Fantasy Football Part 36

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.

 

Fantasy Football Part 28

Seems like maybe we are getting back  into a routine for writing. Maybe the world around us is starting to return to some semblance of normal? We shall see. In the meantime, read and enjoy if you would.

…..

While they ran, the gnome Vinyard, somehow leading the charge despite his small size, a barrage of thoughts assaulted Plex.  He cursed the healer for not working on Glavven first.  He cursed himself for not being faster, being more aware, so he could have avoided the thrown spears on his own.  He cursed the dragon again and again for her part in all of this, in all these years of needless slaughter and bloodshed, in her name, or her honor.  Curse her honor.  Curse the day she was born.

Then his thoughts would circle back to what Baclem had just told him: Glavven was dead.  Dead?  How could that be?  Dead?  It was impossible.  Dead?  The minotaur hadn’t seem that injured.  Glavven was the strongest person on the team.  He could not be slayed so easily.  There must have been a mistake.  Dead?  It was all his fault.  Plex had failed him, failed his team.

No.  No he hadn’t.  This was all the dragon’s doing.  Glavven was dead, despite how unreal that sounded and felt, because the beast meddled in their lives for fun.  She played with them and tossed them away as she saw fit.  She was the monster behind every bad thing that had befallen the races since she seized control.

How had the healers failed to notice Glavven’s more serious wound?  They were supposed to be best among each of the races.  The dragon had demanded the best.  Nothing else would do for her new sport.  How could they have failed to save the minotaur?  It didn’t make sense.  None of it made sense.

Round and round his thoughts me.  Never sticking to any one thought or longer than it took his feet to fall and lift from the pavement as they made their flight through the deserted streets and alleys.

His strength returned in his arm more and more as they ran, the continuing effects of whatever the healer had done for him, but Plex was still certain he would have stumbled and fallen more than once if not for the steadying hand of Baclem.  First a minotaur and then a troll, Plex was racking up quite the debt list to races elves usually had little to nothing to do with.  

He wondered if football had somehow made him soft, despite the workouts and conditioning, the instincts and reactions that mattered most had failed him when called upon.  Or, perhaps the odds were just insurmountable against them?  Lavalandinarial and her honor guard were too strongly entrenched to be overthrown.

Plex shook the thought away.  It was defeatist and unproductive.  It was exactly what the dragon wanted him, and everyone else, to think.  

They slowed and stopped.  Vinyard motioned for them to gather together and be quiet.

“We are nearly there but you must be as quiet as possible and follow my lead.”

Baclem’s grip tightened on Plex.  He tried to let the troll know that he was okay now and no longer needed assistance but they were moving again before Plex could get his message across.

They stepped out of the shadowy alleyway and into a lit square.  The sudden glaring contrast hurt Plex’s eyes and he shielded them with his free hand.  Before he could see clearly, a shout of alarm went up from behind their group.

It was more Honor Guards. Somehow, they had found them. Then again, Plex cursed, they were the best from each of the races, so he shouldn’t have been surprised that they caught up to them. That didn’t mean he had to like it, though. It also meant that they were going to have to resort to drastic measures to lose the pursuit. 

Plex pulled himself free from Baclem’s grip. Any trace of his injury, or the subsequent healing, was gone. He had replaced it with rage. Rage at Glavven’s death. Rage at the state of his world. Rage at Lavalandinarial and her dominance over everything. Rage at the amount of senseless death he had seen at the hands of the dragon. 

He started running back towards the shouted alarm. The weight of a sword held down his right hand and he couldn’t remember how it got there. Did he pick it up before he began running away? He shook that thought from his head. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Baclem running beside him, his own sword in his hand. It seemed that the troll was intending to help him with his attack on the Honor Guard. 

Behind him, he heard Vinyard hollering for him to stop. He knew that Vinyard and his people thought that he was important to the mission, but at that moment, he didn’t care. Not only did he feel like he needed to get revenge for Glavven’s death, but there were others who needed to be saved. Plex wasn’t going to let anyone else fall to the dragon’s whims. Not if he could help it.

