Continuing an annual, sporadic tradition, I’ve written a piece of Halloween-themed, Diablo fan fiction. This story takes place near Tristram, at the time of Diablo III, and incorporates what (little) we know about the background of the characters, the state of the world, and a bit about one particularly nasty type of monster.  It’s about 5000 words, and like all of my Halloween stories, it’s got a lot of game-style violence, so some parental discretion might be advised. You might even enjoy reading it with the new, creepy Tristram music playing in the background.

    Click through to read the tale, and scroll to the bottom for links to the Diablo Halloween stories I posted, back in the D2 days

    Halloween in New Tristram

    Trudging back from Tristram, a bulging sack slung over one shoulder, Edward kept his head down and his eyes on the dusty road. To the west the sun was sliding below the horizon, and the gray clouds were painted with red and orange. In years past Edward had gloried in such beauty, but on this day it reminded him of spilt blood and torn flesh, sights he had seen too often of late. Pausing to take a drink from his water skin, he coughed, spat into the dirt, took a tighter grip on the sack, and started walking again, thoughts of his wife and children giving new strength to his tired body.

    “I should ‘na have taken that ale.” Edward muttered as darkness crept over the land. He’d needed supplies for his farm and his family, and with no ox to pull the wagon he’d had to walk. It was near eight miles from his farm to Tristram, but he’d still have been home before dark if he’d not tarried over a barley ale in The Rising Son. It had been a weak brew, but a man grew thirsty for more than creek water after a month harvesting crops and tending sheep. Still, he knew it had been foolish to delay, on this of all nights.

    All Hallow’s Eve was not celebrated as it had been in his youth, when a man was wise to lock away his children and stand guard over his flock, but it wasn’t rowdy youth that Edward was worried about, on this night. Strangers had been seen in Tristram in recent months, since the fire had fallen from the sky. Travelers, and worse. The elders in the tavern had spoken of dark creatures creeping into town in the night, and mysterious bands of Cultists roaming the countryside by day. Judging from the dread in their voices, Edward was left to wonder which they feared more.

    Shaking his head to clear the worries, Edward hitched the pack up one last time as he crested a rise. Below him spread the valley he called home, and the distant light shining through his own front window cheered him. He paused outside, quickly assembling a few special items he’d had to hunt down and barter for in town, and when his son swung open the door a moment later, his eyes grew wide when he saw his father holding forth two bright red demon masks.

    “You remembered Hallow’s Time, Papa!” cried Donald, his excited shout bringing his little sister running from the kitchen. She’d been standing on a chair, stirring the stew pot Edward’s wife had grown too weak to tend, but at the sight of the masks, and the small bag of sugary treats Edward was holding up with a smile, her adult responsibilities were forgotten at once.

    Edward entered the house, and while the children pulled on their masks he closed and barred the front door and the window. The children were transported by their presents and were oblivious to his precautions. Roaring at each other and capering like monkeys, Donald and Salana chased each other around the table, their delighted laughter enough to bring a smile to the weary face of Edward’s wife.

    Marra was sitting up in bed, wrapped in a thick quilt. She’d been bedridden for more than a month, and just as Edward bent down to kiss her cheek, another coughing fit took her. Recoiling, Edward watched in dismay as her frail shoulders shook from the force of her coughs, the wet hacking sounds painful to his ears. Turning away as Marra collapsed, wheezing, he placed another log on the fire and scowled into the flames. The children hadn’t even paused in their play, so often had they heard their mother wracked by her lingering illness.

    Still, this was not a night for such dark thoughts. Demons were strong on All Hallow’s Eve, strong and bold, and that was why humans had taken to mocking them with masks, costumes, and revelry. In a better year there would have been a great harvest festival in Tristram, with all of the citizens out in the streets around huge bonfires. Hot cider and sweet cakes would have fueled the children in their devilish costumes, and the cheerful citizens and their sacred blazes would have been enough to frighten away any lurking demons.

