1. The paintball has to hit your chest plate for you to be out.
2. No serious maiming
3. Once your chest plate is hit, your gun will magically stop producing paintballs. Make your way to the outside as you are no longer in the game.
It wasn’t Seth’s best idea, but it definitely wasn't his worst.
Trust was obviously nowhere to be found in a weird magical club where everyone wore masks, so Grandpa had asked for team bonding ideas.
Maybe Grandpa was waning because of old age or he was on something, but he didn’t actually shoot down Seth’s idea. He liked it.
Unfortunately, now that he was in the bushes, Seth wasn’t sure if he liked it.
Pressed up against a log with a paintball gun, he shot a glare at Kendra. “Why did you choose this spot?”
“It was near both high and low ground.”
“It’s too obvious.”
Kendra kicked her leg out and caught his side.
“Okay, time to shut up.” Warren took a seat between them with his back against the log. “I’m not about to lose to Gladis and all the other walking corpses because you all can’t stop bickering.”
Seth caught Kendra’s eyes and narrowed his as if to say he’s talking about you. She stuck out her tongue.
Warren watched the scene in disbelief. “I can't believe I'm on babysitting duty the only time I have a legitimate reason to shoot my coworkers.”
A rock skittered to their spot. Warren pressed a finger to his lips.
Another hit Seth’s forehead. “Ow.”
“Psst,” the bushes whispered.
Seth craned his head past Warren’s back to glare at Kendra. “And we’re already found. Who could guess that?”
Warren pushed Seth’s head forward. “Stop antagonizing your sister.”
A face poked through the bushes. Dark hair fell over his face.
Warren pointed his paintball gun immediately at Ronodin. Seth and Kendra followed suit.
Ronodin stepped forward and held up his hands. “Don’t shoot.”
“Why not?” Warren glared.
“Bracken’ll start picking off your kids.”
“He wouldn’t dare,” Seth interrupted.
“I propose an alliance,” Ronodin held up a finger to Warren’s opening mouth. “Think it through. Bracken and I’ll join you three. Team Green and Team Red.”
Warren glared at the unicorn. “Fine.”
A twig snapped from above and Bracken jumped down from the tree roof.
“You’d have really shot me, Bracken?” Seth added hurt to his words.
The unicorn looked uncomfortable. “That’s kind of the point of the game.”
“Forget that,” Kendra stepped forward. “We need to start moving before the border begins closing in.”
“I have an idea. Warren and Bracken set up a trap for other teams and I’ll take you and Seth to scout the area out.” Ronodin leaned on his walking stick.
“Absolutely not. You literally have a history of kidnapping children,” Warren stepped in front of the siblings.
“That’s in the past.”
Warren's finger tightened around the trigger. It must have taken hun all his strength to keep the paintball gun pointed down. “I’ll go with you and the kids as well.”
“And leave Bracken to set up the trap all alone? You’ll get him shot.”
Warren ground his teeth. “I can’t believe there’s a no maiming rule when you’re here.”
“Me either,” Ronodin replied dryly.
“Why don’t we set up in a cave or something till the boundary closes in? Three out of five of us can see in the dark.” Kendra stepped from out behind Warren. “Besides Bracken can just make little balls of light.”
“No, we need to set up traps before the border closes in,” Ronodin held up a hand. “Hiding is suicide. Vetoed.”
Kendra rose her eyebrows in incredulity. “You aren’t the leader here.”
“I’m vastly superior in all forms of combat than any of you. Honestly, I’m just vastly superior anyway.”
“No wonder you have so many friends,” Bracken mumbled beside his cousin.
Ronodin whipped around. “And all your friends are former cell mates, Bracken.”
Bracken rose his hands in submission.
Seth took the pause in the conversation to jump in the middle of the tense circle and spread his hands out like a politician. “I don’t think we’re considering my talents. I’m one of the best assets here.”
Ronodin groaned and threw his head back. How rude. “Worst allies I’ve ever made.”
Orange splatters interrupted the tirade Warren was about to embark on. Goop dripped off the trees. There was a half second of peace before the splatters became constant.
Seth jerked to the side as Kendra clamped her hand on his arm and dove for the forest. Bracken took off in their direction and Ronodin tailed. Warren followed.
Ronodin forced his way next to the siblings and In between gulps of air began to lobby for his next policy. “You’re both...very close...to Stan. Dragons’...sanctuaries are not…up to par.”
