Hello, traveler. Glad you decided to stop by. Welcome to the first chapter of my "new" tale "Ghost Stories", which is also the first entry in my HALLOWEEN HYPE initiative, where I update all the stories on my profile. As with all of my, current projects, this is a remake of an older tale. I wrestled for a bit whether to remake this one or not and I, ultimately, decided to go for it as this one is gonna be different in terms of atmosphere compared to my, other works on this site; to start of there's little to no humor intended and the themes are overall more mature. Part of it is the setting, which draws A LOT of inspiration from the horror genre as a whole (over the course of the story you'll see plenty nods to horror fiction of – virtually – any kind) and as such the goal will be to expose the "dark side" of human nature.

Things like "what makes a monster", "how low can people get" and "discrimination" will end up being a theme that surfaces quite often. I'll also try to work on descriptions to provide a specific atmosphere for the scenes (we'll see how that goes). But, like my other adventure tales there's gonna be plenty of action too, so it's not just a psychological tale, rest assured. However, this story will likely be updated less frequently than the "main four", at least for the moment.

With that written, I invite you to the first chapter of the new "Ghost Stories":

Chapter #1: Welcome to the Nightmare

Volume cover: a large, burning pentagram is drawn on the ground with ancient markings written on the edges for added protection

Title page: a Jack-o'lantern with a horrific expression is laying near the gates to the cemetery, a candle burning brightly within it

Sun slowly hid behind the horizon, changing color from yellow to hues of orange. Tinting the sky red, the last rays of daylight lingered, extending the shadows like a prelude to the darkness that was about to unfold. Twilight crawled across the heavens, drenching the world in gloom. Night was about to take hold.

The girl gazed at the map with her blue eyes, slight concern showing on her white skin as she folded the paper with a sigh. Her outfit consisted of a black and ruby-red corset which left her midriff and top half of her large breast revealed along with short, skin-tight ebony pants that didn't even cover half of her thighs. High, torn stockings in the same color climbed up her legs from the pair of white, knitted wedge boots. A black cape, ripped towards the bottom, was held by the belt buttoned above her chest, while her left arm was wrapped in bandages halfway to the elbow. The most striking feature, however, was her long, crimson hair, reaching all the way down to her thighs with a single strand sticking out on the top; loose bangs covered her forehead, while another pair framed her face.

A sudden 'caw' reached her ears, making her glance upward as a rather large crow appeared in the sky. The bird circled a few times above the teen before diving down to rest upon her shoulder. The redhead didn't seem to mind at all as she turned to look at the avian creature with a small smile appearing on her pretty face: "Welcome back Poe. Did you find the village?"

The bird gave her a nod, making the female's smile widen, relief finally finding its way to her: "Good work old friend" he proclaimed sweetly as she stroked the crow's head gently. Shifting her gaze forward, she proceeded down the road with new-found energy, yet it still took her half an hour to reach the town and the sun managed to disappear from the sky entirely by the time she entered, the biggest star giving way to thousand others.

The village itself was an average settlement, indistinguishable from many others spread across the land with its wooden huts bunched together tightly, protective wards painted on doors and surrounding window frames to keep the horrors out. In spite of the late hour, lights still flickered within each house while the main and only street was lit by oil lamps that hung from tall posts placed every several meters, keeping the darkness at bay for the most part.

The road was nearly completely deserted with the last of the villagers nervously bustling about to finish their business in time. The normal hubbub of the day gone, silence of the night was interrupted only be occasional sounds of farm animals that felt uneasy at this hour. The girl paid little attention to these details though and, in stead, settled her eyes on the inn, located roughly at the center of the village. The building didn't stand out much among the other houses lined up along the street: two stories high it towered over neighboring huts and a large sign above the entrance announcing 'Morning Glow' gave the establishment its name, yet even here the clamor was barely audible.

The redhead stepped onto the porch spread before the doorway, but suddenly froze in her tracks, shifting her blue eyes left, stopping at a man standing in the corner between the tavern and the house next to it. Unlike most people, he didn't seem concerned with the sunset as he propped against the wall, his arms cross in front of his muscular torso, which was visible due to the lack of shirt. Somewhere in his mid- to late twenties, the figure had a short, blond Mohawk hairdo and a pair of green eyes. A large, round ring in his nose gave the glimmer in his eyes a disturbing amplification, while baggy, gray pants didn't seem to collect any dirt.

Noticing her gaze, the man widen his smirk before blowing her a kiss with a wink. The girl narrowed her eyes at his behavior, her nose twitching slightly. But she wasn't looking for trouble and thus choose to ignore the Mohawk, once more turning her attention to the entrance of the inn.

