The sun was already sinking to the earth. Chloe, in her silk crimson dress, skippered across the street. Houses, of every kind, design, shape, and color, passed her as she went forward. Coming to an abrupt stop at a pale blue house with a shingled gray roof, she cast a glance down at the grass beneath her feet. She strode forward, stopping once more at a dark red door where a single golden bell hung.
She rung the bell.
The door opened to Eric Diego’s sharp-featured face. “Come for the party?”
Chloe smiled and cast a glance at Eric’s goldish-brown outfit. “What else would a random girl wandering the streets of Eldymartt come to this very house for?”
Eric laughed. “Come in.”
Chloe entered the house, Eric closing the door behind her. She took in her surroundings, casting glances at the lantern-lit, large, oak room around her. Heads swiveled her way at her entrance.
Eric gestured to Chloe. “Guests, welcome my finest friend.”
The room erupted in cheers. Chloe smiled. Right after the announcement, the guests returned to their conversations. She spun to Eric, clasping her hands together.
“So, what do you plan to do this evening for your party?” Chloe asked.
Eric considered her words. “There is quite a lot of things I wish to do. But we’re mostly talking, right now. Or, you know, eating delicious food.” He gestured to a reddish table where lay multiple foods.
Meats, breads, stews, and other foods lay upon the table. Fruits of every kind glistened against the light. Drinks glittered. And desserts lay there to be served. There seemed to be so much food. So much. She strode over to the table, casting a glance at some cookies, then to some vegetables, and then to some salad. Her eyes wondered over to a bowl of candy, then toward a tray of chocolate, and then to a bunch of apples, grapes, watermelon, oranges, berries, and other fruits.
“Chloe!!” Sarah Janson shouted. “Have you forgot about the cake?”
Chloe gasped at the sight. A big, beautiful cake lay before her on a round gold table. It was so beautiful. Just as Sarah had claimed. Its icing even had all the colors of the rainbow. She knew she shouldn’t always judge cakes on their looks─because there was a lot of gross cakes out there─but this one was sure beautiful.
Eric strode up behind her. “Anyway, would you like to meet my friends?”
“Your friends?” Chloe smiled. “Sure.”
Eric gave a brief shout at his friends, gesturing them over. They cast a few glances at each other, then did as they were told.
The first one was a muscular, brown-haired man in thick brown clothing with a pair of dark brown eyes; who owned really weather-beaten skin. The second one was a bit shorter and much more slender; with ginger hair, bright blue eyes, angular face, and wearing a black outfit. Though the third one was a bit weirder, having his fluffy black hair died a little purple; his silver outfit was almost sparkly; and his amber eyes flared like fire in his narrow face.
“This is Ian,” Eric said with a gesture to the brown-haired man. “This is Richard.” He then gestured to the shorter one. “And this magnificent geek right here is─”
“Xavier the Music Master!” He did a dramatic bowl, then rose a thick black eyebrow. “It is my utmost pleasure to meet thee.”
Chloe giggled a laugh. His voice sure sounded musical.
Richard cleared his throat. “So, were any of you planning on playing a game or something?”
“What game speaketh thou of?” said Xavier. “Does it ring with music? Or rain with gold?”
Richard rolled his eyes. “He’s always like that.”
Ian, silent as a stone statue, only nodded his head.
Chloe narrowed her eyes. “But what game were you speaking of, anyway?”
“Oh, probably just some fun old card game,” Richard replied.
Eric shrugged his shoulders. “I have multiple card games, but I think Richard meant one in particular: The Monster King.”
“The Monster King!!!!!!” Sarah gasped, from afar off. “Can I play?! I love that game!”
“Wow, that’s a lot of cards.” Sarah peered into a big metal box full of over a thousand cards. “Eric, are you sure we need all of these?”
“For this card game, yes,” Eric replied, sitting across from Sarah at the round, black marble table. He cast a glance Chloe’s way. “Do you know the rules of this game?”
“Um, no. Can you explain it to me?” Chloe asked.
