The Glorious Eight
Situated in the lands of Stirland in the Empire north of the city of Averheim along the river Aver sat one of the marvels of the Old World , the MML Headquarters. A sprawling metropolis of restaurants and fairground rides crowded round the epicentre of the MML itself . Great walls of polished Dwarven marble dotted with hundreds of windows is home to all who work in and run the MML itself , exhibition halls containing many teams memorabilia throughout the leagues history. Conference rooms , Bugman’s Bar and much more in this living breathing monument to the Sport of Blood Bowl. All of this was framed by gleaming towers that reached to the heavens, hung with hundreds of banners of the teams who have ever played in the leagues long history.
Sir Andy von Cook stood once more before the great oaken doors to the Hall of Champions . He had stood here twice before , and twice before the Order of the Holy Squirrel had fallen at the first hurdle in the Pro Playoffs. But they were here again now and that was something to be proud of .
” Shall we announce ourselves my lord ?” asked Sir Gilhart Godcannon , captain of the Holy Squirrels . The Knight radiated confidence and strength , the linchpin of the team he stood proud and tall in his shining armour.
” Come my Lord, be not troubled ” reassured Morty reaching out a hand and placing it on the door . The bane of many a coach in the MML , the Squirrel’s blitzer Morty could run , dodge , leap , skip and frolic anywhere he pleased on a blood bowl pitch without as much as a finger laid upon him.
Sir Andy gave his companions a warm smile. ” Very well then . Let us make our entrance.”
The Squirrel’s coach pushed through the great doors into the Hall of Champions. The huge space inside had pristine black marbled floors, deep red walls hung with seventeen paintings all depicting each MML champion in turn . In the centre the enormous rose wood round table dominating the room, lined with exquisitely crafted Skink leather chairs.
Most of the MML Pro Playoff finalists had already arrived and were situation around the room, and just as before when the Squirrels entered there was a torrent of noises , smells and harsh words being exchanged between the larger than life characters that coached some of the MML’s best teams.
Funbus , Black Orc Blocker of the Georgia Goons was the most immediate presence when you entered the room . The former Green Tide Titan was built like an imperial steam tank and was just as full of hot air. He had amassed a great death and injury toll in his long career and was making his violent feelings shown . Like all of his race an Orc is never one to back down from a fight or show any sign of weakness, Funbus was barking like some great demon hound that had crawled out from the depths of hell as if someone had wizzed up his favourite lamp post.
The great Orc bellowed in his harsh tongue insults and threats at an equally hellish player , Joey Bob of the Red Necs. Though many seasons his junior Joey Bob had a death and injury tally that would fill a morgue and his body count seemed to have no end in sight .
Back hunched , legs rigid , and with eyes like pools of hell fire the Werewolf snarled and snapped his fangs with deadly intent . The only thing keeping ( or rather trying to keep ) these two apart were a dozen goblin staff wrapping themselves around Funbus’ legs and waist in an bid to hold him back whilst others were waving the dismembered limbs of the several unfortunate goblin staff who lay bloody and broken on the floor around the pair at Joey Bob in a rather desperate attempt to distract him from his hulking rival and stopping them from tearing themselves and the place apart .
Now one would be forgiven in thinking their respectful coaches would have put a stop to such madness. But not these two .
ColoradoCelt of the Georgia Goons was only a “humie” in the eyes of his green skinned team, but he was ” a humie wiv da strengff an’ da brainz ov a Orc.” they would say. Cunningly brutal and brutally cunning, Celt had man handled the Goons into a strong cohesive fighting team. Dressed to impress he wore a suit of rich silken green , not too dissimilar of that of a goblins hue along with a tie made of flayed elf flesh Farcry one of the teams blitzers had made for him since he’d taken up sowing.
Big brass rings depicting the Orc Gods Gork and Mork ( or is it Mork and Gork?) and various other Orc glyths adorned his fingers, though these were more for being used to break peoples’ faces rather than mere decoration.