He finally came upon someone being accosted by the Honor Guard. An older dwarf, who he remembered as one of the defensive coaches, was surrounded by two of his kinsmen bearing the colors of the dragon. Plex immediately set upon the dwarf closest to him. Baclem circled around towards the other.

Plex knew that the Honor Guard couldn’t have heard him approach over the commotion going on around them, so it must’ve been the dwarf’s warrior instincts that warned him that he was coming. It didn’t matter. Plex’s superior speed, coupled with his unbridled rage, allowed him to deliver a killing blow to the Honor Guard before the dwarf could put up his defenses. Hot blood shot out of the dwarf’s throat as the blade dug all the way through his neck.

Baclem wasn’t as lucky. Because he was going after an opponent who was further away, the Honor Guard that he was fighting had more time to react. The troll moved in and swung his sword from the side. After disengaging from the dwarven coach, the Honor Guard put his sword in line to block. The dwarf then stepped to the side and let the troll’s weapon go past unobstructed. Now off balance, Baclem left himself exposed to attack.

Plex shouted a warning and moved to help but he knew he was going to be too late.  The honor guard spun his blade with precision and skill, flowing into the space left open by Baclem’s unobstructed swing.  The strike surely would have delivered a mortal blow if the coach the Honor Guard had been accosting hadn’t stuck a foot out and tripped him.  The blade slashed harmlessly and the troll brought his outstretched elbow up into a crouching blow with the guards chin.

The guard’s head whipped back and his weapon dropped from nerveless fingers.  Rather than deliver the killing blow himself though he was in a good position to do so, Plex grabbed the dwarven coaches shoulder and shouted, “Let’s go.” 

Baclem had followed the elbow with a smooth attack of his own, bring his hands together overhead on the hilt of his sword and sweeping the blow down straight onto the guard’s head.  Plex had already turned and began to run back to the rest of the team, pulling the coach with him, when he heard the crunch of metal on metal and then sickening thud of the blade embedding in the guard’s skull.

A moment later Baclem was once again at his side.  Some of Plex’s rage had cooled but it wasn’t gone completely and when another shout of alarm rose behind him, he was tempted to turn and face whoever was there.  He felt as though he could and would stand against the dragon herself in that moment.  But, enough of his anger had been unleashed that he could let logic carry the moment.

Vinyard was still waiting for them as they returned to where they had been.  The gnome wore a look of frustrated annoyance and as Plex passed, Vinyard seethed, “You need to stop running off.”

Plex wasn’t sure why they thought he was such a big deal.  They could find others to lead if he should fall.  They could find other entries into the teams.  He was not indispensable.  But, he kept his retort from reaching his lips.  While he was replaceable, they had also pinned a lot of their hopes and plans on him and had set those in motion.  It would be hard to change things now that the play had already started.  Besides, now that he was really allowing himself to feel the anger he had been harboring for the beast and her minions, Plex was beginning to think he was going to like leading the line against her, calling the plays, running the offense.  

He’d been picked to be a quarterback just because he could throw the ball.  He was a leader whether he liked to admit it or not.  That Baclem would follow him towards the sound of fighting was proof enough of that.

Somehow Vinyard had gotten ahead of them again and was ushering the team into a dark alley.  The heavy booted footsteps of men at arms rang out behind them.  Plex felt like they were too close to lose and they would have to stand and fight again but once he entered the alley the sound of their approach disappeared entirely.  

Vinyard stood at the cusp of the alley, just inside the shadows of the surrounding.  He wore a mischievous smile and when Plex caught his eyes, the gnome just held a finger over his lips to indicate silence was still needed.  A moment later a troop of Honor Guard, fully armed and armored, passed the alley without even a sideways glance.  There is magic at play here, Plex thought.

stand

The world is on fire…

It isn’t the kind of fire you can grab a bucket and lend a hand.  It can’t be fought with traditional measures.  It isn’t the kind of fire that will burn itself out.  Its fuel is endless.

So what are we to do?

