Fantasy Football Part 19

Hey, everyone. I’m a little bit later in getting to this story than I wanted to be, but between the new job and being sick, I just didn’t have the time or energy to do any writing on it for a few days. But, I got back to it and we have a new part for you to read on this here Christmas Eve. Hopefully, you enjoy this little present, because it’s all I can get for you all. And, no matter which, if any, holidays you celebrate, I sincerely hope that enjoy them.

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“Go in!”

Plex didn’t have to look around to know the source of the voice was Coach Sprout. Before he could ask what the gnome was talking about, he felt the little man’s hand on his back trying to push him onto the field. “Go in and block that extra point,” Sprout implored.

He slowly started walking out onto the field, seeing that their coach had also been shoving on Glavven’s backside too. Plex’s eyes flicked up towards the dragon. It had raised up to full height and was watching the duo walk off the sideline with a mixture of anger and amusement. The duo quickened their pace to get into position before the ball was hiked.

It was quick thinking on the gnome’s part, Plex knew, that had prevented Glavven from being inside Lavalandinarial’s mouth right now. Had they remained on the sideline, the dragon would’ve come down and picked the minotaur up and swallowed him whole. By sending them out onto the field, Sprout had, at the very least, delayed it. While it was true that the dragon could do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, it was much less likely that she would act openly while there was action out on the field. It was obvious that she wanted to have a hand in the outcome of the games, but it was also obvious that she didn’t want it to be known that she did. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been so subtle in her magic.

The duo was still running up to the line of scrimmage when the ball was hiked. Plex stopped, thinking that they were too late to even make an attempt to block it. Glavven didn’t stop, though. The furious minotaur bellowed out a roar of rage and charged the line. He watched as the minotaur blew through the entire line, pushing away teammates and the opposition alike on his way toward the kick. It was an impressive display of power, made even more impressive because Glavven was doing it with an injured knee.
Boot hit ball and the kick went streaming at the uprights. Glavven planted on his good leg, let out another bellow, and jumped with all of his might. Plex found himself holding his breath through the display, but that changed when he gasped in shock. Glavven had done it. The tips of his outstretched left hand grazed the ball. It wasn’t enough to block the ball completely, but it did change the ball’s trajectory.

The entire stadium watched as the ball veered wildly to the right. By the time it got to the end zone, it was almost twenty yards wide of the uprights. The kick was no good.

All around him, his teammates jumped up and down in celebration. Plex wanted to join them, but he instead looked up at the dragon. All traces of anger were gone. It was smiling that cocky, superior smile. He dropped his head and started to shake it. This should’ve been a moment of celebration, but he couldn’t. He knew what was coming next.

With the blocked kick, the score was now forty-two to thirty-nine, a three point difference. If the other team recovered their soon to be attempted onside kick, they couldn’t win the game with a field goal. They could tie it, though, and he knew that was the dragon’s plan. Lavalandinarial was going to find a way to make the game go into overtime.

Plex turned around jogged back to the touchline. “Coach, leave me for the return. In fact, put in all of our players with the best hands. We need to make sure whoever the ball hits they can grab it and hold onto it.”

The gnome studied his quarterback and nodded once and began issuing instructions. The line that got sent out was nothing like the normal kick return unit. The special teams coach put up some fuss that his guys should be trusted with the task but Sprout quickly silenced that outburst with a look where his eyes first trained on the special teams coach and then flicked towards the dragon.

This kicking team lined up and for the first time ever, because this hadn’t even been a scenario in any of the practices, Plex found himself on the field facing the entire kicking line. Without his own row of offensive linemen protecting him, Plex was surprised how scary it was staring into the eyes of minotaurs, orcs, goblins and dwarves. They would be coming full force and the ball would be bouncing around chaotically.

Plex was near the center of the field so it was unlikely the ball would come to him. Looking left and right he saw looks of determination in all of his teammates. They knew what was coming and what was expected of them. To a man, they were set on making sure they did not let their team down.

