To read the previous part, check here.
According to Gabriel Iglesias, there are six stages of fatness: big, healthy, husky, fluffy, “Damn!”, and “Uh-uh!” He says he is fluffy. The difference between damn and uh-uh is you are still willing to work with “damn”. If a “damn” approaches you on a crowded elevator, you will look around, and let him on. On the other hand, if an “uh-uh” approaches you on a crowded elevator, you hold up your hand, while pushing the close door button fast, and say, “Uh-uh!”
I bring this up because I watched his show last night after Daphne left. When I saw Lucas Rumpff, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Uh-uh!’ and laugh out loud. He glanced over at me, shook his head, readjusted his glasses and started into the library. Dressed in blue jeans and a green and black Hawaiian shirt, Lucas was around my height and maybe three times my girth. He had long, thick brown hair which flowed down to his shoulders. A beat up red laptop bag hung over his right shoulder. He’s in a few of my classes, but I never spoke to him. As far as I knew, he was a loner. I wondered if he preferred to be alone, or was lonely. I soon would find out, because Anderson, the Game Creator of my weekend BattleHammer game said we needed another player to “enliven it.”
I opened the large wooden door of the library and walked in. It was like going back in time. The overhead lights were actual chandeliers suspended from the high ceiling. The librarian had an antique Remington typewriter and dressed like a bobbysoxer. The wall lamps were arc sodium and cast an orange glow. The chairs in the reading room were stuffed leather and ashtrays were scattered around. I have no idea how the place got away with smoking paraphernalia after the way the media and government demonized tobacco.
I walked amongst the towering bookshelves, their aisles shadowed and sinister. I found Lucas debating between “A Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein and “Cobra” by Timothy Zahn. His laptop bag sat on the floor at his feet like an obedient dog. He glanced over at me. “Are you stalking me?”
I laughed. “No way, man. My name is Carter. I was wondering if you ever played BattleHammer.”
“Why?” he asked, suspicious.
“The Game Creator says to get some more people. I thought of you because you’re always reading sci-fi and fantasy books.”
“I’ve never done so.”
I was glad the suspicion was gone from his voice. I picked up interest in his tone.
“I can teach you how to play on the way over to the game. We have an all weekend thing scheduled. I’m sure you’ll love it.”
He looked back down at the books.
“I’d go for the Zahn book; I didn’t enjoy the Heinlein one. My advice: get both of them and then choose.”
“With my schedule, I will only have time for one. By the way, my name is Lucas Rumpff.”
We shook hands, and he returned Stranger. I walked with him over to the librarian’s desk and waited while she stamped the card with the due date. We walked out into the spring sunshine together to North Wolf St. A crowd of lacrosse players swaggered by. The captain of the team, who I tutored in chemistry on Tuesday evenings shouted over at us.
“Hey, Blake! Who’s your new girlfriend?”
“Aw, don’t be jealous, Stevenson!” I yelled back. “I’ll still let you fellate me!”
The jocks stopped.
“What the fuck did you say, Blake?” Stevenson said.
“Settle down,” I commanded. “Tuesday evening, seven pm., Chem 101. Don’t forget.”
The reminder deflated his anger and he waved for his teammates to follow him. Lucas and I trotted down the library steps and walked down the sidewalk.
“You shouldn’t taunt Stevenson like that, Carter. He’ll get you.”
“He doesn’t dare,” I said, feigning a confidence I didn’t really feel. I don’t understand why I said that. Broderick Stevenson could kill me. “He recognizes I’ll make sure he fails Chemistry if he does anything. A grade flop and he’s off the team. Bye-bye scholarship.”
“He trusts me to teach him the subject.”
We walked down Wolf St in silence for a block, and then I remembered I had promised to teach Lucas about the game. “So, about the game of BattleHammer; like Dungeons and Dragons, it uses a D20 system. Have you heard of the structure?”
“Right. So, to do anything that requires effort in-world, you roll a D20, add the relevant modifiers and compare that to a Difficulty Class. Beating the DC means you succeed, missing it means failure. Understand?”
“Yep. I’m with you, Carter.”
“Alright, for playing, that’s about all you need to know upfront. If anything else comes up, we’ll fill you in as needed.”
We paused to wait for the signal at North Avenue, and then crossed. We had to hurry a bit because the warning light began to flash when we were about halfway across the busy street.
“The next step is to fill you in on the world and major characters, and then I’ll fill you in about your character’s future teammates. We’ll begin with the gods. There are a whole hell of a lot of them, so I’ll tell you about those our party has had dealings with. First up is Kellün, the god of the elves and woodlands. He has many allies and enemies, but the main ones we are dealing with are Morgrid the Soul-forger and Lucien, the Demon King. Morgrid is the chief Dwarf divine being as well as being the one of the Forge. Lucien is self-explanatory. Unlike D&D, which separates fiends into two groups, BattleHammer says all pure evil beings are demons. Another deity I’m sure will pop up in the story is the father of the gods, Chokkan. Are you still with me, Lucas?”
He waited until we scampered across Federal Street before he answered.
“Good.” I panted. I glanced over at Lucas, who wasn’t even breathing hard. I was a bit envious. “Next are the major players of our game, otherwise known as our characters and the bad guys. My character is a dwarf warrior named Drago the Clanless. His clan was wiped out by the main bad guy who I’ll tell you about soon. Drago vowed revenge. His allies are as follows: Luwaxana, a female elven ranger, controlled by Mike Reynolds; Shauna the Deft, a human thief, controlled by Megan Anderson, the GC’s older sister; and Ox Silverfist, a half-dragon/half-troll Warpriest of Kellün, controlled by Stacy Meers.”
“Wow, a half-dragon/half-troll? That sounds like fun,” Lucas said, as we crossed East Oliver. Since the street was pretty dead, we didn’t bother checking for traffic.
“Does it? Just so you are aware – and I should have mentioned this before – in addition to the half-bloods, humans, dwarves and elves, you could also be a Leviathan, a deepling, or a Gnome,” I said, kicking an empty Pepsi can.
“Did you say a Ga-nome?”
“I did. In the world of BattleHammer, that is how they pronounce the name of their race.”
Lucas chuckled. “What are deeplings?”
We stopped at the corner of Biddle Street and looked for oncoming cars. The day grew dimmer as a cloud scudded past the sun. “They are a race of underground fairies, similar to leprechauns. They average about four feet tall and are between thirty and fifty pounds. Due to this stature, folks who haven’t encountered them before tend to mistake them for human children. They’re long lived like elves and dwarves, and reproduce about twice every seventy years. Deeplings are innate spell casters, and as such, they begin with a free level as a mage.”
“Cool. What about the Gnomes?” Lucas chuckled again at the pronunciation of the name.
By this time, we were near Patterson Park in East Baltimore. We walked up a pretty steep hill. Lucas took the tor with the same ease that he’d taken our swift hike from the library. I tell you, I still have no idea how he managed to set such a rapid pace and not breathe hard. My face was hot, skin greasy from sweat and I panted like a dog.
“They’re another race of midgets.” I gasped for air at the top of the hill. I motioned for him to stop so I could catch my breath. While he waited, cool and relaxed, I leaned over with hands on knees and tried to swallow my lungs again. After about ten minutes, I resumed. “Gnomes average about three feet in height with the women being taller and stronger. The males are smarter and more agile for the most part. They are natural pickpockets and rogues in general, and they start with a free level of thief.”
Twenty minutes later, we arrived in Anderson’s neighborhood. It was a pretty affluent section of East Baltimore, not far from Patterson Park. His folks owned a townhouse that was about twice as big as my mom’s row house. We walked up to the wide mahogany door and went in.