When: a few days after the end of the regular season.
Where: a backroom booth, at Club Firefly, the best gentlemen club of all Tempelhof.
Who: a man tackling what looks like a substantial meal with fork and knife in his hands, when a lithe and shadowy figure sits across from him, revealing their face from under a hood.
- The Last Supper -
What now? Oh beg your pardon, it's not too often we see an elvish representative of the gentle sex around these parts. What is your name dear and where are you from? Morrelleth Voidshard? From Har - coughcoughcough - Har Ganeth, you say? Well... there goes the appetite...Bloody Hell! It seems I will not be enjoying a meal properly these days. What do you want from me? A few questions, for the Guild? Well. I guess it was bound to happen eventually. Take a seat, I guess…
I hope you don’t mind if I try to keep eating then. I would hate to waste this meal, if it turns out to be the last.
So, why would the guild dispatch a Druchii questioner all the way to Sylvania to meet with me? Anton Crantz, missing you say? No, I don’t know here he is. And wherever that is, he can stay there for all I care. I have rarely seen worse leech in my life than this tick. And I work with Vampires on a daily basis…
The last time I saw him? Hm. Maybe four of five weeks back. How was our meeting? I wouldn’t say pleasant. Since you’re asking about him, you’re aware of the sponsoring partnership between the Land Sharks and the Guild, right? Well, things were not going extremely well at that time and he came to pressure me a couple of times. What for? You must be joking, right? The money return the Guild takes on every ounce of income from the Land Sharks. What do you mean, you never saw any return? It was in the contract with Crantz…
Ha! I can’t say I am surprised either. After all, is there really such a thing as honor among thieves? I know what I am talking about: I have to deal with the Land Sharks every day… At least I do not have to travel with them. You should see the party train they run from one game to another, it attracts all sorts of unpalatable characters. This is clearly the players's raison d’être, and they will do anything to perpetuate it. Except actually amounting to anything on the pitch, because that would be honest work. They would have got along just fine with a character such as Crantz.
And then what? If Crantz is gone, who is going to take over our sponsorship? You? I see…
Well, in that case you maybe want to hear what happened during our last game then.
- Orcs? Smorcs! -
For our last game of the season we actually had to play Orc-estral. Yes, a group of musically inclined Orcs. Who would have thought? They actually believe they are the instruments, so the whole thing is still very… Orcish, you know.
The game was played at the Orcish compound, not too far from a certain resort where I recently took a certain … retreat. Great beer, Fruit Smash they call it. You want to try it but you don’t want to see the crafting process, trust me. Anyway... you probably already know about all this and how my left hand eventually reached that sorry state.
So, the match itself. We started the game with a couple of players on the bench while the Orcs had none and that gave me some hope of making it through the ordeal. They surprisingly let us start on offense, because I clearly expected them to start punching first. We decided to move on the left side of the pitch and, rapidly, their reason for chosing defence first became perfectly clear.
The Greenskins had enlisted the services of a rogue wizard. Tasked with laying low until the perfect moment to makes us fail, he nonetheless couldn’t contain himself anymore. Blasting away, aiming for what the connoisseurs call an attrition fireball as soon as possible, he fired too quickly and most of the targets stayed on the pitch. To their credits the Orcs took it in stride and kept playing the attrition game. It paid as after a Vampire was brought back from ad patres by the apothecary (for once), they managed to force us into scoring early. 1-0.
The second half of the first period saw the Orcs trying to counter attack while sticking to their attrition plan. Using indirect tactics we managed to get the ball out of their hands and on the floor. Their thrower managed to pick it up again and went for a pass, but a rather inaccurate one. Trying to seize our chance, the boys went for a long bomb that crossed the pitch and was caught under the pressure of the Orc defense. But the thralls were separated from the Vampires. Yes, that proved fatal to our offense when the would be scorer, skipping towards the end zone, changed his mind at the last moment. Looking for a drink and finding none, he simply dropped the ball like an old sock and went to the sideline instead of scoring.
The Orcs didn’t let their chance slip away this time: their thrower redeemed himself with a nice throw that put a lineman in position to score during the last seconds of the first half. 1-1 and everyone back to their lockers.
I wish I could say the second half was more disputed but the attrition paid off and the Orcs punched their way to the end zone without much trouble. 2-1 final score, no major casualty for us and none for the Orcs.
For the record, if we had won that game, the Orcs would have ceded their spot for the off-season play-offs to the High Elf team from Yvresse that humiliated us twice this season. Therefore it was a lose-lose situation for me anyway.
- Post Season Performance Review -
As you can see on records, when everything is said and done, the Land Sharks end their season with 4 wins, 2 draws and 7 defeats. This has to be amended by the fact that one win and one defeat were conceded for administrative reasons. Yes, the admins are not too pleased with us these days, but it‘ll eventually pass.
