Fantasy Football Finale

Well, here we are folks. We’ve reached the end of this tale. Matticus and I would very much like to thank all of you who have taken the time to read all, or even some, of this story. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed writing it. Have a great day everyone!

First, there was blackness. Then, there was pain. It was soon followed by an unnerving numbing sensation that started off small, but slowly expanded until it enveloped his whole being. Plex didn’t know which one was worse. None of them seemed to match what he should have been feeling.
He had just killed Lavalandinarial, the dragon overlord whose tyrannical rule over his world led to the deaths of countless innocent people of all races. This should be a time when he was filled with happy feelings, not pain and then numbness. His sister and his teammates should be all around him, jumping for joy, yet here he was all alone. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

In a flash, it all came back to him: his sister being hit by the dragon’s tail, the cuts he sustained from debris flying up when the dragon tried to hit him with her tail, and the wounds in his back from the dragon exploding upon her death.

His first thought was of his sister. Was she alive? Was she dead? For that matter, was he alive? There was nothing around him except a vast empty space. There was light, but not much. Was this the afterlife? The elves had legends of what occurred after you died, but this didn’t match any of them.

“Wake up, damn you!”

The voice came from all around him. It was a deep voice, and one he recognized. There was a slight accent to it. For a moment, he couldn’t place it, but he finally recognized the accent as being dwarven. That was odd. The only dwarf that was coming to mind was Frukeld. This voice didn’t sound like the old dwarf, though. Who could it be?

“I said wake up, damn you!”

This time the voice was followed by a warm feeling all around him. It flowed over, under, and then finally through him. As the warmth built within him, Plex saw the area he was in begin to brighten. It was no longer an empty void. He was in the sky, surrounded by stars. Below him, clouds drifted lazily by. At the very bottom of his vision, there was a tiny dot, barely visible. Somehow, he knew that the dot was where he really was.

“I’m only going to tell you to wake up one more time before I start smacking you!”

The warmth filled him until he felt like he would explode. With one giant burst, it shot out of him in every direction. Plex felt himself falling. Looking down, he saw the dot growing bigger and bigger. Up above, the stars became smaller and smaller. His gaze drifted back down, towards his destination. It didn’t take long for him to recognize it as it came into view.

It was the arena where he had played football.

Plex’s eyes shot open as his floating form crashed into his body, which had been placed on the fifty yard line. He finally got a glimpse of the dwarf behind the voice. It was Kalant, the linebacker from his football team. Plex raised up to greet his teammate and, as soon as he did, the arena around him erupted in cheers. His jaw dropped open when he saw that the seats were filled to capacity.

“Don’t you dare pass out now,” Kalant grumbled while offering a steadying hand.

Plex gladly took it and took a moment to make sure his feet were steady under him before sweeping his gaze across the crowd. The stadium wasn’t just at capacity. It was beyond. Everyone was packed in, standing shoulder to shoulder, and extra space along the sidelines had been cleared for even more spectators. The other football teams rimmed the edge of the field. In his quick glance, he recognized many faces but the numbers were too overwhelming, the sound was too overwhelming.

Every person in that packed stadium was cheering and stomping and clapping. The sound was jubilant and somewhat terrifying.

“What is everyone cheering for?”

Plex could barely hear his own question. Kalant somehow heard it though and chuckled before replying, “For you, of course. They would have celebrated you either way but it is far better to celebrate the living.”

“Me? I didn’t do anything.”

This time Kalant laughed rather than chuckled. “Didn’t do anything? Didn’t do anything?”

Plex spun in a circle, feeling more himself, feeling stronger, he wanted to take in the whole stadium again. He wanted to see the rest of his team. He wanted to see his sister.
While he looked, Plex said, “No. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t come up with any of the plans. I didn’t gather any of the troops. I didn’t create the weapon.”

“You threw it though and you threw it true,” Kalant interrupted.

