Chapter 12 – Smoke me a Kipper, I’ll be Back for Breakfast.
Clyde Fant Running Park – Shreveport
Felipe and the rest of the Knights of De Castronia strode onto the battlefield, some with purpose, others with minimal interest, only to find that the Fellowship of Turtles was already there – Sookie, front and centre, in a green long sleeve shirt and yoga pants with a blue bandana with holes cut out over her eyes. His eyes perused the rest of her group – three more in green and the rest in red, including one who looked like a brunette Brienne of Tarth, one with a furry hat with dog ears and one wearing a yellow hardhat and carrying a slingshot and a bag of foam rocks.
“A rag-tag group of fighters.” Felipe sniffed haughtily. “I thought I’d given enough notice for you to prepare a little better than this.”
Sookie slowly marched over and smiled sweetly at her nemesis. “We may be rag-tag and a little unprepared – but every single member of my team wants to be here and wants to take you down.”
Felipe looked back at his own band of warriors and tried not to count the amount of times he’d had to answer the question ‘why are we doing this, again?’ in the last 48 hours. He sneered at them and turned back to the Stackhouse nuisance.
“Seasoned in the art of combat overcomes wrath, girl!”
Sookie’s eyes hardened and she struck Felipe in the chest with her elbow before taking out one of her foam katanas and holding it to his throat. “I’m soooo not a girl.”
“Enough of this nonsense!” A very official-looking young man with thick spectacles and a lisp stood on a wooden crate. “I, Marquis D’Hoffryn, demand that the two bands of warriors take their places on the battlefield. The skirmish will begin when I blow the whistle, it will end when the leader of any group loses their pennant to an opposing warrior!”
Sookie sauntered over and took the red scarf from Marquis D’Hoffryn, tying it tightly to her belt and nodding her thanks while Felipe accepted his blue scarf by kissing the Marquis’ hand and touching the scarf to his forehead in reverence before tucking it inside the top of his glove. The Marquis smiled smugly and stroked Felipe’s hair before snapping his fingers.
“The Fellowship of … ahem … Turtles will defend the castle.” The Marquis pointed to a cardboard portcullis gate, slightly visible amongst the trees. “The Knights of De Castronia will attack from outside the forest of valour. Take your places!”
“The forest of valour?” Eric raised an eyebrow, which was unseen by the others from underneath his red eye mask, but the sarcasm in his tone was recognised.
“Don’t question it Raphael – just go with it, we’re the visiting team here.” Sam tugged his furry hat over his ears.
“Whatever dog-boy.” Eric shook his head.
“He prefers ‘The Hound’.” Pam smiled gleefully. “And I, for one, am very excited about cracking some skulls with this Bo Staff! I don’t care what they call this place, as long as I get some action!”
The Fellowship of Turtles convened at the portcullis. Sookie gathered them round for a pep talk. “This’ll need to be quick, but I need the biggest and strongest to defend the … castle … and the smallest and quickest out there in the trees to pick off the attackers. Pam, Sam, Bill and Chow – you’re the first line of …”
The Marquis D’Hoffryn, more usually known as Lucas De Castro, blew his whistle, knowing fully that the Fellowship of Turtles wasn’t ready, but his Uncle Felipe was a regular at Dragon’s Lair, so he had to give him the advantage. The stewards from the Dragon’s Lair Guild looked on, slightly perturbed by the leader of the bout’s actions, but knowing it was too late to do anything about it. They were aware that D’Hoffryn and Sir Felipius usually LARPed on the same team and that this battle was a personal favour for Felipius.
Felipe watched from the rear as his soldiers crept toward their target, a rabid scream sounded to his left and he saw Barry struck down by the rebel Pam, he didn’t even put up that much of a fight – he just sighed and let her strike him across the chest with her staff.
“Player …” The steward checked his list. “Barrington Swynford is incapacitated for thirty seconds!”
Jason leapt from behind a tree and took aim; his ‘rock’ hit Barry right between the eyes.
“Player Barrington Swynford is dead!” The steward walked over and pointed Barry toward the pit of the fallen and Barry sighed.
“Thank God!” He, gratefully, went to sit and drink coffee for the duration of the game. He couldn’t wait to get home and put all this behind him.
To Felipe’s left, Bill swung his nun chucks ineffectually against Bruno. “Take him out Viscount Brunesus!”
Felipe’s teeth ground in rage as Bill’s nun chucks twisted, accidently, around Brunesus sword and disarmed him, leaving the Hound to impale Brunesus on his rusty pike.
“Booyakasha!” Bill and Sam high fived and sprinted off out of Felipe’s line of sight.
