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from The Lyceum of the Lake Winds


 

The next Saturday, the ninth of April, the Zephs hosted the Marquette Dragons. The Marquette team dominated, and the player who dominated was a lanky fifteen-year-old girl named Mary Margaret Wertz. She played third base and her arms almost reached to second base; she never hit anything short of the warning track; and her obnoxious but baseball-aware chatter kept the rest of the team on the ball. The Dragons won the first game 17 to 11, and polished off the nightcap 19 to 2. In between, the Zephyrs let Marquette stay close in field hockey before pulling away in the last ten minutes to win ten to six.

“I think we could go undefeated,” said Keisha Case, backup first baseman and field hockey goalie, as they ate a late dinner in the caf.

“Yeah, and the baseball team’s got a perfect record too,” said Daphne.

“Easy for you to win,” said Arnulf. “Mary Margaret doesn’t play field hockey.”

“No,” said Angelica, coming over. “She’s a one sport athlete.”

“Pity if something happened to her,” said Arnulf.

“What were you thinking?” asked Daphne. “She’s also a third year. I know she knows the stone fig spell.”

“What’s a stone fig between friends,” said Arnulf. “Especially if one is a backup utility infield outfielder. Who can’t hit and can’t run fast.”

The next day the Zephs took the portal to Milwaukee, where Marquette managed to commandeer County Stadium. The Dragons wasted no time in jumping all over Daphne, in her rotation as starting pitcher. By the sixth inning, when Coach Whelp let her sit down in favor of the calm third year Sara Stills, they were down 13-4. Without Daphne in the lineup, the Zephs scored no more runs, and the Drags coasted to a 17-4 victory.

Elizabeth McNing was slotted to pitch the second game. She gave up a single, two walks and then a home run to Mary Margaret Wertz in the first inning. With no one out, the lanky Wertz was jogging the base paths, insulting each and every infielder she passed. Leonard Harris at second watched stonefaced as she muttered the n-word; Melissa Kleene, the shortstop, spat in her path, and Lulu Bates, at third, tried insulting her back.

Arnulf was standing near the third base coach, who was paying no attention. As Wertz turned for home, Arnulf said, not loud but not in any kind of whisper either, “Pfft yrk glg…”

Wertz looked up at him. She hit the brakes: perhaps she knew the spell and instinctively tried to avoid it. She would have been better off running on through. “Kno e—ewww!” she said.

“Need some air?” he said quietly. Then he repeated the spell, which he was in good practice on. Lulu smiled and backed off into left field, where Josh Hubble joined her to observe the result. Mary Margaret seemed to want to back up toward second.

“Hey Ump,” called the manager from the Marquette dugout, “what are you going to do about this?”

“Aww, it’s just a three worder,” said the third base umpire, who didn’t recognize the spell, and who, luckily for both him and Arnulf, had lost the power of smell in a spell battle long ago. Meanwhile, the audience, which happened to include a lot of Lake Winds supporters on the third base side of County Stadium, found the whole thing amusing as long as the wind continued to blow from the third base side.

Pfft yrk glg,” said Arn again, as Wertz tried to find a way past him within the base paths. The stench was reaching saturation already. “Want one more? I’ll turn around,” he said, turning and bending over to aim at her. “Pfft—!”

Trt si mng gfl!” she croaked out.

“Thanks,” said Arnulf, turning stiff as stone. In a moment he was grey granite.

Arn didn’t came awake in a dim place. He was wet. A dark face was before him. No, it was just Leonard; the place was the hall behind the dugout; Leonard had been pouring a potion over him.

“Destone potion,” said Arnulf. Leonard put his finger over his mouth.

There were voices from up the hall in the locker room. It was Lulu Bates and several other people. They were arguing in low voices.

“I’m telling you to cool it,” Lulu was saying. “Use your brain, Lizzie.”

“Shut up, Lulu,” Elizabeth McNing replied. “Or you’ll—!” Her whisper was too loud to be a whisper but still too low for a decent threat. Sound definitely carried back here.

