcoming. They come in strange clothes, knocking on doors, the little ones. They call it Guising. We can pretend to be just like them.”

“But hobbits haven’t shown themselves among men for almost four ages now.”

“But they won’t know it’s us.”

The hobbits grew silent, the settled gloom of the tenement cellar seeming to give eerie possibility to the idea. One of them passed around a sack of toasted pumpkin seeds, and they chewed on them as they thought.

~ ~ ~

“I tell you, it was something weird. Like the air moved apart.” The speaker munched another tiny chocolate bar and threw the wrapper into the flames. “Last night, over on ta commons, I’m sure. I saw something at the edge of my eye, something peering at me. I turned my head and the air kinda waffled, you know, and then it didn’t. But something was there.”

“You’re starkers, man, just some kids playing All Barrows Eve early.”

~ ~ ~

tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte

Meanwhile, an old aluminum can on the street rocked in the cackling wind. Hydro poles screeched like old crows as their wires twitched, spooked by the wind. Spiky bits of dark sky massed over the dusk horizon. Scuffling sounds assailed ears, but never materialised. You could smell time creeping away, like air hesitant before a storm. That is, you could, if you were there. Come. Dare.

The Veil Lifted awaits gamers who want to savour the treats (and a few tricks) in the challenge of imagining Tolkien’s Middle-earth in the 7th Age. It is middish in the 7th Age and our story takes place in New Ford. Like The Yule Log , this is an informal game for all who care to join—a Hallowe’en Handout for us Downers. Your moderators are piosenniel and Child of the 7th Age. Watch for an appearance by littlemanpoet as well.

Happy Hallowe'en, Downers. Bêthberry

Noinkling 10-28-2006 01:23 AM

Tolly finds a treasure . . .
‘I want it,’ he whispered, more to himself than to the friend who’d crept out the old door along with him. In the dark, Tolly’s eyes were large, and what pale light penetrated the deep shadows at the end of the alleyway made them glimmer, as stars caught in a darkling pool. He pressed himself as flat as his stout little figure would allow against the uneven brick of the wall, inching along toward the treasure the Big’uns had seemingly forgotten. A few quick, sideways steps and there it was, within his reach…the ball!

‘You’d better leave it there, Tolly! The others’ll come down hard on you if you steal it. It'll mean trouble for us if the Big Folk come looking for us.’ Bran plucked at his friend’s arm, urging him to follow him back in.

‘Who said I was going to steal it?’ Tolly hissed. He dug deep into his breeches’ pocket and fished out one of his leather slings; then, from another pocket in his yellow striped vest, he pulled a small leather bag filled with small, rounded stones. ‘This should be enough, don’t you think?’ he asked, crouching down to leave the sling and rocks in a neat little pile. With a quick motion, he reached out and grabbed up the ball. Just the feel of it in his hand sent a certain thrill coursing through him. ‘It’s mine now,’ he said, with a certain dark glee. ‘Mine….’

With an economy of motion, he slid shadow like back to the door and through it.

Bran hesitated, not knowing what exactly he should do. The old leather sling with its small pouch of rocks was well used and hardly a fair trade for one of the Big Folks’ treasures. He searched through his vest pockets, finding an old silver penny at the bottom of one and a small carved whistle he’d made in another. Bran settled them in among the other offerings.

‘Trick’r’treat,’ he whispered, standing back up. Saying the invocation, or was it a blessing, he wasn’t quite sure…the one the Big Folk little’uns had cried out at each door, the year past.

‘Wait up!’ he called once he’d scrambled back inside the building, his eyes straining in the dim light for Tolly.

Glirdan 10-28-2006 09:11 AM

A Shadowy Presence
A dark shadow ran up and down the dark streets, as if he was being chased by an unseen figure. He ran on and on, running into walls, stumbling here and there. Once he tripped but quickly gathered himself and continued running pell mell from that unseen figure, his tiny little feet smacking the hard ground, his breath rising in small puffs of air in the cold, still night.

It was then that he heard something ahead of him and his heart raced even faster, thumping wildly. He slowed down and flattened himself against the wall. "I want it," the voice whispered. The shadow clenched his hand tightly to his breast, thinking that the voice was talking about his precious treat.

All of a sudden, another voice rose out of the night. "You’d better leave it there, Tolly! The others’ll come down hard on you if you steal it. It'll mean trouble for us if the Big Folk come looking for us," it said as quietly as possibly. Then a full scale conversation started between the two voices.

"Who said I was going to steal it?" asked the first too the second. "This should be enough, don’t you think?" There was a pause. Then it said quietly, but loud enough for the shadowy figure to hear, "It’s mine now. Mine...." Then there was scilence.

Out of nowhere, the second voice rose quietly from the shadows. "Trick’r’treat," it said. What does THAT mean? The figure thought to himself. He was interupted as the second voice rose once more and said "Wait up!"

Then an eerie scilence fell. The figure waited a minute to check that no one was coming his way. His hand loosened it's grip on it's precious treat. The figure made his way slowly to where he had hear the voice. He walked quietly, hoping that they wouldn't come back. He didn't know if he could trust them or not.

Thump! The figure had tripped and fallen face first over something that was lying in the middle of the ground. He quickly picked himself up and looked back at the ground to see what he had tripped over. There, in the middle of the road, lay a leather sling, a pouch full of rocks, a small silver penny and small wooden whistly that looked like it was hand made.

Who would leave things such as these in the middle he street!? he thought in disgust. He turned and looked up and down the way. There was nothing in sight. Mind you, he couldn't see very far as it was a dark night. He looked around and saw an old building. Perfect! A place for me to stay! He walked toward the building quickly, entered and ran right into something solid, but a lot less solid than a wall. "Ouch!" He cried out loud. "What IS that?" Then he heard a scrambling as the other walked towards him. "AHH!! Stay away from me! The treat is mine! Stay away!!"

Undómë 10-28-2006 01:07 PM

§ Jack §
A tall, slender figure unfolded itself from the space between the dustbin and the cardboard boxes piled near the thick painted end of the metal receptacle. In one fluid, graceful movement, Jack rose up, stretching his whip thin body even as he pulled the old tan greatcoat tight about him. His jeans were raggedy at the ankles, faded and dirty, thin spots and holes here and there about them. Not from fashion, though, but from long use. And long as they were, the legs of them barely covered the silver high-top sneakers he’d recently liberated from an unwatched delivery van. He wore, also, a long sleeved, cotton pullover, the sleeves of it barely to his wrists. It was scarce proof against the cool of the late evening.

And little he cared that it might be cold. His fair cheeks never bore the crimson stains of it, nor did his long, slender fingers pale at the advent of this chilly part of the year. These same fingers that now reached up to run themselves through his short dark spiky hair, black as a raven’s wing, and as shiny.

He was all of seventeen, this alleyway figure. At least he looked so at first glance and even perhaps at a second or third. It was his eyes, though, that belied such youth. Dark grey they were like some stormy sky and in them swirled silver’d glints of ancient stars.

Jack jammed his hands deep in his coat pockets, looking first one way and then the other down the alley. He’d seen the little folk moving in the shadows, heard their whispered argument. And down the other way, the group of neighborhood denizens gathered about their little fire.

He stepped out from the shadows, decision made, walking leisurely toward the light and the flickering tongues of flame.

