Chapter 1:

The Tale of All Hallows

2000% Pumpkin Spice: The Tale of All Hallows


<PART 1>

The Slain Goblin King was never really slain. He never died and lives to this day, so don’t let anyone mislead you, understand?

In fact, there are many false accords regarding the legend of the Slain Goblin King—a nighttime fairytale known and loved by children around the world. The origins of the story date back approximately a thousand years ago, possibly longer. Curiously, the oldest accounts also vary greatly from one another. It seems the ambiguity began almost immediately, only to be weathered away and swept around carelessly by the march of time.

But I have proof of the accurate history.

I know everything there is to know. You’re the only one I’ve ever told. Only because All Hallows is looming.

Everything we know as life is linked through the earth. The Sun Deities give their blessings from the stars, pulling life up from the ground, closer to their holy comfort and wellsprings.

However, there are those who oppose the blessings of the Sun Deities. And I know that Doomsday Ramen place is tied to this entire mess!

Because I have proof…

…And I got that proof from a Sun Deity herself.

I’ll meet you at the arranged location and time.

And do me a favor, Vladys-kun… TELL YOUR SISTER I LOVE HER! LMAO!!!

<PART 2>

Vladys angrily snapped his flipbook phone shut.

“Come on, Yuukii,” Vladys muttered to himself. “I told you to stop talking about my onee-san like that.”

His arrogant college classmate, Yuukii, had arranged a meeting over emails. Vladys stood in front of a game store in downtown Raosute-tensu, a massive shopping district. The sun was down and a cold autumn wind blew from the north. Vladys pulled his sweatshirt hood over his head of orange hair. He rubbed his hands together, waiting for Yuukii or the others to arrive.

“Hey, found you.”

Vladys turned to see Yuukii walking closer. He was tall with purple mop-top hair and red eyes, wearing a black denim overcoat and silver bellbottom trousers.

“Don’t worry,” Vladys said, “the others aren’t here yet.”

“Eiri and Jackal aren’t coming. Did you read the email? I said you’re the only one I’ve told.”

“We agreed to be a team, Yuukii. Don’t leave the others out!”

There was a certain trick Yuukii was fond of using. It was a dirty action, always used with ill intentions. His mouth curled into a smirk as he brushed his purple hair from his face. With his right eye behind his hand, he cast his one left pupil directly at Vladys.

The orange-haired young man felt the freezing pierce of Yuukii’s eye, locking him in place and trapping his breath. Although it was only one eye this time, the effects were debilitating. Vladys knew the crowd around them couldn’t perceive what was happening, and he did his best not to act suspicious as he fought against the discomfort of Yuukii’s gaze.

“Don’t be hasty,” Yuukii chuckled. His gleaming teeth shone unnaturally bright from the hundreds of city lights. “We have important work to do.”

This was Yuukii’s certain trick: A single look from him could stop a person in their tracks. While this effect was often blamed on his behavior, notoriety, and appearance, Vladys always suspected something else.

Yuukii broke his gaze, freeing Vladys.

“I hate when you do that,” Vladys growled.

“And that’s why I’m so attached to you, Vladys-kun,” Yuukii replied darkly, enjoying himself. “Only you tell me there’s something suspicious about the way I look at people. Therefore, you’re the only one who needs to be here tonight.”

Rolling his eyes, Vladys said, “Let’s go somewhere else and talk. Your emails haven’t been making sense.”

“We’ll talk about it right here,” Yuukii said. “Don’t worry about the public. They don’t matter.”

“Whatever, explain your emails to me.”

Yuukii smirked.

“Have you ever heard of All Hallows?” he asked coolly. “No relation to the holiday. I’m talking about the All Hallows.”

“No,” Vladys replied shortly.

“That’s to be expected. But, you’ve heard of the Slain Goblin King, haven’t you?”

“That stupid myth,” Vladys snorted. “Yeah, so?”

“They’re real!” Yuukii replied overdramatically, just for show, and got the attention of the nearby pedestrians on purpose. He laughed merrily. “Just admit you don’t believe me.”

“Yup,” Vladys chirped sarcastically. “You got me pegged.”

“It matters not, for that which you doubt will soon be impossible for you to ignore.”

Vladys sighed and stared at Yuukii. “Meaning…?”

“Meaning,” Yuukii said, “if you come with me, I’ll show you everything.” He cracked a toothy sneer of mischief. “Or what, Vladys-kun? Are ya too cool to hunt legends on Halloween?”

“Damn right I am,” Vladys grunted. “I’m busy with class and life, not to mention I keep my hands full watching out for you. And it’s not Halloween yet. We have a week.”

Yuukii burst into laughter.

“Boy, do I have what it takes to change your mind!” he cackled, putting his arm around Vladys’s shoulder. “If tonight ends up being a waste of your time, then that’s your own fault.”

Vladys gritted his teeth and looked away, knowing that his cheek felt hot due to Yuukii’s two red eyes attempting to burn straight through him.

<PART 3>

The stereo in Yuukii’s supercar was turned down low, softly bumping a solid bassline. He and Vladys glided down the highway in his red and black car, far exceeding the speed limit and cutting off traffic without refrain.

“Doomsday Ramen has been in operation for under a year now,” Yuukii said while immersed in driving. “In seven days, it’ll be Halloween, and the one year anniversary of Doomsday Ramen.”

“I heard their food is awful,” Vladys muttered.

“I assure you it is,” Yuukii told him, cutting off two lanes of traffic to make the exit, “but not because the food tastes bad.”

Vladys could see the big sign for Doomsday Ramen coming up, and he was surprised it was its own building, unlike most restaurants in Raosute-tensu.

“We’re not going directly there yet,” Yuukii said, pulling into a parking lot nearby. With the car turned off, he got out, removed a small briefcase from the trunk, and got back in the car.

“Oh no, what’s this?” Vladys muttered when Yuukii handed him the briefcase. It was made from a dark stone, possibly obsidian.

“Open it,” Yuukii urged.

Hesitantly, Vladys popped the four brassy latches off. However, when the briefcase was more than a hair width open, a bright flash erupted from within, hitting Vladys with what felt like electrical shocks.

