Disclaimer: Team Dragon Star does not own Avatar: The Last Airbender
"Seriously, after travelling around the world writing the wrongs of the Fire Nation, we're only just hearing of this festival now?" inquired Sokka as he raised the banner above his head. He stood atop a pillar of Earth that Toph had created for the moment so that the preparations for the festivities could be made.
"Don't look at me, remember: over strict parents, no parties ever," said Toph raising her hands to shoulder height as she shook her head.
"When I looked through the archives, apparently this is a celebration of the evil spirits, in order to keep them happy so that they don't cause havoc and mayhem until the next year," explained Katara.
"And with the world finally at peace, the last thing we want is evil spirits roaming free," explained Aang as he lit a candle that was held within a tea kettle.
"I still think this is silly," said the current Fire Lord in Zuko as he held a white sheet in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other.
"You are too closed in the mind Zuko," said Iroh as he held a cup of tea within his hands gently. "All celebrations are to be celebrated no matter how silly they may seem."
"Couldn't have said it better myself," said Aang as he smiled towards the eldest member within the room.
"Still, dressing up as creatures of the night to try and scare one another, seems childish if you ask me," said Sokka as he hammered the banner in place, only to miss and slam the metal of the hammer into his thumb.
"It's all a part of the Hallowed Eve," said Aang.
"Also, it is important that we appease the spirits tonight of all nights," explained Iroh.
"What do you mean uncle?" asked Zuko turning towards arguably his favourite relative.
"Every hundred and eighty seven years, several planets align and according to legend, the connection to the spirit world is at its strongest," said Iroh as he took a sip from his tea.
"So it's like the solstice," said Aang.
"In a way, but the connection between the two worlds will be much greater than the half yearly ritual," explained Iroh. "Thus we must appease the spirits in any necessary."
"Please, we have the avatar here, how can the spirits not be happy with us?" said Sokka as Katara treated his injury with her water bending abilities.
"One should not underestimate..."
"Yea, yea we know," said Sokka as he brushed Iroh off before the elderly man could continue his rant. "Spirits vengeful yadda yadda yadda."
"Knock it off Sokka," said Katara as she turned towards a nearby trunk of costumes which had been created for the event. "These outfits though look pretty interesting; we need to remember to thank the tailor for making these for us."
"Remember, blind girl here, need something other than looks to go off," said Toph as she felt Katara's footprints come closer towards her, only for a lump of clothes to be placed in her hands. "What are these?"
"That's your outfit for the night," explained Katara.
"What prissy outfit are you putting me in now?" asked Toph with an exasperated sigh.
"According to this," said Katara as she looked at the paper in her hands. "This black attire is the outfit for what was known as a witch, a menacing sorceress who sought entertainment by causing mischief and mayhem."
"So it's pretty much Toph in a nutshell," said Sokka to which he received a large rock to the forehead.
"Apparently, there was even a time when they were hunted because people were afraid of the power they possessed and often kept black cat-frogs as pets," concluded Katara.
"I think I'm going to like this celebration," said Toph, a rare smile lining across her face as wicked ideas began to fill her mind.
"Me next, me next," exclaimed Aang as he rushed over towards the trunk. "Is this mine, is this mine?" he questioned as he pulled a number of costumes out of the box.
"You've got the vampire one," said Katara as she found the correct outfit.
"Vampire? What's that?" asked Zuko from nearby.
"I've heard of them, I remember my father telling me stories of them when I was a child," said Iroh. "They come out in the dark of night because sunlight burns them."
"Isn't that what the sun does normally to people, that thing called sunburn," said Sokka pointing out the obvious.
"No, these creatures were burnt to the point of bursting into flames if they so much as touched sunlight," explained Katara.
"How do you even know all of this stuff?" asked her brother.
"Well when I learnt about the festival I just went on a bit of a knowledge craving," said Katara with a shrug.
"Hey what are these teeth for?" asked Aang as he held up a pair of false teeth that had overly large canines.
"Vampires needed those teeth so that they could suck on the blood of humans which was their source of power. They also could turn into pigeon-bats and fly through the night," concluded Katara.
"Everything about these things were awesome...except maybe the sucking on blood thing," said Aang as he tied a velvet cloak around his neck. "There's even a black covering for Momo so he can be a pigeon-bat."
