Laash Teri’nack leaped back, the flames searing the ground just before him. The drake roared in frustration, before sweeping in to deliver yet another jet of its deadly fire breath. As much as Laash wanted to keep his eye on this one opponent, he warily circled around, trying to eye the other drake as well.
The two beasts stood much taller than the lithe assassin, easily topping eight feet. Dragon-kin, the only difference was the fire-breather was covered in flaming red scales, and the other…
Laash jumped, the icy jet lancing below him. As he landed, he slipped, tumbling to the ground, grunting in pain. He heard Korhoth’s laughter just as he rolled out of the way of yet another lance of fire. “You see Laash? There is no way you can defeat one of them, let alone two.”
Laash flipped to his feet, just in time to dive out of yet another stream of ice. Already Laash was cursing himself as a fool. It should have been an easy job, just kill a few guards, then assassinate the wizard. That was supposed to have been it! No one had said anything about dealing with two drakes!
He rolled forward, and flung a dagger at the nearest of the two drakes. The cold blue scaled creature reared, and he watched as his dagger connected solidly with the drake, but merely deflected from its thick hide. The wizard laughed at Laash again, mocking his efforts. “They are descended of dragons Laash, no mortal weapon can hurt them. Their only threat is from their own kind. Your death comes soon, assassin.”
Laash glared at the source of all the talking, but could barely slipped another dagger into his hand before he had to once again focus on the drakes, fire and ice raining down towards him. He jumped, tumbling frantically as he avoided the impending doom once again. Nothing could kill these things? Laash backed up, eyeing the two creatures. Wait, if these things are a threat to themselves…
Laash abandoned any pretense of avoiding the beasts, rushing towards them instead. He could hear their screams, startled by the action. They split, turning around, and each launched their vicious attack. Laash felt the intense heat on one side, balanced by the numbing cold that rushed in from the other. Laash tripped; letting both blasts pass overhead, and couldn’t suppress the grin as the two monsters shrieked in pain. He stood, watching the two beasts writhe in death throes on the ground. He looked up at his target, and saw Korhoth’s face pale, and both knew what was about to happen.
“No, wait Laash, please, I can pay you… really, no matter what they gave you, I’ll triple… I’ll…”
Laash didn’t say a word, and flung the dagger…
*** *** *** ***
“Three ones, that’s a critical hit!” laughed Lucas.
Cory looked at the dice, sighed, and made the mark on the sheet. “Well, there goes that fight scene against the wizard.” Cory looked over at Lucas’s character sheet, and shook his head. “I thought you’d be more hurt after those drakes though.”
Lucas leaned back, stretching his arms. “Oh, c’mon. Fire and ice? You even told me that they were a threat to their own kind. That puzzle was a dead giveaway. Cory, you really got to make it harder next time, alright?”
Cory just shook his head again, smiling. Lucas pushed away from the table, and stood, stretching as he did so. “Hey, Cory, I’m gonna grab a soda, you want anything?”
Cory looked at his watch before he shook his head. “Nah, sorry man, I gotta go. Catch up with you later, okay?”
Lucas waved him off. “Alrighty, see you later then.”
As Cory grabbed his backpack and got his stuff together, Lucas looked around. Comic book section, card games, role-playing games… there it was, the soda machine. He walked up, tossed in a couple of quarters, and heard the dull pounding until the Vanilla Coke popped out. He bent down, picked it up, and guzzled about half before he screwed the lid back on. Alright, he could stay here all day, and Cory had already left. What to do?
Leaning against the wall, his bag dropped at his feet, he glanced around the room. He gave the comics only a cursory glance… he was here to play, not to read comic books. Finally, he started heading to the card players tables. Most likely, no one there would be able to beat him, but hey, at least it was something to waste time till he figured out something better to do. He picked up his gaming bag, really just a duffel bag filled with books and his card decks, and grunted as he swung it up and onto his shoulder. The thing had to way a good 50 lbs, and lugging it everywhere didn’t make it seem any lighter. Getting the bag on his shoulder, he headed over the card players tables.
As he drew near to where they were playing, he unzipped the game bag to browse through the decks that he had on him. He looked over them almost bored. Magic, Lord of the Rings, Warhammer, Yu-Gi-Oh… a decent selection. He reached in, and sorted through what seemed like dozens of decks, trying to find one he wanted. He had to have decks for at least eight different games… the mark of a true gamer, in his opinion. One could not just pick one to be good at, they had to try and master as many as possible. Then they couldn’t say you were obsessed. After all, they are different games…
“Hey, are you playing anyone yet?”
Lucas looked up as his thoughts were interrupted. Some kid was already at the table, standing there like he was waiting for somebody. He had to be twelve years old, Lucas thought to himself. Remembering the question, Lucas finally replied. “Naw, not yet. What game do you play?”