“Arrgh!!!”

Vladys clamped the briefcase shut as Yuukii laughed.

“Yes!” Yuukii was ecstatic. “That goddess wasn’t kidding!”

“Wha—?” Vladys panted as he promptly fastened the briefcase’s four brassy latches. “What the hell was that?!”

“That is part of the proof, my friend!” Yuukii beamed with joy as he snatched the briefcase away from Vladys. Vladys stared, thinking he had never seen Yuukii sparkle with so much excitement, even at his worst.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Vladys sighed as Yuukii cackled and kicked his feet like a child, “seeing you this happy is the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen.”

“If that’s so,” Yuukii chuckled, calming down, “then you’re gonna pee yourself, because it gets scarier. Because this briefcase was given to me by a goddess, one of the Sun Deities.” He spoke quickly, trying not to laugh between words. “She said only I can open it. Ya see, I thought it was all a hoax, too. But you can’t open it!” He frantically popped off the four brassy latches and flipped the briefcase wide open. “Ping! See? Nothing happened when I did it!”

Inside the briefcase was a phial with a light brown substance inside it, all nestled into a beautiful red velvet cushion. Yuukii removed the phial and held it up, turning on the car’s interior overhead light for Vladys to see.

“See that?” Yuukii asked, shaking the light brown substance in the phial.

“It looks like powder.”

“It’s pumpkin spice. This is a sample taken directly from Doomsday Ramen’s stock.”

Yuukii dug underneath the red velvet cushion in the briefcase, and took out a peculiar device. It resembled a small tablet computer, only thinner and entirely translucent.

“Here.” Yuukii handed the device to Vladys. “It works like a touchscreen.”

The tablet-like device was light as a leaf in Vladys’s grip. He touched the center, and the “screen” cleared up until transparent like glass. Looking around the car through the device, Vladys saw the bottled pumpkin spice radiated a deep purple, smoky fog.

His jaw dropped. “The pumpkin spice! I-it has a weird, purplish…something! But I can only see it through this thing!”

“That’s right!” Yuukii snarled gleefully. “What you see is the curse that resides inside.”

“The…the what?”

“And anybody who eats it will succumb to it!”

“Guhh…huh?”

“And Doomsday Ramen has been loading their Halloween specials with it as their special ingredient!”

“Yuukii! Wait a min—”

In no time, Yuukii barged out of his car with the pumpkin spice phial in the briefcase, tucking it under his arm. He tossed it in the trunk and slammed it shut, then opened the passenger door and pulled Vladys out by the arm.

“And we’re gonna stop Doomsday Ramen! We’ll stomp those heathens into eternal bankruptcy!!!”

Vladys yanked his arm away.

“Shut up and slow down! You need to explain this more!”

Yuukii stretched his face into a serpentine sneer, and his words hissed from his gleaming teeth.

“Take a look through that thing you’re holding, Vladys-kun…and behold the explanation.”

Through the tablet-like device, Vladys easily saw exactly what Yuukii had been saying. Just like the pumpkin spice, the building of Doomsday Ramen was surrounded by the deep purple mist. However, it wasn’t a simple fog. A great vortex of sinister clouds stormed and raged as it billowed viciously from the restaurant. The entire building was engulfed, and a multiplex of dirty violet currents hemorrhaged into the sky above the city.

Vladys gasped, clutching the device as he looked through it.

“What’s going on?!”

“That’s what we’re gonna find out!” Yuukii said energetically. “Me and you are gonna go in there and demand answers.”

“You can’t be serious!”

Yuukii turned his head and gave Vladys a sideways stare.

“Vladys-kun,” he mocked. “Do you plan to walk away now that you’ve seen what you’ve seen?”

Vladys lowered the tablet-like device, looking at Yuukii.

“N-no, but what can we do?”

Yuukii chuckled and turned toward the restaurant.

“I said we’re gonna demand answers from whoever’s running that place, and if that goddess was correct, which she has been so far…” he looked back at Vladys with a devilish grin that etched deep lines into his face, “…then we’ll be able to slay the Goblin King once and for all!”

<PART 4>

The interior of Doomsday Ramen looked like an old fast food restaurant, nothing special. As Vladys and Yuukii passed through the squeaky double door entrance, they were bombarded with smells of cheap, greasy food, like a combination of hamburgers and (you guessed it) ramen.

In fact, a big sign by the entrance read “Try our new Pumpkin Spice Ramen Burger! It’ll spook the poop right outta you! XD”.

Vladys grimaced as he read the sign and tucked the tablet-like device under his arm.

“Why…do people even eat here?” he muttered, looking around. “Huh? We’re the only ones here?”

“Seems so,” Yuukii said.

“Ohohohoho!” A girl’s villainous laughter rang out from the counter, catching the boys’ attention. “Welcome to Doomsday Ramen, you swine!”

They approached the counter, where a girl dressed as a clichéd witch stood behind the cash register, wearing big round glasses, a pointed hat, and black robe. She had long green hair and yellow eyes. Her name tag said “Mikoto.”

“What’ll it be, you filth?” she asked with a hearty grin. “We’re running our pumpkin spice specialties this month. It’s a Halloween thing. Even you grunts should know the trend by now! Ohohoho!”

“Save it, wench!” Yuukii sneered, pointing his finger at Mikoto. “We’re not here for your slop.”

Mikoto quickly stiffened her back, frightened by Yuukii’s raw chutzpah.

“W-wha—?” Her voice became mousy, much different than it had been. “I-I’m sorry…”

Yuukii leaned on the counter and focused both red eyes on the green-haired girl. As she trembled, it was obvious that Yuukii was using his “certain trick,” and Vladys’s skin crawled while remembering what it was like when Yuukii used both eyes like that.

“Bring me your manager,” he said in a low, threatening tone.

“R-r-right away!”

Before Mikoto could budge from her spot, another woman came from the kitchen and walked over to Mikoto’s side while glaring at the boys. This other woman was tall with long, curly silver hair and pale green eyes. She also wore a generic witch outfit, but it was of much higher quality than Mikoto’s, with elegant laces on the sleeves, sturdy straps around the chest and waist, and dangling jewels from the collar. Her shiny, gold nametag said “Lilith-hime: General Manager.”

