Part 3: Let the Great Dirk's Day Begin!
The next day at Whiteshields School, there were numerous new posters hanging up throughout the building. They looked something like this:
Sick and tired of sappy, do-gooder pinkness and candy hearts?
Ready to finally do something worthwhile with your short human lives?
Come celebrate the very first ever
a brand new holiday in honor of our Dark Lord
at the residence of Christopher Purejoie and Dirk Lloyd
on this Fall (February) 14th in the Year of Our Dark Lord 2 at 6pm.
Free food and games of strategy provided!
Only those dressed in the traditional black of Dirk's Day will be permitted.
RSVP to a member of the Dark Lord's Court in Exile
(Dirk Lloyd, Christopher Purejoie, Susan Black, Pete Nutley, or Sal Malik)
Come, human minions, one and all.
Let the great DIRK'S DAY begin!
Mwah, ha, ha!
At the bottom of each poster was an imprint of Dirk's Seal.
There had been some disagreement amongst the makers of the posters (Chris and Dirk) Monday evening during their creation. Dirk had wanted to list the date for the party as Fall 14th ("It is time they started using my calendar like proper minions if they wish to do me true honor.") but Chris insisted they include the old date ("How are they supposed to start celebrating you if they don't know when to do it? Most of them don't even know about your calendar yet. You have to teach them about it before you start using it!") but they'd finally compromised by making 'February' parenthetical, which satisfied Dirk as it looked properly less important that way.
There had also been some disagreement over the wording of the line about the dress code. "No, no, we can't say it's 'traditional' black," Chris argued. "Traditional means it's, like, you know, a tradition. That people have done it before. It can't be traditional if it's the very first time anyone's ever celebrated Dirk's Day."
Dirk had scowled dangerously. "And how do you think traditions become traditions, Chris? Because people like I determine that they shall be so! And Dirk's Day shall become a tradition, I shall see to that."
In the end, Chris had shook his head and just typed in what Dirk told him without any more arguments about the matter.
Mrs. Purejoie had looked rather startled when Chris and Dirk informed her over breakfast Tuesday morning that they were holding a party there on Friday. She looked around the kitchen with a slightly deer-in-the-headlights (or as Dirk thought of it, "elf-child-at-goblin-spear-point") expression, clearly thinking about the amount of cleaning she was going to have to do in the next few days in preparation for the party, even though the house was always terribly spotless in Dirk's opinion. "Well, all right, dears," she'd said, "But next time, you really should ask me first." Then she'd frowned. "Isn't there already the school party for Valentine's this Friday, though?"
"Exactly," said Chris.
When Mrs. Purejoie looked confused, Dirk elaborated. "My brilliant mind has contrived the perfect way to once and for all eradicate that laughable, do-gooder holiday once known as Valentine's. From henceforth, Fall 14th is Dirk's Day, a celebration of Evil and my glorious Dark Lord grandeur."
Mrs. Purejoie gave him a small, disturbed glance then replaced it quickly with an indulgent smile. "Of course, sweetheart. I'm sure you'll have lots of fun with all your friends from school."
Dirk looked down his nose. "Fun? Friends? Bah! I shall relish the veneration I rightly deserve from those sniveling goblin-children whom I grace with my presence five days a week at their lowly school. Chris, hand me the roasted halfling flesh, will you?"
As Chris handed Dirk the plate of bacon, Mrs. Purejoie raised her eyes to the ceiling.
By lunchtime that Tuesday, when the Court in Exile met again, they already had collected three RSVPs from a few of the irregular members of the Court who sometimes dropped by to "bask in the glory of a Dark Lord's awesome presence" as Dirk described it. Sooz and Sal had both been asked a few questions about the party by some other students who were showing interest, as well.
Over the next two days, as news of Dirk's Day spread through the school as steadily and relentlessly as a pool of Essence of Evil, the Court began raking in the RSVPs. By Thursday evening, Dirk was gloating over their guest list in an eruption of dark ecstasy. "Look, Christopher, look," he reveled. "I knew they would be drawn to my splendor as surely as vampires to the sweet blood of elf-children. Dirk's Day shall spread to the farthest reaches of the Earth. It shall be…what is it Sooz would say…it shall be…A HIT!"
He threw back his head and let out his very best Dark Lord laugh, at least, as best he could do with the voice of a thirteen-year-old boy. "Mwah, ha, ha!"