Kath 10-28-2006 03:30 PM

Sam ran down the darkened street, laughing as his little brother tried to keep up. He was forced to take Billy with him every year now, his parents having decided that if he was old enough to go out on the dark streets at night on his own then he was old enough to look after his little brother on them as well. Sam had frowned when he first heard that argument, but had decided that the presence of his brother was a small price to pay for the absence of his parents. In any case, the kid had shown promise. Just one glimpse at those soulful eyes through whatever cute costume he was wearing got them mountains of treats.

"Come on Billy!" He called, slowing down enough that the younger boy could catch up to him.

When he received no answer he called again, a little more loudly this time. For all his protestations to the contrary he did like his brother, and would blame himself forever if anything were to happen to him.

"Billy! This isn't funny!" He yelled, cross now.

"Shh!" Came a voice from one of the side streets they'd walked past. Hurrying back down the path Sam found his brother peering down into the darkness. He could see the firelight flickering in the distance and knew that the men around it would have helped Billy if anything had happened, but it didn't stop his relief coming out as anger.

"What did you think you were doing?" He began, but was silenced by his brother who held a hand against his mouth.

"Shh, they'll hear you!" Was the whispered command.

"Who?" Sam managed to mumble.

"The Little Folk."

"Don't be silly, that's just a story." Sam scoffed, but looked warily down the alley all the same. He was about to pull his brother away by bribing him with the treats they had already gained that evening but movement at the opposite end of the street caught his eye. Astounded he watched as the little figures appeared from the shadows. He had to give Billy credit, those eyes were good for more than just sweets.

Silently now the two boys watched the goings on, and crept after the figures as quiet as mice as they moved away. Or so they thought.

littlemanpoet 10-28-2006 04:43 PM

So he was a little old for this kind of thing. Sid didn't care. Sure he liked the treats and had a big white pillow case to welcome all the treats. He got lots of strange looks from adult after adult when his cracking and verging on baritone voice announced "Trick or treat!" They wondered why he was alone. They eyed his cloak, worn boots, dirty tunic (well, an old, old vest at any rate), and his homemade sword belt with actual homemade sword and homemade scabbard. At leat the long dark hair wasn't homemade. It was real and down to his shoulders, and the eighteen hairs under his nose (count 'em!) were all he could manage for a mustache, and the three chin hairs were all he could manage for a beard, but they were his! And so tonight he was Aragorn son of Arathorn, Ranger, protector of the Little People.

There were lots of little people around to be sure. Other people's kids. He stomped down the sidewalk looking for egg-wielding and shaving-cream-can-holstering and toiletpaper-grasping do-no-gooders, ready to unsheathe his sword and chase them away. Or not.

The crackly oak leaves blew around in the wind, and the air was cooling as the last glimpses of red day were overtaken by the night shroud. Let the fun begin, he heard in his mind, and wondered what the night would bring. Besides candy.

Forest Elf 10-28-2006 05:41 PM

She looked at herself in the mirror, at her costume that she had put on for the night. Her shirt went down halfway over her fingers, and her broomstick skirt went down just above her knees. The silver lace at the neckline of her teal shirt made her eyes look greener instead of their usual blue color. Her brown skirt twirled as she spun in her store bought boots, which reached a few inches below her knee, and looked similar to moccasins. Her excitement bubbled up and she let out a giggle, not only because of tonight, but also because this was her last night of being fifteen.

Her hair barely reached down past her shoulders, she grinned at her reflection in the mirror. She did not care if she was different than her friends, she didn’t care that she was different than almost everyone she knew. This night would be great, she could already feel that, now to sneak past her parent’s, since they thought she was much too old to go out trick’r’treating. She didn’t really care much about trick’r’treating, just going out and having fun. Not the usual kind of fun, but the good old kind of fun, like working her homemade ghost from the old oak tree for unwary victims. But mostly, she loved going out and watching the fun, the little ones going from door to door, getting candy or a trick.

She quietly locked her bedroom door and walked over to her window and opened it. She climbed out onto the roof, and walked over to the old tree, grabbing onto one of the branches, and then swinging out onto the tree limb. She carefully made her way to the ground, where she ran down one of the ally’s and swiftly climbed up the old oak, so as no one could see her, and then kept an eye out for any unwary peoples.

All too soon could she see her first victim of the ghost coming out of the tree; she watched as he had his thoughtful look to his face, and then as had stopped, she carefully lowered her ghastly creation and began to make ghastly noises, trying to scare her first victim.

Celuien 10-28-2006 07:11 PM

One. Two. Three. Tap, tap, tap. The sharply pointed heels on Becca's boots clicked against the concrete steps leading from the street to her front door. Shifting her heavy bag of groceries to the side, she felt for her keys in her coat pocket. She unlocked the door, turned the knob in its center, and hurried inside.

"Brr. It's cold!" Coat and beret quickly found their spots on the coat rack. The groceries went to the kitchen.

Purr, purr. A glossy black cat came out from under the kitchen table and circled Becca's ankles, rubbing its chin against the hem of her skirt in greeting.

Becca stooped and lifted the cat. The sound of purring increased as she scratched under the cat's chin.

"Hello, Midnight. We're going to be busy tonight! It's Halloween, and we've got to have everything ready. Candy for the children, and a Jack-O-Lantern outside the door! Now go on back to your spot. I'll have treats for us later."

She put Midnight back on the ground. The cat stretched out on the kitchen floor near Becca's feet, watching her with sage, golden eyes as she work at carving a face into a pumpkin.

"All done." Becca snatched a candle and scurried outside to place her creation by the door. The Jack-O-Lantern's eyes grew bright from the candle. Becca smiled, and shivering again in the autumn wind, swept back through the door with her skirt swirling around her.

The last preparations - pouring candy into bowls on a small table near the door - did not take long. Becca and Midnight soon settled into a chair with a cup of tea and a book to await their visitors.

Firefoot 10-28-2006 08:23 PM

"Mum says black cats are bad luck," whispered Raven, glancing furtively at the next house on the street. "'Specially on Barrow's Eve. An' there's a black cat at that house. I see 'im sometimes, looking at me with those big golden eyes..." Her little brother Tucker nodded in agreement, his eyes wide. Raven hoped she hadn't told him too many scary stories. It was their first year guising out on their own, and Tucker would be completely useless if he was too frightened to do anything.

"An' if that cat sees us while we're gettin' treats, it's bad luck for a whole year," said Tucker, remembering this part of her story.

"Unless we can catch it... and... well, first we have to catch it." She couldn't remember what came next, or maybe she was making it up, but Tucker could tell she had a plan.

"So I'm going to go up to her door and say 'trick'r'treat,' and when the lady comes to the door to give me candy, you have to knock on the windows on the side of her house so she goes to find out who it is. And then I'll run in and take the cat if I see it. Just don't let her catch you. Ladies with black cats can make-" Raven glanced around again, as if afraid someone would overhear, then dropped her voice, "evil magic." She straighted. "I'm sure she won't catch you, though. Ready?"


"Let's go, then. You go around the side of the house, and listen for her to open the door for me." After a brief hesitation, Tucker set off across the lawn while Raven bravely stepped up to the front door, noting the Jack-o-lantern as it seemed to leer at her. She shivered slightly, whether from the chill breeze or fear was undetermined. Three times the dark-haired girl dressed like a miniature Elf knocked on the door, saying as loudly as she dared, "Trick'r'treat!"