Her gaze was transfixed on Yuukii, who smugly straightened up.

“You wanted to see the manager.” She spoke with authority. “Here I am. Speak.”

Yuukii gave her a once over and grinned.

“Hmm…not bad,” he said, nodding. “Is this whole place ran by cute girls?”

Lilith-hime narrowed her eyes, but a slight smirk cracked on her lips.

“It is, in fact,” she said. Her expression went flat again. “Tell me your business with me. I’m busy.”

“Yes, you must be busy.” Yuukii shrugged. “Busy cursing people with your wicked food!” He pounded his fist loudly on the counter. “The gig’s up! I know your pumpkin spice is cursed, and you’re putting it in your food to turn people into ghouls!”

“That’s correct.”

Yuukii, Vladys, and even Mikoto were surprised at Lilith-hime’s sudden answer.

“Lilith-senpai?” Mikoto squeaked nervously.

Yuukii was delighted by the confession.

“Ah, not denying it, huh?” he said coolly.

With a confident smile, Lilith-hime replied, “It matters not how you learned our secret, because you’ve just sealed your fate.”

She snapped her fingers, cuing large, steel shutters to slide down over every window and exit in the building, each slamming down loudly and forcefully. The lights suddenly dimmed, and the aura of purplish smog filled the air, visible even without using the tablet-like device tucked under Vladys’s arm.

“Um…Yuukii?” Vladys looked around. “This doesn’t look too good…”

Yuukii didn’t respond, expressionless as he looked around at what was transpiring.

“Girls!” Lilith-hime called. “Report to the front counter, on the double! The restaurant is now closed early!”

Four other girls dressed as witches came to the counter from the kitchen. Each outfit was similar, yet not identical, and none were as ornate as Lilith-hime’s. In no time, Yuukii and Vladys were facing the looks from all six Doomsday Ramen employees.

The shortest girl tugged on Lilith-hime’s lacey sleeve. She had shoulder-length blue hair and black eyes, and Vladys read “Fiona” on the nametag.

“Oi…” she uttered monotonously, her black eyes showing the vitality of a dead fish’s, “Lily-tan? Is there going to be an execution?”

Lilith-hime gently patted Fiona on the head with a warm smile.

“Yes, Fiona-chan. We’ll be executing the bad men. If you perform a nice, clean beheading, you’ll get extra candy, so be a good girl.”

Fiona gave an airy chuckle with a slight, drooling grin.

Lilith-hime gestured to two girls who had to be identical twins. Both had brown eyes and black hair, but one had a short haircut and the other had a long one.

“Sapporo! Kirin!” Lilith-hime told them. “Ready the boiler room guillotine! Oh, and lots of bleach! These two look like they’re full of bitter blood.”

“Yes, Lilith-senpai!” the twins said in unison, seeming too happy to oblige, then ran off.

Yuukii laughed aloud.

“Don’t waste your time,” Yuukii sneered. “I know your security here looks tough, but it’s full of holes. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to steal a sample of your cursed pumpkin spice. Also, I have this thing!” He snatched the tablet-looking device from Vladys and waved it in the air. “This is what gave your secrets away, and it’s also my trump card. Hope you wenches like unemployment…in Hell!”

Mikoto trembled, intimidated by Yuukii’s declaration. Lilith-hime glared at Yuukii, and Fiona continued to drool, thinking about the extra candy she was promised. However, the sixth and last girl snorted with laughter.

“Hey, Lilith-senpai!” she chuckled with a snaggletooth grin. “These might be the two guys Prophet Joe told us about!”

“Prophet Joe is just your imaginary friend, Sierra,” Lilith-hime grumbled. “Have you been eating the pumpkin spice again? We witches are immune to the curse…but it makes us see stuff in high doses.”

“Aw, ya caught me.” Sierra shrugged, then leapt over the counter. She wrapped her arms around Vladys and Yuukii, pulling them closer. “Say…these guys are kinda cute. Prophet Joe didn’t say anything about that!”

She rubbed her cheek against Vladys’s face and purred. Her witch robe had a low-cut collar and the bottom came down just below her waist, exposing long legs that Yuukii had already scanned several times up and down. As her fluffy orange hair tickled Vladys’s nose, he began to sweat.

“Mmm, you’re a musky man, ain’t ya?” she whispered in Vladys’s ear, sending shivers through his very soul. “I might keep your head as a reminder of our encounter. Harharharrr!”

“Sierra,” Lilith-hime scolded, balling her fists impatiently, “this isn’t the time for that!”

“I agree!” Yuukii shouted valiantly, holding up the tablet-like device. “Now is the time for bankruptcy!”

He quickly dialed what looked like a phone number on the transparent “touchscreen,” bringing up a video display of a beautiful woman with golden hair and platinum eyes.

“Oh, Yuukii-san!” the gorgeous woman answered dreamily. “I see my phonePad was useful to you.”

“Hey there, Miss Sun Deity,” Yuukii said flirtatiously. “Or should I say Ra-chan?”

“You flatter me.” The Sun Deity blushed.

“I do. And I need you. Come here now.”

“Right away!”

In seconds, an explosion rattled the restaurant as the roof was blasted open. Down came a sunny radiance that descended into the bleak, purplish smog filling the restaurant. Yuukii’s face stretched into a freakish grin, his teeth shining unnaturally in the divine light. His fingers tingled with excitement as he cackled loudly, stamping his feet on the ground in a fit of insane jubilation.

“Yes…” he breathed. “Yes…yes, yes, YES!” He twisted his neck to show Lilith-hime the ferocious sneer that seemed to split his face in half—a deliriously delighted expression that made his veins bulge. “I said I had a trump card! Now behold! A Sun Deity goddess herself! Rakako Solarus Celestine!”

Vladys fell to the floor, overwhelmed by the sheer energy from the blinding light. Mikoto and Fiona hid behind Lilith-hime, who stood her ground behind the counter, shielding her eyes from the ruthless light of the Sun Deity. Sierra crouched on the floor, unafraid, dipping her finger in a small plastic bag of cursed pumpkin spice and rubbing it on her tongue, giggling to herself.