“Yes.” Eric smiled. “Now, there are a thousand cards in that box─I doubt we’ll use all of them. But that’s just how the game was made. Don’t ask me. Anyway, there are a lot of cards. And a lot of monsters. There are one hundred types of monsters on those cards. And on each card, there is a number─there’s a different card for each monster. That clear, Chloe?”
“Uh… I think so.” Chloe glanced at the metal box full of cards. “So, you’re saying there are exactly one hundred types of monsters? And there is a monster to go with each card? And on each card, based on the monster, the number may go from 1 to 100 points? Because there are one hundred types of monsters, and the numbers, whether high or low, depend on what monster it is? Right?”
“Precisely,” Eric said. “And despite the fact that there is probably a little over a thousand cards in that box, each person gets only ten cards.”
Sarah nodded. “Yup. And then, we all lay down a card. The card that has the most points wins the round. The winning player of that round will be rewarded with how much points his card gave him; while everyone else’s score will remain the same.”
“And if you didn’t know,” Richard added, “this is also an elimination game.”
Chloe froze. “Elimination?”
“Don’t take it personally, silly.” Sarah laughed. “Since six people are playing this game, there will be at least five eliminated losers and one winner. So, how it goes, is this: whoever has the least points by the time one of the players has scored 100 points, is eliminated.”
“But what if the card gives you 100 points?” Chloe asked.
“In that case, someone would be eliminated pretty quickly,” Sarah replied. “The most points you can get on a card is 100. But, each time someone is eliminated, the points you have to reach before some is eliminated is doubled. For example, it begins with 100; then it goes to 200; then it goes to 400; then to 800; and then it goes to 1600, and then, finally, it goes to 3200. And the last person standing wins and is crowned the Monster King! Get the rules?”
“I think so,” Chloe replied. “How about we just play and see out it goes?”
“Very well.” Eric shuffled a decent pile of cards. “Let’s play the game.”
“Wait a minute,” Richard said, “who’s going to keep track of all the points?”
“Why not thou, Richard?” Xavier rose an eyebrow. “Thou knoweth the numbers of time.”
Richard shrugged. “Okay, sure.” He paused. “Where’s the paper and pen?”
“Right here.” Xavier handed him a yellowed paper with a black, feathered pen in his hand. “Just in time.”
“So the game begins!” the words exploded like fire from Sarah’s mouth.
Eric dealt the cards. When each of the players had received ten cards, Chloe peered closely at the cards in her hands. Ten cards. Ten monsters.
She narrowed hers eye even more, making out some of the monsters on the cards. One card, with a 49 on it, held a dreadfully beautiful monster of every color possible. It almost reminded her of a sea dragon, yet not at the same time. It was a bizarre mix of monstrous genes, it seemed. Serpentine and huge, its eyes gleamed red and its teeth white and its steaming nostrils orange. Monstrous.
But that was only one of the monsters. Her nine other cards included: a fiery phoenix, a snow monster, a great carnivorous plant, a dangerous dragon, a black shadow, some weird bat thing, a butterfly-like creature, an eerie skeleton, and a mighty giant.
“Chloe, you may go first,” Eric offered. “Lay down a card.”
Chloe nodded and glanced down at her cards. Then, choosing the card with most points on it, she lay down the card with the colorful, serpentine creature.
“Hmm.” Richard lay down a card with a magical elf on it that held 36 points.
Xavier grinned and dramatically placed a card upon the table, to reveal a flying monkey; holding 55 points. Chloe breathed out. If he was to win, she would lose her 46-point-card this round. But oh well. It was already lost.
Ian sighed and lay down a card. It held exactly 1 point. And the monster on the card was this red, round, furry, one-eyed, almost cute, but still creepy creature.
Xavier looked pleased with himself.
“Alright, my turn.” Sarah lay down a card with a pink fairy on it. “12 points.”
“And finally,” Eric said as he lay down a card with a cold, callous, red-eyed soldier dressed in silver armor, “I lay forth my card; a full 60 points.”
