Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C1S4)

Previous subchapter is here.

 

Subchapter 4

 

I’m sure you are now wondering about Anderson, so before I go further, I’ll brief you on him. Keith Anderson stood an inch taller than me, yet I had sixty pounds on him. He had brown eyes, short, reddish-brown hair, and favored an outfit of black t-shirt and jeans. The guy almost vibrated with energy and could be a lot of fun. Anderson’s also a huge fan of BattleHammer and Japanese culture which is why I called him only by his last name.

He sat in his favorite place, a leather recliner near the hearth, when Lucas and I entered the living room which was decorated white. The Game Creator, on the other hand, dressed head-to-toe in black. I once asked if he had Goth aspirations. His reply? “Nope. I’m lazy and with a closet full of dark clothes, I don’t have to worry about making sure anything matches.” When he didn’t look up to greet us, I decided to needle him a bit.

“Hey, Mister Edward Cullen, how are you doing?”

Without looking up, he retaliated, “If you ever call me a sparkle fairy again, I’ll eliminate every character you create from now ‘til judgment day.”

“By all the hells,” I chuckled. “That’s pretty harsh for an emo guy.”

A glare directed at me. “Fuck you, Carter.”

I laughed again. “This is Lucas Jackson. Has anyone else arrived?”

Anderson held out his hand and shook Lucas’.

“Nope. You two are the leading arrivals.”

Just then, Megan walked into the room causing Lucas to goggle. I’d had the same reaction when I first seen her, but I had gotten used to her and was focused on Daphne. Megan was a petite, 157.48 cm. cheerleader for the Johns-Hopkins Blue Jays.

She had her long brown hair in a braid that went over her right shoulder. Her dark chocolate eyes sparkled with delight when she spotted me. I was one of her “most favorite people”, as she put it, because I always teamed up with her against her brother in water battles. She was wearing her cheer outfit of short skirt, halter top and sneakers, all in the school colors of Columbia blue and black.

“Hey, Carter,” she chirruped in her tiny voice. “How are you?”

“I’m good. You?”

“Eager to play BattleHammer. Who’s the new guy?”

“This is Lucas Jackson. Lucas, put your eyes back in your head and greet the lady.”

He swallowed hard and mumbled a greeting. Megan smiled at him and went into the dining room where we’d be playing with a swirl of skirt and a quick flash of spanker pants. A few minutes later, Mike and Stacy walked in holding hands. Mike Reynolds appeared to be the identical twin of actor Jensen Ackles. He had the same brown hair, blue eyes and short, stocky stature. Because he grew tired of being confused for the guy, Mike dyed his hair black, and wore contacts to make his eyes appear blood-red. His girlfriend was a fluffy young woman of 167.64 cm. Her mane was the color of Mike’s original hair and she possessed golden brown eyes.

I made introductions all around and we headed in to the dining room to play BattleHammer. Much to Lucas’ chagrin, and my amusement, Megan was the first to offer to help him create his character. The poor guy couldn’t seem to get his tongue to work right when she was sitting next to him. The others watched for a few minutes while Megan tried to get Lucas to speak to her. At last, her brother spoke up.

“For Christ’s sake, Megan. Move away from the poor bastard. Can’t you tell he’s too attracted to you to talk?”

That flustered both of them. Lucas turned brick-red and Megan left the room. Stacy went to Lucas’ side and after several minutes of chatting with him in a low voice, got the guy to begin creating his character. I stared at Anderson for a few seconds, shook my head at his decision to be an asshole, and then went to talk with Megan. When Anderson pissed her off like this, only their mom, dad and I could get her to speaking with him again. Once, their parents decided to let the siblings work things out on their own, but after a month of Megan and Anderson communicating through intermediaries, gave in and mediated.

I found Megan standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine, leaning against the white marble counter. She had her free arm wrapped around her middle like she was trying to keep her body together.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Not really,” she said. “I am mortified. Why does Keith have to be such an asshole?”

“I have no idea, Keebles. I think it’s a regulator issue.”

She smiled at the nickname I had given her as I knew she would.

“So, he’s trying to control me?” she mused.

“By all the hells, don’t be silly. He’s attempting to regulate the relationship forming in front of his eyes.”

She peered at me.

“Yes, Keebles, even I spotted the budding attraction between the two of you.”

“Nothing like this ever happened to me before. It’s like Lucas is a big, sexy and shy teddy bear I just want to hug, squeeze and cuddle up with.”

I grinned. That was an apt description. I walked over to the pantry and pulled out a package of Megan’s favorite cookies, Keebler Elf’s. I offered them to her.

“Munch these, and ignore Keith. After the game, if Lucas hasn’t asked you out, ask him.”

She giggled. “You’re a smart man, Carter. I’m glad you’re friends with my little brother.”

“Oh, we’re not friends?”

She opened her mouth to protest and took a good look at me: I had crossed my eyes and stuck my tongue out at her. She laughed again and tossed a cookie at me. I uncrossed them and, more by luck than skill, caught the snack with one hand. I crowed about the accomplishment and we left the kitchen laughing. Mike was deep in conversation with Anderson and Lucas was putting the finishing touches on his character. He glanced up, saw we were in the room and pushed Anderson towards us. Her brother walked over and spoke to Meghan as I sauntered over to check out the new party member.

