The music was low, the DJ had lowered the base and switched to the golden oldies, the soft, slow dances to end the evening with. The lights had also been lowered, the last candles were sputtering, burning low inside all the jac-o-lanterns lining the walls. It was cosy and quiet and Tarw was leaning against the bar watching the last few guests dance.
The big bull hitched up his loincloth and then picked up his tankard and quaffed it. It wasn’t a bad ale and the night had been quite fun so far. He had been unsure about going out in public in this outfit, he had barely enough acreage of fabric to cover his crotch and arse but no one had reacted badly. Loincloth and a set of fuzzy bracers around his forearms and shins and a big necklace of bones. Add in his nose-ring and the feather charms woven into his hair and he was pretty barbarian like.
Besides the boss liked it and Aesc looked damn hot in a matching barbarian outfit. The ram had shorn all his fleece off except for around his ankles and a thick spiked mohawk running across the top of his head. The light gleaming off the ram’s bronze skin was what really held Tarw’s attention for a few moments before he turned to look at his dance partner.
Aesc was out on the dance floor now, grooving and dancing with his friend Flinty. The blue fox was dressed in heavy flowing robes decorated with coloured hearts and had fake horns poking out from his thick thatch of blonde hair. He looked pretty decent,
Looking around the dance floor Tarw frowned, he could have sworn there had been more people on the floor a minute ago. Now he could only see the rat dressed like an egyptian pharaoh and the cat in the dapper 1920s style pin-stripe suit complete with matching fedora. Just as he was about to push away from the bar and go join the dance the barkeeper sidled over. He jumped a bit as she slammed an empty shot-glass down on the bar and gave the bull a wide grin.
Her outfit was great, green skin, black dress, pointed hat that reached over two feet into the air and a cloak that shimmered and billowed as she walked. Her nose was long and pointed and she had a grin on her face and a big bottle of black liquid in each hand. She thumped it onto the table and smiled up at the bull.
“‘Ello deary, looking a bit lonesome out here on yer own, brought you tha special Halloween brew,” she tapped the bottle and the black liquid rippled. Tarw leant down to look at it, eyes half on the dancefloor.
“Where has everyone gone?”
“Last dance of tha night dearie, we’ll be finishing up soon, most o tha guests have been judged already,” she poured a measure of thick black liquid into a shot glass and pushed it toward Tarw, mismatched eyes glowing in the disco lights, “Have a celebratory drink on me dear… end tha night in style.”
Tarw smirked and picked up the tiny shot glass in his huge fumble hooves, “Sure, though I intend ta end tha night with that ram,” he tossed back the shot and immediately coughed and gasped as it burnt its way down his throat. Banging his large hand on the bar top he wheezed, tears streaming down his eyes as he gasped for breath. Slumping into a bar stool he stared at the fresh shot glass in front of him and smiled dopily, “Wot is tha?”
The witch just grinned and pushed the shot glass toward him, Tarw smirked and accepted. He waved the drink around lazily then knocked it back. It burnt through him again, though this time it felt different… the burning spread, a deep tingling sensation that seared his body. Wheezing he choked and then felt his lungs seize up causing him to flop against the bar. His arms didn’t work… he couldn’t find the strength to press himself upwards… in fact everything was feeling weird. He should have been choking, gasping, clawing at his throat as he couldn’t breath. But he was flattening out… his head lolling on the bar still felt solid, he could roll his eyes and move his head. He rolled right over onto one side, horns thunking into the wood and stared up at the witch who was cackling at him
Slowly however the weight of his body dragged his head away from the bar… he had a momentary chance to see the loose mound of thick brown fur that had moments before been his body. It was all he was… a flat sac of fur… with a tough underlay… a rug… his body had….
Head sliding off the bar he crumpled into himself, bouncing once before getting lost inside the folds of his furry, rug of a body. The witch’s brew had been cursed after all! This… this couldn’t be happening… what was… why was… it was so hard to think. He felt drunk, dazed and dizzy, the burning, tingling sensation of the shot was in his head now, glass eyes replacing the ones that moments before he had been blinking dazedly.
