A Wade Through Sands And Fire. ⏳&🔥

Teenage brother fights 9-year-old kid...​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​9.30 pm. Friday game night. My parents were off on a date. They usually were, every Friday night—something about keeping the love bubbly. My teenage brother, Kell, often rolled his eyes and gagged at that statement. I wondered why. Basically, the cats were away, and the rats would partayyy!

The living room was filled with nachos, pizzas, chips & dips, sodas, board games, video games, and five of Kell's homies—3 dudes, one dudette, and a goddess, Rip-axe Em. Em was the fairest of them all, with her blue eyes, blond hair, sunny smile...Ahem! I digress. She was called Rip-axe Em because of her habit of wielding the Thornviper Ripburst Axe. One of the most badass tools of havoc-wreaking in the game 'Is Warshards.' With a poisonous critical hit of 1 million damage XP, it took just a few jabs to bash the face of her contenders in. Only ten of the weapon were deeply hidden in the entire game. How she had found it was still a mystery. Contenders often steered clear of her in the gameplay if she could be avoided. If not, well... carnage. Only Kell's rarer Celestial Aether Blade could survive her wrath.

They would definitely all play tonight. Guess who wasn't invited to the fun. Me! It sucked. They all claimed I was a child. A baby. Unable to handle the gory horrors. Unworthy to wield the star forged weapons of Warshards. I was nine years old, for Pete's sake. (I'm keeping the swearing PG-13 for the real babies) While they battled wizards, dragons, and evil aliens, I would be sent off to bed. Yet it was nigh impossible to catch a wink of sleep with all their prattling—shouts of victories, the unending "Yo! Watch my six!", the "Ah, come on!" of defeated contenders, and the fighting sounds from the game. So you see, it was easy to get frustrated and have a choking FOMO. (No, I didn't scream into my pillow. Only kids do that.)

I sat quietly in a small alcove in the kitchen just a few feet away, where the refrigerator had once been, hoping they would forget I existed. One of Kell's friends, Ryan, came to pick a fork for his pizza (Weirdo). The royal blabbermouth spotted me. "Kell, your lil bro's back here," he said, pointing at my nose. I was tempted to bite off his finger. The chip bag on Kell's lap crackled as he rose from the sofa and came towards us. "It's bedtime, Felix," Kell said, arms folded in a bad-cop kind of way. I scowled. "Come on," I complained, throwing up my hands. "You know the rules. I didn't make 'em" "I just want to watch, please." I made cute baby eyes. "No," Kell flatly said. "You're just afraid I'll beat you this time," I whined. Kell and Ryan burst into laughter.

"You guys, get a load of this," Kell called, gesturing to the others in the living room, clutching his stomach, "Felix thinks he can beat me in Warshards." Everyone else joined in the laughter, even Rip-axe Em'. I was pained, but I couldn't stay mad at her, yunno. "Kid's forgotten about the annihilation!" "Theanihilaaaation!" The others chorused in fond remembrance. Quick flashback moment.'The annihilation' happened a year ago, on a normal Friday night like this. I had challenged Kell in front of his friends to a duel on the game 'Tempered Silver.' I had bet my rare Magespire card on that day. Yeah, you guessed right. I was indeed annihilated. We played 12 rounds, and I won zilch. I was teased and laughed at. I did the walk of shame to my bed that night. Kell sold my card to get a sound system which often boomed, reminding me of my cruel loss at his heartless hands.

Tonight, I would make another costly bet. "I put my Basilisk leaf card on the line for a rematch," I said, glaring Kell dead in the eye. The room fell silent. They all stared at me in shock. One of the dudes almost choked on his chips. His name often skipped my mind, so let's call him Choke-chip. "A ba-basilisk leaf card?!" Rip-axe Em said, "Get out the front door!" My lips curved to the side. I slipped it out of my pocket and waved the fragile card between two fingers. It glistened in mint condition. Kell asked, "How do you keep getting these limited cards?" "I'm lucky," I shrugged. "You in?" It would get him two sound systems, easy. " What's in it for you?" Ryan asked. "When I win, I get VIP access to teenage game night in perpetuity." "Perpetuity? You can't intimidate us with fancy words," Ryan said, arms folded. "It means forever, till the end of time, doofus," the other dudette, Keisha, explained.

