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Phantom Wars Chapter 9

Chapter Nine: Battle Games

Sunday came by faster than Ethan anticipated and he almost forgot he was signed up for a mini game that day. Picario told Ethan that a portal will automatically manifest itself in front of him when it was time for him to enter the game.

“How do I know when the portal will come though?” Ethan asked Picario.

“You will get a note that you can’t miss five minutes before the game starts as a notice,” Picario said. He kept throwing the small blue ball against the wall of his bedroom and caught it while Ethan paced around anxiously.

Picario stopped throwing the wall ball when he suddenly realized something and accidentally spurted out, “Oh crap!”

Ethan stopped pacing around and turned to Picario and asked nervously, “What, what is it?”

Picario looked Ethan up and down for a moment then said, “Yeah I kind of forgot a few things about the ocean diving.”

“Is it something bad?”

“Well firstly relax, Ocean diving up until you get really deep down is very simple and mostly easy going. Anyways I forgot that most people have both a wetsuit and a gill necklace. The wetsuit won’t be much of an issue because the water doesn’t start getting cold until much further down in the depths but the gill necklace might be an issue.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well unless you can hold your breath for more than about seven minutes your access to the orbs will be very limited. But don’t worry you can still get a few so at the least if you can’t make it very far down then just swim around gathering the orbs that most, if not everyone else, avoids grabbing.”

Ethan let out a long sigh then said, “You know I hate to ask but is there anyway you could spot the points for one of these ‘Gill necklaces’?”

“It’s funny you ask because normally I wouldn’t mind at all but there was that one time, rather recently on Halloween where you ditched me.”

Ethan crossed his arms then said, “I never really took you for the type to hold a grudge.”

Picario smirked then said, “I’m not except for when it’s comical, which right now it is.” Then he put his hands behind his head and casually strolled out of the bedroom. “Good luck though!” He called back.

Ethan picked up the blue wall ball Picario left behind and started bouncing it off the ground and wall then back to his hand until a message suddenly appeared out of thin air. In blue bold letters the message said: Ocean Diving will begin shortly, please get ready.

Five minutes after the message appeared a blue swirling portal manifested in front of Ethan. Ethan quickly undressed so he was only in his boxers then stepped through the portal.

The portal took Ethan to an expansive beautiful sea. He fell a short drop into the water and surfaced back up right away. There was nothing but water all around that he could see, it was bright outside but Ethan could see no sun in the sky anywhere.

Ethan quickly gave up trying to figure out where he was as he took in a deep breath and dived down. Under the water he could see dozens of other phantoms swimming deeper down passing by several orbs. The water was very clear and was easy to see through. He could see all the way to the darker part of the depths where the only thing visible was some occasional small glows, which is what most of the phantoms were racing towards.

Off further in the distance near the shadowy parts of the depth Ethan could see a massive eel swimming around casually. The eel ignored the phantoms and they did as well; neither saw the other as a threat. Ethan saw a purple orb directly below him and went for it.

When Ethan finally got to the purple orb he was almost out of breath. He raced to the surface of the water as his lungs felt like they were on fire. After taking in a couple gulps of water Ethan emerged on the surface coughing and desperately trying to get oxygen back into his lungs. Eventually he recovered and then realized he was still holding the purple orb in his hand under the water.

Ethan raised the orb out of the water and as soon as it was out it turned into a radiant purple light and vanished within a second. He took a couple minutes to get his breath back before going under again.

This time Ethan went for a blue orb that was much closer to him. It was a little strenuous on him but he managed to get it back up much easier than the purple orb.

Time passed by unknowingly for Ethan as he dived under the water depths to retrieve the colored orbs. He eventually cleared out every orb in his vicinity that the others left behind and began to move on when he spotted another orb not too far down from his spot that was changing colors every two seconds. By now Ethan was exhausted and was planning on taking a break but something about that orb seemed important so he dived down after it.

As he got closer the orb started drifting away from him. It was slow paced but Ethan almost considered abandoning it the moment it moved. However he pressed on to obtain it despite its unusual behavior.

Ethan grabbed the orb and suddenly felt something bump against his back. He turned around to see a white shark pass by him then start circling around him. For a moment Ethan panicked and started to swim up when he remembered he had magical powers. He stopped himself from scrambling to the surface long enough to create two clones of himself that raced opposite ways from the shark.

The shark itself began to swim around Ethan in a circle faster before chasing after one of his clones. Ethan let out some of his breath which turned into bubbles right away then he carefully swam to the surface. When the color changing orb got to the surface it turned into a rainbow of light that lasted for several seconds until vanishing altogether.

Ethan relaxed himself and lay in the water on his back enjoying the combination of the warm air and cool water. He was exhausted and at that moment didn’t care if he got more orbs he just wanted to rest; so he did.

