The wispy cold morning breeze swirled around the two lithe figures, gently kicking up autumn leaves in the forest clearing. The first rays of morning sun began to intrude through the tree tops, painting the wardancers with it’s stark light. They were the only souls around for a fair few miles of woodland. Both had taken great care to ensure that.
“You first brother. ” The wiry Longbow whispered. A little taller than his sibling, with sharp hawkish features under a wild mohawk. Longbow was not his real elvish name, but Coach Cav issued nicknames to encourage fans from other races to support them, as well as make life easier for commentators. The wood elves didn’t care for it, but had gradually begun to tolerate it.
“Why must it be me?” Crossbow growled. The broader and stronger of the two, a blazing mane warning of his fiery unpredictable temperament. He shuffled on the balls of his feet, as if about to explode into motion at any minute.
“Because training begins shortly, and as first born it is only right that you go first, I would not rob you of it.” Longbow said without a hint of humor. “Your generosity knows no bounds…” His brother snapped back, along with a frigid stare, before looking down at the wooden crate in front of them.
The crate wobbled slightly. Then hissed.
“There were no further instructions? There shouldn’t be some description of ceremony and…technique?” Crossbow shifted and bobbed around the crate, like a curious and excitable puppy. “No brother, the directions were simply to…you know.”
“Yes. I get that part.” Crossbow crouched, putting his ear to the crate. It hissed longer, this time with intent. The emblem of ‘SRO’ was a little worn, yet clearly and proudly marked on the box.
“I mean, if Mylm’Nor was the first. We need that kind of edge. Coach was clear that our first season in the Challenge League could of been…better. ” Longbow had cost the team a few games, despite being an outstanding Blood Bowl player. A moment here against the Red Necs, a foot out of place there against Claw and Score. Small mistakes that turned games the wrong way. They could have finished much higher, but at least the fans were die hard loyal supporters. A factor Coach Cav was impressed by, that the woodland elves were less fickle than their highborn cousins of his previous team. Still, the Quiver needed more success brought to its lush field, and a higher octane of entertainment. So the Athloren Arrows coach had gone looking for an ‘edge’. There had been hushed rumors of a certain practice, that while unorthodox was both rule legal and effective. How many of their woodland kin practiced it? No one knew. It was a myth, like those secret societies wormed into the back alleys of the league. Yet, here they were.
“Very well. Let us be done. Together?” Crossbow curled his lip in a half disgusted snarl, then nodded. Lifting the lid carefully and slowly. It was less than an inch, but enough for the lid to explode off, as a blur of color erupted from within, moving with electric speed. Instincts kicked in, the twin elves diving at it like a loose ball on a rain soaked pitch. Long bow with the lengthier reach caught the tail, barely enough to halt the now shrieking thing. The hissing wails echoed through the trees, causing startled wildlife to scuttle away.
The wardancer hurriedly adjusted his grip. Clutching the squirming creature as he rose back to his feet. He held the reptilian upto the light. Illuminating the vivid blue and orange form of an adolescent…skink. Its bulbous eyes frantically darted around. Tongue flicking in and out rhythmically. Longbow stared at it with grim fascination, before handing it over to his brother.
Crossbow felt very uncomfortable. Like that one time coach had made him stand on the line due to injuries. The elf looked around, then again at the skink. The creature had surprisingly calmed down in the other wardancers grip. For a moment he swore he saw a different emotion, and the hiss was replaced with a weird kind of purring.
“I think it likes you. Hurry now.” Longbow hid a chuckle.
Crossbow sighed with impatience, before flipping the skink over to draw its back to his mouth. “Mother must never know…” Scrunching his eyes shut, he quickly licked it. Thats right, he licked it.
The reaction was instantaneous. As the elfs pupils dilated, sweat beaded down his forehead. The skink slipped his now limp grip, and bolted into the dense forest. He stood there, as the potent chemicals overloaded his system.
“Brother?” Longbow edged cautiously towards his sibling. “Are you well?”
Crossbow had never seen a talking unicorn. Specially one that had a rainbow mane of fire. It was beautiful, and the forest, It was suddenly alive as a spectrum of colors detonated from every tree, flower, and creature. Time crawled, like he could reach out and pluck a raindrop from the air. And the ground was like one gigantic spring. He should leap, maybe over the talking unicorn. He should leap, leap…and leap. Sound was crystal clear, the beat of the humming birds wing, the sound of a flower blooming, the creak of leather on a football. The unicorn kept talking, but the music was louder. A captivating song about a man in the woods. Crossbow would sing it, while leaping. He was thirsty, so thirsty. Then he started running, why couldn’t the unicorn keep up?
The wardancers both missed training that day. And in fact the next day. It took the whole team several days to track Crossbow down, despite having the best scouts in the forest. He was finally located trying to sign up for an ogre team, just outside the borderlands. Failing in a valiant effort to convince them he was in fact an ogre, by trying to hurl the nearest gnobbler. It took seven of them to restrain the elf and load him back into the team cart. Sleeping for several more days before waking in a foul mood, missing yet more training.
Coach Cav would continue communications with the wizened coach Rez. Turns out the directions had got ‘mislaid’. It is unknown if the Athloren Arrows continued this most mysterious of practices. The brothers never spoke of it. But a few moments before kick off in their next game they were briefly…unaccounted for…