I looked up from the map. “This looks to be the place.”
Lightning flashed and thunder crackled. Somewhere in the distance we could hear a cackle.
“You sure about this?” Ryack asked. “It seems sketchy.”
I rolled up the map. “Eh, it’s OK. It’s Halloween. Someone probably set it up like this.”
“I thought you said that people dressed up for this Halloween thing,” Aleya said. She gave our costumes a once-over. “What are you supposed to be?”
I was dressed in a jersey and cap. I also had purple and yellow face paint and a big, foam finger. “I’m a sports fan.” They both looked at me. “If you’d known me before the spell, you’d get how scary this is…to me.”
“And what are you supposed to be?” Aleya asked Ryack.
He wore a T-shirt with an 8-bit video game creature, jeans, and jacket with a symbol on the back that had “Rage Quit” in a circle with a line through it. He also wore a pair of headphones. “I’m a video gamer. This is what I wore when I did game walkthroughs on MyVideo.” He sighed. “999,999 subscribers before the Big Zap. One away from getting the Gold Milk Bottle.” He turned away for a moment. “Excuse me.” He put his hood up. It was kind of odd hearing sobbing with that demonic voice.
Ryack had managed to score a cloak and hood that could alter his appearance and voice when he put the hood up. When it was up, his voice and appearance would send chills down your spine. When it was down…well he was a nerd: higher-pitched voice, freckles, unruly ginger hair.
So far, he and I are the only ones that remember the modern world before the spell that sent us all into this…fantasy world. Aleya does know that a spell was involved but doesn’t remember much about our previous lives.
“He acts big and tough about everything else,” said Aleya, “but this he get’s upset over.” I just shrugged. “You do realize this is a trap.”
“How so?” I asked.
“You don’t find it mildly suspicious that you, the most wanted man in all lands of New Town, have just been invited for dinner?”
“Quick question,” said Ryack after lowering his hood. “Is New Town a town or a kingdom?”
“Both,” said Phil, the talking magic wand (before the spell he’d been the pen I’d written many rough drafts with). He floated out from the case on my belt.
“How is that possible?” I asked.
“Magic,” Phil said in a mysterious whisper full of wonder.
“You don’t know, do you?” I said.
“Not a clue.” He then returned to the case.
“So much for an all-knowing wand,” I said.
“I never said I was all-knowing,” Phil’s muffled voice said.
“I vote we leave,” said Aleya.
“Too late.” Ryack pointed.
The big, wooden door began to creak open. A pale man with a long face stepped out. “Good ev-en-ing.” Lightning chose that moment to flash. “The master has been expecting you. The other hmm, hmm, ‘guests’ have already arrived. Walk this way.” He started to walk away. He then suddenly turned and stuck a finger in my face. “I mean, follow me not imitate my gait.”
“What are you looking at me for?” I asked.
The butler brought us to a library. There were tons of books. I noticed that most, if not all were law books.
“Welcome, one and all,” said our host. “Tonight’s dinner promises to be quite…delicious.” Our host was also pale and had a long, black cape. He also wore a fancy suit, kind of regal one.
He’d really gone all out on this place. The cobwebs looked real. The bats hanging from the ceiling, fake of course, added to the affair. The windows had shutters so the only light were the candles and torches. The butler had returned to the organ and began playing horribly terrifying music.
“I am known as the Count,” the host said. “And these are my…associates Johnson, Johnson, and Smith.” Each nodded in turn and looked to be as pale as the Count.
A servant of some kind brought us drinks. I took a sniff. “Wine?”
“No,” said the Count said. “I don’t drink…wine.”
“That’s creepy,” Ryack said to me.
“How? I don’t drink wine. Do you?”
Ryack turned red a little. “I’m, uh, not old enough.”
“Elves never touch the stuff,” said Aleya. “It messes with magic. We prefer tea.”
“I’m a coffee man, myself,” said the Count. “Well, once upon a time.”
Before we could get into the whole coffee vs. tea debate, I looked around trying to find a way to change the subject. “Quite the library. Are they all law books?”
The Count chuckled softly. “Quite the eye, Mr. Maximus. We were lawyers. Quite good ones actually. Our firm never lost a case. Oil spills, scandals, corruption, we handled it all. We once even got the courts to fine some widows and orphans. Ah, those were the days. That is until the Master of Moor Manor cast his spell.”
This conversation suddenly took a dark turn.
“We went from being highly respected lawyers to bloodsucking vampires,” said the Count.
“Not much of a leap,” I muttered. “So you invited us for dinner to help us on our way so that we could defeat the wizard and return the world to its normal order.”
The Count chuckled again. “No. We didn’t invite you for dinner but as dinner.” As one, the vampire ex-lawyers bared their fangs.
I pulled out my wand. “Do something!” said Aleya.
“I’m thinking. I’m thinking. Uh, why do you guys want to kill us if we can end the spell?”
“We are unholy bloodsucking fiends of the night,” said the Count. “It’s what we do.”
I stepped back. “I object to this.”
“Overruled.” The Count then hissed.
“Just poof them away,” said Ryack.
“It won’t work,” said Aleya. “Maximus was a storyteller in the other world. His magic is based on storytelling.
“Why can’t you do something?” Ryack asked Aleya.
“My job is to aid the Chosen One. I mean, Maximus. That is where my magic lies.”
Ryack took a long, annoyed breath. “So how would a storyteller defeat them?”
“Uh, uh…” I said. My eyes darted around the room. I was coming up empty. “Uh, uh…” I then spotted it. A gavel. “Got it.” I pointed at the gavel and cleared my throat. “‘All rise,’ said the bailiff. ‘The honorable Judge…Fredricks is presiding.’ The jury, audience, and lawyers stood.” The vampires stopped coming towards us and stood still. “‘Bailiff,’ said the judge, ‘What is on the docket for the day?’ ‘Case number 17598B, sir,’ said the bailiff. ‘Tax evasion.’ The judge turned to the defendant’s lawyer, known only as the Count, ‘You’re opening statement.’ The Count turned to face the jury and began…”
Suddenly we were transported to a court room. The other vampires sat down as the Count faced the jury. “Over the course of the next few days, we will see that my client obeyed all tax laws…”
He continued as Ryack, Aleya, and I ducked out. We soon found ourselves back in the Count’s manor. After some turns, we finally found our way out.
“What happens once the trail is over?” Aleya asked. “Do you think he’ll come after us again?”
I scoffed. “It’s a tax law case. It’ll never end.”