Fantasy Football Part 18

I had this whole funny into typed out. I swear I did. Why would I lie? Why are you questioning me…?

Anyway, for reasons related to shenanigans that intro was lost. Let’s have a minute of silence in its honor.

Okay. On with the football!

….

The running back raced down the field.  Plex was certain he was going to score but then Kalant, who Plex hadn’t even realized was on the field, streaked across the field and smashed into the running back.  The two players crashed to the turf. For a moment it looked like the ball was going to pop loose but the runner managed to hang onto it. Still, the other team had made it down to the ten yard line, had a new set of downs, and with two full minutes left in the game, along with both teams having most of their timeouts left, the game could easily be turned on its head.

Plex suddenly understood why the dragon had been so excited about this game.  He glanced towards the beast and Lavalandinarial seemed to have taken a renewed interest in the game.  Its eyes were wide and they gleamed with a fierce intensity. It was actually rather horrible to look at and Plex quickly turned away.  

The two minute warning sounded and the magic time glass stopped its slow drain of sand.  Coach Sprout called the defensive line over to the side of the field and issued a quick series of instructions.  Plex wasn’t close enough to hear what was being said even with his good elven hearing. There was too much noise in the stadium for him to focus in on the conversation.  He considered moving closer but Coach wrapped up his instructions before Plex could get started in that direction and the defense jogged back onto the field.

“I guess I’ll see what his plan is anyway,” Plex mumbled to himself.

“What was that?”

Startled, Plex turned to see that the minotaur, Glavven, was standing next to him.  The quarterback had been so focused on trying to hear Coach Sprout that he’d missed the giant running back finishing up a session with the healer and moving over.

“I was curious what the coach was saying but couldn’t hear.  So, I was saying ‘I guess I’ll see what his plan is anyway.’”

“Ah.”

The two players watched in silence as the teams moved into position to restart the game.  It looked like the other team was setting up for another passing play. That made sense to Plex.  While there were still two minutes left in the game, they needed more than one touchdown to get the victory and time was against them.  

“We have not played well enough.”

The minotaur’s statement so startled Plex that he turned to face Glavven and missed the snap.  Plex whipped his head back towards the field as the quarterback dropped into the pocket. There was decent pass coverage and the other quarterback had to throw the ball away before getting sacked to stop the clock again. 

Without taking his eyes off the action, Plex asked, “What do you mean?”

“We have far superior players.  We should have handled this team easily.  We need to improve to ensure that we play better in our next match.”

“We need to win this one first,” Plex retorted.

“We will.”

Plex wasn’t about to refute Glavven’s confident statement. There was still a chance that the other team could tie the game up and they needed all the confidence that they could hold onto. If you went into any game, no matter what it was, thinking that you were going to lose, you were going to lose. He was glad for Glavven’s bold words and knew that he had to project the same level of confidence as well. As the quarterback, the team looked to him for leadership and he wasn’t going to let them down. 

His eyes went back to the field and his heart nearly jumped up out of his throat on the very next play. The quarterback for Gilania’s team made a horrible decision and threw it to a wide receiver who was too well covered. A collective gasp came from the crowd as the defensive back jumped in front of the receiver. It was one of the easiest interceptions a defender could make.

The only problem was that the defensive back didn’t make it. 

His hands closed less than a breath before the ball got there. It bounced off his fingers and fell harmlessly to the ground. All around him, the sideline became a chorus of groans and curses. None of them could believe that the defensive back missed a catch that was so easy. Plex didn’t believe it either. While the goblin defensive back looked at his hands in confusion, Plex knew that it wasn’t his teammate’s fault. The dragon had done something to prevent the interception. He just didn’t know what.

As the teams lined up for the next play, Plex tried to keep his anger in check. Lavalandinarial had already shown that she was capable of seeing into his mind. Any angry thoughts that might pop into his head would be all the excuse the dragon would need to swallow him whole. Plex pushed out all the thoughts he was having about the dragon and focused solely on the football. His attention needed to be on the game anyway. 