At the ‘Castle’, Sookie paced anxiously then stopped, causing Eric to bump into her … again. “I know you said you wanted to stick by my side through thick and thin but could you do that from more than six inches away?”
Her eyes were drawn to movement in the trees as Chow was almost beheaded by the guy with long silver hair but dodged at the last second and ran for safety. Andy ran up to her, panting excitedly.
“I chopped off one o’ their sword arms!” He grinned. “Gonna just head back over and finish him.”
Sookie nodded, she was glad the team seemed to be having so much fun – especially Portia. ‘Office’ Portia was about as much fun as colonic irrigation but ‘LARP’ Portia was large and in charge … until Felipe himself put his sword through her back.
Portia stretched out her arm toward Andy. “Avenge me!”
“You’re damn right I will.” Andy growled and stomped toward Felipe, but Sir Felipius was quick and Andy lost him in the trees. “Ah!”
Andy felt the ‘thwack’ of duct tape covered foam on his neck and looked up at Lafayette, who was smiling and fixing his neckerchief after the exertion.
“Well played … Laffy, is it?”
“Today I’m supposed to be known as ‘The Viceroy Lafayette’, but I don’t care much for it – Laffy is … what the…”
Chow grinned as he slapped his sword against Laffy’s chest. “Laffy is dead!”
Chow ran off, laughing, as Andy and Laffy trudged to the pit of the fallen to join Barry, Bruno and Portia. They passed Bill being speared by a Dragon’s Lair regular that Felipe had recruited and waited for him so they could walk together.
Pam landed next to Sookie and Eric, scaring them both. “It’s even at the moment – they’ve killed three and we’ve killed three. We need to get the odds in our favour, Mistress.”
“Wow, you’re really getting into this, Pam.” Sookie blinked.
“Yes! I am! But, here on the fields of blood, I am The Dark Lady Donatella!” Pam’s eyes sparkled with joy.
“Cool!” Sookie grinned. “You, Chow and Sam do the super quick ninja thing – have Jason back you up with his slingshot and, if you find Quinn, send him back to Castle for additional defence.”
Pam sighed and shook her head. “Yes, I, The Hound and Master Oyabun will distract and stage guerrilla attacks while Jasonator takes out the injured – I will send word to Riddick to return to base ASAP!”
Pam leapt away, running full speed for the trees. Eric nudged Sookie and winked when she turned to him. “Wanna fool around, Leonarda?”
“Stop it!” Sookie giggled. “We need to stay vigilant.”
Eric nodded and saluted before standing back to back with Sookie. “I haven’t seen Qui … Riddick since the whistle blew. He’s a huge guy – we should be able to see him moving through the trees.”
Sookie squinted into the forest. Eric was right, she hadn’t seen hide nor hair … well, Quinn was bald but the sentiment remained. A hissing from the bush to her left startled her.
“Did you hear that, Eric?”
Sookie slowly stepped toward the bush, swords at the ready, but jumped back with a squeak when she saw two eyes peering out at her. The branches were pushed aside to reveal a monstrous form, covered with mud and leaves.
“It is I, Riddick.”
“Jesus Christ, Shepherd of Judea! John Quinn, you nearly gave me heart failure!”
“It’s perfect!” Eric gushed. “Just stay there unless the situation gets dire!”
Riddick nodded and bent the branches of the bush back to the way they had been. He was hidden, he was silent, his strike would be swift. He was death.
“Prince Niall of the Sky Fae is dead!” The steward’s voice echoed through the trees.
The Dark Lady Donatella used her slight frame to her advantage, she could hear the brute dragging his feet through the fallen leaves, kneeling she picked up a small rock and threw it away from her. The brute turned to check the noise and she struck him on the back of the neck once before rolling into the undergrowth.
“Sir Polonius is incapacitated for thirty seconds.”
Jasonator pulled back the pouch from his perch on high and aimed. His rock hit Sir Polonius’ shield arm.
“Sir Polonius is injured – use of sword arm only. Jasonator is disqualified – hiding with a ranged weapon is against Guild etiquette.”
Master Oyabun swept toward Sir Polonius from his off-hand and struck before the brute could turn to use his weapon.
“Sir Polonius is dead.”
The Hound stalked his prey through the bushes, his pike in one hand and the other bending the branches to hide him. Dark Lady Donatella hit Darius of the Netherworld on his good arm, Andy previously having disposed of the other.
“Darius of the Netherworld loses use of left arm for one minute.”
Sam leapt from the bushes with a bloodcurdling battle cry and drove his pike into Darius’ chest.
“Darius of the Netherworld is dead.”
Felipe and his second, Sir Wodawick, crouched at the base of a large oak. “It’s six on four now, with two seasoned LARPers being taken out by these amateurs!”