    This night, Edward knew Tristram would be dark and silent, the few remaining residents locked away in their own homes or shivering behind the shuttered windows and barred door of the tavern. The demons were not far away, not with the Cathedral once more haunted by dark forces, and there were no men left in Tristram with the bravery to call out their fellow citizens and to build fires so bright they banished the darkness.  There would be fires tonight, but they would burn atop the ancient hills, where the mysterious Cultists erected rough altars to their dark, unknown gods. No demon would be frightened by those flames. Demons were welcomed by the Cultists—were even worshipped by them, some said.

    Edward could hardly credit such rumors. Foul though their cult might be, he could not imagine men giving fealty to the dark forces of hell. He had not always been a farmer; he knew how wretched were the enemies of man. They could not be bargained with, or appeased. They were to be feared, or defied with steel and flame. Never bargained with, or accommodated.

    His daughter’s laughter and her tiny hand on his back roused Edward from his reverie, and he stood up, almost surprised to find himself still in his own warm home. How had he sunk so deeply into that mood? This was not a night for such thoughts. Forcing a smile to his face, Edward joined the children in their game, watching with half an eye as his wife made her slow way from the bed to the stove. She wore her thickest night gown over fur-lined boots, had a quilt wrapped around her shoulders, and still she shivered with the cold, even as she stirred the stew pot near the hot oven.  Pork was roasting within, the last of a hog Edward had butchered a few days past, and the aroma stirred his appetite. He meant to enjoy this meal; too many dark months of goat’s milk, stale bread, and dried meat awaited him, before spring brought new life to this cursed land.

    Hours later, Edward lay wakeful. His wife was sleeping beside him, the children were lost in slumber on the smaller bed beside the hearth, but Edward could not relax. Long forgotten senses were awake in him, and the feeling of being watched, of being sized up like a hog in a pen, would not leave him. He wanted to arm himself and go out into the night, to seek out the watcher, but that was not an option. Not with two children and a dying wife to protect.

    So he remained awake, fully dressed save for his boots on the floor beside the bed, his short sword on a table, and his axe and a pitchfork beside the barred front door.  When faint sounds came to his ears, like shuffling footsteps on the dry earth outside, Edward was not surprised. He eased his feet into his boots, took his sword in one hand, and crept to the front door.

    The only light in the large room came from the embers in the fire, and it was actually brighter outside, now that the nearly full moon was rearing high overhead. Peering through a peep hole in the door, Edward scanned the front yard. He saw nothing, just trees swaying in the breeze, but the second he pulled his head back, a blade stabbed through the hole his eye had just vacated, the cold steel passing close enough to part the bushy hair on his right temple.

    Edward grunted in surprise, but did not cry out or give himself away. He simply moved another step to the left and picked up the pitchfork. He’d built the house himself, and knew the front door was solid. No man could break through it in one blow, and the hinges and thick bar across the middle would hold up against a mighty assault. If the door was broken, it would break along one of the planks, and through such a narrow opening his pitchfork would prove a deadly stabbing weapon.

    Waiting for the inevitable assault, Edward gripped the weapon loosely, using the strength of his fingers rather than clenching it in a clumsy fist. His hands were cold, but dry, and as he held the tool he would use as a spear, he savored the trembling in his stomach. Once he’d loved this sensation, this feeling of terrified, eager expectation. He’d never felt more alive than before a battle.

    The moment stretched out, then passed. Muffled sounds came from outside, but none were immediately on the other side of the door. None were recognizable, either. Edward might have thought there were wild dogs out there, or some other animal, but for the blade that had nearly taken his eye. That and the fact that his goats were quiet. They would have been bleating and kicking if wolves or dogs had been outside. Humans they could abide.

    As if his thought had given direction, there came a cry, and a crashing noise as of a great mallet smashing into wood. The front door did not bear the impact though, nor did any other part of the house. The crash had come from the barn, and when it was repeated his daughter came awake with a cry, just as the goats began bleating in the night.

