Chapter 39

Several hours later, Commander Sidrahkir returned. Two soldiers accompanied him. “I’ve got a game set up on the north shore. We can start playing as soon as we can get you there.”

“I’ll stay here with King Anou,” Queen Desi’Rel said as the two soldiers picked up King Belgrave to carry him.

“No,” King Hevman disagreed, “you should go. You have done so much for us in the last few weeks. I will watch King Anou. You go to the game with King Belgrave and enjoy yourself.”

She smiled. “I could use a distraction. I’ll let you know if Sidrahkir’s game is as good as he makes it sound.”

They made their way down to the playing field. King Belgrave was surprised to find it pentagonal in shape. The center of the field was a circle with five white lines radiating outward, each dividing the five sides of the pentagon in half. At each outer point of the pentagon was a pole with a basket hanging from it and on either side of the basket, was a small flag of one of the nations. Shields lay on the ground halfway between each basket and the center circle. Five teams of eleven players, each wearing the colors of their respective nation, stood assembled and ready to play. There were six referees, one in the center and each of the others standing along the outside the pentagon where the dividing lines met it. Spectators were already gathering and stood milling around the outside of the playing field. “You must have been busy putting together the game and then taking the time to get everyone to come watch it,” King Belgrave joked.

“It wasn’t too hard,” the Commander replied. “All I had to do was round up a couple kids and tell them to let everyone know that we were going to play a ball game involving all nations. People were showing up even before we started putting the field together!”

King Belgrave and Queen Desi’Rel were privileged to have a special elevated platform for them to sit and watch the game. Refreshments were served to them as they watched the interesting spectacle unfold.

As they watched the first few opening plays, King Belgrave leaned over toward Commander Shedek to have him clarify the rules of the game. “So they get to try hitting the ball and if they miss that, they get to try throwing it into a basket, and if they miss that, they get to try running it into a goal and if they fail that, they get to try kicking it into a goal?”

Commander Shedek nodded. “That’s more or less how it works. The hitting team has two chances to get points, and if they are unsuccessful, another team has a chance to make a basket, and if they fail, then another team has a chance to try running it into a goal. Up to three teams could have a chance to earn points on one play. I think it will make it a really interesting game.”

“How are the points determined?” Queen Desi’Rel asked.

“They get four points for getting to a base before the other team can tag the hitter with the ball. They can get three points if they manage to throw the ball into another team’s basket. Now when they are running the ball, they will get one point for every territory through which they pass, but only if they are successful at carrying the ball into a goal, for a minimum of two points. If the runners are stopped, the pitcher of the team that stops the ball gets to try kicking it into any opponent’s goal for one point.”

The game began to make sense the longer it went on. They stopped every twelfth play for a brief rest period. Queen Desi’Rel eventually decided the game had potential to become popular. “I’m going to have my best player put together a good team to represent Vernon,” she decided during the third rest period. “Once that is underway, I will be expecting a lot more victories.”

“Well you better tell the other nations to also put together teams. I don’t think you’d want to be stuck playing yourself,” King Belgrave suggested.

She nodded and smiled. “I like this game and will make sure it becomes popular. We can call it belgraveball in memory of its origins.”

“That’s an interesting name,” King Belgrave decided. “They would never believe me back home if I said I had a sport named after me.” He paused. “But then again, they probably wouldn’t believe me if I said that I was in a different world where I became a king and saved the world.” He laughed. “Yeah, if I ever do get home and tell about this game, I don’t think I’ll be calling it belgraveball.”

“Why wouldn’t they believe you?” the queen asked.

King Belgrave sighed. “Where I come from, other worlds such as this are considered to be nothing more than fantasy. People would sooner believe only what they can see and touch than what they hear. Without any proof to back my story, no one would ever believe me.”

“If no one would believe you, then why would you want to go back?” She suddenly turned her focus back to the game and started to cheer. King Belgrave did not give an answer.

At the end of the game, he turned to Commander Hiyune. “What were the final scores?”

“The winner of this game is Pia with twenty-seven points,” Commander Hiyune announced. “Tanarad came next with twenty-four. Nerak followed with twenty-two. Vernon had eighteen, and Taor had seventeen.”

“Well I certainly enjoyed watching this game,” King Belgrave said. “Maybe someday I’ll be able to play if I’m not busy saving worlds.”

Queen Desi’Rel put her arm around his shoulder as she helped him back to their building. “We’ll see what the future holds as for you as it comes. If tomorrow you save your wife, perhaps the day after will be the beginning of a time of peace for our world.”