Celuien 10-28-2006 09:53 PM

Soft knocks on the door announced Becca's first visitors. She marked her place in her book and stood.

"They're here," she murmured, and pulled open her door.

A little girl clad the the guise of an Elf barely squeaked out, "Trick'r'treat!"

So shy. Becca smiled warmly.

"Hello! What a nice costume!" she cried. Her hand moved to the candy bowl. Becca scooped out a handful of candy and dropped it in the child's treat bag.

Suddenly, there was the sound of rapping on a side window that overlooked Becca's strip of garden. What could the noise be? She would have to check. But first things first. The tiny Elf was staring at her with saucer eyes.

"Happy Halloween, my dear Elf princess." She shut the door, not bothering to lock it as she walked to the window to see who was in the garden. Empty. Becca shook her head and laughed to herself.

"Well, Midnight, I think I'm losing my head at last." She turned back from the window and the smiled changed to a frown. The front door was open.

I know I closed it. I did.

Becca closed the door again.

"Midnight. Here, Midnight."

She had to make sure the cat was inside. It would never do for her to be outside in the city at night and alone.

Noinkling 10-28-2006 11:22 PM

A Run-in with the 'shadowy creature' . . .
‘AHH!! Stay away from me! The treat is mine! Stay away!!’

Bran picked himself up from the dusty floor where he’d fallen. ‘Back off you great oaf!’ he hissed pushing hard against whoever it was had bumped him over.

Tolly, a number of steps ahead of his friend, crammed the ball into the deep recesses of his pants’ pocket and picked his way back toward Bran. Moonlight filtered in through the dirty, barred windows lighting the cluttered room in muted patches. Tolly picked up a wooden slat from a pile on the floor and walked menacingly toward the intruder.

‘Well, who would want your old treat, you clumsy git!’ He snorted and shook his makeshift club at the fellow. He motioned for Bran to come stand by him. 'It's probably nothing but rubbish.'

‘Who are you, anyway?’ asked Bran, brushing what dirt he could from his shirt and breeches. ‘And why did you come skulking after us?’

piosenniel 10-29-2006 02:18 AM

…..tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte….

Gilly reached out with the tip of her shoe and knocked the can over. A quick flip of her toe sent it skittering wildly down the long uneven stretch of pavement. ‘Throw a bit more wood on the fire, won’t you?’ she called out to one of the others nearer the burning can. ‘Got to see about getting these fingers of mine warmed a bit before I play.’

She drew nearer the fire and flexed her hands near the rising warmth. Her eyes caught the movement of someone coming down the alleyway. The coat he wore billowing out behind him like a great tan sail.

‘Jack! Is that you?’ She gave him a wide grin, welcoming him into the circle. ‘What business brings you out this night of nights?’

Glirdan 10-29-2006 07:19 AM

Shadowy Creature unveiled
"Who are you, anyway? And why did you come skulking after us?" the second voice asked. There was a pause before he answered. "I am Armundo and I didn't follow you on purpose, you evil scum now stay away from me! This treat is mine! I stole it from the Big People!"

He tried to look around to see if he could escape back out into the street and run away. But there was more light in here and he would have been seen.

Well, no way out. Might as well make conversation, he thought. "Well, who are you? And why were you in the street? And is that you're stuff on the ground out there?"

Child of the 7th Age 10-29-2006 09:03 AM

"But why do we have to go into the city? You don't like it there, and neither do I?" Though never leaving the safety of his leafy perch, the bird stared down at the old man, demanding an immediate answer. Hedwig was a creature of formidable size and appearance: an eagle owl whose wingspan extended nearly two meters. The largest owl in the world, about knee-high to a human adult, Hedwig was quite capable of taking out a cat or even a small dog at a single blow.

The old man looked over and growled, "Stop asking questions. You know why we are going tonight. We go every year at this time. This is the one and only day when the poor men of New Ford can actually see and speak with me and the rest of the inhabitants of Arda. The rest of the year it is useless to try and get their attention. They have their ears plugged up with the noise of traffic and copy machines and subway cars, and their brains are fixed on such mundane topics as mutual funds and stock prices. There has been considerable decline since the days of Ellessar, I am afraid."

"Malarkey!" retorted the bird. "It is because you and the others have faded. That is why they can't normally see you. It has nothing to do with the New York Stock Exchange!"

"Faded?" The old man's eyes flashed with fire as he responded in a harsh tone, "I have not faded. I am a Maia and Maier do not fade. How often must I tell you that. And, as for the others, they have not faded either. It is only a matter of perspective."

"Not faded? How can you say that" Hedwig challenged. "I read it myself in a big, fat book."

"So you have been snooping in my copy of Lord of the Rings? A dangerous book--I told you to leave it on the shelf. Frankly, Hedwig, you must take everything you read there with a grain of salt. Remember it is the faulty recollections of a man, and what do men know of elves, or dwarves or hobbits or a Maia? They say things only to flatter themselves. It is not we who have faded but they. Their ears are not attuned to the sounds and sights of Arda. They have filled their minds with a lot of rubbish, and it is only on this one night of the year that they can manage to sweep that all away and see the world as it really is."

Hedwig stubbornly shook his head, "That's not what Mr. Shippey or Mr. Hammond say, and it's certainly not what's on the Barrowdowns website, the one we looked at last year when we tried out that terminal in the public library."

"The Barrowdowns? Those poor folk are even worse than Master Tolkien! Always carrying on with long vapid posts and never getting outside to mix with the animals and hobbits and even the occasional elf who still live on their own planet. No, I tell you the truth. Men pay such attention to dry details that they usually fail to see what is important in life, what lies just below the veil waiting for them to take a look. Truly, Hedwig, in many ways I feel sorry for Men. And I consider it my duty to go and have a look on this one night of the year and see if I can knock any sense into their heads. So no more complaints! Hop on my shoulder, and we'll be off to New Ford. Anyways" the old man conceded as an afterthought, "there'll be plenty of cats out roaming the street, so you may be able to pick up a bite to eat."

With that last assurance, Hedwig finally nestled on Aiwendil's shoulder, and the two set off to the east, striding on towards New Ford.

Dimturiel 10-29-2006 09:43 AM

So it was upon them at last, the spookiest night of the year, the night around which so many legends circulated. She had loved that night since she was a small child. She liked dressing up, and walking from door to door, friendly people smiling at her, with eyes twinkling with delight. Time had passed too quickly, she was older now, she could no longer do the things she had done as a chlid.

Yet she still liked to walk the streets on that night, being careful to have at her a bag of sweets that she would present to the children she met disguised as ghosts, or elves, or hobbits. She smiled to herself, imaginining how delighted these children would be, and how they would run to their mothers to tell them of the kind young lady that had given them candy because she had liked their costume. She even fancied she could hear such a child, talking quickly somewhere near her:

"And, Mum, do you know what she said? She said I was the prettiest Elf-maiden she had ever seen!"

She shook her head. In but a few years they would forget her, and would laugh at the way they use to wander the streets disguised as fairy-tale characters. Or else, they would become like her. Constantly dreaming, longing for a past that was so distant that the people around her had ceised believing in it.

