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Nightmare Night 2: Halloweening Harder

by GentlemanJ

Chapter 1


This is a short story in The Journey of Graves.

The series begins with the first story: When the Man Comes Around.

IMPORTANT: If you haven't read the series, please head back to the beginning and check it out. While each story stands on its own, the character and relationship developments will build on each other as the series progresses.

And so, the saga continues...

Nightmare Night 2: Halloweening Harder

By: GentlemanJ

Twilight Sparkle went to answer the knocking at the door.

“Nightmare night! What a fright! Give us something sweet to bite!”

“Hey kids!” the Ponyville librarian grinned as she looked out on the horde of miniature ghosts and goblins, specters and spooks, all eagerly anticipating a delicious prize. Not one to disappoint, Twilight reached into a nearby bowl and gave them each a generous (but responsible) helping of tasty candies.

“Thanks a lot, Twilight!” Dinky squeaked as she struggled to straighten her oversized GI helmet before dashing off after her friends. “By the way, I really like your Power Rangers costume!”

The purple-haired poindexter remained in the doorway, poleaxed as only someone blindsided by the completely unexpected could.

“Power Ranger?” she sputtered. “This happens to be a completely accurate recreation of the Iron Man Mark VII suit, for crying out loud! I mean, spent a whole week getting the armor plating to fluctuate for realistic aerodynamics alone! How the hay did she see a Power Ranger?!”

“Aw come on, Twilight,” Spike snickered as he brought refills for the candy bowl, “I’m sure they have room for a new purple ranger somewhere on the team.”

“Gee, thanks,” she glowered. “It’s not like you would understand though. You spent what, fifteen minutes getting your costume together? What are you even going as, anyway?”

“Dragonborn,” the green-haired lad smiled. “Since I’ve got dragon’s blood in me, making a super-cool Dovahkiin costume was a snap.”

“Really?” Twilight smirked. “Cause it looks to me like you stuck two bananas in an overturned colander and glued on part of some novelty glasses for a faceguard.”

“Maybe to you,” Spike smile, “but I wouldn’t expect a Power Ranger to understand.”

Before an epic throw down between mystic dragon powers and scientific artillery could begin, another series of knocks came from the door.

“Hey Twilight, you ready yet?” Rainbow Dash called out as she came barging in. “The Nightmare Night party’s already getting started and we still gotta meet up with the others. By the way, nice Power Ranger costume.”

“Oh come on!” the armored scholar cried aloud. “You read more comic books than anyone I know! How can you not recognize that this is an Iron Man suit?”

“Meh, Iron Man’s Marvel,” the colorful flyer snorted. “I stick to DC: that’s where the real good stuff’s at.”

“So is that why yer flyin’ around in yer underroos?” Applejack snickered from behind, bringing a flush of indignation to her athletic friend’s face.

“It’s called spandex, Applejack, and this happens to be a recreation of a classic Silver-Age Superman costume, the greatest superhero ever and the only one nearly as awesome as me. So show some respect, for Krypton sake!”

“Funny," Applejack drawled. "I would’ve figured the greatest hero ever would have the sense to wear his underpants inside his costume. But guess that’s just me.”

“Oh, ha ha.” Rainbow Dash sniffed. “Besides, you don’t have room to talk, miss-I’ll-dump-a-can-of-green-body-paint-on-my-head-and-call-it-a-day. Who are you supposed to be, anyway? The Tick?”

“Fer yer information,” Applejack huffed, “I’m goin’ as She-Hulk, one of the most respectable heroes there. Why, not only is she a highly edujmacated an' accomplished litigations type, she can also–”

“Surprise attack!” Pinkie Pie screamed as she leaped through the door and covered the entire party with nearly two pounds of pure silly string.

“Pinkie,” Twilight spluttered, blowing strands of sprayable foam from her face. “What did I say about using silly string in the library?”

“Aw, come on,” the bubbly baker whined from behind her mask. “How am I supposed to make a real Spider-Man costume if I can’t even spray webbing?”

“Perhaps you could wait till we’re outside then?”

