"Circuits and Cycles"
Shahana lounged in the shade
of the golden oak and watched Ari
playing circuitball with the other novices.
There were only four of them,
which made it harder because
the game was really meant for teams
carrying the ball around a long loop
intended to represent a paladin's circuit.
To score, you had to get the ball around
the whole loop without your opponents grabbing it.
Ari's long legs made short work of the circuit,
but she didn't have the throwing power of Hanj,
who preferred a war hammer as his primary weapon.
Althey was still carrying a peck of puppy fat,
and Dorsheen limped when she ran.
"This is a farce," Johan muttered into his hands.
"This is an opportunity," Shahana said,
gently tugging at his wrists to coax him into
watching the game. "Remember how we used to
play the same game back in the Shining City."
It had been years ago, and a very different place
in the slowly turning cycle of the world.
"We need a dozen more people,
a proper ball made of leather instead of rags,
and a bigger field that isn't full of rocks and thornbushes,"
Johan grumbled as he looked up again.
As they watched, Dorsheen tripped
and skinned her hands on a rock.
She gave the shrill whistle that meant
'pause play' and waved for Althey.
The young healer trotted over,
tended the injuries, and then
everyone resumed their places
to continue the game.
"Look on the bright side," Shahana said.
"At least Althey's getting plenty of practice."
Johan gave a dark chuckle. "I think he
already knows that paladins are accident-prone."
"We are, aren't we?" Shahana said
with a fond smile, patting his shoulder.
"Just give them time to figure out
how to make the game work this way."
Just then, Dorsheen caught on
to the loophole in rules that let them
throw the ball across the circuit --
which didn't work well with larger teams --
after which it was her wits and Hanj's arm
against Ari's long legs and Althey's soft hands.
It was like watching the world gradually
recover its balance from the staggering damage
as the cycle spun ever onward.
"Would you look at that," Johan murmured.
"They actually made it work."
"That's the thing about novices," Shahana said.
"If you have faith, they'll never cease to amaze you."
* * *
Ball games include all forms of entertainment played with a spherical toy. They have a long history.
Competition involves striving against an opponent, usually toward limited resources. Learn about constructive competition.
Teamwork requires people to use a variety of skills as they work together toward a mutual goal. Know what makes a functional team and a cooperative environment. Improve your teamwork skills. Understand how to teach teamwork to younger or older students. There are lesson plans and games to promote teamwork skills.