“You won this round, Eric!” Sarah announced. “You have the most points!”
“Thank you.” Eric smiled, before turning to face his cards once more. “The next round?”
Xavier’s face flushed red. Richard scooped up the cards, then scratched down a few letters and numbers on the sheet of paper. Eric’s score was up to 60 points. Everyone else’s was 0.
“Hey Xavier, it’s just a game,” Eric said once he saw his friend’s disappointment. “Perhaps you’ll win the next round.”
Xavier didn’t respond, his eyes glued to his cards.
Chloe sighed. She lay down the card with a skeleton on it, 31 points. Richard lay down a 15-point-card with a dwarf on it. Xavier put down a card with a food monster, giving himself 34 points. And Ian, laying down card with a troll on it, got a 26.
“Alright.” Eric laid down a 33-point-card with a mermaid on it. “For being so disappointed earlier, Xavier, you just won this round.”
Xavier rose an eyebrow, as if totally forgetting what Eric had said. “Give me a full 34 points, Richard.”
The next round began.
Chloe laid down the dragon, giving herself 10 points. Richard laid down a card with a rock monster, 48 points. She wondered why he hadn’t put down that one before. Then, suddenly, Ian flashed a card holding 51 points, with a ghost on it. Richard seemed a little irritated, as he could have probably won the last round with 48 points… well, that’s if Ian had laid down his 51-point-card. But they may have let Xavier win on purpose.
Xavier lay down a 53-point-card, flashing a dark knight. He grinned to himself. He planned to win the next round.
“A great spider!” Sarah lay down a card, holding 16 points. “Do I not have any better cards?”
Eric lay down a card with an angel, holding 37 points. “I guess you win again, Xavier.”
“You have 71 points now, Xavier,” Richard stated.
Xavier rose a geeky yet very still dramatic eyebrow, his voice like music, “Just as I hoped, thou Richard. May I be crowned the Monster King!”
Chloe peered closely at her cards. Did she have any bigger cards? Just when she thought she wouldn’t score any points, her eyes blazed. She gasped. How did she not see that she had an 85-point-card; it was the card with carnivorous plant on it.
She placed the card firmly upon the table.
Richard placed a card holding 22 points on table, revealing a sickly green goblin.
But Ian, whose face all the sudden, was reddening with delight, laid down a much more shocking card. On it was a monstrous man draped in shining red armor with black spikes protruding from it and owning a great cloak, bearing a golden crown. He sure looked like a king. A magnificent, monstrous king. There seemed to be something magical and beautiful and colorful about him, though she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. He looked the ultimate monster. His hair was as black as coal. His skin was almost white but beautiful. And his eyes, they were so green─but she drew back the second she leaned forward. She had the creepy sensation that the king might have been staring at her through the card, but she shrugged the feeling off. Anyway, that card had…
A full 100 points!
She took in a deep breath, then frowned. Guests crowded around the table, watching the game play out. Only then did Chloe begin to notice them…
“Ian scored 100 points, Xavier scored 71 points, and Eric scored 60 points. But Chloe, Sarah, and I scored 0.” Richard cast a glance at the sheet of paper in his hands. “So, the dice?”
“The dice?” Chloe narrowed her eyes. “Did you forget to explain this part to me?”
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Sarah laughed. “How it goes is this: when two or more players have scored the same lowest amount by the time one of the players has scored 100, a dice roll is required. To see who will be eliminated.” She paused. “So, if the dice rolls one or two, Chloe, you will be eliminated. No offense. If the dice rolls three or four, Richard will be eliminated. And if the dice rolls five or six, well, I will be eliminated.”
Xavier smirked, and with a dramatic flourish of his hand, sent the dice rolling across the table.
It landed on three.
“Sorry, Richard.” Sarah sighed. “I guess you’re eliminated.”
“That’s alright.” Richard sent a sarcastic gesture to the sheet of paper in his hand. “I’m still here to keep track of scores… because you’re just so busy with your game.”
“Don’t be so difficult, Richard!” Xavier said in a rich, musical tone. “Strife must be kept at bay.”
