Monday, September 8, 2014

Lady Elaryindril & Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback: Book II, Part 2

the Quarterback

Volume One of the Kingdom of AtoL Serie
by Marty Reeder

Book II:
The Temple of the Goddess of AtoL

Part 2

In spite of Elaine’s somber mood while she scrambled towards the mists, Cyrus could not help but chuckle. “So you’re done with your life’s work, just like that?”

Elaine stopped, annoyed. “I might’ve known you’d find pleasure in it. You’ve made fun of my silly books all these years …” She took a deep breath. “And now I know you were right to mock me. Any fantasy world I’ll ever truly experience is only as real as my Science Fiction and Fantasy instructor’s lectures can make them.”
“Woah. I’m not taking pleasure in it. I just think it’s silly that you’d give up everything so quickly. What about the Kingdom of AtoL? What about this Wraith Lord jerk guy? You walking away from that?” Cyrus asked.
Elaine acted confused. “Well, of course, Cyrus. Did you forget? It’s not real. They’ve based everything off of class lectures and books of fiction.”
Cyrus approached Elaine. “Right,” he nodded. Then, suddenly, his hand flew out and pinched Elaine’s leg.
“Ouch! Cyrus, what is your problem?!” Elaine jumped back. “That’s right where I got bit earlier!”
Cyrus smiled. “That salmon bite was real, wasn’t it?”

Elaine rubbed her leg, “Of course.”
“Then what else matters? Who cares if they call the fish the Lake Dwellers of Fro-tek or salmon? Who cares if their kingdom’s name is the title of some old poetry book? Who cares if their wisest dude is named after the due date for an essay?”
Elaine had never expected this kind of response from Cyrus. “What are you suggesting?”
“Whatever you wanna call the fish, the bite was real. Whatever you call the land, the place is as real as the grass on a football field,” he stomped his foot on the ground for emphasis. “And whatever the Dude-Tomorrow’s name is based on, he and his people are in trouble, real trouble, not made up. They need help and we agreed to help them. I say we finish this game.”
Initially flummoxed, Elaine reasserted herself. “Except that when they came to you, they thought you were the Chosen One. But you’re not Cyrano de Bergerac, who is really just a character in a play anyway,” Elaine replied.
“So what?” Cyrus shrugged. “It don’t matter what my name sounds like, ‘cause I know I can do some awesome stuff when I want to--I know that I have it in me to be the ultimate hero!”
Elaine sneered. “Wow, Cyrus. That football ego is giving you a god complex. I don’t know if our school counselors are trained to deal with something that complicated.”
“It’s ‘Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback,’” Cyrus quipped and spinned his football for effect. “And it wouldn’t hurt you to get a bit of a god complex. A minute ago, you were upset that there weren’t more bad guys or adventures here. The only difference between then and now is that you heard some frizzy-haired English teacher say the names of some old books and you somehow let that turn you into a chicken.”

“Yeah, but--”

“But nothing. The truth is a football game is just a sport where guys run around in a big rectangle painted in the grass while they carry a little ball. But if I told myself that it didn’t matter, I’d be wrong. That’d be like saying that all the other guys on the team trained and lifted weights and practiced all those months for nothing. Or it’d be like walking away right before a the game winning score because I thought the end zone was just the imaginary space some guy made up years ago. You think giving up because of that silly idea wouldn’t crush my team, or my coaches, or the fans? What’s important ain’t whether some dude made stuff up years ago. It’s the feeling of my teammates and friends now--that’s the reality. What reality are you going by: yours or a whole kingdom of people who came to us for help? These people thought we could help them, and for me, that’s the only thing that matters.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback let his pep talk sink in for a moment before he started walking off in a different direction. “I’m going to take care of the Wraith Lord dude. And even though I’m pretty awesome, I could use your help …” He paused, then finished, “See you around, Lady Elaryindril.”

The Crater High School quarterback stepped into the swirling mists and disappeared, leaving a shocked Elaine standing in her spot. For a moment she mulled over what he had said while wiping away dried tears. Suddenly, a dawning moment overtook her. She shook her head, and then she smiled--she almost laughed. The next thing she knew she grabbed her abused book off the ground and jogged in Cyrus’s direction.

“You sure could use my help, Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback!”

The voice caused the brawny boy to stop. “Well, I wouldn’t say I totally needed it. Just thought it’d be nice,” Cyrus replied without turning around.

“Except that you are headed in the wrong direction. Keep going that way, and you’d probably end up in the Dale of Djæn Osttœn.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback turned around smiling and raised his eyebrows. “D-jain Ostin?”

“Jane Austen,” she smiled back. “It’s actually kind of a fun game to play.”

“So I’m going the wrong way,” Cyrus replied. “Alright, Dragon Flower Girl, you’d better show me where the end zone is.”

“We’re going this way, hero,” Elaryindril hooked her thumb at an angle through the mists.

Cyrus squinted. “How do you know? It all looks the same to me.”

Elaryindril pointed to a pale, white object on the ground several feet away from them. Cyrus noticed another beyond it and another beyond that. “I unwrapped my gum packet on our way over here and dropped down the wrappers as we walked. We just need to follow them back.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback shifted into a full-fledged grin. “Where the heck did’ja come up with that idea?”

Elaryindril shrugged. “The Phoenix Knights series. The Highland Elf Warrior tore pieces of his tunic so the company could find their way out of the Grøndåstœdt Moor.”

“Alright, Highland Elf Warrior, lead the way.”

Lady Elaryindril started forward and Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback walked step behind her. Elaryindril turned, “By the way, to be a Highland Elf Warrior, I would need the birthmark of a crystal butterfly on my neck, so I don’t think you’re being entirely accurate by calling me that.”

“Sounds like you might just hold up on reading those self-help books for a bit longer,” Cyrus replied.

The two probably would have had an interesting conversation, but before Elaryindril could retrieve even half of her pack of gum wrappers, they found themselves staring at the black block of the Wraith Lord’s domain.

End Book II: The Temple of the Goddess of AtoL of Lady Elaryindril and Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback: Volume One of the Kingdom of AtoL Serie