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 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 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.

The Twelfth Knight Epilogue

He woke up with a start. Roscoe looked all around, not really knowing what was happening. The last thing he remembered was being in Worram’s warehouse and he had just been saved by Conroe. Now, he was laying in his bed. Was it all just a dream? He looked down at his abdomen and saw two new scars where he had been stabbed. No, it wasn’t a dream. So, what happened?

“You passed out,” said a voice from the doorway to his chambers.

His cousin had just walked in carrying a tray with a pitcher of water and a loaf of bread. Conroe set it down on Roscoe’s bed and took a step back.

“Sorry,” Conroe said with a shrug. “You appeared to be confused, so I answered the question that was probably rattling around in your head.”

“I saw you get stabbed,” was the only thing that came to Roscoe’s mind to say.

“I did, and it hurt too. If I had been wearing normal clothes, it probably would have been fatal, but my armor deflected the blade enough that it didn’t hit any vital organs.”

“How did you recover so quickly?”

“I used the same wand of healing that I used on you after you saved Worram. Do you not remember that?”

“I do not recall…” Roscoe’s mind wandered for a few moments before he finally asked, “Wait, how did you know where I was, or that I was in trouble?”

“We were following you. Revis has taken notice of how hard you’ve been training and wanted to know if you were ready to move up in rank so he came up with this test to see how well you’d do in a real life situation.”

Roscoe gestured to his wounds, “Obviously not very well.”

“I beg to differ,” said a new voice.

Both men looked to see Revis standing in the doorway. “You performed the task you were given, although I specifically said to not engage with Merlinus.”

“I know, sir,” Roscoe interrupted, “but if I didn’t, Worram would have been killed.”

“I know. He told me. He also told me that you were ready to sacrifice your life to save his. This was corroborated by Conroe and the other Knights present. As far as I’m concerned the safety of the Kingdom’s citizens is the most important part of a Knight’s job. For you to risk giving up your life to ensure the safety of one of our citizens means that you you passed this test with flying colors.”

“But Merlinus got away…”

Revis glanced down at his weapon. “No, he didn’t.”

Roscoe couldn’t get his mind to wrap around it all. “So, what happens now?”

“Once you’re ready, you’ll rejoin the Knights. When you do, it will be as the 10th Knight.”

“The 10th Knight?”

“The current 10th Knight will be retiring soon, and you’re better suited for the position than the 11th Knight.”

Roscoe’s mind swirled for a moment before it was filled with resolve. “If it’s all the same to you, sir, I think I’d rather stay where I’m at.”

“Are you sure?” Conroe asked. “This is a great opportunity.”

“I’m sure,” Roscoe replied. “If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s that I still have a lot to learn. I won’t be able to do that with the responsibilities of the 10th Knight.”

“If that’s what you want,” Revis said,”then that’s what you’ll get.”

“It is. Besides, I’ve gotten used to being the 12th Knight, and I’m not ready to give that up just yet.”

The Twelfth Knight Part 7

The next few moments were a blur to Roscoe. After seeing his cousin fall to the ground with a sword wound in his back, his vision turned red as he set his sights on the man who stabbed Conroe. He had been scared of the man before, but all of that melted away when he thought about what had just happened. Roscoe also felt the grogginess left over from his healing lift off of his shoulders as well. As soon as he felt well enough to fight, the crimson took over his eyes.

He became unaware of what he was doing. There was a vague sensation of his body moving, but he wasn’t sure what it was doing. The only thought that was in his head was the image of Conroe laying bleeding on the floor. It festered there until he was sure that he was about to explode. Right before he burst, a pain in his side snapped him out of the phase he was in.

When he came to, he was squared off against the man. The man had a small cut above one eye. Roscoe, on the other hand, had a deep gash right above his waist on his left side. He took a step back to be better able to analyze his situation and his wound screamed in protest. Roscoe did his best to keep from showing the pain, but he knew he was unsuccessful when the man put on a big grin right after.

The man moved forward quicker than Roscoe thought was possible. There were a number of different angles that he could expect the attack to come from. Letting his instincts take over, he positioned his blade to intercept in the spot he thought was the most likely. Another round of pain told him that he failed. A new wound appeared just above the previous one. It was the place he had anticipated the attack to come from, but he hadn’t been quick enough to fully parry it.

Instead of stepping away from the blade, however, he stepped toward it. The man’s eyes went wide as Roscoe willingly impaled himself further. Then those eyes went even wider when the man finally realized why Roscoe had done it. Before the man could pull away, Roscoe launched a haymaker at his chin. Satisfaction coursed through him when he felt his fist connect solidly with the man’s face.

