Here we go again. You know the drill by now. Revis and I bring the words, you do the reading. It truly is that simple. And we thank you for your part in this play.
Plex hurdled forward, weaving his way through the players and warriors. He heard some of them cheering him on. That encouragement pushed him ahead with an extra burst of speed. Glancing he back he saw that his sister was only a few feet behind him. That was fine. Perhaps she would be useful and at least he didn’t have to worry about her being heard. Her feet were as soft and quiet as his own, if not more.
If the worst should happen, and the dragon hear him, then maybe she could find the weapon instead. If the beast heard both of them, then it wouldn’t matter. They would be dead and this opportunity to slay the beast would be lost. The world would be thrown into another thousand years of her dark rule. Perhaps it was better he and his sister should die side by side rather than survive only to face her wrath, her revenge.
Shaking his head, he pushed those thoughts aside. They served no purpose but distraction. He motioned to Gilania that she should create some space between them so they weren’t an easy target that could be taken in one strike. She nodded and adjusted her gait slightly. It wasn’t enough to be obvious immediately but as they moved forward she did become further apart from her brother.
Ahead, the dragon continued to thrash around. Water poured from her mouth as the ice spell that had clogged her throat continued to melt away. It wouldn’t be much longer before she’d be free of it and able to unleash more of her fiery breath upon her tormentors. Plex needed to attack before that could happen. It was the only way.
As he neared the beginning of the dragon’s pervious destruction, Plex slowed his pace and began to search for the football. He wanted to laugh but couldn’t. He didn’t dare make a sound. It seemed ludicrous to slay a dragon with a game ball even if the ball was just a disguise to hide the true weapon. Then again, Plex mused, of course it’s a football.
They probably had been planning to launch the attack against the beast during a game. Plex’s meddling, his unwillingness to accept what was and wasn’t, had scattered their plans to the winds. Now they were all scrambling to take advantage of the moment. Perhaps it wasn’t going as planned, but this still felt right.
He would get the ball back in his hands for one final throw. He could be the hero on a far bigger stage than the arena Lavandinarial had created for her entertainment. With one throw, he could change the course of the world for the better. First, though, he had to find the weapon.
Moving stealthily to the very edge of the carnage, Plex’s hope began to fade. He couldn’t see the football anywhere. There was nobody in hiding, clutching the weapon, waiting to hand it off to him. A desperate despair gripped his heart. Plex couldn’t let that despair overcome him. Too much was riding on him. He needed to shoulder the weight of this burden and keep going.
Plex swept his eyes back and forth along the ground, searching for any signs that someone had once been there. Frukeld said that one of his people had it, so it would be near a person’s remains. As disheartening as that thought was, he continued looking for the weapon. Moment after moment passed and all he saw were blackened bits strewn across the ground. None of them held any shape that was even remotely recognizable. They all just looked like lumps.
Risking a glance upward, he saw that the dragon had almost dislodged the ice chunk from her mouth. Plex went back to searching in earnest. He had to find the weapon before the dragon was free. Everything depended on it, and everyone was depending on him. He wasn’t going to let anyone down, not if he could help it.
A whistle from where his sister had been searching caught his attention. Looking over at her, he saw her with the football in her hands. His heart moved out of the despair state that it was in and moved over to the joy side of the emotional spectrum. Then, it shifted back to where it had started because if he had heard it, so did the dragon. He started to shout out for her to run, but it was too late.
Gilania threw the football spear in his direction while the dragon’s tail whipped right at her. Plex found himself torn between catching the weapon and trying to help his sister. As much as he wanted to run to Gilania’s side, cold hard logic won out in his mind. If he didn’t catch the weapon and use it against the dragon, her sacrifice would be in vain. All he could hope is that she survived Lavalandinarial’s attack long enough for Frukeld’s healers to get to her.
His sister’s ability to throw the football wasn’t as good as his was, which is one of the reasons she played on the defensive side of the ball. Gilania had put enough power behind it, but her aim was off. Plex had to run after it. Using every ounce of speed he could muster, he chased the ball so he could catch it before it hit the ground. Lavalandinarial most likely heard him running, but he didn’t want to take the chance.
Unfortunately for him, her aim was just a little too far off. The weapon slipped through Plex’s outstretched fingertips and hit the ground. When it landed, it made a sound that no real football would make. The sound of metal hitting rock echoed through his very being and Plex knew he had to move before the dragon reacted to the noise.
Recovering quickly, Plex scooped up the spear posing as a football and set his feet. He saw the dragon’s tail swinging in his direction, charging like a blitzing linebacker. In his mind, Plex pictured the spot between Lavalandinarial’s eyes as one of his wide receivers. Time slowed down as he reared back and let it fly.
The ball spiraled away from his hand and then he lost its flight as the beast’s tail smashed the ground in front of him, sending shards of debris across his line of sight. He felt splinters dig painfully into his hands and face but didn’t cry out. He didn’t know why Lavalandinarial had missed. Perhaps she hadn’t heard his final movement. Perhaps he was just beyond her striking range. In seconds, hopefully, she would never have a chance to hurt anyone again.
Plex tried to shift his gaze to where’d last seen his sister but he couldn’t spot her. He hoped that was just the blood pouring down from a gash on his forehead he had just started to truly feel or from the bad angle he had to where she’d been. He hoped. That was all he could do in that moment.
And then the air was rent by a piercing scream that pushed Plex backwards. He tripped over something and sprawled onto his back. Only then did he see the football for what he had always been.
Sticking out of the dragon’s forehead, blood pouring from the wound, a silver spear sparkled in the light of the fires the beast had set around her. She scratched at it with her massive claws but it was as though she had put the last of her strength into her scream. Her movements were disorganized and slow and did nothing to dislodge the weapon.
Plex was forced to wipe blood from his own face so he could keep his eyes on her. He knew the wound on his face, and a few others that he could feel throbbing for attention, would need aid but he didn’t want to move. He didn’t want to give her one last target. He didn’t want to make the mistake of assuming it had been a mortal blow only to find she was faking it. So, he remained on his back and watched.
The mighty beast twisted in one final attempt to dislodge the spear from her forehead and then she slumped forward, landing with a resounding thud that rattled Plex’s teeth and caused a fresh wave of blood to course down his face. He hastily wiped his vision clean again but otherwise remained still. It could yet be a trap.
Then slowly a light began to build, seeming to come from the dragon herself, as if a dull fire was beginning to grow beneath her scales. When a handful of her scales exploded outward, careening passed his face, Plex threw all other caution to the wind, found his feet and began to run.
The fire wasn’t imagined. Lavalandinarial was dead and her internal flames, no longer contained by her magic, her force of will, was consuming her from the inside out. A cacophony of popping sounds resounded behind him. Plex felt the woosh of scales flashing around him.
Two fresh stabs of pain hit low on his back, his feet faltered, and he crashed to the ground. He lay there in agony as hell rained down.