As her eyes stopped on a large ward painted on the center of the doors, one of its wings flung open, breaking it temporary, while a man stumbled out, falling face first to the ground. The redhead grabbed the farmer with her left hand, stopping his descent, also managing to hold the door with another. The man slowly rose his face, completely red - though the girl couldn't tell if this was because he was ferociously drunk or because the position he was in placed it near her meaty chest – and spoke in a disgusting babble:

"Zovvy, mezz. Me thanks me had a tad doo much doo drank" he stated, attacking the teen's nose with the odor of alcohol that twisted her face in dismal once again. Slowly the drunk struggled to a standing position and smoothed his messy, short, black hair while his brown, absent eyes settled a bit bellow her neck: "But me, aren't ya a goodie; who a boot we go sum place moore private end..."

"Thank you for the offer, but I'll have to pass" the redhead cut him off instantly with a calm expression, though her voice soft. "Plus it is after sundown; I imagine you'd prefer to safe at home than somewhere secluded at this time of day" she added with a playful smirk; at their worst, peasants could be very annoying.

"Wight, da mezzes ain't goona be hippy eve Imma late" the drunk nodded, the motion almost making him lose balance again. After regaining his composure – or, at least, as much as he could in his state – he went on his way, the girl's eyes following him for a bit. Once she saw him travel a fair distance, she glanced to the corner, only to see that the Mohawk was already gone as well. Narrowing her eyes at the recollection of the man, she turned to look at the half opened doors to the tavern and with a sigh, she entered, while her crow settled on a nearby lamppost, gazing curiously after its companion.

-next morning-

"This is an outrage!" a young man in his twenties announced, his patience running thin. Short, a little messy, black hair donned his head, while sharp, blue eyes narrowed from annoyance. He's been pacing around the room for several minutes now, anxiously glancing at the door every now and than. Dressed in a brown doublet and full breeches, he stood out among his two companions, who currently sat behind the table near the wall opposite to the entrance to the simple chamber. "We've sent the request over a week ago! The Order should've already dealt with the issue, yet here we are, waiting for one of those ruffians who are only slightly better than the abominations they hunt down!"

"Calm down Bert" an elderly man asked the younger male with a soothing gesture. His short, gray hair - which also formed a fuzzy beard around his mouth – shown he has seen a lot of winters, though his hazel eyes gave a clear indication of being tired. 'The note delivered by the messenger bird claimed their representative should arrive today to handle our situation..."

"Well, this 'representative' is sure not rushing to our rescue!" the other man, Bert, shoot back angrily. "Those Order low-lives care not for us; only our money! If we had managed a bigger payment, I can assure you they'd be much quicker to take action!"

"Don't be so cynical" the last person in the room, a woman in her forties, said with a stoic face as she settled her green eyes on him. Her long, blonde hair was mostly hidden beneath a white coif, while her red dress, although modest, gave her an aura of majesty. "They are protecting the land; which isn't easy, considering the dangerous that dwell in the darkness."

"Please" Bert responded with a snort, rolling his eyes. "I'm telling you that the Order concentrates on better paying jobs, leaving small towns like ours to fend for ourselves! They only intervene when the pay is good!"

"It sounds that you do not possess a lot of love for my profession, my good sir" they all heard a little raspy voice, which made they shift their attention towards the entrance. As they did, they noticed a young man - barely nineteen years of age - walking through the door. Slowly taking his black capotain off his head as a form of greeting, he released a storm of medium-length, raven-black hair to fall freely. His somewhat pale skin was a distinct contrast to the pair of dark brown eyes and black outfit that covered his form.

Black, linen shirt with cuffs at the end of the sleeves hid his upper body up to the neck with an extra layer of cape in the same color wrapping around it, reaching his knees. Breeches and high boots, matching the dark shade of the rest of the outfit donned his legs, while a belt was tightly strapped around the waist. Behind the strip the brown handle of a pistol stuck out, while a saber with long, thin, silver blade was tied to the left hip.

"Forgive our companion" the older man spoke in a calm tone, rising from his chair. "Bert lost his wife to a werewolf last Spring, despite the efforts of a Slayer we hired at the time. It was a tragedy; so young and beautiful... the whole town mourned his loss" he finished as the figure in black gazed at the annoyed villager, no trace of emotion showing on the former's face.

"I see" was all the arrival said in the matter before shifting his attention to the elder duo. "I apologize for making you wait; there was some trouble on the way and I got... detained. I hope this haven't brought more misfortune upon your town. Regardless, I am here now and I would be grateful for providing me with any information concerning the current situation."