    A third crash was rewarded with the sound of breaking wood, and Edward dared press his eye to the hole again. He saw nothing in front of the house, but when he dashed to the east wall and peered through a narrow crack at waist height, he saw dark figures in the barnyard. They were humans, robed and cowled. There were at least eight men, and Edward was sure there were more he could not see. One huge man was wielding some sort of mighty sledgehammer, using both hands to swing the weapon down into the side of the barn. Not even into the door, which was on the right side of the building. The brute was bashing a hole straight through the wall, and with his fifth strike a whole section of wall caved in. Shrieks went up from the hooded figures, and they rushed into the barn, torches suddenly flaring to life in their hands. The goats were soon screaming, joining their cries to the excited clucking of Edward’s fourteen chickens and one rooster.

    His stomach roiling, Edward continued gripping his pitchfork, and forced himself to abide. There were plenty of dried supplies in a cellar below the house, and no raiders could enter it without breaking into the house. The goats and chickens his family could live without. The children and Marra would not survive the winter without him. Most likely, they would most likely not survive the night, if he charged out to battle the raiders, and did not succeed in killing or driving them all away. Once, Edward knew he would have rushed out, swinging his wood axe. At twenty, or perhaps even thirty. But then he had not borne the chains of responsibility he did now, as a husband and father.

    “What’s happening, Papa?” asked a tiny voice beside him, and as he turned to look down at his daughter, again came the blade, stabbing through the opening he’d been looking out just an instant before. This time Edward’s old reflexes were ready, and before he’d even thought about it his arms had moved, swinging the handle of his pitchfork at the stabbing weapon. He struck it powerfully from the side, bending the thin blade sideways so it stuck where it was, impossible for the man outside to remove.

    The blade jiggled several times, as its owner struggled to pull it free, and again moving before he knew his intent, Edward drew his short sword and thrust it through the gap in the timber wall, in inch below the fouled blade. The sword was short, a one-handed weapon, but it was far longer than the dagger. Edward’s thrust was rewarded with a shriek of agony from without, and the dagger jerked one last time, then was released as its wielder staggered back, his stumbling footsteps, then the thud as he fell to the ground audible over his cries of pain and the screams of slaughtered animals.

    “Get back into bed, Salana. You too Donald.” Edward heard himself say, as he looked at the blood that glistened on the tip of his blade. He’d gotten the man through the thigh, he thought. Perhaps the stomach, if the bastard had been bending down. Likely not a fatal wound. At least not immediately.

    “No!” he hissed, the light shining from behind pulling Edward out of his thoughts. He turned just in time to see Marra sitting up in bed, a glowing lantern in her hand. “Put it out!” he added, just as something struck the front door hard enough to shake the entire house. Fear in his belly, Edward, motioned to his son, pointing to the back door, beside the hearth. It was narrow and dark, concealed outside by an overhanging tree and ivy that had grown up the rear wall of the house, and before the second hammer blow could land, Edward had slid back three bolts and forced the door open.

    “Shut it behind me. Lock it.” he whispered to Donald. Handing the boy his pitchfork, he added, “Stab through the front door with this. Keep them back. I will take them from behind.”

    Donald’s eyes were wide with fear, Edward could see that much in the dim light, but he had no time for speeches or farewells. Without another word he slipped through the back door, his wood axe in his hands, his sword in his belt.

    The house was not large, and by the time Edward heard bolts being thrown on the back door, he’d run halfway around it. He went to the right, away from the barn, and as he’d hoped, he came out of the darkness and took the group by the front door entirely by surprise. There were at least a dozen of them, most holding torches and long daggers; krises, with wavy blades. Others leaned on long staves, while one huge man, naked from the waist up while the others were garbed in heavy cloaks with peaked hoods, wielded a huge maul, the head of which glowed with an eerie red flame. The men were not warriors, at least not well-equipped ones. They wore cloth and leather, but no armor that Edward could see, and that made his chore easier.