Then, before Plex could argue, Kalant went on, “You rose to the occasion and you stood against the beast, mentally and physically, when too few had the courage or resolve to do so. You inspired loyalty and you led people against the dragon. It may not have gone according to the plans Frukeld and the others had drawn up, but so what of that? Those plans were never more than an idea. And the purpose of that idea was to find someone inspiring he could take the beast down when the moment arrived.

“You, Plex. You were that champion and you did wonderfully. Not only did you just throw the spear and slay the beast but you helped create the opportunity to do so. You stood against her. You refused to let anyone else needlessly suffer. You showed us all how foolish we had been to cower before her for as long as we did.

“So, yes, they are cheering for you and I cheer for you too.”

With that, Kalant took two steps away from Plex and clapped toward the elf. Then adding his voice to the rest of the cacophony, Kalant cried out with triumph towards the sky.

Plex stared dumbfounded at the dwarf. His vision began to swim and he felt his legs go numb again. Gritting his teeth he forced himself to stand there and take in the applause he still felt he didn’t deserve.  When he felt like he couldn’t take anymore, he pushed the noise aside as best he could, banishing it from his mind, and forced his concentration on seeking out Gilania.

Why wasn’t she standing there with him? He couldn’t have done it without her. She’d found the spear and gotten it into his hands, putting herself directly at risk in doing so. His heart sank as his search continued to be fruitless. The certainty that she wasn’t alive began to sink in. Otherwise, she would have been out there with him already.

“My sister?” Plex asked, afraid of the answer.

Kalant’s face turned somber. “She lives,” he began, “but she’s in bad shape. Frukeld and his most powerful healers are doing everything they can for her as we speak. The old man seemed convinced that he could heal her, but her injuries looked pretty serious to me.”

“I’ve got to go check on her.”

“That won’t be necessary,” came a voice from behind them.

Plex whipped his head around to look at the speaker and immediately felt a wave of dizziness wash over him. He steadied himself and blinked until his vision returned to normal. When it did, he saw that it was Frukeld standing there, not Gilania. “My sister?”

“Is resting comfortably,” the old dwarf answered. “We were able to heal most of her injuries, but some of them were too great to heal completely. Her back, in particular, was bad. We managed to put her spine back together, but not before it was permanently damaged. She will likely walk with a limp for the rest of her life.”

Plex let loose a huge sigh of relief. While walking with a limp wasn’t something that anyone would want to do, it was certainly better than the alternative. “What about my injuries?” Plex asked. “If all the healers were with Gilania, who healed me?”

“I said that all of Frukeld’s healers were with her,” Kalant responded. “Not all the healers in the world.”

“When you killed the dragon,” Frukeld explained after seeing the confusion on Plex’s face, “her magical hold over people was broken. Once free from her dominance, some of the healers who were under her
thrall came to your aid.”

“And you trusted them? They could’ve been faking to get close enough to kill me.”

“We had guards there to ensure your safety. Besides, you trusted your fellow elf, didn’t you?”

Plex couldn’t argue with that. He did trust an elven woman after he broke the dragon’s hold over her. Wait, he thought. What had happened to her? And Coach Sprout? And Baclem? And everyone else that had gone through this journey with him? “Where are the others?”

“Things are still very chaotic right now,” Frukeld answered. “Even though you killed the dragon, some of her people remain loyal to her after death. They’re putting up some resistance and a few of your friends and teammates are fighting still. We’ve managed to drive them out of the city. They’re scattered, for the moment, but they’ll regroup and be a problem for us down the road.”

Plex looked around the cheering crowd. The sight of all the races mingling and standing together gave him hope. “What do we do now?”

“We build a better world.”

Fantasy Football Part 36

Head on over to the Kingdom and check out the latest chapter in our Fantasy Football story! The post has 0 calories and is completely fat free!

The Matticus Kingdom

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…

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Fantasy Football Part 35

Hey everyone. I took a little break from writing over the past few weeks, but now I’m back. Matticus is too! Here is the newest installment of our Fantasy Football series! Hope it is worth the wait.