It was now third down and the opposing team ran the ball again in what would normally be a passing situation. It worked once more. Most of the defenders were caught off guard again. Kalant wasn’t. The dwarf flew like an arrow as the running back cut to the outside. Both running at full speed, the dwarf ducked down and put the full force of his momentum into his shoulder, which hit the running back squarely in the stomach. It was a collision that would have even knocked Glavven to the ground despite the minotaur being twice the dwarf’s height and weight. 

The other team’s running back, an orc, bounced right off him, though.

With Kalant’s tackle failing, there was nobody else to stop the orc from waltzing into the end zone. The arena was suddenly filled by the roar of the cheering crowd. While he didn’t want to admit it, Plex probably would have been cheering too if he was just a spectator. Games were more fun to watch when the score was close like this.

Glavven cursed then cursed again.  Then a string a words began to flow out of the minotaur in his native tongue.  It was angry and vulgar.

Plex, forcing his attention to stay on the field, took a minute to hear the outburst and by the time he had turned towards the minotaur the running back had worked himself into a fit.  He placed a hand on Glavven’s shoulder and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Spit flew from Glavven’s mouth as he answered, reverting back to common.  “This is not the first time something has kept us from our glory. Something is working against us.”  

Internally, Plex cursed.  He needed to get the minotaur calmed down before his outburst was noticed.  At least it seemed like Glavven hadn’t figured out who was interfering.

“Someone is cheating.  There is no honor in that.  It is disgraceful. It is unacceptable.”

With each pronouncement, Glavven’s voiced rose higher and higher.  The celebration from the touchdown was still loud enough that nobody was paying attention to Glavven but it was only a matter of time.  “We are going to win, remember. You told me that yourself just a few minutes ago.”

Glavven turned a darker shade of red and then spat a gob of snot to the ground at his feet.  “What will that victory mean? Nothing. It is nothing. This whole game, this battle, has been nothing.  We have earned nothing. We have been allowed to appear like we are the victors. That is all.”

“Glavven,” Plex took on an urging tone and squeezed the shoulder his hand was still on, “you need to calm down.  You can’t be seen having this outburst right now. Bottle it up and you can vent later.”

The minotaur carried on as if Plex hadn’t spoken at all.  

“There is no honor in this.  There is no pride. There is nothing.  We have fought for nothing. We are nothing!”

The players around Plex had started to hear Glavven.  He needed the running back to get control of himself now.  He slapped Glavven across the face. “Glavven, get control of yourself.  This outburst does nothing but help the other team.”

The minotaur didn’t seem to notice.  If he did, he certainly didn’t care. Plex slapped him again, desperate to get Glavven’s attention, to break his rant and potentially save his life.  “Glavven!”

Seething, the giant running back turned to look down on the elf.  His eyes, burning the same red as his body, narrowed and steaming snot dripped from his snout.  “This is not right.”

“No, it isn’t but if you don’t calm down you will die.”

Something had happened in the game.  The crowd erupted in another loud rapture of applause but Plex didn’t dare look away from Glavven.  Nothing could have happened that would have sealed the fate of either team, not in that one play.  

“This is not right,” Glavven repeated with slightly less venom.

The minotaur was correct, of course, but it didn’t matter.  In that moment all that mattered was keeping Glavven alive. Plex wasn’t sure what to say, though.  And, he heard the dragon’s wings stretching. The beast was moving and it might already be too late, anyway.

 

Fantasy Football Part 16

The first game is nearly over…  the final whistle is drawing closer.  Will Plex’s team end up victorious?  Will his sister’s team come out on top?  Will that pesky dragon decide to interfere again?  These answers can be found by reading on…  in this, the sixteenth, installment of the Fantasy Football series written by Revis and me.

…..

The ball spun in slow motion.  The arms of the defender and offensive linesman scrambled to grab ahold of it before it reached the ground.  Their hands knocked against each other and the ball.  It bounced upward, Plex couldn’t see what had caused it to pop up, and it spun even more wildly than before.  The two players tried to reach for the ball again but weren’t in good positions and kept getting in each other’s way.