Somehow Ethan managed to fall sleep because after he opened his eyes again he was laying on the floor of his and Picario’s bedroom. Picario was on the top bed of the bunk bed reading comics when Ethan sat up and asked, “How long was I out?”

Without looking away from his comics Picario said, “I don’t know, I came back from laser tag like 4 minutes ago and there you were sleeping on the ground.”

Ethan sat up and stretched his arms and legs a little then said, “Yeah I fell asleep after what felt like hours of collecting orbs. I was so tired I rest my eyes for only a second and then… well you know how it is.”

“Heh yeah, so how did you do?”

For a long moment Ethan tried concentrating on some kind of scoreboard for the ocean diving game but nothing showed up. “How do I do that?”

“Yeah I forgot the battle games work differently.” Picario said. “The screen displaying the results of the games appears after the game is over to everyone who participated but they only last about half a minute. Check your card balance and compare the difference to see how much you earned.”

After checking the points on his card Ethan subtracted the original amount on there and said, “Awesome I got sixty-eight-thousand ghost points!”

Picario whistled and said, “You must have gotten the mystery orb.”

“You’re damn right I, wait what’s the mystery orb?”

“It’s the orb that constantly changes colors. It shows up at random and will either give players fifty-thousand ghost points or take away ten-thousand from their score. Aside from never knowing when or where it is going to show up, is that you never can know which of the two it will be. So people call it the mystery orb.”

“Regardless I finally have some points so I can buy my own stuff and pay you back for the teleportation crystal.”

Picario shrugged again and said, “I told you not to worry about it, I can earn those points back and more in a day.”

Wednesday came and Ethan and Picario both participated in: Keeper of the orb. The game was played inside what literally seemed like a castle sized child’s playground. There were obstacles all around, and areas with the floors and walls made out of an unknown but extremely bouncy material. The whole game itself was a silly re-imagined wrestling match over a large orb.

The next day Ethan and Picario went through a red portal leading them to a mountain path. There was a red ring etched on the ground around them and three other players in a red uniforms, two of them were girls and the third was a guy. Ethan noticed that he and Picario also had the same red uniform on.

Picario told Ethan that the red ring was a barrier they couldn’t pass through until the game started which would be less than a minute. They used their time to talk strategy and when the barrier went down the game started. They all split up to find the enemy flag while one of the girls put a warning spell that would shoot out a red flare light into the sky if someone from blue team crossed their flag circle.

Ethan made his way down the mountain path walking casually using his powers to make himself invisible to all. The path led Ethan to a ridge that overlooked a small river stream far below it. Not much further down the river stream Ethan could see the blue teams flag with three people guarding it.

For the next several minutes Ethan looked around for a way down to the river stream. The drop would probably kill him and the water wasn’t nearly deep enough to help the fall either. He could climb down which he might slip, but the rocks seemed easy enough to get down, but then there was the problem of getting back up them.

This ordeal plagued Ethan for several minutes more until he heard footsteps coming from just a couple feet away. Ethan turned to see Picario crouching low just as he spotted the blue team down the river. Picario kept crouched low and Ethan could see something on Picario’s face that to him seemed odd. It wasn’t fear, no instead it was nervousness.

Ethan didn’t understand why Picario was so nervous though, with his powers he could probably fly down there and wipe out the entire blue team guards before they even knew what hit them so why was he so nervous?

The more Ethan thought about it the more obvious it became, Picario lacked confidence. He has the experience from playing these games for years, he has the power, that was proven when they fought that strange monster, but he has no confidence in himself. Ethan stepped back so the blue team couldn’t spot him standing and then released his invisibility.

“Picario?” Ethan called out quietly.

Picario quickly turned around and got to his feet holding his right hand out with raw energy crackling around his palm. Ethan put his hands up and took a cautious step back. When Picario recognized Ethan he put his palm back down and let the energy fade away.

“You scared the hell out of me.” Picario whispered.

Ethan kept starring at him a little wide eyed then said, “The feeling is mutual.”

“Anyways we found a path that will lead us to the blue team’s flag down there but it’s also the only path leading back up to our flag so we met immediate conflict with the enemy. John, the other guy, was killed in the battle but he managed to take down the two enemies with him and the girls are down there somewhere trying to find a way to get to their flag before their teammates re-spawns.”

Ethan looked down at the blue team once more and saw two of their teammates suddenly appear next to the flag. The team conversed with each other before three of them set off away from their flag. A couple minutes later he could see the girls slowly approaching the blue team’s flag; still undetected.

As he watched the scene play out, Ethan thought of a way he could help from all the way up there. “Watch this,” Ethan said as he approached the ledge.