The kid replied, “Yu-Gi-Oh.” Lucas had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. Already he figured out what kind of player the kid was. He probably watched the television series, and then picked up the card game just because he liked the show. Most likely the kid was the young, cocky kind that would brag sooner or later that he had never been beaten before. Weighing the other options in mind, Lucas shrugged. “Alright, sure.” Lucas sat down, dropping his duffel bag to the floor as he fished out a Yu-Gi-Oh deck. Doesn’t matter which one, lets just see what the kid was capable of.
*** *** *** ***
“Alright,” the kid almost crowed, as he placed a magic card on the Labyrinth. “That makes it so you have to attack my wall now.” The kid looked at Lucas, infuriating smirk on his face. “Now you can’t hurt me no matter what you do. You’re move.”
Lucas sighed, shaking his head. He had to be right about the kid being cocky, didn’t he? It didn’t matter that Lucas had only 100 life points left, or that the kid still had a good 2000. There was always a way to turn the battle around. People never remembered that. He drew his next card, and allowed himself a smirk. Forget it, the battle was over.
“Okay, I play Ox Warrior,” Lucas began, placing the card face up on the field. He heard the other kid laugh and sighed. The kid thought he was stalling the inevitable. Why didn’t people ever think that there might be a threat they were missing? “Then I attack.”
The kid (Lucas all the sudden realized he hadn’t even bothered to ask the name of his victim) evidently couldn’t help but say the obvious. “My Labyrinth has 2500 defense, and you have to attack it. Your Ox Warrior has only 1800 attack points. That means you loose 700…”
“Hey, hold up a second there,” Lucas responded. “I didn’t say I was done. When I attack I use Reinforcements,” Lucas continued, flipping the card face up, “to give my Ox Warrior 500 more attack points, bringing him up to 2300…”
Lucas heard the kid on the other side of the table snort. He ignored it, and flipped over another card. “And then I will use Block Defense to put your wall into attack mode.”
The sudden silence was almost humorous. Lucas had to stop himself from laughing out loud when he heard the kid incredulously demand, “What!?”
Now, it was Lucas’ turn to state the obvious. “Your Labyrinth has a ton of defense power, but in doesn’t have any attacking power at all. I attack it, and beat it by 2300. You take that much damage, which is more then your 2000. I win, you lose, game over.”
The look on the kids face matched that of dozens of others who had been so certain of success. Shocked, mouth open, and his eyes blinking several times as if unable to comprehend the defeat. It was as if people had the entire sequence choreographed, they all did pretty much the same thing. The kid started frantically leafing through his hand and face down cards… (another typical reaction) before looking back at the cards facing him. “Oh man…”
Lucas let him think that it was over, before hitting him with the next thing. “So, what did we ante again?” Lucas knew it wasn’t a big deal, but it was part of the package. Start a game, and if both players want to ante, then you place a card on the field. Winner takes both cards. Normally, Lucas wouldn’t take the time to ante, but the kid had it coming. The bigger they act, the harder they fall.
The kid seemed to resign himself, flipping through his deck and tossing the card across the table. The kid had stopped talking at all, and seemed almost crushed by the loss. Lucas slipped the card into his pack of extras and got up. He didn’t care about the card, it just happened to be one the kid liked. A fool and their money were easily parted, and the kid had been a dork as well as a fool. Looking at his crestfallen face, however, made Lucas pause. Well, even if he had been a dork earlier, he should probably be nice now.
“Good game, you did really good. Want to play again?” The kid just shook his head, so Lucas got to his feet. “Alright, maybe I’ll see you around later.” Lucas turned, looking around. Okay, enough with Yu-Gi-Oh, he thought. Who else would be willing to play?
“Yo, Abyss, what are you doing?”
Lucas turned suddenly. Who…
It was Dave. Lucas already began to tense up, sliding the rest of his cards into his bag. He walked towards the table, all smiles, but Lucas wasn’t fooled. Lucas had played him before, in the last tournament. That had been in a Magic the Gathering card game. Dave had been undefeated until then, and everyone thought he would win. Then Lucas came out of nowhere and took the championship. It was the first time Lucas had stopped just playing with friends and kids at school and actually participated in a tournament. Dave went from being a sure-fire win to having his butt kicked by a total nobody. The fact that Lucas walked away with the $200 cash prize didn’t help things either.
“Hi Dave. I’m not up to much. In fact, I was just leaving.” Lucas didn’t have to go for hours still, but there was no way that he was going to stay here with Dave. If he did, he wouldn’t have a moment to sit back and enjoy himself. “What are you up to?”
