5: Welf[A]re VS Nautical Imperatives
The air is much cleaner than it was last match. All is as it should be; the sun shines, the breeze is gentle, and Bumford is cursing expertly.
“Stupid! Waste’ve time! What’s the point!?” he roars, “it’s boring is what it is!”
The elfs surrounding him are, as usual, quietly sitting through his tantrum. All in all it takes about five minutes for him to calm down.
“Well, might as well try to win I suppose. Pff.” Bumford sighs and stands authoritatively to address the team. He grumbles something about how to pronounce a name with brackets.
“The thing to remember about elfs,” he begins, hocking and spitting at the word, “is that they’re spindly as shit and wet as winter. Seriously, a stiff wind is enough to knock one down. I saw an elf break his leg tying his shoes once. Useless, pasty faced, weakling snotling-fondlers are elfs. Every one of them.”
Bumford is immune to the looks he is getting fromNautical Imperatives.
“With that in mind, the way to play is to beat’m up. These elfs, these… Wood Elves… Urgh, well, they’re everything ya are and better. They’re faster, more skillful, some’ve them are even tougher than ya. So basically, just go out there and bash some skulls in, alright?”
The elfs are disquieted by this.
“They’re… faster than us?” squeaks the newest member of the team Row, Damn Your Eyes!. Up until this point,Nautical have not faced an enemy that could match them in speed. Without that to rely on…
“Aye,” spits Bumford again. “So expect lots of running away. Lots of… actual ball handling… Eurgh, I think I need a sit down.” Bumford collapses into a chair.
The elfs look at each other. A bell starts chiming from the pitch. They get up and file out. Bumford doesn’t follow.
Welf[A]re are on the pitch waiting. They look similar at a glance to Nautical, but each is taller, more lithe, and with even larger, pouffier hair. Jealously starts to bubble beneath the surface. Some elfs control it better than others. One elf, Belay!, even spits, much to the consternation of his nearby teammates.
Two Wood Elves in particular, Help Plx and Piroutte, look menacingly towards them. These are different from the others. More powerfully built, more tattooed, the biggest hair of all of them. Belay! cracks his knuckles.
Bumford wipes a tear and shuffles out of the changing room, ale sloshing around an enormous mug, more like a bucket, that he holds in both hands. He looks from team to team, to the crowd, back to the beer, and shakes his head.
“Game’s gone to the dogs.”
The ref blows his whistle. Welf[A]re kicks the ball.
The first half, from the point of view of those that appreciate the spectacle of elves playing blood bowl, was superb. The ball flew back and forth, in and out, soaring between teams and each side fought for possession.Nautical scored early, and Welfare scored in return. Wardancers lept with abandon over the heads of their slower cousins, breaking grips and breaking noses.
By the time the whistle blew, each team had scored twice. The score was 2-2.
Bumford met the team back in the changing room.
“Well, what did I tell you. No one so much as scratched. Waste of time.”
The elfs are out of breath. This is the hardest game they’ve ever played.
“Well, best get back I suppose.” sighs Bumford. He is glum.
The second half begins with renewed vigour. The Wood Elves toy with their masked relatives, darting back and forth, just out of reach. Something snaps in Belay!, and he starts lashing out with unmatched fury. Two elves are escourted off the pitch because of him. The WardancerHelp Plx sees this and decides to cash in his chips. He leaps over Belay!, laughing as he does, and scores the third touchdown for Welfare, dangerously close to the final whistle.
Bumford sits up. His team hasn’t yet lost. His attention is suddenly as fervous as it has ever been this season. It’s one thing to be stuck watching game of disgusting elf on elf blood bowl (especially if there are none of those sexy lady elves…), quite another to actually LOSE a game. He notices the small pile of injured wood elves on the sideline.
He jumps to his feet.
“Come on lads! You can do it! ..P-pass the ball to, eugh, toWeigh Anchor!! Come ON!!”
He’s cheering with the rest. Nautical may be a bunch of stinking elfs, but by Arnok they were his stinking elfs.
The timer is running dangerously low. The team is tired. Their opponents are not. The ball flies to the elf team, who sprint with all their might towards the Wood Elf lines.
Help Plx sees Board!, ball in hand. He runs, even faster, towards him, jumping straight over lines of defense.
With a disgusting momentum, Help Plx aims a boot right at the face of Board!, who spots it just in time. A roll and he’s not hurt, but something is wrong. The Wood Elf was not aiming for his head. The impact he heard wasn’t the sound of pain, but the sound of the ball being knocked from his hands. The Wardancer laughs, kicking the ball away to land in the hands of another Wood Elf.
Belay! snarls wordlessly and hurls himself at this unlucky Wood Elf, but can’t knock him down. The whistle blows.Belay! doesn’t hear it. It takes three of his team mates to hold him back.
Bumford is speechless, for once.
The score is 2-3.
The changing room’s atmosphere is unlike anything experienced this season. No laughing, no cussing. No sound at all.
Bumford stands in the middle of the room.
The team sit facing inwards, heads down. Belay! is clenching and unclenching his fists.
Bumford throws his empty ale bucket at the wall, where it shatters. Elfs flinch in response. He stomps over to Belay!, who looks up with fury still in his eyes.
Bumford rests a hand on Belay!‘s shoulder.
“You did good.” says Bumford, and pats him affectionately. “Can’t win ’em all. Maybe next time, eh?”
He turns to leave. The team looks at him.
“Oh, and a nice treat for you all next week. You’re playing hobbits.”
Bumford stops and turns around. He smiles broadly.
“Good job out there lads. I’m proud of ya, alright?”
The team smile in response. The room warms.
Bumford’s expression drops.
“But you if lose to those pot bellied stump-humpers next week, I swear I’m going t’ kill all of you.”
He smiles again, and walks out of the room.