We are in the Art Studio classroom when it happens. The sun has lowered on Devil's Night, and they surround him, dozens of Jack-o-lanterns, their celebrant faces glowing into the large room. Some sit on the floor, others rest on desks or on sideboards. He prefers not to turn on the overhead lights, but to allow these tiny fires to light and warm the room. He leaves the lids off of those lanterns that have them, not wanting to scorch the pumpkins too soon.
Viggo and his students made our Jack-o-lanterns today, most of the young ones having made several, and taken away their favorites to save for their own use tomorrow, when the vast, All-Hallows Eve party will swallow Summerville whole. To their wanton revelry we are summoned by this fashioning; by these humble vessels fit with all the honest grandeur of the very earth and turning seasons, we are invited. We happily attend. Viggo surveys the treasures his apprentices have crafted. Some of our doorways are fierce, others fearful, others vulgar. Our joy hums, pulls power from the earth, from the wheeling stars. We draw the circle on his behalf.
The Studio stretches north to south, a wall of windows facing northwest between two doors at either end of the space. The energy is fine here, strong, an energy of making, and we like it. A good place to cross over, this, but you see, not only we are attracted here. An unwelcome shadow enters from the south door. This darkness bears a name Viggo dreads. We know this one, but we disdain. He has grown too dark. He does not recognize us. Afreet, we labeled him long ago, empty of light. We quickly close the circle against him.
"You have no place here," Viggo says. "I thought we made that clear."
The shadow has come to force what does not belong to him. He carries steel, his mind a cold and bitter tangle of anger and of violence. Loneliness...
This shade has come to haunt Viggo on his very hallowed ground. He frightened him once here, dragged Viggo back to raw-boned memories of the weakness of his youth, but of late he is aware of his own strength, and this ground is his. He regards the lost one with eyes as careless and unafraid as the open sea. "All the power here is mine," Viggo declares, "and I am my lord's."
Yes. We knew he would say that. We knew.
The shade submits his claim, but the words mean nothing, a waste of breath. We taste fear, desperation, steel is drawn.
"For him I sing," Viggo answers, and he advances, full into the light. "I raise the present on the past –"
Yes. Good words, of strength and of devotion, we knew him well who said them first.
"- as some perennial tree out of its roots, the present on the past - with time and space I him dilate and fuse the immortal laws, to make himself by them the law unto himself."
Our power drawn and fueled by the faith behind his eyes, Viggo stands secure within our ward. We will not break.
He does not see when the horned god enters behind him, through the north door. The shade draws back into the south doorway, staring, blinking in our angry light and then he flees before this child of the great stag. Viggo watches the little of him that remains slip away into the night, diffuse and worn through, hardly a clear reflection of the man love might once have made of him. Afreet now, nothing more.
The young lord summons, "Viggo... "
Viggo turns, blinded for a moment by our fire, and we allow the flames to flicker and to die, all but a hand's worth, low and listening, as Viggo smiles and says, "Ah, Sean, you're here."
His love steps forward, careful between two pumpkins, fragrant with recent heat, and he wonders, "Was someone here?"
"Just a Halloween shadow," Viggo assures. "Nothing real."
"C'mere, then," and Sean draws his adored one to him and kisses him well and murmurs, "Even in the dark your eyes are so grey and clear, Vig, just like the North Sea." And he kisses him again, holds him tight in the circle of his arms.
Viggo breathes, "If you keep that up we'll never make it to Orlando's party."
"They can wait."
We hear the old music in his blood, hot and singing strong.
"We have all the pumpkins."
Surely there is a little time?
Sean sighs, and hefts a work of devotion, peers into the open smile. "My favorite part of Samhain," he says. "A Jack-o-lantern always seems a bit of comfort, like a visit from an old friend." He laughs at himself. "Daft, I suppose."
"Not at all." Viggo smiles and touches Sean's face.
Perhaps later... We have a gathering to attend, new circles to be drawn, and all again tomorrow night. The veil is thin, and we are strong these nights, summoned here by faith, and by vessels of fire.
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Story notes: In "Salem's Lot," by Stephen King there's this part where the head vampire comments that the reason the Cross works against vampires is not on account of the symbol, but the faith of the wielder. Conversely I got to thinking, maybe in order to fashion modern magic you don't need some ancient language or obscure rhymes to give a spell power. Maybe all you need is to believe wholly in what you're saying. And yes, at one point Viggo is quoting Walt Whitman. The bunny really likes Whitman.
Post Novice Chronicles: Rattle and Roll, Biding Time, If the Dog Doesn't Like You, Modern Alchemy, In the Doghouse, Cascade, Glamour, A Brief History of Bread, Anatomically Correct, Sheffield Roulette, Spur of the Moment.
Chapter notes: Halloween and AU. How unreal can we get?