The whistle blew and the kicker did a short run up before side footing the ball. It smashed into the ground at his feet and began to bounce and spin wildly. Plex watched it, like he would have from the sideline, until the movement of his teammates reminded him that he needed to act.
The field became a blur as everyone rushed for the ball. As fast as he was, Plex didn’t think he’d get there first but he was certainly going to try. The kicking line came in at crushing speeds. The teams on the sidelines were shouting. The spectators were on their feet yelling. And Lavalandinarial had once again lifted her head up to gaze intently upon the action. Plex saw all of this and none of it at the same time.

His pace outstripped most of his teammates. The ball, nearly within reach, still danced and spun and then it disappeared under a dwarf from his team and a minotaur from the kicking team. Without thinking about it, Plex threw himself on top of the minotaur, his eyes darting around looking for the ball, ready to grab it should it pop free.

And then someone else smashed into his back. And then more weight was added. And then more until it felt like everyone from both teams was piled on top of him. It burned to breath. His senses were assaulted by the smells and feel of so many players. He pushed as much of it aside as he could and scrambled to keep his arms free and ready to haul in the ball should he see it. All around him, arms writhed intent upon the same.

Then a series of short whistle blasts pierced through the pile and slowly, the weight was removed one player at a time while the Honor Guard worked on trying to figure out who had ended up with possession of the ball.
Sitting in the middle of this massive pile of people was starting to make him a little claustrophobic. Sure, there were some big piles on offensive plays, but nothing like having almost two full teams of players on top of him. It was almost enough to make him panic, but he controlled his anxiety and breathed in as deeply as he could, slowly and calmly. Plex kept reminding himself that this was just a part of the game and it would be over soon.

Eventually, the last bit of weight lifted off of him and he was able to stand up. His whole body ached, though whether that was from just the pile or the whole game he wasn’t sure. Thoughts of pain were pushed to the side momentarily as he looked at the remaining two players on the pile. Only the dwarf and minotaur remained. Plex peered intently as the Honor Guard surrounded the pair, blocking the majority of his view. One of the Honor Guard that were on the opposite side of the pile from him, a fellow elf, glanced up at Lavalandinarial. Plex followed his gaze and turned his head in time to see the dragon’s eyes flick over the sideline of Gilania’s team.

When Plex looked back at the pile, he saw one of the Honor Guard pull the ball from the dwarf and punch him in the stomach. As the dwarf doubled over, the elf bent with him, whispering harshly in the dwarf’s ear. No doubt, they were threatening him to keep quiet about what really happened on the bottom of the pile. Nodding his head vigorously, the dwarf appeared stunned when he was punched in the stomach again after the elf helped him up.

With a wave of his hand, the Honor Guard called the healer over from Plex’s sideline. Anger was building from within him and it took all he had to keep himself quiet. This was becoming ridiculous. If he wasn’t so sure that the dragon would eat him if he tried to do it, he would’ve walked off the field and quit right then and there. Football was pure. It was a game of skill, athletic ability. It was a game of strategy that was dependent on how well you blended all of that together.

What it certainly wasn’t, and should never be, was scripted.

The outcome of a game should never be determined by anyone other than the players on the field. Even if that someone else was the most powerful being in the world.

A New Place to Farm

He stopped his wagon for the soldiers guarding the border of this new kingdom. “State your name and business,” the first soldier said.  

“My name is Tomas,” he replied. “I heard you needed people to farm your land.” 

“You heard correctly, but why would you leave your home to come farm our lands?” 

“I don’t have a home anymore. All my land is underwater now that the dam broke during the flood. I managed to grab a few baskets of my crops and a handful of my chickens, but I lost everything else.” 

The first soldier walked around to the wagon and looked inside. When he walked back, he nodded at the other soldier to indicate that Tomas only had what he said he had. The second soldier finally spoke. “We need to ask you a few questions before we allow you to enter our fair kingdom. 

“I understand,” Tomas said. “Security is important. 