Bert 'hmphed' under his nose, crossing his arms as he replied in a truculent manner: "Did you not even bother to read our request, master Slayer?"

The boy in black threw him a quick glance once more, yet kept his emotions in check as he quickly turned back to the more level-headed members of the town's council. While his approach wasn't something she specifically approved, the woman was relieved this youth choose to not engage Bert in argument: "For about a month now children have been disappearing. When young Samuel vanished, we refrained from contacting the Order, recognizing it as an isolated incident."

"A week later another child has gone missing" the older man continued the tale, gaining the Slayer's attention. "Merely nine years of age, her mother was greatly stirred by the happenstance. Once Edward, the miller's son, has been lost without a trace, it became clear there is something sinister at work here. Thus, we called for the assistance of the Order."

The young man listened to the story patiently, stone-faced as he gave no indication any of this had an impact on him. Once the report reached its conclusion, he spoke up, his voice as emotionless as his expression: "You should've sent for the Order sooner; perhaps further disappearances would've been avoided. But what's done is done. Have you prepared any belonging of the missing children?"

The elderly man nodded and tilted his head towards Bert, who released his crossed arms and reached for his pocket. A moment later he picked out a small, white handkerchief: "This was Meredith's, the girl who vanished second. We can also provide you with a medallion worn by the miller's son... or a teddy bear of the girl that's been reported missing as of last night" he added the last part with a hiss, but that didn't seem to faze the Slayer any either, even as the woman shivered in the corner.

"The latter would be preferable as she is the most recent victim and thus easiest to track" the teen announced without even looking at the man; in stead he searched under his cape, taking out a tiny vial of purple liquid. As Bert held out a brown, plush toy, the black-clad traveler uncorked the flask and breathed in the purple smoke, the stench of wet grass spreading through his nostrils.

Taking the briefest of moments to collect himself, he shut the vial, hiding it beneath the cape again as he took the bear to sniff it. With just a few inhales, the youth in black moved the toy away to smell the air before announcing calmly, his voice still indifferent: "I shall keep the bear for now, if that is not any inconvenience" he said in a questioning manner, yet his tone gave none of the gathered feeling that could be argued.

"What could be causing this, master Slayer?" the elder man asked with a worried expression plastered all over his face, but the young man didn't seem to hear him as he just continued sniffing. A moment later he spoke though, keeping his emotions sealed:

"There are many monsters that feed on children, mister Smith. With so little clues, I cannot even make an educated guess which is responsible. Sadly, with another disappearance occurring so recently, immediate action is required. With luck, the newest victim can still be saved" he announced with no change in his voice, yet the statement was enough to make the woman glance at him hopefully.

"Than we shall delay you no further" she proclaimed with a slightly bow.

The teen gave a quick nod without even looking at the female and proceeded out, his attention still on the smell he was seeking. Upon walking onto the road, his nostril caught the scent, making him shift his eyes east as the faint aroma drifted in the air, its intensity clearly growing in said direction. Focused on the fragrance, he marched forward, eyes submitting to the nose.

He barely even took note of a slightly overgrown crow that flew overhead, settling on the parapet of the tavern's second floor. Tilting its head a few times, the bird began knocking its beak against the glass, filling the street with an annoying, pecking sound. Suddenly the avian creature spread its wings and flew back, avoiding the wings of the window as they flung open, revealing a young, redheaded woman with a look of dismal upon her pretty face.

"You know, I would figure you've learned by now that I'm not a morning person" she said, glaring at the bird with her blue eyes as the crow returned to the windowsill. A moment later her expression mellowed, managing a smile through her tired exterior: "Did you pick up a trail of our quarry?"

The avian creature nodded its head simply, its crimson pupils resting on her face. The redhead's smile widen as she lowered herself closer to her companion: "You really are a reliable partner" she praised the bird, yet her grin suddenly faded as she glanced on the street, noticing a young man clad in black. Her eyes narrowed as the figure came to a stop and shifted his gaze to her window, engaging in a short staring contest.

Mimicking the girl's gesture, his eyes narrowed as well, yet the Slayer quickly returned to the task at hand, sniffing the air. A second later he resumed his march, following the scent, whereas the redhead raised her eyebrow, curiosity sneaking into her.

The trail led the man youth clad in black out of the village and through the forest. At times the teen gagged as the scent mixed with various, other smells, striking his nose hard, twisting the face in grimace. He continued onwards though, the aroma that was his guide growing stronger. Once he was deep in within the woods, his eyes caught a sight of a strap of material hanging from a low branch, clearly ripped from a dress.

