A New Dignity
By Alan Mittag
Dignity Tower shone high above us, reflecting the full moon as if the Light somehow belonged to the tower itself. It truly was a marvel, and everytime anyone gazed up at its twisting spire of mirrors, their jaw fell slack.
I looked around the crowd at all of the familiar faces. The reporter from Spike! Magazine. The reporters from Just Score!. Hundreds of press awaited Coach Sestonn for the announcement, and he was already twenty minutes late. Or, right on schedule, for those of us that actually know him.
A gentle tap on my shoulder caused me a start. It was a beautiful elven woman with golden hair and bright blue eyes like the shallow ocean. “Alan, Sir. You are supposed to be up on stage to introduce the team.”
“Wait? What?” No one told me! “How can I? I don’t even know what team Coach Sestonn decided to go with.”
She pressed a piece of paper into my hand. An envelope. “All you have to do is open and read it.”
I looked down at the paper envelope.
“Come, follow me.” She grabbed my hand and dragged through the crowds to the stage.
She led me up the stairs. The crowd grew silent. I stepped up to the podium. You could have heard a pin drop.
“It’s ok,” she said. “Just read it.”
I looked out over the crowd. They were my peers among the press. They were my peers as Blood Bowl fans.
I cleared my throat.
“You all know me. I’m a writer. Not a speaker. But today I have been given the honor of announcing Coach Sestonn’s entry into the Mead and Mayhem Season 14 Challenge League.” The crowd oohed and ahhed. “I have the results of his decision here in my hand.”
I opened the envelope and blew inside it. Plucked the page from it.
And I read the top line, printed in dark red ink, thick and bold. “There Will be Blood.”
The crowd was silent for half of a second, and then erupted like a roaring volcano. It took a minute for them to quiet back down.
“I have the distinct honor to introduce you to… SANGUINEOUS DIGNITY!”
A giant tapestry, twenty feet high, unrolled above me. A clawed hand of grayish skin grasping a wine glass of thick red liquid.
Curtains beneath the tapestry parted, and Coach Sestonn stood there, arms crossed. Behind him, dressed in the finest of wardrobe from across the Old World, were four vampires. And the crowd roared again. Just seconds later, and the roar was evolving into a chant. DIG-NI-TY! DIG-NI-TY! DIG-NI-TY!
The chant went on and on. Some were cheering for Sanguineous Dignity and their hopeful future. Some were chanting for the memory of their fallen Legends. But in that moment, every member of the crowd was brother to the man standing beside him, and that powerful energy was overwhelming.
I wiped a tear from my eyes.
Coach Sestonn stepped forward and shook my hand. “Great job, Alan,” he said through the crowds eagerness.
He stepped up to the podium, held out his hands, and slowly lowered them. The crowd got his hint, and as his arms lowered, so did the chant. So did the roar. Back to silence.
“Thank you all for coming tonight,” Coach Sestonn said. “We are looking forward to a great year in the Death and Destruction Conference. But it will be a tough year. Our team still has a lot to learn, and in fact, I still have a lot to learn in how to manage them. But I expect great things. The future is promising. And a New Dignity will reign!”
The crowd fell back into its chant. DIG-NI-TY! DIG-NI-TY!
Coach Sestonn quieted the crowd again. “But before we get there, we need to introduce you to your new Dignity Heroes!”
“First let me introduce you to the owner and team captain of Sanguineous Dignity, The Master.”
The crowd showed their excitement as one of the vampires stepped forward. His hair was a dark contrast to the pale gray of his skin. He was dressed in clothes so forward in stating his wealth, that most Emperial noblemen would refuse to wear it. He stepped up to the podium, and the crowd continued to roar with excitement.
The vampire gave them a few seconds, but when their roar wasn’t quieting, he took a deep breath. When he released that breath, I felt something. Magic maybe. A wave of it come from him and wash over me. And over the crowd. The crowd fell silent. I don’t think I could have spoken if I wanted to. My knees shook. Was I breathing? I wasn’t sure. I stood in the presence of one of the most powerful beings that had ever lived, and if he had demanded that I kneel before him, I would have been on my knees.
