Child’s Play

‘Oliver, I’m booooored!’

I don’t even turn to look at Caprice, instead continuing to half-heartedly throw stale bread at the ducks circling the edge of the pond in front of us. I can see in my peripheral vision, though, that she’s long since given up that activity and is now swinging her legs impatiently at something that I’m sure exceeds the speed of light.

‘So do something.’

‘Like what, though?’

‘Gee, I dunno, you could try feeding these ducks. Like, you know, you just dragged me out here on a Saturday afternoon to do.’

‘I didn’t drag you, you came willingly.’

I snort derisively. ‘Yeah, “willingly”. More like, “caved after half an hour of nagging”.’

Caprice stops swinging her legs and crosses her arms in a huff, turning away from me slightly. I don’t mind. It frees up a bit of room on this clearly child-sized bench. In fact, if not for us, this bench would probably be occupied by the trio of kids running around on the other side of the pond.

I look over at the kids. What the heck are they doing? They’re running around, of course, but in no particular direction, so it isn’t racing. I can hear them shouting and whooping about something or other, swinging their arms like some kind of wizard. It reminds me somewhat of Caprice.

Evidently the kids have caught Caprice’s eye as well. She watches them intently, studying in a manner not unlike my roommate when the football is on. On the other side of the pond, one of the kids clutches his chest and falls to the ground, while a second rushes to his side and the third laughs maniacally. Whatever they’re doing, it seems like the third kid won.

‘Stop right there, you witch!’

The volume of the cry startles me. I’m about to question the immense power behind the kid’s voice when I realise it came not from the kids across the pond but from the twenty-year-old kid now standing next to me. Of course it was Caprice. It’s always Caprice.

The kids across the pond stop and stare at her, confused. ‘Who do you think you are, interrupting my victory laugh?’ the third kid asks.

‘Who? Ha! I am none other than Lady Mona, High Conjurer of the Da Vinci Mages!’

Wha—? Lady Mona? High Conjurer? What on Earth is she—?

‘Lady Mona?’ the kid gasps. ‘It can’t be! I thought I’d defeated you years ago!’

It’s now Caprice’s turn to laugh. ‘Defeated, yes, but not destroyed! I have spent centuries plotting my revenge, honing my abilities so that I might defeat you…’

She trails off, obviously not knowing the name of her primary school-aged adversary. Well, so much for that.

‘Surely you haven’t forgotten, Lady Mona? It is I, Sophia Summers, wielder of the hammer, Mjolnir!’

The second kid, another girl, looks up from her fallen comrade. ‘Help us, Lady Mona! The witch, Sophia, has mortally wounded the Dark Tyrant Master!’

Caprice steps back in shock. ‘It can’t… it can’t be! The Dark Tyrant Master is all-powerful!’

‘Nyahahaha! Your pitiful Dark Tyrant Master is not as all-powerful as he has had you believe! He is but a mere mortal, hiding his weakness behind his powers over the Dark Realm!’

Caprice grits her teeth, curling her hands into fists. ‘You may have defeated the Dark Tyrant Master, but you’ll never defeat me!’

The second kid, now standing, waves Caprice over. ‘Come, Lady Mona! With the High Conjurer of the Da Vinci Mages by my side, I, Priestess Molly of the Hypnos’ Eye Society, will be able to avenge the Dark Tyrant Master!’

‘You think Lady Mona will be of use to you? I defeated her once, and I’ll defeat her again! Do your worst!’

Together with Caprice, Priestess Molly begins to take several dramatic poses, as if casting a spell. ‘Reality, be rent! Synapse, break! Vanish this world!’

Although, obviously, their spell had no effect, the three girls all brace themselves against some non-existent force. Shortly after, they retake normal standing positions and look around, surveying their “new” surroundings.

‘My, my, Priestess, you’ve outdone yourself this time,’ Sophia says.

‘I’m not the weak apprentice I once was, Sophia.’

‘No? Then how about you prove it? Golden Magnum!’

Sophia pulls her hands inside her jacket sleeves, raises her arms to chest height and alternately “fires” them like large cannons. Molly and Caprice both dive to the side of the invisible barrage, Molly using the momentum to get to her feet and flee from the continuing onslaught as it follows her.

Meanwhile, Caprice skirts around the far edge of the pond, flanking Sophia. As she approaches, Caprice withdraws a paintbrush from her jacket. Once within range, Caprice thrusts the brush forward like some combination of magic wand and rapier.

‘Vetruvian Crossbeam!’

Sophia turns in shock, ducking low to avoid the spell, retaliating with her own “Mjolnir Lowkick”. Even though no contact is made, Caprice still falls to the ground melodramatically.

Now left with an opening, Molly charges Sophia, fist balled and at the ready. Calling out ‘Flames of Hell Punch!’ she swings at the empty space slightly in front of Sophia, who expertly rolls out of striking distance. Molly follows up her attack with a “Hypnos’ Eye Beam”, fired between her fingers, held in front of her eyes in V-shapes. This attack apparently finds its mark, with Sophia holding her arms in a cross in front of her face to reduce the damage.

Molly helps Caprice to her feet, while Sophia steps away from the pair of delusional combatants. Holding an “injured” arm, Sophia retakes her fighting stance, hunching slightly in weariness.

‘You are indeed powerful, Priestess! But Lady Mona’s power far exceeds your own. You’re only holding her back!’

‘You’re wrong,’ Caprice mutters. ‘Priestess Molly may not be as powerful as me, but she has a far greater power than I!’

‘Oh? And what might that be?’

Answering in Caprice’s place, someone shouts, ‘Love!’