"This seems like it is going to be quite a spectacle, what has the tailor sent for me?" asked Iroh intrigued by what could be coming his way.
"Well you have a brown jacket and some green paint," said Katara as she handed the basic attire to the former fire nation general.
"Oh, and this would make me..."
"An ogre, an overweight type of troll that lives under a bridge and charges travellers a toll if they cross their bridge."
"I think the tailor's trying to tell you something uncle," said Zuko having a quick jab at his uncle's weight.
"Well let's see what the tailor has decided to give you then nephew," said Iroh as he rubbed his stomach sensitively, pondering whether or not if he should go on a diet after the festivities were over.
"The tailor made a semi matching set kind of thing between the two of you," said Katara as she looked at the costume list in her hand.
"Am I going to have to wear a pillow or something strapped to my chest?" asked Zuko which caused Sokka to chuckle slightly as the elderly man once again comforted his stomach.
"You're actually an oni, a demonesque creature with sharp claws and came in a range of colours that terrorise people. They wield a massive club that shows their immense strength and power and were greatly feared."
"You really know your stuff," said Zuko as he held the outfit in his hand, the loin cloth leaving little to the imagination. "I can't tell if Mai is going to be happy or ashamed."
"Alright then, what have you got planned for me?" asked Sokka only for a bag full of brown fur thrown his way. "And this is supposed to be..."
"You're going to be a werewolf, a human who turns into a savage hairy beast at the sight of a full moon," explained Katara with a snide smirk, clearly enjoying tormenting her brother.
"So it's pretty much Sokka in a nutshell," said Toph earning a solidifying groan of annoyance from the water tribe boy.
"What are you wearing Katara?" asked Aang.
"I'm going to be a fairy, a good natured sprite," said Katara with a smile.
"I think I see where this trend is going, and I can't even see," said Toph.
Katara rolled her eyes as she tried to avoid eye contact with any of her friends. "Just because the tailor gave you all outfits of evilish creatures and decided to give me a good natured one doesn't mean, hey give that back!" she shouted as the paper was ripped out of her hand.
"Katara, here are the outfits you have asked me to make, I hope you enjoy," said Sokka reading off the paper. "So, it seems you did your research and then chose the costumes."
"I...uh..." said Katara stumbling on how she could find a quick way out of this situation.
"I don't care, I'll be an evil witch without complaint," said Toph with a shrug of the shoulders.
"Let us just enjoy the night," said Aang keeping his happy attitude in place. Everybody seemed to agree on that much and went their separate ways, preparing for the nights festivities.
As the night drew on, the group gathered once more under the pale moonlight. Everybody seemed to be getting in on the festivities as they gathered within the market square. It seemed that people had tried to think of a way to get dressed up for the occasion but many had failed miserably in their attempts. "Look at that guy, he looks like a cross between a hairy nosed porcubear and a tiger-jackal," said Aang as he pointed at a man in a bizarre costume.
"Somehow though I think he killed that thing himself and decided to wear it," said Sokka as he noted the outfit. Clearly there were a few people who were unaware of the spiritual and mythical representation that the festivities were meant to bring. "Anyways that vambire outfit you're wearing looks amazing."
Aang gripped the edges of his cape and pulled them to the sides revealing the velvet underlay and the small waist coat that came with it. "It's vampire, not vambire."
"Who cares, they're not real anyway," said Sokka brushing it off.
"Is that why you only covered half of your torso with fur?" asked Aang as he noticed the patchy work that Sokka had put into his costume.
"Hey, there's only so much stickyness that Appa's saliva has to it okay," said Sokka which caused the avatar to cringe ever so slightly as he turned his head towards his ever faithful sky bison.
"Couldn't you have used something else as a glue?" asked Aang.
"I didn't have time okay, if I had more time, I could have planned for something better, but I didn't," complained Sokka.
"I think half of that was unnecessary," muttered Aang before pointing towards two people walking towards them. "Hey isn't that Zuko and Iroh?"
Turning his attention towards the people coming towards him, Sokka noted that they both had body paint covering the majority of their skin although Zuko had been content leaving his scar the way that it was. They wore similar attire yet looked remotely different at the same time. "I wouldn't want to see you under a bridge Iroh," commented Sokka, of the four of them standing there the former general looked the most menacing.
