Better Demons

Leofric hummed cheerfully under his breath, peering into the bathroom mirror while daubing at the points of his antlers with a long-handled paintbrush. He’d finished the left-hand one already, the dark-red corn syrup staining several tines in a strategically grisly spectacle. A couple more tines on the right and some splatter on his face and shirt and he’d be set. And maybe this year, Zita’d be done picking out her best devil-fairy outfit first.

It was not Halloween. It was, however, the only day where the blonde boy ever willingly woke up before dawn: Saturday after the second week of classes, commonly known among the student body as Hell Night.

The goal was pretty simple. Scare the new students, trap the new students, get them to either Change, be Owned, or both. Leo never thought very hard about the latter half, but the scaring was fun and it made Howard happy to be able to do something.

That something was to chase the newbies away from the worst of the other students’ traps. Playing white knight invariably got you stuck either having to Own the kid or trade her (or him) off to the other guy. They’d learned that the hard way a couple years back; Howard had been mad for days. For the next year, they’d all gone with the less direct plan. Cynara would Find the locations of the worst students’ traps, then they would find the best place - or places - to chase the most students onto less dangerous paths.

Which meant, of course, that they needed to be just as scary as the worst of them. Leo and Zita had a blast, of course, even more than Howard. Cya, well, Cya did her own thing, using that mysterious mystical art known as “subtlety”. It all worked perfectly that year, and much to Leo’s glee, he even shocked (literally, albeit accidentally) a boy into Changing.

This year, however, was going to be a little different. After all, this was their Crew’s fourth year at Addergoole - which meant that now, they were on the top of the heap. Some of the biggest fish in the pond. Playing with the big kids. Various other metaphors for the ability to kick the lower Cohorts around all they wanted.

Howard, more intelligent than his demeanor and hilariously pun-filled bovine appearance indicated, had realized this meant he could shepherd some of the new kids around for real this year and if anyone tried to stop him, chances are he could fight them off long enough to get past. Cya was going to do her subtle Cya thing again, while Leo and Zita were looking forward to once again scaring the daylights out of some new kids while driving them to relative safety.

After putting the finishing touch on his faux-bloodied antlers and the last splatters for good measure, Leo rinsed the syrupy concoction off the brush and examined himself critically in the mirror before giving his reflection a wicked grin.

Even in the bright blue-white lighting of the bathroom fixtures, he looked like he’d just gored an unfortunate couple of unsuspecting passers-by and yes, you looked like you’d make a nice head ornament too, now just hold still…

Satisfied, he stepped back out into the living room. “Zita, you ready yet?”

“What took you so long?” The little gobliny Italian girl gave him a toothy grin from the suite kitchen over her large mug of milk-with-coffee and wearing a tattered and worn-looking dress. “I’ve been waiting for hours.”

“Yeah right,” he retorted cheerfully. Grabbing a piece of toast, he quickly downed the rest of his own coffee and crammed the toast into his mouth. “Mweff guh, ffem.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Zita chided, the picture of dignified innocence.

Leo swallowed. “Yes mom. I said, let’s go, then.”

They took up their positions and began the least entertaining and definitely most tedious part of the whole thing: waiting.

There were always a few early risers, though, so Leo didn’t get an opportunity to get really bored before the first one came along. He watched the approaching heat signature in anticipation, murmuring a quick spell to read the person’s emotional state. Nervous, confused, fleeing - probably from [some student]’s trap, by the direction. Leo grinned, a manic edge coming welcome but unbidden, and moved into the middle of the hall.

And around the corner darted a boy; a pretty boy, slim, small, with curly light-colored hair (impossible to tell the color in the dim red emergency lighting) and an anxious expression. Which, as he spotted the figure blocking his way, quickly escalated into ohgodpleasedon’tkillme.

Leofric’s grin widened and he spread his hands, lightning crackling around them as he took a single step forward.

That was all the poor boy needed. With a terrified yelp, he turned and fled in the opposite direction.

Giggling to himself, Leo let the lightning die out and slipped back against the wall to wait for the next unsuspecting victim.