Deep in the forest past the point that the dark swallows the light was a clearing that was surrounded by large old growth trees, giant sentinels in this a very sacred place.  It had been quite a long time since the clearing had last seen any visitors but still the round table stood as it always had, expansive and clean of ornament.  It was ringed by stout chairs two placed together at regular intervals with each setting backed by one of the sentinel trees bearing the crest of chairs inhabitants.  Many of the seats were already filled while others sat empty, ignored, the same went for the coat of arms behind the seats few gleamed new and fresh while others were faded or battle scared.  Pulling the attention of most of the table’s guests were the pair seated before a great orange and black crest, it was crowned with a black bat and the body was that of a large sinister pumpkin with crossed bones at the foot separating the words trick and treat, the woman was Hecate Queen of the Witches and with her sat Jack the Pumpkin King.  The anger emanating from them was palpable and seemed to cause black night to seep out of the woman in thin tendrils. 
          To their direct left was seated an elderly Puritan and his wife who cautiously eyed everyone more often then not looking at their neatly fold hands.  Next to them sat two empty seats before a crest of crimson with a pine tree dead center with the phrase “You Better Watch Out” written in gold around the edges.  With the sudden sound of sleigh bells everyone seemed to quiet, then from beyond the ring of trees emerged the Kringles.  Everything about him was broad and heavy both his beard and hair fell past his shoulders, which brought to mind those of blacksmith’s not a delivery boy’s, the way he walked and sat suggested that he did not suffer fools or disagreements well.  Sitting together they looked every inch the warlord and shield maiden.
          Though the table was round the fact that to his left the chairs of Imbolc sat empty and to his right sat only the diminished presence of faded Thanksgiving it gave the appearance that he and his wife were at the head of the table, a position which gave him a dangerous advantage.  The silence felt heavy in the early dawn air.

“Why…why have we be called here,” the one of the leprechauns asked in a shaky voice.

“The Kringles have once again over stepped their boundaries,” was the Pumpkin Kings response.  No emotion could be seen on his cared face but the fire inside danced high and with a malevolent glow.  “What have you to say for your self?”

          The man in red may have smiled but none could see it as most all expressions were masked by his beard.  In answer his wife laid a battle weary musket on the table.  An audible gasp escaped the Puritan’s wife as they both pulled back from the table and studied the ground. 

“We well not be forced,” Hecate said through clinched teeth pulsing night, “we are still desired and relevant.”  Without meaning to she glanced at the empty seats directly opposite her where the dancing bone fire on a field of midnight blue stood neglected. 

          She was pulled from her revere by the sound of Kringle’s voice, “No my lady you are mistaken, we are desired,” he said gesturing to his wife, “and we shall have what we want.”

“Not without consequence,” Jack said his eyes never leaving the faded Puritans.

          As his massive fist slammed to the table the Kringle sprung from his chair “To the field then,” he said with a sneer.

          As the flags and pinions snapped in the late afternoon air the clearing’s guests stood among the trees waiting and watching as ghouls, goblins, and other assorted monsters filed in to the right and elves, Yeti, and polar bears to the left.  The break in tension as the two side charged together was almost a physical sensation.

“…Jessica…Jessica Margaret, have you heard a word I’ve said?”

          The girl stood blinking and shaking her head facing the store isles which sadly held only close out priced plastic pumpkins and boasted more Christmas filled ornamentation than anyone could stand. 

“What in the world are you thinking about, Jess?”

“Mom was there ever a time when Christmas was only in December,” Jessica asked, but as she turned she could have sworn she saw a gleam in the toy Santa’s eye.

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