The girls turned to spot Rarity entering through the doorway to join them. Perhaps she’d just arrived. Perhaps she’d noticed Spider-Pinkie’s oncoming ambush and strategically timed her entrance to dodge the brunt of the stringy strike. However, those issues weren't quite as important as the much more pressing matter that immediately burst into everyone’s minds.

“Spike, go to your room,” Twilight called out.

“But…”

“Room. Now.”

Spike scampered off. Despite his incredible desire to stay, you didn’t argue with Twilight when she took that tone.

“Um, sugarcube…” Applejack began. “You sure you wanna be wearin’ that costume tonight?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Rarity queried just before a trill of uncertainty entered her voice. “Oh my goodness, it’s my hair isn’t it? I knew there was something wrong with my hair. Honestly, the trouble I went through, and then this tiara just comes in and–”

“Whoa, hold your horses there, Drama Queen Hippolyta,” Rainbow Dash chuckled. “I don’t think any of us were thinking about your hair.”

“Wonderful, then that means I didn’t do it properly,” Rarity moaned. “The hair is a central draw of the costume, so if you’re not thinking about it, then–”

“I think what we’re trying to say,” Twilight interjected, “is that your Wonder Woman costume looks just fine. We were just wondering if you wanted to go to the party wearing it.”

“I... don’t quite comprehend,” the pretty dressmaker replied, now a tad less upset but a good bit more more confused than ever. “Do I not look good in it?”

“That’s not it silly,” Pinkie-Spider giggled as she dangled head-under-heels from the banister. “We were just wondering if Graves knew he’d be spending all night beating guys off you with a stick, cause girl, you lookin’ fine!”

An exchange of looks established that indeed, all her friends held that common sentiment: looking good was not the problem, but looking too good certainly was. As it stood, the fabulous fashionista was rocking the Amazon attire in ways that would have made the original jealous, and while it’s always nice to be pretty, becoming eye-catching to the point of distraction does have its downsides.

“Oh, is that what you’re going on about?” Rarity laughed as relief washed over her. “For a second there, I thought you were implying I shouldn’t be seen in this outfit.”

“Not by kids, you shouldn’t,” Twilight quietly mumbled. Truth be told, there was nothing truly inappropriate, but the dressmaker was pretty enough that it would certainly raise some awkward questions between parents and youngsters later in the evening. Hence, Spike being relegated to the second floor.

“Nah, you don’t have to worry about that none,” Applejack smiled with a hearty slap to the back. “We were just makin’ sure that yer honey bun Graves wouldn’t be surprised on how much eye-grabbin’ you’ll be doin’.”

“Well, you certainly won’t need to worry about that,” Rarity laughed. “I made his costume, after all, and since we were going for a complementary pair, he’s gotten more than a few private viewings of mine as well.”

“What? Don’t tell me that he’s going as Superman too?” Rainbow Dash gasped in dismay.

“Good heavens no,” the sapphire-eyed heroine started. “What would ever give you that idea?”

“New 52?”

“… I’m certain that makes sense in some way,” Rarity replied with diplomatic uncertainty, “but no, he will certainly not be going as the Man of Steel. Honestly, can you even imagine him in a full body spandex suit?”

It took some time, but the girls did eventually manage to form the image. The snickering that went around showed how well that went.

“Anywho, if we’re all here, I guess we should head over to the party, shouldn’t we?” Twilight called out just before lowering her golden-paneled mask. “I’m guessing Fluttershy won’t be joining us tonight?”

“Nah, she’s all holed up in her cottage, as usual,” Applejack shrugged. “Big Mac’ll check on her after he finishes givin’ the little 'uns their hay rides.”

“In that case, what are we waiting for?” Spider-Pie called as she leaped to the floor. “There’s a party going down, so let’s get going!”

As the five girls made their way from the library, all chatting away about the festivities awaiting them, none of them notices as a certain armored scholar snatched up a small, rune-inscribed pouch and tucked it safely away into one of her suit’s many fluctuating compartments. Also unbeknownst to them was the slight, secretive smile that grew steadily more wicked from behind her golden mask.

With a soft thump, the front door closed, and all was silent.

Silent, except for one, small matter.