    Edward wondered who these men were, but only idly. He cared little for their origin, or the nature of their cult. He cared only to see them dead, and he quickly used his axe to send two on that path. Their magical torches gave him plenty of light to aim, and with deadly efficiency he drove his blade down into the side of one man’s neck, then wrenched the weapon free and struck another man in the same motion.

    Edward swung only as hard as he needed to, letting the heavy axe head do the work. It was not necessary to chop a man’s head off to kill him. Simply cutting the arteries along the side of his neck would do the job just as well, without risk of the weapon getting stuck in a shoulder blade or collar bone. Striking a third man a glancing blow with the handle of the axe, Edward took half a second to swing hard at a fourth, but missed a clean kill when the man started to turn, and took the axe to his shoulder, instead of the back of his neck.

    Wrenching the weapon free, Edward swung wildly, sending another man leaping back with a cry of alarm and a ripped vestment, but no wound. They’d all seen him by now, but before they could turn to bring their attack on him, Edward was off, sprinting away from the house and into a stand of trees. He’d never intended to kill them all, not when there were a dozen or more. He hoped only to draw them away from his home, and as he dashed into the trees and turned quickly to the right, heading for a large boulder he knew lay in that direction, he was gratified to hear their frantic cries and running sounds of pursuit.

    The first flaming projectile that streaked through the night and smashed into the trees behind him was less pleasing, but he’d considered the possibility that they might have a mage or two amongst their ranks. Most cultists knew some magic; thanks to powers granted by their dark gods.

    A second, third, and fourth fireball followed the first, and Edward grimaced as he hooked around the huge stone and ran back towards the edge of the woods, some twenty yards to the south of the flames that now marked his entry point. A cultist was suddenly in front of him, the man’s glowing staff illuminating his face, even hidden as it was by his deep hood. His visage was a living nightmare; the skin scarred and lined, his expression blank, his eyes glowing with a soulless green light.

    More disgusted than horrified, Edward paused not at all, and lunged forward, swinging his axe over his shoulder and straight into the cultist’s lifeless face. His aim was true, and the weapon struck with devastating force, the blade nearly cleaving the dark priest in two. Nearly, but not quite, and as the weapon stuck in his split skull, Edward abandoned it and dashed back into the woods, even as the dark priest jerked and thrashed on the ground, his staff glowing with green fire.

    More fireballs screamed through the night, and as he crouched down behind a tree trunk, his sword at the ready, Edward saw that they were not flame. They were some ethereal substance, glowing with greens and yellows, like the staff of the mage he’d just cut down. They did not burn the trees they struck, instead breaking into a thousand sparkles that scattered into the night like tiny fireflies.

    Pulling his eyes away before he became distracted, Edward hurried deeper into the woods, ducking down to let two of the huge, half-naked brutes charge past, the fluted ends of their massive clubs glowing with reddish hellfire.  He didn’t know where the second one had come from, but the night was now alive with men in dark robes, shouting to each other and waving torches. There must have been more of them, in the barn or perhaps hanging back from the house?  Another cultist ran past a second later, panting harshly, his long kris glowing with yellow light. Clumsy in his haste, or madness, he tripped over a tree root, and at once Edward was upon him, driving his short sword through the man’s side, under his ribs and up into his lungs. Twisting the blade with a practice flick of the wrist, Edward jerked it free and ran again, ducking through the leafless trees and trying to circle around to the north.

    There seemed to be more cultists every moment, their lights glowing in all directions, and as Edward hid again in the underbrush and tried to control his harsh breathing, he heard the crashing of metal on wood again. At least one of them had gone back to the house, and at that moment Edward knew despair. There were too many, and he was too far from the house. He’d never get back in time.

