Rules of Combat

“Come now, it’s just a friendly game.” The being in front of Nick remarked. Nick limped over to the table separating the two of them; putting most of his weight on the cane in his right hand. Carved from oak, with a round head angled forward, it easily supported his weight. “What’s this? You’re still using that cane? You’re a mage, why not heal yourself? I know you can.”

“It’s fine.” Nick ignored the pain coursing through his leg. It hurt, but he’d been able to hide his injury since the fight in the gymnasium. The entity crossed his arms, clearly showing no sign of belief.

“It doesn’t look fine. You’re using a cane after all.”

“What, you’re being friendly all of a sudden? Why do you care if I’m injured or not, it’s not like it matters how I play?” Carefully Nick laid the cane against the table, and used it to support him instead.”

“Are you still snappish about the sleep thing? It’s your own fault you know.”

“I was stuck with you for twenty-nine hours, of course I’m going to be angry about it.” He replied curtly. It raised its arms in a mock surrender.

“Whoa now buster, I thought you’d appreciate the time we spend together. You never have time to enjoy yourself any more after all. And besides, it’s your own fault.”

“My fault, you’re the one who forced me to fall asleep.”

“But you were cheating. How am I supposed to enjoy your company when you refuse to spend more than a second sleeping in real time?” Nick snorted, and summoned a wooden chair to sit in. He didn’t respond immediately. He simply looked around the room again, taking in his surroundings. It was odd to him every time he saw it.

The room was clearly a temple of sorts; runes of a forgotten god were carved into the walls and around the pillars. Maybe with more time Nick could devise a spell to decipher the runes and pictures, but now wasn’t the time. Otherwise the room was bare. Only himself, the table, his chair, and this Thi’mae’yous, The Describer were in the room. And the only visible signs of an exit were the doors behind him, obscured in shadow like everything else. Damn, why are they always behind him?

The mortal takes in the room. Not ready to begin his challenge anew. He stalls waiting to find a way out. His eyes fall upon the doors. He can never read the inscription just above them. They are always just too far away to read. He scowls at his opponent in irritation, probably from…

Okay, I got it!” Nick stated abruptly interrupting Thi’mae’yous. His eyes fell back upon the man in the crimson cloak. He never sees his eyes; they’re always obscured by the hood covering them. Two open books float around him at his sides, only held in place by the chains connected to the manacles on his wrists. Slowly, words formed on the blank pages of the right book.

“You don’t need to be so rude little mortal. We spend so much time together you’d think we’d be able to have some sense of civility.” Thi’mae’yous gave him a smirk. He looked so human. He even imitated one, but there was something about him, that made him lack a true sense of being human.

He sits there still in deep thought gauging his opponent for the game to come. His normal attire changed from a simple shirt and pants; he now wears robes. He might have been walking through worlds again looking for something or someone. His robes are black with golden trim on the edges of it. A simple woven leather belt loosely hangs around his waist over a blue sash that splits between a dark blue to a lighter pale blue. He even wear’s sandals that wrap around his feet with bandages in place of socks covering his heel and ankle. And covering it all is a black hooded cloak draped over his shoulders, with the hood down.  Wonder crosses his face. Maybe he is trying to figure out the thing he faces. What is its nature? Why fight? All questions that it never answers, only a name and a game.

So… shall we begin?” Nick stood up from his seated position; he grabbed his cane, and looked at the map in front of him on the table. Quickly he shrank. Standing on one piece of a puzzling map, armies formed around him.

“Do you remember the rules, child?” Nick sighed. Yes, he knew the rules well. They went through this motion every night. He shrank, The Describer would ask his question, and then the game would begin.

“Yes, Describer I know the rules.”

“Good… Now let’s begin.” Standing on his one piece of the puzzle, he ordered part of his army forward.

Each piece is broken into different types, and values, they are then given orders. As they march from the planes, towards the contested forest. First, Thi’mae’yous sends his most numerous minions to attack. The goblins charge forward ready to overwhelm the defending humans. Their numbers only a fraction of the goblins they hold steady unwilling to retreat.

~#~#~#~

“Hey, Peepers, wanna play a game?” Nick walked into the room, Peepers, bored after a long day of research and a few meetings thrown into the mix, looked over at his friend apprehensively.

“Are you sure? I thought you’d still be recovering from that last shifter attack.”

“Nah, I’m fine all I needed was some rest, and since I’m not allowed to do most of my job any more I have plenty of time for that.”

“Hey, it was a group consensus.”

“I know, I know. Its fine I found other things to do anyway”

“Alright, so whadd’ya gonna run this time? Merfolk?”

“No, I think I’m gonna give my Esper a run today.”

“Okay? I guess I’ll just run my angels again.” Nick, taking a seat across from his fellow caster, pulled out a blue deck box, and began shuffling.

~#~#~#~

The armies clashed. Still standing in the replica of the campus, Nick watched the battle unfold. As he does, he remembered each rule of the game.

Rule One: Every five minutes more pieces of the puzzle world are placed.

Rule Two: Every Two minutes more pieces of each person’s army is created based on the amount of territory owned by the players.

Rule Three: Each player gets Three Types of pieces. The foot soldier pieces, in his case are humans, in his opponent’s goblins. The Cavalry, his are various constructs, and Thi’mae’yous’ being his elves. And finally the artillery, this one always caused a problem for him. The Describer always picked the Dragons mostly from Jund. While normally Nick would pick the Nayan Gargantuans. The Dragons always just flew past his defensive line and attacked Nick’s home piece directly.

Rule Four: Both combatants can use magic, but the armies must also be used.

Rule Five: When the player’s home piece falls to the enemy the game is over and the victor is the one with the most territory, and his opponent’s Capital.

Gradually more pieces to the puzzle formed around them. The sea behind Nick grew in size, creating a coast that circles parts of the forest and plains. One of Nick’s lieutenants rushed up to him. He saluted his leader, and began to wait to be addressed.

“You can speak Ezra.”

“Thank you, sir.” The knight became more at ease, and began.

“We’re holding so far sir, but the forest keeps growing and our line is getting stretched thin. Given the numbers the goblins have today, it would be advised to change our current stand off tactics, and give them part of the forest.”

“Agreed, have the rest of your men pull back to the secondary defensive line. When they stretch themselves thin, send in two contingents of the Esper battlemages and stormswords to break the lines, then when that occurs they will likely send in the elves to reform the lines. Be careful of this, they will likely have wolves running ahead of them to sow chaos in our ranks.” Ezra nodded in agreement to the plan.

“We won’t let that happen to us sir.” Nick patted the taller man in front of him on the shoulder.

“I know you won’t, dismissed.” Ezra ran off from his presence to the front issuing orders as he went.

~#~#~#~

Already the battle goes poorly for the human defenders; they retreat from the goblin storm in front of them. Horns blare only signaling the beginning of the end. Suddenly, the retreat ceases. Now clustered together, the Akrasan warriors form a shield wall, now spread thin, the goblins smash against this unmoving line. The smaller creatures crumble in front of these heavily armored combatants. Then suddenly quick, partially metal swordsmen run into an opening the Akrasan’s allowed for them.

“Hmm, interesting.” Words scribble across his book as he states them. The other book attached to his left arm closed suddenly, no words ever formed on its’ blank pages. “Send in the elves.”

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