Spotlight Story: Addergoole

A story written to showcase the Addergoole setting. If you find terms that I missed that are not accessible to the non-Addergoole reader, please let me know.

The halls were black, with only the faint red glow of the emergency lights illuminating them. It was early, and the only sounds were haunted-house spooky: the wind through creaking trees whispered down the passage, two stories underground where there were neither trees nor wind; the whispers of ghosts that probably didn’t exist, speaking in strange languages about deaths that probably hadn’t happened; the thumping of some giant that seemed to shake the whole compound.

Keely took notes. The sounds were a nice touch, and new; the thumping of the footsteps wasn’t new, but he still liked it. The cobwebs that seemed to brush across his face in the corners were an interesting touch, and there, at an intersection that went straight to the stairs, a deep puddle appeared to block the route. An exposed pipe (normally all plumbing was discretely hidden) dripped dark sludge into the puddle.

It looked as if the school was falling apart. On the other side of the intersection, the wall itself was leaking some green, glowing goo. The floor shook again; Keely steadied himself and kept going.

He was being herded. The puddle meant he couldn’t take the stairs; the thudding behind him meant he wanted to go forward. He went forward. Right now, that was where he wanted to be anyway. He stuck to the center of the hallway, avoiding the cobwebs and the strange discharges from the walls, the way the paneling seemed to bulge out in the shape of a human every so often; the way doors and passages seemed to vanish as he went past them.

A little music played somewhere, just below the conscious hearing range, the increasing chords of a horror movie. Keely watched a girl run by, her baseball bat clung firmly in her hands. He grinned approvingly at her fleeing back. It might not stop the monsters, but it would slow them.

A passage that had disappeared suddenly flickered. Keely took shelter behind a bulge in the wall and murmured a quick line of magic, disguising himself, painting the illusion of woodgrain over his own skin and clothing until he, too, was nothing but another lump in the wall. This was where he’d been headed: Pod 8. A head poked out, and he stifled a sigh. Not her. Had he missed her?

“Looks clear,” muttered the head — it belonged to a first-year student, a guy whose name Keely hadn’t bothered to learn yet. “We should move.”

The guy stepped out of the passageway, followed a moment later by Keely’s target. Kjellfrid; a first-year girl in Keely’s History, PE, and Literature classes. She had a smile like sunshine in this underground bunker and a way with words like a rapier. And today was the day for catching the underclassmen.

Keely stayed hidden for the moment. He’d seen a shadow move, and down the hall the goo was dripping into a humanoid shape. He’d have to time this right, if he was going to get what he wanted out of today.

The two first-year students moved cautiously down the hallway, the unknown guy sticking close to Kjellfrid’s side. She, in turn, was running her fingers along the wall, muttering at something. She wasn’t doing magic, was she? Keely frowned. The first-year students weren’t supposed to know magic yet.

Keely muttered a little spell of his own, keeping his voice as quiet as he could and still have the Words take force. He moved the air to his ears, amplifying her voice.

“Frickin school of fricking would-be monsters, goblins and ghouls and frickin demons and all of them thinking they’re so full of themselves. Haunted house. Of course there’s a haunted house. What else would there be?”

Definitely not some sort of magic Working. Keely relaxed and turned his attention to the other problems: the shadow that was about to move past him, intent on the first-years, and the goo that had almost completed its shape.

The shadow was the easiest. He stepped back a few feet, ducking into an entryway hidden by illusion, and muttered another Working under his breath. He couldn’t hold it for long at all, but for a minute, the whole hallway would be flooded with light – not just the electric lights, but fake sunlight and the equivalent of a spotlight pointing down the hall in both directions.

The swearing he could hear from the hall wasn’t just Kjellfrid and her friend’s. Some shadow-figure didn’t like light. Keely grinned to himself. He pulled a Working of Invisibility around himself and slid back out into the hall. Kjellfrid and her friend were making good time in the bright mid-noon daylight of the hallway, laughing with each other.

There were no shadows to keep to at the moment, but Keely’s invisibility Working was one of his best spells. He paused for a moment to gloat, silently, at the former shadow-figure, now revealed to be a very unhappy 4th-year student. Luces. He’d been doing the same thing last year. He’d almost caught Keely, that time.

Not this time. The light was already starting to fade. You couldn’t just turn the power back on, not when the whole school was rigged for this horror show. You had to play the game with the rules as written.

Lucky for Keely, one of the rules was “cheat”.

He was pretty sure the goo wasn’t actually a person, but it was directly in front of Kjellfrid and her friend now. He could let it take the friend, he supposed. Keely wasn’t all that in to guys or anything, but a lot of the fourth-year students were a lot more non-discriminating.

But he had to keep Kjellfrid away from whoever thought the plot of the original Ghostbusters was a good idea for Hell Night pranks. Keely waited until Kjellfrid shouted and whispered his Working under her noise, looking for the source of the goo. It wasn’t a plant, technically; it wasn’t an animal. What that made it… Well, he’d always been good at working with flesh-and-blood.

He found a nice, deep, shadow — it might have been his imagination, but as the light faded, he thought the shadows were getting darker — and waited until Kjellfrid friend yelped in surprise-and-distress.

Surprise-and-distress, Keely snorted to himself. The mating call of Addergoole. He shot a Destroy Working at the goo, throwing in a Dismantle just in case. He was better at Dismantle…

The goo fell apart in a puddle of water and yellow ooze. Kjellfrid shouted in dismay; nearby, another shadow swore angrily.

Evgenia. Working with Luces, then, and fuck them. Keely was pretty sure he hadn’t been seen yet. He muttered an elaborate Working, one he’d been practicing for months.

The shadows erupted in shouts, and Luces, Evgenia, and two other upperclassmen erupted out, swearing and shaking their feet, their hands, their tails.

Smirking to himself, Keely slid on to another shadow, watching Kjellfrid and her friend make their way to the back stairs. They weren’t quite in the clear yet, but they were past the worst of this. And if they made it past Hell Night, this ridiculous farce of a hazing ritual, then they were past the worst of the school year.

Kjellfrid might not know Keely was watching out for her, but he was going to keep on, anyway, even if he had to stay hidden in the shadows until June.

An angry, panicked shout echoed down the stairs, and Keely slunk upwards, ready to fend off more trouble.

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