And Yuukii, like the psycho mastermind he was, embraced the scathing light with his arms outstretched, his expression more exaggerated than a jack-o-lantern. He staggered forward, ignoring the overtly divine pressure threatening to sizzle his body, and approached the white source of the radiance, finally wrapping his arms around it with a tight hug.

The light instantly vanished, and Yuukii was closely holding the beautiful woman who had spoken to him through the phonePad. Her golden hair flowed like silk under a fresh river, touching down to the floor.

“I’m here, Ra-chan,” Yuukii told her softly, his previous delirium now absent.

“Thank you, Yuukii-san.” The gorgeous goddess blushed as she looked up at Yuukii and brushed his purple mop-top hair away from his red eyes. “I’m here as well, just as promised.”

She stepped away from Yuukii and looked at Vladys. Her beauty was stunning, and the delicate smile she wore was the ideal match for her dreamy voice.

“You must be Vladys-kun,” she said sweetly. “Nice to meet you. You may call me Ra.”

Vladys couldn’t speak nor move. His heart seemed to stop. His legs were heavier than lead and wobbly like fig jelly. It was true that Ra was stunning in more ways than one. Yet, that wasn’t the true reason why Vladys was impaired.

It was because Ra was stark naked. Miraculously, her golden hair seemed to perfectly censor her…parts.

What is the meaning of this?!” Lilith-hime bellowed. She soared over the counter like a trapeze artist, doing several flips through the air before landing on her feet in front of the smug Yuukii, speechless Vladys, and innocent (yet naked) Ra. “I will not have these shenanigans!”

“Of course you will!” Yuukii said mockingly. He turned to Ra, saying, “Hey, time to recite that line I told you.”

“Oh, okay!” Ra confronted Lilith-hime with a childlike smile, striking a pose that she ripped off from a popular TV show. “I am Ra-chan! In the name of the sun, I shall bankrupt you!”

Lilith-hime shook with rage. She opened her mouth to say something, but Yuukii stepped up and interrupted her.

“My, my, Silly Lily,” he jested. “Now do you see your predicament?”

“Silence, boy!”

Lilith-hime held up her hands, ready to summon any number of tortuous spells on the defiant young man, but she was stopped by nothing more than a single menacing gaze. Yuukii focused both red eyes on her, freezing her mind and body with unexplainable influence. He stared with such intensity, such brazen vigor, that his eyes began to bulge from his skull, veiny and animalistic, like each eye contained the watchfulness of hundreds of wrathful dragons apiece.

Lilith-hime wanted to step back, but held her ground, appalled that she was intimidated by nothing more than a look, although everything inside her was screaming that it was, indeed, more than just that.

“Take this moment to reflect,” Yuukii sneered, his voice icy and dead, as if whispered from a corpse. He never let up his weighted stare. “My companions and I are here for something, and you will take us to it.” His gnarled grin broadened as his lips spread out in every direction. “Do you understand, Silly Lily?”

Squeezing her fists so tightly that her knuckles cracked, Lilith-hime fought in vain against the lockdown of Yuukii’s determination.

Through pursed lips, she said, “And what would that be…?”

After a guttural chuckle, Yuukii told her, “Take us to the Goblin King.”

<PART 5>

Sapporo and Kirin heard voices coming from the stairs. They had nearly completed the execution preparations as Lilith-hime had ordered. The guillotine was polished and ready to go, not a simple task—much dust and many cobwebs needed to be removed.

Lilith-hime entered the boiler room, leading the prisoners inside, along with a frightening new customer. The other witches huddled in the hallway just outside, watching in.

“This woman!” Sapporo shouted after slinking away from the nude goddess.

Goosebumps ran up Kirin’s spine. “She’s a Sun Deity! And why is she naked?!?”

With a smile, Yuukii said, “Clothes are meaningless, especially to a Sun Deity!”

Lilith-hime had to get a grasp of the situation, or else they really risked bankruptcy because of Ra.

“Sapporo, Kirin,” she said sharply. “The situation has changed, so listen up.”

The twins quickly snapped to attention, reacting as if they were in boot camp.

“This is a stickup!” Yuukii grabbed Ra’s bare shoulders proudly, making her blush. “We’ve come to shut down your business…” he grinned, “…vigilante style.”

Lilith-hime glared at Ra for a second, then addressed the others outside the door.

“Okay, all of you in the hallway, get in here! I want everyone in this room.” She took a deep breath, thinking of how to explain everything. “This nudist is a goddess, a Sun Deity. Her companions want to speak to our owner.”

A rumble rolled through the basement, deep and angry. Vladys, Yuukii, and Ra were momentarily stunned by the quake before an imposing voice emanated from deep below.

“Who wishes to speak with me?”

Fire erupted in the middle of the room, bursting out of thin air, startling everyone. Yuukii and Vladys felt the static chill of an undeniably wicked presence, something they were not expecting. Even the employees, Lilith-hime included, were intimidated.

“It’s not every day we make contact with our owner,” Lilith-hime explained grimly to Yuukii, Vladys, and Ra. The flames converged to a single point, burning red hot, making everyone back away. “You morons are the reason we need to summon him!”

“You mean the Goblin King!” Yuukii said arrogantly. “Don’t give me that ‘owner’ nonsense. Doomsday Ramen isn’t a business, it’s a cult, and he won’t be owning anything after tonight!”

Silence!!!”

The thunderous voice exploded from the flames in the middle of the room, blowing the flames out in all directions. Atop the charred spot on the basement concrete floor stood an enormous person, although definitely not a human. Green, wart-covered skin hung in jiggling wrinkles on his face. Two long, chipped fangs protruded from his top jaw, reaching far down below his many black-bearded chins. Brown rags and scraps of plastic shopping bags were sewn together into a crude toga that stretched across his bulbous body. His head almost reached the ceiling, and he stared down at the three subjects.

“Who are these ‘customers’?” the enormous man asked. The bass from his earthy voice could be felt in everyone’s chest, and he spoke like a giant wooden tuba would sound.

In an instant, the Goblin King recognized Ra for what she was.

“A Sun Deity is here?” he growled, turning to the restaurant manager.