He was a bull-skin fur rug!
Stepping off the dance floor chatting with Flinty and moving toward the bar Aesc was in a good mood. Waving at Trick and Rodent who were at the counter being served the ram smiled warmly, sliding an arm around Flinty’s not caring about the sheen of sweat that clung to his bare bronze skin. The dance floor was empty behind them, the music was still playing but quietly, it'd be over soon.
“So will you join us then?” he asked the fox as he stepped onto the rich rug lying before the bar, “Tarw won't mind.”
“Sure…” Flinty looked around with a frown, “Where is he? Wasn’t he here at the bar?”
Aesc frowned and looked around, wriggling his hooves in the thick fur of the rug, “I thought so… I lost track of him during that last dance,” the ram waved at the barmaid, who was done up as a witch “Miss did you see where the bull who was here went?”
The witch sauntered over and grinned, “Why yes dearie, I saw, be with you in just a moment,” she handed a fizzy cocktail to Trick. The cat thanked her and took a sip as the barmaid turned back to Aesc and cackled softly, “You’re standing on him dearie, he was feeling a bit light headed so I helped him lay down for a nice long rest.”
Aesc gave a start then looked down at the thick brown rug he was standing on. It was an animal pelt… and his eyes travelled up to the head and stared at the vacant glass eyes, large horns and familiar face of his friend. Wordless Aesc knelt down and reached out to touch the bull’s head, he couldn’t … how…
He was pulled out of his stupor by Rodent screaming, turning his head he found the brown rat backing away from Trick. The house-cat was shrinking, collapsing inward, his clothes crumpling as he fell. He had time for a startled mewl before he hit the ground with a thump. His clothes settled atop him and it took a moment for the living lump beneath to wriggle free and look around. Trick was gone, in his place was a very confused looking black cat, with one white paw and bright green eyes.
“What are you doing,” Aesc shouted as he surged back to his feet, glaring at the witch behind the bar, “Fix this at once! That is my friend!”
The witch laughed softly and beckoned to the cat. Trick stretched, yawned then hopped up onto the bar and purring brushed up against her arm, “Every witch needs a familiar I am merely doing what I was ordered.”
Her grin was wicked, that long narrow nose, the green skin and black outfit she looked just like the worst kind of witch straight out of story. Raising one hand she tapped her nose, “Here dearie, see my true majesty and be judged!”
Her mismatched eyes glowed brightly… her hat slid off her head and Aesc gripped Flinty’s arm and stared in shock as she started to split open. Right down the middle her green skin and clothing split open. There was a wet squelching sound, a nasty, organic sucking slurp and the witch's head fell apart as a bright white snake’s head pushed out into the warm air of the party. There should have been more gore, or screams but there was just a tissue like ripping sound as the giant snake rose up out of the husk that had moments before been the barmaid.
She was big, her wings alone shouldn’t have fitted inside, not to mention her eighteen foot long body of white feathers and scales. But fit she had and now she was rising up into the air above a dumbfounded Aesc and Flinty.
Rodent had more sense than to just stand there. With a scream the rat ran for it, kilt flapping about his legs as he charged out into the entrance hall. The sound of his voice pulled Aesc out of his stupor and he tugged on Flinty trying to pull the foc away.
Shaking his head the blue fox raised his hands as he stared at the black cat purring contentedly on the bar top, he then raised his head and glared at the snake flapping in the air before him “That’s why the party got quite… you’ve been changing everyone! Well you won’t get me!”
He turned to run but was pushed back by a wall of white, undulating scaled snake coils. She was so big, they had been slithering around the pair of them whilst everyone was distracted. Smooth white coils of scale and feather pushed the two of them together. Side by side in a tangle of limbs and struggling shouts the big-horned ram and the fox found themselves restricted as the snake coiled tightly about them both. It’s head slithered in overhead, mismatched glowing eyes staring down at them.