The first soldier shook his head. “Not security, no. Matters of security here tend to work themselves out with almost no help from us.” 

Tomas was confused by that answer, but he didn’t have time to question it before the second soldier added, “The questions we ask will be to determine if you are compatible with the people here and how well you blend in with our culture. 

He was still confused. Unsure, he weakly replied, “Okay…” 

“Question one: Can you sing?” 

“What?” 

“Can you sing?” 

Tomas couldn’t believe the question. “Are you joking?” 

The second soldier put his hand on his sword, indicating that it was no joke. Before the weapon was pulled, the first soldier jumped in. “Our princess likes to break out into song for no reason. Therefore, the citizens of our kingdom must be able to sing as well in order to harmonize with her. So, we’ll ask you one last time, can you sing?” 

This was ridiculous, he thought, but if this is what he had to do in order to start his life over, so be it. “I’m not the best singer in the world,” he said, “but I’m good enough to sing in the background. 

“Go ahead and sing something for us.” 

Tomas still felt like this was absurd, but went along with it anyway. Not that he really had much of a choice in the matter. He began singing a folk tune that had been sung in his lands for centuries. The two soldiers stopped him before he got to the third line. 

“That was terrible,” the first soldier said.  

“Completely horrible,” the second soldier agreed. “Can you dance? If you can’t sing, you’ve at least got to be able to dance behind her while she sings.” 

“No,” Tomas admitted. “I lost three of my toes fighting of some wolves that were attacking my sheep. I haven’t been able to walk straight since.” 

I’m sorry,” the first soldier said, “but if you can’t sing or dance, we can’t let you into our kingdom. 

“This is ridiculous,” Tomas protested. “I can farm. Surely, that must be more important to your kingdom than your princess’ songs.” 

Both soldiers drew their swords. “Nothing is more important than the musical numbers of our princess,” they said in unison. 

“But…” 

“Get out of here right now,” the first soldier ordered.  

Tomas hurried to do as he was instructed. After he got his wagon turned around, he heard the second soldier yell out, “And if we ever see you anywhere near the land of Disneya again, we’ll fuckin’ kill you!” 

Fantasy Football Part 9

Here it is, everyone! The moment that you’ve all been waiting for! It’s the next installment of the story that Matticus and I are writing. I hope you’re all enjoying it so far!

Plex felt a little better when he saw his big running back pound it into the end zone. He ran back to the sideline and drank from a bucket by the bench. The crowd erupted when his kicker made the extra point, giving his team a one point lead with a score of seven to six. After congratulating his running back, who made an excellent play, he praised his offensive line who kept the defenders at bay during the run.

As much as he wanted to watch the game while the defense was on the field, Plex focused on talking amongst his offensive teammates and coaches. His attention needed to be on perfecting their gameplan, not worrying about what the defense was doing on the field. Whenever the crowd erupted, he wondered whether they were cheering for a good offensive or defensive play. It didn’t matter, though. His job was to try to score every time he touched the ball.

Then he remembered the dragon’s proclamation.

If he scored on every possession, and the other team didn’t, he’d be sentencing his sister to death. He refused to be responsible for that. He would certainly try to win the game, but he had to keep the score close. The margin of victory, if the game ended now, would be one point. That would be optimal. Plex vowed to keep that the margin for the rest of the game. All he would do from now on was match the other team score for score. It was the best way to ensure Gilania’s safety.

His discussion with his offensive teammates was interrupted when he heard Coach Sprout calling his name. As he made his way over to the coach’s position, he looked up at the board erected to keep track of the score. Gilania’s team now had a two point lead. That meant that they had kicked a field goal. Considering the problems their kicker had already gone through during the game, that was surprising. It also meant that he had to do whatever he could to ensure that his team scored, but only a field goal, on this drive.

