Not all high fantasy has to be deadly serious. The following excerpt is one of my favorite scenes in my novel Tournament of Chance. Although the interlude gave my characters a chance to interact, the entire bit of action wasn’t strictly necessary to the plot–unless you like to have a little fun. Since I do, the scene stayed in. How about you? Do you enjoy a little humor with your high fantasy or do you prefer the classical approach? ~ S.G. Rogers
Heather knelt next to the bed of onions and pointed to a fat onion with a nice, full top. “What are the odds on this fellow?”
“Oh, that’s Dim Bulb. He’s even money,” the fairy replied.
“That’s a safe bet,” Icarus said. “You can’t lose.”
Dane leaned over to brush the top of a scallion. “Go with this one, Heather. He’s far leaner and can likely outrun them all.”
“Three-to-one on Toothpick,” Towcheez said.
“Toothpick it is, then,” Heather said, exchanging a mischievous glance with Dane. “I enjoy long odds.”
Neither Joe nor Wren had any money, so Manny had to cough up some gold for his sister. Wriggling with excitement, Wren bet on a leek named Puddle. Towcheez bit Manny’s gold coin before tossing it into his sack.
“Good choice, Princess,” Towcheez said to Wren. “Two-to-one odds on ole Puddle.”
After the betting had concluded, the fairies readied their runners for the race. Heather marveled when each onion shrugged its roots free from the soil. An oniony fragrance scented the nighttime air as the runners took their mark. Towcheez flew overhead with a fairy candle in his hand. He held it high.
“Onions, yer running down to the water pump and back,” he bellowed.“Fair warning…losers will be eaten. Ready, steady…yer off!”
The fairy candle punctuated his sentence with an explosion of sparks. Using their roots as legs, the onions peeled out. The runners with hairy roots moved along like millipedes, while the ones with longer roots stretched them forward like stilt-walkers. The fairies cheered with enthusiasm. Wren and Jovander jumped up and down as they rooted for their onion.
“Run, Puddle, run,” Wren screamed.
At the outset, the onions were in a bunch. Heather couldn’t begin to tell how Toothpick was faring. Halfway to the water pump, however, the race began to get choppier. Dim Bulb’s roots gave out under his weight. He fell over and proceeded to roll toward the water pump like a cannon ball. He mowed several competitors down as he went, crushing their roots so badly they didn’t get up again.
“That’s cheating,” Joe exclaimed.
“That’s an onion run,” Manny retorted.
As he neared the pump, Puddle was outdistancing his rivals. Toothpick ran a close second, and Dim Bulb rolled into third. After the runners rounded the pump, they put on the speed. The return journey quickly became brutal, as downed vegetables lay crushed and limp on the path. Dim Bulb shot forward and knocked Puddle over. Puddle retaliated by slapping at Dim Bulb with his dark green leaves. Toothpick took over the lead. Dim Bulb rolled free of Puddle and angled toward Toothpick. The last few feet, however, Dim Bulb became confused and began to roll in a circle. Heather screamed with laughter as Toothpick stumbled over the finish line and waved his leaves in victory. Puddle limped into second place, and Dim Bulb rolled into a pumpkin patch.
The race at an end, fairy children descended on the runners and began to eat them. In her excitement, Heather grabbed Dane’s arm. “We won!” she exclaimed. When she realized what she’d done, she released her grip. “Oh…excuse me, Your Highness.”
In the Kingdom of Destiny, King Chance decreed any female be she high or low born may earn a place at court by winning an archery competition known as the Tournament of Chance. Although no commoner has ever won before, this is Heather’s year.To prevent her from winning the tournament, however, King Chance will stop at nothing. The king does not yet realize Heather of the Jagged Peaks will be the spark that ignites a revolution — in time.
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