“Cool it everybody,” Dave Andrews was saying. “Just tell us what you think you’re doing. Maybe we can actually not work at, you know, cross purposes for once.”

“Like we trust you even a little, Dave,” said Josh Hubble, pronouncing Dave like it was an insult.

“What. Are you. Looking for,” said Lulu.

“Nothing,” insisted McNing.

“Then why. Are you. In his locker. Confused?” McNing didn’t reply. “So what, you think they let him take things like whatever it is to away games?

“He’s a frickin’ statue,” said McNing. “It’s our chance to just, you know, see.”

“You don’t even know what it is, do you?” Josh put in.

“So scared,” said Lulu. “Of all the, you know, secrets you Mac people know.”

“Shut up about Mac people,” said McNing. “If you could see straight you’d be a Mac person too.”

“Do I have to stand here and drip?” asked Arnulf in a low voice.

“Come on,” said Leonard, “back to the dugout.” He dragged Arnulf around a corner and he could see the daylight from the field. “They gonna find anything, pal?” Leonard asked.

“My dirty underwear and socks,” said Arnulf.

“You changed here??”

“No, it’s just a defense.”

“You thought someone would be rifling your locker? Man, you guys are devious.”

“Let’s just say that we’re all kinda used to it by now.” He wiped his face: the potion was a little greasy. “We win?”

“Yeah. Game’s been over for an hour. Everyone else is back at the Lyceum already: I came back with the destone potion from Coach. Good job there, by the way. Without Mary Mack or whatever, they couldn’t hit anything Willow threw at them. Yours truly got a triple and three singles. Dapher hit a homer in the fourth, yeah, Josh down there hit one in the eighth. Final score was like ten to five.”

“And you came back and they were—?”

“Ransacking your locker, yeah.”

“So, thanks, man,” said Arnulf. “Uh, this mean we’re on the same side?”

“With magic farts as your specialty, I don’t want to be on the other side,” said Leonard. He grinned. “And then there’s your girlfriend. I definitely don’t want to be on the wrong side of her. You ready to go back? Anything you need from your locker?”

“No,” said Arnulf, “though I’m gonna miss some of those socks, they’ve been with me for years.”

Arnulf Shmoke and Leonard Harris got back to the Lyceum and had a little talk with Coach Whelp. She was not pleased with Arnulf’s behavior, told Leonard he was a stand-up guy, and then sent them both back to their houses with grinning slaps on the shoulder. They were ushered out the back door of the office by the gym, and Leonard made Arnulf pause a moment outside. Arnulf didn’t know what was going on until Leonard chuckled and pulled him away.

“Let’s practice you up on some third base,” he said. “You might just be needing to sub for Lulu a little this next weekend at Ann Arbor.”

Indeed, Lulu Bates was in trouble, and so was Dave Andrews. Hubble and McNing managed to evade responsibility by turning state’s evidence or something, so Josh was still in the starting lineup at left field, but Arnulf found himself out there at third base, wearing his arm out winging the ball to Daphne without pulling her too far off the bag. He wasn’t a great ballplayer or a natural, but, at any rate, as Ahir would have agreed, he was pretty good in the clutch. He got on base twice in his four games, both times on walks. Andrews was replaced in center field by a Caribbean Amazon named Clothilde Chantal, who could hit, and also strike out, but who still got confused by deep fly balls.

The four game match-up against the Ann Arbor Lyceum’s Michiganders produced exactly one win for the baseball team, a 3-2 defensive struggle on Saturday in Chicago, in which Daphne was the winning pitcher and hit the three-run homer in the eighth inning that won it. Thus again the baseball team managed to get equally many wins as the field hockey team, which took its only game of the weekend, at Ann Arbor on Sunday, by a 12-1 score. The baseball team was now 2-10; the field hockeyers were 3-0.