The first play that Coach Sprout called was another running play. This time, the defense was able to take the minotaur down after a six yard gain. With the play starting at their own thirty-one yard line, Plex dropped back to pass. Looking to his left, he saw his primary receiver covered. Across the middle, his tight end was similarly covered. His eyes moved to the right, where he saw his other receiver, Baclem the troll, had a step on the defender.

Plex let go of the ball just as a goblin defender hit the back of his knee. There was nothing he could do to stop his fall. He wanted more than anything to see how his pass had worked out, but he couldn’t see as he was falling to the turf. As he hit the ground, the sound of a roaring crowd assaulted his ears. The crowd wouldn’t have reacted like that, he knew, unless it was a touchdown or an interception. He quickly got to his feet to see which one it was.

Baclem was dancing in the end zone. Somehow the troll had gotten past all the defenders to score, putting them up thirteen to nine, with the extra point attempt still left to go.

As the ball sailed through the uprights, giving his team a five point lead, Plex’s heart dropped into his stomach. A quick glance towards the large hourglass, which marked the time left in each of the four quarters of the game, showed the first quarter was nearly over and that did nothing to settle his emotions. While there was still a lot of game to be played, time was not going to be his friend in this test of skills and mental strength.
The only thing he could do was go back to talking with his teammates. He needed to continue to build those relationships. He would need their help if he was going to be successful in keeping the score close. Whether they became aware of what he was doing or not, he would need to understand, understand their movements, understand their likely choices.

While he chatted, his team kicked off and the other team managed to break through the first set of players before being taken down near the fifty yard line. They would be well positioned for a field goal, at least, if they could move the ball forward a little bit. That made Plex happy. That would help eat into the lead. And, if they scored a touchdown, then Plex would do his best to get his own team into field goal range.

The opposing team ran two running plays back to back, advancing for one yard and then six yards, leaving them only three yards short of a first down, before the whistle blew for the end of the first quarter. The teams shuffled around and, after a short pause, while the ball was placed in the right spot, the whistle blew again and the game started back up.

They ran a third running play, which surprised Plex. They only needed three yards but they hadn’t shown much success with the run except for the opening kick-off where they ran back for a touchdown. Their runner was stopped after only a yard gained and Plex was surprised for the second time in quick succession when they didn’t send on their kicking team.
Plex wanted to get back to talking to his teammates but he couldn’t take his eyes off the action. The other team was making a mistake and the hush in the crowd made it seem like even they knew it was a mistake. The ball was snapped and the quarterback was immediately tackled by a rushing gnome. Plex hadn’t even seen Coach Sprout make that formation change, but the diminutive rusher slipped through the defense and wrapped up the quarterbacks legs, giving them a loss of four yards.

Half the crowd cheered. Half the crowd booed. Plex wasn’t sure why they were doing either, honestly. Maybe they were cheering for the gnome? Maybe they were booing the gnome? It didn’t really matter. He had a job to do.

Pulling on his helmet, he trotted onto the field with the rest of his offensive line and then, once huddled, looked to the sideline to see what play Coach Sprout wanted them to run. It was a running play. That was good because it was less likely they would pick up a ton of yards but once the ball left his hands he would no longer be in control of what happened with the play. He relayed the play to his teammates and they broke to get into position.

Plex barked out the cadence. His center hiked him the ball, he caught it, and handed it to the minotaur. As he watched the running back run for a short gain, his mind wandered back to how he was going to handle the rest of the game. It would be easy to keep the score close. That wasn’t the problem. No, the problem was that anything he did in this game to keep the score close could have serious consequences in their next games.
If he played badly, it would cause his team to lose faith in him, which could affect their play in the future. He could also twist it just a bit and make it look like some of his teammates were playing badly. A fumbled handoff to the running back, or a pass that is close enough for his receiver to touch, but not catch easily. If he did that, it would have a negative effect on his teammates’ confidence, which would also affect their play in the future.

The safest play would be to do a combination of both. As long as they won, he didn’t think that a few bad plays here and there would cause too much of a problem. Once the game was over, he’d blame it on the time constraints causing a lack of chemistry. It was a plausible excuse, one that they would latch onto. All he had to worry about now was pulling it off.

