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October 2017 Writing Contest: Untitled

By Emerald Heart #76349

A shadow loomed in the doorway of the large mansion atop of the hill, presiding over the expansive fields below. Mist rolled in the valleys, and vague silhouettes of trees and farm workers visible through the fog created an eerie, shifting mosaic of light and dark. The iron gate in front of the house creaked as a bone-chilling breeze swept through, making the figure shiver. A drizzle of rain spattered the ground, but weak sunlight filtered through the menacing gray clouds overhead, making the world seem as bleak and dismal as a graveyard – which, incidentally, resided to the left of the manor. Stepping into the open, Dr. Chester peered down into the haze, attempting to survey the progress of the workers. His whiskers trembled as the wind gave another howl.

“Useless,” he muttered. Not even the eyes on his hat could see through the thick layer of condensation into the valley below. “Do I have to do everything myself?”

Of course, he knew the answer to this question already; he was the mayor, and if he wouldn’t do it, then who? Grumbling, severed tail twitching indignantly, the cat made his way down the bone-white steps, swung open the gate, and began the trudging walk toward the fields.

Dr. Chester loved autumn, in general. One reason for that was that everything was dying. Morbid, yes, but entertaining. It didn’t quite have the same effect as, say, a good old-fashioned slaughter, but all things were indeed reaching the end of their lifespan during this season. It was beautiful. Leaves of every color littered the ground, and as the wet wind blew once more, one became stuck to his hat. Deciding to leave it there (it was one of his favorite blood-red ones, from the Japanese maple next door), Dr. Chester arrived at the wooden fence marking the boundary of the field. Pushing open the damp wooden gate, he stepped forward into the mushy soil, cringing as thin mud crept up between his toes.

He did not love, decidedly, autumn days like this, wet and cold and positively disgusting. Occasionally a sea-dwelling friend would tease him about his aversion to water, but he was a cat, for goodness sake. What could you expect? Of course, there were other downsides to the dampness as well. Though Chester was perfectly satisfied with his less-than-whole legs, thank you very much, they occasionally made it more difficult to walk. And, as he trudged through these dreary fields on this drab day, his cane often sunk into the soggy soil with a squelch, forcing him to yank it out over and over again.

Ah, perfect. Nothing to break in a new suit like mud all around the ankle cuffs.

Heaving a loud sigh, the doctor rolled his eyes and continued on his way, eventually stopping near a particularly busy section of the field. Large orange pumpkins of all different shapes stood out against the grayness of the afternoon. Despite the weather, many workers were toiling, and there were even some families picking out suitable candidates for jack-o’-lanterns. One of the farmers, a black bat, lifted a wing and saluted the mayor as he walked by, a gesture which was politely returned with a tip of Chester’s hat.

“Can we get this one, Mama?”

A small voice caught Chester’s attention, and he turned, spotting a tigress, a lioness, and their son, who was eagerly bouncing in front of his parents with a pumpkin nearly too big for him to carry. Chester smiled, an act which, due to his sharp teeth and unnaturally wide grin, could be interpreted as threatening, but he felt no malice, only contentment. From the way the family was dressed, it was obvious they were Tigereye Peak citizens, but they were likely in Dragonsmaw Manor for the Harvest Festival. Surveying the area, Chester could see a few other animals from other villages in the pumpkin patch, searching for the perfect pumpkin. He even thought he glimpsed Ana and a couple Guardian Angels in the distance, probably hoping not to be spotted in their biggest rival’s pumpkin patch.

Gotcha, Chester thought smugly. Not even Quetzal Palace’s mighty mayor could deny that Dragonsmaw Manor simply grew the best pumpkins around. This, of course, made the Dragonsmaw Harvest Festival the most popular out of all the villages, even drawing the other mayors into town – as evidenced by the winged wolf skulking about in the fields.

Even from here, Chester could hear the upbeat music from the town square, where many of the festivities were taking place. Each year, he looked forward to this, when his village drew crowds of visitors from all over and Dragonsmaw’s creepiness was glorified rather than avoided by the other villages. Even as his feet sunk deeper into the mud, Chester felt his heart lift a little. Slogging through the wet soil onto the sturdier main path, he eventually stopped near the middle of the expansive pumpkin patch. The drizzle continued to come down, but Dragonsmaw workers were still loading pumpkins into carts to be delivered to the Festival back in town.

“Excellent,” Chester murmured under this breath. Judging by the amount of pumpkins in the carts and quickly calculating how many carts had already been brought to the square, the workers were already close to filling the quota of Festival pumpkins for the day, enough to satisfy the influx of visiting festival-goers.

Satisfied with the results, he turned to go back to town hall and overlook the proceedings of the Festival.


After a long walk back through the fields, trudging his way through even more mud, Chester arrived back in town and worked his way toward the town square, the crowds becoming thicker as he neared the center of the festival. As he approached the main activities, the throng became so thick that he wished he had brought his trusty Cheshire sword. Imagining animals fleeing in fear brought a wicked smile to his face, which was enough to clear his path a little on its own. Dr. Chester worked his way to Town Hall, and trekked up the short flight of steps so he could see above the crowd.

