The Land of the Dead has always been the cradle of many myths and legends. Emerged from the sands of time, the Tomb Kings lead their undead multitude in a effort to keep their long lost civilization going. In a dry barren land, watered by toxic rivers ands swept by dust storms, their legacy withstands. Names like Settra the Imperishable, the great necropolis of Khemri or the Black Pyramid fascinate travelers and scholars from all over the world. Tales of buried tomb, stuffed with long lost riches, attract raiders and bandits of all sort. This is at the border of this land that you find yourself.

Arriving at a small town composed of mud and whitewashed houses, nestled between steep hills, you can feel the weight of tradition in the tall, square wall encircling the town, or exhaling from the gates of the many temples dotting the place. Walking around one of the most recent districts, you can however witness the adaptation ability of the Khemri rulers; for those clamors erupting from the local sport pit are unmistakably those of a Blood Bowl crowd! 
With the night falling, and the heat finally receding ever slightly, you duck into one of the local taverns in the hope of a meal and a good drink. Only to find it filled to the brim with locals and travelers alike, forcing you to sit at the table of one sullen looking individual. You're ready to take the stool, when he raises his eyes to stare at you...

- Conversation starters between strangers in a foreign land - 

What do you want? Seat at my table you say? Well... if there is really no other seat left in the place, it’s only fair that we share... But I warn you, that will be the only thing I share! You get your own pitcher and keep your hands off mine if you want to retain all your fingers.

So. Is it your first time in Nehekhara? Me too. Granted we’re only on the outskirts of it, but that’s already quite the sight to behold. The endless spread of sand and rock. The howls of wandering spirits under the onyx sky at night. That’s not for the faint hearted for sure. And what brings you here? Exploration and travels? Fancy yourself the wandering scholar, are you? 

In that case you may want to push further South and try to see the blood waters of the Great Mortis River. Or even catch a glimpse of the grand necropolis of Khemri, with the looming Black Pyramid in the background.  I’ll give them that, the Tomb Kings know their architecture: stone, fused bone and gold inlays make for a very unique style. And the sheer size of their buildings… Beyond imagination!

But, I’ll be content to stay here personally. The Golden Valley they call it, just far enough to get a whiff of Nehekharan dust winds but not so far in as to be completely hostile if you still carry some flesh on your bones. But we can already get a hint of the Khemri culture. Look at this tavern: vaulted ceilings with bone beams, polished stone floor, tomb style paintings on the walls. And the beer. Who’d have thought one could find good quality beer in those lands? With that subtle touch of orange rind…

- A study in peculiar patrons, in a foreign tavern. -

Yes, I used to be in the catering business, but not anymore. You heard of Blood Bowl, I assume. I’m one of them coaches, owner and coach at the same time to be precise, not an easy task. We witness more than our fair share of oddities in our branch, I’ll tell you that. And those do leave a mark, just look around.

See that bearded fellow covered with a leather loincloth only? Another one of us. One of them Norse lads, suffering in this climate: sweats his beer before even drinking it. Drowning his sorrows in that skull tankard of his, already got through three of them as we speak. And you see that Skaven coach over there? Brought his own slice of cheese to celebrate beating that poor Norse coach… Don’t get too close, that thing is as foul as they can get. 

Check those two at the table by the door. Don’t let the Norse tattoos fool you: knife ears and bleached hair, that’s clearly a High Elf. And the one sitting across from him is not your run-off-the-mill Skaven, the green eyes clearly indicate some … inclination towards snorting warpstone. The two of them are stuck in that arm wrestling contest since I arrived here, an hour ago…

- A glimpse at the past: point of origin, recent relations and sports ventures -

Me? I’m just a guy very far from his native Bretonnia. Ze accent is a dead giveaway, innit? The clothes as well, probably. No, the lack of hair is not a style, it’s a different thing entirely… You ever been to Bastonne? You should. It's gorgeous. The wide lazy rivers with the weeping willows on the banks, to shade you while fishing. Splendid castles of white stone and dark slate roofs reflecting in the tranquil waters. The rolling fields of golden wheat, in summer before the harvest. The centuries old vineyards spreading out on the hills. Good wines up there too, if that's your thing. This could be paradise, but only if you’re not one of us peasants...

Otherwise it’s all mud and broken back down from generations to generations. And you can bet your future holds a pitchfork, probably in the frontline of one these stupid battle between feuding local nobles. Or maybe of one of those peasants uprising only us Bretonnians know how to raise, hehehe. Damn I miss my land these days, and I haven’t been there in decades… That’s probably in reaction to all the traveling to come here. 