The air above him whipped around wildly as the enraged dragon thrashed about on her damaged wings. Plex dropped his bow and braced himself for what he knew was coming. Lavalandinarial let loose an eardrum shattering howl. Even with his hands covering his ears, he still felt the sting of the audible attack. Next to him, Frukeld’s hands were at his temples, meaning that the dragon was also forcing her screams into the minds of the people as well.

“Vermin!” Lavalandinarial yelled. “You will suffer for this outrage! Not only will I destroy you, I will destroy all that you hold dear.”

It seemed like the dragon was going to say more, but it was abruptly cut off as she dropped from the sky. Her injured wings could no longer support her weight. Plex felt his heart sink as he watched her fall to the ground, landing heavily on a number of buildings. From his vantage point, it looked like one of the buildings was a bakery, but the others appeared to be houses. He hoped that Frukeld and his resistance group were able to clear the people who lived there out. He didn’t want any innocent bystanders dying because of him.

Frukeld had recovered enough that he was no longer holding his head, but the dwarf was still having trouble hearing. Plex had asked him twice if they had, in fact, gotten the people out of those buildings. Both times, he was met by a questioning stare for an answer. That was when he heard a sound that sent a chill running down his spine. The dragon was laughing. He knew then that something very bad was about to happen.

“I hear you, elf,” Lavalandinarial purred. “You may have blinded me, for now, but my hearing is more acute than even the sharpest of your kind. By asking about the houses beneath me, you have told me your greatest weakness. You care about the people of this world, and that care will be your undoing.”

Plex picked up his bow and fired another arrow. The odds of it doing any real damage were slim. After all, a dragon’s wings and eyes were its two most vulnerable areas and they’d already hit those. Every other part of the beast’s anatomy were covered by thick scales. Even if he were to hit her, the arrow would likely bounce off. At most, it would slip in between the scales and she’d feel something akin to a mosquito bite to him.
The attack wasn’t meant to hurt the dragon, though. It was meant to attract her attention. He had the sickening feeling that he once again knew what was coming next. Sure enough, he was right again. While his arrow was in the air, Lavalandinarial spewed forth a gush of flames from her mouth. His arrow disappeared in the fire, not even leaving ash in its wake. Whipping her head side to side, the dragon laid waste to everything in front of her.

By the time she was done, everything in front of her was destroyed. Homes. Businesses. Warriors. Players. Everything and everything was gone. And the beast laughed again.

Plex fired another arrow, hoping to send the missile straight down the dragon’s throat.

She jerked her head to the side and exclaimed, “I told you my hearing was superior. I could hear you pulling the string back on your puny weapon, elf. I can hear the heart in your chest beating. I’m going to raze this city, reveling in your grief, and then I’m going to pluck that heart from your chest with one of my talons.”

Frukeld pulled on Plex’s arm and mimed something, pointing to the arrow Plex had already nocked, and then the dragon in the distance. It seemed like Frukeld wanted Plex to fire again but the elf couldn’t see the point. Frukeld repeated the motion with emphasis and urgency.

Shrugging, Plex pulled back the bowstring and took aim. He was going to shout at the dragon again but he saw from the corner of his eyes that Frukeld had begun to cast a spell. Plex suddenly understood the dwarf’s plan. He was going to enchant the arrow so it flew silently. Maybe enchant the bowstring as well? Plex didn’t know and it didn’t matter. He needed Lavandinarial to open her maw again.

“Hey worm,” Plex yelled.

“I heard you pull back your bowstring again elf. I also hear the men on the ground trying to launch some sort of assault on me. Did you think I’d miss them if you distracted me? Do you really think they can hurt me at all?
Go on, send them in. When they are within striking distance I’ll incinerate them as well. I’ll enjoy it too. Maybe I’ll let a few through unscathed. All this chatting has made me hungry. I could go for a snack.”

Plex was sickened by her calm disregard for life. He assumed she was working on something else devastating as well, perhaps a spell or something other attack. Perhaps she was healing herself while they wasted time. He almost loosed the arrow then, thinking it might break her concentration enough to ruin whatever she was scheming but Plex held his own calm and waited for the dwarf to finish.