“Yes, King-sama.” Lilith-hime bowed formerly. “These two ingrates summoned her. They know of our plan and claim to stop us.”

The Goblin King was silent as he was thinking. He studied the three “customers” closely for a moment.

“This will be settled immediately,” he finally said with conviction. “The girl may be a deity like myself, but she’s just a lowly goddess. I am a king!” He stomped one foot forward, shaking the solid foundation of the entire building. “Execute the two men. I’ll take care of the girl.”

The Goblin King slowly and menacingly approached the goddess, reaching out with his massive hands to grab her, but Yuukii wouldn’t allow it.

He had his little trick.

When the enormous green man felt a peculiar tickle on his cheek, he instinctively knew it was coming from elsewhere. He turned toward the source, consequentially meeting both of Yuukii’s red eyes.

“Hmm?”

A sensation ran through the Goblin King, which he couldn’t explain. Trying to react, he suddenly realized that it had a profound effect on his body.

“What is this?” he rumbled, struggling to pick up his foot.

“Sorry,” Yuukii sneered, not looking away from the massive, green owner, “but we’ll be denying your execution services. Also, you’d do well not to harm us.”

Yuukii unbuttoned his black denim overcoat and spread it open wide. The inside was loaded with long, red, cylindrical sticks all connected together with wires.

“D-d-dynamite?!” Lilith-hime sputtered.

“That’s right!” Yuukii sang. “Except it’s all made with that cursed pumpkin spice. A few chemistry experiments here and there showed me that this stuff is quite explosive, more than black powder!”

“You’re insane!” Lilith-hime shouted.

“Maybe so, but I think of myself as prepared! Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, so I’ll bring a dynamite vest to a fistfight!”

Vladys tried to look serious as he played along. He’d seen Yuukii’s fake bomb ploy before, and it often worked.

“Here’s the deal,” Yuukii announced, valiantly displaying the inside of his vest, still holding the Goblin King in place with his stare. “This bomb is connected wirelessly to my and my lackey’s hearts, and will go off if either of our hearts stop. I can also detonate it at any time manually, but good luck figuring out how I do that…and I dare you to try.”

Enough!!!”

The Goblin King lifted his bulky leg and smashed his foot into the concrete floor, cracking and crushing the foundation. For the first time, Yuukii experienced someone breaking out of his trick, not to mention with both eyes. He scoffed at the lumbering green monster.

Surprisingly, the Goblin King looked amused by Yuukii’s actions, and a yellow smile pushed his many face wrinkles upward.

“Ah, now this is truly something,” the Goblin King said. “Where’d you girls find such a customer?”

“Well…” Mikoto replied meekly, “…they walked in the restaurant.”

The Goblin King laughed, sounding like a cement mixer was churning in his throat.

“Very well!” he declared, pointing a porky finger at Yuukii. “I’ll go along with your idiocy, as I am impressed by your boldness…truly ruthless and savage. We’ll settle this over a duel!”

“Settle what, sir?” Lilith-hime protested. “This isn’t a dispute! It’s an execution!”

“It matters not,” the Goblin King told her, sneering sinisterly. “This human is exceptional, and when this is over, we’ll benefit greatly.”

Vladys was skeptical, but his confidence was reinstated when Yuukii smirked at him.

“What’s this duel?” Vladys asked the Goblin King. “Are you looking for a fight?”

“One-sided violence is fun and all,” the Goblin King answered, “but this is a celebration. It’s Halloween season, and I’m honored to be in the presence of such entertaining humans. You have much potential, you see. Gwahahaahaaaa!”

With a snap of his fingers, the Goblin King summoned a crude stone table. With another finger snap, a variety of cups, pots, bottles, and chemistry equipment appeared on top.

Lilith-hime instantly recognized the sight.

“S-sir,” she said, “that’s the test kitchen lab equipment…”

“Yes, indeed it is.” Stretching out his massive, warty arms, the Goblin King announced, “We’ll settle this over a pumpkin spice latte competition! Whoever makes the best pumpkin spice latte will win!”

“Win what?” Yuukii asked abruptly, buttoning his overcoat to cover his fake-dynamite vest. “You’re up to something, Goblin King.”

“If my team wins,” the Goblin King explained, “the humans and naked goddess will be executed. But if the challengers win…the power of All Hallows shall be granted to them!”

The witches gasped.

“Sir!” Lilith-hime barked.

“Silence, Lilith-hime!” the Goblin King thundered. “I have spoken!”

“Wait a minute,” Vladys grunted. “What’s All Hallows?” He turned to Yuukii. “You know, Yuukii! Tell me what All Hallows is.”

After thinking about it, Yuukii replied, “Hmm…actually…”

Yuukii!!!”

“Excuse me, sir?” Mikoto stepped forward timidly, adjusting her round glasses nervously. “Um, only five of us witches know how to conjure a latte…because I’m just a cashier, and don’t cook. And…there are only three challenging members. It’s unfair.”

“Leave it to me!” the nude Sun Deity exclaimed.

“Hahaha! You read my mind, Ra-chan!” Yuukii chortled. “We have two members on standby!”

“Two members?” Vladys asked. “You mean…?”

“Eiri and Jackal,” Yuukii said. “Remember? You were opposed to leaving them out of this, Vladys-kun.”

“I did say that…”

“One second,” Ra said, dialing something on the phonePad. “Aaaaand…send!”

Two people suddenly appeared next to Ra. One was a girl cosplaying as an anime idol with neon blue hair, and the other was a redhead Viking-looking man with a huge beard and thick muscles.

“Oh, this must be a latte-making contest,” Eiri said nonchalantly, looking at the table and everything on it.

“Coffee…must…win…” Jackal mumbled, pounding his fists together.

Lilith-hime blinked at the newcomers.

“They…aren’t afraid?” she asked.

“Trust me,” Vladys smirked, “this isn’t the weirdest thing we’ve done together.”

“My team is more seasoned than your cursed pumpkin spice, you fiend!” Yuukii shouted valiantly, pointing at the giant Goblin King. “Prepare to hand over All Hallows to us!”

