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The Duel of the Ages

Chapter 4

By Samuel Stoddard

"Hmmm," Blood Drops mused to himself. "Hardly a social rat. But I never did like the type." The knight had just witnessed Darius confront a poor old man on his way into the mountains, mistake him for Blood Drops, and slaughter him on the spot -- with bad Foghorn Leghorn quotes to boot. Apparently near-sightedness was another of Darius' shortcomings.

"Oh Darius," Blood Drops yawned, approaching the other casually. He was almost upon him before the misguided guide noticed him.

"Blood Drops!" he gasped and whirled back to the bloodied corpse of the old man. "But you're him!"

"Am I?"


1 In my novel, green gemstones are a form of healing magic.
"I must not be feeling too well today. Wish you had told me sooner, or I've have stayed in bed with a handful of green gemstones."1

Darius eyed the knight. As soon as Blood Drops turned his head.... "Mercy! Mercy! I didn't mean it! I accidentally killed him, I swear!" Darius pleaded.

"Yeah, ok. By heaven, I'm glad I don't live in this world, if you're a good representation of the folk here."

Blood Drops turned his head for just a moment, and Darius snatched the opportunity and milked it for all it was worth. He lunged at the knight with his potato peeler -- but it stopped dead at the other's neck.

"Tsk, tsk, old man," Blood Drops taunted. "Do you like it? It's a type of force field I invented myself. It conforms to the shape of the body, instead of spanning out in a dome. It prevents all physical matter save air and earth from passing through it."

Darius saw it now -- the faint tinge of a blue glow all around his skin and clothing.

Blood Drops gasped suddenly. He took hold of one of Darius' hands and took a better look.

"What? What?" Darius exclaimed.

"The ring!" Blood Drops breathed in awe.

"Yep, that's what it is, a ring," Darius said. "I found it in these woods a couple years ago. Gee, you're a swift one."

"I could have told you when you found it. This isn't just any ring. It's the Metamorph Ring. It's what I came here to this wretched world for in the first place."

Then, with a swift motion of his sword, he chopped off Darius' fingers, and pocketed the ring.2

2 A vague reference to the end of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings."

3 A Bill Cosby reference.

Darius staggered back, reeling. "I...WANT...MORPHINE!!!!!!!!!!!"3 he shrieked.

"You're not a very charitable soul, are you Darius?"

"Er, no! I'm disgusting! I'm a baby! I'm ugly! I'm revolting!"

"And you're dying...." Blood Drops thrust his sword into Darius' belly, tearing through a little dog -- how did it get there? -- in the process.

Darius collapsed on the earth and fingered the little dog's corpse.4

"Thank you," he mumbled, and his body went still.

"You're welcome...though I hope I won't have to do it again. If you feel like coming back to life to wreak your revenge, you'll have to do it on my terms. I'm going home."

4 In Dave's novel, Darius must cope with destructive feelings such as hatred and guilt which manifest themselves metaphorically as dogs that chase Darius in his dreams and feed on his flesh. The dog named Jealousy is portrayed as a little dog who feeds on what's left after the other dogs are finished, then curls up in the pit of his stomach and goes to sleep.

5 Here I established how the Blood Drops of my serious novels connect with the Blood Drops of this parody. In the middle of my second book, Blood Drops travels through a portal to another world to retrieve the Metamorph Ring, a magical artifact that's needed to restore a certain people to their original selves. In the "real" story, Blood Drops journeys to a completely different land, but for the purpose of this parody, he went to Larosis, the world Dave created for Darius to live in. Now that Blood Drops has returned, he's back in my world -- in a broken down stone fortress, miles underground, in the midst of labyrinthine caves.

Blood Drops started away, but then turned back one more time. "Oh, and Darius," (the dead warrior's eyes did not turn to meet his) "it's a sack of wet mice, not rice. You obviously didn't spend enough time watching Looney Toons as a child. A little humor in your early years might have improved your disposition. But alas...."

With that, Blood Drops turned away, trekked up the path for a little bit, then fumbled around in the bushes. The gaping hole in the side of the earth was just as he had left it. Blood Drops straightened himself, then launched himself into it. Using magical forces of propulsion, he travelled the ninety-four mile distance in no time at all, and, when he reached his destination, hooked his fingers on the Portal's edge and heaved himself out of it.

"I have...the ring," Blood Drops announced triumphantly5, and the Goblin and the Ogre who had awaited his return cheered gleefully.

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