“You’ve gotten careless, worm. Your pride blinded you long before my arrows took your eyes. You can hear my heart? Do you hear the truth in it? Your rule is done.”

Lavalandinarial began to laugh again. It started as a chittering noise that grated on Plex’s nerves and then became an open throated howl of derision. The elf marveled at how mad she must truly be to take such pleasure in her isolating rule of destruction and devastation. She didn’t care who had to die for her to remain in power. She would burn the whole world if she wasn’t stopped.
Frukeld’s eyes opened and stared insensely at Plex. The time had come.
Plex gauged the distance one more time, guessed how and where the dragon would move and let the string go. The arrow sailed silently across the distance, arcing towards the beast’s still open, still laughing mouth.

It flew true and stuck in the dragon’s tongue. The laughter stopped and was replaced by a screech of anger.
Lavalandinarial began thrashing around and digging at the inside of her mouth. She quickly pulled her hand away, shaking it as if in pain. Her screeching became muffled. Her eyes opened wide in terror. Plex looked on in confusion, wondering what was going on because it was too dark to see clearly. One of the beast’s thrashes moved its head into the light given off by the fires she had just started. He saw why she was reacting that way.

The dragon’s mouth was filled entirely with ice. It was as if she had tried to swallow an iceberg that was too big to go down her throat. Plex turned back to Frukeld in disbelief. “Fireballs are nice, but they don’t do much good against a dragon who breathes flames,” the old dwarf explained. “Iceballs, on the other hand, do just fine against them.”

Plex still couldn’t wrap his mind around what he was seeing. Someone smacked the back of his head, knocking him back to reality. Gilania stood behind him, pointing at Lavalandinarial. “Do something while she’s still preoccupied!”

He was about to argue that the ice ball would choke for them when his keen ears detected a strange noise. His eyes shot back up to the dragon’s mouth and he saw where the noise was coming from. It was the sound of water dripping out from between the beast’s teeth. The fire in the dragon’s throat was starting to melt the magical ice. Gilania was right. He needed to do something, and quick. But what?

“Do you have any more enchanted arrows?” Plex asked.

“No,” Frukeld replied dejectedly. “And I don’t think I have time to cast another spell on one before she gets free of the ice.”

“I need something that can hurt her. Nothing I have will do any real damage to her.”

The old dwarf shook his head. “One of our people was carrying a magical spear that we had made just for you, but I fear he died in the dragon’s breath.”

“You said it was magical, right?” Gilania interrupted. “Then there’s a chance that it survived the fire.”

“There’s a chance,” Frukeld conceded, “but if you go looking for it, she’ll hear you.”

“We’re elves,” Gilania scoffed.

“Moving silently is what we do,” Plex finished for her.

“The man who carried the weapon was on the edge of the dragon’s breath, directly ahead, the last time I saw him.”

“Got it.”

Plex turned to leave, but felt the dwarf’s strong grip on his arm and stopped. “It won’t look like a spear,” Frukeld explained. “It will act like a spear, but it won’t look like one.”

“What does it look like, then?”

The old dwarf opened his mouth with a wide smile. “What else do you think we’d make it look like?” Frukeld chuckled. “It looks like a football, of course.”

Fantasy Football Part 34

A little late in reblogging this. If you haven’t already read it, make sure you head on over to The Matticus Kingdom to read the latest chapter in our Fantasy Football story.

The Matticus Kingdom

And on and on we go. Will this game never end? Oh… The game ended and now we are into a battle with a dragon?!? A dragon!!! Well, this should be interesting!

…..

The dragon bellowed, a sound of rage and contempt, so loudly that Plex felt like his ears were going to explode.  There was little he could do to shield himself from the sound.  He knew it was as much her screaming into their minds as she was audibly.  

