Cre-eeek… cre-eeek… cre-eeek…
Dawn. A smell of earth. A smell of manure. Or something worse…
A view through gaps in a wooden slatted wall of purple clouds, hanging in a navy blue sky, an orange smear rising from a black horizon.
A wooden sign hangs from a bar that crosses between two posts above a gate. Neatly engraved with a name that reads Mumbleberry farm, now daubed over with a red scrawl. Is that blood? Probably. I suppose it’s supposed to say Rorcs. Actually I know it says Rorcs. Dammit. I’ve seen that scrawl plenty of times before.
Rorcs farm. What a joke. I actually manage a chuckle. What you farmin’ Rorcs?
“Mister… hey mister…”
I’m so cold. I pull my Denver Dynamos rag tight about my shoulders and hunch down.
“Mister… are you awake?”
Stupid little girl. Ignore her. It’s for the best. Can’t be making any friends in here. It’s each man for himself. Anyway, I’m a Rorc. They won’t take me. Will they?
“Mister… I’m scared. Daddy’s not waking up. And Bovven… and Joe Legs… They’ve been gone a long time now mister. Do you think they’re gonna bring em back?”
Ha! Not likely. I turn away from her and bury my face in my crossed arms, hiding my face. Bovven and Joe Legs. So those were their names. Stupid humie farm hands. Serves them right for being so big and juicy. I mean the Rorcs had to eat something once the livestock was gone.
What’s wrong with me? I can’t be defending them, can I? Not after they slung me in this pig pen with these other humies. Damnit, if they weren’t so stupid there would still be cattle to slaughter and eat. What do a bunch of marauding, murderous Blood Bowl Orcs know about tending a farm properly? We never should have come here. We should have appealed to the game wizards to help us. After all, we made the playoffs! They might have helped us out with temporary digs after the pub collapsed. Or maybe the Rorcs fans. Perhaps they could’ve put us up in one of their camps outside the city…
What a week. Another post season reality check. Why do we always lose it once the season is done? The exact same thing happened last time. We had a great season, the Rorcs bashing their way to second place in the pool, then wham! We get schooled.
And what’s worse for a Rorc than a schooling? You guessed it. A schooling from an elfswodge. A chai tea sippin’, belly top wearing’, pointed eared nodge swodger. Chris is maaaad with rage. Mad.
Of course he tried to take it out on Simon. As if he could catch him. I remember Simon, dodging and fending Chris’ blocks, singing some stupid song, while Orick Ross did some grunting beatbox.
“Ya can call me an elfswodge, I’m glad, coz I am whateva yu sez I am, if I wazn den why wudd I say I am…”
All the humies favoured the elfswodges in that match up anyway. You can see why.
The dust had barely settled from the pub’s collapse before we were out on the road, rampaging around the outskirts of the city. Sapphire Sam leading the charge of course, Chris lumbering up behind him. Pile driving civilians and city guards alike. Cutting a bloody swathe through otherwise civilised lands. They didn’t even consider setting up camp in the first few places we knocked over. They just charged on through. Until we found this place. The Mumbleberry farm. Sorry… the Rorcs farm. We’ve been here a week now. Why has nobody come? Surely reports must have reached the authorities by now?
“Shhh! Shut up… someone’s coming”
The little Mumbleberry girl darts away to hide behind a barrel.
A bulky silhouette is crossing the yard. I’m not ashamed to admit my knees are knocking. It’s not a black orc. Too small to be one of them. It’s moving too quickly to be Elvis. Could it be Simon? Please let it not be Sam. Please…
The silhouette passes behind the chicken shed and steps into the dawn light.
Phew! It’s Chaz.
Nice guy Chalcedony Chaz. He does the guarding and the helpin’. Not the smushin’.
Who am I kidding, he’s killed a few himself in his time.
I think. So much killing. It’s hard to remember.
I get up and approach the gate. It’s locked of course, but Chaz pulls the key out from under his thick leather belt.
“Chaz mate. You came. Can you get me out of here? Plea..”
“Shutzit humie… I brung da nodge… datz it.”
“Chaz it’s me! Hedo! Your old chum! Mate, please can you let me out of here?”
“Huh? Oh itz you.”
I realise, that smothered in the filth of the pig pen, wrapped only in my filthy Dynamos rag, he might not have recognised me. He unlocks the gate.
“Come on Chaz. We go way back don’t we? You and me?”
Chaz snarls. He seems to be wrestling with some thought or other. His green face scrunched up.”
“You wonts me ta get Chrysolite smushed duz ya? Ya wonts im to do da ‘Orrrrr Orrrrr Chrysolite’ piling on me wrudger? Ya finks um dumb? Humph.”