Dirk was even more antsy than usual all day Friday during classes. He got detention from Mr. Grout in Social Studies for not paying attention and then talking back when he was asked to listen (and probably for threatening Mr. Grout with evisceration for interrupting his thoughts, which were, of course, far more important than the drivel being taught in the class), but even this could not dampen his high spirits. As soon as the bell rang for the last class of the day, Dirk and Chris hurried back home, parting ways with Sooz who was still being mysterious about what exactly she was bringing for food. "See you guys in a couple hours," she said, giving them both a wave as she turned down the street towards her own residence.
Dirk and Chris dashed up the steps into their house, only pausing long enough for Mrs. Purejoie to greet them with her customary "How was school, dears?" and plant a kiss on each boy's cheek. Dirk did not even bother to make his usual show of wiping off the kiss in disgust or pretending like it was searing acid that burned into his cheek, so focused was he on the preparations at hand. He and Chris disappeared into his room for the next hour or so, putting the finishing touches to their grand plans.
The doorbell rang at a quarter to 4, pulling Chris and Dirk away from their preparations. Dirk had summoned all his darkly artistic powers and used long rolls of black construction paper to create linked garlands of grinning black skulls which he had strewn down the stairwell. Chris had dug in their basement, going through the dusty old boxes in storage and had come up with two lava lamps that had probably belonged to Mr. Purejoie when he was a kid. One was purple, the other red, and Dirk had been both fascinated and delighted with this particular find, claiming that they would create the perfect atmosphere of true Evil ambiance. They'd turned them on in the living room, one at either end, and replaced the regular lacy curtains over the windows with black sheets that blocked out most of the afternoon light. The eerie mingled glow of purple and red in the dark room elicited a delightedly maniacal laugh from Dirk.
In addition, they'd borrowed various other items from Sooz, all appropriately Goth and Evil and set them up in the "Hall of Splattered Blood" as Dirk had renamed the living room for the time being in honor of the red lava lamp which Dirk insisted was probably congealed globules of dragon blood. They'd laid out Sooz's black and red skull rug in the middle of the floor, piling the Abominable Board Games of Strategy ("Why abominable? They're not abominable" said Chris. "Because 'the board games' sounds boring and not at all Evil, you nitwit," said Dirk.) on top of it. They knew it was coming along quite well when Mrs. Purejoie walked by to see how they were doing and had gone pale at the sight of the transformation of her chintzy living room into a lair of Evil. She had tried to convince Dirk to at least let in some light through one window and take away the skull rug, but Dirk had given her that bone-chilling smile of his and Mrs. Purejoie had relented and hurried back into her immaculate kitchen, muttering something about children's tastes these days.
Dirk opened the front door to find Sooz on the doorstep, her AngelBile bag hanging from one arm and a covered platter in her hands. Stepping through the door, she saw the Hall of Splattered Blood. Her eyes went big. "Wow, Dirk, did you guys do all of this just now? It looks fantastic!" She gave a little delighted squeal and hugged Dirk. "This is gonna be the best holiday ever!"
Dirk gave her an affectionate squeeze in return. "Our preparations are in place, and the time will soon arrive when all my plans shall come to fruition. It shall truly be a day to be remembered in awe in the annals of all humanity. I believe I have indeed outdone myself in this glorious defeat of that lickspittle Holiday Which Shall No Longer Be Named."
"I found the lava lamps," said Chris indignantly, miffed that he hadn't earned a hug and that Dirk was taking all the credit for the decoration.
Sooz went over and gave Chris a hug, too. "They look great. Wow, I haven't seen a lava lamp in forever! My aunt had one when I was little. They really give the room the right aura."
Dirk was eyeing the covered platter that Sooz had set down on the shelf upon entering. "And what of your own preparations, my little Vampire? How went the making of the food that shall keep my venerators groveling before me in gratitude all evening long?"
Sooz grinned and, picking up the platter, whipped the tin foil covering off.
On the platter were several dozen cupcakes with mixed black and red cake that made it look a little like blood was oozing out of them. However, the best part was the icing. Sooz had individually spread the grey and black icing over each one in the pattern of Dirk's Seal. She held the platter up to Dirk. "I've got more of them outside on my bike. Would the Great Dirk like to be the first to test out Sooz's Sinister Seal Cupcakes?"
Dirk picked one carefully up and gazed at it with an almost tender expression, as if he was hesitant to eat the carefully-crafted, edible facsimile of his Seal. Closing his eyes, he took a bite out of the side of the cupcake. For a few seconds, he chewed pensively and then an evil grin spread over his features. "And I thought I was the one who was overdoing myself! You have done me proud, my Child of the Night. Only one who has tasted the glory and power of being a Dark Lord, or in your case a Dark Lady, could have created such an exquisitely tasteful and evil delicacy for my service."
Sooz blushed and grinned. "Aww, thanks, Dirk. You can really be sweet when you want to be."
