It was a crisp autumn day like a perfect apple with a tangy bite to it that hinted at colder days to come. Ebony was walking along a well-worn path admiring the many colors of the turning leaves, and thought she even spotted a Sawsbuck or two. She was on her way to a job she'd heard about in a tavern.
It had promised fresh air, lunch, and most importantly decent pay. She was to help harvest pumpkins. She came upon a tall fence and a gate. Above the open gate was a sign that read Ol' Man Gregorz Pumkinz 'n Cowz, so this would
be the place. She guessed. With a shrug of broad shoulders she went in.
Walking along the poorly cleaned dirt path she saw fields of giant orange pumpkins, and Miltank. There were lots of Miltank, with a Tauros or Bouffalant thrown in for good measure. She suppressed a shudder. Why did it have to be cow Pokemon. The things skeeved her out. For work she could handle it. Money had to come from somewhere.
Suppressing her grimace she walked up to the group of people already working at cutting the squashes free of their leafy prisons. "Um, hello? I heard you need help with the harvest?"
A wiry old man with a Tauros' ruff of fur trailing down his navel grayed with age and an impressive pair of horns that seemed broader than his shoulders turned towards her. His three tails excitedly wagged around his thighs. With a grin he showed off many missing teeth, and a broad hat with holes cut for his horns protected him from the sun. "We shore do li'l missy! Mah famous pumkinz are too much for most tah handle! If yer up fer the task go right ahead 'n' help out the fellas!"
Ebony blinked at the odd speech patterns, and the reference to herself as "little". "Um. Alright. Do I just pick them or
? I'm not used to this kind of work, and I want to make sure I get ripe ones."
"Hee-hee-hee! Yer a silly one arentcha?" He shook with the laughter and she wondered vaguely if he'd come apart with it. "Ya just tap 'em and lissen fer the thud! Then ya chop em with about a hand-length of stem and yer good ta go! Throw 'em in the cart when yer done! The missus will bring out drinks evvry so often. She's doin' lady stuff." He tapped his bulbous nose and winked at Ebony at the last. The cart he indicated was a wooden contraption rickety as he was. She spotted at least five parts that could do with replacing and resisted the professional urge to offer.
"Alright. That sounds simple enough." She nodded at him and scurried off to a group of promising looking pumpkins. Pulling out a long knife she settled down to work.
After awhile she found herself next to a Rattata with a shock of purple hair, buck teeth, and whiskers that twitched in time with his tail and ears at every sudden noise. "Alright," she asked. "Do you know why they wanted mercenaries for this? They're big enough pumpkins, but I fail to see how they're too much for normal workers to handle."
The Rattata jumped slightly. "Ah. Yes. The pumpkins. You don't know the legend?"
She wrinkled her eyebrows. "What legend? I'm afraid I don't pass through here much."
His tail fluffed out a bit, and his beady eyes glanced around. "Right. Of course you haven't. Well
," his voice dropped and he motioned for her to come closer. "You see, there are these ghosts."
"Ghosts?" She tilted her head curiously.
He nodded his voice dropping into near imperceptibility. "They come out, mostly at night. Floating with eyes like flames or embers. Faces with hideous unchanging grimacing. They attack. Their leader rides a jet black mount and has no head. They say the floaters are false heads sent by the forces of evil to torment him by his loss. Any who he catches watching will be executed and forced to join his tormentors."
She blinked slowly. "Oh."
"Indeed. Watch your back. Gregor really should just move his farm but he's far too proud so the only people he can convince to work here anymore are mercenaries like us."
Forcing a smile she moved to a new patch. "Right. Nice talking to you." Contemplating the oddness of the described event Ebony lost herself in the action of picking pumpkins absently drinking when someone handed a glass to her. She never even noticed when dusk began to fall.
Her only warning like many times before was the chomping down of Lady Ivoria Persimmonia Cereslet Starlingpath upon her tail. Startled she rolled behind the wagon she'd been depositing her pumpkins in. Not that it did much to conceal her large frame. The shadow combined with her dark clothes hid her far more adeptly.
Coming towards her and spreading through the fields as far as she could see were small flaming lights gently bobbing up and down. A thick purple fog seemed to fill the area that made her want to cough. As the lights came towards her she realized they were flickering from grimacing faces.
Forward she creeped, not for the first time cursing the light color her hair had turned post-merge. Slithering among the vines she saw a dark figure on what appeared to be a black Rapidash orange flames shining like a beacon in the night. Instead of a head a flaming pumpkin adorned the rider's neck. A pair of Houndoom stood by his sides.
Noting the distance between her and the house she realized that there were two ways this could go. Waiting for her inevitable discovery by the monsters, or panicked flailing.
She chose the latter.
Reaching around she found a discarded rake that had probably been used for fallen leaves. As she brought it up to the nearest gourd a thwacking sound filled the air as it broke apart
revealing a Yamask underneath that fled on discovery tears in its eyes. In her continued thrashing she broke open more of the pumpkins revealing Litwick, Gastly, and Yamask under each.
"WHOA STAHP," the rider yelled, as one of the Houndoom opened its mouth to let out a gout of flame which caught on some dried out leaves leading to the fields being on fire. Ebony didn't really notice on account of her running away in terror from the haunted pumpkin patch but as she left the rider let out an anguished cry of "Ah! Mah pumkinz!"
Ebony ran into the woods overtaken by a blind panic before she was overcome by exhaustion and hid under a bush before passing out. It was morning when she woke to the feeling of dew dripping down her face. Clumsy from her unorthodox sleeping arrangements she struggled to her feet. Brushing herself off she dazedly made her way into town.
Making her way in she found a stall selling pumpkins owned by a plump Teddiursa woman with curly short brown hair and a crescent moon on her forehead. She twitched her rounded ears a bit as she smiled. "Why honey, you look a bit worse for wear. Were you caught in that awful fire in Gregor's field?"
A flush rose to Ebony's cheeks as she avoided eye contact. "Yeah
sort of. I was pretty far away from the worst of it. What are they saying happened?"
"Lots of hearsay. Apparently one of the Houndoom he kept for herding cattle got spooked and blew fire everywhere. Fortunately one of his Miltank knew Rain Dance so it wasn't too big of catastrophe, but it still took out what was left of his pumpkin crop. Anyway want a pumpkin?"
She smiled, "Oh yeah. What's the biggest one you have? I need to do some baking."
"Oh? Are you celebrating something?" She said as she hefted a pumpkin three times the size of Ebony's head.
"Nah, this is revenge." She said as she paid for it before making her way back home.
She made so many pies.