Fantasy Football Part 33

The next installment is here. The one you’ve been waiting for. Jump over to Revis’ page and give it a read!

33 Grams of Blog

“The dragon is coming?” Plex asked. “Now?”

“There are two people here who have resisted her dominating will,” the elf woman replied. “Do you really think she would let that stand?”

Plex cursed, but couldn’t refute her logic. Lavalandinarial kept people in line through fear and mind magic. If there were people that were resisting both of those things, she needed to take them out before they could rally others. He was a threat to her, and he knew what the dragon did to threats.
Suddenly, he felt very tired. Plex was having trouble remembering the last time he had been asleep. This day seemed to go on forever. A lot had happened to him in that short amount of time, as well. Given all that he had been through, it was tempting to lay down and rest.

He would never do that, though. If he laid down, he would…

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perspective

They are protesting again.”

                “Who?  The humans?”

“Yes, sir.”

                “Do I need to know or can the local council deal with it?”

“I wouldn’t have bothered you at all if you didn’t need to know.”

                “Fine.  What is it this time?”

“It appears they do not care for the improvements we made to one of their buildings.”

                “They are protesting over a building?  That sounds absurd even by their standards.  Which building?”

“It is our Hall of Honors.”

                “The building we put up to give respect to the warriors lost on both sides when we conquered this world?  It honors their fallen as well as our own.  What do they find so offensive about it?”

“Honestly, sir, I think it has less to do about what we’ve done with it specifically and more to do with what it used to be.”

                “Which is?”

“It was called the Vatican.”

                “I’m not understanding why you think this was worth bothering me with.”

“Sorry, I’ll get to the point.  It was some sort of religious place, one of their bigger ones, known around the world even by those who didn’t worship there.  The protestors feel that it should have been preserved for them.”

                “Fine, yes, I get that.  Why do I need to concern myself with it.”

“If left unchecked, based on a study of their histories, this protest could turn into something larger.  They used to take their religions very seriously.  Most of their bloodiest wars were fought with one or another at the heart of the conflict.  It has been many long years, especially by human standards, since the largest of these wars but, as we know, history has a way of coming around again and again, and why take the chance when we can squash this nonsense now.  There is no sense in delaying a response only for this minor protest to have turned into some kind of unifying thing across the historic nations.”

                “Hmm.  I see your point.  What is the consensus?  To return the building to what it was before?  That seems too weak of a move.  That might galvanize them further, would it not?  Raze the sight and put up some sort of plaque to ‘honor’ what once stood there?  A place they could visit if they so wished without being the same beacon as it once was?”

“Actually, sir, we were thinking of just killing these protestors to dissuade the idea of protest at all.”

                “Harsh.  But, yes.  Silence these and that will teach the rest to remain silent.  I agree.  Proceed.”

“It shall be done.”

…..

The other day I saw a picture of three individuals giving the middle finger to Mount Rushmore.  I would have been appalled… as recently as last year.  I have recently learned, however, that Mt. Rushmore was carved out of a place known as Six Grandfathers.  It wasn’t just some rock out in the Black Hills.  It was a special rock on special land that was first stolen and then desecrated.

Some might argue that is just the way things had to be in the name of progress.  I’m not sure I can swallow this argument as I once did and I tried to think of an equivalent transgression going on now, to try and put it in some sort of context.  This example isn’t perfect, of course.  I’m not sure anything could be.

I’m not sure what the solution is, either.  There likely isn’t one, unfortunately.  Not one that all parties could agree on in any case.  So,  I’m not sure why I wrote this or felt it necessary to share it…  Perhaps just to challenge everyone to think of what came before and what, as things always do, might come again.

Some important reading: https://indiancountrytoday.com/archive/native-history-construction-of-mount-rushmore-begins-nNaLMzte1kKPJmtJoLoFZA

 

 

Fantasy Football Part 32

And we’re back! Did you miss us? Of course you did. That was a silly question. Nothing silly about this story anymore. The battle has begun…

…..

