We stood on top of a hill. Somehow both bathed in sunshine and rain. The Pine Martens swooped and circled overhead – not a grey squirrel in sight. To be honest I already suspected I was dreaming.
None of this made sense. A middle order dancing round Alex’s car as the stereo spurted out some 80s r’n’b. These smooth, lascivious tones completely at odds with our ancient surrounds. If I was witnessing the performance of some pre-battle ritual intended to bring luck, then surely it was doomed to fail. We would need the magic of the old gods here, and they knew nothing of Luther Vandross.
We faced our smiling foe – wood nymphs, faeries, elfs, teat-squeezing daemons from distant lands. Hang on, that lad’s too big to be a forest sprite! A centaur and 2 orcs entered the fray. Why wasn’t I waking up? A dream caught in the act will always raise its hands in surrender. Maybe this is real, or perhaps I exited the cottage through a magical wardrobe? Could this be simply another realm? I remain awake but in no earthly place. A fantasy shire where a hamlet of just 3 dwellings can produce a team of 10 players.
Details escape me. I recall the Goat Spirits taunting any man who dare to tread near deep fine-leg. Alex launching a ball of flame from a trebuchet – far did it travel, beyond the shire’s borders. I saw a bear named Biff carrying his bat through the forest. At once I was sucked into this strange play, no longer observing its machinations, but asked to join in their creation. But how could I comprehend what was happening here? I still wished to awaken but feared I was fully consent, forever trapped in this mythical plain. Hang on, hobbits don’t swing the ball that much! This geezer must be a wizard. He does look a bit like Harry Potter. A leading edge to gully – maybe this place isnt so unusual.
In time, the Goat Spirits rested and all the creatures of the forest sat for the most incredible picnic. Food was different here – surely scones so fine could only be served to the gods themselves? Perhaps I had figured my situation wrong. Had death become me? Could this be heaven? I glanced around at my Grey Brethren and did smile – heaven this could not be… this lot definitely wouldn’t be allowed in.
Our foe did now approach the square ‘pon which the bullocks dance and whip their brown ribbons of discontent. Lurid visions gripped my mind once more….I saw Sir David of Day leap and cartwheel thrice in the gathering of some projectile in flight. The shire rose to applaud his feats and lamented that in this other world, Sky Sports and their equipment of cinematography did nae exist.
In accordance with hastily agreed terms of engagement, laid out as this surreal drama was in its infancy, each of the 10 Grey Brethren had to fire 12 arrows from their quivers….most of them buggering it up royally it has to be said. Though the silver-haired Shadow brought honour upon his house with a fine spell that claimed three victims. Then Good Ben, one of the more experienced archers, did take a scalp as one of our foe’s number lofted a delivery skyward – once more I was jolted from my daze and did harness as much force as I could to half-raise my heavy eyelids and dart, sprite-like, a full furlong across the shire-top to catch the ball of leather on its descent. Though this did nothing to discourage our foe off their course to victory, it was deemed worthy of a prize! 7 flagans of barn-dance mead I did win, as well as the responsibility of recalling and recording this most lurid and ignoble of tales for you.
How would our mighty travellers find their way home you ask? What portal had been opened? What colourful pill had they swallowed to reach this fantasy land? Did they even want to leave? This green shire, with walls of stone, with babbling brook, with the most clotted of cream upon its fluffy scones certainly had bewitched our band of Greysmen; though they did also pine for a reliable wi-fi connection and a 24hr Londis within walking distance.
Our heroes made it home, but how, I do not know.