“Gwahahahahaaaaa!!!” the Goblin King guffawed. “Most excellent! Girls, prepare for the contest!”

“B-but hold on!” Lilith-hime argued. “What are the rules? Who are the judges???”

“I SAID BEGIN!”

And so it began.

<PART 6>

Round 1: Eiri vs. Sapporo

Both contestants stood at the crude stone table. Sapporo tied her long black hair into a ponytail behind her head, looking too happy for what she was doing.

“I’ll have you know,” she told Eiri cockily, “I make a wicked brew! Ya know, ‘cuz I’m a witch and everything.”

“And I love anime!” Eiri snickered. “I’ll make you my waifu!”

“W-what?!”

“Okay, you filth!” Mikoto declared, using her condescending cashier persona. “I’m the ref, so bow to me!”

“That’s quite enough of that, Mikoto-chan,” Lilith-hime said flatly.

Mikoto nervously switched personalities. “Y-yes, Lilith-senpai.” She adjusted her round glasses. “Ahem…round one, fight!”

The girls lit their Bunsen burners, Eiri using her Coalmander Pokiedude lighter, Sapporo with a small flame from her fingertip. Wasting no time, they went to work.

Sugar, cream, partially distilled water… Eiri added her ingredients by memory. Nobody can beat my best latte creation, Unicorn Killer! Now, just add the pumpkin spice…

However, when Eiri added the wicked pumpkin spice to the mix, a cloud of green smoke erupted from the concoction. It hit her in the face, making her cough.

“Ha!” Sapporo mocked. “Our pumpkin spice isn’t an ordinary pumpkin spice! Its molecular properties are…foul!”

Not deterred by the strange chemical reaction, Eiri attempted to taste her creation.

“No, don’t taste it!” Vladys shouted. “You’ll be cursed by the pumpkin spice!”

“Gwahahahaaa!” The Goblin King held his rumbling belly. “Must be difficult not being able to test your own latte!”

“Time’s up!” Mikoto announced. “Burners off! Fill one cup each!”

“Ooh, let me drink them!” Sierra skipped toward the table and grabbed the small stone cups of steaming latte, one in each hand.

“Uh, Sierra-chan is the judge?” Lilith-hime muttered. “But…she’s addicted to the pumpkin spice.”

“Gwahahahaaa!” was all the Goblin King had to say.

Without restraint, Sierra simultaneously poured both cups into her mouth. Her face turned bright red as steam shot out of her nose and ears.

“What’s the verdict, Sierra?” the Goblin King asked darkly.

Sierra trembled in agony, somehow forcing a smile.

“I burned all my taste buds,” she replied meagerly, “but…Prophet Joe prefers the anime girl’s latte.”

“Yay!” Eiri cheered.

Shaking with rage, Sapporo stomped up to Sierra. She grabbed Sierra’s low-cut robe and shook her angrily.

You left it up to Prophet Joe?!”

And so ended the first round. Witches: 0, Customers: 1.

<PART 7>

Round 2: Jackal vs. Kirin

As Jackal stood at the stone table with the short-haired twin, he examined all the strange materials and equipment with a firm expression. Cooking was his greatest weakness, but he wouldn’t let that stop him from doing his best.

“I shall avenge my sister,” Kirin giggled.

“Why…twins…happy?” Jackal grunted.

“I don’t know,” Kirin said with a modest shrug.

“Me…coffee…” Jackal said. “You…lose…”

“We’ll see about that! Tee-hee!”

“Round two,” Mikoto announced, “fight!”

As the match began, Vladys heard Yuukii snicker.

“What’s funny?” Vladys asked flatly.

“The twin is using the same technique as her sister,” Yuukii replied. “Same temperature of the water, same amount of frog’s breath, same density of the spoon used to stir it.”

Vladys was skeptical. “How can you tell all that from here?”

“I know things,” Yuukii sneered.

Vladys left it at that.

When the match ended, Kirin pumped her fist confidently.

“I win!” she cheered.

“What makes you so confident?” Mikoto asked curiously. “The judge hasn’t tried it.”

“Because!” Kirin gestured toward Jackal. “He made a pumpkin pie by accident! It’s supposed to be a latte.”

Jackal looked grimly at the pumpkin pie resting on the table in front of him.

“Me…cook…bad,” he muttered sadly. “It…wrong…”

“How the hell did he make a pumpkin pie?!” Vladys yelled. “He poured that out of a boiling pot!”

Lilith-hime laughed shamelessly, her hands on her hips.

“It takes special skill to mess up that badly!” she said.

And so, the second round ended. Witches: 1, Customers: 1.

<PART 8>

Round 3: Ra vs. Fiona

“I love pumpkin spice lattes,” Ra grinned as she stood at the stone table. “What I love is what I do best.”

Fiona said nothing, but stared blankly at the nude goddess, fascinated by the uncanny censorship brought about by the long, flowing, golden hair. Perhaps it was a type of divine magic?

“I love executing customers,” Fiona finally said monotonously, not a shred of emotion in her voice. “What I love is also what I do best.”

Ra blushed. “So, this is a battle of love! Ah…how dreamy.”

“Round three,” Mikoto announced, looking away from the audacious nudity, “fight!”

Using the warmth of Heaven, Ra ignited the Bunsen burner, and meticulously mixed the ingredients into the pot. Perfection was key to making a winning latte, no excuses.

A small portal opened under the table where Fiona stood, and she brought forth the coldest fires from the wintry hinterlands of Hell. When a frosty flame attached itself to the burner, Fiona added her ingredients. Hatred with a freezing disposition was key to executing the customers via a latte contest, no excuses.

“Ra looks so fitting when she’s at work in the kitchen,” Yuukii said. “What say you, Vladys-kun?”

“Well, she looks like she’s having fun,” Vladys replied, “but…being next to an open flame with no clothes on is—”

Alluring???” Yuukii sneered, his twisted grin fully depraved.

“Dangerous,” Vladys corrected.

“Skin is less combustible than fabric,” Yuukii said.

“Uh, that’s not the point…”

“Time’s up!” Mikoto declared. “Burners off! Fill your cups.”

“Ooh, I wanna drink them!” Sierra exclaimed. “I didn’t get to try the last ones!”