She filled the sky above them.  Lavalandinarial was enormous and seeing her airborne was a terrifying sight that one could never get used to.  Plex knew he needed to move, needed to get away, to save his ears as well as the rest of him but he couldn’t break free from the sight.

Then a hand tugging him downward managed to shake up the trance her arrival had left…

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Fantasy Football Part 33

Hey everyone! Hope everything is going well in your neck of the woods. Wait… do woods have necks? If so, what are they for? Are there heads of the woods? Arms? Legs?

Weird…. anyway, here’s more story.

“The dragon is coming?” Plex asked. “Now?”

“There are two people here who have resisted her dominating will,” the elf woman replied. “Do you really think she would let that stand?”

Plex cursed, but couldn’t refute her logic. Lavalandinarial kept people in line through fear and mind magic. If there were people that were resisting both of those things, she needed to take them out before they could rally others. He was a threat to her, and he knew what the dragon did to threats.
Suddenly, he felt very tired. Plex was having trouble remembering the last time he had been asleep. This day seemed to go on forever. A lot had happened to him in that short amount of time, as well. Given all that he had been through, it was tempting to lay down and rest.

He would never do that, though. If he laid down, he would die. His family would die. His friends would die. His kinsmen would die. And the dragon would win. That was something he couldn’t allow. She would have to kill him before he’d admit defeat at her hands. If he didn’t do something quick, that’s exactly what would happen too.

By this time, Gilania’s team had managed to kill most of the Honor Guards who were harassing them, though it had cost them dearly. Only about a dozen of them were left. To his relief, he saw that his sister was one of them. She was injured, though. Her right eye was covered in a bandage. Plex started to get up to check on her. Gilania waved him off.
“It’s above my eye, not in it,” she yelled.

Plex was going to ignore her and rush over there anyway, but the look she shot his direction told him that he’d receive a fist for his trouble if did.
He looked around at the rest of the scene. A few of her teammates held the remaining three Honor Guards at sword point while the rest fought over what to do with them. Most of them were calling for their heads while the others tried to hold them off. Plex lowered his gaze to the elf woman he had just help free from the dragon’s dominance. What if those three were just like her?

“There are others like you, right?” he asked her. “People forced into doing the dragon’s bidding through magic?”

“If I had to guess,” she answered, “I’d say it’s about half. Half of them join up because they agree with what the dragon is doing, and the other half are those who the dragon wants for their skills, but who won’t fight for her willingly.”

“Do you know which are which?”
She thought about it for a moment before nodding. “Out of the ones who were here with me? Yes. I know which ones joined willingly or not.”
Plex pointed to where the three were trying to back away from the closing mob. “Are any of them under her spell?”

It took a moment for her eyes to focus, but she eventually said, “Yes. One of them is under her spell,” and then she passed out.

“Great timing,” Plex grumbled. Then he yelled where the three guards were surrounded, “One of them can be turned to our cause, the other two need to be killed. We don’t have time right now to figure it out. The beast is coming here, now.”

Roars of outrage and fear rumbled among the remaining teammates. Plex knew how they felt. Every second they wasted she was drawing nearer and if they were still in this open field she could just breathe fire down upon them and they would be destroyed without a fight.

Remembering the fight that had been going on beyond the facility, Plex whistled to his queen again. This time his message was more urgent, retreat now, retreat for your lives. He had to hope she got it and fled without questioning or she had fled before when she had warned that it was a trap. He didn’t have time to go and check on her and the warriors she had brought. They were on their own.
Plex hefted the elf he had been fighting off the ground, her head lulled to her shoulder, until she was positioned mostly securely across his shoulders. She weighed more than he’d expected, probably mostly the armor she wore, but he could carry her for a time.

He moved towards the surrounded guards, unsure of how to proceed. He didn’t want to kill them all but he wasn’t sure how to find out who could be saved. He didn’t have time to talk one of them down as he had the guard he now carried.

Before he could reach them, however, her weight was lifted from his shoulders. Startled, he turned to see that Baclem, the troll, his former teammate, his new friend, had easily taken her from him and slung her across his own shoulders. Plex thanked Baclem with a nod and then turned back to the problem at hand.
It was too late. He couldn’t hear her coming but he could feel it. Something about the air changed. It suddenly seemed darker.