When she was a child, she would tell anyone she met while trick-or-treating that she was an elf princess and that her name was Darlariel. And now, each Halloween night she walked the streets again as Darlariel. She thought-and she sometimes felt ashamed to admit this- that on one such night she would encounter a sign from the world in which she still whole-heartedly believed. Maybe she would run into a real Hobbit, or a real elf or ...or even...But what was the use of expresing such desire? Her mind told her clearly that it would not come true. And yet, her heart made her walk the streets at night, ever waiting for something to happen.

Firefoot 10-29-2006 11:35 AM

At least the lady hadn't bothered to lock the door; Raven would have heard the distinctive click. She stood on her tiptoes to peer through the window, making sure the lady had heard Tucker's knocking and was walking away. She was.

Quickly and quietly as she could, she opened the front door, darted in, and seized the cat where it still sat next to the treat bowl. Raven felt a little bit guilty taking the lady's cat; the lady had been so nice to her and given her lots of candy - good chocolate candy, not the icky hard ones or, even worse, the toothbrush that the dentist had given her. But only a little bit guilty; she wasn't about to have bad luck for an entire year over this.

Raven heard footsteps coming back from the other room and fled. She really had a very poor grip on the cat, holding it around its middle, and it was squirming violently. She didn't bother to close the front door behind her, only ran as fast as she could away from the house.

"Raven, wait!" She heard her name called and almost shrieked in fright. The evil lady knew her name! But it was only Tucker in his Corsair costume. "Did you get the cat?" he asked.

She could only nod; she felt as if her heart were pounding in her throat.

"Now what?"

"Well... we have to..." She cast about for an answer, trying to think of something suitable from scary stories - skin it? burn it alive? - while trying to shift the cat in her arms so that she could hold it better. It had slipped down while she had been running so she was holding it right beneath its front legs and thought that at any moment it might slip free - which it did and within seconds was off running down the road in the direction of the town.

"We have to catch it!" she cried, chasing after it, barely able to see it in the setting darkness.

Aylwen Dreamsong 10-29-2006 02:56 PM

“Time to go, time to go! Candy! Candy, candy, candy!”

Ben hopped up and down, up and down, right in front of his older sister. She looked up from her book, and all Ben could only see her hazel eyes over the hard cover. Ben twirled around in his costume – this year, the six-year old was a flamboyant orange pumpkin, an outfit hand-made, like all his previous costumes, by his mother.

“Five more minutes, Ben?” His teenage sister, Ella, pleaded with him. Ben could not read the big words on the cover of her book, but he figured it must have been important for her to want to wait five more minutes to go trick-or-treating.

“Nooooo!” He wailed. “Mommy said we can go now! Now, now, now!” Ben tugged on Ella’s sleeve, and she groaned as she got off the couch she had been sitting on.

Ben squealed happily, bouncing his way toward the front door where his mother had set the bag of candy she would hand out when the doorbell rang. He grabbed Ella’s jacket for her, and while she slowly put it on, he took her scarf off of the coat rack.

Together, Ben and Ella left their home, and walked out into the dark, windy night.

“Ella, why don’t you have a costume?” Ben asked, holding Ella’s hand as they walked from one house to the next.

“I’m too old to wear costumes, Ben.” Ella replied. Ben let go of her hand to walk up the steps to the next house, and Ella waited patiently on the sidewalk.

Then, Ella heard a funny noise from the front yard of the house to her right. A soft crinkling sound erupted from the area right below the nearest tree. Whatever made the sound was moving, quickly – the crinkling of leaves got louder and closer.

Ella walked slowly towards the strip of grass in a sea of concrete, following the noise, and…


Ella yelped and jumped back, surprised, as a black cat careened towards her. She reached down quickly and grasped the ebony animal tightly. Its eyes were wide, and Ella could feel the cat’s heart beating fast as a hummingbird beats its wings. It tried to wrestle with Ella, but she cradled it firmly in her arms.

“Oooh! A cat!” Ben came up behind Ella and peered up at the cat.

"Yeah...I wonder what was chasing him...or...uh...her...that made it so scared." Ella smiled at the cat as she spoke.

"Black cats are bad luck, Ella, everyone knows so." Ben informed her.

Celuien 10-29-2006 04:56 PM

"Rrreeeooooowwwww. Yeeeooooowww." The call of a frightened cat echoed just outside Becca's door.

Becca gasped. "Midnight!" She flung her door wide and stepped into the cold, hatless and coatless. Not too far away, the Elf child was running down the street with a small boy, and Becca caught a glimpse of inky fur on the girl's shoulder.

"No! Come back! Come back!" Becca set off at a frantic run. The children had stolen her Midnight, and no good could come of their cruelty. Tears started down her cheeks.

Run, faster, run.

littlemanpoet 10-29-2006 06:56 PM

Sid liked it when he came across kids got up as fellow Lord of the Ringers. Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves. He saw them here and there this night. It was cool even to see Goblins, Trolls, and Orcs. But people didn't do much of that. Bummer.

Rrreeeooooowwwww! Yeeeooooowww! A cat yowling in the distance. Sid's neck hairs prickled. Ah, it's nothing, he tried to reassure himself. That bad luck stuff isn't for real.

The front door of the rowhouse he was walking by opened in a hurry. A young woman ran out of the door. "No! Come back! Come back!" she called, running frantically.

That couldn't be good. She was headed in the direction of the cat noise. "Hey, why not?" Sid said to himself, and loosening his fake sword in his fake scabbard, started jogging after her.

Feanor of the Peredhil 10-29-2006 07:16 PM

Enter Tish, Stage Left.
Tish glared at the door, daring knocks to echo through it into her almost quiet house. She could hear shrieking from the street. On any other night, she'd be out with a broomstick or a cellphone, stopping the trouble with a quick thwack or a threat of police. Shrieking interrupted the candle light. But tonight she couldn't chase away the trouble-makers. They were children. Children of her neighbors, of her co-workers. She was reaching the age when her peers were settling down. Getting married. Creating little rugrats to dress up on national holidays.

She wore black. It wasn't special. She wasn't dressed for the occasion. She just always wore black. Tish had actually considered switching to pink for the night, just to dispell any notions that she had some sort of festive spirit. But if she did that, she was dressing up.

She glared at her wooden floor. She couldn't win. And somebody was going to knock on her door. Some small voice was going to yell 'trick or treat' and demand rotton teeth or threaten vengeance. Tish, usually nice, if widely known as That One, was, quite frankly, miserable on this depressingly spunky night.

Folwren 10-29-2006 08:01 PM

“I don’t see why he can’t just go by himself,” Ellen said for the hundredth time as she flung back the broad, white cloth. Her chin jerked back, her blue eyes flashed, and the cloth fell into place over her head. “He’s a sensible seven year old kid and yet…” she ground her teeth and picked up the round, pearly backed brush. Half of her golden hair lay over her shoulder, falling in curling waves over the white dress.

“Don’t argue, dear,” her mother said calmly. “Do you want a basket for your candy?”

“I am not collecting candy, Mom, thank you very much. I’m sure Josh will collect enough for all of us put together. Come on, King Brian.” She directed her last statement towards a short, stout little boy dressed up in the merry green and yellow of a leprechaun. “Ridiculous outfits,” she muttered between her teeth and she held the storm door open for her little brother. “Why couldn’t we have gone as something sensible – like a regular witch and wizard? Instead the little twerp had to talk me into these impractical Irish clothes.”

