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.”

Looking Back: Traditions

I was reading through some old Calvin and Hobbes strips recently when I came across the one that inspired this image (which I found at actionthisday.deviantart.com)

Like most Calvin and Hobbes strips, it was funny, but this one had a point too.

In the first panel of the strip, Calvin says, “The more you think about things, the weirder they seem.” The picture above shows you his example of this. But, if you, yourself, stop to think about it, you’ll probably be able to come up with your own.

The first one that came to my mind (while singing at someone’s party) was putting candles on birthday cakes. How did that start? Why is that a thing?

Was someone sitting around a long time ago thinking: “I made them this cake for their birthday, but it’s not enough. It seems kind of boring. What can I do to make this cake more exciting? I know! I’ll light it on fire!”

So, the party comes and they pour some liquor on top and light it to make a cake flambe. Then, as the flames start burning out of control, the guest of honor screams, “I really wish you’d put the fire out.” Everyone runs into the street. The fire brigade shows up, but it’s too late. Once the flames burn out, the house is nothing but stone and ash.

That’s when the town asshole, from the back of the crowd, chimes in, “It looks like your birthday wish came true.”

Then the town chandler walks up and says, “I think, I think, that candles would be easier to put out.” He’ll look around for a moment before asking, “Could that house be any more burnt down?”

(Sorry. I actually wasn’t planning the Friends joke, but according to Google, chandler is the technical term for someone who makes and sells candles and I couldn’t help myself.)

Ok, that may be a little over the top, but that’s how I picture it in my head. There’s probably a logical reason behind the start of putting candles on birthday cakes. Or, at least, one that made sense at the time it all started.

Take saying “God bless you,” when someone sneezes, for example. At the time this practice was invented, it was thought that a person only sneezed when they were trying to eject a demon that had invaded their body. So, you would say, “God bless you,” to encourage them in their fight against Satan. It makes sense when you use that logic.

Fast forward to now.

We know that sneezing has nothing to do with demons, yet a lot of people still say this when someone sneezes. Or they at least say the shortened, “Bless you,” when someone does it.

But, why? The reasoning behind the tradition no longer makes sense. Still, we continue to do it anyway.

I suppose the argument could be made that we keep it going because it’s seen as being polite. Personally, the only thing hearing someone say, “Bless you,” does for me is remind me that I sneezed. That’s something I didn’t need to be reminded of. I’m not rude about it. I will take the time (usually) to thank someone who says it to me. To be honest, though, I’d rather you didn’t say anything at all.

But, that’s just me.

What about you? Are there any things or traditions that you can think of that just don’t make sense once you stop to think about them?

The Body in My Backyard

When I came home from work yesterday, I had to bury a body in my backyard. Unfortunately, it was not the body of one of my enemies. No, it was my daughter’s fish, Kiki.

This was actually the second Kiki. We were able to find a good enough replacement for the first one before Baby E even noticed that something was seriously wrong. She noticed that Kiki suddenly looked a little smaller but my wife and I told her that Kiki had lost weight because she was sick. I don’t know if she bought that completely, but she went along with it.

This time, however, she saw Kiki 2.0 laying on its side, not moving, before we could try to hide it from her. I stuck the net in the tank and the fish moved away from it, but not much. Baby E was crying when I left for work. I tried to calm her down by telling her that Kiki was still moving, therefore was still alive. She knew, though. She knew Kiki wouldn’t last much longer.

Sure enough, Mrs. Revis texted me about halfway through my work day to tell me that Kiki was no longer with us and my daughter was inconsolable. I called and talked to her for a few minutes. It was heartbreaking.

“I miss Kiki!”

“I don’t want her to go!”

“We need to get another fish and name it Kiki too!”

It took a lot of work, but between us, Mrs. Revis and I calmed her down. Now the problem was what to do with Kiki. With the first Kiki, we flushed it down the toilet and Baby E was never the wiser. This time, she kind of flipped out when it was suggested. I said that maybe we should put Kiki in the river behind our house. She didn’t like that idea either. No, we had to bury Kiki in the backyard.

“That way Kiki will always be with us.”

So… that’s what I did.

She was more calm today. She was still sad about her fish dying, but she was able to talk about it without crying, which was good. I don’t know how much more of it I could take.

