This Strange Land of Midnight

Sinead seemed to have become trapped inside her computer game. Why is she ther? Why is it so hot? Why is it that female characters have to wear tight costumes in these games?


4. Skirmish

So here I wasthree hours into our quest heading east across the Plains of Blood. I’d traversed these plains many times. Never taken me so long before but then game time wasn’t like real time. To the south were small downs that led to the mountains further south. To the north the plains lay out miles into the distance. Covered with snow they looked like  arctic deserts. A weak sun came through the clouds occasionally, I felt warm though, riding along on one of Luxor horses. Hey Mum I can ride a horse, you’d never believe that would you? 

The army was making steady progress. I thought back to the moment we set off east and Corleth and Morkin set to the south. Luxor had embraced his son in a fierce lock. There were a few tears in Morkins eyes as he contemplated his next few weeks with the Fey. The Fey were easy going but were likely to mock the young lad to death. Luxor had been quiet for the first few hours. He'd spent the first with his generals obviously talking over the strategy he and I had discussed. I could see a level of disagreement building in them. They wanted to stop and fight. I’d put the kybosh on that. 

Luxor eventually came over to me and rode silently by my side for a while. 

‘The generals think we can take them, they say I’m being weak and running away. One even used the word coward’ he eventually said, the word coward obviously had found it's mark. He was beginning to have doubts about my idea. 

‘They may seem to be only a few out there but huge armies amass in the Plains of Valedor. When you attack they will join the battle’ I said. I know, the first time I’d played I’d tried this approach. Ah well, 5 minutes is not a bad time to lose a game in. 

‘I strangely trust you mage, although I would like to know why you know so much’ Luxor said and then his voice hardened, ‘however if you’re wrong, I’ll hand you over to that letch Rorthron.’ 

He wandered off and I rode on by myself. Why was it so warm was the thought that took over my head. 

The constant lurch of my horse was turning my stomach. The nausea I thought I’d got rid of at the Tower had returned. At lunch I’d been passed a leg of mutton and some apples. I’d eaten an apple but passed on the meat even though it smelt delicious. 

During the day the scouts had sensed that a small Doomdark army was tracking us and might be with us later. Battles are funny in Midnight. They never happen in the day. You can travel right up to an army in broad daylight. It can be just after dawn, but you wait waving at each other all day until night falls. Then the battles are silent, no noise, no images, just a description of the battle and then you’re asked if you want dawn. I know that 8 bit machines didn’t have much power but this was ridiculous! 

As the light was leaving us, I got off my horse and helped set up the camp. There were no fires, the evil were abroad and we didn’t want to attract them. 

I was feeling distinctly ill. I wandered a little way off the rest of the party to be sick once again. The weird thought that went through my head was this time it tasted like prawn cocktail crisps. The outlandish things that go through your head at times like this. I moved to remove my cloak. It was getting hotter when it should be getting colder. 

Luxor came over 

‘Are you Ok Mage’ he asked curiously. The last of the light reflected off his eyes. 

‘Yes, I’ll be fine, just a spot of stomach trouble’ 

‘Evil is out tonight, they may be a skirmish, stay close to the centre of the group’ he said wandering off to look to the north. 

I made my way back to the centre. My body felt in spasm as another bout of nausea hit. 

Then the noise began, a horrid noise nothing like the quiet of the game. The swish of the sword could be heard. My blood turned to water as I heard men die around me. The heat of battle was close, for me this was literal. My body was on fire, I felt a jab to my side and rolled over clutching where it had hit. There was scarlet blood oozing from my body. I looked down in disbelief, how could I have been hurt? It was only a goddam computer game for gods sake. I felt hot and weak ,felt life running from my body. I lay back, the world closed in as I waited for dawn and resurrection. 

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