Episode 25: Trick or Treat

As Halloween night darkens, Juliet, Diligence, Alexandra and Dr. Armitage are changed into vampires with the setting of the sun. New student Charlotte Hackshaw, of the Shadow Hill Hackshaws, isn't changed, and is the first to recognize what's happened. Juliet calls Walker on the cellphone, and he hurries over, but runs into lots of vampires on the streets and has to detour to kill them.

Thessaly comes in, sees everyone transformed, and attacks, crying that she will save her friends' souls from the evil of vampirism, even though it kill them. Juliet, who has her own sword, duels Thessaly long enough for someone to grab her from behind and tie her to a chair. Moonstomp shows up, saying the Prince is absolutely flapping. He's become mortal! And so has Moonstomp, and Howard Porter the librarian, Morgan Hackshaw the importer, banker Amos Caldwell, all the town's great and good. And dead.

Walker shows up and Diligence suddenly gets an itch to kick his ass, just this once, while he still can. Walker leaps at the chance, and Diligence dodges so violently that he topples out a window! He hits hard, uses blood to heal himself, and scampers off into the night.

Unfortunately, Walker pursues on his bike. Diligence frisbee-throws a manhole cover at Walker's bike, flipping him over the handlebars. So much for Walker. Juliet comes running up with her sword, and Diligence suddenly remembers all those many, many vamps turned to dust when they lost their heads. He tries to climb down the manhole, but Fritz Morgenthaler shows up with his ultraviolet flashlight and sets Diligence ablaze!

Diligence uses a trash can to block the beam and knocks Fritz across the street into a shrubbery. Walker, now severely pissed off, and Juliet confront the vampire Diligence. But Fritz looks so comical in a heap, and the orange-capped minions of justice look so goofy, that sanity reigns once more.

Meanwhile, back at the school, Charlotte and Dr. Armitage are researching spells. They do find mention of a spell to restore a vampire's soul, which might be nice, but nothing on this sort of transposition. Nonetheless, Charlotte postulates that the vampires who became mortal may now hold the souls of the mortals who became vampires. They resolve to go and check on one.

Drusilla enters the room, preceded by a doll head. She wants the Slayer, but she's not here ... she's away, and it's dark where she is, in a high house on a hill. The House on the Hill is, in fact, one particular mansion, toward which everyone goes, armed for anything.

Howard Porter, the town librarian, is sick in bed, having ignored his health during the centuries he's been a vampire. Our heroes pose as vampires (which isn't hard) and drag Porter away with them. He claims ignorance of what happened, except that it may have to do with Dr. Cesare, the hypnotist brought in to treat Billy Wilder's sleeping sickness. He was very friendly with the local vampires, appearing to be some sort of mage, but dropped out of sight last night.

Indeed, Dr. Cesare is responsible -- he's the Trickster! He is over at Amos Caldwell's house (which is also Excellence Caldwell's house), posing as a vampire friend from out of town. Morgan Hackshaw, Charlotte's uncle, is there, too. And no longer a vampire. But Alexandra recognizes the Trickster immediately, of course. A magical duel erupts, during which Diligence creates all manner of plants to bedevil and confuse the Trickster, and the Trickster unleashes mind-warping spells that defy imagination, which is the only reason Amos and Morgan aren't killed by Juliet in six seconds flat.

Alexandra finally combines the runes Weaken and Magic, directing them at the Trickster, and uses the power of the Runestaff to write her will into the world. The Trickster, being composed of magic, shrivels and shrinks and finally is completely eliminated from existence. His spells, too, revert, so that everyone becomes human again and the vampires revert to vampirism. Amos and Morgan don't, however, get to enjoy the Dark Gift very long, because now that they are vamps again, they are fair game for Juliet, and barely escape with their lives.

Drusilla turns out to have escaped, as does Howard Porter. Villains always seem to escape when you leave them tied up without someone watching -- sort of like James Bond or Batman, but evil. And Billy Wilder, better known as the dreamlands hero Vad Varo, awakens, with quite a series of episodic tales to tell.

Far away, unobserved by our heroes, a group of vampires stand around a huge pile of stones and timbers. One of them looks up, to the east, his eyes filling with bright blood.

"The Call has gone out. A Slayer dies. Another is kindled."

"As it has been in the past, so shall it be in future," says another. "Be easy in your blood."

"But wait! Something is different this time. One of the Two has died, but is reborn ... and still the Call resounds through the world."

"Three?" gasps the other vampire. "Satan damn it, we may be pure black evil demons, but we don't deserve THAT!"

"I AGREE," says a seismically-deep voice from under the rubble. A mighty hand crashes up from the wreckage and tears it aside, tossing boulders the size of cars with one hand.

Seen from over the shoulder of the being who has freed himself, we see the two vampires cringe in terror.