“For the one of you that is working for the beast against your own will, know this: you can break free. I have won out against her magic once. So has this elf my friend now carries. If we can do it, so can you. Fight her and then come find us.”

Then with a frowning look to the sky, Plex said, “Knock them all unconscious and let’s get out of here.”

Three sickening thuds were followed by the sound of three bodes falling to the soft turf almost as one. Plex didn’t look. He didn’t want to know if they’d been hit to hard to survive. He needed to ensure these players, these newfound warriors, survived first and foremost. He wasn’t sure if he could lead them to safety but he was going to try.

“Follow me,” he said simply and then he turned to leave back the way he’d come.

Gilania called, “This way is faster.”

When he turned back, she was pointing towards a door on the far side of the practice field. Shrugging, he motioned for her to lead on.
She walked with a confidence that amazed him. He knew that she had spent little time in the city before coming here to play football, yet she was navigating the streets as if she had lived in it her entire life. Plex might’ve said something to her about it, but he was busy keeping an eye out for Honor Guards. Besides, he didn’t want to break her concentration. If she started paying attention to him, she might accidentally take a wrong turn and get them cornered.

Plodding up next to him, Baclem said something that the majority of the others were probably thinking, “We’d move a lot quicker if we didn’t have to drag our enemies along with us.”

“Not all of them are our enemies,” he responded. After explaining what the dragon had done to some of them as fast as he could, he added, “I don’t know about you, but I know I wouldn’t want to be killed for something that was beyond my control.”

The troll was silent for a moment. “You said she remembers killing her beloved, right? If I had to live with that memory, I’d see death as a blessing.”

As much as he wanted to, Plex couldn’t refute that logic. “Living with the memory of something like that would be hard. It’d be damn near impossible. Still, I’d want to take down the person who gave me that memory before I left this world.”

Their conversation was cut short by a whistle from his sister. Plex ran forward to Gilania’s position. Standing in front of her was an old dwarf. She seemed unsure of what to do, though she had a sword brandished in front of her. “Hold,” Plex cried to her. “I know this dwarf. He’s here to help.”

Frukeld nodded his thanks to Plex. “It seems that everyone in your family is skilled,” Frukeld said as a greeting.

“Only because you’ve never met our younger brother,” they replied in unison, drawing a chuckle from the old dwarf.

“Be that as it may,” Frukeld commented, “now is not the time for this discussion. In fact, time is something we’re out of right now.”

“What do you mean?” Gilania asked.

“Lavalandinarial will be here any moment.”

Plex opened his mouth to argue, then closed it right back up. He could feel the dragon drawing near them. The awe that her presence generated was building up in his stomach. She wasn’t there yet, but she was close.

“You fool,” Gilania spat at the dwarf. “If the dragon is almost here, why would you stop us? We could’ve escaped.”

“No,” Frukeld answered calmly. “She would have easily caught up with you and you would have died.” The corners of the old dwarf’s lips curled up into a smile. “Besides, we’ve got a surprise waiting right here for the big bitch.”

Just then, Plex’s stomach twisted up in knots. He knew what that meant before he looked up and saw her.

Lavalandinarial was here.

Fantasy Football Part 32

Be sure to check out the latest installment of the Fantasy Football series over at the Matticus Kingdom.

The Matticus Kingdom

And we’re back! Did you miss us? Of course you did. That was a silly question. Nothing silly about this story anymore. The battle has begun…

…..

Plex whistled to his Queen, a signal that meant it was a trap and retreat should be strongly considered, not caring that the momentary lapse in his concentration on the battle would give his opponent an opening to exploit.  He had to save her and as many of his people as possible.  As he whistled, he wondered if Vinyard had known and if that was why the gnome hadn’t wanted him to come.  But surely if Vinyard had known then he would have tried harder to talk Plex out of coming to save his sister?  

