Spooky Salutations, Fearless Folks!

     After looking through the letters we’ve been receiving lately, it seems as though many mortals are celebrating the recent cold weather in some rather interesting ways. Harvest-themed parties, costume festivals, and an increased focus on the more frightening aspects of mortal life have all been the subjects of our recent inquiries. Today’s question seems to be no exception!

     Ah, this is what tends to be the problem since we’ve opened up our letter receiving to not only other cultures, but completely other worlds as well. I have no idea what this “Hall of weens” is, but from what Geldrin and I have gathered, it seems to be a similar day of celebration to the Gnomish “Fool n’ Fly” festival. We participated in one of these celebrations a few years ago after the gnome complained about feeling a bit homesick.

     Geldrin had received word that the festival was taking place a few forests over in a small gnomish village and was telling me all about it.

     “Everyone wears costumes and carries a bag of treats everywhere they go,”the gnome said, trying desperately to convince me to let him go. “Then, the other festival goers play harmless tricks on each other in an attempt to get them to drop their sweets. Sometimes they just jump out and scare each other… sometimes they use elaborate illusion magic to convince festival goers that they’re dealing with an actual monster. Whatever the method, if they can get the treats out of the other gnome’s bag and into their own, all the better. Whomever has gathered the most sweet treats by the end of the night is crowned the winner and gets a huge pumpkin filled with the most delicious candies!”

     I wasn’t impressed. It all sounded like a lot of work for a few sweets and nothing more than a waste of time. Then Geldrin said something that convinced me.

     “You know… a big part of this festival is wearing a costume that’s supposed to be the biggest, scariest monster you can think of. If you let me take a night off to go, I’ll dress up as you!”

     The thought of Geldrin, the world’s most unassuming, least frightening creature pretending to be the most intelligent, powerful, world-devouring dragon that’s ever lived was hilarious. I had to see how this played out.

     “My dear gnome,” I replied. “You’ve convinced me, and in fact, I’ll do you one better—not only will I give you a night off from your duties here in the lair and help you make your costume, but I’m actually going to join you on this little excursion!”

     The gnome’s excited expression turned to fear. I knew not why. Maybe he wanted that giant candy-stuffed pumpkin and knew he would never get it with me as his rival. Regardless, I reassured him as best I could.

     “Oh, but I won’t go as myself, of course. I’ll polymorph myself into a gnome. One evening of being squished in your tiny form is well worth seeing your attempt to present yourself as a mighty dragon! I’ll even wear a costume!”

     Thus, a week later, we were on our way through the forest to the festival. Geldrin walked at my side, dressed in a costume complete with wings, a tail, and the most handsome of horned faces, though his diminutive stature made the whole thing look silly rather than imposing. I was squeezed into a gnomish form, desperately uncomfortable, though still a foot taller than Geldrin. I was covered in one of Geldrin’s bedsheets, the eyeholes hastily cut out. I wanted to watch the gnome’s foolish attempts at acting like the world’s most fearsome being, but I wasn’t planning on joining in the foolishness myself.

Eventually we made our way to the village. The twinkling of orange-colored lights and the laughter of gnomish children crept through the trees before we even arrived. Stepping out into the glade that contained the hidden town of Clipclop’s Hallow, we were immediately met by an exhausting display of frivolity. Autumn-colored streamers spread from house to hut, giant decorations in the shape of terrible beasts dotted every tree and post, and milling about among it all were dozens of tiny gnome-sized monsters. An absurd roar or the crackling of fireworks erupted sporadically from the din of it all, followed closely by shrieks of laughter. It was all far too whimsical for my taste, but Geldrin was wandering around like an enamored child.

Suddenly my gnome friend turned to me, as though a horrific thought had just crossed his mind. “Please, Grendel. No matter what happens tonight… please by all the gods behave yourself! Let’s just get in, get some sweets, and go back home!”

“My dear, sweet, foolish gnome,”I replied. “You’re dressed as the most fearsome, dreaded, and powerful being to ever exist! If the terror your costume inspires truly matters in this candy contest, you’ll be taking home that giant pumpkin!”

The gnome still looked worried, but I’m sure my rousing speech gave him some sort of determination! All he needed was some continued prodding and he’d win for sure!

“Alrighty, go ahead!”I continued. “There’re some unsuspecting folks right there! Give them a great draconic roar and let’s get our first pieces of candy!”

Geldrin nodded, adjusted his costume, crouched behind a bush, then at JUST the right time… jumped out and gave the weakest, wimpiest roar I have ever heard in my life. The two gnomes in front of him, one dressed as a scarecrow, the other in some sort of devilish garb, hardly looked startled. In fact, after a moment of stunned silence, they LAUGHED!

“What are yousupposed to be? That was hardly frightening…”the scarecrow said.

   “Oh, wait, Cherlyn, look at the wings. I think he’s supposed to be a dragon!”said the other. “Don’t you know? Dragons are SO last year! No one’s frightened of those overgrown lizards!”

   A puff of angry smoke came out of my mouth. I couldn’t believe what I just heard. Immediately I transformed into my full draconic self and ate both of the gnomes, ignoring their terrible cinnamon-like taste. I razed the entire village then and there, burning it to ashes for disrespecting me and dragon kind in general. And thus, that was the one and only time I wore a costume!

     …Well, Geldrin is telling me I need to tell what actuallyhappened. Fine. But not till next week! Maybe I burned down the gnomish village, maybe I didn’t! You’ll have to join us again next week and I’ll tell you the last part of Geldrin and I’s Fool n’ Fly Festival adventure!