“Are you suppose to be Asriel from that Undertale thing?” she hissed judging the costume, “ dear, you are missing some real horns. There are some standards in costume that we expect here, but fear not, we have a set of horns to share here…”
Aesc had a horrible feeling things were about to get messy and confusing and struggled harder, pushing off against Flinty and the rough white scales. The coatl slithered, piling more of her coils around them, slithering them over their heads, practically cocooning them in a bundle of undulating flesh. Tumbled against Flinty, the air getting warm, Aesc felt his sweat beading along his body as he tried to untangle himself from the fox. It grew hotter, the air stifling and thick with humidity. Flinty’s body was just a shadowy shape of limbs and cloth as his robes became twisted and tangled. Then suddenly something gave!
What gave was Flinty’s body and his own, his arms plunged into Flinty’s chest, the fox’s head rammed into his and kept going! They slid into one another, slowly but surely merging, sliding one into another like liquid.
Aesc screamed, yelled, flailed… at least he wanted to. He couldn’t make any noise, the liquid that was Flinty was filling his throat, choking him even as he felt himself pour into the fox. This was wrong, he had to fight back, had to stop this… but no… there was nothing he could do. He was melting, molten, mingling and then the snake pulled back… cold air washed against their conjoined body and it started to harden. He wasn’t himself… he could see the robes of Flinty’s costume, the waves of velvet and silk and thick fleece. His muzzle looked right, he could still see the tips of his curled horns out of the corner of his eyes.
The cold air was continuing to harden his body… a horrible clicking sound started up in the back of his head. His limbs felt disjointed, awkward, bending in weird ways as the ticking noise grew louder. There was a mirror, or a polished surface… staring into it he no they... for his thoughts were mingling with Flinty’s. They saw themselves, smooth bronze face, colourful metal robes riveted… the clock face set into their stomach, hands telling the time. Slowly, gently the amalgamation of sheep and fox and clockwork came to life as springs and cogs inside them started to turn. Nothing organic remained, just the ability to tick-tock and tell the time. The minute hand moved as they finished winding up into bronze coated unlife as the minute hand ticked over… it was midnight.
Something whirred silently inside, a spring released its tension and they lost control of themselves. Their body jerkily swung into action, arms spreading wide a deep, baahaaa chiming from their muzzle as they started to gyrate and slide through the motions. Clockwork movements compelled them to jig, to celebrate the hour before slowly but surely they slowed, returning to a slow moving, clockwork jerking approximation of life. The snake hissed in delight, whispering to them, almost apologising.
“I am sorry, I had to judge you… strip away what you were. But at least you are still mobile, still free… I fear we will need your help. My name is Zenti, when you can help us! Midnight approaches, the party is over… but Halloween has barely begun!”
She made a jerking motion then as if she wanted to say more but though her lips moved words wouldn’t come. She flapped her wings and pulled away into the air leaving behind the the clockwork creature. He stood perfectly still, staring into the mirror for a long moment. They had riveted eyes and smooth bronze and copper plating and colourful decorations. They looked like a life sized automaton bound to only tell the time and celebrate each hour. He was trapped, there was no differentiation between Flinty of Aesc anymore, just clockwork and the time… tick-tock, tick-tock…. Tick-tock.
They had one thing though, Zenti’s gift, they were free to move but for now they had best just watch and wait and see… they didn’t know enough about what was going on to make plans on how they could help the white snake.
The shouts of Flinty and the ram Aesc grew muffled, fainter as Rodent pelted across the entrance hall. He didn’t dare look back, he could feel something following him, the brush of wind on his fur. Head down he put on an extra burst of speed and veered away from the door toward one of the side windows. Sandals slapping on the floor tiles, headdress clamped in place by one paw the rat leapt at the glass with all his strength. He knew he didn’t have time to unlock the probably magically sealed front door, so through a window was his best bet.
