Fantasy Football Part 23

Hey everyone! Need something to do while you’re stuck in quarantine? Read this story! It won’t make the world around you any better, but it’s something to help you pass the time!

Vinyard and Frukeld exchanged a questioning glance before looking back at Plex. “That was a very sudden change of heart,” the gnome said, his voice full of suspicion.

Frukeld held his hand up to stop any further comments from Vinyard. It appeared that the old dwarf was about to say something in Plex’s defense, but he began speaking first. “Maybe you were right about me being afraid,” Plex admitted. “Maybe I was so afraid of what the dragon could do to me that I didn’t stop to think about whether or not the dragon had any right to do those things in the first place.

“I only started playing football because my queen instructed me to,” the elf sighed. “She told me to do the best I could in order to make the elves look good, to move the elves forward. I know she meant that she wanted me to do well so that the elves could move up in the hierarchy set forth by Lavalandinarial, but, the more I think about it, the only way for the elves to move forward, to have a better life, is for the dragon to be gone. No elf will ever reach their full potential while living under the dragon’s rule.

“So, Vinyard, it wasn’t a ‘sudden change of heart’. It was a sudden realization that I wasn’t fulfilling the mission my queen gave me in the best way possible.”

“Well said,” the dwarf agreed. “That’s all we want. That’s what we’re fighting for. We want our lives to be ours. We want to be our own masters. We want the things that happen in our lives, for good or for ill, to be of our own making and not forced upon us by a bully.”

Vinyard nodded to Frukeld’s words. Plex thought the gnome was going to add to them, but instead told them, “I’ve got to get back to the arena before they notice I’m gone.”

“Go,” Frukeld ordered. “You know what you need to do?”

“I know,” Vinyard answered as he casually flipped his hand and walked out of the room.

Once he was gone, Frukeld chuckled. “The other races are too quick to dismiss the gnomes. They are far more formidable than we give them credit for.”

Plex thought of Coach Sprout and his gift of strategy. “I’m beginning to realize that.”

“Good. Having your eyes open is always the best way to see.” Plex rolled his eyes at the statement of the obvious. “But, like Vinyard, we have to get moving too. It’s not good to stay in one spot too long. It’s easier for the dragon and her magic users to track us if we linger.”

“I’ve cloaked us from her scrying magic for now,” the magic using dwarf stated, “but that won’t last. We need to get you to the meeting point.”

“The meeting point?” Plex asked.

“The spot where you’re going to meet up with Vinyard. Once he’s finished with the game, he’s going to sneak out of your facilities and meet up with you. From there, the two of you will move to your first stop.”

“And which team is that?”

“Your sister’s.”

Plex’s mind raced. He wanted to trust the dwarf but he couldn’t picture how starting with her team was the right call. If they had just won the game, they would be loath to do anything to jeapordize their current elevated position, among the teams, with the dragon. If they had just lost, they would be angry and afraid and very few good decisions are made while in such a state. They would be distrustful of him.

Plex knew if he were in that position he would think it was some sort of trap designed to test their loyalty. And, if it wasn’t a test, then they might try to use it as a bargaining chip. If they could turn over Plex and his cohorts to the dragon perhaps that would keep them from being eaten after the first round of games were over.

Plex opened his mouth to question this decision, to at least hear the logic behind it, but shook his head and said nothing. The dwarf had already started to move away and Plex needed to move quickly to stay with him.

What followed was a series of twists and turns through half-lit or completely dark passageways and back alleys that Plex, even with his heightened awareness and honed senses, would have been hardpressed to keep track off. He would never be able to find his way back to where they’d been. Not that it matter. He assumed that he would never have a need to return to that spot. If it was, as they said, that they needed to move often, they probably never reused the same meeting places again.

Giving up keeping track of his whereabouts as a lost cause, Plex went back to trying to puzzle out how he would approach his sister’s team, win or loss.

“I think you’ll find,” the dwarf stated, startling Plex out of his thoughts, “the team will be receptive to what you, what we, are offering regardless of the outcome of the game.”

“Were you reading my mind?”

The dwarf chuckled softly. “No. I do not possess the necessary skill in my craft to read minds. Nor would I ever do so without an invitation first. Minds are tricky places to go poking around in uninvited. Plus,” the dwarf added more as an aside, “I know of no magicians who could have cast such a complex spell while traversing the corridors we have walked.”

Plex snorted. It all made sense of course. It had just been uncanny that the dwarf had hit upon the very topic he had been dwelling on. “I hope you are right,” Plex replied a moment later, with a sigh.

“We spent long hours trying to decide where to start. In the end, while we all didn’t agree, the majority of us decided that if we could recruit you, your sister’s team was the best place to start. Of all the other angles you are probably trying to wrap your head around, it came down to the simplest one. She is your sister and can vouch for you.”

Before Plex could respond, Frukeld spun on his heel and walked away. “Wait here for Vinyard,” the dwarf called over his shoulder.