“Amateurs act in unexpected ways, they are untrained, they don’t follow scripts or plays or rules.” Wodawick closed his eyes and inhaled through his nose and exhaled through his thin pale lips. “Those of us left will need to think like them to beat them – we’re being picked off one by one in this godforsaken place! We need to regroup, assemble, attack en masse.”
“You’re absolutely right.” Felipe stroked his chin before cupping a hand around his mouth. “Cuh-CAW … cuh-CAW!”
The remainder of Sir Felipius’ group responded to their leader’s call and immediately headed toward the agreed meeting spot, mindful of being seen and followed by their hunters. The four LARP veterans huddled in the large bush, awaiting instruction from their leader.
“They are spread thin right now, searching the Forest of Valour for prey to pick off. We move as one, we attack as one and we make our way to the castle to dispense with the Stackhouse nuisance!”
The Knights of De Castronia nodded and moved from their hiding spot, stepping carefully over branches toward the target. At the castle, Leonarda and Raphael spoke in hushed tones to a rustling plant.
“They’re doing something.” Sookie narrowed her eyes at the trees. “Probably readying for an all-out attack on us.”
“We need the whole group here, to defend if they make a show of force and to formulate another tactic. There are more of us than them; they wouldn’t be able to take all of us, even with our inexperience.” Riddick offered from his camouflaged position.
Eric nodded to the bush and put a hand on Sookie’s shoulder. “I’ll rally the troops, will you be okay?”
Leonarda thought for a moment before tapping her katanas together. “Go. Qu … Riddick is still here, Felipe may assume I’m alone and become cocky. You know him, he can’t resist a monologue when he thinks he’s winning, then you and the others can strike from the rear.”
With a brief but passionate kiss, Raphael was off and running into the trees. Sir Felipus watched carefully as Sookie was left alone at the castle.
“We’re missing something; he wouldn’t leave her all alone like that.” Felipe mused. “We’ll sweep the perimeter of the clearing, check every bush and every lower branch, 6 foot spread.”
Sir Wodawick, Mistress Kali and The Queen of Pain nodded and spread out, but not so far away from each other that they weren’t within striking distance. The Dark Lady Donatella and Master Oyabun watched from their hiding place, they’d been tracking the foursome since they regrouped. Raphael, not really knowing how to gather the rest of their group, crept through the trees, keeping his eyes peeled for anyone – friend or foe.
“You should be more careful.” Sam’s voice from behind him made him still his movements.
“We need to regroup, gather at the castle.”
“I was on my way there when I found you. The Dark Lady Donatella and Master Oyabun are tracking the remainder of the Knights of De Castronia.”
“Excellent. Soo … Leonarda and Riddick are the only ones there at the moment. We should get back.”
Sam nodded and the two quickly made their way back to base. Sookie was on edge and immediately took a fighting stance when she heard their approach; Sam scowled as the bush next to her shook its branches.
“Relax; it’s just The Hound and Raphael.” The bush stilled and Sookie lowered her weapons. “What news, gentlemen?”
“Sir Felipius and what’s left of his team are sticking close together; Master Oyabun and the Dark Lady Donatella are tracking them. Where is Riddick?” Sam asked and the bush answered with a shake of its branches.
Felipe and his team finished their sweep of the trees surrounding the clearing that held the castle … and Sookie. The unnatural movements of the bush closest to them made Sir Felipius smirk and make a hand signal pointing toward it to alert his three companions to the danger lurking within the leaves.
“We attack from the other side, it’s four on four and we can take them in a frontal assault. We only need to strike her down before the other two from their army show up to join the fun.”
They made their way around to the opposite flank but before they could get there they were ambushed. Pam and Chow leapt from behind a tree and attacked without mercy … or sacrifice. They both fell to the experienced LARPers, but not without taking one of them down too. The skirmish in the tree line alerted those defending the castle and Sir Felipius’ element of surprise was destroyed. Without waiting to regroup, he ran toward Leonarda with his sword aloft and a warrior cry in his heart.
Sookie’s eyes widened as the inevitable clash of swords approached, Riddick jumped from his bush to defend her but it was too late. Sir Felipius’ aim was expert and true. He roared his triumph over his slain foe.
“The Fellowship of Turtles wins!”
“What?” Felipe screeched and spun to find Riddick waving the blue scarf that the bald brute had plucked from his glove as he attacked, when he hadn’t even touched the red one tied to Leonarda’s belt.
Sookie laughed and hauled herself back into a standing position. “You forgot the aim of the game, Felipe. You let your vendetta against me cloud what your purpose was on this field today and your defences were insufficient.”
“Good game everyone!” The stewards applauded and everyone trudged back to the picnic tables for some much needed sustenance.