“Um… Twilight? Can I come out now?”

*****

As the night went fully dark and the last of the trick-or-treating children made their weary, but satisfied journeys home, the older Ponyville residents filed out to enjoy what they considered to be the main attraction of the evening: the big Nightmare Night party. Though open to all ages, this party was strategically timed to keep most of the younger kids at home so that the adults could really let their hair down, kick back, and have some fun. To this end, the town always hosted a massive dance party in the town square, with plenty of cider and other libations to go around as well as a smashing soundtrack provided by DJ Pon3, who for some reason had decided to dress as a large, freshwater trout. A trout who, for some reason, oft fell to the ground in a spasmodic heap.

The party was in full swing by the time the Ponyville girls arrived as they all without further ado dove in head first. All, however, save for one.

“I still can’t believe you forgot about me,” Spike mumbled in sullen dejection as he shuffled along behind his big sister. “Honestly, that’s just mean.”

“Sorry Spike,” Twilight replied with an apologetic grin as she fondly patted him on his colander-clad head. “I just don’t want you growing up too fast, you know?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll always be your baby brother,” Spike said, rolling his eyes though with more exaggeration than actual heat. “So anyways, are you finally going to tell me what this big plan of yours is all about?”

“Yes, yes I will,” the armored scholar replied with a delighted giggle. As they crested a nearby hill, Twilight reached into a side compartment and pulled out the small satchel which upon opening, she revealed its contents as a small mound of glittering, luminescent powder.

“You see this? This is illusion dust, like the kind Zecora used when she first came to town. I made some modifications so that the images created have a much more substantial duration and feel.”

“Okaaaaayyy…” Spike intoned. “So, why do you have it?”

“Nightmare Night’s all about enjoying a good scare, correct?” she answered with a wickedly mischievous smile. “So I got to thinking; why not liven up the party with a good old scare? You have to admit, things would certainly get more interesting if a gaggle of ghastly ghosts suddenly popped up, now wouldn’t it?”

The Salamander boy’s eyes widened as his expression soon grew to match his sister’s.

“Twilight,” he sniffed, “to think that you’d decide to pull a prank all on your own… I… I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of you my whole life.”

“Yeah yeah,” she smirked. “So are you gonna help me or what?”

“You bet!” he grinned. “What do you need me to do?”

“Just take a good pinch of it and set it on fire,” Twilight said, handing him the small pouch. “I’ve set the coordinates to the town square, so we should see a bunch of ghosts pop up as soon as you do.”

“Got it!” he said with a smart salute. “Just let me know when to go.”

With a quick nod, Twilight went to crouch at the top of the hill where she could get the best vantage point of the town square. Below, she could faintly hear the current song drawing to a close. That was good: as soon as it went quiet, she could use the gap for maximum fright value.

Raising her hand, she held it still, waiting for the perfect moment to unleash her epic Nightmare Night prank. Almost… almost…

With an unearthly wail, the center of the town square erupted in a pillar of ethereal green fire. Shooting fifty feet into the air, the burning pillar split apart as each gout of flame coalesced into the horrible, leering visage of an undead horror. Needless to say, there was a good bit of screaming, just like a proper fright fest should have.

“Huh. That went even better than expected,” Twilight smiled. “Didn’t except the flames though. Must have been some kind of reaction with the dragon fire I didn’t anticipate. Anyways, good job, Spike,” she called out as she got up from her prone position. “Everything went splendidly, even if you did jump the gun a bit.”

From beneath this cobbled together helmet, the Salamander boy gave her a most peculiar look.

“But… I haven’t done anything yet.”

Twilight blinked.

“You haven’t?”

In response, her little brother showed her the pouch, where the illusion dust lay glittering and completely untouched in his clean hands.

“But… if you didn’t do that…” the confused scholar puzzled, “then how did–”

“TWILIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHT!”

Up the hill came the trio of Cutie Mark Crusaders, each done up in a similar dresses of red, blue and green with matching black bands at their waists.

“Girls?” Twilight gaped in amazement. “What are you doing here?”