Dirk frowned. "Sweet? Sooz, I am many things and there are many more adjectives that may be used to describe me than the average human vocabulary can hold, but I do not think such a saccharine term is a proper description of any being of the Darkness, let alone a proper epithet for one such as myself. I am the Dark Lord Dirk, the destroyer of holidays of love and pinkness, the obliterator of sappy do-gooderness, a consuming fire to all the insufferable qualities once associated with Fall 14th. I am not 'sweet'."
Sooz gave him a mischievous grin. "Of course you're not, Dirk. We wouldn't want to ever belittle your complete and utter Evilness, now would we?"
Over the following hour and a half, the Dark Lord and his two friends finished the preparations. Sooz spread a black blanket over one of Mrs. Purejoie's coffee tables, laid out blood-red napkins and paper plates, and arranged her Sinister Seal Cupcakes artistically upon it while Chris laid out a package of black licorice. Dirk, in a stroke of evil genius while inspecting his minions' work, added to this arrangement bottles of ice water into which he dripped red food coloring, producing a truly vile-looking drink which brought forth an enthusiastic "That is so gross!" from Sooz. She took a sip, allowing some of the fake blood to trickle over her chin, just like the vampire Dirk always called her, which made the boys laugh.
Dirk mysteriously vanished about half an hour to 6. Sooz and Chris weren't too concerned though, assuming their Dark Lord friend was merely seeing to some last minute idea. They lounged in the Hall of Splattered Blood together, deciding on a playlist for the evening, something Dirk had graciously allowed them to oversee, mostly because he himself was still largely unfamiliar with all the metal bands that Sooz and Chris liked. Chris had changed into a pair of black jeans and a black shirt (which he'd borrowed from Nutters when he'd discovered that he didn't actually own anything black), while Sooz, of course, was in full Goth getup, from her clunky black boots to her heavy black eyeliner, bright red lipstick, and purple eye shadow. Sooz had just hooked up her iPod to Chris's sound system and started playing "Bleeding Melancholy Tonight", one of her favorite Morti songs, when Nutters rang the doorbell.
Chris greeted his friend at the door with an animated if somewhat stunted "Who dares disturb this realm of Evil? Answer or I shall disembowel you with, er, with, uh, SOMETHING REALLY BAD!" to which Nutters gave a similarly enthusiastic pseudo-Dirkspeak reply. By ten to 6, Sal had also appeared, with a bag of black tortilla chips and super-spicy "lava" salsa, which were added to the Table of Vile Victuals. Over the next ten minutes, Chris was kept busy answering the doorbell as more and more "venerators" appeared, while Sooz settled in nicely to her self-appointed role of Dark Lady, showing the guests into the Hall of Splattered Blood, making sure they had a "vampire's blood goblet", and generally enjoying the ability to wield an air of dark authority without the burdens that came from the duties of being a real Dark Lady.
As the clock in the dining room struck 6, everyone's eyes were turned to the stairs. Down the stairs strutted Dirk himself, dressed in a black robe with a Halloween cloak draped over his shoulders. He'd slicked down his mousy hair with water, darkening it and giving him a sinisterly sleek impression. Dave the Black Storm Crow perched threateningly on Dirk's shoulder, eyeing the crowd below with his malicious, red-eyed gaze. On his right hand, Dirk wore his Great Ring, which, although powerless, nicely completed the Dark Lord's ominous aura.
He stopped in the middle of the stairs, gazing imperiously down over the upturned faces of his guests who filled the Hall of Splattered Blood and the dining room. Slowly and theatrically raising his arms, he declared in a dark and solemn voice: "Welcome, welcome, minions. You have all made a wise decision in electing to abandon your former, laughable customs of celebrating the day of that Valentine – may his memory languish in eternal fire – and instead choosing to gather together here in honor of Dirk's Day. Had you chosen otherwise, I can assure you that the consequences would have been dire. But now that you have all proven your loyalty to one deserving of such standings among you as I, the Dark Lord welcomes you and invites you to partake in this celebration of victorious Darkness. No more of sickening pinkness and hideous paper hearts. No more of sappy love and mindless friendship. No more craven adoration of do-gooder nonsense."
He lifted his hands above his head, causing Dave to flap above him cawing, and declared dramatically, "LET THE GREAT DIRK'S DAY BEGIN!"
An hour later, Dirk slipped outside. Behind him in the house, Sooz's music was pounding like an entire army of marching orcs, interspersed with laughter and occasional outbursts of attempted Dirkspeak. The Sinister Seal Cupcakes had gone over fantastically, and Sooz was regaling any listeners who would pay attention of how she had almost single-handedly arranged the defeat of the terrible Black Slayer.
