Life on Yvresse is such a drag. Sent by your uncle to help man the local counter, you can only regret your days in Mount Gunbad. At least there, at the end of the day, one could hare a few stories with like minded fellows around a nice tankard of ale. Nothing like that sweet stuff Elves keep drinking in these parts while lounging and listening to this endless litany of harpsichord recitals. The horror.
After an unsurprisingly bioing day working around Asurian import taxes on ores and minerals, you head on to the Dragon Cove. Recommended as a good place to mingle and network with the local Who's Who, you obviously never set a foot in that knife-ear inn. But you heard that was a Blood Bowl game in town, and hopefully some interesting travelers will be there, open to spin a yarn or two.
Once in, you have to admit that the place is strangely soothing. The usual Elf crowd is there but you notice a few extralocal faces. One of them sitting alone at a table, hunched over a bottle and his left hand sandwiched in a mean looking splint. You approach him, a tankard of boring Bloodweiser in hand, to see if this could be a suitable drinking companion. The Bretonnian raise his head at your approach and does not seem to notice that you are a proud representative of the Dwarf kind...
- Back to the Dragon Cove -
Yeah? I’m already halfway plastered sooo… sure, seat with me if you want. My left hand? Well, let’s just say it’s a Blood Bowl related injury… No, I’m not a player, I’m a coach. No, I didn’t get it on the pitch. Stop asking. Look, I’m fine: I can very well pour my own drink myself.
Whatcha think about the Dragon Cove? Best drinking place in all Tor Yvresse! And the wine! Try the wine, you won’t regret it. Oh yes, I have been here before, hence everything is familiar to me. The tables, the walls, the giant tapestries, the gardens; they all witnessed my old maudlin self. Well, I blame part of it on the place you know.
Yvresse, never was a name further from its reality. What a dreary land: all cliffs, mountains and pines, the whole thing drenched in mist or drizzle. Only the seabirds manage to bring some joy to the place thanks to their cries. Even the city, where one would think things tend to happen, is soaking in that wistful air.
First of all, black banners never really brought joy to any home. Secondly, why don’t they try to repopulate it a bit? What’s the point of having such grand architecture, only to have two thirds of the city empty of inhabitants? And, finally, why does every bloodydamn Asurian has to always be either gloomy or haughty? It’s not like they don’t have reasons to rejoice, with that local Blood Bowl team of theirs.
Ahhh, don’t pay too much attention to my ramblings. It’s the pain talking. Yes, you’re probably right: the wine as well. It makes for a poor painkiller I tell you, my handm is still aching. But my soul is where I hurt the most.
Damned Elves, they will always be my bane…
The story? … Alright, I’ll bring you up to speed. But it’s a story and a half. And who knows, we may eventually discover why my hand is in such state. But, since you’re so eager; here is my offer: you get the next bottles, keep my tongue well oiled and I’ll keep prating way. After all, telling a good story is not unlike wooing a woman, and what better a fuel for both of those than a good drink?
You'll find it best to fill your skin
With just the proper measure:
With less than that to feed your flame,
You'll prove too cold a lover.
While more might overshoot your aim;
So woo her-half-seas over.
Hahaha! You like that? We have a deal then? Good. Now, start pouring.
- Previously on Taproom Sessions! -
I’m originally from Bretonnia, you know: knights, castles, vineyards, wheat fields and peasants. Grew up along a river, admiring the castles reflections in the water. Life as a peasant is, one would say, nasty, brutish and rather short so, when my defiant years came up, I decided to move to the south of Bretonnia. Ended up playing in local Blood Bowl arenas.
I still remember the unique atmosphere: the cries of the crowd, the sand crunching beneath my feet, the sun beating my head, opponent fist crushing my schnoze. Nasty, brutish and short was once more the order of the day: there is only so many rocks one can take from the crowd, so many impacts where you land on you’re back and so much abuse from the coaches… That’s why I eventually decided to change course; and become a sailor.
Signed up on a grain transport moving downriver. The pay wasn’t extraordinary, but that would beat being punched in the face for a living. Turned out river sailing was smooth enough. Hitting the sea on the other hand… not so much. I spent my of my time seasick so they took me off-deck for morale issues. And that’s where I was when we got hijacked by a crew of pirates coming from Sartosa.
After an introduction of pugilistic nature with the pirates, they decided I could maybe worth something in a brawl and took me with them. That’s basically how I landed on Sartosa. Many a rotten gem ornate that damp pirate city: rowdy taverns, dubious inns, fancy restaurants, famed brothels. Being a rather lame sea dog at best, I knew my future wouldn’t be on the waves.