Then Kalant appeared seemingly from nowhere and plucked the ball from the air.  Plex couldn’t believe his eyes.  It defied logic.  The dwarf had plowed into the ogre to keep the pass from being completed, how had Kalant recovered so quickly?  Yet, there he was.

The dwarf turned up field and began to sprint towards the end zone, seventy something yards away.  Most of both teams on the field were quickly behind the play but scanning ahead Plex saw there were two or three tackles Kalant would have to avoid or break.  Kalant wasn’t fast enough to outrun them.

The first to reach him was a goblin.  The player dove at Kalant’s legs.  Kalant jumped to the left at the last moment so only the goblin’s fingers came into contact with him.  Even that, the goblin had enough strength and momentum to nearly knock the dwarf off his feet.

Kalant quickly regained his balance, though, and churned his legs forward.  He was at the forty-five, then then fifty, then the forty-five, the forty and an elf reached him.  Rather than dive for the dwarf’s legs, the taller elf wrapped his arms around the dwarf’s torso and threw himself to the ground.  As stable as Kalant was, he couldn’t overcome the toppling force and both players crashed into the turf.

Kalant had made it to the thirty-eight yard line, nearly within field goal range.  The game had once again turned around on a single play and, looking at the clock, Plex realized that if they used the same strategy of short run plays to just pick up one first down after another, they could easily run out the rest of the game with possession.

“Are you okay?

The gnome had once again appeared at Plex’s side.

“Yes,” Plex replied automatically and stepping towards the field.

“Are you sure?”

Plex turned and looked at his coach.  He considered telling the gnome off for doubting him but then remembered how strange he had felt and he gave himself a moment to consider how he truly was now.  Then, with a shrug of his shoulders, he said, “I think I’m okay.  I still don’t know what happened to me but I should be able to run some plays out there.”

“Good.  They are probably going to expect us to do some running plays to waste time so I want you to go for the end zone on this first play.  Fake a hand-off to Glavven and then throw it to whichever receiver is more open down field.”

Plex couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  Why would Coach Sprout risk another interception this late in the game when all they had to do to win was run down the clock?  And wasn’t Glavven injured?

He looked back at the bench and saw the minotaur being attended to by the healer. Coach Sprout shouted at them and Glavven pushed the healer out of the way. The minotaur walked up to him with a slight limp. It wasn’t that noticeable, but Plex knew that if he saw it the other team would see it too.

“This won’t work if they know you’re hurt,” Plex said as they walked out onto the field. “I know you’re in a lot of pain right now but they won’t buy the run fake if they see you limping. You’ve got to play through it for at least this one play.”

Glavven nodded in response. The duo jogged into the huddle and relayed the play to the rest of the team. To his credit, Glavven showed no outward signs of pain or discomfort. The only way you’d know that something was wrong were the grunts that were coming out of his mouth when he stepped. Unless the defender was right next to him, they wouldn’t hear the grunts.

The team lined up. Plex looked over how the defense was set up. He didn’t see anything that he didn’t like. The defense was set up like he thought they would be. They had the line of scrimmage crowded, as if they were expecting a running play. That didn’t mean that a few of them wouldn’t drop back into coverage, just like Kalant had done on the previous play. He’d need to be careful when throwing the ball.

Plex called for the hike, grabbed the ball as it was handed to him, and faked the handoff to Glavven. The minotaur pretended to grab the ball and rushed forward. A wall of defenders met him at the line of scrimmage, but that didn’t matter to Plex. His eyes were downfield. The other team’s defensive backs, Gilania included, didn’t fall for the fake and stayed with the receivers. This would’ve been the perfect place for Foyarlen, because he had the speed to get past defenders, but Foyarlen was too busy being digested by the dragon to be any help to the team.

His first look, to Foyarlen’s replacement, wasn’t good. They were too well covered. The second option he looked at, his tight end Traag, was also covered fairly well. It would’ve been possible to force a throw into that coverage, but he wasn’t going to take any chances at this point in the game. The only other receiver he had downfield was Baclem, the troll. Gilania was covering him, and doing it well, but Baclem was a little bit taller than his sister. If he threw it high enough, it would give Baclem a chance to catch it, while staying out of Gilania’s reach.