A jack-o’-lantern carving contest was in full swing toward the right of the square, and dozens of contestants were showing off their works before the first round of judging began in half an hour. The final winner would be chosen on Hallow’s Eve night, after many rounds of elimination. Chester himself would be helping with the judging process, so he made a note in the back of his mind to hurry over once he was finished looking around. Of course, he would try to put his bias aside, but that one jack-o’-lantern carved like his own face simply portrayed him so handsomely. He would have to commend the artist for their absolutely brilliant work.

To the left was the contest to see who could grow the biggest pumpkin. Animals were already carting their monstrous gourds into the square, resulting in even less space to walk but even more festival-goers pouring into the area to watch. Chester grinned as he spotted a pumpkin which he immediately assumed would be the winner – It was at least three times the size of him! Peering more closely at the crowd to see who had grown it, he thought he saw a bit of movement near the top –


But oh, yes, unfortunately. Chester’s face fell as he took in what was undoubtedly Minstrel the mouse perched on top of the gigantic pumpkin, smiling and amiably chatting with Dragonsmaw citizens as the crowd admired the pumpkin.

What blasphemy! What impertinence! How could Minstrel just come in here and put all these beautiful Dragonsmaw pumpkins to shame?

These organic Dragonsmaw pumpkins.

Chester narrowed his eyes and put a hand to his chin. Olde Foxbury was certainly proficient at magic. Who was to say that Minstrel, the conniving, sneaky little thing that they were, didn’t use a spell to procure the largest pumpkin? Chester was down the stairs in a flash.

Pushing his way through the crowd, Chester strode confidently toward the offending pumpkin. He shoved his way to the front and glared directly up at Minstrel. The mouse, who had just finished talking to another animal, turned to see who the newcomer was and let out a terrified eep upon seeing Chester’s malice-filled eyes staring into them.

“Uh, h-hello, Dr. Chester!” they squeaked, trying to be friendly. Their eyes shifted from side to side, betraying their nervousness.

Nervousness at being CAUGHT, perhaps? Caught in the act of lying and cheating to win the pumpkin-growing contest? The mouse was practically holding their breath.

Positively dripping with deceit.

But, of course, Chester couldn’t make assumptions. Calling out the little trickster in front of the whole crowd and then somehow, possibly, being wrong, would end up with Chester making a fool of himself and perhaps even inciting a (pumpkin) war between the two villages. And he couldn’t have that (even though Dragonsmaw would win). Best play it cool.

“Hello, Minstrel,” Chester drawled, a cloying smile on his lips. “Having fun?”

Minstrel nodded rapidly, attempting to smile back, but it came across as more of a grimace. “Yep! The festival is just s-super fun!” Of course, they had been having fun until Chester decided to show his face. He always insisted on terrorizing them…

For good reason. Chester just knew that behind that innocent exterior, Minstrel was plotting the downfall of Dragonsmaw…

Or maybe not. But picking on them sure was enjoyable. Chester loved watching the little mouse squirm at any given opportunity.

“What a lovely pumpkin you have here,” Chester mused.

“T-Thanks. I worked really hard to grow it…” Minstrel replied hesitantly.

Chester grinned wickedly upward at the rival mayor. “It would be a shame if something were to… happen to it.”

Minstrel squeaked and ducked behind the thick stem of the pumpkin. Chester cackled and meandered away back through the crowd. Though he enjoyed getting a rise out of the mouse, he sincerely hoped that a Dragonsmaw citizen would produce an even bigger pumpkin before the judging started. It wouldn’t be very prudent for Dragonsmaw to lose to Foxbury during its own festival, now would it?

The sun was finally beginning to burn off the chill in the air, and Chester smiled as some of the clouds parted overhead to make way some much-needed sunlight. As he slid between groups of animals enjoying the festivities, a tantalizing scent caught his nose, seemingly carried to him on the warming breeze.

Dragonsmaw pie…

The local treat was something Chester couldn’t resist, so he made his way over to the dessert stands. Made with freshly harvested pumpkins, the pies were where a significant portion of the morning’s pumpkin crop had gone. The warm, nutmeg aroma filled the square, tinting the air with the autumn smell.

“One piece, please,” he called to the baker, who had their back turned to him as they finished icing a pie. To his surprise, he was greeted with the face of the Tigereye Peak mayor as she turned around to hand him a slice, its icing perfectly sculpted into the recognizable Dragonsmaw rooftop spikes; a homegrown Dragonsmaw citizen couldn’t have done it better.

“Why hello, Chester dear!” Polaria exclaimed, her elderly face brightening with a smile. “I just love baking so much that I couldn’t resist helping out this year. Enjoy!”

Chester gave the polar bear a grateful smile, accepting the pie. Polaria, undoubtedly, was the mayor he had the best relationship with. And, he thought as he dug into the pie, her cooking was absolutely divine.

He continued walking through the crowd, observing the festivities and eating his pie, when suddenly he choked on a bite of the treat. He was supposed to be judging the pumpkin carving contest!

Quickly making his way through the happy crowds, he set off toward the next installment in his busy day.