I can handle anything you throw at me, but not that. Watching my child weep uncontrollably is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. What made it worse is that there was nothing I could do or say that would make it ok that her pet had just died.

I don’t even want to think about what will happen the first time someone she knows passes away. If I couldn’t handle this, I sure as hell won’t be able to handle that.

Make Someone’s Day Interesting

This may surprise you, but I actually have a home phone. Yes, they still have those.

We first got it a while ago when my mom was babysitting Baby E. She was very forgetful about her cell phone and we wanted a way to be able to get in touch with her if she forgot it. Now that my mom is no longer babysitting, we thought about getting rid of it, but decided to keep it for two reasons. One, while not necessary, it will be helpful when my wife’s company starts letting her work from home. And, two, due to the bundle we got from our cable company, it’ll actually cost us more to have it turned off than to keep it.

Other than my wife and I, only 3 or 4 people have that number. All of them are related to us in some way. But, none of them ever call it. They always call our cell phones (when they actually take the time to call instead of text). So, our house phone only rings about once every other day or so.

“If nobody you know is calling it, then who is?” you ask.

The answer is simple: telemarketers.

Or, maybe they’re scammers. Hell, I don’t know. All I know is that they’re going to try to get money from me one way or another. And, I know that they’re irritating. Instead of getting mad and yelling at them, however, I thought I’d take a different approach and make the phone call memorable for them.

Last night, my phone rang and I answered it. A lot of these calls are recordings, so I didn’t say anything right away. That’s when the brief conversation happened.

Caller: Hello?

Me: Yeah, hi. I was hoping you could help me with my butt itch.

3 seconds of dead silence

Caller: Excuse me?

Me: Come on, you gotta do something. My butt itches really bad and I can’t get it to stop!

Caller: 3 seconds of muffled laughter

Me: HELP ME!!!!

CLICK…

I think next time I’m going to talk about having a burning sensation on my taint.

Author Interview

Since Matticus grilled me while I was visiting the Kingdom the other day, I thought it fitting that I returned the favor. In case you are unaware, he is one of four writers to contribute to this amazing new book.

You’ve all bought your copy, right?

What was that? You want me to shamelessly put the links up again? Can do. Here’s the link for the paperback edition. And here’s the link for the Kindle edition.

Now, onto the questions!

1. Why did you decide to write a story for this anthology?
I enjoyed the stories Revis shared on his blog from this world, and was intrigued by the idea helping build it out.
2. I think people will enjoy The Seven Sceptres because ____________.
Because of Rass and Justice Bringer and Inek and so many of the other characters. They bring the feels.
3. What author, or work of fiction, did you draw inspiration from while writing your part?
I’d say there is a touch of Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman in any bit of fantasy writing I do.
4. Besides writing, what do you do for fun?
I have two kids under five. I don’t do anything fun. Wait, wait, wait. That’s not fair. I played a very lively game of airport the other day, where I got to be the plane and my four year old was the air traffic controller. Exciting. I swear it was.
5. What’s one obscure fact about yourself that you don’t think enough people know about?
Obscure facts are usually obscure by choice… so, it might be hard to think of one I’d want more people to know about. But… giving it a go… I think more people should know that… that… that… I don’t have cable television anymore. Gave it up almost two years ago and have zero regrets.
6. I just added this so I’d have one more question than Matt. Does that make me childish?
No. But all the poop jokes do. Poop.

What’s wrong with poop jokes???

Deuces

My wife and I were sitting on the couch watching TV. From across the house, I hear my daughter yell, “Daddy, come here!”

I go to the kitchen, because that’s where it sounded like it came from, but she wasn’t there. I peeked around the corner and saw the bathroom light on. So, I looked in. There she was, sitting on the toilet. Was she out of tp? What else could it possibly be? I asked, “What, honey?”

 “What’s 2+2?”

That’s what she made me get up off the couch for? So she could ask me math questions while she was on the toilet? “Don’t worry about it, Baby E. Just finish what you’re doing.”

“Come on, daddy. (Grunt) What’s 2 + (Grunt) 2?”

“You don’t need to worry about what 2+2 is right now. The only number 2 you need to be worrying about is the one you’re dropping in the toilet.”

Baby E fixed me with a blank stare while I hear my wife laughing in the other room. Ah, the joys of parenthood.