Okay, so, this one is really more Halloween party-themed than Halloween itself-themed.
This one also kinda, sorta has the benefit of being a bit of a preview to the next full Realmgard story, Forward the Lyte Brigade (edits of which are going well, hopefully it’ll be ready soon). Melisa Grevling is one the story’s main characters.
Melisa Grevling decides that she’s going to ask the University for a raise.
With all she has to put up with working with the Porthaven Ministry of Antiquities, she figures she deserves it. As a badger Wilderling by birth and an archaeologist by trade, she’s most comfortable at work in the dirt — and quite good at it. But the University needed a liaison to the Ministry of Antiquities, and Melisa was the newest member of the faculty, so she ended up being essentially volunteered for the position.
It’s her job not just to liaise with the Ministry, but also with all the rich people who might be interested in giving the University money or patronising one of his expeditions. Which means Melisa spends a lot of her time at parties. Which means she will inevitably be invited to at least one Heroes’ Eve part every year.
She’s already gotten far too many compliments about her raccoon costume…
Her boss at the Ministry is Sir Chiswick von Strontlebottom, a man with the largest moustache Melisa has ever seen — he’s got more fur than she does, and she’s a badger.
Though looking more like a walrus, Sir Chiswick is quite the social butterfly and is quite comfortably hobnobbing with the party’s other guests while dressed in the elaborate and no doubt meticulously-researched costume of a Late Imperial-era magister militum.
He glances over at her and beckons her over.
“Professor Grevling, my dear,” he says happily. “Come over here, would you? Allow me to introduce you to the Countess Dirigible and her mother, the Countess Dowager.”
The younger noblewoman, wearing the horned helmet of an ancient Hrimfaxi viking warrior, smiles warmly at Melisa. “A pleasure to meet you, Professor,” she says, happily shaking Melisa’s clawed hand.
“And that is quite the fetching raccoon costume,” the older noblewoman offers, looking at Melisa from beneath the brim of a witch’s hat.
“Actually,” Melisa mutters, reminding herself to be gracious while among polite company. “That’s not my costume. I’m a Wilderling. And I’m not a raccoon. I’m a badger.”
She points down to the hand-painted smock she has draped over herself. “This is my costume. I’m one of the Duke Mercurio Frescoes.”
“Ah,” the Countess Dowager says bashfully. “How frightfully awkward of me. Though I must say, your brushwork is excellent.”
“Yeah. Thanks,” Melisa mutters.
She feels the younger Countess gently touching her shoulder. “Professor,” she offers, “Would you care to survey the refreshments with me? I’m told the amuse-bouches are to die for.”
Melisa stares at her. “The what kind of bush?” She wonders if she should point out that badgers don’t eat bushes.
“Amuse-bouche,” Countess Dirigible repeats, slowly emphasising the word. “It’s Gallicantien. It’s a kind of appetiser.”
“Oh,” Melisa says.
Countess Dirigible extends her arm towards Melisa. “Shall we?”
When Melisa fails to pick up on the cue, Countess Dirigible loops her arm through Melisa’s and guides her over to the table of appetisers.
“Oh,” the Countess exclaims serving the snacks. “How delightfully festive!”
Melisa glances down at the table. The various appetisers have been done up for Heroes’ Eve: jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, spiderwebs. Melisa makes a quick note of this, is briefly entertained by it, then starts cramming appetisers into her face.
Back home, the parties were never this big or fancy. But the food was never this good, either.
See, “Countess Dirigible” is funny, because a dirigible is a kind of blimp, much like a zeppelin — named, of course, after the Graf von Zeppelin. One assumes that this family is eventually going to produce the inventor of Realmgard’s most prominent light-than-air powered craft.