Plex whistled to his Queen, a signal that meant it was a trap and retreat should be strongly considered, not caring that the momentary lapse in his concentration on the battle would give his opponent an opening to exploit.  He had to save her and as many of his people as possible.  As he whistled, he wondered if Vinyard had known and if that was why the gnome hadn’t wanted him to come.  But surely if Vinyard had known then he would have tried harder to talk Plex out of coming to save his sister?  

He laughed at himself.  Vinyard had told him this would likely turn out poorly.  Plex realized that Vinyard let him come because the gnome knew there was nothing he could say that Plex would have listened to.  Even if the gnome had said it was a trap that wouldn’t have deterred him.  He had set out to save his sister and perhaps there was still a chance to do that.

“What are you smiling about?”  The guard hissed as she lashed out with her sword.

“My own foolishness,” Plex replied, dodging the attack.  He wanted to search the field for his sister but didn’t dare give his opponent another opening.  She hadn’t take advantage of the first one.  He doubted she would make that mistake a second time.  “All of our foolishness, actually.”

Plex moved left with his feet but swung his sword across from the right in an upward motion.  She did not move with him and easily blocked the stroke.  Then she shifted her own weighted and brought her sword down towards Plex’s arm.  He disengaged and moved back a step, narrowly avoiding injury.

“Why are we all fools?”  

The sadness and anger still remained.  Plex was sure she knew what he meant but went ahead and said it anyway.  If he could throw her off balance mentally it might give him an opening physically.  The two were often linked.

“We are all fools for having allowed ourselves to be tricked by Lavalandinarial.  She isn’t the strongest.  She has just made us think she is.”

“You’re wrong on that.”  

She swiped towards his left leg and then brought the swing up sharply towards his ribs.  Plex had already been in motion though and easily moved beyond the strike.

“No,” he responded firmly, for he suddenly realized it was true.  She wasn’t as strong as she’d made them all believe for so long.  “She’s clever, I’ll give her that.  But, I withstood her magic today.  If I can, others can as well.  And we could overthrow her.”  

“That’s not possible.”

She faltered.  It was hardly more than a hesitation in her movement but Plex’s sharp eyes picked up.  He had once again hit upon something, a weakness in her armor.  He made as if he was going to spear her with his sword and she moved to block.  Plex shifted into a spin and used the momentum to strike her sword near the hilt and then follow through with a flick of his own wrists.  The move worked and the sword flew from her hands.

Then, to his surprise, he found himself not following up with an attack of his own. Instead, he stayed his hand and looked at her. “Yes,” he said. “It is possible.”

She appeared like she was on the verge of saying something before her face contorted in anger. A snarl escaped from her lips as she took a menacing step forward. Plex couldn’t believe his eyes. He held a weapon. She was unarmed. Yet, she still advanced on him anyway. Why would she do that?

The answer came to him almost instantly. It was so obvious. Magic. It had to be magic. Somehow, Lavalandinarial was controlling her Honor Guard magically. 

Plex stepped backwards in order to avoid her attempt to grapple with him. He couldn’t kill her, he knew. She wasn’t in control of her actions. It wasn’t right to kill someone because they were forced into doing something that they didn’t want to do. Besides, he had an idea. If he was able to snap her out of the hold Lavalandinarial had on her, maybe he could do it for others as well.  Having some of the dragon’s Honor Guard leave her side to join his would help their rebellion out tremendously. Not only would they thin the dragon’s numbers, but they’d also gain skilled fighters.

Plex thought back to what had caused the momentary breaks in the dragon’s hold. The most obvious one, and the one most likely to work, was what he said about Lavalandinarial killing one of her family members. “Who was it?” Plex asked. “Who did the dragon kill? Your mother? Your father? A sibling?”

No answer came. There was no outward sign of emotion either. It wasn’t any of the things he mentioned. If it was, he would have been able to tell. Two other options immediately popped into his head. Plex went with the least horrible of the two to start with. “Your husband or lover?”

