Holiday of Doom!
by Sauron Gorthaur

A/N: This will be a little three-part Valentine's Day fic, with Part 3 posted on February – er, Fall – 14th. Please note, I have not yet read the third Dark Lord book, as it is not yet out in America (I know, it's killing me). This story is supposed to take place sometime after Book 2, so it may conflict with some of the events in Book 3. If this is the case, I hope you will be able to overlook any unintentional AU-ness on my part and enjoy this little bit of humor that I couldn't help writing when I imagined what would happen if Dirk discovered that we humans have a special holiday devoted to love. Read on, minions, if you dare…

Part 1: A Holiday to Celebrate…What?

It was a crisp mid-February morning in Whiteshields. Cars rumbled down the main street, carrying the adults to work, while the kids trotted down the sidewalks, heading for the Whiteshields School, bundled in their coats and scarves with their backpacks and book bags swung over their shoulders. It was the type of scene one would expect to see any Monday morning in a small town.

In particular, there were three middle school students chatting as they walked together to school. On the surface, they seemed to fit into the ordinary scene perfectly well; true, the girl in the middle was certainly Goth, but there was nothing overtly strange about that, and her companions looked like any two thirteen-year-old boys: one with corn-blonde hair and blue eyes, the other with mousy brown hair and dark eyes. However, anyone who assumed they were normal would have been wrong. Very wrong.

"…and it was only then that the fanatical paladins of that meddling wizard realized they'd walked straight into my trap!" said Dirk, regaling his companions with a tale of one of his triumphant defeats of Hasdruban. "Before they could scream in horror at the magnitude of their own folly, my Legion of Merciless Mayhem had cut them down. It was years before my enemies dared show their faces in the Darklands again. Mwah, ha, ha!"

"You know, you didn't have to kill them," said Sooz. "You could have just sprung your trap and taken them captive."

"Ah yes, that is true. But at the time of this battle, the Slave Pits of Never-Ending Toil were quite full – I don't know if I could have fit a whole other legion of paladins in without more expansions."

Sooz rolled her eyes, looking over at Chris and shaking her head.

Chris dug his hands deeper into his pockets and looked at Dirk thoughtfully. "I'm beginning to understand more and more why I can never beat you at Fantasy Wars," he mused. "It's disturbing how good you are at that stuff, Dirk."

Dirk puffed out his chest a little and placed his fingertips against it, like some comic book villain. "Not everyone is born with the makings of a true Dark Lord, Christopher. It takes a mind of matchless cunning and a heart as black as the Valley of Unending Night."

They walked several steps before Chris suddenly made a sound of what might have been pain, or perhaps just disgust. "Blast it!" he said, looking up at the house they were passing.

Dirk looked around. "Blast what?" he asked. "Phil Miller's house there? I know he's a mindless ogre bully, but blasting his house seems extreme, even for me. Plus, you know I don't have my powers here, Chris."

"No, no," said Chris, "no, it's just, this Friday is February 14th. The thing about your heart reminded me."

"Fall 14th, you mean," said Dirk.

"Yes, yes, well, Fall 14th then. It's this Friday."

Dirk was opening his mouth to ask what this had to do with blasting Phil Miller's house when Sooz gave an affected groan. "Oh no, not Feb- er, Fall 14th! I don't know if I'm going to survive this year. It's so…not Goth."

Dirk looked back and forth between his two companions, frowning slightly. "Tell me, what has distressed you both so deeply? What curse lies upon Fall 14th?"

Sooz giggled a little at Dirk's odd phraseology, but Chris grimaced. "It's Valentine's Day," he said ominously.

"And this Valentine's Day...what is that?" asked Dirk.

"It's a holiday we've got here on Earth," Sooz explained.

Dirk frowned deeper. He was familiar now with the human concept of these days of celebration. At first, the thought of bunches of people getting together to have a good time had made him nauseous, but he had to admit they weren't so bad. True, having to dress in nice clothes and accept greetings from various Purejoie relatives was aggravating, but there generally seemed to be lots of food, good food, at holidays, and this usually made up for it. He might have the heart and mind of a Dark Lord, but he had the body and appetite of a thirteen-year-old human boy-child.

"Yes, so?" he asked, folding his arms. "I thought you humans enjoyed holidays. And they are not really so bad. That one – what is it – Halloween, that was truly in my spirit. Though," he mused, pausing momentarily, "it would be better if, instead of handing out candy like sissies, they gave out roasted severed fingers or something like that."

Both Sooz and Chris gave him disturbed looks. They had known Dirk for a year now and were used to hearing him say things like that, but having known him a year also meant they knew he wasn't joking.

"Yeah, Halloween's not bad. It's the coolest time of year to be Goth," said Sooz. "But this is Valentine's Day. It's like the exact opposite. It's a holiday to celebrate love."

Dirk stopped dead in his tracks, looking appalled. "By the Nine Netherworlds, what atrocity is this?" he asked, looking from Sooz to Chris in bewildered horror. "A holiday to celebrate…love?"

"You're supposed to celebrate the loved ones in your life," Chris explained. "It's all about friendship and romance and all this girly stuff. You're supposed to write letters saying that you love each other, too. It's the sappiest thing on the face of the earth."

"Yeah," Sooz agreed. "And everyone decorates everything in pink and white. I hate pink," she said, making a face.

Dirk grimaced too, remembering the horrendous paint job with which Hasdruban had defiled his magnificent Iron Tower of Despair. "This is truly dismaying news," he said. "I cannot imagine anything that goes against the essence of a Dark Lord more than this."

"Yeah, and that's not the worst of it," Chris said, warming up to his subject. "Every year they always have a Valentine's Day party at school, and basically, you have to go unless you have a really, really good excuse not to, or the teachers keep bugging you about why you didn't come. You have to hand out your cards, and there are never any good games, and there are only these stupid little candy hearts with sappy love phrases that are always too hard to eat."

Sooz rolled her eyes. "During classes this week, they're probably going to make us do stuff to get ready for it. Battleaxe will probably have us cutting out hearts in English today."

Dirk, who'd been looking progressively more horrified, perked up at that. "Cutting out hearts? Finally, a useful skill being taught at this school of yours! Whose hearts do we cut out? What do we do with them afterwards? Sacrifice them? Eat them?"

Chris looked disturbed, but Sooz gave a small laugh as she realized she'd chosen her words poorly, considering it was Dirk she was with. She leaned over, giving him a playful nudge to the shoulder. "No, no, fudge boy. Paper hearts. Valentine hearts. That's what they make us write the love letters on. But that would be way more interesting if we used real hearts. I mean, not real human hearts from living people. Like, if we dissected animals in Science and gave the hearts to someone you liked. The other girls at school would be so grossed-out!"

Chris grinned, getting into the mood. "Yeah, but imagine if we did cut out someone's heart for Valentine's Day. Like, whoever has the lowest grade in class on Valentine's Day gets their heart cut out. I bet everyone would turn in their homework then!"

All three of them laughed and then walked on in companionable silence. Two of them were thinking how weird it was that they were laughing and walking with their best friend, who just happened to be a Dark Lord from another dimension. One of them was thinking how weird it was that he had friends at all.

The gates of the school loomed before them. As they joined the stream of other kids making their way into the school building, Dirk leaned over and whispered to his friends. "We shall find a way to defeat this hideous holiday of love with its paper hearts and pinkness. Never fear, I the Great Dirk will never allow such a thing to overcome me!"

Barely any of the students turned their heads as the all-too-familiar maniacal laughter of a Dark Lord rang through the school entrance.

"Mwah, ha, ha!"