Ryan let out a silent 'oh' before pointing at her, "I knew that!" "When you win? More like if you win," Choke-chip sneered, still rubbing his chest as if finally processing my words. "So, are you up to it?" I asked again, glaring at Kell. I twirled the card, hoping Kell's competitive spirit would kick in. Kell scrunched his face as we all waited for his response. "You have a deal." He smiled, happy to rip me off, "But you'll need more than luck to win Warshards, lil' bro." Kell patted my dark hair. I frowned.

Five minutes later, the game was about to start. Kell logged in as his avatar, Survivor of Hathsin. It was a nod to Brandon Sanderson's character, Kelsier. He was a Mistborn nerd. I logged in as mine—Bloodrazer. Choke-chip spewed his soda into Ryan's hair. "What the—" Ryan was about to protest. "You are the Bloodrazer?" Choke-chip's eyes were about to pop out of their sockets. "No way!" Keisha said. "Dude's been topping the leaderboard for months." Choke-chip continued. Ryan still frowned and pouted, wiping his hair with a napkin. "I heard he has it." Rip-axe Em said. "What it?" Kell asked. Back turned to them, and my smile curled upwards. "Azrael's blade." Rip-axe Em replied solemnly. Her voice made butterflies dance in my stomach.

Kell's gaming pad thudded to the rug. "That's impossible! There's only one." "Dude your bro's sick, man," Keisha said. "My money's on him. He's the F-ing Bloodrazer." "Really?" Kell asked incredulously. The last dude on their crew, Steve, spoke for the first time, "My money's also on the kid." Steve resumed inhaling his pizza, legs crossed on the center table. I had always admired his chill and soft-spoken nature. The other three, probably out of loyalty, bet on Kell. A needle pierced my heart when Rip-axe Em didn't bet on me. I shook it off. I would win this. This time, Kell would be annihilated. Kell picked up his controller, frowning. "I'll kick his butt. Watch me."

The game was afoot. We played the legendary level 2510. They called it, The Wade through Sands and Fire. The first person to retrieve the purple Dragonshard crystal won. One had to strategically wade through the hellish terrain—sands that sapped one's life force, an unending fire rain from the sky, craters, collapsing sand dunes, and ten boss fights. It was the most difficult level ever accessed. Guess who unlocked it first before these bozos.

We were at it for 2 hours straight, tapping furiously on the game controller. Kell started to sweat at some point. At intervals, Choke-Chip put the pizza in Kell's mouth when he demanded it. My palms were already sweaty, and the controller became slippery in my hands. The others watched keenly, adding the occasional commentary, "Watch out!", "Behind you!", "Oh no!", "Rad!", Sick!" amongst others. Steve was silent throughout, crunching on nachos like a boss. Love that guy!

At the final jostle, Kell was ahead of me, almost to the end. I was still stabbing my final Hydra-eel. "Come on, Bloodrazer," Keisha shouted, "Put your back into it. I don't want to lose my bucks!" I admit, I flinched. The firmness of Kell's lips was already spreading into a smile. I wore my most disturbed look. As I fought the Hydra, Kell rested, and his avatar sauntered towards the hovering dazzling stone. I grinned. "I'm about to kick your butt, and you're smiling," Kell jeered. "Guess you're happy for me." I kept smiling. I still had one last surprise in store. The entire TV screen flashed green. Kell's avatar stood where my avatar once stood—besides the Hydra-eel—and I was where his avatar once was—near the crystal. I had invoked the Darkelm Juxtapository curse. It swapped the position of contenders. A rare power-up. Kell's smile dissolved into a frown. He rubbed his temples in frustration. He had been annihilated. I snatched the gem and won.

"Boo-yah!" I screamed. I tossed the gamepad and jumped, victorious. I did the moonwalk, chanting, "Uh, huh. Uh, huh..." "Pay up, suckers!" Steve and Keisha simultaneously said. Kell pulled me back into the alcove, "How'd you do it?" "Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. Sun Tzu, The Art of War," I shrugged, then went on to grab a pizza slice. Kell stood speechless, probably wondering what kind of brother he had. 12.00 am. Saturday. I had attained the greatest mode of all—Teen Game Night Perpetuity. Yeah. I know. I know I led you on. The title probably promised you a fantasy story or a tale of harrowing experiences. In my defense, here you are at the finish line. It's not my fault I defeated my elder bro easily or that you got here(It kinda is). The thing is, I love doing the unexpected. So should you.


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