“We need… help,” Sweetie Belle began as her twin pigtails bounced to a halt while she tried to catch her breath.

“Yeah,” Apple Bloom agreed, taking but a moment to adjust the red bow atop her head before continuing. “I think we may have accidentally, possibly, hopefully not but probably did, caused somethin' of a small problem.”

“Uh, how small, exactly?” Twilight asked with growing apprehension. With the Crusaders, small problems had a way of ending up as really, really big problems. “And what exactly are you talking about?”

“Okay, so it goes like this,” Scootaloo explained. “We wanted to prank the Nightmare Night party and see if we could get our cutie marks in trouble making.”

“You would’ve had that long before now,” Twilight mumbled.

“So we went to the library and borrowed one of your spell books and tried to find something that would make it look like a bunch of scary ghosts came out or something,” Sweetie Belle continued. “Only, we’re starting to think that maybe we sort of ended up bringing in, um... real ghosts instead.”

“… Girls,” the librarian asked in very level tones. “Which spell book did you use, exactly?”

Reaching into her backpack, Apple Bloom pulled out a large, leather bound book with the horrific image of a howling face reaching out of its gnarly, veined cover.

... Well, buck.

“So what do we do now?” Apple Bloom asked with wide, worried eyes.

“I’m not sure,” Twilight answered as she turned to look down at the town square. There weren’t too many ghosts to be sure since the portal had remained open for only an instant, but considering those few ghosts still had the power to possess people and turn the party into one massive feeding frenzy, this could still end up as a really, really big problem. That meant that Twilight had to find some way to deal with them quickly, before any of this actually got out of hand. But how? Ghosts were incorporeal, consisting of energy bound in a gaseous state and it took very high level magic to banish one back to the nether realms from whence it came. She could try to reverse the summoning spell, but that had the risk of opening up the rift once again and amplifying the damage. What should she do? What should-

A dark blur dashed before her eyes, and in a matter of moments, one of the ethereal lights winked out with a fading wail. Rubbing her eyes to make sure they weren’t playing tricks on her, Twilight nearly missed out as the black blur leaped towards the next flame and it too, faded away into the night. One by one, the mysterious dark mass darted from one specter to another, each time extinguishing their unearthly light.

One of the ghosts, sensing its impending redemise, attempted to flee the shadowy figure, choosing instead to hurtle itself towards the figures at the top of the hill. However, just as it was about to reach the crest, the dark being flew in from above and with a final, howling shriek, banished the apparition back to beyond the Stygian abyss.

Wide-eyed in amazement, the five on the hilltop stared as the dark figure stood upright, his tall frame shaded by a night-black cape and his face shrouded by a matching, horned cowl.

“Everyone all right?” the figure called, his voice so harsh and raspy that it was almost impossible to understand. “The ghost didn’t touch you, did it?”

“No, I think we’re all good,” Twilight replied, quickly glancing over the younger ones to make sure truth was in her words. “Thank you very much, sir. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”

“Come on, Twilight,” he replied. “You know I’m the hero Ponyville needs, not the one it deserves.”

“... Well, I wouldn’t say that,” Twilight chuckled as she finally deduced the identity of the figure behind the mask. “Can’t even take one night off from your marshal duties, eh?”

“Not when there’s work to be done,” he shrugged. “But I should probably get back. I’ve been beating guys off Rarity with a stick all night, wouldn’t you know.”

“Go figure,” the armored scholar smiled. “Oh, but before you go, just tell me one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“How’d you get rid of the ghosts so quickly?” she asked, unable to hide the curiosity in her voice. “I didn’t see any spell blasts. Did you use some enchanted artifact, or something? Holy water, perhaps?”

“Not really,” the caped crusader shrugged. “I just punched them.”

“Wait, what?” Twilight gaped. “But… ghosts are incorporeal! Non-solid beings made of spectral energy and negative emotions! You can’t just… punch one into submission.”

“'Course I can.”

“How?”

“Because,” he said, a smile flashing to his lips just before he turned and flew off into the night, “I’m Batman.”

**********

To Be Continued

The Journey of Graves will continue in the next story: Casino Battle Royale.

Return to Story Description

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