For the Game
The sudden commotion in the tunnel had heads turning all over the locker room. A stumbling pack of what passed for medical staff in the journeyman corps came in, fussing and arguing with each other over who’s turn it was.
The poor boy, barely 18 by his application, but nobody would care enough to check, had just moments before been selected for his first match.
As the bumbling barbershop rejects posing as apothecaries wandered off in conversation over how to turn this merely debilitated young man into a dead young man, a grizzled veteran walks over to comfort the kid and maybe get an update on the match. Hey, wagering is legal. Don’t judge.
“Oy, boy. What ‘appened? What’s goin’ on out there?”
When he stopped crying like a Halfling with only one dessert he answered
“It..it was my first time. The Altdorf Academy wouldn’t take me. I heard if I came here and could make a name for myself I could make a team for keeps...
“They..they never said anything to me I understood. They handed me these damn tasseled boots two sizes too big. And what the hell are these stretched out springs in the heel for??
“They threw me out there in front of the biggest freaking Orc I ever saw. He pushed me on the ground and stood over me.
“The rest of the game was pretty much a bloody mystery. I stood up. Someone knocked me down. Sometimes they stood over me flexing muscles reeking of piss. Sometimes they punched me and kept running. One even kicked me while I was standing back up.
“Well 5 or 6 times of this and the really ugly tuskface with the ball got shoved next to me. Right there. His eyes man…
“Well the dude doing most of the work for our side screamed at me suddenly punches himself in the chest (really hard too, like, what the hell..sorry..) points at me and in some accent that seems half “V”s and half spit bellowed ‘JUMP….HIIIIT!!!!’
and came soaring like a majestic monkey somersaulting to a perfect landing right next to the ballcarrier.
“Inspired I lean back on the springs, the concept of what he wanted shining in my mind, I lept; high I soared. Somewhere I heard as dozens of voices sob NOOOOOOOO!!!!
“My toe clipped the chest of the Orc carrying the ball I landed on my back and woke up in the tunnel back here..
“...the doctors say it’s something called a niggle.. do you know what that is?”
“A Niggle just means you will feel it all your days, son. Talk to me when you have this..” the vet holds up a wooden clawed prothstetic arm “but about the score…?”
“Score? I..I don’t know about..”
“Ah son no worries here comes the docs now I’m sure you will be fine.”
“NEXT MATCH- need 4 players”
The announcement came careening through the chamber to a rustle of awakened activity. The vet stands up revealing furred stockings up to his groin and matching armbands.
“I’ve got to go, good luck son.” He reaches down and pulls out a badly preserved goats head and limps slowly toward the lineup. Human face peaking out from the grey furred neck he turns as the boy asks
“You, why do you keep going? You can barely move..”
“Ahh, as long as they don’t need me to dodge away I’ll be fine. Not much left of me to injure..
“I don’t know what to tell you boy. I’ve tried to quit. I have…” as he stomps away.
The hapless ‘doctors’ returned “Well, young man, we have this idea….”