The Orc boss was nothing but supportive of his players actions, standing just behind Funbus he goaded the Werewolf into even trying to take on his player and waved his hand is various gestures in the direction of Joey Bobs’ coach who sat but a few chairs down from him .
The Red Nec coach Berzo sat lounging lazily in his chair, completely unfazed by the impending blood bath that was but a hairs breath away, he just watched the players chomping at the bit and laughed heartedly to himself . The former Lizardman coach had changed a great deal since his days of running Dino Rock, now that he had thrown in his lot with the dark arts of Necromancy .
Dressed in the attire one would associate with a playwright but far more macabre. A tight form fitting jacket of thick black velvet with matching pantaloons accompanied by a ruffled cream shirt that billowed out from his collar and sleeves like a cascading fountain. His left hand resting upon a jug of Bugmans’ Best Bitter and his right a cane carved from an Ogres Femur with wards and curses written in his crafts dark language.
As much a what was transpiring in front of him was amusing to Berzo and ColoradoCelt, the pool of blood on the floor that was coming from the ever increasing pile of disassembled goblins was beginning to rival that of a swimming pool . With a cursory glance around the room at his fellow coaches Berzo rapped his cane on the marble floor and Joey Bob stopped dead. Turned, then padded away from his Orc rival to sit at his master heel .
” HA !!! ” snorted Funbus. ” Puny doggee iz scared ov Funbus ! hehehe.” gloating and turning round to drop into his chair , all the while still clutching a throttled goblin .
With all the commotion for now settled down, Sir Andy could gauge the rest of the room whilst acquiring a place to sit at the table. The next team boss to catch his eye was coach Fire Talker of the Wet Bandits. The former Clan Moulder Pit Master had left the most horrific of all Skaven strongholds, Hell Pit to forge his own path of glory in the MML and had almost achieved his goal if not for the Elfy shenanigans of coach Thunden in the season 16 final.
The Ratman master moulder wore a rusty bronze set of armour whenever he left the safety of his burrow in The Silver Tuna ( because any Skaven worth his Wyrestone kept himself protected from filthy sneaky assassins jealous of his greatness at all times.)
FireTalker had augmented himself through the power of Warpstone and had given himself almost a whole complete set of all his limbs and organs. Two extra arms protruded out from his armoured flanks , each of his four hands holding notepads , squig ink quills and a bizarre device no one remotely sane could begin to comprehend. His “main” head surveying the scene around him whilst the second tasked himself with writing all manner of things down.
Just as he had improved himself FireTalker was known for working on his team, a few extra heads here, a Big Hand here a Claws there, and one such player had joined him. Modifei had transcended a mere linerat and had been shaped into something more God like. With parts ” borrowed ” from a helpful vampire and a dollop of Warpstone Modifei was well on his way to legendary status within the MML .
Next came Greyseer Gerdleah , the twice crowned MML champion sat in his usual spot underneath his two portraits on the wall of when the Ubersreik Flamers had won in seasons 11 and 12 . The last time Sir Andy had seen the Skaven his brown fur had started turning grey and a pair of small horns had started poking out of his noggin . But now Gerd’s fur was fully silver grey and his tiny horns were now magnificent and twisting, reaching far above his head.
A clear sign of him being favoured by the Horned Rat and having been reborn a GreySeer, one of the rightful masters of the Skaven race.
Normally coach Gerdleah would be accompanied by the Big Cheese but some cheeky Norse broke one of his finger nails so he was out of action for a bit but as ever the mysterious arcane contraption know as the ” Ark” sat next to him. No one bar coach Gerdleah and the engineers of Clan Skrye who built it knew how the iron trunk worked. Hissing pipes, clicking dials, and fizzing wires stuck out every which way. The air around it stank of ozone and it felt like you were breathing in underwater when you got anywhere near it .
The ” Ark” was said to be a transmitter , a receiver for speaking directly to Nuffle and coach Gerd sat with a pair of wires plugged into his ears , chittering away to whoever it was on the other side of the call.