"One must play the part that one is given," said Iroh with a soft smile, clearly enjoying the festivities.
"Hey Zuko, where's Mai at?" asked Aang wondering where the Fire Lord's girlfriend was.
"She said she'd rather sit within the dark confines of her room than be seen with me dressed up like this," said Zuko taking a look over to the house in which the two of them were currently staying at. For a brief moment he swore that he saw a silhouette of Mai against the curtains but a random costumed man broke his line of sight and when he looked once again it had vanished as if it had never been there in the first place.
"Hey guys," said Toph as she walked nearby, her black cloak billowing in the breeze behind her. The paleness of her eyes only added to the effect the costume brought. "You should have seen me scare these two kids, it was hilarious."
"I don't think it's really a surprise that Toph's able to scare children," said Sokka nonchalantly which earned him a kick in the shin.
"Wow," said Aang as he gaze drifted through the crowd at a green fairy walking towards them, accompanied by Ty Lee who wore a brown leotard with cat ears perched atop her head and black whiskers drawn upon her cheeks. The acrobat and kyoshi warrior was shepherding Katara forward, the water bender seemingly timid about the amount of skin her outfit revealed. She had been expecting some extravagant gown adorned with glittery wings...at least the wings were how she imagined it, the rest of the outfit however consisted of a green bikini that left little to the imagination.
"So, the tailor seems to have done a good job," said Zuko awkwardly when he saw the outfit that Katara wore.
"Shut it Zuko," said Katara as she did her best to hide herself from the crowd.
"I'm so happy I could come," beamed Ty Lee smiling brightly.
"Where's the rest of the Kyoshi warriors?" asked Aang.
"They're on patrol, they'll be back in a couple of days," explained Ty Lee.
"So what are you meant to be?" Sokka asked of Ty Lee.
"Well Katara told me that you were coming as a werewolf so I decided to be a werecat," said Ty Lee flirtatiously. For some reason Toph got irked by the tone in Ty Lee's voice but let it slide for the moment.
"Alright, since everybody's here, let's get this party started!" proclaimed Sokka, taking this chance to rush over to the buffet, quickly diving into the food much like the ravenous animal he was portraying. Ty Lee looked at the water tribe boy with a pout across her face, seemingly disappointed that her overly forward advance had been blown off so quickly.
Whilst awkward at first, the party slowly grew in entertainment as children had competitions to hollow out vegetables and try to carve the scariest face into the pumpkins. Joy and laughter rung out as people competed against one another in event after event, trying to get the one up on one another only to fail miserably from time to time. Aang watched on as the party continued, ignoring the fact that Sokka was doing his best limbo attempt when he felt a breeze past by his shoulder, ruffling his costume slightly. Quickly turning around, he was greeted with the sight of the wall he had been leaning against. His fingers traced across the sign of his head in confusion as Sokka tumbled from his attempt which earned another roar of laughter. Turning his head back towards the party, Aang decided to leave it as it was for the moment.
Zuko chatted with Ty Lee, the two having been good friends since they were children were able to talk about anything provided that the subject of Azula never arose. On the table behind them sat three pumpkins, the three which had been deemed the winners of the earlier competition. A single candle now sat within each one and the children had watched in awe as the Fire Lord had ignited the flame within their 'Masterpieces.' Ty Lee run her fingers through her hair before maniacal cackling began to sound out. The sudden outburst of twisted laughter caused her heart to skip a beat and she turned around to congratulate the person on their effort, only to find that nobody was there.
"Did you hear that?" asked Ty Lee turning her attention towards Zuko.
"Hear what?" asked the Fire Lord, wondering what his long time friend was hinting towards.
"I hope it's not my stomach you're hearing," said Iroh as he walked up to his nephew.
"Forget about it," said Ty Lee as she walked towards the party, shaking her head slightly, wondering if she had merely imagined the entire thing.
"Is she okay?" asked Iroh.
"I think so, I'll go talk to her," said Zuko making his way towards the acrobat. Iroh smiled happily at his nephew, still reminded of what he had been like several years ago. He turned his head towards the pumpkins.
"I'm thankful that my nephew looks more cheerful than you three, it's good to see him enjoying himself," said Iroh chuckling slightly but had to rub his eyes several times after it looked like a pumpkin had winked at him.
