by Alan Mittag
The elves were excited. On more than one occasion I heard them talking about a sure victory. The record for Champions of Valhalla was poor, 8 losses and a tie making up their short history.
“This is going to be an easy one,” Royalty said to his only catcher, Eccentric.
I took a spot in the worn down stands, immediately getting a splinter on my bottom, right through my trousers. But I would tough it out, the team needed me.
Coach Sestonn seemed happy with the very first turn. Elves loaded up to one side, Physique punched a hole in the norse line and the elves poured through it, creating a series of possible receivers. Deep in Dignity’s half, Royalty and the Lion held position. The Lion was there to discourage immediate use of the Champion’s wizard. …but then the two started arguing. Lion wanted to use this time to practice his quick pass, promising to return the ball to Dignity’s Star Passer, but Royalty didn’t want to dare that risk. “Stand there and wait until we need you.” Lion’s further arguments were immediately put to rest, “Just shut up and do your job!”
Then the rest of the field started to fall apart. Eccentric misread the signals and went straight for the endzone. Other elves scattered this way and that, none in position to act as a stepping stone to get a pass down the field.
Then the Norse Snow monster struck Physique and the goblin rescue team had to drag him back to the box.
As the stretcher came in, Dignity’s new apothecary came charging up to do what he could for Physique, but with a raised hand Coach Sestonn stopped him. The coach asked Physique, “How bad is it?”
“What the Heck was that thing?” Physique said, his voice a moan, half pain and half disgust.
“A Snow Troll,” Coach Sestonn said. “A Yhetee.” The coach looked over his star hunter, one hand still up to halt the apothecary’s advance. “How bad is it?”
Through grinding teeth, Physique said “I’ll survive.”
Coach Sestonn waved off the apothecary. “You better save your medical kit, Doc. It’s still early and we don’t want to lose any of our key players.”
Physique only rested for a few minutes before joining Coach Sestonn on the sideline. “I can still smell it,” he said. “What a disgusting secret weapon.”
“It’s not a secret weapon,” Coach Sestonn said. “That thing is perfectly legal.”
“That’s not possible,” Physique said. “Look at me! Smell me! I’m going to be washing the filth out of my hair for weeks!”
“Legal,” Coach Sestonn said, never taking his eyes from the field.
Physique half limped, half hobbled his way to the goblin referee. Even from this distance I could hear most of the argument. “Legal? How can it be legal for a player to smell like that? Its biological warfare!” The goblin shook his head, refusing to listen, but then Physique grabbed him and held him in just the position that the little goblin got a good whiff of the exact spot the Snow monster had touched the elf. The referee lost his meal on the sideline. Physique came back while the goblin was nodding his head. Snow was a secret weapon, and he would be removed at the next kick off.
Score! Dignity is now ahead, 1-0. It was messy, but it worked out.
As both teams set up for the kick off, the referee takes his stand, throwing a red flag on the field and signalling that the Champions of Valhalla’s Yhetee was being declared a Secret Weapon and would have to be removed from the field. The crowd didn’t like that. …the next referee was much more forgiving of the snow troll’s stench.
Physique yelled at the fans. Most of them were Dignity fans. But they weren’t listening. Dignity’s fans had never seen a yhetee and they wanted more Snow. They were even chanting for it. “More Snow! More Snow! More Snow!”
Physique sat down next to me. He really didn’t look well. His eyes were glazed over and his color had gone a sickly pale blue. He tried to laugh as he grabbed my head and held me against the spot where Snow had touched him, and I shared that first referee’s disgust, all over the splintery wooden bleachers.
“Right? How can that be legal?” Physique’s laugh was forced. He really should have been resting in the casualty box.
Then the trail of goblin rescue teams started coming in on a regular basis; the two mercenaries Dignity hired and Eccentric.
End of the First Half! Dignity still lead the Champions 1-0.
Coach Sestonn waved in the Apothecary who had been working on the two elves that were knocked cold. One was Eccentric, the star catcher and the other was one of the expensive mercenaries. When the whistle blew, neither were ready.
“I need more time,” the doctor said to Coach Sestonn.
“Get them back in the game, Doc. We need them. The numbers advantage is getting dangerous and we don’t want what happened to Magic to happen again here.” The doc ran back to the KO box to continue his work.
Then the goblin team dragged Dauntless to the injury box. He was out cold, but again Sestonn waved off the apothecary. Dauntless wasn’t worth the medical kit when Royalty and Tenacity were still on the field.
Before the apothecary could even get back to his patients in the KO box, goblins were dragging Royalty to it. That made three casualties and three knock outs. Five members of Dignity were left on the field with eleven battle starved norse.
Score! The Champions of Valhalla tie it up at 1-1.
Coach Sestonn went to the KO box where the apothecary was working on Dignity’s star catcher and thrower, as well as one of the journeymen mercenaries. Sestonn grabbed the apothecary by the collar and said, “If you don’t get one of these boys back on the field I’m going to find a new apothecary.”
A few tics later, the journeyman was on his feet and heading out to the field. Coach Sestonn palmed his forehead.
The kick goes off and the crowd screams, “Dig-ni-ty! Dig-ni-ty!”
Physique nudged me with his elbow. “Tenacity is out there by himself, think he can kill that stinky abomination?”
Before I could answer, a goblin crew dragged Fortress to the casualty box. He was unconscious, head twisted around and tongue dangling out. When the apothecary started that way, Coach Sestonn shook his head, “No,” and pointed at Royalty and Eccentric still out cold in the KO box. They had to come first.
Thunder clouds gathered overhead. The sky cracked. Lightning streaked. And then the goblin crew was carrying Tenacity to the casualty box. The big elf was awake, blistered from head to toe, hair standing in every direction. Coach Sestonn met him on the way. “How bad is it?”
Tenacity looked up at his Coach, grabbed his hand in his and said, “I’m sorry General. I’m sorry. I wasn’t strong enough.”
Coach Sestonn folded Tenacity’s arm over his chest and the big guy lost consciousness. “You played a fantastic game, Son. Let the linemen handle the rest.”
Of course, the linemen couldn’t do much 4 on 11.
Score! The Champions of Valhalla now lead Dignity 2-1.
But there were still 2 turns left, plenty of time for any High Elf team to sneak in another touchdown, all they needed was their thrower and their catcher. I dared to risk a look to the KO box, and when I saw both Royalty and Eccentric back on their feet, my heart leaped out of my chest. It wasn’t over yet!
Coach Sestonn set the line to the left side, an attempt to diminish the Champions superior numbers advantage. Everything was set. We just needed three steps: Pass, catch, and away!
It started snowing. A blizzard swept into Valhalla without any warning, blinding the players until they could only see a few yards in front of them. The pass was going to be difficult, maybe impossible. My excitement drained away, snatched by the cold.
Royalty, still whoozy from his knock out and freezing in the sudden weather, fumbled the ball pickup. The game was over. Champions beat Dignity 2-1.
Coach Sestonn let out a sigh of relief. “At least no one got hurt.”