The two men stumbled away from each other, Roscoe getting the worst of that round. Blood began dripping from the man’s nose, but it was nothing compared to the two wounds Roscoe carried in his side. Still, it had felt good and, if nothing else, he’d given the man something to remember him by. He couldn’t survive another fight like that and both combatants knew it. Despite this, the man looked more angry at being hit than happy about winning the fight.

“Don’t even think about it,” came a voice from behind the man.

Looking past his opponent, Roscoe saw three more Knights of the Kingdom standing there. He knew all of them, but couldn’t think of their names for some reason. Must be the wounds, he thought to himself as he felt his legs start to feel weak. What were their names again? That question stayed with him as he began to fade.

No, he chided himself. He had to stay awake. He had to stay focused on what was happening around him. Roscoe used the image of Conroe being stabbed to fuel the anger he needed to fight the growing urge to just lay down. His eyes zeroed in on the man in front of him, now angrier than ever.

“You’re not taking me alive,” the man seethed. “I’m going to kill as many of you as I can before I go.” With a finger pointed at Roscoe, he added, “Starting with you.”

Roscoe moved to put his sword in front of him to attempt a defense, but it wasn’t in his hands anymore. He must’ve dropped it when he got stabbed, otherwise it would’ve been in his hand when he punched the man. With no weapon to defend himself, he watched his doom coming at him. Roscoe tried to leap out of the man’s path, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate. All he could do was watch.

And watch he did. He watched as a fourth Knight appear out of nowhere to plunge a sword underneath the man’s armpit a moment before the man’s blade entered Roscoe. The two combatants crashed to the ground in a crumpled heap to Roscoe’s side. He wanted to rush to the other Knight’s aid, but his body failed him again. As it turned out, the other Knight didn’t need any help. The man was dead.
Roscoe reached out his hand to thank the Knight for his assistance. “Thank you for saving me,” he said.

“I’ve been saving you since you were a toddler,” the Knight retorted.

His head spun when the Knight got to his feet, revealing the face of his cousin Conroe.

Fantasy Football Part 29

Hey everyone! Need an escape from the real world for a little while? I know I do. If so, feel free to read the next part of this story, written by Matticus and myself. It won’t magically make everything all better, but it will hopefully take your mind off of things for a few minutes.

After the squad of Honor Guards passed them, Plex was once again led through a series of alleyways and corridors. He didn’t even try to pay attention to where they were or where they were going. It didn’t matter at that point. They’d get him to where he needed to go.

His mind was focused on other things at that moment. He was going over everything that happened in the past couple of days, replaying the events and searching for something he may have missed. While his body was just going through the motions, Plex tried to take everything he remembered, everything he had learned, from that time to try to figure out what was going to happen next. There was just one problem with that, and it was a big one.

Nobody could predict what Lavalandinarial would do next.

The dragon was erratic. Quite often, her actions made no sense to anyone other than her. Trying to guess what Lavalandinarial would do next was a fool’s errand. Still, it was something that Plex thought needed to be done. If they waited until the dragon did something, then reacted to it, they would be starting from behind the entire time. They couldn’t afford to do that. No, they needed to take their best guess on what they thought Lavalandinarial was going to do and base their plan of attack on that. It may come back to bite them in the end, but it was better than waiting for the dragon to kill more innocent people.

The sound of heavy footsteps beside him pulled Plex out of his thoughts. Baclem, the troll, was plodding along to his right. “What happened?” Plex asked in hushed tones.

“The Honor Guards showed up and said there was a criminal on our team who was poisoning the minds of the rest of us.”

Guilt tore through Plex’s stomach. “Me?”

Baclem shook his head. “No. It was Coach Sprout.”

“Coach Sprout?”

“The Honor Guards slapped him in irons and started leading him away. A few of our teammates shouted at them that they were being unfair and the leader of the Honor Guards ordered the rest of them to kill us all and burn the facilities down.”

Plex was confused. Why was the dragon going after Sprout when he was the one she was angry with? Was this some ploy to use guilt against him? Did the dragon think he would rush off blindly to rescue the gnome? While he would feel incredibly guilty if something happened to Sprout, he wasn’t going to throw himself in the dragon’s mouth in order to save him. Not only had he only known his coach for a few days, there were only a few people who he was willing to give his life for, no matter how long he had known them. He was having trouble coming up with anyone other than the elven queen and his sister, Gilania.