Plex found himself in a dark alley and ducked deeper into its shadows. He wasn’t sure how long he’d have to wait for the gnome, but he wasn’t about to do it out in the open. As time passed, he ran around in circles in his head about whether or not he was doing the right thing. His heart told him that trying to get rid of the dragon was the best thing to do, not only for the elves, but for all the races. His mind, on the other hand, was telling him that this course of action would likely lead to his death.

Then again, the dragon probably already wanted him dead, so what did he have to lose?

While his mind wandered, he paced back and forth. His eyes darted around, looking for any movement. Plex’s nerves were starting to creep up on him. Not only did he have to avoid the Honor Guard on the way to see Gilania’s team, but he had to try to convince a group of strangers to join him in a fight that might get them killed. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to convince his sister, let alone the rest of her teammates.

As he thought about what he was going to say, he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. Plex stopped his pacing and ducked down into the shadows. A lone figure was approaching from the other end of the alley. For the moment, all he saw was the figure’s outline. In the darkness, it was hard to make out any features on the person. The only thing he could say for sure was that it was someone of short stature. A moment later, it became clear that the person was a gnome.

Plex stepped out to greet Vinyard when an alarm began screaming in his head. It wasn’t until he had revealed himself to the gnome that he realized that Vinyard didn’t wear his hair the way that the shadowed gnome approaching him did. It wasn’t until he stepped out and got a better look at the figure that he saw the blood red colors of Lavalandinarial’s Honor Guard. It wasn’t until the figure yelled at him to stop moving that he grasped the scope of his mental error.

“Who are you?” the Honor Guard demanded. “And what are you doing in this alley?”

Plex opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He knew there was nothing he could say to talk his way out of this mess. His eyes scanned the area around him. The only thing close to him was a wooden crate with some refuse in it. Without thinking, Plex leapt forward, grabbed it, and launched it at the gnome’s head. That’s when it dawned on him that he just attacked one of the dragon’s Honor Guard.

He hoped he lived to tell the story.

The Twelfth Knight: Part 4

Roscoe had patrolled these streets for years and thought he knew every inch of the city. As he followed the man after leaving the tavern, he found that he still had a lot to learn. There were times he would see a familiar landmark, and he would recognize the general area he was in, but it was at an angle that he had never looked at it before. He was confident in the tavern because he thought he would know where he was going. Now, he might be heading into the unknown.

That wasn’t a pleasant thought to him.

Still, Roscoe knew he had a job to do, so he trudged on. The menacing man didn’t say a word as they made their way from one back alley to the next. Roscoe wasn’t about to complain. There was something about the man that frightened him a little. While Roscoe was both taller and more physically imposing, there was something about the other man that was unnerving. As far as he was concerned, the less interaction he had with the man, the better off he would be.

A building came into sight that he recognized. It sat on the outskirts of town. The building was a storage facility for the man who made and repaired all of the wagon wheels for the castle and the surrounding town. Roscoe had known the wainwright for years and couldn’t believe that he was involved in something like this.

A shudder ran down his spine.

He had known the wainwright for years. If the wagon maker was involved in this, he would be in the building and would recognize him immediately. His plan to infiltrate the mercenary group of Merlinus might be over almost as quickly as it began. Then again, he still wasn’t sure if he was going to Merlinus’ group. It was possible that the group he was on the way to meet was being led by someone else.

Roscoe shook his head slightly. It was times like this that reminded him why he was still the Twelfth Knight of the Kingdom. If he was a better planner, he might’ve moved up by now. If he got out of this mess, he vowed to spend more time studying strategy instead of using all of his time practicing swordplay.

“What?”

Having been paying attention to his own inner monologue, it took Roscoe a few moments to recognize that the question had been directed at him. The menacing man had stopped and was staring right at him. “What?” Roscoe echoed back.

“Why were you shaking your head?”

He put on a look of defiance. “It’s none of your concern.”

“I’m about to introduce you to some very dangerous people,” the man said, slowly moving his hands toward the small of his own back. “People who could make both of us disappear very easily. You’re not worth dying for, so your business is now my business.”

His mind racing almost as fast as his heart, Roscoe somehow remained calm on the outside while he blurted out the first thing that popped into his head. “Look, I know you’re just being careful, but this maze you have us running is getting ridiculous. I just want to get where we’re going and get this over with.”

The man eyed him suspiciously. Roscoe couldn’t tell whether or not the man believed him, although his gut said that he didn’t. Still, all the man said was, “In this business, being careful rarely gets you killed, but being sloppy always does.”

The man walked him over to the door on the wainwright’s building and opened the door for him. He walked in, but not without keeping the man in his sight as he did so. There was almost no light in the area he was in. No windows could be seen. All he saw was a lantern hanging from a stack of wagon wheels off to his left. An indistinguishable figure stood at the edge of the light. Not knowing what else to do, Roscoe walked toward the lantern.

As he got closer, the figure at the edge of the light was revealed to be the wainwright, Worram. Fear covered Worram’s face. Obviously, the wainwright was being held here against his will. The amount of fear radiating from Worram was almost enough to make Roscoe run up to him with a comforting hand, but he caught himself before that happened. If he did that, they were both dead.