“You’re disqualified as the judge,” the Goblin King said. “Mikoto! You be the judge!”

“M-me?” Mikoto looked uncertain. “But, my palette is inaccurate, but if you insist…”

As Mikoto approached the stone table, she could already feel the opposite auras emanating from the two cups. One seemed more welcoming (the one in front of Ra), so she picked up the cup. A blend of savory sweetness met her nose, earthy and spicy. After one sip, she licked her lips, a dazzling glow forming in her eyes. She took another sip. Then a gulp. Then finished the cup.

“Delicious!” she said with a smile.

“Thank you,” Ra replied humbly.

An ominous presence gnawed at Mikoto’s side, and she turned to see the tiny Fiona standing right next to her, staring up with dead-fish eyes while presenting a cup of death.

“Try mine, Miko-tan,” Fiona said, drooling with excitement (her face never changed much, so drooling was her only emotional gauge).

“Ah…hahaa…y-yes.”

Mikoto seemed to feel the hands of the Grim Reaper pull her jaw open as she lifted her pumpkin-flavored demise to her mouth. As soon as the concoction touched her lips, her soul stepped out of her body.

“Hey,” Mikoto’s soul said irritably to her, “what the hell are you doing?”

Crying, Mikoto replied, “Climbing the stairs to martyrdom…”

Mikoto’s soul slapped the cup out of Mikoto’s hand. The black bile inside splattered on the concrete floor, quickly turning into snails.

“Use your brain, you pig!” the soul yelled. “If you die, it’s back to the Soul Raffle for me! It took me decades to possess your worthless body, just for you to throw it all away!”

“I’m so sorry, Soul-san!”

“Uh…who is she talking to?” Vladys muttered.

“She does that sometimes,” the Goblin King said. “Whoever it is she talks to in these moments, I’m sure they have more merit than Prophet Joe.”

Blasphemy!!!” Sierra shrieked.

“Keep it together, Mikoto-chan!” Lilith-hime ordered. “What’s your verdict?”

“R-right!” Mikoto squeaked, sweating profusely. “Ra! You win!”

“I’m so happy!” Ra replied, clasping her hands together.

“Heh heh…” As Mikoto nervously fidgeted, she felt the stare of Fiona’s indignation.

“Tonight…” Fiona told her darkly as her gloomy eyes somehow became blacker, “you shall have a private lesson of my wrath…”

Mikoto tried to laugh the tears away. “Uhh, y-yeahhh…haha…”

With that, round three ended. Witches: 1, Customers: 2.

<PART 9>

Round 4: Vladys vs. Sierra

“Alright, Vladys-kun,” Yuukii said as Vladys approached the stone table. “Make your loss as non-embarassing as possible.”

“What do you mean?” Vladys asked, annoyed. “I don’t plan on losing.”

“But you must,” Yuukii said smugly. “Your loss will result in a tie, meaning the entire buildup rests on the next match where I go against Silly Lily to decide the competition. It’s fate, Vladys-kun.”

As Vladys gritted his teeth, Sierra wrapped her arms around him, pressing her body into his.

“It’s our time for fun!” she said cheerfully with a voluptuous smile. “Try not to finish too quickly, got it?”

“Round four,” Mikoto announced, “fight!”

Vladys quickly lit his burner with a match and went to work.

I’ll show Yuukii, he thought. I’ll show everyone! If I win this, it’ll decide the whole stupid competition.

However, Sierra didn’t start making her latte, but just smirked at Vladys.

“Sierra!” Lilith-hime shouted. “What’re you doing? Get to work!”

“Not so fast,” Sierra replied. She walked over to Jackal. “Hey, can I have that pumpkin pie you made? I can’t work on an empty stomach.”

Jackal, as a man, quickly fell victim to Sierra’s allure.

“Give…pie…” he grunted, handing over his pumpkin pie.

“Jackal, don’t!” Eiri protested.

Before anyone could stop her, Sierra messily devoured the entire pie in seconds. Her body shook as a glowing energy overtook her.

“Hahahahaaa!!!” she cackled. “FOOLS!!!”

Her fluffy, orange hair turned upward, becoming bright yellow and spikey, and a raging aura surged around her. Just her raw energy alone riled up a stormy tempest of wind and lightning in the boiler room.

“Hey!” Vladys shouted, nearly spilling the concoction he was making. “That’s not fair! You can’t allow doping in his contest!”

The Goblin King guffawed. “Says the team who summoned two allies with divine technology?”

“Err…you have a point.”

“COFFEEEEE!!!”

Sierra ricocheted around the boiler room like a comet, then crash-landed in front of the stone table, shaking all of its contests. Vladys burned himself trying to protect his boiling latte mixture. Using pure ambition, Sierra ignited the bottom of her pot, bringing the swamp water within to an instant boil. Her hands moved too fast to see as she added thousands of ingredients, stirring them with her magic in a savage fit.

Prophet Jooooe!!!” she screamed as the stone table before her began to crack and chip from her voice alone. “Bless m-m-me with your k-kiss…your absolution! L-let’s m-make the best pumpkin spice latte in all the cosmos!!!”

“Ack!” Vladys fell to his feet, unable to bear the pressure of Sierra’s storming power and insanity.

“Stop, Sierra!” Lilith-hime shouted over the roar of Sierra’s tempest as the entire building shook. “King-sama! We must stop her!”

“Gwahahahaaa!” The Goblin King was enjoying the show as bits of the ceiling crumbled around him. “Let us patiently observe this event, Lilith-hime! This…is what I’ve been waiting for!”

Hundreds of portals opened up around the stone table as Sierra frantically summoned ingredients from across the universe to add to her latte.

“More, more, MORE, MORE!!!” she bellowed, squeezing so much matter into her pot that nuclear fusion began to take place, giving birth to a pumpkin spice-flavored star. “GGGRRRRAAAHHHHHHH!!! And done.”

Sierra suddenly reverted back to normal, smiling cutely. A ball of glowing, radiant plasma floated above the stone table. Using her magic, Sierra pushed the pumpkin spice star into her cup; the cup vaporized and became yet another ingredient in the creation.