“Gilania,” he whispered harshly, remembering that he was supposed to meet up with her and her team. Finally taking the time to look around and see where he was, Plex saw that he was heading away from her team’s facilities.

Vinyard was still leading them through the twists and turns. Plex sprinted to the front so he was right behind the gnome and when there was a moment, pausing to catch their breaths, Plex asked, “I need to get back to my sister’s training facility.”

Vinyard shook his head vigorously, “No, it’s too risky.”

Plex objected, “We can’t just brush her off. If we miss this opportunity, she and the teammates she’s talked into meeting us will be harder to convince to trust us. Showing up exhausted and injured from our recent fight might go a long way to convince them to join us now before the dragon can turn on them.”

“Or it will scare them into submission and they will capture you and hand you over to Lavalandinarial and that will be the end of you.”

“This is important,” Plex pressed.

Without answering, Vinyard motioned for everyone to follow him again and sprinted off on another series of turns up and down the darkened alleys of the city. Plex held his anger in check. He understood that Vinyard was doing what the gnome needed to do to ensure the survival of the rest of the team. Plus, he still had time to make it back to his sister’s training field before she’d give up on him showing up. He could wait a bit longer and see if Vinyard could be convinced before he turned around and did what he wanted to do anyway.

The next time they stopped to ensure that everyone was still together, Plex found Vinyard studying him intently. The elf simply raised his eyebrows. The gnome continued to look for a moment longer and then turned away, seeming to study the darkness they were going to run into next. Then the gnome turned back to Plex and said, “You might be right. It could very well be foolish to miss this chance to bring your sister and some of her teammates over.”

That wasn’t exactly permission but Plex understood that if he let the gnome continue talking it was likely that Vinyard was getting there all the same.

“I think it is foolish. Perhaps what I think is irrelevant. We each have our part to play and you were picked to be a leader. I should trust that. Go then. Go and meet with your sister. I think it will end poorly for you and I am not often wrong about such things. I’m very good at calculating odds, which is why I made such a good kicker. I could run the calculations to make the kick precisely as needed.

“And now my math says you are going to get captured. Luckily, you’ve seen too little of our operations to do much more harm than losing you as a potential leader. So, yes, go on if it is my permission you are waiting for. I wish you good luck and I doubt I’ll see you again.”

Plex nodded in sort of thank you and then turned down the next alley, keeping to the shadows and doing his best in the darkness to pick up on another landmark he recognized. Shortly enough he found one and then changed his course to head back to Giliana.

He did his best to keep the smile off his face as he heard Baclem trying to keep up with him. It was humorous listening to the troll trying to move silently behind him. Also, he had to admit, it made him feel a swelling of pride that Baclem thought so much of him that he’d blindly follow Plex into possible danger without being asked, without asking if he could. Maybe it was things like this which had the dwarf, Frukeld, to deem him an important leader to his rebellion.

The duo made their way back to the practice facility of Gilania’s team. On more than one occasion, they had to stop and duck deep into the shadows to avoid Honor Guard patrols. The presence of Lavalandinarial’s guards became more frequent the longer they were out. Plex swore. They had to have found the guards that he and Baclem had helped kill. Moving through these patrols, especially with a stealth challenged troll was possible, but it wouldn’t be easy.

While they were hiding from one such patrol, Plex whispered some tips on how to move silently to Baclem. It wasn’t likely to sink in with words alone, but he hoped that hearing the words, and also seeing Plex putting them in action, would speed up the learning process. From everything he’d ever heard, or read, trolls weren’t the brightest or most graceful of the races. He hoped that Baclem proved those generalizations untrue.

Once the patrol passed by, Plex looked up at the sky. It was much later than he hoped it would be. Because of all the hiding they were having to do, it was taking them much too long to get to their destination. He hated being late for anything. Being late for this was driving him crazy. It was too important. They had to pick up the pace.

Plex hurried forward, barely making more noise than he had before. Baclem did his best, but it sounded like he was bumping into everything along the way. He winced every time the troll did it, waiting for Honor Guards to rain down on them at any moment. But, they never did. With each passing sound that Baclem made, a feeling of unease built up in his stomach. This wasn’t right.

The Honor Guards were made up of some of the best from all the races. Any one of them should have heard the troll coming from blocks away. Yet somehow, with all of the patrols that were out, they hadn’t done that. Why wouldn’t they….

Realization hit him like a kick to the face.

He told Baclem to stay behind while he scouted ahead. Once he was sure the troll would comply, he rushed forward as quietly as he could. It was only five blocks from where he left Baclem to the training facility. Once he was a block away, he began seeing them. Dozens of Honor Guards surrounded the facility. They wanted to not only get him, but to get Gilania’s team as well.

