Fantasy Football Part 20

And, after a slight delay of game, we’re back. Read on to see what happens next with our favorite elven quarterback and the rest of his team.

…..

The roar of the crowed was being slowly replaced by a confused hush as a rush of whispers sped around the stadium.  It seemed to Plex that the switch the Honor Guard had made at the behest of the dragon had not gone unnoticed and word was spreading that the dragon was interfering with the game.

Plex scanned the crowd and found the pocket of dwarves he had noticed at the beginning of the game, the ones who hadn’t be cheering, who hadn’t looked like they were interested in the game at all.  He finally spotted them and they were huddled together in a spirited conversation with much gesturing and pointing amongst themselves. The elf wondered what they were up to but couldn’t imagine they would do anything now in the final seconds of the game.

Lavalandinarial shifted her weight on her stage.  The platform creaked and all eyes moved to rest with the beast.  She had once again adopted an expression of indifference but Plex was certain that was far from the truth.  The dragon very much cared.  

She let out a sigh and a puff of smoke billowed from her mouth.  The crowd quieted and shifted uneasily in their seats. A small smile, barely discernible, twisted the dragon’s lips.  At first Plex had assumed she would be upset that her interference hadn’t gone unnoticed but now he realized that she was still enjoying this spectacle.  

The whole thing, the teams, the game, the crowd, all of it was for her amusement and her amusement alone.  

Plex’s anger reached a new level.  

Needing to do something to calm down he turned his attention back to the field where the healer was still working with the dwarf who had been robbed of the ball and then punched twice by the Honor Guard.  The dwarf shouldn’t have been that injured but his face was white as if he were in a great deal of pain and on the verge of going into shock.

“It isn’t pain,” Plex muttered.

“No,” Coach Sprout said, suddenly at Plex’s side.  “It’s fear. He doesn’t need to worry, though. She won’t need to eat him to keep him quiet.  She obviously doesn’t care who knows she is cheating.”

Some of Plex’s rage had been tempered by Sprout’s arrival at his elbow startling him.  He could still feel it burning slow and low in his gut. It wasn’t just the charade of it, the destruction of the game and the waste of time and lives it had already cost.  The anger was churning hotter and hotter because there was nothing he could do about any of it.

Looking briefly down to his coach and then back to the field, where the healer was finally getting the dwarf to his feet and the Honor Guard was signaling for the teams to take their places to resume play, Plex asked, “What do we do now?”

Sprout didn’t answer and, surprised, Plex looked back to his Coach.  The gnome had always had an answer before. Plex couldn’t believe that Sprout wouldn’t have some sort of plan. “Well, Coach?” he prompted the still silent gnome.

With a sigh, Coach Sprout looked up at Plex with defeat on his face. “Now, we try our best, despite knowing that it might all be for nothing if the dragon decides she wants the other team to win.”

Anger began building up in Plex once again. He watched as his defense did their best to stop the offense of the other team. While he couldn’t be sure, he thought he saw a couple of instances where magic had moved a ball out of a defender’s reach or into an offensive player’s hands. Each time he saw it, he became more and more angry.

The whistle blew as the other team called their final time out. Plex looked up and saw that there was only time for one more play. Gilania’s team sent out their kicker to attempt a mid-range field goal. If it was good, the game would go into overtime and only the dragon knew what would happen if the game made it to overtime. Without realizing it, Plex found himself running out onto the field to try to block the kick. He heard Coach Sprout yelling at him to get back to the sideline, but he ignored it. Finally, the gnome called for another player to run off.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his teammate exit the field just as the other team got set up for the try. Plex kept going over everything that had happened in the game up until this point and felt his face turn red in anger. He focused all of his energy on that rage. It built up inside of him until he felt like he was going to burst. 

A primal scream erupted from his throat as the ball was snapped back to the holder. Plex took two steps forward and jumped over both his teammates and those trying to block them. He couldn’t remember ever jumping that high before, but didn’t take the time to dwell on it. All he could focus on was using his rage to block the kick. Just as the kicker’s foot touched the ball, Plex felt something trying to touch his mind. It was the same sensation he had felt earlier in the game, right before the dragon had used its magic to mess with his head. “Not this time,” he roared as he flooded his thoughts with his anger.

Somehow, some way, it worked. His rage had allowed him to fight through the mental intrusion. Whatever magic the dragon was using still hurt him, but it wasn’t debilitating like it had been last time. Plex leapt again. The ball hit his swinging arms and went flying back the way it had come from. It landed on the ground ten yards behind the kicker and rolled towards the sideline. Before anyone from either team could get to it, the ball rolled out of bounds.