Chloe cast a glance Xavier’s way. He was a little… weird. She shook her head.
As the game continued, multiple cards were laid down upon the marble table. Once Sarah laid down a card with a mushroom guy, and at one time Xavier laid down a card with a cyborg, as Eric revealed a card with a beautiful star beast on it. And at one time Chloe lay down a card with a griffin on it, too.
After multiple monsters and multiple cards, Sarah, who had really good cards this time, reached 200 points.
And Xavier was eliminated.
But that didn’t go particularly well. Once the elimination was declared, Xavier glided down the hall in a dramatic, sorrowful cry. Xavier must have had issues, Chloe began to think after a while.
The next to win was Eric. But the next to lose was Sarah, the eliminated.
Chloe was surprised she’d came that far in the game. Ian, silent as the night sky. Eric, rich as a fine jewel. And Chloe, the girl separated from her twin sister.
Then Ian fell from the game. Eliminated. Gone.
Chloe and Eric. Face-to-face as the cards flickered through the air. Monsters of every color, shape, size, design, specie, and kind fluttered before her. A great snake. A turtle with a city on it. A moon bird. A golden dove. A metal man. A three-headed beast! Every kind.
Chloe had 1,896 points. Eric had 2,016 points. Whoever reached 3,2oo points first would win!
But in the end, Eric had taken advantage of the game, and won it once and for all!
“You win.” Chloe threw her cards on the table. “I didn’t think I’d come this far…”
“Well, you have.” Eric shook her hand. “Good game.”
“Okay, now what?” Richard looked up from his sheet of paper. “Any other games? Chess? Checkers? Tag? Balderdash? Hide-and-seek? Blind man’s bluff? Goldfish?”
Chloe cast a glance out the window at the night sky. “It seems to be getting dark, so… I may have to go home soon.”
“Oh come on!” Sarah sighed. “Can’t you play just one more game?”
“I didn’t exactly say I was leaving right now. But I guess I have time for one more game.” Chloe smiled. “What game do you want to play?”
“Well, of course tag!” Sarah shouted. “Tag! And since its dark outside, it’ll be only more exciting!”
Ian stepped forward, and for the first time yet, Chloe heard him actually speak, “The night darkness will indeed go well with a wild game of tag.”
“Alright,” Eric said, clasping his hands together, “tag in the night, is it not?”
Figures rushed through the darkness, screaming madly as the game of tag begun. Chloe smiled to herself, rushing forward as the cool wind brushed at her face. The moon’s pale face stared down from the night sky, stars glittering in the darkness.
“Richard’s it!” someone shouted.
Chloe smiled to herself, pushing a strand of hair from her face. The wind sent a chill down her spine, filling with adrenaline. She dashed through the darkness, voices everywhere.
A growl lit the air.
She froze at the mere sound. Turning ever so slightly, she glimpsed Nicholas’s house in the distance. Animals growled, howled, stomped, squeaked, squawked, grunted, banged, kicked, jumped, and so on. The air was full of voices, but the mysterious animal sounds coming from Nicholas’s house also roamed the air, too.
Chloe narrowed her eyes. “What is Nicholas doing?”
“That is a very good question.”
She jumped at the voice in the darkness.
A figure robed in black stepped forward, his face hardly even visible. “It would be wise, Chloe, to not even take a step closer to the old man’s house.” He flashed a wicked dagger. “I will not allow any trespassers.”
Chloe slammed the door of her house open. After that spoiled game of tag and that horrid figure in the night, she had left immediately. Eric asked if she was okay, but she said she was fine.
“Oh Chloe!” Allison gasped. “You look ghastly pale!”
“Yup.” She pushed past her. “And now I want to a take rest.”
“Somethin’ wrong?” Dominic asked, seated at the table.
Chloe took in a deep breath. “No. Nothing’s wrong. Just a wild evening.”
She forced a smile before closing her bedroom door.
Yes, a very wild evening indeed.
"Muhahaha!"- Unknown Villain