“So we managed to score a whopping six runs all weekend,” said Daphne after the Sunday game, as she and Tom and Arnulf and Ahir and Leonard Harris walked downtown to find an ice cream place, and just take a look around the college town. “Field hockey got twice that.”

“And Ann Arbor is supposed to be the weak team,” said Tom Hexane, who had been getting some reps as a possible relief pitcher.

“They only outscored us ten to two today, in two games,” Arnulf pointed out. “And I didn’t make any errors at third base. Didn’t get any hits, of course.”

“No one expects you to, dear,” said Ahir. “You’re more of a fielder type.”

“You’re a safety, man,” said Leonard. “You can always clean their clock when they round third. Isn’t that what safeties do?”

“Speaking of safety,” said Arnulf.

They stopped. “Whut?” asked Leonard. Arn gave him a look. He whipped around, his “JS” wand out; next to him, Ahir had her black wand ready.

Sek ag min! came a chorus from behind them. Leonard made a noise like snerk and slumped against Tom, who let him settle gently to the sidewalk asleep. Still half crouched, Tom tossed a one-two-three magic strike at one of the wand-waving figures leaning out of a second floor window on the left. Tom and the window-hanger, a woman of young middle age, had a staticky standoff for a minute, and then as the woman started in on an actual spell to break the deadlock, with a bolt from the right she was practically blown back from the window.

Daphne was just overcoming a young man on the sidewalk with sek nyk min, the standard hold spell; his kno eur didn’t hold water. Arnulf was blasting away at what appeared to be a very angry black angora cat. Ahir turned on the cat and together she and Arn tossed enough magic damage to create a small explosion. The cat fled into an alley, leaving a small pall of smoke and the odor of burning cat hair. Arnulf and Ahir ran back up the street and crouched over a downed figure.

They stood up, looking at each other, then back toward the others. “Down,” hissed Daphne. The two crouched again.

Sek nyk min,” she said over them, waving her rarely-used wand. “Sek ag,” said Tom, waving his wand.

Arnulf and Ahir turned: two more people went down in the doorway of an apartment on the right. Then they looked back. Daphne and Tom turned again.

“No more nonsense,” said a nondescript man in front of Daphne. He stood with a woman of punky style and indeterminate age: they seemed to have appeared out of thin air. He twiddled his wand at Daphne. “Trt kar ho—!

Daphne and Tom both flung all the force they had at him. He flew back out of his shoes, literally: he landed on his butt and in his stocking feet.

“You little,” said the woman. She reared back to deliver a crushing blow.

There was a crack from behind Tom and Daphne. The woman was taken by a bluish nimbus of magic combat from the loving couple behind them. Daphne and Tom joined in, as the woman struggled with them: she had a lot of power in her, but somehow she couldn’t shake the four kids together. What was that thing Arn and Ahir were doing? And was this punky girl really this strong?

And then with a snap, the nimbus broke. The woman was thrown back hard against a tree, and slumped in a very uncomfortable folded position. Her boots, empty and still standing where she had been, were smoking.

“Let’s forget the ice cream,” said Arnulf.

“Mmmman,” said Leonard, coming to, “I’m all over that.”

“You—didn’t—did you?” asked Tom. “Kill that woman? We didn’t?” asked Daphne.

“Not so loud,” said Arnulf. He looked back at the body on the ground behind them.

“I fear so,” said Ahir. “And we definitely did it to that poor chap. Very sorry. It was rude of us.”

Tom and Leonard exchanged looks and eye-rolls. Daphne looked from the dead punky girl to the dead guy and then to Ahir. “I’m okay with it myself,” said the Amazon. “Let’s get back to the Windy City, huh? Ice cream sodas at the place on Birch sound good.”

“They’re on Ahir,” said Arnulf. “Which means I’m buying.”


This one started as a role-playing game, a sort of Chicago-pizza-flavored Hogwarts story. It’s flawed but I still find it irresistible: sports and spells. Want to read it? Drop me an email at:

paulgies@maine.edu

 

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