When Roscoe reached the light’s edge, more lanterns flickered on all at once. There were no people standing next to them, meaning that they were lit magically. It was a move that he knew was meant to put him off balance and, unfortunately for him, it was working. With magic in play, almost anything could happen. There were too many variables to even begin to formulate any kind of plan. All he could do was hope he could improvise a way out of this situation.

Worram looked at him and the recognition lit up his eyes. Roscoe winced, thinking that the wainwright would blow his cover, but Worram surprisingly stayed silent. Standing next to Worram, just inside of where the darkness was, an older man looked Roscoe over, sizing him up. Apparently satisfied, the older man began to speak.

“I hear you wish to join my crew,” the old man said.

“No,” Roscoe responded. “All I wanted was a job. Maybe if it goes well, we’ll talk about me joining permanently. Until then, I’ll stick with just one job.”

“Sorry. We don’t do just one job. You’re either all in or all out. And people who know about us have to be all in or they’ll become all dead.”

“Merlinus,” the menacing man said as he gestured for the older man to lean down.

Roscoe couldn’t believe his luck. The old man was Merlinus. He had done it. He’d found the mercenary leader that Revis and Matticus had been looking for.

Then he remembered that the assignment was only to find out if the rumors of Merlinus being in town were true. He wasn’t supposed to make contact. And here he was, in a storage facility with the mercenary leader and at least one of his henchmen. Who knew how many others were hidden in the building? All he could do now was keep himself in Merlinus’ good graces until he saw a chance to escape.

“So,” Merlinus began after the menacing man was finished whispering in his ear, “do you want to join my crew or not?”

“It doesn’t seem like I got much of a choice, does it?”

“Excellent,” Merlinus exclaimed happily. “In order to join my crew, you have to perform a task.”

“He already told me,” Roscoe said, pointing to the menacing man. “I’ve got to fight one of your other hopefuls.”

“Oh, no. I’ve got something different in mind for you. Call it a test of your commitment to our cause.”

“And what is this test?”

Merlinus smiled widely. With a flick of his hand, he pointed at Worram. “Kill him.”

Scooby Apocalypse

DC Comics is owned by Warner Bros. Warner Bros. also owns Hanna-Barbera, which made such classics as The Flintstones and The Jetsons. A few years back, DC began a series of titles based on the Hanna-Barbera characters. These titles were different than the cartoons that Hanna-Barbera used to make. They were more mature takes on the old Hanna-Barbera characters.

From what I’ve heard, The Flintstones was about all of Bedrock ostracizing Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty because they were monogamous couples, which wasn’t exactly a widespread practice back in the caveman days. They did a Snagglepuss series and I heard that it depicted him as a gay man living in the 1950s. I know they did a Jetsons one too, but I never really heard what it was about.

The only one of them that I actually read was based on Scooby Doo. It was called Scooby Apocalypse. The premise of the story was the Scooby characters being in a world that’s part The Walking Dead and part Serenity. Basically, Velma is a super genius and she creates a nanite that is supposed to cure the population of anger and violence (Serenity). Her brothers tinker with her design and release the nanite, which turns almost the entire world population into monsters and forces everyone else to band together to survive (Walking Dead) .

I just read the final issue of the series’ three year run. I’m not going to go into any specifics about the story, but I will tell you that, as a whole, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. There were some things about the series that I wasn’t a big fan of, such as them making Scrappy a bigger part of the story than I thought they should. They also had some side stories at the end of each issue featuring other Hanna-Barbera characters that I didn’t particularly care for (To anyone from DC Comics that may read this, please note that I give zero shits about Secret Squirrel).

The rest of the story was pretty good. It also helped that there was only one writer over the course of the series. I don’t like it when series switch writers in the middle of a run. That almost never works out.

If you like Scooby Doo and/or apocalypse stories, this series is definitely worth a try.

Almost Three Weeks

It’s been almost three weeks since I last posted on this here blog. I had a feeling that my new job would throw off my posting schedule, but I didn’t think it would do it this much. If nothing else, I expected to be able to scratch out a few minutes on one of my off days, at least, to put something up, but so far I’ve yet to do so.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get more into the groove of things soon. Maybe I’ll try to set aside some of my break times to writing at least a little something on here once or twice a week.

Fantasy Football Part 22

Eagerly awaiting the next installment of our Fantasy Football story? Of course you were! well, wait no further! Just head on over to The Matticus Kingdom and check it out!

The Matticus Kingdom

How many parts should a fantasy football story have? Trick question! As many as possible, of course. And here we are with another installment.

…..

“Why aren’t you at the game?”

Plex realized it was a ridiculous question to ask, given the circumstances, but he couldn’t top himself from blurting it out.

“Nobody ever pays attention to the comings and goings of gnomes,” Vinyard replied, somewhat coolly.  But then he smiled and added, “That does have its advantages from time to time.”

Apparently seeing that Plex wasn’t satisfied with his comment, Vinyard continued, “I’m not at the game because I was needed more here.”

Plex frowned.  Once again he had been caught worrying about that stupid game.  It was a game he hadn’t wanted to play in the first place and then had gotten so involved that he had let his emotions get the better of him.  That outburst could…

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