Stunned silence filled the stadium. All eyes slowly made their way up to the dragon’s platform, where a low growl was beginning to form.

The honor guard blew their whistles and then huddled together in deep discussion.  Plex trotted to the sideline with the rest of his teammates, away their decision. Almost absentmindedly, one of the honor guard threw a flag without care of where it landed.  

Plex’s head throbbed in time to the blood flowing through his veins.  Pulse, pulse, pulsing with his still boiling anger. The momentary outlet of athleticism had done little to assuage his rage.  The dawning realization that his attempt to stand up to the dragon’s interference would not be allowed to stand made him even angrier.

His teeth ground together.  His fists clenched. The muscles in his lengths twisted tightened until he lost feeling in his feet.  His vision shrunk to where he could only see the huddled honor guard circled by a blurry red.  

The head of the honor guard walked over to Coach Sprout and told the gnome something.  The coach nodded his head once and then started calling out instructions. There was a ringing in his ears that kept Plex from hearing what was being said so he trotted over to stand next to the Sprout.  Before he’d made it to the gnome, Plex noticed that his sister’s team was setting up to retake the kick, and a few yards closer at that.

Before Plex could ask what happened, his coach said, “We were called for a penalty.  Too many players on the field or something like that. Also, it has been suggested that I bench you for the remainder of the game for insubordination.  Given the alternative to benching, I feel like we have little choice. I’m not going to leave you out here, though. You are too exposed. Head back to our camp.”

Plex opened his mouth to protest but all his anger left him and he felt suddenly deflated.  The game was out of his hands. The game always had been. His own indifference, how he had felt before his queen asked him to join the elven team, returned and, with a shrug of his shoulders, he turned his back on the field and walked away.

He heard murmurs running around the stands and wondered how much of it was directed at him.  He wanted to look back to see if Lavalandinarial was watching him but didn’t want to give the beast the satisfaction of seeing his face in defeat, in retreat.  So, Plex kept his head down and left the stadium.

He hadn’t gone very far when the stadium erupted in a new wave of cheers.  He assumed that his sister’s team had converted the field goal to tie-up the game.  A part of him hoped they would go on to win. His refusal to be ruled by the dragon had likely sealed his death anyway.  It would be better if his sister won and then could live on.

Lost in these dark thoughs, Plex nearly missed his whispered name.  Whipping his head to the side he saw a dwarf motioning to him from a dark alleyway behind the business that had sprung up around the stadium.  The elf didn’t hesitate. He wanted to know what the dwarves were up to. And, if he was powerless on the field, perhaps he could find his power again off of it.  He quickly stepped into the shadows to join the dwarf.

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.

 

lines from a song writing prompt 4

Below I’m posting a bit from a song I love and then I’ll write something around it (not necessarily in the context from the original source but maybe).  If the line grabs you, please steal it and play along too.  Post a link in the comments so I can check out what you did with it as well.

……….

“… and hear your voice of treason.”

……….

He was all mixed up.  She had a way of turning his thoughts inside out.  He didn’t know what he could trust because even his feelings seemed to betray him recently.  Did he love her?  Did he despise her?  Sometimes that depended on the second.

When she curled against him his heart soared.  When she lashed out at him, he sank.  When she sought him out for companionship, for love, he felt he could hold her forever.  When she was intentionally destructive, he couldn’t understand how things could go on.

Minute by minute, day by day, weeks, and months, and years, their relationship carried on in this manner until finally time took its toll on his beloved and she passed.  Then, when she was no longer in his life, he knew that he had loved her all long.  And, as the vet helped him pick out a marker for his dead cat, he couldn’t help himself from singing, “and hear your voice of treason, will you come home and stop this pain tonight, stop this pain tonight.”

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.

 

ignorance

dig

There were so many turtles.  We stopped by the shores of the pond to stretch our legs before getting back in the car for the long drive home and the turtles popped up from all over.  Their heads barely breaking the surface to study us before pulling back underneath only to pop up again a few feet closer.

There were so many turtles.  I think they must get fed by the strangers and daily visitors and maybe even by the people who maintain the adjacent park because why else would they come fearlessly close to investigate us?  They must expect food from the people who visit their pond.

There were so many turtles and I do not think we were supposed to feed them, but when I look at this picture I can’t help but feel that perhaps I was wrong.  Perhaps we were supposed to feed them.  Perhaps that was the cost for visiting their shores and strolling through their park.

There were so many turtles and I hope they can forgive me my ignorance if I have done wrong.