He laughed at himself.  Vinyard had told him this would likely turn out poorly.  Plex realized that Vinyard let him come because the gnome knew there was nothing…

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Fantasy Football Part 31

Here it is everyone! The next installment of Matticus and I’s story, Fantasy Football is out. We hope you’re all as excited to read it as we were to write it. So, without further ado…

They waited until they no longer heard any more Honor Guards walking around. There may have been some more sneaking about, but they didn’t have time for caution. Plex had to get into the practice facility to find his sister. Without another thought, he nimbly dropped down from the roof he was hiding on and took off running.

He made it a few blocks before he heard the first call of alarm. Turning to look behind him, he saw that Baclem was still with him. Beyond Baclem, a few of the dragon’s people were on their tails. Not many, just yet, but he knew more were coming. Plex just hoped that he didn’t find the way completely blocked when he got there. If there was even the tiniest of openings, he had a chance.

His lungs burned from exertion. His legs started feeling weak. It had been a very long day and he didn’t have much energy left. Plex knew he couldn’t stop. Stopping meant his death, and his sister’s, at Lavalandinarial’s hands. That wasn’t an option. He began pulling from reserves that he didn’t know he had. As far as he was concerned, nothing was going to get in his way.

But then he came within sight of the facility, and he saw the number of guards between them and the entrance. His heart dropped. There were dozens. He had no chance of getting past all of them. Not with only him and Baclem. It was impossible.

Still, he kept going.

Baclem shouted for him to stop. Plex never slowed. He raised his sword out in front of him like it was a jouster’s lance, screamed at the top of his lungs, and awaited the impact he’d get from running into the closest Honor Guard, an orc. Ten paces separated him and the orc. Then five. Plex positioned his blade for a killing strike.

Suddenly, the orc vanished. When he came upon where the orc was, he tripped.
Plex landed hard on the ground. What little breath he had was knocked from his chest. The sword fell from his hand and rattled across the cobblestones away from him. He crawled forward trying to reach it. A glance back showed him what he had tripped over. It was the orc, who lay dead with an arrow sticking out of its eye. His gaze went to Baclem, who was looking at the rooftops behind them.
The entire area around him erupted into screams and shouted orders. A hailstorm of arrows rained down among the Honor Guard. Two other guards fell down beside him. Plex rolled out of the way of the falling bodies and focused his vision on the rooftops where Baclem had been looking. His heart, which had dropped moments ago, was lifted back up.
The elven queen, along with a handful of her best archers, stood there loosing arrows among the Honor Guard. She saw him looking at her and she smiled. “Go get them,” she cried out to him.

Plex scrambled to his feet and ran into the opening his queen just made for him. He scooped up the sword he’d dropped and then left the chaos behind him as he entered the dark hallways of the training facility.
All chance for a quiet start to their revolution had just vanished, in a hail of arrows. Plex didn’t know how his Queen had gotten word of the situation or if her saving him was in the best interest of that revolution but he was thankful for the chance to find out. He needed to find his sister and save her and as much of her team as he could first. Then he’d deal with the fall out.

It would be great, he knew that. Lavalandindarial would be furious. Her wrath would be swift and far reaching. A thought caught in his mind and nearly made him stumble. His life had just been saved, true, but the cost would be the death of countless others.

Plex clenched his fists, steadied his feet, and carried on. “I’ll make it worthwhile.”

The sound of thundering feet made Plex glance behind him. He knew what he’d see but he still smiled when he saw Baclem struggling to catch up.
Plex slowed enough to let the troll get beside him and then together they raced through the hallways of the facility, checking behind open and closed doors alike, looking for any sign of Gilania’s team. There was none, though. Every room and hallways was empty.

Finally, they came upon the doorway that led to the practice field. Plex’s elven hearing picked up the sound of whispers and the slight movement that came with shifting weights from one foot to the other. There was a lot of too. He guessed, before opening the door, that everyone had been rounded up and moved out to the field.