The defensive line had finally caught on that Plex still had the ball and were bearing down on him. He reared back and heaved it to Baclem just before he took the top of someone’s head to his chest.

The air left his lungs and he grunted as he flew backwards.  The padding he wore did well to ensure he wasn’t injured being rammed by the helmeted defender still hurt.  As he crashed into the turf, landing on his backside, he pushed the pain to the back of his mind while scanning the flight of his pass to see if he was going to be successful.

Baclem was too far downfield, though, and Plex’s view was blocked by the line of players in front of him.  Scrambling, he disentangled himself from the player that had tackled him and stood up just in time to see the ball hit Baclem’s hands.  Time slowed to a crawl in Plex’s mind.  The troll had been forced to jump to reach the football, which Plex had to admit was a terrifying sight.  A full sized troll attempting to defy gravity looked completely out of place, defying logic and reason, unnatural.

Gilania had leapt for the ball too and crashed into Baclem trying to reach the pass.  Baclem did well to hang onto the ball even as he was put off balance by the elf hitting him.  Time snapped back to normal. Gilania and Baclem tumbled to the ground.  A series of whistles blew and Plex saw that one of Lavalanindarial’s Honor Guard, the referees for the match, had thrown a flag near where Baclem had caught the ball at the fifteen yard line.

Plex jogged down the field as the referees conferred on the call.  The elf wasn’t sure what was going on and assumed they were going to penalize Baclem for some reason.  When a troll and an elf clash, from his experience it was usually the troll who was at fault.  Even now, in this game, not only was Plex concerned for his sister but he felt anger rising within at his own player for doing whatever he had done to cause the flag.

Only when Plex heard that it was passing interference did he realize what he had been thinking.  He’d been letting his biases get the better of him.  It was a weird feeling that he didn’t have time to deal with then.  He needed to see the game out.

Coach Sprout declined the penalty and took the result of the play. Plex congratulated Baclem on the catch as they got back in the huddle for first down.  Then the elf looked toward the sideline to see what Coach Sprout wanted them to run.  The gnome called for a run but Glavven had limped off the field so Plex wasn’t sure who was supposed to get the ball in his place.  He called a time-out and went to the sideline to confer with his coach.

“Who am I handing it to?”

The gnome smiled and said, “You could have let time run out on the play clock and taken the penalty.  You didn’t need to call a timeout.”

Plex was confused, “Is that what you were hoping I would do?”

The gnome shook his head in the negative and said, “No.  I was hoping you’d just assign the run in the huddle or do a fake and run it in yourself.  We’ve only scripted out a couple plays and when I was telling you to do something that didn’t make sense I thought you might take it upon yourself to take charge and come up with a solution.”

As calmly as he could, Plex replied, “You made it perfectly clear I was only supposed to run the plays you called.”

The gnome smiled that knowing smile that Plex had truly grown to hate.

 

Fantasy Football Part 14

The time has come once again for Fantasy Football!  Like, legit fantasy football, with elves and dwarves and a particularly nasty dragon, all courtesy of the imagination of Revis and myself.  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Part 1 is here.

Let’s see, some quick math, at around 1,500 words per post and 14 posts (so far), that’s just shy of 20,000 fantastically footbally words already!  That’s a lot.  And we aren’t done yet.  Dive on in to the next installment.  And the leave us a note to let us know what you think should happen next.

……

Plex had missed the play, his attention fully on watching the fate of Foyarlen instead, but not wanting to see Lavandinarial lick her lips he forced himself to focus on the game again.  The opposing team, somewhat surprising, set up for a point after kick rather than go for two points.  Plex figured since it was a two possession game they likely wanted to go for the sure thing rather than risk being even more points behind.

The kick was good and the teams shuffled around for the kick-off.  His players seemed somewhat subdued.  Some of them had seen what happened to Foyarlen and they had spread the word in furtive whispers.  Plex saw heads casting glances towards the dragon as helmets were dragged on and they jogged onto the field.