As the music began to pick up, Toph found herself being squeezed out of the dancing circle that had formed. She didn't particularly mind, being stuck in the middle of a crowd had never really been her thing. "Enjoying yourself?" asked a voice from nearby which caused her to jump slightly. Through her feet she could feel everything around her, the exact number of people on the dance floor and to the point where she could locate twinkle toes watching the festivities from the other side of the town square but this person had taken her completely by surprise. She figured that this person was hanging from a rope or something along those lines which prevented her from 'seeing' them.
"Don't sneak up on me again," said Toph with a huff.
"I sincerely apologize, it was hardly my intention."
"Well you gave me a fright and I can tell you that's something that very few people are capable of," admitted Toph. "Where abouts are you from, you have a very strange accent?"
"I lived here, but that was a long time ago."
"Got sick of the city life?" asked Toph.
"I definitely got sick, that's for sure. I think the doctor called it the Black Plague or something along those lines, it was so long ago it's hard to remember."
"The Black Plague," repeated Toph.
"What you doing over here Toph?" asked Katara as she made her way through the crowd to where the blind earthbender stood.
"I was just having a conversation with...what was your name?" asked Toph turning her head towards the person she had been speaking to. There was a couple second pause as the blind girl waited for an answer.
"Toph, are you alright? Do you need a lie down or something?" asked Katara.
"I'm fine Katara, why?" asked Toph.
"Because nobody's there," said Katara pointing out the fact that Toph was alone.
"But, I was just talking to them," said Toph bamboozled by what was going on. "They scared me and said something about being sick with the Black Plague."
"Toph, the last case of somebody having the Black Plague was over four hundred years ago," explained Katara. Toph could only respond with several undistinguishable grunts as she tried to figure what was going on.
"Maybe I will have a lie down," admitted the blind girl as she wandered towards their house, intent on getting a bit of shut eye before rejoining the party. Katara watched Toph walk off and pondered whether or not she should go with her friend, but knew that the blind girl would be fine.
"And she was such good company to."
Katara whipped around quickly at the sound of the voice but found nobody there. Blinking a couple of times, she pondered whether or not she should go get some rest as well.
Toph rejoined the party roughly an hour later as a majority of the crowd was starting to leave, the festivities starting to wind down slowly. Yet her guard was up, as if expecting her unnamed friend to sneak up on her once again. "Hey Toph," said Aang as she recognised the black clad girl.
"Twinkle toes," responded Aang. "Could you grab me a glass of water?"
"Sure," said Aang doing what was asked of him. He returned moments later with the glass in hand. "Here you go."
"Cheers," said Toph as she lifted the glass to her lips only to sputter violently as she dropped the glass, the object shattering into hundreds of tiny fragments.
"Toph are you alright?" asked Aang as he comforted his friend.
"There was something living in that," proclaimed Toph as she rubbed her tongue, desperately trying to get the taste out of her mouth.
"No way, I just got that water from the...oh wow!" proclaimed Aang as he looked at the shattered glass to see a wood frog hopping away, croaking as it did so.
"I think one of the kids pulled a prank," said Aang trying to come up with a logical explanation. Unless it was somebody's pet, it was very unlikely that the wood frog had managed to find its way into the water, their natural habitat being hundreds of miles away.
"If I find the punk I swear," cursed Toph to which Aang quickly put a stop to.
"It was just a childish prank, no reason to get too upset about it," he said in a quick attempt to calm her down. It seemed to work as she rubbed her eyes frustratingly.
"I think the night's getting to me."
"No kidding," said Aang as he saw Zuko walking towards them.
"Avatar Aang, may I speak with you momentarily?" asked the Fire Lord.
"Sure," said Aang, his eyes focusing slightly. Whenever somebody called him by his title these days he saw it as a sign that something dangerous was going on. Leaving Toph by herself, Aang and Zuko found solitude in a nearby alleyway.
"Have you noticed...certain things going on?" asked Zuko.
"What kind of things?" asked Aang.
"Well, a couple people were telling me that when they went towards the fire to warm themselves up, they felt a chill as cold as ice run through their bodies."
"Not only that, somebody said that when they tried to cut up a slice of pumpkin they had heard the vegetable scream at them in pain."
"Aang, I'm being serious!" said Zuko as he grabbed Aang by the shoulders. "Something's going on and it's starting to freak people out."