This time, she hesitated. Plex was thankful for that. While losing a lover was really bad, his next guess, losing a child, was the worst thing he could imagine. Still, this woman had lost, and he needed to break her free from the dragon’s grip. He asked the question again. She pulled her hands back from trying to grab him and held them in front of her face. Her eyes went back and forth over them as if seeing them for the first time. 

Plex took that break in his confrontation to view the fighting around him. He was surprised that none of the other Honor Guards had descended upon him yet. His survey of the battlefield told him why. Gilania and a few of her teammates had rallied the rest of their team and were savagely fending them off. The remainder of Lavalandinarial’s forces gathered together to take them on. They must’ve seen the Gilania’s team as a bigger threat than him on his own. 

Plex turned his attention back to the female elf, who was still staring at her hands. “The dragon killed your lover, didn’t she?” he asked again. 

She continued to stare at her hands and Plex nearly asked a third time.  Then with a sudden flick of her eyes she was staring at him, a fire burning behind her pupils.  He knew he still had a battle to fight before she spoke.

“You may have been able to stand against my will, puny little elf.  My faithful guards can not.”

“We’ll see,” Plex said as casually as he could.  He wanted to project confidence but hearing the dragon’s voice coming from the elf he had been fighting was more than a little troubling.  He realized almost immediately, though, that the dragon must have stepped forward because she wasn’t certain if her guard would remain faithful or not.  Smiling, Plex added, “I stood up to you.  Now I know it is possible and those who will follow me will know it too.  Soon, you’ll find it harder and harder to force your will upon any of us.”

The dragon laughed, the sound was unnatural and horrifying coming from the elf she had taken over. “I do not think you’d be able to stand against me a second time.  Perhaps we will find out once you are captured and brought before me.”

“I think you are going to be disappointed.”

Plex needed to bend the conversation back to the guard’s lost love, to get her to fight against the dragon and regain control of her body.  Then he saw that she already was fighting.  Her hands were clenching and unclenching as if the dragon were trying to force her to do something, to reengage most likely, and the elven guard was refusing.

Lavalandinarial had begun laughing again.  Plex noticed a hint of unease in the vicious snarling guffaws of the beast.  She was having to exert more of her will to keep control of the elf she’d taken over.  Lowering his sword, Plex leaned forward  and in a near whisper urged the elf to defy the will of the dragon.

“Fight her.  Banish her from your mind and body. If you can push her out now, and I believe you can, then think what all of us can do if we stand against her together. No more dead fathers and mothers. No more dead brothers and sisters. No more dead lovers.”

The dragon stopped laughing, the sound cutting off in a harsh scream of anger and frustration.  Then, from that scream, the elf’s own voice came piercing forward until it was her voice alone screaming.  

“Keep to it.  Push her out.  Fight her off.  For your sake.  For the sake of the whole world.  For your lover and them alone if that’s what matters most.  You can do it.  Banish that foul worm now and forever!”

The elf’s scream died away, she swayed uneasily on her feet, blinking her eyes and looking like she was going to fall over.  Plex steadied her with his free hand and she turned towards him.  For a moment the fire was still there and then it was gone and the elf was entirely herself again.

She smiled at Plex.  It was a heartbreaking smile of thanks and sadness.  Then she said, “He was to be my husband.  We had loved each other for many long years but fate had kept us apart.  Then, finally, our chance to wed had come upon us.  Lavalandinarial made me kill him the night before our wedding to prove my loyalty.”

Her eyes closed and she would have sunken to the ground if not for Plex holding her upright.  Her smile faded as she opened her eyes just wide enough to connect with Plex once more.  “Flee while you can.  She is coming.”

Fantasy Football Part 31

The return of football!! Fantasy football, that is. The story version, not the game… Anyway, if you’re here, you probably knew what I meant anyway.

33 Grams of Blog

Here it is everyone! The next installment of Matticus and I’s story, Fantasy Football is out. We hope you’re all as excited to read it as we were to write it. So, without further ado…

They waited until they no longer heard any more Honor Guards walking around. There may have been some more sneaking about, but they didn’t have time for caution. Plex had to get into the practice facility to find his sister. Without another thought, he nimbly dropped down from the roof he was hiding on and took off running.