They came to their first neighbors house. Josh started up the walk away from the sidewalk and turned around three steps away. “Aren’t you coming?” he asked impatiently.

“No,” Ellen replied shortly. “You will go up and ask for your trick-or-treats and I will wait on the sidewalk. Hurry up. I want to get done as soon as possible.” She sighed as she looked away down the long street. In a moment Josh returned, showed her his first bit of treasure and passed on.

“Brush your hair, El,” he said as he went by her and walked on. “Banshees always brush their hair. And be sure not to laugh. I forget what happens if they laugh…but something bad.”

Ellen rolled her eyes and made no reply as she gave one or two half-hearted brushes to her long hair. Josh started up the next walk but Ellen, upon looking up, leaped after him and grabbed his shoulder, pulling him back. “No, Josh, not that house. The…the woman who lives there doesn’t…isn’t…” Ellen didn’t like spreading bad gossip about people. “No, let’s skip it.”

“Nope! More candy the better!” Josh broke free and Ellen let him go without further hindrance. She stood with her arms folded at the beginning of the walk towards the front door.

The little boy ran up and bounded up the steps. He knocked quietly on the door, the wood hard on his knuckles. “Trick or treat!” he called out in his clear, high, piping voice.

Firefoot 10-29-2006 09:49 PM

Raven heard the voice calling behind her, "No! Come back! Come back!" Why did that cat have to have been so noisy? The lady never would have realized it was them - at least, not for a while longer. Now she was after them; they needed to find the cat and duck into a hiding place somewhere.


That way! There were more trick'r'treaters around here, not so close to the outskirts of town, and a couple of people were staring at them, but Raven didn't really notice, so concentrated was she on listening for the cat. They had to find it! If they didn't, it would be even worse, and the cat would give them even more bad luck for getting it lost!

Then she slowed suddenly. "You have our cat!" she exclaimed, seeing an older girl with the cat in her arms and not looking at all afraid of bad luck and such. "Please give us the cat?" she begged, mindful of the witch lady that must still be chasing them and getting closer all the time. She realized then that the boy with the older girl, who didn't seem terribly inclined to give up the frightened cat, was one of Tucker's friends. "Tucker, get Ben to have her give us the cat. Tell them how important it is."

Tucker nodded importantly. "If you don't give it to us, it's going to give us bad luck for a whole year, so we took it and were going to... going to... what were we going to do with it, Raven?"

Raven shifted uncomfortably, not wanting to say the dreaded words, "I don't know." But she didn't know what else to say, and was starting to panic so she just started to babble, "If you don't give us the cat the witch lady with the mean jack-o-lantern's going to catch us and we'll be cursed and have bad luck and please please just give us the cat please!"

Feanor of the Peredhil 10-29-2006 11:56 PM

It begins, she thought dramatically, quoting Theoden, or Aragorn, or somebody. She put out the clove cigarette she'd lit. She hadn't smoked it. It just smelled interesting. Tish loved the spicy scent. But you couldn't pay her enough to suck smoke. Still, the image of a black haired, black clothed, smoking Corruptor of the Youth worked for her; it meant no parents ever asked her to babysit. She'd made it this far in her life without close contact with diapers and she had no inclination to end the trend.

She got up slowly and moped toward the door, opening it, suddenly, harshly and leaning on the frame.

"Just what trick, little boy, do you think yourself capable of playing on me?"

Noinkling 10-30-2006 02:18 AM

‘Armundo?’ Bran looked at Tolly, who merely shrugged his shoulders. ‘Sorry never heard about you before.’

‘And, yeah, that’s our stuff out there. Left it for a trade.’ Tolly pulled out the small ball and shifted it from hand to hand. He was about to ask just what this ‘treasure’ was that Armundo had found, when a voice hailed them from the stairway.

‘Hey! You two!’ Ferdy paused on the steps coming up from the cellar, his face peering over where the wooden floor of the tenement met the stairway. ‘Come on! Daisy’s found some sacks for us.’ He held up a crinkly, plastic bag with the with the words Shop-Smart emblazoned in red across one side. ‘We’re going to try that trick’r’treat thing we saw them doing last year.’ He climbed up two more steps and sat down, grinning through the stairposts. ‘Daisy wants to be one of the ones who asks for treats.’ He held up a carton of eggs in one hand and pulled a piece of soap from his pocket. ‘I’m gonna try my hand at the trick part.’

Ferdy laughed, a merry sort of sound that rang across the room. ‘Remember that big place we saw, the one with the moving pictures? Well, Bilbo and Frodo’s books, it seems, have been done up in that way. Or so Daisy said she’d heard from someone. Imagine that! Well, anyways, her friend says the big folk are quite fond of the Hobbits from the stories. So that’s what we’re going out as tonight. Ourselves…..’ He burst out laughing, thinking about pretending to be what they really were.

Ferdy came on up the steps, stopping short as he reached the top. ‘Hey! Who’s that with you?’ he asked, a suspicious look on his face. ‘You know him?’

Bran and Tolly shrugged their shoulders, not really wanting to get into the whole story of how they’d ‘met’ Armundo. ‘Sort of,’ they gave as a grudging answer.

Tolly turned to Armundo, an expectant look on his face. ‘Well, you want to come along?’

Glirdan 10-30-2006 06:30 AM

Armundo looked between the three figures. They seem friendly enough. Besides, I'm interested in finding out what they're going out to do.

"Sure I'll come," he answered as he rose to his feet, dusting himself off as he did. As he rose, he noticed that they too were Hobbits. "Hmmm, I don't think I reconize any of you either. I know that you're all Hobbits like myself, but from where?" he asked, quite interested and unafraid for the first time that night.

Child of the 7th Age 10-30-2006 02:07 PM

Aiwendil blinked once, then twice, as he strained to get a better look at the small beggers who bounded up the steps and pounded at the door, yelling for treats until someone in the house responded. Most of those wandering the streets after dark were children or young teens, although the tiniest had a mother or father in tow who stood behind on the sidewalk waiting for their little one to scoop up candy and come scampering back.

Nearly everyone was dressed in costume. Even some of the adults had t-shirts festooned with pumpkins and black cats, or sported a clever hat. A few of the young boys wore clothing that made Aiwendil remember with longing his distant friends in Middle-earth like Aragorn, Treebeard, and Gandalf. The wizard had also counted at least one Galadriel and two Arwens by the time he walked the ten blocks and reached the center of town.

At the point when the two crossed the railroad tracks to continue into the tougher neighborhoods, the istar could not help but notice something else. Although there were a host of friendly types still roaming the streets, Aiwendil was struck by the number of teens who looked as if they were about to enlist in the army of the Dark Lord. Six hulking figures blocked the sidewalk in front of a decrepit storefront and glared at him menacingly as he strode past. They hung together in a single bunch, wearing an odd assortment of patched together clothing and implements: black robes, bat wings, fangs, bones, and axes smeared with gruesome make-believe blood. He even saw one miserable looking Orc tagging along at the back of the group.