He hit the glass dead centre, it went thump and he bounced back into the waiting embrace of cool, slithering black scales! Squeaking in alarm Rodent scrabbled to get back up, to dart away but they were fast and tangled about his feet, tripping him.
“Don’t go little rat,” the snake hissed with a sibilant whispering voice, “Coatl has judged… is good judgement.”
“Let me go,” Rodent squeaked as the reptiles blunt head slithered into view above his, “I’m not worth it ok, just let me go.”
“No,” the sake hissed again, leaning down to let his forked tongue play across his face, “Coatl judge, yes, coatl judge you are Pharaoh and so shall be mummy.”
“What!” Rodent struggled to slip free, “What the hell does that have to do with anything.”
“Coatl says you are mummy, because dressed as Pharaoh, what else is needed? Coatl judgement final…” its coils parted, pushing rodent forward, away from the door and toward the large stone sarcophagus reclining in the middle of the room.
“Was that always… oh hell no!” Rodent squeaked and tried to run he was free of the snake’s coils now. He wasn’t fast enough however the white linen bandages boiling out of the stone sarcophagus had him. They were alive, rolling around him like so many flat white snakes. Wrapping about his ankles and legs they span layer upon layer around his body, forcing his legs together. They tackled his shoulders at the same time, layering themselves across his chest, dragging his arms in against his body. In a matter of moments he had been reduced to a bandage wrapped cocoon. Even his naked pink rat tail was pinned to his body by layer upon layer of bandages.
“Please… stop them,” Rodent pleaded but the black snake just hissed and smiled and let the bandages take his face. Tightly they bound his muzzle, covered his eyes until there was nothing but darkness and dragged him backwards over the lip of the sarcophagus. Landing with a muffled, bandage cushioned thump Rodent tried to move, wriggling and struggling backwards and forwards in a vain attempt to break free. The best he managed was to dig his shoulders into the stone and arch upwards but the grinding, grating sound of stone on stone signalled the sarcophagus sealing itself. He was trapped, bound and gagged, bandaged and sealed in the dark… there was no way out!
What was worse he could feel the bandages doing something to him as they pulled tighter against his body as they slithered around him. Everything was growing dry and dusty. His mouth was parched, he needed a drink but there was just the heat. It was as if he was being dried out, he could literally feel the bandages pulling water out of his body! No… no this couldn’t… he wasn’t…. No! But he was, he could feel himself being desiccated and yet somehow retaining life, they were mummifying him, transforming him and the dryer he got the harder it was to think. His thoughts were slowing, his body was drying out and the bandages were hugging him tighter as his body lost definition…
Soon he’d be ready to rise and roam, Pharaoh of the house, ready to capture more, he could feel a building desire in himself, in the bandages, they wanted to wrap up others to dessicate them. Soon… he promised himself, a baleful golden glow shining from his eyes as the bandages pulled tightly against his body. Soon he would roam free, he would find others… they would become his servants as was right. He was the Pharaoh of the tomb after all and all others would bow before his bandages!
Watching the sarcophagus slide close Shale hissed in delight, flapping his wings as he slithered over the floor and loomed over the stone coffin. He felt quite good about that judgement, it made sense. He was a pharaoh, they became mummies… he could just about hear the rats struggles. But they would grow less, the magic was already at work on him. He’d be a good mummy rat soon then maybe coatl would let him out to roam the halls and grab more guests!
Turning he smiled at Zenti as she slithered out of the ballroom and twitched his tail tip in delight. She looked so good, coatl was best… hissing he slithered forwards and pressed his muzzle to hers, “Best coatls… feel more?”
Looking around, head bobbing from side to side she hissed, “No, not feel more, coatl can’t find others to judge… we done all?”