He made it a few blocks before he heard the first call of alarm. Turning to look behind him, he saw that Baclem was still with him. Beyond Baclem, a few of the dragon’s people were on their tails. Not many, just yet, but he knew more were coming. Plex just hoped that he didn’t find the…

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Fantasy Football Part 30

Back again with more. More fantasy? More football? Well, no, not really. More awesome writing from Revis and your favorite jester? Absolutely. Enjoy!

….

There were too many to attack outright, it would be suicide.  While his sister was one of the shortlist of people he would give up his life to save, it didn’t make sense to rush the guards without knowing if it would in fact save Gilania.  

Plex swore again.  He needed to think fast.  He needed to do something more than sit there and watch his sister’s team get captured or slaughtered.  

It didn’t make sense.  Her team had won.  Lavalandinarial would want them to play in the next round of her games.  Something else was going on here.  It couldn’t be that the honor guard was going to take them all into custody.  Perhaps they were just there to intimidate, to ferret out the few bad apples they suspected and scare the rest back into obedience.  

And to set a trap for me, Plex realized.  If I go dashing in guards will come out of hiding from behind me and grab me before I can do anything.  

Now that he’d had the thought, Plex could hear and smell the guards in hiding that he should have noticed before.  They were very well concealed but he could her them shuffling in place and smell the sweat on their brows.  Plex moved further into the shadow he was crouched in just as the first of the swordsmen reached the entrance to the practice field.

There was nothing Plex could do but watch as the guards began their task of searching the field and the facility and turning everything inside out.  He needed to get out of there.  Vinyard had been right.  But he wasn’t sure he could leave without being spotted.  Plex needed the hidden guards to make the first move.  

He fervently hoped that Baclem wouldn’t hear the commotion and come bumbling in.  If they moved to intercept the troll, Plex would have to intercede.  Baclem was there to help.  It wasn’t help that Plex had asked for but that didn’t matter.  Often that was the kind of help that needed to be honored the most.  So far, though, Baclem had either learned to be much quieter or had listened and was staying where Plex had left him.

A small gust of breeze suddenly shifted through the alley and the smell of the guards became much stronger.  They’d snuck up behind him.  Plex rolled backwards, towards the source of the smell, hoping to catch them off-guard, and swung out with his sword at the same time.

A spear smashed into the ground where h’d been crouched and his sword sliced the arm off of the elf who had wielded the spear, even as Plex collided with the guard.  Then all became a jumbled mess of flailing limbs and screaming for a moment.  Plex tried to silence the injuried elf as quickly as possible but it took longer than he would have liked before he could steady himself and plunge his sword through the wounded guardsman’s neck, cutting the cry instantly.

Back on his feet again, Plex could hear steps running towards him from the direction of Gilania’s training facility.  The rest of the guards were coming.  He needed to flee or he would surely be captured and taken before the dragon.  Sprinting back towards where he’d left Baclem, he came up short, as two more guards stepped in front of him. One was an orc, the other an ogre. Individually, he had no doubt that he could best either of them quickly. Together, he might triumph, but not quickly enough to avoid the rest of the guards coming his way.

Before Plex could make a move against either of them, the orc went flying away. Baclem turned and grabbed onto the ogre’s sword before it had a chance to bring the weapon against him. Plex leapt forward to help the troll out. While the two larger creatures wrestled over the ogre’s sword, Plex shoved his blade up underneath the ogre’s armpit, where the armor didn’t cover. The ogre howled in pain and dropped to the ground. 

Baclem moved in to finish it off, but Plex grabbed his wrist and shouted, “No time!”

Plex hated having to do it but he ran away from Gilania and her team. There were a lot of Lavalandinarial’s guards around. Too many for him to get to the practice facility. At least, not from the direction that he was going at the moment. He was going to have to circle the area and see if he could find an opening. 

After a few twists and turns, Baclem began to realize what they were doing. “It’s too dangerous,” the troll whispered. “We stay, we die.”