    An instant later he wondered if he’d get back at all, when two robed figures shouted from directly behind him. His instincts save him one more, as he dove forwards, straight through the underbrush, just as a massive hammer crashed down into the earth. It grazed his right knee, and even that blow was enough to hobble Edward, as the enchanted maul slammed into the earth, knocking small rocks and bits of tree root in every direction.

    Rolling over, Edward came up in a crouch, just in time to parry a stabbing dagger. Flicking the tip of his blade, he slashed it across the acolyte’s neck, then stabbed hard into his stomach when the man gasped and fell forwards, his blood spurting across Edward’s face.  Spitting and wiping his eyes, Edward staggered to his feet, amazed to see the mighty hammer wielder still struggling to pull his mace from the ground. He’d swung so hard the weapon embedded in the earth, and he refused to leave it, or fight with another weapon.

    “Mad. Mad and holy.” Edward muttered, as leaped forward on one leg, stabbing his sword straight through the neck of the heavily-muscled brute. The man never even looked up, his attention fully on his plugged weapon, and even after taking the fatal cut to his neck he continued pulling at the handle for a few more seconds, before the reddish glow faded from the weapon and he slumped to the earth.

    Panting and favoring his bruised leg, Edward started to hop into the trees, then froze when he saw four cultists walking directly towards him. More of them were behind him, Edward knew, just as he knew that his fight had ended. He could not run, he could hardly stand, and even if he could have, what was the use? The crashing of wood had ended; the enemy had breached his home, and though he’d taught Donald a few tricks with a spear or sword, the lad was just twelve, and not large for his age.

    Still, resigned though he was to his failure, Edward still felt the pain when his daughter’s screams pierced the night. “Bastards!” he cried, spinning to his right and lunging at two dagger-wielding acolytes. One fell back, the other tried to parry, and in a blink Edward cut the lad’s wrist open, then slashed across his face. This one was less drugged, or devout, than the others, and moved quickly enough to keep his nose. Edward wasn’t able to rectify that, since a hammer blow and several hard cracks from the butts of staves struck his back and sides before he could move.

    Grunting in pain, he lost his sword and fell, taking another hard shot on the way down. Stunned, Edward spent a second groping for his weapon until a mace crashed down into his shoulder, breaking several ribs and smashing his face into the ground. Grunting in agony, Edward could do nothing but curl up and moan. Sitting out dirt, he gagged on the taste of his own and another’s blood, then gasped again when a staff cracked down into his right leg. Praying for a sword to end this slow bludgeoning, he was shocked by a howl that echoed through the night, the shouting voice so deep that it shook the ground. More ground shaking came a second later, and with the earth jumping beneath him, Edward felt suddenly disorientated. Unable to tell up from down, he could only stare with wide and watering eyes as a glowing giant appeared, a huge helm over his head, a sword long enough to spit a bull clenched in his hands. The giant howled again, throwing back his head and screaming in a voice that shook the forest, before bursting into motion, swinging the great sword like a scythe.

    The cultists were the wheat, and they must have been as disoriented by the shouting as Edward, for he saw half a dozen kneeling down or hanging onto trees like drunkards. The giant cared not, and cleaved them like firewood, sending sprays of blood in all directions.  A tree crashed down, then a second, chopped in half as neatly as the dark priests who’d been clinging to them. Sure he must be dead and dreaming, Edward closed his eyes, trying to pull his wits together. Seconds passed, perhaps even minutes, but when he finally felt able to open his eyes and move he did so, rising painfully to his knees. His right leg would not bear him, some blow had numbed it below the knee, and he could hardly breath, his chest and ribs were so bruised. He could crawl though, and with his sword once again clenched in his fist, Edward pulled himself through the gore and over the bodies that covered the forest floor, heading for his home. A fire was burning in that direction, perhaps the barn, perhaps the house as well, and the light helped him stay on course as he made his torturous way towards what he assumed would be the bodies of his children and wife.  He’d join them, soon enough. His wounds were crippling, if not immediately fatal, but he had no desire to live on without his family. This world had turned to darkness, and there was naught an honest farmer could do to stand against such evil.

