So, let me get this right……theyre prisoners and you keep em cold so they don’t cause any trouble, is that it?? Eilivaror looked down into the pit where about a dozen lizards of assorted size seemed to be stirring slightly their movements slow and clumsy. “Yep, that’s about the size of it” the Ogre merchant replied, “so what do you do with them? eat em??” “God no, they taste awful, the big ones are really tough and the little ones are all bone, we send them across the sea to the Capitol, just like we going to with you” Eilivaror chains rattled as he shifted from foot to foot and he again cursed the devious elves, come have a drink they said…..lets party they said…. we’ll drug and sell you as slaves they…. well they didn’t say it, they just did it! “So, i don’t suppose there’s much we can do about it……is there??” “Actually, there is one thing” the Ogre( he hates being called a slaver) replied, “you guys have quite a reputation for the old ball sport, how about a game against the lizards, winner gets to decide their fate” Looking at the reptiles barely moving Eilivaror thought it was probably the best offer he heard in a long time, some big clumsy (soon to be) handbags & shoes against his highly motivated, if somewhat cynical crew, or team as they now liked to be called…….what could go wrong? ” Ok, your on, let’s get this done, winner choses their prize, correct?”
So, now at noon with the sun high and blazing down the lizards didn’t look so lethargic, the big one where….well, really big, one was massive dwarfing even Fluffy who roared her displease and seemed to be eager to begin, the little ones moved like water on ice, never still, this could have been (another) mistake, and they are getting the ball first.
“Right lads, this one is biggy, lets not screw it up” Eilivaror words are lost as the ball is kicked, the Lizards still not quite up to speed and the Norse surge forward, not to far shouts Eilivaror as Fluffy plows forward straight at the largest target…..boom, she hits like an iceberg and down he goes, eyes rolling, a Berserker moves down field only to see the ball bounce away from him and its game on!! Hits on the line rain down as the big lizards start to mobilise, Bert as always is knocked out (again….Really) and the little ones (Skins or some such ) grab the ball and run deep into their own half in reply a Saurus is downed but its hide is too tough to injure, a skin? Skink? is hit but neatly sidesteps the blow, Fluffy again attacks but this time the lizards are ready and a Saurus of considerable skill downs her…. not good!
The lizards form square with the large ones on the corners, the ball carrying Skink in the middle surrounded by its larger kin, the other small one swarm towards the prone figure of Fluffy and in goes a sneaky boot…..and a whistle is blown, the Ogre Slaver steps onto the pitch and removes the Skink, “you know the rules boys, none of that!!” As soon as he leaves the pitch, Fluffy jumps and smacks a Skink once, the Skink bobs and weaves, but the second hit floors it and before it gets a chance to escape Fluffy piles onto its prone form squashing it into the turf!! a Saurus is downed and of course stood on, totally accidentally…..Again the Ogre stomps onto the pitch, this time to remove a Norseman… looks like both teams will need to clean their acts up.
The Lizards reform their cage, their tactics basic but effective, the Norse decide that total war is the way to go and start to pile on pressure, the Howler twins take down a saurus and then up steps the Norse Thrower, arm muscles bulging and corded and hammers a saurus with his throwing arm….a horrid crack reverberates around the pitch as it hits the ground, it head lolling at an impossible angle, its dead!! Fluffy pushes another Skink around as another saurus is floored, the Norse pressure could be about to pay off….however they didn’t account for the lizards cold calculating nature, one hit slams a runner into the turf and the Skinks have an opening, one runs through closely followed by the ball carrier who then had the cheek to flip off a pass to the first Skink!! Fluffy stands still roaring, every around her seems to have vanished, the Norse scramble back and a lucky hit opens a path to the Skink with the ball, in rushes a Howler and boom…..down goes the skink, not hurt but he does drop the ball which bounces out, only to be thrown back in deep into the Norse half, a thrower dodges away from a saurus and runs back, he trips, stumbles and manages to scoop up the ball, but before he gets a chance to throw he surrounded by Skinks and brought down, knocked unconscious and the Skinks regain possession…..The howler hits another skink and downs it, then runs up next to the ball carrying skink (who, it should be noted seems much stronger than a “normal” skink) A saurus rumbles over to help out its smaller cousin, however the Norse are ready and a well placed fist stops it in its tracks, the howler hits the skink, once, twice he still standing, Fluffy roars into action flooring a saurus and driving it into the turf stunned, another Norse follows suit and the runner moves to hit the ball carrier, however too late he sees a Skink ambush!! the little fellow dives between his legs bringing him down.The Lizards then hit the (New) Half elf runner and KO him, instead for scoring the lizard runs parallel to the Norse end zone in a blatant attempt to run down the clock, another Skink tries to follow but is tagged by a Howler who brings him crashing down, knowing they cannot recover the ball they hit a couple of saurus, Fluffy has a chance and tries however it’s all in vain as the Lizards cross the line.