“Damn it, man,” Plex whispered back harshly. “My sister is in there! I can’t just leave her to the dragon’s minions. I have to help.”

“Us being killed is helpful to her?”

Plex resisted the urge to punch the troll. He knew Baclem was right. If they stayed and tried to find a way into the practice facility, they would almost certainly be captured or killed. But, he also knew that if he ran away and left Gilania to her fate, he’d never be able to live with himself. He’d spend the rest of his days wallowing in guilt and shame. When your race lives for hundreds of years, that’s a daunting penance to look forward to. 

He also bit back the scathing retort that almost flew from his lips. Instead, he said, “I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me, Baclem, but I can’t run away from my sister when she needs me. If you don’t want to do this, you’re free to leave now. I need to do this, though.”

Baclem shook his head. “I don’t know how your race got so high in the dragon’s hierarchy when you make such dumb decisions.”

“I wish you luck, Baclem.”

“I didn’t say I was leaving. I’m still going with you. That doesn’t make it less of a stupid decision. It just means I’m dumb too.”

Plex smiled. He wasn’t sure what he had ever done to deserve this loyalty, but he vowed right then to make sure that he earned the honor Baclem was giving him. With a clap on the troll’s shoulder, he said, “At least we’re stupid together. Now, let’s find a way into the facility.”

Sprinting through the streets, Plex kept his speed in check to ensure that Baclem would be able to keep up with him.  The elf was pleasantly surprised that the troll wasn’t slowing them down all that much but still mortified by the sounds that emanated from Baclem.  The troll heaved in heavy, rasping breaths, and his feet thundered on the ground.  They were going to have a hard time losing their pursuers if they couldn’t get some distance from them but the sound of pursuit never seemed to grow any further off.

It made sense, of course.  Lavalandinarial’s guards would be fit enough to trail them for days on end.  While they were weighed down by their armor, some of them would be as fleet-footed as Plex himself.  If he could go his top speed, he might be able to lose them.  With his speed checked, however, Plex realized that they were never going to be able to slip away simply by hoofing it.

Plex wracked his brain for a solution, something the guards wouldn’t be expecting, something that would let them slip away while still staying close enough to the facility so he could get in and find his sister or rescue her should she and her team be taken captive by the guards  like his own team had been.  Nothing came to him immediately.  A hint of panic crept up the back of his spine. 

They couldn’t run forever.  His sister didn’t have forever, anyway.  The guards had already begun to enter the training facility.  Even though it felt forever ago, Plex knew that not that much time had yet elapsed.  Still, the longer it took him to come up with something the more likely it seemed this fool’s errand would end in capture or death.

An image of the alleyway his team had briefly hidden in while being led away from danger by Vinyard flashed in Plex’s mind.  While that particular hiding spot had been magically enhanced, Plex was sure of that, the idea of hiding to let their pursuers pass them was a good one.  It was risky, yes.  If they were discovered they would have to fight against extreme odds.  However, if they weren’t discovered it would buy them some time to scope out the facility without as many guards standing in their way.

Plex changed direction, needing it to seem like he and Baclem were trying to leave the area rather than circle the facility.  He wanted the pursuers to think they had decided to flee.  Then his eyes began to sweep left to right.  He was looking for guards still, yes.  He was also looking for an opportunity to hide.  

An open door, an expecially dark alleyway, a roof they could climb onto quickly.  They passed each of this in quick succession and each may have worked but they were still too close to the facility.  The timing wasn’t right yet.

They went another two blocks and then Plex saw another low roof they could easily scramble onto.  He nudged Baclem and indicated the troll should follow his lead and then, with a tall leap, Plex grabbed the edge of the roof and pulled himself up.  A second later Baclem was beside him.  They moved backwards out of sight, and waited.

The sound of their pursuers got louder and louder.  Plex hoped that they hadn’t been seen and that they hadn’t made so much noise scrambling up that whoever was within the building came out to see what was going on.  Then again, the guards were making so much noise on their own, whoever was inside might stay inside just to not have to deal with them.  One way or another, Plex and Baclem would know soon enough.