Chaz snarls at me again and slings the bucket of “nodge” into the pen. Five filthy excuses for humanity stir about the pen and begin to scramble towards the food. There’s Mrs Mumbleberry, her daughters, sally and Claire, her little son Boff, a skinny farm hand… Chaz looks at them with disgust, turns his back, and slinks back to the farmhouse without another word.
I sink to my knees in despair. If Chaz won’t save me then who? Oh woe is, woe is me… My head slumps forward, bumping into the gate.
The gate pushes open.
I look around the pen. The other filthy humies have paused in their chomping of the nodge. We look at each other. We look at the open gate.
Suddenly there’s a mud coloured blur of near silent activity. Mrs Mumbleberry is trying to wake her husband. The farmhand has already slipped out… he’s trying to bring a cart over… Squee… Squee… Squee… go the wheels. It’s too loud! They’re gonna hear it.
I gotta go. I gotta leave them behind. Screw them! Screw them all! And screw those bleedin’ Rorcs!!!
I’m off like a shot. Out of the pen, across the yard and through the main gate. My bare feet sting on the gravelly track that leads out and away from the farm, but joy, oh panicked joy. I’m free. I’m free!
I’ll never play Blood Bowl again. I’ll never watch another game. I’ll join a charity support group to rehabilitate ex blood bowl players whose lives have been ruined by the sport like mine has. I’ll find God. I’ll do whatever…
Someone’s coming. I hear noises.
Not from the farm. They’re coming from up ahead.
I hear a wagon approach and marching feet. Could be friend… or is it foe?
Who am I kidding? I don’t have a friend in the world.
I scurry from the road and hide in the bushes.
March march, rumble rumble. They’re getting close now.
Guards! Definitely guards! They must be coming to arrest the Rorcs!
What the hell, I think, might as well take sides. I’d better tell them what they are driving up into.
“Hello! Hello there!”
I scramble from the bushes.
“Thank Nuffle you’re here. I wasn’t sure you’d come.”
A black cloaked figure leans out of the carriage window.
“Nuffle’s balls! What on earth is this disgusting creature. Is it a skaven? A goblin? Guards, put that disgusting thing down!”
The guards lower their halberds and approach me. It’s only then when I notice their livery. Blue and white. These aren’t city guards!?! They’re Cabalvision security! And the cloaked figure is a game wizard. We’ve met before, after our defeat by the Undertopia Undesirables… this particular dwarf bought me a commiseration Bloodweiser.
“Wait! It’s me! Coach Hedonihilist! Oh please, you remember me, don’t you?”
“Hedonihilist? Nurgle’s nutsack! What has happened to you old boy?”
“I’m… err… well… Have you come to arrest the Rorcs?”
The old dwarf knots his brow in confusion, then breaks into a guffaw, the likes of which I haven’t heard in an age, his chest heaving with laughter.
“Arrest the Rorcs? Boyo, you must be mad! Rarely have a watched a more entertaining Blood Bowl team. All the smashing and maiming, the ludicrous infighting, the constant piling on, even when it makes absolutely no strategic sense! The Rorcs are a game wizards dream. A Blood Bowl fans fantasy! I bring your ticket to the next MML league, boyo! And this… fat… chest… of… gold!”
He swings the door of the carriage open and hefts the chest onto his massive stomach, then leaps down to the road and drops it at my feet.
“Quite a tidy sum there boyo. I can’t quite understand how you forgot to collect it. There’s been many a gobbo sniffing around this chest. Unclaimed winnings is a gobbos dream! But I saw ya well. I’ve looked after it for ya. Mind you it’s taken some time to figure out where you’ve been camped out. I went to your old pub. Nothing there now. It wasn’t ’til we heard about a marauding band of orcs outside the city and I says to meself… that’s them. That’s our boys. He he. He he.”
He slaps me warmly on the shoulder. Then looks at his soiled hand, sniffing at it and looking me up and down.
“Hmm. Didn’t take the defeat in the playoffs too well then I take it?”
I open the chest.
So… much… gold.
“Can you take me to the Rorcs then boyo?”
What was I doing before now? Running somewhere? Running where exactly?
So much gold.
“Yeah sure. It’s this way”
We head back to the farm.
A week later, I’m out on the trail, scavenging for something to put in the nodge pot. I see a poster, nailed to a tree by the side of the road.
Wanted, Dead or… Maimed (Injured badly enough to retire = ST bust, AG bust etc) . Chrysolite Chris, the biggest baddest bully. Captain of the Rorcs of Revelation. Posted by the honourable former farm owners, The Mumbleberry family.
So… they survived then.
Prize for killing Chris: I will paint and deliver a trophy miniature of whoever does the deed to the coach responsible. #ChrisMustDie.