It took Ethan a minute of concentration in which time the girls were finally spotted and the four of them were in a stand off of what to do next. When a dog sized, black skinned and red eyed shadowy creature suddenly appeared behind the blue team. It let out a low growl that startled the two phantoms on the blue team as they quickly turned around ignoring the girls.

The two blue team members started backing away as the creature jumped out at them. They dodged its attack but it quickly turned around at them again. The girls were too caught up in the scene to take advantage of their opportunity the first time so Ethan made the creature dance around with the blue team coming in for simple attacks and avoiding all of theirs. Gradually he kept leading the blue team’s flag guards away from the flag when the girls finally seized the opportunity to take the flag and run.

When the girls were out of Ethan’s sights carrying the blue flag with them as they went, Ethan made the creature roar in deafening pitch sound before exploding into black smoke. The two blue team members looked at each other puzzled then turned back to their flag spot to see the flag was gone. Ethan could hear one of them shouting in rage as he and Picario laughed.

After a few more minutes the blue team’s flag re-spawned and Ethan already formulated another plan. “Picario do you think you could quietly levitate me down there and then back up here after I get the flag?”

Picario judged the distance down to the river stream and to the flag then said, “Yes but it will be a slow process. Why? Are you planning on grabbing a flag and making a run for it?”

Ethan grinned then said, “Something like that. I’m going to make myself invisible sneak over to their flag, and then create a doppelganger of their flag as I sneak back up here. Then you lift me back up and you can run the flag back to our base while I keep up the illusion. And when it re-spawns they won’t even know it was gone and we can do it again for the last point when you return.”

Slowly and carefully Picario lowered Ethan down to the river stream and watched anxiously as Ethan slowly jogged towards the blue teams flag where there was still two guards ever vigilant. Ethan made sure that only Picario could see him as he made his way to the flag slowing down when he was only steps away from it. Carefully Ethan pulled the flag out of the ground as silently as possible then walked back to the mountain ridge.

Ethan made sure to keep his concentration on both his invisibility and the doppelganger flag as he was lifted back up to the ridge by and unseen force. When he got back up Ethan handed Picario the flag and Picario ran at great speeds back towards their flag base. Several minutes later Picario returned saying they now only needed one more capture to win. Ethan was starting to feel tired and sweating a little from creating and maintaining the illusions at such a great distance but he kept it up as he made his way back to the enemy’s flag.

This time when Ethan plucked the blue flag out the ground, three of the blue team’s phantoms appeared right next to Ethan. He was still holding the flag while invisible and kept the doppelganger flag appearing but now he was surrounded by enemies. He stayed perfectly still not moving and waited for them to create a small opening.

The blue team conversed a bit as a couple of the members got into an argument. They started shoving each other and Ethan made a run for it only to trip on a rock and fall down; he made it three feet away from the blue team. Ethan’s invisibility and his doppelganger illusion dispersed into thin air as he fell and lost his concentration.

Ethan had enough time to stand back up as the entire blue team stopped arguing and starred with surprise at Ethan holding their flag and appearing out of nowhere. The blue team looked back at their empty flag post then to Ethan again before one of them said, “An illusionist. I haven’t seen one of your kinds before, guess this explains a lot of the stuff that’s been going on here.”

Ethan bowed lowly to the man and said, “And I leave you with this.” Then he took off running at full speed.

Picario saw Ethan running from the blue team then slapped his palm against his forehead. He jumped down to the river stream and landed safely in the water. The water was deep enough to reach his chest and he started manipulating the current of water until it began building up behind him.

The water formed a small tidal wave behind Picario and when everyone was close enough he brought it crashing down. Ethan screamed as he covered his face with his arms and tried to stop running. Before the water could hit him though he was lifted high above it and it continued on washing over the entire blue team. Ethan was brought several feet above the ridge and then dropped. He had to roll forward to prevent himself from getting hurt.

Picario landed next to him a moment later and the two started jogging back to their flag base. “Great plan it really worked,” Picario said sarcastically.

“I didn’t expect them to spawn on top of me!”

“You are welcome by the way, for me saving your biscuit.”

“Who replaces ‘behind’ with biscuit anymore? Seriously.”

Picario slugged Ethan on the arm as they came up to their flag base and mounted the blue flag in the capture zone. The red team celebrated with high-fives and hugs before they were transported back to the mansion.

On Saturday it was the day of the grand tournament but ‘The Hunt’ came before that and Ethan and Picario spent the entire match just sitting up in a tree relaxing inside the forest arena. Ethan couldn’t hold the invisibility for more than about thirty minutes but he only need ten whenever the hunters came around looking for them; which they never found them.

After the match Ethan and Picario relaxed inside one of the many in ground heated pools on floor 90. They simple jumped in with all their clothes and decided to worry about it later. It was a long and fun week, and in the boys hearts they wished these times would never end. But little did they know that their time itself was gradually running out.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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