Aiwendil had been walking for a long time. As they passed a small park overrun with weeds and trash, the wizard thought he saw a few grim figures flitting in and out of the bushes, glaring at him with menace in their eyes. A chill ran up his spine. These were not the elves or hobbits dear to the wizard's heart, but hints of things much darker and scarier, secrets hidden in the bowels of the earth that only reared their head on this single night of the year. He stopped for a moment and peered into the shadowed cement recesses behind the basketball court, but there was no movement or sound. He gazed confusedly from side to side, unsure of where he was. None of the streets looked familiar any more. Maybe Owl was right. Maybe he was going batty and would soon fade away.

After a long spell of silence Hedwig spoke. This time his sharp tone was softer and full of concern, "Where are we going, Master? Are you alright?"

"Patience, Hedwig! I haven't been here in a year. It's just that everything looks different. If you give me a minute, I will have us on the right road." But as much as Aiwendil stared, he could not figure out where he was. He had memories of a rambling Victorian house that should stand on this corner; it had been the kind of place with lilacs and rambling rosebushes that he instinctively liked. But now it was gone, apparently torn down and replaced by a parking lot that was meant to house more of the monster machines during the day when the residents of New Ford went to work.

Hedwig's eyes grew wide with concern. The Owl did not like how Aiwendil was acting. Perhaps the old man was truly going daft, and he should lead him back to the old shack in the woods where they normally made their home. But when Hedwig suggested that they might consider returning, the wizard had fixed on his face with a jaundiced eye. "Not tonight. I have things to do. Look here. That young woman. Perhaps she can help us." The wizard pointed towards a lone figure on the opposite side of the street. She was older than the teen but still young enough to have a look of longing and mystery in her eye. Her black hair fell down to the middle of her back. It reminded Aiwendil of the last time that he had seen Arwen. He sidled up to her and cleared his throat, "Excuse me. I'm so sorry to bother you. You see, I am trying to find my way to the library, the sacred hall where the books are kept. Someone or something is waiting for me there. And I must get access to a computer terminal." Aiwendil stumbled over the unfamiliar words and then continued. "But I am afraid I have lost my way. You wouldn't happen to know where that place is? Perhaps you could tell me or even lead me there."

For a moment the young woman stared at him, her face registering cnsiderable surprise. "I'm sorry," added the wizard, leaning on his staff. "I didn't mean to startle you. Let's see now...... Your name....your name is....."

For a moment the old man stopped. Sometimes the old osanwe trick let him peep into the mind of a resident for a single instant, just long enough to know by what name they preferred to be called. At first, Aiwendil glimpsed a plain simple name --the honest one that her parents had given her. But though sturdy and decent for the everyday world, this was not what a fine young woman should go by on a special night like this. He drew a deep breath and continued, "I believe you are Darlariel. My fine lady Darlariel, can you help me find the library?"

Durelin 10-30-2006 02:35 PM

A feathered spirit of the night...
Flapping wings excitedly, the black, smaller than a cat but bigger than some breadboxes form hopped around a lonely read container adorned with a golden 'M' which bore something he knew to be very tasty. Bringing his beak down with a snap he snatched up a long, mushy piece to munch on, half of it sticking out and up from his beak. He frequented this area often, knowing that many a delightful treat could be found on the pavement. Sometimes he would be forced to flee, whether another gang came by, or if other larger animals chased him away. Then he might perch up in a nearby tree to wait for the chance to finish his meal, or, if he was feeling bolder, he might venture towards a house, to see what he might find around it.

A flash of headlights and a low growling of engines sent him bounding off onto the sidewalk and into a yard as he used a combination of his thin, ungainly legs and his slightly less ungainly wings to propel himself away from danger. Each time he did it with less and less enthusiasm, understanding more and more that as long as he was out of the way, he was safe. But by the time he had slowed to a bobbing strut through the grass, he had forgotten the potatoe-y treat he had found in the road, and now made his way slowly toward the house, his head twisting restlessly from side to side at every noise he heard.

Suddenly he caught sight of a familiar figure: sleek black feathers, long pointed beak, beady black eyes on either side of the head, long spindly legs... He froze and observed it, standing as motionless as it did near the front door of the house, seated atop a large, round orange thing that triggered his desire to eat. But he would have to watch this one that seemed to have already claimed the orange ball for himself. Slowly the feathered being approached the similar feathered being, sizing it up as he did. It was smaller than he, and the fact that it did not note his presence made him feel it was too weak to attack him.

With a giant leap and a screech, with much flapping and jolting, he shot himself at the creature who had claimed the small orange mountain, feet first. His enemy fell to the ground with his feet, and after a bit of pecking and clawing, he was fairly sure it was not going to attack him. So, immediately claiming triumph, he turned on the orange object that seemed to glare at him. An aroma that translated to food filled the air around him, and so he plunged his beak into the thick skin, poking with a moist thud in order to get at the inside, which he knew was the best part. The fact that it was strangely warm was not a feeling that registered in his mind. A crow could comprehend the science behind a Jack o’ lantern even less than the confounded technology of plastic and fake feathers.

Undómë 10-30-2006 03:29 PM

§ Jack §
Jack laughed, a rich sound as the throaty clinking of brass bells in a long gone garden. ‘My business? Why “treats”, of course. Though not those sweets I can see that just the mention of has set your mouth watering.’

Reaching into the pocket of his greatcoat, he pulled out a small paper sack, crumpled from much opening and reclosing. ‘Here, have one.’ He offered the little bag to Gilli. ‘Mind you, though, they’re boiled sweets and quite sticky. You’ll need to lick those fingers of yours clean before you pick up your bow or fiddle.’ He took one for himself. ‘The old sorts are the best, don’t you agree?’ he added with a wink, sucking on the sweet.

‘Hey, why don’t you just come along? It’s quite warm where I’m bound. All closed in and cozy like.’ He grinned at her questioning look. ‘The New Ford Library, m’dear.’

From some other pocket in the interior of his coat he pulled out a slender volume bound in a dark blue cover. ‘Just listen here,’ he instructed softly, the slender fingers of his right hand turning pages.

I am the Fairy Mab: to me 'tis given
The wonders of the human world to keep;
The secrets of the immeasurable past,
In the unfailing consciences of men,
Those stern, unflattering chroniclers . . .

He closed the book, putting it carefully back and pulling out another. A paperback, this time, and from the dog-eared pages, much thumbed.

Setting: A street.

He began, one hand motioning round the alleyway they stood in.

I dream’d a dream to-night.

And so did I

Well, what was yours?

That dreamers often lie.

In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.


O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep . . .

‘Who could guess the words of Will and PB would still be found captured in these books?’ He grinned. 'Old El’s house library could have used some of this bookbinding knowledge, I think. They’re quite durable. Nothing like those old vellums and parchments gone all stiff and cracked and torn.’

Jack closed up the book, giving it a satisfied pat. ‘And all praise, too, to Mr. Dewey, and his lovely system. I’m just dipping into the 821’s and ‘22’s these past few years.’ He ran one finger over the letters and numbers on the spine of the book. ‘Unlike, again, the library of El’s where one had to spend a great deal of time poking about in this hole and that for an interesting scroll to read.’ He put the small book back in the pocket with the other and buttoned up his coat.

‘So . . . come along, eh? No one will be there. You can play in the stacks.’ He raised his brow at Gilli. ‘Lovely high ceilings. I’ll bet there are some great acoustics in the reading rooms.’