Plex didn’t know what the elf’s problem had been and why he started to act so aggressive but he was angrier with the dragon.  This was her show, of course, her game to play as she pleased but the fact that the beast could pick them off as she pleased at any time suddenly made the threat of them all getting eaten if they lost less important.  The threat was already there, win or lose.

Giliana stretched on the opposite sideline.  He smiled, a sad sort of twist of his lips, as he realized why she had shown no hesitation earlier in the game.  She had always been smarter than him.  She had already realized the danger.  And now that Plex knew it too, he felt his stomach drop when he remembered the play he had purposefully botched.  If Lavalandrial had suspected anything she could have killed him then.  Knowing the whims of the dragon, the beast might have chosen to accuse the whole team of cheating and award the other team victory, dooming Plex and all his teammates to a grisly fate.

He couldn’t help the shiver that ran up his spine.  He wanted to look over at the dragon and see where her focus was but he kept his eyes on the game.

Their back-up running back was doing a fine job of returning the kick.  Less straight forward than the injured minotaur, the back-up was strategically hiding behind larger blockers and then darting forward in spurts to pick up yards.  He was then finally tackled right around the halfway line.

Plex took a steadying breath and sprinted onto the field.  He looked to Coach Sprout for the play but the gnome did not immediately relay it.  The gnome was conferring with one of the other coaches and Plex was worried that they were going to run out of time.  But then the time glass reached its end and the honor guard announced the end of the third quarter.

While the teams changed sides of the field, Plex ran over to Coach Sprout.  “What’s the problem?”

“We are drawing up a trick play.”

Plex wanted to ask if that was wise.  They still had the lead.  They had control of the ball.  They could do run plays to waste time and see out the game for a victory.  It seemed like a mistake to take a risk.  But then he thought about Foyarlen and he kept his tongue in check.

The Honor Guard whistled, signaling the start of the final quarter. Coach Sprout and his fellow coaches were still talking animatedly about the play they were trying to create. From the looks of it, not all of the other coaches agreed with what Sprout was trying to do. They were smart enough not to make a scene of it, though. Seeing another member of their team, coach or player, get eaten by Lavalandinarial would be catastrophic for their morale.

“Coach,” Plex urged. “I need a play. If I don’t run one soon, we’ll get a penalty.”

“Run a toss play to the far side of the field with Meel,” a frustrated Sprout replied. “When the play is over, come back over here and we’ll have the next one ready.”

Plex darted back out to the field and got his team lined up into their correct positions. They barely got the ball hiked before time ran out. He turned to his left and tossed the ball behind him to Meel, their backup running back. The orc caught it and pivoted to rush straight ahead instead of towards the sideline like the play called for. Plex’s initial reaction was one of irritation at not following the play, but then he saw why the orc had done it.

Gilania had read the play perfectly and had blocked off Meel’s path to the outside. The orc was not as big as Glavven and wasn’t able to bowl his way over defenders like the minotaur. He was more agile, and he used that agility to try to make defenders miss when they went to tackle him. Meel cut completely back to the right and avoided a troll who was bearing down on him. A dwarf caught up with him, but not before Meel had turned what would have been a two yard loss into a three yard gain.

Plex ran over to the sideline and listened as Coach Sprout explained the play. The gnome seemed excited about it, but he wasn’t so sure. It wasn’t that different from plays they already had. Still, he wasn’t going to argue with his coach anymore. The consequences of such an action loomed large in the back of his mind, which was precisely what the dragon wanted. After hearing the full explanation, he ran back out to the field and told the rest of his team their assignments.

Meel lined up in the quarterback position while Plex was out at wide receiver. Right before the ball was hiked, he ran towards the orc. By the time Meel received the ball, Plex was almost right next to him. The orc handed the ball to him and Plex shifted his vision upfield. As he feared, the defense didn’t fall for the deception. His receivers were still covered. He had enough confidence in his arm that he knew he could fit a throw into one of them, but he saw a much safer option.