Coach Sprout called the next play, another run. Plex again took the snap and held the ball out for the running back to grab. Just before the minotaur touched it, Plex let go of the ball. It hit the outside of his running back’s hand and bounced forward towards the line of scrimmage. A mad scramble ensued after shouts of, “Fumble!” filled the air around him. The Honor Guard referees picked their way through the pile and found the person who picked up the ball.

A large ogre defensive lineman emerged from the crowd with the ball in his hands. Plex wanted to smile at his plan’s success, but forced it down. Instead he shot his running back an accusatory look. The minotaur, Glavven, was clearly confused. He had no idea how he had muffed the exchange. Plex softened his expression as they walked to the sideline. “Don’t worry,” he said to Glavven. “It’s just one play. We’ll get it back and you’ll ram it down their throats again.”

Glavven nodded resolutely and the two of them walked over to Coach Sprout. Plex was expecting to be yelled at, but Sprout just gave them words of encouragement and ordered them to work on their exchanges while the defense was out on the field. The two of them did as instructed, stopping only when the crowd erupted in cheers. Looking over, they saw that the other team had scored another touchdown, this time with a pass. After the extra point made the score sixteen to fourteen in favor of Gilania’s team, Glavven ran out onto the field to catch the kickoff.

The minotaur returned it to their thirty-five yard line and Plex ran out onto the field. Sprout called a pass play, knowing they had to hurry if they wanted to score before halftime. Plex’s plan was looking good. If he drove them down to kick a field goal, they’d be back up by one point again. All he had to do was drive them into field goal range before stalling the drive out.

His elven receiver broke across the field right after he received the hiked ball. Plex let it fly. As soon as the ball left his hand, his receiver stumbled and fell. Everything went quiet for the briefest moment as he watched his pass, which would have been perfect, fly right into his sister’s waiting hands. He broke free from his stupor and ran to tackle her, but she had picked up a line of blockers. Before he knew it, he had been knocked onto his backside and Gilania was in the endzone.

At the Office

Bob was walking down the hallway to his office when he heard a raised voice coming from one of the other offices. He listened for a second to figure out which office it was before he stuck his head in. The office belonged to a man named Tom. Though Bob found Tom to be a little odd, he thought he was a good guy and wanted to help if he could.

At first glance, however, he noticed that something wasn’t right. There was nobody else in the room with Tom. The light was off on the office phone, so he wasn’t using that, and Tom didn’t have a Bluetooth earpiece that he could be talking into. So, who was he talking to?

It wasn’t the first time he’d caught Tom talking to himself, but it was the loudest he’d been while doing it. The frequency of them had been rising too. This was probably the third time in the past couple of weeks it’s happened. Usually, it was in the break room, though.

“Everything all right?” Bob asked the agitated man.

Tom slowly turned his head until he was looking at Bob out of one eye over his shoulder. It was eerie, sending a chill up Bob’s spine. “Everything is fine,” Tom answered after a few seconds. “I’m just trying to work something out and it helps to hear it out loud.”

Bob relaxed a little. It was an explanation that made at least some sense. Still, he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the way Tom was looking at him. He thought it best to just walk away and let Tom deal with whatever the problem was on his own. “Ok. I hope you get it figured out.” Bob should have left it there, but he inexplicably added, “Let me know if I can do anything to help.”

Bob cursed himself for saying that. Why had he said it? He certainly didn’t want to help Tom. Sure enough, as soon as he turned to leave he heard Tom say, “You know what? I probably could use some help.”

Bob rolled his eyes before whipping back around with a fake smile. “Sure, buddy, what are you working on?”

“No!” Tom screamed.

“No? No what? Do you want my help or not?”

A wicked grin slowly worked its way onto Tom’s face. “He knows.”