The best moment of the evening for him so far had definitely been when Sooz had called for silence and then asked him to come to the front of the room, exchanging a meaningful smile with Chris at the same time. When he had done so, Chris had brought forward a box wrapped in black paper, which Sooz had presented to him. "For you," she'd said. "Because having a Dark Lord in our lives has made everything so much more awesome."
Upon opening the box, Dirk's breath had (almost) caught. Lying folded in the box was what looked suspiciously like…
He'd pulled it out, letting the cloak unfold. Blood-red glyphs were carefully stitched all over the black material. For a second, he'd gaped. It couldn't be his old Cloak of Endless Night, could it? After all, he'd burned it to open the window portal back to his own world.
"I know you miss your old cloak," Sooz said. "I know it's not an exact replica, and the glyphs don't have any power, I know, but I thought you might like having it to remind you of the Darklands along with your Ring. I made it all myself. I even got some advice online from a cosplay expert on how to do it."
Dirk draped the new cloak over his shoulders, noting that it was perfect for his height, unlike the Halloween cloak he'd been making do with ever since he burned his Cloak. However, something about it puzzled him. "Cosplay?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "Who is this Cosplay, and how does he know about my cloak? Have you somehow discovered an alternate way to contact my world, Sooz?" He frowned down at the cloak. "If so, I must say this Cosplay doesn't truly know what he's talking about. These glyphs, they do not look like any Glyphs of Power I have ever seen-"
Sooz rolled her eyes and bumped her shoulder against his. "That's because I just made the glyphs up myself, you doofus. I don't actually know what any Glyphs of Power look like!"
Dirk had looked at her seriously and then allowed a small smile to cross his face. "Thank you, my Child of the Night," he said. "It will serve me very well."
Sooz made a sound that he assumed was indicative of pleasure, though personally he thought it sounded more like the type of noise a halfling would make if it was stepped on by Gargon. She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek, just as she'd done the day he gave her his Ring. "You're welcome, Dirk," she said, beaming.
Standing on the porch, Dirk smiled at the memory, running his fingers over his new Cloak of Endless Night. Overhead, Dave the Storm Crow cawed and flew off into the dark night sky. Dirk looked up, staring at the pale face of the moon glowing against the darkness and remembered, somewhat nostalgically, the soft luminescence that filled his Iron Tower of Despair. It was true he missed his Darklands, his powers, even, he had to admit, his wars and battles against Hasdruban, but this Earth wasn't so bad. Chris and Sooz really were the best minions any Dark Lord could ever want.
A random thought entered his mind, causing his evil smile to widen. What would that do-gooder Valentine think if he knew that the Great Dirk had defeated – no, obliterated – his holiday with such a successful one of his own? He sounded like some sissy cousin of the White Wizard, in Dirk's opinion. He hoped that wherever this Valentine was, he was able to see how utterly and triumphantly Dirk had overcome his pink holiday of friendship and love. Dirk shook his head. What Dark Lord in his right mind would ever allow such a disgusting thing as a holiday of love to exist unopposed?
The door opened behind him, and Chris stepped out onto the porch. "Hey, Dirk, what are you doing?"
"I am gazing upon the moon and reveling in my glorious victory over that lickspittle Valentine, whoever he may be," Dirk replied, completely straight-faced. "How about you, Chris?"
Chris coughed a little, not at all sure how to follow up a statement like that. Sometimes he just couldn't tell whether Dirk was really being serious or not. Most of the time, it was more disturbing to think that he probably was serious.
"Uh, I'm great. I was just checking to make sure you were OK, slipping off from your, er, worshippers and all that. I just wanted to make sure you're having a good time. It's your holiday after all."
Dirk turned around and eyed Chris thoughtfully, which made Chris squirm a little under his unnerving gaze. But finally, a smile crept over the Dark Lord's face. "You know, Christopher, I am actually quite well. Yes, I really am. I may not have my Iron Tower of Despair, or my powers, my Great Ring may be utterly useless, I may be trapped in this horrid, puny form, but you know, I really am feeling-"
Before Dirk could finish, the door opened again and Sooz stepped out between the two boys. She shivered. "Brrr, aren't you guys cold? Sal's asking about starting up a game of Stratego with someone, and Nutter's setting up the Xbox for Battlecraft. Wanna come in and show off your skills, Dirk?"
Dirk smiled, almost warmly. He reached out, placing one hand on Chris's shoulder and the other on Sooz's. "Yes, let us do as you recommend, my little Vampire. Come, my minions, that sounds most excellent."
His smile broadened, his dark eyes gleaming with a slightly maniacal light. "Yes, I think I would enjoy that very much."