Days into weeks of mountain range on one side and sand on the other. And traveling with the players as well. Not the most pleasant of a ride, for sure. The team? Ah yes. A few Counts from one of these regions where all the town names end in -of. And their creepy train of servants: all looking alike, always creeping up without a sound behind you; but on top of their manners, I'll give them that. At leat they keep the traditions alive wherever they're from, because I heard it's hard to find quality help these days.

Anyway, they decided for whatever reason to take the pitch and picked me to represent them. You’d have to be brave, mad or incredibly bored to go into Blood Bowl, right? How I came to coach them? Ahh… That’s a long story only one pitcher cannot carry. Let’s just say for now that it was a mutual arrangement.

So. There we were, on the road coming down here to play our opening game of the season. Only it wasn’t that easy. You see, my aristocrats have to travel with their whole retinue. Plus they have to carry their own beds, because they apparently cannot sleep in anything else. On top of that everything, and everyone had, to be packed in closed coaches, because they can’t suffer the slightest bit of sun…

The Counts all in on carriage, sleeping during the day. The rest of us all packed together and a last one or the baggage. Endless hot, sleepy days and life coming back at night with the cool breeze. That's not a way to travel, more of a trial. Ah, the miserable state we were all in, a really dignified season start for the "Land Sharks"!
But that was not the worst I had to swallow... do you know how they funded the whole trip?

- About unscrupulous and predatory behavior in the field of sciences -

You see one of those creepy servants has a "side business" of his own. He has taken interest in one of the new fads these days: apparently everybody and their uncle wants to be a "natural scientist". You’d think we already have wizards and apothecaries for that, and you’re not wrong, but they’re all mad or drunk, if not both…
So this servant has this thing going… A lot of these would be philosophers only dream about one thing: trying to attract the attention of some loaded noble or rich merchant, and get funded to do their research. There are worse ways to make money for sure, sitting on your ass all day, looking at the sky and scribbling on some piece of parchment.

What this feller had in mind is dead simple. He bought an old printing press and some old rotting paper for a handful of nothing. Now he claims to be the editor of a newsletter called “Letters of the Associated Ducal Philosophical Society”. Quite the mouthful, I know. But he says it gives him a respectable aura.  He tours all those little provincial towns, bragging about the many illustrious names that were revealed by these “Letters”: Dwarven gunsmiths, Imperial architects, Bretonnians poets, and the list goes on. Of course none of them ever heard of him or his "Letter's but that does not matter.

With such shallow artifice, he manages to coax the wannabe experts into paying him an absurd amount of cash to publish the fruit of their research.Guaranteed to bring your name to the firmament of modern thinkers and have philanthropists queuing at your door. Pfft. All he does is to sloppily print some of their words on his rotting papers, toss it in their hands and disappear with the ridiculous amount of gold he extracted from them… But at least it paid enough to get us here, to play at the local Khemri arena.

- On an encounter with criminally organized singers from the Old Times -

Our first game of the season? Well, I wasn’t really happy to face some Khemri gang right out of the gate. I mean those things are tough as nails and already dead. What you gonna do? For sure every now and then you push them a touch harder and they crumble a bit, but I’m still to witness this with my own eyes. Anyway. They elected to to let us go on offense first, which wasn’t really what the guys were looking for. 

Oh yeah, I only coach in name you see...  Good luck trying to make a bunch of lunatics that bite their own servants whenever the fancy take them to obey you on a Blood Bowl pitch…

Where was I? Ah, yes. Things were going alright until one of their players started to punch really hard. We scored but a few servants decided it was safer to play hurt and stay lying on the sideline… Then the other team started to laugh at us, saying we were “On the wrong side of the tracks”, if that means anything… But you don’t go around and mess with Tomb Guardians when they start to flash Khemri gang signs at you…

We thought we’d have a chance in the second half when it started to pour down. I even heard the opposite coach grumble about it. But it didn’t stop them, I guess old bony hands are not always slippery in the downpour. They equalized and tried to go for the win seeing how many of our guys preferred the sideline. But if the rain didn’t affect their hands, it seemed to have affected their head and footwork, so the guys decided to go for a bullshit play that petered out, because of the rain...

Result? We go back home with a draw on the board and some pocket money. One of the players apparently  managed to get a knee busted in the action so we'll have to replace him, sigh.
And eventually the players decided that the most significant contribution was done by the one who founded the trip, go figure...
On the plus side, one of our own guys will be back for the next round, so we can drop that mercenary, Baldo. Never liked his name anyway, Bald-o...

Alright, that's it for today. I can't stand the sound of my own voice anymore. Be a lamb and let me try to forget all of this in peace, will you?

- Zee

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