“Who shall judge this round?” the Goblin King thundered ceremoniously. “Lilith-hime!”

“HELL NO!!!” Lilith-hime shouted. “I can’t drink that! I’ll die!”

“Then you vote in favor of the customers?” the Goblin King asked.

“Of course I do!” As soon as she said it, she realized what it meant. “Grr…that means…”

We win!” Yuukii sang, flashing his fake-dynamite vest under his overcoat. “Good job, Vladys-kun, for surviving that!”

“Gee…thanks,” Vladys muttered.

For a moment, the Goblin King was silent. Then, a deep rumble came from his throat, escalating into a booming laugh that rattled everything.

“And so it is to be!” he declared. “The power of All Hallows is to be granted to a new heir!” He thrust a massive finger at Yuukii, his smile opening his giant mouth full of yellow teeth as he cast a countenance of absolute evil at the tall, purple-haired man. “You, human…have lost…”

Vladys watched the expression on Yuukii’s face—a smug, content grin that slowly went flat, almost angry, as he narrowed his eyes at the Goblin King.

“What do you mean I’ve lost?” he asked, nearly growling.

“Gwahahaa! You think I’d risk giving you All Hallows if I didn’t have a reason for doing so? This contest was your test!”

“…”

The Goblin King stood tall, pressing the top of his green head against the ceiling, which crumbled under his strength.

“The Goblin King can never be slain,” he explained, looking down at everyone around him, “only…passed on. Such is the truth of All Hallows, which is the power to command all that has been defiled. Everything that roams the earth on Halloween is captive to the Goblin King’s whim. Sounds good on paper, but it’s gruesome and hellish. Just look at me! See what All Hallows has done to me over hundreds and hundreds of years!” He towered over Yuukii, who crossed his arms in annoyance. “See for yourself, human worthy of being my successor, what it means to ‘slay’ the Goblin King! Gwahahaahaaaa!!!”

Pain burst inside of Yuukii’s chest. He fell to his knees, gasping for air. Vladys, Eiri, and Jackal hurried to his side.

“Yuukii!” Vladys felt powerless as he watched Yuukii writhe in agony. “Oh no!”

The Goblin King reached down with his giant, green hand and easily ripped off Yuukii’s fake-dynamite vest.

“You were bold to use such a cheap toy,” he snarled delightfully, tossing the plastic vest aside. “Now, to complete the ritual…”

Vladys, Eiri, and Jackal fought against the massive hand with all their might, but it was no use. The Goblin King pinned Yuukii against the concrete floor with one finger, holding his chest with the point of his fungus-crusted fingernail.

“You did well, Ra-chan,” the Goblin King said to the nude goddess. “As predicted, the cooperation of both Heaven and Hell were necessary for this to work.”

“Aw, you flatter me, King-kun,” Ra said bashfully.

Yuukii squirmed, unable to breathe and feeling his heart engulfed with the wickedness of All Hallows being transferred into him. As his vision faded, he heard the cries of his friends and the deep cackles of the Goblin King. He saw the six witches standing far away, afraid, but watching closely. He saw the giant green body evaporate and force itself into his chest, stopping his heart before everything went black.

The match was over. Witches: 1, Customers: 3

<PART 10>

It was Halloween night, and another boring day at Doomsday Ramen. As the customer base of Raosute-tensu was slowly converted to ghouls fated to the curse of All Hallows, fewer people were coming to try the pumpkin spice ramen specials, making each day less eventful than the previous.

Mikoto stood at the cash register, dozing off, when a shout from the kitchen jarred her awake.

“How’d you burn ice cream?!” Lilith-hime was heard shouting.

“Me…cook…bad,” Jackal apologized. “Burnt…robe…”

“You don’t cook ice cream, Jackal,” Eiri instructed. “Just stick to cleaning the restrooms. Your wizard robe is a mess, too.”

Mikoto looked at the orange-haired man at the register next to hers, who was sound asleep.

“Vladys-kun, wake up,” she whispered.

“Huh?” Vladys snapped awake. “I wasn’t asleep!”

The sound of the squeaky double doors alerted them of customers.

“About time,” Vladys grunted, straightening his black wizard robe.

The customers were two teenage girls carrying fake rifles. They looked very vigilant and determined as they rushed to the counter and aimed their guns at Vladys and Mikoto.

“Listen up!” the taller girl shouted. “Bring us your manager now!”

“Hey, don’t point guns at people,” Vladys said firmly, “even if they’re fake.”

Bang! The shorter girl fired a round at the ceiling.

“They’re r-real guns?!” Mikoto squeaked.

“Manager!” the taller girl demanded. “Now!”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Lilith-hime groaned, walking to the counter from the kitchen and glowering at the rude customers. “I’m the manager. Speak.”

“We know your secrets, evildoers!” the taller girl announced, aiming the rifle at Lilith-hime. “Take us to the Goblin King! We know he’s here!”

“Well, well, well…”

A voice came from behind the teenage girls, and they whirled around, coming face-to-face with a tall man with purple mop-top hair. His face had faint tints of green, and his black overcoat and silver bellbottom trousers were patched with plastic bags.

“Y-you!” the shorter girl yelled, looking at Yuukii through her rifle’s sights. “This evil presence…it must be you, Goblin King!”

“My, you’ve caught me,” Yuukii sneered. “Come to slay me?”

“Just as the legend says,” the taller girl said, “the Goblin King should be ‘slain’!”

“Oh?” Yuukii cast his red eyes at both girls, freezing them in place. Fear locked their bones, but something unexplainable seemed to power this eerie gaze.

Lilith-hime snapped her fingers, and every window and door was quickly sealed off by large shutters slamming down and locking into place. A purplish smog filled the air as the lights dimmed, and every employee slowly walked from the kitchen, all dressed like witches and wizards in clichéd outfits.

Now less confident, the shorter girl said, “Y-yes, we are here for you! Prepare yourself…you monster!”

“Yes, there’s the pep I admire,” Yuukii told the two girls, his face being split by his gnarled, toothy grin. “You remind me of myself from not so long ago. Heh heh heh! Ahahahaaa! Gwahaahaahaaaa!!!”

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