Making their way past , the Squirrels find their seats next to the squatted bearded form of Umphreysmagoo of the Bugman’s Bellringers . The Dwarf lord was bedecked in the finest Gromril armour you would ever lay your eyes upon. It’s surface shone like a star , reflecting back a million twinkling lights it was almost too beautiful to bare . Rubies, sapphires and emeralds perfectly placed in and around tiny works of art of Dwarf ancestors and beasts that were painstakingly sculpted on its surface .
His broad face and ruby red nose were almost hidden behind his full plaited beard that hung down to his iron shod boots. All of this grandeur was sat behind a wall of empty beer steins , each one almost as wide to fit your head inside. Not that the huge volume of Dwarven beer was any match for Umphreysmagoo’s constitution , each one taking mere moments to slide down his throat in one huge gulp.
Sir Andy wondered at this rate would the dwarf start overflowing ! the goblin waiters probably hoped so as Magoo and his companion had almost certainly drank most of the bars kegs dry.
The equally thirsty Dwarf that sat with Magoo was Bob Dronkowski, the Bellringers speedy Runner. No different in high or girth than a regular Dwarf Bob had an unusual knack for legging it out of harms’ way with the ball . On his boots were forged Dwarf runes of Swiftness . Like the weapons the Dwarfs of old used to fight their wars , Dwarfs were masters of Rune craft, able to shape magic and store its power in a rune, whatever carried it gained the Runes power. Be it a rune of toughness or flight . The runes on Bob’s feet burned with an inner glow of a sun , gifting the Dwarf Runner with great speed across the Astrogranite.
Suddenly from beside the lectern at the head of the great table a Goblin playing a Squig Trumpet (not so much playing the instrument, more like screaming into it) announced the arrival of Commissioner Preach to announce the playoff opponents .
” prezentin’ da biggist baddest big boss ov em all……………. PREACH ! ” screeched the Goblin ” musician ” .
The clip clopping of heavy hooves was soon followed and the Bull Centaur Black Angus approached the lectern with the MML commissioner and coach of the Durango Roughriders, Preach sat tall and proud on his back. The Commissioner was tailored in the finest Araby silk suit money could buy of red, white and blue sat on the Centaurs back like a knight on a rather ugly fat steed .Never finishing outside the top two of any conference they played in Commissioner Preach had his Chorfs playing like clock work , just like the MML itself.
” I would like to congratulate ALL the teams here for qualifying for the Season 17 Pro Playoff finals ” Preach began
“That’s not right !? ” thought Sir Andy . ” We are one team short ” only then did he catch Preach casting a quick glance up to the ceiling and following suit did the Squirrels coach spot what he was looking at .
High up in the darkest corner of the room , all but engulf in shadow clinging up there was coach NTB of Rodentia Ad Nauseam . The clan Eshin skaven was so quiet and still, no one had detected him until now. Dressed head to toe in a deep black ninja suit that seemed to swallow light, the sneaky ratman’s tiny red eyes were all that you could see of him . Clan Eshin were specialists in espionage, assassinations and producing the finest Gutter Runners you could ever hope to get your claws on.
Rodentia had boasted four legendary class Gutter Runners at the beginning of the season , but alas the great Han Tavirus had retired to a life of selling used horse carts. Stephen Pearcy had tragically fallen ( though we suspect dirty sneaky Skaven trickery . yes-yes all Skaven jealous of RAN and plot-sneak-kill precious Gutter Runners )
Though he could not see them Sir Andy knew Cutter Leishmaniasis and 2Fast2Furry were lurking , hidden from plain sight. Which made the hairs on the back of neck stand on end.
” You are some of the best the MML has to offer , and now the greatest challenge lies ahead of you now” continued Preach
” To face off against each other for the grandest prize in Blood Bowl , The MML Championship . I’m sure you will all play games worthy of remembrance and do the league proud. Go now and may Nuffle bless your blocking dice .”