“Thank you all so very much.” He paused, looking out over them. “I was one of you. A Dignity fan. And their fall in the post season of Season Five broke my heart. I was shaken to my very soul. We lost the hero that we aspired to be. Tenacity was brought down by a rookie Wood Elf thrower. I can still remember the horror of it. My heart, a heart that would never beat, ached so much as I watched Dignity’s apothecary do everything he could. I think we all watched that. In silence and in prayer. And when it was all over, we cried together.”
The crowd nodded their agreement. Here and there, wet eyes glistened in the light.
“Like you, I waited for Dignity’s return.” The Master turned to look at me. “I read Alan’s stories about how the team returned to Ulthuan to lay their brother to rest. And I watched Coach Sestonn lead The Seven Deadly Sins to a horrible Season 6 ending. Where was Dignity? Where was my Dignity? Without them, I too, was lost.
“You know, it’s not easy to transfer the vampiric blood to another who has already been dead for some time. But I knew it was possible. I travelled and I studied. Eventually, I learned the secret and my travels took me to Ulthuan. Of course, the High Elves refused my request, so I had to play sneaky. Grave robber, they called me. Even they couldn’t understand what I was doing. I was on a quest to rescue my hero.”
The Master waved a hand back towards the other vampires, and one stepped forward. He was dressed in fine High Elven clothes, with long white hair and high elven ears. My jaw went slack. It couldn’t be. “That’s not possible.” I said.
Tenacity stepped right up to me and extended his hand. “It’s good to see you again, Alan.” I shook his hand. Cold. And then he stepped up to the podium and took the Master’s place.
Tenacity stood there for a moment, letting the crowd get teh sense for him. They were stunned into silence. They didn’t know what to say or to think. I know, I was one of them. How could it be possible?
Then Tenacity said, “I watched the previous season. I watched Coach Sestonn’s Goblins, and I watched a great deal of the pro matches, including that final. Humans and rats. Can you guys believe that? HUMANS AND RATS!?” Tenacity pumped his fist to the crowd. “Do you know what’s been wrong with the MML since season 5?” He gave a pause. There was a mutter from the crowd, and Tenacity pointed at the man to speak it. “That’s right. It has had… no…. Dignity!”
The crowd roared again.
“So here I am, bringing some Dignity back to the MML.”
The cheers grew louder and louder. DIG-NI-TY! DIG-NI-TY!
Tenacity joined in their cheers, pumping his fist with every syllable until the crowd calmed back down.
Then he pointed back at the other two vampires, “And let me introduce my newest brother, and my little nephew.” That’s when I noticed the leash on one of them, tied to the wrist of the other. Tenacity said, “I give you Arterial and Mr. Bitey!”
Arterial was dressed in clothing similar to the Master, and so was Mr. Bitey, except that in Bitey’s case the clothes were loosely hanging to him, like he wasn’t used to wearing them but the others dressed him up anyway. …in fact, his eyes looked feral. Like an animal.
Arterial and Mr. Bitey stepped up to the podium. He looked out over the crowd. His lips curled in disgust. He glanced over at The Master, and the Master’s cold gaze washed over him in another wave that nearly forced me to my knees.
I even heard Arterial mumble, “Yes, Master.”
Arterial then looked back out over the crowd, reached in his pocket, and pulled out a bar of pink soap. DIGNITY, was etched across it. Arterial threw the soap into the crowd, pulled out another and another, and threw them as well. “And to all of the lesser races that dare to step on the pitch with us… Here’s some Free Soap!”
The crowd cheered and laughed. Fights broke out over the priceless soap that had just been thrown into the crowd.
Arterial turned away, and just as he did Mr. Bitey stepped up. His head cocked a little to the side. In a voice that was clear, but slurred and a broken, like he couldn’t quite pronounce the words while chewing on his own tongue, Mr. Bitey said, “Fwee Sope!” Then giggled and followed the other vampires back behind the curtain.