The Annual Rat Squash in Histerton, Ostland.
by Alan S. Mittag
Glad to be free of my duties chronicling Blood Bowl, its coaches, and the dangerous players and fans that frequent it, I was happy to be on my way to Hiserton for a story on the Annual Rat Squash.
The Mayor of Hiserton met all of the town’s guests as we entered. He was a short chubby little fellow, with a handlebar mustache and one of those smiles that make you feel like you should check your purse as soon as you leave his company.
This time of year is big for Hiserton, a town that boasts only a few hundred souls is visited by thousands of folk from Ostland and the rest of the Empire. Everyone is here for the Anuual Rat Squash, but I wanted to know more about the event and where it came from.
The Mayor tells a fantastic tale about a rise of Skaven a hundred years earlier. The ratmen were put down by the Emperor’s valiant warriors and now, every year, people from all across the Empire come to remember those heroes, and yes, maybe show any lingering skaven that Ostland will never stop fighting. “There hasn’t been any sign of skaven around these parts since that great battle,” the Mayor says. “And I think that’s because of this ceremony.”
The day drew on with much feasting and drinking until finally, the Sun was beginning to set and the crowd, all of it, made their way to the fields. The idea was simple. We would squash rats. Not for a prize. Not to see who was the best rat squasher. No, it was just for the fun of stomping rats. I have to admit, the rush of excitement was starting to overwhelm even me.
They released a few hundred rats, and the crowd went wild. Everyone was laughing and stomping without care. …and then the roar started. At first I couldn’t tell what the crowd was chanting. But curiosity got me to push closer and closer until the words started to make sense. “COLD HARD TRUTH! COLD HARD TRUTH! COLD HARD TRUTH!”
I froze in my tracks. There they were. The cause of my nightmares. All thirteen team members of The Cold Hard Truth and their Coach were stomping rats. Even the tiny skinks, stomping and stomping. Occasionally they would pick their prey from the ground and eat it, just like that.
I didn’t know what to do. My past had followed me. The reporter in me wanted to try one more time. I could approach Coach Sestonn and get an interview. I took a single step forward, and one of the saurus, the one that haunts me still, immediately swiveled his head in my direction. His gaze was taunting, cold. He dared me to attempt that interview.
I left right then. I don’t even like squashing rats. They never did anything to me.