Plex let out the whistle he used to warn his sister of trouble. As soon as he did, the elven Honor Guards called the others to attention. He watched as they began moving forward towards the practice facility with their swords drawn, ready to kill everyone inside.

The Twelfth Knight Part 6

Pain ripped across his shoulder blades from the unblocked attack. Roscoe had moved quickly enough that the wound wasn’t deep, but it still hurt worse than any other that he’d ever received. He kept moving forward toward the sound of the whimpering wainwright. When he was close to where he thought Worram was, he swung his sword in a wide arc in front of him.

He cursed the magical darkness as his weapon struck nothing but air. His shoulders burst into new waves of pain, but he took a step forward and swung again anyway. This time he was rewarded with the feeling of his sword digging into the flesh of his opponent. He shouted, “Worram, run! Run for your life!”

Roscoe heard the sound of the wainwright scrambling along the floor just as he felt the blade of his other opponent enter his back, halfway down the right side. He stumbled forward, trying to escape from his attacker, but his energy was depleted and he grew weaker with each uneasy step. Determined to keep fighting, he was betrayed by his body, which fell to the floor. He heard Merlinus yelling to his people to let the wainwright go. With his last ounce of energy, he smiled because he had accomplished saving the man.

The next few moments were a confusing rush of images. First, the darkness was replaced by an almost blinding light. Then, he saw his cousin, Conroe, floating over him. Next, stars swirled around his vision. The darkness came back momentarily before the stars returned.

“Such strange things to see when you die,” Roscoe thought to himself.

“Don’t you dare die on me,” a voice responded.

Roscoe wondered where the voice came from. It wasn’t his. Before he could find the answer, he felt himself slipping away. Just as he was about to fall completely, an electrifying jolt shot through his whole body. More stars danced in his view. Images from his life passed in front of his eyes as another jolt shook him. A warmth began at his chest and slowly spread throughout the rest of him.

That warmth went away in an instant when he felt a hard slap across his face.

“Wake up!”

He opened his eyes and saw his cousin standing protectively over him. Eyes darting, he saw a few of his fellow Knights in the warehouse, fighting against Merlinus’ people. “We’re not done yet,” Conroe yelled, parrying a sword thrust from an enemy. “Now, get up and help us out!”

Roscoe tried to rise, but couldn’t find the energy. He took a few deep breaths to steel himself for his next attempt. A flash passed over top of his face from the swords of the duo fighting above him. His hand ran back and forth over the floor around him until it found what he was looking for. Fingers wrapped around the hilt and he raised the blade until it hit the belly of the man fighting his cousin. It didn’t do any harm, but it was enough to distract the man for Conroe to finish him off.

He reached out, Conroe grabbed his hand, and helped him to his feet.

“How…” Roscoe began.

“Later,” Conroe cut him off. “We’ll talk when we don’t have people trying tokill us.”

Just then, a dagger flashed out at him. Roscoe managed to push it out wide, but just barely. “I’m still weak,” he said to his cousin. “Don’t go too far.”

“Don’t worry,” Conroe laughed as he stepped in to dispatch the knife wielder. “I didn’t save you just to let you die again.”

The two cousins fought back to back as more of Merlinus’ people came at them. The Knights of the Kingdom were outnumbered, but they were better trained and had fought together before. Merlinus’ people were mercenaries who might’ve been good fighters on their own, but hadn’t fought with each other before. They often stepped in front of one of their compatriots, ruining an attack opportunity or throwing one another off balance. Even though he wasn’t at full strength, Roscoe was able to keep up with them, although he had Conroe there to back him up perfectly. Any time his condition put him in harm’s way, his cousin stepped in to save him.

Roscoe turned just in time to see Conroe block another attack aimed at his backside. While his cousin had the attacker engaged, Roscoe delivered a killing blow to the man’s chest. He swirled back around to check for any other hostiles. Not seeing any, he went to thank Conroe for his assistance. The look on Conroe’s face when he did, though, was odd. It was a mix of confusion and pain. Before he could ask what was wrong, Conroe dropped to his knees, then fell face first onto the ground.

Standing behind Conroe was the man who had brought Roscoe to the meeting. In his hand was a bloody short sword. The eerie feeling that the man instilled in him on the way to the building intensified. “You’re going to die for bringing the Knights down upon us,” the man said with a menacing tone.

Roscoe inadvertently shivered because he knew that if looks could kill, he’d be dead already.