While white in color, the material was crude, likely a peasant attire. With the scent he was following emanating strongly from the strap, the Slayer quickened his step, moving between the trees. Pressing on deeper into the forest, the lush tops covered the sky, barely letting any noonday light to squeeze through, wrapping the area in thick shadows. His brown eyes glanced to the way he came from as he came to a sudden stop, but quickly the moment has passed.

Continuing further his nose got struck with another odor; one he was not too pleased inhale as the scent of the girl he was tracking now got pushed back by pungent, metallic, sweet fragrance. The vile aroma smothered his sense of smell, riding him of breath for a brief moment. It would still take some time for the effects of the mixture to ware off, so the youth clenched his teeth and forced through the festering redolence, knowing full well what it was.


A few meters further he reached a spot where forest met with the foot of a mountain range, a wide cave embedded into the wall of stone. More troubling however was the fact that before the entrance there was a small circle of stones with ash gathering inside – a sign of campfire. But what made the man narrow his eyes was the rusty color of the ground; an effect of the dirt soaking into red liquid. The clad in black youth genuflected to pick up a little muck and sniff it, just to make sure of his hunch.

Once suspicion became certainty, he rose back up, wiping his hands as his eyes shifted towards the cave from where two figures were emerging from the darkness. The first was a young girl, no more than ten years of age, with long, a little dirty, blonde hair and terrified, green eyes. Wearing a worn out, white dress full of rips and a familiar scent, there was no question she was the child that went missing last night.

Right behind her walked a muscular, shirtless man with a blond Mohawk. Round ring in his nose intensified an unpleasant vibe he was already emitting without even taking the cleaver he held at the girl's throat into consideration. The man grinned disgustingly as he moved the blade upwards, closer to the child's chin, making his hostage involuntarily rise up too, standing on her toe.

A weak rustling spread through the forest as four more men stepped out of the bushes into the small clearing before the cave, yet the teen didn't even turn around to grace them with a glance, his eyes still set on the Mohawk, who now snickered at the situation: "Looks like we got ourselves a Slayer, boys!" he announced playfully. "This should be interesting."

"You're human" the youth in black stated, no change in his expression as he inspected the large blond with his eyes.

"More so than you, freak" the Mohawk spat, still smiling. "What, you're surprised? Were you expecting some sort of a monster?"

"The nature of the problem is inconsequential" the Slayer replied calmly, no trace of anger, angst or concern. No trace of emotion at all. "My job is to wipe out evil in any form. Let the girl go and I shall take you alive. Fail to comply and you will not see another sunset" he promised, not making a single move.

"Oh?" the man chuckled at the proclamation. "I somehow doubt you could actually save this one with my consent" he announced, nodding at the girl. "Will you risk her life just to bring me to justice? Is your job not protecting people?" he teased with a cackle.

"I believe I've already told you a moment ago exactly what my job is" the black-clad youth stated, picking out his pistol with no regard to the girl's safety as he aimed it barrel at the Mohawk. "Assuming anything beyond that... is a misconception" he added, although hesitating for an instant before speaking the final words. This clearly made the male blond panic as sweat began appearing all over his body, a slight shiver running down it.

"Now hang on, you cannot be serious!" he said nervously, feeling his gullet getting dry. "If you won't stop, I'll slit this girl's throat!" he warned, trying to seem determined.

"Judging from the surroundings, you will do irrespective to my own actions" the monster hunter noted, his voice the epitome of indifference. At this point the Mohawk's skin turned pale, his smirk all but gone. The girl as well squirmed at her savior's tone and expression, her dread reaching apex. Was this supposed to be one of the famed protectors of the world?

"Well, that's a Slayer for you" a new voice, feminine in sound, caught their ears, making the blond and his men shift their attention above the cave from were the words came. As their eyes located the speaker, most gathered froze in shock as the new arrival proven to be a young, teenaged girl with long, striking, red hair dressed in a tight, ruby and black attire that exposed her curves neatly. Several of the men felt their hearts pound faster at the sight, even more so when the female continued in a playful manner: "Not much for emotion or remorse" she proclaimed with a smirk.

Meanwhile the youth clad in black, whose brown eyes never left the Mohawk, fired his pistol, the bullet drilling into the man's right shoulder. The sudden impact ejected the cleaver arm sideways, away from the child's throat, surprising almost everyone further. As all stopped in their tracks shocked, the Slayer tossed his firearm aside, reaching for his saber in stead, his voice still calm, yet authoritative: "Run."