Turned out it wouldn’t be on solid land either: I found employment on the Lofty Fin. The Lofty Fin is Blackish Docks sight known for three main reasons: being the longest docked ship in all Sartosa, incredibly rotten to the core and, most importantly, the place to go for some local Blood Bowl action. I worked for a while aboard the Lofty Fin, helping organize and run the local matches. It was quite the education: scheduling, cajoling the local stars, harassing sponsors to land the promised money, keeping apothecaries away from the bottle and drunk wizards away from the bleachers…
But it eventually had to end, for it is known that one can only pass through Sartosa and should never, ever, settle up there. So I tried to reach the New World aboard a local smuggler. And once more the old God of the Sea must have been sore at me for whatever reason; for we foundered after a few days of sailing. And that’s how I drowned and made landfall on the Shifting Isles.
Talking about drowning, you’re not pouring anymore…
- To East and back… -
If you’re here, you probably know already the myths of the Shifting Isles, no need for me to go back on them. I eventually made landfall on a small garrison island, probably no too far from here, but who knows with them moving sandbanks… The garrison was polite and packed me with a bunch of Nipponese sailors they had collected a few weeks before hand.
To shake the routine of garrison duty and religious services, the soldiers quickly took to practice in the yard and soon enough decided we would make nice training partners. This was the beginning of a long series of humiliation on the pitch at the end of Asurians, or High Elves as some call them. Our leader, Shiryu, was a smart enough cookie but the rest of the team could do little against their soaring passing plays. They loved nothing better than stealing the ball on defense, and punting away…
In the end, our smartest play was to accept quickly when they decided to put us aboard a passing ship ship. Destination? Nippon.
So, there I was, a handful of months and many leagues in the opposite direction of my original destination. Life in Nippon was something else: the land, the people, their food and Blood Bowl culture all seem so remote to us Old World dwellers. Not too hard to adapt into, if you keep your nose down and your wits to yourself, but something else entirely.
I ended up working as a waiter in a small restaurant close to a Blood Bowl arena, to which I would deliver meal boxes, bentos, and use the opportunity to watch the games. Culturally remote they seemed, but their Blood Bowl seemed familiar enough in its glorious goriness. Still, when I had enough money to move, I decided it was time to get back to Bretonnia.
Keep pouring. This wine it at least as good as Bretonnian ones. There we go.
After a surprisingly smooth trip, I landed back in Bordeleaux, Bretonnia. With a small capital in my trunk and the connections established during my different trips, I found a few other investors and we established our close to the fancy districts. The Hazy Platypus, as was the name of our restaurant, aimed to offer the good people of the city access to the full experience of overseas culinary gems. With its foreign staff, exotic dishes and fragrant spices, the place quickly became a hit.
But too many cooks spoil the broth and I eventually decided to sell my shares and regain my freedom. I once more packed my trunk with my modest capital in it and hit the dock, destination New World!
- …Then back to East and back again. -
Which, of course, did not happen. I was conned into a night of revelry, lost everything and got pressed as a volunteer sailor. Never saw the New World, ‘cause you can’t find the damn place sailing East… Upon-The-Sea, Cathay was my destination. Where, impoverished once again, I fell into the dark pit of underground Blood Bowl once more. Do you think there is a pattern here?
Yet, as the poets claim, one can find his salvation in somber places. After toiling in the dredges of underworld Blood Bowl once more, I managed to escape my fate. Thanks to the tender friendship of a local lady, I was once again on the road, with enough discretionary funds to start over once more. And I will not say anything more about this topic.
But you can still re-fill my cup.
Down to the South I went, at the mouth of the Sapphire river. That is where, that I established my very first one man restaurant. Those were the glorious days: I had my own back alley joint, a trusted friend eventually ran the kitchen and we catered to the Blood Bowl crowd I know so well.
Bent-O, as it was known, was a surprise hit. Nothing fancy like the Platypus was, but we had a decent turnover and some steadfast regulars. Blood Bowl oriented menus were happening and you had to be at Bent-O, Fragrant Bay, to get them. Then it was the classic move: expansion came and with it more customers, more prep work; and I could feel the slimy coils of routine strangling me once more. It was time to move on to something new.
After trying the hospitality business, I decided to lean on the other faithful companion of my life: Blood Bowl. With my partner out, I sold the Bent-O to a budding company, Imperium Consortium, and moved on to the joys of Blood Bowl franchise owner’s life. This is where the bane of my existence decided to rear their ugly head and get the better of me once more. No, not the High Elves. The other one: crooks.
Alright, I’ll need a drink for the next part. Pour.
I was contacted by a Lahmian prince who came to represent a promising team of his land. In return for the modest amount necessary to get them out of Lahmia, settled in Sylvania and into a new league, I could expect the same tenfold. At least.