“Yes my pets, you have done all,” Kalido purred walking out of the shadows. The crux jumped up and sat on the sarcophagus and smirked, “Well nearly done there are two guests left coatl…” he leant forwards, striped, crazy body bouncing in excitement, ears uncurling all the way to flick back and forth from one snake to the next.
“Judge each other coatl, be good coatl, judge the last guests in the house.”
Shaking his head Shale reared up, beating his wings and slowly but surely turned to look at Zenti, swaying back and forth he slithered over to her and tried to wrap his coils around her. She tried to dodge, to pull back but he was coatl, so was she, they was meant to be together!
“Shale, no listen, we mustn’t you shouldn’t do what he says.”
“He’s the master,” Shale hissed happily, “We good…” he bumped noses with her lovingly, “I say you good coatl.”
She made a faint gurgling sound at the back of her throat and swayed from side to side, eyes turning to glare down at the crux before slowly she turned back to look at him. She sighed and nuzzled him back, “Big doofus… you good coatl too…”
This made him happy, was good to know she thought he was good coatl, was important! And then they were changing, stone was slithering up their tails, forcing them to assume a winding shape around the pillar of stone looming up behind the sarcophagus that contained the rat mummy. It was just long enough for them to wrap their whole body around, wings spread out to either side. He also had time to bend his neck over and press his snout to Zenti’s across the plinth at the top of the pillar. He smiled at her, admiring her beauty and then the stone engulfed his head entirely and he froze in place, a good coatl on display for the master Kalido.
“No,” Zenti hissed, struggling against the petrification, “I… specifically bargained, you aren’t allowed to turn us into stone!”
Kalido smirked, “I am not… you judged each other so….” he shrugged, “You’re doing it to each other my girl. Can’t blame me for that silly snake… don’t worry, as soon as Halloween is over I’ll let you go.”
“You lying, rotten.. mrrffff,” Zenti was cut off as stone engulfed her head. Burning mismatched eyes turned to stone and she fell still.
The two coatl made a very impressive pair of statues to grace his entrance hall. Kalido smirked up at them. He’d have liked to keep using them all night but that Zenti was a wily one, she was constantly trying to shift out of her appointed role. She’d let the wolf he’d caught out back with the spider’s escape the chapel. He was sure there were others as well he would have to deal with. At least with the snakes frozen as stone there would be less trouble from her.
Turning he froze as a clockwork figuring clanked into the great hall and froze in place, steam puffing out of its horns. Kalido smirked at the creature, it had been a pair of guests original he thought, Zenti did good work when she wasn’t being slippery. It was also barely past midnight. The night didn’t end for at least another seven hours. The house however was sadly empty of victims. Shaking out his tail and adjusting his frock coat the crux turned for the doors and set off.
“Still plenty of Halloween left and many more victims to find and play with,” he glanced back at the statues and grinned, “See you soon Zenti, I’ve got a deal to keep and so have you. I’ll be back shortly with more victims.”
He watched with an amused smile as the sarcophagus lid started to slide off. The rat was done transforming it seemed. There were goblins in the maze and other creatures lurking in different rooms. The house was well and truly set up for Halloween now, all it needed was a bunch of clueless patsies lured in off the street. The crux knew what he was about however, if there was one thing he was good at, it was luring people in and the night was still young! People loved to party and they would party crux style!
Behind him the clockwork creature clanked out as the mummified rat lurched out of its sarcophagus. Dessicated husk covered in living, eager linen bandages questing this way and that for victims. It’d be fantastic, laughing to himself Kalido marched out into the night and pulled the doors shut behind him.
There were so many people to scare and change. Halloween was just beginning and if he had his way it wouldn’t end tonight! He just had to bring enough people into the house, give them to his pets, his toys and he’d be able to manifest Halloween around the house permanently! The night had only just begun and he would never let it end.
Welcome friends Adalore and I would like to invite you to join us for Halloween this year, come, the invitations have been sent out. The RSVPs have been received, it's time we talked about... the Terms of Service.