The world is on fire…

Who is to blame?  Who can we point the finger at?  Who is at fault for this madness, this tragedy, this unending pain and grief and blood, this shit storm?

It doesn’t matter.

The world is on fire…

I get it.  I’m angry too.  It’s a helpless rage and without a solution to pour my emotion into, casting blame becomes an easy fallback. It’s better than doing nothing.

And yet it amounts to the same thing.

The world is on fire…

We need to stop these worthless games, the name calling, the political jockeying, the finger pointing, the bickering and blithering rhetoric that gets us nowhere, that gets the people consumed in this fire nowhere but six feet under.  We need to form a line, hand in hand, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, and stand together before the flames.  Buckets won’t work.  Shovels won’t work.  Water won’t work.  It has to be us.  We have to risk it all together.

Will that stop its advance?

The world is on fire…

Yesterday it claimed some lives.  It does so most days.  Today my helpless rage has turned to sadness.  The streets lined with warriors, people who maybe don’t even realize that just showing up made them so, and tempered my angst with hope.  Some people get it, whether they realize it or not.  They are already out there, standing shoulder to shoulder.

We should join them on the streets, on the sidewalks, on the overpasses.  We should be out there every day, not just days where a hero is lost.  We should do more even if we think our actions won’t amount to change, even if they won’t.  We should be out there because it is our solidarity, our decision to raise our voices as one, to shout and sing and cry louder than the roar of the flames, that stands the best chance of winning not just this day but all the days of our future, all the days of children’s’ future.

I’m not preaching at you.  I’m yelling at myself.  I need to do more than sit behind this keyboard and type away my emotions.  I need to get up and walk out there and be part of the line I think we need to form.  How can I ask you do something I am not doing myself?

The world is on fire…

The world is on fire…

The world is on fire.

odds are

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The gods lit the heavens ablaze and dragged their bloody fallen across the sky in retreat.  They had fought.  They had tried.  They had hoped to make a difference, but in the end they had to admit defeat and relinquish the world to the mortals.

They would hide away, mostly forgotten, until the fools who rose to power below ended up sacrificing all of humanity in their pursuits of greed and cowardice.  The gods, those who had survived, had only to wait and eventually the earth would be theirs to shape again.  They would regret those of their own they had sacrificed and those of the mortals who they had tried to save.

Fueled by anger and grief they would forge a better world.  It wasn’t the first time they’d had to start over, and it likely wouldn’t be the last.  Each time the new was better than the old had been, so there was hope one time they would get it right.  They had as much time as they needed, so the odds were in their favor.

………………..

Anyone up for a flash fiction challenge?  Steal this picture and write something of your own to go with it.  No word limits.  No genre demands.  Go where the inspiration takes you.

which fight would you hope for?

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Image Credit: Mr. Four Fingers

 

Teeth, large, rounded and shaped into a menacing smile, emerged from the darkness.  I saw them and paused to determine their source and their intention but they disappeared as quickly as they’d come forth.  The image of them, however, was burned in gleaming terror on the surface of my mind.

If I could trust my eyes, then my path was fraught with danger.  If I could not trust my eyes, then my mind had finally slipped free of the anchors that tethered it to what is real and true.  Either way, a fight was coming.  The type, external or internal, would be determined soon enough.

I was braced for the gnash of teeth on flesh and my hands were balled into fists at my sides.  If the beast flew at me from the darkness ahead I was ready to fight for the ground I had gained.  I was braced for additional visions of my mounting insanity and my eyes kept weary watch for anything beyond the truths of the world.  If my mind failed me I was ready to fight for whatever remained.

I stepped forward bravely.  Whatever waited in the shadows, beast or madness, made no move as I gained distance on the worn path.  I walked with purpose and pride.  We may get hints about the future, small glimpses stolen from the flashes along the periphery of our sight and thoughts, but nothing is ever certain except the present.  We can only ever control our here and now in the immediate, and I was determined to do so stoically.

What else could I do?

What would you do?

Have you ever seen something you knew wasn’t real?