Overall, despite a surprise victory over the Norse team, I have to say that, on a tactical level as much as on a technical one, mistakes were made. Our games showed a certain lackluster element where offensive tactics were concerned, too often relying on what the informed spectators like to call a potato play.
Technically speaking, some roster choices were made while the team did not totally agree. Especially regarding the absence of hard hitter in their ranks during the whole season. They like to say that is the reason for them spending most of their time on the sideline. But I like to think that I know better and their natural laziness is the culprit there.
And yes, some of said mistakes might have been on my side. I will not deny that. But put yourself in my shoes for a second: I was catapulted at the head of a team whose players consider you more like a snack than a coach. Said players obviously lackadaisical at best on the pitch most of the time; and downright despicable off of it. The roster regularly hemorrhaged players. And when the Vampires were not breathing down my neck, the sponsor was.
Therefore I considered a drink every now and then the least of my bloody rights, pardon my Bretonnian.
Now, on the plus side, we finish the season without any major casualty. Not only the Vampires progressed, if in a rather unspecialized way yet; but some of the thralls can now actually carry their own weight, on top of that blood bag on their back. Definitely some progression there from my point of view. And there is always a promise of hope for next season. I guess. We also finish the season with a rather substantial amount in the safe, which can always come in handy.
- Present, Past and Future -
That’s my personal take on the past thirteen weeks. It's been emotional. It was overall rather draining, both for me on the pitch and many a cup off the pitch. But I survived the season despite facing contrary odds composed of blood thirsty players, a greedy sponsor and a certain penchant for the drink. How, you ask? Well, you see, it all came to me last week.
After a rather unexpected conversation with a league official, something came to my mind. A few weeks in the season, the antics of the Land Sharks had attracted the attention of the Guild, as you probably know. This is where Crantz entered my life and made it even more taxing that it already was.The whole thing made me feel itchy from the start, but it was only last week that I managed to put my finger on it.
Crantz was always more than eager to pressure me as soon as things went wrong. And how boy did they after the sponsorship was established. I originally put that down to zeal in his work for the Guild. But last week I started to take a different angle to my thinking. So I used some of my free time to poke around a bit. From the league officials, I learned that someone had made a bet, on the down low, to take the lead of the Land Sharks next season if I was to be replaced. And from the Tempelhof Land Registry bureau, I learned that a project to rename the stadium was in the tubes. This all seemed rather coordinated to me.
Unfortunately, despite my personal connections, my seduction skills when armed with a bottle of bubbly and a few tricks I learned from the players over the course of this season, I couldn’t quite manage to tie the whole thing together and uncover the identity of the person behind it.
That is where hooch saved me, once more. You see, some of the players were running dry and came to me to refloat their party… train. Cracking open a crate of my personal stuff, I shared a couple of drinks with them, hoping to end up on their good side and not as a thrall on opening game for season twelve.
But I gained more than that: one of them let slip that during the whole season they had a special source of income that had just dried up. And this is when everything fell into place for me.
You see, he question is always the same: age old Cui Bono?
Who had access to discretionary funds and could have anything to gain by having the Land Sharks go on with their life style? Someone interested in acquiring a second rate Vampire team.
But who would be mad enough to want to take the head of the Land Sharks, what with their habits of scamming their way in this world?
Somebody with the connections to hide, negate or even embrace such activities.
Somebody always eager to make more money while pushing me out.
My guess is that he was siphoning away the money I kicked back to the Guild and used some to treat the Sharks, aiming to keep them on the subpar section of the leaderboard without properly hitting rock bottom. On the side, he kept pressuring me, hoping to see me make a mistake like enrage the players enough so they would get rid of me or hit the road, for example. I went for the second option and had to come back, my life hanging only by a thread. It must have tickled him pink to see is plan coming together.
I can only imagine what he had in mind with taking the lead of a Blood Bowl team composed of scam artists, but I can see him processing the figures while drinking his awful glass of local white and smacking his lips in contentment.
My next, and only move was then obvious. You see, in all this, Crantz had forgotten to take into account something pretty damn important: the players themselves. Turns out the Land Sharks do love their lifestyle, and their freedom. They have both now, as I consider myself a hands-off kind of guy. Even if I know that they have another name for me: le doormat.
Still, I just pretended to be drunk in their company and let the story about Crantz and his plans for the team leak away. Let them imagine for themselves what their future would look like with a guy like him at the helm…
Now, if you want to find what happened to dear Anton, you can always try to find the Land Sharks in whatever hole of perdition they decided to celebrate the end of the season at. And, if you do find them, please feel free to ask them who they want at their head next season: Crantz, you or me.
I haven’t decided myself yet and I like to consider that more options are open to me now.
Or... you can get yourself a glass, loosen up that collar of yours, be my drinking companion for the evening and see where this leads us. I could tell you about that time I saw the Karond Kar Corsairs pitch clear the Sartosa Barnacles…