The whole thing was starting to irritate Bob. Tom was acting crazy and he still had that uneasy feeling that he’d gotten when he first entered the room. “Stop playing around,” Bob snapped. “I don’t have time for this. I’ve got other work to do.”

Bob stepped toward the door only to have it slam in his face. He jumped. The door had shut by itself. “How did you do that?” he demanded.

Tom took a step closer, the grin still on his face. “He knows,” Tom repeated.

“I don’t know anything,” Bob countered, taking a step back.

“You’re not allowed to know. You must be punished.”

Before he could ask what the punishment was, a shadow flew from out of Tom and hit Bob squarely in the chest. The force of the impact threw Bob backwards into the door. Wood shattered when he hit and the door blew apart. When Bob landed, he had a burning sensation in his chest. His heart pumped faster and faster until it felt like it was going to explode.

Then, it did.

Bob’s head lulled to the side as his last breath left his body.

Tom shook his head, wondering why he was at work. The last thing he remembered was opening the door at his apartment for the pizza delivery man. He took out his phone to see what time it was, and was shocked by what he saw. Not the time, but the date. According to his phone, it was a week later than he thought it should be.

All of that flew out of his mind when he looked up and saw Bob laying in the middle of the hallway, surrounded by pieces of the broken door. “Oh my God,” he said as he rushed to Bob’s side. “Are you ok?”

Tom breathed a sigh of relief when Bob started moving. His relief was short-lived when Bob grabbed his arm and tried to bite it. Luckily, he managed to pull his arm free before the teeth clamped down. Tom jumped back and shouted, “What the hell, man?”

When Bob started moving after him, Tom saw that something was very wrong. Bob’s movements were clunky. It was Bob’s eyes that made him cringe, though. They were completely dead and, while he could’ve been imagining things, Tom would’ve sworn he saw a black shadow pass briefly over them. Tom backed away as Bob started to crawl towards him.

“B…br…bra…” Bob stuttered before finally finishing the word. “Brains…”

Tom turned and ran.

Fantasy Football Part 7

“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

This was only the second morning he’d had to deal with it, but Plex already hated the cylindrical contraption that his coach used to amplify his voice. He wasn’t sure how long he would be on this team. At the end of that time, though, he vowed that he would destroy that annoying thing. When combined with Coach Sprout’s high pitched voice, it gave him an instant headache.

It didn’t help that Plex was tired. He had spent a long night trying to get to know his new teammates while they ate. While he walked among them, he noticed that they had three extra players on their team. Originally, they were told that each team was to have a fifty-three person roster, just like the teams on the realm in which this sport originated. Plex counted fifty-six players. He assumed that it was done that way to keep the number of players from each race even. Sure enough, after counting, he found that there were seven players from each race on his team.

Plex also noticed that despite the bonding experience they shared at their previous meal, the majority of his teammates had reverted back to sitting with those of their own race. There were a few mixed groups, the offensive line all sat together, but most of them stuck with their own kind. Plex made his way from group to group with mixed success.
The gnomes and the rest of the elves were incredibly nice to him, though he suspected that the gnomes were just happy that someone from a higher ranking race was acknowledging them. Kalant left when he saw Plex approaching, but the rest of the dwarves were cordial with him. The minotaurs, trolls, and ogres weren’t nice to him, but they were respectful. In particular, the minotaurs were only concerned about with winning and they thought that Plex as quarterback gave them the best chance of doing that.

Orcs, however, were another matter. Continue reading

Fantasy Football Part 5

Plex and the offense ran the running play after their coach left the huddle. His new dwarven acquaintance Kalant, playing with the second string defense, came in and stopped the running back for no gain. Coach Sprout came in and made a few slight changes, shifting the play’s direction from the right to the left and making it an outside pitch instead of an inside handoff. When they ran that play, Kalant once again stopped it for little gain.

He shook his head at the dwarf’s uncanny ability to sniff out the running plays. Plex wanted to question Coach Sprout about the wisdom of putting Kalant on the second string defense. He didn’t want to openly criticize one of the coach’s decisions, though. Perhaps later, when they were alone, he’d ask about it. Instead, he listened to the coach describe the passing play he wanted them to run.