The whole thing turned out to be a mess, and a Vampire mess at that. Weeks after weeks of lousy games and depravity right from the get-go. What I thought was ingenuity in the face of adversity quickly turned out to be greed in favor of revelry. Moving from one town to another, the Land Sharks left nothing in their wake but subpar games, angry crowds, scores empty bottles and ravished lasses.
Trying to rein in the bloodsuckers on the pitch was bordering on the unachievable. Off the pitch? Way beyond my capabilities. The lads’s antics quickly got the attention of the Guild of Bandits (and affiliated trades). Never missing an opportunity, they cornered me and left me no choice but to accept their patronage.
I guess they thought what we would leave on the pitch would be compensated by the extra-curriculum activities of the players. And now that both streams of income are drying up, the Guild is not really overjoyed. Which brings us in turn to the actual state of my left hand. There you go. That’s the whole thing.
Now pour me some more.
- The Asurian Aftermath -
After the rather painful warning offered last week, the Guild told me it was long time I set myself to the task at hand (pun intended) if I wanted to keep the rest of my limbs. After all, they could always find some replacement to front the Land Sharks.
The good news was that I was offered an extra chance. The bad one was that they broke my left hand. The really bad one was that, to get back on the horse, I had to face my bane once more.
Scam artists? No, High Elves…
Sigh. Honestly what is to say here? The team was pissed at my return: I had try to get my investment back, they had admitted to scamming me and drinking and-or whoring everything away. I had try to left them to fend with the Guild on their own, before returning under duress. You can imagine how the homecoming went… Stuck between a meat cleaver and a mad place. That’s where I was when the team took on the pitch to face The Chosen Ones.
I mean... You were around, if you haven’t seen the game you can’t have missed the celebrations. 4-0. A total Berezina. Nothing worked and the Elves styled on us like there was no tomorrow. Down 2-0 by half time. I had deja-vu traumatic shakes, all over again. During half-time I tried to give a speech but that only resulted in a display of obscene gestures I had never seen before.
The players got drunker and started to hit harder, which led to the accidental demise of the Asurian kicker. But that was pretty much it, the Elves continued their dance, the Vampires kept swatting at the wind and we lost 4-0.
I was counting my fingers as I left the stadium…
Of course, some of the Guild henchmen were lurking in the shadows outside, as one would expect. As they stepped out, my mind kept racing but I couldn’t move. The leader was stepping towards me, his arm outstretched, his hand already prepared to grasp at my throat. I feebly raised my only arm, feeling my bladder ready to let go and regretting the two pints of Bloodweiser I had quaffed at half-time…
Talking about drink, pour me the rest of that bottle there.
- The Pigeon Drop respite -
So. You can imagine my surprise when the ruffian said the Guild was pleased by this week’s haul and was ready to give me another week, to keep getting my shit together. Seeing my quizzical look, he mentioned a story about a crate, wax seals and silver ingots. Before simply patting me on the shoulder and laughing at his little show of scaring the living crap out of me. As I was processing it, they left as swiftly as they appeared. And I was left alone to mull it over, on my way here.
While I was hard at work, trying to drink myself away from my situation, I heard the staff talk about the silver ingots story. On the ship bringing the passengers here from the Old World, a rather classic case of “Pigeon Drop” happened. Let me try to summarize it for you:
One of the passengers was a former Bretonnian smuggler, known for his avarice and greed. Traveling to Ulthuan with the goal to buy artifacts to sell back on the mainland, he was carrying a load of silver ingots in a crate sealed with wax. Said crate was then stored in the captain cabin rather than in the hold for extra safety, thanks to a small but plump purse changing hands.
Now, during the crossing, our old smuggler met with a rather prim gentleman coming from Sylvania. The traveler introduced himself as the servant of a local alchemist looking to buy materials from the land of Asurians in exchange for some warpstone gems.
During the course of the conversation, the Sylvanian indirectly worried about the safety of his precious cargo. Smelling the opportunity, the Bretonnian offered to stock said gems in his safe crate. For a fee… After some negotiating, terms were agreed upon and the gems stored with the ingots under the surveillance of the captain.
As one would expect, the minute the ship landed, the Bretonnian went to fetch his crate and dashed to another ship to continue on the next leg of his journey, already counting the benefit of his little stunt. Imagine the surprise when he opened the crate only to find rocks. Turned out the Sylvanian was prepared: he must have had had an identical crate ready in the hold and bribed the captain just an ounce more to gain discreet access to the cabin.
Pulling off such a classic con and proudly letting it be known reeked of Land Sharks. I bet you they’re probably drinking, whoring, gambling and pissing it all away as we are speaking. I wonder if they know how their unsavory exploit saved my hide for this time. No doubt they would not enjoy the party as much if they were aware of that, hahaha.
Erm. You're a good sport but, if you will excuse me, it is well past time I went to get some fresh air. Let me see if I can get some booze to go…