The dining room grew dimmer as the sun sank behind the houses. Anderson closed the curtains while Megan and I lit the candles, to “establish the mood” as Anderson put it. He tended to be impatient with natural light. After he finished setting things up to his liking, he clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. “Alrighty, folks. Gather around and let’s get this started, eh?”

We took our seats at the table with me making sure Megan sat next to Lucas. We put our miniatures on the battle grid Anderson placed before us. He put a couple of buildings up.

“Alright. Recap: Last time, you guys wiped out a bunch of the Rakshasha wizard Mordecai’s lieutenants, killed one of his generals and brought down one of his towers. Shall we run down why your band of heroes is trying to stop him for Lucas? Let’s start with the party leader. Mike?”

Mike folded his arms across the back of the chair which he’d spun backwards to the table. “I play Luwaxana. An elf ranger, she wants revenge for Mordecai using the people of her village to construct a philosopher’s stone.”

Lucas pushed his glasses up on his nose, showing his neat finger nails in the process. “So he enslaved them?”

“They were the main ingredient.”

“Damn. That’s twisted.”

“That’s not the most fucked up event,” Anderson said. “Meghan?”

She smiled at Lucas. “When you view my character, Shauna the Deft, one of the first things you’ll notice are her clockwork hands. After doing a job for Mordecai, he rewarded her by cutting them off and leaving her to die. She wants to return the favor.”

“That was cruel,” said Lucas.

“Heh. Wait ‘til you hear from Stacy,” Anderson said.

Stacy put her leg on Mike’s lap. “I am Ox Silverfist. I’m an experiment of Mordecai’s. He wanted to find out what would happen if he fused a red dragon with a troll. After he grew bored with me, Mordecai tossed me to the side. I was abandoned by the side of a road and left to starve. Luwaxana and Shauna found me on their way to the Utterdark to seek aid from the dwarves for an exploration to the Stygian Trench on a treasure hunt. We never got there because of what we found.”

“So, you always speak as your character?” Lucas said.

“Just when we play,” Stacy said, stretching.

Anderson interrupted.  “Carter, did you fill Lucas in on Drago?

“I did.”

“Excellent. Let’s set up our scene and start slinging some dice.” Anderson picked up his index cards and flipped through them. When he had them in the right order, “You’ve come to a shattered village. A few buildings burn, but most have been reduced to rubble.” He glanced at us. “Show me your positions on the map.”

We placed our miniatures on the grid that Anderson had drawn. As was usual during our adventures, Drago was in the advance position, followed by Shauna and Ox.  Luwaxana brought up the rear.”

“Why do you have them positioned like this?” Lucas asked, looking at me.

“It’s the most sound formation as far as tactics are concerned. Drago leads because he’s the tank. Shauna is the most dexterous and Ox is the sponge. Luwaxana has the sharpest senses, so she makes sure we aren’t ambushed.”

“Wouldn’t it make more sense for the sponge to be in the front to soak up any damage? Let Ox take the lead.”

Meghan spoke up. “The way Carter explained this to me, when I raised the same question, is it makes more sense to have the guy that’s hard to hit in front to distract the others. Just because Ox can take a lot of hits doesn’t mean he should.”

“Good point,” Lucas said.

“May we continue now, or do you need to know about the strategy?” Anderson said.

Lucas stared at him for a time before shaking his head. Anderson rolled a few dice, consulted his cards, then turned to Mike. “What do you want to do?”

“Luwaxana is going to scan around and make sure no one is sneaking up on us,” Mike said.

“Okay. That requires a check. Beat a DC of twenty-three.”

Lucas whispered to me, “What’s a DC again?”

“The difficulty in doing something. In this case, I’m thinking Anderson’s got some bad guys trying to ambush us. Mike is about to roll and try to get his score higher than twenty-three. Watch.”

The twenty-sided die rolled over the table for a short distance. A fifteen came up. Mike smiled and traced his finger over his character sheet. “With ten points in my skills, and a plus three wisdom modifier, my total is twenty-eight.” Anderson nodded, consulted his notecards once more, wrote a note and passed it to Mike who read the message, and made his announcement, “Guys, we’re being followed. Should I circle around to behind them, or do y’all think we should ambush them?”

I adopted my infamous Irish brogue. “Nay, lass. We shall get ourselves undaircover an’ await whoaivair be followin’ us.”

“Carter, do you have to use that god awful accent?” Meghan said with a shudder.

“Is this necessary to discuss this every session, Keebles?” I said in my regular voice. “I told you, this is how they sounded in Drago’s clan.”

She sighed. “How can I persuade you not to use it anymore?”

‘Show me your boobs,’ I thought.

“Maybe you could show him your breasts, Meghan,” Lucas said.

We both turned to look at him. I raised an eyebrow and she grinned at the big guy. She leaned over and whispered in his ear. Whatever she said made him blush. Anderson opened his mouth, only for Lucas to cut him off. “Let’s focus on the game guys.”

Anderson closed his mouth and blinked, leaning back in his chair. Stacy reached out and rubbed his shoulder. “What’s wrong, Keith?” She was one of the few allowed to call him by his first name.

“Nothing, Stace. I’m wondering about the mathematical probability of Lucas saying what I was going to.”

“One in three hundred fifty-five thousand, two hundred ninety-three,” Mike answered. He was our resident math whiz. A lot of times, I envied his ease with numbers.

Continues here.

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