Immediately the young blonde complied, the grip of the Mohawk on her lax enough for her to break free. Post haste she dived through the bushes, much to her captor's confusion, which was quickly replaced by anger at the realization his quarry has escaped. Fury burning his his eyes, he glared at the black-clad youth, vein pulsing on his forehead while his skin changed a brighter shade of red from rage.

"What are you idiots waiting for?!" he roared at his men, boiling inside. "Kill him!" an order thundered through the small clearing as the bandits snapped back to the present, their attention back on the Slayer. The quartet exchanged unsure glances before tightening grips on their weapons and charging at the one responsible for the loss of their prize.

The swordsman side-stepped the first, crude attack with a hatchet swung downwards, slashing the assailant's left side, blood spraying from the cut instantly. Bending his upper body right, he than dodged a pitchfork to the stoic face before cutting upwards, slicing another bandit's chest. Once he parried a sickle that came from the right, the Mohawk's expression twisted in frustration before he made a break for the trees, following the young blond.

In a blink of an eye the fencer retreated his saber and thrust it forward, piercing the goon's arm, forcing it to release the grip on the hook. As the man cried out in pain, the Slayer yanked his weapon out and spun around, blocking a shovel that swung at his face, simultaneously throwing his left hand back, delivering a punch to the now disarmed bandit that stood behind him.

As the last goon pressed his armament against the saber,the swordsman grabbed the shaft of the shovel with his free hand and pushed it back, making the square blade smack hard against the man's face, knocking him to the ground. With his present adversary down, the Slayer ducked under a horizontal swing aimed at the back of his head from the first bandit, who managed to recover by than. Turning his body once more, he rammed his fist into the enemy's cheek, riding him of consciousness and without look threw a kick back, landing the sole of his boot on the fourth's man nose, taking him out of commission as well.

The one clad in black glanced around at his fallen foes; these were not warriors nor even soldier, but simple folk that sided with the Mohawk for whatever reason. With three knocked out entirely, the last one conscious curled up on the ground, clenching his chest as blood sipped out of the diagonal slash now decorating his chest. The fencer considered telling him the wound was too shallow to be fatal, but he ultimately decided there were higher priorities.

"Quite impressive" the redhead admitted, walking closer to the boy clad in black with a smile plastered on her face. "Being able to dispatch four enemies this quickly, even if they weren't particularly threatening, is commendable. I guess that really is a Slayer for you" she praised the fencer, yet instantly stopped as the latter pointed his saber at her, the tip of the silver blade less than an inch from her throat.

"I appreciate your distraction" the Slayer announced, his voice and expression emotionless as ever. "But do not for a moment believe I am unaware of your, true nature. While I do not know how it is possible for you to walk freely in the sunlight, I cannot be fooled merely by human appearance – you are a vampire" he accused the girl, narrowing his eyes slightly.

"Well..." the redhead smiled at the indictment, flashing her teeth where the canines started growing, turning into fangs while the female went on, her voice seductive and playful. "I guess that's a Slayer for you as well..." she proclaimed as the two readied for another bout...

-an unexpected turn of events!-

And this is were the pilot chapter of "Ghost Stories" ends! Hope you liked it and I'd be very interested to hear your opinions of it as I really am trying to do something different this time. The original version differed greatly from this one, but I'm hoping the changes are for the better.

Changes from the original version (might include spoilers): for this remake, "Ghost Stories" have been build up basically from scratch. The tale still takes place in a fantasy world (more or less), but the core design of it is different from the first draft – there's no "eternal night" anymore, but when the night DOES come, I feel it's more frightening. Humanity also feel the toll of the horror more clearly with wards on the houses meant to protected them from creatures of darkness.

I kept the Slayers Order as the main force to deal with the monstrosities (as an obvious nod to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but they will be quite different from their original counterpart as you can see just by the Slayer's appearance in this chapter – no longer does he carry an armor and over time you'll see him use a lot of specialist tools and abilities that are meant to even the odds a bit.

The main plot of the first story arc is also different somewhat, but some elements are left in. The inclusion of the red-haired girl or child kidnappings are additions I've put in to make the arc more plot- and character-heavy. Further still the investigation of the happenings feel more... grounded than how original handled it.

And no: you're not missing anything; the names of the Slayer and the redhead are SPECIFICALLY not provided in this chapter (which is a bit of a pain to refer to the two, I admit). You'll learn of them soon enough, but for the time being I feel it's more natural this way. Not shall be revealed within the first, story arc mind you as mysteries will see their answers gradually as the tale progress. That 'mystery' adds to the atmosphere I'm trying to build for this one (I hope) and as such I wish to leave it that way.

Thank you all once more for reading this chapter. Hope you enjoyed it and that you'll return for an update. Until than: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!