    Time passed, and by the time Edward could see that the barn was well engulfed in flame, he felt strong enough to get to his feet. One leg was still useless, and he could not raise his right arm, but he could hop along, using a staff he’d found for a crutch.

    Bodies were everywhere, dead cultists in every state of disrepair. The giant had moved through them like a harvester, cutting them to bits, even seeming to have detonated their bodies in some instances. Edward was no stranger to carnage, but on no battlefield had he ever seen such destruction. Fist-sized chunks of flesh, severed heads and arms and legs, and even slicks of blood as though bodies had been ground into soup. There were also puddles of thick green slime here and there, and some of the dead Cultists who remained whole seemed to be scorched, or swollen and discolored, as if by some horrible toxin. The scene was beyond his imagination, so Edward didn’t try to understand. He just kept moving, determined to live long enough to see their bodies with his own eyes. Perhaps the giant would spare him that long?

    Finally, finally he reached his home, and without pausing to consider his next move, Edward staggered through the shattered remains of the front door, into the well-lit room. His eyes saw first his wife, standing erect near the table. She was all but naked, with only a thin sleeping gown on. Beside her was a dark figure, a woman of such exotic beauty that Edward thought he must be delirious. She was hardly more dressed than Marra, with a loin cloth around her waist and little more than necklaces and rags over her shoulders. Her arms and legs were ringed by countless bracelets, the gold of them shining in the fire light, and a sword was slung across her back.

    The strangeness of those sights hardly compared to the third woman in the room, though. She was enormous, easily a head taller than Edward, and as broad as an ox. This was the giant, but now with her helm removed he could see that she too was female. She was not just the largest woman Edward had ever seen, she was the largest person, and when she reached for him with hands the size of baskets, he made no effort to fight them away. Her grip was gentle, but she might have been a statue, she felt so solid in her strength. Force seemed to flow from her into his broken body, and Edward felt his consciousness fade as his eyes rolled back into his head.

    When next Edward opened his eyes, it was to see his wife’s face smiling down at him. It was a pained smile, a bittersweet one, and when a tear tracked from her eye and dripped to his check, Edward didn’t flinch.

    “They took the children.” she said, as her smile broke and tears filled her eyes.

    “The giant?” asked Edward. He felt drunk and dazed, and his body ached all over.

    “The Cultists. The Dark Cultists. They took our children to sacrifice, with iron and flame. To the Lord of Terror.”

    This was far beyond Edward’s addled wits, and he tried to sit up while he thought. Agony shot through his back at the effort, and he groaned at the sharp, mind-clearing pain.

    “You’re not to move. Your ribs were broken. Sztangze healed the bruises, but bones take longer to knit.” Edward frowned at this, the meaning of Marra’s surprising words hard to grasp. What was Sztangze? “I have a poultice she left for you,” Marra continued. “It looks like mud. With tiny red worms in it. I’m to wash off the old and smear on a fresh layer each day, one hour after moon rise. That’s when medicine is traditionally dispensed in the Clouded Valley.”

    Still too dazed to take stock of this, Edward felt his mind drifting and winced as he twisted to the side. The expected bolt of pain shot through him, helping him to think. “Marra. Where is Donald? Salana?”

    His words brought a sob from his wife, but she quickly mastered her grief. “I told you. They took them. The Cultists. Sztangze healed me, and then she healed you, and then she and Lanaa went after them. The Barbarian said she would bring back the children, if… if…” The last few words were lost in sobs, and at last Edward understood. Helpless to control his emotions, he joined his wife in her grief, struggling to raise one arm high enough to put over her shoulders, when she lowered her head to his chest to sob against his shoulder.

