THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #16
What warriors remained had gathered around Dominick, their collective faces beaming with a weary joy. He could see mostly human faces throughout the gathering. Others were elven based on the long, pointed ears and large, almond-shaped eyes. He could also identify what had to be dwarves. Mixed in among them were creatures that Dominick could only categorize as Bigfoot. They were tall, about seven feet, and covered in coarse fur of varying shades.
The humans, elves, and dwarves wore leather and chain mail, the Bigfoot creatures wore loose fitting dark pants with a green surcoat belted at the waist. All had an insignia bearing a regal bird of prey on their right breast.
Pixies floated among them all, fluttering here and there like large bees.
Then, as one, the warriors dropped to one knee and bowed their heads.
“The One,” a thousand voices said together.
“Uh,” Dominick said.
The warriors, again as one, rose to their feet. All faces looked to Dominick with expectation.
“Uh,” Dominick repeated. “Hi, guys.” He smiled, waved, and prayed that they wouldn’t notice his trembling hands, his knocking knees, and the way in which his stomach was attempting to crawl out of his throat.
The warriors did not move, nor did they speak. Though he did see one a few rows back return his wave.
“So, yeah,” Dominick said in a squeak. He cleared his throat. “I’m uh . . . I guess I’m this One person and stuff.”
He continued to smile.
The warriors continued to stare.
“And uh, this would be, um, Arkonus?” Dominick said.
He raised the sword, blade pointing to the heavens. Thunder boomed and a bolt of lightning struck the blade, connecting the steel momentarily to the sky.
The crowd stepped back, a collective “Ah!” rolling from them as if to say: “Oh, wow. We are all really quite impressed by what has just happed but can’t articulate it in a way that such a display truly deserves.”
“Um,” was the only response Dominick could come up with considering the circumstances.
“Dominick Hanrahan,” someone spoke behind him. “We knew you would come.”
He turned to find Vivian hovering at eye level. She’d replaced her tri-corner hat with a round metal helmet.
“Oh, yeah,” Dominick said. “Hey, Vivian.”
“You’re arrival is fortuitous. We were near to losing the day.”
“You didn’t tell me you were in the middle of a pitched battle,” Dominick said.
“We were not when we had traveled to your realm, Dominick Hanrahan. It has been three days since we left you.”
“Three days? But, it was only a few minutes ago.”
“As I said before we left you, Dominick Hanrahan, time moves faster in our realm.”
He scratched his head.
“So, I guess I saved you and stuff, right?” He said.
“You certainly arrived at the right time. Lord Hob’s vile army is in retreat.”
“Well,” Dominick said, looking at the sword in his hand. “I guess I’m done then. That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
“Done?” Vivian cocked her head.
“Yeah, you said I’d save your world, right? That I was destined to do it and stuff? And I did drive away those bad guys, right? Not sure how I did it, frankly. I mean, it was cool and all, I almost had an accident in my pants, but I guess it was pretty cool.”
“No, I’m sorry, Dominick Hanrahan, but your job is not yet complete. Yes, today’s battle is won, but there is still the war. Lord Hob and his minions will return, and when they do, you must be prepared to face him in furious combat.”
“Oh,” Dominick said. He slid the sword into its scabbard and then belted it around his waist.
He couldn’t quite place his finger on it, but there was something comfortable about standing there on the field of battle with a weary army all around him, the Sword of Power on his hip. It felt right somehow. Natural. As if it was just something he did because he was just that kind of guy.
“Okay,” he said, doing his best to look Vivian in the eyes, not an easy task with eyes that small. “I’m here, I guess I’ll fight. What’s next?”
“We must go to the palace and prepare.”
“Lead the way,” he said.
Vivian floated away and as Dominick made to follow the long scabbard became tangled between his legs and he fell on his face in front of the very people he’d come to save.
Here ends Chapter Four