Because the defense had stayed with the receivers, he had room in front of him to run the ball. He would at least make it to the first down marker before he would encounter the first defensive player. Plex tucked the ball and ran forward.

He passed the first down marker before he realized that the defense had basically stopped to watch him run.  He’d gained another five yards before some of them woke up enough to charge toward him.  Plex began to angle his run towards the sideline, hoping he could step out of bounds before getting tackled.

Meel suddenly appeared ahead of him and blocked off a defensive player that gotten in a good position to take Plex down.  The elf side-stepped a lunging orc, spun around a dwarf, and then tip-toed along the sideline, barely staying in bounds.  But, there was nothing but open space ahead of him.  The only thing he had to worry about was another elf catching up to him.  None of the other players would be fast enough.

He glanced over his shoulder and saw two players trying to gain on him.  Their long, graceful strides meant they had to be elves.  Plex wondered if one of them was his sister.  He didn’t think she’d be on the field when he’d started the play but maybe she had been.  It didn’t matter either way, neither of the players would be able to get to him before he crossed into the end zone.

He ducked his head down and churned his legs even faster.  The feel of the air pushing against him was exhilarating.  But then his trailing foot caught on something as it tried to come forward.  It felt like a root, which he knew was impossible.  He tried to maintain his balance and he staggered a bit but then it was like the ground had been pulled from beneath his feet and there was nothing to get purchase on.  He was falling.

His momentum sent him sprawling and tumbling head over heels.  At some point the ball popped loose but he knew that didn’t matter because he had been officially down the first time he hit the ground.   He came to a rest around the ten yard line and just lay there for a few seconds taking stock of the various aches and pains that called out for his attention.

One of his teammates offered him a hand up and he took it.  Everything was eerily quiet, like the sound had been sucked out of the stadium, and he walked in a daze towards the rest of his team to set up the next play but then someone took him by the arm and escorted him off the field.  He was confused but went without argument.

Coach Sprout was in his face the next moment and was saying something but Plex couldn’t get ahold of the words.  It was like the coach was speaking a language he had learned long ago but no longer remembered.  Plex shook his head trying to clear the cobwebs but that didn’t help.  Coach looked mad.  He could tell that much.

Plex took a seat and stared out at the field.  Something odd was going on.  A play was happening but that couldn’t be because he wasn’t out there with his teammates.  He stood up to run back onto the field but someone pushed him back down.  He shook his head again and again that did nothing to help.

Looking up, Plex saw that the crowd appeared to be celebrating something.  He shifted his eyes towards the end zone but before he could figure out what had happened he locked gazes with the dragon.  It felt like his innards dropped to the field and were set ablaze.  Lavalandinarial’s eyes burned.

shameless self promotion 2

This was my first published writing adventure with Revis… and it was quite an enjoyable ride if you ask me.  Haven’t read it yet?  Well, you should… and then when you do and you enjoy it you’ll be happy to learn there is already a published sequel you can pick up too (and a third book written and in editing).

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When a job goes awry, matters escalate quickly and the crew is dragged into the fray against their will.  Dadam soon understands that there is far more to the war than meets the eye but every move the Sun makes only seems to drag them deeper into the criminal underworld of the galaxy and farther from the possibility they will come through the dark forces unscathed.

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shameless friend promotion 2

Revis… I’m sure you’ve heard of him…  is a fine writer.  He has a wonderful couple short stories available to pick up and take in right now.  This is the first of them.  I recommend reading both, of course, and I have it on good authority that a third is in the works too.  So, when you find yourself liking the characters and the world, take heart, there is plenty more where this came from.

Blackmoon WarMage (Declevon Blackmoon Book 1) by [Hansen, Michael]

Declevon Blackmoon is studying to become his clan’s next WarMage. Those studies are interrupted by the WarPriest, the clan leader. The WarPriest has a mission for him: find one of the clan’s other WarMages who has gone missing. If he completes it, he will be accepted fully into the WarMage ranks. If not, it may very well be the end of him.

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