When I heard of this challenge, I noticed that it was okay to use any fandom for it. This led to the question of which subject would be something I liked, but also something that would go well with supernatural forces, deadly terror, and all manner of beasties.
The answer was fairly obvious.
All props for non-original characters, settings, MacGuffins, that art style up top there, and whatnot go to the Giant. Otherwise, say what you like – good, bad, or ugly. I wrote this for fun and to stay limber for bigger works later.
Finally, each story will get its own genre tags. I tagged this whole set as Adventure/Horror mainly because the holiday features fright and death, and the webcomic features endless varieties of, "I'm on an adventure!"
Happy harvest to you.
Prompt #1 – "tombstone" (Adventure/Horror)
"…and on calm nights, sir, you can hear them growling, hungry for fresh meat."
The guide's patron did not remove his eyes from the field ahead, despite the snow threatening to become a blizzard.
"I pray, sir, that you will not have closer evidence of this, for by then, it will surely be too late."
The wide-framed hunter snapped, "Do you hope to fight these beasts?"
"No, sir. The field is entirely yours."
"Then keep your voice down, or else their first target will be you." At a shred of motion from his eye's corner, the man stopped immediately, whipped the bow from his back, drew an arrow and nocked it.
But it was only a smaller mammal scampering from one of the scattered trees a slight distance behind him, then diving into a snow-buried burrow.
On a hunch, the hunter studied the tree. Yes, a bird of some type roosted in the top.
"Approach that tree."
"Drive that bird out of it."
"Go there… alone?"
"It may make a trophy, but it would be better as bait. Unless you have another source to offer?"
The guide slipped a bit as he began to inch towards it. "We will die here. Our graves will be forever unmarked…"
"Shut up!" the man hissed, raising his aim. Almost… Almost… But at the instant the bird left the branches, the wind kicked up ahead of him, and his shot went too high. Without breathing, he loaded another arrow and fired again on an ever so slightly different arc.
As he expected, the second arrow took his target right through the heart, and even through the intensifying snow, he relished the sight of it plummeting to earth.
"Oh, very good, sir!"
Just as the bird hit snow, a plaintive howl rent the frozen air. What? Never heard a bird do that before.
"The wolves… It's the wolves, sir!"
"Impossible – that's far too close, we would have seen them."
"The wolves live at the edge of vision, sir…" His voice slipped back into the worn-out warnings. "Their tracks are anywhere except in front of you. They always see you before you see them…"
The hunter was already dashing past the guide towards the tree. Can't he be quiet? Where do these stories even come from if the victims always die? He swung himself up into the branches, then another few feet. Not the sturdiest blind, but perhaps it would do.
Shapes… Gray shapes, loping along the ground, wary, a solid group… Now he could see the great wolves clearly, sniffing, searching…
"The wolves! AAAAHHH!" The damned guide stumbled as he turned tail and ran, churning up the snow in haste to get anywhere away from this pack.
Immediately, the wolves glimpsed the shape and speed of prey, and they growled sharply as they picked up their pace easily and unstoppably.
That's right, he's the one you want. The pack moved all at once, but leading and lagging paces spread them out, enough for him to be sure of the mark he'd glimpsed from the start. He passed up on the leader, the lean ones on either side, all rejected for the massive yet slower one at the back. A mother, perhaps.
The pack bounded past his tree, heedless, and he fired right when his mark went last. It went right through the break in her bones, and she sprawled to the ground, undeniably left behind as the rest ran on, for the leader must already have cut the guide's headstart tantalizingly short.
Except they didn't run on. To a beast, they stopped and turned. Looked at her. Sniffed the air. And before his rushed fingers could grasp another arrow, they charged at the tree.
He tried to regain his aim – take out the leader, that'll do them – when they rushed it, collided, clawed at it. The impact caused an unexpected rumble, and then the snow cascaded down on him from the branches above. Numb water rushing down his back, ice stinging every inch of his exposed skin, he kept his legs gripping his branch, aimed and fired. No time to see if it hit… no… notime…
What? … Cold… Why am I… socold? Just snow… Then his eyes fell back down to the countless shapes milling around his puny tree, growling, gnashing, salivating, snarling… and then his head swooned, his vision shaded, and he fell down as well.
The halfling shut the heavy door firmly behind her, kicking off her claw-shaped sandals, repositioning the heavy load on her shoulders, and marching barefoot into the tunnels. Why… Why did you have to run north? Of all the times for the pack to wander...
Skipping the main part of the dungeon, she chose a side hallway, winding down and around before opening to a modest crypt, evenly-lit and as fiercely clean as she could get such an underground place to be. With a grunt, she laid down her burden, and the blanket flipped back a bit to show the guide's face. She flinched, then bowed her head. Sorry… Ever since that other guy got away, it's just been… She could already feel the old arguments colliding in her head. ("Don't let anyone carry a story back, unless it's one you want them to-" no, not Girard, can't think of him now!)
She looked back at her new neighbor, her imagination seeing the clean dagger cut in his back. You didn't deserve this, but I hope wherever you're at now is a better fit. She bowed again, picked up a blank headstone from her stack, then set it on the guide's chest to mark later. If the village sent any more people that didn't pick fights with her clever little pack, she'd have to expand the crypt. As for those that did get involved, well…
She pulled her sandals back on, relishing another opportunity to play tricks, even if she'd be hiding the tracks anyway. The pack was definitely finished by now, and she hoped the hunter's wallet wasn't lost too badly in the fight, because darts of Strength poison weren't cheap. She also hoped he had a few arrows left intact for scavenging.
Another success for the pack deserved another trophy, and Kraagor's grave was getting too crowded for a larger prize.
Table of Contents
1) tombstone - Serini
2) blood - Belkar B.
3) bat - Mr. Scruffy
4) candy - Haley S., Ian S.
5) jack-o-lantern - Tsukiko, Monster in the Darkness
6) pagan - Hobgoblin Army
7) leaves - Lirian, Dorukan
8) bonfire - Xykon
9) black cat - Mr. Scruffy
10) haunted house - Roy G., Eugene G.
11) devil - Therkla, Qarr
12) witch - Julia G., Eugene G.
13) scream - Sabine, Nale
14) werewolf - Argent
15) costume - Elan
16) games - Monster in the Darkness, O-Chul
17) eyes of newt - Enor, Gannji
18) parties - Thanh, Niu
19) goth - Haley S.
20) R.I.P. - Soon K.
21) glow sticks - Vaarsuvius, Aarindarius
22) "Thing" - Redcloak
23) goblet - Tarquin
24) chain - Belkar B., Durkon T.
25) cape - Vaarsuvius
26) spider web - Roy G., Durkon T.
27) full moon - Therkla, Elan
28) ghost - Roy G., Celia
29) vampire - Hilgya
30) Hell Night - Thog, Nale
31) Halloween - Tsukiko