“Occupation.” The guild hand asked.
“Farmer,” Alec said, nervously holding his hat.
The hand looked down. The human was covered in sand, as was everything else on the land lakes. “Farmer? Ha! That’s a good one. Occupation.” He said dryly.
“I wasn’t joking.” Alec, the stout and small midge said. “Farmer.” His floppy brown hair billowed in the light wind.
The human scowled. He wrote down a few words. “Alright, then, Mr. Gartherbon. You are now part of the race. Have fun with that… raft of yours.”
Alec sighed a sigh of relief. He waddled over to his ‘raft’ of a sand sail, which was hovering slightly above the sand. Reaching up for the rope, he heard two sailors entering the race talking about his ship.
“Can’t wait to see that hunk of junk blasted to smithereens!” One said.
“Which one? The midge or the raft?” The two sailors laughed and walked off towards their vessel, which was a titanic warship, one that had an engine on the back akin to a giant brain. The ship had tentacles sticking out the front and a masthead was that of an octopus. Alec pretended not to notice the fact that the tentacles were moving.
“Great,” Alec said. “They have a flayer dreadnaught. You up for it, old pal?” He patted his sand sail that he had repurposed into a tractor. The engine of the machine sputtered and coughed. “We’ll be okay,” Alec said more to himself.
Time was not something most were even familiar with. Alec was vaguely aware due to his job, but most had no concept of it. There was only now. It wasn’t something to complain about. Not with how the world was in the present. Speech patterns, vocabulary and the common language seemed to be the amalgamation of other, long dead empires.
Pulling up to the starting line, in between the dreadnaught and a galley ship repurposed to hold a crew of dust rowers in the bottom and painted to have orange flames on the side, Alec gulped nervously.
The dragon races were a controversial time. For some, it was a way to make a fortune. For others, an excuse to burn down villages and slaughter innocents. They were feared by many, but those participating were not usually afraid.
No one would admit it, but they were all afraid of the race this year. Usually the dragon races were a time of excitement on an otherwise gods-forsaken dust bowl of a moon. But this year, with that swamp in the horizon and the Black Keep a few miles away? It was insane to be here if you were a regular.
Alec was not a regular. He was only here by necessity. All surviving participants would be awarded a month’s supply of gold coins and free passage into Marrodun. Short on cash and having a starving family, Alec knew this was his only chance to feed his family for the next while. The sun had fried his crops a month ago. Well, about a month, since night hadn’t fallen for over a year he couldn’t be absolutely sure.
“Ready?” The dragul at the front of all the ships called out. “GO!” She roared as the ships all blasted forward with insane speed. Well, most ships. Alec’s took a moment to get going.
“Just need to survive,” He said. The engine finally started and he started floating after the rest of the racers. “Just need to survive.”
One of the ships made a wide turn and started barrelling towards Alec. It was the dreadnaught.
“Just need to suRVIVE!” He screamed as the dreadnaught hovered across the sand. Alec started floating to the side, trying to out-maneuver the ship. Too bad the raft broke down. “OH CANDY CANES! I’M GOING TO DIE! GALTRION TAKE MY SOUL AND PUT ME TO REST PLEASE, I BEG--”
The dreadnaught exploded in a giant fire. Then a lightning bolt came from the side of the ship, obliterating the rest.
“Oh.” Alec said. “Nevermind, I’m good.”
“Are you sure about that?” A deep, serpentine voice asked.
“Galtrion?” Alec asked, looking around frantically.
“No,” A figure said, rising out of the explosion that it must have created. “Not something of love,”
Alec’s heart sank. Standing before him was a lizard-man. Red-scaled, gigantic, and its claws sparking with lightning and fire. A creature that Alec had never seen before, but recognized instantly.
“Something of blood.” The figure said, pulling a sword out of their chest.
“Cantch’M’ntar, yes.” The figure replied. “The blood god, and bane of the Matron Mother.”
Alec tried starting up the raft. It wouldn’t budge.
“Ah,” Cantch’M’ntar said. “No.” The god’s claws started to bleed.
Alec was suddenly seized by the blood in his veins. It felt like his bones were on fire as he lifted off the ground. He could feel the blood in his body rushing towards his head. All of it. He couldn’t feel his lower body after a moment. It was all lifeless except his heart, lungs and mind.
“I’ve always hated Midges.” The blood god said. “But what use are your skills to me? You look like a farmer.”
“I… I am a farmer…”
“Then I won’t take your skills, I don’t need them. I need information, though. Where is the group that runs the Black Keep?”
“Those dudes with the army of zombies?” Alec asked. “They were heading towards the tentold canyon! Please don’t kill me!”
Alec’s head was released of pressure. His heart stopped pumping as his skull was crushed by his own blood.
“A god does as they wish,” Cantch’M’ntar said. “Now, to pay those idiots a visit.” He pointed the sword, which had a hilt of a lion’s head biting into the flat blade, to the sky. Almost instantly a portal appeared fifty or so feet above the ground. Without any effort, the god jumped the distance and flew into the portal he had ripped in the dreamscape.