“I am a poor welfaring stranger, traveling through this world of woe. Hmmm, that’s good,” thought Welf the Revelator, self-declared poet, philosopher and spiritual guide of the fledgling Welfaring Strangers Blood Bowl team.
“He sounds so lonely,” cried Welf of Constant Sorrow before weeping uncontrollably into his leafy brew.
“I’m trying to convey, in the most powerful terms, the intangible force that drew us all together. The bond that binds our wandering souls in this new and perilous venture.”
Pancho, who was sat nearby, rolled his eyes at his mate Lefty. “What a fool.”
“Tambo, come here,” shouted the Revelator across the forest glade. “I need a beat.” Mr.Tambourine Welf was only too pleased to oblige, immediately hammering out a jingly, jangly rhythm against his thigh as he sauntered over.
Lefty nudged Pancho and pointed over to a small patch of grass on the far side of the camp. “He’s still on it.” Pancho lept to his feet.
“Wichita! I told you, stay off the bloody line while it dries!”
Wichita Linewelf lept daintily off the straight, white strip. “Thirty— awww shucks, I’ve lost count now!”
“It’s not like we need the pitch anyway,” Lefty retorted.
A cough. Pancho looked over at the mummified, living corpse that was Achy Breaky Welf. “You know you’ll have to, er, unspool, when we play, right?”
“No way. Too risky. Something’ll go,” came the mumbled reply.
In the middle of the campsite, a spark grew into a burgeoning flame as Welf of Fire prepared the evening’s warmth. He fanned the flames a few times before scanning the glade’s perimeter. “I hope they’re not messing around. I’m hungry.”
Deep in the forest, Solitary Welf and Scarborough Welf sprinted full-pelt through the undergrowth, dodging in and out of the trees and tossing the limp body of a rabbit between them.
Back at the campsite, Linewelf Jackson rubbed his brow. This was all too much. He’d been the outsider in most of the social situations in his life, but this lot took the biscuit. He leant back against the tree.
“Oi, chicken legs, jog on.”
Jackson started as Stan By Your Tree shifted his considerable bulk. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.”
“That’s racist that is.”
“No it’s not, I just didn’t see you amongst all—“
“All the other trees. You saying we all look the same, bruv?”
“No! I… um… I mean, I stan, no, I mean you’re Stan, but I st— oh damnit.”
“The new guy’s gone and done it now,” Pancho observed. It was quite clear to the rest of the team why Jackson never fitted in anywhere. They all watched with unconcealed glee how Jacksons’ eyes grew wider and his limbs wobblier, as Stan unfolded himself to his full height.
“So… noob… do I look the same now?”
“Give him a break Stan,” Fire shouted across.
“Fine,” grunted Stan.
Jackson smiled nervously and backed away. He didn’t notice the root behind him, the one that tripped him up when he turned to go, leaving him with a face full of mud. Everyone laughed.
Wichita came at sat down by the fire and warmed his hands. “So when are we going to start training?”
A chuckle spread into a laugh, that rolled around the glade gathering strength until it became a cacophony of guffaws. This carried on for some time until, naturally, much like when one is forced to clap for too long, it lessened in enthusiasm and volume, and gradually they all quietened and settled back to their business.
“But seriously guys, the league starts soon and we have, literally, done nothing other than sit around exchanging dull stories about how we all got here. We don’t even have a coach,” said Wichita.
Constant Sorrow burst into tears again.
The Revelator gave him the side-eye. “Really?”
Solitary and Scarborough entered the glade and skidded to a halt, dropping several dead rabbits by the fire. They high-fived.
Welf of Fire grabbed their wrists and made them slap themselves in the face. “Sit down, you muppets.” Sheepishly, and red-faced, they did what they were told.
Fire looked around. Everybody was here now, all in this one little campsite.
“He’s right you know Fire, we don’t have a coach,” said Lefty.
As the sun set, and the darkness crept in, Welf of Fire stared down into the flames. The orangey glow played across his face, chasing the shadows, giving him a distinct air of mystery… and foreboding.
“I know a guy,” he said.
A long silence followed. It was Pancho, of course, who finally broke it.
“Jeez, there’s no need to be so dramatic about it.”