Faced with seeing a fellow human in peril, your baser instincts take over, forcing you to boldly… sit there with Victoria and watch as this helpless woman is turned into a scarecrow. Wow. Just wow, man. I mean, yeah, Victoria was going to do it, but she’s sort of on the side of monsters already. You’re supposed to be better than that. Fuuuuuuuck dude.
Anyway, you heroically sit in the bushes while the lady dressed as a Bride of Frankenstein is grabbed by the tattered rag ghoul, causing the air around her to warp until she’s nothing more than a grinning jack-o-lantern sitting atop a body made of straw. A heavy weight of guilt settles in your stomach as you see them slink away from her frozen figure, which you definitely earned, but there’s no time to dwell as Victoria motions for you to follow her around the side gate once more.
With her hands no longer wrapped around your arm, all you can see is the kid in the crappy ghost costume, walking out the front door like nothing happened and moving down the block. It has a steady pace, and the longer you watch the harder it is to keep the harbinger of evil in your sights. Between every blink, you feel like your target is vanishing, and it’s only with concentrated effort you can relocate it.
Victoria apparently has no such issues, keeping to the shadows as she stalks the small figure clothed in a sheet. Her costume is definitely working to her advantage, the dark fur cloaking her body as she moves outside the light. Your cowboy costume is somewhat less disposed to stealth, but you do your best to follow her footsteps and stay out of sight. Evidently, it works, as you both trail the child-sized ghost off the current cul-de-sac and onto the main area of Carver Street.
Here, the roads are still swarmed by children, clad in plastic costumes as they make the rounds, demanding candy at every doorstep they pass. Within ten steps, you’ve lost the ghost, its unnatural ability to slip from focus magnified by the horde of equally sized kids. Instead of trying to follow it, you just keep an eye on Victoria. She’s like an inverse of the ghost, standing out like a dark beacon among the many smaller bodies. Truth be told, you’re pretty sure that even in a room full of people wearing the exact same costume, Victoria would still be easy to spot. Even before you knew about her family, there was always something that stood out about her. Granted, back then you thought it was her pleasantly symmetrical face instead of a connection to the magic of Halloween, but the point stands.
As you’re following her, doing your best not to bump into children as you walk, you feel a light brush on one of your shoulders. It’s a soft touch, so you think nothing of it, until a few seconds later when the same spot is hit again. And this time, it isn’t so gentle. A forceful push shoves you off the street, sending you sprawling into the bushes before you can so much as let out a yelp.
You try to get up, but something pushes you down. The world twitches, and suddenly you can see the figure pinning you. It’s another tattered rag ghoul, though this one has a different stain pattern than the one you saw in the kitchen. Oh fucking great, more of these assholes. It leans in close, giving you a good whiff of the stinking cloths keeping its face separate from yours, and you try to scream for Victoria. Nothing comes out, though. Just like the woman in the kitchen, your sound has been stolen. Much as you struggle to get free, it gets closer by the second, reaching up with a rag-covered arm and pressing its fingers to your temple. Holy shit man, hope you like pumpkins, because it looks like your about to turn into one.
Except… nothing happens when the fingers grab you. The ghoul’s head, still masked by tatters, tilts to the side in visible confusion. It grips you harder, to no avail, then lets a single word escape the depths of its torn sheets.
“Pardon me, but I’m the only one permitted to assault my servants.” Victoria has appeared above the ghoul, and with a single swipe of her gleaming silver claw, she opens a hole in its throat. There’s no blood or flesh that you can see, instead it’s like pure shadow under those sheets, an infinite darkness that’s barely contained. You only get a glimpse though, as seconds after she strikes the creature vanishes, removing the weight from your chest.
“Thanks,” you say, very clearly preoccupied with why the hell a monster thinks your “broken”. Screw that guy, you’re not that bad. Maybe a little worse for wear after so many near death experiences, but by god you’d still turn you into a pumpkin. What a dick.
“You’re lucky I noticed,” Victoria says. “These things usually strike before anyone can intervene.”
“Well I’ll try not to-”
A sharp, piercing sound hits both your ears, what seems like a child’s scream. That’s disturbing enough to you, but Victoria looks like someone just slipped a knife between her ribs. Without a word, she dashes out of the bushes, rushing down the street so quickly that it’s a miracle she’s not knocking kids over.
Once again you’re following, though you do note it’s a bit odd that no one else is reacting to the scream. Almost like they didn’t hear it at all. You dart in the few spaces between children, keeping as close to Victoria as you can, until you both turn a block into a new cul-de-sac. Your feet fail you as a horrible sight meets your eyes.
Another ghoul is there, plain as day, standing over a scarecrow with a jack-o-lantern head. This one isn’t dressed like Frankenstein though, nor is it wearing normal everyday clothes. No, this scarecrow is dressed like a character from an obscure webcomic run by a madman: Godpunch Lightning-Fucker. It’s Jim, or what’s left of him as the sheet-covered monster pulls its hands away. Down the street, you can see another ghoul running into the shadows, gripping a small struggling figure with a bright orange pumpkin candy pail.
You have to do something, even if you’re not quite sure what. There might still be time to run down the thing stealing Annabeth, or you could try to punch the one in front of you until it restores Jim. Then again, there is always the diplomatic option, maybe if you can find out why these creatures are here you can bargain back your roommate’s restoration. Whatever you choose, you just have to do it soon.