    There they remained, lying on the bed. Edward felt himself drifting in and out of consciousness, the strain of the night’s events, the heat of the blankets and the roaring blaze in the hearth, and the cold breeze coming through the broken front door combining to keep him in a restless but exhausted state. Looking past his sleeping wife’s head, he could see his sword lying on the table. Someone had cleaned it, wiped the blood and dirt from the blade, and left it resting on the table, beside a number of pots and bowls from which strange aromas floated. Edward guessed that the dark-skinned woman with the impossible name had mixed her healing magic in those dishes.

    Hours passed, and every time Edward woke from a painful doze, he expected to see a Cultist standing over the bed, his face dead, his eyes shining green in the light of a glowing kris. Edward dreamed it several times, but never dreamed strongly enough to make it real, and when he opened his eyes to see the faint blue light of dawn through the gaping door, the dark woman had returned.  She stood silently in the center of the room, her eyes on the flames licking up a fresh log in the fire, and before Edward could think of anything to say, Marra had awakened and leapt out of bed.

    “We bringing you children…” intoned the woman, her voice a husky whisper, the words tinged with an accent like nothing Edward had ever before heard. He wanted to hear more, but before he could think how to speak, his daughter walked through the door. Salana looked calm and composed, but when she approached the fire Edward could see that her eyes were empty. She’d seen too much, and had retreated into herself to survive. He’d seen it before in soldiers, or women who had been taken as spoils when their side lost a war. It had sickened him then. In his own daughter, it was a hook in his heart.

    Before that grief could take hold, it was replaced by wonder at the sight of the giantess. She ducked and twisted her way through the front door, a tiny bundle in her hands. One stride took her across the room, and when she laid her burden down on the table and unwrapped the blanket she’d tied around it, Edward saw that the burden was not so small, except when compared to the giantess. It was Donald, his son. The boy was naked and covered in blood. His own, by the looks of the marks on him. They were symbols, hieroglyphics carved into his flesh. Worse than those were the long iron spikes that had been driven into his back, like a second spine. There were perhaps a dozen such nails, each one longer than Edward’s hand, and as thick as a dagger blade.

    “He fought. He died bravely. His ascent is assured.” said the giantess.  Edward could only stare at her, his throat locked as though he’d swallowed a hot, hard ball of iron. “He was avenged.” she added, then raised her hands in a military salute, turned, and stepped back through the door, vanishing more quickly than would have seemed possible for someone of her size.

    “This one saw much. Too much. I have done for her what I can. Time may heal her wounds.” The lilting voice of the dark woman drew Edward’s hot, dry eyes from his son’s corpse. She was not looking at him, he found, but at Marra who stood beside the bed, her fists clenched, her face was as white as the gown she wore. “Bury boy ‘fore dark. Point him head to north. Tie this round neck. He stay down then.”

    Her words finished, she gently laid a chain of beads and bits of bone over Donald’s neck, then turned to bow towards Edward and his wife. That duty completed, she knelt down and looked into Salana’s face, then shook her head, the beads and bells in her hair chiming faintly. Rising in a fluid motion, she turned and was gone without a look back. The child looked at her, looked after her, but Edward could tell that Salana saw nothing. Her eyes were open, but they were unfocused, and her face was as blank those of the dark priests Edward saw every time he closed his eyes.

    Sources of inspiration and background information for this one: Dark Cultists. Witch Doctor.

    Earlier Halloween Diablo stories by Flux:

    • 1998: A Paladin’s Lesson
    • 1999: The Magistrate Suit
    • 2000: Haunted Castles Beat Treats
    • 2001: The Dark Lady
    • 2004: All Hallow’s Even in Gal Darrack.

    Also note that since our old TDL subsite is gone and probably not coming back, we’re going to breath new life into our moribund Fan Fiction Forum. We’d like to start posting a new piece of featured fan fiction each week, as we do with the Wallpapers. Stories will be selected from those posted in the FFF, and will be presented on the site front page. For that to happen, you guys need to start turning out D1/D2/D3 short stories again, and posting them in the FFF. Have fun!

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