Plex put his hand on the door, motioned for Baclem to be ready for a fight, and then whistled for his sister. He no longer doubted that she’d be able to hear him. She had heard him before. She would hear him now, especially since she’d be listening for the call. Then Plex took three deep, calming breaths, looked again to Baclem to make sure the troll was ready and shoved the door open.
He moved to the side of the door after pushing it and was rewarded for his caution as three arrows screamed through the space he’d have been in if he’d followed the flow of the door. He hoped that the equipment he’d hidden behind was still where it had been and then rolled through the doorway, his eyes sweeping the field as he did so.

The team was there, surrounded by a handful of guards. There were far fewer of them then had been outside and none of them had been armed with bows. Lavalandinarial’s Honor Guards must have thought they’d capture any attempted rescuers outside before they could get this far.

That was good.

A moment later, Plex was safely behind the stacked equipment that was where he’d remembered it being. That was also good. A glance back to the door showed that Baclem hadn’t followed. Plex wasn’t sure if that was good or bad but decided the troll had proved himself self-sufficient already this evening more than once.

Calling over his shoulder to the team on the field, Plex said, “Fight! Fight for your lives. They are planning on taking you before the dragon and if they do that you will all surely die.”

Without waiting for any kind of response, Plex hurled himself out from behind his momentary protection. His sword was raised and he was screaming a war cry. He met the first Honor Guard head on. Their blades locked. Plex stepped back and launched into a combination stroke that started off coming in from the side, then changing to go down at the knees.

The troll he was fighting was good. A lot better than the Honor Guards they’d come across so far. It blocked the side swipe and backed up in time to dodge the attack aimed at its knees. Plex came on in a fury, going into attack after attack, hoping to overwhelm the troll with his speed. At first, it didn’t look like it would work. The troll kept pace with him. Then, to Plex’s great relief, he managed to sneak his blade through the troll’s defenses to cut a line across the left side of its face. As it reacted to the cut, Plex finished it off by neatly cutting through the front half of its throat.

He turned around and found a second Honor Guard waiting for him. This time, it was a fellow elf. Plex inwardly cursed. It was highly unlikely that the tactics he used against the troll would work against an elf. The other elf was probably just as quick as Plex was. While he made a few rudimentary attacks to gauge his opponent, he tried to think of a way to end this fight quickly. “You don’t have to fight me,” he said, hoping to reason with the elf.

“The dragon commands,” a distinctly female voice hissed, “so it shall be done.”

Plex found himself caught off guard by the femininity in the angry voice. He didn’t know why. There were females of every race in Lavalandinarial’s Honor Guard. He was also well aware that females could be just as deadly in combat as males, if not more. Why did this shake him so? Maybe he just thought that he would never hear a female elf so vehemently defending the dragon. No matter the reason, he needed to get his head back into the fight. She had used his hesitation to draw blood with a small cut on his shoulder.

This is why I prefer my bow, he thought to himself as he got back into the proper defensive position. “Why should we listen to the dragon?” Plex asked. “All she does is create pain and suffering.”

“Strength should be followed and she is the strongest.”

Plex sidestepped another attack, but made no move to attack her in response. “Crazy shouldn’t be followed, and she is the craziest.”

“Lavalandinarial’s will must be followed.”

“Even if it means killing your own kind? Your friends? Your family?”

The angry facade slipped for a moment and Plex knew he’d hit upon something. “She’s already made you do it, hasn’t she?” he deduced. “She made you kill someone you love. Who was it? A parent? A sibling?”

“It doesn’t matter now,” she said in a tone that was as angry as it was sad. “You can’t win here. You’re not facing her raw recruits anymore. You’re facing her seasoned veterans. She’s accomplished her goal.”
Before he could ask what that meant, the sounds of fighting from outside the facility became louder than those inside the facility. He knew what the female elf was talking about now. Lavalandinarial had used her worst fighters to give him and the rest of the rebels the confidence to come out of the shadows. She had baited them.
And Plex had put a lot of people in danger because he fell for it.