The girls all turn simultaneously towards the source of the voice: the Dark Tyrant Master, previously thought to have been vanquished, who struggles to his feet.

‘Master!’ Molly squeals. ‘I thought you were…’

‘The power of the Dark Realm is not so easily defeated. You’ll have to do better than that, Sophia Summers!’

Sophia pulls at her pigtailed hair in frustration—or, perhaps, burning rage.

‘Grrraaagh! This cannot happen! I won’t allow it! Prepare to witness my ultimate attack!’ Taking on several poses, not unlike Molly’s and Caprice’s earlier in the battle, Sophia begins to chant. ‘Cherubim, sing. Descend seraphim. Physical Linkage!’

Sophia raises her hands into the air, as if collecting power, while laughing that maniacal laugh from before. Molly and Caprice rush over to the “wounded” Dark Tyrant Master, the former taking one arm over her shoulder.

‘What should we do?’ Molly asks.

‘There’s only one thing we can do to best an attack of that magnitude,’ Caprice replies.

‘You don’t mean…?’

‘I do. We have to tap into the Dark Realm and unleash the Unseen Horizon. Master, can you do it?’

‘It may kill me, but I can try. Lend me your strength!’

Placing her hand on the Dark Tyrant Master’s shoulder, Caprice begins to “charge”, shouting all the while. Molly and the Dark Tyrant Master join in, their combined voices resembling what you’d get if you held down the “A” key on a computer for about five years. Several meters away, Sophia Summers does the same. Apparently shouting makes you stronger.

After an excessively long period of “charging”, both parties unleash their attacks. Unseen to all but themselves, they push for control over the mutually struggling beams. Each time one side appears to gain the upper hand, the other pushes back with greater force and louder shouting. Despite her best efforts, the strain proves too much for Sophia and she is blasted to the ground.

‘We did it!’ Molly exclaims, jumping on the spot.

Caprice dusts herself off, while the Dark Tyrant Master falls to one knee with a grunt.

‘Are you okay, Master?’

‘I’ll be fine. I just need to rest. Go and finish off Sophia before she can escape once again.’

Molly nods in acknowledgement, then looks to Caprice. Caprice nods in turn, and both approach the prone Sophia.

‘It’s over, Sophia,’ Caprice declares.

‘Nyahahaha… I may be defeated, but this is far from over…’

‘Give it up, Sophia. You’ve got nothing left.’

‘That’s where you’re wrong… Just as you have your Master, I have mine.’

Molly jumps back in surprise. ‘What?! Tell us! Who is your master?’

Weakly, and with a devilish grin, Sophia raises her hand off the ground, pointing across the pond. Pointing at… me. Molly and Caprice both turn towards me in exaggerated slow motion, looks of shock and betrayal plastered on their faces.

‘This can’t be possible…’ Caprice laments.

‘You know this man?’ Molly asks.

‘I do. He is Oliver Pendragon, Magic Knight of the Seventh Legion. And he is my boyfriend.’

‘Your boyfriend is the master of the great witch Sophia Summers? What trickery! What betrayal! What heartache!’

I jump to my feet, causing the bag of stale bread on my lap to catapult into the mass of hoarding ducks below. ‘Now just hold on a minute! You can’t just drag me into your silly little game!’

Caprice looks bemusedly towards her primary school-aged compatriot, who ironically is nearly her height despite being half her age. ‘You think this a game?’

‘What?’

‘You think sicking your lapdog on us is a game? The Dark Tyrant Master is lucky to be alive.’

‘For the love of—I did no such thing!’

Molly snorts derisively at me. ‘You can’t fool us with your lies, Oliver Pendragon.’

‘I’m not—whatever. I’m going home. You nutcases can have your fun without me.’

‘You think you can get away? Reality, be rent! Synapse, break! Vanish this world!’

* * *

‘C’mon, admit it! You had fun!’ Caprice says.

Sighing, I reply, ‘No.’

‘“No”, you won’t admit it?’

‘“No”, I didn’t have fun.’

‘De-ni-al~.’

Tch, don’t start that. Playing pretend with a bunch of ten year-olds? Fun? As if. I felt like a huge jackass the whole time. How am I supposed to keep up with imaginations like theirs? How the heck did Caprice manage it?

Dumb question. Of course she’d keep up. She may as well have been there from the start, the way she was making up spells to counteract my attacks. If not for Caprice, I might even have emerged victorious—

Shit.

‘Okay, fine. I might have had a little bit of fun.’

‘See, now you’re getting it! Playing with those kids was a way cooler idea than feeding those lame ducks.’

‘Feeding the ducks was your idea.’

‘Party pooper.’

‘I’m not a party pooper. I’m a responsible adult. I—we—shouldn’t be playing children’s games.’

‘You? Responsible? Remind me again why you need my help to pass this semester?’

‘I don’t—It wasn’t my—If I hadn’t’ve—Shut up.’

‘Nyahahaha, I’ve defeated you once again, Oliver Pendragon!’

‘Now you’re sounding like Sophia Summers.’

‘You sure sound knowledgeable for someone who didn’t have fun.’

I don’t have a response for that. I simply ignore Caprice, and continue walking straight ahead. It’s not far back to my apartment building now. I kind of expect Caprice to continue pestering me about today, but for once she lets up. I’m more than a little thankful for that.

When we arrive, I kick off my shoes and throw myself into the little couch in the tiny space I call my lounge room. Just as my ass makes contact with the fabric, Caprice pipes up.

‘We should get your roomie and the others to play with us next time!’

‘Oh, hell no—’

END


Child’s Play was originally published on Pastebin on 16 March 2014.

It features characters and settings originating from Twofold by Salty Salty Studios.

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