Celuien 10-30-2006 05:00 PM

The children were fast. Too fast for Becca, hindered as she was by the thick folds of her skirt and her stiff boots. They darted around a corner, and by the time she caught up, the catnappers were nowhere to be seen. Worse, Midnight had fallen silent. The trail was cold.

Becca stopped and stared down the street. It was filled with trick'r'treaters. Someone must have seen if the children passed that way. Or if Midnight escaped (as Becca hoped she would - Midnight was a special cat and always had always been bright, even for a cat), maybe they would have seen where she went.

Then Becca noticed a boy jogging up behind her. He came up alongside her. Becca couldn't help smiling at him. Recalling that footsteps had echoed behind her during her frantic run, she realized that he must have been following the whole way.


"Any trouble?"

"Yes. Someone stole my cat."

The boy flourished a painted cardboard sword. "I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and I shall protect you from the miscreants."

Becca's eyes danced in friendly amusement. "Aragorn. I'm Becca. Mae govannen, Dúnadan."

Yeeeeoooooowwwwww. The sound came from just down the next street to the right.

"Midnight!" Waving to her new friend to follow, Becca ran towards the sound.

Aylwen Dreamsong 10-30-2006 08:05 PM

“See, Ella, I told you so,” Ben nudged his sister, who had gotten the cat to purr faintly in her arms. “Black cats are bad luck. I told you! You better do what they say.”

“It’s just a cat. It’s harmless,” Ella smiled at the cat, and made what Ben would call ‘kissy-faces’ at it.

The little girl looked nervous, and looked over her shoulder anxiously.

“Please, please give us the cat!” The girl’s eyes widened as she heard footsteps echoing behind her.

“Promise you won’t hurt it?” Ella asked sternly. Ben and the other boy looked sharply at the girl, who looked back over her shoulder once more.

“I promise,” the girl whispered the words.

“What?” Ella inquired with a smug look on her face, for she had most certainly heard the little girl’s words.


“Okay, okay!” Ella went to hand the cat over to the little girl, when two figures came dashing out of the darkness.

Folwren 10-30-2006 08:40 PM

The door popped open like a jack-in-the-box. Josh looked up, expectant. "Just what trick, little boy, do you think yourself capable of playing on me?"

What? That wasn’t the sort of reply grown ups were supposed to give. Josh took a step back, a puzzled look crossing his childish face. A moment later, he gained control of himself and his presence of mind and quick wit kicked in.

“I’m a leprechaun!” he said, his face brightening. “I can do a great many things. You’d better just give me the candy and not worry about it.” He extended his hands with his large basket presented.

“I’m not serving candy this evening,” the woman said. Josh thought he caught a sound of sarcasm in that voice. The door began to shut. He put his foot in the way.

“Don’t you dare shut the door in the face of King Brian! I’ll have Featheregoag put the Come-hither on you! There’ll be a changeling in every cradle! The Banshee will haunt the streets for weeks after tonight! Open up, I say, and hand over the goods!”

Feanor of the Peredhil 10-30-2006 11:06 PM

Tish clenched her jaw in repressed annoyance. This little boy was obnoxious. She briefly considered slamming the door on his foot, but decided against it. She really didn't want to hear from his parents' lawyers. She rolled her eyes.

"Child," she forced through a plastic smile, "Go play elsewhere. Your sister awaits. There appears to be a youth with a cardboard sword running around. Try challenging him to a duel."

She nodded slightly to the girl on the garden path. No, little girl, it seemed to convey, I won't steal your little brother. No worries. I don't want him. You can keep him.

Tish waved her hand dismissively.

"Off with you. Go bother the old lady next door."

Bêthberry 10-31-2006 01:00 PM

"Do you think anyone will recognise us?"

The tall, somewhat willowy woman in the orange robes of a Buddist had scanned the neighourhood, marking young humans in mythological and Middle-earth costumes and catching sight of some shod, short souls who she knew would receive a scathing lecture from the Hobbiton Garden Club--the very thought of hobbits succumbing to the fetish of leather over their feet!

'Blunderbusses and horseflies, I can only hope," replied a very hirsuite fellow clad in armour from head to foot, but armour which couldn't possibly hide all his long, growing, glowing, beautiful hair. It was a luxury he allowed himself now that he was no longer in the army. "Hello, sweet lady!" he immediately beamed to a very distraught looking woman, her skirts flying about her, but before she could reply his eye caught site of a very fetching woman clad in black, stubbing out a cigarette, the whiff of which sent him off on fantasies--of trade. He stepped forward to speak to her, wondering which quotation from The Silm or UT would put him in the best light as a substantiated former of Tolkien opinion.

"Bruce, get your mind get your mind out of Books. This is a Mirth night, an RPG night, not a scholarly night." He glared glumly at the woman, who had a reputation as one who took Books a bit too lightly. "Maril," he began, but was quickly interrupted.

"Look at what those rugrats are doing to that cat. And that bird! Honestly, you'd think everyone here has succumbed to that wretched view of wildlife which Tolkien promulgated."

'Now, Birdie, wait and see what happens. We're not here to interrupt the Guising for All Barrows Eve. We're here to haunt the Downs."

"Haunt, schmaunt," replied the woman addressed as Birdie, whose name really was Birdland, "I'm here to pretend we're the Lollygag Guild. I hear some people are whining that the Downs has become too sedate. I'll show them sedate."

The three wights wafted down the street, walking into and through garbage cans and walls, trick r treaters and lamp poles, as was the wont of wights of eld. It had been a long time since any of the three had made an appearance on the Downs but none of them was the sort to make any bones about silly nonsense that only one poster could lay claim to brilliance and genius on the Downs.

Celuien 10-31-2006 01:23 PM

The chase came to an end. Four children - the two Becca had been chasing and two others - stood together in front of a small house. Midnight squirmed uncomfortably over the shoulder of the girl who had been at Becca's door. The cat spotted Becca and freed herself from the child's grasp with a sudden twist. Becca scooped her up from the ground and as she gently stroked her fur, Midnight calmed down and began to purr contentedly.

Becca's eyes flashed indignantly. She glared at the children, not softened (as she would usually have been) by the nervous look of fear her visitors now wore with their costumes. Had 'Aragorn' not been watching from one side and an older girl standing guard on the other, she was certain that they would have fled.

"Why did you do that? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves?"

Dimturiel 10-31-2006 01:33 PM

Darlariel did not know how long she had sat alone with her thougths, memories of her past mixing with her reflections on the present until she had not been able to discern any diference between them. Suddenly she was abruptly brought back to reality by a voice sounding quite near her. She turned around to have a better look at the one who had adressed her, slightly intrigued by the way he talked. She saw an old man, leaning on a staff, with an owl nestled on his shoulder. For a moment, she was too taken aback by his appearance to be able to answer his request, but then something else happened, something she had not expected.

"I believe you are Darlariel."the old man said."My fine lady Darlariel, can you help me find the library?"

Darlariel felt her heart miss a beat when she heard the old man, calling her so casually on the name she had not used for such a long time, a name she was sure all those that had once heard it had forgotten it by now. She took a step backwards, her eyes fixed on that strange apparition that seemed to know so much about her. Who was he? What did he actually want and why had he come exactly to her? Could it be that her greatest dream, her burning desire was now going to come true? But...but how?