"Alright, let's just go out there and announce that the party's over for the night," said Aang. "If the celebration is finished then everybody will go home, sleep and hopefully have forgotten about it by morning."
"But that wouldn't be any fun," said a voice from nearby which caused both the Fire Lord and Avatar to turn around. They had expected to see a child from the sounds of the voice, yet the twisted figure standing before them was clearly not of human birth. With green skin and sharp claws, the creature stood less than two feet tall.
"I think there was something funny in the water, cause I think I'm hallucinating now," said Aang as he rubbed his eyes.
"Depends, do you some weird green thing like I do?" asked Zuko.
"I'm not just any 'thing,'" responded the creature with a cackle. "I'm a goblin."
"Definitely something in the water," said Aang as he turned to leave.
"I'm only here to warn you pal," said the goblin as he sat atop Aang's head, having moved faster than the eye could see, his slimy skin lubricating Aang's arrow. "If you stop the party now, they'll be consequences to pay."
"Are you threatening us?" stated Zuko as he conjured daggers of flames from his palms.
"Think more of it as a warning," said the goblin as he snapped his fingers, extinguishing the flames in Zuko's hands much to the teenager's astonishment. "We get a kick out of scaring people, it's what we do."
"We?" repeated Aang as the goblin vanished from atop his head to be standing in the alleyway once again, only now he was surrounded by a number of similar looking creatures, all baring serrated teeth.
"Put it this way, you keep the party going and let us frighten the guests to our content, or suffer unspeakable horrors to come," warned the goblin.
"We're not afraid of you," proclaimed Zuko.
"I was hoping you would say that," said the goblin smiling menacingly as the darkness of the alleyway swallowed him and his friends, leaving no trace of them behind.
"Shouldn't we do what they say?" asked Aang worrying about the consequences mentioned.
"I don't know, but we can't risk the safety of the people so these guys can get a bit of a laugh," said Zuko. "They're in danger and the best thing to do is get all the guards to watch the streets and ensure that everybody gets home safely."
"Agreed," said Aang as he found his friend's words reassuring. The two of them made their way back to the party intent on shutting the thing down in as calm a manner as possible. Meanwhile, two blood red beady eyes opened within the darkness of the alleyway as moonlight glistened off sharpened teeth.
"Now the real fun begins."
As the first glows of the morning sun crept in through the window, Aang stretched his arms as high as he could, removing the crick in his shoulder blades. Opening his eyes, he noted that everything looked the way it had before, minus the fact that for some reason Sokka had Toph sleeping on one side of him and Ty Lee on the other.
Walking over to the window, he opened the curtains, bathing the room in light much to his friend's annoyance. He paid them no attention as he saw Katara on the porch, doing her water bending stances. Yet from his point of view he could see that her stances were near perfect, yet frustration was written all over her face.
A solid thump rang out as Toph rolled off the bed, a groan of annoyance resounding from her lips as Aang turned around in shock at the sudden sound. "Morning Toph," said Aang cheerfully.
"Aang, is that you?" The young boy had been walking towards Toph at that stage but stopped in his tracks, the member of the Beifong family causing his head to go in a loop as he repeated Toph's words in his mind over and over.
"Are you alright?" asked Aang.
"Aang, where are you, I can't see," claimed Toph, her voice becoming more worried with every syllable.
"But Toph, you can't see anyway," said Sokka in a half dazed state as he found himself missing the warmth that Toph's body had brought.
"I'm serious, I can't see...what's going on?" asked Toph, panic clearly projected through her quivering voice.
"Aang," shouted Katara as she burst through the front door, startling those who were conscious as beads of sweat glistened off her brow.
"Katara, what is it?" asked Aang.
"I can't water bend!"
Aang burst straight into action as he tried to bend some water from a nearby basin, but much to his shock the liquid remained motionless. In swift succession, he tried to bend the earth, fire and even air but none of the elements were under his control. A glimpse from the previous night flashed across his mind in an instant.
"Put it this way, you keep the party going and let us frighten the guests to our content, or suffer unspeakable horrors to come."
As Aang looked out the window, the shock across his face was evident as one thing became clear. Compared to last night, the true horror had only just begun.
Important: This story is a part of the Halloween one shot contest which is currently being held among TDS' own members. Please leave a review