The center snapped the ball to him as he started the play in the shotgun position. He surveyed the field. Both receivers to his left were covered fairly well. His eyes snapped over to the rightt, but stopped in the middle of the field. Traag, his ogre tight end, was wide open after running right past Kalant. Plex threw the ball and hit Traag in stride. The dwarf caught up to the ogre, tackling him from behind.

Counting it off the hashmarks on the field, he saw that they had gained thirty-two yards on that play. He pumped his fist and exchanged high fives with a few of his offensive lineman. They moved down to the new line of scrimmage. Their coach ran down the field to relay their new play to them in the huddle. Plex rolled his eyes at this tactic. He couldn’t wait until they knew the plays well enough to just get the signals from the sideline.

The next few plays were almost exactly like the first ones. They ran twice with Kalant stuffing the plays both times. Then, on third down, they passed. Plex hit Traag on another deep route after the dwarf misplayed his pass coverage assignment. This time, Traag managed to evade the dwarf’s tackle attempt and made it into the open field. A couple of defenders had a chance to tackle him, but Traag bowled one over and used a stiff arm to perfection.

Touchdown.

Plex jumped up into the arms of his closest offensive lineman, a troll named Chear. He and the rest of the offense congratulated each other as they walked over to the sideline. When he got there, he looked across the field and saw that Kalant was staring at him. From the look on the dwarf’s face, it was clear that he wasn’t happy with Plex at the moment. Plex felt bad for making Kalant look bad, but he had an obligation to the rest of the team to do his best to get them ready for tomorrow’s game. He wasn’t going to sacrifice his offense’s cohesion just to spare the dwarf’s feelings.

The first string special teams unit went onto the field and after even more instruction from Coach Sprout and the special teams coach, the whistle was blown and the point after attempt was made. There was more fanfare from the first string offense and then directions were reversed and the first string kicker launched a ball down the field to the second string.

As the plays went on, with the second string doing a decent job of moving the ball down the field, Coach Sprout interrupted less and less. It seemed like the players were getting the hang of what he wanted to see. It helped that he kept repeating the same plays. As with the first string, the second string wasn’t having much success with running plays but were finding open players downfield to connect with and pick up some yards.

Plex found that interesting. Why were the defenses better at stopping the running game? They were all tall and fast. They shouldn’t have a problem keeping up with the wide receivers and disrupting passes. Yet, time after time, the second string quarterback converted a pass on third down until he too managed to get a touchdown.
After their kicker tied the game, Coach Sprout blew his whistle and called everyone over to him at the sideline.

“Great job, everyone. As you may have noticed, I was focusing on just a few plays there and just working with the offense. Quarterbacks, I want you to run those same plays again, and this time I’m going to work with the defenses and see if we can figure out how to keep some of those passes from turning into completion.”

Plex didn’t want to question what his coach was doing but he had to ask, “Why are we only running these plays? If we do that in a real game, the other team will surely figure out how to stop us and then we won’t have practiced anything else to beat them with.”

The gnome once again flashed his knowing smile and responded, “The day is still young, Plex. We are starting small. You’ve run these plays only a couple times and already you’ve got them memorized. That’s great. Now I can call these plays from the sidelines. Each string will get one more run out while I work with the defense and then the next time through I will be calling new plays.”

The elf blushed. The answer was so obvious now that Coach Sprout had said it he was embarrassed he hadn’t been able to keep his mouth under control. He needed to work on that. It sure was seeming like the gnome had an answer for everything. Coach Sprout was certainly more organized than the elven coach had been before the teams had been split up.

Coach Sprout looked around and asked, “Any other questions?”

Plex saw Kalant flash a glare towards the gnome but the dwarf said nothing. None of the other teammates seemed interested in asking anything after they’d seen Plex get embarrassed.