All these queries were in Darlariel's dazled mind, and all of them were demanding to be answered immediately. Yet when she opened her mouth to speak, her lips could utter no more than one question.

" do you know this name?" she whispered. "How do you know I call myself this?"

She wondered whether he had not seen her when she was a child, whether he had not heard how proudly she had spoken her name then. Yet, no, it could not be that. She had changed since then, he would not recognise her. And she did not remember seeing such a quaint old man before. Where did he come from? Was he...was he from...? Yet how could he be? Darlariel looked at the man, trying to look more determined than she felt, and hoping that her voice would not tremble from the emotions that were inside her.

"I will lead you wherever you want, Sir." she told him. "Yet fisrt you must tell me who you are. And why did you call me by that name?"

Noinkling 10-31-2006 02:31 PM

Daisy ran up the steps, plastic sacks in hand. ‘Where are we from?’ she said, hearing the new fellow’s question. She looked at her three friends, her eyes narrowing. ‘Well, from around…here…and sort of…sideways to this place.’

‘What she means to say,’ picked up Bran hastily, ‘is that we don’t come here…‘here’, often.’ ‘And really,’ he went on, giving her a smirking sort of look, ‘she’s not that good with directions.’

Ferdy smoothed out his vest, tugging down at the hem. He ran his fingers through his curly hair, then looked down at his feet. ‘You know, I saw some of those young folk, the ones dressed Hobbitwise. They were wearing shoes on their feet.’ He looked round at his companions. ‘Think we oughta?’ he asked, wriggling his toes.

piosenniel 10-31-2006 03:58 PM

*cough . . .

‘The New Ford Library?’ Gilli looked sideways at Jack and shook her head at the question. ‘It’s closed at this hour, isn’t it m’dear? Just how are you proposing to get in?’

From out on the street that crossed the alleyway came the pattering of many feet; the sounds of young voices calling out to one another, laughing. A part of her wanted to run out to join them, sack swinging as she skipped along. Traces of chocolate and sticky lollys round her lips and on her cheeks. She’d loved this holiday....still did, if truth be told. The veil between the everyday world and what worlds might lie beyond grew thin and sometimes even disappeared altogether. She smiled, remembering those few brief times when she’d glimpsed something beyond what her everyday senses told her.

Ah, well.... she thought to herself. Those glimpses are a rare thing these older days.

She shrugged, and looked toward Jack again, sizing him up. ‘Of course, there is you....’ she said aloud. ‘And I did once actually sing a few bars with two of my best girls in the upstairs carrels. Of course, Old Ms. Shrewsbry quickly put an end to that.’ Gilli picked up her little backpack and her fiddle case, hoisting the one to her shoulders while the handle of the old wooden case was grasped tight in her fist.

Maybe there was room for a little magic tonight....

‘Sure! I’m up for it. Let’s go!’ She hurried along, trying to keep up with her companion’s long stride. ‘So, you haven't told me....just how are you thinking of getting us in?’

Firefoot 10-31-2006 04:11 PM

A small yelp escaped Raven's lips as she turned to see the witch lady standing there, already holding her cat, already looking quite self-satisfied again. She was trapped. Trapped! The older girl on one side and behind her, the witch lady in front, and a boy menacingly brandishing a cardboard sword on her other side. And now the lady was talking to them! Raven cringed; any time now, the curse would come; what would she do? Turn them into toads? Make them vanish? Take away all their candy?

"...You ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

"N - ye -"

"It was her idea," Tucker answered defensively. Raven spared her brother a brief glare.

"It was going to give us bad luck," she said sullenly, staring at her slippered feet but also watching for an opportunity to bolt. With support like that, Tucker could fend for himself.

Child of the 7th Age 11-02-2006 12:34 AM

"Darlariel, I am afraid you have me at an advantage. Unless you tell me where the library is, I may be walking in circles for the next four hours. And I must get there quickly. Your questions, however, are not easy to answer. You must excuse me if I talk in riddles. It is only that Hedwig and I see so few folk during the year. We live in the woods west of town in a snug cottage made of wood and thatch. Sometimes a young lad or lass will come by and drop off an injured bird or squirrel that needs to be nursed back to health. I have been called by many different names over the years, but to those young ones I am the "Bird-tamer". That name is probably as good as any."

"As to your next I knew your true name?" Aiwendil paused and stared blankly into the misty shadows, wondering how he would ever explain this in a way that would not seem too wildly implausible. He tried out half a dozen stories in his mind but the only one that made any sense was the explanation that came the closest to being the real truth. "You see, Darlariel, you are an open and friendly person and your thoughts came spilling out to me. And somewhere, amid all those lovely thoughts, I clearly heard and saw the name Darlariel. Back home we have a name for that sort of thing. Generally, it's called osanwe."

"But please, that's enough preliminaries. I need to get to that library as quickly as I can. I would be much obliged if we could go now."

Dimturiel 11-02-2006 01:30 PM

Darlariel had listened to the old man's explanations, frowning slightly. Indeed, he spoke in riddles, but riddles she thought she could understand. "Bird-tamer" was a name that told her many things, and so did everything else that the man had said about himself. But she spoke nothing of her thoughts. She was not sure of them, for one thing, and also, the sensible part of her brain-the part that she hated most-was telling her that most likely the man could be mad. Yet that did not explain how he had known her name.

Darlariel waved her thoughts aside. Whoever the man was and whatever he wanted was not her business. He had asked for her help and that was the only thing that mattered. Darlariel had never backed out when someone required her aid, so why should she now? It was not a hard thing he was asking her to do, she could find the library with her eyes closed, having spent many a hour in there. Therefore she nodded slowly, looking the old man straight in the eye.

"Very well, master Bird-tamer," she said, "I will take you and Hedwig to the library. It is not far from here. Let us go, then."

They started walking, and Darlariel could not take her eyes from her new acquaintance. There was something about him that fascinated her. And she knew that it would have been like this even if he had not said all the amazing things he had told her, even if she had not known who he was. "But maybe he is not who you believe him to be."a voice inside her protested. "How could he be? Maybe he has lost his mind, all because he has been dreaming all his life,just as you have, for the world of almost forgotten legends. Maybe he is like this because, just as you, he refused to acknowledge the world he lived in and sought refuge in the ancient lays." Yet what was to acknowledge in such a world? What could be found in those times save a dull, tiresome stream leading nowhere and lacking all meaning and all splendour?

Darlariel looked around her. Everything had gone quiet, or maybe it was her uneasy mind that made it seem so. This was the night when terrible things happened, or so old tales said. Who could tell what unknown dark creatures lurked in the dark places of the city ready to waylay the unwary. Darlariel felt a shiver run down her spine. Wanting to draw away from her that feeling of uneasiness, she began talking with her new companion:

"You told me very few things about yourself, master Bird-tamer," she began, "Yet I did not find it hard to understand your riddles. You spoke to me of osanwe. Well let me tell you that I know very well what that means and who used it. And also there is your name, and your friendship with your owl, Hedwig. I have rarely seen something like this. Now you call yourself "Bird-tamer", yet I believe that back home you had other names that sounded fairer. Let me see. Could one of these possibly be...Radagast? Or perhaps...Aiwendil?"

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