6: Jelly Jammers VS Nautical Imperatives
Bumford walked into the changing room of Nautical Imperatives laughing.
“You won’t believe this,” he says, wiping a combination of various facial secretions from his face. “They’ve hired themselves a chef, right, with the intention, ya’ll like this, of trying to distract you mid game. Normally, hehe, this tactic can work. Them little fellas are nifty with a cleaver and an onion, but… but–”
Bumford roars again with laughter, falling over.
“It’s all just salad! Seeds and leaves and turnips! AAahahahA! Not a crumb of cheese, not a sliver of meat, an ounce of gravy, no cream, no butter, nothing! AAAHHHOOOOOOHRHEHAhaha!”
Bumford rolls over and pushes himself up. “Who’d get distracted by a soggy lettuce, I ask you! Who’d be so – what is it?”
The elfs can smell it now. Their faces crease with pleasure.
“I smell parsnips and roasted potatoes!”
“Is that a hint of rosemary?”
“Anyone else catch the suggestion of quinoa?”
“I think I can catch some cous cous stuffed beetroot dumplings…”
Excited elves babble amongst themselves. Bumford stands and sniffs the air, disgusted.
“Don’t tell me ya actually… like the sound of all that?”
Aye Aye! brings his attention to Bumford with some force of will. “We don’t eat meat, coach. Nothing from the animal or of the animal. No meat, no fish, milk, cheese, butter or honey.”
Bumford is aghast. “No bacon?”
“Not a drop”
“Hmph, I suppose that’s that then. Do ya all want some strategical advice or what?”
“Well, some food would be nice. Do you think they’ll share..?” Belay! asks.
Bumford shakes his head.
“Go.” He says. “Just…. go.”
The team sidles out of the changing room.
Where did I go wrong? muses Bumford.
A veritable army of Halflings are surrounding a huge steaming pot next to a table groaning with consumable delights, just off the edge of the field. Each was scooping piles of food onto plates, laughing, drinking, and making merry. The elfs watch from a distance, transfixed. An impatient referee stalks over and gestures at them wildly to hurry, but the chef, a lady halfling as round as she was high, silences him with the largest plate of all. The referee’s face cracks into a smile, and he happily tucks into this impromptu lunch. The halflings make their way over to the pitch, wiping hands on clothing and tossing crumbs from their plates onto the pitch.
The elfs, when they’re not gawking at the steaming buffet, start preparing to receive the ball, a sadness in their eyes as big as the lustiness in their little elfin tummies.
As play is about to start, a halfling stops and smacks his forehead as if remembering something important. He scurries off to the changing room, and exits a few moments later. Two enormous monsters make of bark and branch emerge after him – what were they doing? Holding hands? – and stride up to the line of scrimmage. Each is terrifying and clearly very powerful.
“Oh yeah!” shouts Bumford, “They’ve got dirty great big trees as well! Just knock ’em down and you’ll be fine!”
Looks of horror from the elfs. Bumford smiles and waves as the whistle blows.
Within a matter of minutes the elfs grab the ball and huff it up the flank, right next to the table of halfing snacks. Abuse from Bumford starts to dissuade them of getting near. The elfs start veering back to the centre, with the ball in the hands of Stow Mainsails!. Suddenly a creak of wood followed by a shadow falls over him, and a halfing in a top hat lands expertly inches in from of him.
“Missed!! …more’s the pity..” grumbles Bumford.
The halflings, a swiftness betrayed by their portlieness, begin to swarm the ball and its holder, and before long they’ve managed to wrest it from Belay!‘s hands, though not before he fumbles it into the crowd. The chef, perturbed by the distraction, boots it back onto the pitch and the game continues. Embarrassed by this surprisingly effective maneuver, Nautical Imperatives fight their way back to the ball and start running it in.
In the mean time, several unlucky elfs are trying to escape the clutches of the trees, and failing. Row, Damn Your Eyes! is knocked over by Willow, and a disgusting crack soon follows as a halfling named Tweefeet Twinkietoespops up and delivers a spiked boot right to his crotch.
Bumford laughs and snorts when he sees Row being stretchered off. Some elfs are trying to get the attention of the referee, but he waves them off with one hand while stuffing sticky buns into his face with the other.
The elfs score, and the halflings line up again. The whistle blows, and within a few moments the ball is moved up the line of halflings and into the arms of Spoony Bardman, who in turn is hefted by Argyle Mapleleaf and thrown over the heads of the elfs, most of which have already swerved around the trees to enter the Halfling back line. Before they know what’s happened, the score is 1-1.
In a desparate attempt to score before halftime, three elves, lead by Belay!, dart deep into halfing territory.
“Watch this!” yells Belay!, streaming straight for Danny Dark Chocolate like a falcon. Danny waits until Belay! is mid spear, then delivers him a swift uppercut to his neck, causing Belay to crumple like last weeks pie tin. Cheers from the crowd, cheers from Bumford, groans from the elfs, gurgles from Belay!.
Whistle blows. 1-1 at half time.
It’s hard to get a word out of Bumford. He’s laughing too much, and whenever he sees Belay!, he starts all over again. Ten minutes of pure mocking laughter and its time for the second half. Belay!‘s glowing red face shows through his mask.
The second half sees the elf team score two more times, as halfings begin to fall like autumn leaves. The Jelly Jammers continue to play dirty though, and elf after elf are crotch stomped and finger-crushed, each with the referee calmly ignoring anything they get up to. By the time the final whistle blows, the elfs are leading 3-1.
The familiar sounds of pain and victory mix in the dressing room. Spirits are high. Four wins, two draws and one loss is a pretty good streak. Bumford still claims he was must have been dangerously drunk during their match against the Dark Elf team Chausslin Shadows, as he can’t remember a single second of it.
The season is drawing to a close, and Bumford looks at his chart.
“Hmm.” he says.
“What is it coach?”
“I don’t know if we’re in the playoffs.” he grumbles. “It all depends on how the other teams do.”
Bumford doesn’t want to come this far only to fall at the last hurdle. He knows something needs to be done to give his team, or rather, his rival’s opposition, a little helping hand…
He smiles wickedly.