A truly ear-splitting shriek tore through the night, making several of the hobgoblins wandering throughout the city turn with curious gazes to the towering fortress.
"Tsukiko! Don't DO that!"
"Ah ha ha ha ha ha…"
"Will you two knock it off? Some of us are trying to work."
"Relax, Green Bean. It's Samhain."
"I don't care what heretic human holiday it is. Keep it down." The red-cloaked goblin returned his gaze to the maps and charts he had spread neatly across the table, tracing different routes with either his fingers or a lead pencil, occasionally erasing or adding small X's. The other two occupants of the large, refurbished Plotting Room stood quite a ways away: a young, late-teens to early-twenties, human girl dressed in tight, short-cut gothic clothing and an enigmatic figure covered completely in shadow beneath a bright pink umbrella. The shadow's glowing yellow eyes were the only distinguishable feature on its person, and at the moment, they were wide with fright.
"'Samhain?'" He asked curiously.
"Mmm-hmmm." The girl giggled. "It's a Western thing, really, but I love the idea so much I just have to celebrate it!"
"As fascinating as your conversation is to me, would you take it somewhere else?" The goblin snapped irritably from his maps, long ears lowered in frustration.
"What's wrong, Redcloak? I thought clerics liked holidays…" The shadow-monster asked, concern obvious in his voice.
"Oh, ignore him. He's just fussy because he managed to fling himself out of Xykon's good graces!" The malicious smile aimed at Redcloak did not go unnoticed, but no retort was made. Instead, he chose to answer the Monster in the Dark.
"I am a goblin priest, for a goblin deity. Samhain is a human celebration. Therefore, I am not observing it."
"But what is Samhain?" The Monster implored of Tsukiko.
"Only the greatest holiday ever!" She gushed. "The veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest tonight."
"But… Xykon wears robes." The Monster pointed out, terribly confused.
"Samhain is a harvest festival, Monster. Humans offer up things like bonfires and sacrifices to their wide variety of false gods, and in turn hope said idols will give them rain for their turnips." Redcloak explained, but with no real interest in his voice.
At Tsukiko's incredulous look, Redcloak added, "I'm a priest. Religious study comes with the job."
Shaking her head, Tsukiko turned to the Monster again. "Samhain is the night joining the Light and Dark parts of the year. Because the cosmic forces are so excited, beings from other worlds and dimensions can wander into ours, and us, into theirs."
"But… can't we always do that? The Upper and Lower Planes..?"
Tsukiko narrowed her eyes. "You're kind of missing the point here."
"But what is the-"
"The point is," Tsukiko cut him off, mismatched eyes glittering excitedly, "The souls of the dead are closer than any other part of the year and without the celebration, the souls of the living are more likely to join them in the months to come!"
"What?" The Monster exclaimed.
"Failed harvest." Redcloak reminded him, not looking up from his charts.
"Oh." This seemed to sadden the Monster. But he quickly brightened with, "So, it's like a party? A party for dead people? And… plants?"
"Yep!" Tsukiko smiled, without her usual mischief.
"And false gods," Redcloak couldn't resist pointing out.
"Do goblins have a party for dead people?" The Monster chirped excitedly.
"We have certain days of the year set aside to our dead, yes. But we don't make them out to be frightening or evil, like some practices of Samhain do; particularly in this day and age."
At that moment, the Lich Xykon chose to appear in the doorway. "Who isn't finding my Phylactery, and why." His tone was low and cold, and so unlike his demeanor before the Incident it was astonishing. Tsukiko straightened her clothes, beaming at him, and Redcloak disappeared quietly into the background.
"Xykon! Today's a party for dead people!" The Monster exclaimed happily, "And plants! Can we have candy?"
The Lich let that question hang in the air for a moment before replying. "Why candy?"
The Monster continued unabashed, "Because it's a party, and parties need candy. It is for dead people- aren't you excited?"
"I'll be excited when somebody finds me my fricking Phylactery!" Xykon snapped, and the temperature in the air dropped a few degrees. "Now get to work!" With that, he descended down the steps to undoubtedly torment some unassuming minions.