With very little time left the teams set up again, in fact as the ball is kicked the Lizards set up again…. sneaky!! The Norse are tired and want to get to half time, the suns getting warmer and the lizards seem to be moving quicker and getting stronger…..Fluffy hits a Saurus and again drops on his prone form, again just a stun, the Howlers do better Ko’ing one and even the Krox (who decided to rejoin the match after all) is again laid prone, however this time no damage is done!! and it half time…
The second half started much like the first, the kicking team attacking whilst the ball is in the air, a Howler is downed and the lizards push hard on the right flank, the ball comes down short, hits Fluffy on the head and drops into the Lizards half, it’s picked up and given to the Norse thrower…. who just happens to be on the left flank, A howler downs a Skink, Fluffy downs a Saurus and the thrower runs deep into lizard country…. the counter attack is on!! The Skinks move back in a defensive action and one runs over to mark the ball carrier, the Saurus reposition as well. A Howler hits the Skink and manages to stun him as the Thrower crosses the line to equalise…..Game on!!
As the teams set up again a quick count reveals the Norse are at full strength whilst the somewhat battered lizards are down to 8 players… Eilivaror feeling confident now, the kick goes up and so does most of the north stand as fighting fans spill onto the pitch, the Ogre cracks a few skulls and the games back on, the clocks run down a little, but no one seems to care…the ball comes to rest in the lizards end zone, a Skink runs back but fails to grab it and the Norse sensing this was their moment surge forward smashing into the Lizard lines and trying to break through into the back field, a Saurus downs the berserker and runs on to mark a Howler only to see the Berserker jump up and hit the Skink who had just picked up the ball, injuring him in the process and claiming the ball, its all going the Norse way now, scores tied men up and deep possession in the Lizards half. The Krox moves to mark the Howlers and again the Skinks rescue the situation with a swarming attack that leaves the ball carrier prone and the ball once again in their hands, off they run to the protection of the Krox. The berserker again jumps up and knocks over a Skink. Here it comes, he sees his chance for glory, Bert knows they all laugh at him and call him the rubbish ( because he’s always being taken out) but this is his chance to shine, he can save the day……but its Bert. First hit is a push and as he tries to follow for another hit he over extends and down he goes, injuring himself in the process and leaving the lizards with the ball. The Krox moves up pitch guarding the skink by his side, the Norse dive in but can only push him closer to their end zone… Eilivaror should be worried, but a well placed fist to the face sees him laid out cold as the Skink breaks free and makes a dash for the line, a runner, probably Sturla, tries to reach him but he skips away to score in as the whistle blows for the end of the match…. Lizards 2, Norse 1.
“So, its in the hole for us then?” says Eilivaror whilst thinking a quiet dark hole may actually relieve his pounding headache.
“Actually, No, it’s not, your to board the ship, the lizards have elected to stay, they’ve apparently been given a job offer as pantomime dragons at a local nobles castle and i have a shipment of slaves to supply, that would be yourselves” the Ogre said with a disarming smile….
Once on board the Norse find their “accommodation” none to bleak, yes they are chained but can move about, the cook said something about a nice stew, apparently the dead Saurus has its uses… Eilivaror smiles to himself, at last we are off that stinking Island with its deranged dwarves, undead hordes and lofty nobles…. anything has got to be better than that place, right??
“Err, Captain” its Sturla, ” we may have a problem” ” whats that then?” “well you see…. actually you don’t, ill show you ” with that he hands over a small piece of parchment ” one of the crew asked for me by name and gave me this, said he’d been told to do it once we had sailed, but I cannot read very well”
As Eilivaror broke the seal and read the note his dreams of freedom turned to ash, his hopes crumbled, the words blurred and merged as he read on the cold sweat from his brow running into his eyes and dulling his vision ( not tears tho’ never tears) The lines of curses and promises to do harm, the similarity between his team (crew) and bodily functions so well described they made him feel nauseous…… and the fact the lizards had been bought so the Norse would have to sail made so plain it hurt to read them….. and it was signed. He tore the note up and cast it over the side, shoulders slumped he slide down onto the deck, his head in his hands…… what where they to do now?? Their destination was a place of terror where mercy was an unknown quantity….
1 part of the torn note flutter back onto the deck, landing at Sturlas feet, as he picked it up he glanced back towards the land, for a moment he thought he saw a grotesque figure partially hidden by a barn watching, then a sea mist blew in and the coastline was no longer visible…..he looked down at the paper in his hand, trying to discover the reason for his captains despair…… it had one word, a name perhaps?? he spelled it out carefully, its all he could do…..
That is all it said…….That was enough!!
To be continued…….