Dave shrugged. “Just got here. This is my brother Tyler,,” he nodded at the blond-haired kid that Lucas had just beaten “He got here before I did, I’m just showing up to stay with him.”
-Oh, crap,- thought Lucas. -This just got bad.-
“Abyss?” quipped up Tyler, the blond kid. “Why did you call him Abyss?”
“Oh, its just a nickname…” Lucas tried to brush it off, but Dave interrupted him. Lucas looked at the door, but there was no way to it unless he wanted to bowl Dave over. And that would just create more problems.
“It’s because that is where Lucas comes back from to win the game. The abyss, the end, the point of no return. Everything will be going in your favor and the game will be practically won, and then Lucas here will do some spectacular move with his cards, and win.” Dave shifted his gaze over to Lucas, his expression hardening. “He does it so often it has become almost a signature move. So, now he’s called Abyss.”
Tyler popped up. “Oh, that’s exactly what happened to me.”
Dave stopped pretending that he was glad to see Lucas and looked at Tyler. “Really?”
Tyler nodded. “Yep. We played the first time and I won, and the second time he asked if I wanted to ante. I did, and then he did that Abyss thing.”
Dave suddenly looked back at Lucas. Despite now facing Lucas, he still spoke to Tyler. “You won once?”
Tyler nodded. “Yeah.”
Now Dave was focused on Lucas, who gave up trying to edge his way out. If Dave really wanted a fight, he could get one. “Lucas, you never lose.”
Lucas looked back at him, lifting one eyebrow in disbelief. “I got a bad start, and he got a good one. So what?”
Dave responded. “You never lost in the tournament.”
Lucas replied just as quickly. “In the tournament you get three duels before someone is declared the winner. I lost the first one a couple of times and then won the second two. I had a side-deck, remember? I’d always modify what cards I had so that I’d win the next fight. This time I don’t. It was a straight up game and I got unlucky, that’s all.”
Tyler spoke up again, “He won my Blue-Eyes White Dragon.”
Dave was still focused on Lucas. “Why did you want that card, Lucas?”
Already Lucas was hoping that the kid would just shut up already. “It was the best one there. He said he liked it, so I put up one of my Blue-Eyes White Dragons. Whoever won would get two. Besides, does it matter why I wanted that card? Bug off already.”
Lucas attempted to step past Dave, but Dave maneuvered into his way. “Lucas, you can only have three of the same card in a deck, and you have five of that card already. You yourself said that the only reason it’s so popular is because of the T.V. show.”
At this point Lucas was ticked. Sheesh, why couldn’t Dave just leave it alone? “Does it matter? It was a straight up game, and I happened to win the one where we anted something. That’s all Dave.”
Lucas picked up his backpack with one hand, and finally got around Dave. “I’ll see you later.” He stepped outside, leaving Dave inside. He looked around, and took a few steps down the sidewalk before he heard the door behind him open. Lucas cringed mentally, knowing exactly who it was.
“Hey, Lucas, we aren’t done talking yet,” Dave’s voice almost taunted.
Lucas sighed, exasperated, as he turned around and saw Dave coming out of the store and towards Lucas. “Oh, c’mon Dave, what are you going to do? Beat me up?” Lucas taunted sarcastically.
Lucas knew that Dave couldn’t do that. Even if Lucas didn’t have all that much height, barely topping 5’8”, he still weighed a good 200 lbs. And had a stocky enough build he didn’t look all that fat either. There was no way someone like Dave could beat him up. Lucas outweighed him by a good 40 lbs.
Dave took a few steps closer. “Look, my brother is a big fan of the T.V. show. He’s trying to make a deck like Kaiba, and he wants those cards.”
“So what? If he didn’t want to lose the cards, he shouldn’t have anted them,” Lucas replied.
“Look,” Dave said again, his voice dropping from being all fakey-nice to a harsh whisper. “My brother wants the card more than you do, so why can’t you just give it to him? Like I said before, you don’t really care about it, Abyss.” Dave almost spat the last word, making it sound more like an insult than what was normally a compliment.
“Look,” Lucas said, getting angry again. “Tell you what. I’ll be back here tomorrow; he can play for it then. That way next time he ends up with a card he likes he won’t just ante it away. He gets his card back, and won’t ante it next time he duels. That way he doesn’t loose something that he really likes again. That cool with you?”
Dave almost sneered. “You didn’t earn that card anyway. You should just give it back.”
Lucas stopped, suddenly really angry. “What do you mean I `didn’t earn that card anyway’?
“Just like it sounds,” Dave said. “You cheat. That’s how you do your Abyss thing. You start to lose, you get nervous, so you cheat and get the cards you need to win.”