Kendra and Seth made eye contact. Seth nodded and grabbed Kendra’s shoulder.
In between his next sentences, Kendra stuck her leg out and tripped Ronodin. Seth caught her backlash and they kept running.
“That was so wicked, Kendra!”
Kendra laughed and ducked behind the rock formation they came upon.
Seth and Warren laughed beside her as they watched Bracken and Ronodin catch up.
“What did you say you called Kendra, Bracken? A virtuous maiden? Lies.” Ronodin stuck a finger at Kendra. “He was lying to you.”
A speaker that seemed to come from all sides emanated. “400 feet closing in. Border is now 400 feet smaller.”
In the distance, Seth could see a shimmering purple barrier. He wondered if only they could see it or if some normal people thought rainbows had come to earth or something. “That looks close.”
“And we missed our opportunity for traps.” Ronodin rolled his eyes.
Warren narrowed his eyes. “We can dismantle this alliance pretty quickly if you want to be a prick.”
“Is our deep bond really that fickle?”
Bracken elbowed Ronodin. “Play nice. Now, let’s go over advantages before we get shot at again. As Kendra stated earlier, some of us can see in the dark. Even though magic is prohibited in this fight, we can still use our magical capabilities. Well, most of us.”
Seth glanced at Warren. He looked so done with them.
Warren loaded his paintball gun. “You all work that out, I’m going to scout.”
“As I said earlier, I’m an advantage,” Seth gave everyone a Nixon smile.
“Seth, I like this attitude. Together we could harness your power and do great things.”
What an out of left field response to his usual confidence. It actually left him speechless. For like a second. The actual idea of teaming up with Ronodin again would be terrifying.
“Stop preying on my brother.”
“I’m not preying on anyone.”
Kendra whipped out her paintball gun and shot Ronodin in his chest. A millisecond later, his was out but his click produced no colorful paint.
“One down.” Kendra sheathed her gun.
Crazy thought—Seth might actually admire his sister. Just a little.
“Now, that was just rude, Kendra.” Ronodin kept clicking his gun and shaking it. “Why isn’t this working?”
“It stops when you’ve been shot,” Bracken supplied, one hand on his gun, looking wary. “Magically, so there’s no fixing it.”
“And you all say you use magic for good. Am I out now?”
“Yeah,” Seth said.
“Is anyone going to take me away?”
“I think you’re just supposed to leave yourself.”
A grin spread across Ronodin’s face. “So nothing changed.”
Kendra huffed and turned to Seth. “I’m going to find Warren.”
She pushed up onto and over the boulder they were situated behind and left.
Her crunchy footsteps marred the silence.
“So, she's pretty touchy, huh?”
“Ronodin, once I tell your mother about you, she’s going to—” Bracken’s rant was cut off by a strangled scream.
“Run! Purple’s here!” Kendra leapt over the rock and skid in her shoes as she turned to face them. “Let’s go! Warren’s holding them off.”
They all began to run in Kendra’s direction as purple began to splatter against the trees and spray onto the runners.
“Whos...purple?” Seth spat out.
“Mara, Elise…” Kendra started.
“And trask, ” Bracken finished.
“Who are they?” Ronodin asked in between breathes.
Warren caught up to a their group. “Really good.”
“Hey, Warren,” Seth said.
“Hey. Ronodin and Bracken go left and hide in the shrubbery and hit Purple when they fly by.”
Seth barely registered what his other members were doing, he just kept running. The foliage was all really unfamiliar. He still wished they had done it at Fablehaven. Imagine all the hiding spots he’d know.
His shoes skidded in the muddy dirt as he turned towards Warren’s voice.
“We can’t run anymore, we’ll get too close to the border,” Warren beckoned Seth to his position next to a cluster of bushes. “We must’ve lost Purple by now or the unicorns could’ve got them.”
“Okay.” Seth surveyed the greenery. “Where’s Ken—”
His eyes met Vanessa’s eyes in her camoflaughed perch in the tree. Panic flashed through her eyes and Seth dove to the side.
A blue compact ball sped through the air and splattered against Warren’s chestplate.
He was already running. Over the sound of his heavy breathing, he heard the some of their exchange.
“That was a cheap shot. Proud of you.”
Branches thwapped against his chest but he didn’t stop until his nose was almost to the sparkling wall of doom.
One problem however; he had no idea where Kendra or the unicorns were. Or if they were still in the game.
He was alone.
Oh well...time to shine.