“Great, let’s get back to it. Second string get out there and kick this thing off.”

The teams ran back onto the field and lined up. Coach Sprout blew his whistle and the second string kicker sent the ball flaying across where it was snatched out of the air by the first string running back on the eight yard line. The running back darted forward, angling towards the sideline. A pair of trolls and a dwarf provided cover and then the running back was off, eating up the yards until an elf managed to catch up to him, tackling the runner near the fifty yard line.
Plex pulled his helmet on and trotted onto the field.

They ran through the same process as the first drive. This time, the defense was a little stiffer against the pass. Plex and the offense still managed to punch the ball in for a touchdown. A few of his teammates were a little frustrated at the extra work it took to score that time, but Plex took it as a good sign. It meant that the defense was getting better. The better their defense was, the better their chances at winning the games.

He ran over to the sideline with the rest of the offense. While the second string offense went up against the first string defense, Plex started running over the plays with his teammates. By the time the scrimmage was over, he was confident that they had all of these first plays down pat. He was going to suggest that they go back to having the receivers run routes with him, to continue building a rapport with him, but the coach’s whistle stopped that idea before it began.

“Gather around,” Coach Sprout yelled through his cone shaped contraption.

The players did what he asked, although the minotaurs did so at a much slower pace than the rest. It was clear that they still didn’t like that they were being forced to take orders from someone they considered a far inferior being. If Coach Sprout noticed the slight, he didn’t acknowledge it. Plex gave the gnome credit for that. If their roles were reversed, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep himself from being irritated at their actions.

When they had all finally circled their diminutive coach, Sprout smiled. “That was a good practice, ladies and gentlemen. While there are still a lot of things that we need to clean up before this season is over, I feel like we took a few good strides forward today. If we keep working as hard as we did today, I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll win this whole thing.

“For now, we’re going to break into groups and do a few sets of cooldown exercises. Once we’re done with those, the cooks will begin dinner and you’ll have the rest of the night to rest your bodies. Along with your meals, the cooks will be handing you the updated version of the playbook. While you’re resting, you need to be studying these new plays. I don’t expect you to have the whole thing memorized by the time the game starts tomorrow, but the quicker you learn them, the better off we’ll be.

“That’s all. Have a good night, guys. If any of you want to talk to me about anything, my tent is always open.”

The team began to disperse. Plex asked some of his teammates if they wanted to practice some more on their own. A few agreed, but most laughed at him. There weren’t enough willing to participate to make the extra practice worth it, so Plex just dropped it. The others began making their way towards the cooks, but the lines were too long. He decided to let the lines die down before he went up there.

Plex grabbed a ball off the ground and launched it at the goal post. Just as the ball pinged off the pole, just where he had aimed it, the air exploded out of his lungs. He wasn’t sure what had just happened, but he found himself on the ground with a sharp pain in his chest. Above him stood Kalant, looking down angrily at him.

“You think you can make me look like a fool and not pay the price for it?”

Fantasy Football Part 3

Here is the next installment of the blog hopping story by Matticus and myself. Sorry it took so long to get it to you. There was a delay caused by a miscommunication between us. There’s no point in assigning blame (it was actually my fault, but since this is my blog, I’m still going to say it was his). Let’s just sit back, relax and enjoy Part 3.

***** ***** *****

“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

Plex jumped up reaching for a sword. The voice was so loud, and so insistent, that he thought they were under attack. When he was awake enough to take in his surroundings, he realized that he was in his team’s training encampment. It was his new coach who had awakened him. His coach was yelling into some cone shaped contraption that somehow amplified his voice.

A quick glance around showed that none of his teammates appreciated the wake up call, especially since it was still dark outside. Many of them appeared like they were going to protest this intrusion, but Plex doubted that it would come to that. The vision of what the dragon did to the minotaur when he complained was still fresh in their minds. They might grumble under their breaths, but they wouldn’t voice their displeasure out loud. They didn’t want to be Lavalandinarial’s next meal. Continue reading