“I do not cheat,” responded Lucas, his face getting flushed.
“Yeah, right,” drawled Dave. “You cheat at the very end. If the game doesn’t matter, then you play it straight, and that’s when you lose. But when it matters, like in a tournament or when cards are anted, you cheat at the end. Everyone knows. That’s how you beat me was cause you cheated in that match. Everyone knows.”
“Wait, everyone knows?” Lucas responded, his hands tightening into fists. “You’ve been going around spreading lies just since you are a sore loser in a game?”
Dave scowled, and took a step forward. “That was my money you walked away with. You cheated, and the officials totally missed it. I don’t know why they didn’t realize it right away, since there is no way you could possibly when with skill, but that’s what happened.”
“Alright, here,” Lucas said, rolling lifting his gaming pack up so he could reach inside. “This is all about your brother’s card, right? Here, take it so you can shut up and go away.”
Without even waiting for a reply he tossed his gaming pack towards him. Dave grabbed it with both hands, and then Lucas moved, taking three quick steps towards him, landing a right hook on Dave’s temple. Lucas watched him reel back from the blow and fall on the ground, groaning. Lucas picked up the bag and turned away. Before he had gotten into gaming, he had boxed for five years. While he was by no means professional, he did know something about throwing a good punch. Maybe now Dave would get the picture and back off. Lucas doubted it, but hey, he had it coming.
*** *** *** ***
The figure watched as the boy tossed the carrying case at the other one, and then dispatched him with a single blow. So, his target was a fighter. An unexpected bonus. The figure studied the boy meticulously, making sure not to miss even the slightest detail. The shortly cropped brown hair, the glass frames before his eyes. The heavyset lumber that seemed more suited to a dwarf than to a human… and from the fight with the other boy it seemed to have a temper that rivaled that of some of the same species. To think that in such a tool would he be able to find the abilities he needed in order to fix everything. The key to fixing everything came from this boy. It was finally time to send him back, to find out if he truly was the one. The figure watched the boy as he turned away from his victim and walked down the street. There would only be once chance at this. If this boy failed, there may not be time to find another. Time… the figure shook their head. When was the last time they had been under the restraints of time? The figure looked at the boy for a moment more, then turned, the blue robes swishing about the figures feet. Hopefully, they boy could do what was necessary. If not, then he and his master were both doomed. And with it, the world.
*** *** *** ***
Lucas trudged down the sidewalk, his right hand still aching dully from the blow he had given Dave. Flexing it, he slid his gaming pack over one shoulder. He really shouldn’t have hit Dave. He wasn’t worth his time at all, but still, why did Dave have to act like he was king almighty? It wasn’t as if Lucas had meant anything to Dave personally about winning that tournament. But if Dave had gone around spreading rumors that Lucas was nothing but a cheat and people believed him…
Shaking his head, Lucas tried to put that thought out of his mind. They should know that Dave was just being a sore loser. There were officials and everything, they would have caught Lucas if he had been cheating and just kicked him out of the tournament, simple as that. There was no way he could get away with cheating, even if he had wanted too.
Lucas turned down another street, still lost in thought, when the sudden darkness fell all around him. He stopped suddenly, pulled back to reality. What, did he take a wrong turn and end up in an alleyway? Lucas was still dazed when suddenly he heard the voice.
“Welcome, I’ve been waiting for you,” Lucas heard, the soft, almost melodious voice. Definitely a guy, but it seemed to be someone that Lucas trusted, like that of an old friend.
“What, what the…” Lucas stammered, looking around him, praying that this wasn’t real. How could it be…?
“Your time has come Lucas. You are going now.” Again, Lucas heard that voice, and took a step forward. They didn’t sound all that bad at all. In fact, Lucas was certain he recognized that voice from somewhere, but he couldn’t quite place where. Some he knew and trusted, he felt it.
Lucas shook his head furiously, before responding. “Wait, back off, I ain’t going anywhere.” Lucas responded. Even if he did know the speaker, and they were right, there was no way he was just going to go along for the ride. At least get a few questions in first, figure out what was going on. “Where am I going all the sudden?”
“Do not worry yourself Lucas, all shall be explained in time. You are needed, for if you wait it may become too late. Now is the time.”
Lucas again took another step, before jerking himself back. This was way too much like a role-playing game. Though he knew he could trust this person. It was as if they were suffused with goodness.
“Wait,” Lucas said, trying to make sense of this bizarre experience. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m sorry,” the voice said, “but I cannot explain yet. Goodbye Lucas.”
And then the floor erupted, and Lucas felt a sheer column of wind spiraled around and around him. Lucas could smell the dryness of the air around him, as this sand-like storm engulfed his senses, before the world around him went black.